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Posts Tagged ‘job seekers’

How to Build a Network

Monday, September 10th, 2012

by Andrea Santiago

Job search experts and career counselors and coaches are constantly touting the benefits of professional networking. For many job seekers and professionals, establishing and building a network is not that simple. Many wonder where to begin, and with whom to connect. How exactly do you build a resourceful, dynamic network that can actually help you with job search or career advancement?

Network early, and often. (And don’t stop networking!) It’s never too early to start networking. Building a network is a marathon, not a sprint. If possible, start building your network before you’re in dire need of a job. Devote a few minutes a day, several times per week to networking. Even when you are gainfully, happily employed, you should always continue networking, to help you learn more about your industry, advance your career, or develop relationships with potential clients.

Give before you receive. The most effective networkers are able to provide value to their connections, whether it’s industry knowledge, professional introductions, or assistance with any defined need. Dan Schawbel, personal branding expert, offers this advice in an online interview: “Figure out a way to help . . . in some fashion. Give value to others without asking for anything in return.”

Use online and offline networking resources. Social networking sites are a very effective tool for building your professional network. But be careful not to get lost in cyberspace. Get out for quality face time at networking events, conferences, interviews, etc., as well as general face-to-face social interaction of any type.

Online Networking

Account set-up is only the beginning! If you were attending a professional conference or trade show, would you set up your booth and then walk away, leaving it alone, and expect prospects to flock to your empty, unmanned station? The same applies to online social networking. For success in building your network, you must remain active, post updates (preferably ones with some value to your network), and continually invite others to connect with you. Joining the network is just the first step. A blank, dormant account will not attract worthwhile connections.

Focus on proven networks: There are hundreds of networking sites, and deciding where to begin can be overwhelming. Start with one network, and then add one or two more if needed. LinkedIn is a great starting point, and a convenient “home base” for maintaining your network. Eventually you may want to also join a network specific to your industry or professional role, if there is a strong, active site pertaining to your career.

Respond and interact with others. Networking should include mutual interaction. While it’s important to post updates and links from your account, it’s equally important to comment, “like”, and share updates and posts from others’ accounts, particularly those of key influencers. By doing so, you will increase your visibility to important connections as they review responses to their posts, and your connections will be more likely to notice you and remember you when an applicable need arises.

Face-to-Face Networking

Informal, unofficial events can be the best networking opportunities. Some of the best places and times to network are often outside of “official” networking meetings or industry conferences. These can include social gatherings, or everyday activities in public places such as sitting on an airplane, standing in line, or riding in an elevator. Every interaction is a potential networking opportunity.

Ask questions. People are more likely to open up and let down their guard when asked questions about themselves. Taking an interest in others’ lives and their expertise can help engage a new contact.

Follow-up online. Be sure to reach out online after meeting someone. Invite them to connect to your network so you can keep track of them and continue to reach out to them conveniently.

How does networking work to your advantage? Alison Doyle, author and job search expert, provides some real-world examples of networking successes, plus additional networking tips.

Take just a few minutes to plant a few networking seeds several times a week, and you will ultimately build a resourceful, thriving network of engaged professionals.

How to Turn Your Internship or Temp Job into Full-Time Employment

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

By Heather Huhman

In a tough job market, internships and temporary positions can be the necessary foot in the door you need to land a full-time gig. In fact, in a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers reported that 39% of their entry-level hires came from their own internship programs. Internships are also a vital way to build experience and eliminate resume gaps while on the hunt for a full-time job in your industry.

Yes, an internship or temporary job is probably not your ultimate career goal, but it can be that stepping stone you need to land a full-time job. So what are some ways to ensure you make an impression as an intern or temp?

Be proactive. Sit down with your supervisor (or mentor, if your internship program provides one for you) and identify goals you’d like to accomplish during your time at the organization. What do you want to get out of this experience? Setting expectations upfront can help keep you on track during your time there. Taking control is key.

Do your job to the best of your ability. Show your boss and co-workers that you can complete tasks efficiently and correctly. Meet deadlines or turn in assignments early. Always strive to do your best work no matter how menial you feel the task is.

Dress a step above your current position. The best way to be viewed as more than an intern or temporary worker is to dress like it. Don’t come to work dressed too casually just because other interns or temp workers do. Remember . . . you want to stand out among these folks!

Go above and beyond. If your supervisor asks for three ideas, provide five. If you see a process that could be improved, present your suggestions to your boss or colleague. Treat this job as you would a full-time one.

Communicate often with your supervisor. Unsure about an assignment? Have a question about how you should handle something? Talk to your supervisor to clarify anything you are uncertain about. It’s better to know if you’re on the right track before you start, rather than after.

Start a dialogue about coming on full-time. Sometimes, all it takes is bringing up the subject to land a full-time job at the company where you’re interning or temping. Before your time with the company ends, remind them that you’re really interested in working there full-time. Ask, “How can we get me to work at this organization? I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”

Keep in contact with co-workers and managers. Think of this internship or temporary job as a network booster. Hopefully, you’ll make some connections that can help you land a job in the future, whether it’s with the company you currently work for or not. Add colleagues on LinkedIn, ask for recommendations from your supervisor, offer to volunteer at a company event, do anything to keep in touch with your supervisors and coworker to show that you are dedicated to your field.

Has one of your internships or temp jobs ever turned into a full-time job? Why do you think you ended up getting hired as a full-time employee?

Mastering the Phone Interview

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

By: Alison Green

More and more employers are using phone interviews as screening mechanisms to narrow down their applicant pool before deciding whom to interview in person. Phone interviews can range from short and perfunctory, to long and in-depth, but they’re generally intended to obtain some basic background information about you and to get a better sense of who you are.

The keys to acing a phone interview are being professional, prepared, and enthusiastic. Here are 10 ways to ensure you are.

1. Be prepared. You want to go into the call understanding who the employer is, so before the interview, go to its website and read enough to get a good feel for its clients, work, and general approach. Don’t leave the site until you can answer these questions: What does this organization do? What is it all about? What makes it different from the competition?

2. Know the job description. There’s nothing worse than a phone interview where the candidate doesn’t seem to grasp what the job is all about and why it would be a good fit. So as part of your advance preparation, go through the job description line by line and think about how your experience and skills fit with each line. Don’t be alarmed if you’re not a perfect fit; people get hired all the time without being a line-for-line match. The idea is simply to have thought through how you are a match, so that those thoughts are easily retrievable and can be turned into answers on the phone.

3. Think about the questions that you’re likely to be asked, and write out your answers to each of them. At a minimum, cover these basics: Why are you thinking about leaving your current job? What interests you about this opening? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What experience do you have doing ___? (Fill in each of the major responsibilities of the job.)

4. Think about how you’ll answer questions about salary history or expectations, so you’re prepared with an answer and not caught off-guard if this common topic comes up.

5. Come up with several questions of your own, because at the end of the conversation you’ll likely be asked what questions you have. Good questions at this stage are about the role itself and open-ended inquiries about the office culture. Make sure to end by asking what the next steps are and what the timeline is for getting back to you.

6. Pay attention to your tone of voice. On the phone interview, the interviewer can’t see your body language or gestures, so tone of voice matters more than ever. Your goal is to sound upbeat, interested, and engaged, not sluggish, distracted, or unenthused. And let your personality come through; after all, a major reason for the phone interview is to get a sense of what you’re all about.

7. While you shouldn’t sound stiff, don’t have an overly casual manner either. While the interviewer wants a sense of your personality, a phone interview is still an interview, not an informal phone call with a friend. I’ve phone-screened candidates who I’m pretty sure were lounging on the couch, watching the game with the sound down, and snacking while we talked. That’s not the impression you want to make!

8. Remember that a great benefit of phone interviews is that you can have notes in front of you. Take those answers you wrote down in step #3 and keep them in front of you. Just make sure you don’t sound like you’re reading a script.

9. Keep your answers to-the-point. One thing employers look for in phone interviews is the ability to answer questions directly and concisely, because they want to hire people who can organize their thoughts and convey needed information quickly. So keep your answers fairly concise. Of course, if there’s more to tell after your short answer, you can certainly ask, “Does that give you what you’re looking for, or would you like me to go more in depth about this?”

 10. Don’t do a phone interview while you’re driving. You won’t be able to fully concentrate, and if the interviewer realizes you’re driving, it will come across very poorly—because of safety and because it looks like you’re not treating the conversation as a priority.

How to use LinkedIn for Career Development

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By Miriam Salpeter

Job seekers and professionals who care about their career trajectories should create and maintain a presence on LinkedIn. Why? It’s a valuable, professional network for job seekers. In fact, a recent Jobvite survey shows LinkedIn is involved in 73% of all hires influenced by social media. However, LinkedIn isn’t only a place for job seekers to maintain a presence. The network also provides tools to help anyone who wants to meet new people and expand her professional network, demonstrate expertise, and be found—all useful aspects of social media for all careerists.

Best Practices for Job Seekers

Your profile. It is much more likely for someone to find you via LinkedIn when you completely fill out your profile. Include a detailed summary. You have two choices when creating a summary: write it in the first person (using “I, me, and my”) or describe yourself as if a third party wrote it (using your name and “he” or “she” to describe yourself.) While I have a preference for the first person, the most important thing in your summary is to tell a story; don’t just list your qualifications; use LinkedIn to display a little personality and to inspire the reader to want to learn more about you. While you are at it, include a professional photo showing your face only.

Fill in all of your job titles and descriptions. Include words other people will use when they want to find someone like you. Use descriptive titles for your job descriptions. For example, if your title was “vice president,” add in a more descriptive detail in the title headline, such as, “Vice President, Sales and Marketing/Pharmaceuticals.”

If you are a student, incorporate LinkedIn’s sections targeted specifically for you: Projects, Honors & Awards, Organizations, Test Scores, and Courses. Go to your LinkedIn profile page in edit mode, and click the blue “Add sections” bar under your profile summary to add these sections. Explore “Applications” when you are editing your profile. You may wish to add Slideshare, your blog feed, your reading list, or Events to your profile.

Your URL. This is important for everyone, but for job seekers who may wish to share their LinkedIn URLs via resumes or business cards, it is even more pressing. If you do not customize your URL, it has a bunch of random numbers after your name. It’s very easy to update this URL to a “vanity” link. Simply click on “Edit” at the end of the line showing your Public Profile.

Ask for recommendations. You need at least three recommendations for a complete LinkedIn profile. It is not necessary to have 35 references; some people think it is suspicious to have so many. Consider having a few references for each of your jobs, and maybe an extra one or two for your more recent positions. Be sure to give your endorsers some guidance and suggestions of topics to cover when you request recommendations.

Follow companies. When you follow companies (from the Companies tab), LinkedIn can be a great resource for learning when the company is hiring, and when people change jobs. LinkedIn actually suggests company profiles that may interest you; in essence, it does some of your research for you! When you follow a company, you alert the organization of your interest, which could be very useful when there is an opening at the organization.

Best Practices for Everyone

Keep in touch. Use LinkedIn to connect with people you meet casually or in formal networking events. It’s a good way to keep track of people, especially when colleagues move positions and companies so often. If you connect via LinkedIn, you won’t lose track of people you meet.

Join groups and expand your network. LinkedIn has groups for just about every profession, and even many hobbies. Search Groups to identify some active local and topical groups. Join and elect to receive updates. Contribute to conversations and respond to other people’s comments. When you encounter people you’d like to know better, ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn, and don’t hesitate to follow up by asking for a phone appointment or an in-person meeting.

Use “Answers” to demonstrate your expertise. LinkedIn’s Answers section is under the “Other” tab on the toolbar. Spend time exploring the questions and answer whenever you have something to say. Often, people use this section to identify and connect with experts to hire.

Take advantage of LinkedIn’s functionality, whether or not you are in an active job search. Using it well makes it more likely for someone to find you if they need to hire someone with your qualifications. Remember, it’s not just a medium for active job seekers; using LinkedIn’s tools help you showcase what you know and grows your network.

Resume Dos and Don’ts

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Resume writers like to say there are no rules in resume writing. That may be true, but it certainly doesn’t help the average job seeker just looking for some good advice!

Rather than worry about a specific formula for writing a great resume, use the following general guidelines to prepare a resume that reflects your unique background and qualifications.

DO get to the point. You can’t tell your entire career history in one or two pages, so concentrate on the things that employers really want to know: who you are, where you have been, and what you have done. Stripping away unnecessary information is the best way to call attention to what is important.

DO focus on your accomplishments. Most individuals reading your resume are familiar with the typical tasks for people with your job titles, so you don’t need to detail everything you do every day. Instead, tell them what you did that made a difference to your company, colleagues, or customers. This will make your resume more interesting, memorable, and unique.

DO include keywords. Resumes today are routinely scanned by electronic systems that are looking for the right “keywords”—the words and phrases that match the job description and the employer’s requirements. Make sure they’ll be found in your resume! Use job postings as your source for the right keywords for your profession and industry.

DON’T make it hard to read. Even if your resume is initially scanned by a computer, at some point it will be reviewed by humans. You can make their job easier by the way you format and present your information. Don’t write in dense, wordy paragraphs. Don’t use long lists of bullet points with nothing to distinguish one from another. Don’t use a tiny font size. Do include white space to let your resume “breathe.”

DON’T forget to proofread. Recruiters and employers routinely cite “errors in the resume” as the reason for not considering a candidate. Errors send the message that you are sloppy and careless when doing important work. Either that, or you don’t know better. So don’t send that message. Proofread your resume several times and ask a friend or colleague proofread it as well.

DON’T expect your resume to get you a job. The resume is just one piece of the job-search puzzle. Don’t neglect other important pieces: networking, directly approaching companies, researching companies and industries, preparing for interviews, and so much more. The resume, when well written and used properly, can help open doors for you—but it can’t do it all.

Job Fairs: How To Make Them Worthwhile

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

By Louise Kursmark, Master Resume Writer

Job seekers flock to career fairs like bees to a hive—and why not? They are a central source of potential employment and networking opportunities with multiple employers in your community. So while you’re job hunting, make it a point to look for and attend job fairs—and follow these tips to make the event a worthwhile investment of your time.

1. Do your homework. Contact the organization running the job fair and ask for a list of companies that will be attending. Research those companies and choose 5 – 8 as your “prime targets” for the job fair. Be prepared, though, that the advance list is not the final—some of your target companies might not be present and others that you haven’t researched will be. So be prepared to change your plan of attack once you are on site. Here’s some great advice and resources for company research!

2. Get your resume ready. Job fair recruiters will look at literally hundreds of resumes in a day. Try to make yours visually distinctive while remaining professional, and write interesting and unique content! Proofread your resume very carefully and have someone else read it as well. Bring several dozen copies with you to the job fair, encased in a portfolio so they stay fresh all day.

3. Dress for success. Wear the same clothing you would for an important interview. Your goal is to present a great image and impress the recruiters with your professionalism. Check out guidelines for job fair and interview attire

4. Start with your target companies. When you arrive at the job fair, review the attendee list (remember, it probably won’t exactly match the original!). Highlight the locations of your target companies and approach them right away. Then you can pursue other companies—secondary targets, new targets, or any other company that sounds interesting.

If your target companies are very popular, be prepared to wait or circle back when the booth is less busy.

5. Be ready with your introduction. Do you have a 2- or 3-sentence introduction of who you are, what you’re looking for, and why you’re valuable? If not, you’ll feel tongue-tied and awkward at the job fair, you’ll look unprepared, and you’ll waste an opportunity to make a great first impression. Explore ideas and scripts to jump-start your preparation

6. Use your company research. As the final sentence of your introduction, add something that relates to what you learned about the company from your research—or something you know or have surmised. For example, “I was reading that XYZ plans to expand into Russia. That sounds interesting and a fit with my background—I was a Russian minor in college and have studied Russian history extensively.” Companies like to know that you are targeting them specifically and that you know something about them, so acquire some knowledge and use it to your advantage.

7. Prepare for the next step. It’s unlikely that you’ll have an in-depth interview at the job fair. Your goal is to make a good impression, establish potential interest, leave your resume, and capture contact information. Get the business card of each recruiter or write down their name, job title, phone number, and email address.

8. Follow up. Of course it would be great if you started getting phone calls right after the job fair! But don’t sit around waiting. Reach out to every person you spoke with. Send a professional email with details about positions you’re interested in. Personalize your note by saying something positive about the company. Attach another copy of your resume. Keep track of all of your contacts and conversations, and follow each one through to the final stage—whether it’s a “not interested” message or, ultimately, a job offer!

You Applied for the Job… Now What?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

By Andrea Santiago

Some of the most common job search questions often involve the method job seekers should utilize to follow up with a potential employer or hiring manager after submitting a resume to a potential employer for consideration.
Many career experts, including Lindsay Olson from US News & World Report’s Money/Careers blog, agree that how you follow up depends upon a number of variables, and you need to approach each situation accordingly.
However, there are several common denominators that apply to most circumstances, and these guidelines will help you when you’re trying to navigate the job search process after you have submitted your resume.
The best resume follow-up strategy is to submit such a fantastic resume that you don’t have to follow up. If your resume is spot-on for the position, the hiring authority may contact you first, before you even have to follow up on anything.
So how do you “wow” hiring managers with your resume?
Customize your resume – Pay close attention to the verbiage used in the job ad and job description. Incorporate the potential employer’s words and key phrases into your own resume, (where applicable of course—true to your qualifications of course!)

Research Resume Samples – There are numerous websites that now provide resume samples and resume builders for a variety of industries.

There are many ways to create an attention-grabbing resume. But even the best resumes will still require you to proactively reach out to the hiring authority to get feedback regarding your application and status. If your resume does not stop the hiring manager in his or her tracks, and you don’t receive a call from anyone inviting you to an interview, it doesn’t mean that you are not qualified. The hiring manager may simply be overwhelmed with many good applicants. Sometimes, you can draw additional attention to your resume and help yourself stand out over the other applicants if you are able to follow up effectively and professionally.

How you proceed depends upon the circumstances of your application. Did you apply online, through a friend, via a job fair, or some other method? If you know someone in the organization, it may be acceptable to contact that person directly. Otherwise, you should be careful not to contact the wrong person, or follow up too frequently. Below are a few basic resume follow-up tips that apply to most situations:

  • Be courteous and respectful of the person’s time.
  • Don’t stalk the hiring manager or over-communicate. You could come across as desperate, or you may just annoy the hiring manager so much that they could rule you out based on that. A good rule of thumb is no more than 1-2 times per week, for 2-3 weeks.
  • Don’t go above or around the hiring manager or contact listed on the job ad. Some career experts recommend it, but in my experience as a recruiter, and as a hiring manager, that tactic usually does more harm than good.
  • Your follow up should be brief, well-written, (or well-spoken if you’re leaving a voicemail), and free of errors, typos, or grammar mistakes.
  • Email is less intrusive and generally more accepted than phone calls.

If you follow those basic guidelines when following up on your resume or job application, you will convey a high level of interest, tenacity, and professionalism that employers want from their prospective employees.

Using Personal Networks to Your Advantage

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

By Miriam Salpeter

Even though job seekers are inundated with advice to use their personal networks to propel job search success, it is not always easy to follow through. Social networking complicates the focus on personal networks, as traditional media constantly shares ways people lose jobs via Facebook and networks like it, without showcasing stories from people who found jobs! With thousands of people joining online networks each day, it’s impossible to ignore these tools when leveraging personal networks for job opportunities. The key for job seekers is knowing how to use in-person and online communities without seeming like a desperate job seeker. Read on for suggestions!
Real, In-Person Networks
Just because social media is so pervasive doesn’t mean job seekers should ignore their in-person networks. Advise job seekers to consider any party as a networking opportunity. This includes backyard barbeques, birthday parties, and professional socials. Job seekers never know where they may meet the perfect contact to provide a professional introduction.

However, it’s important not to parade around these events with a virtual “J” for job hunter on the forehead. No one wants to get stuck talking to someone who seems desperate or needy and who only wants to discuss possible job connections. Important points for job hunters to consider when meeting new people in person:

  • Be a listener first. Make every person feel as if he or she is important and valued. Ask a lot of questions. The goal should be to continue the conversation at a later date. People enjoy and appreciate spending time with people who are good listeners and seem interested in them.
  • Learn some personal details about contacts to make it easy to follow-up and keep in touch. (It’s a good idea to advise job seekers to excuse themselves to jot down some notes after conversations.) For example, take note of the contact’s favorite sports team or hobby. In a month or two, send a note commenting on the team’s progress (if it’s positive!) or forward an article or blog post relevant to the person’s hobby. Doing so helps keep the job seeker top-of-mind and reminds the contact to think about possible networking opportunities for the person.
  • It is important for the job seeker to work something into the conversation relevant to his or her search, but he or she should refrain from actually asking for help during an informal gathering or first meeting. For example, “I’m an enterprise technology HR professional focused on finance. I’m actually seeking a new opportunity, possibly in an Oracle environment.” This statement offers information, but does not ask for anything in return. Most people won’t have a great lead or suggestion off the tops of their heads, anyway. It’s better to ask the new contact to meet for coffee at a later time. Resist asking for anything specific until the follow-up meeting.
  • Always ask new acquaintances if they are willing to connect via LinkedIn. (And then follow up right after the event.)
  • It’s easy to recognize if a contact is amenable to getting together. Follow up immediately with an invitation for coffee or lunch. During the informational meeting, job seekers should be sure to continue to demonstrate expertise, but also make it clear what organizations or individuals they would like to meet and request introductions if possible.
  • If the contact offers to “keep his ears open” for the job seeker after an in-person meeting, it means he doesn’t have enough information to know how to help. In that case, re-state job search objectives and suggest companies of interest. It’s up to the job seeker to be sure contacts know what they can do to help. Don’t leave the results up to chance.

Connecting with online personal networks
In many ways, the “rules” for social networking are the same as in-person networking: listen more than you contribute, don’t ask for something before you build a relationship, and give before you expect to get. Job seekers shouldn’t ignore opportunities to use Facebook, where most of their contacts actually know them! Some advice to help job seekers motivate Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter contacts to help them:

  • Maintain complete profiles on all of the “big three:” LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Incorporate keywords to help readers know what the job seeker knows and how he or she can contribute.
  • Use Facebook and LinkedIn status updates and tweets to illustrate expertise. Job seekers should post updates making it clear they understand their targeted fields. It’s easy to find links and data to post online by searching Google or by setting a Google alert. Another way to keep up-to-date about company information is to follow companies via LinkedIn to source details to share on social networks. For example, if someone wants a job in insurance, he or she should follow news sources for regulatory updates and other useful information to share on Facebook. This helps everyone following the job seeker understand his or her interests and field and may make contacts more likely to think of the person if they learn of appropriate opportunities.
  • Occasionally mention a company of interest via status updates, but constantly referring to a job hunt is counterproductive.
  • Present a totally professional persona, eliminating anything the job seeker wouldn’t want an employer to see. This helps friends and contacts see the job seeker as a potential employee or referral.

5 Ways for Recent College Graduates to Find Available Jobs

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Graduation has come and gone, and another batch of college students now find themselves in the “real world” of job searching. It can be scary, confusing and downright frustrating—especially because many of today’s colleges and universities don’t properly prepare students for their entry-level job search.

You might have a good idea of what you want in your ideal job—but where do you find it? Below are several ways I’d suggest getting started in your job search:

Participate in professional and job seeking communities. Communities are a valuable form of support and advice during a job search. The other participants can also be a great addition to your network. These groups of people exist both online and offline – think social media groups and chats, professional associations, and support groups – and can be a great source of inspiration and information in a job search. Being active and engaging in these groups can make you more visible to those who can help in your job search and allow you to give back with advice of your own.

Follow companies of interest on social media sites. Social media has changed the way organizations hire and source potential candidates, making it easier than ever for a job seeker to connect directly to the company they’d like to work for. Following their official Twitter account, Facebook page or blog feed can help ensure that you’ll be the first to know about potential openings and helps you learn more about the company at hand.

Volunteer or intern at a prospective employer. Although internships are often unpaid, it’s a valuable look inside of a company you desire to work for. During an internship or volunteer position, you’ll get to know employees at the organization all while gaining skills and experience in your field. It’s a great way to prove yourself as a professional and gain an “in” at the company. In fact, many employers look to their intern pool or employee referral list when looking to hire for entry-level positions.

Check major job boards, company career sites and Craigslist. While job listings shouldn’t be the only job search tactic you have in your arsenal, they’re certainly a valuable way to gauge who’s hiring and where. Job and Career Accelerator can help you find up-to-date job listings in hundreds of fields.

Just make sure you don’t spend all your time combing through job listings that might not even land an interview—you should also be networking, preparing your job search documents and polishing your online presence.

Reach out to your personal and professional network. Networking is often the best tactic to finding your next job. Whether it’s because you know someone at a company you’ve applied at and they put in a good word for you, or because a friend refers you to an unadvertised job opening they heard about, don’t forget to network early and often. Hopefully you’ve built a strong network before leaving school (always network before you need something!). Continue meeting new people and reaching out to others you’d like to build a professional relationship with. Remember, networking is a two-way street—you must provide value to your connections, too. Believe me, you have valuable advice and insight to share. Don’t be shy!

Interview Thank You Notes: Dos and Don’ts!

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Finally! All of the time you have spent on job search websites, reviewing job search engines, and networking paid off! You landed an interview. Everything you do now can either help or hurt your chances of landing the job. Thank you notes are an often-overlooked aspect of the job hunt.

Some disagree about how important it is to write thank you notes, suggesting that they don’t really matter and that they may actually hurt a candidate if done poorly.

On the flip side, some hiring managers appreciate and expect notes. Alison Doyle, About.com’s Job Searching Guide, advises, “Writing a thank you letter, or thank you e-mail after an employment interview is a must.” It seems most people don’t follow that advice! Quint Careers reported that only about 5 percent of job seekers actually follow up after interview with a thank you note.

How can you use a thank you note to stand out in a crowd?

Do

  • Write individual notes to everyone who interviewed you. Collect business cards so you have exact contact information and the spelling of everyone’s name.
  • Reiterate your interest and remind the interviewer of something you discussed by commenting on something that seemed important to the interviewer. For example, if he or she asked a lot of questions about being a team player, share another story that illustrates what a strong team member you are.
  • Try to use “me, my, and I” sparingly to avoid appearing self-centered.
  • Keep it brief and professional, suggests Harry Urschel via CareerRocketeer.
  • Indicate when you will follow up again.

Don’t

  • Misspell the names of your contact or include typos or errors.
  • Do not wait too long to send the note. Many hiring decisions are made quickly, so be sure to mail a note the same day if possible, and consider e-mailing your thank you.
  • Don’t worry about if a hand-written note or a typewritten note is best. While I always prefer typed note, if  time is not of the essence and the note is well written and legible, it is unlikely to matter either way.
  • Be sure you don’t sound desperate in your letter. Reiterate why you are the best candidate, not why you need the job. (It’s about the employer, not about you.)

Here is a sample:

Dear Ms. Smith:

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position of _______________. It was a pleasure meeting you and learning about (company name’s) history and how you see this position impacting your plans going forward. I hope you agree that my experience and background in (________, __________, and __________) make me an ideal match for your organization’s needs.

Add some detail from the meeting or expand on an idea you mentioned already. For example: As we discussed, my track record of being able to quickly acclimate to new work roles is strong, resulting in meeting goals ahead of schedule. You mentioned that you hope to fill the position with someone who consistently exceeds expectations. Everyone who has supervised me will tell you that I welcome new challenges, outperform benchmarks, and accomplish complex tasks under budget in record time.

I look forward to the opportunity to join your team and to bring my passion for __________ to help accomplish your ambitious goals for the new year. Please don’t hesitate to contact my references or me for additional information. As we discussed, I will be in touch at the end of next week if I do not hear from you sooner.

Sincerely,

Jane Jones