December 30, 2007

Links for your viewing pleasure

Since starting this blog, I have came across several interesting websites and links about the job search. Check them out!! Knowledge is power and through proper preparation, effort, and research you can find a company that you don't mind, and dare I say enjoy working for.

BTW-Don't forget to join my linkedin network. It's my resolution for 2008!!

View Jessica Miller-Merrell, PHR's profile on LinkedIn

See below and enjoy! Happy New Year!


Social Networking Links

Resume & Job Search Links

Recruiting Websites

December 28, 2007

Interview Questions Companies CAN'T Ask

Educate yourself. There are questions the company you are interviewing with can't ask. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, also prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; the Equal Pay Act; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

Now that you've heard the legal jargon, it basically means that a company can't make a hiring decision based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Companies can't ask questions in the interview like:

  • "How old are you?" or "What is your date of birth?"
  • "Have you ever been declared bankrupt?" or "Have you ever filed for bankruptcy"?
  • "Do you have any children?" or "Are you planning on having any children?"
  • "Do you have any diseases?" or "Do you have any physical or mental impairments?"

So what do you do if a hiring manager asks you a question like those above in the interview? I would recommend saying that you are not comfortable answering the question he/she just asked. To be completely honest, a company that asks a question like this is probably somewhere you don't really want to work anyways. These are what I call red flags and is a great example of why you should consider that you are interviewing the company just as much as the company is interviewing you. So what do you do if you feel like you have been discriminated against or you were asked an illegal interview question? Check out to learn more.

Next time. . . Tips for posting your resume on job boards

December 27, 2007

Checking Your References

You've put together your resume and reference list and are ready to go on the job hunt. Now what????

I recommend checking your references. These folks you have listed on your resume are assisting you in reaching your goal of landing your dream job. Not checking your own references is like not using spell check on your resume. How does one go about checking their references anyway? I recommend having a friend contact your references. Tell the reference, they are Susie Q with XYZ company and are checking references for John Smith (you). Have them ask a handful of questions including:

1. What's your relationship with John? How long have you known him?
2. What are John's strengths and weaknesses?
3. Would you recommend John for the Marketing Director position?
4. Tell me about a project that you worked on with John.

Now once you have completed the reference checking. Put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes. Would you hire yourself based on the information your references gave?

Let's take this one step further. I recommend contacting your references prior to applying for a position. Make them aware of the position, what skills and qualifications you would like them to highlight, and any additional information to add or avoid. Because your marketing plan and resume are specifically tailored to each separate position and company you are interested in, so should your personal and professional references.

More importantly, make sure your references even know they are references for you. Ask them. I have received many calls where I have been listed as a professional reference for someone, wasn't aware I was a reference, and didn't recommend them for the position. Why? Because my reputation was on the line.

Next time. . . Interview questions companies CAN'T ask

December 22, 2007

What Employers Really Want

According to a Profiles Survey of Canadian Employers, Employers want a top candidate with the following characteristics:

*Good Resume
*Good Skills
*On time for interview
*Prepared for interview
*Good Communicator
*Great First Impression
*Aggressive Job Seeker
*Interested in the Company and Interviewer
*Good Follow-up (emails, thank you cards, phone calls)
*Poised & Confident

I have colored in orange are everything that you have control over prior to the interview with a small amount of effort in comparision to Skills. Skills are important but often require a great deal of training or certification. Hopefully, you'll already have the required skills like a bachelors degree, certificate, or experience requirements for the positions you are applying for. Imagine setting yourself apart from the rest with a great resume, confidence and enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the company you are interviewing with. Amazing! Believe me when I say I have hired many individuals based on their enthusiasm, confidence,and interest and knowledge of the company.

Just last week I offerred a candidate (who was a referral from a networking contact) a job. I was overwhelmed by her knowledge of the company, her interest in the position, and enthusiasm. The candidate had done her homework and was prepared for the interview. The position I was hiring for was an Inside Sales position. She did some research and could speak to the selling process and was able to use her experience with fundraising to speak to sales. I love it when a plan comes together!!

Next time. . . Checking your references.

December 9, 2007

Part II: Food for thought-Online Social Networking

My New Year's Resolution for 2008 is increasing my networking circle both online and in person. It's obvious if you've spent any amount of time online that social networking online is increasingly becoming more and more important. I already mentioned how hiring manager's are viewing candidate's myspace pages as part of the background check process. Keeping in touch with your networking connections using online services like linkedin, myspace, and facebook are more important than ever.

I encourage everyone to part take in online social networking and to use it as a supplement to face to face networking. This week alone, I attended 4 different networking events, met a handful of individuals of interest, contacted them either via email or a handwritten note, and have invited them to be a part of my linked in network. The fact is the best jobs are not advertised using typical media methods like newspaper, job boards, or with staffing agencies. Most jobs are not advertised at all which is where social networking comes into play. With the click of a mouse or tap of a keyboard, I can send out an email to my online social network and make them aware of a key position I am looking to fill.

Some suggestions to enhance your online social networking:

1. Create a blog.
2. Develop a networking newsletter.
3. Use linked in or other similar site.
4. Participate in industry networking sites. (For example, I am a member of, a free site for recruiters.)
5. Blog on a professional site or create your own.
6. Focus on one or two networking sites. Don't overdo it.

Holiday Tip: Send a Holiday E-card to your network.

Next time. . . The COLD hard facts-What companies want

December 1, 2007

Part I: Online Social Networking--Recruiter's Dirty Little Secret

What's on your MySpace, Facebook, or Friendster page? Did you know that the content on your social networking page could keep you from getting a job? Yup, it's true. More and more companies are viewing your social networking page as part of the hiring and background check process. I, myself have viewed candidate's social networking pages prior to giving them the job offer. Within the last year, I have attended a training seminiar with the topic of navigating social networking sites and use during background check process.

I would strongly recommend asking a trusted and respected friend or peer to take a look at your social networking page offering honest feedback and comments. Walk a mile in the recruiter's shoes and consider what photos, comments, and postings could disqualify you from the job.

More to come later this week about how to use social networking to your advantage in the job hunt. Check out the youtube video to learn more about recruiter's dirty little secret, viewing your social networking page as part of the hiring process.

Marketing Plan Revisited

In a previous posted titled, 5 P's of Marketing I first mentioned the Marketing Plan. I consider your job to be a major life decision and should include in-depth research and planning. In one year alone, a 4o hour a week full time employee spends 80 twenty-four hour days a year at work. Because your job is such an important part of your life form a time and financial factor, it should be treated as such. With proper planning, you can utilize your time more effectively and efficiently while looking for your new job.

Any good Marketing Plan involves the following:

I. Background
What are you looking to accomplish in your job search? What industry and position are you wanting to work in? Research comparable positions as well as their qualifications. Where have you been? Take these things into consideration and discuss your career history. Include any honors, awards, or major career achievements.

II. Revenue History and Forecast
Consider your salary history and what salary you anticipate earning. What is the industry salary range for the position you are seeking?

III. Strategic Issues
What external factors could effect your success? Conduct an environmental scan which is a external look into factors that could positively or negatively impact your job search. Research unemployment, your geographic market, and education and certification requirements for the position you are interested in. Be realistic.

IV. Competition
Who are you competiting against in the job search? Is it newly graduated college students, those with a certification, or special skill? How do you stack up to profiles of your 5 competitors?

V. Pricing
Analyze your past salary trends. Don't take the pie in the sky approach. Be realistic. If you are willing to take a lesser salary for a shorter commute, compressed workweek, part time or other benefits include these here. Consider how long you can go without work?

VI. Positioning Statement
Consider everything above and put it all together. "I, Bob Jenson am looking to secure a Telecommuting Marketing Analyst position in the Computer and Telecommunications Industries with a salary range of $40,000-75,000 within the next 6 months in the Kansas City, MO area.

VII. Marketing Objectives
Include 5-7 Marketing Channels in which you will Market yourself in the next 6 months (or whatever your timeline is). Be creative. A standard, I will apply for 5 positions on Monster daily will not do. Make sure to include the updating of your marketing and promotional materials including your resume, coverletter, and business cards, Other objectives could include attend 5 networking events monthly, host a party, or volunteer at a local non-profit 5 hours a month.

VIII. Marketing Budget
How much are you willing to spend in supplies, materials, and your time? List these materials and the estimated total cost. I recommend increasing that number by 10-20% as a best practice.

IX. Marketing Channels
Take each Marketing Channel listed in the Marketing Objective outline your plan of attack with your timeline, project plan and costs associated with each channel.

X. Monthly Calendar
Break your activities down by month. Track your progress and costs associated monthly.

XI. Summary
The essence of marketing is to do more of what works and less of what doesn't. Without having clearly established and measurable strategies, you will never learn from your successes and failures.

Realize that your Marketing Plan is the backbone of your goal of obtaining your dream job. It allows you to prepare, plan, and troubleshoot instead of just jumping in headfirst. The MP keeps you focused and organized with your one goal in mind.

Next week. . . A Two Part Blog on Online Social Networking.

Part I: Recruiter's Dirty Little Secret--Online Social Networking

Part II: Your Job Hunt & Online Social

November 25, 2007

Job Hunting on the Edge

I gave a lot of thought about my chosen topic this week. There are a lot of opinions and ideas out there. It is my hope that you have created your Marketing Plan and are utilizing it. When you're in the job hunt waiting for that phone to ring, no idea really seems too crazy or out there depending on your mood. I've kept this in mind as I discuss three ways to job hunt on the edge.
  • Marketing Portfolio. Create a Marketing Portfolio with examples of your works, business card, and some personal touches that are truly you and mail it to the hiring manager. Include a letter that asks for the interview and a time when you will follow up with them. I suggest that you either research the business section of your local newspaper or send this portfolio to your newly found network. An example of a Marketing Portfolio for a Public Relations Assistant could include an invitation he created for a local fundraiser gala, several press releases that include the AP style, a brochure that he created, a copy of his business card, and a personal letter that outlines his experience, asking for the job, and when he will be contacting the hiring manager to follow up. Yes, it's a lot of work, but this Portfolio makes a huge impression. I would be impressed, and even if this candidate was not hired, I would be more likely to refer him to a networking contact. A friend of mine is a radio DJ. He was interested in working for a particular radio station and sent his Marketing Portfolio in a shoe. He made an impression and was offered the job.

  • Cocktail Networking Party. Get some friends and networking contacts together and invite them to a Networking Cocktail Party. Host it at your home and choose a theme like the roaring 20's. Shamelessly plug that you are in the job market and watch the doors open. Ask each of your invitees to bring a friend or contact to help you in the job hunt. Be budget conscious and ask close friends to each bring a finger food dish and drink of choice. Make your own invitations and send via email. A cute and memorable guest gift could be a wine glass with your business card attached reminding your friend or peer why they are really here.

  • Place a Billboard Ad. A billboard is a great way to get noticed and grab the attention of a hiring manager when they least expect it. You have their undivided attention for 15 seconds on their daily commute. I'm not talking about breaking the bank and running an ad with a several large high tech television billboards. Those can easily run $10K a mo. I have several billboards right now that are very budget friendly running at $350/mo. each. This doesn't include the production cost of the banner that covers the billboard, but depending on your negotiating skills, you could work out a deal with the billboard company.

I've chosen 3 very distinct ways to give you an edge in the job hunt. Not all ideas will work for you. Use your creativity. Maybe it means stepping up your networking or volunteering at an agency for the holidays.

Next time. . . The Marketing Plan Revisited

November 17, 2007

The Skinny on Headhunters

I've talked alot about Recruiters and what they do. But what is the difference between a Recruiter and a Headhunter?

A recruiter typically is an employee of the company they are recruiting for. They are trying to fill various open positions within their organization. Usually, the recruiter will conduct the first interview which is typically over the phone. Once you have been pre-qualified, you are then passed on to the hiring manager or manager that has the vacant position.

A headhunter does not work for the company that has the vacant position. They either have a contract to directly fill the position, or they do not have a contract and are representing you as a candidate and trying to sell "you" to the company for a fee or percentage of your annual salary. When speaking with a headhunter than has contacted you, make sure to ask about the position as well as if they have a contract with company "x" to fill the position. Depending on your industry, I believe headhunters who have a direct contract will allow you a better chance of getting your resume in front of the company. The fee headhunter that does not have a contract with company x and tries to represent you to a number of different companies, but unless you are in a very desireable industry like Pharmacy, Healthecare, or a high level Executive position, it's a crap shoot. The Headhunter needs to have a ton of connections and depending on what industry and where you are located at, can be particularly challenging. If you speak with a fee headhunter, ask questions about their experience in the industry and what their specialities are. I would suggest researching your industry to determine which type of headhunter works best for you.

The headhunter will set up a phone pre-qualifiying interview where they will ask you questions to determine if you are qualified for the position they are contracted to fill or if you are marketable to a number of companies that have open positions. Understand that while you are in the job hunt, you might receive a number of phone calls from headhunters, participate in phone interviews, and possibly never hear from them again. Realize that unless you are marketable and are going to make the headhunter money, they will not contact you as a courtesy or send a turn down letter.

Next time. . . Job Hunting on the Edge

November 14, 2007

The Art of Networking

Networking, it's everywhere, but what does it really mean? It's more than just collecting business cards. Frankly, networking is a whole lotta work.

To me networking is developing long-lasting relationships with key individuals who can serve a purpose and benefit to you in your career or with your organization while doing the same for themselves, creating a mutual partnership.

Good networking, I mean really good networking takes time and effort. You have to get out there and attend community events outside of your group of regular friends. I recommend attending community events outside of your field or industry and get out there. And by getting out there, I mean engaging in conversation with a number of individuals. Asking them questions, introducing yourself, and exchanging business cards. Some networking events could include your local gardeners club, chamber events, young professional groups, women's league, or joining a board for a non-profit organization. I, myself am the member of several local human resource organizations, toastmasters, several local chambers of commerce, and volunteer for a local non-profit agency. In total, I roughly spend about 10-20 hours a month attending networking events, but networking doesn't just stop there.

Okay, so you have joined your local chamber, attended several meetings, and exchanged business cards with a handful of individuals of interest, now what?? I recommend following up with each person individually either by email, a personal note, or by phone within two weeks of your initial meeting. Invite them to lunch or a brunch you are hosting at your place of business, but make sure to follow up with them every couple of weeks or months depending on the situation.

Networking is a job within itself but over time it can pay big dividends. The key is to pick your partnerships and agencies that you want to align yourself with carefully. Always have your business card handy. Don't be afraid to be aggressive. Make the first effort and pass out your card. Ask the person questions and follow up. All in all, just get out there and expand your horizons!

One of the biggest mistakes I feel college students and other professionals make is limiting their networking to college and university clubs or clubs in their professional industry only. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to students or those who will be entering the job hunt is focusing on ways to differentiate themselves from other students or professionals who are their competition for open positions. A great way to do this is to join local professional organizations and get out there! In my opinion, these professional associations outside of the college and field of are very important if not more important than resume builders like summer internships. These networking connections can land the student unposted internships, other career opportunities, and relationships that can last for years to come!

Another great resource for networking is using social networking sites like linkedin, facebook, myspace, and friendster. When using these sites it's important to target your network and follow up with them timely. Don't just collect friends. Use those resources. Remember to be tasteful with your pages and comments. I have often used these sites not only for networking purposes but to follow up with candidates and evaluate their interests outside of work. As these online resources continue to increase in popularity, I believe they will become even more important in developing relationships. In some professional circles, Myspace and Facebook profiles are viewed as extensions of the resume. A recent candidate included their Myspace link on their resume. I was especially impressed when I viewed the candidate's page, very tasteful and professional but also fun-loving showcasing her interests and other talents outside of work.

Quick Networking Tips!!

-Get some professional business cards made with contact information including your web page and email. Include your online blog or myspace page link if you like.
-Research organizations and align yourself with those that will provide you the most exposure in the job search.
-Get out there. Make time. Try to attend 2 events a month.
-Be aggressive! Market yourself and make a great first impression.
-Get personal. Write a hand written not on the back of your business card to make a lasting impression.
-Think long term and don't forget to sell yourself.
-Give a firm handshake.
-Follow up
-Follow up

Next time. . . The Skinny on Headhunters

November 11, 2007

Why a Phone Interview???

A phone interview is a great non-commital way for the recruiter to get a bit more information about you and how your skills and qualifications can be utilized in the position the recruiter is looking to fill. Typically, phone interviews last about 30 minutes. Generally, I ask about 4 questions.

One of my biggest pet peeves when I conduct the phone interview is the candidate not being prepared for the interview. Remember the name of the person you are supposed to interview with. Write it down!!! Because the interview is over the phone, it's easy to do this. Prepare for the phone interview like any other interview. Dress for the interview. I'm not suggesting doning a suit and tie, just be comfortable. Have your resume, questions for the interviewer, and your STARs ready.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, keep a file of all the positions you have applied for, the name of the company, and the job descriptions. This will help you get a better idea of what skills to highlight in the phone interview. If the recruiter is looking for a payroll/HR admin who has Peoplesoft and crystal reports experience, you want to highlight your experience with these programs and not other programs like SAP and ADP. Without proper preparation, you could be showcasing the wrong skills and qualifications, thus, disqualifying you for the position.

Generally, I try to focus on three skills that the advertisement listed as requirements of the position. For the HR Admin position the ad might look something like this-

XYZ Corp is now hiring for HR Administrator/Payroll Clerk. Candidate must have 4 years experience with Peoplesoft and Crystal Reporting, Benefits administration, and Employee Relations. PHR certification is preferred but not required. Strong computer and Microsoft Office skills are a must. . .

Now, take three of these skills and highlight your own. Let's go with Peoplesoft, Benefits, and Employee Relations. All three of these are important skills to have and are specific to a HR Admin. Strong computer skills are nice but someone who is a secretary could have computer skills. You want to set yourself apart from the rest. Use your STARs to highlight these three skills. See my previous post for more information about STARs.

It's also important during the phone interview to keep distractions to a minimum. Don't schedule a phone interview while you are babysitting your neices, walking your dogs, or cooking the kids dinner. Don't laugh. These are some of the excuses I have encountered when interviewing a candidate. Make sure your phone is charged. Conduct your interview in a quiet place free of distractions.

As the interview questions come to the close, don't forget to ask some questions about the position like, "How many people would I be processing payroll for and weekly or bi-weekly?" "Where is the position located?" "What are you (the interviewer) looking for in someone in the HR Admin/Payroll position?"

Like any good sale make sure to ask for the job. I recommend asking what's the next step. Often times during the phone interview you will be invited for the face to face interview at the conclusion of the phone interview.

After the interview, I recommend sending a short email or snail mail thank you to the recruiter. Do this within one business day. You want to make sure and keep your interview and your qualifications fresh in the hiring manager's mind. Don't phone stalk the recruiter. They will contact you. Please understand that a recruiter will have many other positions they are recruiting for at the same time. A simple email or phone call to follow up a week to two weeks is appropriate. Do not call the recruiter more than twice a week.

I am often blown away by the tone and attitude of candidates who are calling me back to set up an interview. Yes, I called you and left a message but understand I am busy. Just last week I was out of the office for two days at job fairs. When I returned I had over 35 messages. When I called one candidate back, he told me that he thought I had died. (I'm not kidding!!!) I responded with no, I'm still here, but I'd love to set you up for an interview. Most recruiters would not be so forgiving. What impression do you want to leave your hiring manager with???

Next time. . . the art of networking

November 7, 2007

Making an Impression at the Job Fair

Job fairs aren't just for grads anymore. This week alone in OKC I have attended 3 separate job fairs as a recruiter and met about 800 candidates like yourself. Job fairs are a great way to meet with your prospective employer in a nonformal setting on neutral ground like your local college or other venue. It's important when attending a job fair to be prepared. Bring your marketing materials including your personal business cards, resumes, and a smile. Dress appropriately because you want to make a lasting impression on the recruiter you are speaking with. Out of the 800 candidates I met with this week only a handful really stood out. It's your job to be one of the few and being prepared is a great start.

The handshake is also very important at the job fair. Offer a firm handshake and introduce yourself and start selling!!! Ask questions about the job and highlight your skills based on the information they provide. Ask for the interview!!! Many recruiters often conduct interviews at the job fair and make job offers that same day so expect the unexpected and be prepared.

I also suggest that if a list of exhibitors is available prior to the job fair, do some research. Determine which companies you are most interested in speaking with, do some internet surfing and get familiar with the company's history, open positions, their locations and culture, and financial information. If the company you are interested in is traded on Wall Street or Nasdaq check out websites like and do some research about industry stability, the company's financial outlook, and any negative or positive press. By being prepared and asking the right questions, you will make a great impression and improve your chances of getting an interview.

Next time. . . Phone interviews-when, why, and how

November 5, 2007


The STAR interview technique is a sure fire way to ace the interview everytime.
  • S stands for Situation
  • T for Task
  • A for Action
  • R for Result

The STAR method works like this. When asked an interview question, you begin by describing the Situation or Task first. The next step is by explaining the Action involved or steps you took to meet your goal or accomplish a task. Finally, you provide the interviewer with the Result which can include your success, failure, or lessons learning. I suggest sticking to the successes and wow them with the lessons learned. Keep that interview positive!!!

It's easy to use the STAR technique. The key is to providing an answer the interview question that relates to the position you are interviewing for. Do some research prior to the interview about the company and the position requirements. Keep a log or journal of the positions and their qualifications you have applied for. You will want to highlight the important skills and qualifiacations the company listed for the position using the STAR technique. This is extremely important. You wouldn't talk about your experience with accounts payable reconciliation if the position was a Lab Technician would you?

When you are faced with an interview question such as, "Tell me about a time when you faced a situation where you exceed expectations."


I was responsible for creating a marketing plan for a United Way fundraising campaign at my office for 300 employees. Our goal was to have 45% participation for the event and raise over $25,000 in donations.


I worked with my United Way representative regarding best practices and researched information about other successful campaigns at different businesses in our geographic region. Additionally, I created a United Way committee that met bi-monthly starting three months prior to the campaign and developed a marketing campaign that included fliers, emails, table tents, and a company wide kickoff meeting. We worked together to create a fun and exciting campaign with the help of our local United Way.


The result was that we the campaign exceeded our expectations. My company raised over $37,000 and had a participation rate of 51%! We were recognized our the annual United Way banquet for our efforts and received an award for the small to medium size business category. What I learned from the campaign was the importance of planning and utilizing your resources. Several employees on the committee had served in similar positions and were one of the keys to our success.

HMMMM. . . Sounds good, right!!!

I suggest using the STAR method for every interview question that begins with, "Tell me about a time" or "Give me an example." It's the best way to stay on track during the interview, not lose focus, or ramble which trust me, happens all too often. Prior to the interview, I suggest coming up with 3 or 4 STAR examples. Practice these with a friend or tape record yourself and listen. Make changes to your presentation as needed and feel confident.

You'll be amazed. All sales and marketing professionals have a script from which they use to perfect their sales pitch and technique. Your interview should be no different especially given all the work you've gone getting their attention with your billboard-resume, coverletter, and emails. It's time to put your money where your mouth is!! Searching for job is a full time job and preparation is key. You wouldn't blindly take a midterm exam without studying or buy a car without doing some sort of research either online or using consumer reports?

Next time. . . Making an impression at the job fair. It's not just for college graduates anymore.

November 4, 2007

Perception is Reality

Come on guys. I know you have heard this. If you dress professional, you act and feel professional. It's so true!! Not only that, you leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. Not too long ago, a candidate arrived for an interview in jeans, a wrinkled dress shirt that had a stain. Yikes! Immediately, the impression was, "Who was this bum?" Interestingly enough, I met this candidate at a job fair. He had a resume in hand, suit, and tie. WOW! I was very impressed. Needless to say, the guy didn't get the job. Was it only because of his interview ensemble? No, but it definetely started the interview out on a sour note.

When I interview for a job I am interested in, I arrive early and sit in my car for about 10 min. I do visualization. I envision myself qualified for the job and saying all the right things. I also think of positive words and qualifications I know I posess. It's kind of like pumping yourself up before the big game. If you come into the interview not believing in yourself, how do you think you will be able to articulate your qualifications and skills in the interview? Not so much I'm imagining.

Arriving to your interview on time and looking your best is all part of your Marketing Plan I've talked so much about. It's all about the packaging. You wouldn't buy a car that was dirty, smelly, and covered in muck. So why present yourself for an interview like that?

Two days before the interview, run through your dress and try everything on. How you would dress for an interview depends on the position you are interviewing for as well as the company and its culture. How you would dress for a legal assistant in a conservative law firm is completely different from a graphic designer with a trendy, progressive company. Get a friend to give you their honest opinion and first impression. Take your clothes to the dry cleaners and get them pressed professionally. Be conservative with dress, makeup, and jewelry. Don't wear over overpowering cologne or perfume. Good luck!!

Next time. . . Interviewing Technique for almost any interview question

October 17, 2007

Spell Check Is Your Friend. . .

All I have to say is use it! Spell Check that is. I've talked alot in this blog about using your resume as a marketing tool. Build a campaign and stick to it. Would you be okay with Nike misspelling words in their advertising campaign? Would it change your opinion about the company's product quality?

Yup, you bet it would!

Hiring Managers see a misspelling as a extension of your work performance. Many professionals I speak with state that just one misspelling can put you in the no pile. Yes, I'm serious!! Make sure your resume and coverletter are flawless. Use spellcheck, but I suggest go a step further and have someone else proofread them.

Yes, I'm serious!! With the use of text messaging and electronic emailing, spelling seems less important, but it's not. Don't take it for granted. Use your marketing tools to get you noticed and your foot in the door. It's like having a mustard stain on your white blouse when you're on the first date. Make the most of your first impression!!

Next time. . . Perception is Reality!

October 8, 2007

Contact by phone. . .More than a Voicemail

You've submitted your resume and the waiting game begins. How does one follow up that the resume was received, the position is still open, or if you have questions about the position? A well-trained receptionist will take messages for any calls he/she believes are regarding an open position. First, understand that HR Professionals are busy people and contrary to what you believe, we are not waiting for your call. Don't treat them as such. On an average day as a recruiter, I would receive 30-100 calls about an open position. My gatekeeper or receptionist was trained to take messages and ask questions about who was calling when the caller asked for Human Resources.

So how do you make contact?

A method I have used in the past is very simple. You can use it two different ways. Make a call to the company and say the following, "How are you today? Can I speak with Joe? I had another question for him. This is (your name)." To the gatekeeper it sounds as though you already know this person and they will put you through to Joe. Once you get ahold of Joe, tell him you were mistakenly transferred to him and was trying to get ahold of someone in Human Resources. Bingo!! You're in.

Another common method is to call, speak to the receptionist, and ask to speak to a generic department like Accounts Payable or Safety. Typically, this department receives many calls and are not guarded by a gatekeeper. Once you are transferred to this department, let the person know you were mistakenly transferred and wanted to speak to someone in HR.

Speaking to a HR professional for the organization you are looking to work for takes a little work like I explained but alot of luck. Chances are that person is away from the phone. Leave a message, sound professional, practice your script prior to calling. Don't phone stalk!! No more than 2 calls a week. Did I mention be professional and practice??

Next week. . . Spell Check is your friend!!!

October 5, 2007

The Coverletter-The Quick and Dirty

There is a great debate among Human Resource professionals about whether to include a cover letter or not. When evaluating a cover letter from a Marketing prospective I say, "Why the heck not?" Not everyone reads your cover letter. Heck, not everyone reads your resume, but for those hiring managers that do read cover letters, you are taking a big risk by not including a cover letter.

A coverletter is a great opportunity to discuss any gaps in resume or your planned relocation to Florida in November. I recommend not using a canned coverletter and make changes to your cover letter each time you apply for a position. Look at the job description of the position you are applying for. Yes, these things take time, but isn't it worth putting your best foot forward? Find 3 qualifications that you possess from the job descript and focus on those on your cover letter. Your letter should look something like this:

Dear Ms. Smith, (Do your best to find their actual name or use Director of Human Resources. Everyone needs a little ego boost, ayy?)

I am interested in being considered for the position of _________. I have _____ years of experience in the areas of ________, ________, and _________ with an interest in _________. Explain your recent relocation here or other informaiton not covered in your resume.

List your first qualification-the position you were in, the company, and for example, how you grew sales by 15% in 2005 by focusing on specialized sales training for your team, restructuring incentive programs, and building a strategic marketing plan for each geographic location. Try to use work examples that are not included in the resume. No need to repeat and waste the Hiring Manager's valuable time.

List your second qualification following the same setup for qualification number 1.

List qualification number 3.

Your final paragraph should include your strong interest in the position, recap the qualifications you listed above (3) along with a passion for _________ (list fourth qualification here). Please contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx at your earliest convience to set up an interview to learn more about the __________ position. I look forward to meeting with you.


Your name

Here are a few Do's and Don'ts to consider:

Do address your letter to a named individual.

Don’t use a sexist salutation, such as “Gentlemen” when answering a blind ad. "Use To Whom It May Concern or Human Resource Director"

Do keep your letter brief. Never, Never more than one page.

Do distinguish your cover letter from those of other job-seekers by quantifying and giving examples that amplify and prove the claims you make in your letter.

Do avoid negativity. Negativity never has a place in a cover letter or an interview.

Don't forget to personally sign the letter.

Next time . Making contact by phone. How to get past that pesky secretary????

September 30, 2007

The 5 P's. . .

Intigued? Well, yes. The 5 P's are basic Marketing 101. Flashback to Business College and Marketing class with that smelly professor who wore birks and tyedye.

The 5 "P's" of marketing include:
Product - The products or services offered to your customers/clients.
Price - The strategies you use with regard to pricing your products or services with the goal of making a desired profit margin.
Place (Distribution) - How you get your products or services to your target market.
Promotion - How you communicate the features and benefits and endorse your products or services to your customers or clients.
People - The value your people bring to your business by providing service to your customers and clients.

So you're asking yourself what does any of this have to do with finding a job? Well, everything.

Product-Refers to you, your qualifications and skills that you have to offer an employer. What skills and qualifications do you have and what are your strengths and opportunities? Focus on the opportunities and how you can make these better. Maybe it means taking a Crystal Reports class at the local vo-tech.
Price-What salary range are you willing to accept? Research the local job market, the unemployment rate, the industry, and top companies you are interested in working for.
Place-Consider the methods to deliver your resume either by informational interview with your top companies, using your network, job boards, or job fairs.
Promotion-Tools used to promote yourself-resumes, coverletters, myspace pages, and business cards. Get these and make them look professional. Realize that these can hurt you too. A racy myspace or friendster page can be viewed by just about anybody. Companies often google candidates. Consider this.
People-What value has your skill brought to previous companies? For example, as a Sales and Marketing Director you saved the company $300,000 in expenses in the first two quarters of 2005 streamlining the sales and marketing strategy for your fitness center. Shout this accomplishment from the rooftops and list it as a bulleted point on your resume. I do this very same thing in my resume and companies have often contacted me because of one bullet point that peaked their interest.
Use buzzwords on your resume. This helps several different ways-1. It gets the recruiters attention. 2. Your resume is flagged as a possible candidate from what I call their buzzword software. The buzzword software then passes your resume on to the recruiter. Very high tech, huh?

You are your biggest asset. Develop a marketing strategy to market yourself.

Next week. . . The Coverletter

September 27, 2007

The Resume

Most people who are in the job hunt are shocked to learn that most recruiters spend roughly 5 seconds viewing your resume. One must understand that one monster or careerbuilder posting alone can yield hundreds of resumes depending on the position posted. A recruiter will have anywhere between 10-50 different positions they are recruiting for. When I'm viewing your resume, I skim looking for what I can buzz words for the industry or position. If I am looking for an Accounting Supervisor I might look for words like Accounts Payable, General Ledger, and AS400. Do your research and make sure to include your skills and qualifications.

There are many different styles and formats you can use for a resume and lots and lots of opinions. I suggest doing some research because your resume should reflect the position you are applying for the industry for which it is in. I am a fan of a resume that lists skills and qualifications first. Forget the objective. It's a waste of time and valuable marketing space. The Skills and Qualifications section is what I consider a candidate's billboard and gives the recruiter a quick picture to intrigue their interest. Use buzz words here to get the recruiter's attention and what sets you apart from the rest. What comes next depends on your experience level. A newly graduated professional should place their education next especially if they have little experience in the field they are looking to work in. If you are a seasoned veteran, list your work experience before your education. Does one need to include their references? Depends on what the job posting requests. Generally, I don't unless absolutely necessary.

One of my biggest resume pet peeves is pasting and copying the crappy generic resume from monster or careerbuilder. It does nothing for you so don't do it!! Treat your job search like a marketing campaign. Your career and job is an investment you wouldn't buy a house without researching the interest rate or touring the house. Come up with a plan. Searching for your career takes a lot of effort and time. Gear up and get ready.

Next week . . . The 5 P's

September 20, 2007

Starting the Job Search

Prior to beginning the job search, it's important to determine what type of job you are looking for as well as what industry. Not sure where's your niche??? The Meyers Briggs Indicator is a great start. Not into testing? Write down a list of things you enjoy doing. Turn something you love into a career. For example, you may have an interest in travel and love to socialize. In fact you're the life of the party. Have you ever thought of becoming a travel agent?

How you market yourself is completely different for the same position depending on the industry. For example, a resume for a pharmaceutical sales rep will focus on your sales experience but mainly on product knowledge, possibly your pre-med or nursing experience or education. This is different than if you were looking to enter software sales in the banking industry. Specialized experience in the banking industry would be preferred but not required. Your sales experience in other industries and sales training would be a focus because you could with some effort learn the banking industry through research or job shadowing. The sales process is basically still the same with one goal in mind-getting the sale.

It might be important to realize that if you are looking to make a career change from Accounting to Event Planning you need to focus on skills and qualifications and most importantly do your research. Look at companies and start by visiting their website. View job descriptions of positions you are interested in and learn the business. Keep notes of key words used in the job or industry of your choice.

Next Week. . . The resume

September 17, 2007

Blogging for jobs

welcome to blogging for jobs! tips and tidbits for job searches looking to find a career of their dreams. unemployment is low and qualified individuals are in high demand. learn how to market yourself and find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Next week's topic. . .

starting the search

Good luck and happy hunting!!!!