Category Archives: Employment

Job Search Tips

I’m sure you’ve heard some of these from well-meaning friends and family. What worked back in the era of the 3 martini lunch—or in the era when MTV still played music—doesn’t work today. If you hear any of these bits of advice, you have my permission, and encouragement, to ignore them!

Drop your resume off in person. Companies follow strict protocol for resume submission. I don’t know of any employer nowadays that accepts unsolicited resumes in person. Don’t do this. Follow the rules that the employer sets forth in the job descriptions.

Call to “schedule an interview.” This is presumptuous at best, intrusive at worst. If they want to interview you, they will contact you.

Print your resume on bond paper. No one wants a printed resume. No one. Don’t waste your time.

Limit your resume to one page. Unless you are a new graduate, you probably have more than a page’s worth of accomplishments.

Call to follow up on your application. First, unless you sent your application materials directly to an individual, how are you going to know who to follow up with? Again, contemporary etiquette dictates that the hiring company will reach out to you if they wish to have a discussion.

Send the hiring manager a gift so that you will stand out. Gimmicks will not get you a job.

If you’re not applying to 100 jobs a week, you’re not trying hard enough. The most effective job search is targeted. Applying to every posting you see is ineffective.

Offer to work for free in order to “prove yourself.” Not only will no reputable employer go for this, you should never offer your services without compensation. You perform valuable work for which you are compensated.

Get in as a temp, and then you’ll get hired full time! This worked in the 90s. It worked well in the 90s. But now, many companies use “permalancers.” That is, they keep contract employees as temporary ones and very rarely hire them for full-time roles.

You can only wear a navy, gray, or black suit to an interview. Absolutely false. Interview attire can be flexible, and can change with the culture of the company. It would actually be weird, for example, if you went to an interview with a tech startup and dressed in a navy blue suit. You want to look professional and appropriate for the position and the company with which you’re interviewing.  You don’t want to look like you’re wearing a uniform.

Lessons to find job from Mariah Carey

By now you’ve probably heard about Mariah Carey’s unfortunate performance on New Year’s Eve. Some of the things that occurred reminded me of similar things that can happen if you are unprepared for an interview. And while you most likely won’t be interviewing in front of a million or more people, here are five takeaways that can help you be prepared for your live performance.

1. Know your material cold before the big day. It’s unconfirmed whether Mariah forgot the lyrics to her songs or just didn’t want to sing live, but either way, she came off as unprepared. Many job seekers choose to “wing” their interviews rather than rehearsing beforehand and often their interview performance suffers because of it. Craft an elevator pitch to communicate your value proposition and be prepared to give accomplishment-focused, metrics-driven examples of how you have helped the companies you’ve supported do things smarter, faster, or more efficiently. Just regurgitating your resume or speaking about general job responsibilities won’t cut it.

2. Test for any technical problems. Was there a technical malfunction during Mariah’s performance or did the singer just get caught in a lip synching fail? In any event, it always makes sense to test your equipment before any type of performance or presentation. If you are conducting an interview via Skype, make sure your background is not distracting, your lighting isn’t too bright or too dark, your sound is at an appropriate level, and you have a working mike. If you are interviewing in-person, map out and time your route to the office beforehand to ensure you are on time and check your wardrobe for any potential malfunctions (missing buttons, etc.).

3. Expect a few curveballs. Whenever you do anything live, there is always the chance that something will go wrong. The key is to recover quickly. While unfortunately this wasn’t the case for Mariah, you can anticipate certain challenges that may occur the day of the interview. The one people fear most is not knowing how to answer a particular interview question. I like to remind people that they are the most qualified person in the room to talk about themselves. If you get a question you are not quite sure how to answer, you can ask for clarification or say, “That is a great question; let me think about it for a moment.” Then you can draw upon one of your success stories that is most similar to the competency they are trying to understand if you have.

4. Be honest. I’m not convinced that all Mariah’s comments were true. Perhaps she was embarrassed and said certain things to cover up that embarrassment. Lying is never a good strategy. Especially during interviews. If you are asked if you have experience in an area you do not, be honest. You can follow up by showcasing something that is similar to the competency you are asked about or give an example of a time when you didn’t have experience in something, but were able to learn that skill quickly.

5. Be gracious. Following Mariah’s performance, her team blamed everyone but Mariah and even suggested that Dick Clark Productions compromised the performance. Even if your interview doesn’t go well, assume good intent. It’s unlikely that someone is trying to sabotage your interview performance by asking certain questions.

Holding You Back

I have talked to about a dozen job seekers over the last two weeks that are stuck.

They are waiting until they perfect the language on their resume before they send it out, and they keep asking for feedback.

And they get different feedback every time, so they are in constant resume editing mode, but not contacting anyone for interviews.

They want precisely the right list of contacts to reach out to before they start reaching out.

They want to have interview preparation down pat, yet they haven’t sent out a resume.

This is one of the bigger ‘stuck’ scenarios: One person is worried about getting an offer at a company he is not entirely sure he likes, where the recruiter called with interest stemming from his LinkedIn profile.

Except he hasn’t called back or submitted a resume yet.

Although I feel honored to hear these stories, it pains me to hear them.

I could feel the pain and frustration experienced as each person told me their story.

Assuming things had to be perfect before moving forward.

Worrying about a problem they didn’t have yet.

We want progress – not perfection.

Perfection is paralyzing.

And it’s subjective.

You are chasing something that is different for everyone.

And here is the best news.

You are already perfect.

Stand with that knowledge.

Send what you have.

Reach out to one person to start.

And then the next person.

Do as much research as you can to prepare for an interview and know that you, as you are, are enough.

If you get an offer you don’t resonate with, you can always turn it down.

That’s a great problem to have.

I tell my kids: You are always going to have problems.

Always.

So get good problems and not bad problems.

An offer you don’t want is better than no offer.

Some interview prep with a confident stance is better than too much prep and stressed out or no prep at all.

Sending out an awesome resume and making connections is better than making your resume perfect (whatever that is) and not chatting with anyone.

You get unstuck by doing what’s in front of you imperfectly.

Decide if You Should Accept a Job Offer

As a career coach I am often asked by clients if I think they should take a job offer. Just because you get a job offer doesn’t mean that you have to accept it.

To help you make your decision, create a list of important criteria for taking or turning down a job. Your list might include salary, benefits, commute time, do you like the people you will be working with, is the new job challenging, is the company stable, does the mission of the company resonate with your values, is there opportunity for growth, etc. Your list will be unique to you as we all have different criteria that are important to us. For example, it might be important to someone who has the responsibility of a mortgage and children to work for a stable organization whereas someone without those responsibilities might be open to more risk. Or conversely, a person who has a home and family might love the challenge of working for a start-up whereas a person just starting out in his or her career might be drawn to a company that offers security. Make your list based on what is most important to you.

After you have your list of important criteria, put two columns beside each of your criteria. Above column one write “Yes, this criteria will be met in the job” and above column two write “No, this criteria will not be met in the job”.

If the job offer meets most or all of your criteria, dig a little deeper. If anything concerned you during the interview process – the interviewer complained about the company, the job responsibilities were not clear, no one could answer your questions about benefits – ask follow up questions. Find out as much as you can about the company, its future prospects and what it is like to work there. If the answers that you get are good, ask for the offer in writing.

Don’t say yes to a job offer you really don’t want unless you feel that you do not have any other options. Remember, just because you get an offer doesn’t mean you have to take it.  Make your decision based on what is best for you and follow your instincts.

Job Offer Before Graduation

First year college students should already be thinking about the jobs they want when they graduate.  That’s because the best job offers are earned when students select their targets early on and spend the next few years doing everything they can to impress the employers that have those jobs.

Of course, some students will not be clear about their career direction during the first year of college.  For them, it will take more time and a strong effort to research the possibilities.  However, that does not mean that these students should take their time.  The sooner they select a general career direction, the sooner they can select a major and begin to develop a plan that will move them closer to their goals in a step by step fashion.

Students should think about the circles of a target.  The “bulls eye” is the group of jobs they would consider to the most desirable or ideal.  The next circle is made up of related jobs that are also highly desirable.  The third circle is made up of jobs that would also be of great interest.  The fourth circle would be good jobs that may not be as closely related to their personal preferences.  Opportunities outside of the target become less desirable, the further away they get.

With a target, students can develop a plan of activities and performance that is most likely to lead them to the target area.  Their plan should include their majors, the courses they choose, their classroom performance, their campus activities, work experiences, community activities and leisure activities.  By building a list of accomplishments and experiences in these areas, they will have the components of a strong resumé and some great job-related experiences.

Students without a target and a plan are simply taking their chances with their career outcomes.  If they don’t know where they want to go, their chases of going someplace where they don’t want to go will increase dramatically.  That’s why students should think about their strengths, capabilities, past performance and the things they enjoy.  Using that information, students can research career directions that will utilize their personal characteristics.  Since nothing is carved in stone, they can change directions if necessary.

Other things are just as important as grades.  Employers love to learn about student performance in their campus activities, part-time and summer jobs and any other ways they can demonstrate their capabilities to get things done well.  By participating, leading, succeeding and accomplishing, students set themselves apart and give employers good reasons to want to learn more.  This is where the best job offers are earned.

Students who fail to put themselves out there and get involved both on and off campus will seriously limit the number of employers that take an interest in them.  Employers prefer candidates who are active, involved and productive.  This is a lesson that too many students seem to miss while they are still in college.

Students who ignore this advice and fail to participate, work or volunteer will have little chance of accomplishing the things that the best employers want, need and expect.  Since the best job offers are earned from their activities and performance during the sophomore, junior and senior years, no student will earn an exceptional job offer by sitting back and ignoring the expectations of their target employers.

Ideas To Boost Your Resume

New resume accomplishments—yup, your career success stories.

What exactly are career/resume accomplishments and how can you highlight them?

Accomplishments (in context to your management/executive resume, anyway) are simply career successes. In fact, I’ll provide a few examples of professional accomplishments towards the bottom of this article.

We all have them.

You could group 20 managers into a room and learn that all attendees bring different specialties (and achievements) to the interviewing table.

It’s one thing to claim you can do something—it’s another to prove you’ve done it.

Why are resume accomplishments so important?

Detailing professional accomplishments within your resume are advanced strategies for showing potential hiring managers that you’re more than just a “seat warmer,” but someone who knows how to turn challenges into successes. This is the true reason for including accomplishments within your resume. Hiring companies now more than ever want and need professionals who know how to take a sales team and coach its members to improving sales.

Resume core accomplishments primarily focus on several core areas, including these:

  • Sales & Revenue Increases
  • System & Tool Introductions
  • Cost & Overhead Elimination
  • Staff Transformations

Do you want to see an example of how to introduce accomplishments into your resume?

Here Are a Few Resume Accomplishments Ideas & Examples

First, start by writing some of the most obvious job successes you’ve had with each of your most recent employers to help add pizzaz to your updated resume.

For example, maybe you write something like this:

When I joined Salco in the Fall of 2015, the company was a mess. The company had few systems in place, and at first glance, it seemed like the company had way more employees than it should have. So, upon joining the company, I introduced SAP MM and transformed their company inventory and supply chain logistics. This saved the company a lot of money and cut overall warehouse staff.

Now that you have jotted down these rough notes, now it’s time to take the above and transform it into an accomplishment much more appropriate for your resume.

For example, you might write something similar to this:

Introduced SAP MM to Salco in early 2016, which transformed how the company was tracking inventory and supply chain logistics. Cut inventory tracking time by approx. 13.5%, while reducing 9 WHS personnel (8 FTE/1 PTE). Saved an estimated $1.58M in the 12 months through staff reduction and error elimination.

Not bad, right?

Of course, these big “wins” are easy to remember — though might take a bit of legwork to track down specific numbers. This is easier with a present employer, but nowhere near as easy with positions/companies where you no longer have access to benchmark data.

But, let’s say you don’t have any sizable accomplishments in your career.

One of the best ways to still introduce accomplishments into your resume without direct impact is to highlight what you’ve accomplished as part of a team.