Saturday, May 6, 2017

Open Your Eyes to 5 Job Seeker Blind Spots

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

As a job seeker, you may have blind spots that prevent you from getting job interviews. Although you may feel you are doing everything you can in your job hunt, you may have areas where you need improvement but don’t see it. Ask yourself these five questions to uncover your job search blind spots:

Open Your Eyes to Job Seeker Blind Spots [Shy Job Seeker Blog]

  1. Do I apply for jobs only posted online? Many job openings can be applied for only online. But numerous jobs can be found in other ways. You are missing out if you don’t network by asking people you know if they are aware of job openings and contacting employers of interest who may not have posted all of their openings yet. Also be sure to look for openings beyond the big job boards. Check out sites focused on specific fields, consult your alumni and professional associations, and research smaller organizations. In addition, pay attention to your local business news and contact companies that appear to be expanding and hiring or are making plans to do so. Also see my post, "50 Other Ways to Find Job Openings."
  2. Do I use the same resume and cover letter for every job application? Although it takes a little time and effort to tailor your job search materials to an employer’s requirements, it is important that employers see how you can fulfill their needs. Study job ads and add to your resume the terminology and keywords that the employer uses. This approach will help you get through automated screening systems that will toss your resume if it doesn’t include specific keywords. See my related post, "Customize Your Resume in 15 Minutes," for more help.
  3. Do I apply for just about any job? If you apply for any and every job, you will get worn out and will not get too much interest. Employers want employers who can fill their needs. Narrow your focus and apply just for the jobs that suit your background and skills. You will be more quickly called for an interview if you target your job hunt.
  4. Am I informal and casual in my job applications? Although informality has become more common in everyday communication, your business communications, especially during the job search, should be more formal and professional. Your resume, cover letter, emails, and phone calls should be devoid of all lowercase proper nouns, all capitalized words, slangy acronyms, unprofessional email addresses, and unprofessional voicemail messages.
  5. Am I a social media mess? Many employers will research potential employees online. Be sure they won’t find anything inappropriate or unprofessional about you.

Spend some time thinking about your possible job-seeking blind spots, including the ones above. Then make an effort to address them to get hired more quickly. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

How to Answer Weird Job Interview Questions

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

Is it just me, or do employers seem to enjoy asking weird questions in job interviews? Most employers aren’t psychologists, so I doubt that they are trying to analyze you, although that is the feeling job seekers get from strange questions.

Employers may be trying to gain insights into your personality and demeanor. In asking odd questions, employers want to see what you’ll say, whether you can remain calm and pleasant, whether you’ll squirm or stutter, and whether you can think on your feet.

How to Answer Weird Job Interview Questions [Shy Job Seeker Blog]

So job seekers should not only prepare answers to common job interview questions, they should be ready to be asked just about anything. Here are a few job interview points to remember, plus tips for answering unexpected, unrelated, and just plain bizarre job interview questions.

  • Expect strange questions. What is your favorite word? What animal would you like to be and why? Which superpower do you wish you had? Tell me the title of a song you’d like to write. How many basketballs would fit in this room? If you could be any food, what would you be and why? What would be the title of your autobiography? So plan for oddball job interview questions. Then prepare for them and stay calm when they happen.
  • Take a breath and control your body language. When a crazy question comes your way, take a breath, smile, and stay in control. Avoid eye-rolling, sighs, and nervous laughter. Don’t say what you may be thinking, such as “What a dumb question,” or “How is that relevant?”
  • Have an answer for strange questions. Your answers should all have the same effect: Letting the employer know you will get the job done well and dependably. So what's my favorite animal? "A worker bee, because although it’s an insect, it’s always getting the job done." My favorite word? "Accomplishment, because that’s what I strive for." Superpower? "Do the work of two people." Song I’d like to write? “I Work Work Work Until It’s Done.” Get the idea? Always find a way to bring your answer back to the job. You don’t need a brilliant answer. Just give a simple statement to satisfy the employer’s curiosity, and then hope the interviewer will move on.

If you find the employer is asking too many strange questions, you may want to evaluate whether you want to work there. In my experience, weird interview questions may foreshadow odd work environments and unsatisfying work experiences.

How have you handled peculiar job interview questions? Please let me know! Thanks for reading today.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

3 Fast Resume Facelifts

3 Fast Resume Facelifts [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Give your resume a fast facelift.
If you are--or soon will be--job searching, be sure to spruce up your resume. Here are three tips for a fast resume facelift.
  • Update your jobs, education, and activities: Be sure to add your current role, plus new education, awards, professional affiliations, and volunteer activities. Drop old jobs, especially if they are not relevant to the work you are seeking now. If you have important work experience that is more than 10-15 years old, remove the dates and combine it into a “Related Experience” section. Delete references to old software and technology. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information.
  • Hone your summary section: At the top of your resume, stress your key skills, including those you have developed since your last resume update. Skim help-wanted ads to find the skills and background employers are seeking in jobs that interest you, and add these abilities and experiences to your resume if you possess them. Incorporate new technology skills and new terminology for your field as appropriate.
  • Proofread and proofread again: When you make changes to your resume, you risk creating typos and other errors. Be sure to go beyond spell-check and read your resume forward, backward, and forward again. Make sure your punctuation, capitalization, and spacing are consistent. Consider asking someone you know with good writing skills to proof it for you.
Of course much more goes into creating a good resume than the three points above. But at least your resume will be fresh and current for your job hunt.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

When to Reject a Potential Employer

How do you feel when an employer contacts you about a job opening for which you’ve applied? Most people experience a variety of emotions, including hope, excitement, and even anxiety. Many job hunters are eager to get hired, so when an employer gets in touch, it is a good sign that the process is moving forward. This is especially true because job seekers usually don't hear back from many employers. 

When to Reject a Potential Employer [Shy Job Seeker Blog]

Sometimes, however, it is the job seeker who backs out of the hiring process. Throughout my career, I have said no to several potential jobs before receiving a job offer and sometimes even before a job interview. Why did I do this? How do you know if you should back out of the hiring process for a particular job? Here are my experiences, which may help you decide whether to continue pursuing a job opening:
  • One employer sent me a full job description before setting up a job interview. After reviewing the six-page job description, I realized the role would involve many tasks I would dread. The job would also involve late nights and weekends. I could have interviewed and learned the extent of these responsibilities, but my gut feeling was I didn’t want to waste my time or the employer’s time when our expectations were so different from the start.
  • During a phone interview, an employer told me the salary for the job. He said there was no wiggle room, no negotiation. It was the final amount. The pay was nowhere near what I expected for my background, my skills, and the job's responsibilities. So I backed out before pursuing the job further.
  • When I interviewed for one job, the supervisor didn’t ask many questions, couldn’t answer my questions, and was disorganized. Although she seemed nice enough, I couldn’t get a handle on the job or exactly what she wanted me to do. I removed myself from consideration because it was a frustrating waste of time.
  • When applying to a blind ad, I knew a job was in my city, but I didn’t know for which company or where it was located. When the employer called, I learned the job was in an industry that didn’t interest me, and it was on the other side of town, which would involve a long commute.

Now some people may think I should have followed through on these job possibilities until receiving an offer or a rejection. But I couldn’t see putting in the time and effort. I said no and focused my energy on finding the right opportunity.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Top 10 Shy Job Seeker Posts of All Time

Top 10 Shy Job Seeker Posts [Shy Job Seeker Blog]

This article represents my 101st Shy Job Seeker post. I hope this blog has been helpful to your job hunt and career over the past few years. In honor of 100 Shy Job Seeker posts, I present the following list of the top 10 Shy Job Seeker entries. The number 1 post is the most popular and most read article.
  1. Don’t Lie But Don’t Be Shy: Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters
  2. 12 Ways to Make Your Layoff Pay Off
  3. 5 Ways to Energize Your Job Hunt Now
  4. How to Leave a Professional Voicemail in Your Job Search
  5. 10 Grim Gaffes of Job Searching
  6. 15 Ways to Boost Your Job Search Mindset
  7. 50 Other Ways to Find Job Openings
  8. 5 Ways You Are Eliminating Yourself in the Job Search
  9. Are You Making a Good First Impression in Your Job Search?
  10. The Only Unemployment Rate That Matters
I plan to continue writing Shy Job Seeker posts to inform, guide, and encourage you in an effective employment search and in successful career management. Thank you to all my readers, especially to those who have shared posts with others and through social media, as well as to those who have provided comments and feedback.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

6 Job Search Resolutions to Make Now

Many people want to lose weight, eat better, or improve their personal finances in the new year. But if you are a job seeker, consider resolutions that will shorten your job search and help you land a job that’s a great fit. Here are six job search resolutions to make and implement for a happy new year and a happy new job.

6 Job Search Resolutions to Make Now [Shy Job Seeker]
Make these six job search resolutions now for a better and faster job hunt.
  1.  I will define what I want to do. It is difficult to job hunt when you are open to anything. “I’ll do anything” is a death knell for your job search. Why? You waste huge amounts of time applying for jobs that don’t suit you. Employers will take one look at your application and keep going. They want workers who match their needs. So figure out what you are good at, what your skills are, and what you can bring to an organization. If you need help making this determination, use the tools at MyNextMove.
  2.  I will identify what is important to me in a job. Even when you know the type of job you’re seeking, it’s helpful to be aware of your career values so you can find the right opportunities and know whether to accept a job. Career values include issues like high pay, benefits, work environment, location, work schedule, physical activity, company size, amount of travel, independence, relationships, advancement potential, and much more. So make a list of the points that you know are important to you in a job, and use it to weigh potential jobs. For example, if you want a job within 10 miles of home with health insurance and no weekend hours, be sure to keep those points in mind so you don’t end up in a job that will make you unhappy.
  3.   I will not use online job applications as my sole job search method. Although many job openings are published online, remember that many people are applying for them. So to improve your chances, you must use other, more active job search techniques, such as networking and contacting employers who may need your skills, even if they haven’t advertised an opening. By using these informal job hunt methods, employers will get to know you and may hire you when an opening becomes available—without ever advertising.
  4.   I will let everyone know I am job searching. Never hesitate to let your family, friends, former colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances know you are looking for work. They may know of someone who needs your skills and experience and may be willing to refer you to an employer. See my post, 50 Other Ways to Find Job Openings, for additional suggestions on tracking down job leads.
  5. I will identify and contact employers of interest. Who are your ideal employers? If you know which companies or types of organizations interest you, seek out someone who supervises your area of interest by searching online for a name or asking people in your network for a name. Then contact that person by email or phone and explain who you are and how you can help the organization. Often, you will make a good impression for being proactive. If you get rejected or are told that no openings are available, either move on or ask to be kept in mind for future positions.
  6.  I will tailor my resume and cover letter to fit the job. Writing resumes and cover letters is quite time consuming, but if you tailor your job search materials to the job opening, employers can more easily see why you are qualified and how you will help the organization succeed adn grow. Be sure to add keywords, which are the specific skills, training, and experience an employer wants and will be looking for in your resume. Customizing your job search correspondence will also help you stand out. For suggestions on how to customize your resume effectively (and quickly), see my post, Customize Your Resume in 15 Minutes. 
If you make—and keep—these six job search resolutions, it’s likely you will get the right job for you in the new year, and sooner rather than later.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Free Resource Helps Transitioning Service Members and Veterans Find Civilian Jobs

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

In honor of all veterans this Veterans Day, I am highlighting a free U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) resource that helps military veterans find civilian jobs and that may be useful to other job seekers as well.

Transition from Military to Civilian Workforce Guide [Shy Job Seeker Blog]The resource is titled Transition from Military to Civilian Workforce Participant Guide.

It is a workbook that the USDOL Veterans’ Employment and Training Service uses in three-day workshops. The classes teach transitioning service members the job-search skills they need to land civilian employment today.

Topics in the workbook include identifying work skills and values, using social media in the job hunt, writing a resume and cover letter, finding opportunities, networking, contacting employers, interviewing, following up, and negotiating a salary. The resource covers the unique situation of veterans, such as understanding the difference between military and civilian work environments and transferring a military background to a civilian workplace.

Even if you are not a veteran, I suggest you take a look at the guide. Although much of the tool is focused on veterans, you may find just the help you need to move your job search forward.

You can find the workbook here or as an eBook on Amazon.

Thank you to all transitioning service members and military veterans for their service!