Jan 20

Do you need a resume or a job search strategy?

As you consider the idea of a new job, is your first thought that you need a new resume or your existing one polished?

Many job seekers contact me in search of help in creating a new resume, yet after a brief conversation, it is clear that a resume is not their first need.

Before fine tuning or crafting a new resume, you need a clear plan as to where you want to go in your career and what means you will use to get there. Do you have a specific job in mind? Specific companies that you want to work for? Certain salary ranges that you are targeting or geographic locations that are on your radar?

Too, how will you go about your job search? By networking online and offline? By responding to posted ads? By targeting specific companies? Job fairs, recruiters, executive placement firms? The list goes on depending on your needs and expected future career target.

Outlining your job search strategy, the action steps you will take, the resources you need and your ultimate goal will be a valuable launch pad for your job search process!

From there, you can determine if you need the help of a professional resume writer, career coach or another career services professional to help you achieve your career goals. Most definitely a resume will be needed, but it might not be the first vital tool in this process.

For help, please feel free to contact me at jill@pinnacleresumes.com or visit Career Directors International www.careerdirectors.com or the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches www.parw.com to find comprehensive lists of qualified professionals who might be of assistance.

Reboot Your Job Search in 2014!

I recently conducted a job search workshop for the local library and I found the process of preparing for this workshop to be a lot of fun. Granted, I know about job search both as a professional and from my earlier career, but things continue to change.

My presentation began with a quote by Dr. Seuss. Remember the author of Green Eggs and Ham? Well he was a pretty remarkable guy beyond being an iconic author of children’s books. So the quote is “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

This was etched in my mind from the first time I read it, and it sure got the attention of the workshop attendees! This is so true and especially when it comes to a job search! Just like your resume needs to stand out from the competition, your approach to finding a new job needs to make you stand out.

Here are 10 tips that I hope help you.

1 – Be creative and multi-faceted. Spending your day in front of a computer continuously applying for jobs is not the best use of your time. In fact, some experts say this should consist of less than 10% of the time you devote to job search. So, network, both online and offline. Think about community groups or events you can participate in and get the word out.

2 – Volunteer. This goes along with the above, but if you are unemployed, this can help address gaps in employment by showing a prospective employer that you keep busy in meaningful ways. It also gives you the opportunity to gain valuable skills (leadership, perhaps) that you might not already have, and yes, it’s another opportunity to network.

3 – Let your friends on Facebook know about your search. While I am an advocate of LinkedIn as a great tool because of its professional focus, your friends and family are more apt to be your advocate than professional contacts.

4 – Join groups both online and offline. Find ones that resonate with your interests and career goals. Become active in these groups and share your expertise while expressing an interest in learning from others. We can all learn something new. Online consider LinkedIn groups for example; in your community consider Rotary International or Toastmasters, to name just a few.

5 – Love your library! Your local library has access to databases that you don’t and your librarian(s) are a treasure trove of helpful information. Never underestimate how much they can assist you and… the cost is FREE.

6 – If you are technically oriented, blog and tweet. Of course, these need to be about things that are germane to your career goals. Also consider having a web portfolio. The bigger your digital footprint, the better.

7 – Manage your reputation, particularly online. Google your name and see what comes up on page one. It should only be links that you would want a potential employer to view and not an old newspaper link to some questionable activity that someone who might also have the same name potentially engaged in. If you find negative information, consult with a professional who can help you diffuse the negativity. www.reputation.com is one such site.

8 – Maintain balance in your life. I am a huge advocate of work/life balance and while looking for a new job is a job, don’t neglect family, friends, your exercise or hobbies. By having diversity in your life, you can avoid burn out.

9 – Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, as the cliché goes. There are countless ways to look for a job, too numerous to list here, but try to have fun with it!

10 – If you are overwhelmed or feel like you need the help of a professional, consider hiring one. Organizations such as Career Directors International, www.careerdirectors.com can be quite valuable. You can find certified career coaches and resume writers. If funds are tight, look to your local career centers or libraries for free workshops and assistance.

Good luck and stay focused on your goals. You can make it happen!

Interview: The Salary Expectation

It is important at the interview stage of the recruitment process to be somewhat flexible in respect to your desired salary. One doesn’t want to appear greedy or overly focused on remuneration.  On the other hand, you shouldn’t go into an interview with absolutely no idea what the salary range is for the position and/or what you expect as a starting salary.

The company already has a salary range in mind, so your reply should be focused on demonstrating your value to the company. The employer is making an investment in you, so they will expect a reasonable return on their investment. You should already have done your research so that you are aware of the standard industry salary for the position. Provide additional background information to prove your value if you feel you belong in the higher end of that range. Take the opportunity to explain how well your skills and experience match the company’s requirements and focus on specific areas where you exceed their requirements.  If you have had additional training or professional certifications above and beyond the minimum requirements of the job, highlight them.  If you have additional skills or experience that would allow you to be a resource to other areas of the company, mention them.  There is no reason you shouldn’t ask for what you feel you deserve, but you should be prepared to justify your expectations.

It’s possible you are less concerned about salary than you are about benefits and perquisites.  There is nothing wrong with negotiating a total compensation package that places more emphasis on benefits or vacation days than on salary.  Most employers expect the hiring process to be a bit of a negotiation, and many employers may be more flexible in benefits rather than base salary.

A confident, well-researched approach may give you the edge over another candidate who hasn’t done their homework or hasn’t fully proven their worth.

The Importance Of A Cover Letter

When you send out your résumé, it is likely to be one of many which will be screened by the recipient. Make sure that yours makes it through the screening process by creating a compelling cover letter.

The letter needs to be concise, yet effective. You want to appear confident, but you don’t want to brag. Demonstrate your written communication skills with an eloquent opening statement as to why you consider yourself to be the candidate for the position. Be careful to use correct punctuation and grammar.

Emphasize your skills and experience as they relate to the position being offered. Demonstrate what value (in skills or qualities) you can bring that will benefit the company. Give specific examples where you have made a difference in your previous position(s) and how those examples are directly relevant to this position. This is especially valuable to help flesh-out a relevant position that is listed on your résumé in less detail.

If you are available at short notice or live close to where you would be working should your application be successful, make that clear.

This is your opportunity to make your application stand-out among the rest, so be sure to make the most of it.

Don’t Focus On Job Titles

Titles aren’t as important as skills, says a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.

A recent CareerBuilder study of more than 2,000 companies found that half of the hiring managers limited their search by job title, but, as a result, were excluding excellent candidates who had the right mix of skills and experience in different roles.

Economic Modelling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) recently ran a study using their compatibility index to illustrate this. For example, a company that needs to fill an open business intelligence analyst position is looking for someone comfortable producing financial and market intelligence, generating reports, and researching in data repositories. This is typically a vital position and ideally will not remain open long. By excluding candidates without business intelligence analyst listed as a past title, they rule out many individuals who have the relevant skills and experience required of the job.

But EMSI’s index shows the company may be overlooking several nearly perfect candidates who recently held positions as market research analysts or risk management specialists and possess many of the essential skills required for the position. This extends to a wide range of professions. A tech company hiring a technical writer could also consider paralegals. A healthcare organization in need of a medical assistant could also look at pharmacy technicians. A manufacturing firm in need of a machinist could also consider an automotive body repairer.

How does this affect your job search? Essentially, you should target your resume to the position for which you’re applying. The emphasis should be on your particular skills which are relevant to the position, even if your previous job titles don’t match. Obviously, if a hiring manager is among the 50% who limit candidates based on job titles, you may have a more difficult time getting through the initial screening. However, you could tailor your cover letter and highlight your skills and experience that make you a perfect fit for the position.

Additionally, think outside the box when choosing which jobs might be right for you. If you compare your skills to other job titles, you might find that you are perfectly qualified for a completely different role than you’ve previously held. This will expand your search pool and potentially open up other job possibilities. A career coach can help you with this if necessary.