interviews

How Should I Organize My Work Portfolio?

 iStockphoto.com |  fotostok_pdv

iStockphoto.com | fotostok_pdv

 

A portfolio of work can be an essential job interview tool for graphic designers and other creatives. But even if you're not a creative professional, a well-designed portfolio can be a fantastic way to highlight your skills and achievements.

In case you're not familiar with the concept of a portfolio, it's usually a case, binder, or notebook containing pieces of your work. Think of it as a browse-able brochure of what you have to offer to an employer.

Perhaps you're a marketing professional and you've had an article written about you in the local paper. Or you're an engineer with several high-profile patent applications. Maybe you've written documents that show off your writing skills. Include these!

Your portfolio needs to be polished and professional. Here are some guidelines for you to consider when assembling one.

  • Make it clean - Your portfolio should consist of your best designed work, arranged neatly and well formatted. Mount the items on the page.
     
  • Make your work stand out - Select pieces that best show off your creativity and intellect.
     
  • Make it tell a story - Organize your work in such a way that it says something about the progression of what the reader is looking at.  Group like with like; if your work has improved as time has progressed, organize your work in such as way that it shows how you've grown.
     
  • Make it shine - Pick your best pieces. Get an outside opinion on what is your best work - not everybody may agree with your personal opinions, and it's easy to become attached to your favorites. And if you've worked on recognizable brands, the inclusion of these projects will usually rise to the top.
     
  • Make it available online - A digital portfolio is great because you can always pull it up when you're sitting in a hiring manager's office. An online training module you designed can come alive when presented in multimedia.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

7 Essential Facts About Job Hunting Today

 iStockphoto.com |  monkeybusinessimages

iStockphoto.com | monkeybusinessimages

 

Looking for a job, or considering making a career change? The process is complicated and frustrating, and has only grown more-so over the years. If you're looking to rise above the pack, you'll want to understand these seven essential facts about job hunting today.

  1. Job Hunting is a Learned Skill. Have you been contacted by a recruiter for a job opportunity? If so, consider yourself lucky since there are many hurdles you need to overcome in order to get noticed by a recruiter or a hiring manager. It's important to learn about the nuances of job boards (i.e., Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Glassdoor, and many others), applicant tracking systems, the social networking platform LinkedIn, and other online job resources so that you can rise above the massive stacks of resumes companies received. There's a lot more to it than submitting your resume and hoping for the best ("posting and praying"). The composition of your resume, your application strategy, and your followup are all factors.
     
  2. So is Interviewing. A job interview is like a dance; you need to have all the right moves if you want to avoid stepping on your own foot. Your answers need to be practiced, tight, and natural. You'll need good, meaningful responses to behavioral questions, chock full of examples of how you overcame adversity to drive results. And then there's the social niceties and protocols. Hiring managers need convincing that you're a good person to spend time with, and that you'll make a positive impact. Going in cold can be dangerous. Practicing pays dividends – master the strategies that improve your chances.
     
  3. Being Professional on LinkedIn Matters. A lot. Companies pay big bucks for recruiter licenses to see everyone in LinkedIn. Recruiters comb the system looking for passive candidates to fill their open jobs. Even if you're not actively looking you might still get a call. A polished, complete profile full of detail substantially increases your chances of getting noticed. An incomplete or sloppy LinkedIn profile, with a lousy profile picture can be toxic. Although it can be pricey, a LinkedIn Premium subscription can pay dividends during the search.
     
  4. The Bigger the Job, the Longer the Search. If you're a CFO, for example, you should expect your job search to be considerably longer than a staff accountant by a factor of 4. Of course considerations of market demand and personal skill sets factor into the equation, but as a rule there are fewer executive than line jobs. And companies usually take longer to make decisions on higher level positions due to the organizational impact and cost. If you're an executive-level job seeker hunker down, strategize your approach (hint: it's mostly networking), and use the time wisely.
     
  5. Getting Passed Over Because Your Resume is Missing an Essential Skill? You Can Fix it Fast. Let's say you're a sales professional with ten years of rock-solid sales experience;  you're hitting a roadblock because you've used lots of CRM systems but have never used the Salesforce CRM which seems to appear in every job description these days. Training has never been more accessible or affordable – why not take an online course on Salesforce and add the training to your resume under your "Education" section? This way, you'll improve your odds of making it through the ATS or recruiter. Mind you, you'll need to be transparent with the hiring manager about your depth of experience, and an online course is absolutely no substitute for a specialized degree or certification. But if you're most of the way there, it can help quite a bit.
     
  6. Age Discrimination is a Real Factor. It’s illegal, and it’s regrettable. And employers miss out on many highly qualified candidates if they consider age as a factor in the hiring decision. Many employers will unwittingly (or wittingly) value younger, impressionable, and energetic employees whom they can mold to their liking rather than proven experience. And age discrimination isn't reserved for senior citizens, either – if you're over 40 years of age it could already be a problem. Learn and master strategies to cope with and overcome age bias, and know your rights.
     
  7. Recruiters (i.e., Headhunters) Work for Employers. Not for You. One of the most frequent questions I get as a career coach is, "How can I hire a recruiter to find me a job?" While developing relationships with agency recruiters can be valuable to your job search, you usually can't hire one. Recruiters are hired by companies to find talent for their difficult-to-fill job openings. And these companies pay handsomely for these services, an amount in the neighborhood of 25% of the first year salary of the person they hire. Or more. That said, a strong relationship with a recruiter can pay dividends.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

5 Ways to Combat Hiring Manager Indecision in the Interview Process

 iStockphoto.com (  SIphotography )

iStockphoto.com ( SIphotography )

 

Have you ever noticed that companies are bit slow to make hiring decisions?

It's not unusual for the interview process to take days, weeks, sometimes even months. Or for the process to involve meeting with upwards of 10 interviewers. And to involve reference checks or personality tests or other exams before making a decision.

You're not imagining things, and it's no accident, either. The interview process is taking longer because employers are more afraid of risk.

But first some context. Let's rewind about 8 or 9 years ago, to the height of the recession. There were a glut of job seekers, and fewer jobs to go around. At the time, companies had more of options of candidates from which to choose, so they took advantage of this buyer's market. They became more selective.

It's a great economy right now. If you have talent, it's a seller's market, but you wouldn't know it by the interview process. Here are some reasons why:

  • Companies became used to being able to cherry pick employees in the bad market. They haven't adjusted their mindset to the reality of the moment, which is that there's more jobs than qualified people to fill them. So they're more inclined to wait for that "perfect fit," even if they don't exist.
     
  • Managers are terrified to make a bad hiring decision. They fear that if they hire somebody who doesn't work out, for whatever reason, it's a bad reflection on them. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But hiring decisions aren't forever (we're ALL replaceable).
     
  • Blame is to be shared. If you're afraid to make a hiring decision, what's the best way to cover yourself? Why not make sure that the whole team has a part in the decision making process? Many managers are delegating their hiring authority to their teams, their peers, their internal and external customers, and other stakeholders so that if the person doesn't work out, everybody can throw up their hands and say, "Well, that candidate fooled all 34 of us who interviewed him!" No single person then takes the blame for making a bad decision. And how freaking hard is it to impress EVERYBODY that you interview with - without consensus, you likely won't get the nod.

So, what can you do to shake things loose when you seem to be stuck in the wheels of the interview process? There is no guaranteed remedy, but here are some ways to kick loose from hiring manager indecision!

  1. Try your best to take control of the process. Be proactive in asking the recruiter and hiring manager what next steps will be, and when you should expect to hear from them again. Ask if they need anything else from you to make their decision.
     
  2. Demonstrate your interest in the role, right now. Convey excitement. Verbalize this, telling anybody who will listen, "I'm very excited by this opportunity, and would love to joint the team!" You'd be surprised how many job seekers never clearly express interest in the job. People notice.
     
  3. Send thank you notes. To everyone you've met. It's that little bit of extra effort that shows you care and that you listened to what the interviewers said. I've seen well-placed thank you notes put a job candidate over the top.
     
  4. Keep the employer apprised. Check in from time to time. If you are expecting an offer from another company and time is of the essence, pick up the phone and call the recruiter, and let them know that their company is your first choice but you anticipate having to make a decision soon.
     
  5. Be proactive providing references, backup data, and anything else that may help your case. If you show that you are open and have nothing to hide, you may be able to use these little extras to move the process forward.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.