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Posts Tagged ‘top ten job search tips’

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.

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

The Truth About Resumes and Job Applications

Monday, April 4th, 2011

By Louise Kursmark

Do you have to include every job you’ve ever held on your resume? The short answer is no.

The more thoughtful response is that you want to include information that positions you appropriately for the jobs you’re seeking, showcases your valuable skills and experiences, and doesn’t raise red flags in the employer’s mind. If you need tips and templates for creating the ideal resume to represent you, check out Job and Career Accelerator’s Resume Builder for a pain-free introduction to the basics or to polish up your latest draft.

So it’s perfectly OK to omit a 3-month summer job if it doesn’t add value to your resume. It’s fine to leave off unrelated positions even if they were full-time and of lengthy duration. But whatever you do, make sure you’re prepared to discuss any gaps or omissions during a job interview without sounding defensive or evasive and without dwelling on irrelevant experiences.

A job application, however, is not the same as a resume. Job applications are legal documents and usually state that the application is a complete record of your employment. So you do need to include all of your jobs and other experiences that you might have chosen to omit from your resume.

In a nutshell, your job application = the whole truth. Your resume = the truth. Just remember these simple guidelines and be prepared to discuss any part of your past with a potential employer.

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.