Monday, February 22, 2010
You're all alone in the job search end zone and here comes the ball. It's yours to catch and be victorious, or it's yours to fumble and return to the bench. Your education, skills, experience and connections navigated you past all worthy defenders. You're in the open and the ball is headed your way. At this point it's yours to lose, and there is only one way to not drop the ball right then and there.
Manage Your Small Talk!
It's true, chit-chat or small talk will kill nearly any interview if you are not very careful. I know, everyone thinks that they are great at small talk. I agree that you may have wonderful communication skills, but when it comes to the job interview the rules are different. Make a mistake here, and you'll be hoping Obama extends unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks because you're going to need it.
You see, small talk uncovers more about a person than any direct interview question ever could. Anyone who interviews often will work on using the brief transitions in an interview to get the job seeker to (unknowingly) open up while their guard is down. This is where the unsuspecting job seeker falls into the trap. You see, this tiny part of your interview uncovers your faults and weakness in a way that you would never show during the formal interview.
Now before you object to this because you are just too smart to fall for that - no you not. As an executive recruiter I've interviewed over six thousand people in the past 15 years, and I can tell you that almost everyone tells me more than they should. This is why it's so seductive for the interviewer to engage you in casual conversation, because everyone falls for it.
It usually starts before the interview. You're waiting in the lobby, and the interviewer comes out to greet you, and walks you back to their office. You had a great firm handshake, great eye contact, and a pleasant demeanor. You've succeeded at the first impression and you celebrate your mini-success - or have you? What you don't realize is your interview began five minutes prior with the admin in the lobby. They were instructed to engage you in small talk and find out more about you. Because your guard was down you mentioned how your recent triple bypass was giving you some discomfort and FUMBLE-RUSKI! You dropped the ball and the clock just ran out.
Will you become the next VP of Marketing with a bad ticker and chest pain? Not likely.
Now while you're walking back through the office a more deadly conversation begins. It always starts with, "Did you find your way here alright"?
Plan your response to this question before it is asked. Never explain car trouble, being lost, going to the wrong building. Again, your guard is down at this point. You want to convey success and confidence. Your answers should be positive and planned out. Whatever you do, don't talk about the weather.
Small talk does however provide you the opportunity to combat any perceived issues you think you might have. Are you overweight and you're concerned that this could be a concern? Well then talk about the tennis tournament you played over the weekend, or the ten mile hike you went on the day before. Alleviate that concern when small talk arises.
If you're worried that your skills are rusty, then bring up how you just attended a conference on the cutting edge new software package that seems to be the buzz in your industry. You always want to combat your perceived weakness during the soft talk phase of the interview, and never succumb to the enticement of the chit-chat. It's difficult because it's so unknowingly seductive.
If you fear that you are perceived as too old then you need to plan your small talk to combat this. So when you're asked how your weekend was you shouldn't respond that you were celebrating the birth of your 12th granddaughter. Certainly a joyous event, but they may want to fit you for a blue vest and direct you to the nearest Wal-Mart. Again, give them a reason to see that you're young, hip and going to be around awhile. Find a way to talk about how you were Tweeting your kids with your cell phone while hiking to the top of Pikes Peak. If you can pull that one off, you've just scored the winning touchdown!
Michael C. Webb is The Employment Expert, Author of Six Weeks to Multiple Job Offers, and a Partner in the executive search firm CFOs2GO. Find Michael on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/theemploymentexpert
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Weddles.com recently published its 2010 User's Choice Awards, based on year long surveys of recruiters and candidates.
“We believe customers count most,” says Weddle’s Publisher and CEO, Peter Weddle. “While pundits can make their own picks, it’s the people who use the sites who really know which are most helpful.”
When considering these top sites, it’s especially relevant to remember that job boards are just over a dozen years old. Twelve years ago, candidates had just a couple of choices other than Monster. These are the thirty best sites of the over 50,000 job boards now in existence, and only Monster existed a dozen years ago.
The envelope please…..
For the category of general job boards (in alphabetical order):
And let’s not forget the niche job boards
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
For Sophomore Morgan Simmons volunteering started off as finding something to fill her free time, but now has meaning much deeper than occupying her time. Volunteering at a local hospital helped her gain experience for her resume. It seems Simmons is not alone, as statistics show volunteering may be the key to a landing a career.
According to a report published in January by The Bureau of Labor Statistics more people volunteered in 2009 than in the past five previous years. The study stated that 63.4 million people, or 26.8 percent of the U.S. population volunteered at least once between September 2008 and September 2009, a 0.2 percent increase from the year before. Additionally, those who volunteer were twice as likely to fill a position over those who didn’t.
Though volunteers have different reasons for giving their time, campus Career Services suggests that volunteering may be the key to a career post graduation.
Volunteering offers networking opportunities because job seekers work side-by-side with people currently employed in the field. Volunteers can also ask supervisors for reference when they’re applying for a job.
Specifically for college students, depending on what the volunteers are studying, the volunteer work can actually be beneficial to them in the academic and professional aspects.
Simmons said she has experienced this phenomenon – getting the experience she needs as a result of giving to others.
“I want to live a life full of generosity” she said. “That’s actually why I chose what I’m going into for a career – I want to be a doctor. Helping people on a regular basis teaches you to put others first.”
College students are encouraged to pursue internships to gain experience and broaden their resume, but it is easy to forget volunteering at an organization can be just as effective at building relationships and finding a job Simmons suggested.
La Crosse offers a variety of organization to volunteer with from the Salvation Army, United Way, and Big Brother, Big Sisters among others.
Each semester an Involvement Fest is held in Vahala to allow students to browse current volunteer opportunities within the community.
For more information on how to get involved on campus , the Involvement Center link at the UW-L homepage offers a running list of current volunteer activities both on campus and in the community.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Most people will fall into the temptation of holding on to the job they have (even if they are not really happy with it) rather than venture out into a poor economy…thinking it will garner them little result or create unnecessary risk.
You and I both know it’s easy to let fear paralyze our actions…sacrificing what we really want when we don’t think we can achieve our aim. However, let me share with you five tips to help you understand how you CAN start moving forward and achieving your goals now instead of later (and land more interviews in the process):
Tip number one: Start your search when your competition is at a minimum Quite simply, this includes committing to your job search during a “bad” economy. It can also include months like December which is actually (statistically) a good time to begin a job search – another time when your competition is often absent.
Tip number two: Go for the growing markets To explore growing markets online, visit business sites, trade journals and associations related to your interest. When you target a growing market, you automatically increase you odds of landing more interviews.
Tip number three: Make sure your resume is written for your target market Nothing tanks a good job search like a poorly focused and poorly crafted resume. Make certain your resume is written well.
If you are not sure how your resume stacks up, there are plenty of articles you can read on good resumes, samples you can look at online or in resume books (make sure to view the latest editions) and you can even get a resume critique.
One extra tip: it’s a great idea to have your resume professionally written. If you decide to go this route, make sure the writer is certified and has ample experience. You can find a whole list of certified resume writers at Careerdirectors.com.
Tip number four: Tap into the unadvertised job market Major Job boards boast a measly 1 to 4% average response rate. That’s a lot of resumes to send out just to hear nothing back!
Make sure you have an adequate mix of associations, niche sites and direct company contacts in your job search strategy.
Depending on your particular goals, you might also benefit from working with recruiters, learning how to network properly (without asking for a job) and learning techniques for following up with companies that are experiencing some form of growth.
Tip number five: Understand the playing field No matter how good you are, how exceptional your qualifications or how brilliant your references, it’s impossible for each and every connection you make to end up with a job offer.
Your positive responses are going to be smaller than the amount of inquiries you make, period. Such is the world of marketing. So make sure your expectations are congruent with the market so you don’t end up feeling discouraged over numbers which may actually be good!
Want to improve your odds? Techniques to tap into jobs that are not advertised can yield you from 20% to 60% favorable responses. If you are achieving those odds, then congratulations, you are doing a remarkable job!
Successful people generally have lots of good habits including taking challenges head on, investing in themselves and taking action. By integrating these five simple tips into your job search now, you too can achieve amazing results and reach your job search goals.
Read The Original Article
Thursday, February 4, 2010
As a job seeker, you have a resume and you send it to every possible job opening you can find. You make sure every recruiter in town has at least one copy on her desk. It’s posted in six places on Monster.com and four places on CareerBuilder.com. You hand it out like those guys hocking strip-show fliers on 5th Avenue in New York City. You even sent one to your best friend’s mother, simply because she seems to know everybody! But how effective is your resume, really?
Are you getting the results you want from it? Are you getting enough interviews? Do you even KNOW what “good results” would look like?
Have no fear, my friends, we are here to take the pain and confusion out of writing an effective resume. Here’s the inside scoop on getting the most out of your resume:
1. Define Expected Results
The first thing you need to do is determine what purpose your resume will play in your job search efforts. Do you want to use it to get a foot in the door? Do you want it to help you “close the sale?” Or, do you want your resume to simply be something your prospective employer has in their hands to help them rest assured they have made the right decision by hiring you? Any of these are legitimate uses for a resume, but you need to know how you intend to use this important document in order to be able to craft it to effectively achieve your goals.
2. Begin With a Clear Professional Summary
If you are lucky, you will get eight seconds worth of attention from the person reading your resume. You have got to grab their attention so they will read further. A banal, boring, or uninteresting summary will send them on to the next person. I see way too many resume’s that begin with some kind of “objective statement” to the effect, “desire a challenging career that utilizes my strengths.” I bet the hiring manager who reads this will get 500 or more with the same objective. What in that statement will make you stand out from the others? More importantly, what do you have to offer a potential employer? Your resume is a marketing tool similar to a newspaper ad. If you want to grab the attention of the reader you’ve got to have a compelling headline. Otherwise, they will move on to the next one without giving you a second thought.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Many of today's unemployed are staying that way longer because they're competing for jobs with yesterday's job-search skills and techniques, career experts say.
The economic collapse that has officially left 10 percent of the nation unemployed has turned into a buyer's market as companies begin to hire back the workforce. That means tighter resume screenings and more stringent interviews are the norm.
But more and more Americans remain unemployed — and millions more simply give up looking — because they have not adapted to the tougher job market, career coaches say.
"Companies are indeed hiring, but the burden is now on the candidates," said Vicki Brackett, founder and president of Make It Happen Consulting, a Denver firm that does job-search makeovers.
"Many phones are not ringing because people are simply looking in the wrong place," she said. "What worked before isn't working now."
Before, on average, women remained unemployed for three to five months, said Brackett, who also owns Make It Happen for Women.
"Now they've been there for a year, men included," she said. "And 80 percent of the men are unemployed for more than a year, even those with terrific backgrounds and some of them finalists for six or eight jobs."
And the reason isn't money. The successful candidate is the one who builds value, with a strategy on the hiring company. Fewer than 10 percent of all jobs are gotten via job boards, yet better than 80 percent of job seekers focus their efforts there, studies show.
"And fewer than 2 percent of professional jobs come from there," Brackett said.
Job seekers need to make adjustments — sometimes serious changes — to their search approach because companies, though still hiring, are scrutinizing more and being more selective.
"What we're finding is that companies and organizations may have laid off 500 or 1,000 people, (and) they're not going to hire 500 or 1,000 back. They'll hire 200 or 300," Kevin Kelly, chief executive of Heidrick & Struggles, one of the largest recruiting firms, told The Associated Press recently.
Many top-shelf candidates are simply unaccustomed to selling themselves, Brackett said, because they've dealt only with recruiters and career networking.
"People are doing job searches backward, putting resumes together, then sending them out," Brackett said.
The key is in personal marketing, selling yourself to a specific job with a specific set of criteria. And the three areas to focus on are making the company money, saving it money and minimizing its risks.
"Most resumes don't speak to this," Brackett said. "They're too busy writing down job descriptions instead of what makes you right and the best candidate. Everyone looks the same on paper and says the same things in interviews. They know the details of a company but not the strategy to help them."
David Migoya: 303-954-1506 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Columns – January 31, 2010 - 5:00am
Question: I’d like to know how much time I should be spending trying to find a job. My spouse says that I should be focused full-time, 100 percent, on my job search. Other people have said take some breaks. What’s best, and how do you judge this?
Answer: There’s a happy medium to strike here.
To your spouse’s point, a successful job search does require determination. And if you tend to dawdle or procrastinate, you’ll benefit from a structured routine with established timeframes to muster the necessary discipline. With those checks and balances in place, I tend to favor a holistic approach that incorporates a range of activities beyond clocking job-search hours.
Coming up with a formula that includes some of these kinds of activities will benefit your frame of mind, your personal and professional development, and your presentation. Here’s how:
Your frame of mind: If you allow your job search to become all-consuming, your energy will be drained and stress will take its toll. Focused search efforts combined with a variety of affirming outlets will help to keep your spirits up.
Your development: You can use a portion of your time to take advantage of training dollars that are available for courses to upgrade existing skills or build new ones, which in turn will highlight your motivation to potential employers.
Your presentation: Whether you network daily or venture forth only for job interviews, these social interactions are where lasting impressions are formed and hiring decisions are made. The ability to have engaging conversations will be aided by your ongoing active involvement in life. These activities not only make your life more interesting for you, they make you more interesting to others.