6 Resume Tips from Employers

As an Employment Services Specialist, I find it valuable to reference specific employer preferences/concerns when offering job search advice, presenting workshops or justifying resume edits. So, when I had the opportunity to attend a career fair recently I made a point to talk to recruiters, HR personnel and employers about resumes. I wanted to know what they liked and what common mistakes they saw. Here is what I found:

List a professional email address on the resume. I was ready to write this off as a cliché until I heard it cost someone an interview. Employers consistently mentioned this as a common mistake found on resumes! Check your resume, if there is something other than a combination of first/last name take a few minutes and create a new email address.

Customize the resume to each job. Yes, this is tough to do for career fairs since there are many employers and you might not know who is attending. Your best strategy is to try and find an attendees list, identify a few employers from that list to target then build customized resumes accordingly. If you have to use a generic resume, still provide one to the employer but get a business card and tell them you will email a customized resume later in the day (or next day). An added bonus is you’ve created a follow up opportunity.

Headline Statements are awesome. The headline statement is an occupational title geared toward the job you are seeking. On the resume it appears just below your contact information. The Employer likes this because it is easy to identify the candidate’s job target.

Self-serving Objectives are not awesome. Again, kind of a cliché, yet still mentioned as a common mistake. Remember, employers want to see how your skills benefit them not that you want a full time position with opportunities for growth and fulfillment as a…

Don’t fear the applicant tracking system. Applicant tracking systems are tools to help organize the chaos associated with hundreds or thousands of applications. Follow best practices when completing online applications and resumes such as using proper grammar, matching wording to job requirements, etc. Instead of blaming applicant tracking systems for not getting interviews, work on things you can control like having a resume critique and networking.

Print resumes on resume paper. Resume paper enhances the appearance of the document and shows you are willing to go that extra step. Most resumes employers see at job fairs are printed on regular paper which detracts from the quality. Resume paper and printing is available at no cost at American Job Centers across CT (www.ct.gov/dol).

Looking back, I am glad I took advantage of the opportunity to network with hiring personnel and employers at the career fair. I met very nice people who were willing to share their insight on resumes. If you are considering attending a career fair or are searching for work, hopefully these tips will help you land an interview.

Advertisements

Interviewing 101: Relax!

By George Bernocco

“What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind!” – Homer Simpson

You’ve done it. A call has come in scheduling you for an interview. You’ve been practicing with your friends, family and even your hairdresser about how to answer interview questions. The interview date is approaching, everything is lining up for this dream job you are hoping GOING to get. You’ve planned your route, outfit, childcare, meals for the day. The routine is set and the big day has finally arrived.

Now what?

Feeling nervous is the body’s natural response to perceived stress. Everyone reacts differently to stress but it can be described in various forms: butterflies in your stomach, shortness of breath, body pain, sweating, and migraines are just some of the symptoms. As you can imagine, these might distract you from your interview game. So now, let us talk about ways to minimize, if not remove, these symptoms that can affect your big day.

  1. Look before you leap

Planning ahead will minimize your stress immensely. Nothing can stress you out more than being stuck in traffic and your interview is in two minutes, or not finding the required interview paperwork before you leave to your interview. Making the interview day as easy as possible by planning ahead will give you more of a sense of control, and control is good. Scrambling around for unwrinkled interview pants on the day of the interview may leave you flustered and it can impact the interview negatively. Plan anything and everything, down to when you will leave your house to how many copies of your résumé will already be printed out.

  1. Rock-a-bye

Going along with planning your day, you will also want to plan the night before. Getting the right amount of sleep can help reduce stress. This involves being your own parent and instituting a bed time. Save the all night benders for your celebration and the Netflix marathon for another time. Ensure your alarm is set before you go to bed and start counting sheep.

  1. Nitrogen-Oxygen-Argon-Carbon Dioxide-Methane

Taking moments during your big day to slowly inhale and exhale will produce a calming feeling. As you read this post, hopefully you have tried taking a deep breath in and released it slowly. Doesn’t that feel good? Even if you are not experiencing shortness of breath, the slow breathing will give you pause and more of a sense of control.

  1. “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Stay positive! Look into that mirror and compliment yourself. Use this to assure yourself that the position is right for you. Providing yourself with this positive outlook will make the interview hurdle seem that much smaller. Also, believing you are fit and right for the job will become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the interviewer will believe it too. Doubt and negativity will only impact your interview poorly, so make sure you spend some time casting doubts aside.

  1. Crochet your day away

When you’ve done the planning for the interview and you have spare time, spend it doing the things you love. Hobbies keep us entertained, relaxed and sane, so it makes sense to use this to your advantage. Go for a run, peruse through your stamp collection, finish that 3-D puzzle or turn on your X Box. Just like dessert comes after the meal, use your hobby as a treat for all your interview preparation. If you’re using your hobby in place of preparation, then it’s counterproductive and just regular old procrastination.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the things to do to stay calm, let’s discuss some of the things not to do. We are going to turn our attention to the interview itself, which may be the most stressful time out of the whole ordeal. All employers/recruiters know interviews can be stressful and the interviewee is most likely nervous. By the interviewee appearing more confident rather than nervous, the employer will have more confidence in you. When we are nervous, even just a little bit, we all have bad habits. Here is a list of habits to avoid doing as they can distract the interviewer so that you, the interviewee, can appear more confident:

  1. Fidgeting

Shuffling around in your seat, crossing and uncrossing your legs, looking all around the room, touching your face, playing with your hands. Avoid all of the above and keep your focus on the interviewer(s). Locking eye contact with the interviewer will have you less likely to shuffle around and more focused and “honed in”.

  1. Biting your nails

Avoid at all costs. If you are a nail-biter, keep your hands folded during the interview. Usually people who nail bite don’t even realize they are doing it, so at the start of the interview keep your hands folded in your lap or on the table in front of you.

  1. Playing with your hair

Not only does this nervous habit demonstrate anxiety, but it can also be tied to other negative opinions about you. The interviewer may feel you appear uncertain when you listen/talk while twirling your curls. Lock your hands by folding them in front of you, like the nail-biters, to prevent you from doing this.

  1. Biting your lip or cheek

Biting your lip or cheek subliminal indicates to the employer that you are uncertain or even deceptive. You want to avoid it at all costs. By constantly smiling, it makes it harder to bite your mouth and chew on your lip. So smile away, and that is much more of a positive action.

Realistic #Networking Advice

By Erica Tew, CPRW

What is networking?

It is introducing yourself to people, forming relationships, and maintaining these relationships through effective communication.

Communication is about making decisions. You decide who you want to approach and how you want to do so.  Factors that can influence these decisions depend on what you know about the other party, their preferred method of communication, and the level of your relationship with that person.

When job seekers ignore these factors and abruptly ask strangers for jobs, or to find jobs for them, they are usually frustrated with the lack of success. This is because the strategy is only focused for the benefit of one person, the job seeker.

Why is networking so difficult?

I think it is because we place extra pressure on ourselves when job seeking. Networking becomes another burdensome task, like writing your resume or blocking away three hours of your day to fill out an online job application. Yet we all know networking does not have to be one of those things. If the terminology is causing you stress, drop it and focus on meeting other real people.

To put networking in perspective, think of your circle: your friends, family, and colleagues. Who, within these circles, actively networks? Your 8 year old niece who leverages social prowess and gets invited to Susan’s sleepover party. Your grandmother who raises funds for her church by hosting events and bake sales, managing to get donations from even the tightest of purses. Fred, the guy you hike with on Saturdays, who just landed a new client to get promoted. Your friend from high school who dropped out of college and now runs a successful online business. Networking is actively done by many parties who may never directly label their actions as “networking.”

How do you network?

Reach out to people you already know- family, friends, colleagues, etc. Provide some basics. When people say, “I need a job, any job,” the sentiment is understandable, but it makes the search so broad and open ended it feels insurmountable. Focusing on a specific job will not only help your own search, but it will help narrow down the focus for your friends who may scout around for you.

Explain what types of skills you have and try not to overuse the word “job.” Although you are looking for work, be open to advice and introductions. This is the development of your career for the long term, not only as a means for your next position. Effective networking continues as you regain employment.

Typically, people are more receptive when you ask for their opinion (as long as you ask politely and make sure they have the time to do so). To illustrate this, compare the two statements below:

  1. “Hi, I’m looking for a job. Can you alert me when there are openings at your company?”
  2. “Hi Mark, Hope you are doing well. I was wondering if I could get a few minutes of your time. I’m currently looking for a position in customer service, and was wondering if you had any advice about starting in the field. …”

Which message would you prefer? Although the first would be easy for a friend, it may be a lot of extra work for a stranger. The second is much more personalized and starts with a conversation, making this option more inviting. When you reach out to contacts, especially those you may not know very well yet, try to personalize the message and not ask too much too soon.

Long-Term Success

As you network, focus on creating lasting relationships. Make your contact attempts without holding high expectations. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond. Be open to any advice or feedback from your network. Learning one new thing can have the potential to dramatically improve your job search.

Additionally, actively listening is key to a successful relationship and develops more personalized bonds between people. When meeting new people, listen more than you share. This information will gauge your perceptions about how the contact prefers to communicate and if there is a possibility of a mutually-beneficial relationship.

The strategies in networking assist in a job search because the more people that know you well and trust you, the faster you will get responses back regarding feedback, advice, referrals, or job openings. Networking is not about what others can do for you, but about the quality of the relationships you develop.

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?

Turn Cold Contacting into Lukewarm Contacting

Aside from an interview, cold contacting for job opportunities is one of the most nerve racking experiences a job seeker can go through. Without the right preparation, phone calls can be awkward, visiting the local coffee shop to meet the manager can turn into a lifetime ban and your cold contact letters might end up back in your mailbox with RTS written all over them. Nevertheless, getting to know people is networking and networking is the best way to get reemployed. Here are some ways to make cold contacting less terrible.

 

First, don’t take it personal. Dealing with the stress of a job search is tough and your emotions can be running high. This is time to put on your “I can do it” hat and get down to business. Would a successful sales person lose their cool after a customer hung up on them? No, they dust off the phone and move onto the next opportunity because persistence becomes success.

 

Develop a strategy. Some ways to cold contact are; phone call, in person, mail (postal and email) and through social media. Begin by determining which is the most effective and appropriate method for your target industry. For example, visiting a restaurant between meal times can be perfectly acceptable whereas swinging into the local hospital HR is not. In either case, is always best to establish a contact through your network before you reach out to a company. This turns the cold contact into a lukewarm contact. If you can’t get an internal contact, don’t get discouraged; your professionalism and courtesy will win out.

 

Research to get prepared. To get ideas for dialogue, review the company’s website, LinkedIn and Facebook page(s) and search for job postings. Focus on industry trends, skills related to the position, their products and other details that interest you. Consider this, you can call a company and say, “I offer an extensive background selling xyz, a product that is similar to yours and I am interested in learning of any openings you may have.” Or, “I am unemployed and I am interested in job opportunities with your company.” The former states what you can do for the company, whereas, the latter asks what can they do for you.

 

Use foresight. An estimated 70% of the time, the HR representative will tell you to apply online. Avoid this hurdle by searching for job openings prior to contacting a company. If you see an opening, apply then make your contact. When you contact the company, explain you have applied to the job, however, you are so interested in the position you did not want to leave your résumé to fate of cyberspace. As a Job Developer, I had many of these conversations for my clients, one of which was with a nationally known home improvement store. During a phone call, I was ensured HR would review all online applications and schedule interviews based on qualifications. After politely requesting alternative methods for increasing my chances, I was invited into the store to speak with a department manager.

 

Practice, practice, practice. I know, “it’s only practice.” But in reality, practicing with someone will break the rust off. Friends and family are always good to embarrass yourself in front of or you can check out a reemployment service provider.

 

Take chances and be assertive. If you want something, use your wit and guts and go get it. Attitude is everything in the job searching world, expect challenges but also expect SUCCESS.

#Resume & Job Search Advice for Older Workers

1) Do not list every job you’ve ever had.

Your resume is not your life story. Think of it as a marketing document to sell your experience, skills, and achievements. This document should be customized specifically for the job you are targeting. In simpler terms? If you are applying for a job as a Manufacturing Manager, your experience as a part-time barista during college may not hold any value. If you are concerned about leaving a job out of your resume because it may show a gap in employment, then focus on the transferable skills. What details can you draw from that experience that will impress a hiring manager in the Manufacturing industry?

2) Do not provide unnecessary details.

Why did you leave your last job? That is a common interview question. Information about plant closures or involuntary discharges does not need to be listed on the resume. Instead, develop an answer that will briefly explain what happened without going negative. Wait to share this answer, if asked, during the interview.

Personal details such as marital status, appearance, health conditions, or children, should not be on your resume. Keep everything related to the job. Sharing personal information is not only unnecessary, but it may also open you up for potential discrimination. Marketing your skills and abilities is the focus.

3) Unless you need a CV, try to keep the document to two pages.

This isn’t a hard rule, but most hiring managers prefer if resumes stick to one or two pages. If you have over ten years of working experience, two pages may suit you better than trying to squeeze important information onto one page. If you are changing careers, maybe one page of related skills and experience may be enough. A combination of selecting only appropriate information needed to market you well for the job and formatting skills for margins, font size, and spacing to make the document readable, will help you stay within the one to two page maximum. Keep in mind, hiring managers do not get a lot of time to read through everyone’s resume. The resume is your advertisement explaining why the hiring manager should interview you, and you do not want to waste that space. Grab the hiring manager’s attention by showing how you can make an impact to the company: show a history of achievement, a competitive skill set, or any variety of details that relate to the job.

4) Do not use a generic resume objective.

With the competition for job openings, you need your resume to stand out. If the very first section under your contact information states you are “Seeking a rewarding and fulfilling full-time opportunity at XYZ Industries,” then the resume will probably not make an impact on the hiring manager. The standard resume objective only serves to share what you want from the employer, not what you can do for the employer. The standard resume objective may also be risky if there is an oversight and it isn’t customized. No employer would want to see a resume stating the objective is to work for the competition.

Make this first section show who you are and what you can do. “Results-oriented Manufacturing Manager offering proven record of improving processes and optimizing resources” can pique interest, especially if followed by a section that highlights specific, related career achievements.

5) Customize a cover letter with every application.

Similar to a standard resume objective, many applicants send the same generic cover letter. The cover letter can be a great opportunity to showcase writing skill and further make the match for the employer as to why you would be a great fit for the position. Do not reiterate your resume, but highlight a few key points and explain how your skills could benefit the company. Conducting some research before applying can help your cover letter stand out even more. Does the company have regular community service involvement? Share your volunteer experience to show why this company, specifically, would be your ideal company (in addition to why you are qualified for the job). Furthermore, if a specific colleague from your network advised you to apply for the job, the cover letter can be your opportunity to mention them. Employee referrals are more likely to get a chance to interview than someone going in “cold”.

6) Register for online job applications.

Nearly every company will make you complete an online job application. Hesitancy to provide personal information is understandable. However, many companies make applicants register with their website prior to applying for the job. In some instances, this registration can enhance the applicant experience (but we all understand, in many instances, this can feel like a major pain in the neck). For positive example, by registering on some company application websites, you can check the status of your application, maintain a log of jobs to which you have applied, continuously update your resume, and upload additional documents to make applying to future positions easier and easier. Not all websites are like this, but many registrations allow you to access certain features that may make applying a little easier. What the job seeker must do is maintain a list usernames and passwords, kept in a secure location or create log-in IDs and passwords you can easily remember. Only in very rare circumstances can you “bypass” the online job application. Even with getting a referral and interview by networking, there may still be some HR protocol to keep an application on file for every employee. Depending on how many applications you submit to companies, this list may be long, so organization is crucial.

7) Learn how to tell if a website is secure.

When registering to application websites online, you may be asked to first provide your name, city of residence, and birthdate. This is the same amount of information needed to create an email address. It is smart to play it safe; do not arbitrarily give out this information. In the same respect, online job applications cannot easily be ignored because they request this information. A few key features to look for are the “s” in the URL. A typical URL starts with “http://example…” but a secure page will have an “s” after the “http” such as in https://examplewebsite.com. HyperText Transfer Protocol and HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Additionally, there will be an image of a lock, either in the address bar, or placed somewhere on the bottom of the browser. When you hover your mouse over the image of the lock, there will be more information available about the security of the website. If you view the Certificate of Security, you can see whether or not the Certificate is still valid. If it is valid, you are usually safe to proceed forward. This advice also applies for online shopping, when you must enter your credit card information, or a variety of online activities. For future reference: review this infographic.

8) Most importantly, network.

Networking is one of the most successful ways to learn about job leads. Keep in touch with family, friends, past co-workers, neighbors, and anyone you know who may be able to keep an ear out for you. Make a list of your contacts who work at a company you would like to learn more about, or who may have contacts at a company for which you want to work. General etiquette will always apply; don’t expect everyone to be willing to help, but the more people that know you are looking, the more people you will have who can possibly get you information about a potential lead. Always try to offer your help for anything before asking for any favors, or show willingness to help out if needed.

Volunteering can provide recent experience on your resume as well as help build your network. Going online and joining social networking sites will also make networking easier. LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook (among many other sites) can be used for professional networking purposes. In a previous post, our author George provided a break-down of the top ten social media sites, and how you can use them for job search.

Overall, a successful job search means you employ various methods until you find what works for you. Network in person and online, get your resume reviewed by both colleagues in your field and CPRWs at a local American Job Center, customize cover letters to market more of your selling points, and don’t be too nervous to fill out an online job application if you need to. There are many other strategies out there. This experience can be a learning process, and the American Job Centers offer many no-cost workshops to help you build skills or learn new ways to search.

5 Tips: What to Do at the #Interview

When you make it to the interview, you want to be on point. Prepare answers ahead of time that show situations, actions you took, and results to respond to many behavioral questions. Research the company: the company culture, mission, news, and services, can help you relate your skills in a way that shows benefit to the hiring manager. The interview will go even smoother if you follow this advice:

1. Silence your cell phone

giphy2

Most people will say to shut off your cell phone or leave it in the car. However, if you use it to schedule appointments, you may want it handy if asked for a follow up appointment or date for a second interview. If your phone does go off, it’s not an immediate “fail.” It all depends on how you recover. Don’t look at who is calling; just shut it down and apologize immediately to continue.

2. Smile

giphy5

Sure, interviews make everyone nervous. It may be a combination of nerves and adrenaline, but researching and practice will help build your confidence before the interview. If you’re too worried about how you sound or are constantly wondering if you relayed everything you wanted to say, your face may not read that you’re someone who is excited about the opportunity. Take a moment, breathe, and smile right when you shake hands. If this is a phone interview, smile as you talk as well. Your voice transforms when you’re smiling and makes you sound more enthusiastic and engaged. Plus, everyone likes being around a friendly person. Would you want to work everyday alongside someone who constantly keeps a serious face on?

3. Don’t talk money or benefits

giphy3

Unless specifically asked by the interviewer, do not be the first to bring up pay or benefits. Save these questions for the job offer. The interview is a business meeting where you and the employer are trying to see if you will be a quality match for the position. Show that you can do the job and you want to work for the company. It can be a major turn off if a candidate doesn’t use this time well, but rather just asks how much they would make. If the interviewer does bring this information up first, research average salaries from Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information website. Always provide a range for salary to avoid being too expensive or underselling yourself. For more information on Salary Negotiations, see George’s post.

4. Speak clearly and avoid the “Yeahs, Ummms, and Likes”

giphy4

If you need to briefly pause and think about your answer before responding, take the time to do it. The interviewer may need you to be a representative of the company, and depending on how you present yourself, speech included, your casual way of speaking may be off-putting. “Umms” and “Like” are fillers that can be reduced by practicing your answers beforehand. I am guilty of the “Yeah” abuse, but in an interview, the answer is always “Yes”.

5. Dress Appropriately

giphy

You can never go wrong with a button-down/blouse and dress pants/conservative skirt. This rule can be modified from company to company. Some company cultures prefer very professional attire. If that’s the case, then suit jackets and ties should be worn. Everyone can benefit from having at least one great suit in their closet. If the office is more casual, perhaps replace the dress pants for some khakis. Research the company and try to match what the manager would be wearing. Ask ahead of time if you think you may be touring any facilities that may require boots, a hardhat, or similar special circumstances. In general, I don’t know of a time where shorts, flipflops, sweatpants, anything low-cut, or anything revealing could be considered acceptable interview attire. Try on your outfit ahead of time to ensure proper fit, and remember: you want to be noticed for what you said, not what you wore. For more on this topic, check out Uriela’s blog post about appropriate interview attire.

If you have questions or concerns about these suggestions or anything related to your upcoming interview, please drop us a line in the comments below!

[All gifs thanks to giphy!]

Re-Boot Your #OnlinePresence

Every new graduate should see the value in maintaining a solid, professional online presence.  Hiring managers and recruiters could be searching for you online at any point in the job search process. Are they seeing digital gold or digital dirt? Your online presence can validate your candidacy and effectively market you to stand out against the competition.

 

  1. Google Yourself

 

Take control of your online reputation. Try Googling yourself to see if you have any digital dirt in cyberspace. Growing up with the internet means you’ve been going online long before you thought about your career. Information about you (good or bad) may still exist in the form of online journals, games, forums or personal websites.

 

  1. Create Profiles on Social and Professional Networks

 

It’s time to re-boot your online presence. Develop new content on social networking sites, blogs, or personal pages to market yourself and your value as a candidate. To show up on the first page of search results, join sites that have a high Google ranking like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Use social media to your advantage: remove any content under your control that is no longer relevant.

 

  1. Complete Your Profiles

 

So you’re on LinkedIn and Twitter. The only way they will help you stand out is if you complete your profiles. Many sites have step-by-step instructions for completing profiles on these networks. These sites are an opportunity to market yourself and complement your resume. They will only be worthwhile if they contain information that isn’t simply a copy and paste of your resume. LinkedIn can showcase your recommendations, endorsements, previous work history, awards, or skills that you didn’t have the opportunity to discuss in the interview.

 

Not completing your profile or leaving sections blank may not hurt your job search, but it is a missed opportunity that most cannot afford in this competitive market.

 

  1. 3 P’s: Public, Professional, and Presentable

 

Employers want to learn more about you and see if the person they interviewed is the same out of the office. If you prefer to keep your profile private, just remember that everything online has the potential to go public. A friend can retweet you from your private Twitter, you can be tagged in posts on Facebook, and friends can take screenshots on any app or platform.

 

Nothing online is ever truly private, so be proactive. Try finding a way to refine your regular use of social media.  Improve your chances of securing a second interview or job offer by showing hiring managers you present yourself professionally.

 

Some employers look up candidates to determine cultural fit.  Sharing your love of hiking may work in your favor, but your political views may be another story. Make sure any questionable content is removed. Leave any groups or unlike any pages that stir controversy or could be seen as a red flag to an employer.

 

And Remember…

 

Taking extra steps to ensure you market yourself effectively will make you stand out from the competition. Don’t overlook these details – start managing your online reputation today!

#JobSearch: You are the #Brand; Your Skills are the #Product

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Brand-Story

If you’ve ever tried to sell something to prospective buyers before, you may understand the concept of marketing. Trying to match what the buyers are looking for with the goods you have to offer. When you create a “Brand”, you are not only trying to match the buyer’s needs but you are trying to distinguish yourself and your merchandise from other vendors/products out there. Making your product stand out from the rest sells your product and thus creates a brand.

When we apply the concepts of marketing and creating a brand to job search, not much has changed. The product you are trying to sell is your skills. To create your brand essentially means that you get your brand name out into the market so that it can be found by interested parties. Word of mouth is a very popular marketing tool, which is why job search networking is crucial. The idea behind having a strong network is to have network contacts recommending your brand name product (your skills) to a prospective buyer (employer). By having more and more people discussing your product, your brand name has begun to develop a “presence”. By having a presence, you’ve become recognizable, memorable, relatable and authentic.

Let’s step back to think about some of the day to day items we purchase. There are some brands I prefer over others, and it depends upon my experiences with these brands. Commercials we see on television, or even before a YouTube video, are all about trying to make a company’s product real to you. When you are applying for work, you are on the business end of trying to make yourself real to a company. Interviews can be viewed as a live-action commercial, or “infomercial”, to the employer. Some commercials are more interesting and relatable than others, which is why we don’t buy everything that we see on TV.

So we’ve established network contacts that will also provide “word of mouth” recommendations about you. Now what is the next step to getting our brand out there? We can follow the business model of how companies get their name out there. Business cards, for example, sell a company’s product easily because they can be passed on to interested parties who have a reminder of their services. They are small little reminders about services and goods that are portable and easy to carry. Networking cards are identical to business cards and with the only difference being that you are the brand and your skills are the products being offered.

To take your brand development to the next level, technology has the potential to move your brand name through the world. Much like commercials have expanded from billboard ads to radio to television and now online videos, we must get our brand out there and up to date with current trends. The internet is an exceptional tool for you to utilize to get your name recognizable. As soon as you created any sort of profile that is visible to anyone else on the internet, you’ve started what we call a “digital presence”. Facebook, LinkedIn, a personal blog, Twitter, and much more can be all tied to your digital presence. You should select each social networking site carefully with the goal of controlling your digital presence. How you market yourself on these websites is imperative to your brand name. An employer wouldn’t hire an potential employee who has images of them doing drugs on Facebook much like you wouldn’t buy a car that catches fire in their commercial, nor would you probably trust the car-maker brand name. To sell your product, you must protect and maintain an “image” for your brand. In regards to your job search, your image should be professional, interesting and relevant.

Be aware of what may hurt your image when it comes to your digital presence. Much like a bad review at a restaurant can hurt its business; a negative search with your name can hurt your chances of getting a job. Your brand must be solid and dependable, which will reflect your product (the work you do).

Being a member of organizations and being published in relation to the work you do also assist with developing your brand. If your name is out there where employers can trace your work, you have successfully developed something that the potential employers can identify with. Just be aware that other information outside of your field could help or hurt. It is important to know what is out there regarding your product.

When you create your own brand and market your abilities as your product, you are answering the employer’s question: “Why should I hire you over the other candidates?” Identifying your strengths as brand name recognition will put you ahead of the candidates. In the end, the employer will select a brand (candidate) that is most in line with their goals and fits well with their corporate environment.

Different #Generations in the Workplace

generationcomic

What bothers me is that most of these articles take on the tone of “How to deal with ____ generation.”  That tone is the problem.  You’re seeking advice on ways to work with a diverse group of people and the tone of the article is negative from the start.  Our perception of an experience comes from the choices we make, and our mindset going into a situation can define that experience as positive or negative.

image via infinityconcepts.net/

image via infinityconcepts.net

Many times, generations get unfairly labeled.  You can’t label an entire group of people born within X number of years and expect those views to reflect in every workplace.  Stereotypes will always be stereotypes.  A stereotype, by its very definition, is “an oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing.”  When we oversimplify each other, we begin to oversimplify the human experience and what it means to really get to know one another.  I don’t think I could morally brush someone off because  I believe I think I know about their work ethic simply because I’ve Googled it.

For example, I saw this picture online that said, “My mom says she’s ‘bad at computers because her generation is bad with them,’ and then I remind her Bill Gates is part of her generation.” There are always exceptions! I feel these articles are creating a passive-aggressive tension between generations and other bloggers and I would like it to stop.

I know anecdotal evidence is a flawed argument but my goal is just to make everyone take all of these “Generational Advice” articles with a grain of salt.  I believe if you like what you do, you work hard, and you develop emotional intelligence to mitigate damage to communications- you will most likely not find difficulty in the workplace.  Humor also has this fantastic way of transcending personal factors. I’ve worked in many offices and everyone has had a great sense of humor… thank goodness. You can’t work with people all day long and not find ways to make one another laugh.  (You physically can’t- don’t try it! It would be bad for your health!)

Please don’t take this post to mean a homogenous workplace could be just as good as a diverse workplace.  Perhaps it could, yes, but I truly believe you need diversity in opinions, levels of experience, and varying specialties for an organization to reach its potential.  When it comes to working in an office with multiple generations, I believe the best advice is to just treat people like people.  If you’re new and looking for advice, here:  take a deep breath, smile, and introduce yourself to your coworkers.  You will get to know everyone in time.