career fairs

8 Simple Time Saving Strategies Every Job Hunter Should Know

Time often CAN be more valuable than money... (iStockphoto.com/ kmlmtz66)

Time often CAN be more valuable than money... (iStockphoto.com/kmlmtz66)

Looking for a new job, but pressed for time? Here are eight great time saving strategies that every job seeker can use to streamline the job search and build some forward momentum.

  1. Tell people you're looking for a job. It may not occur to people in your network to tell you about a new job opening at their office if they believe you're happily employed. Informing your friends and family that you're ready for a career change may turn them into your job scouts.
     
  2. Ask for referrals. Many companies reward their employees for introducing talent to the organization, in the form of a substantial referral bonus. If you have a friend who works at a company you've been eyeing, don't be afraid to ask them to submit your resume. Of course, use tact and don't be pushy about it – they'd be doing you a favor, and would be staking their reputation on you.
     
  3. Call a headhunter who has placed you with an employer in the past. Again, you may not be on their radar. But if they were successful in placing you before, they may be willing and able to consider you for a new job.
     
  4. Set up job alerts. All the major job boards, including LinkedIn and Indeed, and several others, allow you to set up notifications so that they email you as positions matching your search criteria are posted. There are a lot of job boards; by setting up alerts, you only have to visit each board when there's a reason to do so.
     
  5. Become an "Open Candidate" on LinkedIn. Recruiters are constantly combing LinkedIn for candidates for their open job. LinkedIn in late 2016 added a feature, called Open Candidate, where you can signal recruiters in target companies that you're actively looking for a job, without notifying your current employer.
     
  6. Get a LinkedIn Premium subscription. LinkedIn advertises that as a benefit of being a paid subscriber, you will be a "Featured Applicant," where "Your job application will appear above job applications from non-Premium members, increasing your chances of having it viewed." I'm not sure exactly how high you'll appear on any given search, but if this benefit pushes you toward page 1 or 2 of search results, there's a much better chance a recruiter will take a look at your profile.
     
  7. Add keywords to your LinkedIn profile. There's a "Skills & Endorsements" section on your LinkedIn profile, but what recruiters really search is the profile text. A brief section in your "Summary" section that includes a list of your skills, separated by bullets or commas, will make your profile a better match for recruiter searches.
     
  8. Attend a job fair. Yes, you'll probably spend most of the day there, but think of the time you'll save. When you apply to jobs online, there's a 5% to 10% chance (a rough estimate) that a recruiter or a hiring manager looks at your resume. However, when you hand your resume to a company representative at a job fair, there's a 100% chance it will get reviewed – in fact, they're usually going to spend a couple minutes interviewing you as well. Multiply this by the 100 or so employers you get to meet that day, and you're looking at time very efficiently spent.

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.

8 Steps to Successfully Navigating a Job Fair

Job fairs can be intimidating. They’re big, they’re typically held at arenas or hotels, they’re crowded, and you don’t get much of an opportunity to speak with companies because there’s usually a long line of other candidates waiting behind you for their turn.

Yep, it’s a meat market. But you can successfully navigate a job fair to your advantage. You just need to be strategic in how you manage it.

First of all, who are those people standing around in the booth, representing the company? Here are the players:

  • The Corporate Recruiter / Human Resources Representative. More often than not, the HR guy / gal planned the company’s presence at the job fair. They’ve been up all night putting the display together and making sure the hiring managers who were supposed to be there actually are there. Their primary motivations are filling open jobs, and going the hell home.
  • The Top Performer. Companies usually like to have their a-list employees at the career fairs, because it reflects well upon the company. Particularly popular at college fairs. I mean, why would they invite…
  • The Poor Performer. Yes, you read that right – often a company will designate a bottom performer as the individual to go to the career fair. Why? Why would they do that? Because they won’t be missed in the office – if their performance isn’t great, how much more harm can it do to have them out of work for the day? Not that the job seekers being judged have any idea that this is happening.
  • The Happy Alumnus. When it comes to college fairs, employers love to send their alumni, and the alumni usually love to get a free trip back to campus. When I worked at Motorola, we employed a substantial number of University of Florida graduates. They would have gladly had a knife fight to decide the winner, and thus who went to Gainesville. It makes sense – proud alumni are enamored of their alma mater, and they’re going to be highly engaged.
  • Selected At Random. Yup, they needed a warm body, and this individual didn’t have any pressing business.

Now you know the players. How do you effectively stand out at a job fair?

  1. Start early. Job fairs start quiet then build to a roar as the day gets going. If you have the ability to arrive when the fair opens, you have a better chance at shorter lines. You also get fresher company reps, who haven’t talked themselves raw. You may get the opportunity for a more in-depth conversation.
  2. Dress for success. Wear a suit. A nice suit. This is your first impression with a company. If you’re coming from work, and they have a business casual dress code, change into that suite before going into the job fair. It makes a difference.
  3. Have a plan of attack. Job fair organizers will often publish a list of exhibitors prior to the event. Decide upon your must-visit employers and see them first. Then canvas the rest of the fair.
  4. Print your resumes on nice stationery. A bonded linen paper looks far nicer than your glossy white copy paper. It shows you care.
  5. Have targeted cover letters for your key employers. This is a nice little touch that can make a big difference. If you know that you will be visiting Company X at the job fair, have a customized cover letter for that employer.
  6. Polish your elevator pitch. This is the first thing you say after introducing yourself – 30 seconds about who you are and what type of position you’re looking for. A snappy intro will help generate interest.
  7. Watch for the cues that your time is up. Interviewers want to be nice, but they may be trying to signal that they need to get to the next person. If it feels like you’ve overstayed your welcome, you probably have. Thank them for their time, and move on to your next exhibitor.
  8. Send thank you notes. If you obtained the interviewer’s contact information, a brief email to them after the fair thanking them for their time along with a soft copy of your resume will reinforce your interest.

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. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

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.

 

Do Cover Letters Still Matter?

This should convince them!

This should convince them!

Every career adviser will tell you that when you prepare a resume, that you need accompany it with a personalized cover letter.

What exactly is a cover letter, anyway? It’s a one-page document that accompanies your resume, customized and addressed to the person whom you’re sending your credentials. Usually, it summarizes a few key accomplishments found in the resume, reiterates your excitement in the reader’s company and is intended to impress.

If the resume is your personal brochure, then the cover letter is the brochure for the brochure. In essence, the cover letter is the pitch to the reader why they should invest the time in reading your resume.

Cover letters were invented and became standard practice in the days when job applicants sent a resume to an employer as a letter by (get this!) the postal service. As in, paper mail. As in, you stick the resume and cover letter in a stamped envelope and drop it in one of those big blue boxes they used to have on every corner. The corporate mailroom would receive the envelope, it would mellow for a few days, and eventually the office delivery person would drop it in the recipient’s inbox (a physical tray which sits on the corner of a person’s desk, usually labeled “IN”) where it would sit for a couple more days. Eventually, the recipient would use a letter opener (a device which looks suspiciously like a dagger) to open the envelope, glance at the cover letter, and decide whether the resume was worth a read.

Got all that?

Incidentally, next time you complain about how nobody gets back to you the resume you sent to Company X, keep in mind that it used to cost real money - in postage and stationery - to send an application to an employer. I’m just saying that life wasn’t always better in the old days.

Times have indeed changed. People don’t apply for jobs the same way. In most cases, an applicant sees a job online and applies either through the corporate website or via a job board like Monster or LinkedIn. Often there isn’t even an opportunity to include a cover letter with your resume.

And here’s a dirty little secret of the recruiting world – most recruiters, who act as gatekeepers of the application process, don’t have the time or interest to read a cover letter. They usually take a look at first half of the first page of the resume and decide whether to keep reading. A cover letter, if included, is usually an afterthought. A nicety. An attachment, if you will.

And yet, there is a time and a place for a cover letter. It’s a valuable tool for certain situations, because it shows that you care.

A cover letter is appropriate – even essential - in the following situations:

  • You are targeting a position in a specific company and you have the contact information of a particular individual or department. If you really, really want to work at Chester’s Advertising Agency, and you have the CEO’s contact information, you have a unique opportunity to make a positive impression. A cover letter allows you to show the passion for working at Chester.
  • You are attending a career fair and want to stand out from the pack. You’ve done your research and identified five employers you would really, really like to work for. Handing the recruiters a cover letter customized to their company along with the resume would demonstrate that extra little bit of effort.
  • Somebody has referred you to an individual at a company. Let’s say that your friend Moe provides you with the contact for their friend Homer who works at the nuclear power plant you’d like to work at. If you don’t include a cover letter with the resume, Homer might never figure out it was Moe that referred you. And you’d like to make Moe look good for referring you, wouldn’t you?
  • You’re emailing a resume to a company. Sometimes job advertisements ask applicants to send an email resume. In the body of the email you should have something to say. A cover letter – even a brief one – helps interest the recipient.

A cover letter doesn’t matter so much when:

  • You apply to a job through a company’s website or a job board. Often there’s not an opportunity to even include a cover letter. Even if you attach one, it’ll likely be ignored.
  • You’re canvassing a job fair. You’ll come across a great number of employers you’ve never considered. They won’t expect a cover letter, and it would be impractical to provide one for every exhibitor.

Either way, it’s best to be prepared. Have that cover letter ready, you never know when you’re going to need it.

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. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

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.