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Mar 02

Top 10 Tips to Get Your Resume Noticed

Posted in Tips & Tricks at 9:05 am

From Key Words to Cover Letters, How Your Resume Can Help You Land That Dream Job

Gone are the days of simply mailing your resume, receiving a call, shaking hands at the interview and agreeing on a start date for that new job.
The Internet has taken over the recruiting landscape and everyone is required to submit a resume online. While that brings greater efficiency to the process for employers, it can be awfully maddening for job seekers. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you know how to navigate the system

1)Search job boards and the Web sites of employers that appeal to you. Print out the job postings that you’re interested in pursuing before you apply.

2) Use a highlighter to mark the keywords and industry language used to describe the requirements and responsibilities.

3) Compare those words and phrases to the language that appears now in your resume.

4) Figure out how and where to add the most important keywords to your resume, assuming you have that knowledge, skills and experience. Applicant tracking systems will search for keyword matches _ the more matches, the better, which often determines if a recruiter opts to view your resume.

5) Once you’re confident that your resume reflects a strong match, go ahead and submit that targeted resume online. Don’t be a serial applicant — someone who applies for every job (or too many of them) at the same company because you’ll be flagged as unfocused and disqualified. If there’s more than one opening that matches your skills, limit yourself to applying for just a couple of closely related positions.

6) If the system requests a cover letter, write a short one that expresses why you’re a strong match and why you’d like to join the organization. This is a chance to tout your research on the role.

7) Never submit a generic, one-size-fits-all resume or cover letter. If you really want the position, you’ll customize all documents for each job.

8) Once you apply, get to work to find an internal referral to make a personal introduction.

    a) Make a list of 50 people you know and ask each one if they know someone who works (or has worked) at that employer
    b) Attend job fairs to meet face-to-face with employers and other professionals
    c) Create a free profile and become active on LinkedIn.com or Facebook.com, which boast a combined 60 million users. Surely you can find someone who knows someone to make that connection
    d) Create a free Twitter.com account and “follow” friends and post requests for help.
    e) Join an association in your field and network with like-minded peers
    f) Connect with your high school and college alumni groups. Old pals could be new connectors.
    g) Talk to your unlikely network. For example, look at the class list of the parents of your kids’ friends. Anytime my kids hear about a friend’s mom or dad who’s lost a job, they tell them to call me. Even though we don’t know each other, we have a common connection that can sometimes lead to a contact.

9) Follow up with a call or e-mail to the recruiter responsible for filling the position. Never say, “Did you get my resume?” Instead be ready to reiterate your strong qualifications and interest in the role. You’ll have just a brief moment to sell yourself, so rehearse before making the call or sending the e-mail. To reach the right person, cold-call the company and ask an operator to put you through. If that doesn’t work, Google the term “recruiter” or “HR director” along with the name of your employer of choice. The results may reveal the name you’re trying to find.

10) Stay at the top of their mind. Every recruiter is different, which makes this a challenge. Some say you’re welcome to follow up weekly. Others say every other week is enough. And then there are some who’ll tell you to never call. Find the right balance so you’re politely persistent without crossing over to a pest.

Mar 02

Job Hunting? Don’t Make These 10 Mistakes

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 8:55 am

In this job market, there’s no room for error if you’re looking for work.
What not to do is just as important as following all of the proactive advice you receive.

Don’t get tongue-tied on the basics. If you met someone at a cocktail party and they asked what you do, could you answer in one clear, concise sentence? Many job seekers have huge difficulty with this because they’re unsure of their identity now that their paycheck is gone. “Well, I don’t really do anything now — I’m out of work.” Wrong answer.

Instead, offer a focused response: “I specialize in marketing for small businesses.” “I’m a Special Ed teacher.” Or “I work in retail sales.”
Being out of work now is not part of your opening line. Your response is focused on what you do — and then from there, as you engage in chit chat, you’ll make it known that you’re looking for your next opportunity.

Don’t say, “I’ll take anything.” If you do, you wind up with nothing. No employer wants someone who’ll do absolutely anything. Focus on what you’re best qualified to do — and target all of your efforts around that. Instead of asking, “Hey, do you know anyone who’s hiring?” frame your inquiries around your unique skills, experience, education and interests. If you ask, “Do you know anyone who’s hiring in retail sales?” it’s much easier to receive a meaningful response than if you ask, “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?” Help people to help you by being clear about what you do and what you seek.

Don’t focus on your needs. Too many cover letters and objective statements on resumes focus exclusively on what you, as the job seeker, want. “I want stability, I want growth, I want this much money.” All of that is no doubt very true, but that’s not what any employer wants to hear. If I’m going to hire you, I want to know that you have the ability to bring value to my organization. I need to know that you understand the needs of my company and you have the skills, education, experience and interest to make a positive impact. Hiring decisions are about the company’s needs, not yours. Ultimately you’ll have to decide if it’s what you want, too — of course — but your needs aren’t first and foremost when applying.

Don’t use one resume for every job. Tweak every resume to the needs of the position you’re applying to. Don’t assume that someone can read your one-size-fits-all resume and immediately know that your goal is to change fields. You must invest the time to prove that you understand their needs and that your resume is tailor-made for that opening.

Don’t go negative. Recruiters shy away from candidates who give off negative vibes by complaining about being laid off, the unfairness of the job market, or their extraordinary frustration with the job search process. On the flip side, there are many candidates who’ve received the same pink slip, but when they’re interviewing, they’re positive — and that positive attitude is contagious. Save your job search pain and frustration for pillow talk — don’t let it seep into your job-related conversations.

Don’t spend all of your time on big job boards. The majority of job seekers spend the bulk of their job search time scouring the big job boards, applying to anything and everything that seems appealing. You can do some of that, but it should account for the least amount of your time. Shift the majority of your time to build your personal brand online by engaging in online social networks. Use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Comment on influential blogs in your industry or create a digital resume. Talk to other people instead of simply applying for advertised openings.

Don’t ignore the need to account for your time. If you’ve been out of work for a year, an employer (and even networking contacts) will want to know how you’ve spent your time. “Uh, looking for a job” or “Pounding the pavement” won’t be impressive, but someone who can speak to volunteering, interning, temping — anything to show that you’re busy and proactive while looking for the right opportunity — will be more impressive. It’s never too late to start today.

Don’t show up unprepared. You finally get the call to be interviewed — no small feat in this job market, so you want to do everything to over-prepare. What does the company do, who are its competitors, and what’s happening in the industry in which it operates? Google the people you’ll be meeting with to see what you can learn about them. Ask the person who sets up the interview to tell you about the people you’ll be meeting, and to share a bit about the culture and dress code. Ask, “What should I know about the people I’ll be meeting — I want to make sure I’m prepared as best as possible.”
Review your resume and be ready to elaborate on every line if asked. Review the job description and prepare notes for yourself in advance about how exactly you’d be an asset for their specific needs.

Keep in mind that there are two elements to hiring: the hard skills — by the time you’re calling for the interview, someone has a decent feeling that you may have the skills, experience and education to do the job. What they don’t know — and what’s really critical — is what makes you tick, what ticks you off — what kind of person are you, will we like working with you every day? And some of this is determined from the second you say hello, and more is determined by asking behavior-based questions: “Tell me about a time you made a mistake.” “Tell me what your former colleagues would say about you.” Arrive prepared and don’t leave without asking about the next steps and the time frame for a decision.

Don’t apply for openings at the expense of creating opportunities. Your greatest competition is for positions that are advertised — and yet, that’s where job seekers spend the bulk of their effort applying for jobs. In addition to applying for relevant openings, you should also think about creating opportunities. Come up with 20 companies that you’d love to work for — and create a specific pitch about what you could do for them, even on a contract or freelance basis.

Bring a brilliant business idea to a manger or business owner, and you’ll get an audience. I’ve hired many people when I didn’t have a formal opening because they brought me an idea I couldn’t refuse. Small businesses are ripe for this, as are large corporations or nonprofits. The key is having a great idea that you’re uniquely qualified to plan and execute. Explain what you know about the organization and why this is the right time and the right idea. Plus, it’s easier now to land a part-time or freelance opportunity than a full-time staff position, so you’re leveraging this growing trend.

Don’t sit around and wait. This is the “spray and pray” method. You apply to 100 jobs and then you pray the phone will ring. It won’t. You must follow up with a call to make sure someone knows you exist. Don’t call to ask, “Did you get my resume?” Instead, you can say you know there’s an opening, you’re sure they’re flooded with applicants, but you know you’re an ideal match, so you want to make sure to get in front of the right people.
Find contact names on LinkedIn, look for an internal referral — and if all else fails, cold call the hiring manager and recruiter responsible for filling the job. Just don’t assume they received your resume. Don’t wait for the phone to ring. Make it ring!