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7 Job Search Do’s and Don’ts

 

DON’T send a cover letter with “To Whom it May Concern”. It portends laziness and lack of interest.

DO the research to find the name of the person responsible for hiring.

 

DON’T use “References Available on Request” on your résumé.

DO use a quote from your performance appraisal or a testimonial that highlights your value.

 

DON’T replicate your job description when developing your résumé.

DO include powerful accomplishment-based statements that address the employer’s buying motivators or needs.

 

DON’T spend too much of your job search hours on the computer.

DO arrange more face time with people in your network.

 

DON’T send a generic Thank-you note after the interview.

DO send one that recaps key elements of the discussion and reiterates your interest in the position.

 

DON’T ask for a job at an informational interview.

DO ask for one or two names they recommend you contact.

 

DON’T relate your life story when asked “Tell me about yourself”.

DO talk about your education, work history, and what you have recently done for your company.

 

 

Image Credit: Dirjournal.com

It’s a Business Card…It’s a Resume…It’s a QR Code

It is (or used to be) the norm that a business card would include a name, title, phone number, email address, website and sometimes a tagline. That was yesterday. Today, in addition to the elements mentioned, the business card could contain one’s elevator pitch, branding statement or mini resume, thanks to the arrival of the QR (or Quick Response) Code.

A QR Code is a collection of symbols that when scanned by someone’s mobile device provides more detailed information about an individual. See the sample below which was created from my LinkedIn Profile using Pingtags:

 

 

As trendy as a QR Code may be, it could present a challenge to those without a  barcode scanner or mobile device with a QR Reader App. That said, from a job search or business perspective, it could be seen as another way for someone to set him or herself apart from their competitors and enhance their brand. What will they think of next?

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Related Website: Skanz

Can My Dad Come to the Interview With Me?

 

When my son was in high school I often told him that if he went away to college, I would be moving next door. He hasn’t moved away, so I have no need to do that. That said, most of us as parents are very protective of our children and sometimes we go way overboard and become known as ‘helicopter parents’ – always hovering around! Of course, this can sometimes have a negative impact on the children, especially when they are in their early adult years.

 

In a recent survey of Executives by Officeteam, they witnessed some unusual parental behaviours:

  • “One parent wanted to sit in during the interview.”
  • “A parent called a politician to push me to hire his son.”
  • “A mother submitted her daughter’s resume on her behalf.”
  • “Someone stopped an employer at a grocery store to ask that person to hire her child.”
  • “A parent called to ask about a job applicant’s work schedule and salary.”
  • “A parent called during the interview to try to push me to hire her daughter.”
  • “I received a call from a father asking about the status of his son’s application.”
  • “A parent came by my desk and told me that he expected his daughter to get preference for a position since he was a manager at the company.”
  • “A mother called to ask how her child did in the job interview.”
  • “A parent called to find out why we did not hire her son and why we felt he was not qualified.”

Whether you are a helicopter parent or not, these five tips from Officeteam will equip you to help your son or daughter navigate the job search maze:

 

1. Branch out. Networking is still one of the best ways to find a job. Your friends and colleagues can help set up introductory meetings with employers and alert your job-seeking child to opportunities.

2. Give it another look. Review their resume and cover letter. Most times you can spot typos and other errors and make sure the most valuable information is included.

3. Do a test run. Offer to conduct mock interviews with them to practice responses to common questions. Give them constructive feedback on their answers and delivery.

4. Weigh the options. Offer to be their sounding board about potential opportunities. You can provide a different perspective and bring up points they could consider in their decision.

5. Offer encouragement. Looking for a job can be difficult, and it’s important to remain positive. Offer your parental advice and support throughout the process to keep them on track.

 

Read the full Officeteam article here

How to Address Gaps in Your Employment

Several of my clients are professional immigrants, aka Internationally Educated Professionals. While they are trying to navigate and understand the job search maze, they are either not working or they are working in survival jobs. Invariably, these jobs are not related to their professions, and some prefer not to mention such jobs on their resumes. Those who haven’t yet found a job face the same challenge – how to account for their time away from the job market.

In a recent survey, a group of Canadian HR professionals and hiring managers were asked “How should candidates address gaps in their employment history?” Nearly thirty-six percent (35.9%) said they should include a statement in the ‘work experience’ section and twenty-three percent (23.4%) indicated that they should give an explanation in a cover letter. Sixteen percent (15.6%) said that candidates should explain (in a chronological resume) where the gap occurred, or they should fill the gap with professional development. From this statistic, it is safe to conclude that 75% of respondents want you to account for the gap.

While keeping the hiring managers’ preferences in mind, here are some additional ways to compensate for, or explain gaps in your employment:

  1. Prepare to tell stories about what you have learned in the survival job without focusing on the title
  2. Register with employment agencies to get some short-term assignments, or look for freelance projects
  3. Use the functional resume format to emphasize notable skills and accomplishments gained from a number of jobs
  4. Arrange practice interview sessions with a family member or friend and make sure you are prepared to answer the ‘gap’ question
  5. Reflect on some activities you have been involved in and see if you can link those activities to the company’s business strategy
  6. Remind yourself that unpaid work is ‘experience’
  7. Attend industry-related seminars, engage in professional development activities or gain an additional certification

Employers understand that there are various reasons why someone may have gaps in his or her employment history. Just be honest about it, and always steer the conversation back to the value benefits they would derive from having you on board.

 

 

Is There Value in a Cover Letter?

Henry Ford said, Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” The same hold true for cover letters – whether you send one or not, you are right, or maybe! It is quite common to hear that 50 per cent of recruiters and hiring managers do not read cover letters; they go straight to the resume. Because of this, many job seekers just submit a résumé. Or, an ad asks to ‘fax your résumé’ and the job seeker faxes only the résumé. They rarely think about the other 50 per cent of recruiters who do read cover letters.

I advise job seekers to always include a cover letter. It’s better to include one and it’s not read than to omit it, and it misses the eyes of the other 50 per cent who do read them.

Recently, I was reading a blog post about cover letters in the Harvard Business Review, and the conversation was centred around cover letters! Should one be included with the résumé? This post garnered a lot of responses for and against. The writer, David Silverman, said that there were really only a few times to use a cover letter:

  1. When you know the name of the person hiring
  2. When you know something about the job requirement
  3. When you’ve been personally referred (which might include 1 and 2)

While most people agreed with the three reasons he stated, many of us were not impressed with the letter he quoted as being “The best cover letter I ever received.” It was no different, in my opinion, from a generic cover letter addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam”.

That said, one comment that got my attention was from a hiring manager. He was responding to comment by another individual, and wrote , “I would have to respectfully disagree with the comment that cover letters are a waste of time. A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention. And this is the real secret: the cover letter HAS to be well-written and it HAS to be targeted to my specific opening.

I couldn’t have said it better: “A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention.” In a survey I conducted recently with Canadian HR managers and recruiters, thirty eight percent (38.1%) said candidates must submit a cover letter for each application while thirty percent (30.2%) had no preference. Approximately sixteen percent (15.9%) said they could be useful for information not included on the resume if they add value.

What are your thoughts? Is there value in a cover letter? Join the debate by commenting below:

Source:

http://blogs.hbr.org/silverman/2009/06/the-best-cover-letter.html

Social Media Tools for Job Search is not Popular with Canadians

In a survey conducted by The Wright Career Solution in 2010, 65.6 percent of hiring managers and recruiters use social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) to look for candidates, yet in another survey by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), almost half (46%), of Canadians report that they do not use, nor are they interested in using social media to advance their career goals. What a disconnect!

Get a copy of The Wright Career Solution’s report here: Survey Results of Canadian Hiring Managers and CERIC’s at  Public Perception of Career Development and the Workplace.

Feel free to add your thoughts here

Embarrassing Moments at Work: Offer Letter Sent to the Wrong Candidate

OfficeTeam recently conducted a survey asking executives to recount their most embarrassing moments. One fell asleep while interviewing a candidate, another sent the offer letter to the wrong candidate, and yet another answered the phone using the wrong company name. One even went to work with two different shoes on. I can relate to that as it happened to me years ago one dark winter morning.

These moments can happen to just about anyone, and while the executive may be forgiven, as a candidate vying for that coveted position, you might not be so fortunate. That embarrassing mistake could cost you the job of your dreams.

Here are four tips from OfficeTeam to help you rebound from embarrassing mishaps:

1. Remain calm. It’s easy to lose your nerves after a slipup, but try to keep your composure. Take a deep breath and collect yourself.

2. Own up. Acknowledging a blunder before someone else does can alleviate any awkward tension that may arise. If appropriate, address the situation in a humorous way to make everyone feel more at ease.

3. Make amends. If your accident affected another person, immediately apologize and take steps to ensure a similar mistake does not happen again.

4. Move on. Rather than dwell on a misstep, focus on getting back on track. The faster you recover, the less memorable the incident will be.

What has been an embarrassing moment for you? Share it here.

*Post courtesy of OfficeTeam

6 Job Search Tips from Ted Williams – “The Homeless Man with a Golden Voice”

Have you heard of Ted Williams? He is the homeless man whose Youtube video has captured the hearts of millions of people around the world, thanks to a Columbus Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III.

Williams is an ex-radio announcer who fell on hard times, but two years ago he changed his lifestyle and began looking for help and for work. Since the Youtube video went viral, he has received so many job offers that he is still trying to determine which offer to take.

As a job seeker, what can you learn from Ted?

1.       Know yourself and what you are good at. Although homeless, Williams knew he had (and still has) a “God-given gift of voice”.

2.       Craft a clear, concise and compelling branded message that’s unique to you. Williams’ crisp cardboard message read, “I have a God given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you and God bless. Happy holidays.”

3.       Look for opportunities to demonstrate your value proposition. Williams didn’t just hang out his cardboard sign, but he demonstrated his rich, radio-announcer delivery whenever he got a chance, and he caught Mr. Chenoweth’s attention.

4.       Follow Williams’ example and revamp your resume to make sure it has the right message that will grab attention. Notice he didn’t have a long laundry list of job descriptive statements, but a short and compelling message.

5.       Brush up on your interview skills to be ready to articulate the value you can bring to your next employer. During his subsequent TV appearances, Williams articulately demonstrated his value when asked to do impromptu voice-overs. He was ready!

6.       Never give up, even when the going gets rough. There’s light at the end of your job search tunnel.

Have you hit rock bottom in your job search? Reflect on the Ted Williams’ story, realize your circumstances are not as bad, then pick yourself up and try again!

The Business Case for Hiring & Retaining Internationally Educated Individuals

On August 17, I was privileged to share the podium with The Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Dr. Yamil Alonso, Program Coordinator for the Skills Without Borders project at the Brampton Board of Trade.

The event was an outreach to employers sponsored by COSTI Immigrant Services and the Brampton Board of Trade and titled The Business Case for Diversity: Hiring and Retaining Internationally Educated Individuals. Read a summary of my presentation in the latest issue of Career Highlights ezine, then click this link to go to the photo gallery.

Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills and Get the Salary You Deserve

Salary Negotiation

Salary negotiation is not an easy task for many people, but it’s even harder when you are a newcomer to a country. The case study below shows how a little bit of research and some coaching strategies led to job search success for one client.

My client and his family arrived in Canada two months ago – July 2010. We began working together months before he left Asia, and by the time he arrived, he had had his professional resume, cover letter and other related resources ready to begin his job search.

His first interview was in response to a job posting for a temporary position as Senior Research Advisor with a major Canadian institution. The position required a Masters Degree or a PhD, and he has the latter. After his second interview he was sent an email with a preliminary offer, but there was one glitch; the hourly rate was not quite what he was expecting. He asked me to help him prepare a negotiation strategy as he wanted to accept the offer, but at a higher pay rate.

I asked him to consider questions such as: What’s the minimum he would be willing to accept? What was most important to him – the money or the experience? How important would the experience be for him as he moves his career forward? What would he do if they stuck to, or withdrew the offer? I advised him to research the pay rate for similar positions so he would know where to start his negotiations. I also advised him to have a Plan B just in case they said they couldn’t raise the offer. He was also concerned about hours of work and benefits, considering it was a six-month temporary position. We brainstormed on how he would handle those issues if and when they came up. At the moment, the money was the sticky issue.

With all bases covered, I helped him to craft the following response:

Dear Mr. ________:

Thank you very much for your email indicating that you would like to offer me the temporary position of Senior Research Advisor. While it would be a privilege for me to work for ___________, and contribute my knowledge and experience to the position, I find the hourly rate of $24, lower than I had expected. Having met with me twice, I am sure you have recognized the value I would bring to __________. Would you consider raising the rate to $28? If you could do that, I would accept your offer.

Not only did they consider his request, but they offered him $30 per hour – $2 more per hour than he had asked for, and $6 more than their original offer.

Careful research, understanding his value, and a little bit of coaching helped him to ink the deal. He could easily have accepted the first offer on the basis that he was new to Canada and should take what was offered, but he did a few things right. First, he researched the salary range for similar positions. Second, he sought help, as this was a new arena for him, and third, he presented a counter-offer, knowing that his offer could be rejected.  He took a risk and his efforts paid off, and he will start his new job in two weeks.

What do you think of this approach? What additional advice would you have given him? Please add your comments below.