Formatted vs Plain Text: Why every job seeker needs a dual-formatted #resume.

3934204100_reeses1_xlarge

Having (and utilzing) both a formatted and a plain text résumé  is like a peanut butter cup. Each ingredient is great on their own, but so much better when you have both!

By Uri Allen, CPRW

These days, job seekers are inundated with so much conflicting information and suggestions; it can be hard to figure out what is the best way to format a résumé. Job seekers feel they are often faced with the decision to either make it look attractive or format it for practicality. In reality, every job seeker should have their résumé formatted both ways, both plain text and a fully formatted visually appealing version. A plain text version may not pack the visual punch on paper and a formatted version may look amazing but may cause problems when interfacing with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) so it is imporant to have both and know when to utilize them. Here are some guidelines to help you decide which version you should be using and when.

Plain Text Versions

A plain text version of the résumé is an integral tool for the job seeker who utilizes online job boards and internet employment search sites. Stripped-down, text only versions allow many online applications and tracking programs to easily parse information and pre-populate fields making the task of filling out these applications much more expeditious and time effective for the job seeker.

Plain text versions are also a preferred choice when emailing a résumé to an employer for a variety of reasons. Many employers will run emailed résumés through parsing or tracking systems and with a plain text version, the job seeker has less worry that the information will be properly scanned or read by these systems. Plain text résumés are also a safe bet since a job seeker can never really be sure of the word processing software employers are using to review emailed résumés. Avoiding sending a document with fancy formatting or stylish fonts and sending a plain text version almost always ensures that the résumé will appear consistently on your screen as it will on the employers screen.

Formatted, Visually Appealing Versions

However, the visually appealing résumé also has a definite place in the job seekers toolkit. The visually appealing, formatted version is great for those face-to-face connections such as networking, job fairs or interviews or when you are snail mailing or faxing the résumé to a potential employer.

There are a few things to remember when creating the visually appealing version. Make sure that the résumé has a good balance of white space; information shouldn’t appear too crowded and if possible, printed on a good quality résumé paper. Make sure to avoid consistency errors and don’t over format the résumé.

With any résumé, formatted or not, it is always a good idea to have the résumé reviewed and critiqued by a certified résumé writer. Often times, a certified résumé writer can identify things you may have missed or overlooked or they make suggestions to improve the résumé further. They are also trained in the most up-to-date methods and techniques to maximize your résumés effectiveness. Visit http://jobcenter.usa.gov/ to locate an employment center nearest you and set up a time to meet with a certified résumé writer.

Advertisements

The Stress-less Job Seeker

by Uri Allen, CPRW

During a job search, one can quickly fall into a stressful pattern of obsessively looking for work, sending out résumés at all hours of the day and night and mindlessly scanning job boards like Career Builder or CT.Jobs till the wee hours of the morning. The hunt for the next great job becomes all consuming and many job seekers quickly find themselves burnt out and overwhelmed early into their job hunt. You might even been one of these job seekers who day after day pound the real or virtual pavement in search of their next dream job going and not stopping until they are burning the midnight oil working on the 300th revision of their résumé.

Image

Don’t let Job Search stress get the better of you!

Job loss ranks in the top 10 list of stressful events on the Holmes and Rahe Life Events Stress scale and it’s no wonder why it does. Job loss can have outward impacts like financial uncertainty but also affect self-esteem and self-worth. Couple these with a less-than-stellar, extremely competitive job market and it’s easy to see how the job seeker of today can feel like the odds are stacked against them. In such a stressful time, it is crucial that job seekers take the time for self-care in order to effectively manage the rigors of being in career transition. Taking time for self-care as a stress management technique can help to rejuvenate you (and your job search), give you a fresh perspective and keep you from burning the candle at both ends and avoid job seeker burnout. Here are a couple of tips for stress management:

Schedules = Awesome

The most important step to self-care and stress management is TIME MANAGEMENT. Establish a schedule for yourself, including meal times and non-job search activity times and stick to it. Having a set time to wake-up will help you avoid the sleep till noon pitfall that many job seekers fall into and having a set time to go to sleep will help you avoid those late night job search Craigslist cruises. The biggest key to scheduling your day is if you set a schedule, stick to it. If you’ve scheduled your job search to end at 5…end at 5. Creating and staying on task with a schedule will help you to manage tasks, keep on top of your job search activities and establish a daily routine which, when you get your next position, will lessen the stress of having to get back into the flow of having a scheduled day.

Take 10!

Take 10 minutes every day to do something that you enjoy and that is NOT job search related. A short, refreshing walk, enjoying a favorite snack, listening to some relaxing music and focusing on your breathing or writing in a journal can help to rejuvenate and refresh you and give you a whole new outlook. This writer would even go as far to suggest you take 10 for every couple of hours you job search. These little tidbits of self-care peppered throughout the day will help prevent you from feeling drowned in the sea of job search activity.

While there is no magic cure to stay stress free during a job search, taking time to create a schedule and making sure to do some non-job search activity throughout your day along with getting plenty of sleep, eating right and exercising, will definitely help you maneuver the stress of job search a little easier.  Enlist the services of professionals at your local job service center and build a support system. Remember, stay positive, smile and don’t lose hope. Your dream job is out there waiting for you!

ImageA little humor goes a long way!

Digital Headaches

The Skinny on On-Line Applications

By Uri Allen, CPRW

One of the biggest complaints I hear from job seekers is how much they hate/loathe/dread the online application. For those with little to no computer skills, online applications are yet another hurdle they have to overcome in order to stay competitive with today’s job market. My boomers (and some Gen X’ers) complain that the online application is just too impersonal and that if they could only talk to someone…in person. My Gen Y and some of my millennial clients complain that the application process is too long and what’s with those stupid tests they make you take? And did they just ask the same question twice? It seems as though each generation has their own complaints but one thing they can all agree on (for once) is that online job applications are the pits. So why are so many employers using this format? For this blog post, I will delve into the world of online applications and see if there is indeed some method to the madness that has so many frustrated job seekers looking to office space their computers.

Don’t take a bat to your computer just yet!
office-space-fax

IT’S A NUMBERS GAME

OK so let’s face it…it’s an employers market out there. With an abundance of job seekers looking for work, employers are often overwhelmed with the amount of applicants they receive when they post a position. For a single job posting, employers on average receive about 250 applications. An article on ere.net went on to post these staggering statistics:

Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening. Finding a position opening late can’t help your chances because the first resume is received within 200 seconds after a position is posted. If you post your resume online on a major job site like Monster so that a recruiter can find it, you are facing stiff competition because 427,000other resumes are posted on Monster alone each and every week (BeHiring).

It’s no wonder with numbers like that, employers needed a way to effectively manage the responses they were getting. With the job market being in the toilet for so long, job seekers find themselves in dire straits and begin to apply for ANY job, even if they were not qualified for it which drove up the number of resumes a potential employer needed to weed out. This weeding out process was costing employers to spend a great deal of time sifting through resumes to find qualified candidates (time=money) and thus, Applicant Tracking Systems come into the picture. These tracking systems (i.e. online applications) allow employers to filter out erroneous applicants and applicants that don’t meet qualifications set by the employer.  This, above everything else, is probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest driving factor in the reason why so many employers are turning to online applications.

Some others boil down to simply convenience. Online applications allow employers to gather LOTS of information and the new applicant tracking systems allow this information to be organized and cataloged alot easier than paper applications. Online applications also level the playing field and give everyone the same starting advantage (so to speak…not so much for those less computer savvy). Whereas in the past an application might be rejected because of messy handwriting, these online processes allow job seekers to neatly and completely fill out applications. Those little red asterisks tell you exactly what you need to fill out and what you might have missed which can be a huge PLUS for job seekers who tend to miss or overlook things on an application.  These tracking systems can also accept resumes and aggregate assessment test results and keep everything in an orderly fashion so that an employer can pull up the information at the drop of a dime. So while it does seem like an impossible inconvenience, there are some pluses for job seekers and some ways that you can make your online application process easier and more effective.

1) Become computer savvy. These days there is really very little excuse for not knowing how to use a computer. They are such an integral part of our society, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage if you don’t learn how to use one. Visit your local CTWorks or One Stop center and take some computer classes so that you don’t take yourself out of the running for your dream job because you lacked the computer skills to apply for one.

2) Have (and use) a plain text version of your resume when pasting into the text box of your application. Fancy formatting is great if you are attaching it but all that does is jumble up and make your resume look weird when you are trying to paste it into a text box. The folks over at Dummies created this great tutorial that will walk you through the process of converting your resume to plain text. Use a plain text version when pasting to avoid any formatting weirdness.

3) Meet the qualifications of the job posting. If the job posting says the position requires advanced Excel but your computer skills don’t extend far beyond playing Farmville on your iPad, you would fare better to find a position that didn’t include a skill you lack. It’s a waste of time for both you and the employer to apply to positions that you do not meet the requirements for. With such an abundance of job seekers, there are plenty out there that will meet the requirements and all you are doing is setting yourself up for rejection by applying to jobs that you are not qualified for.

4) Fill out all of the required fields. With real information. I was shocked when I heard that someone had recommended that job seekers skirt around filling out their birthdays and social security numbers by inserting all 0’s in to the fields. This is a sure fire way to raise some red flags and get your application tagged for the garbage pile. Employers use this information to perform background and criminal checks, so it’s important that a potential employer isn’t confusing you with someone else with a less savory background. Many employers also use secure sites so your information is less likely to be compromised. For some tips on safe online usage, another one of our CTCG bloggers Erica created a great infographic about staying safe online.

5) Treat it like a paper application. Proofread everything, make sure that all of the information is correct and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Online applications hold the same weight as paper applications are a legal documents so be sure to be honest on the application as well. If an employer finds out you fibbed on the online app, you could be terminated from your position. When attaching cover letters and resumes, treat them as you would if you were handing them to an employer…tailor the cover letter and resume to the position, highlighting how your skills and abilities are a good match to the posting and make sure these are error free.

While the above tips can’t guarantee 100% that your resume won’t end up in the black hole abyss of the internet, they can at least make the process a lot less painful and awful. If you have any tips to share about navigating the world of online applications, leave a comment!

Standing Tall

or How I learned to stop slouching and power pose my way into self-confidence

By Uri Allen, CPRW

 superman

I want you, for a moment, to think of the most powerful, brave and courageous superhero you know. Close your eyes for a moment and envision the character. Pay attention to their stance, their posture, their pose. Perhaps they have their hands on their hips, standing up straight, chin held high. Maybe they are flexing their muscles. How much of their image of strength and heroism is portrayed by their body language? What does their body language say about them?  Body language is one of the most integral parts of how we as humans communicate to one another. How we sit, stand, look and gesture can say so much more than words can and when you are “ing-ing” (job searchING, interviewING, networkING), your body language can convey messages to potential employers and colleagues, such as your level of confidence…or lack there of.  But did you also realize that your body language can also convey messages to your own brain? Researchers have been studying the various ways our body language affects the biological processes in the body and brain and evidence has been suggesting that “power posing” actually has some real effect on the way the brain responds to stressful situations, including things like interviewing. According to Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap, researchers who conducted a study on power posing concluded that:

“…results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications. (Carney, Cuddy, Yap 2010)”

So, what exactly is “Power Posing” you might be asking yourself. Power posing is exactly what it sounds like…standing or sitting in a powerful pose. Think Superman or Wonder Woman.  Assuming a powerful stance can, according to the study, increase feelings of power and confidence by preparing your brain and physiological systems to get ready for a stressful situation.  This can be wildly helpful for someone who is a nervous or not-so confident interviewee. By triggering the brain to be prepared for a stressful situation and simulating feelings of power and confidence, the nervous interviewee can begin to overcome feelings of apprehension, nervousness and lack of confidence, all of which could be problematic during the interview process.

I’ve actually used power posing myself and have found that it really shifted the way I felt both physically and mentally. Some time ago, I had an interview for a promotional opportunity for a position that I had really wanted (I’ll save you the suspense…I didn’t get the position) so I was incredibly nervous. and in fact, it was the first time in years that I was nervous for an interview. After all, I taught other people how to interview! But nevertheless, I was a nervous wreck. I had been hearing a lot about this power posing theory so I decided that I had nothing to lose but my nerves by trying it out so I went into the bathroom before my interview and closed the stall door behind me and power posed for a good 3 minutes. I held these poses and concentrated on wanting to exude the confidence these poses represented in my interview. I focused on feeling powerful and brave. Soon my nerves were replaced with confidence and I was able to have a fantastic interview. So while I didn’t get the job I learned something valuable that day…I learned how to overcome my nerves with a simple (and fun) technique.

I’ve recommended power posing to my clients in the past and many have used the technique to prepare for interviews or job fairs and have said that they have seen a change in the way they approach situations that have made them nervous in the past. Next time you are faced with a situation that sends your nerves into overdrive, try power posing! Strike a powerful pose for a few minutes when you need that extra boost or do it every day to grow those feelings of confidence and power! Have you tried power posing? If so, let us know how it worked for you!

For some more information on Power Posing:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/10/business/bolt-success-power-posing/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323608504579022942032641408.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html (Awesome TED talks about power posing with Amy Cuddy, one of the researchers from the study mentioned)

Fresh Dressed Like A Million Bucks

Mastering the art of dressing for the job you want

By Uri Allen, CPRW

 dress

Have you ever heard the saying “You should dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?

I want to first start off by saying, this blog post does not advocate wearing a cape to your next interview but there is evidence that shows a direct correlation between what we wear and how these choices impact how people perceive us. And this perception is more than clothing-deep. What we choose to wear  is a big part of how people size us up. Depending on what someone chooses to wear, people can make all sorts of first impression assumptions about things from their socio-economic status to their cultural roots to their level of business professionalism. So while you may have that winning hand-shake and perfectly polished résumé, if you come to a job interview at an accounting firm dressing more like you are going to a nightclub in Miami during spring break, you’re going to have a bad time. I’m surprised at how many people just don’t get the concept of looking the part. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you have to look the part. Here are a few tips to keep you looking sharp and avoid any potential outfit blunders during the job search and interview process.

When clients ask me what they should be wearing to an interview, I often ask them, “Well, what is the culture like? What is a normal day to day look for the company?” If they are unsure, I direct them back to doing some research on the company. Figure out what the cooperate culture is, stop by for a visit, ask people who you may know that already work for the company and use that information as your guideline. Once you figure out the baseline for appropriate dress for the company, a good rule of thumb is to always dress one step above the baseline during an interview. So for instance, a construction worker may, on the job, wear tee-shirt and jeans. So an appropriate one-level up for an interview would be jeans and a nice collared shirt with a tie or a sweater or blouse for the ladies. If the baseline is business casual ala polo shirts and khakis, nice pants and a button down and tie for guys and nice pants and a dressy shirt for a woman. The only exception would be if the dress is business and in that case you would dress business. So in a nutshell:

If Casual, Business Casual

If Business Casual, Business

If Business, Business

Don’t wear clothes that are too tight, too small, too sloppy, too big, too revealing or otherwise. You don’t want to be referred to as “the guy in the really tight sweater” or “the girl in the REALLY SHORT miniskirt” after your interview. You want the interviewer to notice your skills, not your cleavage and beer belly. When was the last time you saw someone with their muffin top hanging out of their too-tight clothing and thought to yourself, “well, there goes a professional”.  Yea, I’m going to guess…never. On the other end of the spectrum, clothes that are ill-fitting or too big most of the time look sloppy so if your interviewing outfit is now too big, it might be time to get a new one. Try your outfit on before the interview and make sure it fits. Think of Goldilocks…just right!

Another thing to remember is you are going to an interview, not Ibiza. What you might wear to the club probably isn’t appropriate to wear to an interview no matter how fancy it is. Leave the flashy nail polish colors and snake-skin shoes at home. Those sparkly pumps might look boss in backlight but in the office of your potential boss, they are probably more distracting than anything else. Also, leave any noisy accessories at home…the watch that beeps every hour on the hour or the chunky bracelet that jingles can all be incredibly distracting during an interview. Remember, you want the employer focused on you, not your accessories. Cover up any tattoos the best you can if they aren’t a widely accepted part of the corporate culture. Some places are totally cool with your ink but if you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and cover-up that tattoo. Try to avoid any super-bright colors or loud patterns as those can also be distracting. Muted hues, pastels, neutral colors are always a safe bet.

Interviewers are like cats…easily distracted by things like shiny objects and noises. If you even think that it can be distracting, save it for something other than your interview. Use common sense and if you really can’t figure out what to wear, websites like Pinterest and their professional dress boards can keep you in the loop of what to wear in an interview. If you need access to clothing for an interview, organizations like Dress for Success can help (and organizations like these are not just for the ladies anymore!). Remember, non-verbal communication is a huge part of making a great first impression. Don’t let poor clothing choices say anything bad about you.

Who are you?

 

Managing your non-professional Social Network during a job search

By Uri Allen, CPRW

think

I love stories and I especially love stories that have a moral to them…think Aesop’s Fables, tortoise and the hare and all that good stuff. Well, today I’m going to tell you a story from the book of Uri’s Fables. Once upon a time there was a girl who had finally found her dream job as a preschool teacher for a local organization in her town. She had a great résumé, aced the interview, wowed the hiring manager, her credentials and references were pristine and she passed the background check. Everything was coming up ponies, rainbows and unicorns for the girl. Shortly before the hiring manager was going to call with an offer he Google searched the girl (as he does for every potential candidate) and much to his dismay he found her Facebook filled with pictures of the girl drinking, partying and general debauchery. He knew that if he was able to find these pictures of the girl than surely the web savvy parents of students could find them as well…and that would be REALLY bad for business. The hiring manager composed a rejection letter, neatly sealed it in an envelope addressed to the girl and picked up the phone to offer the job to another candidate who did not have pictures of herself drinking and partying wildly for all to see on the internet.

Now unlike Aesop’s Fables, Uri’s Fables are true and this was a factual recounting of events that actually took place at an organization I worked for. And stories like these are not uncommon. These days hiring managers are using the web and its vast amount of information to narrow down candidates to only the best of the best. If a job seeker has a less than stellar web presence this could have a direct impact on their ability to become employed. So as a job seeker you have to ask yourself what are employers seeing when they search for you?

The first thing any job seeker should do is fire up their favorite search engine (I’m partial to Google), put their name in the search bar and sift through the results. If you have a common name, you may want to Google-fu and use some search modifiers to weed out the erroneous results. Does your Facebook show up with your shady spring break pictures? Has that Myspace you created years ago when you went through your Goth phase appear in the search results? Doing a web search is often a quick, easy and free way for employers to do a preliminary background check and since they aren’t pulling information with your social AND information that is pulled is public, they do not need to get a release form signed to access this information. If your social networking profiles are public, believe me it is incredibly easy for an employer to find them.

Ok…so that angry, hate and obscenity filled rant over Firefly getting cancelled came back to haunt you. Now what? If you find that some less-than-stellar things appear in the search results, you will want to set about trying to remove them, if you can. Log-in to the websites that they appear on and make the profiles private, delete the offending posts, remove the offending pictures. If you can’t remember your log in information, sometimes an honest and  earnest email can be sent to the webmaster or help desk of the webpage to have the offending information removed. Explain to them that you are in the process of a job search and this offending information is appearing in search results and do your best to get it removed. They may comply but they may not, so be prepared for that.

Now, while this is not a 100% safeguard that they won’t still be stored on the net (often times a cached or old version of the offending info will be stored for a time) they make the information a lot harder to find by savvy web-searching hiring managers. Google and other search engines periodically will refresh these stored caches and your internet offenses will become more and more buried as they are replaced with the new, cleaned-up versions.

The next thing that you should do is make sure all of your non-professional (usually Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, for example) social networking profiles are locked down in private mode. It is a fact that we all (well, most of us) have lives outside of work. It is also a fact that merging business with pleasure or personal with professional is seldom a smart idea. For this very reason, it is imperative to keep the two worlds separate. And while you think the universe may need pictures of every meal that you eat and information about every cause that you support, you never know what is going to offend someone. And the last person you would want to offend is a potential (or current) employer. Another plus to keeping your information private is it becomes a lot harder for your personal business to wind up on those pesky search results and webpage caches. There has been so much controversy, in fact, in the role that social networking sites play in the ability for people to obtain employment,   Facebook has had to address issues with employers requiring (forcing) employees and potential employees to hand over their Facebook log ins (which is a whole other issue all together).

Social media and networking is here to stay. The best advice is to be smart, responsible and make good decisions when you use it and do your best to keep anything that is controversial or questionable out of the public eye. While it might be fun to share those crazy club photos, is the world going to be any less awesome if you didn’t post it? Probably not. Bottom line? Think before you click (like).

I Love You(r work), man!

The art of giving (and getting) good LinkedIn recommendations

By Uri Allen, CPRW

 linkedinlove

Can I share something with you? Now before I tell you what it is, I must warn you that it may sound odd and maybe a little nerdy (in only the very special way an employment specialist can sound nerdy) but I honestly and truly love a good, well written LinkedIn recommendation. LinkedIn recommendations, when composed properly, can give fellow networking professionals and perhaps someone’s next boss some great and fabulous information about the user for whom they are written. Shorter than a letter from your favorite college professor but longer than a tweet, LinkedIn recommendations can provide insight into someone’s work ethic, career achievements and professional passions and really elevate the LinkedIn profile to the next level. Recommendations can take flat, run of the mill work history and add human, real life dimension to it.

So you might be thinking to yourself (after reading my enthusiastically written intro about LinkedIn recommendations, of course) that you really want to start getting some LinkedIn love on your profile but you just don’t know where to start. Well, fear not because with the following 3 rules for LinkedIn recommendations, you will be getting those professional profile high-fives before you know it.

The first rule of LinkedIn recommendations is you don’t…wait, wrong rules. The first rule of LinkedIn recommendations is you give what you get. Yay reciprocity! Generally, people are more inclined to leave a recommendation for you if you have started the ball rolling by leaving one for them so don’t be shy. When I began building my LinkedIn profile, I selected a few contacts that I respected and left them a recommendation on their page. Sure enough, a few days later I had some great recommendations to add to my profile from professionals that I held in high regard. I made sure to put thought and effort into crafting a great recommendation because that was what I wanted them to do when they wrote mine. And it worked! Now, I will warn you that not everyone plays nice, so you might give a glowing review of someone and receive no response. It happens and it’s a bummer when it does, but never let that discourage you. Continue to give those great recommendations and watch yours grow. So remember, rule #1 is reciprocity.

The second rule of giving a great LinkedIn recommendation is making sure that your recommendation has substance. While it’s really nice to say someone was a great co-worker, that’s not necessarily helpful information. What would be more helpful is describing what made them a great co-worker. Using descriptive sentences, mentioning personal attributes and traits and giving specific examples are all the building blocks of recommendation substance. Talk about specific projects you may have worked on together, in what capacity you worked with the person, what their impact was on the company or organization…whatever your recommendation talking points, make sure they have substance. There you have it, rule #2 is substance!

The final rule of writing an awesome LinkedIn recommendation is to make sure it is error free. Just like a résumé or networking profile, LinkedIn recommendations are a reflection of the person they are written for. Now, you might be thinking to yourself…well I didn’t write the recommendation for myself…why would my image be tarnished if I’ve posted a recommendation on my profile that has spelling errors or typos? To answer that question I will pose another question back at you. Have you ever heard the saying you reflect the company you keep or guilt by association? For those reasons, I would never allow a recommendation to be visible on my page if it was riddled with errors, typos and mistakes even if it was the most amazing recommendation in the known universe. Why? Because I want viewers of my profile to see me as a professional who associates with other professionals.  A true professional always strives to have a polished image and in type that translates to spell checked, grammar checked and error free. On the flip side, when you are writing a recommendation, taking the time to proofread and spell/grammar check a recommendation lets your contact know that you value and respect them enough to take the time to make sure it’s perfect. You can bet that if you give a well-written, polished and professional recommendation people reciprocate with the same. Rule #3 is error-free.

While these aren’t hard and fast rules, they are a great guideline to get you going into the world of LinkedIn love. Giving recommendations helps to strengthen networking connections, shows that you can give genuine and professional feedback and it just plain feels good to give kudos to those who deserve them. So get out there and give those virtual high-fives to those in your network that you admire and respect and watch the love come rolling back on to your profile!

Thanks, but no thanks…

Strategies for dealing with post-interview rejection.

By Uri Allen, CPRW

untitled

Having worked with many individuals in transition to their next career, I’ve found that many of my most frustrated and unsuccessful clients all suffer from the same thing…no follow up plan after a rejection. With no follow up strategy, many clients fall into a pattern of negative self-talk (I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, etc) and self-anger, all of which have detrimental impacts on the way they approach their future job search activities. Now, while there is no magic formula to take away the dream job rejection blues, having a strategy in place to address problem areas can help to soften the blow of rejection and give you a new and refreshed focus on your approach, which could in turn make you the dream candidate for your next dream job.

You weren’t the most qualified candidate/fell short on the interview/not enough recent training/ not experienced enough and all the other things you don’t want to hear! 

These are typically the toughest pills a job seeker has to swallow…especially when this news is coupled with the call/letter that the job they have been dreaming and pining over has been given to a “more qualified candidate”. Often times, they begin to question their skills and ability to be an asset to a company and more often than not, this negative outlook leads them down a path of hurtful self-talk and self-doubt. Sometimes job seekers get angry, resentful or depressed…all of which are normal reactions to rejection.  Rejection is never easy or pleasant but it’s what you do with the information that you weren’t the #1 choice that can really make a huge difference in your future attitude.

So back to the scenario…dream job found, applied, interviewed and subsequently the employer rejects you as a candidate. Now what?! Well, you have two choices after you receive the thanks, but no thanks. The first consists of getting wrapped up in the anger and hurt surrounding rejection…which usually equates to nothing productive (or nice!). The second option is taking some personal and professional inventory as to why you weren’t the most qualified candidate. One way that you can accomplish this is by asking the interviewer that rejected you. This may seem foreign or uncomfortable and some interviewers might not be willing to share that information, but most will and can lead to some great insight as what you can work on for your next interview. And if they say no, you are no worse for wear than when you approached them.   

Another strategy is to do post-interview assessments to examine areas for improvement.  Look at the questions that you had difficulty with and think about preparing strategies to tackle these in the future. Take an assessment every time that you go for an interview and it may begin to reveal some weak spots in your interviewing process. Do you get stumped on the biggest weakness question? Do you fall short when explaining to an interviewer why you were involuntary discharged from your last position? Come up with strategies to answer these questions and practice, practice, practice!

Maybe it wasn’t the interview but a lack of skills. Are you lacking in the computer area? Perhaps your math skills weren’t up to par? Maybe you needed some experience under your belt. While these may seem like impossible to conquer feats, there are many free and low cost options for job seekers to address these issues. A trip to your local job center (in Connecticut we have fantastic, awesome, amazing CTWorks Centers located throughout the state-*end shameless plug*) can help get you connected to free and low cost training and education opportunities in your area.  Local libraries and community centers are also great places to access free or low cost training and often times will also offer workshops on topics such as computer usage, résumé writing, keyboarding skills and the like.

Another problem many job seekers face is a lack of experience or not enough recent experience in their dream field. Consider volunteering! Volunteering is a great way to get experience under your belt, appear even more attractive to an employer and do something that makes you feel good. Volunteering can also lead to some great networking and potential paid placement opportunities. Did I mention that it makes you feel good, too? You can find out about local volunteering opportunities by contacting your local  211 assistance line or getting in touch with local community service organizations in your area.

While rejection is something that many job seekers may have to face during their transition, coming up with strategies, learning from mistakes and addressing problem areas are ways that a job seeker can lessen the sting of a thanks, but no thanks. And as Journey said…don’t stop believing! Your dream job is out there waiting for you!

Becoming a Google-Fu Master

Using basic Google Search modifiers to enhance your job search

By Uri Allen, CPRW

kungfu

Become a Google-Fu Master with a few easy tricks!

One of the most often overlooked and easily accessible tools for any job seeker boils down to one simple word; Google. Yes, Google. The search engine has become so popular that the Miriam-Webster dictionary now includes a definition of its name and related activity (Googling) and while many people know of and have used the Google search engine feature from everything from searching for favorite recipes to that new, hilarious cat video, many overlook the rich features that make the Google search engine a powerhouse of information for the web savvy 21st century job seeker.

Most job seekers these days know the value of doing research on companies before they interview or in some cases, even before an application to a company. Knowing what a company is all about, the power players, mission statements and organizational goals can help a job seeker in answering the “Why do you want to work here” question in an interview or decide if they would be a good fit with the corporate culture of a given organization.

One way to do some quick investigating on a company is to pop their name into the Google search engine and start sifting through the results. Now that may give you some good hits, maybe a link to the company website…but say you wanted to see what kind of financial situation a company is in. After all, during challenging economic times, it’s in a job seekers best interest to find out if the company they are racing to get into has viable long-term staying power. A Google-fu master would probably, in this instance, use the following search string to pull-up the targeted organization’s annual report:

google

The + search modifier in the search query tells Google to search for those two strings of words together and pull those results first. This can be particularly helpful when a job seeker is trying to obtain specific information about a company or industry. With that idea in mind, there are several ways that a job seeker might be able to find out helpful information about a company such as: Company x + interview

This search string query may pull up testimonials, advice or previous interviewing experience from folks who may have already gone through the interviewing process for the company you are targeting and if you are really lucky, someone may have even posted sample interviewing questions to help you prepare for your interview. You can try the above method and combine the company name with other search strings such as + company culture or + mission statement to find out some more information about the company you are targeting.

On the flipside of the + Google-fu modifier, you can use the ‘-‘modifier to take out erroneous or unrelated things that keep coming up in a Google search. Let’s say for instance, you are doing a Google search for banks in your area to find some places to submit applications but you have already ruled out one popular bank that has many branches in your area. When you search for banks, this one company seems to dominate the search results and you find yourself having to weed through many pages of unwanted results to get any viable hits. What you can do in this case is use the ‘-‘ modifier to remove most, if not all, of those unwanted results. This query string would look like this: company x –unwanted company.

The third Google-fu search modifier you could use is the open and closed quotation marks or “ “. This modifier will result in the search engine pulling exact phrases and can be helpful when you are looking for something that can be easily confused with other things or to narrow down results if you find you aren’t getting good results with a straight, unmodified Google search. Let’s use our annual report example: “company x annual report” may net you more tailored results where a search without the quotation marks may yield, in addition to the result you want, results on the company as a whole and results on annual reports as a whole, respectively.

As you can see, Google allows users to do really powerful and in-depth searches utilizing the search modifiers above. In addition to the above mentioned, Google also offers a few other quick search operators that may be beneficial to you in your job search:

location:query will give you location specific results. Helpful if you are looking for information specific to a certain locality, city, state or town.

weather:location will help you plan that perfect interviewing outfit or figure out an alternative to riding that bike to an interview if there is pending inclement weather.

dictonary:query  can help you when editing, spell-checking, writing an elevator pitch or reviewing documents about a company or making changes to a résumé.

movie:query so that after your awesome interview (since you Google-fu’ed prior to the interview and were super prepared!) you can treat yourself to a nice movie.

While this is in no way an exhaustive list of search modifiers and operators that Google offers, these are a  great way to start incorporating Google-fu’ing in your job search and set you on your way to becoming a Google-fu master. Now go forth…and GOOGLE!