Job Search

6 Simple Insider Job Hunting Tips

iStockphoto.com |  francescoch

iStockphoto.com | francescoch

Have you ever noticed that one of the most difficult jobs you will ever encounter is finding a job? Even a quick and successful job search requires diligence, patience, and perseverance. You need to tend to so many matters – such as your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, interview skills – and so on.

That said, the little things matter, too. These may be the difference between an employer selecting you for the job and going with another candidate. Here are a few insider tips to keep you rolling. 

  1. There is no single “best day” to apply, but Friday is far from the worst. It’s true that on Friday afternoons people look ahead to the weekend, but they are also unwinding from the work week, and the right resume that crosses the right desk at the right moment may get a glance. A relaxed recruiter will be happy to have an actionable resume to send the manager before the weekend. Conversely, on Mondays, recruiters are often busy tackling the avalanche of new work that accrued over the weekend.

  2. Have a LinkedIn profile picture. If possible, a professional headshot taken by a skilled photographer. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, and your profile picture is one of first things that show up on a search. A LinkedIn profile page that does not have a photo looks like a house where nobody lives – i.e., the lights are off, the driveway is empty, and the yard is unkempt. Don’t make the recruiter wonder if you are home! While at it, make sure to use a profile picture that conveys a professional image. Yes, you look great hanging upside down holding a beer funnel on a Hawaiian beach, but you may want to keep that one in your private Instagram account. Dress for your photo like you would for a job interview. And smile like you will be the best co-worker in the history of co-workers. In a pinch, businesses that offer passport photo services may be able to provide you with a digital copy of your headshot that is appropriate for a LinkedIn profile.

  3.  Never stop training. Job skills change over the years and it is in your best interests to change with them. Companies once spent a great deal of time and effort developing their employees. These days, workers are expected to seek out and continue their education on their own time, and their own dime. Keep in mind that stagnant skills may turn a company off to your candidacy. If you’re in technology, learn Python or other emerging computer languages. Nothing against COBOL, but if that’s the only programming language you know, you may lose out to candidates with expertise in the latest, in-demand technologies. Continue to invest in your skills and future, and once you do, advertise your new mojo everywhere you can – LinkedIn, resume, cover letter, and so forth.

  4.  Understand how Automatic Tracking Systems work. The systemic use of Automatic Tracking Systems (ATSs) by recruiters and others who hire people for a living has impacted the people looking for jobs just as much as the those who administer them. These computers automatically rank resumes based upon on the particular requirements and wording of the open position, and recruiters usually start by reviewing the top-ranked resumes and stopping when they’ve accumulated enough candidates to share with a hiring manager. To maximize the chances your resume will get a high ranking, it must be revised on a job-by-job basis to better align with the specific requirements of the position. Yes, it is an essential and difficult extra layer of work. But when paired with old-school efforts to reach a hiring manager, it can help ensure you get a look. A lot.

  5.  Treat yourself well. It sounds so simple, but one of the very best things you can do to land that dream job is to treat yourself well. Do what you can to minimize your stress levels. Eat well. Walk outside. Put your phone on Airport mode for an hour a day. Allow yourself small indulgences. A happy candidate participating in a job interview has a greater chance of success than a sour candidate.

  6.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember the job seeker’s Golden Rule. If you don’t apply for the job, you will not get it!


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

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, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Ten Great Ways to Blow a Job Interview

iStockphoto.com |  IPGGutenbergUKLtd

iStockphoto.com | IPGGutenbergUKLtd

Everyone blows a job interview at some point. Here’s ten proven ways to do it in style. 

  1. Show up late. This proves to the employer that you do not have time management skill, AND that you lack respect for both the process and your potential co-workers. There is nothing recruiters, hiring managers, and participants in the interview process love more than waiting for a candidate to show up.

  2. Don’t bother to bring copies of your resume. Assume that Human Resources, or whoever is in charge of the hiring process, will take care of this for you. They really aren’t that busy, and they’re thrilled when they can do free administrative work for complete strangers using company resources.

  3. Treat your interviewers with respect in correlation to their position in the company. Nothing demonstrates your business acumen to an employer better than letting your attitude tell everybody where in the corporate hierarchy you believe they fall. Really want to nail this one? Don’t be cordial to the receptionists and assistants.

  4. Be non-specific in your answers to questions. Really make the interviewers dig to get information about you, or assume they already know everything about you. Make them earn their paycheck. You already spent an entire evening entering all this stuff into their endless online application, and didn’t they do a background check? They should know all this stuff already. Your value should be obvious and should not require explanation in an interview.

  5. Start the interview by asking how much the job pays. There is no reason to talk to these people if the money is no good, so best to lead with it. This sends the message that you are primarily interested in collecting a paycheck, which is a sure-fire way to impress both the recruiter and CEO alike.

  6. Don’t bother being friendly. We all know kindness and friendliness reek of weakness – you don’t want to leave the impression that you are weak! Interviewers may mistake your friendliness for skills necessary to be a productive team player, or for a personality that aligns with their corporate culture. Rudeness wins.

  7. Don’t bother to dress for the occasion. Way too much emphasis is put on the way you look in our culture, especially at work. Show your potential employer that you are an independent, non-conformist, maverick by shunning the traditional “interview dress code” for whatever may still be clean. This has the side benefit that when you receive an offer, you’ve set expectations so low that you won’t have to spend a penny on work attire for years to come.

  8. Forget about researching about the company or the job. Wing it. Preparation and knowledge are for candidates who are serious about their careers, and companies are all the same. You will “win it in the room” because of your natural born charisma and magnetic personality. Besides, you have a sweet connection who already works there.

  9. Don’t make eye contact with your interviewers. It is said that you can see the soul through the eyes, so make as little eye contact as possible, especially if it’s a panel interview with multiple participants. There is no telling what is lurking down there in your soul that may pop out and ruin your credibility. If you must, focus intently only on the ranking interviewer (not creepy at all) and pretend the other participants aren’t there. If asked a direct question, answer, but stare at your shoes.

  10. Don’t bother sending thank you notes to everyone. Not only is sending anything a note outdated, so is saying, “thank you.” You’re entitled to every job for which you interview, so why thank the interviewers for doing their job. And why use written language when your email and smart phone have a library of emojis to make your point? You don’t want to show weakness in the form of gratitude – you could unfairly earn a reputation for being professional.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In case you couldn’t tell, this was tongue-in-cheek. This is a compilation some of the more self-defeating behavioral traits I’ve seen applicants display in an interview setting. Just sayin’.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

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, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

8 Job Search Strategies for Returning to Work After An Extended Gap

iStockphoto.com |  Dilen_ua

iStockphoto.com | Dilen_ua

Life happens. And this often means taking several years out of the workforce at the prime of our career to have and raise children, care for infirm relatives, or take care of other personal matters. Returning to work after a gap in employment is difficult, and there are hurdles to overcome. These include unfortunate perceptions by employers that your skills may be rusty or out-of-date.

The good news is that many professionals – including those who have been out of the work force for a significant period of time – rejoin the professional working world every day. While you can’t just walk into your old office, flip the light switch on, and pick up where you left off, by anticipating the most common obstacles and objections you can facilitate your way back into the workforce.

Tip #1: Don’t make excuses for the time spent outside the work force. Perhaps you were the stay-at-home parent and were responsible for home schooling the kids. Or your parents needed to move in with you and you needed some time to get them settled. Own the situation, and don’t make apologies. In an interview, explain briefly how you spent your time, then move on to how you can help an employer achieve their best.

Tip #2: Perform a clear assessment of what you want to do and where you want to go. The transition will likely be smoother if you intend to go back into the same line of work as you were performing before. Making a career switch to a new discipline is, in itself, tricky and risky, and doing so after being out of the work force can be even more so and may involve finding an entry-level role to do so.

Tip #3: Update Your Resume, and Fill the Gap. If you left your profession to be a full-time parent, account for your time with the job title of “Full Time Parent” – no need to elaborate further. Also, you may be surprised how many activities you’ve been performing that are considered work, and you should detail these on your resume. Examples include volunteering on your child’s PTA, holding a board-level role with a nonprofit, an officer role on your homeowner’s association, service as coaching for your kid’s team, or running a side business to generate extra income. These all demonstrate professional and leadership skills.

Tip #4: Modernize Your Resume. Styles change with time, and resumes are no exception. Modernizing your resume can mean everything from the font to formatting, structure, and tone. In the recruitment world, the most recent trend is toward punch, bold accomplishments-driven resumes that feature your accomplishments in short, easy-to-scan bullet points. You’ll want to ensure that your resume meets the current expectations of recruiters and hiring managers. Do your research, and make sure that it’s as “Applicant Tracking System” friendly as possible – learn more here.

Tip #5: Modernize your Skill Set. There are many low-cost resources that can help you get up to speed on the current technical skills and software of your trade. Take advantage of free or cheap online resources such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, edX. And don’t forget about your alma mater – many colleges offer low-cost or free courses to their alumni. It also never hurts to modernize your skills in Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; it’s still a global standard.

Tip #6: Research, Network, Repeat. How do you learn what is in demand in the current job market, or what new skills will help you make the leap back in the workforce? Job postings use a secret language that, when deciphered, reveal the type of individuals and skill sets employers desire most. Spend time browsing the job boards to see what tools and skills are sought by employers. Call on people in your professional network to get their perspective about new trends in your field, or to learn about potential job openings or other professional career opportunities. For the most part, people are happy to help.

Tip #7: Calibrate your Salary Expectations. When are interviewing, it’s important to know the current average compensation range for your geographic area in your chosen discipline – salary site Paysa.com is an outstanding tool for this. Prepare yourself for employers who may ask you to take a step back in your career relative to where you were before you left the workforce. When assessing offers, only you can decide what is right for you.

Tip #8: Invest in a modern wardrobe. Although that suit from 2004 may still fit, it’s recommended that you get professional attire in line with current trends. It’ll subtly reinforce to employers that you’re current with today’s business environment. And don’t forget a new pair of “interview only” shoes.

Bonus Tip: Many companies embrace the idea of seeking those who have been absent from the workforce in the form of “Returnships.” A relatively new concept, these are structured like a traditional internship, in which you relearn the business while working toward a full-time role. A recent search on job board Indeed turned up more than 100 Returnship job listings.

Philip Roufail contributed to this article.


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, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.