Friday, November 14, 2014

10 Grim Gaffes of Job Searching

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog 

It takes effort to conduct a successful job search. If you jump into your job hunt without thinking, or if you get lazy in executing your job search, it may take a long time for you to get hired. Although a lot can go wrong while job searching, some job hunt blunders are deadly to your progress. What are these mistakes? I'm here to help! But rather than take the easy way out and call the following list the “10 Deadly Sins of Job Searching,” I instead am calling it the “10 Grim Gaffes of Job Searching” to be more original. So here they are:
10 Grim Gaffes of Job Search [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Avoid these 10 grim gaffes of job searching.

  1. Not knowing your skills and what you want to do. If you don’t know what type of work you are qualified for, are good at, and enjoy, spend some time thinking about it. What type of activity have you liked in the past, even if it wasn’t paid work? What type of work is easy for you? What can you do better than most people? Try to define what you want to do so you can focus your job search and emphasize your best skills in your resume, cover letter, and job interviews. Also try this free online tool from the U.S. Department of Labor to help you figure out your best career options:
  2. Procrastinating. Do you want to find a new job but keep putting it off? Procrastination is natural to many people, but it will weaken your skills, your motivation, and your network. Your job search may take a long time, so don’t make it longer by waiting to get started.
  3. Being disorganized. How much time will you put into your job search every day or week? What will you do with that time? How will you keep track of jobs you’ve applied for? How will you know when to follow up with employers? If you can’t answer these questions, use a calendar and create a checklist to help you plan your job search activities, which should go beyond applying for jobs online endlessly. What sort of activities? You want to talk with people who can connect you to employers, research potential employers and jobs, refine your cover letter and resume for each opportunity, build your job skills, practice interview questions, and follow up with employers. The more time you spend on these activities, the sooner you will find a job, so get organized and methodical in your approach.
  4. Making errors in your resume and cover letter. Please reread your resume and cover letter forward and backward—literally. Reading your job search materials backward may help uncover missing words, misspellings, and other mistakes because you are looking at everything with fresh eyes. Be sure you’ve used words correctly. Confirm that you have changed the employer’s name and other details in your cover letter. Run spell-check but also get a friend or two with good writing and proofreading skills to check your job search correspondence if you’re not good at this yourself.
  5. Applying for everything. Please don’t apply for every job opportunity because you think more is better. You are wasting your time. You are wasting employers’ time. You won’t make it past automated job applicant tracking systems that search for keywords on job skills and qualifications. Focus, focus, focus.
  6. Using the same resume and cover letter for every job opening. If you want to get job interviews, make it easy for employers to see how your qualifications fit their needs. Don’t use the same resume and cover letter for every opening. Instead, take a little time to explain how you can meet their specific needs. Analyze job ads and discern what an employer’s problem is and how you can be solve it. Sometimes ads will repeat the need for candidates to possess certain skills. This is a sure sign that you must have this skill. It’s possibly a sign that someone who held the job previously didn’t have the skill or failed in that area. So reassure the employer in writing that you can do it by giving examples and statistics (such as number of years, dollar amounts, etc.). 
  7. Not researching employers. By learning about employers and their needs and plans, you can more effectively prove you are the best candidate for a job. For example, if Company Z is expanding its call center, you know it will be interested in someone with solid customer service experience. You will stand out if you clearly express your skills and knowledge in this area.
  8. Not contacting employers directly. You don’t always have to wait for a job to be advertised. If you like a certain company, learn about its needs and call or write the organization and express your interest in working there. I once got a job this way! Some people still knock on doors and get hired the old-fashioned way, especially in smaller organizations.
  9. Winging it in job interviews. Be prepared for job interviews! Think about what employers may ask you. Be ready to answer questions tough questions, such as “Why do you want to work here?” and “Tell me about yourself.” Make a list of questions for the interviewer. Dress professionally. Don’t just go in and see what happens. Be clear-minded and focused on the fact that you want to get hired. Be ready to prove to an employer that you are the best person for the job.
  10. Forgetting to follow up. Be sure to thank the interviewer and send a thank-you note or email. Then contact the employer again and restate your interest in the job. If you don’t follow up, the employer may think you don’t care.
Be sure to avoid these 10 grim gaffes in the job search. Otherwise your job hunt may take forever, and that would be a sin.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How 10 Seconds Can Improve Your Job Search, Career, and Life

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog 

How 10 Seconds Can Improve Your Job Search and Life [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
There’s a simple and fast way to enhance your job search, career, and even your life. Best of all, it takes 10 seconds or less. It’s to say “thank you” in a sincere and meaningful way. Although this action seems to be common sense, in my experience it is not so common.

For example, a past employee has listed me as a job reference on more than 25 job applications over the past eight years as she continues to change jobs and fields. The first time, she asked me to be a reference and thanked me sincerely when I said yes. But since then, she continues to use my name even though I never hear from her any longer. It’s bad job search etiquette to continue using a reference for years without asking. But it’s even worse not to say 
occasionally “thank you—I appreciate the time you put into my job references.”

In another example, I work with business people who request information and project quotes from me. I spend time putting together and sending the requested information in a clear, accurate, and thorough way. Rarely do I get an acknowledgement or a thank you. Sometimes someone will respond in a terse manner, which to me can be worse than no response. Even rarer are the people who respond in a polite way, perhaps commenting on the helpfulness of the information or mentioning their next steps in making a decision about the project under consideration. Although I may not end up doing business with this last group of people, I feel as if I have dealt with professional human beings. I estimate that it takes the kind, professional responders about 10 seconds to type an email that would make me want to go out of my way to help them if we end up doing business together.

Just the other day, the tables were turned, and I asked a vendor, Steve, for a complicated quote that needed to be done quickly. When Steve sent me the quote, I didn
t just type a haphazard “thanks.” I took about 10 seconds and replied, “Thanks, Steve. This information is very helpful to me. I appreciate the time and research you put into it. I will be back in touch soon.” I hope Steve sensed my sincerity and gratefulness. I may need to knock on his door again for information, and I value his assistance.

Many employers report that job seekers rarely send thank-you notes after job interviews, even though it’s such a fast and simple way to stand out. I recall interviewing job candidates who didn’t thank me for my time at the end of the interview.

I’ve learned that a genuine thank you has another benefit: in respecting and appreciating others by saying thanks, I feel better about myself and happier at work and in my life. I’m not saying you need to roll out an obsequious thank-you red carpet. But the next time you need to thank someone in your job search or life, take 10 seconds and make it a little special. Be sure to use the person's name and add specific, relevant details to your thank you. Giving a special thank you should be painless for introverts and shy people while job searching and in everyday life.

Thank you for reading my blog. I enjoy writing it and hope it helps you in your job hunt.