Stuck in a Career Rut? Allow us to point you in the "Wright" Career Direction

Are Thank You Letters Really Annoying?

Thank You Letter

Are thank you letters really annoying? It didn’t occur to me that they could be until very recently. A client mentioned a few days ago that a corporate recruiter with a financial institution told her that some people find thank you letters annoying. Suddenly, I was reminded that some recruiters detest cover letters and will not read them. But thank you letters?

One common school of thought has been to send a thank you letter very soon after an interview. Many recruiters, human resource professionals, and hiring managers see a thank you letter as a welcome change since most job seekers do not usually send one. In fact, most have said that sometimes such a letter, card or note, ends up being the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates.

But, that corporate recruiter could be on to something. What if some recruiters interpret the act of sending thank you letters as schmoozing? What if they do not have the time to read yet another piece of correspondence? What if such a letter won’t impact their decision? Those may be plausible, but here are some other reasons for sending a thank you letter:

  • It demonstrates common courtesy and appreciation, even if the interview didn’t go well.
  • It leaves a positive impression, and keeps the candidate on the interviewer’s radar.
  • It reiterates interest in the position (if that’s the case), and enables the candidate to recap elements of the interview that might not have been addressed effectively.
  • It could serve as a request to withdraw from further consideration if the candidate discovers that the company would not be a good fit. (That happens too!)
  • It’s an opportunity to stay engaged and build or strengthen relationships.
  • It gives the candidate a chance to stand out from their competitor. Very few people send thank you letters.

While some recruiters might not like to receive thank you letters, there are enough reasons to send one even if it’s not read.  As a matter of fact, some suggest a handwritten letter sent by snail mail is a better idea. A letter or card with someone’s name on it is difficult to be ignored.

Communications Specialist, Alexandra Franzen, (@alex_franzen) says she “wants to live in a world where emails are short, love letters are brave and every ‘thank you’ note is scribbled by hand.” Interesting!

What are your thoughts on thank you letters? Should they be sent? Share your comments below so others will benefit.

 

Why Your References’ Rave Reviews May Be a Waste of Time

Reference_1
 
Your impressive resume got you the interview. You built a good rapport with the panel and you are feeling confident that you might get the job. Just as you are getting ready to pull out your reference list in case you are asked for it, someone asks you to explain your relationship with your bosses and colleagues at each of your past workplaces.”  Wow! That’s a curve ball you were not expecting. Suddenly it seems that all that effort of prepping your references was a waste of time.

Some employers believe that this common practice of relying on “candidate-supplied super fans” is not objective and could be a waste of time. Deborah Aarts, senior editor at Profit Magazine wrote recently that “Candidate-supplied references are usually nothing more than glowing reviews”, and she has found other people who agree with her. The chairman of an executive search firm, as well as a small business owner, agree that the practice is flawed because “Candidates are only going to give you people who’ll say good things about them.  Well, one would imagine that that’s the point of having references!

While some may see reference checking as a waste of time, it is not going away. Employers still need performance verification from people with whom a candidate has worked. They want to make sure that the candidate can do the job, will do the job and will fit in with the company’s culture. Reference checking is a combination of asking the right questions of the candidate and the references, and administering appropriate assessments. This should help to determine if the candidate will be a good fit. The majority of times the process works, so it wouldn’t amount to being a waste of time.

The candidate also has a job to do. He or she should be ready to explain the highs and lows in each position, if and when asked. This is not the time to badmouth the boss (or ex-boss) or anyone else. If the relationship was not all that great, say so, but frame it in a way that’s open and honest. Something like:

I am not sure what George at Widget Inc. would say about me at this point since he wasn’t too happy when I resigned.  After three years in the department, I was bypassed for a promotion and asked to train the new hire. I decided it was time to explore other opportunities, and so I left for the position with ABC Company. That position represented not only a hike in salary, but the title and responsibilities were exactly what I was looking for. As you can see, I excelled in that role and was promoted within 12 months of joining the company.”

Most employers know that people are not perfect and that work relationships sour.  However, if a candidate is willing to be transparent and authentic and discuss the situation candidly, while focusing on lessons learned, they could end up being a better reference for themselves than anyone else could.

What are your thoughts? Is referencing checking really a waste of time?

 

Is Your Resume Telling Your Story?

This is your Monday Morning Rx…a weekly does of career inspiration (or humour)!

Is your resume telling your story

Once upon a time there was a resume that thought it was the best resume in town. It had an Objective that focused on what it wanted from the employer; followed by a series of job description statements and ended with References Available on Request. The resume looked at itself in the mirror and was quite pleased with its appearance.

Off to the job boards it went – Workopolis, Monster, Indeed, Eluta – where it applied for all the jobs that were available, whether it met the qualifications or not. It was so busy applying that it forgot to customize itself for each position. This resume then to sat and waited…and waited… for calls! It started thinking, “I have sent out so many resumes, why am I not being called for interviews?”

After a frustrating few weeks, it found the courage to call one of the employers. It was told that they received the resume but it was tossed into “File 13”. “What is File 13?” the resume asked. “The garbage bin”, the employer answered. “You did not include any achievement stories, neither did you demonstrate how the company would benefit from what you had to offer.”

As you can imagine, that was not a happy-ever-after story for this resume. It had to go back to the writing board to think of strategies to create an effective resume. Luckily it found a blog post on 5 Ways to Get Your Resume Ready for Prime Time.

Moral of the story… A resume that dresses itself up with a ‘me-focussed’ Objective; a laundry list of job descriptive statements instead of success stories, and a meaningless References Available on Request declaration, will never tell a convincing story or open doors.

While I can’t lay claim to the resume acronym below, it clearly illustrates that to capture an employer’s attention, a storytelling resume must contain:

Relevant

Experiences and

Skills, which are

Understood and

Measured by

Employers

What about your resume? Is it telling a compelling story? If not, it’s time to seek help.

Hope you received some resume inspiration from today’s dose of Monday Morning Rx.

How to Read an Interviewer’s Mind and Ace the Interview

25_interview

The main reason job seekers fear and fail at interviews is that they are attempting to read the interviewer’s mind then give answers they think the interviewer wants to hear.  This mind-guessing game will not work and is destined to fail.

Most interviewers will use Behaviour-based interview questions to find candidates who will fit the job, fit the team, and fit the company. These are open-ended questions designed to drill down and uncover evidence of the competencies needed for the position. While no one interview strategy is fool-proof, the premise behind behavioural interviews is that past behaviour predicts future success.

This is where a good understanding of the PAR/CAR/SAR interview concept will be helpful to the job seeker. If he or she knows how to develop success stories demonstrating problems faced, actions taken and results obtained, it puts them in a better position to ace the interview.

Below are five randomly selected questions followed by a sneak peek into the mind of the interviewer and ending with strategies on how to answer the questions:

QUESTION #1: Why should I consider you a strong applicant for this position? What have been your most significant achievements in your previous job?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER WANTS TO KNOW: Does this candidate understand the duties and responsibilities associated with this position? Does he have the specific skills, abilities and the right experience that demonstrate a high level of proficiency?

STRATEGY: Review the job posting very closely and identify the skills and knowledge that are critical to the position. Then offer your specific achievements that directly or closely relate to the job.

QUESTION #2: What were three of your most significant accomplishments in your previous role that directly relate to the position we are discussing today?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER WANTS TO KNOW: Is the candidate aware of the contributions she has made to the employer? Has she left a legacy that has had significant impact on the company? Did she make or save the company money?

STRATEGY: Recall and tell stories of instances where your efforts made significant impact on the company’s bottom line and where you saved the company time or money. Also mention any awards or recognitions you received for your efforts.

QUESTION #3: If I were to contact your supervisor, what would she say about your ability to complete a difficult task? What criticism would she have about your technical competence?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER WANTS TO KNOW: Is the candidate someone who accepts or resists management directives? Does he have a good work ethic? Does he willingly pitch in to help coworkers with challenges?

STRATEGY: Focus on the teamwork / collaborative competencies that directly relate to the job for which you are interviewing. Give specific examples of how you get along with your coworkers and how willing you were to go the extra mile to get the job done.

QUESTION #4: Describe a situation when you worked with someone whose work style was different from yours. What problems did you encounter? How did you resolve the problems?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER WANTS TO KNOW:  Can this candidate work with different personalities? Is she accepting of others? Is she flexible? Is she aware that there’s more than way to accomplish a task?

STRATEGY: Offer stories that demonstrate flexibility and tact when dealing with people and problems. Relate your cross-cultural experience and your respect for diversity.

QUESTION #5: Tell me about a challenge our company is facing and offer a solution. Why do you feel this solution is the answer?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER WANTS TO KNOW: Does the candidate understand our industry and can he offer some insights into potential challenges the industry is facing?

STRATEGY: Tell stories that demonstrate a thorough understanding of the industry and offer ideas for solutions. Give examples of ideas you offered that were accepted in your previous role. If you can do this you will be an extremely desirable candidate.

It’s your turn. Review the questions and leave your answers and or comments below.

 

3 B.A.D. Tips to Bolster Your Career Brand

 

Yes, this might sound like an oxymoron, but read on…

Earlier in the year, I had the privilege of speaking to members of CAMP, a networking group for internationally trained communication, advertising and marketing professionals (hence the name CAMP), in Toronto.

The title of the presentation was “You’re BAD!” Of course, it was not an attempt to characterize these individuals as BAD in the literal sense, but to remind them that they were (and are) Bold, Audicious and Dynamic, and that by virtue of the fields within which they work, they are uniquely positioned to be B.A.D. I encouraged them to forget the labels people place on them as ‘lacking Canadian work experience’, and continue believing in themselves, their successes and their dreams.

That message is also relevant to job seekers or anyone going through a career transition. If you are working on your career marketing documents (resume, cover letter, bio, online profile, and portfolio), your brand statement, elevator pitch, or whatever other job search collateral you are creating), you can adopt a B.A.D attitude. If not, you won’t be able to effectively tell your story and get hired. Reinvent yourself, have courage, and dare to do things differently! The job environment is such a competitive one that now is a good time to be BAD!

Below are several variations of the B.A.D. acronym. Choose the one that you think will bolster your career brand and adopt it as your own mantra:

  1. Be Big, Bold & Brilliant: Take that big, bold, brilliant step to get the job or promotion you have always wanted. Don’t let fear or negative comments from others prevent you from going after what you want. Claim your brilliance and allow it to shine through every area of your life.
  2. Be Ambitious, Authentic & Astute: Be ambitious. Don’t settle for anything small. Ambition drives determination, and determination or perseverance allows you to move forward and claim your place at the table. Now it’s time to take a gut check on your Authenticity: Who are you? Are you genuine, or are you wearing a mask? Are you satisfied with ‘Brand You’, and if you are, are you consistently living that brand? Your authentic answers to these questions will help you become the person you were destined to be. Be Astute. Do you have all the smarts required to succeed? If not, are you engaging in developmental activities that will help you acquire these skills?
  3. Be Dynamic, Decisive & Distinct: A Dynamic individual demonstrates confidence. Whether you are networking, interviewing or having a casual conversation, you need to exhibit an aura of confidence. Stop acting like a wimp!  Be Decisive: When you have a serious decision to make, tell yourself firmly that you are going to make it. The famous author, Napoleon Hill, said “Indecision is the seedling of fear.” In all your interactions, you need to position yourself as Decisive; someone who is willing to make a decision even at the risk of being unpopular. Any hesitancy on your part could indicate that you are unsure about yourself. You are Distinct. There is no other person like you. You have been individually picked and handcrafted for a purpose. This mindset allows you to accept the unique person you are and differentiate yourself from everyone else.

After reading all these BAD tips, images of conceit, self-centredness and egotism might be entering your mind, but reject those thoughts. This is not about bragging. It’s about standing up for yourself. Don’t downplay your accomplishments, and pass them off as being “Just a part of the job”, or “It’s no big deal”. This is the time for you to adopt a B.A.D. attitude and learn to market your distinct brand so you won’t miss out on another opportunity. Go ahead and be B.A.D.!

You can click on the photograph above to watch a 5-minute video with snippets from my presentation to CAMP. It’s from Rogers TV, so expect to see a 30-second commercial before the real piece. Watch it and let me know your thoughts!

 

“Read an E-Book Week” is March 4-10, 2012!

Don’t be surprised if from March 4-10, 2012, you see ebook authors offering their books at steep discounts, or for free. You see, March 4, is Read an E-Book Week, a practice that’s been going on for several years. The Canadian Parliament took it a step further by declaring during its 41st sitting in November 2011, that March is Read an E-Book Month. We have Canadian author, Rita Toews, to thank for that. Toews is an award-winning author and founder of E-Book Week.

If you are an author of an ebook, or you have converted your Pbook (printed version) to an ebook, you might want to participate in Read an E-book Week. Additional information can be found on E-Book Week and Smashwords. As a participating author, I am pleased to announce that No Canadian Experience, Eh?  is being offered for $10.97 from March 4-10, 2012. That’s almost a 50% savings!

No Canadian Experience, Eh?, was a ‘first-of-its-kind’ career guide (when the first edition was published in 2007), that addressed the challenges that new Canadians face during their job search. It covers not only job search basics such as resume and cover letter development; preparing for and mastering the interview; building professional networks, and accessing the hidden job market, but includes advice and strategies from top career experts on social media, personal branding, onboarding, green careers, leadership, stress management, career assessments, self-employment, consulting and time management. It also contains advice and tips from recruiters and human resources professionals who understand what employers look for in potential employees.

Make sure to click on the image below to grab your copy, at almost 50% off, before midnight on March 10, 2012.

If you would like to have access to these proven job search and career strategies contributed by 16 career experts, and condensed into this guide, then don’t miss this opportunity! Grab your copy here: Read an eBook Week!

Happy reading, and spread the word about Read an E-Book Week. Hundreds of authors are participating in a variety of ways. See Smashwords

 

*This offer will not be combined with any other offers.

 

Job Hunting Guide for Canadian Newcomers Goes Digital

Brampton, ON, February 20, 2012. The second edition of No Canadian Experience, Eh? A Career Success Guide for New Immigrants is now available as an ebook and in digital formats such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iPad. Career Coach and Author, Daisy Wright, who first published the hard copy version in 2007, said, “It is common for me to field enquiries about the book from professionals around the world who are planning to move to Canada and want to make sure they understand how to conduct an effective job search campaign on arrival in Canada”.

While the book addresses job search basics such as résumé and cover letter design, and how to prepare and master the interview, ways to build professional networks, and secrets to access the hidden job market, this edition includes contributions from 16 top career experts.

“The job search process has changed significantly since 2007, and it was important to give newcomers up-to-date tools and information that will help them compete with other job seekers in the crowded marketplace”, said Wright.

Wright says that while settling successfully in a new country is not an easy task, it is achievable if one adopts a success mindset and perseveres. “I hope that readers will recognize, and be inspired by, the consistent theme throughout the book – that perseverance and the application of various job search strategies can, in the end, provide the desired results and minimize the trauma often associated with settlement.”

The ebook can be ordered directly from the book’s website at No Canadian Experience, Smashwords, and Amazon. The regular hard copy can be ordered from Career/Life Skills Resources in Concord, Ontario as well as from CreateSpace, a division of Amazon.com. In a few months it will be available from Chapters-Indigo and Amazon.ca.

The Wright Career Solution is a full service career coaching firm providing job search strategies to individuals who are ready to move their careers forward.

– END –

 

CONTACT:  Daisy Wright
The Wright Career Solution
Phone: (647) 930-4763
E-mail Address: daisy[at]thewrightcareer.com
Websites:  www.nceinstitute.com  & www.thewrightcareer.com

 

How a Patchwork Quilt Résumé Could Damage Your Brand

Wikipedia’s Definition of a patchwork quilt: a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design.

By my own definition, a patchwork quilt résumé is one that is made up of phrases and sentences copied from other people’s career documents (résumé, cover letter, bio, or LinkedIn Profile), and presented as one’s own.

Recently, there was an intense discussion on the forum of one of my professional associations about someone who had copied blocks of a sample résumé to create her own then contacted one member to spruce it up for her. While scrutinizing the document, the member realized the contents didn’t gel, so she did a Google search. It turned out the sample résumé was crafted by another member of this same association and posted in an article on AOL.

I have had my share of people sending me résumés made up of bits and pieces of other people’s résumés, and sometimes cover letters. In one case, it was the summary from one of my own creations. As I started reading the résumé, I thought the wording sounded familiar. On checking, I realized it was one I had written for another client. This new client told me someone had helped him out for free but he wasn’t having much success with it.

When information is copied from someone else’s résumé, it is very easy to spot the patchwork quilt design. The information is incoherent; statements are generic and some phrases just do not match the person’s experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of plagiarism, copyright infringements, and ethics. Moreover, if such a résumé lands on the desk of a discerning hiring manager, such a candidate’s credibility will come into question, and he or she will most likely not be called for an interview.

Here are the facts:

  • Your résumé is a branding tool that tells YOUR story, not someone else’s, and shows the face YOU want employers to see.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. You must differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a résumé that captures your unique talents, accomplishments and experience; not one that looks like a patchwork quilt, or one that gives the impression you have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of scouring the Internet for sample résumés to build your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself “What have I done with the job they asked me to do? How is the company better off since I joined?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what’ factor to each. For example, if one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened?”
  • Review your last two performance appraisals and look for the nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a résumé that tells YOUR story. Make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the employer’s question “Why should we hire you?” If you are unable to create your own résumé, find someone whom you trust; has credentials and know what they are doing.

Don’t damage your brand with a patchwork quilt résumé. Learn to tell your own story and get hired!

5 Questions a Candidate Should Ask in an Interview

Are you one of those candidates whose eyes turn to the ceiling, or who say “No” when asked if you have any questions? As a job seeker, professional or senior executive, you are smarter than that. You have already researched the company and have a list of questions to ask. After all, the interviewer(s) may have been so busy taking notes that they missed some of your key points, and you welcome another opportunity to emphasize those points.

One way of making sure that your key points were not missed and that you have demonstrated your value in the interview, is to be ready for this inevitable question – “Do you have any questions?” Here are some questions to ask:

What do you see as the priorities for this job in the first three months?

Their answer will give you more clarity and allow you to zero in on how your background closely matches those priorities.

Is there anything you’d like me to explain in more detail?

This question gives you a chance to delve deeper into your successes and illustrate your ability to exceed their expectations.

Do you have any doubts about my ability to do this job?

You may or may not get an answer to this question but if you do, it will help you to address any weaknesses or shortcomings they may have picked up during the interview.

Why did this vacancy occur?

You will want to know if it’s a newly-created position; if the person was let go, or if it’s a hot seat where no one stays for too long.

If I am the successful candidate, which duties would you like me to accomplish first?

This will go to the heart of where they are hurting, and you will have to be prepared to focus your energies in those areas first.

Since you are also interviewing the company, the responses to these questions will also help you determine if the company will be a good fit for you. Go ahead and boldly ask those questions. It’s another opportunity to tell your stories and get hired!

 

Image: Courtesy of Lifehack.org

10 Reasons CareerTips2Go Café is better than Starbucks!

We all clamour for that cup of coffee, and in my case, that cup of tea, to start our morning. On a Monday morning like this, we probably need more than one cup to get us started. What if you were being offered something much better than that cup of coffee or tea; something to put your career on the fast track to success? You can have it. It’s offered at our CareerTips2Go Café, and it’s longer lasting than what you get at Tim Hortons, Starbucks and even McDonald’s. Here’s what the Cafe provides:

  1. A Coach-on-Call to assist you with your resume, interview, and other job search questions.
  2. Step-by-step instructions on how to how to create your own story-telling resume.
  3. Opportunities to learn how to leverage social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+) to build your professional network.
  4. Tactics on researching companies, bypassing the gatekeepers and getting to the decision-maker
  5. Strategies to increase your confidence and boost your self-esteem.
  6. Access to up-to-date interview trends and case studies.
  7. Coaching on how to articulate your accomplishments, strengths and potential to your next employer.
  8. Up-to-date career resources and techniques at your fingertips.
  9. On-demand coaching customized for you.
  10. An objective voice to tell you like it is even though it might hurt.

Drop by and see what we have on the menu, and give us some feedback while you are there!