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