Tag Archives: Higher Education

The Secret to A Successful Job Search? The Secret’s in The Sauce.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Ok I know what you’re thinking; Betsy has finally gone off her rocker. No not yet. But I will confide that “ Fried Green Tomatoes” is one of my favorite movies and dishes. I love when I get to travel south and imbibe on of my favorite delicacies, Fried Green Tomatoes. However, hard as I try I can’t seem to ever find them as good as my best friend makes, (well actually it’s her husband so credit where credit is due). I always ask how they are made and what they feel is the secret to their delectable delight. The answer inevitably, “the secret’s in the sauce”.

It’s not really all that different when you talk to individuals who’ve had a successful job search. They mixed it up good.

  • They reached out to their network of friends, colleagues, connections and let them know what they were looking.
  • They carefully targeted the companies and organizations they wanted to work for and reached out to them.
  • They used the internet as A tool to source potential job leads and applied online. They then followed up on those applications.
  • They attended networking events and career fairs.
  • They work with recruiters and/or headhunters to help them find additional opportunities.
  • Finally they sent thank you notes to all the hiring managers they interviewed with.

It’s incredibly rare (I mean really really rare) for an individual to send one application, make one phone call or drop off one resume and they get a job. For those rare few that do hit a grand slam on the first swing, they probably were very well connected and sought after in the first place so their success is based on their reputation, which just means they had the connections to engage most if not all of the above, without really trying.

Time after time in conversations with my graduates I hear:

  • “I’ve sent out like 30 online applications a day with no luck.”
  • My response, “Who have you applied to? Did you follow up with a phone call or note?”
  • Their response is usually “no”.
  • “Have you reched out to your network, a recruiter or your Career Services department?
  • “No”
  • “It’s unlikely you’ll find the career your looking for just by sending out applications like everyone else. You need to mix it up.”
  • “I don’t have time to do that”
  • “How much time did you spend sending out all those applications.”
  • “It took all day.”
  • “Try spending at least half that time talking to people>”
  • “If I do that how will I get all those applications done?”

They have spent so much of their job seeking time online, sending out applications into the black hole of the internet that they can’t even remember who they’ve applied to or for what positions. Wasted time! That’s like making fried green tomatoes with just cornmeal or flour. It won’t stick and as soon as you put it into the grease it all floats away until you have a mushy mess. You need the egg in the batter and the seasonings; you need to make sure the grease is hot so you get a quick bonding of the mixture to the vegetable. And without the secret sauce, it will just taste like everyone else’s, and you’ll be lost in the unmemorable sea of forgetfulness.

Just like cooking your job search has several ingredients that need to be used in proper proportion. You need to create the environment where your ingredients will be received and you must have a secret sauce, for those who haven’t caught onto the analogy…the sauce is your resume. Your resume is what makes you uniquely you, it’s what helps you stand out from the sea of other applicants. It’s what makes you memorable and keeps your customers coming back for more.

Mix your ingredients carefully, the majority should be made up of actual interpersonal contact; your network, your phone calls, dropping off your resume in person, your follow up. Too many folks use the internet as the base of their recipe; and just like using too much salt, the flavor of your batter will be ruined and you’ll have to start all over again.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.

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Does Modality Matter?

networking

How many online applications have you filled out and submitted recently? Of those how many have you heard back from?

Is it rocket science?

Do you get a higher return rate from:

  • Online applications?
  • Applying in person?
  • Your personal network?
  • Your professional network?

Yes, I placed them in that order for a reason. Most folks spend the majority of their time performing activities from the top of this list, when in fact, you get the best return off the activities from the bottom. In your jo search as well as in business, in general, it really is often who you know.

In my world of finding jobs for graduates, the simple fact is, having someone in your corner ALWAYS get you better results than going it alone. Submitting 100 online applications will take longer and yeild fewer results than walking in and dropping off 20 applications in person. Even networking through friends and colleagues; vendors and clients can yield you 50% higher results, (aka interviews) than just dropping off applications/resumes.

Do the math, should you spend your time submitting appications into the black hole of the internet hoping they may reach a nameless, faceless person or should you spend your time leveraging the people you know?

The answer is clear; companies and organizations have yet to find the silver bullet of successful online recruitment. Yet more and more companies pop up each day clamining they have the answer, but they don’t. Nothing beats personal contact. Why do you think organizations spend literally billions each year on retention, recruitmet and onboarding programs? Because finding the right fit is hard, doing it over the internet is even harder. They may have a greater number of applicants, but are they the right applicants? No one has found an effective way to measure this.

If you leave this article with one pearl of wisdom, I hope it’s this; make it personal! Get others to speak on your behalf, let your personality shine, be memorable and don’t expect the internet to care about your job search results, because it won’t. Your friends, your connections, your network will care.

So to answer my initial question, yes modality matters. The internet is wonderful modality for making initial connections, however it won’t be as effective with your job search as will as a few connections and a sprinkle of personal contact.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.

Help A Shark Ate My Resume!

interview etiquett

I had to put a catchy title out to get your attention. The truth is, everyone has an opinion about interviewing etiquette, which do you follow. I had an extraordinary high school social studies teacher and my junior year he gave me a great piece of advice. “Betsy”, he said, “the world is full of people with opinions. One thing you have to understand, opinions are like butt holes (sorry couldn’t use the real word), everyone has one and they usually all stink.” Dressing for an interview is not rocket science, nor is behaving like a professional. However several of my colleagues felt this was an area that may need further discussion so here we go.

  • Always arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Always leave your cell phone in the car not in your purse/pocket/portfolio.
  • Only 1 in 4 job seekers bring a portfolio to an interview. If you don’t’ have one, get one.
  • Smile!
  • Look everyone you meet in the eye, shake their hands firmly and speak clearly.
  • You have never had a bad boss, co-worker, customer, company or experience with a previous employer.

If you have spent more time figuring out your outfit than you’ve spent researching the company, you’re already in trouble. Make sure you google the organization, look up their mission and vision and any recent news about them. Never go into an interview with out at least three very thoughtful questions to ask the hiring manager that aren’t, salary, schedule or vacation centric. Always, always have a way to relate a personal connection you have to their organization.

  • There is a difference between interview shoes and Friday night shoes. Please differentiate!
  • When you look in the mirror after you’ve dressed for the interview and think, “dang I look cute”, it’s probably not the right outfit.
  • Sensible shoes, minimal jewelry and make up, hair out of your face, teeth brushed, deodorant on and no perfume.
  • If you think your skirt may be too short, it is.
  • If you think your shirt may be too low cut, it is.
  • If you question any part of your ensemble, there is a reason, listen to your inner self and make the right decision.

An interview is a time to shine. You want the hiring manager to see you for the diamond that you are; you also want them to be able to visualize you actually doing the job. If any part of what you say or what you wear makes them question how you will fit into their world, game over. No matter how casual the interview may feel, never let your guard down for a minute. Reframe all questions in a positive way. Only wear an outfit your mother would approve of and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your father to hear come out of your mouth.

Again, it’s not rocket science, its common sense. Say please, and thank you, yes ma’am and yes sir. Shake hands, smile and follow up with a thank you note within 3-days. If you can take just these few tips with you to the interview, then you will be playing head and shoulders above your competition.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

One Size Does Not Fit All

untitled

Should my resume have an objective statement? Should it be in chronological order or reverse chronological order? Does my education go at the top or the bottom? Should my skills section include bullet points or a paragraph? How long should my cover letter be, should it include my personal mission statement?

I could go on and on with a never ending list of questions regarding the content, format, flow and chronology of your resume. There was a time when resumes were expected to conform to a somewhat specific format; a formulaic (if not archaic) standard of content inclusion and order. That is no longer the case. Depending on the research, a hiring manager can take anywhere from 3-12 seconds to review your resume. I’m of the mind that the higher level the position the longer they’ll spend initially reviewing your resume. However that being said, you need to think of your resume as a piece of real estate; it’s all about location, location, location.

If the job description is heavy on the bulleted technical skills; then your bulleted list of technical skills should take up the best real estate on your resume. If there is heavy weight given to your educational degrees or requirements, then that information should reside in the prime location. If the position requires writing samples, your objective statement and cover letter must be clear, concise and superbly written. I give very similar advice to students/graduates preparing for an interview. If the hiring manager is excited, mirror their enthusiasm. Look to your audience for your queues.

You can glean a lot of relevant information from a job posting/description.

  • Required skills – these are your key words.
  • Results Oriented & Proven Track Record – what success have you achieved at previous positions?
  • Relevant work experience – what positions have you held with transferrable skills?
  • Bachelor’s /Master’s Degree Required – make sure it’s front and center not buried on page 2.
  • Progressively responsible positions – not reverse chronological order.

I don’t claim to be the end all be all of the resume writing world. Doubtless there are many who would disagree with me on some points; however there is one area which I think we’ll all agree. The days of a one size fits all resume are gone. If you are not tailoring your resume for the job, industry, level and audience, the chances you will get the call are greatly diminished. Someone out there is taking the time upfront to perfect their image as the ideal candidate, are you?

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

Graduates- don’t wait till after graduation to start the job hunt! Start now!

8-29-13 graduates...

I’m always surprised to get a call from a graduate that I haven’t heard from in months only to find out they are not working, have not been working, and haven’t even begun the career search.

“How have you been?”

“Fine thanks.”

“What have you been up to?”

“I took a break from the job hunt after graduation, but now I’m ready to start looking.”

“Did you keep in touch with your intern/extern supervisor?”

“No. I kinda just wanted to give my brain a rest after school.”

“Have you started applying with any of the employers you met with while in school?”

“No.”

“Do you have an idea where you’d like to work?”

“No. I just want a job. Can you help?”

Unfortunately, this conversation is far from infrequent. It doesn’t seem to matter how often I inform my students they need to strike while the iron is hot; inevitably, there are those who feel a 6-month vacation is not going to affect their chances of gainful employment. Even worse, they don’t feel the education they worked so hard for adds enough value to their skill set to obtain a career over a job.

WAKE UP! The country is full of people just looking for a job. We live in a country running short on skilled, educated workers, and you just want a job? Why did you go to college? Why did you spend all that time begging, stealing, and borrowing all that money to obtain your degree? Surely it wasn’t to get just a job?

If you are looking ahead at your graduation within the next 6-12 months, you should already;

  • Have a list of employers you want to work for.
  • Have a list of contact at those employers.
  • Know how your training/education will add value to their organization.
  • Have a kick butt resume.
  • Have a stellar cover letter.
  • 3-5 professional references all lined up.
  • Letters of recommendation from your instructors, supervisors, volunteer coordinators, etc.

Last but, by no means, least you must have enthusiasm, ambition, and determination to not quit until you obtain the career you dreamt about when you started your educational journey.

  • Don’t take 6-months off. Don’t take 6-minutes off.
  • Don’t ignore your resources who are there to help you.
  • And by no means, don’t ever underestimate the power of your education.

    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
    ~Nelson Mandella

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

Is Interviewing a Sensory Experience – Part 1 of 5

sensory overload

How much time do you spend getting ready for an interview? When I ask my students this question, the normal answer is a tirade upon how long it took for them to pick out an outfit (the winner thus far is two weeks), picking the right hair style and make up, and coordinating shoes and lip gloss. For my male students, it’s the Shakespearian, “To iron or not to iron” conundrum.

What many people fail to realize is that an interview, believe it or not, is a smorgasbord of sensory experiences. The interview encompasses all of your senses and after taking a minute to review them, you may be surprised how missing just one can cost you the job.

This is the first part of a series regarding the five senses of an interview.

Let’s take these one at a time…

Sight – This, of course, is the most obvious; it takes into consideration… your clothes, shoes, jewelry, make up, hair, etc. It also takes into consideration your walk, your smile, your cell phone, your watch, eye contact, etc. One of the things that novice and professional job candidates alike fail to recognize is that sight encompasses ALOT!

  • Are you talking on your cell phone when you walk in the door? BAD
  • Do you keep checking your cell phone or watch? BAD
  • Are you standing up straight and presenting a professional confident demeanor? GOOD
  • Do you look people in the eye when you introduce yourself and shake their hand? GOOD
  • When you are sitting waiting for the interview to begin, are you sitting up straight? GOOD

When I’m working with students to hone in on their soft skills, especially their interview skills, I tell them the purpose of the interview is to make sure that the hiring manager can actually visualize them doing the job. You never know what kind of prejudices the employer may have, so you want to present a clean, professional slate that they can see fitting into their culture. If you have tattoos, facial piercings, stiletto heels, low cut tops, high cut skirts, wrinkled clothes, and messy hair…what does that say about you and the image their organization is trying to present? Yes you may look great, for Friday night, but not for Monday morning.

Remember to think of the job you want and dress for it: not too much, not too little, but just right. Give yourself the best foot forward to get the job, and then let YOU shine through. An interview is not the time to make a social political statement; it’s the time to show the employer you are the best fit in skills, culture, and professionalism.

  • When in doubt, look in the mirror. If you think your skirt may be too short or your top too low…it probably is. Change it.
  • If you’re wondering, “Iron or not to iron,” throw it in the dryer till it’s flat.
  • Is your make up Friday night fresh or Monday morning professional? Fix it.
  • Can you hear your shoes or jewelry coming down the hall? Change them.
  • If you are expecting a call that’s so important you have to take your cell in with you…Reschedule the interview.
  • Take a look in the mirror, and ask one simple question: “Would I hire me?”

Take a deep breath, walk into the office, smile, introduce yourself with confidence, look them in the eye, and let them know you are the best person for the job.

Check back on Tuesday, August 13th where I’ll discuss how it’s not your nose but theirs that matters.

Interview? Why? I’m a college graduate!

7-3-13 Why Interview

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

Summertime is here! So is the end of most people’s job search…

summerjobs

June is the end of most educational institutions fiscal year. Graduates are pouring out the doors of academe and jumping in full force to their job searches…NOT! I can’t tell you how many graduates I speak with in June, July and August who tell me that they are going to take the summer off from their job search; “no one is hiring anyway”. Wrong! The summer months may seem like a good time to slow down or stop your career search, but it’s not.

According to a recent article on mashable.com “8 Reasons Why Summer Is a Great Time to Job Hunt” there is a myth out there…much too prevalent, that summertime is a bad time to job search. If you just do a quick monster or CareerBuilder search you’ll see that contrary to popular believe there is as much, if not more hiring going on during the summer. That research does not bring into account the up to 80% of hidden job market jobs that are out there looming as well.

Summer is not the time to slow down your job search but to heat it up. Take advantage of the fact that so many other job seekers are falling into the “no one’s hiring right now” mind set and get a step ahead.

Here are a few simple tips provided by Barbara Safani in her recent article on AOLJobs.com.

1. People do more entertaining in the summer months; use these opportunities to network your network. Who do you know? Who do they know?

2. Family obligations can be reduced during the summer months. Use this time wisely, get up earlier, look at the job boards, make some phone calls, go to networking events. You’ll see the competition you had two months ago…has gone on vacation.

3. Most of your fellow graduates are headed to the beach so the competition for the jobs out there will be greatly decreased. It’s much easier to stand out as one of 10 then one of 100 or 1000.

4. Employers will be impressed by the fact you are diligently working to find your career not the best new hang out.

Summer has traditionally been the time to relax, have fun and enjoy the weather. A time to slow down and smell the roses; however, remember what your professors, career services advisor and parents told you…getting a job is a full-time job. The longer you wait to start your career, the harder you will find it. Literally tens of thousands of graduates are pouring into the job market at the same time as you. Most will wait to start looking, taking a break to kick up their heels and enjoy some summertime fun. If you take the opportunity to beat them to the punch, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank as you begin your Christmas shopping while they are still wondering how to pay the next month’s rent.

Help I need a new career but I don’t know what I want to do?

career change2I’m sure that during the course of your career, day, week, month, fiscal year…you have had one coworker make this comment. They don’t feel fulfilled in their current role, for many different kinds of reasons. They want to make a change but don’t know where to start. I have a colleague in this dilemma currently. She is a very energetic, talented, educated and highly skilled young woman with great work experience. But like many of us her career has taken some turns and her work history is more like the Great Wall of China than the I10 from AZ to CA. It took some turns and at times seemed to have little direction. However she is where she is and would like to have some direction before she sets off on her next road trip.

In one of our many conversations I began to ask her some very basic questions. And after she answered I had to respond, “No even more basic than that”.

1. What do you like to do?
2. What makes you really happy?
3. What are your strengths?
4. What do you feel are your greatest opportunities for development (fancy way of asking what are your weaknesses)?
5. Where do you want to live?
6. Is there a particular field or industry that inspires or intrigues you?
7. Do you have friends, family that you really look up to and what do they do?
8. When you think of people that really inspire you, what about them do you admire?
9. When you chose your major in college, why did you chose it and how do you feel about it now?
10.(Here’s the kicker) When you think of your life 5-10 years down the road…how do you see yourself?

Yes these questions are basic inventory questions. Some of which you may get asked in an interview, there is a reason for that! Many of us aren’t born with the innate desire to do just one thing in life. Some are, some aren’t…for those of us who are in the latter category, we have a tendency to follow our career path like The Great Wall with all its twists and turns. We make decisions as they come along, not giving a whole lot of thought to the Plan.

Working with college students, especially those who are just getting started, I have a very standard speech. I ask lots of questions, many I’ve listed above. Mostly I tell them that choosing a major is not dissimilar to purchasing a home. A house is not a piece of disposable property. It’s something you are going to spend a lot of time in, money on and energy with. If it isn’t going to last you through your 5-year plan (unless you’re a house flipper) you may want to keep looking. We need to think of our educational/career choices the same way. We need to look down the road to where we want to be. Why do we admire the people we do, what they have we don’t, how we get there, what really makes us happy and drives us to perform. If you can’t really answer these questions honestly, well honestly it’s not the best time for you to be looking for a new opportunity.

There are literally hundreds of articles being written and published on the risks involved with making a career change; especially in the face of high unemployment and a recent recession. There are some very common threads with the advice given; and believe it or not they are pretty much in line with the questions I asked my coworker. In addition to your employment inventory; make an assessment of the possible risks that may be involved with making a career change.

I think what my coworker discovered through this exercise is that it isn’t a new career she needs; it’s direction. Her job isn’t the challenge; her lack of a real plan for her future, where she wants to be not only professionally but personally is the issue. Now, that may mean a change for her in the future, but it will be one born of a plan and for a purpose.

Yes there are times when a career change is what’s needed to achieve that plan. I have made a couple myself; one born of frustration without real purpose and one made with intent, thought and commitment to my future. I am where I am today because of the latter, despite the first.

So the next time someone you know asks you the “I need to do something but I’m not sure what to do” question…remember, location, location, location. Don’t make the investment without the inventory, without real thought of the effect on the future. My mom once told me, “when you don’t know what to do…don’t do anything”. Made no sense at the time but now I live by it. How often do we have the desire to do something, when the best course of action is to sit tight, evaluate, plan and when appropriate, execute.

“When you don’t know what to do…don’t do anything.” Thanks Mom!

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