Posts Tagged ‘job postings’

Job Market Tips

April 12, 2009

As the unemployment rate rises, employers continue to cut jobs making the competition for every open position is fierce. To land a job in this environment requires near perfect execution during the job search process. While many factors outside of your control will impact your ability to get hired, you must be certain that you control everything in your power.
A job search is perfectly designed to produce what it is producing. In other words, if you are having trouble in getting hired you must look in the mirror to see what you can do better. Here are some things that can help you improve your odds.
If you are not getting interviews, improve your resume. Recruiters, human resources and hiring managers receive too many resumes to view each one thoroughly. You must ensure that yours stands out. Make your resume easy to read by including a bulleted accomplishment section at the top and by bulleting, bolding and italicizing judiciously throughout the resume’s body. Ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors. Content should be process and result oriented and not a job description. Finally, customize your resume by reading specific job postings and reordering and adjusting your content to create similarities between your resume and the job description.
Finding a job in this market is a full time exercise. You must visit job boards and company sites every day. Many qualified candidates are applying for each position, allowing jobs to be filled quickly. For example, two weeks ago I posted an ad for a receptionist and in just 2 hours I received over 300 resumes. With my inbox overwhelmed, I took the ad down and hired someone from that group. Therefore, it is critical to be one of the first candidates. You must reach out to your network regularly and use sites like Linked In and Facebook to identify contacts in target firms.
Show proof of your ability by tracking your results and displaying them clearly. Bring reports, documents, performance appraisals – anything that shows you are as good as you say. The mere fact you bring evidence of your successes may sway the interviewer.
Do not speak poorly about others on an interview. I learned this lesson the hard way. I hired someone who spoke poorly about her previous manager and for two years I was reminded that the employee, and not her previous manager, was the problem. What someone says about others says often says more about who they are than anything else.
The perfect job may not be out there today. Give yourself permission to take a job for less pay or at a lower level than your target position. Currently, it is more important to be working than to have the perfect job. Put yourself in a position to weather the economic downturn.
Be truthful about how long you are looking. Everyone recognizes the difficult market and therefore it is ok to say you have looked for a job for a while and have not found one. Be truthful and say “I was laid off 6 months ago and I have been looking ever since.” The truth is better than saying you decided to take time off or wanted to travel – all of which make it look like you do not really possess a sense of urgency about landing a job.
Keep track of the positions you apply for with a spreadsheet or a notepad so you will be able to quickly reference who is calling you. A company wants to believe that their position is special to you. I rarely interview a candidate who says “I am applying for a lot of jobs. What type of job is it anyway?”
Apply for only one job within a company. I often receive multiple resumes from one candidate for different jobs. Be targeted. That sends the message is that you will take any job offered. Even if it is true, have the wisdom and self-respect not to express it.
Show up on time. I had a candidate show up late for an interview. He claimed the subway had a problem. I was very impressed with him so I scheduled a second appointment to make sure he showed up on time and if he did he had the job. Once again he was late, and I lost all confidence in his reliability.
These tips will help you stand out from the crowd!

Project Strength Instead of Weakness During An Interview

January 11, 2009

Recently, I was interviewing a strong candidate who lost his position when his company went under. The candidate had a solid educational pedigree and work experience. He was bright and articulate and was just about 5 minutes away from receiving an offer. Then the following exchange occurred.
As the interviewer I said: “Tell me what areas each of your last 2 managers would say you can improve on.”
Candidate: “2 jobs ago my manager said that I was not completely engaged because the job was not what I was looking for, and at my last job my manager would probably say that the role was not the right fit for me and because of it I was bored at times. That said, I am passionate about this job and think it is going to be the right fit for me.”
I interpreted the candidate as effectively telling me that his past managers were unhappy with his effort, focus and commitment and that unless he found the perfect fit he would not give his best and total effort to a position. The candidate was professional, impressive and close to an offer, but I could not take the risk that he would be unhappy.
In this hypercompetitive, buyer’s job market you must not offer interviewers reasons not to hire you and that is exactly what the candidate did. Instead of offering to go above and beyond, he presented himself as unpredictable. No matter how nuanced, exhibiting or intimating a bad attitude, laziness, lack of commitment, focus or teamwork can kill your opportunity.
Employers know that past performance is predictive of future performance and will ask interview questions to find out about past behavior. But how can you show positive past behaviors that predict the future successes while addressing a negative or offering examples of weaknesses?
There is a simple 3 step process that will allow you to construct negatives into positives. The 3 steps are:
1. identify a non-core area for improvement
2. position it so it can be seen as a positive
3. show how you are working on improving the area.
First, only identify weaknesses that will not devalue you as a candidate. So identify the 4 or 5 core roles for the position you are interviewing for and be sure to not address any of them in the weaknesses area. For example, if you are interviewing for an engineering management position that uses specific software you should not identify basic engineering, the software or management skills as areas for improvement. In addition, you should not show weaknesses in the area of work ethic, learning, commitment and getting along with others. These are core traits that are necessary in all jobs.
In the example from above, the candidate stated his last 2 managers did not think he worked “that hard.” Some people put in a minimal effort while others work hard, but in this economy no one needs to take a risk on a “lazy” or “unmotivated” candidate.
Second, look for an area that is a negative, but can be perceived as a positive. For example, you can say “I try to take on too much work” or “I try to balance multiple projects” and have missed some deadlines because of it. This statement can position you as a hard worker. Since managers can help employees manage workflow or time, but cannot put the fire in an employee’s belly this subtle approach can have a powerful impact. Either of these answers can present you as a candidate who will work hard and who can flourish with a little guidance.
The third and final step is addressing the weakness. For example, “because I recognize the importance of meeting deadlines I have begun to manage my projects on a timeline so that I do not bite off more than I can chew and can meet my deadlines. But this is an ongoing process for me.” All of us can improve in different areas but here is a candidate actually endeavoring to do it!
These’s tips will help you turn your weaknesses into positives and help you land your next job!

Land The Interview

December 30, 2008

We are clearly in a buyer’s market where employers possess both leverage and pricing power. As the economy weakens and the unemployment rate rises, employees become more nervous about what the future holds for our companies and careers and begin searching for alternative opportunities. As a Human Resources Director, I track the response rates for my job postings and have seen a 54% increase in responses verses a year ago. The competition is fierce so you must be extremely proactive in your job search.
If you try to get an interview the same way everybody else does you will get the same results. You must be unique and use various strategies outside of the norm. Here are some tactics that can help you get your foot in the door.
Call the employer. Most candidates send their resume by email. A job posting can garner literally hundreds of resumes. It is impossible for the employer to screen and review all of them. In contrast, very few candidates call the hiring manager. So be different,
Step one is to call the company and find out who the hiring or recruiting manager is for the position of interest. Simply say “I have corresponded with the recruiter for the “position”, but am not quite sure of his/her name. Can you help me?”
Once you have the name of the hiring manager/recruiter put together a list of 4 or 5 critical reasons why you are a great candidate for the position. Then call, introduce yourself and say “the reason for my call is I have a strong background in . . . and believe my past successes such as [insert critical reasons] make me a great candidate for the position. I forwarded my resume and would love the chance to speak to you about my background to see if there is a good fit.” Focus the conversation on your strengths and close for the interview.
Send your resume by regular U.S. mail and email. Since the vast majority of resumes and correspondence today come through email, a hard copy sent through regular mail may ensure your resume gets noticed. Again, find out the name of the hiring manager and send your resume and cover letter to their attention.
Network into the organization. All of us know a lot of people. Create a list of your college friends, colleagues, vendors, friends and neighbors and you will quickly have access to a strong network to tap into. Networking sites like Linked-in (www.linkedin.com) and Facebook (www.facebook.com) can help by offering you a well defined network and identify where your connections are employed. The purpose of your network is not to get you hired, but rather to get you the meeting, whether by phone or face to face. Contact your network and ask for help.
Personally drop your resume off. Years ago as I was looking for an operations manager a candidate showed up at my workplace to introduce herself. She was professionally dressed, had her presentation down and was respectful of my time. She told me she simply wanted to ensure her resume was reviewed. Linda, who was a candidate I would have passed on if I received her resume via email, turned out to be one of the best hires I ever made.
We are in difficult economic times and changing jobs is very difficult for everyone, so you must differentiate yourself. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. These techniques will help you get more interviews.