The Art of the Job Search – Always Be Looking

You may have heard the phrase “Always Be Learning.” To be the best you can be, in your professional and personal life, this certainly holds true. We can and should always be learning. Learning doesn’t cease just because we receive a degree or reach a certain age. We can always learn more about our surroundings and others.

There is another phrase to follow in life – Always Be Looking. If the recession and economic uncertainty of past years taught us one thing, it could be that we never know the real security of our jobs and lifestyles. One day we can have it all, and the next day be forced to look for a new opportunity. While the shock of being laid off or having our companies close cannot be lessened through preparation, we should always be learning and looking. Looking for other opportunities in our field, or in other fields, and keeping our options open.

Know Where Your Industry is Going. Are the number of job opportunities growing in your field, or are positions like yours disappearing? By constantly looking for job opportunities, you can spot trends, gain the education you need, and be proactive in your career.

Give Yourself Goals. Research jobs you would want down the road. If you are in college or a training school, look for positions you would want to apply to after graduation. If you are in a field and want to move up (and who doesn’t), look at the descriptions and requirements of those jobs that would appeal to you in 1 year, 5 years, or more. Create a path to success by gaining the education and experience needed for those positions.

Create a Game Plan for a Worst-Case Scenario. If you lost your job next week, what would be your first steps? By regularly researching the types of jobs available in your field, and the companies where you would want to work, you would have knowledge of where to begin your next aggressive job search.

Job.com is a job board with a focus of putting America Back to Work. If you are ready to continue (or begin) your resolution to Always Be Looking, visit our site to conduct tailored job searches and research tools available to reach employers and recruiters across the nation. As always, the Job.com team wishes you success!

The Art of the Job Search – When to Disclose Information to a Potential Employer

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It can be difficult to access when, in the course of the job application process, you should disclose specific information to a potential employer. Laws regarding disclosure of disability information, for example, can be strict for an employer. On the other hand, you may feel that it would be potentially harmful not to disclose information to the employer when they are considering you for a position.

The first thing to know is that you should not disclose information regarding disabilities during the application process. During the application and interview processes, an employer should not ask if you need special accommodations to perform the job, if you are taking any medications, or how long it will take for an injury to heal, for example. Only when you receive a conditional offer can these questions be asked.

With many positions, a potential employee is given a conditional offer, meaning you must first pass a drug test or job performance test before a formal offer can be presented. This is the time to provide information about accommodations you may need to perform the job. Once you receive the offer, you should disclose information about your disability, your pregnancy, or any other conditions that may affect job performance.

Once you have disclosed the information to the employer, they must prove an undue hardship as a reason for not hiring you. An undue hardship can be defined as a special circumstance or expense that makes you exempt from the position. If you require very expensive equipment to perform a job, for instance, the employer must demonstrate how the cost of the equipment is not financially feasible for the company.

Providing information to an employer is an important step to take before beginning a new position. However, wait until you have the job offer before disclosing the information. As with any new job, make sure your offer is confirmed before giving notice at your current job.

You can learn more about your rights as an employee at ADA.gov (Americans with Disabilities Act), and the U.S. Department of Labor website.

The Art of the Job Search – The Job Application Process

ImageAs you maneuver your way through your job hunt, you will potentially complete several job applications. You may be filling out applications online, so they may be pre-screened by an employer. Any tests you complete at the employer’s office could also be considered part of your application process. Even if you provide a resume and cover letter, many employers require a separate application in their hiring process. Here are some ways to breeze through a job application, while providing specific information for the employer.

Make your application match your resume. Be sure any education or work history appear as they do on your resume, with consistent dates, job titles, and more. Any discrepancies could be a red flag for the employer.

Practice filling out an application. Sample applications appear everywhere online. Practice completing different types of applications, and bring them along when you fill out your potential employer’s application for reference.

When applying in-person, without an appointment, take the application home. You can take your time completing it, making sure it’s thorough, error-free and easy to read. Whenever applying in person, however, be ready for an on-the-spot interview! You are showing the employer your ambitiousness for the position, and they may want to speak right away.

When applying online, as more and more employers require, follow instructions exactly and review each section before hitting “Submit.” If possible, save a copy of the application or the resulting email confirmation. This will help you keep track of the digital applications you have submitted for follow up.

Be ready to take a test as part of the application. Screening applicants may be come in the form of typing, general math or other assessments. Sometimes, an employer will require a drug test before proceeding to the interview phase. The timely and thorough completion of these assessments may be what sets you apart from your competition.

 

 

The Art of the Job Search – Letters of Recommendation and References

ImageYour main marketing pieces during your job search, including your resume, cover letter and maybe even a portfolio or website, are pieces you produce. You have control over the information presented. So what do you do when an employer asks for letters of recommendation or a reference list to contact? How do you manage your LinkedIn Recommendations to reflect what you want potential employers to see? You may not write the recommendations, but you do have a level of control of the information presented, based on who you ask for a recommendation and how you ask.

Who You Ask

Check over your list of professional contacts and determine which would present the most relevant and influential information in their letter, based on the position to which you are applying. If you have a former colleague or manager who can vouch for your knowledge in a particular industry or type of job, be sure to ask if they would be willing to provide a reference.

How You Ask

Through your research as a job seeker interested in a particular job or company, you are the expert in what the potential employer is looking for in their candidates. When approaching your contacts about writing a letter of recommendation or acting as a reference, you can provide them with some coaching through that knowledge. This will make each reference call or letter more relevant and impressive to your potential employer.

If the potential employer wants letters of recommendation, you can ask each contact to base their letters on one of your core strengths. For instance, one letter could focus on your ability to multitask, one on your ability to manage deadlines, and one on your leadership abilities. Have each letter demonstrate how your skills would be a benefit to the potential employer. 

Your Social Media Recommendations

Social media is now a huge factor in most recruiting processes. Through social media sites such as LinkedIn, potential employers can see a limitless number of recommendations from colleagues, clients, and others who appreciate the work you’ve done in past positions. You can manage who posts a recommendation for you by asking them directly. LinkedIn also requires that you approve any recommendations before they display on your page, providing further control of your digital image.

Photo credit: degreesoftransition.com

The Art of the Cover Letter – Standing Out from the Crowd

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Graduation season is upon us, and millions of high school and college graduates will soon join the job search and, ultimately, the U.S. workforce. Here are some tips for writing a compelling cover letter to help you stand out from the expanding crowd of job hunters.

1. Always include a cover letter along with your resume. Your cover letter serves as your introduction and provides you with the opportunity to express your enthusiasm toward applying your skills with the company where you are applying.

2. Research the business as much as possible before writing your cover letter. The more you know about a company or organization, the more your enthusiasm for joining their team will come through.

3. Customize each letter for each position. While you can reuse some basic information (skills that transfer across various positions), the message of your cover letter should be targeted to each specific employer.

4. Find out the name of the person who will read your letter. Be more person by not addressing your letter “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”

5. Focus on how hiring you will benefit the company throughout your cover letter to the end. This goes hand in hand with research, demonstrating how you can help them reach the goals or missions of the business. Distinguish yourself from the crowd by highlighting your skills and experiences that other applicants may not possess.

6. Keep your cover letter to one page, and your paragraphs short. Your letter will be easy to read and to the point. Please also be sure to proofread, as nothing will turn a potential employer off more than a cover letter full of typos.

7.  Anytime you apply online, make your cover letter text the body of your email and your resume the attachment. When sending your cover letter in this format, you can leave out your address, the company address, and the date.  When sending your cover letter in an email, you just need a professional greeting and salutation

The Art of the Resume – How to Promote Your Resume

ImageAs a job seeker in today’s highly competitive market, any resource that allows you to broadcast your brand and your marketing pieces, such as your resume, can give you the edge. Posting your resume on job boards such as Job.com is an excellent first step in making your resume available to employers and recruiters in the “hidden job market” – those not currently advertising their open positions.

Another great step if you are serious about finding a position is using a resume distribution service. These services send your resume directly to their lists of employers in your industry or geographic location. All you need to do is provide a resume and the optional cover letter that serve as your introduction to employers. Your resume can be seen by employers who may be hiring now, or in the near future, with little or no research required from you.

Job.com’s Resume Distribution service is one of many tools available to any registered job seeker who has posted a resume. For a small fee, your resume can be sent to a segment of our extensive list of recruiters, depending on your location and desired industry. You will immediately be provided the number of recruiters who will receive your emails in the very first step. There are also a number of additional options in the check out process, including ordering a firm list to see exactly who will receive your resume.

If you are ready to broadcast your resume to the recruiters in your field, check out the Resume Distribution Service today!

The Art of the Resume – What to Include (and What to Leave Out)

ImageToday’s resume must meet the qualifications of, at minimum, two different audiences. The goal is to get the resume into the hands of a hiring manager or recruiter – someone who must be interested in the content of your resume to consider you for their position. Before the resume ever makes it into that person’s hands, however, it is becoming more and more likely that it must first pass through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This software is being used by many employers to filter through resumes and pass along only the most relevant to the hiring manager. How do you make sure your resume passes both tests? These checklists are good places to start.

What To Include:

  • Proper formatting - Include defined sections (such as “Education”) and bullet point lists so your resume is easy to read.
  • Correct spelling and grammar - Constantly proofread your resume after every edit, and get a fresh set of eyes to look over your resume as well to catch anything you might miss.
  • Uniform font type and size - The entire resume should be the same font, and headings or section titles should stand out in larger text than the bullet point lists. Your contact information should be the largest, easiest text to find.
  • Keywords - Pass the ATS test with keywords that match the description for the job to which you are applying. Include the industry-specific keywords you know the employer will be looking for from their ideal candidate. For instance, an HVAC professional might include their NATE or RSES certifications.
  • Contact information - Include your most recent phone number(s), a professional sounding email address, and your physical address. If you have a digital media page that showcases your qualifications or professional accomplishments, such as a LinkedIn page or website, include the link.
  • Professional Pitch - Where everyone used to include an objective in their resume, you can provide a quick pitch to “wow” potential employers to read your entire resume.
  • Education and Work Experience - Include the relevant training, certifications or degrees, and the relevant work experience you received that can be applied to the position. Your experience can be listed as a series of accomplishments, rather than just your job responsibilities in each position. For instance, an office manager may have “developed a digital filing system” for their office, as opposed to listing that they “moved all physical records to a digital format.”

What to Leave Off:

  • Third-Party Voice or Unnecessarily Big Words - Your resume should read in the same conversational and approachable tone you would use in an interview.
  • Polarizing Interests or Hobbies - Remember the person reading your resume may not share your enthusiasm or viewpoints on certain topics. If it doesn’t pertain to the job for which you are applying, don’t include it on your resume.
  • Irrelevant Experience - Only include the education or experience that can be used to the benefit of your potential employer in your bullet point lists.
  • Contact Information from Your Current Employer - Never include your work email or phone number as the means to reach you.
  • Lies - If you lack a specific certification or work experience, focus instead on the skills you do possess.

The Art of the Resume – What Format to Use?

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As a part of our ongoing job seeker series “The Art of the Job Search,” we’ve created a series of tips regarding resume writing and promotion. The first installment in the resume series discusses the various formats you can use, depending on the type of position for which you are applying.

Being a job seeker can be a full time job. First, you research your target industries and find the companies you feel would be the best fit. You network with employees at those companies, attend job fairs, and search job boards to see what types of jobs are in demand. For all the work you do, is your resume helping or hurting you? Think of your cover letter and resume as your personal marketing pieces – what the employer will reference again and again when considering you for their company. Does your resume encompass all that you can offer? Does it stand out from the crowd?

The first thing to consider when creating or redoing your resume is the format. Different formats can be used to accomplish certain career goals. The traditional resume formats include chronological, functional, and a combination of both.

The chronological format lists your education and experience in order, most recent first. You can use this format when you want a position in your current industry, you have extensive experience, or you can demonstrate upward movement in your positions. These factors prove you are ready for the next step in your career.

The functional format revolves around accomplishments in your career. Use this format when you want to make a career change and feel your experience could be used in a new industry, if you have held many different jobs in a short period of time, or you are returning to work after long absence.

The combination format presents your relevant skills in chronological order. This format can be used whether you want to move to a new industry or remain in your current field. The combination format is also a good option when you have gaps in employment, want to express how your skills in other types of work, such as volunteering, can be transferred to the position, or when your past job titles do not encompass all of your responsibility in that position. 

Regardless of the format you select, it is most important to tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying. As you look over your experience, does it mirror the qualifications required in the posting?

Here are some general formatting tips to leave the employer ready to learn more after reading your resume.

  • Make sure your resume is easy to read with clearly defined sections (Education, Experience, etc.) and bullet point lists of responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Include proper spelling and grammar, double check that all text is in the same font, and that there are distinct heading and bullet point list sizes. Your name and contact information should be the largest font for quick recognition.
  • Demonstrate all relevant training in your Education section. Do you have a certification the employer would be interested in seeing?
  • Along with your responsibilities in each job you include, list accomplishments you feel could be applied to the position to which you are applying.
  • Have references ready upon request from the employer who can vouch for your experience and accomplishments.

The Art of the Job Search – The Job Fair

ImageThe job fair is an excellent opportunity for job seekers and recruiters alike. Potentially months of networking and learning can be done in a single day and in one location. Here are some tips for finding success at your next job fair.

Do your homework. Job seekers can obtain lists of employers who will be at a job fair ahead of time. Study which companies you want to speak with at the job fair, based on your industry, the company reputation and what types of positions they are currently recruiting.

Dress for success. Wear interview attire and comfortable shoes for standing in line, and carry a portfolio to keep your paperwork handy.

Practice your introduction. Facing a long line of prospective employees, a recruiter may only have a few moments for you to make an impression. Come up with a quick introduction highlighting your experience and enthusiasm for their company. This is the opportunity to have your questions about the company and position answered, so be sure to prepare them ahead of time as well.

Bring extra. Be sure to have extra copies of your resume, pens and notepads, and your business card to provide your name, email and phone numbers to recruiters.

Arrive early. Arrive before the job fair opens to get through checking in and get in line for your first company of choice sooner.

Make contacts. A successful job fair experience may be measured by the amount of contacts you make. Collect business cards from every recruiter with whom you speak, as well as other job seekers in line. You never know which contact could help you land your next position!

Attend any workshops or seminars. More and more job fairs have seminars for job seekers, with topics such as resumes and interviewing. Seminars are another great way to seek advice and network with recruiters. Many job fairs also feature schools that offer continuing education opportunities. To stay ahead in your field, talk to these representatives to learn about courses and certifications they offer.

Follow up. After the job fair, be sure to write a brief thank you note or email to the recruiters you meet. The note will remind the recruiter of the time and location of your introduction, and further demonstrate your enthusiasm for their company.

Job fairs are excellent opportunities to be seen by recruiters in person and learn about opportunities in your field.

Fredericksburg, Virginia Job Fair Note:
Job.com will be featured at the Employment Fair at the Riverside Conference Center on Thursday, May 8, from 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. We will offer job seekers and employers valuable tips on finding the best area positions and candidates!

For more information on the Fredericksburg, Virginia Job Fair, please visit our Facebook page to learn more.

The Art of the Job Search – Finding What Matters to You

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This week, we continue our series “The Art of the Job Search” with a checklist of what to consider as you research employers. These factors can help you determine if you would be a good fit for the company, and if the company would be a good fit for you. Does the company match your preference in these areas? In your own research and in the interview process, finding out if your preferences align with the employer will help you determine if they are a good fit for you, and vice-versa.

Company reputation
Is the company well-known in your area? If so, check reviews online and by word-of-mouth to determine how they treat customers and business partners.

What kind of company culture do you want? Please keep in mind that a company can encompass more than one categorization.

  • Family-oriented, with a focus on mentoring and nuturing the careers of its employees
  • An entrepreneurial spirit, with a focus on taking risks and experimentation with products and services
  • The primary focus is the competition and the results each employee produces
  • A structured and controlled environment, with a focus on efficiency

What is your ideal type of job description?

  • Very clear – You would know exactly what tasks you are responsible for in your position.
  • Somewhat clear – While you know your overall responsibilities (example: database maintenance), you are flexible with the specific tasks assigned to you.
  • Vague is fine – You don’t need a job description, as you are willing to take on whatever tasks are required at the time.

Location, location, location
How far are you willing to travel to work? Are there public amenities (access to public transportation, restaurants and stores) or is the company in a remote location?

Opportunities for advancement
Does the company provide annual reviews to discuss your performance and possibilities to move within the organization? How are raises considered?

Autonomy of the position
Especially as telecommuting positions become more prevalent, determine if you want to work on your own or as part of a team. This also speaks to the company’s privacy policies. Would you be working in a closed office or a collaborative work environment?

The more you know before accepting a position, the better off you will be. The interview process for some positions can be lengthy, so it is best to know ahead of time if the company would offer your ideal environment beforehand. As you begin talks with an employer, the research you have done will reflect your enthusiasm for the position. The interview process is also the time to learn as much as you can about a company and further gauge if the company or organization is a good fit for you.