Category Archives: Jump into Your Job Search

Halimah Bellows Advises on Job Search No-Nos

Recently Halimah Bellows, Career Coach and Author of Champion Your Career: Winning in the World of Work, gave advice on KATU2’s AM Northwest for anyone embarking on a job search. You can watch a video of her interview at: http://katu.com/amnw/books-authors/job-search-no-nos. Below is a summary of her suggestions.

  1. Companies will not allow you to call for an interview, and they frown on anyone walking in asking for an application. Your first impression is now your resume.
  • Since most resumes must be sent online the resume must stand out and show your best skills.
  • If you want to stand out even more and above the rest, write a cover letter even if not asked for – a 2nd opportunity to show how your skills match the job description.
  • In online resumes employers look for key words, be sure to include these in your list of skills – read the job description carefully, use their words for your key words, or look up on line – Occupational Outlook Handbook, or O net to find job descriptions of occupations – search for resumes in the field – look for what is repeated.
  • Networking: LinkedIn, B2B Meetings, Chamber meetings, Alumni associations
  • Names are still magic, inside contacts – ‘so and so referred me’ – aha, a connection, use it.

 

  1. Tap Into The Market
  • Visit Job and Career Fairs
  • Expand your List of network to social, political, or religious organizations
  • Dig deep. When filling out an online application, assessment, resume and cover letter do a Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter search for someone who works for the company you are applying for. Drop them a line and mention you are applying for the company they work for-they may be able to help pull your app out of the pile and put in a good word for you.
  • Join organizations associated with the field you are interested in finding work: American Film Marketing Association, Financial Women International, etc.
  • Membership services are a way to network within the field you are seeking and a way to meet people in your target industry: trade shows, seminars, internships, publications, professional development, employment referrals. TIP: Choose your internship seriously—many of students have been hired after an internship, as they already know you. “show up on time, be reliable, take initiative.”

 

  1. Myths about Networking and Job Search Issues
  • I went to a small school so there won’t be resources for job networking: While the alumni network may be smaller, it probably is a tighter network.
  • Someone will find a job for me, an employment agency, a college placement office: Most jobs are not well advertised. Ask around, learn how to be a good researcher and detective.
  • If I have a degree, I can get a job. If I can’t find a job, I have to go back to school: Your success in landing a job lies in your ability to assess the totality of your life experiences and relate them to your career goals and the job opening you are pursuing. You must sell yourself to the employer once you get the interview. If you cannot find a job related to the direct degree, look at the skills you have and the ones that are ‘transferable’ into different occupations.
  • The younger person will get the job: Many articles are written about age bias. However there are employers out there who prefer more mature workers who have more experience, are more reliable, and won’t have childcare issues.

 

Job interview process takes 10 days longer than it did five years ago

By Quentin Fottrell

Job interviews are getting weirder — and the interview process is getting longer.

The job interview process took an average of 22.9 days last year, up from 12.6 days five years ago, as employment shifts to higher skilled jobs and employers screen potential employees’ skills, characters and personalities and conduct background checks, according to careers website Glassdoor, based on a sample of 344,250 interviews spanning six countries.

One-on-one interviews (68%) and telephone interviews (56%) are still the most popular kinds, and that has changed little since 2010. However, the percentage of job seekers reporting background checks has grown from 25% in 2010 to 42% in 2014. Other interview methods that have grown recently include skills tests (16% to 23%), drug tests (13% to 23%), and personality tests (12% to 18%).

The interview process also varies dramatically by industry: Police officers reported the longest average interview duration (127.6 days), followed by patent examiners (87.6 days), assistant professors (58.7 days), senior vice-presidents (55.5 days) and program analysts (51.8 days), managing directors (51.1 days) and information technology specialists (48.1 days).

In contrast, the shortest job interview processes are typically found among job titles requiring less formal training, such as entry-level marketing jobs (3.9 days), followed by entry-level sales positions (5.4 days), servers and bartenders (5.7 days), entry-level account managers (5.9 days) and dishwashers (6.9 days).

“Personal characteristics of job seekers—including gender, age and highest level of education—have zero statistical effect on interview lengths,” the Glassdoor study found. “All of the recent growth in hiring processes appears to be driven entirely by economywide shifts in the composition of employers, job titles, hiring industries, and company HR policies.”

Companies have more job openings than they did in 2010. “Five years ago, you put a job posting online and, within hours, there would be hundreds of applicants,” says Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources, an information technology and engineering staffing firm in Lansing, Mich. “People were begging to work. The retirements of baby boomers are also making it very difficult on companies.”

“In a regular economy, organizations would have had succession plans in place to replace our aging workforce,” he says. “The recession didn’t allow us the resources to do this planning, and organizations are paying the price right now. Almost no one did a good job planning for this during the recession. It’s hitting every industry, in every market.”

Employers are also looking for more intangible qualities such as loyalty, says Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president for marketing at Dale Carnegie Training. “It’s wise for employers to take their time and make sure that prospective employees not only have the talent to perform their job, but also have the character traits that fit in with the company’s culture.”

Quentin Fottrell is a personal finance reporter and The Moneyologist columnist http://www.marketwatch.com/column/the-moneyologist  for MarketWatch, http://www.marketwatch.com/Journalists/Quentin_Fottrell. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

“You’re Not What We’re Looking For”

by K. G. Mitchell, KellyMitchell

Rats, rejected again. So now what do you do? Looking for work takes its toll, especially if you really invest yourself in the process. It can be mentally draining attempting to show the world a positive face, a smile and exude confidence at a time when you feel vulnerable, stressed and anxious.

If you think about the title, “You’re not what we’re looking for,” there could be some valuable clues in those six words that you’d be smart to think about and then do something about. The most obvious question to ask of the person making that statement is, “Why am I not what you are looking for?” In other words, what are they looking for that you lack.

You see it could be that if you hear this once, you were a wrong fit at that company. It’s not your fault, nor is it theirs. In fact, finding fault at all is the wrong thing to do. You may have all the qualifications on paper, but during an interview, the interviewer(s) made a decision that based on your personality for example and how you conducted yourself that someone else with equal qualifications would just fit in better. That’s fair I believe.

After all, the company and the person representing it know the culture and the kind of people who thrive and those that don’t or might put that culture at risk. You and I, we don’t know that, and they might have done you a favour from being hired and then shortly fired when you didn’t fit in as well as another candidate would.

Let’s suppose now that you hear, “You’re not what we’re looking for” frequently. What message could really be behind those words? Hearing it often could well mean that you just don’t have what it takes to compete with other applicants period. Say you got a job 8 years ago through a family friend in an office setting. You were let go a year ago due to downsizing and you’ve been looking for work for over a year.

In a situation like this, you may not have the credentials required by a new employer, such as certificate in Office Administration. You may have a working understanding of the software that company used, but perhaps employer’s are looking for people who have experience using newer programs, and face it, there are many people over those years who have upgraded their formal education in school and are now graduating with training in the latest and best practices.

You see that job you held in a small firm of 10 people was good while it lasted, but it has left you unprepared to compete with other applicants with more recent education or experience with larger companies. If you were one of those applicants, you’d be arguing that you’re a better fit and you might be absolutely right.

Now the above is just a scenario that I’m presenting. It does illustrate however that the experience you may have is valid and good so far as it goes, but it falls short of the experience other applicants have which may mean they are consistently hired where you are not. Frustrating? Absolutely. Understandable however? Yes, completely.

If you can determine therefore why you are not the best fit and what they are looking for, then you are in a position to do something about it if you so choose. If the message is that you don’t have experience working in large organizations, maybe you should confine your job search to smaller companies where you’ll be a great fit based on your work history. A job in a larger firm where you have to interact with many people in different departments may be something you’d have to learn but why hire you when other applicants know it already?

Recently I read a reply from a reader pointing out that it is companies not job seekers that are to blame when things don’t work out. I read their post and sensed bitterness, anger, resentment and a lack of full understanding when they have been passed over for others. I don’t think job seekers are to, ‘blame’ for their unemployment any more than I think employers are to, ‘blame’ for making the decisions they do.

Just as a job applicant can turn down a job because they don’t like the money offered, the travel involved or the work location, a company can turn down any applicant. In both cases, from either way you look at it, one or the other could decide it’s a bad fit. In fact, an applicant could withdraw from the application process and the company decide to hire someone else at the same time.

My advice is to respectfully ask for some clarification of why you are not presently what they are looking for in order to better compete in the future. If you need more experience get it. If you need a specific kind of experience, seek it out volunteering or take some upgrading if that’s the suggestion.

You may not of course get the real feedback that you’d like. If your personality and attitude are a bad fit, they aren’t going to tell you that. Some outfits don’t give feedback at all if you don’t work out. Be as objective as you can, open to feedback as you can and then pause to consider any feedback you do get before responding.

K. G. Mitchell is a professional employment counselor who believes tremendously in the power of personal enthusiasm. KellyMitchell is a premier technology consulting company dedicated to matching the most qualified IT professionals with top organizations nationwide. Website: http://www.kellymitchell.com/

4 Phases of Interview Preparation–Phase Two

Ask Powerful Questions—

More importantly—LISTEN well for their answers

Create a Two-Way Dialogue

By Paula Fitzgerald Boos

This is the MOST important part of your interview. Powerful questions demonstrate your preparation and enable you to uncover what your interviewer cares about most. There are all kinds of important questions to ask and I believe your beginning and closing questions are the most important for any type of interview. I call these “framing” questions. Framing questions happen following the initial conversation starters and before the closing gratitude expressions and acknowledgements.

Beginning your interview conversation with a framing question like, “What is most important for you to learn from me today?” and/or “What do you believe are the most important attributes of the candidate you will hire or the most important outcome the person in this role will create in the next year?” This orients your conversation toward the interviewer—whether it as a HR phone screen or a decision maker—you establish up front what they believe is vital to the job and how you can best connect your value to what they need. It begins your conversation in a way that orients it toward the interviewer.

From there you want to create a two-way dialogue if possible. Sometimes in structured interviews they will want to ask their questions and get your responses and if/when this is the case you need to honor their structure. In your preparation hopefully you know what type of interview to expect. When you are able to create the conversation you always want to answer their question and then segue into a related follow on question. For example, the interviewer asks about your most successful project—you answer connecting it to their context and then ask about the most important project this role will be expected to execute. The best interviews are synergistic dialogues.

The framing question at the close of an interview asks for feedback. It typically will follow the interviewer’s question to you, “what other questions do you have?” It may be something like, “what is your assessment of how my skills and background align with what you are hoping for?” You may also add before or after your closing question (if you believe it to be true), “based on our conversation I feel confident that I will do well in this role and am excited for the possibility.” This is your opportunity to check in on how you did. If you are uncomfortable with a question this direct you always want to ask about next steps in the process before you end.

Other powerful questions to consider between your framing questions could include

What are the biggest changes your group has experienced in the last year? What were the impacts? What changes do you anticipate in the next year?

If I get the job, what does “exceeding expectations” look like? What are the key outcomes you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

How would you characterize your (or my future boss’) leadership style?

Which of your major competitors worries you most and why?

How do other departments–sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance–work here? (I.e., groups other than the one you’re interviewing for.) And how would you describe how your group works with them?

Tell me about your company culture.

How would you describe the professionals who are most successful here? What types of people don’t fit?

What’s one thing that’s key to your company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?

Tell me about your background in this industry? What do you most appreciate about your industry/company?

What are your group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company? What are the pain points you have to deal with day-to-day?

What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?

Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other?

Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I’m considering whether or not I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

Why did you decide to hire this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

Tell me about your performance management/reward system. How do you acknowledge your employees?

What do you like best about your system? What about it works well? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

How do you do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for the company?

What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an “open book” management style or something different?

How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

If we are going to have a very successful year in 2015, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 6 months to make success happen?

How does this position contribute to those goals?

What is the rhythm to the work here? Is there a time of year that is more intense? How about during the week / month? Is work evenly spread, or are there crunch days?

What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the “perfect” candidate look like? (This could also be a way to ask a framing question)

What is your (or my future boss’) hiring philosophy? Is it “hire the attitude / teach the skills” or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise?

What’s your process and timeline for making a decision on this position? 

Paula Fitzgerald Boos is a Career Strategist, Executive Coach & Facilitator, Professional Development Expert, and Change Champion

30 Questions To Ask In An Informational Interview

by Susan Adams

As my readers know, my son is in his first year at UCLA and hoping to land a summer internship in advertising. But he doesn’t know the first thing about what advertisers do day-to-day. Unfortunately neither do I. My husband worked as an art director at an ad agency in South Africa in the ‘80s, but that might as well have been in the Pleistocene Epoch, since there was no Internet or social media.

My generous colleague, Forbes CMO Network editor Jennifer Rooney, used to work at Advertising Age, and offered to give me a list of people at agencies where she has contacts. I passed the list onto my son. But what to do with it? He’s such a job search beginner, it struck me that he should try a series of informational interviews, rather than contacting these people and asking for a summer job. I want him to line these interviews up for late March when he’s home for spring break. But then he asked me a simple question: What should he ask in such an interview? I realized I’d never covered this aspect of the job search.

To find answers I called four people I consider excellent sources, vetern New York career coaches Eileen Wolkstein and Robert Hellmann, Katharine Brooks, executive director of the campus career development office at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, and author of You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career, and Jill Tipograph, who coaches college students and recent grads on internships and career launches. They each advised a slightly different approach but together I thought they had great ideas of how my son should approach the process.

“It’s an indirect way of selling yourself without saying, ‘Can I have an internship,’” says Wolkstein. That means you’re selling your personality, your sense of humor and the fact that you’re reliable, eager to learn and will do a good job. You want to communicate that you’ll do anything, and that, above all, you want to soak up what people do all day.

Brooks, by contrast, says you should stick to gathering information rather than doing what she calls a bait and switch and trying to turn it into a job interview. “It can turn people off because it looks like a sneaky way to look for a job.” An informational interview might become a job interview but should only change course if the interviewee steers it that way, she advises.

Do prepare. Read as much as you can about the company so you can avoid asking questions like, “who are your clients,” when the clients are listed on the company website. Find the interviewee’s bio on the company website or through LinkedIn. Check out Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Tipograph says your preparation should go beyond researching the individual and the company. She has some pointed tips for my son. He shouldn’t squander his time with a high-power contact at an agency by asking questions he could answer by doing online homework. Example: The American Association of Advertising Agencies has a career information tab that describes jobs inside ad agencies, from account coordinator to strategic marketing director. He should read and digest those. He should also think about interviewing a fellow UCLA undergrad who is further down the line in pursuing an advertising career. The university has its own advertising team that turns out real campaigns. A student team member would be a great resource.

Once you’ve done all your homework, what do you ask? I’ve been focusing on candidates like my son who are just starting out. But most of these questions work for people who are further along in their careers, who are contemplating a change. Here are 30 questions, combining the wisdom of my four sources.

  1. Tell me about the career path that led you to your job. Caveat: Try to glean information from Linked in or the company website and ask a more specific question, like, I understand you’re from Des Moines and you worked in sales there. How did you wind up working in advertising in New York?
  2. Tell me about your job. What are the core components?
  3. What did you do yesterday?
  4. What experiences best prepared you for your job?
  5. Tell me what happens in various divisions of your agency, like the client side, the finance side, the media buying side, the creative side.

Though Brooks says you shouldn’t pivot and turn an informational interview into a bid for a job, she says you should always network by asking if the interviewee can recommend another contact. Tipograph agrees. “Every single person you meet is someone you want to add to your network,” she says.

Before you even get to the interview, Brooks says you should watch the way you ask for a person’s time. Too many students are overly casual, writing, “Hey Bill, I’d like to talk to you.” Better to err on the formal side, unless the person is close to you in age: “Dear Mr. Smith, I was wondering if you’d be able to give me 10 minutes of your time on the phone for an informational interview.” I’m 56 and personally I prefer an informal “Hi Susan,” but I take her point. She recommends the phone because it’s the least trouble for the interviewee and often the student is in school in another city.

A face-to-face meeting is always best. If I’m on the phone, I’m often thinking of ways to finish the call. If you’re in the same city, definitely offer to go to the person’s office or a nearby spot for coffee and keep your request to 10 or 20 minutes. Since people respond to specific suggestions, offer two or three different times, like Friday at 3pm or 4pm or Thursday at 5:30. Always add, “or any time that works best for you.” Obviously if you’re in another city, you’ll be doing a phone or Skype interview. Whatever you do, don’t resort to email unless the interviewee insists on it.

  1. Who depends on you?
  2. Whom do you depend on?
  3. What do the people who work for you do?
  4. What do you like most about your job?
  5. What’s the most challenging part of your job?
  6. What kind of problems do you face on a day-to-day basis?
  7. What’s it like to work for this particular company?
  8. What makes it distinct from the rest of the advertising world?
  9. How does the future look in your field?
  10. What are some of the long-term trends in your business?
  11. What’s a typical career path in this business?
  12. What city should I live in if I want to pursue this profession?
  13. What’s a typical entry-level title?
  14. In your organization when you’re getting ready to hire, in what position do people usually enter?
  15. What’s your hiring process like?
  16. Where do you see your career going from here?
  17. Where do you see this industry going?
  18. Do you hire interns?
  19. Whom would I talk to about the internship program?
  20. Who is the best person you’ve had in the internship program?
  21. What skill set is your business looking for?
  22. What would you recommend I study in college to best prepare me for this field?
  23. What would be good internship experiences I should consider? Should I try to work in a small or large agency?
  24. What type of work samples or portfolio should I be trying to develop as I try to move into this career?
  25. Who else would you recommend I talk to (mention who else you’ve talked to in the field)?

Forbes Staff Writer Susan Adams covers careers, jobs and every aspect of leadership.

 

10 Companies Hiring Like Crazy in December

By Kat Moon

Recently, we provided a step-by-step guide to figuring out which companies to apply for. But today, we’d like to make your life even easier by giving you a list of 10 awesome companies that are hiring like crazy in December.

Think December’s a strange time to apply for a new job? Think again. With less competition from other job seekers and more attention from recruiters, you’ll get a chance to seriously impress hiring managers if you choose to apply to any of these awesome companies.

  1. Dolby

If you’ve ever set foot in a movie theater, chances are you’ve been exposed to visual and sound technologies created by Dolby. The company’s mission is to improve everyday entertainment in cinema, music, and video games.

Although Dolby has been around for almost 50 years, employees say the excitement of going to work never wears off. New projects are executed every day, and the company’s different teams are united by the desire to improve the entertainment experience. Even if technology isn’t your jam, there are plenty of open roles, from marketing and legal operations to business strategy and product management, that will surely pique your interest.

See Dolby Open Jobs

  1. GoHealth

GoHealth is disrupting the health insurance industry—fast. Dubbed as the nation’s most complete online portal for finding health insurance coverage, the company has helped nearly 30 million Americans compare and purchase insurance plans since its founding in 2011. Michael Mahoney, senior VP of consumer marketing, shares that because the fundamentals of the insurance industry are so old, there are very few limits in terms of creativity.

Want to join a fast-paced environment with endless possibilities for innovation and advancement? Now’s your chance to apply. Don’t worry if the job description doesn’t fit you perfectly, because GoHealth’s new hires don’t fit any kind of mold.

See GoHealth Open Jobs

  1. Twilio

It’s not hard to fall in love with Twilio’s office in San Francisco. The cloud communications company—with major clients like Coca-Cola, PayPal, and Uber—has conference rooms named after Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, a fully-stocked kitchen, and a break room called The Dungeon.

Apart from building the next generation of voice and SMS applications for both Fortune 500 companies and rising startups, you’ll enjoy awesome perks like $20 a month for your daily bike ride, free Zipcar credits, and even $30 a month to buy your favorite books (if you successfully build a Twilio app, that is). Check out these openings to see how you can help define the future of business communication with a smart and incredibly fun team.

See Twilio Open Jobs

  1. Squarespace

Squarespace is hiring everywhere—in New York, in Portland, and in Dublin. Why? Because the company’s product is becoming popular everywhere. With the recent release of Squarespace 7 (which is seriously beautiful), the company is becoming a front-runner in website building. Customers build a professional presence on the web by selecting from Squarespace’s range of sophisticated templates and connect real-time with the company’s technicians whenever they have questions.

The company is looking to hire everyone from customer operations advisors and design specialists to software and network engineers. Applicants with fluency in either Spanish or German are especially desired.

See Squarespace Open Jobs

  1. Virool

With a global network of more than 100 million viewers, Virool makes sure videos get seen. Whether it’s helping movie trailers reach new audiences, helping musicians get discovered on YouTube, or helping brands engage with online viewers, Virool knows the secret formula for making videos go viral. Sony, Disney, and Heineken are just a few of the company’s notable customers.

If being a part of this video advertising story excites you, Virool wants to chat. Apart from traveling between the offices in San Francisco, New York, and St. Petersburg, you’ll have opportunities to go on company retreats to places like Napa Valley and Yosemite National Park.

See Virool Open Jobs

  1. Shutterstock

Shutterstock has created the largest and most vibrant two-sided marketplace for creative professionals to license content—including images, videos, and music, as well as innovative tools that power the creative process. The company now boasts a presence in more than 150 different countries and operates in 20 different languages. It’s looking for new hires to join in its mission to deliver high-quality content from more than 70,000 artists to a global customer base of over one million marketing, creative, production, and communications professionals.

Whether you’re located in Chicago, Denver, New York, San Francisco, or Europe, there are open positions for you at Shutterstock. Don’t miss this opportunity to visually inspire the global creative community.

See Shutterstock Open Jobs

  1. Allstate 

Ever heard of the slogan, “You’re in good hands with Allstate?” Well, it comes from the company that’s currently the largest publicly held personal lines insurer in the U.S. Allstate’s mission is to help millions of households—16 million, to be exact—insure personal possessions and plan for the unexpected. No matter what your needs are, Allstate has the right insurance coverage option for you.

Join more than 70,000 professionals to expand the company’s existing products and build new ones. Even though Allstate is a giant firm, employees share that the company’s startup-like culture allows everyone to make a direct impact.

See Allstate Open Jobs

  1. GrubHub

To put it simply, GrubHub quells hunger. Its online ordering system featuring menu viewing, meal ordering, and food delivery is every hungry person’s dream come true. As Steven Young, senior director of acquisitions marketing, puts it, “We bring a new way of getting all the food that you love, whenever you want it, however you want it.”

Get excited, because GrubHub’s Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, and San Diego locations are all hiring like crazy. Whether you’re technical, non-technical, looking for an internship, or looking for a senior level position—the company has a job opening for you.

See  GrubHub Open Jobs

  1. Teach for America 

Only 8% of kids growing up in low-income communities graduate from college, and TFA wants to change that. The organization’s mission is to provide kids growing up in poverty with the opportunity to get an excellent education. Partnering with regional offices from all 50 states, TFA reaches students at every stage between pre-K and 12th grade.

If you’d like to join more than 2,000 others in this social movement, don’t wait another minute to apply. While you don’t need an experience in education to be considered, you do need a passion for impacting the next generation.

See Teach for America Open Jobs

  1. Nitro

Nitro makes smarter documents for everyone. Its award-winning products have transformed the way documents are created, edited, and shared—and more than 490,000 businesses have bought in. Not impressed yet? Over 50% of Fortune 500 companies—Nike, IBM, and Staples, to name a few—rely on Nitro, and the company built the PDF that has become Lenovo’s software partner of choice.

Now that Nitro’s products are used by millions of people around the world, the company is searching for the brightest talent for its offices in Melbourne, Dublin, and San Francisco. As a Nitronaut, you’ll enter a place where the office culture is completely defined by the interests of employees.

See Nitro Open Jobs

A sophomore at Columbia University, Kat Moon currently serves on the board of Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs.

3 Mistakes That Can Suffocate Your Success in Finding a Job

by Joyce Fortier-Paxton, Professional / Executive Resume Writer & Coach

With November here, many job seekers I talk with are thinking about putting their job search aside until after the holidays. Their thought is that companies will slack off and not be seeking new employees until next year.

I have found the exact opposite is true. Companies are gearing up their employee searches now so that new employees will be hired and in place when the New Year begins. Budgets for many companies open up at the first of the year and the companies want their staff in place so they can hit the deck running.

NOW is the time to ramp up your job search. Now is the time to focus on the companies where you want to work and send your resumes to them. And, by the way, when you send out your resume, don’t forget to follow-up. It is your responsibility to follow-through, not the prospective employers. If you TAKE ACTION NOW, you have a much greater chance of landing a job for the New Year.

1)            Your first step is to have a resume that is a “10” – one that shows your value for the job you want. How do you do that? Know your target – think like the employer. When you are in the market for a new job, promotion or raise, you need to think like the decision maker. What problem does that person have that they need fixed? How does your skill set help them achieve their goals? What have you done, or what can you do to make their job easier? How can you significantly contribute to company objectives? When you help them get whatever they want, they will more than likely help you get what you want.

2)            Your next step is to search the Hidden Job Market for opportunities. While estimates vary as to how big the hidden job market really is, most people tracking these things agree that it makes up about 75% of total employment opportunities. Yet, many job seekers have their heads stuck in the job board postings that make up about 3% to 5% of job opportunities, and really yield few results. So you see, you have a much higher chance of landing the right job when you seek out the hidden job market – there are many more jobs and there is much less competition.

3)            Finally you have to navigate the Hidden Job Market.

  • Focus on several target companies you would like to work for, rather than on specific job openings
  • Research these companies, thoroughly, finding out what their challenges might be and learning about the people who can help you get in the door – look on the Internet, in general publications and trade journals
  • Look for articles written by people who work at your target companies and begin building relationships with them by email, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook – ask them to recommend others who might talk with you
  • Talk with vendors, customers and employees of your target company – they can often tell you about upcoming jobs and opportunities (these are the hidden sources in the hidden job market)
  • Finally, call the target manager at each of your chosen companies – briefly explain who you are, what you know about their business, and how you might help with some of the challenges they are facing. Ask for a 12-minute meeting so you can demonstrate your ability to contribute to the bottom line – stick to 12-minutes. Be prepared to offer ideas and solutions the manager needs.

Using this approach works – it can lead a manager to create a new job for you, once you’ve shown how talented and self-motivated you are.

***I want to make sure you have every opportunity to get calls for the jobs you want – in order to do this, you need to start with a stellar resume – so I am offering you a complementary resume critique – I know what it takes for a resume to get results! Just email your resume to me at paxton.joyce@gmail.com and put “Resume Critique” in the subject line. I will then critique your resume. I look forward to hearing from you in comments on the blog: http://wp.me/pseG4-71.***

With over 20 years experience, Joyce Fortier-Paxton is an expert in career transition coaching and job search strategies that focus on the hidden job market, giving you advice that works magic, and providing you with guidance that brings optimum results.

What Applicants Say In Interviews That Get Them Hired

By Naomi Seselja

The most irresistible job applicants marry their emotional intelligence with competency based answers in their job interviews to impress on all levels. These applicants understand an interview isn’t an interrogation but an interactive platform for interviewer and interviewee to arrive at the same station – and feel good about it.

While there are a range of processes to understand about behavioural interviews, I will focus here on three pointers compelling candidates understand about their job interview and what they say that highlights their emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not ‘faking’ it, it is articulating your genuine positive insights in a purposeful and advantageous way. It is putting your best foot forward and using a smart approach, that indeed is useful both inside the interview and in life.

 Successful applicants are incredibly passionate about the job at hand – and prove it.

You are a high quality candidate with a history of excellence in your chosen field, or as a newbie you showcase your potential and willingness to be great at your job. Passion, enthusiasm, zeal, cannot-wait-to-get-the-offer-and-get-started, or any way you want to put it – is undeniably magnetic.

Show off your fervour in a way that translates to “I will be on top of my game in this role”. Anyone can say “I would love this opportunity” without explaining why. In fact, a user of this phrase probably uses it in every interview they’re asked to, and interviewers remain untouched by this cliche. Why not suggest your enthusiasm by the questions you fire back with?

A sample of questions that impress upon your passion:

  • “What would you expect me to have achieved in my first 3 months on the job?”
  • “Can you tell me about the upcoming projects / campaigns in your company?”

Irresistible applicants come across as someone others would love to work with.

In focusing on facts and figures, don’t forget the ‘likeability’ factor. Sometimes the person most qualified for the job misses out because the interviewer didn’t warm to them and didn’t feel the team would, either. The most skilled candidates practice empathy with their interviewer, understanding they are only human with their own social needs to fit in, to be understood and respected, and use this bias to their advantage.

Ways to be charming in an interview:

  • Make the interviewer feel comfortable by being warm and even humorous if the occasion calls for it.
  • Think of the interviewer as someone you know, talk to them as if you genuinely like and respect them. They will feel this warmth and be confident that the team will to.
  • Speak about your greatest achievements, in a modest tone. Let your achievements speak for themselves.
  • Be interactive and ask questions of your own. People often say they don’t get the chance; but when you are answering a question, the floor is all yours to fire away with your own.
  • Don’t be combative, boastful, cold or disengaged – the most superhumanly intellectual of candidates can lose the opportunity just by being unlikeable.

The best candidates aren’t reserved about complimenting the company at hand.

Stipulate your admiration for the companies initiatives, campaigns, projects, presentation, vibe, vision – anything you genuinely like about the company. Compliment the company.

When answering questions, feel welcome to talk about past relevant experiences and then inject what you like about the company’s matching initiatives.

For example:

“I volunteer with an NGO that helps rescue victims of human trafficking, and was actively involved in my previous company’s campaign to stop child trafficking. I’m so excited that you have projects now in Europe involved in this – it’s such an important global initiative that attracted me to applying for this position. I’d love the opportunity to be on board with what you’re doing there.”

Just by using some emotional intelligence to target your answers and build rapport on a range of levels, you are able to get greater insight into the position and company and find out if it’s right for you, as well as being able to sit in a very comfortable position.

Of course, there are exceptions in some cultural climates, but in general this is how the best of candidates do it. This is not enough in itself to get you hired, but by putting your best social foot forward and having that correlate with your suitability for the position, correctly answering competency based questions and highlighting your fit within the company culture, you are giving yourself the best chances of success.

Naomi Seselja is the founder of Mode Recruitment & Career Services. An expert resume writer and interview coach, her clients include: CEO’s, Biologists, Executives, Financiers, people in the beauty industry and everything in between all across the globe. 

Job Searchers Need To Love Themselves To Be Successful

 

By Arleen Bradley

Loving yourself is the first step in believing in yourself.

Today is a day for letting the people you know you love them. But do you love you? How are you showing yourself love? It’s important that you love yourself all the time, but more so when you are struggling. A little self-love can go a long way when you are feeling the results of the black hole.

When I experienced the black hole, my confidence and esteem diminished. After months of no success, I began to feel that I was a loser. I thought it was pointless to fill out another application or send another résumé. Does this sound familiar?

If you are like most long-term unemployed, I’m sure it does. And feeling this way is the biggest hindrance to your job search success. Only when I became confident on the inside as I seemed on the outside, did I find success.

It came when I realized that people weren’t rejecting “me”; they found someone better qualified in the enormous pool of candidates. I had to realize that my thoughts were holding me back. And when I did, I was able to change them and took action to prove to myself I was capable.

I would like to share 3 quotes with you today. Think of them as my Valentine’s gift to you.

Zig Ziglar said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” This is true. My clients who are positive about their job search find success quicker than the ones who have started the downward spiral.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” You can do anything you think you can because you won’t stop trying. You will do everything you can to succeed. Resting isn’t an option.

And finally my last quote is by Lee Pryke. I love the title of her website: IamIcan.ca. The reason I love this quote is how she notes that loving yourself is the key to achieving. And that’s what I am talking about today.

She says, “Understanding and unconditionally loving yourself is the key to achieving everything you desire. Understanding is the part that I believe so many slide by, therefore, finding self-love a challenge. When we understand what our inner thought process is about ourselves, we can address the areas that most desire a tender loving hug.” Today give yourself a hug. Allow yourself some time to take care of you. Do one thing you enjoy, and I’m sure that it has nothing to do with job searching. You’ve earned it.   You are poised for success; it’s just around the corner.

Arleen Bradley is a Certified Job Loss Recovery Specialist, Certified Job Search Strategist, and Certified Career Management Coach. http://arleenbradley.com/starting-a-job-search/

10 Tips to Add Pizazz to Your Accomplishment Statements

by Nina Scott

Why are accomplishment statements important on a resume?

Accomplishment statements are the “meat and potatoes” of a resume, or, put another way, your achievements are the “special sauce” which could help you to stand out.

Without accomplishment statements that clearly show the magnitude and scope of abilities, a resume or CV (Curriculum Vitae) can appear very ordinary, boring, or even suggest there may not be enough motivation to excel in ways that matter.

As a Certified Professional Resume Writer (C.P.R.W) and Career Coach, I usually find this couldn’t be farther from the truth!  Often, candidates have great achievements and motivation to excel, but their successes are obscured from view unintentionally.

Why do some have trouble coming up with accomplishment statements?

There are several reasons candidates might have trouble coming up with accomplishment statements.

  • Many don’t realize the importance of being their own career historian, and tracking their achievements along the way
  • They are not fully aware of the skillsets they have, which are relevant to the direction  they wish to navigate their career toward They may feel too awkward to point out the positive things they did.  Upon probing further,  sometimes ingrained belief systems which highlight humbleness as a personal positive attribute, can spill over into a candidate’s professional demeanor and undermine their ability to market themselves with graceful confidence
  •  They may feel too awkward to point out the positive things they did.  Upon probing further,  sometimes ingrained belief systems which highlight humbleness as a personal positive attribute, can spill over into a candidate’s professional demeanor and undermine their ability to market themselves with graceful confidence
  • The perception is  they haven’t been in a situation where they were able to have an opportunity to shine
  • Important documents are not saved for reference, such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, testimonials, reviews, or other accolades
  • They just don’t know how to approach articulating or writing impactful statements, and so they avoid it

Do any of the above reasons sound familiar to you?  Accurate achievements with impact can always be uncovered, even when there is a termination in the work history.

Most people have accomplishments, but they don’t always realize it, or they unknowingly think it’s enough to simply list their duties.

How about you?  Have you invested your time into really thinking about your accomplishments?

If you are like most people, it is not easy to come up with your own achievements, but it is important to take the time and initiative to do.

Contrary to what many believe, introspection, integrity, research, organization, and thought is what needs to precede a series of good accomplishment statements on a resume.  Pensively and well written accomplishment statements are one important key element which can dramatically help your resume or CV to potentially deliver engagement from prospective Employers, Human Resource Staffing Specialists, and Recruiters.  On the other hand, if you are an entrepreneur, potential clients may need to consider your background before selecting your product or service.

Here are my 10 tips for how to add pizazz to your accomplishment statements, and significantly improve your resume or curriculum vitae’s impact.

1) Do your homework and research currently valued skillsets and industry challenges which will help you to recognize your relevant achievements.

Identify with what you learn about your target industry or occupation, and compare it with your own relevant experience, while looking for commonalities.

Arrange to talk with others in your goal occupation at networking events, but be prepared to reciprocate to anyone who may assist you, and offer to see how you might help them.  Also, don’t be shy to ask how you can genuinely support those who aren’t in a position to supply the information you seek, just be sure to reserve plenty of time for your job search.  Sincere acts of professional support are not only a kind gesture, but doing so can naturally result in enabling others to view you as a professional of value to be connected with over time.

In order to become in the know, both in-person and online networking is critical.  If you are computer proficient with social media, it’s highly recommended you follow online discussions that regularly have members posting about the current issues as well as trends in your target profession.

 2) If you don’t have computer skills, take the time and initiative to learn. 

Look for free or low cost resources at your local library, career one stop center, or visit the Goodwill Community Foundation International site for self-paced online training.  Don’t allow yourself to get lost on the wrong side of the digital divide with unmarketable computer skillsets!  Technology permeates many professions now, even the application process itself is riddled with it.

This point is critical.  If you find you are limited in computer proficiency, and want to create and distribute your resume yourself, think about this:  How can you type your accomplishment statements onto your resume document, if you are not familiar with how to use the software programs and hardware which can create it?  How can you apply online for jobs, or email your resume as an attachment, if you don’t know how to navigate via online digital correspondence platforms? Anyone, at any age can learn how to do this, if they have access, motivation, patience, and perserverance.  Take the time to learn, and be patient with yourself in the process.

3) Another free online resource where you can check the trends of a profession is with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Online Occupational Outlook Handbook. 

Here you can find how to break into a targeted occupation, tasks, trends, and more.

4) Keep a notebook handy for accurately documenting your accomplishments.

If transitioning between jobs, keep it readily available near your computer or where you spend the most time.  Being your own career historian is crucial so you can show how you shine, throughout the timeline, of your career and education.  Make annotations in your notebook whenever you intentionally realize an accomplishment or happen upon it in thought.

Having an accomplishments notebook is also a handy tool to provide to a Certified Professional Resume Writer, who is an expert at taking many other important factors into consideration when creating a resume or other career document.  A Certified Professional Resume Writer is generally fluent with helping you to discover your accomplishment highlights, and knows how to selectively market your achievements.

5) If a good rapport exists with a prior employer, ask for their input and perspective on your accomplishments. 

If the employer is willing, request they write a letter of recommendation which would help to support the accomplishments stated.

6) Be sure to track numbers, frequencies, increasing and decreasing percentages, dollar amounts, as well as timeframes that made a difference as a direct result of your efforts. 

If applicable, integrate how the accomplishment was achieved into the statement.  Here are a few examples with different combinations of measurements from a variety of occupations.

  • Led team of four in creating a 20 ft. tall Periactoid on wheels over 2 week duration
  • Inspected a total of 4,089 miles incorporating 3 roadway resurfacing projects in a 13 month period
  • Wrote Sales Training and Procedures Handbooks with a combined page total in excess of 100 pages, for distribution to approximately 200 employees
  • Increased department sales of diabetic medical devices by 75% in a 6 month period, and was featured in company newsletter

7) Remember even a small hourly or daily achievement average can be multiplied to estimate weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual accomplishments.

Example:  “I process 12 client intakes per day”.  Doesn’t sound like much right?

But when you multiply 12 intakes per day, by 5 days per week, that’s 60 intakes per week, even better!  Similarly, you can figure out monthly, quarterly, and yearly figures in this manner.  In the example discussed, that translates to 240 per month, 720 per quarter, and 2880 per year.  Wow!

8) Write down any unique challenges you experienced on a project, and consider the context, as well as how you overcame it. 

There may have been external factors making a particular aspect of a job difficult.

As an example, one of my clients directed an infrastructure project in which there were international government stakeholders based out of 3 countries.

The challenge was she needed to avoid costly miscommunications, which she was very successful at accomplishing, so it became important to show in her resume how she was able to do that.  Here is a statement designed to consider the unique context of her situation, and how it was managed.

  • Project evolved smoothly as a result of strategic planning, consistent dialogue (always confirmed in writing), frequent visits to construction plants in other territories to bridge cultural gap as well as operational development, and weekly progress meetings

No matter what level of professional you are or the type of occupation(s) you have had, it is possible for unique challenges to exist. Be sure to think about if such unique challenges existed when writing your resume or working with a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

9) Keep in mind the big picture and your percentage of contribution to a team’s bottom line, whatever that might be in your industry.

Here are three examples of accomplishment statements which magnify impact of contribution.

  • Created a risk management procedures matrix for categorizing project rankings and factors causing an estimated savings of over $90K, which was subsequently allocated to two additional projects
  • Carried 60% of department’s case management load, and identified over $100K in eligible services for improving the lives of community members attempting to contribute to their families and society.
  • Secured $30K in media sponsorship resulting in global audience viewership of 3,000 and approximately $52K in revenue

10) Above all, don’t give up! 

Stay focused and look inside yourself for the value you surely offer to prospective employers.  Become clear on your past as well as current contributions.

© By Nina Scott, C.P.R.W.

Nina Scott is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach.