Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Job Hoppers, this is for you!

So you've had more jobs than you can count or you've been out of work for a long time?  Here are some tips I've seen candidates use to overcome these obstacles.

In every step of the job interview (and even the application process), potential employers are sizing you up and determining whether you are going to be a good asset to the company.  This includes reviewing your skills, education and work history. If your work history isn’t the best, then you could be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants. But don’t be discouraged just because of that, you can use the interview as a way to explain your work history to the interviewer.

Step 1
Never lie when giving your employment history to a potential employer. Fill out all employment history paperwork accurately and honestly. If you fudge or omit any of the details, you run the risk of your potential employer finding out the truth through a reference check. Even if the matter is small, the hiring manager may begin to have doubts about your overall honesty and integrity.

Step 2
Tailor your resume toward your skills. This type of resume is known as a functional resume. Your skills are broken down into categories and are placed at the top of the page. This will place your skills and qualities at the forefront of the hiring manager's mind. Once the skills are in place, list your job history by company and date.  Although functional resumes often silently scream "my work history isn't that stable", at least it gives you a chance to show some skills (and hopefully some big accomplishments that may make some employers overlook the job hopping, etc..) prior to job history.

Step 3
Wait for your potential employer to ask about any gaps in your work history. Some hiring managers are more concerned the applicant had the job and not that she was fired from her last position. Many employers expect some gaps in employment history and will accept most reasonable explanations. Often it is not why you took time off from working, it is how you explain this gap to a potential employer that will make the difference.

Step 4
Answer the questions honestly, explaining how each issue has positively added to your skills as a worker and overall work ethic. For example, if you took time off for children, you may want to explain that you did this to spend with your kids while they were young because you will never get that time back, but now that they are older, you are ready to embrace the next chapter in your life. If you were fired, tell the employer what you were fired for and explain how that has changed you and why that issue will no longer affect your work ethic.  Do NOT speak ill of the company or manager who fired you.  Instead, ensure that you have learned something from this and speak to what you've learned and how you've grown.

Remember to be confident, no matter what reason you had for taking time off, and be prepared to answer more detailed questions about your reason.  Emphasize why you want to rejoin the workforce and why this particular position or company is the right place to do so.  Turn your employment history into an asset, not a hindrance.

Step 5
Continue to talk up your skills. Don't let the interviewer run the conversation if they begin to get obsessed with your history. Keep the tone light and discuss why you believe you can do this job by describing your background and experience to sell yourself.  Whatever you do, try not to get defensive.  This will only sour the interview.  Stay POSITIVE....it goes a long way!

Don’t forget:
-     Some employers will only focus on work history, and therefore if you get that feeling during the interview, don’t be upset if you don’t get the job. Rather, look at the perspective that this employer wasn’t interested in knowing the great skills and education you could bring to the table.
-     Never get angry with an interviewer. An interview can sometimes bring up emotions or anger if you feel you are being judged in regards to your work history.

-     One thing that I’ve seen on a few resumes that I personally like is this…if you have a few shorter term positions, and there are good reasons for doing so (ie..company closed, layoffs, you moved across country, went back to school, etc..) it is a good practice to include this on your resume.  This way, the person scanning/reviewing your resume will take note that although you only worked at a place briefly, you have a reason for doing so.

Remember, ALWAYS be honest, focus on the positive and until next time, continued success in your job search and career endeavors!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Who you know" STILL matters! (Using your network to find your next job)

We have already seen that there are ways to leverage online networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, to help find your next job, but you can also use your existing network and use them to help leverage your opportunity of getting an interview or your foot in the door. It is not unusual for people to find their next job or get an interview by knowing someone, and sometimes it is all about “who you know.”

To find build your chances of having that “in,” members of your network should and can include:

Current and Former Co-Workers: Those you currently work with as well as those you've worked with in the past can be part of your network.
Professional Associations: Don't just join them. Become an active member, by serving on committees. You will make stronger connections in those associations by being an active member.
Friends and Family: Your brother-in-law's uncle's cousin may be a recruiter in your field. Keep your family and friends apprised of your career goals.
Former Professors and Instructors: Your former professors and instructors were most likely professionals in your field. Some probably still are.
Former Classmates: The alumni directory of your college and Facebook can provide you with contacts to add to your network.

When you review a job description that just screams your name and background or see a job description that reads like your resume, then you know you have found one of these “select” positions that you not only want to apply for, but you want an interview to prove you're the right fit.
But now what?  Well, rather than submitting your resume as normal, it is time to leverage your network.
·         Search your network and contacts for people who work at the company of interest.
·         Call a recruiter you trust and know someone has used, and ask them for help.
·         Ask the folks you know if they know anyone working with that company.
·         Search for people associated with the company on LinkedIn.
All you are looking for is an “in”.  Ideally, you would identify the hiring manager – in some cases this is easy and in some cases it is not. In the absence of finding this person, find people connected with the department in which you are interested in working.
Best case, someone in your network can introduce you directly. If not, perhaps you can at least identify someone who can help. When using your network, make sure that this new position you are applying for is directly related to your skills or past experiences, and it isn’t a stretch as it will be harder for your network to help if it is.
LinkedIn is excellent for this. There is a good chance that, if you have built up a reasonable network, someone in your network will be connected (hopefully directly) to someone in the network you are trying to access, and you can ask for an introduction.  Trust me, this works! 
Now craft your resume and cover letter and tailor them exactly to the position. Then, call the person you’ve identified or email them (a couple of Google searches can identify the structure of nearly any company’s email address) with a personal note asking them to forward your resume to the hiring manager.
Although everyone knows how beneficial networking can be, many are still nervous or uncomfortable with promoting themselves and increasing their network, but don’t be… remember it is still who you know, who you know, who you know!!! 
Until next time, happy networking and continued career success to you all! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Resumes: Words You MUST Include

 These days most companies are using applicant-tracking software (ATS) to screen and accept resumes. Employers' use and eventual dependence on keywords to find the job candidates they want to interview has come about in recent years because of technology. Inundated by resumes from job seekers, employers have increasingly relied on digitizing job-seeker resumes, placing those resumes in keyword-searchable databases, and using software to search those databases for specific keywords that relate to job vacancies. Most Fortune 1000 companies, in fact, and many smaller companies now use these technologies.  The bottom line is that if you apply for a job with a company that searches databases for keywords, and your resume doesn't have the keywords the company seeks for the person who fills that job, your resume probably won’t get seen.

But imagine there was a way to encode your resume with those magical keywords that would virtually ensure that employers would be interested in interviewing you. But the catch is that there's a different set of magic words for every job, and you have no way of knowing what the words are.
  • First, in the vast majority of cases, they are nouns. Job seekers have long been taught to emphasize action verbs in their job-search correspondence, and that advice is still valid. But the "what" that you performed the action in relation to is now just as important. Examples would include: special events, distribution control, cost management, campaigns, etc.
  • Use keywords throughout your resume. In the beginning, it was suggested that you should only put keywords in the very beginning of your resume, it is still good to do this, but keywords should also be throughout your resume.
  • Since you also don't know the exact form of a keyword that the employer will use as a search criterion, it makes sense to also use synonyms, various forms of your keywords, and both the spelled-out and acronym versions of common terms.
  • A good goal is to shoot for 25-35 keywords, so if you have fewer than that currently, try to beef up every section of your resume with keywords, varying the forms of the words you choose.
  • Use keywords in your cover letters, too. Many employers don't scan cover letters or include them in resume databases, but some do.
  • Lastly, some job boards have a feature that enables you to see how many times the resume you've posted has been searched. If your resume hasn't been searched very many times, odds are that you lack the right keywords for the kinds of jobs you want.
Getting the right keywords to be displayed on your resume might seem like a bit of a challenge at first, but by reviewing the job postings you're interested in and observing the keywords they use in the job postings, you should be able to get a good sense of the type of keywords and language to use on your resume. Just make sure that those words on the job description actually apply to your personal experience and the skills you would bring to the table!!

Make today a great day! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

True story of a Facebook Winner

True story from one of my Facebook hires...

The last few months of my life held a lot of change, marriage, moving, and the joy of finding a new job due to the move. Luckily I was able to find ADP and ADP careers Facebook page. As I read the ADP careers Facebook page I decide to make a simple post that said, “Hey ADP! I am moving just outside of Augusta, GA soon and I am looking at you!” To be honest I did not expect much of anything to come from it and boy was I wrong, there was someone checking the Facebook page frequently! I received a response asking what positions I was interested in and then received a phone call from a recruiter. This all happened so fast and my wife, who was my fiancĂ© at the time, was also in shock that I heard back so quickly after making a post on Facebook. After talking with the recruiter my information was passed along for my formal interviews, which I was able to do over the phone, and now I am employed by ADP in Augusta, GA as an Implementation Specialist and I could not be happier!"

How easy was that???  As the recruiter in this instance, on my end, I was monitoring my company's Facebook page (ADP Careers) and saw Grady's post.  I just so happened to be knee deep in a search for someone with his skill set in Augusta, GA.  Of course I called him IMMEDIATELY and he had himself a job offer in a matter of days!!

Most people use Facebook as a purely social tool, a way to interact and keep in touch with long lost friends, and let everyone know what you are up to or how you are feeling. However, Facebook is quickly becoming a professional tool where you might be able to find your next job, due to the fact that with Facebook there is increased direct connection between companies and consumers.

So how can you use Facebook to find your next job:
1) Find open positions on companies’ fan pages
Most companies now have a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and are on Twitter. Use this to your advantage, as you as an applicant have the opportunity to get closer to someone within the company, and have a good chance of actually speaking to someone within the company.

The recession has also helped applicants out (bear with me!). Since companies are now looking for more cost effective options, many are veering away from the major job boards which charge 150 – 300 dollars per posting and are trying to find applicants on their own through social medial tools.

After conducting a thorough search of Facebook by group, interest, or keyword and zeroing in a few potential leads, reach out to them and ask them for an ‘informational discussion’ (don’t send your resume yet or you’ll scare them away) about potential job openings their organization might have that fit your skill set. Because 80% of available jobs haven’t made their way to the classifieds and many organizations have built-in referral programs, make sure to mention the potential benefits they’ll get out of talking with you. To help the conversation get going, capitalize on a shared interest such as attending the same college, supporting the same team, etc. and all of this information can be gleamed from their Facebook profile.

2) Reach out to your current Facebook network
This may seem obvious, but if you haven’t viewed Facebook as a professional job-searching tool until now, you may have overlooked all of your connections. Posting a message on your wall with a link to your website or your resume could give your job search the boost it needed. Facebook connections tend to be stronger than LinkedIn connections so they could be some of your strongest supporters, and could go out of their way to walk your resume and promote your skills to their boss or HR.

If a long-lost friend or contact happens to work for a company or in a position you’re looking for, work up the courage to send them a message to ask them if they would mind talking with you about what they think of the job/company, how they got the job, and if they have anyone in mind that you could talk with about potential job openings. Don’t feel uncomfortable; this is Facebook…everyone wants to talk about himself or herself on Facebook!

3) Use Facebook SEM to drive traffic to your personal website or online resume
Using Facebook ads to advertise ones self for a job opening is becoming more common these days, and can be surprisingly effective. Now, I have to admit this is where I get a little lost…creating a Facebook ad for yourself? But social media is changing how we work, how we connect with the rest of the world, and therefore it makes sense that it is also altering how we apply for jobs. If you want to use Facebook SEM there are two factors to keep in mind, set a budget that is reasonable and make sure the content of the ad is representative of your current skill set. Lastly, tell me if it works! People who click on your Facebook ad should be directed to either your personal website or your resume.

Social Media has had a dramatic impact on opening up additional channels for communication between the company and the candidate.  Finding a job on Facebook is happening more every day, and if you take the time to market yourself and LISTEN to what's happening with your friends and with companies that interest you the next Facebook success story could be YOU!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ace Your Interview!

Interviews can be extremely stressful and overwhelming experience for many, whether you are interviewing for your first job, haven’t interviewed in a long time, or a confident interviewer. But they don’t have to be. Consider the following recommendations to give your best interview and present yourself as the candidate of choice to the interviewer.

1. Start off strong
            Make sure that you have directions to the location, and leave plenty of time to get there. Arrive at the interview location early – 10 to 15 minutes before the appointed time. Use this time to put the final polish on your appearance and be calm when you walk through the door. (You should not be putting your final touches and becoming calm in the office. Find a bathroom or outside of the company building to do this.) Greet everyone with a smile and firm handshake.

2. Don’t assume anything
            Assume that the interviewer knows nothing about you and your resume/cover letter. If you assume the person knows what you have to offer, you will miss opportunities to present yourself as the strongest candidate. When you greet the interviewer, offer a copy of your resume. The person may already have your resume in hand and decline, but it shows that you came prepared.

3. It doesn’t have to be about your paid experience
            Internships or volunteer positions can provide the opportunities you need to gain experience and demonstrate interest. When discussing your skills, experiences and accomplishments, don’t hesitate to use relevant anecdotes from all facets of your life. Even classroom activities, such as group projects, can provide good examples of how you can contribute.

4. When answering questions
            When it comes to interviewing, the key word is relevance. You always want to respond to questions in the most relevant way. Don’t tell your life story if the person asks about your background. Instead, mention only those experiences, skills and other qualifications that would apply to the job or organization. Be sure you listen to the entire question before answering, and ensure you are concrete and concise in your replies. Whenever possible, demonstrate your knowledge of the organization by noting similarities between your background and the job or the employer.
Never answer questions in a negative fashion, such as saying something bad about your current job, supervisor or organization. If you don’t have experience in a specific area, don’t lie, be defensive or apologize. Remember, you’re being interviewed, so you have enough of what the employer wants. Instead, talk about how you’re a fast learner and give a specific example, or offer ideas of how you would tackle the challenge.

5. Know how to answer the challenging questions
            Certain questions pose problems for everyone, even if they are expected. Questions such as, “tell me about yourself, what is your greatest weakness and where do you see yourself in five years,” should all be expected and prepared for. Make sure you have prepared answers to these questions in advance, and also be able to tailor your answer in response to what you learn during the interview and what key aspects or skills become highlighted in the interview.  My personal favorite question to ask someone is "What is the most significant accomplishment you have had (in your career, in the last year, in school, in your current role, etc..)?  The answer shows me what you think is important and gives me an idea of what you bring to the table.

6. Be Yourself
            The best recommendation for an interview is to be authentic. You want to be positive and enthusiastic, but your words also need to sound natural. If you’re not being yourself, you won’t know if you’re the right fit. Remember, you also want to decide whether you fit in there just as important for the potential employers to decide.
Remain professional throughout the interview. Turn off your cell phone, and stay focused on the interview and interviewer. Expect an interview to go for an hour, and make sure you have nothing scheduled right after the interview, so that if the interview continues or you are asked to complete paperwork, you have the time to do so. And don’t forget to SMILE and stay POSITIVE!!

Until next time, much career success your way!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Getting Hired in Today's Economy: Are you LinkedIn?

Getting Hired in Today's Economy: Are you LinkedIn?: "Using social media to locate or be recruited into your next job is no longer science fiction. LinkedIn is impossible to ignore and has becom..."

Are you LinkedIn?

Using social media to locate or be recruited into your next job is no longer science fiction. LinkedIn is impossible to ignore and has become an essential tool in the 21st Century job search. If you are asking yourself “What is LinkedIn?”, then you need to get in touch with the new job searching tools!

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site on the web and quickly becoming the number one place to turn for career development. As of January 2011, LinkedIn reports over 90 million members with executives from all Fortune 500 companies represented. LinkedIn also reports that, as of the New Year, 69% of all Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s hiring solutions to source new employees.

Companies such as Microsoft, Ebay, Netflix, and Target are all using LinkedIn to recruit for candidates for employment. Kay Luo, Director of Corporate Communications at LinkedIn, explains why, "The main reason that companies are using LinkedIn is to find passive job candidates. Another reason why companies are using LinkedIn, is because referrals from their employees are highly valued because they typically have a higher success rate (hence the popular "employee referral bonuses"). LinkedIn helps companies leverage the networks of their employees."

Here are some tips on how you can go about finding your next job using LinkedIn:
·         Create a complete profile
Your profile should read like your resume, showing your current and past positions, your achievements, education, professional associations, etc. Your first step should be to write a professional summary and add it to the “Summary” section. Next, make a list of your specialties and fill them in with keywords recruiters would be looking for.  
·         Consider adding a photo to your profile
It will help complete your profile and show to recruiters or on-lookers you go the extra step.
·         Build your network
Once you have completed your profile, you should begin adding to your network. The more connections you have, the more opportunities you will also have. Start by adding current or former co-workers, professional members you know. Also look at who your connections are linked to, as you might know some of those people as well. The key is to make sure you know the people or are somehow linked business-wise to the people you are adding.
·         Ask for recommendations
Once you have added connections, you should be asking your network for recommendations of your current or past work. These recommendations help bring life to your profile, and help when recruiters are reading your profile as it gives them additional information before they contact you. Word to wise: if you ask for someone’s recommendation, make sure it will be positive, and it is also nice to write him or her a recommendation in return.
·         Join groups
Join groups on LinkedIn that are related to your current profession, ones you want to explore, or an industry you want to break into. Groups are a good way to start networking with others on LinkedIn and start discussing job opportunities. They are also a good way to connect with fellow profilers using group discussions.
·         Follow companies
Follow companies that you are interested in on LinkedIn. You are able to see who is on LinkedIn that works for that particular company, the company’s hiring/employment statistics, and some companies even post job posting on their LinkedIn company pages.
·         Lastly, stay connected
After all of your hard work with creating a complete profile, building your network, getting recommendations, joining groups and following companies, you want to make sure that you log onto LinkedIn on a constant basis. As new people join LinkedIn every day, you can continue building your network and prospects, and bring you closer to possibly finding your next job on LinkedIn.

Are you on LinkedIn? Do you use it on a regular basis, or find it an important tool for job searching? Have you be contacted by recruiters about job positions or found your job thanks to LinkedIn?

Until next time, wishing you continued career success!!