Waiting? 3 Post-Interview Tips to Improve your Job Search

interviews, waiting by phone

image via bestbuy.com

If you’re waiting to hear back from an interview, don’t be idle. Use this time to continue your job search and keep making a positive impression.

  1. Send a thank you note or email.

Sending this email will show your interest in the job and may set you apart from other candidates that have note sent any follow up communication.

A thank you note does not have to be long, but it should be customized for each interview. Reflect on a topic of conversation unique to your meeting and mention how you learned from the interviewer or enjoyed the discussion. Reiterate your interest in the position and state that you appreciate the time he or she took to meet with you.

If you’ve interviewed with a panel, send a customized note to each interviewer. If you didn’t get business cards after the interview, try searching on the company website or contacting the company’s front desk for correct spelling of names.

  1. Analyze how you interviewed.

Right after the interview is the best time to assess your performance.

  • Were you on time and dressed appropriately?
  • Was there a question you struggled with answering?
  • Did you answer any questions very well?
  • Did you learn something new?
  • Did the interviewer seemed interested in a particular answer?
self assessment, interview, after interview assessment, evaluation

image via shutterstock

This self-assessment will make you aware of any short falls. If you realize you failed to mention something during the interview that you feel is very important, you could incorporate that information in a follow up correspondence.

More than anything, this self-assessment will help you prepare for future interviews. Based on your review, determine if you should do more research on the company or practice answering questions in a mock interview. You can schedule a mock interview with a Career Development Specialist at one of our local American Job Centers in Connecticut.

  1. Update your job search records.

It’s critical to keep your job search organized. You should log your contacts and follow up results in a manner that is convenient for you.   Job search records can be saved in a notebook, day planner, or Excel spreadsheet. You can also categorize your emails to save employer correspondence.

Keeping information organized only takes a few minutes a day, but has great benefits. With a log, you can review your progress and see how your efforts have paid off. The log can also be an indicator if you should try a new strategy in your job search to yield more contacts. The record can assist in achieving short-term job search goals and make you feel more motivated to continue on in your search.

A sample job search log for a week is below, but you can search many templates available online or customize your own to your preferences:

GOAL OF THE WEEK: Contact 3 employers

Notes:

Complete        O Not Complete

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Applied to ABC Co. online (Customer Service Rep) and followed company on LinkedIn. Sent cold contact email to Admin Recruiter, J. Cruz. Attended networking event. Met A. Sanders, Manager of Office Co. Interviewed for Office Assistant position with XYZ Corp. during recruitment event. Emailed thank you note to XYZ Corp. recruiter.
Notes: Application receipt notification. Notes:

Sent resume by request, Cruz mentioned emailing me next week to discuss.

Notes:

Connected on LinkedIn.

Notes:

Struggled with, “Why did you leave your last job?” – Overall, interview went well. Will contact me within 2 weeks.

Notes:

These tips will keep your job search focused, active and goal-driven. Use the interview as a time to market yourself for the open position, but use the time after the interview to assess yourself and continue making progress in your search.

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3 Ways to De-Clutter Your Job Search

When you’re looking for a new job, you probably have a lot of different events and priorities going on.  You’re following up with employers, filling out applications, going to interviews, cold contacting, networking, and in between all of this – fulfilling family obligations who think you may have “free time” to help with any variety of situations.

How do you manage all of this?  Getting organized: you will be in better control of your time, resources, and energy.

1. Create an email address just for job search. This will allow you to properly follow up with employers, and you won’t miss a message because it was buried under junk mail. Get into the habit of even checking your Spam folder, because sometimes employer contacts get accidentally mistakenly filtered through there.

  • You can register for a free email account from many sources including MSN/Live accounts, Yahoo, or Google.  Google is the most dominant but there is heavier advertising in your inbox with these accounts as opposed to Live or Yahoo.  Find one you are comfortable with and choose a professional username such as “firstname_lastinitial@youremail.com.”
  • If your name isn’t available, avoid using the year you were born or zip code. This could provide either too much personal information or be an easy indicator for age.  If your original username option isn’t available, add in parts of your middle name or include your target industry/job title, such as “JohnTSmith@youremail.com” or “Erin_SalesRep@youremail.com.”

2. Schedule your day. This will help you keep a balance of personal and professional activities.  Treat job searching like a full time job, and put in around 8 hours a day towards your search.  This can include working on your resume, meeting with a career advisor, networking, filling out applications, following up, and researching employers.  Remember to keep a balance: if you start working 12 or 13 hours a day towards your job search, you could get stressed out and may not get at least 6 hours of sleep which is required for better cognitive functioning. Getting a good night’s rest and visiting with friends or family can re-energize you and may improve your efforts and contacts with employers throughout the rest of the week.

Below is a sample schedule to visualize the balance of professional and personal activities.  Note that the weekends are slim, with Sunday excluded.  If you treat your job search like a full time job, you can keep bigger activities for later in the week, and enjoy your weekends.  Just don’t forget to check your email in case an employer responds to you and requests a follow up.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Follow-up meeting with XYZ Builders: 10AM Coffee with Jen: 9AM Application and Resume to ABC Co. Review ACME Corp research. Application and Resume to Retail Co. Follow up via email with employers
Resume Critique at Job Center: 1PM Networking Club: 10-11:30AM Phone call with referral contact. Interview at ACME Corp: 1-? Research employers. 1-4PM FREE
Research employers. 1:30-3:30PM Work on cover letters for ABC Co. and Retail Co. Babysit nephew: 5-9PM. Send thank you emails. Dinner with Greg and Lori: 8PM FREE
  • Google calendars, Microsoft Outlook or Excel, a day planner, an app on your smartphone, or a regular calendar can all be useful tools for organizing your daily schedule.  Using a calendar that is connected to your email account has many benefits that make scheduling much easier: if you have travel plans, Google can sync your inbox content with your calendar and search features.  Whichever one you choose, stick with it.
  • For the schedule to work well you need to consistently use it. This will eventually allow you to chart your progress and you can see how much you accomplished over the past weeks. Use this as an evaluation tool. If you notice you haven’t gotten an interview call, see if you can modify your resume or have someone review your application materials to see how you can improve the contact efforts.

3. Storage: save emails or hard copies for later reference.  When you apply to a job, save the job description and announcement. When you have an interview with the company, these materials will be useful to review.  Also, if you find yourself applying to multiple jobs and an employer calls you, you want to know the company and job you applied for immediately to make a positive impression.

  • Hard Copies: When saving hard copies, organize job announcements by company.  If you are targeting different jobs, you can create separate folders based on occupation.  Alphabetizing is quick for an easy reference. Using file folders or accordion folders can make storing the documents more convenient.  If you customized a resume or cover letter specifically to that job, it may not hurt to place copies of those materials in the folder as well.  When you’re called in for an interview, you can review your contact with the company up until that point, and make copies of your customized resume to provide at the interview.The main goal is to not have cluttered piles of papers at your work station.  if you have a desk with your laptop or PC on it, it may be easier to focus if your desk is clear and you can reference your other materials when needed.  Seeing all the piles or your desk may get your materials disorganized, and could potentially add to any stress which would not be optimal when filling out your next application.
  • Electronic files: When using your professional email account, you can save your contacts and messages to folders within your inbox.  Right-clicking on your inbox or seeing a “+” sign by your folders can lead you to an option similar to “Create New…” Under this option, you can select “Folder,” and within each folder, you can make sub-folders.

For example, in the picture below, you will see folders with sub-folders, organized by Job and Company.

jobfolders

Keep in mind, these directions will be slightly different from provider to provider.  If you have any difficulty, consult your email providers FAQs or Help options.  Typing a question into a Google search can also refer you to helpful forums where experienced users help others resolve issues and provide tips.

Creating a separate email, scheduling your days for professional and personal activities, and organizing your storage system for employer contacts will make your job search more efficient. When you have balance in your schedule, you perform at your best. When you are in work mode, your job search email account and organized contact system will optimize your time spent on job search activities. You won’t need to hunt around for a particular file or resume, because the email won’t be buried under unrelated forwarded messages, nor will you have to search through piles on your desk and add on any stress. If you have any questions on these tips, feel free to message me or comment below.

If you have more organizational tips that have helped you in your search, please share!

Career Fair Success

There are quite a few articles out there about how Career Fairs are fantastic, or how they can be a “waste of time” but my opinion is this: Career Fairs can be a great opportunity to meet new people, market yourself, and build your base of contacts. Any type of job search activity without a plan won’t be successful, which is why preparation is so important. Below, I have outlined some advice which you can hopefully take with you to your next Career Fair.

BEFORE THE CAREER FAIR

Before you attend the fair, get a list of companies attending and see what jobs are currently available. In the majority of cases, you may be able to apply online prior to the event. Make sure your application and resume are edited for each position, showing how your skills and experience can benefit their company.

Make copies of your resume, even if recruiters at the event tell you to just email it (which you may hear a lot). It is better to have it and hand it to an employer, than leave it at home and show up empty handed. Networking cards are also an effective option- a way someone can contact you, alongside your name and a branded line about the skills you have and the type of position you are seeking. Networking cards are smaller and more convenient than carrying around someone’s resume.

Plan out what you are going to wear. Just like an interview, make sure you try on the outfit ahead of time, and make sure it is presentable and professional. Planning what you wear at the last minute will create an added level of stress. Although Career Fairs aren’t as formal as an interview, you should still use this event as an experience to market yourself and leave a positive impression.

Logistically, seek out the location of the event and get an idea of the parking situation. Show up early, but don’t walk into the event very early. I recommend aiming for 15-20 minutes before the event starts. In some cases, there is a waiting area where you can go grab some coffee. Some employer may arrive late because of long travel distances and traffic, so give everyone time, but being early won’t make you hike too far to find your car when it’s done.

DAY OF THE EVENT

As you get to the event and start heading into the building, get a map of the employer layout. Every employer will have some type of signage, but some may strongly overpower others, and a 6 foot standing banner could block a table in a further row. Take time to walk around casually, to scope out the situation.

A common mistake is to rush to your dream employer and get meeting them out of the way. Even if they are your main goal for attending the event, you shouldn’t rush towards them. Give yourself a chance to get comfortable, and introduce yourself to one or two other companies. This will help you work out any potential issues in how you are introducing yourself.

These events will also have school, military, or job center representatives as well- so if you want to pursue any information outside of jobs, there may be opportunities to do so. In Connecticut, we even offer Resume and LinkedIn profile critiques at our Career Fairs, in order to provide a variety of services to keep job seekers competitive and market themselves well.

As you talk to employers, vendors, and representatives at the event, don’t forget to talk to fellow job seekers as well. More popular employers may have longer lines, so don’t be afraid to flash a smile and introduce yourself. Light small talk or a small joke can break the ice and potentially lead to a great networking opportunity. Whenever you talk to anyone, exchange business or networking cards. Take a minute after you part ways and jot a few notes down about them on the back of their card. Write down the topic you discussed, or maybe a personal detail that came up. Small details will help you remember the person and will make for even stronger thank you cards.

AFTER THE CAREER FAIR

When you leave the Career Fair, you will hopefully have quite a few business cards from employers, and maybe some cards from vendors or fellow job seekers as well. Here’s your time to draft up some follow up emails. In general, keep these emails short; around two to four sentences. Long emails may be overwhelming, but a quick, simple email will continue the positive impression you left with the recipient the day prior.

For the content of the email, tell the contact it was nice meeting them at the Career Fair and you wanted to follow up, sharing that you would be happy to be of help to them if they request. If you are writing to an employer, attach your resume or any other documents that may have been requested. If there are further applications or forms you were directed to, make sure you review our tips for online applications.

As an option to replace contacting via email, you can also see if the person you met is on LinkedIn. I recommend reaching out on LinkedIn to those you met who are fellow job seekers. If you are seeking to get in touch with a recruiter or company representative, then read their LinkedIn profile first. Although I wouldn’t be, some may be not like connecting too soon. As everyone is different, you will notice everyone has a different attitude about connecting with others on LinkedIn. If unsure, I would say email is your safest bet.

Overall, Career Fairs can be a great opportunity for networking events. If you want to meet a representative from a company you have been targeting for some time, then it is in your best interest to get out there and meet with the employer. If nothing else, making connections with fellow job seekers can strengthen your job search dramatically. Practicing how you introduce and market yourself to an employer will also be a skill you will use throughout the rest of your career. So let me know in the poll below, do you find Career Fairs beneficial?

Job Search Planning

 

plan

 

Success comes from hard work, and job search success takes planning.  When looking for your next position, ask yourself-

1.       Do I know what I want to do?  Can I do that here?  Do I need any further education or training to be qualified for this type of work?

This is a question only you can answer, but there are plenty of skills and interest assessment tools out there to help.  MySkillsMyFuture.org and MyNextMove.org can help get the ideas rolling if you are stuck.  Career counselors and workshops provided at local American Job Centers can also help you narrow down your choices.

Always compare your target occupation against Labor Market Information to see if that job is currently growing or if that position is popular in your area.  Some jobs are only available in major cities, so determining your target job can make you weigh a lot of factors.  Am I willing or capable of moving?  If I stay here, would I be happy to do another type of job?  Do I have the skills to do another type of job?

 If you need further education or training, there are many free online training programs sponsored by the American Job Centers, or see if local college or training programs are an option.  Depending on the career path, sometimes there is funding or assistance available for training.

 

2.      Who knows I am looking for work?

 Make sure your friends and family know you are looking.  When you speak with them, give them a brief overview of what you did and what you would like to do next.  If you’re open to different types of work, be specific.  Avoid saying you’d “Take anything,” because it is off-putting and defeats your purpose.  Saying you’re open to anything sounds like you’re not really focused on anything.  If you don’t know what you want, how can someone else properly refer you?  Keep in contact with your network and help them when you can so they can remember you if a fitting lead comes up.

Catching up with friends or family, going to an alumni or industry-related event, connecting with people through social media, or joining job search groups are just a few ways you can grow your network.  It may be difficult for shyer folks to “put yourself out there” but with research from the first step, knowing what you want may be a confidence boost on its own.  There are also lots of networking event ice breakers you can look up, but being friendly and helpful are always recommended.

 

3.     What am I using to market myself?

 Now that you know what you want to do, and you have researched the skills to take to do it (or are in a training program gaining the knowledge or experience needed,) you’ll need to develop some marketing materials.  Your resume is crucial, and will be supplemented by any other materials an employer can see or will receive.

If you’re applying to a position directly, be sure to optimize your materials with keywords so you make the match for the employer and show you are qualified for the job.

When posting your resume online such as on CT.jobs, be sure you title your resume something related to your field.  “Human Resources Manager” or “Results-Oriented Sales Representative” is better than “Tom Smith Resume” because the employer searches resumes on CT.jobs by keywords.

Searching job postings nationally will give you an array of keywords that are common across your target positions.  Save a list of these keywords so you can use them in context throughout your resume or application materials.

Resumes and application materials are supplemented by any online networking sites you have joined.  It is important to establish an online presence because many employers “Google” candidates prior to interviews.  In the same way that you do not want to be screened out for an improper Facebook photograph, you also want to be noticed for your positive contributions on the web.  Joining and engaging with other industry professionals on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn will reflect positively on you.  By default, Google will typically list these pages first if you actively use them and they are a great way to strengthen your reputation and positive image ever before any interview.

 

 

Targeting, Networking, and Marketing are essential for job search success.  Lay out a plan for yourself and create a list of realistic and manageable goals to complete these steps one at a time.  Like any activity, you get out of it what you put it.  Stay energized and motivated, and if you feel that negative self-talk is defeating your job search, disrupt your routine and try a new approach.  There are hundreds of ways to network and market yourself.  Finding what works for you and what makes the phone ring will take some planning and experimenting, but these tips should get you started.

When your #Resolution is to get back into the #Workforce: FAQ

By George Bernocco, CPRW

A new year brings about new promises, hopes, dreams and goals. Will this year be better than the last? In terms of the job market, we hope so. Over 1.3 million people are losing their unemployment extensions at the end of 2013 and now must look to the New Year with uncertainty about employment and employability. Let us look at some of the factors that will come into play for the 2014 job market:

Is the job market getting any better?

Yes. Slowly but surely the job market numbers have gotten better, especially towards the end of 2013. Every state is different, but Connecticut has improved recently in the fourth quarter. Unemployment rates across the board are shrinking, jobless claims are also going down and jobs are being created. The year to come looks promising when we observe what happened to the job market in 2013.

What will employers be hiring for?

Many different sources can point to many different directions, but I feel confident saying that technology and healthcare jobs will be at the forefront of hiring. Especially if any of the jobs cross over due to the new healthcare laws. Technology is an extremely important skill to have, whether is using a computer to creating an “app” for a tablet, the world has become more reliant on technology.

How will employers hire?

Marketing your skills successfully has always been the best way to get employment. I feel that the 2014 year will still be an “employer market” where companies can be pickier about whom they hire because of the amount of job seekers. Continuing to build a digital presence to get noticed by employers will follow through into 2014. Some of the items to obtain employment that will continue are:

  • Professional resumes and LinkedIn profiles
  • In-person interviews and videoconference/teleconference interviews
  • Cover letters and thank you letters; cover letter e-mails and thank you e-mails
  • Networking and social media
  • Online applications

Will I be paid enough?

Across the United States, at least 14 states (including Connecticut), will raise their minimum wages. Some of them are even adjusting their laws regarding how they go about raising the wage every year. The federal government is also looking at raising the federal minimum wage. Average rates of pay across the United States have increased by 3% for 2013, and are expected to continue for 2014.

Moving on towards 2014, our country is recovering from a long and difficult recession. The important part is that we are recovering and it may take a long time for the entire nation to feel parts of that recovery. Continuing to pursue your ideal opportunity, working on your digital presence and networking to break into the job market will all assist you in 2014.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

new years

Sources:

http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/compensation/articles/pages/2014-salary-increases-flat.aspx

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/24/256879640/living-wage-effort-eclipsed-by-minimum-pay-battles

http://www.careerinfonet.org

http://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/lmi/index.asp

#Interview Success: Align Your #Goal

By George Bernocco, CPRW

alignment-1024x790

If you want to pass the interview and get the job, it revolves around a simple idea. You were selected to see if you match what the company is looking for. Even though it is considered an “employer market”, it is important for your goals to align with the company’s goals.

Alignment

1372712534_planetary_alignment_by_eviloverseer-d33wbgf

Companies want to know if you can do the job, simple enough. The company has goals of their own which usually involve staying in business and getting more business. An employer also wants to know if you mesh with their idea of a perfect candidate. A necessary question you must ask the employer during an interview is:

“What is your idea of a qualified candidate?”

Their response will give you the information required to correctly align yourself as that qualified person. However, it is important for you to know what your plans are if you get hired.

1. Is this job a place you plan on staying for a while?

2. Are you going to be seeking a promotion?

3. What is your ultimate goal when you get within the company walls?

These are questions employers are wondering, even if they do not come out and ask during the interview. The questions they do ask will give them an idea of what your goals are. Assumptions will be made, and it is important for you to either verify or adjust any assumption the employer makes. For example, if you are considered “overqualified” for the position, the assumption might be made that you will not be at the company for long because you may be offered something that better suits your qualifications.

When you identify any incorrect assumptions about your goals, and correct them during the interview, you have aligned your goals with that of the employer. Addressing the issues at hand can be a direct question asked to the employer:

“Is there anything I have mentioned during this interview that concerns you?”

The direct approach can work in your favor, but it is up to you to determine if it is appropriate to ask and to have the courage to ask it. Once you’ve demonstrated that your goals are similar to the employers, you’ve successfully passed the interview. Qualified candidates have the ability to ask questions to the employer during the interview to gauge what they are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they think about you as it can help you stand out in a positive manner.