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Posts Tagged ‘networking’

You Applied for the Job…Now What?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

By Andrea Santiago

Some of the most common job search questions often involve how job seekers should follow up with a potential employer or hiring manager after submitting a resume 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 individually.

However, there are several common denominators that apply to most circumstances, and these guidelines will help you navigate the next step 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 impress hiring managers with your resume?

Customize your resume – Pay close attention to the language used in the job ad and job description. Incorporate the potential employer’s words and key phrases into your own resume where applicable (while being 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. Check out ResumeHUB in particular to see tons of samples as you walk through the resume creation wizard to craft a professional resume that stands out and showcases your experience.

What if I haven’t heard back?

But even the best resumes will sometimes 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 her or his tracks to invite you to an interview, it doesn’t mean that you are not qualified. The hiring manager may simply be overwhelmed with many good applicants. You can draw additional attention to your resume and help yourself stand out if you are able to follow up effectively and professionally.

How you proceed depends upon the method of your application. Did you apply online, through a friend, via a job fair, or the old fashioned way with a snail-mailed hard copy? Use the same method when possible: ask your friend to ask around for you, send an email, or leave a voicemail. If you know someone in the organization, it may be acceptable to contact that person directly. You should be careful not to contact the wrong person or follow up too frequently.

Here are a few basic resume follow-up tips:

  • 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 just annoy the hiring manager so much that they could rule you out based on your communication style. A good rule to abide by is no more than once a 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 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.

Recent Grads: 4 Steps to Master Your Job Search Skills

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

by Heather R. Huhman

Most recent graduates embark on the world of job searching without much formal knowledge of how to land an entry-level job–but mastering job search skills doesn’t have to be as difficult as it is sometimes made out to be.

Here are four steps recent grads should take to launch their job hunt:

Step #1: Evaluate yourself. Much of your job search success will depend on how well you know yourself—your interests, skills, personality, values, goals, etc. This helps you determine what exactly you want in a job and how you might fit in to different company cultures, which are crucial to the process of guiding you to the right type of job.

How? Think back to things your parents, teachers, and professors said you were good at—what are your strengths? What do you truly enjoy doing? What skills make you unique? How do those skills relate to a potential position? Write these down and closely compare job opportunities with your strengths and values.

Step #2: Get networking. Most recent grads have no problems using social networking tools, but there’s more to networking than making connections online. Networking in real life—at events, meetups, and conferences—is something you can master with time and practice. Plus, in-person connections are often stronger and more beneficial to your career.

How? Keep a lookout for conferences and events related to your industry. Attend as many professional networking opportunities as possible. Step outside of your comfort zone in order to make personal connections and follow up with people you meet.

Step #3: Sharpen your writing skills. Knowing how to write is a crucial skill for a number of reasons. First of all, your resume and cover letter are often the first impression you will make on an employer; yout writing determines how you come across on these initial documents. Your job search will also require you to rewrite these documents a number of times for different purposes. Stellar written communication skills are necessary for a majority of fields—from marketing and education to engineering and public relations. It’s particularly important in today’s job market since a lot of companies are turning to virtual and remote workers today to cut costs.

How? Practice, practice, practice. Start a blog and write on topics of interest relating to your industry. Tailor every resume and cover letter to the job opening until it becomes second nature.

Step #4: Practice interviewing. Interviewing effectively is something every job seeker must master. As a recent grad, you must take every interview opportunity to become more comfortable speaking about yourself.

How? The career services center at your alma mater can provide the opportunity to mock interview, but you can also set up informational interviews with professionals in your field to develop your skills and get real feedback.

What other steps should recent graduates take to master their job search skills?

Job Fairs: 8 Steps to Make Them Worthwhile

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

By Louise Kursmark

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. 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 to 8 as your prime targets for the job fair. Be aware, 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.

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.

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.

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 interests—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 use your knowledge 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 names, job titles, phone numbers, and email addresses.

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!

Successful Networking to Land Your Next Job

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

By Miriam Salpeter

It’s tough out there for job seekers. While there are jobs available, it is more and more difficult for employers to connect with the right employees, and vice versa. In a recent TIME Business article, “Why the Job Search is Like Throwing Paper Airplanes into the Galaxy,” Jerry Crispin, principal and co-founder of CareerXroads, a technology and staffing consulting firm, cited surveys to learn why companies selected one candidate instead of another. The article notes, “This past year . . . at least 28% of all hires came from employee referrals, although (Crispin) suggests the number may be even higher. If a job applicant has someone in the company who is referring him or her, ‘that is huge. It’s a game changer.’”

Career coaches typically attribute 70–80% of jobs found to networking. There’s no question that engaging with a community of people who may either refer you for positions or hire you is key for job-search success.

How can you tap into this effective way of landing opportunities? Here are five ways to increase your networking effectiveness

1. Learn to introduce yourself. You’ve heard of the “elevator pitch,” so named because you’re supposed to be able to introduce yourself to an influential decision-maker you casually meet in an elevator. The key to a successful elevator pitch is being succinct. You’re not typically riding up the tallest building in the world—you only have a few seconds to make an impression. Make sure your pitch includes answers to all of these questions:

  • What is your goal/objective?
  • What do you want to do? (Consider your audience’s needs.)
  • What impact do you have?

For example:

As a project manager and senior adviser in environmental energy [target audience], I bridge the gap between the technical community and management’s interests [problem you solve/goals]. At Company X, I developed and led a green IT project, which saved $65,000 per year [impact/results].

2. Plan to succeed at social events. One way to successfully network at in-person events is to plan ahead of time to share information, advice, stories, and resources with people you meet. Think about how you can be a “go-giver”—people love talking to contacts who make an effort to help them. What can you plan to discuss? Consider having some anecdotes about the following in mind. Then, when you meet new people, steer the conversation to some of these topics:

  • food
  • sports
  • where to get tickets for events
  • vacation spots
  • great Websites and online resources

Another important tip for networking well at social events: Try to learn something personal about people you meet. Not their deep, dark secrets, but what they enjoy, their hobbies, or their families. You’ll learn why this is important in the Always follow up tip below.

3. Prepare for job fairs. The most important advice for success at job fairs is to do your research ahead of time. Don’t expect to drop a resume and run. Plan to impress the recruiter with your knowledge of the company and hone in on how your skills and accomplishments match the organization’s needs. There is nothing more impressive to a recruiter than a candidate who clearly explains the match between jobs available at the firm and what he or she offers.

4. Network online. Networking opportunities exponentially increased with the power of social media. Don’t ignore these tools to connect with people who may be impressed by your expertise and credentials. For example, learn about Glassdoor’s tool called “Inside Connections;” it helps you discover Facebook friends at companies where you want to work. New tools for job seekers become available all the time. Consider any network where you can engage with new people online a potential career booster.

5. Always follow up. When you meet, take note if the person loves gardening, the White Sox, or enjoys ballroom dancing. Then, make a point to find a news article or blog post about the topic, and forward it to the new contact with a nice note. You may be surprised by how positively people will respond when you are thoughtful, share resources unrelated to your job search needs, and demonstrate you were listening carefully when you met each other.

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?

How to Build a Network

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By Andrea Santiago

Job search experts, 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. However, 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 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.

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!

Phone Etiquette for Job Seekers

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

By Miriam Salpeter

As job seekers, once you have a resume circulating, it’s important to focus on the details to be sure your job hunt is successful. One important and often overlooked job seeker tip: Pay attention to your telephone etiquette! In a competitive climate, every impression you make on a potential hiring manager affects how you fare in the job hunt.

Typically, a recruiter or hiring manager interested in interviewing you will pick up the phone and call the number on your resume. What number do you list? Hopefully, you haven’t included a work number or home phone your roommates, parents or children may answer. Be sure to offer a number only you answer, typically a cell phone with good sound quality and reliable reception. You don’t want to give the impression you conduct personal business at work, have to worry that someone will be rude to a potential interviewer, risk missing a message, or have your five-year old answer the phone when your dream job calls!

The next thing to keep in mind is your outgoing voice-mail message. Keep it basic and professional, making sure it includes your name, so the caller knows he or she reached the right number. Eliminate musical interludes, political or religious comments, and anything the listener could interpret as silly or frivolous. Stick to a polite, brief, “This is (your name), I’m sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Providing a mobile number for prospective employers doesn’t mean you should answer the phone whenever it rings, no matter where you are. Eager job seekers often make the mistake of picking up calls when they are in no position to be able to actually carry on a reasonable conversation. When shouldn’t you answer the phone? During a sporting event, while driving in heavy traffic, at a birthday party, sitting in a busy coffee shop…The list goes on and on! (Your future boss doesn’t want to hear you curse at a driver who cuts you off or listen to background noise that makes it impossible to accomplish anything on the phone.)

Unless you are in a quiet place where you are able to hear the caller, write down notes, and reasonably carry on a conversation, do not answer your phone if you think it may be someone calling about your candidacy for a job. (That’s any call you don’t recognize once you have a resume circulating.) The flip side is that if you can’t pick up the phone right at that moment, be sure to get somewhere you can return a hiring manager’s call as soon as possible.

No employer wants to try to have a discussion with someone who’s repeating, “Can you say that again, I really can’t hear you very well in this gym.” Or, “I’m driving and can’t write down that address right now. Can you call back and leave it on my voice mail?” It’s important not to inconvenience someone who may want to hire you or to give the impression you don’t have good judgment regarding telephone etiquette. Consider any interaction with a hiring manager as part of the interview process; never let your guard down. Make good choices along the way to demonstrate your excellent communication skills