Archive for September, 2013

Back to the Basics: 10 Job Search Tips for Job Hunting 101

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

People are always looking for innovative job search strategies to set themselves apart from the competition. But it’s important to have the basics down, the most essential elements your job search will need to include if you want to succeed as quickly as possible.

If your job search is off to a slow start, here are some quick and basic tips that will help your hunt for a new job go more smoothly as you navigate the job maze:

  1. Be Prepared. Have a voice mail system in place and sign-up for a professional sounding email address. Consider getting a separate email account to use for your job search, so you can stay organized. Put your cell phone number on your resume so you can follow up in a timely manner.
  2. Be More Than Prepared. Always have an up-to-date resume ready to send – even if you are not currently looking for work. You never know when an opportunity that is too good to pass up might come along. If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, create a LinkedIn Profile and start making connections who can help you job search.
  3. Time Savers. Strapped for time? Consider getting professional help writing or editing your resume.
  4. Get Social. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a good way to get job listings before they are listed elsewhere. Plus, you can promote your candidacy using the social media tools that are readily available for free for job seekers and companies are increasingly using social media for recruiting.
  5. Look for hidden vacancies. Instead of advertising their available jobs, employers often look to fill vacancies by word-of-mouth, headhunting or simply by recruiting internally. Knowing how to get yourself in contention for these roles could give you a major boost when it comes to finding your next role.
  6. Get employers to come to you. Getting headhunted is no longer the preserve of employees in senior management. When you post your resume online, you are immediately putting your details within reach of thousands of employees may save you the trouble of searching through job adverts.
  7. Target the right companies. Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or would you rather have the safety of a large organization with job security and a clear career path? Knowing what you want allows you to narrow down your search and spend more time on applying for the roles you really want.
  8. Build a network. Networking is getting to know people who can help you develop your career prospects. You don’t need to be a big shot or the most outgoing person in the world to network effectively, just keep your ears open and listen for information that could work to your advantage.
  9. Don’t Stop. Don’t limit your job searching to the top sites like Monster or CareerBuilder. Check the smaller niche sites that focus on a particular geographic location or career field and you will find plenty of job listings. Networking works, too. Tap into your network of contacts to see who might be able to help you with job leads or a referral.
  10. Keep your spirits up. As time passes, the rejections mount up and the budgets get tighter, it’s easy to become disheartened. However, this is exactly the time when you need to dust yourself off and put in more hard work than ever. One of the main attributes of a successful job seeker is persistence.

Finding a new job can almost be a job unto itself. But if you persevere and remain confident, you’ll have a new job in no time.

Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid on Your Resume

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

It’s deceptively easy to make mistakes on your resume and exceptionally difficult to repair the damage once an employer gets it. Often, in order to weed out candidates for openings that receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, a simple spelling error is enough for HR to send a resume straight to the recycle bin. So prevention is critical, whether you’re writing your first resume or revising it for a mid-career job search.

Before you send your resume out, make sure to check it against the following list. If you can avoid these common errors, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition in this very competitive job market.

1. Misspellings and grammatical errors are killers. Spell check then proofread by reading each word aloud. Then have your document reviewed by a career coach or a friend or family member. It’s hard to catch your own mistakes, so having someone else read your resume for you will help.

2. Incorrect or Missing Contact Information: Double-check even the most minute, taken-for-granted details on your resume — sooner rather than later. If you’re not getting any bites on your resume, it may just be that your phone number or email address is incorrect. And if you’re tempted, for some crazy reason, to leave a phone number or an email address off your resume, think again; an employer might come across your resume years down the road and if you don’t have all your contact info there, you may mess a great opportunity. At the very least, don’t make it any harder for a recruiter or a potential employer to get a hold of you.

3. Not including keywords that match the job posting. Your resume should include as many of the same keywords that appear in the job listing as possible. If your resume doesn’t have the right keywords, it most likely won’t get noticed because you won’t appear to be a fit for the job (not to mention, you won’t have much luck getting through the robots).

4. An outdated resume will make you look obsolete. Your resume should be updated for every job you apply for. Be sure to update your skills and education sections, as well as your work history. And if you’ve added certifications or training, be sure to add that as well.

5. Including Too Much Information: Don’t tell your readers everything about each job. Focus on the highlights; keep your document to 2 pages max (you’re unlikely to get anyone to read further anyway, if they’re interested). Use formatting techniques like bullets and short paragraphs to enhance readability. Limit your resume to the last 10 – 15 years of work experience if it would otherwise go on for too long. Remember: you don’t need to include everything you have ever done.

6. Leaving Off Important Information: You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs you’ve taken to earn extra money for school or to bide time during the recession while looking for something better or more long-term. Typically, however, the soft skills you’ve gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) are more important to employers than you might think. And if you create an employment gap by removing jobs, it might make things worse.

7. Writing position descriptions that don’t show what you accomplished: Avoid job descriptions which simply list your duties or responsibilities. Instead write active statements that showcase relevant skills and accomplishments. Make sure the employer can easily see how you added value in your role.

8. Lack of Quantifiables: Related to Number 7, job seekers often omit quantifiables that would substantiate claims about their skills and accomplishments. Instead, they take refuge in murky language like “improved performance” and “led a winning team.” Use numbers or percentages to reflect the improvements you’ve achieved. CPAs can point to specific processes made more efficient and to specific amounts of money saved. IT professionals can list expertise with specific software packages and applications, as well as successful deployments and business-cost savings due to technology enhancements. Operations professionals can talk about cost controls and productivity

9. Graphic Crimes: Photos on resumes are a bad idea since resumes inspire enough snap decisions without having your picture on them. Resume readers are making go or no-go decisions all the time so it’s safest not to give them a reason to pass over your resume by having a superficial reaction to your photo. On top of that is the technical reason for keeping photos off a resume: Namely, graphics files tend to choke applicant tracking system software. Finally, legal issues lead many human resources departments to reject all resumes containing photos to avoid accusations of discrimination.

10. Attempting One Size Fits All: Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.