For the past few weeks, I’ve been applying to jobs online. As a Career Coach, I want to be informed of what’s going on in the cyberspace job hunt. Ick..the job boards are such a joke. I wonder if the HR Personnel and CEO’s ever apply to their own company. I read a while back that one employee did apply, and he was rejected! Ha ha.
I am not sure how companies make decsions based on these online apps, unless they are basing it on:
1. Age – I can not believe how many ATS’s required I disclose my age!! Asking a candidate age during an interview is illegal. So, how are they getting away with the online app?
2. My Salary – What? Premature salary discussion much? Can’t you wait?? I don’t even know if I want to go to coffee with you, much less marry you. Don’t ask me about money upfront.
3. My High School – Seriously? That’s a huge WTF for me. Even if I graduated 6 years ago, it’s NONE of their business. Unless I’m applying for a job that requires a HS Diploma. And – if that is the case – a simple yes or no question will suffice!
I read all the time about the “skills gap” we’re suffering from here in the US. Great jobs at great companies are going unfilled because the recruiters can’t find qualified candidate. I can tell you, any qualified candidate is not going to waste an hour or more applying to a job online, no matter how great!
I like solutions, as you know. It did have a few experiences that were pretty cool. The best online apps let you upload your resume, type a short cover note, and hit send! Yes, your resume is still going down the black hole, but you didn’t have to spend forever with some slow, glitchy ATS where you always miss one little thing and it won’t let you “submit.”
Applicant. Submit. Reminds me of a Philip K. Dick novel.
Keep using LinkedIn, especially the “apply with LinkedIn” button. It’s easy. I hope it works, but in the end, it’s a job board. Be sure to read the article below from Ask the Headhunter. It’s an eye-opener.
As always, if you need career help, contact me for a comp chat.
Over the weekend, I received a desperate email from a friend who was about to go into a 2nd interview with a firm, and she asked me this question:
“I have been asked to explain my short tenures over a series of jobs for the past three years. Help! What should I tell them?”
Oh my, I get this one A LOT. Here’s my reply:
As a recruiter, I would ask you the same question. Short tenures are often red flags. It is quite expensive to hire and train someone if they’re only planning on a short stay.
Answer honestly; were you not learning enough? Were the jobs temp in nature? You need to reassure the company that you’re a candidate that is looking for a “home” and plan on staying for a long time. They need to know that you are not going to leave after 6 months, so be prepared to discuss this issue.
Here’s the Real Deal
Job hoppers (I’m lookin’ at you Millennials) in general, are not “ideal” candidates in the eyes of the company, especially the HR Department. Do realize that one of HR functions is to save the company money, and act as a gate keeper. One of their missions is to reduce turnover and increase retention. So, they want to make GOOD HIRES. That means hiring candidates that are going to flourish and be assets for the company.
The Burden of Labor
Candidates with a track record of jumping from job-to-job or with long gaps in between gigs look like a risk. And HR is risk averse. The cost of hiring someone is their salary, PLUS the “Burden of Labor” which sounds pretty bad, eh? The “burden” part is the cost of recruiting, hiring, training, taxes and fees associated with employees (Federal, State, City and County taxes), and benefits. You can add 9-19% of your salary and that’s the cost to the company of hiring you.
Plan Your Answer
If you were spending that kind of money, per employee, you would want to hire dependable workers too! So, why take the risk of hiring a candidate with a jumpy work history, when the well is so deep at the moment (and maybe forever at this point)? If you make it to a FIRST interview, I am shocked! So, to get to the 2nd interview, you have done something right. Your job in the second round is to ease their concerns about your flight risk. You need a cogent explanation of your past job tenures, and a well thought out answer of why you plan on staying should you be offered the position.
Here’s what you do: WRITE out what you’re going to say. Read it out loud. More than once. Does it sound reasonable to you? If not, make some adjustments. Here are three reasons recruiters/Hiring Managers might understand:
3 Reasonable Explanations of “Why?”
“The job (or jobs) was (or were) a temp position in the first place and I worked for an agency that placed me in several temp positions for the past 3 years.”
“I had the unfortunate timing at these firms as they quickly downsized once I had been there for a brief period; last hired, first fired. I have endeavored to conduct deeper research on companies I interview with since then; hence, this interview.”
“Once I was in these jobs for a short period, I quickly realized I was not a good fit for them. In my journey since I graduated, I have had to pay my student loans, so work of any nature had to fit the bill. I have searched for a “home” where I can contribute and become a valued team member. I truly want my next position, hopefully this one, to be a long-lasting engagement.”
Job Hopping may have happened out of necessity or through no fault of your own, but you will have to answer for it at some point. Unless you start your own business!!
Do you have a career question? Send it to me Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com.
ps. Millennials – I love you no matter what! You may not stay at job for very long, so emphasize what you bring: innovation, sincerity and great attitudes!
Everyday I hear from job seekers asking what they’re doing wrong and why they’re not getting interviews and job offers. There are any number of reasons why, of course, but I can tell you that in many cases the job seeker is off track. Finding a job – a good job with benefits – is damn hard work these days. Unemployment remains high even though the official numbers are getting better. Companies are slow to hire, and the hiring they are doing can stretch the interviewing/hiring process over months! I know of candidates having to endure 3 months of interviews.
What can you do to take a proactive approach to career management? The first, and most important thing to do is think differently about your job search. For many years, job seekers have turned to job postings (back in the day they were found in newspapers; today, it’s job boards on the Internet). A much more effective way of finding a good job is targeting companies first. Consider the way companies hire. These are 4 basic criteria:
1. The candidate can do the job
2. The candidate is perceived as a “good fit”
3. A job salary can be agreed upon
4. Will the candidate will stay on the job
There are other factors involved in hiring, but these are the primary focal points for the hiring manager. The way you can fulfill these 4 items to spend time researching companies and organizations that you believe there will be synchronicity.
Start by identify 20-40 firms that you think you’ll fit well. Look for them on LinkedIn, Glassdoor.com, or Google Search. Need ideas to find companies? Run a search for “top firms in (your career field)” to get started. Then do the research.
Next, look for connections to those firms. Use LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Branchout on Facebook. Once you find them, use INMAIL on LinkedIn to reach out them. Keep your message short and professional, and let them know that you’re interested in learning more about the culture of their firm. That’s a better approach than asking for a job or if you can email them your resume.
And, finally, don’t be afraid to use your smart phone for…phone calls! Try to make “warm” calls, to people you’ve been referred to, but, do not fear the “cold” call. They are not that scary, especially after the first 10!
The key to a successful job search these days is to be proactive! Do not upload, post, apply and then wait. It won’t work!
Have a job search question? Email it to me at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com.
I am a huge fan of the CBS sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (TBBT) produced and written by Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre. It is now in its 6th year, and enjoying humongous ratings, beating the venerable ‘American Idol’ (AI). In my opinion, that is such a GREAT turn of events. When you think about the premises of both TBBT and AI, they break down to how success and achievement is awarded in the US.
For example, the AI method is that you can achieve great success by getting a lucky break (through auditioning of course, and perceived talent). AI celebrates talent based on the contestants ability to sing and entertain, and TBBT posits that career success comes from studying, learning and academic achievement.
The “big prize” the characters are after on TBBT is a Nobel Prize and the prize the contestants are chasing on AI are record deals, money and fame. It is no doubt much harder to achieve a Nobel Prize; celebrity and fame are fairly easy to obtain, (Snooki, for example) and talent is not necessarily a requirement. Since both of these shows are watched by millions of young Americans, (demographically desirable 18-34 year olds) I believe that the better message to impart on youth is one of academic achievement and education. (I do believe that music and the arts are also an essential part of education and life; I just am not sure a TV show/singing contest is the best way to achieve a career in the arts).
Note that TBBT character (Penny) is an actress, or trying to be one, and is always low on cash and struggling with her career choice. Singing, acting and writing are REALLY tough careers. The competition (as shown in AI auditions) is huge! It is far better to make career decisions based on reality: mechanical engineers will always be in demand, but another singer or actor? Not so much.
Why TBBT is good for young Americans is because the writers have made being smart accessible, desirable and really funny. They have made science, astronomy, mechanical engineering, neuro and micro biology normal, everyday occupations. And, trust me on this, America needs its young people to get excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs (and space exploration). American students regularly score poorly in worldwide measures of science and math. As a society, the US needs far more scientists and mathematicians than celebrities or singers.
That’s all I’m saying. Making science cool is so very hard to accomplish, and the talented writers and actors (see, I do like actors!) have really done an amazing job. Johhny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Kevin Sussman, and Kaley Cuoco are talented and deserving of all the accolades and awards they receive. And they’ll also be the first ones to tell you how “lucky” they are!
Need a career assessment to find your way to a fulfilling career in the sciences? Or music? Email your story to Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com for a complimentary career session!
Here we are in February! Happy New Year to my friends in China, or wherever they might be. If you haven’t stuck to your New Year’s resolutions so far, may I suggest you start over now. It is never too late to start over. I have started over several times now, and I consider myself somewhat of an expert at this point! Two years ago, my husband and I picked up and moved from LA to Vienna, Austria. Granted, this is his hometown, but it was still starting over after living at the beach for 11 years!
And so far, we’ve survived! Has it been tough? Yes. Did the finances run out? Yes. Has learning a new, unbelievably hard language been easy? NO. And did my husband have to go through a few jobs to find the right one? Yes.
I had to reinvent my career as well, becoming a “global career coach” and learned how to market my services worldwide, and use a virtual office. And, I am not so young these days! But, with a sense of adventure, resilience and a positive attitude, we changed our lives.
You can too. In the past few weeks, several of my clients have had interviews, but no offers, in the Architecture and Design field. In most cases, it was not the right fit. However, the design and construction industry is at a standstill for hiring. I read a statistic the other day that reported unemployment for recent Architecture graduates is at 13.9%!! That is shocking! Do you know how expensive and LONG Architecture school is?
So, what to do now? If you’re in an industry that basically no longer exists, or the job opportunities are severely limited, it’s time to change. Yes, change careers. Most people go into their chosen careers for either the love of it, or because they drifted into it somehow, but you don’t have to stay. The average number of careers people have these days is 6. That is 6 different careers! Not jobs.
Start by exploring related career fields, or “career adjacent.” Make a plan, do research. If you can type, you can find out ANYTHING you need to on the Internet. You can even upgrade your knowledge, skills and education via the Internet.
The key is to just do it. Don’t think about too much, or over, over analyze it. The best things in life are usually the things we do based on our gut feelings. Like moving half-way around the world to start a new life! We just did it.
Need to make a career change but don’t know how to start? Contact me for a complimentary career consultation at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com. Also check out the blogs I’ve linked to below, they are very helpful.
Over the holidays, someone I liked very much passed away. He was a prolific and knowledgeable writer, investigative researcher, and a very spiritual human being. He had a very successful career, and was a frequent commentator on a popular US television show, and a radio host and guest. He was into social media and generous with his time for his Facebook fans and Twitter followers, and he even answered his emails! He had recently married the love of his life, Kathleen McGowan, and had a bright future ahead. But, the universe had other plans for him. Over the span of Thanksgiving to New Years, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer, and he passed on Dec 30th. His name was Filip (or Philip) Coppens. You may know him from his contributions to the show “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel. (Yes, I watch it! Filip was always the voice of reason and brought a journalistic approach to the topic)
Why am I blogging about him? Well, I am sure that many, if not most, of us have experienced the loss of a loved one, friend or colleague. Filip’s passing reminded me, especially over the holidays, of what is really important. And since I was Facebook friends with him, it felt really personal. I’ve lost a few friends (RIP Maria O’Malley and Jonathan Edwards) over the past two years, and it’s seems odd that one day I’m chatting on Facebook with them, and then they are gone.
His passing put things in perspective for me. As a career coach, part of my job is counseling people who are not happy, or are in transition, or stuck in jobs they loath. So, this year, my motto is “life is short, so do what you want.” Filip certainly followed his passion.
Now, of course, temper that sentiment with financial reality, logistics and other factors, and be sensible! But my general meaning is that if you really want something, like a new job, or to go back to college, you can make it happen.
Life is short and there are reminders everyday of that fact. Filip Coppens is an inspiration to me, may he Rest in Peace, and he reminds us all that you can do what you want. Live passionately in 2013, and make your career a part of that.
Contact me if you want to move ahead this year doing what you love.
One question I often get is “how do I stay positive during an extended job search?” The average job search in the US is about 35 weeks these days (even with unemployment going down a bit). Here are a few tips:
1. Create a Weekly Schedule
One thing that keeps you anchored is having a weekly schedule. When you’re on the job, most likely you keep up a weekly or monthly schedule. This provides a structure, and helps you focus on moving forward. Make sure your job hunting schedule has a blend of job searching activities and does not rely on one particular thing, such as applying to online job postings, which is a big time waster.
2. Get out of the House
Job hunting is a solitary endeavour where you spend hours tethered to a computer. I recommend that you schedule in a few activity breaks during the day, such as yoga or exercise, going for a walk, reading a book, or listening to some music. Just because you’re on the job hunt doesn’t mean that you have to stop your life.
3. Mix and Mingle
Go to functions and mixers; they don’t have to be job related! Maintaining a social life is important, even on a limited budget. Search for low-cost or free events. Every major city in the world hosts any number of events, lectures, seminars, etc. Or, hit the local watering hole for a Happy Hour once in a while. Get out and talk to people!
4. Seek Professional Help
Job hunting is a lonely, frustrating experience, and even more so the longer you’re at it. If you haven’t been getting interviews, be sure to have a professional career coach review your career brand and materials. It may be that your résumé is not as captivating as it can be. The working world is far too competitive to job hunt with less than perfect career tools.
The long job search seems to be the new norm. Managing your emotions and staying upbeat is challenging, but if you plan and focus, you can be back to work sooner than later.
// Vacation Edition
I’m back..sort of. I am taking time off this week, but, it is also the first time in a while I have the time to write a new blog post. And…I have had so many questions in the past month….so I’ll jump right in. Here is the number one question I receive:
Q. I have sent out hundreds of resumes to online jobs that I feel are really good fit for me. It’s been months, and I’ve had no replies (other than confirmation emails) and no interviews. What am I doing wrong?
A. Many people are in the same boat. There was a time that the online job boards worked, and a recent survey of top US companies confirmed that many of them do use the job boards to hire employees. It is not the number one way, however. That remains “referrals” as it always has, and always will.
Here’s the problem: the sheer numbers of competitors makes it unlikely that you’ll get a job that way. There are millions of unemployed, and employed, people – worldwide – that can, and do, apply to any and every job online, whether they are qualified or not.
Companies have responded with software called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that severely limited the number of resumes that are approved for further review. (Less than 3% in some cases!)
If your resume is not perfect – according to an ATS software – it will live forever in the black hole of cyberspace. You need a flawless, customized for each position, keyword loaded, accomplishment based resume that can survive approximately four different gatekeepers!
This is the hardest way to get a job. If this makes up the majority of your job searching strategy…perpare for a long stretch of unemployment.
Remedy: The number one way companies hire is through referrals. You need to be on the right side of a referral, so spend time on that instead! (read: networking)
Q. I don’t have a lot of money or time, and I really need a job (income) ASAP. Is a career coach or a professional resume worth it?
A. Yes! Okay, I may be a little biased..but let’s look at this logically. In the big scheme of things, a job is a critical part of your life. You may have gone to college – a substantial investment for sure – but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a job or career. Here is a great article from USA Today, from 2011.
Today’s labor market has an excess of qualified talent, and the competition for limited jobs is fierce. The one thing you need to know is that you are in competition – The Job Games – and you need to be in fighting shape. You need sharp career tools – including your resume and online social media brand; and your networking and interviewing skills must be top-notch. If any of these career tools are not well-done, you chance being screened out – fast!
Ask yourself: is it worth the money and time to invest in career coaching services to get into great career shape? Look at the reality of your situation: if you have been job hunting for more than 3 months, and the results are not where you need them to be, can you afford not to seek professional career help? It is definitely worth your time and money to increase your chances of getting hired – sooner than later!
The questions keep coming, so I think I will have a Q and A once a week. This week I’ll tackle age discrimination and college graduation dates.
Q. Should I put college graduation dates on my résumé if I know that I’ll be discriminated against because of my age?
A. I get this question A LOT. I think it depends. It is easy for potential employers, recruiters, and hiring managers to find that type of information on you, so there is no use in lying. Leaving it off your résumé is different however. If you graduated in the 1960’s, I would leave it off. The fact is that age discrimination does exist, and there is really no way around it.
Instead of worrying about that, spend some time searching for companies and firms that hire employees over 40, and have a culture open to bringing in employees with experience. There is a very helpful blog called Internsover40, and also recruiters that specialize in older candidates. Run a Google search to find companies in your area.
Q. I have some major gaps in my résumé due to the recession. What should I put on my résumé?
A. Hiring Managers and recruiters are much more forgiving of employment gaps because of the recession. In a recent study, they report that it is no longer the red flag is used to be. So, don’t freak out if you have some gaps. Millions of people do!
If you have taken any college classes, or volunteered, be sure to list those. It shows that you are staying sharp and using your time wisely. The important thing is to show potential employers that you are not sitting around rusting.
Need resume help? Email me at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com. My resume reviews are gratis for one more month!
Last week I answered some of your questions (emailed to me Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com). I got a great response, thank you! I am happy that my answers helped. I did receive a few more questions, via Facebook, and thought I would answer them this week. Here we go:
Q: I work in a professional industry, and in one of my last jobs, my direct supervisor sabotaged my work and used “poor work quality” to terminate me 6 months later. What should I have done and can I prevent this from happening again?
A: This is a tricky situation. In certain instances, you can confront him her/him in non-threatening way by simply having a conversation with her/him about the quality of your work, or ask for a mini-review. If s/he is hostile to this, make a note of it, and write a “memo” to the HR director explaining the situation and how it is making you feel. Be prepare to have a meeting with Human Resources afterwards.
If your boss is directly abusive or threatening you, put the problem in writing and then report it directly to your HR manager. It may be that this supervisor has a history of this type of behaviour. The one thing to keep in mind is that you do have rights, and you need to keep a careful record of any and all instances that you feel are treated with hostility.
Finally, if it is so egregious, you may have a case for wrongful termination. If you think you do, contact an employment lawyer.
To prevent this from happening again, do research about the company and managers before you accept the offer. Two ways to get inside info is through Linked In; try to connect with current or former employees and ask about the culture and managers/management styles. The other great site to get insider info is glassdoor.com. They have candid reviews and ratings from current and ex-employees for hundreds of companies worldwide.
Q. I was fired from my last two jobs, one was 6 months and the other was 3 months of employment. Neither jobs were a good fit, so should I leave them off my résumé? If I do, I’ll have a 9 month gap. Please help!
A. It is so easy for potential employers to investigate you, you should not lie via omission. However, it the jobs are not relevant to the job you are applying to, you can leave it off and use a line such as: “Mar-Dec 2010 – Employed in a different indstry”. If you are seeking work in the same industry, include the jobs on the résumé, and even list one or two accomplishments. Even though your tenure was brief at both places, you did learn and contribute. Be prepared to address the short stints in a cover letter or interview. As a former HR Manager, I was fine with an explaination like “those jobs were not good fits for either party, and it was better to separate sooner than later. However short the time was, I did contribute to the firm (give an example), and continue honing my expertise. I am excited to interview with you, as I feel I am a good fit for this firm.”
Q. Since the Great Recession really affected my profession, I went back to school and got a Master’s in another field. How do I present this on my résumé?
A. You must highlight your “transferable skill sets”. Those are the skills and experiences that can be an asset in your new career field. Often, those skills are management, communication, leadership, mentoring, supervising, training, etc. Those are “soft” or “people” skills and competencies, and they are transferable because they involve core or intrinsic skills related to working with people. Use a “Key Areas of Expertise” section to list those skills that transfer to your new career.
Also, you might include a brief description in your cover letter to explain your career change. Try something like: “during the past few years, I have taken the time to return to school to gain a new career in XYZ. I felt this was a natural extension of my existing experiences and background, and a far more productive use of my time than waiting for my old career to bounce back”.
I hope that helps. Do you have a career question? Email me at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com.