The Dangers of Applying for Every Job

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You’re new to job searching or you’ve been out of work for months or years. At some point, it may seem like a good idea to apply for every job posting you see.  While there may be something to the technique of blasting your resume out to every job posted….Don’t do it!

While you may just be thinking you would be happy doing any type of work as long as it brings in some money or you genuinely believe you are equally qualified to be a Research Scientist or a Certified Public Accountant, think some more about that before you submit your resume for both.

If you actually have a CPA license and a PhD in Chemistry and have done both jobs over the course of your career, you should have two separate and distinct resumes tailored to pursue these two completely different jobs.

The dangers of applying for every job should be obvious.

First, you dilute your image. If you are submitting your resume for everything, you have likely spent some time rewriting it to make it as generic as possible so you seem to be somewhat qualified for everything.  So when you submit your resume for a job that you truly want and have a stellar background that applies to this job, your resume has been watered down to the point where you’ve left all the good parts off.

Second, if you are applying to the same company or the same recruiter for every job posted, after seeing the same resume multiple times, it will just stop looking right for anything. Most likely, we’ll just stop looking at it at all.

Third, it sends a message of desperation. While you may feel desperate and things may seem desperate to you, the last thing you want to do is present yourself in a manner that makes you look desperate.

One of the most difficult parts of a job search is attitude. Getting to a positive state of mind and staying there is vital.  Do whatever it takes to keep your confidence level up, your sense of self-esteem and that includes being selective about what you are applying for in the first place.

For more information on keeping a positive attitude see:

http://www.calm-water.com/unemployed-doesnt-define-who-you-are/

 

The Importance of Returning Phone Calls

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A quick reminder on the importance of returning phone calls, especially when you re in job search mode. This applies to any phone call for any position you have applied for and even for some you have not, but is most easily demonstrated with the specific discipline of sales candidates.

I have never seen a job description for Sales that does not include phone/communication skills. Therefore, when I post a job for any level or type of Sales opportunity, if the resume I receive looks like a possible match, I reply to the email with a message such as: “Please call me to discuss.”

Close to ninety percent of the candidates do NOT call me. And, yes on many occasions I have called and left messages or sent texts in addition to responding to the email asking for a phone call.

This makes my job easier.  If the candidate isn’t the type of person to pick up the phone and follow up on my email, then they are not likely going to be a stellar sales person for my client.

If you are truly looking for a new opportunity and someone calls you to discuss, it is very important that you actually return the phone call.

Work Ethics

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As a recruiter, I talk with hundreds of companies, ranging in size from one person just starting to hire his or her first employee all the way up to large corporations with thousands of employees and global locations.

One of the major complaints I hear from all of them, no matter the size, is “What happened to someone having good work ethics?”

By definition: “An ethical principle that places greatest value on hard work and diligence.”

In other words, what hiring managers are looking for is:

  • An employee who cares about the company, the product, the service, the mission, and its customers
  • Someone who comes to work when they are supposed to be there
  • Someone who will come in earlier or stay later if there’s a need, without complaining
  • Someone who is dedicated to getting the work done (i.e., figuring out what’s going wrong and fixing it or asking questions if they are stuck)

It doesn’t seem like a huge order to fill, however, not a day goes by that I don’t hear from someone who is trying to fill an opening and I hear:

We’re flexible on the skill requirements if they have a good attitude, are willing to learn and have a good work ethic.

We prefer a college degree but if they have a good work ethic and can be trained, we will consider someone without the degree.

As long as the candidate has a good work ethic, we can work around whatever skill set is missing.

When you are interviewing for a new opportunity, I suggest you truly listen to the questions and think about your response.  Then determine how you can showcase your skills as well as your passion, drive and work ethics.

 

What “Tell me about Yourself” Really Means

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It’s a stock question, “Tell me about yourself”, yet it is still consistently used by human resources and hiring managers. It’s easy for them to be able to ask one question, sit back and see where it leads.

It is important to be prepared to answer it in a way that is not too long and drawn out but not so short and blunt it makes you appear uninterested.

I have seen some advice for job seekers saying develop and rehearse your answer to this question. If you are a very nervous person this may be a good idea. On the other hand, researching the company and the position for which you are applying and creating a response to this question that more closely addresses how “you” can solve the company’s problems and will fit in with their culture may be a more successful way to respond.

In interviews over the years I’ve heard some truly amazing responses to this question. A few things that do not work:

  • Do notreally” tell the interviewer about yourself. Don’t launch into personal information that has nothing to do with the job or your educational or professional background. (e.g., Do not start with … “I was born in a small town in…” or “After my divorce or release from rehab…”).
    • Stay focused with a brief sentence or two about your education, your relevant work experience, your interest and experience in the field/industry and how it applies to this job.
  • Avoid droning on about each job you’ve ever held, what all of your responsibilities were, details about your co-workers, how the company was managed, how the department was run and why you left.
    • When describing your past work experience, talk about how it relates to the job you are applying for, how the skills you have acquired in these past positions will help you to be a valuable employee in this company.
    • Do not ever talk about what a horrible boss you had, how awful your previous company was to work for or say anything negative about anyone. This will only reflect poorly on you.
  • Do not tell stories about your college days. How many friends you had in school, how much you partied and how hard your college professors were to please is all information you should keep to yourself.
    • If asked specifically about something, perhaps a senior project, be sure to focus your answer on what you learned that will apply to this specific job. Let the interviewer know if you were the project lead, were responsible for all the equations, or for the final presentation.

What does work: A brief description of what your most recent job is or was (how it applies to the job for which you are interviewing), how much experience you have relevant to this job, what education you have relevant to this job and perhaps why you think you would be a good choice for this job. A good interviewer will ask questions to gain additional information and insight into who you truly are and what you bring to the job.

Dressing for an Interview

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Sadly the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ never seems to apply to people. Within the first ten to twenty seconds of meeting someone new, most people have formed an opinion of you based entirely on what you look like. Right or wrong, they are judging your clothing, hair style or cut, makeup, jewelry and shoes. In some instances they are also judging perfume/smell, eyeglasses, body piercings, tattoos, etc.

This makes it even more important to be dressed appropriately for an interview and for at least your first day at work (until you figure out what the company culture is with respect to clothing). The focus of an interview needs to be on your skills, what you have to offer the company, how your background is a fit for the opening and the company and NOT on what you look like.

In all the years I’ve been recruiting, I’ve near once heard someone say there was a problem with a candidate showing up wearing a suit. Even for a job where you will never wear one in the course of a normal work day, being dressed professionally for the interview is at the very least a sign of respect.

Once you are hired, you may find you are going to work in a t-shirt and pajama pants, but for the interview that sends a negative message.

If you have no idea how to dress professionally, I would suggest you Google it. There are thousands of sites with advice on what to wear. You can even ask the person scheduling the interview what is appropriate for their company.

In many cases I’ve been told to tell the candidate to wear business casual. A suit is not expected or required. That means you need to figure out what business casual actually looks like. Again, in some companies you could end up in pajama pants and a t-shirt, but for the most part you should lean towards something not quite that casual. Remember it is “business” casual not “lying around the house” casual.

To get you started, here are a few links offering advice on what to wear, how to dress for your body type, etc.:

http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/interview-appearance/10-interview-fashion-blunders/article.aspx

http://www.redbookmag.com/life/money-career/advice/g604/job-interview-outfits/

http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/interview-appearance/Mens-Interview-Fashion-Tips/article.aspx

http://www.embraceyourwardrobe.com/handouts

 

Passive Job Seekers

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Where are all the job seekers? I was asked recently where I find candidates.  Having been in recruiting for a couple of decades, I have developed a network of my own and connections I know well and trust.

A large portion of the resumes I have in my database are what are referred to as passive job seekers.  People who have been employed at some point in the past or are currently working and have a feeling they might be happier elsewhere.  That could mean they are “sort of” looking for a different position, title, line of work or just a different company. This could be doing similar work, hopefully for a higher salary or a complete change in industry and/or career focus.

Most passive job seekers have a few things in common:

  • They don’t have time to be looking at everything, but they are open to hearing about opportunities if something really amazing comes across my desk.
  • They want to share their resume with someone they know they can trust; someone who will be honest about how their resume looks and how it presents.
  • They want to be certain the resume won’t accidentally find its way to an employer that they are not even remotely interested in working for, or worse, appear on their manager’s desk as a candidate for an opening for their current employer. (Yes, I have heard of this happening—no I’ve never done it).
  • They want to work with someone who will not “hard sell” or “bully” them into going for a job they are not really interested in pursuing. Someone who will listen to them. Someone who will be honest about requirements and can tell them where their resume appears weak and advise on what is missing. Also advise where they can improve their resume to showcase the skills they have that are not presented with enough information.

One of my unbreakable rules is: Never, ever, ever submit a resume for a job without talking with the candidate first to make sure it is in his or her best interest to pursue. No matter which recruiter you work with, be certain this is one of their rules as well.

 

Happy 4th – Still a Good Week to Job Hunt

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The Independence Day holiday is fast approaching and many companies are closed for the week, this is also a common week for vacations for both employed and unemployed individuals. Therefore, everyone is more difficult to reach this time of the summer.

If you are unemployed or passively seeking a new job and decide to go on vacation because “nothing is going to happen this week,” I’d like to remind you that not everyone is taking the week off.

It would really be in your best interest to take a functioning cell phone with you and/or check your emails.

It is not uncommon around this time of the summer for me to have employers asking to schedule phone or in-person interviews this week and I cannot reach the candidates.

This is not the end of the world; however while we’re waiting for you to respond to your voice mail messages, or for you to check and return your email messages; please note that someone else may be offered the job while you are away.

It would be so much nicer to come back from vacation refreshed with an interview scheduled or take a little time out of the week for a phone interview and perhaps have a new job to return to?

Happy 4th!

 

Resume First Impressions

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Hiring managers and human resource professionals are inundated with resumes and sometimes resort to skimming them for highlights. This takes 10 to 30 seconds. In that span of time any number of pieces of information can jump out and make you look like you are the perfect candidate or not even close.  The first impression of your resume is vitally important.

Name: Is your name on the resume? Go ahead and laugh but I get hundreds of resumes every week and more times than you would think, there is not a name on the resume. Also if you put your name and contact information into a “header” sometimes it appears as grayed out and other times it doesn’t appear at all unless the person reviewing it clicks insert, header, edit and then it shows up.

Worse are the ones that arrive with the candidate’s first name spelled incorrectly. If you put your name in all capital letters (e.g., NANCY and you spell it NACNY, spell check will not necessarily highlight it as being incorrect). It’s not spelled wrong; it’s just all capital letters. Read the resume or reject it?

Location: In the age of identity theft and everyone afraid of disclosing too much information, at the very least include city and state. If the hiring company is not paying for relocation, they are likely not going to want to pay to fly you in from the other side of the country. Can they determine where you live quickly? Read the resume or reject it?

Telephone Number/E-Mail: Keep laughing. Beautifully crafted cover letters imploring me to please call to discuss the opportunity so the candidate can expand on their relevant work experience that do not include a telephone number or an e-mail address in either the letter or on the resume make up about 20% of the resumes I receive. Yes, I can figure out the email address usually by finding it on the original email. However, if I save your resume and don’t have an immediate opportunity for you, when I pull it back up from the database and there is not a phone number or email on it. How many hiring managers will spend time trying to find the information?

Objective: If you have an objective on your resume and it is to become a Marketing Manager and you are applying for a SEO Specialist job, you might want to think about how that makes you look to the person reviewing the resume. Obviously you are not applying for the right job. Read the resume anyway or reject it?

Give the person reviewing the resumes what they want and what they need right up front. Why jeopardize your chances?

Interview Feedback – Should Not be an Attack

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I am often asked by candidates, why they did not receive an offer.  They want feedback so they can improve their interview style or technique and do better on the next interview.

Often what I hear for feedback is:

• not a good cultural fit

• lacked industry specific experience

• failed to show enthusiasm for the position

• failed to follow up with a thank you letter or email

• failed to make eye contact

Recently, I relayed the company’s decision and the candidate asked me for specifics.  The hiring manager did not feel that the candidate connected with him during the interview and did not believe the candidate would be a good cultural fit for the company.

Instead of saying thank you I got harassment (eleven phone calls and 48 emails).  I was still trying to get the candidate to understand my client had offered someone else the job.

If you ask for feedback, don’t take it as a personal attack. Sometimes it just wasn’t meant to be and it truly has nothing to do with you personally.  Sometimes it’s meant as constructive criticism and to be helpful. Wouldn’t you want to know if you are not making eye contact?  Or you are twirling your hair or blinking insanely or biting your nails?

When we are nervous, some habits and nervous mannerisms appear and you may not even be aware of them.

So if you ask for feedback, please take it as graciously as possible and consider the person relaying the information may truly just be trying to help.

First Jobs and Things you May Not Know

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It’s getting to be that time of the year when new graduates are finding and starting their first jobs.  Every year I discover some new things that I thought everyone already knew, only to find that some of the basics are not common knowledge.  So while some of this may sound obvious…I’ve heard from more than one person about some new hire who didn’t have a clue.

All fees are paid by the hiring company.  I can’t say this enough.  It’s on my web site in multiple locations and it is the standard when working with the majority of professional recruiters.  Decades ago it was common for a job candidate to pay the recruiting fee out of his or her first pay check(s).  Now, it is extremely rare for a recruiter to charge a fee to the job candidate.  Do not be embarrassed to ask if there’s a fee associated with working with a recruiter.  While it is better to know up front, the majority of us are paid by the company who hires you.

Travel is required.  I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t want to travel for work because they think they are going to have to pay for it out of their own pocket.  Again, there are always exceptions, however, for the most part if you have a job that requires you to travel, the company will either pay in advance or reimburse you for travel, lodging and meals.  Alcohol and entertainment are not typically reimbursable expenses (unless you are in a sales position and part of your job is to take customers out and provide entertainment).

This is not a license for you to fly first class, rent an expensive car and eat steak dinners every night.  Some companies pay “per diems” (meaning they will set a specific amount per day that they do not expect you to go over to travel, stay at a hotel and eat).  Some companies just expect you to use your own judgment when it comes to expenses.  As a general rule, if you would not normally spend your own money on <insert questionable purchase here> then the odds are the company will think it is out of line as well.  This does not mean starve yourself or stay in a hotel in a questionable area either.

First day paperwork.  Some companies remember to tell you to bring identification with you for your first day.  If no one says anything about this, it’s always a good idea to bring a valid passport or your driver’s license and some other form of government issued identification.  If you’re really curious about acceptable forms of identification see:  http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-9.pdf

It’s also helpful to know your social security number, bank account number and routing information.

You will need to complete an Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate so your employer can withhold the correct federal income taxes. W4 Form looks like this:  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf

Direct deposit is a nice perk that many companies offer.  For this you will need to know the name of your bank, your account number and routing information.  Your very first pay check may not appear in your account automatically and you may have to deposit it yourself.  Don’t assume it went in without checking.  I’ve seen many people throw away their first check assuming it made it through the direct deposit process.  Reissuing a paycheck costs the company and it takes time.

I’m a big fan of mentors.  If you have one or two when you start your career, you are lucky.  If not, it may be well worth your efforts to politely ask some people you know and respect.  A mentor to help with business basics and etiquette and one for technical expertise is a good place to start.