I recently read an article by Liz Ryan CEO and Founder, Human Workplace . She writes, “Algorithm-based, keyword-searching processes that seek to match job-seekers with job openings by clerical means are not only inhuman but bad business process, too.”
Why then, you ask, do we continue to sit at our computers hour upon hour filing out online applications knowing that the likelihood of them being seen is minimal at best? What are our other options? Well, believe it or not, we do have them. They just take a little more EFFORT. No it’s not a vulgar four letter word and it can make all the difference.
- Make a list of all the companies you would like to work for.
- Do some research on that company. Find out what their mission statement is (it’s usually can be found on the “About Us” section of their web page. Do your skill sets, hard and soft, align with their mission/vision statement?
- Find a phone number under the “Contact Us” section of the web page then call! Find out who you would need to speak with regarding open positions and who you could talk to. If they refer you to apply online, let them know you are looking for some more information regarding the company and culture. Don’t just say, “Ok.”, then hang up. Be persistent, put some effort into it.
- Make sure you have an awesome cover letter that references their mission/vision and how you as a person will not only fit into their culture but add value to their company. Don’t make it too long, or it won’t get read. Mail it, yes I said mail not email, to the hiring manager, recruiter, HR representative. You can also use e-mail but it’s not the end all be all. Utilize all your resources, phone, mail, email.
I think you may be getting the picture I’m trying to paint. Job hunting is not a lazy person’s activity. Activity , it’s a pretty strong word – “The state of being active, energetic action or movement, liveliness, the intensity of a radioactive source, the ability to take part in a chemical reaction.” As you can see activity is not a dull word, it certainly does not describe the decision to sit on your butt at a computer screen, nor does it include an element of wait and hope. It means you are active and lively, you have in you the ability to take part in a chemical reaction. Deep within you is the power to make amazingly big things happen. Do it.
I read article after article daily on what job seekers need to do while job searching;
- Have a complete and dynamic LinkedIn profile. Sit on your butt.
- Have an powerfully written resume that can be thoroughly understood in as little as 3 seconds. Sit on your butt.
- Make sure you personalize your cover letter for each company before you submit. Sit on your butt.
- Use all the keyword combinations you find on the job posting to improve your chances of getting through the automated resume filters. Sit on your butt.
Rarely if ever do I read, get off your butt and meet people, face to face, shake hands, make contact, be remembered, REALLY? I work with job seekers all day long, and yes I too let them know the above is important to have done, however the wonderful world of the web is not going to get you a job, YOU are. If you aren’t finding ways to put your face to your name, you’ll be two lengths behind at the starting bell.
We’ve sat back and allowed our humanity to be removed from the equation. It’s time to stand up and act vitally. Bring the dynamic component of activity back. Get out there and make yourself known. Have a stellar resume, put it in someone’s hands, collect business cards, follow up after applying, pick up the phone and dial it, get to the right person and make a great impression. That’s what will get you the interview, not sitting at your computer hoping the 25 applications you filled out will miraculously wind up on the desk of the right person at the right time on the right day.
It’s time to create your own chemical reaction, action, intensity and energy. Go out and make something happen today!
Some things I find hard to believe; like I stepped on my scale this morning expecting to be two pounds heavier due to weekend of overeating, but I was actually two pounds lighter.
Or I deliver the best workshop of my life and receive less than stellar evaluations. What about my wife still talking to me after I haven’t installed a new screen door on our house three weeks after she’d asked me to?
Other things I find hard to believe are things that job seekers do in their job search. For example:
- After getting laid off, they think it’s a great time for a three-month summer vacation. Take a week off and then start your job search is my advice. Some downtime is healthy, but the longer you’re out, the harder it will be to get a job.
- They tell me they have no accomplishments to list on their résumé, so…
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Step 2: DRESS THE PART!!
In the interview you are judged largely by how you look. This is a key part of your overall presentation and if you are not presenting yourself well, a potential employer has no reason to move forward with you as a candidate. Novelty ties and/or belt buckles, those thick white gym socks every guy has in their sock drawer, hot pink hair extensions, oversized door-knocker earrings, and your 5-inch high heel platform pumps should ALL be left at home! These have no place in an interview or any professional corporate environment. Below are some pointers that everyone can keep in mind when pulling your professional look together. Feel free to use it as a checklist as well.
-Hair: Neat, simply styled (no loud colors unless of course your industry calls for it) and preferably pulled back
-Nails: Neat and clean. Nude, clear or French…
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Believe it or not my friends, the days of your degree or the mere mention of your Ivy League education landing you a job are over or at the very least in extreme jeopardy. Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, and many more of the Elite Tier 1 schools have been announcing the expansion (and at some creation) of their Career Services centers. “Why?” you ask. Because employers are becoming less and less concerned about where you went to school, your GPA, or how you landed the most sought after internship. They are concerned with how you will perform in the career they have to offer; are you dedicated, determined, and innovative? Do you have integrity and reliability? How have you performed in your past positions, and how likely are you to be successful in your future endeavors, lending your personal skills to add value to their organization? Those questions can rarely be accurately described on your resume.
I know it may sound corny, but “times they are a changing;” the days of no muss, no fuss job searching are quickly coming to a close, and those individuals who don’t have the skill set to master an interview, regardless of education, background, and work history, are going to be left in the cold.
Recently, while meeting with a group of employers regarding our graduate performance, one of the employers made the comment, “Technical skills may get graduates hired, but a lack of soft skills will get them fired.”
The purpose of an interview isn’t to reiterate the information on your resume (although some of that may happen for the purposes of clarification); it is to uncover the real YOU and to discover if that YOU is going to be a good match for the position, department, and organization.
Why do you need to interview? Because your education does not entitle you to a job! Employers are looking for candidates who want to work, bring all their cards to the table, and add value to their organization. They are not looking for a faceless name with a long list of accomplishments. You need to bring the whole package to the table, and an interview is the only way (for now) to showcase what and who you really are.
For more information on interviewing and resume skills check out A Better Interview
I am continually disheartened by the number of my students/graduates who give up after their first ‘no’. When did we stop teaching determination or good ole fashioned stick to it? According to research 80% of sales are made on or after the 5th contact; however most folks give up after the 2nd attempt. How does this relate to finding a job? How many applications on average do you need to send out before you get the call? You can find research that states anywhere from 3 applications to 50 applications are what it takes to get the elusive interview. The point I want to make is you don’t stop! You can’t! In today’s economy there are literally hundreds of thousands of folks looking for work.
I don’t believe the key to success is the quantity of applications but the quality of what you are submitting.
- Have you filled out the application completely? Accuracy and attention to detail are so important. Never put ‘see resume’ on your application. Most systems for filtering applications are automated. The systems are looking for specific key words on your application. If you don’t use those keywords your resume will never make it to human eyes.
- How do I know what key words to use: Hint – look under the section of the job posting that states ‘required skills’. If they are required you can be pretty sure they will be looking for those exact words and phrases on your application.
- List at least 10 years of job history. Make sure you list all your skills (including the corresponding key words). Double check to make sure your start and end dates match those on your resume.
- Make sure you have your references lined up and prepped! If you list someone on your resume, make sure they know you’ve listed them and what jobs you are applying for.
- Don’t undersell or oversell yourself in the salary section. There are great tools on Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com to calculate the salary range for positions in your geographic area. Do your research!
- Be prepared for the phone call!
- Make sure you have a professional voice mail message. Stay clear of music, your children’s voice mail message or the “hello, hello, just kidding I’m not really here” type of messages. Recruiters WILL hang up and reach out to the next candidate.
- Answer the phone with an enthusiastic upbeat voice. Hiring managers are looking for cultural fit; they want to know how you will be answering their phones so answer each call like it’s a phone interview.
- Make sure you do your research on the company and keep track. Some of the most horrifying feedback I get from employers is when the student/graduate doesn’t even know the position they applied for. If you can’t answer the question, “so tell me what you know about this position or our company”, you just lost that job.
- Spending a little extra time filling out applications and preparing for the phone interview goes a long way. It doesn’t mean you will get the first job you apply for but it will greatly increase your chances of getting the phone to ring and winning the jackpot with an in-person interview.
If most sales are completed after the 5th attempt, figure it’s going to take at least that many applications and follow-up calls to get your foot in the door. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. The only difference between you and someone who has landed their dream career is that they have already been told ‘no’ more times than you.