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 receive many questions about the do’s and don’ts of working with a recruiter, so here’s a blog post with my top 3 tips. Let me first disclose that I was a recruiter, and I still recruit now and then. I worked for a large global staffing firm for 2 years, and before that, I worked for a design firm where I recruited and hired staff at every level. I have recruited candidates at every level, from interns to Principals. So, rest assured, my advice is based on first-hand experience, but keep in mind, every recruiter is different. These tips are general guidelines.
1. Be a Perfect Match
One way to quickly get the attention of a recruiter is that your resume is a “perfect match” for one of the positions they are recruiting. That means you must customize your resume specifically for the job at hand, and make sure that the information is focused and easy to read. That means a resume that is accomplishment based and quantified.
2. Get Introduced
The single best way to get a recruiter interested in you is to get introduced by a former or current candidate of theirs. Recruiters are open to referrals, and often follow-up with those candidates first. If you have a colleague or friend that was recruited, ask them for an intro. Be sure to follow-up. Also, follow recruiters on Twitter, FB, and Linked In – they check out their followers.
3. Recruiters Work for their Clients
Recruiters are busy and have limited time. If you need a new resume, or interviewing tips, they are not going to select you for presentation to their clients. They want to work with total pros, which means that your must be on top of your game and industry. If you’re a job hopper, or have had numerous career twists and turns, or you won’t pass a credit or background check, you might not attract the interest of a recruiter. A lay-off is okay, as long as you’ve kept on top of things while unemployed.
Recruiters make money when they place candidates. So, if you’re a good fit for their open positions, they will be happy to work with you. But you need your A game!
// 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!
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.
Ever get the feeling that you might as well look for a job in another universe? Well, if string theory is ever proven, then most likely many other yous have different jobs in any number of infinite universes. I was thinking about this the other day, probably after some crack by Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D. (Jim Parson’s character on the smash hit The Big Bang Theory), where he posits that he is clown in another universe. While I hope to God that I am not a clown in any universe (deep-seated fear of clowns), I hope that maybe I am a marine biologist working with dolphins, or an archeologist digging in Africa. I had so many things I wanted to do and be when I was young. Too bad our society makes us select a career path by age 18.
So, what if you had different jobs in different universes? What would they be? Maybe, just maybe, you can do one of them right here in this universe! Here’s a few tips to get you started.
1. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Sometimes, going back to what you originally wanted to do is the right move. Why? Because you were most likely passionate about your first career choice. If you are considering a career change, think back, way back. Now if you wanted to be an astronaut, well, maybe the window of opportunity has passed you by. But, maybe you wanted to be a teacher, or CPA. Those are doable, even as late career changes.
2. Can you picture yourself doing something else?
We only get one time around in this universe, so far as we know, so why not do something that you really want to do? Covering the bills and eating are real concerns, but why not try to get paid to do something you love? It takes planning, and that’s where most people stop the process of moving forward to their dream career. Planning involves research, and if you’re reading this, you have access to the greatest tool in any universe, the Internet. Use if for more than updating your FB status!
3. Motivation is a necessity in any universe
Getting up and getting busy are the keys to career success. No matter what you want to do, sitting around watching the Bachelor or playing Halo is fun, but it moves you no closer to your career goals. Try to set a schedule for 2 weeks to research and plan your career a bit more. You can still play, just have more of a schedule.
If traveling through dimensions ever does become a reality, I know that I am a huge singing sensation in one universe!!
Need career help nativating this universe? Contact me for a complimentary career session!
So far, my first few blogs over here at WordPress have been a bit snarky. While there’s more where that came from, today I blog about three things you can do to inspire yourself, if your job search is driving you nuts!
Do you have a personal website? Have you thought about one? You can quickly and easily put up a professional looking website to enhance your online brand. You can also put up a creative or personal website around a hobby such as music or photography. And finally, spend some time this week promoting your favorite causes. Donations have been down across the board for non-profits, and while you may not be able to give at the moment, you can do some shout-outs on Twitter or Likes over a FB for your favorites. Spread the word!
Create a website to promote your career brand and gain visibility in your job search. Start at WebStarts.com or Wix.com, both offer free sites. Both are super easy to use, and they have tons of goodies, and it’s fun! Wix is in Flash! Upload your résumé, bio, headshot, recommendations, portfolio/work or publications, and of course, link your blog! When you’re done, be sure to put the website URL on everything: email, Linked In, FB, Twitter, Plaxo, etc.
Create a website based on a hobby. Sometimes, hobbies turn into jobs. If you are a photographer, be sure to get your pictures up! Do you make music? Why not put up a website to showcase your talent and offer music lessons. How about cooking? Make your own cooking videos and put them on your website. Play chess or speak a foreign language? Offer lessons and promote it on your website.
And finally this week, think about promoting your favorite charity. I have not been able to give much this year, but I can Tweet, and Like. I will be promoting several charities close to my heart this week. Some I like are NRDC and the Whaleconservancy. I’m sure you have some too.
Job searching is tough. It’s easy to get depressed, or stressed. Try one of these suggestions this week. Hopefully, you will feel inspired!