The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 5

This is the fifth post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

5th deadly sin: not preparing for a job interview

You read our blog posts about the first four deadly sins of job searching, followed our advice, and scored a job interview. Congratulations! Now, don’t go out and celebrate the achievement on the night before. Instead, use that time to prepare.

Why prepare for a job interview?

After all, this is all about you, and you know yourself pretty well, right? Not quite: the job interview is about you in relation to the job you are applying for and how you can benefit that company in that specific position. In order to be at your peak performance, you need to prepare the following:

Your clothes

Research the organizations’ dress code and dress accordingly. Check out your interview clothes a few days before, if they need dry cleaning you don’t want to find that out the morning of your interview. If it has been a while since your last job interview and you don’t wear your interview clothes frequently, try them on. They might not fit anymore or be out of style.

Your route to the interview location

Check out where you are going. If you are taking public transportation, check the schedule. If you are driving, search for the best route, how long it takes, if there is construction, etc.  After all, one of the biggest interview blunders is being late!

Research the company and the role you are applying for

You want to know everything about the company you possibly can. If you know somebody that works there already, talk to them. At the very least you need to thoroughly check out their website. Ideally you also follow them on social media and research their business information in company databases such as ReferenceUSA.

Your answers

This is obviously the big one. Most job interviews will be conducted using behavioral questions. Behavioral questions are those that ask about real life examples from your work history or hypothetical scenarios common in your field. For example: “Tell me about a situation with a difficult co-worker and how you resolved it” or “An angry client calls and accuses you of giving him the wrong information. What do you do?”. It is very hard to come up with good answers to those kinds of questions on the spot. You need to take time and prepare them.

The best way to answer behavioral questions is the STAR methodSituation/Task, Action, Result. You want to tell the interviewer the situation or task you were faced with, the action you took to resolve that situation and the result from your action. Google the most common behavioral questions and write down your own best answer to each of them. Then practice them until you can present them naturally and with ease. You also want to record yourself. This way you can see your facial expressions and body language.

If you need help with interview preparation, contact the Career Center at 225-231-3733. We have many interview prep materials for you to practice and will conduct mock interviews, which we can tape if you like.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 4

This is the fourth post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

4th deadly sin: an unmanaged and unmonitored social media presence

If you followed the advice of our blog posts about the first three deadly sins of job searching,  you now know what you want and what you can contribute, you have a networking strategy in place, and you have a well-written resume. Great, well done! You are ready to get the word out to your network and to recruiters that you are on the market. Yet despite good qualifications, you get no leads or interviews.

Have you monitored your social media presence lately?
Is your social media presence holding you back? You want to be on social media while job searching! Social media platforms can be of tremendous help in finding a job. But your presence can also cost you the job if not managed carefully. The vast majority of recruiters and/or hiring manager will check you out on the internet!

LinkedIn: If you are in a professional career, you need a LinkedIn profile. The profile needs to be complete, including a professional picture. All LinkedIn content needs to be professional; this is not the place for your vacation pics or party exploits. For more information on LinkedIn see our previous post.
Facebook: If you use Facebook exclusively for private non-professional content, make sure to lock it down and set your privacy settings to the most restrictive settings possible. Don’t let anybody tag you in pictures; don’t let anybody post anything to your timeline. Delete old profile pics. Don’t post incriminating pictures, and be careful about what you post or articles you share or like. Beware of public groups. Despite all these potential negatives, Facebook can be a good networking tool.
Twitter: Twitter is inherently public. So adjust your strategy while job searching. If you follow any divisive or questionable groups or organizations, drop them while you are on the search. Also refrain from commenting on, posting, or retweeting such content. Do not share or retweet incriminating pictures of any kind. Do use Twitter to follow, comment on, engage in and retweet content that is highly relevant to the job you are looking for.
Instagram: Again, beware of the pictures you post, what you like and comment on. Do use Instagram to post pictures, follow, and engage in content and organizations that support your job search and show your interest in the subject matter.

Personal Branding
Ideally you want to use all your social media accounts for a branding campaign. You know what kind of job you are looking for and you know the kinds of organizations you’d most like to work with. Now you can utilize social media to learn as much as possible about these organizations and engage with them. Follow their social media presence, engage with and comment on their posts, post relevant content on your own feeds, and use targeted hashtags. If you do this well, maybe your next job will find you.

If you need assistance in creating LinkedIn profiles or learning about social media for the job search, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 3

This is the third post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

3rd deadly sin: Resume Blunders

Regardless of what job you are looking for, you now need a resume. No big deal you think, there are plenty of templates available on the internet and if those don’t work out I’ll hire a resume writer. Let’s see what could go wrong:

1st blunderone resume fits all. No, it usually doesn’t. Ideally you want to adjust your resume to each job you are applying for. Most times, it just needs little tweaks and not major rewrites.  If you are applying through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), each resume needs to contain as many of the keywords in the job description as possible to make it through the ATS. Those keywords will differ from job to job.

2nd blunder – an unfocused resume. You have done a lot of good work in your life and you want every potential employer to see all you can do. That’s understandable, but you don’t want to drown the reader in irrelevant information. Be strategic about what you include in your resume. You want to stress those parts of your experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for and minimize the experience that is not relevant. You also don’t want to go back too far in time. Normally going back about 15 years is customary. Resume space is at a premium; use it wisely. The reader will only spend a few seconds skimming it. Those few seconds need to be enough to convey that you have what they are looking for.

3rd blunder – no accomplishments. Everybody has accomplishments! Many job searchers don’t recognize their accomplishments and see it as “well, that’s just part of my job”. Don’t sell yourself short! Talk to colleagues and friends (or resume writers and career coaches) and let them help you identify what you do well. Then include those accomplishments in your resume.

4th blunder – not proofreading your resume. You have created a top notch resume, focused and filled with relevant accomplishments and keywords. You have read it a thousand times, so it must be okay, right? Too often it’s not. After working on a document for a while, you are not able to recognize the little typos and mistakes. Give your resume to a friend to proofread!!! Grammatical mistakes and typos will usually get you screened out right away. Recruiters will interpret it as carelessness.

5th blunder – not vetting a professional resume writer. Resume writing is hard, so you decide to hire a professional resume writer. There are a lot of excellent resume writers out there. There are even more poor ones! We have seen our share of poorly written resumes that job seekers have paid good money for! Anybody can call themselves a resume writer, so do your research. As with most things, word of mouth is best. Ask friends if they have been successful with a resume written by a specific resume writer. Also, check the resume-writer’s credentials. There are a number of certifications that resume writers can attain. Some of the best are:

  • MRW – Master Resume Writer: only very experienced resume writers get this credential.
  • ACRW – Academy Certified Resume Writer: this credential is given after a comprehensive certification class, exam and document submission for review.
  • CPRW – Certified Professional Resume Writer: resume writers have to pass a test and submit a resume for review.

Resume writing includes substantial communication between the writer and the job seeker. If your resume writer does not ask you many questions, or only asks you to complete a standard written form and then doesn’t talk to you again, beware.

You can learn more details about resumes in our previous blog posts on the topic. If you need assistance in creating a resume, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help (we actually have two Certified Professional Resume Writers on staff). More information on resumes and a number of templates can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 2

This is the second post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the entire series here.

2nd deadly sin: An unfocused search: “I just want a job, any job”

You’ve been job searching unsuccessfully for a while and are getting desperate. When talking to your contacts, you tell them you just need a job, any job, because any income is better than no income. Great, your friend Joe tells you about a lead he has for you. His friend Jane owns a janitorial company and they need an evening supervisor. Joe tells Jane about you and facilitates a meeting. Perfect! But wait –  you don’t want to work in janitorial services, that is not your field, and you don’t want to work nights. You have no interest in this job, which is what you tell Joe. What just happened? Joe lost face with Jane and you burned a bridge with Joe. Both are unlikely to help you in your search again. After all, you told Joe “any job” would be fine.

Most people are happy to help. But you want to make it easy for them to help you effectively. When you talk to people about looking for a new job, let them know what kind of position you are looking for and what you can contribute to your future employer. It could sound something like this: “I’m an experienced HR Generalist with special expertise in employee relations and recruiting. I help companies avoid legal proceedings by proactively addressing possible legal compliance issues. I also enjoy recruiting and sourcing the best possible candidates for my company. Ideally I would like to work in an industrial setting here in the area, like a chemical plant or industrial construction company. I have experience recruiting skilled craft professionals and could make an immediate contribution”. Now Joe would know not to ask Jane for a job for you. Instead he would concentrate on his contacts in the chemical and industrial construction industries, as well as in Human Resources, and facilitate meetings with them.

Therefore, before you start your job search, you need to be clear about:

  • Your skills, strengths, and values
  • What kind of position you are looking for
  • How you will help a future employer and what you will contribute
  • What kind of work environment you would enjoy most

Now that you are clear about all of the above, you can start a targeted job search, identify the sources that are most likely to yield the best leads, and strategically contact your network.

If you need help assessing your skills and values, or devising an efficient job search or networking strategy, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help. More information on networking and informational interviewing can be found at The Muse.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 1

This is the first post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

1st deadly sin: Your job search strategy consists of only searching online and newspaper ads

You find yourself out of a job and turn to what has worked for you in the past. After all, the last time you looked for a job, you grabbed the Sunday paper, found an ad in your field, sent a resume, went on the interview, and got the job. The problem is, that strategy stopped being efficient years ago. While you still find job ads in the Sunday newspaper, they have mostly migrated online. The online version of your local paper will still have job ads. Add to that a large number of online job boards, such as Indeed, Ziprecruiter, and Craigslist, plus local and niche job boards. That should give you plenty of jobs to choose from…..so you think.

While you will find plenty of positions advertised on the internet, what’s your actual chance of landing a job this way? Many sources say: around 5%.

Here are some of the reasons why your chances of success applying for jobs online are so low:

  • Only around 20% of all open positions are advertised online. The other 80% of open positions are filled through referrals and networking! So, if your entire job search consists of applying online, you are competing for only 20% of available jobs.
  • For non-technical positions it is not at all unusual for 200 or 300 people to apply. That’s a lot of competition.
  • Your application is received by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), the software the company uses to manage their recruiting function. The software often screens your resume and application before a human eye will see it. It uses keyword matches. If your resume does not contain the right keywords, you’re sorted out and your application will never be seen by a human.
  • If a human recruiter screens your resume, they will look at it for only a few seconds due to the large number of applicants. They will not read your documents word for word!
  • Due to the keyword-matching mechanism, the only applicants who will make it through are those who have the exact experience and skills described in the ad. If you are a career changer or want to change industries, you are very unlikely to make it through.

It is still possible to find a job through online ads. Just use it as one of several approaches to job search, not your only one! Devote much more time to networking and informational interviewing in order to open up the 80% of open positions that constitute the hidden job market and are never advertised.

If you need help devising an efficient job search or networking strategy, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733; we can help. More information on networking and informational interviewing can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak