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.

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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!

Not too little, not too much: Attaching documents to your application

By George Bernocco, CPRW

paperwork

The job posting was designed to identify those who can read through and understand the job. The first part requires an ability to pay attention to detail. Words they use, required versus preferred, job description details and much more. I advise most people to go line by line, identify words the posting uses more than once.

The second part of the job posting is designed to test your ability to follow instructions. Usually the ad gives directions to those interested in applying for the position. These instructions are so important to the job application process because you must assume it is a test. If you fail to follow the instructions, your resume along with anything else you sent them will be put in a “Do Not Interview” pile. Here is how to secure yourself in the “Interview” pile:

 Always Send a Cover Letter

If the application just asks for your resume, it means your resume and cover letter. If the application states “Cover Letter Optional”, assume it is mandatory. With the vast amount of applications a company will receive, the easiest way for employers to weed out those not to interview is take out the ones who did not send a cover letter. Cover letters are standard and expected, even if the job application makes no reference to them. They are your first means of dialogue with the potential employer.

 Send Salary Requirements Only When Asked

Not all job postings require you to submit your salary requirements. If you submit them without asking, it can easily disqualify you because it is too high or even too low for the employer. When they ask, you should incorporate the salary requirements into a fourth paragraph of your cover letter. Be aware that some employers may feel the answer “Negotiable” is not a real answer to their question. If you are really unsure what to write, do your research into your field and go by the median salary in your career.

 Watch Out for Scams

Identity thieves can easily make a posting look real and request personal information. You should always be cautious about who you are sending your information to. Call the places to confirm they are an actual employer. Always be wary if they ask for your social security card and/or birth certificate in the first stages of the application process.

 Attach Anything an Online Application Asks For

Online applications within a website usually allow you to upload all different types of documents. They could be transcripts, reference letters, reference names, or certifications. The website might list some of these as optional, but your best bet is to complete the application as much as possible. The closer you are to 100% completed, the more likely they will contact you for an interview. You should try to prepare these materials ahead of time as online applications can have a time limit to complete. Do not send every document you have if the job posting does not mention them and the job application has no place to upload them. Assume you can submit this later on when they ask for it. Employers are overwhelmed with the amount of applications as it is which is why they only request certain documents at certain stages of the application process.