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Archive for March, 2011

How to Use Social Networks to Find Job Opportunities

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Using social networks for your job search can expand your network and introduce you to new people, but you can also leverage those networks to find job announcements and find places to upload your resume.

LinkedIn
Did you know LinkedIn has a job board? Follow the “Jobs” tab on LinkedIn.com’s top toolbar. It will bring you to positions suggested by LinkedIn based on your profile. The best part is that the site shows who posted the position (and links to that person’s profile), and displays people in your network who are connected to the organization of interest. Be sure to fill out your profile completely and take advantage of LinkedIn’s capabilities.

Twitter
Many agree that job seekers should focus on using Twitter to expand their networks and meet new people. In addition, there are a variety of services that stream job opportunities and have tools to help connect job seekers with new opportunities. Here are just a few of these services:

@jobshouts / jobshouts.com
A free resource for job seekers, this service tweets jobs from their Twitter account. As Alison Doyle of About.com explains, “…Jobs can be found either by following JobShouts on Twitter, or by searching “jobs” or keywords found in posted job titles. Each job creator is carefully screened by a jobshouts.com team member. Jobshouts provides quality jobs in a variety of verticals to a targeted group of twitter followers and professionals.”

@TweetMyJOBS / tweetmyjobs.com
This service created close to 10,000 location and job-type specific Job Channels for job seekers to follow. After job seekers register, the founder explained, “Jobs that match the profile are tweeted directly to the job seeker via their preferred communication channel, and can even show up as text messages on their mobile phone the instant that the job gets posted.”

@tweetajob / tweetajob.com
Job seekers specify a location and career interest and receive targeted tweets. Jobseekers may choose to receive job postings via Twitter feed, through the Tweetajob search engine or via mobile devices.

Facebook
Some applications that take advantage of Facebook’s social graph are beginning to take a professional focus. Two to watch:

  • Branchout. This app offers jobseekers many options. You may search for open jobs by company name, position, or skill and filter those jobs by location. For example, you could search for IBM, V.P. of Sales, or sales, and sort your results by city. The most powerful feature on BranchOut is the ability to identify friends and friends-of-friends at the companies where you want to work. Just type in the name of a company, see your 1st and 2nd degree connections at that company, and request an introduction – if necessary – in just one click.
  • Jibe. This application only posts jobs directly from Fortune 1000, name-brand, and up-and-coming companies. They note, “You won’t find any spam, multi-level marketing, or commission-only jobs on JIBE… You never have to leave JIBE to apply for a job, and you never have to fill out the same profile information more than once.”

Startwire
A new service, now in open beta, StartWire lets you sign in via LinkedIn or Facebook and will sort through 7,000 + job boards, employers, and search firms to identify the ones that are actively searching for people like you. StartWire may help accelerate your job search through social collaboration with a trusted network of friends, colleagues, and experts. It allows you to download your resume, create updates on where you’ve applied, the status of your applications, and the companies and jobs you like. You may share your updates with your selected network and get advice, targeted jobs, and networking recommendations from StartWire experts for free.

Consider incorporating some of these social networking tools into your job search plans to enhance the power of the social web.

Cover Letters for Recent College Graduates

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Recent college graduates are often anxious and confused about what to write in the cover letters that accompany their job applications. As a result, they tend to make two major mistakes: they either don’t send much of a cover letter at all, or they use the letter to simply summarize the information that’s on their resume.

These are crucial mistakes. A cover letter can be one of the most effective ways to make an application stand out, particularly for recent grads, who generally are at a disadvantage when it comes to experience.

The reason a cover letter can make such a difference is because, for most jobs, picking the best candidate is rarely solely about skills and experience. Those obviously take center stage, but if that’s all that mattered, there would be no point in interviews; employers would make a hire based off of resumes alone. But in the real world, other factors matter too—people skills, intellect, communication abilities, enthusiasm for the job, and simply what kind of person you are. A good cover letter effectively conveys those qualities.

Here are some keys to a great cover letter. Using these tips, in conjunction with Job & Career Accelerator’s Cover Letter Builder, can really help move a candidate to the “call for an interview” pile.

  • The cover letter should be written in a conversational, engaging tone. Recent grads sometimes feel that business writing means being stiff or overly formal; the best cover letters are more conversational (without being overly casual, of course).
  • The letter should show personal interest in working for this particular organization and in this particular job, and it should be specific about why. Doing this makes it clear that this isn’t not the same form letter that the candidate is sending to every other job she’s applying for.  Employers want applicants who are interested in this job, not a job.
  • The letter should not simply summarize the resume that follows. With such limited initial contact, applicants are doing themselves a disservice if they squander a whole page of the application on repeating the contents of the other pages!
  • Instead, a great cover letter should provide information about the candidate that will never be available from a resume, like personal traits and work habits. For instance, if a candidate is applying for an assistant job that requires top-notch organizational skills, and the candidate is so organized that she alphabetizes her spices and color-codes her bills every month, most hiring managers would love to know that! And that’s not something that would ever belong in a resume, but the cover letter is a perfect place for it.
  • One tip for a great letter: Read the ad and deduce what traits are needed to excel in the position, and then write straightforwardly about those. For instance, a job-seeker might write, “Reading over your ad, I suspect you’re looking for someone detail-oriented and organized, and that’s why I’m responding.”  Or, if the ad specifically listed those qualities (and thus no deducing was necessary), the candidate could write, “Your ad called for someone detail-oriented and organized, and I’m continually lauded for those qualities.”
  • (Of course, candidates need to be smart and genuine about this. Writing “Your ad called for someone with an English degree and I’m continually lauded for mine” won’t pass a straight-face test. People are rarely lauded for their degrees by anyone other than their parents.)
  • A great letter avoids sounding overly salesy. Recent grads tend to be especially prone to hyperbole in their cover letters, perhaps because they’re not sure what else to say and they’ve been told to sell themselves. The best letters avoid statements like  “You won’t find a candidate better qualified than me” or “I’m the best candidate for the job”; these sorts of statements come across as overly cocky, naive bluster (especially from a candidate without significant experience). Instead, they’re simply straightforward and explain why the candidate is a strong match.
  • A great letter gets the details right. I can’t tell you how many cover letters I receive from candidates who get the title of the job they’re applying for wrong, or who ignore specific instructions that were in the ad.  It’s important that grads realize that little things really do matter.

Approaching cover letters this way will help grads stand out from their competition, the vast majority of whom aren’t tailoring their letters this way.

Of course, this approach does take longer, so job-seekers may argue that they have no time for this kind of personalization when they’re applying for 50 different jobs. But if they narrow it down and focus on fewer jobs and take the time to write a truly compelling cover letter tailored to each specific job, it’s likely they’ll find that 10 truly personalized, well-tailored applications get better results than 50 generic applications.

Paying Your Dues

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By Job & Career Accelerator Admin

In most industries, employees who are new to the workforce are expected to spend a few years paying their dues. What that means varies from one company to the next, but it usually boils down to taking on jobs that more experienced workers wouldn’t do for salaries they wouldn’t accept. Yes, it’s unfair. But if you’re able to prove your value to your employers during this period of drudgery, then promotions, higher salaries, and increased job satisfaction should follow.

Although you’ll probably have to go through a minor hazing period wherever you land, being on the low rung of the ladder doesn’t have to mean eating ramen noodles for dinner every night. A report by Forbes.com found that there are industries that pay their entry-level workers a decent living wage. According to the report, the top 10 highest-paid entry-level positions are:

10. Warehouse and Logistics Management – $39,600

9. Business and Finance – $40,200

8. Government, Military, and Civil Service – $40,300

7. Insurance – $40,800

6. Manufacturing – $42,700

5. Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals – $43,900

4. Information Technology and Telecommunications – $46,000

3. Energy, Oil, and Gas – $50,900

2. Construction, Trades, and Labor – $51,100

1. Engineering – $53,400

Unsurprisingly, most of these jobs are math- and science-based; that liberal arts degree may take a bit longer to pay off. Also, note that the listed starting salaries are median figures, and that some of these jobs can actually pay much higher. Some investment banking firms, for example, can pay as much as $150,000 for entry-level positions. If you’re lucky enough to score one of these coveted positions, you won’t pay your dues so much as the dues will pay you.

How to Find and Land a Perfect Job

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By Miriam Salpeter

Finding and landing the perfect job depends on a number of factors. There is no “silver bullet” method that works for every job seeker, but there are a number of undeniably important aspects that, when done well, can make a difference for struggling job seekers. This article includes tips, information, and resources about an array of key topics for job search success, including how to conduct relevant self-assessments, how to research the market to determine promising job paths and industries, innovative methods to expand career networks, tips to effectively prepare for an interview, and advice about how to vet people serving as job references.

Self-Assessment

Many job seekers overlook self-assessment. Without fully exploring interest inventories and skill suits, many flounder and apply for inappropriate positions. If career coaching is not an option, consider suggesting that patrons investigate free online tools to help identify what they may want to do next. These assessments may trigger ideas and help get some job seekers out of a rut.

Job & Career Accelerator’s Occupation Matcher

Patrons of any library subscribed to Job & Career Accelerator can explore a wide variety of occupations and discover new opportunities by using the Occupation Matcher. The Occupation Matcher walks users through 180 questions that reveal occupations that best match their backgrounds and goals. Each user also gets a list of occupations based on his or her interest score and employment preparation level.

MAAP – Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential

http://www.assessment.com offers a partial report and five matches for free, and offers more comprehensive assessments for a fee. The free report may help encourage a job seeker to research a previously unexplored field.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

This assessment provides a four-letter composite about a person’s personality. It assesses people as either introverted or extroverted, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. Many believe these indicators can help steer job seekers into positions best suited to their tendencies. Candidates may try a free, shortened assessment here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp and learn about a few potential career directions.

Research the Market

Understanding the current job market is important, and many traditional reference tools, such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, may help job seekers decide on appropriate next steps. Another terrific resource to help people learn about up-and-coming fields is U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Careers” article. Using “best company” lists, such as Forbes’ list of best places to work,  may be useful. Glassdoor.com is an online site where people share information about where they work; it offers an insider’s look at companies that may interest job seekers.

Expand Networks

The most effective way to land an interview is via a referral. The more people who know a candidate, the more likely he or she is to benefit from a referral that results in an opportunity.  Social networking provides opportunities to significantly increase the number of people who know about a job seeker. These are some of the best online tools to use to expand a network:

LinkedIn. The number one professional, online place for job seekers, this is a must-have social network. After completing a profile, job seekers should visit Groups to identify active online communities who share their interests. Alumni organizations, professional associations, and personal interest groups may all be good launching points to meet new people.

Twitter. While not always considered a professional network, Twitter is diverse and offers a wonderful tool to meet and expand a network of people with shared interests. One useful Twitter tool is “Twitter Chats.” Twitter chats occur when people who share goals or interests come online to share information and resources via Twitter. Leaders name chats using hashtags (#) to make them easy to search. One chat for job seekers is #JobHuntChat, Monday nights at 10-11 eastern time. Job seekers may find chat topics covering an array of interests here.  Anyone is welcome to join chats to ask questions, meet people, and grow their networks.

Interview Skills

None of these other tips matter if job seekers are not properly prepared for resulting interviews. The best advice for jobseekers: research the company. Use obvious tools, such as company websites, their YouTube channels, Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn Company profiles. Additional resources to learn about companies include:

Answering questions well is key to interviewing well. Job seekers should not try to memorize answers to lists of interview questions. Instead, suggest they prepare several stories to illustrate past successes, describe interpersonal relationships with colleagues and supervisors, and detail one or two negative situations they managed to salvage. Usually, having strong stories covering these topics will help them address most typical interview questions. They should be sure to follow an outline for the stories that includes the problem, the action they took, and the result (PAR).

References

Unfortunately, an unprepared reference may signal the end of a successful job search path. Job seekers should fully prepare and vet the people who will serve as their references.

They should ask permission to provide someone’s name as a reference ahead of time, and provide their recommenders with updated job search materials and information about the position. Be sure to tell the person about the interview, and suggest specifics the employer may want to know.