Sunday, December 8, 2013

Following Up



Following up on a job interview is crucial. Even if you blow the interview, it pays to get in touch after the fact.

Ideally your interviews always go smoothly, and after each one you craft an effective note thanking the interviewer for the time, expressing enthusiasm and making it clear you listened closely to the hirer’s requirements. The follow-up letter is almost like a proposal letter. You should tailor it to the company and suggest specific ways you can address the needs you discussed when you met.

A follow-up note should always focus on what the hiring manager’s looking for. You should say, ‘I listened, I understand your needs and your challenges, and here’s how I can help you address those.’ Ideally you should remind the interviewer of what you’ve accomplished in the past, and make a couple of concrete suggestions for how you can help the company.

Do send the follow-up note as soon as possible. If you don’t have time to craft a longer note, consider sending a short thank-you immediately, mentioning that you want to give further thought to the challenges you discussed and promising to send a more in-depth message soon.
  
If you’ve met with more than one person in the interview process, think about what will make for an appropriate note to each. For instance, if you interviewed with someone who would be reporting to you if you get the job, you can say something like, “It sounds like you’re working on some interesting projects. It would be great to have you as a colleague.”

HR professionals tend to struggle with overloaded calendars. It’s always a good idea to send a follow-up e-mail, but if the interview was at a large company, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back. Ask the HR person during the interview how he or she would like you to stay in touch.
  
Do not curb your enthusiasm. A lot of job seekers forget that one of the most crucial parts of interviewing is convincing the hiring manager that you truly desire the job. Interviewers don’t just look for applicants who have the requisite skills and will fit in with a company. Now more than ever, they want candidates who want them.
  
You can get across your enthusiasm in many ways, preparing an arsenal of stories illustrating your skills, strengths and accomplishments is a good way to go. Rather than bragging in a general way about your abilities, describe specific experiences that show you putting those skills to use. You can speak animatedly about the pleasure and pride you took in overcoming obstacles. One advantage of storytelling over plain boasting is that it is the interviewer who draws the conclusion.

In addition to offering stories that illustrate your strengths, use a direct approach and tell the interviewer how thrilled you’d be to work for her and for her organization in particular. Describe other offers or discussions you’ve got going, and let the interviewer know she is your first choice.

Most applicants understand that they should do their homework, learning as much as they can about a company and a job, before going in for an interview. Candidates who haven’t done basic research still show up.

Ahead of time, take a notebook, jot down a few points to help you remember your best stories and note three questions to ask about the specific job and the company. Then, when the interview starts, ask permission to take notes. Use your notebook as a cheat sheet.

Before the interview winds up, ask where you stand compared with the ideal candidate. Then ask how you compare with other applicants. These questions emphasize how much you want the job and help you take action after the interview.

Write a follow-up note that addresses any ways you were told you might not fit the ideal mold. You can turn a no into a yes through diligent, enthusiastic follow-up. In the interview sometimes the most important thing you can do is get the information you need to sell yourself.

1.       Show enthusiasm - Make sure you show your eagerness about both the job and the organization. Start by making sure you know everything you should about the position and the company before the interview begins.
2.       How I can help - Explain how your previous experience and your fresh ideas can solve problems and make a contribution at the new job.
3.       Tell specific stories - Come to the interview prepared with at least three experiences you can describe to illustrate how you tackled challenges and met and surpassed goals.
4.       Say how much you want the job - Look the interviewer in the eye, say you want to work for her and why. Let her know of any other offers you've got or interviews you'll be having, and make it clear that you favor this job above all the others.
5.       Refer to notes - Use a notebook as a cheat sheet of stories to tell and points to make in the interview. Then ask the interviewer if she minds if you take notes during the interview.
6.       Ask how you compare with the ideal candidate - Before the interview concludes, ask how you compare with the ideal job candidate and how you stack up against other applicants.
7.       Follow up - Rather than a simple thank-you letter, write a detailed note addressing any hesitations about you that may have come to light during the interview.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Social Media

If you haven’t heard of DirectEmployers.com, let’s just say that the more than 670 member companies in the organization have had a significant impact on the way that job seekers engage with employers, principally in the space of digital and on-line recruiting.  For years they have been way ahead in the digital recruiting front, developing strategies and technical tools to help connect those seeking employment to the employers that have openings in the most seamless and organic way possible.  In addition to customizing experiences for member companies, they have also provided support to a large number of state workforce agencies, disabled workers and most notably connecting veterans with improved career opportunities and actively encouraging their hiring.

Employers at the meeting described how they are utilizing social media and other digital platforms in order to engage and target candidates with the skill sets they are seeking.   The growth in how organizations are using social media to recruit talent, entry level as well as experienced, is staggering and, as experts from around the globe discussed, is no longer just a U.S. phenomenon. There is no doubt that social media is emerging as a vital tool in how employers recruit talent to their organizations.  Consequently, it’s essential that job seekers learn to understand and effectively navigate the “social space” in order to improve their chances of getting noticed by employers and ultimately enhancing their job prospects. Whether you are looking for an internship or full-time job, or just thinking about a job change, here are some important things to make sure you are leveraging in the social media space:

1.       As simple as it sounds, look at all of your digital profiles and make certain that every one of them is complete and professional.  This includes a professional looking headshot and timely updates to your profile information.  Recruiters repeatedly mentioned at the conference how turned off they were to “the silhouette”, a reference to LinkedIn and Facebook profiles that don’t contain an appropriate headshot.

2.       Make sure to post content relevant to your career interests and passions. Recruiters follow relevant trends and your insightful engagement in trend discussions might get you noticed and result in invitations to consider employment opportunities.

3.       Fully use all of the capabilities that LinkedIn has to offer. Whether you are an experienced professional or college student, LinkedIn is quickly emerging as one of the most important professional networking platforms available to job seekers.  If you are a college student, visit your career center, as most are offering services to help students build their on-line brand. For more experienced job seekers there are many free on-line tutorials to help you maximize the capabilities of LinkedIn.

4.       Increasingly Facebook is positioning itself in the jobs space.  This might be your largest network and you should consider how to use this incredibly powerful platform in your job search.  Be careful to use the privacy settings correctly, so employers do not find content that you are not interested in sharing.

5.       Twitter has also emerged as a very powerful resource, but you need to master the 140-character limit to include clever, but professional observations and hash tags of career interests that are trending to help you get found. You should also follow important leaders in the companies and fields you are interested in. Employers are tweeting links to job posts and other job seekers are sharing jobs through sites such as “Tweetmyjobs”.

6.       Google is well established as the most powerful search engine on the planet, but Google plus and hangouts provide additional modalities to engage with people and organizations and more importantly be found by potential employers.

7.       Although, there were differing viewpoints at the conference about whether blogs are an effective strategy for job seekers, writing interesting posts in your field can attract readers with similar interests and they may be recruiters or others who can help connect you professionally.  You can also read blog posts of leaders in different industries and comment when you have something to add to the conversation that may help you engage with new contacts.

8.       Search employer web and mobile sites to keep up with important developments, such as new clients and projects as well as job opportunities.

Although it may seem overwhelming at times, today’s job seekers have many important new ways to engage with employers, get noticed, and unearth new job opportunities.  The use of the social space to recruit qualified talent will only increase and the faster you perfect your digital strategy, the faster you will find a great position.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guidelines for Job Search

1.      Treat job-hunting as a job. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Even if you’re not currently employed, you’ll still need to fit the job search around your family and other responsibilities. Make a list of long-term job search goals, a list of shorter-term goals and, finally, a list of daily tasks related to your job search. This will help you stay on course during the job hunt and give you an idea of what you’ll need to do every day.

2.      Identify roles that will suit you. Target positions that are aligned with your qualities, skills, background and experiences. You will be happier in such a position and able to excel in it. If you’re not sure what type of role suits you best, be willing to experiment. You can do this through volunteer work or offering to do pro bono work for people you know. 

3.      Be patient. Finding a new job can take two weeks or two years, so be sure you’re in this for the long haul before you commit any more time to job seeking. If you skip the planning stage just because you’re in a rush, it could take longer to find the right role because you haven’t done the groundwork. 

4.      Learn from your mistakes. Even if you make mistakes, or don’t do something in the job application process that you should have done, it’s not the end of the world. Learn from those mistakes. Remember that, whatever your age, you’re still evolving as a person, not just as a job seeker. If you’re frightened of moving forward, you’ll never move forward.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What day should you apply to jobs?

Here's a quick article on what day to apply:
 A study, by Bright.com, a website matching job-seekers and recruiters, analyzed more than half a million job applications and more than 15 million views of postings on its site. It defined "success" as a job-seeker's moving forward in the hiring process - for example, being invited by an employer to come in for an interview.
The study excludes jobs that don't require resumes, such as ones in agriculture, construction and food service, Bright.com senior analyst Jacob Bollinger says. Excluding those, he adds, Bright.com's listings are a representative sample of up to 80 percent of all jobs in the United States. The median pay for jobs on the site is $58,000, compared with the U.S. Census Bureau median of $51,017.
The site's data show that 30 percent of people who apply for a job on Mondays, advance to the next stage of the hiring process. That's better than the success rate for any other day. Saturdays are the least successful day, when only 14 percent of applicants advance.
Most job-seekers apply on Tuesdays (37 percent), but only 20 percent of them succeed. Saturday, with the lowest number of applicants (about 5 percent), is also the worst day to apply, with a success rate of only 14 percent.
Bright.com says its findings don't explain why Monday seekers do best, simply confirming that they do.
Applications that come in on a Monday might be less likely to be overlooked than ones that come in later in the week, as resumes pile up on hiring managers' desks, Bollinger notes. Then, too, it's possible that Monday applicants might be more eager, go-getting people.

When to Start a New Job Search

The Best Times to Start a New Job Search
When it comes to starting your job search, there’s no time like the present, except, maybe, if the present happens to be during a major life change, a big project at work, or the summertime.
The career experts say there’s really no right or wrong time to start and those job seekers should always be actively looking. The stars will never align perfectly in your job search and if you wait for them to do so, a great opportunity could be missed. But the experts also believe that certain times are more ideal than others for launching a new job search. For starters, you need to be ready and have time to devote to the process. Once a job seeker decides they want a new job, that’s the best time to look for a job.
Certain times of year are also better than others for job hunting. It may depend on your specific industry or job, but the summer and holidays tend to be slowest for hiring. The end of the year tends to be a slower time for new hires. Initiatives are wrapping up and budgets are maxed out. For companies on a calendar year financial schedule, new budgets start in January, which can mean funding for new positions. You should also take the holiday calendar into consideration when reaching out to people. People are focusing only on essentials in order to get away for a much needed holiday break. When they return from vacation, your note will be buried under a week of other e-mails.
Stay away from the formal part of the job search during the summer months, as many people are on vacation or putting off non-essential tasks in favor of getting out an hour or two early at the end of the day or week. Don’t abstain from the research and networking phases during the summer, that way you can hit the ground running come fall.
Here are other great times to start a job search:
After you’ve done your research. Even in a great economy, there’s no point in looking for a new job or career if you haven’t done your research. It’s essential that you know what you want to do and for what company. You must be prepared, which means knowing where to find out about jobs, having a totally complete LinkedIn profile, conducting informational interviews, anticipating interview questions, knowing exactly what the job entails, and doing as much company research as possible.
When the company or industry you’re interested in is healthy and hiring. If in your research you find that your dream employer has implemented a hiring freeze, you might be wasting your time pursuing a job there. Research the financial health and stability of potential employers.
When you really don’t need a new job. Perhaps the best time to look for a new job is when you don’t need one; you just want one. There’s a lot less pressure on you because your current job isn’t too bad and there’s no rush in getting a new one. You can take your time and if a great opportunity comes up you can take it if you want or you can wait for the next one. You’re in control.
Before you hate your current job. Some people wait until they hate their current job before they start looking for a new one. The problem is that they become stressed out and unhappy, and this comes across in subsequent job interviews. It’s best to start looking if you can see “the writing on the wall” at your current job, but before you become so miserable that it affects your job search in a negative manner.
After you’ve completed a major project for your present company. Perhaps you’re preparing for an upcoming sales meeting in a month. If you’re an integral part of the preparation and you start dividing your focus between your current job and on a potential new job, or leave before the sales meeting, you run the risk of burning some bridges. Try to avoid this if possible.
After the New Year. Sometimes, there’s a psychological boost when you start looking for a new job in January. You feel like you’re starting over and it’s out with the old and in with the new. Also, it’s possible that some hiring managers will be more focused on filling positions now that the holidays are over. New Year; new job; new outlook on life.
After you’ve taken that big vacation. If you have a big vacation coming up, it’s probably best to look for a job after you come back. You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re being considered for a job and then you have to inform them that you’ll be out a week or two right after you start your new job. The hiring manager isn’t going to want to train you for a few days or weeks and then have to stop until you get back. However, if an amazing opportunity presents itself just before your vacation, you should pursue it, and put your personal plans on hold, if necessary.
After a major life change (not during it). For the same reason you don’t want to start a job right before you go on a big vacation, you probably don’t want to start a job search while you’re pregnant, going through a divorce, or some other major life change. If you’re currently employed and the job hunt can wait a bit, hold off until your personal life calms down. Starting a new job requires an extra investment of time and effort. You need to prove yourself to your new employer, and that may require extra hours and limited flexibility until you’ve built trust and proven that you can deliver. That being said, if a personal situation will prevent you from investing appropriately, you may want to stick with your current role.
Job seekers who wait until they are laid-off or passed-over for a new position are at a serious disadvantage. Such job seekers usually need to find a job immediately; however, the typical job search can take anywhere from 90 to 180 days, or more, depending on the industry and location of the search. It’s best to have in place in the unlikely event you need it.
So, should you suddenly need a new job during the holidays or a major life change or some other less-than-ideal time there are things you can do to prepare:
Look for jobs while you’re still employed. Start looking in advance of your need. That doesn’t mean that you are actively searching or attempting to leave your current company, he adds. Just keep your eyes and ears open at all times for new opportunities.
Go on informational interviews. Consider conducting several informational interviews a year to informally gauge employment opportunities or positions that interest you.
Network. Network over lunch or coffee with hiring managers and recruiters to ensure that you stay on their minds if and when the need for a new job arises.
Assist others with their job search. Help others with their search, and put them in touch with the hiring managers and recruiters that you know. You will inevitably become a trusted resource to those with their pulse on the market and they will likely share opportunities with you first to see if you or someone in your network would be interested.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Rules of Job Hunting



The world of job hunting moves fast. The new rules are: There are no rules. If you’ve been following some traditional job search tips, it’s time to think again. Here are a few rules you may have heard, why you should break them, and when on some very rare occasions, you should follow them anyway.



Rule #1: Cast the Widest Net Possible

Years ago, it was standard to print up several copies of a one-size-fits-all resume and mail it out to as many potential employers as possible. In theory, this game of odds made sense, the more resumes you sent out, the more chances you had for an employer to call you back.

But that strategy simply doesn’t work anymore. Between applicant tracking systems that filter for specific keywords and companies that are hyper-focused on culture, hiring managers are looking for a perfect fit. A generic resume points to a generic candidate and that’s not what companies are looking for. Instead, focus on fewer jobs but make them count by tailoring each application to your target company.




Rule #2: Call or Stop By to Check on Your Application After a Few Days

If there was one piece of advice from my parents that I constantly raised an eyebrow at, it was this. To them, calling or stopping by a business to check on your application showed persistence and enthusiasm. But I couldn’t imagine that it did anything except annoy the hiring manager and ultimately hurt my chances of landing the job.

In general, let your resume and cover letter speak for themselves. If you have a killer application, you’ll have a great chance of catching the hiring manager’s eye without the pestering follow-up.

It can be OK to follow up if you applied blindly and haven’t heard back in a couple weeks. But via email. Please, only email.


Rule #3: Include an Objective Statement at the Top of Your Resume

Objective statements made a bit more sense when they were combined with Rule #1, as you were widely distributing your resume, your objective statement gave the company a better idea of what kind of role you were after.

But now, not only do they come across as vague  and they just don’t make much sense. if you’re tailoring your cover letter and resume to apply for an inside sales position, there’s no need to make a blanket statement that says the same thing at the top of your resume.


Rule #4: Use a Traditional Letter Format for Your Cover Letter

When I first learned how to create a cover letter, the format was standard. You’d include all your contact information first, including your full street address, home and cell phone numbers, and email address, then the same information for the hiring manager or company you were addressing the letter to. Only after all that would you get to the meat of the letter.

The thing is, you don’t actually send your cover letters in the mail anymore, so the formal letter format isn’t necessary. Most times, you’ll either attach your cover letter to an email or use it as the body of your email, which has your resume attached. Yes, your contact information should be accessible, but skip the traditional formatting and put a line at the top of your resume and bottom of your email. They’ll find it, promise.

Rule #5: Write Your Resume and Cover Letter in Formal Language

Most cover letters used to start with a standard opening phrase along the lines of “Enclosed please find my resume as an application for the position of Marketing Director, as advertised on Monster.com.” Some even used the opening line of “Dear Sir or Madam.” That is cringe-worthy.

While hiring managers’ general opinions on cover letters vary widely (i.e., some prefer them over resumes, some refuse to read them at all), it’s best to start with something conversational and polite then, depending on how well you understand the company culture, you can get a little creative.



Rule #6: Always Wear a Suit to an Interview
When it comes to interviews, the way you dress will play a big part in the first impression you make, which can set the stage for the rest of your interview and, ultimately, even play a role in whether or not you land the gig. And so, it’s not surprising that a suit is the go-to standard for such a high-stakes situation.

But it only takes one start-up interview to figure out that a suit can actually make you stick out in a bad way. If everyone at the company wears jeans and t-shirts on a regular basis, your suit is going to make you come across as stuffy and formal or worse, a total mismatch for the company culture.
It’s more important to find out how company regulars dress on a daily basis, and then step it up just a notch for that first meeting, you’ll easily prove that you can fit right in.

One caveat: Follow this rule anyway if your target company is truly a business formal environment or if you can’t adequately gauge the dress code pre-interview. Too dressy is always better than too casual.


Rule #7: Always Send a Handwritten Thank You Note

A handwritten thank you note probably won’t hurt your chances of landing a new job. But to be honest, it’s not a necessity anymore. In fact, you can make just as good of an impression with a speedy or same day email thank you. Plus, you’ll make it a lot easier for the interviewer to respond directly to your email, while a handwritten note will likely go unanswered.

Of course, use your best judgment here. If your interviewer comes across as fairly traditional or formal or has beautiful notecards displayed visibly in the office he or she may appreciate the charm of a handwritten note. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Salary Questions

One of the biggest frustrations of job-seekers is employers who advertise a job but refuse to say what it pays. Many of them expect job-seekers to name the salary they're looking for, some even requiring it before an application can be submitted online. This puts applicants in an incredibly unfair position, and makes most of them worry that they'll lowball themselves or ask for so much that they'll be removed from the running. It's particularly infuriating when you consider that most employers have a salary range budgeted for the position. They just won't disclose it.




Why do employers make such a secret out of what they're willing to pay? Why not just list a salary range up-front in the job ad?

Employers who play coy on salary will tell you that it's because if they list a salary range, all candidates will assume they should be at the top of the range and will then get upset or be disappointed if their offer comes in lower because of the level of their qualifications. In other words, if an employer advertises that a job pays $50,000 to $60,000, they fear that every applicant will think, "Great, low 60s. That works for me." But if an applicant ends up getting an offer for $52,000 because that's where his or her experience places him or her, he or she will feel that he or she is being lowballed because, after all, he or she knows the employer is willing to pay up to $60,000. The applicant may have been happy with that offer if he or she had never heard about the full range available.

A good employer will be able to explain how the scale works and why the candidate fits into it where he or she does. But employers who don't want to disclose their full range believe that too many people still won't be satisfied, and that they'll be creating dissatisfaction that otherwise wouldn't exist. Sometimes they don't want to list a range in their ads because they'd be willing to pay more for the right candidate, but not for most. For instance, if they list a salary range of $50,000 to $60,000, the candidate who won't consider anything below $70,000 might never apply. And if that person is good enough, the employer might be willing to meet those salary demands. But since they wouldn't pay it to most candidates, they don't want to put it in the ad. As a result, they conclude it's better not to list a range at all.

So what can candidates do in the face of so many employers who won't reveal the salary for a job, when salary happens to be a major consideration for most job-seekers? One key is to know what jobs like the ones you're applying for typically pay. You can often get a solid sense by talking with recruiters, checking with professional organizations in your industry and even just bouncing figures off of other people in your field. Once you come up with a range for your experience level and in your geographic area, you can feel more confident naming a salary figure first, without the worry that you'll be wildly off in either direction.

And second, assume that at some point the employer is likely to ask you about what salary you're looking for, without telling you their own range first. Too often, job-seekers assume that the employer will name a figure first and they can then respond to it, but by knowing that often isn't the case, you'll be better prepared, less likely to be caught off-guard, and more equipped to negotiate a fair salary for yourself.