Handy set of articles for those conducting a job search: The Top Job Search Articles of 2015
And, as always, leverage Job-Hunt.org
I don’t often share other blog articles within my Blog, although I would if I had more time to review all the great resources out there. But once in a while, there’s an article that clearly must be shared. Especially when it covers as much ground as this one. John Fawkes has compiled a list of 25 helpful career-focused blog writers that you might find helpful. Enjoy.
Recently I was interviewed by Peggy McKee, career coach and the CEO of Career Confidential, regarding the challenges of interviewing for an IT-related job. A great deal of what we discussed applies to all interviews, but IT interviews have the opportunity to dive deep into tool knowledge and project experience. In this audio file, you’ll hear our thoughts on technical interviews, specifically:
- Preparing for the interview
- Typical questions to expect
- How to approach the interview and present the right information
Link to audio: What You Need to Know to Get an Information Technology Job
A while back, Peggy and I generated a video discussing proper format for resumes, too.
Link to video: Formatting Your Resume to Be Read!
Peggy’s Web site dedicated to helping job seekers find and get the jobs they want. Career Confidential coaches job seekers through every stage in the job search and interview process, from resumes to interviews to follow up. It specializes in providing job seekers with powerful and customizable tools and techniques through blog articles, training videos, templates, and Webinars.
Being stressed about job interviews (and let’s face it, in this age of joblessness, who wouldn’t get a little worked-up over an upcoming interview?) comes with its fair share of psychological afflictions. If you’ve been making the rounds at various interviews long enough, you may even start to have interview-related dreams or even nightmares. And that’s pretty rough. Of course, it’s nothing compared to the sheer terror of seeing those nightmares become realities.
Here’s one that’s actually been happening more and more often, at least if the correspondence of various HR representatives is to be believed.
You sit down for a job interview, perhaps your last one after a grueling cycle. This is the job you are most eager to land, the position that excites you the most. And you feel like the interview has been going smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, a taboo topic emerges. For whatever reason, the interviewer steers the question toward politics. And you panic. Ducking out to the restroom would look bad, and feigning choking isn’t going to fool anyone. So what do you do?
Well, for starters, you should know that the interviewer really shouldn’t be asking this question. In fact, it’s wrong for any employer to discriminate based on political or religious beliefs. So if they ask you any direct and possibly contentious question about your deep-seated values, it could well be an illegal question, and you’re well within your rights to politely decline answering it. You should also know that, unless you are applying for a position as a political science professor, your political opinions are probably not relevant to the job, and the employer probably doesn’t really care what you think; rather, the interviewer is probably asking the question to gauge how you respond.
In other words: It’s about you and your character, not about the politics themselves. So if you do answer the question, think about what your answer is saying about you as a potential employee. Think first about the way in which you answer. Does it indicate a willingness to be honest but also eloquent and tactful? Does it show that you are able to be respectful to a superior without completely cowering to them? Does it demonstrate free thought, but not insubordination? And perhaps most importantly: Does it indicate that you are able to remain calm under pressure? This actually might be what the interviewer is really looking for–not the answer itself, but your ability to offer it without breaking into a sweat or developing a sudden stutter.
As for the answer itself, simply consider what it might reveal about your own, personal values and how those values square with those of the company itself. Certain political stances might come across as being contemptuous of corporate America or of big business. If you’re applying for a job at a big corporation, this is probably ill-advised. Likewise, taking a position that seems radical in a work environment that tends to emphasize a strong, unified corporate mindset is also a bad idea.
For example, earlier this year there was a big skirmish about unions, and the issue was hot enough that many HR representatives reported the topic arising in different job interview scenarios. This is a great example of a question that’s probably best to simply not answer. It’s controversial, and it’s directly related to a business’ bottom line. The best response is going to be a tactful and eloquent one that doesn’t actually indicate what you truly believe: “I think unions can be a complicated matter,” or, “Unions are a mixed blessing.” You’ll probably want to think up a similar response for questions related to, say, business tax cuts or outsourcing.
More than anything else, it’s simply important to remain poised, even if the question feels like a bit of a sucker punch. Again, politicians are not the ones who are auditioning here–you are. So your top priority should be to make yourself look good. Respond to the question in a way that makes it clear you are thoughtful, respectful, and discerning. And perhaps that you are ultimately less interested in politics than you are in performing your job to the very best of your abilities.
Terry Crenshaw is a writer for www.peterorszagsite.net who has focused her attention on what political professionals and their advisors, such as Peter Orszag, have to say about current economic policy. Through her work, Terry hopes to develop the public’s understanding of how politics can influence the economy.
As old as the art of resume writing is, you’d expect there to be changes in standard practice, right? After all, the way we communicate has changed dramatically, both in content and speed. We like our information given to us Just-In-Time and in Sound-Bytes. However, many resume writers still provide the same formula in presentation, format, and content to be included.
My guest blogger, Brendan Cruickshank, Vice President of Client Services of Job Search Engine, provides his thoughts on the subject, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding my two cents along the way. If you know me at all, you’re not surprised.
See if you agree with our thoughts. If not, feel free to chime in within the Comment Section.
Thinking Outside the Margins:
Five Old-Fashioned Rules of Resume-Writing that You Should Break
Job-hunting can be a job in and of itself – and it’s a job that has changed over the past several decades. The rules of resume-writing that applied in the 1980s don’t always apply today. Here are five old-fashioned rules that you would be well-advised to break:
1. Your resume should be no more than one page. The length of your resume depends on you and the job you are applying for. If you are a recent graduate, chances are that you don’t have enough experience to justify more than a page – but if you do, don’t hesitate to run a little longer. On the other hand, if you feel strongly that you want to keep your resume to one page, but you have more experience than will fit, the solution is to include a link to a web site where a potential employer can get the rest of the details.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Couldn’t agree more. Many hiring managers first review a resume on their computer, not paper. There are no pages to turn, just scrolling down. Often times, you don’t even notice you’re on page two or three. The key is to include all pertinent info, but be concise. I’m not a big fan of a second source (link to a web site)–don’t make your reader do extra work to learn the pertinent facts. A good use of links: examples of your work.
2. You must include an objective or a summary section. Most career advisers still swear by this, but my feeling is that you should include personal objectives or a summary at your own risk. A well done summary can do wonders. But I can’t remember the last time I saw one. Most summary sections, and most objectives, are full of corny jargon that make the job candidate sound sycophantic and brainless.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: I definitely agree an Objective statement is not needed when you are applying for a job that matches your background. If you are changing your career path (i.e., from Finance to Sales), you’ll have to spell that out (likely in a cover letter or email). However, I think Professional Summaries are critical. The first one-fourth of Page 1 must tell the reader who you are and what you’ve achieved. As cautioned above, stay clear of the generic, mundane phrases: A team-player who contributes to the bottom-line of successful companies using clear communication, excellent problem-solving skills, and keen decision-making.
More on this topic is covered in a video with Peggy McKee–link is below.
3. You must include an education section. Whether or not you include an education section depends on you – and whether or not your educational background will help you in the job you are applying for. If you didn’t finish your degree, mentioning the college you attended for only two years will only draw attention to the fact that you didn’t finish. There is no need to mention your high school diploma or where you attended high school.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: I agree. Keep in mind, Education includes training and certificate programs. Where you have applicable skills through training include it. Often times, I tweak resumes to have the heading: EDUCATION and TRAINING.
4. Include a letter of reference with your resume. If you include something like this, it is most likely to be thrown into a file and never looked at again. Likewise, don’t add a line to your resume that says “References available upon request.” Instead, bring names and phone numbers for your most recent supervisors when you go to your interview. Most human resource managers will not check references for all job candidates, just for the ones they are seriously considering hiring – so they won’t check any references until they have already talked to you.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Correct. And do you really want to bug your references that much? You want to have them called only when the hiring manager is serious. And obviously, if you hold references until asked, you will know when to give your references a head’s up on who might be calling them. Some hiring managers will ask for three completely different references than provided.
5. Print your resume on the nicest paper you can afford. This rule is an outgrowth of the rule that says you should wear a suit to your interview. You should still wear a suit to your interview if you can, but printing a resume on special paper is just silly.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Yes, any paper will do, because most likely the interviewer will have their own copy anyway. I always thought fancy paper was a distraction. It’s like saying, the content of my resume isn’t so great, so let’s make it as pretty as possible. Again, in the digital age, paper is secondary. Although, always bring the extra copy. One of my most recent interviewees didn’t, and my client was testing him to see if he’d bring it. Never know…
Brendan Cruickshank has been involved in the online job search and recruiting industry for over eight years and has acted in senior client services roles with companies like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com. His advice is often sought on topics in employment and jobs trends from publications including the Washington Post, Forbes and US News & World Report.
Video with Peggy McKee on this topic: Formatting Your Resume to Be Read!
Recently, I’ve had several discussions with colleagues and candidates about the value education plays in their candidate selection. There is no doubut that formal education enhances one’s standing amongst candidates. In past articles, I’ve even mentioned going back to school during the job search to show you’re proactive about keeping skills sharp or learning new talents.
Brian Jenkins, a member of the BrainTrack.com, offered to share his insights on the topic of online college courses and provided several resources in the guest article below.
Online college courses provide a great way to enhance your resume and improve your chances of getting a job. Taking the courses shows prospective employers that you’re making an effort to increase your value to a company. They help you stand out from the rest of the job pool, which is probably full of people just as qualified as you. For example, engineers seeking a management position can greatly enhance their report and memo writing skills by taking free online writing courses. Once you’ve completed a course, you can include it in the “education” or “specific skills” section of your resume.
Taking relevant free courses also gives you a competitive edge over co-workers for higher-level jobs. Besides the additional skills you’ll acquire, taking the classes shows initiative and a strong desire to learn as much as you can.
Through OpenCourseWare, many colleges and universities offer free access to courses taught during previous semesters. OpenCourseWare provides actual materials used in classes, suggestions for reading material, and lecture notes. Some classes include audio or video lectures, and others offer quizzes so you can test your knowledge before taking the next course.
To see a list of the colleges and universities that offer free courses through OpenCourseWare, check out the OpenCourseWare Consortium’s web site. Some of the schools that offer free classes in a wide variety of subjects: Yale University, UMASS Boston, Utah State University, UC Irvine, and Notre Dame.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT offers a a great deal of free courses in Business; Engineering; Architecture and Planning; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Health Sciences and Technology; Science; and Management. MIT’s Sloan School of Business Management also allows you to take many of its popular undergraduate business courses free of charge.
Columbia University’s Seminar in Branding
Branding is important to many businesses. Columbia University’s Columbia Interactive provides a three-part series on Brand Leadership. Part one of the e-seminar, Brand Identity and Strategy, includes a video lecture, visual examples of strong brand identities, and guest speakers from the private sector. The second part of the series focuses on experiential branding while the third part delves into branding and the creative organization.
Free Writing Classes
Many employers complain that employees lack good writing skills. This can be a major problem for those seeking management positions due to the need to write reports and memos. MIT’s Advanced Writing Seminar exposes you to the various types of writing you may encounter in a professional career. The UK-based Open University offers a free class called Essay and Report Writing Skills. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) makes available its Technical Writing Course which combines theory and practice to prepare people to become technical writers. NJIT also provides a free Proposal Writing Course.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has become extremely important for many businesses with an online presence. Laura Lake, a marketing consultant, social media marketing strategist, and About.com guide, provides a free, seven-day Social Media Marketing Online Crash Course.
Many small businesses would like a strong online presence but may not be able to afford an expert web designer. Also, even if a company has a web site, management needs someone to maintain it. You can get the skills to create and maintain web sites at w3schools.com, an organization that claims to be the world’s largest web development site. Training is available in HTML, Browser scripting, XML, server scripting, web services, multimedia, and web building. These types of skills make you valuable, especially to small businesses that don’t have a Web expert on staff.
Savvy job seekers can take these free online courses to enhance their resume and to get an edge on the competition. And since you can take these courses online, it’s easy to work them into your busy schedule.
No matter what the economy looks like, unemployed job seekers will always have to contend with addressing the “Why.” Why employed. Recently, I posted an article about dealing with the unemployed bias in your resume or during the interview. To address this bias, one must market themselves even more strategically and be proactive in dealing with the void of employment on the resume. As mentioned in my article, one such way is volunteering. Only skimming the surface of what this entails, I was grateful when a friend of mine offered to dive deeper into this. Sheree Van Vreede, a certified professional resume writer and career coach offers this advice on the subject.
Since I began writing resumes 10 years ago, one of the most common questions I have received from job seekers has had to do with handling volunteer work on their resumes. In the past, this tended to not be a major issue, as the employment market was relatively strong. If the volunteer position had some relevancy to the market the job seeker was focusing on, we might play it up a bit, but generally, volunteer work was an “end-of-the-resume” thing, if it was even included at all.
In today’s job market, however, with the national unemployment rate hovering around 10% (and higher in some areas), and with many individuals finding themselves out of work for several months, we are taking a much longer and harder look at volunteer work.
Is Volunteer Work Valuable In a Resume?
Without a doubt, volunteer positions can be a valuable addition to your work history and to your resume. If you are currently unemployed, and would like to improve your marketability, volunteer work can do the following:
- Show to a prospective employer that your skills are fresh, not stale, and that you have been willing to get out there and use those skills.
- Help explain how you have spent your unemployment time.
- Demonstrate that you are a true team player willing to do what it takes to succeed and willing to use your time to benefit someone else.
Sometimes job seekers feel uncomfortable about including volunteer info because they feel it takes away from the main premise, which was to help others. My personal view is that whether you include it or not, the people you served were still served and benefited from your support. As long as you aren’t presenting your role falsely or making more out of it than it was, you should be proud, as you would be with any other accomplishment (perhaps even more so!), that you participated in such an endeavour.
How Can You Make It Relevant?
The best option for creating a win–win situation when it comes to performing volunteer work during your unemployment requires a little consideration, however.
Think about the types of volunteer roles that would be relevant to the position or industry you are pursuing. For example, at our firm, we recently worked with a candidate that had specialized in vendor and project management for a major financial services firm but had been out of work for two years despite looking for a project management position. However, for the past year-and-a-half, he has been directing a project to develop, fund, and implement a special exhibit at a museum. The initiative included project coordination, research, business development, and content design. Therefore, we were able to effectively leverage his activities with leading the exhibit development and launch as part of his project management skill set.
What Is a Balanced Approach to Take?
You need to consider carefully how you will present volunteer experience on the resume. If you are using it to fill an employment gap, you want to develop it enough that it doesn’t come across as fluff (filler material), but not so much that you deceive the reader into thinking it was a paid position. The best approach is to mention that it was a volunteer role in the paragraph describing your duties or in a short description of the organization (if you have included a company description for your other positions). This eliminates the need to place the term “Volunteer” in the job title. In other words, let’s market the role honestly, but let’s also be strategic about it.
If you are using your volunteer roles to expand on your skill sets and you don’t have an employment gap, creating a separate section to develop your volunteer work can be the ideal approach. In a separate section, you can streamline the entry by listing just the organization name, location, “job” title, and a few bullets highlighting your activities and achievements.
An important caveat here is to be careful not to overplay or underplay your volunteer work. My experience is that job seekers tend to do one or the other. As valuable as it might have been to the people you served, in most employers’ eyes, it is not on par with an actual paid position. So you might not get the reaction you are hoping for if you sell it too hard. However, underselling it could also end up being a missed opportunity for you. Remember that understanding how far to take something, whether it is in regard to your resume, networking, or interviewing (or life in general) is a fine art.
Finally, no matter what, be careful that your volunteer work doesn’t infringe upon your job search time to the point where it is taking over business hours. And try not to pin too much hope on a volunteer position turning into a paid one. Yes, it does happen, but not as much as job seekers think (or hope) it does. Recognize it for what it is: An opportunity for you to serve and to use your time and skills productively.
In addition to being a certified resume writer and career coach with No Stone Unturned, Sheree Van Vreede is a co-founder of an online job seeker social network, NoddlePlace. To find out more about NoddlePlace or about the services offered by No Stone Unturned, go to http://www.NoddlePlace.com. You can also follow Sheree on Twitter as the @rezlady or through @noddleplace.
Chronological vs. Functional. Objective vs. Summary Statement. Paragraphs vs. Bullets. Although debates will always rage on regarding the ideal resume format, I can tell you what I like to see (and my clients). Fellow recruiter Peggy McKee and I discuss these topics in a video recently produced by her recruiting firm. If you have your own view on these topics, feel free to share them in the comment section for this post.
This guest post is contributed by Angela Martin, who writes on the topics of Job Search Web sites. She welcomes your comments through email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you may be on the job hunt right now, or perhaps you already have a job and you’re considering switching careers. Now as all of us who are hyper-connected to the Internet know, there’s a glut of career advice tips out there, and they all promise that if you follow the advice, you’ll land that job immediately. Of course some pieces of advice are better than others, some are given by recruiting experts, like here at Jeff Lipschutz’s Blog, and some by people who may just be unemployed bloggers themselves.
What I propose to discuss is not any specific “trick of the trade” that will supposedly net you a paid gig, but rather a current trend in economic development that demonstrates the future direction that jobs will take in America and arguably around the world. Being aware of this trend, I think, will be helpful in understanding the subtle shifts in attitude that many in business are taking toward hiring. Richard Florida, an economist and social scientist, wrote about this particularly theory in a book called “The Rise of the Creative Class.” He also wrote an accompanying article for the Washington Monthly that previews this theory.
To sum up Florida’s ideas, basically, what typifies the creative class is knowledge and, as the name implies, creativity. Florida believes that the best jobs will be taken by those in the creative class. The “Super-Creative Core” is the smallest but most important of the group, and it is comprised of individuals who “fully engage in the creative process,” and along with “problem-solving…their work may entail problem-finding.” This core group of creative people can be found in a wide variety of fields including engineering, education, research, and computer programming.
The secondary group that comprises the creative class is what Florida terms “Creative Professionals,” and these people, too, encompass a broad range of specialty fields, like business and finance, law, healthcare, and education. The two groups together form a discrete entity of people who are driving economic development and are generally looking for work in “creative” cities that appeal to their lifestyles. In Texas, the state’s three major metropolitan areas—Dallas, Houston, and Austin–all make the cut for the top ten cities that have the conditions needed to satisfy this growing class.
But what does Florida’s theory of the creative class have to do with a typical professional’s job search, and ultimately, the recruiting process in general? Well, Florida proposes that recruiting strategies will change in order to attract this creative class. Gone will be the days of static interviews. Now, recruiters will increasingly be trying to gauge creative capacity, to understand what makes each candidate really tick, and what he or she can do for the company that will be innovative and forward-thinking. Thus, something to think about in your own job search is to not only reflect on what you have already accomplished, but what you can accomplish in the future in creative, unusual ways.
When you are fortunate enough to be granted an interview, you have become one of a small group being considering for the job. The interview is paramount in separating yourself from the pack. Unfortunately for some, it is where they do not prepare well enough or stumble during the process. This guest post by Nikki Ruth outlines some key pitfalls to avoid during the interview. Nikki is a CV writer and founder of job interview coaching company My CV and Me. Nikki has over 10 years experience conducting job interview coaching and is an active blogger.
A big part of a successful interview is avoiding simple mistakes. You can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid these top 15 interview mistakes.
1. Badmouthing your boss – 49% percent of interviewers cite badmouthing a former boss as the worst interview offense. Don’t speak negatively about your former boss or company. It’s the fastest way to talk yourself out of a job. Instead, put a positive spin on your experiences and your job search.
2. Not being prepared – If you really want the job, you need to do some homework. Find out all you can about the company, using their website. Read press releases to find out about their products, customers and competitors. You are looking for indications of where a company is going and what problems the company and the industry are having.
3. Sounding too rehearsed – While it’s important to practise your answers, try not to sound too rehearsed. When you are practising, write the answers in bullet points which will stop you memorising information word-for-word.
4. Not knowing yourself – Make sure you know what sets you apart from other candidates and be specific about what you’ve done that has made you successful. Know your background without having to refer to your CV. There is no one better than you to tell your story.
5. Talking too much – There is nothing much worse than interviewing someone who goes on and on. 35% of interviewers cite waffling as their pet hate. The interviewer really doesn’t need to know your whole life story. Keep your answers succinct, to-the-point and don’t ramble. The best way to do this is to prepare and practice your interview answers beforehand.
6. Focusing on the past – The projects you worked on ten years ago bring context to your career and the professional you have become. However the skills you now possess are what will be valuable to your new employer. Concentrate on your current roles and experiences.
7. Lack of enthusiasm – This is your first and sometimes only chance to showcase your personality. Be polite and upbeat. Show your enthusiasm for both the job and the company. Focus on positive topics and achievements.
8. Exaggerating work experience – Recruiters know if you’re exaggerating in interviews by vague responses, missing information and inconsistencies. If there is anything that appears odd, they will ask the same question in various ways. If you are telling the truth your answers will remain consistent.
9. Not asking questions – Having no questions indicates that you have not thought much about the position. Prepare at least three questions to ask the interviewer. One of the most effective questions to ask is: “What do you think my biggest challenge would be in this position?” You can discover if the interviewer has any concerns about you and can address these there and then.
10. Arriving late – Nothing makes a worse impression. If you can’t turn up on time for the interview, what would you do as an employee? If there’s even the remotest chance that weather or traffic might be a problem, leave early just to be sure.
11. Poor presentation – A limp handshake, not making eye contact, chewing gum and clock watching are all a big turn off. A lot of interviewers make up their minds in the first two minutes and spend the remaining 28 re-enforcing their judgment. First impressions count! The best way to be aware of your interview body language and the way you are coming across is to practice in front of a mirror. This way you can be confident that you are sending the right message in your job interview.
12. Treating the receptionist rudely – The receptionist is the first person you’ll meet in the company and they often take you to the interview. The interviewer will usually ask their opinion of you after you leave.
13. Asking about benefits or salary – You have a right to know about the benefits package you’ll be offered, but chances are the interviewer will bring it up on his/her own. If this doesn’t happen, you can broach the subject when salary negotiations begin.
14. Building a rapport with the interviewer – If the interviewer seems all business, don’t attempt to loosen him/her up with a joke or story. Be succinct and businesslike. If the interviewer is personable, try discussing his/her interests. Also pay attention to the interviewer’s body language. They might be sending you subtle signals with how they act that you can use to your advantage. You ideally want the interviewer to be doing the same things you are like maintaining eye contact, nodding, smiling, leaning forward or sitting relaxed.
15. Talking about ‘we’ – When you are describing your experiences stay focused on you, talk about what you did, not what ‘John’ or ‘we’ did. After all it is you going for that job not your entire team and interviewers want to know what your specific role in achieving the desired result was.