Category Archives: job search advice

Practical Job Search Tactics That Work

Practical Job Search Tactics That Work

Blaming self?

In today’s business world, a college degree does not automatically lead to a great job the way it typically did in the past. Today, in addition to that college degree, one has to learn how to find a job—and be good at it. This additional challenge represents a significant barrier to some job seekers and especially to more-mature people who have a hard time keeping up with fast-developing technology that requires new skills. So, following are a few tips regarding both what to do and how to do it.

Online and in-person networking

Beyond LinkedIn, recruiters use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to find, select, and qualify talent. Those new tools—which over 10 years ago were either nonexistent or in their infancy stage—are absolutely essential for today’s job seekers to be familiar with. A job seeker who does not show up on recruiters’ screens is simply ignored. This is a huge punishment for those who need a job. To be found and deemed qualified, candidates must learn how to use social media—and then use it extensively—beyond the three mentioned here. Social media are not only the venues for finding jobs but also tools that establish a positive reputation and credibility. Just remember that there are many, many applicants for just a few openings.

In-person networking supplements other social media networking. In-person networking should be considered a business transaction and not just social interaction the way many job seekers practice it. When networking in person, ask for opinions, introductions, and referrals. Don’t be bashful; be slightly aggressive but still tactful. Most people are willing to help if asked.

Tools for job seekers

Because technology has changed the job search system for both employers and job seekers, the latter group needs to quickly catch up. Employers use technology to source for talent. The majority of medium-size companies use some type of recruiting management system. Companies were forced into using such systems so they could become able to deal with larger and larger volumes of applicants, so they could save money, and so they could speed up the process. Most of the different kinds of applicant-tracking systems (ATSs) have become Web based, which extends access to the system by anyone in the organization who’s involved with the hiring process. This means that job seekers need to appeal to those people in the organization and not exclusively to human resources as in the past.

Regardless of which system recruiters use, job seekers need to improve their ranking in order to be found. Think about a Google search. Here are a few tips for improving ranking:

  • Use TagCrowd.com to visually match your résumé and the job description.
  • Match your résumé to the keywords used in the job description.
  • Use Microsoft Word to format your résumé, and avoid textboxes, tables, and graphics.
  • Under the heading PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE, list first the name of the company where you most recently worked; then, to the right of that, the dates of your tenure there; and then under the company name, the name of the position you held. Add a line or two of responsibilities or job duties, and then a bulleted list of a few specific and preferably quantifiable accomplishments. Then do the same for the job previous to that one.

The new ATSs incorporate social media tool functionality to reach passive candidates, to advertise job opportunities, and to build talent communities for specific industries. Therefore, to generate multiple options for themselves, job seekers must at all times deploy diverse approaches to job seeking. Candidates need to learn how various ATSs work in order to get high enough scores to be found by a particular company’s system. A description of familiarizing oneself with the systems is vaster than can be accomplished here and will be the topic of one of my future articles.

Five Tips to Improve Your Job Interview Skills

Five Tips to Improve Your Job Interview Skills

Final decisions are made during the interview

I remember going for job interviews and how scared I was. Isn’t everybody? But it can be minimized significantly once you get yourself prepared. Here are a few tips.

Learn about the company

By spending time to learn about the company, you’ll gain self-confidence. Spending a few minutes on the company’s Web site is just the tip of the iceberg. The interviewer is going to be utterly impressed if you can demonstrate in-depth acquaintanceship with the company. Details and facts about your potentially future employers are of utmost importance. You should know the company’s sales, number of employees, various divisions, locations, stock price, key leaders’ names, and other minutiae that you were able to read about. Learn about the interviewer, too, and the interviewer’s team. The devil is in the details. Use LinkedIn for your research. Find out where these people worked before. Impress them with your knowledge.

Offer your knowledge to help

Now that you know about them and their needs, find opportunities to offer your skills as they involve your ability to assist them in their crucial areas. After all, this is exactly what they’re searching for. Hiring managers don’t want people who need a long period of training. Can you help them shortly after being hired? Say so, and talk about it via examples from your past.

Develop a dialogue by asking relevant questions

Prepare a few questions to which you already have the answers. Demonstrate your knowledge and ability to deliver on your commitments. Show via your questions that you’d be a good fit for this position. Detail both your past experience by being a part of a team and your personal contributions.

Differentiate yourself from your competition

All candidates interviewing for the same position have been picked from a large pool of applicants because they seem promising. The interviewer and the interviewing team will have a difficult time distinguishing between all of them. Assume that there are five applicants and an hourlong interview with each. This is a lot of information to absorb, digest, and declare one winner unless there’s something special to remember. Think of a clever way to catapult yourself forward and leave your competition behind by being different and memorable.

Connect with those you interview with

This is basic, but unless you seem likable, the interviewers will not vote for you to be hired. Skills and accomplishments are important, but if you appear less than amiable, your chances are slim. What does it take to appear friendly, you ask? Make eye contact, smile a lot, show enthusiasm, sit forward in your chair, and call the interviewer by name.

How to Change a Career Not a Job

How to Change a Career Not a Job

Career change is possible if you know how

No surprise that in this economy more and more people are toying around with the idea of changing careers. For some, such a change represents an opportunity; for others, it may be a necessity because their industries are shifting, shrinking, or becoming extinct. The question my clients ask with more and more frequency is how to go about it. Regrettably, though, there’s no simple or one-size-fits-all answer, because each situation is unique. In other words, no two people’s circumstances are the same. A career coach cannot make such a decision for a client; the answer has to come from the individual. A career coach can of course counsel, guide, and support the process.

Let’s make sure we understand that I’m not referring to a job change. A career change is a radical change–for example, an executive with a finance background who buys a restaurant, or a manager at AT&T, a very well-known communications company, who shifts into managing an adult community or a nursing home. Those are real-life examples of people who were successful at making those changes; I know them personally. So, the questions are, What drives the process? and What does it take to come out as a winner?

Now let’s agree from the beginning that a career change involves significant risk. Not all career changes work out well. Decisions of this nature have at least two major components: the intellectual and the emotional. The emotional part involves the pain that a person endures and that strongly motivates and impels the person toward willingness to take a risk. The other component is the intellectual part, which involves, say, the person’s need–or desire–to make more money or the person’s disappointment with the industry, or with the nature of the current job, or with an intolerable boss who is apparently not leaving soon.

At the core of the job-changing decision-making process are three questions that require concrete answers:

  • What are the job-changing individual’s values?
  • What does the job-changing individual have to offer a potential employer?
  • What does the job-changing individual expect in return?

Values have to do with one’s feelings about family, recognition, monetary rewards, security, promotions, belonging, commitment, loyalty, and so forth. The answer to the question regarding what one has to offer will be an analysis of skills–such as marketing, presentation, sales, research, and data analysis–and then identification of whether one has the traits that support those skills: is the person aggressive, independent, articulate, persuasive, logical, visionary?

The remaining issue deals with what the person wants in return. This touches on environmental and cultural factors. For example, does the person like to work in small organizations or big ones? How does the person feel about leadership styles, corporate politics, company reputation, work/life balance, and flextime for new parents, for example? And how about critical matters like salary, health coverage, and investment programs versus the minimum levels of compensation and benefits needed?

As you can see, a career change is loaded with complexities. My advice is to consult someone who is equipped to guide you as you navigate this maze. And a challenging maze it is indeed.