Archive for the ‘Job Search Strategies’ Category
The Importance Of The Thank You Letter
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
For this week’s post, I invited Pattie Lee, (Web Developer/Community Manager) to share her thoughts on how best to say thank you. Pattie recently landed a brand new job after an extended search – read on to get some real world counsel from a successful job seeker.
In the age of technology, going “old school” may be the best way to stand out from the crowd.
I’m a huge advocate for the US postal service. I have always gotten giddy over receiving mail. When I got my own apartment, the highlight of my day was getting mail, it didn’t matter if it was mostly bills and junk. I was getting MAIL. Christmas season is my favorite, I love all the cards I receive. I still have them taped to my door. I just can’t bring myself to take them down. The last hand written thing I received in the mail was a lovely thank you note from Sima Dahl. She’s an expert at writing thank you notes. The mystery and joy I feel when I see a hand written envelope mixed in with all those windowed envelopes. Who could have written to me? It’s not my birthday. Someone must think I’m special. Imagine if you could elicit that reaction when you send something to a potential employer.
After an interview you should always send a thank you note. Whether you send an email or a hand written note is up to you. It’s the best way for you to remind the interviewer who you are and why they should hire you and no one else. You want to stand out from the crowd. I feel that the best way to do that, is to send via USPS a hand written note. Everyone I know has an overflowing inbox. Just look at your personal email inbox, when was the last time you reached “inbox zero“? I guarantee the people who interviewed you will have a full inbox, not just with thank you notes from other candidates, but with work related things. The chance you will get lost in the deluge is immense.
During my most recent job search, I sent hand written thank you notes. At one company, I met with 8 separate people. I hand wrote 8 different thank you letters just in case they compared notes. I took that chance to include important points I had mentioned during the interview, and I reminded them of my answer to their “crazy” question that got them all to laugh. 8 months later, when they returned to their pool of candidates to fill a new opening, they remembered me and I got a call. During that call, offering me a position, my new supervisor told me how impressed everyone was with my hand written cards. Since this company is in the tech field I had also sent a mass email to everyone lest they think I didn’t care enough to thank them for the interview. Knowing that the US mail takes a couple of days, I felt the hand written cards would be a good follow up to the email, even though I wrote and mailed the cards before I drafted the email.
Anyone not impressed with receiving a hand written thank you note in the mail, is someone you probably don’t want to work for anyway.
FYI – my handwriting is not the best, but as my mother used to say, it’s the thought that counts.
Pattie Lee is the Marketing Job Wire community manager and a web developer. After a five year search for just the right job, she is now an Associate Campaign Specialist. Pattie also likes Pina Coladas, the taste of champagne, and getting caught in the rain. You can find her on Twitter as Piratealice, She is always happy to connect with others on LinkedIn. And she occasionally posts ramblings on her website DreadPirateAlice.com
Enrich Your Career Through Associations
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Have you thought about joining an association but questioned investing the time and money? It’s time to re-visit the subject. Seven out of ten adults are members of at least one association, which proves there must be personal or professional benefits. Listed below are three main ways joining associations can make a positive impact on your career.
1) Education: Furthering your education can make a dramatic impact on your career. Whether you are new to the job market or well placed within your career, you can still benefit from learning new skills or brushing up on old ones. By joining an association, you’ll likely save money on webinars, certification courses, etc., along with access to an abundance of free information through newsletters, blogs, and members-only meetings. Even if you only have time to utilize one of these resources, you’ll stay on top of industry trends.
2) Credibility: Being a member of an industry association looks great on your resume – period. It also indicates that you’re dedicated to growing within your field. An association membership provides an instant boost to your resume– the minute you pay your dues you can claim to be a member of that association. You can then highlight your membership with a logo on your website or LinkedIn page.
3) Networking: Associations provide one of the best ways to meet others in your industry. To maximize the benefits of networking, you should be doing it whether you are currently looking for a job or are happily employed
With so many associations out there, how do you choose which one is best for you? Ask your colleagues, search for relevant associations in your area (i.e. finance associations + Boston), or visit Weddles.com for a comprehensive list of organizations grouped by industry. Consider joining an association an investment in your professional future.
Picture Credit: Handshake, mikecco
Want To Change Careers? Be Prepared.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
This post was written at the request of a friend of mine, a hiring manager in an advertising agency. On a regular basis, she hears from candidates who want to transition into the industry, but have no knowledge, background, or experience that makes them look employable or relevant.
She suggests that anyone considering a career change first do their homework. They need to understand exactly how their skills could transfer to another type of job. Then, she recommends that they illustrate these abilities – but in the language of their target industry.
I couldn’t agree with her more. The people I’ve seen successfully transition don’t just know what they want;, more importantly, they can effectively explain it on a resume and in an interview! Of course, this takes a lot of work on the candidate’s part. You’ll need to determine what relevant transferable skills you possess, combine them with the requirements of your new target job/industry, and confidently illustrate why you are a fit.
Doing this work isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, but it’s absolutely necessary when it comes to switching careers. Otherwise, the employer not only won’t know what you’re qualified to do, but they also won’t be convinced that you are seriously interested in working in their industry. They may even think that you’re just blasting your resume out to everyone and will take any job that’s offered to you. Even if that is the case, it would be more effective if you took a leap of faith and put all of your efforts into positioning yourself as a candidate for a specific type of job function or industry.
The specific hiring manager I spoke with actually tries to help unfocused candidates when she can. However, my guess is that she’s an exception. Most hiring managers, like recruiters, are extremely busy. Despite their best intentions, they probably won’t be able to help you position yourself (plus, it’s not their job). Of course, these are the types of people you should seek out for informational interviews so you can learn how to present yourself as a possible candidate. The application process is not the time to try and do this.
The time and energy you spend on research is an investment in your career. It will pay off for years to come!
Picture Credit: At Work
Are You Gambling With Your Career?
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Photo Credit: ThreeOak
When most people go to the casino, they do so for fun. If they win money, it’s gravy – not something to rely on to pay the bills. Why? Because gambling is notoriously unpredictable and the odds are always on the house.
So how come so many of us continue to gamble with our job searches? The odds of getting a call back after applying to a position online are extremely low, partly because of heavy competition. In addition, since many companies now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to search for candidates by computer, the process for getting your resume picked up has become even trickier.
Though there are things you can do to improve the likelihood of getting your resume viewed – for example, checking the job ad for keywords – the bulk of your time and energy should be spent on the methods most likely to bring you results. They include:
Networking: You’ve likely heard this before, but it’s worth repeating since 70 to 80% of people find jobs through somebody they know. It’s worth placing a bet on this option.
Recruiters: In some industries, recruiters are the #1 way that people find a job. Even if yours is not one of them, it never hurts to cultivate relationships with anyone in a position to get you in front of employers.
Strategic Positioning: By determining the companies you’d like to work for and positioning yourself as a solution to a problem (based on information you found while researching the company) the results can be astonishing. Depending on how many companies you target and your follow-up strategy, this could end up being one of the most successful methods that you can use – in fact, I’ve had several clients get multiple job offers through this system.
Want to boost your odds even further? Diversify! Pick at least two methods, but give more of your time and attention to those likely to get you in front of decision makers.
Photo Credit: Three Oak
A Different Way To Find A Job – And It Works!
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Anyone who has ever looked for a job knows how frustrating the process can be. However, most would agree that the most exasperating aspect is the “black hole” your resume seems to disappear into once you’ve applied to a position online.
My friend Kristin Vadas, Senior Strategic Project Manager of Carlson Wagonlit Travel felt the same way. After three months of applying to jobs that she was qualified for, she came to the conclusion that her resume was easily overlooked among the thousands of other submissions.
Trying a new approach, she emailed around 200 friends and former colleagues that knew of her experience, could speak to her qualifications, and would vouch for her work ethic. In just one week she had not one – not two – but FOUR promising prospects! One of those led to her current job, where she’s been happily employed for the past two and a half years. Kristin was kind enough to share a sample of an email she sent to her contacts (each individually tailored):
How have you been? Are you still working at XYZ COMPANY? I was reaching out to you to see if you knew of any opportunities, for Project Management or Change Management, at your company or within your network.
I left Accenture in October to start my own non-profit volunteer organization and now that the organization is off the ground, I would like to return to work and find a company I can grow with over the next few years. I am looking for full-time roles in Chicago and am also open to contracting positions.
Please keep me in mind if you hear of anything. Many thanks and I hope all is well!”
That’s it! By writing an email of just over 100 words, she was able to get in front of decision makers at four different companies. If you’re job search has stalled give this method a shot. What have you got to lose?
Photo Credit: “Jumping Girl” by Mattox
Are Companies Waiting to Hire Until After the Election?
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
This question was recently posted on LinkedIn. Some say yes – companies want to see what changes will come as a result of whichever administration is in office. Others say no – that politics don’t affect the job market, at least in the short-term.
I say – IT DOESN’T MATTER. Anyone who holds off on job searching because companies “might” not hire until November is doing themselves a disservice. Same with those who don’t look during the summer (everyone’s on vacation, right?) or in December (because people are off for the holidays, of course).
My point here is if you wait until the perfect time to reach out to prospective employers, you’ll never find an opportunity! In fact, some of those “slow” times are ideal for contacting decision makers. People ARE still at work, but there’s not as much to do. If that’s when your resume comes in – and it’s one of the only ones sent that day – it’s more likely to be read than at another time. So, how can maximize your job search efforts during slow months?
1) Send a highly targeted cover letter. During a slow period, a screener may have the time to read your cover letter more thoroughly. Take this opportunity to really sell them on why you’re a fit for their organization.
2) Directly call the hiring manager. If you can find out the name of the person who would likely be doing the hiring, call them directly. It can often be as simple as dialing an organization’s main number and asking for them by name. However, be ready with your “pitch” so you’re prepared to speak if you are put through.
3) Schedule informational interviews. Most people are happy to meet with someone for an informational interview, but the reality of it is that everyone is very busy. Even with the best of intentions, it can be a challenge to carve out time from their schedules. Use this slow period as an opportunity for conducting career and company research.
Picture credit: Flag, by Robert Linder, linder6580
Three Keys To Finding Hidden Jobs
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Most people have heard of the hidden job market. It refers to the supposedly secret set of positions available that aren’t yet advertised. For various reasons, employers do often start sourcing for candidates or informally assessing potential new hires before an ad ever gets posted.
Strangely enough, it’s statistically more likely that you’d get a job this way than by responding to an advertised opening. Why? At this point, you’re only competing with yourself. Once an ad gets posted there could be hundreds – or thousands – of people vying for the same role.
You may be wondering how to go about finding these jobs since they’re hidden! The three strategies below will help you uncover opportunities before they’re made public:
1) Use the news: When you hear about a company moving its headquarters to your city, opening a new branch locally, or experiencing unprecedented growth, chances are they’ll be adding employees. One especially helpful resource – HiddenJobsApp.com – culls this type of news and organizes it by state.
2) Analyze ads: If you see an open position that interests you, by all means, apply for it. However, send your resume to competing companies as well. As there are often shifts within industries, there are likely to be vacancies across the board.
3) Ask around: Though you should have a list of target companies, uncover additional leads by asking your networking contacts, “who else do you recommend I talk to?” They may know of others thinking about hiring in the near future.
Though not nearly as straightforward as applying online, these methods are much more likely to get you results!