7 common job search myths

By Julie Jansen, CareerBuilder.com
March 31, 2010 9:13 a.m. EDT

Myths that people believe about looking for a job are many and persistent. The most common ones are these:

Myth No. 1: A résumé should be only one page.

Absolutely not! The normal length of a résumé is two to three pages (at most). It is fine to have addendum pages such as a list of references or published articles. A one-page résumé is only appropriate for a recent college grad.

Myth No. 2: If you go on an interview through a contingency or search firm, you cannot speak directly to the person who interviewed you after the interview

The person who interviewed you is either a decision-maker or an influencer in the hiring process. Ask him during the interview if he minds if you contact him with any questions you may have later. If he says no, be skeptical about his interest or style.

After all, you are the person who was on the interview, not the recruiting professional who set up your interview. He or she is also someone you can nurture as a networking contact even if you aren’t hired.

Myth No. 3: If eight people at a company interviewed you, you need to send a thank-you note only to the person you’d report to if you got the job

Those other seven people took their valuable time to interview you. Of course you should send each one a thank-you note!

Myth No. 4: You shouldn’t take notes during an interview

Why not? Nobody has a photographic memory while talking, listening, and processing information. Simply ask the interviewer politely if she minds if you take some notes. Obviously, you should use abbreviations or keywords so that you’re not concentrating too hard on taking notes and not focusing enough on the conversation.

Myth No. 5: There is no point in conducting a job search during the summer or in December because companies aren’t hiring then.

This is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, during the summer, businesspeople are more casual and “laid back” in their attitudes and approaches. They don’t tend to be as immersed in stressful projects. What a great time to approach people!

In December, companies may be focused on bringing someone on board before the new calendar or fiscal year. People are in a much more celebratory mood during this time of year, and December offers lots of opportunities for networking.

Myth No. 6: Most qualified candidate has best shot at getting job offer

Obviously, for most positions, a company needs someone with specific skills and experience. It is also true that many companies still lean toward someone who has worked in the same industry. It is more likely that the individual who fits into the company culture is the one who will get the offer.

This means that as a candidate you are accountable for finding out and understanding what the culture is — the values that shape the company, the way people communicate, and the kinds of people who are respected within the organization. You will not find this kind of information on a Web site or in an annual report. You will find it from talking to people — the company’s employees, vendors, and ex-employees.

Myth No. 7: Only certain components of a job offer are negotiable

The two best times to negotiate with a company are when they ask you to join them, and when they ask you to leave. Anything can be negotiated if you are very clear about what you need and want, and can state the reasons why. You stand the best chance of getting your needs met if you put yourself in the company’s shoes during the negotiation. Not only can compensation be negotiated but also the work itself, the way you will do the work, whom you will report to, and every other aspect of the job.

Looking for a new job requires many skills, and the more you network, interview, and negotiate, the easier the process becomes. Above all, trust your instincts during your job search. As with any relationship, you may have to make compromises.

However, there is absolutely no reason that you shouldn’t be able to find the right job — a job that fits your personality and fulfills your needs.

Julie Jansen is a career coach, consultant and the author of “I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This.”

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20 Resume Tips from a Hiring Manager

I’m a hiring manager. During the last seven years I’ve reviewed an estimated five thousand to ten thousand resumes while hiring or promoting fifty people for three different companies. I’ve hired sales people, tech experts, managers, marketing people and editors. While my experience may not be as extensive as some long time HR professionals, odds are pretty good that I’ve seen many more resumes than the average job seeker.

Having just completed one job search and being in the midst of another, I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on how to build a successful resume. These views are my own, and in no way reflect the views or positions of my employer. My tips cover 20 recommendations, broken down across three categories:

Resume Design

1. Use white space liberally. Going through a three inch thick pile of resumes makes you immediately appreciate the ones that are easy to read. Do not under any circumstances present a resume with quarter inch margins or less. The goal of building a resume is not to just jam one sheet of paper with information, but to present your qualifications in a readable and professional manner.

2. Font choice. Don’t use a font that invokes humor or “dares to be different”. Keep it simple. Stick with aerial (or times new roman if you must). Sans serif fonts are generally easier to read in electronic and printed form. Steer clear of comic sans, and never use courier.

3. Use bullet points…sparingly. Do not go to extremes. Avoid crafting a resume with only bullets or with only narrative text. A blended approach is preferred. A few sentences to describe each position, with 3-5 bullet points describing your achievements or accomplishments at each job is a nice balance.

4. Convert the resume to PDF. PDF is a gift to job seekers. Converting your word processed resume to PDF allows you to control exactly what I see. Uploading a word document to our HR system means you are taking a risk that my settings might skew your resume in some way, making the document more difficult to read. Recent versions of word allow a simple conversion to PDF through the “save as” function. If your word processor does not include this functionality, try an online conversion. Just search for “PDF converter” in the search engine of your choice!

Keep your reader in mind

5. Be sure you are qualified. It goes without saying, but make sure you’re qualified for the position. Pay close attention to the job description and requirements. I know you want to apply for the job that would be just a bit of a stretch assignment. Just be sure it’s not too much of a stretch. Applying for positions you are not qualified for wastes both our time. Also, applying for any job that has “xyz” word in it just because it was recommended to you by your automated job search agent is rarely a good idea. Research the position and company to ensure a reasonable chance of a good fit.

6. Create a career management document. If you’re a working professional with more than a few years of workplace experience, I recommend not having only one resume. Instead, create a “career management document” that you update quarterly with your workplace achievements and accomplishments. Naturally, this document will grow over time to be fairly sizable. Then, when you see a position you are interested in, pull the specific accomplishments that relate to the job requirements over into a resume. In this way, you are sure your resume is custom built for the task at hand, winning you that specific job.

7. Highlight elements that satisfy the job description. Pay close attention to the job requirements and consider re-ordering your resume to be sure the elements of the job description are contained in your resume and are easily seen. You don’t want to bury an important element at the bottom of a two page resume. Make those things stand out by either placing them at the top, or bolding them. Especially the ones we label within the description as “not required but preferred” because those elements are likely to put you ahead of the competition.

Personal Pet Peeves and other Miscellaneous Stuff

8. Keep it reasonably short. One page preferred. Personally, I’m OK with two pages, so long as your experience warrants it. However, there is no reason to submit a six page resume. Ever.

9. Get with the technology. Upload one document. Do not upload six different one page documents. Ever.

10. Get with the 21st century. Lose the AOL e-mail address. It makes you look like you’re stuck in yesterday’s technology.

11. Create a professional e-mail address. Ensure the first part of your e-mail address is “flattering”. You don’t want to submit a resume that with an e-mail address of chronicgambler@xyz.com. Every little thing matters. Pay attention to the details

Tips 12- 20

Six Tips to Land a Summer Internship

The summer internship and summer job outlook looks bleak for college and high school students. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that the percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds who’ll get summer jobs this year will be even lower than last year’s record low 28 percent, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. Just a decade ago, nearly half landed summer work.

But just because the odds are tough doesn’t mean you and your kids should be discouraged – it just means you need to have a good strategy and work a little harder. An intern’s foot in the door can be a giant step toward a real job post-college, and unless the economy picks up speed in a hurry, your children are going to need any advantage they can find as they enter the workforce. “The pressure is on and competition is fierce,” says Ellen Gordon Reeves, Harvard graduate and author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? Finding, Landing and Keeping Your First Real Job.

Some internships pay, some are unpaid, and some you’ll pay for, since many colleges now require tuition in exchange for course credit for internships in students’ chosen fields. We grilled employment experts and recent grads to find out how to beat the odds and land a position. Here, then, is the college student’s six-step action plan for landing a summer job or internship.

1. Network Strategically

“Stop sending your resumes into cyberspace. It’s a black hole,” says Reeves. To help zero in on the right contact at a place you want to work, figure out who you know who can give you a leg up. Given the competition, you need to make actual contact with a human being to have a fighting chance. Can’t think of anyone? Here’s where cyberspace can help out: Tweet and post on Facebook: ‘I’d love to intern at Sirius Radio. Does anyone know someone who has worked or interned there?'”

Your web of relationships is the single most powerful tool you have at your disposal when it comes to landing this job – and every other job you get for the rest of your life.

University of Michigan senior Corey Friedberg brainstormed with housemates to exchange contacts and skillfully worked his various networks. “It has helped me to leverage my relationships,” says Friedberg. “I’ve used every contact, from my father to the recruiters I met on campus.” His diligence paid off. As a junior, Friedberg landed a summer internship at Bloomberg Financial in New York City. The company offered him a job after he graduates, but so has an investment bank. He’s going with the bank.

(Parents of teens should network, too. Ask your eighth-grade daughter’s friend’s dad if he could talk to your son about internship opportunities at his company. It’s just a conversation, not a commitment.)

2. Push Your Passion

“I’ve always been a political junkie,” says Hannah Lloyd, who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis last spring. Lloyd knew she wanted to get into politics after college, so in February 2009 she started applying for House of Representatives internships online and then spent her spring break in Washington, D.C., handing out resumes. “I wasn’t connected in Washington, but I’m very driven and motivated,” she says. Lloyd landed an unpaid internship the summer after graduation with Rep. Russ Carnahan, a Democrat from Missouri. The internship led to a paying job as a staff assistant for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

3. Mine the Web

One way to use the web for an internship search is to hone in on the most targeted Web sites for the field you hope to pursue. Alexander Altvater, a Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management major who graduated last year from Clemson University, logged onto the Student Conservation Association site to apply for his summer internship at Congaree National Park in South Carolina. The internship helped propel Altvater into becoming a park ranger for the National Park Service.

The other way is by using a broad database site such as Internships.com, Indeed.com, or, if you want to spend your summer overseas, GoAbroad.com. With these, after you type in the type of internship you want and the location, the site pulls up every match it has. If you’d prefer to intern at a nonprofit, try Jobs.change.org, an offshoot of the social entrepreneurship site, Change.org.

4. Research All Your Options

Make a beeline to Web sites of all the companies you’d ache to work for, read every word in their “job and internship opportunities” areas, and then pursue a few prospects relentlessly. Piggyback any networking possibilities and remember: Persistence and virtual pavement-pounding pays.

John Conte, a Penn State senior and captain of the hockey team, began scouring NHL team sites in November of junior year. At the bottom of Tampa Bay Lightning site, he found a lead about an internship. A family friend who worked for the team told him the right person to speak to (see, strategic networking works); Conte ultimately snagged the unpaid gig, along with 19 other interns. “The internship ended up costing me money, but this is a business I would love to pursue,” he says.

5. Study Up

Before an internship interview, learn how to walk the employer’s walk and talk the employer’s talk. At the interview, you’ll want to look as though you’d fit in and dazzle the recruiter with your knowledge about his business and industry.

For his financial firm interviews, Friedberg always wore a black or navy suit, a shirt with French cuffs, and a tie, keeping the campus dry cleaner busy. Lloyd knew she had to dress conservatively to be taken seriously for a Capitol Hill internship, so she wore dark pants, a turtleneck and a jacket.

Friedberg always crammed the week before an internship interview, reading the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to track the markets and get news about prospective employers. “It was definitely very time consuming,” he says. “But they’d ask you, ‘Where do you think the price of oil is going and why?’ You either had to nail it on head or look like a fool.”

6. Last Resort: Buy One

This may sound ridiculous, but for a fee of $5,000 to $10,000, an outfit called University of Dreams will guarantee to find an unpaid internship in one of eight U.S. cities or six international spots, or it will refund your “tuition.” The cost includes housing, meals, transportation (other than air travel), weekend trips, seminars, and resume-building instruction. “It’s almost like a study-abroad program with an internship. Pack a suitcase and fly to London and we’ll cover your entire time there,” says Scott Bergner, vice president of marketing. “Seventy-five percent of our candidates are being offered positions or being asked to come back and work for the company again,” he says.

While the idea of buying an internship sticks in the craw, think of it as an investment. If it results in a job come the spring of 2011, you’ll have earned a pretty good return.

This story, by Alice Garbarini Hurley, originally appeared on CBS’ Moneywatch.com

The Twitter Job Search: You CAN Do It in 15 Minutes a Day…Here’s How!

In the Twitter Job Search Guide, my co-authors Deb Dib and Susan Britton Whitcomb and I present you with a strategy for making the most of Twitter’s job search capacity in 15 minutes a day. While it’s easy to spend much more time than that in the Twittersphere, we strongly believe that you can do it in 15 minutes a day.

How?

With a structured approach to setting your goals and objectives, and a plan for managing your time. I call this the “Day-Tight Twitter Job Search,” a philosophy inspired by the late physician—and famous time manager—Sir William Osler and by Steven Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

The secret: You need to set aside time everyday to make it happen (Osler called organizing your time this way a “day-tight compartment”), and you need to commit to spending time everyday working on things that “aren’t urgent” but that “are important” (one of Covey’s tips for becoming “highly effective”).

As we say in the book, Twitter is what you want it to be. Why should you commit to learning Twitter and then to a 15 minute a day strategy? Here is just a sampling of the many ways you can use Twitter to rev up your job search and/or career management:

* To create your own community of individuals with similar interests
* As a forum to share your skills and expertise
* To research employers
* To connect with others who care about the same issues you do
* To acquire career advice and get free advice from experts
* As a source of job leads

Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing tips on how you can use Twitter in 15 minutes a day to make this happen, based upon the Day-Tight Twitter Job Search plan outlined in the Twitter Job Search Guide. As a start, here are five strategies and tools you can use today to manage your time on Twitter:

1.

Determine your goals. What’s most important to you for your job search? Leads? Networking? Staying current on your field? Write your goals down and keep them close by whenever you login.
2.

Don’t get caught up in the stream! Manage your time on Twitter. Follow—or create—lists of users by area of interest instead of looking at your overall Twitter stream. This will help you stay focused. (See the Twitter Job Search Guide for a how-to on how to manage lists and use TweepML (tweepml.org) or Listorious (Listorious.com) to find communities of shared interest or to advertise your own.
3.

Use third-party apps to manage your stream. Applications such as TweetDeck and Seesmic allow you to create columns of favorite users; you can use these to follow accounts that post job leads in your field.
4.

Sign up for Feeds that push out “leads” and messages to you instead of requiring you to stay “live” on Twitter. Two of our favorites include:
a. NutshellMail (nutshellmail.com) which sends you updates, mentions and Direct Messages from your Twitter account at specified intervals, and
b. TweetMyJobs (tweetmyjobs.com). Specify position title and geographic area of interest and have leads sent directly to your cell phone. (Did we mention you can also upload your resume so that employers can find you?)
5.

View your Twitter friends as people you can connect with offline! As in any networking opportunity, the most powerful connections often take place face-to-face or through direct connection—whether it’s by phone, in person, online chat, or over Skype. Use Twitter as a way to cultivate new relationships and conversation…with a goal of connecting offline when appropriate.

Finally, here’s just one of many tips from one of my coauthors on how to get you started on keeping your Twitter experience to just 15 minutes a day:

Consider setting aside 5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes at noon, and 5 minutes at the end of the day to check your Twitter stream or filtered list of Twitter users by area of interest. Read through 2 to 3 screens of tweets with the goal of then making 2 to 3 tweets. These might be a combination of the following:

* 1 retweet of an industry thought leader from one of your target companies (if you’re a job seeker),
* 1 @ reply to someone who tweeted something insightful (again, preferably someone from one of your target companies or a recruiter with whom you’d like to foster a connection), and
* 1 professional insight or interesting piece of information you’ve found on the Web.

If you are a power user and have additional time-saving tips, please share them below…If you’re just getting started and have more questions on how to construct your “Day-Tight Twitter Job Search,” let us know.

To Your Success,

Chandlee

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Top 10 tips for grads starting their career search

A. Here are my top 10 tips for grads starting their career search:

1. Be yourself … polished up!

2. Learn to tell “your story” well. Share why you are the best candidate. What value will you bring to the organization? Think from the recruiter’s/hiring manager’s perspective.

3. Have your “elevator or marketing pitch” ready for the “Tell me about yourself” question, which is used for informational interviews as well. Be prepared to identify what sets you apart from the rest. Share what you are looking for (be focused and have specific areas).

4. A résumé is a “living document” in a constant state of revision. Be prepared to give examples from your résumé that can address your ability to deliver on expectations/projects.

5. Get business cards. Put your name, e-mail and cellular phone number and a title or category if you have identified one. You can print them off the computer until you decide who you want to be, then order them online or from the office supplies/printing stores.

6. First impressions: Make sure your cell phone message sounds professional. Remember this is one way to begin “branding” yourself.

7. Organize your networking plans:

  • Make a list of who you know, who they know and who else you would like to know.
  • Join social networking groups and list 3-5 associations to join. Joining associations (preferably in your desired profession) and becoming active in them can produce outstanding results and in a shorter timeframe.
  • Create a LinkedIn account. This allows you to build an image, or brand.
  • Connect with your college or university alumni, companies you interned for, mentors and others in “groups” with common interests.
  • Identify 3-5 of your mentors — individuals you respect and admire — and arrange informational interviews. You must prepare for these the same way you would prepare for an interview. Come prepared with targeted questions.

8. Get your references ready. Contact former employers, internships, professors and ask for written or electronic references. Ask for a LinkedIn recommendation.

9. Prepare to make and track phone calls. Sell yourself, not the résumé. Set hourly, daily, weekly plans with goals. Also, get your space organized, have a system to track activity and follow-up.

10. Get mentally prepared for the “process.” Finding the job you want and getting offers is a numbers game. The sooner you realize this, the less likely you are to become dejected. You will fail more than you succeed, but you only need to succeed once (getting and accepting an offer).

Consider joining a job search circle led by a certified career coach to learn job search methodology, expand your network and gain maximum value from the group experience.

Lisa Chenofsky Singer, of Chenofsky Singer & Associates, offers executive and career management coaching and human resources consulting. Lisa writes and speaks on job search and career-related topics. Her website is ChenofskySinger.com.

5 Tips for Job Hunting in the Twittersphere

Gaining a great deal of support from career industry professionals, recruiters and human resource specialists worldwide, Twitter is revolutionizing how people hunt for jobs in today’s economy.

How? Susan Britton Whitcomb, co-author of “The Twitter Job Search Guide,” explains: “In the past, you had to go through a maze of gatekeepers to get to the cloistered person in charge of hiring decisions. Now you can have access to them with the click of a Follow button. The ability to level the playing field — placing you nearly peer-to-peer with influencers, leaders and hiring authorities — is extremely powerful.”

And that’s not all. “Using Twitter you can find insight, encouragement, connections, job leads and company insider information in bite-sized messages of 140 characters or less,” co-author Chandlee Bryan adds. “You can also get advice from some of the world’s most respected career experts on everything from starting your search to negotiating salary. It’s like fishing for trout at a pond that’s been stocked in advance.”

Whether you’re job hunting via Twitter now or plan to in the future, there are some key guidelines to keep in mind. Whitcomb, Bryan and co-author Deb Dib offer the following advice for writing high-impact tweets and succeeding in the Twittersphere:

  1. “Active participation is essential,” Bryan says.If you build a community, help will come. Job seekers who get the most out of Twitter use it to expand their networks and achieve a sense of community. They not only ask for help, but also engage with others.”
  2. “Be upfront about interests and career objectives,” Whitcomb stresses. “We talked to several job seekers who searched for new positions after being laid off. While their individual approaches varied in terms of when and how they chose to advertise their availability, a common theme emerged: successful job seekers were specific about what they wanted. They let others know their skills, strengths and preferred job function.”
  3. “Acknowledge that the job search is a relationship-building process — not an ‘I-need-a-job’ transaction,” Dib says. “The job search is like dating; it takes time to build a relationship. If you ask for a long-term commitment the first time you meet someone, chances are good that you will be disappointed. And so it is with Twitter — building a strong network that can generate job leads takes time. You may find job listings overnight, but it takes time to grow connections with hiring managers and influencers.”
  4. “Be transparent in expressing appreciation and progress,” Bryan advises. “While some job searches require confidentiality, many of the job seekers we spoke with used a very transparent approach. This included posting regular updates on the status of their job search, as well as shout-outs to individuals who had helped them.”
  5. “Be clear about your brand,” Dib says. “Successful job seekers have a distinct brand that helps their networking contacts and prospective employers get a quick picture of who they are, how they work and how their talents would bring value to the table.”

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST’s Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/).