This is the Quick Start Job Search manual in a plain text file. Program participants recieve the Quick Start Job Search manual in a nice looking pdf file which is much easier to use.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction Page 5
2. Unemployment Orientation Page 8
Managing Emotional Stress Page 8
Managing Your Financial Situation Page 11
Managing Your Time Page 17 Managing Fear Page 18
3. Career Transition & Defining Your Work Page 22
A Quick Approach to Finding Your Ideal Work Page 27
Career Transition Strategies Page 28
4. Using Transferable Skills Page 30
5. Personal Marketing Focus Page 36
Who are You Professionally? Page 37
Your Core Message Page 37
Your Title & Work Objective Page 40
6. Target Market Companies List Page 43
7. Using the Computer and Internet Page 48
Researching Potential Employers Page 50
The Job Boards Page 51
Online Promotion of Your Job Search Page 52
8. Cover Letters, Resumes, and Introductory Letters Page 55
Cover Letters Page 55
Writing Effective Resumes Page 59
Introductory Letters Page 68
9. Creating Your Portfolio Page 72
10. Job Search Strategies Page 76
Top Ten Reasons for Long Job Searches Page 80
How Companies Hire Employees Page 81
Proactive versus Reactive Search Strategies Page 82
11. Job Networking Page 86
Five Step Job Networking Process Page 87
Networking Focus and Dialogues Page 88
Tapping the Hidden Job Market Page 90
12. Employment Agencies, Temp Staffing and Recruiters Page 95
13. Job Applications Page 98
Application Issues Page 99
The Portable “Pre-App” Page 100
14. Winning the Interview Game Page 102
Types of Interviews Page 102
Types of Questions Page 104
15. Salary & Compensation Negotiation Page 115
16. Job Search Action Plan Page 123
Action Plan Forms Page 125
Action Plan Summary Page 129
Not The Way You Planned Page 130
About the Author Page 132
Why are you here?
Perhaps you are one of over 15 million unemployed, or one of 80 million “under” employed in the US. Unemployed is defined as someone who is not currently receiving a salary or wage. Under employed refers to the 54% of the workforce who are currently receiving wages or salary, but are actively seeking employment elsewhere. These figures come from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some studies estimate that there are at least, an additional 10% of the US population that are able and willing to work but who don’t qualify for, or have not applied for unemployment. So the numbers are staggering, and the point is – you are not alone.
The primary focus of this training program is the people with the greatest immediate need – the unemployed. Underemployed persons will also benefit by learning the most effective methods and techniques to find employment which gives them the purpose and work place satisfaction that we all desire.
What is the good news?
If you are unemployed, you need this “Quick Start” training so that you can (immediately after the training) begin an effective and efficient job search campaign. Then you need a support group to help you get through the tough weeks of the job search process. You also need faith. Faith that God has great plans for you, and that he is preparing you to find the work that uses your gifts! There’s more good news! There are jobs out there! You just have to know the best way to compete to get them in today’s crowded job market!
What is the bad news?
The bad news is that 80% of job seekers don’t know the best way to find jobs. Many job seekers approach job search completely opposite of how companies hire! They don’t have an organized, systematic job search plan, incorporating the most effective search strategies. For those reasons, job search takes much longer than it should. Most job seekers spend less than 10 hours per week on their job search. This extends the job search and that is why finding a job becomes your new job. And we’re here to help you through the process.
What is Career Ministries?
Career Ministries offers the “Quick Start” workshops, and trains volunteer facilitators to lead weekly group support meetings. The “Quick Start” workshop will give you the essentials to begin an effective job search campaign the next day. The weekly support group meetings provide moral support, workshop training reinforcement, and accountability in a faith based, supportive environment during your job search. This combination provides the best process for helping people find work they enjoy, in the shortest period of time. Career Ministries also offers the faith based materials needed to administer these programs, such as this participant manual.
How This Program Manual is Structured
This manual is designed for use in three ways:
1) To read as an individual.
2) To use as a participant in a one day “Quick Start Job Search Workshop”.
3) To use as a participant in a weekly job search support group.
We realize that most people using this manual come into a job search at various stages. About 10% of individuals already know exactly the type of work they are searching for and may have a polished resume and interviewing skills. They may want to focus on salary/compensation negotiation or developing and implementing a daily job search action plan. About 30% of our career ministry participants do not have a clue as to what type of work they want and may choose to begin with the module on finding their ideal type of work. The majority (60%) of participants have a general idea what type of work they are seeking based on their past work history and should benefit by participating in the entire program.
The quickest way to learn everything needed to mount an effective job search is to attend a “Quick Start Job Search Workshop”. Career Ministries offers these workshops at various locations and trains church facilitators to lead them as well.
This manual may also be used as the foundation text for local church based weekly support group meetings. There are many modules to choose from based on the needs of the group. For training on how to start and operate a weekly job search support group, or offer the “Quick Start” one day workshops, contact Career Ministries at 813-960-1876 or www.careerministries.org .
There are two types of exercises to apply what you have learned in this manual.
1) Individual exercises. These may be completed during a workshop or individual reading.
2) Group exercises. These are included to be used as part of a weekly job search support group.
Job search can be a long, lonely, isolating, frustrating, and difficult process if you let it be that way. Or it can be an opportunity to reassess your life priorities and head in new directions knowing you are doing the work of your creator, leading to a life of abundance and success!
One suggestion: don’t go through this journey alone. Know that God is with you and loves you. He is preparing you for your next step – so you are never alone. And also, if possible, find a weekly job search support group to help keep your spirits up, your job search on track, and have others to learn from and share your concerns with. You just can’t beat good Christian fellowship!
What is your current need?
Many people would say “To find a job as soon as possible!” Others may say “To find work (as soon as possible) that I truly enjoy, with people I enjoy being with, that uses my gifts, that pays a competitive wage, and that is in alignment with my goals in life.”
Your current need may simply be “to find a job as soon as possible” meaning you need cash NOW! And if that is your situation, that is OK as long as you recognize that you may end up settling for work that is not very satisfying. The biggest problem in the workforce today is with people who are not satisfied with their work. As stated previously, 72% of the employed workforce is actively seeking employment elsewhere because they are not satisfied with their current work situation. They go through life jumping from one job to another, assuming that the purpose of work is merely to pay the bills. If you are about to lose your home due to foreclosure, or you have to feed your family and you have no savings – you may indeed have to take a temporary job that is less than what you want. But I offer a word of caution. Flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant is not a strong fallback strategy. You may find it harder than you think to get a “tide me over” job. So why not take an active role in your future work instead of taking whatever crumbs are left for you on the table! Learn your strengths and then use this program to help you find work that is fulfilling financially, mentally, physically and spiritually!
Life is short and work composes at least 1/3 of our life, so let’s try to get it right….. and as soon as possible!
Next to loss of a spouse or family member, and fear of public speaking, job loss ranks as one of life’s most stressful situations.
Regardless of what happened, you may feel singled out and alone when you leave a job, but let me assure you that you are not alone.
In the United States, in 2010, the unemployment rate is over 9%. There are over 15 million people unemployed. Eventually the unemployment situation will improve, but until it does we need to know how to manage unemployment rather than letting it destroy us and those who depend on us. This module covers four areas of our life that will be impacted by unemployment. They include:
Managing Emotional Stress
Stress is fundamentally the way we react to different stimuli in our life. The stress of job loss could be sudden or something that you have known about or suspected for quite some time. The stress of the job search process takes place over time as we discover how difficult finding a job can be, especially in a tough economy!
The first type of stress is emotional stress that may take place in four stages.
Stage #1 Shock, Denial, Isolation
Shock and denial are frequently experienced shortly after job loss, particularly if the job loss was unexpected. Isolation may occur if you were the only person laid off or fired, or isolation can take place during the search process if you try to go through the job search process alone without group support or someone else to provide support and encouragement.
These are normal stress reactions to job loss similar to the stages of loss when a child loses contact with a parent as a result of divorce. Don’t deny the feelings you are having, but understand that they are normal and they may pass in time. Sometimes the feelings are so strong however, that you may be advised to see a doctor. If you have strong feelings of rage or you feel like to want to strike back physically at the people involved, it is best to seek help rather than take irrational actions that could cause harm to yourself or someone else.
Stage #2 Anger and Guilt
A typical reaction to a company that lays off employees is, “How can the company do this to me”? This may lead to escalating anger, or it may lead to feelings of guilt such as “If only I could have done a little more work they would have kept me on the payroll”. Resentment is another feeling that many unemployed persons have when they hear about the leaders in the company taking expensive trips or getting “golden parachutes” in retirement while the rest of the employees suffer.
Again, this is a phase which will linger for days, weeks or more. It is not unusual and will begin to dissipate over time as you begin to focus on the things that are within your control.
Stage #3 Frustration and Depression
This stage results from being worn down with the burdens of unemployment. The frustration of the job search process may go away after a while or lead to a more serious condition called depression. Clinical depression is when you are so discouraged that you just don’t feel like getting up in the morning. Some people have described depression like feeling you are in a forest in a thick fog and can’t find your way out. So instead of trying, you just shutdown emotionally and physically. The burdens become so great that you have little energy and instead of working on your job search, you sit at home alone and worry. If you feel yourself slipping into this stage, recognize it and get some help immediately.
Stage #4 Acceptance & Hope
After experiencing some of the earlier symptoms of stress most people move on and eventually accept their situation and work at finding work. Acceptance occurs when you realize that you need to make adjustments to get a balance in your social and job search life. Acceptance leads to hope which is when your attitude becomes more optimistic and you begin to see options that could lead to a happier, more productive lifestyle. Having options is very important in the job search process. In fact, it is probably the most important factor in keeping you going through the job search process.
Individual Exercise #1
Think about how it felt when your last job ended. Write how you felt within the first 3 days after your job ended. ______________________________________________________________________
Think about how you currently feel about the way your last job ended. Write how much time has lapsed since your job loss, and then write down your current feelings. ____________________________________________________________________________
What stages of stress have you experienced since your job loss? ________________________
If you had a job interview shortly after the loss of your job, how could being in one of the first three stages of stress affect the interview? _________________________________________
What is the impact of stress on your family? _______________________________________
What is the impact of stress on the job search process? _______________________________
Write some suggestions to help you reduce the levels of stress during the job loss and job search process? _____________________________________________________________________
Group Exercise #1
In your group discuss the types of stress you are feeling, and discuss productive suggestions to deal with stress during the job search process.
Share the best suggestions with the entire group when you reconvene.
Managing Your Financial Situation
The US economy is currently in a recession. Companies are downsizing, rightsizing, wrong sizing, and capsizing. Markets are changing and so is the job market. During a good economy if it takes an average of 5 to 6 weeks to find a job for every $10,000 in income, in a bad economy it will take longer, conservatively perhaps 8 weeks to find a job for every $10,000 in income. For example, if you are looking for a job that pays $30,000 per year, you multiply 3 (from $30,000) times 8 weeks = 24 weeks, on average to find that job. That gives you about a 6 month period of time to find work. If your average monthly living expenses including mortgage (or rent), utilities, transportation, insurance, medical, and food expenses are $2,000 per month, then you need $12,000 in income to carry you through your period of unemployment. If your income during this period (including unemployment and other sources of income) does not continue through this estimated job search period then you have basically three options:
1) Reduce your monthly expenses accordingly
2) Find additional sources of income during the period of unemployment
3) Speed up (intensify) your job search
Tip #1 Know Your Financial Situation
The chart below may be helpful in identifying your financial window of opportunity.
Individual Exercise #1
Using the chart above, what is your projected average timeline to find a job at the salary you need/want?
Calculate your average monthly living expenses. Multiply that number times the number of months to find a job.
Calculate your average monthly income while unemployed. Add in any savings you have access to during the period of unemployment.
Will your financial resources cover your expenses during the period of unemployment?
What options do you have?
Group Exercise #1
In your support group, discuss ways to reduce expenses during unemployment.
Discuss ways to develop sources of income during unemployment.
Discuss ways to expedite your job search.
List the best ideas from your group:
Tip #2 As soon as you become unemployed – file for unemployment!
If you have any questions about whether you are eligible for unemployment, file and let them tell you whether or not you are eligible. The unemployment laws are beyond the scope of this course, but file first and ask questions later. The later you file after becoming unemployed the more difficult it becomes! Contact your local state unemployment agency. Recent extensions for unemployment benefits have been offered by the government. You have paid for unemployment through payroll taxes, and it was created just for you when you need it, so file for unemployment as soon as possible!
Below is a list of federal unemployment resources all of which may be found by doing a quick internet browser search under the name of the program.
The Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own, and meet certain other eligibility requirements.
The Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own (as determined under state law), and meet other eligibility requirements of state law.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President of the United States.
The Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program provides benefits for eligible unemployed former civilian federal employees.
The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members program provides benefits for eligible ex-military personnel.
Extended Benefits are available to workers who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment.
Trade Readjustment Allowances are income support to persons who have exhausted Unemployment Compensation and whose jobs were affected by foreign imports.
Self-Employment Assistance offers dislocated workers the opportunity for early re-employment.
Through One-Stop Career Centers, all citizens can access services tailored to their individual needs. This includes employment and job training services, career planning and guidance and much more.
CareerOneStop.org provides electronic tools to assist workers with finding a job, utilizing available training opportunities or conducting career planning. There is no cost to businesses or workers who use this service.
Be sure to check out the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program which pays up to $5,000 in tuition costs for job training. Your local One-Stop Career Center can advise you about this program.
The Department of Labor's toll-free Call Center can assist workers and employers with questions about Job Loss, Layoffs, Business Closures, Unemployment Benefits and Job Training: 1-877-US-2JOBS (TTY: 1-877-889-5627)
Tip #3 Learn the tax impacts of unemployment
The following information is from the Internal Revenue Service, June 2009.
The Internal Revenue Service recognizes that the loss of a job may create new tax issues. Some of the issues a job loss creates impact you at the time you lose your job and the impact of other issues occurs when you file your tax return.
TAX FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Withdrawals from a Pension Plan
In general, withdrawals from your pension plan are taxable unless they are transferred to a qualified plan (such as an IRA). If you are under age 59 1/2, an additional tax may apply to the taxable portion of your pension. If you can roll it over into another qualified retirement plan or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) within 60 days, you will not suffer any tax consequence. See IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, for more information.
Deduction of Job Search Expenses
Keep receipts for expenses you incur when searching for a new job. Certain job hunting expenses may be deductible. Examples of deductible expenses include employment and outplacement agency fees, resume preparation, and travel expenses for job search and interviews. See IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, for more information.
Keep your receipts if you have to move to begin a new job. Moving costs incurred because of a change in job location may be deductible. You must meet certain criteria relating to distance moved and timing of the move. See IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses, for more information.
Severance Pay and Unemployment Compensation
The IRS provides the following information to assist displaced workers. Severance pay and unemployment compensation* are taxable. Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time are also taxable. You should ensure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments or make estimated payments. See IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, for more information
* The ARRA legislation temporarily suspends federal income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in tax year 2009.
You may claim a tax credit of up to $2,500 of the cost of tuition and related expenses paid during the taxable year. Under new rules, the credit can be claimed for four post-secondary education years based on 100% of the first $2,000 of tuition and related expenses (including books) and 25% of the next $2,000 of tuition and related expenses paid during the taxable year. Forty percent (40%) of the credit would be refundable. See IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Higher Education, for more information.
Sale of Home
You can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 if married and filing jointly) of the gain on the sale of your main home if all of the following are true:
• You meet the ownership test.
• You meet the use test.
During the 2-year period ending on the date of the sale, you did not exclude gain from the sale of another home. See IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home, for more information,
Workers who have lost their jobs may qualify for a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA continuation premiums for themselves and their families for up to nine months. To qualify, a worker must have been involuntarily separated between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009. This subsidy phases out for individuals whose modified adjusted gross income exceeds $125,000, or $250,000 for those filing joint returns. See IRS website; keyword COBRA, for more information.
If you owe a debt to someone else and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled amount may be taxable. The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.
This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $1 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($2 million if married filing jointly). The exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition. See IRS website, keyword Mortgage Debt Forgiveness, and Form 982 instructions for more information.
Earned Income Tax Credit
You may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, (EITC), when you work, but do not earn a lot of money. There is a temporary increase of the EITC for eligible families with three or more qualifying children for TY 2009 and 2010 returns. The maximum EITC for families is $5,657. You may be eligible for the credit if you earn less than $40,463 for one child, $45,295 for two children and $48,279 for three or more children. For married taxpayers filing a joint return with no children, the credit begins to phase out at $12,470 and completely phases out at $18,440.
See IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit, for more information.
Copies of all publications are available at www.irs.gov. You may also request copies by calling 1-800-829-3676.
Individual Exercise #1
Identify which of the listed tax issues will have an impact as a result of your unemployment status.
Locate your closest One-Stop Career Center and stop by to learn about their resources!
Group Exercise #1
In groups of three, discuss the process and benefits of filing for unemployment.
Discuss the resources available through your local One-Stop Career Center.
Ask if anyone in your group has participated in the WIA job training program, and if so, what was their experience with the program?
Managing Your Time
When you become unemployed, finding work should become your new job! As much as we would like to sit back and enjoy our time between jobs, we eventually have to find another source of income. In later modules we will cover specifically how to manage your time productively, but for now here are five suggestions:
- Develop a job search plan and stick to it just as if you were being paid to do a job.
- Get weekly support from a group or a coach to keep you on track and hold you accountable for your time in a firm but supportive way.
- Learn patience and persistence.
- Live your life in “day tight” compartments. Work your job search action plan every day during your working hours, but then exercise, relax and sleep well after hours.
5. The optimum number of hours to work on your job search each week if you are unemployed is 35 hours on average. More hours are counter- productive and may lead to burn out. Be sure to allow for 1 hour of exercise daily.
Job Search and the “Time Trap”
The essence of the “time trap is…….
The less time you have to find work – the more likely you will feel like you have to take work that may be less than satisfying. This will put you in the category of the 54% of the current workforce who are actively searching for work elsewhere! Unless you enjoy the process of searching for work, find work that allows you to do what you enjoy doing, and that you do best.
The best way to beat the time trap is to develop a proven job search plan within a few days of becoming unemployed and stick to it. Don’t wait until the money nearly runs out before you start getting serious about your job search. Don’t assume you can easily get a minimum wage job to “tide you over” until your ship comes in. What you should do is prioritize what is most important to you when it comes to choosing the type of work you do.
Joe’s Hierarchy of Job Needs; (similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Motivational Needs)
- Any type of work that provides food and shelter (this level of job may lead you into the “Time Trap” where you are searching for work again in just a few weeks or months).
- Work in a safe and secure environment. (plus #1 above)
- Work with people who accept you. (plus #1 and #2 above)
- Work with people who appreciate and respect what you do. (plus #1, #2, and #3 above)
- Do work where you are able to use your “God given gifts” in your work to help others. This includes all of the above listed job requirements (#1 - #4) and leads to longer lasting employment and happiness).
The idea is to search for, and find work in the 3, 4, or preferably the 5 range (above), rather than just any job. This will enable you to beat the “Time Trap”.
There may be several times during your job search where you will seem to be stuck, and not making progress. It could be that your action plan needs to be adjusted, or you may need to choose different strategies for searching for work. But one thing most people have difficulty with is the silent killer of job search called FEAR!
FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. It frequently stops you from choosing or taking appropriate actions. It can lock you into past experiences that may prevent you from taking positive actions in the future. How does fear start? It starts in our head and manifests in our actions, or in many cases, our lack of action!
[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]
Two Hemispheres of the Human Brain
Humans have two physical sides of the brain, the left side and the right side.
The left side controls our thinking in sequence; it is the cautious side of the brain that doesn’t like to take risks – likes to play it safe. It draws heavily on our past experiences to judge right from wrong. It can help us avoid dangerous situations like crossing the street in front of cars. But it can also prevent us from taking risks that may lead to great opportunities.
The right side of the brain thinks spatially rather than sequentially. It likes to take risks. The right side is impulsive and likes to explore. It is the experimental part of our mind. The right side controls desire and wants us to be happy.
The challenge we face during unemployment is which side of our brain to listen to! The “self talks” we have will dictate who we are and what we do. If you listen predominantly to the left side of your brain, you will be a very cautious and conservative person. If you listen to the right side of your brain you will be very creative, less structured, and more willing to take risks in life.
So how does this affect your job search? The self talk we have will determine how we approach the job search process, whether we are creative in our approach to finding work (right brain), or go the tried and true “safe” way (left brain).
The point is to be aware that when you feel “stuck” and not making progress, one side of your brain may be making too many decisions, and may be holding you back from the type of job that could be yours if you were willing to take some risks that others aren’t willing to take!
So what does FEAR sound like during a job search?
“I shouldn’t do this,” “I can’t…,” “Yes, but I tried that and….,” “This is too hard,” or “My present job isn’t that bad after all.”
The remedy: Practice silence, meditation, prayer, ask for God’s guidance, listen to music, exercise, and make a list of the opposite of these words and repeat them often to program your mind in a positive way.
What if you are confused about the direction your life should take?
Remedy: Focus on what you know rather than on what you don’t know. Ask for God’s will to be done in your life and be willing to surrender to his will rather than your own. Realize that God’s plan is not always the plan we expected.
What if you find yourself engaging in diversions and digressions instead of focusing on your job search?
Remedy: Budget a little time for diversions such as volunteering or exercising or socializing, but don’t let them interfere with your job search any more than they would if you had a full time job.
“When FEAR knocks at your door, let faith get up to answer, and you will find that no one is there.” Author Unknown
Individual Exercise #1
Think about a time during your job search where fear has held you back from making progress.
What will you do if this happens again?
Group Exercise #1
Discuss the ways you have overcome fear in your job search and share your experiences with the group.
Resources On Managing The Stress Of UnemploymentCareer Comeback: Eight steps to getting back on your feet when you're fired, laid off, or your business ventures has failed--and finding more job satisfaction than ever before (Paperback) Unemployment Boot Camp: Tactics for Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century (Paperback)
by R. A. Long
The Relaxation Response by M.D. Herbert Benson and Miriam Z. Klipper
Career Transition &
Defining Your Work
One of the most important quests in life is finding one’s work. Yet when I ask many job seekers the fundamental question, “What type of work are you looking for?” I frequently hear “I have no idea,” or “I’m not sure,” whatever I can get to pay the bills I guess.” You cannot expect people to help you find work if you first don’t help them by clearly describing the type of work you seek.
If you already know exactly what type of work you want, great! All you have to do is to clearly and concisely describe that work in one or two sentences which includes your job title and job search objective. We explain this at the end of this module.
If you are not sure what type of work you want to do, this module will provide some insight into the work discovery process called “career transition.” Career transition means a major change in your work direction, such as deciding to become a nurse after having previously been a real estate agent. Compare this to a “job transition,” which typically means doing essentially the same type of work, just for a different part of an organization, or to a new organization. Job transitions are typically much easier than career transitions.
Some people may want to get into a different type of work because their previous work was unsatisfactory or the industry is downsizing. If you want to make a big change you may want to break that change down into smaller steps. If you simply want to change job titles you could move to a new company in the same industry where they had your old job title and your new one so that there would be a job title transition path. Some people may just want to change industries, for example an accountant may want to move from the financial services industry into becoming an accountant in the utilities industry. The most challenging transition is where a person wants to change career direction and industries at the same time, like the example we gave above where a real estate agent decides to get into a new industry (healthcare) in a new type of work (nurse).
Major career changes may require extensive training or re-education and certifications. When making a major career transition, it helps for the hiring manager to know your skills and capabilities before and after the transition.
[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]
How to decide what work to do?
This is an introspective process that requires time and asking yourself some key questions.
Individual Exercise #1
Remember back to previous employment. What was the best job you ever had? Write down the three things you liked most about that job.
Now what was the worst job you ever had? Write down the three things you liked least about that job.
We are beginning to build your work profile.
Many people wear blinders regarding what types of work are possible. They don’t believe that a job exists or can be created for someone with their unique gifts, talents and skills.
“If you had only one year left in your life to work, any kind of work, what would it be and why?”
“What would you most like to do?”
After considering your short term work goals, try thinking in longer terms. You may know what you want to do short term but will it provide a comfortable retirement? You may not have the skills or education to do a particular type of work in the short term, but you may have time to gain those skills or education in a longer term view.
Sometimes it helps to consider choices from a “What’s most important to you list.” Make some mental notes about each of these as you scan the list. Circle the choices you like best.
- Working with people, data, or things?
- Being practical or creative?
- Doing physical or mental work?
- Traveling or no travel?
- Working in an office or outside?
- Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
- Do you like business, scientific/technical, or social work?
- Do you prefer academic, not-for-profit, government, or private business work?
- Do you prefer working days, nights, or differing shifts?
- Do you prefer work requiring analysis and logic, or empathy and compassion?
- Would you prefer to work for a small or a large organization?
- Short commute, long commute, or no commute (home based)?
Individual Exercise #2
After thinking about the questions listed above, write your answers in the space below. This is another step in helping you discover your ideal work.
Individual Exercise #3
Now write down a few things you know you DON’T want to do in your next job/career.
These lists will begin to help you identify some of the parts of the “What I want to do next!” puzzle.
The answer to the question of what I want to do next should not necessarily be, “What should I do,” or “What can I do,” because these may limit your possibilities. There is always someone who will tell you what you “should” do. For example, “You should do this work because it makes more money,” but is it what you want to do? Does it use your gifts that God gave you? Does it capitalize on your experience?
There are assessments that attempt to tell you what you are suited to do. But in the end, no person or assessment should be taken as seriously as your own interests, desires, and motivations. It is your life – not someone else’s life. You need to be excited about your work goal because that excitement is what gives you the achievement drive that will motivate you to find that type of work and be successful at it!
Some people say you need a passion, or need to love your work. Not all people find their passion in their work, but they need to at least be interested in their work and be able to use their God given gifts at least some of the time to be successful and enjoy their work. Perhaps you will find an outlet for your “passion” outside of work. But if you are not interested in your work, and you find yourself “doing the time to collect the dime,” I would urge you to move from that 54% of currently employed but dissatisfied job seekers to the other 46% who find some reward in work in addition to being paid. Life is too short to spend 2/3 of it doing work that is not satisfying!
There is a difference between doing what you love and doing what interests you. It’s great to have passion and enthusiasm for the work you do. Marsha Sinetar wrote a book called “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.” Just be sure your passions intersect with the needs of the market place. Be sure that the emotions of your passion are balanced by the rational logic and needs of your income requirements. In other words make sure there is a market for the work you want to do. It may take a long time to build a market where one didn’t exist before you came along.
Where these three circles intersect is where you will have the greatest probability of success. Sure, do what you love, but make sure that you can generate sufficient income to meet your financial requirements. Also consider the current economic climate for what you want to do. For example, if you are a carpenter, but the construction industry is at a standstill, you may want to consider other alternatives unless you can remain financially stable until the construction economy improves.
And if your ideal job doesn’t seem very practical, don’t give up. There may be ways to work in that field in a support role.
For example, you may have great passion to be a professional golfer. But if you determine that this is impractical, you may be able to:
- Write about it
- Sell it (golf equipment, sponsorships, vacations etc.)
- Teach it
- Provide entertainment or hospitality related to it
- Provide technology for it
- Administer or organize things related to it (organize golf tournaments)
- Care for or maintain it (golf course maintenance)
So think about the work that really motivates you, and rather than quickly rule it out because you don’t have the talent, education or credentials, look into other approaches such as the ones mentioned above to achieve satisfaction in the work you do.
A Quick Approach to Finding Your Ideal Work
Use the internet to help find the types of companies that hire people with the skills and passions that you have.
1. List the skills that you enjoy using the most.
2. Go to an internet job search site such as careerbuilder.com, monster.com, indeed.com, etc.
3. In the search box on the main page, enter the skills you like to use (public speaking, accounting, marketing, basket weaving, etc.), and click the enter button.
4. The search engine will come up with a list of job positions using those skills in the job description! Look through the list of jobs, find one you like.
5. Write down the names of the jobs/companies that you like and contact the company to find out who the hiring manager is for the position you are interested in.
6. Through your contacts, LinkedIn, networking, etc., contact the hiring manager and ask for a short meeting to discuss working for the company.
This method was suggested by Kevin Donlin in his book Guerilla Marketing for Job Seekers. It is so simple and yet it may help you get started in the right direction. Remember, use the skills that God has given you to find work that has meaning and purpose!
Career Transition Strategies
Using the right career transition strategy may shorten your job search considerably. What is a career transition strategy? It is a listing of the smoothest, quickest types of transitions up to the most complicated and difficult strategies. For example, which do you think would be the easiest transition:
From being a salaried admin assistant in a corporation – to doing the same work as an independent contractor for the same corporation.
From being a salaried admin assistant in a corporation to becoming a veterinarian technician?
It will generally be a quicker transition when you stay in the same type work in the same industry.
The following list provides some general guidelines to consider when planning your next job.
Career Transition Hierarchies (from easiest to most difficult)
1. From salaried employee to 1099 independent contractor for same employer
2. From salaried employee in one company to salaried employee in another company doing the same work in the same industry.
3. From salaried employee in one company to doing the same work on a temp to perm basis in another company in a different industry.
4. From salaried employee in one company to doing the same salaried work in another company in a different industry.
5. From one occupation to the same occupation at a different level in another company in the same industry.
6. From one occupation to the same occupation at a different level in a different industry.
7. From one occupation to a different occupation in a different industry.
Resources For Career Transition
Career Transition: A Faith-Based Approach by Darren E. Holmes
Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life, by Kevin and Ann Marie Brennfleck
http://www.onetcenter.org Note: The ONET resource is the US government site with many career assessment tools and information including the Department of Labor Occupational Handbook at http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Identifying & Using Transferable Skills
Whether you are considering a minor job change or a major career change you will need to understand the concept of transferable skills.
Identification of skills (and particularly transferable skills) is important in deciding career opportunities. For example, if you were the real estate agent that wants to go into nursing, which skills from the list below are common to both jobs? In this module we will learn how to indentify transferable skills and how those skills may be used to transition into a new career!
Below is a list of the five most common categories of job skills. Put a check mark next to each skill that you feel you do well.
Communication: the skillful expression, transmission and interpretation of knowledge and ideas.
- Speaking effectively
- Writing concisely
- Listening attentively
- Expressing ideas
- Facilitating group discussion
- Providing appropriate feedback
- Perceiving nonverbal messages
- Reporting information
- Describing feelings
Research and Planning: the search for specific knowledge and the ability to conceptualize future needs and solutions for meeting those needs.
- Forecasting, predicting
- Creating ideas
- Identifying problems
- Imagining alternatives
- Identifying resources
- Gathering information
- Solving problems
- Setting goals
- Extracting important information
- Defining needs
- Developing evaluation strategies
Human Relations: the use of interpersonal skills for resolving conflict, relating to and helping people.
- Developing rapport
- Being Sensitive
- Conveying feelings
- Providing support for others
- Sharing credit
- Delegating with respect
- Representing others
- Perceiving feelings, situations
Organization, Management and Leadership: the ability to supervise, direct and guide individuals and groups in the completion of tasks and fulfillment of goals.
- Initiating new ideas
- Handling details
- Coordinating tasks
- Managing groups
- Delegating responsibility
- Promoting change
- Selling ideas or products
- Decision making with others
- Managing conflict
Work Survival: the day-to-day skills that assist in promoting effective production and work satisfaction.
- Implementing decisions
- Enforcing policies
- Being punctual
- Managing time
- Attending to detail
- Meeting goals
- Enlisting help
- Accepting responsibility
- Setting and meeting deadlines
In the space below, write down three accomplishments (in work or life in general) that were important to you and that received acknowledgement from co-workers, family, friends, managers, etc.
Share these accomplishments with others in your group. Get feedback from the others in your group about the skills that were demonstrated in your achievement story.
Now write the skills and talents that were required for you to achieve these accomplishments.
Now have the members of your group identify additional skills, which you did not identify that were used during your accomplishment stories.
Frequently we discover that we have more skills than we individually realize. And these skills can be transferred from one job or career to the next. Develop a “tool box” of skills that you use when writing resumes - depending on the skills required for the position.
In resumes, cover letters, and during interviews, you should always portray your skills as applicable to the job you seek. If you have good experience and you are seeking in a job in the same field you have pursued in the past, portraying your skills as transferable is relatively easy. But if you are changing careers and seeking to do something entirely different from what you have done in the past, or you are a college student or other entry-level jobseeker without much experience, you have a much more difficult task ahead of you.
Let's first look at the career-changer's dilemma first. First we will look at a resume makeover for a woman who wanted to become an account representative (sales, in other words). See if you can guess from this entry on her old resume about her current job:
- Utilize personal computer for word processing, spreadsheets, and graphic design including internal/external correspondence, reports, procedure manuals and presentations.
- Create and distribute a variety of queries and reports using Access.
- Process confidential employee records such as salary changes, vacation/absenteeism reports and performance appraisals, etc.
- Complete and submit invoices to process for payments.
- Schedule meetings/appointments and make travel arrangements.
- Accountable for reconciliation of expense reports.
- Develop and maintain product application guides using flowcharts.
Did you guess secretary? You're right. Her resume screams "secretary," not account representative.
If she really wanted an account rep position, she was emphasizing the wrong skills. She should not have been emphasizing clerical and secretarial skills -— or even computer skills. She should be emphasizing sales, customer service, interpersonal, and communications skills. Almost nothing in her current job -— the way she portrayed it on her old resume —- supported her desire to be an account rep. Yet, I'm sure her job requires great interpersonal skills, and she interacts with lots of different people and solves the problems of her boss and others. Those are the kinds of skills needed in the account rep jobs.
For example, instead of saying "Schedule meetings/appointments and make travel arrangements," she should say "Interact with a wide variety of personalities to schedule meetings and make travel arrangements."
That's what you need to do if you're seeking a new job. Think of everything you've done in terms of how it is transferable to what you want to be doing and portray it that way.
For every item on your resume, think: How can I portray this skill so that it supports the idea of doing what I want to do in my next job? If you can't make it support what you want to do, leave it out.
The classic examples I show my students about how a college student can portray transferable skills come from Donald Asher's book, From College to Career, one of the best resume books available for college students.
Look at how Donald Asher, in his book From College to Career takes a typical lowly job held by a college student, that of receptionist, and portrays it as applicable to her desire to work in finance:
- Proven ability to deal with a wide range of individuals, including high-net-worth investors and institutional money manager, in a stressful and time-sensitive environment.
- Gained knowledge of financial markets and instruments, especially stocks, bonds, futures and options.
Now see how he makes a waitress seem like just the person you'd want to hire in an entry-level marketing job by portraying her skills as transferable:
- Act as a "sales representative" for the restaurant, selling add-ons and extras to achieve one of the highest per-ticket and per-night sales averages.
- Prioritize and juggle dozens of simultaneous responsibilities.
- Have built loyal clientele of regulars in addition to tourist trade.
- Use computer daily.
Now you have an idea of what type of work you want to do, and you understand the concept of transferable skills. Put this to a test by comparing your current resume to the job description of a listed opening ad from the newspaper or internet. Use your transferable skills, by tailoring your resume to reflect the content in the job description from the ad listing. We will cover resume writing later but we want you to know how to use your transferable skills in the context of your new job, whether in a resume, cover letter, interview or in a networking situation.
The examples on transferable skills are from Catherine Hansen with Quintessential Careers.
Individual Exercise #1
If you are changing careers, think about how you would need to write your resume to reflect the transferable skills from your previous experience into you new career resume. Now write a miniature resume using 200 words or less, that states your name, work objective, and list how the most important accomplishments translate into skills which are useable in your new career field.
Group Exercise #1
Share your 200 word resume with the group and ask how it may be improved to transfer previous skills into a new career resume.
Notes from Group Exercise #1:
Resources for Assessing Transferable SkillsThe Easy Resume Book: A Transferable Skills Approach, by Barbara J. Bowes
What is your Personal Marketing Focus?
After identifying your ideal job you may want to take a broad but structured look at how others will perceive you and your skills during a job search. Some people call this a “branding” statement of who you really are. For example when you hear “Breakfast of Champions” – what brand or product do you think of? In some ways, you are similar to a product which has certain characteristics and achievements that set you apart from others. In a competitive job market it is important to know your brand and top be able to distinguish yourself from others who may be competing for the same job.
Take about 20 minutes and fill in the following personal marketing form. It will help you network more effectively, focus your job search efforts more accurately, and become the backbone of your resume. It will define who you are professionally.
After completing this form, ask others (in your support group, family, friends, if they think this is an accurate portrayal of you and what you have to offer companies that may want to hire you. This self analysis will have more value as you refine your “brand” into what you say to people when you are networking for work. This is sometimes referred to as your “core” message.
What is Your Core Message?
Your core message is main thing you will say about yourself during job search. It expands your professional objective. Your core message will be communicated both verbally and in writing. Some people refer to the core message as your “30 second commercial,” or the term “Core-mmercial,” or an elevator speech because you should be able to convey your core message within 30 seconds (approximately the length of time you would have to recite it during an elevator ride).
During your job search you will have many times to introduce yourself to others. Your core message is no more than a paragraph of information that briefly describes specifically what type of work you are looking for and why you do it well.
The core message includes your professional objective or work goal, followed by one or two statements that objectively describe your achievements. Your core message should leave a lasting impression of your achievements with the listener. It should be positive, upbeat, enthusiastic, and sincere.
The most common use of your core message will be when talking with people you meet for the first time. After exchanging names and pleasantries, and after you have shown interest in the other person, if they ask you what you do, you might say something like,
“Thanks for asking, I am a retail business accountant who is seeking work. I was with Starnes Electronics for the past seven years where I handled over $5 million dollars in annual payroll and over $50 million in accounts payable and receivable.”
Did you notice how he used his professional objective in the first sentence and how he described the scope of his work in tangible terms in the second sentence? It was very short and to the point.
The next part of this conversation may present an opportunity to show your target list and ask if they know anything about any of those companies.
If people know about job leads, and if they like you and have some degree of confidence in you, they are usually glad to refer you or at least give you some insight into the companies you have asked about, or perhaps even suggest more companies you could add to your target list.
Core messages can be longer than this one, but be sure you don’t go on too long (more than 30 to 60 seconds) While 30 seconds may not be enough time to explain your whole work life history, it seems like an eternity when the other person simply isn’t interested in you. Shorter is better than longer, just make sure your core message is well written and then rehearsed until it sounds natural and leaves the person wanting to know more about you.
Individual Exercise #1
Write your core message below
Group Exercise #1
Share your core message with your group. Get feedback from the group as to how your core message can be improved. How can your core message be compelling for someone to ask more about it? How can you state your core message in a way that links in your target market list?
Feedback suggestions from your group
Core Message Use in Cover Letters
When the opportunity presents itself to send a cover letter, you may want to use a bulleted version of your core message. The problem with most cover letters is that they are too long for busy people to read and filled with boring information that has little bearing on the needs of the organization. Your core message is a brief “teaser” designed to tempt the listener into asking for more information.
If you are sending an email to a prospective employer, your core message should be developed to create a very positive impression since it serves as the first snapshot of who you are and what you can do for their company, otherwise they may never take the time to look at your resume.
For example, I am very interested in working for Acme Oil Company.
- I have 10 years of experience in oil company account development
- One of the top sales persons in my last company with sales increases averaging 37% each year for the past five years!
- I specialize in the type of accounts handled by Acme Oil before I moved into your area this past year.
I would be interested in meeting you for coffee or lunch to discuss potential opportunities within your company. I will call you next week to check on your availability.
John D. Rockafeller
Resources for Writing Your Core Message
For writing your 30 second “core-mmercial” or elevator speech.
Your Title and Work Objective
Now that you have more clarity in your job goals, it is time to give an official name to your job title and communicate your professional objective. Your title is typically composed of one or two words such as “policeman,” “carpenter,” “lawyer,” or “teacher.” Your work objective is used in brief introductions when networking or at the top of a resume so that people have a context of the type of work you do, or the type of work you are seeking.
It may include more descriptive terms of specialization such as “residential carpenter,” “civil trail lawyer,” or “history teacher.” This helps people know what specific skills you have and allows them to provide more accurate job leads.
Your work title or objective may also include a level of responsibility, experience or competency such as “master residential carpenter,” “human resource manager,” “senior administrative clerk.”
It may also specify industry expertise such as “healthcare financial consultant,” or “pharmaceutical sales representative,” or Baptist minister.
You may also want to include education or other credentials such as “MBA,” or “RN.”
An example of a professional work objective being used in a verbal tense is:
“I am an independent certified public accountant specializing in the hospitality industry.” OR “I am a master residential electrician.”
“I am a registered nurse specializing in radiation oncology.”
An example of using your work title and work objective in a job search:
“I am John Watkins, a consumer electronics warehouse supervisor looking for an opportunity to manage a high volume warehouse operation in the Tampa, Florida area.”
Your professional objective and title need to be clear, concise and only one or two sentences. Your job title and objective will be used later in this workshop as part of your 30 second core message or “core-mmercial”.
Individual Exercise #1
If you were in a job networking situation, how would you describe the type of work you do in 15 seconds or less?
You should order business cards for use in your job search! (www.vistaprint.com) What would you list as your title and work description?
Group Exercise #1
In your group, have each person describe their work title and job description that they would list on their business card.
Customer Service Representative
Call Center Rep for National Insurance Company
Rep of the Year in 2007
For a list of job titles with work objectives go to the government’s occupational website http://online.onetcenter.org. They have a Skill Search link with a list of job titles related to your skills that were identified in exercise #2 above. They also have links to in-demand occupations.
Target Market Companies
Your target market is a group of companies that are known to hire people with your skills. It is not simply a list of employers who have job openings. The best way to find work is to get into a company BEFORE they post a job opening, so that you are not competing against everyone who responds to the posted job listing. Having a target list will help you when writing your resume because you will know specifically how to tailor your resume based on the specific needs of the companies on your list.
How many companies should I have on my list?
You need enough companies on your list to sustain your efforts throughout your job search. If your job search will be longer than average, your target list should be longer than average. The average number of companies on a target list should be at least 40 companies.
The biggest mistake most people make when compiling a company target market list is they don’t list enough companies. When talking with people about your job list, you will need to eventually speak to 15 different companies to speak to 5 decision makers within those companies to get one interview, and it takes an average of 5 interviews to land that job! This why we recommend a list with at least 40 companies to start!
If you are looking for a higher level position, paying $80,000 or above, your job search may easily take 52 weeks, which means you need more than 40 companies. If the position you seek has relatively few positions available such as Vice President or CEO, you may need more target companies. If the position you seek has a relatively low turnover rate, you need more companies.
If you are in an industry that is currently undergoing a downturn or frequent layoffs, you may need to add more companies, or expand your target company geography, or consider changing industries, or consider a lower level position in companies that may have more opportunities for future growth.
Your target market list should have at least four criteria:
1. Where the company is located geographically.
2. The size of the company.
3. What industry or business they are in.
4. The estimated amount of annual turnover within each company, in the position you are seeking.
You may want to spend some time thinking about which of these are most important to you. For example, some people absolutely despise a long commute of 45 minutes or more. For these people, the distance to work may be a top priority. Other people would prefer to stay within an industry where they have experience but would be willing to endure a longer commute to and from work each day. Some people prefer to work in smaller companies rather than a larger company.
Write your ideal job scenario and start from there. For example,
“I want to work for a small company (less than 200 employees), within a 20 minute commute, in an industry which I have experience (let’s say, telecommunications hardware manufacturing operations management).”
Identify companies from your library databases or local “Book of Lists” that do telecom hardware manufacturing. You may only find two or three companies that do this type of work within a 20 minute commute that have less than 200 employees. So after you document who these “top job prospects” are, you may then choose to broaden your criteria. You may choose to include larger companies which meet your other criteria, or expand your geographical boundaries, or expand your search to include companies outside the telecommunications industry to other similar industries.
Other factors to consider are the number of employees the company hires that do the work you want to do. If a company only has two employees doing this work, they may not have as many openings as a company that has 10 employees doing this type of work. Employee turnover rates should be considered as well. How frequently do employees either leave or move from this position – and why?
Bottom line in identifying your target market – Choose companies that you like, that hire people that do what you do, and that are well run and successful.
Take some time in developing this list because talking with people about these companies will be the heart of your job search. Your list will be constantly changing as you talk with people. You will add companies to your list and delete companies based on what you learn about them from your research. You will re-prioritize companies based on your criteria by moving them up or down in priority on a regular basis throughout your job search.
You may want to create your target market list of companies in MS Word or Excel, so that by simply clicking and dragging, you can change the priority level of a company on your list.
A typical target market list is shown below. Notice the headings. It may help to do the headers across the top of a landscape Excel sheet, so that you have room at add headers with room for specific contact information such as insiders, and decision makers, names, and contact information.
Each company on your list should contain the following information:
- Name of company/organization
- Address where you would be working
- Phone number
- Company/Organization website
- Size of company (in terms of number of employees)
- Estimated number of people who do the work I am looking for in this company
- Estimated employee turnover per year in this position
- Industry (healthcare, construction, etc.)
- Commute distance (miles, or minutes/hours)
- Insiders I know that work for this company: (name, title, and contact information)
- Hiring managers who have the authority to hire me: (name, title, and contact information)
Individual Exercise #1
Write the name of one company that you would like to work for, including the geographic location, the industry, and the approximate size of the company in number of employees.
Name of company ________________________________ Location _________________
Industry ____________________________ Size of company # employees ____________
# of employees in the position I want _________________ Turnover Hi Med Lo
It may help to create a separate folder for each of your top five target companies to collect notes from others, company research information, web research/Google search info, including recent press releases, or information pertinent to your area of expertise. This information will help you build a case for why you either want to work for this company or why you move it down your priority list or delete it altogether. The same information will come in handy when you are scheduled for an interview at the company.
The more time you spend learning about each of the companies on your list, the better you will be able to tailor a resume that fits their needs, and you will do better in an interview, based on your research.
Group Exercise #1
Write down the names of your top five companies. You can add all of the details later. Then share your list with the support group to determine if any of them know anything about any of your target list companies.
Group Exercise #2 (Optional)
First write your name and phone number or email address so that you may be contacted by other members in your support group. Then write your list of top five companies. This information may be helpful in getting referrals and insider information about your target companies from your support group.
Seeking what type of work __________________________________________________
Target company list
Resources For Identifying Your Target MarketSecrets of the Hidden Job Market: Change Your Thinking to Get the Job of Your Dreams
by Janet White
Book of Lists, published by the Tampa bay Business Journal, www.tampabay.bizjournals.com
USA Data Base, online database available at all public libraries
Using the Computer and Internet
Your computer and the internet can be useful for many things when searching for work:
1) To write and modify cover letters, resumes and other correspondence (word processor)
2) To communicate with potential employers (email)
3) To do research on potential employers (internet)
4) To search job boards for job listings (internet)
5) To promote your job search (by posting resumes, portfolio’s, and using social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
It is beyond the scope of this book to provide in depth training in each of these areas of computer and internet usage. However, we will outline several important things you need to know about how these technological marvels can be a great resource and time saver in your job search.
The most popular word processing application is Microsoft Word (MSWord). In fact, MSWord is so prevalent that most jobs assume that an applicant has experience using at least some version of MSWord. The most common word versions are MSWord 1997-2003, MSWord 2007, 2010, and 2011 for MacIntosh computers. The reason the different versions are important to know is that not all versions are compatible between the version you have and the version a potential employer may have.
For example, if you wrote your resume in the latest version of MSWord, but the potential employer does not have that version installed on their computers – they may not be able to read your resume! Microsoft word processing applications are downward compatible – not upwards compatible. This means if you sent your resume in MSWord 2007, but the employer is using the older version MS Word 1997-2003, they won’t be able to read your resume. The reason for this is because MSWord 1997-2003 creates a .doc file extension (this appears at the end of the name you gave to the file). MSWord 2007 creates a .docx file extension which is different than the MSWord 1997-2003 file extension. So it is good practice when saving your resumes to save them in an earlier version. Another option is to save your files as rich text or plain text files. These options are available by clicking in the type of file saved box at the bottom of your save file screen. The advantage of saving your documents using plain text or rich text files are that they eliminate the version problem, and they don’t turn into jibberish when cutting and pasting a resume into an online application box. The down side is that a plain text file does not allow for highlighting, bullet points or other fancy functions that MS Word does. Usually the online application forms will tell you which type of files they will accept. Some people like to save their files as an Adobe PDF file because it is generally more secure from unauthorized changes being made to your document. Just make sure that your potential employer will accept PDF files and has the Adobe Acrobat plug-ins needed to receive those type files.
Other Microsoft products in their Office Suite include Excel (useful for creating spreadsheets), Power Point (useful for creating slide shows for your portfolio), Access (a database program), and Outlook (an email program). Microsoft also has many resources available including resume templates on their company site http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/ .
Human resource departments receive so many resumes that they have software to filter whose resume is seen and whose resume is not seen. The electronic filters look for “keywords” within the body of the resume. For example, if a recruiter is looking for a person with a strong background in telecommunications, they may require the word “telecommunications” to appear in each resume selected, otherwise the resumes without that keyword will not be seen. It is wise when tailoring your resume to populate the resume with keywords found in their job description because those may be the keywords the company is looking for in the resumes for a particular position.
Email for Job Seekers
Email is important for job seekers because it is a primary method for communicating with potential employers (in addition to the telephone). Most internet providers offer free email packages such as Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com, AOL.com, etc. The email application from Microsoft is called Outlook and is a very popular program for email users. Virtually all email programs come with an address book which comes in handy when contacting everyone you know about potential job openings, and listing networking contacts during your job search. Your email address should have a name that is at least neutral from a professional standpoint. For example an email address like “b7401@ aol.com” is neutral compared to “email@example.com”. You don’t want to create a questionable impression before you get started!
Learn how send an email with an attachment. Frequently you may need to send an email which has a cover letter in the body of the email with your resume attached. As mentioned previously in the word processor section, be sure that any attachments you send can be received by the person to which you are sending. Some corporations have firewalls that will block emails with attachments or certain types of files because viruses can infect an unprotected network. The best way to find out is to ask the person requesting the information or send a request receipt with your email, meaning it was received by the recipient.
Keep emails brief, which means usually less than 200 words. The longer an email is, the less chance that someone will read the entire message.
Researching Potential Employers
When you are developing a target list of companies, using the internet to get basic information about a company can save a lot of time! Using a search engine (such as Google, Yahoo, etc.) enter the name of a company and frequently the name of the company will come up under the search returns. Click on the return with the company’s name in the URL to go to their website. You can find information on the type of company and they usually have a careers link that will show you the job openings within that company. Sometimes you can find the names of hiring managers. Press releases provide good insight into recent developments in the company. There are electronic data bases that may also help. Simply do an internet search for business databases and there will be many sources to discover companies in your area as well as associations to network within. And don’t forget to consider the electronic databases at your public libraries.
In addition to accessing company information like names, addresses, phone numbers, contacts, etc., you may want to search a little deeper to find problems within a company which may be opportunities for you to become the solution. One of the best ways to find employment is to identify a challenge or problem within a company and providing a solution for that problem. A website that can provide some insight is www.glassdoor.com.
Consider using the social networks for insider information. These are sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Face book. LinkedIn has an application that automatically identifies who you know when you select a job listing from the major job boards like Monster.com and Indeed.com. Identifying problems that plague an entire industry (therefore all of the companies within that industry) is possible if you search association sites. Almost every industry has an association that was formed to deal with problems from their member companies. Go to the association websites and read about their challenges. Those challenges can be golden opportunities for a sharp job seeker!
The Job Boards
75% of the jobs filled over the internet come from four sites (listed in no particular order):
The rest of the jobs filled via the internet are through company websites and association websites, and related sites (feeder sites).
First, remember to limit your time surfing these job listing sites to no more than 12% to 15% of your job search time because companies only hire an average of 12% of their new employees through internet job board sites. Another 12% are hired through recruiters. 51% are hired internally or referred into the company by someone who works there.*
*Source : 2009 study from Challenger, Grey and Christmas
Indeed.com is known as an “aggregator” meaning they search hundreds of websites and include those listings to boost their job listing count. Craigslist is known for its local flavor and inexpensive listings.
There are several things you can do with these job boards. First, they list jobs that are posted by companies who are searching for talent. If you enter the company name in the main search box you will likely get all of the current job listings for that company. Typically, a job seeker will use the job board search engines to indicate the job title and geographic location. The search returns jobs from many different companies with similar titles within that geographical location.
Another approach is to use the job boards to help you decide your career direction and/or ideal job. You can do this by entering your best skills (instead of a job title) into the search box along with your geographical location. The search will reveal the types of companies, in your area, that are hiring people with your skills! For example, if your best skill is “data analysis”. Enter that into the search box and your geographical area. All of the companies that have “data analysis” in their job title or job description will come up.
Another great service provided by the job boards is that you can post your resume online for others to see. In addition, you can create job search alerts that will provide you with jobs leads tailored to your specific description. You can receive job leads for free through email! All of these services are standard features from the job boards mentioned above.
So job boards can be quite useful. However, be aware of the down side to relying on job boards as a primary job search strategy. 51% of job seeker who rely on the internet job boards as their primary search strategy, abandon their job search within 60 days due to frustration!* With an average of 300 persons applying for every posted job description you can see that the competition makes it very difficult to be selected for an interview! Another thing to consider is that many companies are required by policy to post job openings even when they know they will fill the position internally! Plus some companies (and recruiters) will post bogus adds to fill their applicant pools with talent so they when a job becomes available they have the best candidates, meanwhile leaving job seekers wondering why the company that posted the ad doesn’t call them! The last negative about job boards is to be aware of job scams. This includes companies that post an ad but don’t really have an opening, they just want you to come in and buy their “career acceleration services” at $5k to $8k. They use the same database everyone else uses, they just couch their product by saying they can help you get a “similar” job after they train you in how to find work.
*From Richard Bolles: What Color is Your Parachute 2009
Online Job Search Promotion
If you have a good product (you), it needs to be promoted or it will remain the best kept secret in town! The more people who know who you are and what you can do, the better. The internet has revolutionized job search by giving us more ways to promote ourselves to a larger audience than any other method known.
Here are a few basic methods to promote you job search using the internet.
Resume submission on the internet
You may post your resume on all of the major job search boards. That way, recruiters can find you when they search for keywords that are included in your resume. I recommend updating your resume on each job search board at least monthly. The reason for this is because the job boards are searched regularly by “spiders” and if you let your resume stay on a site without updating, it goes to the bottom of the pile. Updating with new content (even if just changing a date) sends a message to keep your resume fresh and gives it a better chance of being seen.
Portfolios on the internet
In a competitive job market you need to stand out from the other 300 people also applying for the job. One way to do this is to develop a portfolio which may be posted online. A portfolio proves what you say you can do. There are three types of portfolios: Physical, electronic and paper. For example, you may have a list of accomplishments, awards or references that you may not have room to include on your resume. You can create a link in your resume that leads a recruiter to your portfolio. On LinkedIn, your profile may include a “Slideshare” Power Point presentation of your accomplishments. You may even want to invest in creating your own website to promote your skills, abilities and accomplishments. There are professional web sites that are designed expressly for the purpose of showing portfolios for job seekers. Many colleges are sponsoring sites to help there alumni promote their accomplishments.
Social networking sites
Many sites exist for the purpose of “social” networking. These sites include Facebook, My Space, and hundreds of others. The sites that are most valuable to job seekers are LinkedIn and Twitter. Many recruiters are starting to use these sites to find talent, especially on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you have a profile that is a modified version of a resume which may be searched by anyone on LinkedIn. You can enter a potential employers name and up comes all of the people you know who know someone who works at that company. You may ask for an introduction and find yourself in cyberspace in front of a hiring manager! Twitter has become a phenomenon because it provides instantaneous messaging, ‘tweets” – short messages sent via email. One of the advantages of twitter is that you can follow any company that you may be interested in working for. This may allow you to know about potential company problems that you may have the solution for, or you may get a “tweet” about a job opening before it has even been posted, thereby beating the competition in applying!
1. Create your resume by using a word processor. You may want to search the internet for resume templates.
2. Create an email to an employer. Put your cover letter in the email and attach your resume in a .doc file.
3. Identify a potential employer and using the internet, provide a company profile including key contacts, address, phone numbers, website, and any jobs listed that may be of interest to you.
4. Using the internet, conduct a job search on one of the major job boards. Print out the job description of a job that appeals to you.
5. Create an electronic portfolio and save the file so that it may be attached to a resume.
6. Go to LinkedIn.com, join (free) and create your profile.
1. In a group discussion discuss the best information sites for creating resumes and portfolios.
2. Discuss the job boards, the advantages and disadvantages of each and which ones work best for each person in the group.
3. In a group discussion, talk about the use of social sites and how they may assist in your job search. Tell the site with the greatest return on investment of your time regarding job search.
Resources for Using Your Computer and the Internet
The Riley Guide http://www.rileyguide.com/jobsrch.html
Career Builder.com http://www.careerbuilder.com/
Job Hunt http://www.job-hunt.org/
Richard Bolles site http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/jobhuntingonline/index.php
Cover Letters, Resumes and Introductory Letters
In this learning session we will examine the most important features of cover letters, resumes and how to write a letter of introduction.
The main reason for writing a good cover letter is to generate enough interest for a hiring manager to take the time to read your resume.
The main reason for writing a good resume is to generate enough interest for a hiring manager to invite you for an interview, and secondly, you need something as a “door opener” or “leave behind” to give to a hiring manager or referral source after they have met you.
Let’s start with a discussion about cover letters.
- How many of you have written a cover letter?
- When do you send a cover letter?
- What kind of cover letter works best for you and why?
Here are things to consider about a cover letter:
- It needs to be short (less than one page) otherwise HR staff will not take the time to read it.
- It needs to express interest in the position (if one exists).
- It needs to highlight the reasons they should hire you.
- It needs to ask for an interview.
- It needs to state when you will be following up.
- It needs to have your contact information (even if it is on the resume)
Some recruiters like cover letters, others don’t. In general, a cover letter that is easy and quick to read is favored. Limit each paragraph to three or four well written sentences. Leave generous margins and double space between paragraphs. Help the reader see at a glance the most important information (your qualifications) by using numbers or bullet points – and use bold fonts on key words that show the most important points. Make sure you use spell check and read it through several times to catch anything that spell check missed.
Below is a sample of a cover letter that was sent as an email (resume was attached) and it resulted in an interview. Names are changed to protect the writer.
I am applying for the executive director’s position at the Greater City Chamber of Commerce. My resume is attached, and additional information is available on my web site at www.mywebsite.com.
My qualifications include:
- 20 years of association management experience.
- A successful track record of organizing and promoting events.
- Outstanding public speaking and leadership skills
- Membership communications skills, including web site management and event promotions.
- Business networker (formerly taught Power Networking course for the chamber of commerce).
- I am an enthusiastic business promoter and program builder who would be honored to lead your chambers growth!
I would be very interested in discussing the position over the phone, and I would be glad to come in for an interview!
I will call you in five days to follow up. In the meantime, you may call me at 831-000-0000 between 9am and 6pm daily.
Thank you for your consideration.
Edwin Cover Letter Writer
Here is another, more formal cover letter written on personal stationary.
John T. Snicker
Hoboken, NJ 33614
May 26, 2008
International Sales Manager
Milton Island Breeze RESORTS
14344 S.R. 535
Miami, FL 32821
I was very pleased to learn of Milton Island Breeze Resorts' need for an experienced Latin American Sales Professional for their international team from this past Sunday's Miami Herald. I believe the qualities you seek are well matched by my qualifications and track record:
Your needs My qualifications
s Two years successful experience in s 11 years' highly successful sales in the U.S.,
Direct Sales of high priced items. European and Latin American, and other Caribbean markets.
s Bilingual (written and spoken) in s Written and spoken fluency in Spanish as
Spanish or Portuguese. well as Italian; continuing studies in French.
s Background in Latin American s Lived and worked (marketing) in Mexico and culture and customs. the Caribbean; studied Latin American Literature, and have an excellent working understanding of cultural communications.
A résumé is enclosed which covers my international marketing experience and successes in greater detail. Having lived and worked for extended periods in Latin America, I am available for further travel to the area. As an owner of one week of Sabal Palms Resort, I am also very familiar and pleased with the product involved with this position! I will be in Huatulco, Mexico June 1-7 on a combined business and pleasure trip at Club Med, and can be reached at Tel 52-777-10033, or Fax 52-44410101.
I look forward to speaking with you in three days to discuss my qualifications to be a strong contributor to the Milton Island Team!
John T. Snicker
Hot Tip! Use this matching format (Your needs – My Qualifications) instead of a job summary at the beginning of your resume!
Individual Exercise #1
Take 5 minutes and write out a short cover letter in the open space below, based on a recent job description that you read.
Include no more than three paragraphs.
1. Say why you are writing (to apply for a specific type of work or an advertised job)
2. State in three or four bulleted sentences why you are qualified to do this job (from your core statement – but tailored to the specific needs of this job)
3. State that you are interested in an interview. Tell them when they may expect to hear from you in a follow up call.
4. State your contact information.
Group Exercise #1
In your group of three, show your cover letter to the other two members. Ask for feedback on how your cover letter may be improved based on the guidelines above.
Swap cover letters with the others to receive feedback from each member.
Discuss cover letters each member has used in the past. Which cover letters do you think were successful and why?
Writing Effective Resumes
The primary purpose of a resume is to get an interview. Some resume writing tips to consider:
1) Recruiters and human resource staff receive an average of 300 online responses for each position listed online. Your resume needs to stand out and be custom tailored, based on the job description.
2) Recruiters and human resource staff take approximately 20 to 30 seconds to scan resumes, so the first 1/3 of the first page of the resume needs to convey the strongest points!
3) Many companies are using recruiting software that screens electronic resumes according to key words. If the wording in the resume includes those “keywords” there is a better chance that the resume will be accepted.
4) The descriptions of your skills, abilities, successes and experience need to be quantified as much as possible. For example,
Maintained records for accounts receivable and accounts payable.
Maintained over 1,000 records for accounts receivable and accounts payable.
Which of these descriptions is quantified?
5) Sell the benefits of your skills. For example,
Reduced the need for part time help in my department.
Cut departments’ labor expense by $6,000 by reducing the need for part time help.
Which of these descriptions shows the benefit of the skill?
Resumes are typically categorized as one of three types:
1) Chronological – lists employers in chronological order
2) Functional – lists functional skills
3) Hybrid – lists both functional skills and a short employment history.
There is no absolute rule as to when one of the types of resumes should be used over the other. Probably 90% of resumes use a chronological format. HR staffers tend to prefer chronological, and most job applications request information in a chronological format. However, you will notice that when a person doesn’t have a long employment history, or maybe employment gaps, they tend to focus on their skills using a functional resume. Here are samples of each.
Chronological resumes start with an outline with the following sections:
1. Your name and pertinent contact information.
2. Your professional work objective or goal.
3. Your work history (each entry includes the following information).
- The years of employment (beginning and end dates)
- The name of the organization, city and state
- Your responsibilities, skills, experience and achievements
4. Your education
A functional resume has an outline that looks like this:
1. Your name and pertinent contact information
2. Your professional experience and/or lists of skills
3. Your education
A hybrid resume has an outline that combines both the chronological and the functional items;
1. Your name and pertinent contact information
2. Your skills and achievements as they pertain to the job
3. Your work history
4. Your education
Some resumes include additional information such as activities and affiliations with professional associations, certifications, etc., and some resumes include, as attachments or addendums, supporting materials such as publications, presentations, patents, honors, awards, etc. Sometimes these supporting materials are included as a “portfolio” which we will discuss later.
Keywords! These are nouns or noun phrases that describe your title, knowledge, skill sets, software or computer experience. Look at the job description posted by the company. Try to use the keywords that describe the position. The reason using keywords are important is that many businesses use filtering software to electronically “read” resumes. If those resumes don’t contain the keywords listed by the hiring company, the resume may not even be seen by the human resource department!
One trick is to create a list of keywords separated by commas and put them at the bottom of the last page of your resume (if you have blank space there). Then change the font color to white (assuming a white background). The reader can’t see the words but the scanner will pick them up!
Paper or digital resume? Remember that HR departments receive an average of 300 resumes for every posted position! They look for ways to save time. Paper resumes may be old technology in today’s digital world, but they can’t be filtered electronically (unless someone electronically scans every paper resume). So you may have a better chance of getting an interview if you send your electronic version, and follow up via mail with a paper resume.
If you send in electronic versions of your resume, be careful to note the version of software your resume was created in. In a recent informal survey, over 50% of applicants sent in resumes that were unreadable by the receiving company because they were created in Microsoft 2007, but the receiving company had not upgraded their software to that version.
You also need to be aware of what happens to your electronic resume when it is copied and pasted into some online applications. Some resume software applications on the receiving end cause MS Word resumes to lose their formatting, so any bullets, or bolded letters may come out looking dramatically different from what you intended to send. Writing your resume in a .txt or plain text format is a good suggestion for electronic transmission.
Things NOT to include in a resume.
- Date of birth
- Marital status
- Salary history
- Letters of recommendation
As a general rule: Don’t clutter up your resume with any information that doesn’t pertain to the specific job you are applying for.
And above all else – Don’t lie on your resume!
Two frequently asked questions are how long should your resume be and how far back in time should I go? To some extent, these two questions are related. In general, your resume should be no more than two pages. If you can list all of the pertinent information from 20 years ago within two pages, and it pertains to the job description for which you are applying – list it! However, most employers are only interested in the past 10 years, so there’s no reason to include information prior to that time, unless it has a direct application to the job. If something does pertain directly to the job and is older than ten years, add a section to your resume called “Related Work Experience”, and list it there.
Also, consider that most HR staffers will spend less than 30 seconds looking over a resume anyway, so make sure you give them the most important information in the first 1/3 of the first page! This is sometimes referred to as listing the most important content “before the fold”.
The following resumes are just samples - not necessarily flawless resumes!
First a chronological resume for a person with many years of experience.Jacob Graystone 583 Wolverine Circle
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS Market-focused MBA-educated professional with successful strategic leadership, customer relationship management, and sales experience. Experience includes diverse managerial skills in distribution, planning and organizing. Restructured two alternate delivery companies to obtain quality distribution, requiring the recruitment of a competent staff. Experience in establishing sales and circulation goals and motivating staff to attain goals. Heavy focus on customer service of subscribers, advertisers and inter-company clients. Highly competent with Windows, MS Office, SAP, SPSS, FrontPage, WordPerfect. EXPERIENCE Consultant/General Manager, Greenview Communications Inc., Detroit, MI, 1/02-8/05 Created quality improvement program that saved the company $1.6 M. Oversaw distribution and packaging of more than 200,000 products. Coordinated expansion of business into six new territories. Developed and maintained $5M expense and revenue budgets. Recruited, trained, and supervised 65 full- and part-time employees. Alternate Delivery Manager, Free Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 6/98-12/01 Oversaw contracts with Alternate Postal Delivery and 200+ delivery agents. Assisted clients in maximizing their advertising dollar. Developed and maintained expense and revenue budgets. Created and implemented action plans for delivery program's success. Recruited and trained 20 employees. Oversaw distribution of various products to 450,000 households. Circulation Zone Manager, Free Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 2/97-6/98 Supervised independent carriers and employees to obtain quality delivery to 32,000 households. Promoted sales. Ensured circulation goals had been met. Provided statistics for future circulation growth. Alternate Delivery Area Manager, Free Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 3/96-2/97 Created new route structure for delivery of products using mapping software. Interviewed and contracted distribution agents. Trained new area managers. Assured proper delivery of products in established areas. Substation Supervisor, Free Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 7/95-3/96 Communicated between the Free Press and its delivery agents. Promoted sales. Maintained acceptable service ratios. Collected all money due to the company from its delivery agents. District Operations Counselor, Providence Journal Bulletin, Providence, RI, 5/91-6/95 Maintained home-delivery and single-copy accounts. Promoted sales and established routes in new growth areas. Recruited, oriented, and motivated carriers. Conducted audits for 12 district offices. EDUCATION Master of Business Administration, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, Spring 2008, Major: Marketing Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, May 2000, Major: Marketing Associate of Science in Business Administration, Community College of Rhode Island, Warwick, RI, May 1990, Major: Business Administration PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS Association of Alternate Postal Systems (AAPS)
Next is a functional resume. Notice that there is no employment chronology.[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]] [[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]
The next resume is called a hybrid because it uses a combination of the chronological and functional resumes.
9931 Sargasso Terrace
Pasadena, CA 91050
To contribute to your organization's success through the use of exceptional customer service, managerial, and people skills.QUALIFICATIONS
- Solid managerial and administrative experience
- Exceptional versatility and adaptability.
- Dedication and drive as a hard-working individual.
- Superlative communication and team-building skills.
- Ability to manage multiple tasks in a pressured environment.
INTERPERSONAL AND TEAMWORK SKILLS
- Entrusted to process confidential employee records such as salary changes, vacation/absenteeism reports, and performance appraisals.
- Interacted with a wide variety of personalities while scheduling meetings/appointments and making travel arrangements for executives.
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SALES SKILLS
- Interacted with clients and utilized excellent organizational skills to arrange and coordinate special events that include weddings, receptions, and holiday parties, as well as everyday lunch and dinner planning.
- Delivered excellent customer service and conducted in-house sales promotions while functioning as food server, beverage server, and hostess.
- Oversaw daily sales operations at country club.
MANAGERIAL AND SUPERVISORY SKILLS
- Proved multi-tasking abilities by scheduling and supervising staff, consisting of kitchen workers, bartenders, and food servers while functioning as clubhouse assistant manager at country club and simultaneously serving as pool manager and swim instructor.
- Served as right hand to lead managers of entertainment company in an administrative assistant capacity.
- Completed and submitted invoices and process for payments.
- Handled expense reports with account summaries.
- Consistently entrusted with large sums of money.
- Maintained inventory control.
- Demonstrated knowledge of and accountability for payroll and employee records, daily sales operations, and profit and loss statements, including inventories, labor, petty cash, bank deposits, change orders, and bank deposit verifications.
- Managed petty cash, payroll, inventory, member statements, accounts receivable, and payable.
- Proficient in using personal computer skills through CompUSA training in such programs as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Visio. Additionally, use WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, Peachtree, Microsoft Publisher, ClarisWorks, First Choice and First Publisher for word processing, spreadsheet, and graphic design, including internal/external correspondence, reports, procedure manuals, and presentations.
- Create and distribute a variety of reports using Access and Excel.
- Administrative Assistant, Blue Ribbon Technologies, Inc., Pasadena, CA, 4/06 to Present
- Beverage Server, The Brew Station , Pasadena, CA, 11/05 – 4/06
- Office Manager, City of Entertainment, Pasadena, CA 1/05 – 12/05
- Bellringer Buffet, Pasadena, CA, 8/04 – 12/04
- Clubhouse Assistant Manager, Golden Bear Country Club, Pasadena, CA, 2/02 – 8/04
California State University, Northridge
General Studies, Marketing and Management. Alumni Member of Alpha Delta Pi.
Boswell Secretarial College, Pasadena, CA
Associate in Applied Science. Specialized in Accounting, Business and Office Management.
After examining the three different types of resumes, determine which of the three best applies for your situation. Then, using the structure provided, write your resume based on a published job description. You may find job descriptions on the internet job sites such as careerBuilder.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com, etc.
Bring your resume along with a job description to a support group meeting and have at least two other people review the resume along with the job description. Ask for their honest feedback. Listen to their suggestions without being defensive. Consider modifying your resume based on their input and the suggestions presented in this module.
Resources for Cover Letters and Resumes
Resumes For Dummies by Joyce Lain Kennedy
The Christian’s Career Journey, Susan Britton Whitcomb
Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters, Jay Conrad Levinson, David Perry
www.jobhuntersbible.com (Richard Bolles web site has many good resume samples
www.quintcareers.com has many good resume templates and suggestions
The Introductory Letter
One of the most successful job search strategies is contacting the hiring manager at companies that hire people with your skills BEFORE a new job is posted! If you simply sent resumes to hiring managers without any explanation the resumes would likely end up in the hiring managers waste basket. One way to catch the attention of hiring managers is to quickly show them that you have a solution to their problems! One way of doing this is through writing a carefully crafted letter which briefly states how you can help their organization become more profitable or save costs (or both). The ‘magic” letter is intended to get you in front of a hiring manager or at least getting a telephone interview to give you an advantage over others. If you send this type of letter BEFORE a job is posted you may not have any competition for the position you desire!
The letter uses some basic ad copywriting techniques that are successful in getting the reader’s attention. You need to know how to quantify your achievements and state them in a format that makes the reader want to know more about you.
Use the following template:
Mr. James Jones
Dear Mr. Jones
Could your business use more than $50,000 in new revenue? That’s what I’ve produced for seven straight years as an experienced sales and sales management professional.
Please consider the following:
You will benefit from my sales experience, which covers all aspects of the selling process, from prospecting and presenting to closing and client relations. By providing exceptional service, I create long term relationships and profitable referrals.
In my current role as a Senior Sales R, I train and motivate up to 15 sales staff, sharing best practices gained over 11 years of sales and marketing. While leading this team by example, I’ve personally sold more than $500,000 each year since 2001.
You will also gain from my ability to innovate and capitalize on new opportunities. I recently helped roll out a new product, resulting in an additional $250,000 in first year revenues for my employer.
I will call your office this Thursday morning at 8:30am to arrange a time for us to meet. If that is not convenient for you, please ask your assistant to call me at 813-671-1492 to arrange a better time for us to talk. Thank you very much for your time.
(Sign your name in blue ink)
Type your name here
P.S. – If you are not hiring now, please pass this letter on to someone who wants to produce $1.5 million in revenue from new and existing clients as I have done. Thank you.
Here’s what you say when you follow up:
Expect to get an answering machine or his/her assistant.
“Hello, I’m calling for James Jones. I mailed him a letter on Monday and just wanted to make sure that he got it. He should be expecting my call.”
If you get through to Mr. Jones say, “Hello Mr. Jones. I mailed you a letter on Monday with ideas on increasing sales revenues by 140% this year.” (INSERT YOUR SKILLS HERE). “Did you get it? When may I come and see you to discuss it?”
He will either say yes or no. if he says yes then you have just earned yourself an interview ahead of everyone else. If he says NO, then politely ask him if he knows any other companies you may contact that have a need for someone with your skills. Ask for a contact name. Ask if you may use Mr. Joneses name when contacting this new person or company. Keep asking if he knows of any other companies until there are no more. Thank him and send him a thank you card for his time and assistance.
If Mr. Jones sends you to the Human Resources department of his company to submit a resume, do it, and use Mr. Jones name and request to submit this resume directly to the HR Manager.
Key points to remember!
1. Make sure you use the intended persons name, NOT To Whom it May Concern, or Dear Sir or Madam. Get their name from the internet search, friends, company contacts, or simply call the receptionist and ask for their name.
2. Start with an attention getting paragraph, preferably with a question that gets the reader to say YES! Could your business use a SPECIFIC BENEFIT? That’s what I’ve produced for XX years as an experienced SKILL1 and SKILL 2 professional.
3. “Please consider the following:” Then list your best achievements here in short concise bulleted sentences.
“Other companies may have experienced a problem with ……… You will benefit from my experience in solving this problem as a ……”
Devote 80% of the time you spend on this letter to polishing these two or three bullet points.
4. State that you will call them on DATE to demonstrate that you are someone who can plan ahead and take action. Then do it!
5. Use a provocative P.S. This is very important because it is the most read part of the letter after the first sentence. Work on it so that they would call you based on this sentence alone.
The “magic” letter concept is covered in Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0.
Try writing your own introductory letter. Take the name and contact information from several of your target companies and write to schedule a brief meeting with the hiring manager. Remember, the hiring manager has the authority to hire you (not the human resource department unless you would work in that department). Send the letter and be sure to follow up at the time you said you would call. Don’t expect 100% success, but don’t be surprised if you get in to see 25% to 40% of the people you write to if you write a compelling letter! What do you have to lose?
Discuss writing introductory letters. Share any success stories with the group. What can you learn from the experiences of others?
Resources for writing introductory letters
Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 by Jay Conrad Levinson and David Perry
Creating Your Portfolio
A portfolio is a visual representation of samples of work that you have done. A resume describes the highlights of your work history. A portfolio shows and proves what you have done. Portfolios may be used during the interview process (sent in advance of an interview, or used at the end of an interview). They may also accompany a mailed in or electronic resume.
This module describes the content and various forms of portfolios that may be used as an important part of the job search process. A portfolio can be used to showcase your skills and differentiate yourself from others competing for the same job.
Some people are under the false assumption that portfolios are only used by artists who show their artwork, paintings or photos. A portfolio can be anything from a collection of recognition letters, to trophies, awards, products you have developed, cases you have worked on, photos of work teams you have managed, pictures of construction work you completed or houses you have painted… the list is endless. The use of portfolios is appropriate for all levels of job candidates from street sweepers all the way up to the executive suite.
Three Forms of Portfolios
Portfolios are generally created in one of three forms:
1) Paper based portfolios
2) Electronic portfolios
3) Physical displays
Paper based portfolios are typically binder bound papers that could be:
- Letters of reference or recognition
- Articles you have written
- Documentation of awards or achievements
- Budgets you have managed
- Photos of work projects (before and after photos, etc.)
The photo below is a Wilson- Jones portfolio binder available at office supply stores, with space for business card, CD and tabbed pages and customizable cover.
Electronic portfolios may be sent via email, produced on a CD or DVD, or be viewed online via the internet.
Portfolios sent via email may be attached to a cover letter along with a resume. Some enterprising people are now sending video portfolios and resumes in an email to prospective employers.
Portfolios on CD or DVD may contain many portfolio items in separate files. The files may contain scanned documents such as college transcripts, diplomas, reference letters, graphics, videos, case studies, documents showing software applications skills, designs, photos, etc.
Presentation software such as Power Point may be used with interactive buttons to display a choice of different photos, documents, designs, etc. This option allows you to demonstrate accomplishments and demonstrate software skills at the same time!
The photo below shows a Power Point slide with portfolio option buttons. Each item in the portfolio may be selected by pushing the button on the screen which links to the item.
Portfolio physical displays include items such as trophies, award plaques, blueprints, maps showing routes or territory you served, products you have sold, patented, serviced, designs you created, etc. These need to be small enough to fit into a portfolio case or brief case, so that, without much trouble, they may be easily displayed during an interview.
The purpose in bringing physical display items in your portfolio is not to brag! The purpose is to show what you have done that is directly related to the type of work the employer wants you to do.
Another reason to include physical display items is to create a strong visual picture in the mind of the interviewer that serves as a reminder to consider you for employment over others!
People remember what they see longer than they remember what they hear. Show them something impressive to remember you by when it comes time to make that job offer!
Individual and/or Group Exercise #1
1) Break into groups of four to six persons.
2) Choose a group leader and spokesperson.
3) Take a few minutes to think and then have each person write down at least three items they could include in a career portfolio. Next to each item write why they think this particular item would be helpful as a portfolio item for the job they may be applying for.
4) Try to list at least one item in each of the three portfolio formats:
- Paper based
- Physical Items
5) After each person is finished (or in about five minutes), have each person share their list with the group.
Resources for Portfolios
Job Search Strategies
Even in a depressed economy, there are jobs that need to be filled. More people are applying for jobs in a depressed economy, which means you have a lot of competition. In fact, for every job posted on the internet, there is an average of 300 applicants!
To get a job, you don’t have to be the most skilled, the best educated, the youngest, or the best looking. What you do need, however, is to know more about how to get a job than your competition, and be willing to do what is necessary to get that job. The key is to develop a job search system that uses the most effective strategies so that you can find the work you want, in the shortest period of time.
Let’s begin by assessing what strategies you have been using since you became unemployed. In the list below are 15 different job search strategies.
Individual Exercise #1
Take a moment to read each strategy. In the box next to each strategy, write the number of hours per week that you typically spend implementing that strategy. You will have three minutes for this exercise.
Hours per week
#1 Using the “creative” approach to job hunting or career change; doing homework on yourself to figure out what your favorite and best skills are, then targeting organizations in your field; following up by using your personal contacts to get in to see, at each organization that has interested you, the person who actually has the power to hire you (not necessarily the human resources department), before they post the job you could do for them.
#2 In a group of other job hunters, using your list of target companies (from the phone book’s Yellow Pages, internet, or Book of Lists), same as #1 above.
#3 By yourself, using your list of target companies, calling employers in those fields to see if they are hiring for the kind of work you do.
#4 By knocking on the door of any employer, factory, or office that interests you, whether or not they are known to have a job vacancy.
#5 Asking family members, friends, former teachers & professors you know about target companies, and possible contacts within those companies.
#6 Attending career fairs or job fairs.
#7 Going to the state/federal employment service offices or “one stop career centers.”
#8 Networking at association meetings/conferences appropriate to your field.
#9 Taking a civil service exam.
#10 Going to places where employers come to pick out workers, like union hiring halls.
#11 Going to private employment agencies or search firms.
#12 Answering local newspaper ads.
#13 Answering ads in professional or trade journals appropriate to your field.
#14 Mailing out resumes to employers at random.
#15 Using the internet to look for job postings or to post your resume.
Number of hours doing administrative (letters, emails) and follow up work each week.
Add all of the above numbers and determine the total average number of hours per week invested in job search.
Which strategies do you use the most? Strategies # _____________
Which strategies do you use the least? Strategies # _____________
Which of these strategies do you think is most effective in getting a job? Strategies # _________
Which of these strategies is least effective in getting a job? Strategies # _____________
Job search has been studied for years by many career search firms. Research from Richard Bolles, author of "What Color Is Your Parachute – 2008," shows which of these strategies is most effective by the percentage of people who used each strategy to get a job.
Individual Exercise #2
Write the effectiveness % below, next to each of the strategies listed above. The results may surprise you!
#1 86% effective, meaning 86 out of 100 job seekers found work this way
#2 84% effective
#3 69% effective
#4 47% effective
#5 33% effective
#6 18% effective
#7 14% effective
#8 14% effective
#9 12% effective
#10 8% effective (if you are a union member)
#11 5% to 24% (depending on salary)
#12 5% to 24% (depending on type of work)
#13 5% to 10% (depending on the industry)
#14 5% to 10% (depending on size of company and type of work)
#15 5% to 10% (IT positions - higher %, labor - lower %)
Please observe the following two things!
1. How much of your job search time is being spent using the most effective strategies versus the less effective strategies?
2. What is the total number of hours per week you invest in your job search?
Group Exercise #1
Discuss which strategies have worked best for each person in the group and why.
Write down any new successful strategies which are not in the list above.
First, employers would
much rather know a prospective candidate, or at least have them referred to the
organization by another employee or someone who can vouch for their character,
personality, corporate “fit,” or other characteristics. These characteristics
can’t be determined by simply reading a resume and maybe conducting a short
interview. This gives the interviewer only a snap shot or “micro” view of a job
Companies hire people – not resumes!
Yet the majority of job seekers invest large amounts of precious time using the internet, responding to posted job listings. Why? Because it appears to job seekers as the easiest approach to job search! What most job seekers don’t realize is that responding to listings on the internet is the least effective way to find a job (5% to 10% effective)! In fact, according to Richard Bolles research, 51% of job seekers who respond to internet job listings as their sole job search strategy quit their job search within 60 days due to frustration! Of course they resume their job search later because they typically must eventually find work. This is not to say that you should not use the internet to search for jobs. But you should consider limiting your time responding to job listings from the internet in direct relation to that strategies effectiveness, i.e., 10% of your time or less. The internet is much more useful for doing research on companies from your target list and developing contacts using some of the social sites like LinkedIn.com.
Why Does Job Search Take So Long?
Let’s take a look at a list of reasons why job searches take so long, then we will concentrate on preventing those from happening during your search.
Individual Exercise #3
Below is a list of reasons for long job searches. Hopefully none of these apply to you, but if they do, put a check mark in the box next to the ones that do apply so that you can correct them in the future.
Top 10 Reasons for Long Job Searches*
- They don’t put enough time or effort into job hunting. (less than 30 hours per week)
- They waste time on unproductive activities. (activities unrelated to job search)
- They waste time using unproductive search strategies.
- They aren’t sure what type of work they are looking for.
- They only pursue announced job openings and use no proactive approaches.
- They don’t know that job search is a numbers game, or they underestimate the numbers needed before they find work.
- They have no systematic approach to job search.
- They don’t have a target list of prospective employers, or the target list is too small.
- They have no way of measuring their progress.
- They try to go through the job search alone or without any support.
- Taken from The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search, by Orville Pierson.
What is the biggest time waster in your search?
What can you do to change?
How Do Companies Hire Employees?
Companies hire employees in three ways;
The Applicant Pool
The Created Position
The Known Candidate
The “applicant pool” consists of all of the people who respond to an advertised job listing. Only 25% of people are hired this way. An average of 300 applicants respond to each job listing, after the position is created and posted, which means major competition for that position. Companies only get a “micro-view” of a prospective employee based on their resume. Resumes must be the best out of many to be selected. They must pass through the electronic keyword filters used by many HR departments to even be seen by the company. This is a passive approach to job search meaning applicants are not actively pursuing employers they want to work for – instead they are only responding to whatever comes up on the job boards.
The “created position” is where a job seeker approaches a company (usually on their target list), and meets with a decision maker who has the authority to hire them. The job seeker demonstrates their skills and how they could benefit the company. The decision maker sees the need for someone with their skills and creates a position in the company for them. Approximately 5% of job seekers find work this way. There is no competition and the job is frequently “tailor made” for the job seeker.
The “known candidate” is when a job seeker knows or is referred to a decision maker. A surprising 75% of jobs are won this way! The decision maker likes the person and sees that they are qualified. The job seeker follows up with the decision maker on a regular basis until a job comes up. Since the job seeker is “known,” they are identified as a preferred candidate when a position becomes open. A decision maker may refer a job seeker to another department, branch, or even another company to be considered for hire. Sometimes companies offer financial rewards to employees who refer good candidates to their company. These referrals are considered “known candidates.” On some job applications they ask if you or anyone you know works for the company. Companies may post listings for an open position because they are required to by company policy or law, but there may be a known candidate who has the job “sewed up” in spite of the job being listed as available on the internet. Does this explain why you may have applied to jobs that you were perfectly qualified for, only to not receive a reply?
Which Strategies Should You Use?
There are two broad categories of job search strategies:
1. Reactive (strategies #12 - #15 on the list of 15 strategies)
2. Proactive (strategies #1 - #8)
A reactive strategy means you choose to react (respond) to jobs that are already posted on the internet, the paper, or other sources. Job seekers like reactive strategies because they enjoy “shopping” for jobs that are available. The 21st century has made it so easy to respond to a listing that within seconds you can post your resume! No stamps, no envelopes, no expensive resume paper – just click and it’s done! It is precisely this “path of least resistance” that attracts so many job seekers.
On the other hand, when you play the “applicant pool” game, the competition against other job applicants who have taken the time to tailor their resume will make it very difficult for yours to stand out. Even if you tailor each resume to match the advertised job description, you may still be competing against 60 other applicants (the top 20% out of 300 resumes received on average) who have done the same thing. For every 50 resumes you send out in response to posted job listings, you should expect to get 1 interview. Otherwise, your resume may need to be reviewed and improved. It typically takes 5 interviews before you land a job, meaning 150 resumes sent. But how many of those posted jobs are already taken by someone who knows someone within the company? And how often will your 150 resumes make it through the electronic keyword filters? How long will it take for 150 different job postings in your specific area of expertise to show up?
Bottom line: the reactive strategy (playing the applicant pool game) is usually the most unproductive, frustrating, and expensive (in terms of how long it takes to land a job).
A proactive strategy means that you take the initiative and proactively seek jobs rather than waiting for them to be posted. A proactive strategy means you get to choose your target companies, rather than having to respond to whatever company pops up on the job boards. It means identifying the type of work you want to do, rather than joining the 54% of people who are employed but actively searching for work elsewhere because they took whatever was available before (using a reactive strategy). If 75% of jobs are gained using the proactive approach, isn’t this something you should consider?
On the other hand, choosing to use a proactive strategy may require more physical and mental effort on your part. You will have to talk with many people (some call this job networking), and you may experience some rejection when people are not willing to help. It may mean people not returning your calls or not responding to your follow-up notes or calls. It requires physical effort in going to places where employees and decision makers gather to meet them. It may require some charm and schmoozing! You may need to talk with 30 friends, family and other acquaintances, to connect with 15 people who work within the companies you have targeted, in order to get in front of 5 decision makers, in order to get one interview! And you may need five interviews before you land that great job.
A proactive strategy will require you to be creative and to do the things that most other people aren’t willing to do. It will require you to be organized in your job search and to monitor your progress so that you know what works and what doesn’t work for you. So, is a proactive strategy worth it?
Let’s take a person who is looking for a $40,000 a year job using primarily reactive strategies. The average length of job search for a $40K job is 4 X 7 weeks per $10,000 or 28 weeks (7 months). The gross daily pay for a $40,000 salary is $769 per week ($154 per day). If it takes the average 28 weeks to find work, that’s 28 X $769 or $21,532 in lost wages during unemployment.
Let’s take another person who is looking for the same job using primarily proactive strategies. If they follow a systematic plan, and talk with an average of 32 people per week, they speak with 2 hiring decision makers per week. They will have a new job (regardless of the amount of projected income) within an average of 15 weeks. At $769 per week X 15 weeks equals $11,535. That’s $11,535 in lost wages during unemployment.
Using proactive strategies (strategies #1 - #8 on the list) would result in an average savings of about $10,000 compared to using reactive strategies #12 - #15. Plus it reduces the length of the job search by 13 weeks!
How Many Strategies Should I Use?
Most people use a combination of strategies that work best for them. It is fine to use a combination of reactive and proactive strategies. Just be aware of keeping each strategy’s effectiveness in perspective.
Research shows that four* different strategies at any one period of time is the optimum number. More strategies than that and the job seekers time becomes too diffused for them to do a thorough job in any one strategy. Less than four strategies may mean that the job seeker is too dependent on one or two strategies.
*Based on research by Richard Bolles in What Color Is Your Parachute 2008.
Individual Exercise #4
From the list of 15 strategies, select the four that you will use as the basis for your job search. If you have other strategies list them too.
Group Exercise #2
In your group, have each member share what primary strategy they are using and what level of success they are having with that strategy.
Group Exercise #3 (Optional)
Have those group members who are willing, to commit to using a particular strategy for four weeks. Have them report back to the group on how well that strategy is working. Each week the group members should ask these questions;
1) How is your job search strategy working?
2) What barriers are hindering your progress?
3) What are you doing to overcome those barriers?
4) How can we, as a support group, help you overcome those barriers?
Resources For Job Search Strategies
What Color is Your Parachute 2008, Richard Bolles
You know the different strategies to get that job. You know the reactive route (responding to posted job ads) and the proactive route (discovering opportunities by getting to the decision makers before jobs are posted). You know that the proactive route has the biggest payoff in terms of effectiveness in getting your new job. You know that the best proactive strategy is to talk with people – called networking.
Some people cringe at the thought of “networking.” Visions of being the lonely soul in a room full of strangers, with people who sound so insincere and “plastic,” come to mind. If pressing the flesh and schmoozing aren’t your bag, you have options. The wonderful world of technology has created a whole new genre of digital networkers.
Your choices for networking:
- Face to face
- Over the telephone
- Via the internet through Web 2.0 applications sometimes referred to as “social networks.”
Face to Face Networking
You are familiar with face to face networking. It’s simply talking with people. This is the most genuine form of meeting someone, and some say the best way to find a job. You can tell a lot about someone when you are standing face to face and speaking.
Albert Morabian, the original researcher on the topic of personal communications, was very specific with his numbers. His studies showed that communications between people could be labeled in three distinct categories.
7% by the words you use; 38% by the tone of your voice and 55% by how your face and body look. Mary Munter is a little more generous and rounds off the numbers: "experts estimate that 65 to 90 percent of what you communicate is nonverbal." All of us reel at the unfairness of being judged quickly and powerfully by how we look and sound. But stop and think about how you pass those judgments on others and what it takes for you to change your first impression.
Conclusion? Good communication skills are one of the most important factors in your job search and career success. Without them, you won't get a chance to show off what you know. If you have them, people will feel better when they are speaking with you. They will be more apt to listen to you. You will feel satisfied because you can effectively manage others.
When you meet with people face to face you have the best chance of truly understanding them, and bonding with them.
When you speak to someone over the telephone, you virtually eliminate body language and gestures, meaning tone of voice and words are most important. Remember to stand when you speak (to keep your answers short), and project energy during telephone interviews!
When you communicate with someone over the internet in a forum or chat room, you are only left with the words they type. One online exception is that these days you can communicate via online video, which is almost as effective as being face to face! The point is that there are more opportunities and methods of networking than ever before!
Some of the more visible sites that host millions of networking members are:
For an overview of the most common business networking site, LinkedIn, read on.
How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job - Or Have a Job Find You
- Create a Profile. Create a detailed profile on LinkedIn, including employment (current and past), education, industry, and web sites.
- Consider a Photo. You can add a photo (a headshot is recommended or upload a larger photo and edit it) to your LinkedIn profile. Note that it must be a small photo - no larger than 80x80 pixels. It should a professional head shot only – no family photos.
- Keywords and Skills. Include all your resume keywords and skills in your profile, so your profile will be found.
- Build Your Network. Connect with other members and build your network. The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have. Try to build a business relationship other people in companies you wish to work for.
- Get Recommendations. Recommendations from people you have worked with carry a lot of weight.
- Search Jobs. Use the job search section to find job listings.
- Use Answers. The Answers section of LinkedIn is a good way to increase your visibility. Respond to questions, and ask a question if you need information or assistance.
- Use LinkedIn groups. There is a group for almost anything you can imagine, but the most useful are those set up for employment.
- One of the best things about LinkedIn is that you can type in the name of a company on your target list, hit enter and a list of names pops up with contacts within the target company that may be linked to you! This is called the “Jobs Insider” application found within LinkedIn. The Jobs Insider application may be found under “browser tools” at the bottom of each LinkedIn page.
A Five Step Job Networking Process
(For when you network for a job the old fashion way –“face to face.”)
1. Greet the person and take an interest in them. “Ask how are you doing?” “What’s up?” If you are meeting for the first time ask what they know about the meeting, organization, etc. Then ask them what type of work they do.
2. They may ask what type of work you do. Be ready to respond with your professional work objective or core message, but state it in a casual manner (so it doesn’t sound like a rehearsed, memorized statement). You may say that you are looking for work as a telecommunications project manager, for example.
3. Then if they don’t suggest any job opportunities, ask if they would be kind enough to look at a list of companies you have prepared, and if they would tell you if they know anyone who knows anything about any of these companies (don’t show them all 25 to 50 companies, just a few (6 to 10). Otherwise they may be overwhelmed by the length of your list.
4. If they know someone in one of your target companies, ask if it would be okay for you to contact them. If so, get the contact information. Then ask if it would be alright if you mentioned their name or even better, if they would be willing to call in advance to mention that you may be calling. Be sure the person has heard your core message (the brief message you have practiced with one shinning achievement?) so that they have something positive to share with the person they are referring you to.
5. Always be gracious to someone who gives you a contact name, or even just information about one of your target companies. They are trying to help you – and you should acknowledge that with a thank you card or email, thanking them for their consideration.
Who should be the focus of your job networking efforts and what do you say when you meet them?
Your job networking chain includes three primary groups of people;
Here are some Group 1 job networking questions for family, friends, church members, casual social contacts;
- Would you be willing to look at my target list?
- Do you know anything about any of these organizations? If so, what?
- Which organizations might be best for me?
- Can you think of others not on my list?
- Do you know anyone who might know more about these organizations?
Group 2 job networking questions for those who work inside your target companies.
- What is it like to work there?
- What do you like most/least?
- What is the most appropriate department for me? Why?
- What do they do and how?
- Who would be the appropriate decision maker in that department?
- What do they want in employees?
- Do you know that decision maker?
- Do you know someone that would introduce me to the decision maker?
Group 3 job networking questions for managers who have the authority to hire you.
- Mention your interest in the organization.
- Use your 60 second “core-mercial.”
- Ask what they expect from employees and tell them that you have some (or all) they are looking for.
- Get acquainted if there is time.
- Tell them you would be very interested in talking with them next time they have an opening. Leave your resume if possible.
Note: Resumes are frequently used as a “leave behind” after speaking with and getting to know a hiring manager. Skills listed on resumes are sometimes used only to justify hiring someone the decision maker likes and trusts.
Tapping the Hidden Job Market
Here are five tips from Bill Zhou to help you become the “known candidate” or tapping what is sometimes referred to as the “hidden job market.”
- Network. Network. Network.
The most important first step in accessing the hidden job market is to network. Get out there and talk to anyone and everyone who may be able to give you insight into where there are jobs.
Start by making a list of everyone you can talk to. Great potential networking contacts include friends, acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, church members, classmates, teachers, club members, employers, supervisors, colleagues, subordinates, clients, customers, former teachers or professors, and fellow association members.
Help these people to help you by making it easy for them. Instead of asking specifically if they know of any job openings, ask them if they know anyone who knows anything about the companies on your target list. If they know of a job, they’ll be sure to mention it. If not, the information and contacts you gain can be invaluable.
- Research potential employers. Since you’ll be applying for a job without seeing a job description, it’s important to research the company to find out as much as you can about the tasks, skills, and experiences they may be looking for. This will help you to write a resume and cover letter that is relevant to their organization.
Staying focused on a specific industry or position will make the task of researching companies much easier. Starting with too broad of a scope can be overwhelming, and you may never get around to actually contacting any companies.
- Learn how to sell yourself. When a company has not requested resumes for a specific position it can be difficult to get the attention of the key decision maker. After researching potential employers you should have a better understanding of what they’re looking for. Use this information to sell yourself.
Do this by answering the question “why should this employer hire me?” This is where knowing your “core message” comes in handy. Be able to quickly communicate your area of expertise which is just what the company needs (based on your previous research).
Be specific and creative when you list all relevant experience, training, and skills that will be of interest to them. Make sure your resume spells out your key selling points so that the employer is left with little doubt that you are a perfect fit for the organization. Even if they don’t have a job available immediately, they’ll most certainly keep your resume on file for future openings.
4. Follow up! It’s difficult to get to see a decision maker, so make sure you let them know you are still interested when that position opens by staying in touch with them. Send them cards and/or emails no less than every four weeks. Don’t ask if there are any positions available! Send them a clipping related to their industry or a holiday card.
5. Get your resume to the right person. If you’re networking or company research produced the name of a person who is responsible for hiring then start by calling the company and verifying that person’s name and contact information.
If you don't know of a specific contact at the company, call and ask for someone by title. For example you might say, "I need to write a letter to your head of accounting. May I know his or her name, please?" If you can't think of anyone at all, ask for the president. It’s unlikely you’ll get through to him or her, but the secretary can point you in the right direction.
Once you have a person’s name you can send a personalized cover letter and resume. In the letter, be sure to state exactly what kind of job you’re looking for. Simply saying that you’re looking for any available position does not make you come across as a good candidate.
End your letter by telling them you'll be calling them within 48 hours. Don’t leave them waiting too long to hear from you or you’ll be forgotten.
6. Don’t take "no" for an answer. It’s rarely easy to get the attention of decision makers in a company. Even once you know the proper person to contact, you still have the task of getting your resume into his or her hands. In this situation persistence really does pay off, so stick with it.
The key to getting through to them is to anticipate what problems you may encounter and have a plan for how you’ll deal with them.
Some of the most common problems you’re likely to face are:
- Gatekeepers: These are the secretaries and assistants whose job is to keep you away from the decision maker. Get around them by calling at least once a day until you reach the decision maker directly. You can also try calling after hours or at lunch time.
- Voicemail: Leave a message with the specifics of why you’re calling and your contact information. Then end the call by saying that you’ll call them back and when. This is a good introduction for when you are able to get them on the phone.
- Objections: When you do get through to the decision maker you may be met with a series of objections. “We’re not hiring” or “I’m too busy right now”, or “please contact our human resources department about employment” are common, so expect to hear them. Usually reassuring them that you will only take a moment of their time and then quickly stating your reason for calling is the best approach.
Job Networking is a Numbers Game!
Talk with 30 friends, family or acquaintances.
They will lead you to at least 15 people who are “insiders.”
These insiders should lead you to 5 decision makers.
Meetings with 5 decision makers should lead to at least 1 interview.
Meetings with 25 decision makers should lead to at least 5 interviews.
It takes an average of 5 interviews to land one job.
Remember, networking is a numbers game! And it takes effort. But it pays off better than any other game in town!
Individual Exercise #1
Make a list of 10 people you know that you have NOT told about your job search. Make a check mark in the box next to each name after you contact each person. Put a start next to the names of each person who tells you something about a company on your target list.
Individual Exercise #2
When it comes to job networking, what is your greatest concern? What are you doing about it?
Group Exercise #1
In groups of three, have each participant share their current networking process (who do you talk to, what do you say, and where do you go). Share the types of job networking that have been most productive for each person in the group.
If any members of the group have experience networking with hiring managers, have them share their experiences with the group.
Gather the best ideas from each group member regarding the easiest way to get in front of hiring managers. Have each group share their best ideas during the whole group during the debriefing part of the meeting.
Resources For Job Networking
Networking Skills That Will Get You the Job You Want, by Cherie Kerr
Highly Effective Networking: Meet the Right People and Get a Great Job, by Orville Pierson
Use the space below to record your job networking journal.
Employment Agencies, Temp Staffing, and Recruiters
When it comes to selecting job strategies, many people ask about using employment agencies, staffing or recruiters. This module is simply an overview of how these service providers operate so that you may make a wise job search strategy decision . The research by Richard Bolles shows a range of 5% to 24% of job seekers find work using these resources. It may help to understand how the recruitment industry works.
Finding the right person for the right job can be a very time consuming and challenging task. Some companies prefer to have full time employees as recruiters on their staff if they have many positions and/or high turnover. Another option is to have the company Human Resource person handle all recruiting, which is the case in many smaller companies. But employment agencies and recruiters serve a very important function in organizations where they don’t have the staff resources or the time to do their own recruiting, or screening of candidates. The job boards on the internet have changed the employment industry because now companies can post a job on one of the search engines like Indeed.com, Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or Craigslist, usually for less money than the cost of the services of a recruiter or employment agency. Many companies now have their own job posting lists on their company websites. This has certainly increased the quantity of applicants (an average of 300 applicants for every online job posted). The problem is the time to sort through all those resumes to find that best qualified candidate. So some companies now use keyword filters to help them reduce the number of applicants. Other companies rely on employment agencies and recruiters to screen out unqualified candidates, and/or bring them the “needle in a haystack” candidate that is a great fit for the company.
An employment agency matches workers to open jobs. Sometimes the job is temporary. Some jobs are temporary to permanent (temp-to-perm) meaning the worker may be offered full time employment after a period of temporary employment if there is a good match. Employment agencies also may offer full time employment positions. Some firms charge the job seeker, so be sure to clarify, upfront, if there is a fee. Others are paid by the employer. In most cases, I would not recommend using an agency that charges the job seeker.
Temporary staffing firms offer temporary positions, and they may handle all payroll and benefits for a temp employee while on assignment working for a company. For example, temps are often hired to work during seasonal increases in business or to cover vacations or illnesses. Many temporary agencies have expanded their role in the employment sector to fill "temp to perm" positions where the position starts out as a temporary job, but, could become permanent if the employer decides to hire the candidate.
A recruitment firm seeks to place permanent employees. Recruiters may work on their own as an independent contractor or through an agency. They are the contact between their client companies and the candidates they recruit for a position. They can specialize in client relationships only (sales or business development), in finding candidates (recruiting or sourcing), or in both areas. Most recruiters tend to specialize in permanent or full-time, direct hire positions or contract positions, but occasionally in both. In an executive search assignment, the client hiring company, not the job seeker, pays the search firm its fee.
Corporate recruiters are employed by a company for the purpose of finding and qualifying new employees for the organization. Third party recruiters are subcontracted to by a company for the same purpose. Several different types of third party recruiters exist, but the main difference between them lies in how they are compensated.
Third party recruiters are paid by the hiring company, but retained recruiters typically have an "exclusive" with the company. They are paid a portion of their fee upfront with the balance paid when the search is over. Retained recruiters are typically used for executive level positions.
Contingency recruiters don't typically have an exclusive relationship with the company. They are paid a fee only if the company hires a candidate discovered through their efforts. (Most third party recruiters fall into this category.)
Third party recruiters are typically compensated 20-30 percent, or more, of a placed candidate's first year's salary. If a job seeker could pay the recruiter $10,000-$25,000 to find him or her a job, the job seeker might find a shift in attention from a recruiter.
Company HR staffs want their recruitment needs met. If a recruiting firm bombarded the company with resumes of people who don't qualify for the job, they would find themselves unemployed the next time the company is filling jobs. Don't take that personally. If you fit the job they are actively recruiting for, you can bet that the recruiter will do everything in his power to make sure you are successfully hired by the company. If you are not a match for any of the current positions a recruiter or employment agency is trying to fill, you probably won’t hear from them.
Should you work with an agency or recruiter?
You may decide to work with an agency or recruiter as one of several job search strategies, but with a typical placement success rate of only 5% to 24%, don’t use them as your only job search strategy. Should you work with more than one agency or recruiter? They would prefer that you only worked with them, but unless you sign an exclusive agreement, you should work with several organizations, primarily because not all agencies/recruiters have the same job opportunities available.
How do you find a good recruiter, temp, or employment agency?
First, seek to clearly understand the relationship between you and the recruiter, especially where money is involved. Some “recruiters” post online job ads for high paying positions. When you contact them they don’t have a real job they are recruiting for, they do, however, claim to help you find one of those high paying jobs if you let them train you for a fee – usually around $6,000! Avoid these situations. Understand who gets compensated and when. The higher your expected salary, the more attention you will draw.
Try to find recruiters or employment agencies that specialize in your areas of expertise. These may be found by doing a basic internet search. The good ones won’t waste your time (or theirs), and they will follow up with you if you are a good candidate. Ask your friends for agency/recruiter recommendations. Do an internet search for employment agencies or recruiters in your city. Contact the organization and get a feel for their customer service. Ask to speak with one of their placement agents. Ask about the type of people they typically place (job titles) areas of specialization Keep searching until you find one or two that you feel comfortable working with because you will be communicating with them regularly over a period of weeks to months. Ask them how they prefer you stay in touch with them (email, telephone, personal visits), and with what frequency (daily, weekly bimonthly, etc.).
In general, employment agencies place more hourly employees in administrative or industrial type jobs. Recruiters place more supervisory and management level candidates. Executive recruiters work primarily with high level managers, vice presidents, executive directors and persons with annual earnings in excess of $100,000 per year.
Bottom line, don’t send your resume to a recruiter or employment agency and sit at home waiting for the phone to ring. Understand that they work for the client – not you. Take the initiative and stay in touch with them. They can be helpful in your job search!
Individual Exercise #1
By searching the internet or using other resources, identify at least two employment agencies or recruiters that you feel comfortable working with in your job search.
Group Exercise #1 Discuss in groups of three, your experiences with recruiters, and agencies.
Resources for Employment Agencies and Recruiters
Almost every job requires the completion of a job application. Some “job apps” as they are called are completed online when you submit your resume, and sometimes you will be asked to complete a job app on paper at the interviewing office. Either way, the job app asks for many details that you should have available. In this module we will discuss job applications and the need for a “pre-application” to help you in your job search.
The best way to be prepared to answer all of the questions on the job app is to create a “portable” job app that you take with you when filling out job applications at an employer’s site or when filling out an application online. This will save you time and stress!
A typical job application will ask for the following information:
Were you previously employed by this company Yes No
If so, name and contact information for employer May we contact them? Yes No
Type of work desired Full time Part time Salary desired
Do you have a criminal record? Yes No If yes, please explain. ______________
Grammar school School name & location Last year completed Graduated? Yes/No
High School ___________________ ________________ _________
Technical school ___________________ ________________ _________
Community College ___________________ ________________ _________
College/University ___________________ ________________ _________
From (month/year) To (month/year) Company name/contact info Job Title Duties
_______________ _____________ _______________________ ________ ______
_______________ _____________ _______________________ ________ ______
_______________ _____________ _______________________ ________ ______
(Two business and one personal reference)
Name Contact information Business or personal How long known
_________ _________________ ________________ ______________
_________ _________________ ________________ ______________
_________ _________________ ________________ ______________
Emergency Contact Information
Name Relationship to you Mailing address Telephone number
________ _______________ ______________ _______________
Your signature _______________________ Date ____________________
Job Application Information Issues
What information should you provide and what information should you NOT provide on a job application?
If they ask for your social security number –only provide it if you know and trust the organization, especially if it is an online application. They normally need this information to conduct a background check and for future payroll purposes. However, some internet sites send out false job apps just to collect social security numbers so they can steal your identity.
If they ask if they may contact your employer, it is best to say NO, especially if you are currently employed! Even if you are not currently employed there is nothing to gain by responding YES unless you are 100% sure who the hiring organization will speak to and what their response to the questions will be.
If they ask for your salary at each of your former jobs, leave it blank. Some electronic job apps require a salary number to be entered to process the app. In those cases you may write negotiable, or if it requires numbers, enter all 9’s. We will discuss salary negotiations later in this workshop.
If they ask if you have a criminal record, tell them briefly but truthfully. If you have a felony conviction they should be aware of the federal bonding program that helps former felons find work. Google federal job bond program for more information.
The “Pre-App” or Portable Job Application
The best way to be prepared to answer all of the questions on the job app is to create a “portable” job app that you take with you when filling out job applications at an employers site or when filling out an application online. This will save you time and stress! Simply use the application questions from the form above and fill in the blanks such as employment history dates, addresses, supervisors, references, etc. That way you will have this information with you when you go for a job interview. It will reduce stress because you will have the information readily available to fill in the employer’s application more quickly!
Individual Exercise #1
List any concerns you may have about filling out job applications.
Speak with your program facilitator about these concerns.
Group Exercise #1
Set up in groups of three participants. Discuss job application concerns with your group. Note the best suggestions. Share the best suggestions with the whole support group.
Resources for Job Applications
Winning the Interview Game
The purpose of a cover letter is to convince them to read your resume. The purpose of a resume is to convince them to give you an interview. The purpose of an interview is to convince them to offer you the job. This is your moment to shine, so let’s learn how to do it so that we win the Interview Game!
Before the Interview
- Print out the job description from the companies you have applied to and have easy access to them in case they call you for an interview.
- Know what the company does. Do some research on their web site. The more research you do, the better equipped you are to identify how you can help them as an employee.
- Have some questions ready to ask the company representative, such as “What is the culture at XYZ Company?” or “How does the company reward high performance?” Ask questions about who you will be working with, what type of people are they – manager, co-workers, subordinates, and “What is their biggest problem that the right person in this position could help solve?”
- Bring at least two copies of your resume to an interview.
- Pick out about six of the most likely interview questions and practice your answers to these questions before the interview. Most likely first question will be “Tell us a little about yourself.”
Types of Interviews
Initial contact, “pre-screening” interviews.
This type of interview is frequently conducted via telephone. The purpose of the interview is simply to screen out candidates that may not fit the profile of who the company wants to bring in for an interview. For example, if the work location is too far away or requires relocation and the candidate mentions that this is a problem – screened out. If the candidate has not done any research on the company – screened out. If the candidate tells the screener what salary is desired, and the salary higher than the company will consider – screened out. The screening process may be conducted by someone who works for the company or it may be conducted by an outsourcing company or a recruiter who is searching for a candidate to fit a certain company profile.
The Face-to-Face Interview
If you made it past the screening interview, you may be asked to come in for a face-to-face interview. This interview may be with the human resources manager or, depending on the size of the company, the actual hiring manager that you would report to. If you have a portfolio, ask for a few minutes at the end of the interview to show them some samples of your work.
- Come to the interview dressed appropriately. That first impression is critical.
- Most interviews are won or lost during the first two minutes.
- Body language, gestures, tone of voice and the words you use must be positive.
- Give thoughtful answers to each question, but keep your answers to less than two minutes. Balance the conversation. Try not to speak more than 50% of the time.
- Most of the time you will be asked to “tell me a little about yourself.” Respond by saying, “Sure, I’ll be glad to tell you about myself. Where would you like me to begin”? The interviewer will typically respond with something they found interesting in your resume. That tells you what attracted them to you. Now you know what to emphasize in your response! Then make sure you reinforce their thinking in those areas.
- Avoid bringing up the subject of salary, and if they bring up the subject, avoid mentioning a figure unless you are given a job offer, or are certain that it falls within their salary range. (See the next module Salary/Compensation Negotiation for specific response suggestions to the salary question.)
- Be prepared with a few questions to ask the interviewer.
- Close the interview by asking about the hiring process for this position, and ask if they have any concerns about your ability to do the job based on what they currently know about you?
- Be sure to get business cards from each person involved in the interviewing process so that you can send them a follow up note within 24 hours.
The Multi-Level Interview
In some cases, especially when a candidate has to travel a long distance for an interview, the organization may want a candidate to interview with the hiring manager while they are on site. The questions at this level may be more specific to the type of work you will be expected to perform. This is the person who is most important in the hiring process because they will ultimately choose the person who gets the job. Conduct this interview in the same way you handled the first interview.
The Multi-Person Interview
This is where you may be interviewed by a panel of interviewers simultaneously. They may each ask different questions. Just stay cool and answer each question giving complete attention to the person asking the question. It’s OK to ask if they are clear on your response to a question.
After the Interview
Within 24 hours after the completion of an interview, send a hand written thank you card or note to the persons involved in your interview. Let them know that you feel confident that you can help the company and that you are interested in the job. If you have closed the interview properly, you should have an idea of the steps in their hiring process and how much time will expire before they make an offer. Following up via telephone, email or letter within 7 to 10 days is recommended as a general rule. Expect the hiring process to take longer than you wish. Companies sometimes delay hiring decisions for many different reasons, none of which have to do with you.
Important tip to remember!
During the interview process the interviewer is trying to determine basically four things:
1. Is this candidate qualified to do the job?
2. Will they fit into our company?
3. What are the risks of hiring this candidate?
4. Can we afford this candidate?
Types of Interview Questions
Traditional Interview vs. Behavioral Interview
In a traditional interview, you will be asked a series of questions which typically have straight forward answers like “tell us a little about yourself,” or "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" or "What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?" or "Describe a typical work week." The ten most common traditional interview questions (and responses) are included in your handout for use in a practice exercise later.
In a behavioral interview, an employer has decided what skills are needed in the person they hire and will ask questions to find out if the candidate has those skills. Instead of asking how you would behave, they will ask how you did behave. The interviewer will want to know how you handled a situation, instead of what you might do in the future.
Questions in a Behavioral Interview
Behavioral interview questions will be more pointed, more probing and more specific than traditional interview questions:
- Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.
- Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
- Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.
- Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?
- What do you do when your schedule is interrupted? Give an example of how you handle it.
- Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren't thrilled about? How did you do it?
- Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? How?
- Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
- Follow-up questions will also be detailed. You may be asked what you did, what you said, how you reacted, or how you felt.
Listed below are ten very common interview questions with comments and suggested responses.
Question 1 “Tell me about yourself.”
TRAPS: Beware; about 80% of all interviews begin with this “innocent” question. Many candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters.
BEST ANSWER: Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job hunting.
So, before you answer this or any question it's imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal.
To do so, make you take these two steps:
- Do all the homework you can before the interview to uncover this person's wants and needs (not the generalized needs of the industry or company)
- As early as you can in the interview, ask for a more complete description of what the position entails. You might say: “Sure, I’ll be glad to tell you about myself. Is there anyplace in particular you would like me to start?” The strategy here is that they may go straight to your resume and ask you to begin with the thing that attracted them to you to begin with – a great clue as to what their needs are! OR “I have a number of accomplishments I'd like to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do, that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the classified ad, etc.)”
Then, ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly, it's usually this second or third question that unearths what the interviewer is most looking for.
You might ask simply, "And in addition to that?..." or, "Is there anything else you see as essential to success in this position?”
This process will not feel easy or natural at first, because it is easier simply to answer questions, but only if you uncover the employer's wants and needs will your answers make the most sense. Practice asking these key questions before giving your answers The process will feel more natural and you will be light years ahead of the other job candidates you're competing with.
After uncovering what the employer is looking for, describe why the needs of this job bear striking parallels to tasks you've succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with specific examples of your responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which are geared to present yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.
Question 2 “What are your greatest strengths?”
TRAPS: This question seems like a softball lob, but be prepared. You don't want to come across as egotistical or arrogant. Neither is this a time to be humble.
BEST ANSWER: You know that your key strategy is to first uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs before you answer questions. And from Question 1, you know how to do this.
Prior to any interview, you should have a mental list prepared of your greatest strengths. You should also have, a specific example or two, which illustrates those strengths, and an example chosen from your most recent and most impressive achievements.
You should have this list of your greatest strengths and corresponding examples from your achievements so well committed to memory that you can recite them cold after being shaken awake at 2:30AM.
Then, once you uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs, you can choose those achievements from your list that best match up. As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits that all employers love to see in their employees are:
- A proven track record as an achiever...especially if your achievements match up with the employer's greatest wants and needs.
- Intelligence...management "savvy."
- Honesty...integrity...a decent human being.
- Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel comfortable with...a team player who meshes well with interviewer's team.
- Likeability...positive attitude...sense of humor.
- Good communication skills.
- Dedication...willingness to walk the extra mile to achieve excellence.
- Definiteness of purpose...clear goals.
- Enthusiasm...high level of motivation.
- Confident...healthy...a leader.
TRAPS: Beware - this is an eliminator question, designed to shorten the candidate list. Any admission of a weakness or fault will earn you an “A” for honesty, but an “F” for the interview.
PASSABLE ANSWER: Disguise strength as a weakness.
Example: “I sometimes push my people too hard. I like to work with a sense of urgency and everyone is not always on the same wavelength.”
Drawback: This strategy is better than admitting a flaw, but it's so widely used; it is transparent to any experienced interviewer.
BEST ANSWER: (and another reason it's so important to get a thorough description of your interviewer's needs before you answer questions): Assure the interviewer that you can think of nothing that would stand in the way of your performing in this position with excellence. Then, quickly review you strongest qualifications.
Example: “Nobody's perfect, but based on what you've told me about this position; I believe I’d make an outstanding match. I know that when I hire people, I look for two things most of all. Do they have the qualifications to do the job well, and do they have the motivation to do it well? Everything in my background shows I have both the qualifications and a strong desire to achieve excellence in whatever I take on. So I can say in all honesty that I see nothing that would cause you even a small concern about my ability or my strong desire to perform this job with excellence.”
strategy (if you don't yet know enough about the position to
talk about such a perfect fit):
Instead of confessing a weakness, describe what you like most and like least, making sure that what you like most matches up with the most important qualification for success in the position, and what you like least is not essential.
Example: Let's say you're applying for a selling position. “If given a choice, I like to spend as much time as possible in front of my prospects selling, as opposed to shuffling paperwork back at the office. Of course, I long ago learned the importance of filing paperwork properly, and I do it conscientiously. But what I really love to do is selling (if your interviewer were a sales manager, this should be music to his ears.)
TRAPS: There are some questions your interviewer has no business asking, and this is one. But while you may feel like answering, “None of your business,” naturally, you can’t. Some interviewers ask this question on the chance you admit to something, but if not, at least they’ll see how you think on your feet.
Some unprepared candidates, flustered by this question, unburden themselves of guilt from their personal life or career, perhaps expressing regrets regarding a parent, spouse, child, etc. All such answers can be disastrous.
BEST ANSWER: As with faults and weaknesses, never confess regret. But don’t seem as if you’re stonewalling either.
Best strategy: Say you harbor no regrets, then add a principle or habit you practice regularly for healthy human relations.
Example: Pause for reflection, as if the question never occurred to you. Then say, “You know, I really can’t think of anything.” (Pause again, then add): “I would add that as a general management principle, I’ve found that the best way to avoid regrets is to avoid causing them in the first place. I practice one habit that helps me a great deal in this regard. At the end of each day, I mentally review the day’s events and conversations to take a second look at the people and developments I’m involved with and do a double check of what they’re likely to be feeling. Sometimes I’ll see things that do need more follow-up, whether a pat on the back, or maybe a five minute chat in someone’s office to make sure we’re clear on things…whatever.”
“I also like to make each person feel like a member of an elite team, like the Boston Celtics or LA Lakers in their prime. I’ve found that if you let each team member know you expect excellence in their performance…if you work hard to set an example yourself…and if you let people know you appreciate and respect their feelings, you wind up with a highly motivated group, a team that’s having fun at work because they’re striving for excellence rather than brooding over slights or regrets.”
TRAPS: Never badmouth your previous industry, company, board, boss, staff, employees or customers. This rule is inviolable: never be negative. Any mud you hurl will only soil your suit. Especially avoid words like “personality clash,” “didn’t get along,” or others which cast a shadow on your competence, integrity, or temperament.
(If you have a job presently)
If you’re not yet 100% committed to leaving your present post, don’t be afraid to say so. Since you have a job, you are in a stronger position than someone who does not. But don’t be coy either. State honestly what you’d be hoping to find in a new spot. Of course, as stated often before, you answer will all the stronger if you have already uncovered what this position is all about and you match your desires to it.
(If you do not presently have a job)
Never lie about having been fired. It’s unethical – and too easily checked. But do try to deflect the reason from you personally. If your firing was the result of a takeover, merger, division wide layoff, etc., so much the better.
But you should also do something totally unnatural that will demonstrate consummate professionalism. Even if it hurts, describe your own firing – candidly, succinctly and without a trace of bitterness – from the company’s point-of-view, indicating that you could understand why it happened and you might have made the same decision yourself.
Your stature will rise immensely and, most important of all, you will show you are healed from the wounds inflicted by the firing. You will enhance your image as first-class management material and stand head and shoulders above the legions of firing victims who, at the slightest provocation, zip open their shirts to expose their battle scars and decry the unfairness of it all.
For all prior positions:
Make sure you’ve prepared a brief reason for leaving. Best reasons: more money, opportunity, responsibility, or growth.
TRAPS: This question tests whether you’ve done any homework about the firm. If you haven’t, you lose. If you have, you win big.
BEST ANSWER: This question is your opportunity to hit the ball out of the park, thanks to the in-depth research you should do before any interview.
Best sources for researching your target company: annual reports, the corporate newsletter, contacts you know at the company or its suppliers, advertisements, articles about the company in the trade press.
TRAPS: Believe it or not, this is a killer question because so many candidates are unprepared for it. If you stammer or adlib, you’ve blown it.
BEST ANSWER: By now you can see how critical it is to apply the overall strategy of uncovering the employer’s needs before you answer questions. If you know the employer’s greatest needs and desires, this question will give you a big leg up over other candidates because you will give him better reasons for hiring you than anyone else is likely to…reasons tied directly to his needs.
Whether your interviewer asks you this question explicitly or not, this is the most important question of your interview because he must answer this question favorably in is own mind before you will be hired. So help him out! Walk through each of the position’s requirements as you understand them, and follow each with a reason why you meet that requirement so well.
Example: “As I understand your needs, you are first and foremost looking for someone who can manage the sales and marketing of your book publishing division. As you’ve said you need someone with a strong background in trade book sales. This is where I’ve spent almost my entire career, so I’ve chalked up 18 years of experience exactly in this area. I believe that I know the right contacts, methods, principles, and successful management techniques as well as any person can in our industry.”
“You also need someone who can expand your book distribution channels. In my prior post, my innovative promotional ideas doubled, then tripled, the number of outlets selling our books. I’m confident I can do the same for you.”
“You need someone to give a new shot in the arm to your mail order sales, someone who knows how to sell in space and direct mail media. Here, too, I believe I have exactly the experience you need. In the last five years, I’ve increased our mail order book sales from $600,000 to $2,800,000, and now we’re the country’s second leading marketer of scientific and medical books by mail.” Etc., etc., etc.
Every one of these selling “couplets” (his need matched by your qualifications) is a touchdown that runs up your score. IT is your best opportunity to outsell your competition.
TRAPS: The employer may be concerned that you’ll grow dissatisfied and leave.
BEST ANSWER: As with any objection, don’t view this as a sign of imminent defeat. It’s an invitation to teach the interviewer a new way to think about this situation, seeing advantages instead of drawbacks.
Example: “I recognize the job market for what it is – a marketplace. Like any marketplace, it’s subject to the laws of supply and demand. So ‘overqualified’ can be a relative term, depending on how tight the job market is. And right now, it’s very tight. I understand and accept that.”
“I also believe that there could be very positive benefits for both of us in this match.”
“Because of my unusually strong experience in ________________, I could start to contribute right away, perhaps much faster than someone who’d have to be brought along more slowly.”
“There’s also the value of all the training and years of experience that other companies have invested tens of thousands of dollars to give me. You’d be getting all the value of that without having to pay an extra dime for it. With someone who has yet to acquire that experience, he’d have to gain it on your nickel.”
“I could also help you in many things they don’t teach at the Harvard Business School. For example…(how to hire, train, motivate, etc.) When it comes to knowing how to work well with people and getting the most out of them, there’s just no substitute for what you learn over many years of front-line experience. You company would gain all this, too.”
“From my side, there are strong benefits, as well. Right now, I am unemployed; however, I want to work, very much. The position you have here is exactly what I am best at and would love to do. I’ll be happy doing this work and that’s what matters most to me, a lot more than money or title.”
“Most important, I’m looking to make a long term commitment in my career now. I’ve had enough of job-hunting and want a permanent spot at this point in my career. I also know that if I perform this job with excellence, other opportunities cannot help but open up for me right here. In time, I’ll find many other ways to help this company and in so doing, help myself. I really am looking to make a long-term commitment.”
NOTE: The main concern behind the “overqualified” question is that you will leave your new employer as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to the employer and reassure him that you’re looking to stay for the long-term will help you overcome this objection.
TRAPS: One reason interviewers ask this question is to see if you’re settling for this position, using it merely as a stopover until something better comes along. Or they could be trying to gauge your level of ambition.
If you’re too specific, i.e., naming the promotions you someday hope to win, you’ll sound presumptuous. If you’re too vague, you’ll seem rudderless.
BEST ANSWER: Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking to make a long-term commitment…that this position entails exactly what you’re looking to do and what you do extremely well. As for your future, you believe that if you perform each job at hand with excellence, future opportunities will take care of themselves.
Example: “I am definitely interested in making a long-term commitment to my next position. Judging by what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly what I’m looking for and what I am very well qualified to do. In terms of my future career path, I’m confident that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities will inevitable open up for me. It’s always been that way in my career, and I’m confident I’ll have similar opportunities here.”
TRAPS: This is often asked by an experienced interviewer who thinks you may be overqualified, but knows better than to show his hand by posing his objection directly. So he’ll use this question instead, which often gets a candidate to reveal that, indeed, he or she is looking for something other than the position at hand.
BEST ANSWER: The only right answer is to describe what this company is offering, being sure to make your answer believable with specific reasons, stated with sincerity, why each quality represented by this opportunity is attractive to you.
Remember that if you’re coming from a company that’s the leader in its field or from a glamorous or much admired company, industry, city or position, your interviewer and his company may well have an “Avis” complex. That is, they may feel a bit defensive about being “second best” to the place you’re coming from, worried that you may consider them bush league.
This anxiety could well be there even though you’ve done nothing to inspire it. You must go out of your way to assuage such anxiety, even if it’s not expressed, by putting their virtues high on the list of exactly what you’re looking for, providing credible reason for wanting these qualities.
If you do not express genuine enthusiasm for the firm, its culture, location, industry, etc., you may fail to answer this “Avis” complex objection and, as a result, leave the interviewer suspecting that a hot shot like you, coming from a Fortune 500 company in New York, just wouldn’t be happy at an unknown manufacturer based in Topeka, Kansas.
Individual Exercise #1
If you have had an interview, what was the most challenging part of the interview for you?
What would you do differently next time if the same situation occurs?
Individual Exercise #2
Check each item on the following list that needs improvement for you to be successful in your next interview.
- The way I dress for the interview.
- Reducing interview anxiety.
- Ability to answer interview questions.
- What I did before the interview.
- What I did after the interview.
- Other. List them ________________________________________________________
Individual Exercise #3
List the three interview closing questions you will use in your next interview.
Group Exercise #1
Break into groups of three. Each person will be interviewed based on their resume and a job description they brought. Have one person be the interviewer, one person the interviewee, and one person the observer. Go through a three minute interview with each person. Have the observer take notes on the interviewee’s actions. After each person has been interviewed, have the observer for that person give them feedback on the things they did best and just one thing they could improve upon in future interviews. Observers, make sure the interviewee’s answers are clear and brief!
Group Exercise #2
Break into groups of three. Think back on your last job. What was the one thing you did in the interview that you think sold them on hiring you? Have each person share their story in two minutes or less.
Resources for Winning the Interview Game
I hope you find work that is so enjoyable that you would do it even if they didn’t pay you! However, for the rest of us, this module is for you!
Whether you work for hourly wages or salary, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your time and effort. Salary/Compensation negotiation is one of the last topics covered in the workshop, but that doesn’t mean it is the last step in the process of gaining employment! In fact, the question of “How much do you want?” may come up very early in the initial screening process. How you answer this very important question may determine whether you are invited in for an interview or you are eliminated from consideration.
In today’s ultracompetitive job market, many companies hire screeners to sort through stacks of incoming resumes to find resumes that meet the requirements of the job description. Then they make initial contact with the most qualified candidates (based on their resume). Screeners and recruiters don’t want to waste their time interviewing candidates only to discover later that they are not within the salary range of the company. So oftentimes, early in the initial telephone interview, they will ask questions about your salary requirements.
Salary negotiation tip #1 Don't be the first to bring up salary. From the screener’s perspective, they don't want to waste time going through the interview process if their company cannot meet your salary requirements. From your perspective, you don't want to take any less than what you are worth. Eighty percent of the time, whoever gives a salary figure first makes the first tactical error, because it sets a baseline starting point for future negotiations.
If you answer their question with a $ figure and your number is too high - you're out. They may tell you that your requirements are too high, and ask if you would consider less. You may then ask them what they consider “too high” and “what is the salary range for this position?” They may reveal this information, but don’t expect it. They may know how to play this negotiation game better than you!
If they ask “Will you consider less?" – At this early stage of the interviewing process - say,
“I simply want what is fair for someone with my skills and experience".
If they persist: Answer #2
"I will be glad to discuss salary after I fully understand the requirements of the position and the other factors that may become part of the compensation package."
"I am a reasonable person and will be glad to discuss compensation issues once I have an offer in writing."
“You have seen my resume. Based on my skills and experience what do you think I’m worth to this company?”
If they persist: Answer #3
"I'm sure you have a salary range for this type of position, it may help save us both some time if you would share what that range is?"
“What salary range are you offering for this position?”
They may say “No”, and say that for the interview process to continue they must know what to expect from you!
Answer #4 (Only use this one after having done your research, and having asked recruiters, or other insiders what type of salary to expect for this position)
"I am looking at a salary range between $40,000 and $55,000 (or whatever your range is), which would be negotiable depending on the requirements of the position and other benefits and compensation factors."
Your salary range should be based at the low end on the minimum amount you would take for this position +10%. The upper end of your salary range may be the near top of their range (if you know what that figure is), or the top 25% of the salaries listed in your salary research (of online sites, etc.). This way, at least you are giving them a wide range (usually $10,000 to $15,000 + or -) to work with. The wider the range the better but realize that they will look near the bottom of your range as the starting point for future negotiations.
Another response to the early salary question could be,
"I'm sure salary won't be an issue when all of the factors concerning this job are clearly understood,"
"I'm sure you will make a reasonable offer considering my skills, and experience, and abilities."
If your salary number is too low, they may still consider you but you may always wonder how much money you left on the table by not negotiating for more. It really helps to do your homework before they call you to know an approximate range for the position you applied for.
You may be asked to fill in your salary history on applications or you may be asked for a salary history to be included with your resume prior to an initial interview. Be assured that those figures will be used to:
1. Rule you out because you want too much.
2. They will use your past salary history to predict what you will accept.
Screeners will use this information to their advantage if they can. In fact some corporate screeners are paid a commission on how much they save the company under the average salary amount for a position!
You have to make the decision as to whether you provide this information, but avoid giving this information if at all possible. Sometimes the application box will accept words such as “negotiable”, or TBD, or other words to avoid giving out this information. If the application insists that the salary requirement box must have a number for the application to be processed, you must make the decision – is this job worth it? If so, put in a reasonable salary requirement based on objective criteria such as salary information you have gained from some of the salary.com sites, or from information you have gained from your networking efforts. Sometimes recruiters can be good sources of information like this (unless, of course, they are directly involved in recruiting you for the company you are applying to).
You may be tempted to “low-ball” (priced artificially low) your salary requirements to prevent being ruled out. There are several problems with that strategy;
1. They may undervalue your ability if your salary requirements are too low.
2. “Low ball” salary requirements convey desperation in your job search, which may be exploited by some companies.
3. The negotiations will begin based on your “low balled” amount. It is always easier to negotiate down than to have to negotiate up.
Sometimes emotional desperation overrules our logical rational thinking. You may feel desperate now, but how will you feel after a few months of working for less than you deserve? Will you become one of the 54% of the workforce who are actively looking for employment elsewhere?
Other negotiable items!
What other compensation issues may you negotiate? All of them! Let’s look at several areas you may consider as alternatives to a higher salary.
1. Health benefits. Are they included? To what extent are they paid by the employer? What benefits are offered? When do they go into effect? Major medical, dental, eye care, HMO’s, PPO’s? Get a clear understanding of the benefits offered before you attempt to negotiate them.
2. Time off and vacations. Many companies have gone to a system of “paid days off” which may include sick days. They may offer the standard holidays off, but are they included in your paid days off total? They may give you a certain number of vacation days per year. You may ask for more than that if you can justify it with a good reason.
3. Child care, maternity leave, and other family related situations.
4. Flex time, telecommuting, work from home, part time vs. full time hours.
5. Savings plans. Does the company offer a 401K plan? What percentage does the employer match compared to your contribution? When do you become vested? Employers may tell you that their plans are locked in and can’t be negotiated. If they need you, and you insist, exceptions can be made.
6. Tools and equipment. Does the company provide these or are you expected to provide them? What about work transportation? Company vehicle provided? Mileage paid/ What rate per mile?
7. Uniforms and protective gear. Are these provided or are you expected to provide these at your expense?
8. Professional association dues and certifications. Does membership in professional associations benefit your company, or improve your skills? Will they pay for special educational events (like seminars or conferences) or professional certifications and continuing education required to maintain certifications related to your work?
9. Tuition reimbursement. Do they pay for advanced education related to your work? How much? For what types of training?
The best way to negotiate compensation is to have a plan in advance. You are at a distinct disadvantage if you are not prepared to discuss these when the time is right. Many companies will supply you with a ‘benefits” brochure that describes the benefit program. They hope that you will accept what they offer in those brochures – and 90% of employees do accept them as offered, for several reasons,
1. They assume that benefits are not negotiable.
2. They don’t know how to negotiate.
3. They don’t have a negotiation plan, with alternatives.
4. They are afraid to ask.
Benefits can be worth up to 33% of a persons salary. They are expensive and employers like to keep the cost of benefits at a minimum. But if you are a $40,000 per year employee and they can get your services for a salary of $30,000 or even $35,000, there may be some wiggle room when it comes to other areas of compensation. If you have already negotiated your salary at the high end of the employers pay range, they'd be less inclined to negotiate, but it depends on how much they want you. Plus, it costs you nothing to ask- and you are never in a better position to ask than when you are first hired!
Some good sites to evaluate salaries to use for objective criteria are: Payscale.com, Salary.com, CareerJournal.com, and Jobstar.org.
Here's the scenario: You've found the ideal job, but either the job ad or your contact from the human resources department has asked you to forward your salary requirement and/or your salary history. What do you do?
Before we look at your options, let's examine why employers ask for these things. Most often, the simple reason is that employers want an easy screening device to help sort applicants, and those applicants with a salary requirement too low or too high are discarded. Other times, the employer is looking to save money by hiring a job-seeker at the low end of a salary range. In either case, it's not really fair to the job-seeker. With a salary history, employers also want to see frequency and size of raises and promotions.
What can you do about it? Well, first you need to decide whether you want to work for an employer who would screen you out of the hiring process based on salary. What does this method really say about the employer?
Assuming you still do want to work for the company, the next step is determining your response to the request. With salary histories, you don't have many options. You can attempt to make the point that previous salaries have no bearing on your potential salary - especially if you are changing careers or recently received a new degree or certification, but it's often not going to fly. So, if you really want to work for the company, bite the bullet and prepare a salary history. Don't lie about any of your previous salaries, but if you feel you've been underpaid in the past, make sure you make a case for a higher salary - both in your cover letter and in your salary history. Be sure the paper, style, and typeface of your salary history matches those of your resume and cover letter.
Then there is the question of your salary requirement. Before you even think about answering that question, you should do some research and make sure you know how much you're worth.
The best resources for objective salary information are: Payscale.com, Salary.com, CareerJournal.com, and Jobstar.org.
What are the factors that go into determining your worth?
- Your career path. Regardless of what you've been paid in the past, spend some time reviewing industry reports of salary ranges for people following your career path -- and especially those in the position you are seeking.
- The industry of the employer. Salaries can range based on the industry of the employer. For example, companies in a service industry such as tourism often pay less than companies in a manufacturing industry such as technology.
- The geographic location. The cost of living varies dramatically in different parts of the country. For example, it costs much more to live in San Francisco than it does in Orlando.
- The demand for job-seekers. If there is a glut of job-seekers with essentially the same skills and experience that you have, you can expect salaries to be lower than if similar job-seekers are in short supply.
- Compensation beyond salary. It's often easier said than done, but you should sometimes look beyond the salary number and examine the total compensation package. It's possible the better job offer is not the one with the highest salary.
Finally, assuming you have determined you really want the job, how do you respond to a salary requirement request? There are a number of strategies, each with its own level of risk:
- Provide your salary requirement. Provide the employer with what the company wants, but realize that you run a strong risk of being screened out if you are too far above or below the range the employer has in mind for the position.
- Ask for a wide salary range. Even with some basic research, you should be able to determine a salary range for the position. As long as part of your range overlaps with the employer's range, you should be okay. But what if your highest amount matches their lowest amount? Yup, you will be stuck at the bottom of their pay scale. But, assuming you give a range that is acceptable to you, you should be okay. It may be better to state something like, “a salary in the mid $40s.”
- State that you expect competitive or fair compensation. Put the ball back in the employer's court by informing the company in your cover letter that you expect a competitive salary. The danger? If the employer doesn't offer a competitive salary -- or is a stickler for having an actual salary request -- you've eliminated yourself from being considered for the position.
- Express your salary flexibility. Similar to the last strategy, simply state in your cover letter that you are flexible about salary. The danger is again not providing an actual salary request - and that alone could eliminate you from consideration for the position.
- State that you would prefer to discuss salary in an interview, but make sure to add that you don't think salary will be a problem. The danger is again not providing an actual salary request - and that alone could eliminate you from consideration for the position.
- Give your salary history. Ignore the request for a specific amount and simply show your salary history - with the idea that your next job offer should be reasonably higher than your current salary. The problem here is that you have not provided the information the employer seeks, and you may be eliminated.
- Ignore the salary request. Many people believe that employers have no right making a salary request so early in the process and simply ignore the request. The most likely occurrence? If you ignore the request, your application will most likely be ignored as well.
Whenever possible, do not volunteer information about your salary history or your salary expectations or requirements in your cover letter, resume, or during a job interview. Information is power in job-hunting, and your goal should always be to hold on to your power as long as possible by delaying discussions about salary as long as possible.
Do your research and plan your attack.
To know what to ask for in negotiations, you MUST know the pay range for your position. Check out salary surveys online and in trade journals. Do not quote any numbers from surveys conducted earlier than 2001. They are inflated. Get more recent information. Talk with friends in similar jobs or recruiters who regularly fill this type of position in your geographic region. Find the top of the salary range and ask for that. Show the hiring manager your research and remind her why you are worth the top of the range.
If you are fortunate enough to find out that your offer already is in the high end of your salary range, then propose taking on more responsibilities so you can ask for slightly more pay. Suppose you are a marketing manager with a background in technical writing. You can say that while most marketing managers pass off technical writing in marketing documents to someone else, you will handle this yourself. This entitles you to ask for slightly more.
Know what you need.
Each person is compensated in different ways – and not always monetarily. For instance, if you love what you do, you may not mind earning less than your neighbor with the same degree. Friends can advise you, but you are the one in the job, and you must decide if you want it, regardless of the size of your paycheck. No salary survey can tell you that. Decide what's important to you and what trade-offs you'll make pay wise, but be honest with yourself. Don’t give up being paid more because you hate negotiating. Self-knowledge, good negotiation skills – and a little chutzpah — will help ensure you earn what you deserve starting with your next job.
Individual Exercise #1
Go to two of the free salary internet sites listed in this module, and determine your approximate projected salary based on your expected job title, experience and education/training. Average the salaries from the two sites to come up with a fair number.
Projected annual salary from site #1 $__________________
Projected annual salary from site #2 $__________________
Average the salaries from the two sites (add the salaries and divide by two) and write your projected salary here $ _____________________.
Other than a fair salary, write the most important thing you need from your next job that may be considered in a compensation package. For example, health care benefits, tuition reimbursement, time off for vacation, etc.
Group Exercise #1
In groups of three or four, have a brief discussion (5 minutes or less) on your most difficult challenge regarding salary/compensation negotiation. If suitable answers are not available within your small group, bring those issues up when the main group reconvenes to debrief.
Group Exercise #2
Have a brief roundtable discussion about when you were successful in negotiating salary and other forms of compensation. What did you do that worked the best?
Resources for Salary/Compensation Negotiation
Payscale.com, Salary.com, CareerJournal.com, and Jobstar.org.
http://www.negotiations.com/articles/geeks-earning-more/Dynamite Salary Negotiations, 4th Edition: Know What You're Worth and Get It! (Paperback) by Ron Kran
Perfect Phrases for Negotiating Salary and Job Offers: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases to Help You Get the Best Possible Salary, Perks or Promotion by Matthew J. DeLuca and Nanette F. DeLuca
Job Search Action Plan
Earlier in this program we learned job search strategies. It is time to put those strategies into an action plan to start moving towards reaching your goal of finding the perfect job!
A job search action plan is like a business plan. Without a plan most people do not stay focused and their job search lasts longer than it should. The action plan is a way of clearly defining what success looks like and creating a road map to get there.
Your plan should answer the questions:
- What kind of work do you want?
- What kind of organization do you want to work for?
- Where do you find and what do you say to people who can help you down this path?
- What activities or tasks do you have to do to reach your goal?
- What is the timeline for us to reach our goal (or how much money do we have left)?
Earlier in the program we identified our work objective. This answers question #1.
We learned how to develop a target list of companies we would like to work for. This partially answers question #2.
We learned how to job network, which answers question #3.
We learned about 15 different job search strategies and the difference between proactive and reactive job search methods. This answers question #4.
Now we will be putting everything into a timeline so that we can find the right work as quickly as possible.
Every person who comes into a job search workshop has a different time line requirement. Virtually everyone would like to find employment as soon as possible; but to simplify things, we will divide job searchers into three groups.
Group #1 Immediate need for employment!
Some people, regardless of how long they have been unemployed, must find work immediately. The wolf is at the door. They have bills that are mounting and financial disaster is looming.
Group #2 Three months to six months to find work
Other people are drawing unemployment and/or perhaps have some financial help from a working spouse, or enough savings to last a while. They are still anxious to find work, but they have several weeks or months before they have a negative monthly balance sheet.
Group #3 Six months to one year or more
Then there are those that are currently employed but actively looking and/or those that can carry on for months or years without any severe financial repercussions. But they are still searching.
The reason for grouping is that your timeline has a direct impact on the type of activities and how frequently you need to implement them in order to reach your goal.
Job Search Action Plans (depending on your needs)
Group #1 Immediate need for employment!
You may need to invest an average of 35 hours per week conducting your job search. And you need to be using the most productive strategies, which can shorten your search. Allow around 5 hours per week for exercise and other necessities. Don’t burn yourself out by working 50 or more hours per week.
What does a good week’s menu look like for someone in this situation?
70% of your time should be invested in networking, primarily with people within the industries you have targeted in your target list. This means going to association meetings and other networking meetings within those industries and building your contact list as quickly as possible. You need to talk with at least 20 people per week, who can lead you to 10 insiders, who can lead you to 3 decision makers and hopefully at least 1 interview per week. In addition, you should invest less than 15% of your time responding to internet posted listings. Spend 10% of your time following up with contacts, adjusting your target list and administrative items. Spend 5% of your time each week with a support group that holds you accountable for your time and activities each week.
Group #2 Three to six months to find work
A good weeks’ work for those in group #2 includes 30 to 35 hours per week conducting your job search. Include time for exercise in your schedule. Plan on a minimum of 50% of your time engaged in networking activities, 20% of your time responding to internet postings and doing internet research on your target list of companies. Spend 15% of your time following up with contacts, about 10% of your time exercising, and 5% of your time each week in a support group that holds you accountable for your time during the week.
Group #3 Underemployed or part time workers
A good week for someone who is engaged in a part time search is 10 to 15 hours per week actively engaged in job search activities, 10 hours if you are currently employed, and up to 15 hours if you are simply “kicking tires” in the job market. If currently employed, you may be limited in the amount of time you can network during the week, but you can certainly network at church and during weekend activities. Count on 4 to 5 hours of active job networking each week. You may invest 4 to 5 hours per week responding to internet listings and doing research on target companies. Expect to invest 1 to 2 hours per week in follow up, administrative and support group activities.
Job Search Action Plan Forms
So how does this look in an actual job search action plan? There are two forms we have created to help you track the strategies you use and the amount of time you invest each week in using those strategies. It is important to track your progress on a consistent basis because if you don’t, you will not know for sure if you are making progress with a particular strategy.
Form # 1 is called Job Search Action Plan Contact Sheet. It is a simple weekly planning calendar which you may use to schedule your job search activities during each day of the week. The number column was added so that you could write in the strategy number next to a time of day (or evening after 5pm). There is room on the right side of the page for the names of contacts and a comment section to add referral names, phone numbers, email, etc.
Form #2 is called the Job Search Action Plan Progress Chart. On the left side, you will see the list of 15 strategies. In the column to the right of each strategy is the % effectiveness of that strategy based on Richard Bolles research. The columns to the right are spaces for each day of the week for you to write in the number of hours per day that you invested using that strategy. There is a “Total” column for you to total all the hours that week for each strategy. To the right of the hourly columns is a column that says “% of TSI.” This is the percent of time spent that week using a particular strategy. And the last column on the right shows the difference in % between the % effectiveness and the % of TSI (total strategy implementation). The chart also allows you to plan your weeks’ activities in advance (in the third section down from the top), and then compare planned hours to actual hours. Feel free to photocopy these charts for your weekly use in your job search. For an electronic version of these tools contact Joe Jones at Career Ministries in Tampa at 813-960-1876 and he will email them to you. Electronic copies of these forms are also available on the Career Ministries web site under Document Downloads at www.careerministries.com.
We strongly recommend getting a weekly planner from an office supply store or Franklin Covey to use during your job search. It will help you organize your day and create a checklist of tasks for each day to keep you on track.
The following forms may be photocopied and used for job search planning and analysis.
Job Search Action Plan Contact Sheet
Job Search Action Plan Progress Chart
The Job Search Action Plan Summary
Step #1 Create your professional objective- a specific statement of the type of work you are seeking.
Step #2 Create your target company list – a list of companies that you would consider working for, in your industry and geographical location of choice, who hire people with your skills. Do a reality check.
Step #3 Create your core message – your 30 second “core-mmercial” that explains what you do and why you do it well.
Step #4 Write your resume. Expand your core message to prove that you do it well, and can distinguish yourself from others.
Step #5 Identify appropriate job search strategies and create an action plan
Step #6 Network with friends, family, casual acquaintances, target company insiders and decision makers. Just ask for information about companies on your target list and names of the appropriate hiring managers for the position you want.
Step #7 Follow up with everyone, but particularly with hiring managers every 3-4 weeks.
Step #8 Manage your search by tracking your progress weekly with the Job Action Plan Progress Chart.
Step #9 Join a Job Search Action Team or support group to help you through the process.
Resources For Job Search Action Planning
Not the Way You Planned
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods.
They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, “Someday
I hope to be a great treasure chest. I could be filled with gold,
silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with an
intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.”
Then the second tree said, “Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and Queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. People will feel safe in me because of the strength of my Hull.”
Finally the third tree said, “I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest Tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill, look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, “This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,” and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree. I will be able to sell it to the shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the men said, “I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take this one,” and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.
The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying Kings had come to an end.
The third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark.
The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.
Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and
the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said 'Peace' and the storm stopped. A t this time, the tree knew
that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the
people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed
to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to
realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.
Job search is a journey. It takes faith to deal with the rejection, the No, No, No, No, No, Maybe, until the YES! arrives in the form of a job offer. Keep the faith and put your mind to work for you, instead of against you. Job search is a mental game. By reading and studying this manual you now know what you need to know to find the work you want.
Never, EVER Give Up!
About The Author
Joe Jones is the Executive Director of Career Ministries. He has over 30 years of human resource/training and development experience. He has hired over 500 persons and career counseled an average of 140 persons per year for the past seven years. Joe has presented the very successful one day “Quick Start” Job Search Workshop to over 1000 persons per year. He is actively involved with 12 Tampa based weekly job search group ministries, and he works with over 100 persons per week.
Joe has been instrumental in starting dozens of church based job search ministries across the US. He is an author (The Inner Game of Job Search), a trainer, a program developer, a business owner, a husband, a golfer, a kayaker, hiker and biker.
Joe was President of the American Society for Training and Development Suncoast chapter and President of the National Speakers Association Central Florida chapter. He has been interviewed on local and national broadcasts on the Christian Television Network, on WTBN radio, and on Internet Job Search radio. Interviews with Joe have recently been featured in the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times.
In 2015 Joe formed Transition Masters, a non profit program that combines job search with Toastmasters to develop the presentation skills of job seekers in transition. www.transitionmasters.org
For more information contact Joe at 813-960-1876, or email email@example.com .