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Nov 17

What says ‘hire me!’ to employers

Posted in Career Article at 4:21 pm

After several long months of unsuccessfully posting his résumé and applying to jobs online, Alex Ballin, 24, decided to take his job search into his own hands.

The 2008 graduate from Radford University planted himself at a busy intersection in downtown Roanoke, Virginia, sporting a white sign that read, “Talented B.A. Needs Career” along with his business suit.

He wanted to get employers’ attention and it wasn’t happening from simply submitting applications online. One employer thought Ballin’s efforts showed drive and ambition and tossed a business card out of his car to Ballin. He got an interview a week later.

While Ballin’s tactic was a more extreme — and literal — way to grab an employer’s attention, with such uncertainty surrounding the economy, these intense and creative approaches are a must for today’s job seeker.

“In today’s competitive job market, freelancers and applicants need as much leverage as they can muster to land their next gig,” says Cindy Caldwell, a creative recruiter with Randstad Creative, a specialty division of Randstad Work Solutions.

“The résumé needs to stand out above all the rest, without being unprofessional. The samples need to be presented in such a way that is easily accessible to the employer — waiting around for a slow Web page to load or using a MySpace page as the portfolio site is not going to make the cut.”

When Linda Jay Geldens, a freelance copyeditor, went to a computer conference and received the internal newsletter for Apple, she saw that it was “riddled with errors.”

“I wanted to be the freelance copyeditor of the Apple Computer internal newsletter,” she says. “I circled all the mistakes in red pen, made an appointment with the newsletter’s editor, walked into his office, threw the newsletter on his desk and said with a smile, ‘You need me!’ He hired me instantly.”

Do you want to be hired instantly, too? Here are some standard and creative tactics that will say, “Hire me!” to employers during your next job search.

Throughout the job search

• Apply at companies that aren’t seeking candidates. “Read the business pages to find out what businesses are growing,” says Laura George, author of “Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting.”

“Send such companies a résumé and a letter explaining what you can bring to the organization. If they have a need and see talent, you may be saving them the time and trouble involved in a talent search.”

• Pick up the phone. “What gets my attention is a phone call and real live voice. Most communication is done via e-mail and you don’t get the total picture of a person without that verbal communication,” says Barbara Zaccone, president of BZA LLC, a strategic design company. “A perfect example would be a follow-up phone call after the interview. No one ever does that. And I mean no one.”

On your résumé

• It’s never one-size-fits-all. “Don’t try to sell what you are selling; sell what the employer is buying. Make sure your résumé fits the position and the organization where you are seeking employment,” George says. “Hiring managers look at skill set, education, experience and where you got that experience. They want to make sure you are going to be able to do the job and fit into the corporate culture.”

• Make it easy on the eyes. “Envision a hiring manager looking at a résumé like a driver going by a billboard. Try to make it absorbable at high speeds,” says Gwen Martin, managing partner of NumberWorks, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based staffing firm. “Use bullet points and leave white space so it’s easy on the eyes to read. Give the bird’s eye view — you can give the story behind the résumé in the interview.”

Wendy Enelow, author, trainer and career consultant, strongly suggests using a typestyle other than Times New Roman. Stay conservative and use fonts like Georgia, Tahoma, Bookman or Verdana.

• Include success stories. Write down several career achievements of which you are most proud, suggests Joanne Meehl, author of “The Résumé Queen’s Job Search Thesaurus and Career Guide.”

“Choose one or two of these career success stories to go on the résumé, in very brief form, near the top of page one,” she says. “These examples of what the candidate has done and can do, grab the employer’s attention.”

• Analyze keywords. Analyze several job postings in the field for which you are looking for a job, says Cheryl Palmer, certified executive career coach and résumé writer. “Develop a list of keywords from those postings that you incorporate into the résumé under a subheading entitled ‘core competencies.’

Employers search their database of résumés by keyword, so having these terms on your résumé increases your chances of your résumé being selected for further review.”

In the cover letter

• Lose the “To Whom It May Concern.” That went the way of the 20th century, says Lynda McDaniel, a business writing coach. “Try to get the person’s name. If not, simply say ‘Greetings’ or ‘Hello.’”

• Forget the “This letter is in regards to your ad…” “People reading these letters are already bored with the reams of pabulum they have to read. Do you really want to make them comatose?” McDaniel asks.

• Show, don’t tell. “Share a good story about what you’ve accomplished. Stories show why you’re the best candidate. They also show you’ve got a head on your shoulders,” McDaniel says.

During the interview

• Identify why you are a good fit. “Often people peruse a job for no other reason than it is available,” says Danielle Weinstock, author of “Can This Elephant Curtsy on Cue? Life Lessons Learned On A Film Set For Women In Business.” “Until you can determine why you and the company are a good match, you can’t sell yourself.”

• Keep your responses job-related. Many job seekers start off the interview on the wrong note when they respond to the statement, “Tell me about yourself,” Palmer says. “Job seekers give a personal response instead of a professional response.

Your response will say, ‘Hire me,’ if you tailor your responses to the position you are applying for. Review that job announcement the night before the interview and write out some bullet points for yourself to speak to the employer’s needs.”

Nov 11

Say Thank You:

Posted in Career Article at 8:50 am

Employers and Recruiters Still Expect Thanks After Interviews

Many of today’s job seekers have great resumes, ace interviews, provide stellar recommendations and still don’t get the coveted job offer. According to a recent poll with leading employers and recruiters, conducted by The Career Exposure Network™, the reason could lie in the right follow-up.

82% of employers and recruiters told The Career Exposure Network™ that a Thank You note is a critical follow up after the job interview. Hiring managers report that the Thank You note demonstrates that the applicant is serious about the opportunity and indicates a level of professionalism – a primary characteristic that employers seek in job candidates.

“Your Thank You letter provides a tremendous opportunity to summarize the interview and tell me again how you can contribute,” commented an MBACareers.com employer. “I always expect to see a note – it shows courtesy and demonstrates that you are interested.” 81% of employers and recruiters also told The Career Exposure Network that email is their preferred method of receiving a follow up. According to a DiversitySearch.com recruiter, “I prefer email because it arrives much faster than regular mail, and it can be in the hands of decision makers BEFORE a final selection decision is made.”
“The rules around saying thank you after a job interview have remained the same,” said JillXan Donnelly, president of The Career Exposure Network™. “Even in today’s fast-paced business environment, a Thank You letter is essential. Remember, common courtesies matter and can provide you the edge in your job search.”

Nov 10

4 Things Your Résumé Shouldn’t Be Without

Posted in Career Article at 1:57 pm

By Joe Turner, Career Coach

The job market is tough and it’s getting tougher. Your résumé is your No. 1 marketing tool and it may not be doing its job — getting you an interview.
One reason may be a lack of time. With the increased competition for jobs and more applicants, employers don’t spend a lot of time reading any one résumé. It’s been estimated that today’s résumé is getting only about 20 seconds of “eyeball time.” That’s not much time to score. In fact, most applications will get quickly screened out and dumped on the reject pile.
Another reason? Lack of interest. Most résumés today lack a sense of urgency. They don’t answer the all-important question: “What’s in it for the employer?”
Here are four things you need power up your résumé for today’s more competitive job search arena to overcome these dilemmas:

1. Focused objective
Does your résumé have a clear, focused objective? Does it identify one clear job title that you are seeking? Leave out all that nonsense about “challenging opportunity with a dynamic company.” Remember, it’s not about you.
Try this: Under the objective heading, lead off with a clear phrase indicating the job title you are seeking. For example, write “Chief Financial Officer” — nothing more is needed.

2. Keyword section
Everyone pays lip service to this, but few act on it. If you don’t, you’re missing the boat in two major ways:
Your résumé needs to get flagged by a computer. To strengthen your odds, you need every potential keyword working for you. And not just your skill sets, either. Make sure to add all your industry buzzwords as well as your biggest soft skills. Did you know that some of the highest searched keywords today include terms we often overlook? These include “problem-solving,” “leadership” and “oral and written communication.”
You must appeal to the person who reads your résumé. A reader will scan a great keyword summary section within the first 20 seconds of looking at your résumé. When added to your personal branding statement below, you increase your chances of hooking this reader and getting a closer look.

3. Personal branding statement
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CFO, a software project manager or a wedding photographer. Answer this question: “What is it that makes you unique, compared with other applicants?”
Don’t think that just having great skill sets or years of experience is going to give you any edge. Lots of other candidates have skills the same as or better than you. The solution is to create a brand for yourself.
So how do you create your own brand? Review your résumé. Does it have a clear statement that describes who you are and what you offer? This is called a “branding statement” and may be described as a “value added” or “unique selling proposition.”
Don’t confuse this with a “summary of qualifications” section that many candidates like to include. These are merely laundry lists of core competencies and do nothing to make you stand out.
A true branding statement is a one-sentence description of who you are and what critical benefit you offer your next employer. It should describe your biggest strength and the resulting benefit to your previous employer.
The best branding statements usually incorporate figures in dollars or percentages of money, or time that was gained or saved over a certain period of time. Here is an example for that CFO:
“Seasoned Chief Financial Officer strong in optimizing organizations to achieve maximum growth and market share who has produced new revenues or savings of more than $65 million for my employers over the past eight years.”
Does your résumé have a branding statement this strong? If not, think about adding one. It will take some time to develop your ideal statement. Once done, however, you will break that 20-second barrier and move that much farther ahead of your competitors.

4. Specific achievements
Companies hire employees to be an asset to their balance sheets. That means your work should involve helping a company either make money or save money. Think beyond your skill sets and job duties and find as many ways as you can that you accomplish this.
For example, suppose you’re a videographer who tapes weddings and special events and edits them for clients. You take the extra step of performing all of your post-production work before submitting your results. Your extra effort has saved your employer several hundred hours of additional work.
This translates into dollars saved by the employer and it’s just this sort of achievement that must be on your résumé. When it’s possible, put a dollar value on your achievements.