Tag Archives: job seeker

Contacting Employers the Old Fashioned Way

Who would have ever thought that the use of telephones and the US Postal Service would become old fashioned to job seekers? On the flip side, who would think bringing back these old fashioned resources in finding employment could be considered creative? Today’s younger job seeker is amazed at the idea of calling a potential employer over the phone much less sending a resume and cover letter through the mail. The very idea of printing a resume, printing a cover letter, signing the cover letter, addressing an envelope with a stamp, stuffing then sealing that enveloped and finally walking this envelope to the mail box is almost inconceivable in today’s job market.

“Pounding the pavement” has become a lost art in seeking employment. Too many have flocked to the comfort of the online application process. As I have said many times, applying for a position online is a task. An effective job search is a process. As a job seeker, what are you willing to do in addition to applying online to secure your targeted job?

When looking for innovative or unique ways to be noticed by potential employers, why not first return to these two basic techniques used from the not so distant past:

Pick up the telephone: The internet provides easy access in finding general telephone numbers to every business in the world. Call employers. You can certainly call the HR department, but you will probably be more successful by calling the department in which you want to work. Emails can often time get lost, but phone calls are rarely lost or overlooked.

Mail your resume: Typing resumes and cover letters on bond paper and sending these job search packets through the mail used to be the most widely used practice for job seekers just 20 years ago. Today, very few job seekers take the time to print resume and cover letters to mail much less know what bond paper is in the first place. In addition, we are more likely to read the mail we physically receive over every email we receive. The volume of mail we receive at the office has dramatically decreased. Job seekers stand a very good chance of their letter being opened.

Applying online will get your resume into the company applicant tracking system. While some companies do look at these resumes for identifying talent, candidates must take extra steps to be noticed unless you believe in the needle in a haystack theory. In order to prove your interest and commitment for the job to employers, think about returning to basics if you will. Purchase a book of US postage stamps, stationery paper and envelopes, and good ink for your printer. The walk to the mailbox will be good for you. In addition, use the Internet to find a few phone numbers and dial the telephone. Dare to be innovative by returning to what many consider “old fashioned.” You might be surprised with the positive feedback you receive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When You Can’t Get An Interview

For many, the kneejerk reaction for job seekers who cannot get an interivew is to change their resumes.  Your resume may very well be a part of the problem, but most likely there are many other things you need to do to either change or add to your job search strategy.  Of course, your lack of experience and skills may also be a reason you are not chosen for an interview, but sometime it is neither your background or your resume that is keeping you from interviews.  Your approach may be at fault.  Consider these ideas if you struggle with your job search stalling at the resume submission stage:

1.  Are you only applying online?  While this is probably the most widely used format for applying for positions, too many job seekers only use this step.  The problem with only applying online is that you are not setting yourself apart from the competition.  You aren’t directly reaching out to the hiring manager.  I liken using online applications as your only step in finding a job to that of purchasing a lottery ticket.  You could get chosen, but think about the odds.  They aren’t good folks.

2.  Are you asking for people to distribute your resume for you?  Networking with friends and colleagues is the key to a successful job search, but please be careful in how you approach this important part the progress.  Some of your contacts are ideal for floating your resume around a company and will volunteer to do so, but only expect someone to do this if they offer.  Be careful in asking someone to distribute your resume for you.  Instead of asking someone to do you a favor (please distribute my resume), ask for advice (can you provide me some guidance?).  Advice is easy for someone to provide you, but doing work for you is an entirely different request.  The more people you can connect with yourself, the better opportunity you have for controlling your ability to secure an interview.

Job seekers have to come from behind the computer screen to exercise a successful job search strategy.  Email, the Internet and the telephone can only take you so far in your search.  Implement that human connection that only you can provide.

21 Day Job Search Improvement Challenge

Happy New Year!!!!

As I sit down to write my first blog for 2013, my thoughts go back to the last blog I wrote for 2012.  Your Job Search Resolutions for 2013  In that entry, I talked about challenging yourself to resolutions that will improve your job search practices.  Please reread the suggestions I outline.  I hope a few make their way into your job search plan this year.

Studies show that you can create a habit if you continue something for 21 days — some good and some not so good.   Today’s generation uses the word “like” at least once in almost every sentence.  They didn’t start this habit overnight, and they won’t stop overnight either.  It takes time — 21 days.  I challenge you to take the next 21 days and change some of your bad job search habits.  Here are a few recommendations:

1.  Manage your jobsearch part time not in your free time.  Let’s face it, we do not have free time.  Saying that you will do something in your free time just doesn’t happen anymore.   Maybe you need to treat your job search like a class period or maybe you can just mark time on your calendar easily and stick to the schedule.  Whatever you do, you have to plan your work and work your plan.  You can’t just plan to work out and get in shape.  You have to actually work out.  So, schedule time for your job search and stick to that time doing something productive.  Do that for 21 days in a row.

2.  Emphasize a high touch / high tech balanced job search.  If you only apply to positions online, your chances of failure are extremely high.  You must network your way to key hiring managers in the organizations to succeed.  It is difficult to find the right person who knows about the position in which you applied and can get you to the right hiring manager.  But, you can’t ignore that the number one way vacant positions are filled is through inside direct referrals.  Does it take a long time to complete the online application?  Yes.  Does it take time, effort and perseverance to network effectively?  Yes.  Does it get frustrating?  Absolutely.  Nonetheless, you have to measure your career goal against the time you are willing to put into reaching this goal.  Maintain this balance for 21 days.

3.  Stop sounding desperate.  When you have bills piling up, getting a paycheck is the goal.  When you need a job, you need a job.  But, keep in mind that hiring decisions are made the same way you shop.  Have you ever purchased something because the vendor needs your business?  Would you hire a chef to rewire your home for electricity because that company needs your business? Of course not.  You would hire a company that specializes in fulfilling your needs.  Be very careful in marketing yourself as a jack of all trades lest you be known as an expert of nothing.  We purchase and hire excellence.  If you find yourself telling people you can do anything, then I challenge you to redesign your job search marketing plan.  Do this for 21 days.

In order for you to break your old job search habits, you must first accept your plan in the past isn’t working for you.  Maybe you have been able to apply online and get a job in the past.  Maybe you are from cultures that focus on placement as opposed to personal branding to succeed.  Whatever your past experience, anyone wanting to climb the corporate ladder must accept that with a more advanced career will come a more advanced process in managing your career.

Are you up for breaking your old habits and taking the 21 Day Job Search Improvement Challenge?

 

 

Your Job Search Resolutions for 2013

I’m sure anyone reading the title of today’s blog is thinking, “Cindy, my job search resolution is to get a job plain and simple.”  Maybe you’ve got me there, but I’m talking about something a little different.

We all know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  Ask yourself if you have fallen into “insanity” when it comes to your job search.  Are you are continually applying for jobs online and receiving no response or reaching out to create a professional network with no success?  Will people connect with you on LinkedIn but never respond to your messages?

Before restarting your job search for 2013, follow these suggestions and stop the insanity.

Online Applications:  Too often job seekers, and yes some recruiters, use this resource as the only step in seeking employment or job candidates.  Please do not only apply online.  The probability you will be noticed and receive a call for an interview is slim.  Yes, please create a profile online and submit a resume for a position online, but also be sure to tap into key people within the organization and department.  LinkedIn Groups, company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as professional associations provide options for real networking that will help you introduce your resume that is sitting in the company’s online applicant tracking system.

Creating an Effective Professional Network:  Younger job seekers probably do not have a close professional network of hiring managers.  What they probably have instead is an indirect network of people in these positions that come from family members, bosses and professors.  Let the “six degrees of separation” concept work for you.  Who do you know who might know someone who knows people in the areas of your interest?

No One Will Return Your Messages:  Before you say that reaching out to people through LinkedIn or other similar resources doesn’t work ask yourself a very basic question.  Could the email or message you are sending need some editing?   Are you asking the right question? Are you saying the wrong things in your message?  Do you have any errors in your message?  Did you research to make sure this is the best way to connect with a person?  I always tell my students and clients to look at a person’s LinkedIn profile before expecting a response.  If your target contact doesn’t have a photo on their page, updated information or a connection list of more than 75-100 then you can about bet this person does not use LinkedIn very often.  LinkedIn won’t be a good resource for you to use in connecting with this person.  Think insanity here:  don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.  If someone does not use LinkedIn, then they probably won’t respond to your LinkedIn messages right?  On the other hand, maybe this person uses LinkedIn and not email.  Just like the Boy and Girl Scouts, BE PREPARED for anything.

As 2012 closes, ask yourself if you have been doing the same things with your job search with no success.  Just like any resolution, did you start out start and fizzle quickly?  Could something be missing from what you are doing?  Could you be doing something wrong?  Look at the basics and create a new plan to start 2013 and have a successful job search.

 

 

5 Tips for a Successful Information Interview

From Guest Blogger:  Jessica Newcomb, Assistant Director, Graduate Business Career Services, Texas A&M University

Preparing for and executing a networking phone call is arguably 100 times more difficult than conducting an in-person meeting. The reasons why that is make perfect sense! For starters, you don’t have all of the non-verbal cues to help you interpret how well the interaction is going. There are no visible facial features, eye contact or body language, so you are left only with the voice on the other end of the phone.

With the holiday season approaching, you might find that contacts are more open to a networking phone call rather than a meeting. As job seekers plan for a phone call, their plan is often too vague and centered around the general approach of asking about the other person’s experience.  If you get your target on the phone, don’t waste his or her time by being unprepared, unfocused, and uninspiring.

How do you conduct an effective information interview over the phone?

A great idea is to start at the beginning by identifying the goal for the meeting because if you don’t know, there is no roadmap for the interaction. Simply put, I see the goal of many networking calls as being to gain clarity about your career search. If you see the goal as being different, then define what is the goal and what questions you can ask to meet that specific goal.

Some nuts and bolts type advice about executing the call is to stand during the phone call, but don’t necessarily pace around the room. You certainly don’t want to be out of breath or get distracted by something you see. It’s ok to have some notes or your resume in front of you, but remain in the moment and focused on what the contact has to say. The most tried and true advice for any meeting, call or not, is to smile throughout.

Now, here is a template for a phone conversation you might have. There is no perfect formula, so adapt and revise this as needed.

1 – Initiating the conversation:

You might start my asking about the contact’s week. Be personable! Then, identify your goal in scheduling the call. “I would really appreciate your advice based on your experience about my job search and differentiating myself from other candidates.

2 – Telling a little bit about yourself:

“My background is unique, and I’d like to better leverage my skills and experience. I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself.” Introduce relevant details concerning what you are currently doing, what you want to do, what accomplishments make you most proud, what sets you apart, or what inspires you.

Captivate your contact with an anecdote. Don’t be afraid to open up a bit and tell a few personal things about your journey to this point in your career. You want the contact to gather data about you (degree, skills, etc.) but more importantly information about your personality, presence and attitude.

3 – Asking questions:

Prepare by looking at the contact’s LinkedIn profile to see if anything jumps out like unique skills, career changes, first job, etc. You might ask, “How did you set a positive trajectory for your career?” “Has the role aligned with your expectations or differed in any key ways?” “What do you wish you knew when you started out?” “How have you overcome roadblocks in your career?”

Tell the contact a little bit about what you have been doing in your job search and ask, “What additional activities do you think would be most impactful to my search?”

4 – Ending:

Don’t blow all the goodwill you have fostered by ending the conversation too abruptly or awkwardly.

Here are a few examples: “I have really enjoyed our conversation! Thank you for your time today. Would it be ok for me to follow-up with you in the next couple of weeks? If there is anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.”

5 – Follow-up:

Send a thank you note or email. Get back on the contact’s radar by following-up with a timely and personal message.

 

Managing Career Fair Expectations

Career Fair season is upon us once again.  As a job seeker, what are your expectations?  Do you expect recruiters to have positions specific to your interest? Do you expect recruiters to give you an interview on site? Do you hope your visit to a company booth will result in an interview and then offer?  Wow!  Would that be nice or what?

So, have you decided what you are going to do if the company recruiter does not have a position, does not have an interview signup or dare I mention refer you to the company website?  You know that all three of these possibilities can very well happen right?  If not, decide what you plan to do should these be the scenarios to play out during your experience.

In order for you to leave Career Fair with a positive experience, you have to be prepared.  Be prepared to discuss available opportunities, be prepared to sign up for an interview, be prepared to give away paper resumes (this doesn’t happen as often as it used to), be prepared to talk about the company or ask questions if the recruiter cannot address your immediate interests, and be prepared to apply online.  Be ready for anything.

Last year around this time, I wrote a blog about overcoming Career Fair obstacles.  Every roadblock you face during Career Fair provides an opportunity.  Career Fair provides face-to-face conversations you would not have had if this company never attended Career Fair.

And, here is a huge tip:  Write down the name of the company representative.  Use this name and your conversation in a cover letter.

Create positive strategies around each possible scenario to ensure your Career Fair experience is valuable and exceeds your expectations.

Don’t Forget Your Job Search Schoolin’

When we are searching for a job, we focus on doing what needs to be done to find a job.  We look for great opportunities with companies and search for positions that provide a great salary in the geographical location of our preference.  Basically, the short term goal of obtaining a job is our destination.

During your job search, you polished your resume, made sure your online profiles were professional, networked, interviewed, and so much more.  Successful job seekers make sure they leave no stone unturned when it comes to establishing their professional image and preparing to promote their skills and accomplishments at the drop of a hat.  Job seekers are knowledgeable.  They read business publications and research employers of choice.  Basically, they are in the know.  Well, they should be right?

Probably, the biggest mistake working professionals make after starting a new position is that they stop all of the wonderful practices they implemented during their job search and focus only on doing their new jobs.  BIG MISTAKE!

Successful career management is so much more than just job search success.  Here are a few best practices for great career managers:

Network:  Great career managers continue the business relationships they worked so hard to develop during their job search.  They position themselves as a professional and look for ways to help all of those who graciously helped them during the job search.

Pay it Forward:  It is imperative for career managers to pay it forward.  Provide praise.  Thank your new colleagues for their assistance.  Give credit where credit is due.  As we fight to climb the corporate ladder, we have to make a choice whether we want to climb with the support of our colleagues or use our colleagues as the steps.  Successful career managers accept the support of their colleagues and make sure to give back more than received at every opportunity along the way.

Online Presence: You worked so hard to perfect your online profile.  You engaged in LinkedIn Groups.  You reached out to alumni, former colleagues, and faculty.  Resist the mindset that you are now employed and do not have time to continue your online professional presence.  You have a great opportunity to give back through the same source that most likely made a huge difference in your job search success in the first place.  Provide the same great advice to current job seekers that you received during your journey.

Professional Development:  Finally, never stop searching for more education.  Be a life-long learner.  Seek to be more knowedgeable in your profession, look for opportunities to learn better leadership and communication skills, and challenge yourself to stay on top of the latest technologies.

It’s called LifeLong Career Management for a reason.  Accomplishments within the job as well as your professional presence and relationships go hand-in-hand to achieve career management success.