Job Search – How To Follow Up

Updated: 01/28/2011 05:40:26 PM CST

One of the most common frustrations described by job seekers is the lack of courtesy they feel from employers, particularly after an interview has been conducted.
Amy Dickinson, an advice columnist for the Chicago Tribune, recently handled this topic when a reader asked, “Are we, as a society, becoming such cowards that we cannot be courteous? If one has gone through the interview process, shouldn’t the person at least be notified of the outcome? Come on, employers. Where are your manners?”

In her answer, Dickinson noted that the phenomenon may not be new, as she applied for numerous jobs in years past and was notified only once that she wasn’t getting the offer. She goes on to advise the reader to stay in touch with the employer, since “no news is not necessarily bad news,” and concludes by reminding job seekers that they have a greater incentive to keep the contact alive than the company does.
I agreed with Dickinson as I sat munching my toast over the morning paper, but I knew that she was going to get at least one angry response. Sure enough, the next week’s column included a strongly worded letter decrying Dickinson’s “gall standing up for employers’ rights to treat job seekers without respect.”

I still think Dickinson gave a good answer, but I can understand why it wasn’t very satisfying. Employers do behave badly when they don’t respond to people they’ve interviewed. There really isn’t an excuse, other than being caught in a tsunami or getting hit by a bus on the way back from the meeting.
But job seekers aren’t going to change anything by feeling hurt and angry. Nor is that a good position from which to re-contact the employer. Do you really want to sound upset when you make that follow-up call?

You were planning to make a follow-up call, right? Ah. Here’s the thing that I’ve come to know, but not understand: An awful lot of candidates go to interviews, go home and never follow up. But they still get steamed when the employer also skips the follow-up.
Rather than argue about who should be doing what, I’m going to suggest that job seekers anticipate following up not once, but five times. Yep, five. Further, I’d like to introduce the idea that the employer may never respond at all. If you keep your expectations low for them, and high for yourself, you’ll feel more in control of the situation. What’s more, you’ll suffer less disappointment, because people will be acting exactly as you anticipated.

Curious about those five follow-ups? Here goes.
1. Handwritten thank-you note sent by snail mail the day of the interview: “I was delighted to meet with you today and look forward to our next conversation. Thank you so much.”
2. Formal follow-up letter e-mailed within five days of the interview: “I wanted to thank you again for our meeting last week, and to express my interest in this position. Upon reflection, I realized that we did not get a chance to discuss ….”
3. Follow-up call a day or two after the e-mail: “I wanted to touch base to be sure you have all the information you need from me as you prepare for the next round of interviews. I’m very interested in this position and I’m excited about the prospect of telling you more about what I can contribute to your department.”

Tips 4 & 5 and Complete Article

Is Your Résumé an Autobiography or a Strategic Marketing Tool?

by Samantha Nolan
Dear Sam: I would like to change careers and was curious how I could have my volunteer experience be seen as actual work experience. For the past 9 years, I have been a financial counselor at a local hospital, but I have also done a lot of volunteer community work for such organizations as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Susan G. Komen, American Heart Association, YWCA, and others. I have also served as the activity planner for my current employer within my department. I would just love to transition into the nonprofit fundraising, event planning, and/or outreach field. I have completed some sociology courses, but graduated with a degree in English. Can you provide me with some suggestions on how I could put my volunteer experience to work for me? Thanks! – Cindy
Dear Cindy: This is such a great question, and one I am asked frequently when I attend job fairs. It seems that, in this day and age, more people want to make a difference in their lives through service to others. One of the key ways you can make volunteer experience look more like professional experience is to treat it in the same manner you would your paid positions. By that, I mean include your volunteer experience with the same vigor you would your professional experience. Let me walk you through how you would organize your résumé to better position yourself for a career change.
First, open your résumé with a “Qualifications Summary” which focuses on your related experience from your professional and volunteer career. In the summary, include highlights of your outreach efforts, committee coordination, event planning, fundraising, and other related experience and skills.
Second, I would present a “Selected Highlights” section which would focus on your most related experience. In this section, include highlights from your experience  planning events, coordinating fundraising campaigns, serving as a mentor, training volunteers, chairing outreach committees, etc. This section would serve to answer the question of how you are qualified for what you are positioning yourself as. I would expect this section would include 5-7 bullet points going into greater detail—the “Qualifications Summary” introduces, and this section explores—about the most related aspects of your qualifications.
Third, present your “Professional Experience” section going back through about 8-10 years of your experience. This would mean omitting one or both of your earliest experiences, the first of which was very short-term and the second which probably doesn’t relate at all to your current career interests unless the organization you are pursuing working with deals with a younger (i.e., pediatric) population.
Fourth, present a fully developed “Community Involvement” section that mimics the style of the previous “Professional Experience” section. I would advise you to reorder these sections if you have enough to highlight from your volunteer roles. If so, you could lead with this section (followed by your “Professional Experience” section) and instead call it “Nonprofit Experience” or something akin to the field you want to pursue most (i.e., event planning, outreach, fundraising, etc.).
Taking charge of the positioning on and prioritization of your résumé can sometimes be all that is needed to make your audience see what you want them to see first. There really are very few “rules” in résumé writing, so don’t be afraid to create a marketing tool that positions you in the most beneficial manner based on your career target. Best of luck to you!

Original Article and More Advice

Beyond LinkedIn — Creative Ways to Land a New Job

There was a time when careers advisors would warn jobseekers against printing their resumes on pink paper, using strange fonts or including pictures to make their names stand out in the pile. It was enough to have good skills, solid results and a persuasive cover letter to grab attention, they would say. The rest was up to the interview. Not any more. In an age of almost 10 percent unemployment, LinkedIn profiles, job sites and social media, tech-savvy jobseekers are using all their skills to grab attention and win an interview.
YouTube is for Lolcats and Video Resumes
It worked for Justin Bieber, and for countless other amateur music stars who shot footage of themselves singing into the vacuum cleaner, uploaded it to the Web’s biggest video site and found a record contract and a new career waiting in their comments. Almost. But these things are rare. The more usual route, even for bands, is to build an audience on the pub or student circuit then watch bootlegged versions of their gigs appear on the site once they’ve made it. For people looking for jobs whose descriptions don’t include bad haircuts or television-tossing though, video resumes are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to Word docs and PDFs. Search on the site for “video resumes” and you’ll be offered a list of more than 235,000 results, including both resumes themselves and guides from “experts” explaining what to include and how to make a good impression.

And for some people, it seems to work. When Graeme Anthony began searching for a job with a PR company in England he uploaded a video that showed himself sitting at a table with a guitar in the background. Having introduced himself, he then invited viewers to click through to other parts of his resume, with the clicks leading to new, more detailed clips. It was all well done, very professional and won him a job with a PR company.
But not all video resumes are that well done. Too many look dull and lifeless, with little to offer the viewer but an audio speech. While written resumes needed very little writing skills, the best video resumes need some pretty keen awareness of video editing — and of copyright too.
If the technical challenge of creating a video resume isn’t a big enough hurdle, there are also a couple more.  The resume has to be seen, first of all. Serious jobseekers can’t expect to upload the story of their life and wait for the offers to pour in. Employers, like everyone else on the site, are looking for lolcats not potential employees. Even Graeme Anthony’s video was unlisted and viewable only by those who had the link. The video might be the resume but you’ll still need a cover letter to persuade people to look at it.
And there’s also the matter of being taken seriously. Some of those 235,000 results for video resumes include some pretty toe-curling spoofs.  You don’t want to look anything like Dave.

See More Great Tips and The Rest Of The Article

Has your network abandoned you? 10 Tips To Win Them Back

Running out of ideas on how to stimulate your network?
Are your one time ‘good contacts’ harder to reach today?
Let me be blunter: Has your network abandoned you?
How often you can use your network contacts and for how long, is entirely up to you. If you leave that up to them and it becomes “work” for them, expect contact to be infrequent at best and short-lived.
FACT: It’s human nature to want to help others (we just don’t always know how).
Let’s agree in theory most people like to help others. Given the opportunity and the wherewithal they will, and why? Because it feels good! That’s human nature. Unfortunately, in some situations, like networking, we don’t know how to help.
Too often we leave it up to others to figure out how they can help and when they can’t, they experience disappointment – they offered but couldn’t deliver! It’s a difficult position for both networking contacts and job searchers.
“I’ll keep my eyes and ears open – I’ll call if something comes up.”
Time and again job searchers put their networking contacts in a position where they feel all they can do is ‘hold on to your resume and keep their eyes and ears open; that if something comes up they’ll give you a call’ it’s too reactionary. What happens if nothing surfaces? Having to say “I cannot help you,” is upsetting and people will avoid it altogether.
This can also occur with friends and relatives. If for example your job search isn’t developing for you and over and again you have nothing in the way of progress to report, even they may avoid contact with you. Face it – it’s discouraging for friends to hear you’re not getting anywhere. A few weeks or months of the same old, same old, GETS old, and they too may respond less and less to your calls.
Manage it correctly and it’s forever.

This all sounds very gloomy but…there is a simple fix. So simple it can be explained in a single sentence: Don’t ask “if” they can help, tell them “how.” That’s all it is! Don’t ask them to figure out how to job search for you; they probably know less about it than you. Instead, tell them “how.”
10 practical ideas to get your network started on helping you:

  1. Have a clear objective for your conversation and your job search. Be ready for the question, “What are you looking to do?” It can stupefy the unsuspecting person forcing a response that is weak or irrelevant and with new contacts, even fatal.
  2. Be an active listener and always follow up what you hear with a question or a response.
  3. Have a list of specific people you would like to meet. There is a chance they may know someone on the list or someone else who that may know someone on the list. I call this a “trigger” list.
  4. Prepare another list with associations, trade organization, business clubs, etc. – where they may also know others tied to your target market.
  5. Find out if they have done business with search, recruitment agencies, career consultants…and if they have personal contacts there to whom they can refer you.

Top 10 Nonprofit Job Hunting Tips for 2011

It’s the beginning of a new year, and many people are setting goals, making plans, and considering changes. If a job change is on your horizon, especially one within the nonprofit sector, it’s important not only to consider where you might find an open position (see Nonprofit Job Search Resources for some direction), but also to take a step back to understand what your motivations are for seeking a new nonprofit role, where your skills and experiences might be most beneficial, and which roles might suit you best.

To help you jumpstart your job search—and self reflection—we spoke with Tom Friel, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. Friel is a senior advisor to Bridgestar and the Bridgespan Group, and a longtime nonprofit board member. Here are his top 10 nonprofit job hunting tips.

1. Do a thorough and honest assessment of your own motivations, skills, and capabilities, and record them.
“It’s one thing to have aspirations because you care about the work, but it’s not sufficient if you’re not qualified to do what you want to do,” Friel said. A self-assessment provides a cornerstone to a successful job search; it’s the starting point for clarifying what you want to do and for understanding how your qualifications match up with the role you seek (and what you might need to do in order to prepare for that role).

Resources for self assessments include books on the topic, online tools, and performance reviews and assessments from past supervisors. Friends and co-workers, and even professional coaches and mentors, also can offer valuable feedback. “At some point, it is helpful to test your self assessment against an objective person or a standard and ask: ‘Am I right about this assessment?’” said Friel. “The key value in someone who will objectively comment on your self assessment is honesty,” he added.

2. Decide very specifically what you want to do and make sure your qualifications match the job requirements.
“I urge people to think specifically about the exact job at the exact place they’d like to work as the center of the bull’s eye and then encourage them to move out as necessary,” Friel said. Having that specific goal can help you focus on your qualifications. For example, your goal might be to become the chief financial officer (CFO) of the Red Cross. If your assessment shows that your qualifications fall a little short, you might consider targeting the number two finance role at the organization or the top job at a smaller nonprofit organization.

3. Learn who the key players are at your target organizations and find a way to get in front of them.
If you want to be a CFO at an organization, learn who makes the hiring decision for that role. Is it the chief executive? Head of human resources? Is it a recruiter? “It’s probably one of those three people,” Friel said. “So if I want to be the CFO of the YMCA, I need to get in front of one of those three people or perhaps all of them together and maybe others.” He stressed that it’s not enough to just get in front of anybody at your target organizations. Rather, you need to reach either the people directly in charge of hiring or the handful of people who are one step removed (i.e., a key player who could recommend or endorse your candidacy). Friel said a majority of your job search should be focused on getting a quality interaction with as many people as possible on this short list. “At the end of the day, it’s the only thing that really matters,” he concluded.

4. Consider an interim path to your goal if necessary, such as consulting, temporary assignments, internships, or volunteering.
“If you are convinced that there are only five places you want to work for the rest of your life, you should be willing to find a way to get into one of those places,” said Friel. Don’t dismiss the longer term paths that could ultimately help you get to those places, even if there isn’t an immediate opportunity for the specific job you want.

5. Use your personal network smartly and efficiently. It likely is much larger than you think it is.
Who are the key players with whom you need to meet? And who are the people who can help you get in front of them? Friel noted that your network really is anybody you’ve met, worked with, gone to school with, etc., plus the people they know. Social networks are effective and enormous, and with the Internet it’s really easy to research your peers’ networks and determine who might be able to introduce you to a potential key player.

Tips 6 – 10 and Complete Article 

10 Tips For Finding a Job When You Are Over 40

Here are 10 top tips for finding a job if you are over 40. I encourage you to read them all because any one of them could make the difference for you. As a qualified leadership trainer I am very conscious that breakthrough ideas may come either from what you read, or they may just come as a flash of inspiration triggered by something in your unconscious mind as a result of reading. In other words, this is a process that stimulates creative thinking and forces you to consider new ideas. I hope you find it useful. Here are the Top 10 Tips:
1. Specialise – There has been a trend in recent years for employers to seek out increasingly specialised skills in their recruitment process. Think about what your specialist strengths are and how you could help an organisation by applying them. Then seek out opportunities that require these specialist skills. Although there may be a smaller number of jobs in your particular specialism, your chances of securing one of them are much better. So for example, if your skills lie in sales, think about what industry sectors or geographies you might have built experience in. Which other companies need to sell into those customers?
2. Broaden your search – It may be necessary to look outside of your immediate geographic or industry area in order to find the right job. By broadening your search you expose yourself to the opportunity of finding something that you would otherwise have missed. This may give you a difficult decision to make but at least it will be your decision which is always better than not having a decision at all.
3. Register with agencies – It may sound too obvious to mention but it is important to register with a reasonable number of appropriate recruitment agents. The opportunity to use the internet to do this makes life a lot simpler. It does however remove the human element and you do run the risk of just becoming a statistic if you don’t insist on a face to face meeting or at least a telephone conversation. Furthermore there are some agencies that specialise either directly or indirectly on more mature or experienced workers. Search out this type of agent in your area and make friend with them!
4. Dedicate a specific amount of time to job searching – With plenty of time on your hands it is easy to function without urgency. Treat your job search as if it was your job. Start at a particular time, form a to-do list of activities you need to complete during the day, schedule your own coffee and lunch breaks and decide how many hours per day you wish to spend on it. This is important to enable you to make structured progress but it is also important because it should allow you to switch off when you have achieved your objectives or tasks for the day. I cannot stress how important it is to switch off and don’t forget to celebrate your successes or progress each day.
5. Exercise Use your spare time to keep in shape – We have all heard the saying that a fit body = a fit mind. By doing exercise and getting the oxygen flowing around in your body you will make yourself far more productive on a day to day basis. You will also feel good and present yourself better when you meet people.