Thursday, October 24, 2013

Don’t Lie But Don’t Be Shy: Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters

Don't be shy
on your resume!
A solid resume and cover letter are important for your job search. Notice I didn’t say they need to be perfect. Although resumes and cover letters are significant for job hunt success, please don’t agonize over them. Why? Because you’ll get hired only through job interviews. A good resume can help you get a phone call from an interested employer, but it’s unlikely that a great resume will get you hired if you flub the job interview.
As a shy or introverted job seeker, it’s likely you have strong writing and organizational skills, so your job search material probably is going to be better than average.

That said, here are a few quick but critical tips to keep in mind when writing your resume and cover letter:
  • Quantify your accomplishments and skills. Use numbers and percentages when you can.
  • Include information that shows you are problem solver who takes ownership of his or her work.
  • Do more than one version of your resume. Don’t make employers guess how your skills fit their needs. Take the time to tailor your resume to each job opening and target job.
  • Include key words from job ads to help automated systems find you.
  • Keep your resume current. Volunteer, take classes, freelance, consult, find part-time work, blog, learn social media, and do anything else you can to enhance your job skills.
  • Don’t lie but don’t be shy. Tell the truth on your resume, but now is not the time to underplay your accomplishments and skills.
  • Avoid listing references on your resume. Instead, add a brief endorsements section to your resume. These endorsements can be quotes from people who love your work, such as comments that others have published about you on LinkedIn or quotes from past job reviews.
  • Proofread your job search correspondence. Don’t rely on spell-check. Ask a detail-oriented friend to proofread your resume as well.
  • Be as concise as possible. I think it’s OK to have a two-page resume, but make sure it’s easy to read. I’d avoid more than two pages because hiring managers have very little time.
  • In cover letters, be sure to go beyond “my resume is enclosed.” Summarize how your key skills fit the employer’s needs to catch attention.
  • Include an action-oriented ending in your cover letters by saying how and when you will follow up.
A good cover letter and resume are the pillars of any job search, especially because you will be applying for jobs online and will need to be chosen by automated systems as a first step in the hiring process. But once human eyes see your job search materials, proving that you have the background to get the job done is all you need to do to get to the next step: the job interview!

Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Leave a Professional Voicemail in Your Job Search

How to Leave Professional Voicemail in Your Job Search--Career Action Blog
Leave a professional
in your job search!
I’m always amazed by the poor voicemail messages left by many professional people. Here are examples of the errors people make when leaving voicemail messages:
  • Not speaking clearly
  • Speaking too quickly
  • Not properly identifying themselves by name and (if applicable) by organization
  • Not stating the reason for their call
  • Not leaving a phone number with area code
  • Not stating the best time to call back
  • Being unprofessional in tone and approach

These mistakes cause many problems by making it difficult for the person you called to
  • Know who you are
  • Understand why you called
  • Discern how and when to get back to you
  • Prioritize a return call amid other demands of the day
  • Prepare for a return call by having the necessary information or an appropriate response at hand
  • Regard you as a professional

So why do people leave bad voicemail messages? Perhaps they are rushed, are trying to multitask, are nervous, are taken off guard by needing to leave a message, or are not clear about the purpose of their call. They do not put themselves in the other person’s shoes and realize just how busy he or she may be. The person you called may get many voicemails. The person isn’t waiting for your call and doesn’t always know who you are. A lack of clarity and detail in your voicemail may confuse the person you are calling or result in the call not being returned.

As a shy or introverted job seeker, your inclination when needing to leave a voicemail message is to get it over with quickly. So you may be prone to speaking quickly, not leaving all the needed information for a person to return your call, and sounding unprofessional. When you are leaving a voicemail as part of your job search, you may kill your chances of getting hired if you aren’t clear and professional.

To leave good voicemail messages during your job hunt, whether to a hiring manager, human resources person, networking contact, and others, always be prepared and take the following steps:

1. Think through the purpose of your call. Are you following up on a resume? Are you returning a call to set up an interview? Are you trying to set up an informational interview? Jot down the reason for your call. You may wish to write a little script to help with nervousness.

2. Decide how you want to identify yourself. Is your name alone sufficient? Consider adding information, such as “I am the job candidate you called this morning” or “I am Joe Smith’s colleague, and he suggested I call about your job opening for an accountant.”

3. Think about how and when the person can best reach you. Leave your phone number, including area code, and state the best times to call back. You may also state that you will follow up the voicemail with an email if you have the person’s email address.

4. Practice three scenarios before making the call. First scenario: What will you say if the person answers? Second scenario: What will you say if you get voicemail instead? Third scenario: What will you say if someone else answers the phone?

5. Get ready to make the call. Calm any jitters by breathing deeply, getting to a quiet location to avoid background noise and distractions, having your purpose in mind, gathering any notes and a pen, and remembering to sound upbeat and professional. All of these points will help to allay your shyness or introversion.

6. Then call!

If you follow the above steps, I know you will leave great voicemail messages and make a good impression. You will have a leg up on other job seekers.

What if the person doesn’t return your voicemail? Swallow your fear and try again! Also send a follow-up email if you have the person’s email address.

What tips do you have for leaving good voicemails? Please let me know.

Friday, October 4, 2013

When Job Searching Stalls

As jobless days drag on, you are probably feeling desperate and hopeless. Here are three quick ways to get back on track in your job hunt.
When Job Searching Stalls [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Have no idea how to get your
job search back on track?

1.     Create a job search schedule. Be honest. Is job searching your top priority? Are you using your time wisely to reach out to employers, to keep your skills up to date, and to find ways to stay motivated? Or are you cleaning the house, running errands, and watching TV or surfing the Web? Create a daily job search schedule to get back on track. The more time you put into your job hunt, the more likely you are to get interviews and get hired.

2.     Pinpoint your top skills--and then contact employers who need those skills. What are your best skills? How can your skills help employers? Once you know your best skills, it’s easier to contact companies and describe how you can benefit the business: “Mr./Ms. Employer, Here's what I can do for you.” Introverts have many special strengths that employers value, including attention to detail, good writing skills, patience, and strong thinking skills.

3.     Take advantage of free job search services.  Are you attending job search workshops at your local American Job Center? Did you graduate from a program or a college that has a career center?  Are you using the library and the Web for employer research? You may be shy or introverted, but you don’t have to go it alone.

What other ways can you put your job search in gear? Think about it and let me know!