5 Tips for Getting a Job After You’ve Been Fired

February 1st, 2017 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

A lot of the advice on this site is committed to cultivating proactive job seeking skills, so that you are in as much control of your career as possible. It’s always better to plan ahead, having your resume ready and interview skills finely tuned, so when great jobs come along you’re ready. That way, you can positively navigate your career path rather than suffer at the mercy of fortune.

Sometimes, unfortunately, even with the best laid plans, circumstances end up outside of your control. Getting fired can feel like the end of the world, and a complete derailment of everything you’ve worked towards, but it doesn’t have to mean you’ll never work again. Take a deep breath, remind yourself it was just a job, and use these five tips to help you land your next gig.

1. Try to get a reference.

Depending on why you were fired and who gave you the axe, you may want to see if you can still get a reference from your former employer. Being gracious and taking full responsibility for the reason of your termination, whether or not you agree with the reason, will go a long way.

To take it a step further, follow up with a thank-you note post-termination thanking the employer for the time you were employed, restating that you understand their decision and that business is business and you hope you two can keep in touch going forward. Whenever possible, it’s important to keep things businesslike and polite. Your employer will be less inclined to speak negatively if you leave on a positive note.

2. Look for outside references.

It’s more likely that you won’t be able to get a reference from the employer who fired you, so it’s important to develop your network. You need other people who know your abilities and can confidently recommend you.

Make use of your new-found free time in ways that will make you more appealing to employers and help you network with new people. For example, join a professional development group, volunteer in the community, and intern at a company in your chosen career field. Having current references who can talk about your skills will help you as you start your search for a new job.

3. Keep your head in the game.

You may want to take a break and nurse your wounds, but it’s important to keep busy and not let the gap in your resume grow.

Immediately enroll in a course, preferably an academic or technical course, to help eliminate complete gaps in employment. Also, develop a list of professionals who you can trust, with a solid knowledge of your work ethic, who can connect you to opportunities without judging the fact that you’ve been fired.

4. Choose your words carefully.

As you search for a new job, be careful about how you talk about having been fired. Comments such as ‘differences in opinion,’ ‘differences in working philosophies’ or ‘differences in creative direction’ or ‘downsizing’ or ‘were made redundant’ are all explanatory when you have been terminated from a previous job. After all, you were fired for some reason.

Whatever you do, though, don’t attack your supervisor. If you had differences with your supervisor, that’s okay. If you couldn’t deal with them, that may have been okay, too, depending on the circumstances. But personal attacks? They’re a no-no.

5. Reassess and reinvent.

Getting fired can shake your very identity, so it’s important to reassess yourself and your goals. Take the time to evaluate where your success has been in the past, and reinvent your job search to look for a whole new change of focus. Don’t be afraid of looking at education or certification in the new path.

You may have to ask yourself some hard questions about your expectations and what you’re looking for, as well. Really take the time to look within yourself and determine why the job didn’t work. This will provide an opportunity during your next interview for you to discuss why the job was not a fit for you or the company, and how you feel your strengths can be better served in the new area. Essentially, look to take the negative of a termination and use it as a positive for your next position.

So being fired isn’t the end of the world… it might even be an opportunity in disguise. But however you choose to look at things, don’t panic and make sure you effectively position yourself for your next job.

Good luck!

5 Tips for Getting a Job After You’ve Been Fired | Catherine Conlan via Monster

Resume Guide for 2017

January 18th, 2017 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

Another year has arrived, and with it comes the obligatory style guides and fashionable advice for your resume. Though the overall trends usually stay the same, and most advice remains constant, there are always a few new tweaks when the calendar changes, as the warped and twisted realm of HR and human capital belches out new gimmicks that go viral and then are quickly discarded (to be picked up and recycled again in a later generation).

But though it might be easier to ignore the hype guides and the ceaseless barrage of “helpful” advice, you really don’t have the luxury. With each recruiter or hiring manager giving your resume maybe six to ten seconds these days at a first glance, even a subtle mistake can be enough to land your resume in the trash. With so little time to make a first impression, it certainly doesn’t pay to stick with an outdated and ineffective resume.

So here are a few tips you need to remember before sending out your resume in 2017:

The robots are dead (or dying)

One of the main tips that has become canon in recent years is the need to include keywords and buzzwords. This was to get past the infamous ATS (or applicant tracking software), which scan the many resumes that reach the inbox of the HR manager and let only ‘specific’ ones pass through. So, the probability of a worthy candidate’s resume being rejected because of the lack of keywords was high. However, most companies are now moving away from such systems as they have identified its numerous shortcomings. So be honest and precise about your skills in your resume. A skills section is still helpful for readability, of course, but don’t be as worried about the robots ditching your resume because you didn’t pad it enough.

Make it visually appealing

Given that the scare of robots does not apply anymore, it’s safe to make your resume as visual as possible. Infographic and multimedia resumes seem to be the new rage now, with candidates in creative fields like design, film, creative writing, and digital marketing embracing it. They showcase your creative skills, personality and experience all in one go. While there are many recruiters who feel that such resumes should not be the primary one you use to reach out to employers, others encourage using it if it fits the job role you are applying for. It is logically more likely for a quirky startup to be interested in a creative resume. If you are from a field that does not encourage extreme creativity, just add some color to your resume to liven it up.

Ditch the objective

It’s 2017, and no one has the time to care what you have regurgitated in the form of ‘career objectives’. Recruiters have realized the pointlessness of these objectives after hearing every candidate state that they want to “use their skills to contribute meaningfully to personal growth as well as that of the organization”. Instead, what they want to see upfront in your resume is a summary of your experience and skills. Keep it short and precise. Writing it in bullet points is even better. It should convey the number of years of experience you have, your job history and your big career achievements. This is all the information that an employer needs to have before he or she decides whether to read your resume further or not. So, include all the relevant information, but remember that this is just a summary of your profile.

Easily accessible contact information

We would suggest that you start off your resume providing relevant contact information. Don’t make hiring managers hunt your resume for your contact in case they need to call you for an interview. On an online resume, make sure that you hyperlink your email id and, it goes without saying, include all social media profiles that are relevant to the application. LinkedIn is the first on this list, followed by Twitter and the rest. However, resist the temptation of including all your profiles, because while creative designers may need to include their Instagram and Behance profiles, accountants and engineers may not. As we warned you earlier about dying ATS, what is replacing them are such social media profiles. So keep these profiles up-to-date and be active on them. And please, for the love of God, don’t be that person who tries to be cute by not including an email address at all… do you really want to make it harder for potential employers to reach you?!

Titles and fonts

Your resume may not get read word to word by the employer so make sure you have highlighted what you don’t want them to miss out on in case they choose only to scan or skim through it. Keep such position titles or phrases in bold, so that even someone who glances at your resume gets a full picture without having to read what is written under every point. Ditch traditional fonts like Times New Roman, Arial and Courier for more modern and chic fonts like Garamond, Cambria and Calibri. The standard font size can vary from 10 to 12 point for the body, with larger sizes acceptable for headings or subheadings. Always remember that different people may have different font settings on their computers, so it’s best to send a resume that has uncommon fonts in PDF format so that the appearance is not tampered with.

So what does it all mean? That infographics and social media resumes are the wave of the future (remember the video resume)? Probably not but it pays to keep apprised of what everyone else is doing. In the long run, though, it’s always best to have an easy to read, targeted, honest, and consistent resume ready at hand for when that dream job finally does come along.

Good luck!

How Your Resume Should Look in 2017 | Monty Majeed via Your Story

Honesty and White Lies in Job Interviews

January 4th, 2017 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

In an attempt to impress recruiters and hiring managers, many applicants fall back on their usual bag of interview tricks: “Weaknesses? Probably my perfectionism.” Companies, however, are likely looking for more authenticity from their candidates, rather than mere polished half-truths. But what about those tougher questions? Questions about your plans for a family, or your reason for leaving your past employer? Sometimes candidates can suffer from being too honest.

Here are a few tips on when to be brutally honest in job interviews, and in which situations a tiny white lie might be allowed.

When You Must Be Honest

HR managers and headhunters want confident and down to earth candidates. But recruiters can only determine whether you’re a good fit for the company when you’re completely honest. In regards to your performance, your experience, and your qualifications, you should always be honest – otherwise, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot. Did you write in your resume that you’re fluent in Japanese? Then be prepared to demonstrate your skills in the interview, if requested. Remember that even if your new employers only call your bluff once you’ve already gotten the job, you may be handed a huge project – like handling a merger between your company and a larger Japanese corporation. Oops.

Instead of making up important details, focus on your strengths. Explain that your gift for critical reflection makes you a perfect candidate. Tell your interviewer where your leadership skills lie and reinforce your argument with concrete examples. You should also indicate your level of leadership experience with honesty. There’s a big difference between having led a department, or a team that only consisted of three interns. Be sincere – even leading a small team has given you some experience, and it’s better to tell the truth than to fabricate. Explain what you learned from this experience and how you can transfer this knowledge to the position in question. In this way, HR managers can get a clear image of who you are, and they’ll know from the beginning if you need further training, what kind of further developments could be helpful to you, and in which departments you could lend your knowledge.

React tactfully to questions about your weaknesses and missing areas of knowledge. In these situations, a good preparation is necessary. Consider in advance how you want to explain your weaknesses. Avoid standard answers like “I’m too ambitious,” or “I can’t work without structure” – HR managers have heard all of these before. You don’t necessarily need to choose “weaknesses” that simply disguise strengths. Rather, choose real weaknesses, then show that you acknowledge them, and are working to improve them. For example, you could say something like, “I have difficulties speaking in front of large groups. So for the last three months, I’ve been taking seminars on rhetoric and public speaking to try and improve.”

When It’s Better to Lie

In a job interview, it’s in your best interest to be honest about your professional experience, your qualifications, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. However, as soon as your interviewer begins to ask questions about your private life, you should be very cautious with your answers. Here, too much honesty can seriously affect your chances to get the position.

Why are you looking for a new position?

Suppose you’re asked why you want to leave your current employer. When you mercilessly begin to complain and whine about your shamefully small paycheck, your incompetent management, and your awful working conditions, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Consider an alternative response: you’ve exhausted all possibilities for further development at your current job, and so you’re looking for new challenges. Maybe you need a professional change of direction. But in any case, you should leave private and personal reasons aside.

What kind of hobbies do you enjoy?

Hobbies show recruiters and headhunters what your passions are. Are you a team player? Are you dedicated? Pay attention that your hobbies don’t define or pigeonhole you. You should avoid detailing your passion for bungee jumping or mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Why? Your interviewer might decide that you’re a liability, or that you could hurt yourself and take months of sick leave. In addition, this might lead your interviewer to assume that you’re a huge risk taker.

Are you planning on starting a family?

Especially for women in their 30s, this question is very likely to be asked, even though HR managers in the US aren’t technically allowed to. Don’t let a question like this faze or upset you. Politely ask how this question relates to your skills and qualifications – then change the subject discreetly. Your desire to have children, your political views, your religious affiliations – none of these belong in a job interview. Consider inappropriate questions like this, and prepare some short answers in advance. If in doubt, a little white lie is allowed.

Any other questions?

Certainly, a few questions must be on your mind – but some of them shouldn’t be asked in one of your first job interviews. Candidates that ask too eagerly about the number of vacation days never make a good impression. Instead, ask about the company’s options for further education and training – this signals your motivation and readiness to learn.

Keep this admonition in mind: when it comes to being honest in a job interview, it’s usually a question of strategic preparation and the right spin, rather than embellishment and white lies.

Good luck!

Honesty in Job Interviews – How Much is Too Much? | Susanne Schlossbauer via experteer Magazine

There’s No Need to Pad Your Resume

December 1st, 2016 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

Maybe you’ve had a bit of a bad employment record in recent years, due to downsizing, a wretched economy, or even mistakes on the job. Maybe you just don’t have the impressive educational background that many other professionals in your field boast.

It seems harmless enough, to add a few things to the resume to pad it out, impress the hiring manager with a white lie or two. Everyone else is probably doing it to, right? Your resume might even look out of place if you didn’t. And employers would never have the time to check everything out…

Cheating on a resume can be tempting, especially when one has been searching for a job for months or even years. But these kinds of decisions can haunt a professional for the rest of their career, as several high profile examples at Yahoo and other companies have shown.

This is because, since resume fraud is on the rise, employers are taking much more care in verifying information, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to mislead them. Even if your “creativity” seems to slip through the cracks and remain undiscovered, do you really want to live in fear the rest of your career that your secret will be uncovered?

There is good news, however: lying isn’t necessary if your resume is well-written and strategically organized.

So let’s address the greatest areas where embellishment is often utilized: education and accomplishments.

Education doesn’t top an employer’s list
Many people incorrectly believe hiring decisions are made based on the candidate’s education, and they feel compelled to stretch the truth in order to compete with their degreed counterparts. The reality is that education, though important, isn’t the driving force behind hiring decisions unless, of course, your profession requires a degree (e.g. doctors, lawyers, CPAs, etc.).

When a candidate lacks a college degree but has a solid work history, education quickly falls down the ladder of necessary requirements. Let’s take a look at this point from an employer’s perspective.

The situation: The job description reads, “Seeking an accounts payable specialist with comprehensive experience in processing expense reports, reconciling vendor accounts, and performing bank reconciliations. Successful candidate holds an associate’s degree in accounting.”

Candidate #1: Jose has worked in accounts payable for the last five years. During his career, he has set up new policies, cross-referenced purchase orders with invoices, and interacted with vendors to resolve invoice discrepancies. His experience comes from the school of hard knocks and he doesn’t have a college education.

Candidate #2: Maria recently received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. While earning her degree she worked as a front desk clerk for a Fortune 500 company where she was in charge of filing and answering a multi-line phone system.

Who would you rather hire, Jose or Maria? Chances are that you named Jose as the clear winner because his experience supercedes Maria’s education. Jose will be able to jump into the position with little or no training because he has hands-on knowledge of best accounting practices. Maria, on the other hand, is green. The hiring organization would have to spend time, money, and resources to train her, which they most likely won’t have an interest in doing.

padding-resume

Show ’em what you’ve got (for real)
Employers spend most of their time scrutinizing the experience section of the resume, and unfortunately, the homespun resume rarely tells the whole story. Most resume do-it-yourselfers fear their accomplishments won’t fare well against the competition and they decide to embellish facts in an effort to attract an employer’s attention.

Again, fabricating information isn’t necessary. Most likely the experience you have garnered throughout your work history is impressive. The challenge, however, is expressing your accomplishments in a way that entices the hiring organization to give you a call.

When dealing with hiring organizations you have to connect all the dots. For each position that you are applying for, there is an average of 500 applicants so you have to make it very easy for the reader to distinguish between you and every other qualified candidate. The only way to achieve that is by writing strong resume copy.

As a job seeker you are intimately involved in your own search, so much so that it is hard to take a step back and write a resume that is marketable. You are probably your own worst critic. If you have attempted to write your own resume you know how difficult it is to write about yourself objectively.

To make the resume-writing process easier, answer the following:

1. What skill set do you bring to the table?
2. What are your competitive strengths?
3. For each position you held, list three to five achievements.
4. How is your company better off since you joined their team?
5. Have you been involved in designing and/or implementing new initiatives?

The point here is to start thinking about your career as a portrait of who you are professionally, and not just as a job. When you make that mind shift, it will be easier to put words to paper. Lying isn’t a necessary evil. The trick to obtaining the job you desire is making the most of what you have to offer.

Good luck!

There’s No Need to Pad Your Resume | Linda Matias via Marketing Hire

Avoiding Job Search Burnout

November 16th, 2016 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

We are continuing with our theme this week of stress in the job search.

After working as a recruiter for more than 10 years, I’ve seen firsthand the toll a long, drawn-out job search can take, whether on a new graduate or someone who has been in the field for decades. Sometimes it’s the strain of being out of work longer than anticipated or not being invited for interviews at all or not receiving offers or even returned calls… all of this can make it tough to keep your spirits up.

Even worse, your confidence in your own abilities may fade over time, leading to a crushed spirit that can further negatively affect how recruiters and hiring managers perceive you.

For those of you experiencing a particularly difficult or long job search, here are a few tips to avoid the dreaded “job search burnout”:

sell46

1. Ask for feedback. If you’ve been on the hunt for a while without much progress, step back. Talk to professionals with whom you have a strong and trusting relationship, like a former boss or your recruiter. They get it, and they get you. Ask for, and be ready to hear, specific, constructive feedback and request a mock interview.

Are there things you could be doing differently? Questions you could be answering better? Follow-up that could be stronger?

Their feedback could mean all the difference, and the positive comments they’ll share will be a nice boost to your confidence.

2. Get the inside scoop. Talk with people in your network to learn more about the industry you’re interested in and any changes or trends they’re seeing. What they’re hearing and experiencing on the front lines could be just the spark you need to shift your approach and pick up some momentum.

By the end of your conversation, there’s a good chance you will feel more relaxed, have more confidence and be inspired to excel in your search.

3. Change your approach. Have you been interviewing a lot without much progress? It might be time to change things up.

Are you coming across as bored with the process? Do your answers sound rote? Did you not notice your interview outfit is rumpled or stained? Prepare for your next interview with these potential pitfalls in mind.

Take out your iron and stain stick; come up with fresh, new answers; add energy and enthusiasm to your voice; use real-life examples anytime you can and be mindful of your body language. These small tweaks will help you come across as excited and engaged.

combat-job-search-adversity-with-resilience

4. Fake it ’til you make it. If you’re feeling downtrodden going into your next interview, fake it. Smile and be ready to greet the interviewer highlighting your best qualities. Make every interview an opportunity to not only get a job, but to polish your interview skills and build your confidence.

5. Find commonalities. Search for your interviewer on LinkedIn and discover common ground. Maybe you’ll find that you both know some of the same people or enjoy volunteering. Whatever you share, remember that people want to work with people they like, and discussing commonalities with your interviewer is an effective and authentic way to start building the relationship.

6. Fit matters. While it’s appropriate to strive for jobs that may be slightly out of your reach, doing that too often could lead to too much rejection. To keep your job search on track and your spirits high, go after positions that are an ideal fit for your background, experience and interests. Save the long-shot interviews for the one or two employers that really spark a fire in you.

7. Try some retail therapy. Sometimes, if you are feeling lackluster, a new pair of shoes, a fresh haircut, a fun accessory, a new tech gadget or an updated suit will give you the extra confidence and excitement to ace an interview. Walk in with some swagger, and let the interviewer know why you’re the best person for this role. You might be convincing enough to get hired.

If you’ve spent months in what feels like a fruitless search for a new job, don’t lose heart! The opportunities are out there. Try something new, challenge yourself, and step out of your comfort zone. A great job is waiting for you somewhere.

Good luck!

7 Ways To Avoid Job Search Burnout | Sarah Connors via Forbes

7 Ways to Reduce Job Interview Stress

November 3rd, 2016 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

Most people find job interviews stressful and intimidating, especially if they really need the job.

With only one, brief chance to make a good impression to escape your current job, increase your pay, or expand business connections, interviews can make or break your future, with the slightest mistake costing you dearly. Aside from quitting your job or giving an anxiety-provoking public presentation, few things in the workplace induce more fear than an interview.

Thankfully, there are several simple things you can do to reduce job interview stress:

Stressful Interview

1. Sleep well–two nights before. Many people toss and turn the night before a job interview. Since most have no problem running on fumes for a day, aim to sleep well for two nights leading up to your interview. Accomplish this by exercising vigorously and tiring your body.

2. Get there early–but not too early. Rushing, getting lost, and the fear oft being late all provoke anxiety. Print out directions to the interview location the night before (get an alternative route as well) and plan to arrive 30 minutes early. But do not enter the building until 10 minutes before the scheduled interview. The anticipation of waiting can be brutal. Have a mini-plan to kill some time before the interview–walk around the block and do some deep breathing. One of the worst things you can do is get to an interview too early and be stuck waiting in the reception area for an extended period of time.

3. Eat light, yet be nourished. A little starch keeps your sugar level in check and your stomach from growling. A good standby is half of a protein bar and water. It’s not exciting, but it helps keep hunger in check. You never know how long an interview will last, so always have a bite to eat before heading in.

4. Schedule interviews in the morning. Get stressful things out of the way early. That leaves less time for negative thinking. This tip also holds true for dentist and doctor appointments.

leave-job

5. Be (over)prepared. Know what interview questions you will be asked and be prepared to state your salary requirements. Hold mock interviews with friends and family. Research the company using a service like Glassdoor.com and get to know your interviewer using every social media resource you can find.

6. Take the day off. With an average of 13 vacation days a year and only a handful of sick days, today’s workers are reluctant to let go of any paid time off. But worrying about traveling to two offices, changing your outfit, and lying all create stress. Treat yourself to the full day off and use the remaining time to send a thank you letter or look for other job opportunities.

7. Ask when a decision will be made. A frequent source of stress is interviewing for a job and never hearing back. Do your best to gather as much information as possible and ask when a decision will be made. It’s a fair question, so don’t be bashful.

Remaining relaxed during a job interview will give you the confidence to sell yourself properly and earn a job offer. Be prepared, both physically and mentally, be yourself, and hope for the best. And remember that there will always be more opportunities in the future.

Good luck!

7 Ways to Reduce Job Interview Stress | Andrew G. Rosen via the U.S. News & World Report

How to Overcome a Job-Hopping History

October 19th, 2016 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

Maybe you’ve had to move around a lot for your spouse’s career. Maybe you just can’t seem to find a company or a job title or a career that suits you. Or maybe your career so far has been one long “series of unfortunate events”, enduring economic downturns, companies going bankrupt, and massive layoffs.

However you explain it, if your resume seems to show you moving around quite a bit, that is usually seen as a red flag by hiring managers and HR. If a company is trying to invest in the long-term, bringing on someone who seems to leave their job every few months is certainly not going to meet those hiring KPIs instituted by management.

So how do you overcome the stigma attached to you and your resume, with a career you cannot simply undo or pretend didn’t happen? There are several tactics you can use, depending on the reasons for your moves, your industry, and your discipline.

You have an unstable work history, having held several jobs in a relatively short period. How can you try to prevent potential employers from holding your job-hopping past against you?

You can minimize the appearance of job-hopping by focusing your resume on your career history rather than your job history.

The biggest hurdle is getting noticed because recruiters usually screen out people with a choppy employment past.

It is easier to overcome a choppy history if you are young and just starting out. It’s more acceptable for those under 30 to move around, so I don’t think they need to address it, unless there are big gaps in their resume.

And, of course, you will have an easier time if your recent departures resulted from mass layoffs at previous employers. You can emphasize this point in your cover letter or add a few parenthetical words about it on your resume, such as “(one of 700 employees downsized 11/01)” or “(company acquired by ACME in 1/09)” after the job title or company name.

How should a resume deal with short periods of employment?

The dates of those jobs don’t have to jump off the page. They can go in parentheses after the job title, the company name or at the very end of the job description. You can also use years only, rather than months and years.

It’s also fine to eliminate one or two jobs from your resume. For example, if you took a position and two months later decided that it wasn’t for you, it’s probably best not to include it. It’s not that you’re ashamed of it, but it’s not the most relevant information you need to share in your resume.

If you do keep a job off your resume, be prepared in the interview to explain why. As long as you’re being truthful, you can answer that the job didn’t add a lot of value and you wanted to include more meaningful experiences and accomplishments.

Use a cover letter to explain your reasons for switching jobs — something that is difficult to do in a resume. But first, tell the employer why you are an exceptional candidate, summarizing your background — including the number of years you have been in the industry — and the results of your work.

After that, acknowledge that you have held several jobs in a short period and address each with a line of explanation. Keep the explanations short. Remember, you are selling yourself, not defending your candidacy.

Aren’t there some industries where moving around often is expected?

If you work with start-up companies, frequent job changes are almost de rigueur, because start-ups often fail or are acquired by other companies. Especially in the biotech and technology industries where there are many start-ups, it’s O.K. to move around. If you do consulting work on a project basis, it is expected that you would be switching jobs fairly often.

For certain technology positions, like computer programmer and software developer, the length of time at each job is almost irrelevant. The breadth of experience is far more important.

dilbert-hopper

How should you handle questions about your job history during an interview?

Focus on your accomplishments and stress your years of experience. Managers value accomplishments that have been repeated. If a person can demonstrate they have had repeated success in their jobs, they may be more attractive than a person with years of experience at only one organization.

If you were fired from a job, discuss it in a way that shows you have come to terms with it. Don’t be defensive about it. If you were at fault, acknowledge it, and discuss what you could have done differently.

If you cannot persuade hiring managers to look past your job history, are there other potential ways to get an interview?

This is especially hard at the executive and senior levels of employment. A pattern of short jobs is a show-stopper. No amount of resume editing will help — there is simply no way to dress it up.

Instead of answering ads, focus on networking because a personal connection is more likely to persuade an employer to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your network includes friends, family, current and former co-workers and former supervisors.

You need someone who will give you a break. That’s usually someone who knows you and your work and has a reason to take a leap of faith.

So you’re not doomed if you’ve moved around a lot, though it will definitely be a struggle to get past the stigma associated with being labeled a job-hopper. By being honest, addressing the reasons directly in interviews and on your resume, and understanding the nature of your chosen industry and discipline, you can overcome it and perhaps even portray it as an asset rather than a liability.

Good luck!

How to Overcome a Job-Hopping History | Eilene Zimmerman via the New York Times

Escape a Miserable Career in a Bad Job Market

October 5th, 2016 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

As a recruiter, I’ve heard it hundreds of times over the years: You’re tired of your job, your boss is a nightmare, no raises or bonuses in forever, you feel totally under-appreciated, and you’re really, really ready to move on.

Friends and colleagues, and so-called “industry experts”, however, will likely caution you that it’s really not the best time to make a career change; “wait until the job market stabilizes,” they’ll say, just in case you end up without a job at all.

The problem is, how long does it pay to remain unhappy out of fear? Maybe the market will never be “perfect” again… maybe our whole understanding of employment is transforming (and not for the better). Maybe now is the best time… you can’t know until you try.

So here are some tips for successfully leaving your job and finding a new one:

escapekey

Get closer to the industry you’re interested in.

The first thing to ask yourself when considering a career change is: what feeds your soul? What interests you? In what sort of environment and in which field do you think you would flourish? Sites like CareerQA can give you overviews of different fields and tell you what kind of experience and education you’ll need to break in.

Finding a part-time position in a business related to where you’d eventually like to wind up full-time is the perfect transition. Say you want to become a dental hygienist. Securing a part-time job working the front office for a dentist would be a great choice. Part-time front office work will help pay the bills as you’re taking dental hygienist classes and working towards your certification.

Being in the environment in which you’d eventually like to find yourself will do wonders for your self esteem, not to mention keeping you in the loop for possible full-time employment down the line.

Use downtime and grouping.

If you absolutely must keep your current job during the transition to another career, you’re probably going to end up doing a decent amount of job-searching while at work. That means you need to be quick and efficient to avoid angering your current employers. Sign up for notifications from job sites that have positions you want so that you don’t have to constantly search.

Job hunting on weekends isn’t out of the question, either. If you want to get into the restaurant or hotel business, for example, nearly all restaurants and hotels are open Saturdays and Sundays, and there are usually people in upper management positions there to meet with you. Also, more and more businesses are accepting applications online, where you can apply 24/7/365.

If, while still working at your current job, you apply for a new position and prospective employers can only see you during the week, try to group as many interviews in a single day as possible, then take a vacation day (or a sick day) at work. This will afford you the opportunity of meeting with new potential employers without sneaking off for mid-day interviews.

Once you’ve found a position you like and you’re offered the job, it’s time to leave your old place of employment. No matter how bad the situation was, don’t burn any bridges! Whether it’s for a reference or a legal matter that arises later on, your old employer may come in handy in the future, so you don’t want there to be any bad blood.

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Go it alone.

Don’t have the qualifications to land a job in your chosen career field? Make your own employment opportunity: freelance on the weekends. It’s not an option for all fields, but you can find opportunities for everything from web design to marketing online.

Or you can start your own business. Depending on the amount of money required for start-up costs, you may need to save up, get a loan, or find an investor. You should also make sure you have 6 months to a year of living expenses, since many businesses take a long time to earn a profit.

Ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship? Don’t do so unarmed. Be sure to learn as much as you can about your chosen field.

Quitting your job may be one of the most important (and possibly best) decisions you’ll ever make. You deserve to be happy! Don’t let necessity and fear stagnate your career and your life.

Good luck!

How to Get out of a Miserable Career in a Bad Job Market | Juliana Weiss-Roessler via Lifehack

Crafting a “Tailored” Resume

September 15th, 2016 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

Since the advent of modern computers, the job application process has certainly become more complicated than it once was. These days, instead of a typed letter of intent sent along with your resume via snail mail, to be screened by an HR clerk perhaps on the other end, you now have Application Tracking Software, massive job board application systems, and “shot-in-the-dark” emailing to hiring managers, all of which has made your job search a hundred times easier and a million times harder than it ever was before.

Imagine the postage and time necessary for each application in the past… now, it’s just a few button pushes and your resume is carried along automatically to the hiring company… to be trapped in an email spam folder, or discarded by an ATS robot for something as simple as using “online content” instead of “digital content”.

You’re also certain of getting into a much bigger pile of applications than ever before, as the ease of applying means dozens, if not hundreds, of totally unqualified people send along their resume as if it’s nothing, for just the merest possibility of an interview, or out of shear desperation, making it easier and easier for your resume to get lost in the shuffle of human and robot eyes.

So, it’s now become common to hear the advice “tailor your resume” to get around these obstacles. If you tailor your resume to a particular company and role, the choir says, it will have a much better chance of sneaking through the filtering of robots and a greater likelihood of being noticed by tired HR clerks, which in turn increases its chance of eventually being seen by hiring managers and the real decision makers.

The instructions are clear: no more stock and bog-standard resumes. Now, you’re making the suit fit the wearer. Certainly a lot more work than before.

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But a major question remains: how do you craft a tailored resume?

Here are a few quick expert tips to get you started:

Actually Read and Try to Understand the Job You’re Applying For

First things first: Sit down with a highlighter and really read the job description. Go through and highlight the points that seem important (think the ones that are mentioned repeatedly or anything that’s slightly out of the ordinary) and the points that you could speak to with your particular experience and skills.

This is always step one—after all, you can’t tailor your resume for a position if you don’t really know what the gig entails.

Make Your First Point Immediately Relevant

Next, with your newfound knowledge of what the hiring manager is looking for, take your resume, find the experience that would make him or her most excited about your application, and rework the document so that’s what’s at the top. Maybe it’s your current position, or maybe it’s some specialized certifications or the freelance work you do on the side. Whatever it is, make it the first section of your resume.

And yes, even if it’s not the most recent. There’s no rule that says your first section must be “Work Experience.” Tailoring your resume means finding what is most relevant, creating a section for it, and filling it up with experience or qualifications that will catch a hiring manager’s eye. If that means nixing “Work Experience,” creating a “Marketing and Social Media Experience” section, then throwing everything else in an “Additional Experience” section, then so be it.

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Revamp Your Bullets Even for Less Relevant Experiences

Now that your relevant experiences are at the top of your resume, that doesn’t mean you should ignore everything else. Nope, it just means you need to pull out the relevant bits of those experiences in your bullets.

From the job description, you’ll likely find more than just the technical qualifications needed to complete the job. Strong communication skills, ability to work in a team, and other soft skills are probably listed as well. So, while your tutoring experience might not be directly related to the sales position you’re interested in, you can definitely still highlight some of the soft skills that both positions require.

Check to See if It’s Clear Why You Are Applying

Finally, your last quick assessment to make sure you’ve successfully tailored your resume is to see if someone else—like a friend or mentor—can explain why you’re interested in the position just based on reading your resume. If your friend can’t suss out why you’re applying or how you’re a good fit, then more tailoring is likely needed.

This largely used to be the role of the cover letter, and many companies and hiring managers still appreciate receiving these, but because of the shear number of applications they will likely be reading through, you can’t rely on them ever reading or even seeing it… so you’ll need to factor this into the resume itself as well.

Of course, sometimes there’s only so much you can do. If you’re making a big career change and you just don’t have the relevant experience, then no amount of tweaking bullets can spell that out. In this case — and only in this case, I might add — you may actually want to use an objective statement to properly explain your interest in the position.

Tailoring your resume, especially if you’re applying for a lot of positions, certainly isn’t the most exciting or enjoyable part of applying for a job, but it’s definitely one of the most important these days. After all, regardless of media reports to the contrary, the resume is not a “dead” document and is still essential… and it’s the document that decides what first impression you make. It might take a little extra work, but it’s worth it to be that much more memorable.

Good luck!

What it Really Means to “Tailor Your Resume” | Lily Zhang via The Muse

Interview Hacks

August 31st, 2016 by Tyrone Norwood CPRW

Seems like everyone has “hacks” these days… hacks for parenting, hacks for eating, hacks for computing, and even hacks for life. For every standard way to do something, someone out there on the internet has found an innovative way to do it .001% better, guaranteed to transform your life in 10 easy steps.

We’ll pass over the question of whether it’s really efficacious to use string to cut cheese or to microwave your deodorant to get the last little bit out. The idea of hacking itself is sound: re-envisioning everyday activities to perform them more productively, more efficiently, more cost effectively, and more successfully.

Since many of us will interview for jobs many times over the course of our careers and competition for even the most basic positions always seems to be intense, it behooves us to apply as many tricks, tips, and hacks as we can, if for no other reasons than to make the experience easier to endure or to streamline failure.

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So what can you do to improve your interviewing skills? Here are a few quick expert tips:

Bring A Cheat Sheet With You

Everyone knows it’s a good idea to bring extra copies of your resume and business cards with you when you interview, but it’s also a great idea to bring a job history cheat sheet with you.

Prepare a write-up briefly detailing two accomplishments for each of your past few jobs. It’s a great way to overcome brain freeze during an interview or to get things back on track if the conversation has derailed.

Beat the Clock to Beat Your Nerves!

Nothing can make a stressful situation more stressful than anticipation and dread… Having to wait all day for an interview is a quick and easy way to build up a major case of the butterflies.

Rather than spend the whole day worrying and building yourself into a frenzied ball of anxious nerves, try to schedule your interviews for early in the day.

Not only will you have more confidence, but you’ll appear fresher and more alert.

It’s also been proven that interviewers tend to remember the first few people they interview in a day much more clearly than those they subsequently interview later.

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Identify a Problem and Fix It

In many cases, a company will be hiring for a position in order to solve a problem or remedy an issue they have been facing. By studying the job description you can often tell if this is the case for the position you are interviewing for.

If this is the case, take this opportunity to prepare a one-page proposal that outlines how you would solve the problem that the company is facing… and be specific!

Even if they aren’t looking for you to solve the problem in the interview, they will be impressed that you took the initiative and more importantly, that as a hire, you will bring a lot of value to their organization.

Be Nice!

Did you know your interview starts the minute you walk through the front door of the company you are interviewing with? How you treat everyone around you, from potential future co-workers to the receptionist at the front desk, can help determine if you get a job or not.

By being open, friendly and professional with everyone you encounter (not just your hiring manager) you’re helping to pave the way for positive feedback because as everyone knows, people talk… and if they’re going to talk about you, it’s always best to have it be about positive aspects of your visit!

In addition, hiring managers will often use the receptionist/secretary as a “secret screener”. What does this mean? It means that they often give the receptionist a list of questions to ask you and have them take notes on your responses. Then after the interviews are done, they have a quick debrief to discuss what you said. I’ve actually heard of people who had immaculate job interviews that failed to get the job because they showed a different (and not positive) side of their personality during the “secret screener”, so keep this in mind the moment you walk through the door!

Connect Before Diving In

The best way to start an interview is to not start the interview.

When you first meet whoever is interviewing you, get them to talk about anything except the interview. Use those first moments to build a rapport with your interviewer.

Remember, they’re potentially interviewing hundreds of people and the ones they’ll remember are the ones that stand out for the right reasons.

People want to work with people they connect with, and by taking just a moment to talk about something other than your potential job you’re helping show that you’re a nice, friendly and interesting person.

Your ultimate goal with an interview is to have a good conversation with your interviewer and an easy way to kick off that conversation is by starting with an easy small talk opener.

Example topics can include the weather, a recent sporting event, the office, or anything else you can think of that is quick to discuss.

Try to skip controversial topics and make sure that you don’t go overboard or ramble on for too long. It’s still an interview, after all!

Be a Copycat

It’s been psychologically proven time and time again that people respond better to individuals they feel they are in “sync” with and the best way to help drive that home is to subtly mirror your interviewer’s nonverbal gestures and body language.

Don’t go overboard and do everything they do, but if you keep your movements similar to theirs, it’ll build a sense of cohesion and understanding between you two.

Try to mimic their pitch, tone, body language, posture and body orientation.

And while you’re at it, DON’T FIDGET! Fidgeting can undermine your credibility and give an interviewer the impression that you’d rather be anywhere but in that room as well as make it appear you’re anxious or even lying.

Instead, focus your gaze on whoever is interviewing you and show them that you’re fully invested and paying attention to the interview.

Turn the Tables

A good interview is more than just you sitting in a room rattling off prepared answers to questions. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn about the job, the company and your potential role within that world.

Make sure to have a few questions prepared before you interview and find the time during the interview to ask them. Make sure they are thoughtful questions that help reinforce the idea that you’re the ideal candidate.

When you get the chance to ask your own questions, take the opportunity to “tailor” the questions. You want to show that you have the qualities that the company puts a lot of value in, so utilize this opportunity to do so.

Here’s an example:

If you know the company is big on “collaboration” as a quality, you may want to ask a question like:

“In my previous jobs I’ve really thrived in an environment where I get to work with others and have found that using my abilities in a collaborative setting has really allowed me to add a lot of value to my team. Do you envision this role having a collaborative element and if so, do you think that this ability will help me succeed in this position?”

Just a few easy tips to add to your interview toolbox. Let us know in the comments if you have any other tried and true hacks for interviewing that you’d like to share.

Good luck!

16 Genius Job Interview Tips & Hacks | Jeff Gillis via The Interview Guys