job seekers

Five Ways To Bring Your Job Search Into Focus 4

Is Your Job Search In Focus?

Yesterday I had an eye exam. I was left alone by the nurse and  I was looking at all of the equipment. I realized that together these were tools to help my Doctor understand clearly what was going on with my eyes, helping him bring my vision into focus.

As he was very busy, I had a few minutes to ponder how job seekers could bring their search into focus. Before he came into the examining room, I came up with five:

  1. Know What Your Greatest Strengths Are – If you really understand what you do best, you can match that to specific job postings, not wasting your time “spraying and praying”.
  2. Include Key Words on Your Resume – If you are applying online and you are not doing this, you are probably wondering why you haven’t heard from anyone. LinkedIn offers help with Key Words. Click on Your Profile, go into “more” and you will see Skills and Expertise. Enter key words from the job posting and you will see additional ideas
  3. Do Your Homework – If you need to ask the interviewer “what they do”, you are wasting their time. Set up Google alerts for every company you are considering. Search the companies websites for interesting facts. Read up on regulations that may affect the industry.
  4. Practice – The more you practice interviewing, the more comfortable you will be. Enlist a friend or family member and conduct mock interviews. Or put sample questions on cards, stand in front of a mirror and practice answering them,
  5. Stay The Course – It’s easy to get very excited when the phone rings. Landing an interview could mean you are one meeting away from a job. But you need to treat your job search as an on-going process. Your focus needs to be on the big picture, which means continuing to research companies, continuing to send out resumes and continuing to follow up on applications you have submitted.

My Doctor, when he finally got to see me, corrected my vision and brought things into focus. You can bring  your job search into focus by doing these five things.

3 Reasons The Jobs Report Is Good News 0

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1. There are still jobs being created

2. If you are consistently doing the right thing, you can still land a job     

3. You will be successful if you give yourself permission to get the job  

Five Ways People Burn Bridges When They Leave A Job 10

There are times when wanting to get out of a situation seems like the only thing that matters. “Just get me out of this job”. And the consequences? You’ll “cross that bridge when you come to it“. So something happens at work that you see as the last straw and you decide to quit, to give notice, to say “take this job and shove it”.

However you may feel on the inside, when you finally make the decision to leave, you must do it on good terms.

Don’t be the person who:

  1. Failed to give proper notice
  2. Slacked off after you gave your notice
  3. Talked trash about those in the office you never got along with
  4. Called out sick two days before your last day (but went clothes shopping for your new job)
  5. Failed to thank those that mentored or helped you

At the time, you may feel justified in doing these things. Later, you may find that things aren’t as great in the new company and those problems you had with your previous job seem smaller and smaller. Now what do you do?

If you pulled any or all of the five things above, your chances of getting your old job back are pretty much slim to none. Leaving on good terms sets up a safety net. And if they can’t re-hire you, they can and will give you a positive recommendation, perhaps even a contact they know is hiring.

Don’t let getting out of the job at any cost cloud your vision of how you should leave. Keep your bridges in good repair instead of burning them. You never know when you’ll need to cross one.

Students – What You Get From A Summer Job That You Can’t Get In The Classroom 4

You may get more than a paycheck from your summer job

In high school, I had after school jobs doing landscaping and I pumped gas. Each summer when school was out I would work the grave yard shift at a gas station. I’d go in at 11PM at night and get off at 7AM the next morning. I thought it was great because then I could spend the day with my friends in a boat on the water. I’d sleep a little bit in the evening, sometimes a very little bit,  and then go back to work.

To get through college, I drove a school bus and I was the Assistant Manager and Projectionist at Cinema City Theaters in Tabb, Virginia. Later I had jobs on campus in Student Government and even taught sailing for the college as an adjunct professor to earn some extra money. I made it through high school and college with all of those part and full-time jobs. At the time all I thought I was getting from them was a paycheck. But as I look back at them know, I know got a lot more.

I learned about alarm clocks and how to get places on time. I learned that employers expect you to show up at 11AM if they put you on the schedule for 11AM. I learned they don’t mean show up somewhere around 11AM ’cause we know you were out late and you may need a little extra time to get going today.

I learned about raises by watching what happened to those who had been at jobs longer than I had. I saw that those who were rewarded were usually the ones who were solving problems for the boss, taking on extra responsibilities and making the day go smoother. I saw that the employees who always had a problem with something were not well liked and in time were no longer employees.  I also saw that the Boss’s son seemed to get away with things that no one else could (and never got fired).

I learned how to deal with supervisors and managers and owners of the small businesses I worked for. I found that the relationships I developed with them were far different from the ones I had with my teachers in the classroom. Each workplace had its own structure, its own set of rules. Some places I worked were very strict.

I spent three weeks and three days as a fry cook for a new fast food restaurant that opened near the college. Very strict, very high expectations and very greasy. At the movie theater, my boss was just the opposite. She was much more laid back and as long as things got done when they needed to be done, life was ok. She even let me borrow the company van so I could take five friends with me to the Hampton Roads Coliseum to see Jethro Tull in concert.  Pretty wild.

Some of my friends actually thought about the types of summer jobs they took and found internships and jobs in the field they wanted to pursue. At the time it just seemed kind of cool, but now I see how helpful that was to their ultimate career choices. You might want to give some thought to the types of jobs you seek out in high school and beyond. They really can be the groundwork for rewarding jobs after school.

It’s not too late to find a summer job. And if you already have one, congratulations! Enjoy your summer away from the classroom, but as you work and earn a paycheck, don’t be surprised if you actually learn something.

Forget everything you have heard about interviewing 1

I have written many, many articles about the responsibilities a person has when going for an interview. But what about the responsibilities of the interviewer? In speaking with job applicants recently, I am hearing that the person conducting the interview:

  • was late for the interview
  • was unprepared
  • asked inappropriate (and sometimes illegal) questions
  • was unclear about the job description for the position they were hiring for

So all of the preparation candidates do by practicing the answers to basic questions and having great questions to ask may not be enough to land the job. While forgetting all of that preparation really isn’t the answer, my suggestion is that you have a plan for the interview. Don’t wait to be asked. Have a plan to communicate your abilities, but more importantly how you use those abilities to solve problems. Regardless of the job you are applying for, the reason there is a job opening is because the company has a problem and they are hiring to solve it.

It may be that they are swamped with phone calls for orders and so their problem is they don’t have enough experienced sales people or the company is looking to expand into China and they don’t have an experienced manager who is fluent in Mandarin. By identifying the specific  problem the company has, the problem the interviewer is hiring for, you can land the job by showing that you can solve the problem.

In the end, it is up to you to show, with specific stories, that you are the right person for the job. By understanding that the person doing the interview may be more nervous and much less prepared than you are, you can help them by showing them what they need to know to hire you.

While that’s not what you usually hear about how to land a job, in today’s market, it may be what you must do to stand out, to end up in your next new hire orientation!

The Shocking Truth About Today’s Jobs Number 1

Bleak May unemployment report suggests economic recovery may be stalling

The Labor Department reported on Friday that the nation’s economy added only 69,000 jobs in May, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.2% – The Washington Post  

Until this morning, the Jobs reports over the past few months have been encouraging. People are actually quitting jobs. In some sectors, good paying jobs are going unfilled. So why did the one point uptick send the markets into a tumble and cause network reporters to spend the day saying “the jobs sky is falling”?

The shocking truth is that things really haven’t changed since 2008. People are playing their cards closer to the vest. Employers are stretching the limits of their existing employees productivity rather than hire. And businesses, unsure of the political climate, are reluctant to invest in long-term projects which create new jobs.

WASHINGTON — A new study from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the Great Recession that technically ended in 2009 has doubled the time it takes before the average unemployed person either finds a job or gives up looking for work.

Each month, BLS announces the latest unemployment rate and several other characteristics of the workforce, including the length of time people have been jobless. Last Friday’s announcement brought news that the average unemployed person had been looking for work for 39.7 weeks as of May (the median length of unemployment rose to 22 weeks). Huffington Post

So the truth is landing a job is going to be work. You need to have a long-term focus even if “you need the job now”. If you start with the right attitude, you will greatly increase your odds of success. Avoiding highs and lows helps keep your emotional energy intact. Make sure you set goals for how many interviews you will have, resumes you will send and the amount of time you will spend networking to find work.

When you get interviews, think of them as just a step in the process. Keep your routine going until you find yourself in a new hire orientation. Then you can relax and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

3 Ways Job Seekers Tell Stories During An Interview 3

What kind of story are you telling?

The more I speak with job seekers, the more I am certain that those who are getting hired tell a better story. They have taken the time to think about their past experiences and have practiced telling specific stories about specific actions they have taken.  They can tell an employer what the problem was, what action they took to solve the problem and how it came out.

During an interview for any position that involves interaction with customers, you will most likely be asked something like “tell me about a time when you had a problem customer; what was the problem, what did you do to resolve the problem and how did it turn out”?

Here are three ways people answer:

1. Having interviewed several thousand applications, almost two-thirds  will gloss over their answer. It’s as if they are taking a few experiences and mashing them together, then talking in general terms about it. There is a generic “someone was upset, I called a manager, I think it was ok”. Even getting that out of many applicants is a struggle. Sadly, many applicant stand out because they can’t tell a simple story of how they helped someone.

2. Without a magic potion that will make the applicant’s nose grow with each “untruth” they tell, an interviewer can never be 100% certain if the applicant is telling the truth. Yet some applicants feel the need to embellish their story in order to make themselves look better on paper or sound better in an interview. Most experienced hiring managers will understand what is going on. Just be yourself, sincere, honest and enthusiastic. Making up stories is never the right answer.

3. Having taken the time to think about your job experiences before the interview and the ways you have helped customers, you pick the experience that most closely fits the job you are applying for and you simply relate the story like you would tell it to a family member.

“It was Christmas Eve, I was the store manager for Best Products in Hopewell, VA. My phone rang about 8:30 PM and it was a customer who had bought a large ride on car for his 4-year-old son for Christmas. He was putting it together and found the battery was missing. He was very upset that his son’s Christmas was going to be ruined.

I told him to meet me at the store and I would get him the battery. I called my assistant manager to meet me there, just in case it was a setup (it wasn’t) and I went to the store. We found the battery the man needed and his son’s Christmas was saved.”

While you may not have solved a customer problem on Christmas Eve, I am certain you have gone out of your way to take care of a customer issue. Maybe you dropped off a set of plans on your way home, you called someone and got a needed repair done quicker or  you beat a deadline for a customer and made him or her look good as a result.

Take a few minutes right now and go back through your customer service experiences. Then you will be ready for your next interview, standing out for the right reasons. You will set yourself ahead of two-thirds of the applicants just by this one idea.

And if you feel like sharing, I know we would all benefit from hearing your personal “Christmas Eve” story.

After you do what everyone else is doing – try this to land a job 1

 

What Associations have you researched?

So you have subscribed to the weekend edition of the NY Times, you are reading the job listings on jobs boards and you went to a job fair. You have contacted Aunt Millie who knows a guy who knows a guy at a company you want to work for. Your resume is out there and you’re sitting pretty waiting for the offers to roll in.

If this strategy isn’t producing the desired results yet, you may want to include this in your  job search tool bag. Do some research on Associations and trade groups relevant to your industry, or the industry you hope to break into. These publications can  help in your job search. Many companies advertise in industry publications to attract talent that is already skilled in the field.

You can also use these industry publications to network. By scanning each issue, you can quickly see who is being recognized for their work, who has landed a new position and even who is retiring. This sets up a great reason to contact these people. You might send: a personal note from you congratulating someone on a promotion, a note recognizing the value of the research someone published or a card thanking someone for their years of service. Done the right way, you have created a personal connection. This would not be the time to discuss you and your job prospects. It needs to be about them.  A follow-up down the road can begin a more specific conversation.

For my jobs board One Stop Jobs Online I belong to the International Association of Employment Websites. One of the resources offered is a Directory of Associations by category. This would be a good place to start if you are not currently researching Associations  in your job search.

Another benefit of Associations is to  see what is going on in your industry. This gives you great talking points when you interview.

So do the traditional job search activities and then look for the not so obvious. It may be the lead that lands you in your new hire orientation!

 

Five Questions to ask yourself before the interview 1

How do you handle the unexpected? That is one of the things you may be judged on during the interview.

As you can see from this cartoon about  IKEA, you may need to think on your feet.  Most interviews stick to established questions about work history and what you can bring to the table. Then there are those who like to see beyond the ordinary. You may remember in the 1990′s, Microsoft was famous for asking “why manhole covers are typically round”?

Review these questions and  make notes for yourself to be ready for the expected and the unexpected:

  1. Have I researched the company I want to work for?
  2. Have I thought about what they might ask me in a phone interview?
  3. Have I thought about what they will ask me during a first interview?
  4. Have I thought about salary and when to talk about it (and when not to talk about it)?
  5. Have I thought about that off the wall question I might get asked and how I would handle it?

After you write down your answers, then review them daily. You never know when the phone will ring.

And how can you tell if you got the right answer to that off the wall question?  The answer is –  you are sitting in your New Hire Orientation!

Do you make these four mistakes that cost you the job interview? 6

Has this every happened to you? You have applied to 17 companies over the past 3 weeks. You know some of the companies have gotten your resume because you have gotten a couple of form letter post cards thanking you for applying and informing you they are reviewing all applications. Then the phone rings!

When you answer, it is company number 7, which is similar to companies 6 and 12. So you are not sure which company is calling you. To make things worse, you answered the phone while driving and now you are distracted because you are trying to pull over as you just saw a cop and you are still trying to figure out which company this is because the few notes you do have are at home.

If you do not handle the telephone interview correctly, you will never get to sit down face to face with an employer . You need a plan to make sure you aren’t missing key details that will help you get hired.  You need a way to keep track of each job listing and be able to put your fingers on the information when  the phone rings.

Here are four mistakes people make during the phone interview and simple ways to avoid them:

  1. Not answering the phone in a positive manner- Each time your phone rings, smile before answering it. You will be surprised how positive and engaging you will sound.
  2. Sounding nervous during the phone interview - Stand up as you speak. This will allow you to breathe deeper and will help calm your nerves . Remember, it’s ok to be nervous and to have butterflies, you just need to get the butterflies to fly in formation.
  3.  Not being organized – Invest in a small binder or accordion file and put all the information you have gathered about each company in one place. This would include the research you have done about the company, the information detailing the job they are advertising and a copy of your  cover letter  for that company.
  4. Not  being prepared- This is the hardest mistake to recover from.  Carry the information with you or have access to it at all times. You never know when the phone will ring and you will need to flip to company 7.

Have a plan to correct these mistakes and you will significantly improve your chances of getting the face to face interview and ultimately, the job.

If you have things that are working for you and want to share them with my readers, please leave a comment. Your success just might land someone else a job, too!