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.

Advertisements

Tattoos and Piercings at the Interview

By Erica Tew, CPRW

Recently, the question of tattoos and piercings at the interview arose and we debated what was appropriate.  We stuck with the conservative approach as general guidance: always cover up best you can in a professional outfit, and possibly remove any facial piercings. The goal is to be remembered for what you said, not your appearance. 

However, there is another layer to this subject I would like to address.  Before I delve into it, I want to share a few ground rules. I do not think under any circumstances should you show a tattoo that is religious, political, or offensive (lewd imagery, foul language, or gory/violent) in any way. I also think facial piercings should be on the smaller side, to not take too much attention away from your words.

Personally, I am a fan of tattoos and piercings. I think the creativity and skill involved in a well-done tattoo can be really beautiful.  I have a few of my own and have even weighed the interview appearance question on whether or not an industrial piercing or a nose ring should be removed. In my conservative workplace, a small nose ring is becoming very common, but I still tend to cover the industrial with my hair down.

Depending on your company’s culture and attire, tattoos or piercings may be acceptable, or even welcomed.  For example, there is a common belief that you should never trust a tattoo artist that doesn’t have any tattoos of their own.  It happens, but it is really difficult for an artist to make it without some of their own. Places that typically do not mind tattoos could be laborious jobs such as warehouses or shipyards. In retail, many shops welcome their staff to be creativity and display their own artwork; not minding tattoos or piercings.

What you may not realize though, is many of our corporate sectors are tolerant of tattoos and piercings as well. Some universities where you may be working independently can be accepting. Small businesses, startups, and other employers can be a mix- but my advice is, when possible, to simply walk into the building before applying.  See how the employees and managers dress. Note any tattoos or piercings and reflect manager norms in your own interview attire. Even if the employees have visible tattoos or piercings, but the managers are more conservative, you are safest with dressing on the conservative side for your interview. Some companies may not mind tattoos or piercings on employees, but when promoting an employee, they may prefer someone who more closely reflects executive style choices. Dress for the job you want, at the company you want.

Overall, researching the company culture will be most important when determining your interview appearance. Although tattoos and piercings are increasingly accepted, many companies still want employees to reflect their corporate brand at all times, and a tattoo may clash with that brand. If you really love a company and aren’t sure of their policy, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and cover up. If you have further questions, please leave a comment below!

#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.

#Interview on Skype? 5 Tips to Help You Prepare

IMG_0972

If you’re broadening your job search and open to relocation, you may be applying to places hundreds (or thousands!) of miles away.  In these cases, it is not always financially possible to meet and have an in-person interview.  Skype interviews are becoming more common for long distance candidates.  If you have yet to participate in one, here are a few tips to consider-

1.   Have a professional username– Just like an email address and voice mail greeting; keep your username simple and professional.  If you are embarrassed to share your Skype ID with an employer, create a new registration and change your username.

2.  Ensure your equipment is functioning – Skype has many test features for you to see if your microphone’s quality will be effective during the interview.  Check to see if you can transmit both audio and images.  Test this at least a few days ahead of time with a colleague in case you find out your microphone needs to be replaced, or any various other technical glitches.  You can expect technical glitches during the interview, but preparation and practice ahead of time will save you some of the hassle.

If you are new to Skype, I recommended just getting started and talking to a friend or family member.  Get used to seeing yourself in the corner of your screen if using a webcam is entirely new to you.  It can be distracting, but remember- eye contact still counts!  Practice looking towards the camera lens when you reply to your friend, and not right at their image (or with your eyes down, looking at your own image.)  This way, you will know you can maintain eye contact during the interview.

For the technical aspect of testing the functionality of your equipment and hardware, I recommend browsing WikiHow for most issues.  Skype’s website also has tutorials and FAQ sections for reference.

3.  Close all other programs– Ctrl+Shift+Esc on the keyboard is a quick way to open the Task Manager.  Close unnecessary programs so Skype can smooth and quickly.

4.  Proper lighting and plain surroundings– Nothing is worse than the creepy factor of a low-lit room while you are Skype-ing.  Play with light sources or lamps available to you and see what set up produces the best lighting so the interviewer can see you.  Having plain surroundings will also help them focus on you alone, and not your personal items, posters, or shelves filled with collectibles or family photos.  If you are using a PC and it is too difficult to move these items, try putting up a curtain or backdrop as a quick fix.

“A cluttered background may distract your audience, not to mention send the wrong idea about your organizational skills.  Also, rid the area of personal items- no need to share too much information.  A blank or neutral background is best, with a well-organized desktop.”

-Forbes “7 Ways to Nail a Skype Interview” April 2013

5.  Treat this like an in-person or telephone interview– Schedule a block of time without any distractions and in a quite environment.  Have a glass of water and your company research notes nearby for reference.  Dress professionally and practice your previously prepared interview responses.  Most importantly, take a deep breath, smile, and show your excitement for this potential opportunity!