by Jillian Kramer
Your Christmas wish list isn’t the only list you need to read and check twice. A resume checklist—a list of must-dos for your resume—can be essential for job search success.
“Most of the time, people just dive head-first into the resume, with a purpose of including everything and the kitchen sink,” according to Dawn Rasmussen, certified resume writer and founder of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. But, “without a checklist, people often end up including non-essential information and forget critical things,” she points out.
With a resume checklist, you can avoid mistakes and “provide a potential employer with the exact information that they are seeking,” Rasmussen says. But what should go on it?
Glassdoor has created an easy-peasy guide to help you craft the perfect resume, along with a checklist you can read and tick off as you write. But below, you’ll find the TL;DR version, in which we and Rasmussen walk you through the essentials of any good resume checklist.
According to Glassdoor’s guide, you shouldn’t go overboard with intricate or decorative resume templates. Instead, stick to styles with sufficient white space and an 11-point font.
What’s more, Rasmussen recommends placing your target job title at the top of a resume. “Every resume should have a target job title headline at the top of the document,” she says. “This acts as an introduction so the reader’s expectations are shaped as to what they can anticipate reading about. This job title headline acts as a clarifying driver and a lynchpin.”
List your experience.
In your experience section, you must include—at a minimum—the following information:
But perhaps more importantly, you must find a way to quantify the experience you list out. Our guide encourages you to use concrete data points whenever possible, and Rasmussen agrees. “It is very tempting to do the old copy and paste of your current job description into your employment experience, but a critical element of success here is to demonstrate the ‘so what?’ by creating concise bulleted sentences that take tasks and put them into practical application with measurable results,” she says. “For example, you don’t want to say you met with clients. It’s much better to say, ‘generated $50,000 surge in new revenue after meeting with clients to better understand how company products could fit their needs.’” In other words, “complete the thought of what you want to say and provide the impact not the task.”
Include other positions.
Our guide advises you to include all your positions—even those that may not directly relate to the job for which you are applying. Why? Because those jobs can still be used to show off the skills you have and will presumably use in your new job and at your new place of work.
Plus, “career movement is critical for job seekers,” Rasmussen says. “Employers like to hire movers and shakers, so how are you demonstrating traction? Make sure that professional development is on your resume checklist so you can show employers that you have current job knowledge, minimal skill gaps, and are well-poised to contribute thought leadership that will propel companies into meeting future clients’ needs as well as industry changes.”
When you’re writing or editing your resume, make sure to check the job listing for relevant keywords you can add to your document. It’s important for those keywords to make their way onto resume because many companies use tech that scans applications for keywords. And if the tech can’t find the words it’s looking for, your resume could end up in the trash.
Make it human-friendly, too.
While you need to optimize your resume for technology, as described above, you also need to make it human-friendly by “putting the things most relevant and interesting to this job up top,” the Glassdoor guide recommends. “Remember, hiring managers spend an average of six seconds looking at your resume, so you want to [very, very] quickly catch their eye.”
Revise—and revise again.
The last thing on your checklist should be to reread your work, checking for errors in both grammar and spelling, and any missed opportunities to show off your skills. Even resume writers edit their work. “Resume writers must embrace perfection yet they are also human and therefore prone to making mistakes,” Rasmussen says. “The best words of advice I received about writing a resume then editing was to read the document from the bottom up. We are trained to skim from top down, and that’s where our eyes can completely skip over or block out glaring issues. Reading the resume from the top up is challenging though.”
You may also want to have another person—a trusted friend, colleague, career coach, or mentor—read over your work before submitting it. “When you have read something a thousand times, a fresh pair of eyes can help zero in on mistakes,” Rasmussen points out.
Click here for a job seekers toolkit for resumes from Glassdoor: https://glassdoor2.lookbookhq.com/get-job-toolkit/get-job-toolkit-resume
Unfortunately, rejection is an unavoidable aspect of the job search. With so many different companies looking for different qualities, you cannot be everything to everyone — and as such, you’re going to get rejected (or even more likely, hear radio silence), every now and then.
But if you’ve sent out 10 or 20 applications and haven’t heard a word in response, it’s time to stop thinking of it as a series of flukes and start thinking of it as a pattern. More likely than not, there’s a reason you’re not hearing back. The good news? It’s often entirely in your power to fix what’s wrong.
In the spirit of radical candor, here are a few of the most common reasons you’re not hearing back from recruiters and hiring managers, and what you can do to pivot to a winning strategy.
1. You’re Not Being Thoughtful About Where You Apply
In their first-ever job search, most people take a “spray-and-pray” approach, which involves applying to just about every position that catches their eye. While many quickly learn that this isn’t the best strategy, others never grow out of it — perhaps they lucked out with this tactic early on and mistakenly credited their success to it. But this game plan will burn you sooner rather than later, cautions Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.
“Individuals in the job search often send out resumes indiscriminately. They have been programmed to believe that more is better,” Cohen says. “But if the fit is imperfect, no matter how many are sent, the resume will be ignored — and, despite the fact that it was wrong from the start, it still feels like a rejection.”
Sure, you may be excited about a job, but that isn’t reason enough to believe it’s a good fit — especially if you don’t have the relevant skills and experience needed to succeed.
“If you don’t meet at least the minimum qualifications of the role, your resume may be screened out of the pool… You don’t necessarily have to meet every single listed qualification on the job description, but you do have to demonstrate that you are a good match for the role,” says Mary Grace Gardner, career strategist at The Young Professionista. The fix for this is easy: review job descriptions carefully and don’t apply if you don’t think you’re quite there yet.
On the flipside, you may not be the right fit for the role because you’re overqualified. “If your experience far exceeds what the job requires, your resume may be pushed to the side because hiring managers may assume they can’t afford to hire you,” Gardner shares.
If that’s the case, you have two options: either “look for positions that require experience and skills either equal to or slightly above what you have,” or, if you’re willing to accept a more junior role, “make sure to highlight only the relevant parts of your skills and experience for the specific job you are applying to,” Gardner suggests.
2. Your Resume Needs an Overhaul
To paraphrase Occam’s razor, the simplest explanation is usually the best one. Sure, it’s possible that your application slipped through the cracks or that the recruiter just can’t recognize a good resume when they see it, but the odds of that happening over and over again are slim. When you constantly hear rejections, it’s time to take a good look at the most important document in your job search: your resume.
There are many reasons your resume may not be up to par. One of the most common reasons could be that you aren’t using the right keywords.
“Resumes are scanned nowadays for keywords and phrases to demonstrate fit. If a resume is generic in its content and tries to cover as many bases as possible, it will lack the precision that is essential to demonstrate both qualifications and passion,” Cohen says.
In order to prove that you’re a strong contender, “highlight key experiences you’ve had that match the description of the role you’re applying for and make sure to strategically use industry-specific keywords on your resume and cover letter,” Gardner adds. Make sure to tailor this section for each position you apply to.
Other resume mistakes you could be making: typos, failing to demonstrate the impact of your actions, burying the lede, exaggerating, unexplained resume gaps, etc. If you want to avoid errors like this, share your resume with others — especially any recruiters, HR professionals, resume writers or career coaches you feel comfortable reaching out to — and incorporate their feedback.
3. You’re Not Networking
You might have heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” before. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration — skills and experience matter plenty — it is true that a referral can help you get your foot in the door.
“It’s no secret that the resumes that float to the top of the pile are oftentimes the ones that have a warm connection in the form of a referral from a trusted colleague. For highly competitive roles, there may be thousands of applicants and dozens or even hundreds of people who sound just like you on an application,” Gardner says. “To stand out from the crowd, ask your network of family, friends and colleagues if they know anyone at the company you are applying to. If so, ask if they would be willing to refer you.”
Don’t worry, though — you’re not totally out of luck if you don’t already know somebody at the company.
“Applying online is great, but you also need to follow this up with outreach to the hiring manager or other contacts within the company,” says career coach Angela Copeland. “Taking the time to do something extra will ensure you get noticed.”
A more subtle, but nonetheless powerful, way to network your way into a job is to ask for an informational interview with someone at the company.
“If the informational interview goes well, you can tactfully mention you’ve submitted an application to the company and ask if they have any recommendations as you pursue the role… Having someone with clout vouch for you can dramatically increase your chances of hearing back from a recruiter,” Gardner shares.
Outside of these activities, “focus on building your LinkedIn network, or your social networking tool of choice. The goal is to establish key contacts at desirable companies,” Cohen explains. “Embrace the company by reaching out to multiple points of contact and entry. That is how you will hear about openings and potential opportunities; some that may never reach the posting stage. Plus, these are the folks who will serve as your advocates; lots of companies actually offer incentives for introducing terrific candidates who eventually get hired.”
4. The Company Dropped the Ball
As mentioned before, receiving rejections over and over again is probably an indication that you’re doing something wrong — but if it’s just a select few companies you’re not hearing back from, it’s possible that there are things occurring behind the scenes that you’re not privy to.
“Companies may not fill every role in the way that we picture as job seekers. For example, they may have an internal candidate that’s preselected” but post the position anyway, Copeland says. In cases like these, it might be “standard company policy to keep a position open for some specified period of time” even if they already know they have a strong internal contender, Cohen adds.
Other times, “they may put a position on hold due to budgetary constraints or because the reporting structure has changed. Companies rarely communicate these details to the job seeker,” Copeland says. Still other times, they could just “be slow to process applications. They are filling many positions at one time, with many moving parts.”
The most important part when you encounter roadblocks like these? “Don’t give up hope,” Copeland says. If you’ve verified that you’re doing everything right, “keep applying and eventually, you will begin to receive responses.”
by Julia Malacoff
There’s definitely an art to writing the perfect cover letter, and it’s one that many job seekers don’t take the time to learn. While it does require some effort to get right, once you learn how to write an effective cover letter, it gets easier and easier each time you do it. Here are the biggest cover letter mistakes career coaches and job search pros see, and what they tell their clients to do instead to seal the deal.
1. Regurgitating Your Resume
When candidates don’t know what to write in their cover letter, they often resort to restating their job history. But this isn’t a great tactic. “Remember, the employer already has your resume, so there’s no need to repeat your entire work history,” points out Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume. “Focus on making your career narrative and relevant qualifications crystal clear.” In other words, tell the reader a story about not just your past jobs, but how you got where you are today and why you think this position you’re applying for is the right next step.
It’s also okay to make things a little personal, as opposed to your resume, which should be totally professional. “Your cover letter should not only whet the reader’s appetite, but also add value to your entire job application,” Augustine says. “Use this opportunity to give the reader a sense of your personality. While the resume can be a dry document, your cover letter is your opportunity to imbue your personality so the reader can begin to assess your cultural fit for the organization.”
2. Using a Generic Template Letter
“I often see cover letters that were obviously copied-and-pasted,” says Christopher K. Lee, founder and career consultant at Purpose Redeemed. Basically, you don’t want to use the same cover letter for every job with just the contact name, company name and position title swapped out. “Even when the hiring manager and company name are correct, you can tell that it’s a generic template letter.”
“Instead, take time to review the job listing again and identify the top three things the hiring manager appears to be seeking in an ideal candidate,” Augustine suggests. “Use this information to customize your message. Explain how you are a good fit for the role by summarizing your qualifications based on their requirements. Better yet, open your cover letter with a story that provides proof of your skills the employer cares about most.”
“For an added personal touch, look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn or Twitter,” Lee recommends. If you can find something you have in common, like a school, volunteer organization or hometown, find a way to slip it naturally into your cover letter. “Don’t force this, however — it must be a genuine connection,” he says.
3. Only Talking Up Your Soft Skills
“The worst mistake I see in cover letters is candidates adding too many soft skills rather than focusing on job-related skills,” says Nancy Spivey, a career coach. “Many fill the cover letter with content about how they are reliable, motivated and dependable. Well, let’s hope that you’re reliable, motivated and dependable. Those characteristics are bare minimums that a hiring manager expects from any applicant.” Instead, do your best to set yourself apart by explaining how your hard skills and experience could add value to their organization. “Tell them about your accomplishments with those skills as it relates to the job,” Spivey says.
4. Writing Too Much
“An overly wordy cover letter is a waste of time and a big mistake,” states Jessica Hernandez, an executive resume writer and president and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. Keep the body of your cover letter to 150 words or less, she suggests.
“Employers are pressed for time and simply do not see the value in investing their time reading a lengthy cover letter,” Hernandez says. “Additionally, many employers and recruiters are reading on their mobile devices, so keeping your cover letter brief will ensure it is easier to read… which increases the chances that it actually will be read.”
5. Including Non-Essential Information
The main thing you want to get across in your cover letter is why you’re the right fit for the job. That means everything you include should be specific to the company and the position you’re applying for. “The manager doesn’t need to read about extracurricular activities that are not work-related or about every book you’ve ever read,” Spivey says. “In fact, an applicant that I know had a hiring manager respond to his cover letter once to give him some advice. The manager stated that he had initially thought that the candidate was a close match for the position based on his resume. However, the cover letter had changed his mind because of the way it rambled and included so much unnecessary and irrelevant information.”
6. Not Easing Fears About Relocation
“Out-of-town applicants are typically at the bottom of the list of candidates since the odds of this candidate coming to work for them is less than slim and expensive,” notes Russell Cranford, the owner of Resume Pundits. If you’re applying for a job somewhere far from your current city, be sure to use the cover letter as an opportunity to quash and concerns they might have. “Find a way to connect yourself to the area. Examples could be: You are originally from the area, you have family in the area or your partner/spouse accepted a position in the area,” he says.
7. Not Referencing Next Steps
Don’t miss the opportunity to plant the seed of an interview in the recruiter or hiring manager’s head. “This is one of the oldest sales strategies known to man, but it works,” Cranford says. “Close your cover letter by giving the employer your interview availability. By doing this, the reader automatically thinks in their head, ‘Hmm, what am I doing that day?’ By getting into their mental schedule, you are already penciling yourself in.”
Cranford’s suggested closer: “Based on your requirements and my passion for this position, I feel like I would be an ideal candidate. I am available to speak via phone or in person on Wednesdays and Fridays after 1 p.m. and welcome the opportunity to discuss my candidacy.” According to Cranford, it works like a charm.
by Julia Malacoff
You’ve landed a job offer. Congratulations! Now, you have to decide if you’ll accept it. Occasionally, an offer is so good that the choice is obvious, but most of the time, that’s just not the case. Every position has its benefits and drawbacks, and no two companies are exactly alike, but there are some common questions you should ask yourself and factors you should contemplate before saying yes or no to an offer. Here are six key things to consider.
Step 1: Do a gut check.
Before you think about negotiating or even get into the details, take a moment to consider your initial reaction to the offer and the job itself. “While data is important, you also want to trust your gut,” says Mikaela Kiner, an executive career coach and CEO of uniquelyHR.
“During your interviews, were you hopeful things would work out? Or, would you have been relieved if they chose someone else? Don’t dismiss concerns, even if they were just fleeting thoughts,” she says. Your instinct and intuition about whether or not a job is a good fit are usually right.
Ask yourself how you felt when you first got the offer. Was it excited? Disappointed? Something else? You answer can be incredibly revealing about whether this is the right opportunity for you or not.
Step 2: Ask yourself the big questions.
Before diving into the numbers and other specifics in the offer, you should ask yourself the following important questions, according to Dana Manciagli, a career coach and speaker: Are the tasks and responsibilities of the job something you want to do full time? Did the team and environment you will be working in seem pleasant and safe? What are the sacrifices you’re making by taking this particular job, and are any of those sacrifices things you don’t want to give up?
Basically, you want to be sure that you’re going to be happy with your day-to-day life in this new gig before getting any further along in the process. “If you feel good about your answers, then move along,” Manciagli says. “If not, ask for another meeting to get some questions answered OR communicate it is not the right position and you’ll pass. The key is not to accept or negotiate an offer if you are not willing to work there.”
Step 3: Decide if taking this position will help you advance your career goals.
If you’re job hunting, you’ve probably taken the time to think about what your career goals are. “I recommend my clients make a list of what they are looking for even before they begin searching for a job,” says Amy M. Gardner, Certified Professional Coach with Apochromatik. “If you’ve done that, go back to the list you created and evaluate the offer against the factors you initially listed.” How does this current job offer measure up in terms of opportunity to accomplish these goals?
It’s also key to look beyond financial objectives, Gardner emphasizes. Money is important, but for long-term job happiness, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. The list of questions to contemplate, Gardner says, should include: “Are there enough other areas within the organization that you can have room for advancement, even if your immediate supervisor is there for eternity? Does the company support and encourage employees to continue to learn and grow? Will you be able to get home in time for the non-work things that are important to you? Will your stress level be what you’d like it to be?” If you feel good about the answers to these questions, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Carefully evaluate the salary and benefits package.
Obviously, compensation matters. “It’s important that your needs are met by your job,” says Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr, an automated recruiting platform. “When evaluating an offer, you need to look at the entire offer, not just the salary.”
Often, the base salary alone does not provide the whole compensation picture. “It may be that the salary is $5,000 lower than you had hoped for, but the full package being offered counterbalances it,” Miklusak explains. “What does the total package contribute to your personal and financial needs? Sometimes, a job that at first glance looks like it’s paying less can actually provide more financial security than a job with a higher salary.” Take into account benefits like subsidized child care, bonus opportunities, and health care options.
Step 5: Understand who you’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis.
This is easier said than done, but it’s important, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with your new team. While it’s tricky to execute, if you can find out more about your future team, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision. “It’s important to ask yourself whether you will be working with the kind of people who will engage, excite, and challenge you—without driving you crazy,” Gardner says.
“Whether and how you can get to know people in advance varies depending on whether you are in the same city as the employer, what your role will be, and how big the group is. But do what you can to get a sense of your future team, because they will have a huge impact on both your job satisfaction and your success,” she adds.
Step 6: Decide whether the company is really somewhere you want to work.
If you’ve made it this far, the main thing left to determine is how well the company fits into your life, not just in terms of location and size, but also in terms of company culture. “Ask everyone you can about company culture—not just their brand, but what it’s really like to work there day to day,” Kiner recommends. “No one is going to say ‘Our culture is toxic,’ but you can figure it out through a combination of questions and observations.”
“Ask about what you’d look for in a healthy work environment. That might be access to training, how often people get promoted from within, flexibility, recognition, or teams that celebrate together,” she says. “If too many of these are missing, it’s a red flag.”
Another thing to consider is why the job is open in the first place. “I’m always cautious when a position is open because someone left the company,” says Laura Handrick, HR Analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com. “If HR tells you the company is growing, that’s great! If the former person whose job you’re replacing moved up in the organization, that’s also a positive sign. But if you see job openings at this company all the time, it may be a telltale sign that it’s not a great place to work.” In other words, turnover can be an important clue as to what it’s really like to work somewhere—one you shouldn’t ignore.
by Kanika Tolver
As an Information Technology professional for the last 14 years, I have discovered a passion for applying to 100% remote jobs. Most of these remote-friendly companies are not in my local Washington D.C. area. Therefore, the entire interview process is done via video using Skype, Google hangout or Zoom. Even companies in my local area have decided to utilize video technologies to pre-screen employees before they request a face-to-face interview. The gift and curse of conducting interviews via video conferencing are that you don’t have to get all dressed up, but you have to sell your personality, experience, and knowledge on camera.
Throughout my career, I have conducted over 20 video job interviews with federal government agencies and private sector companies. I’ve learned a lot about how to sell myself by simply being authentic and adapting to the energy of the interview panel. Because I have been successful, I know that you can sell yourself into the job of your dreams and never step foot in a corporate office.
1. Get on Camera in a Bright and Quiet Place
When I perform my video job interviews I always make sure I am in a quiet place in my house on in a private office at a coworking space. I make sure to turn off my cell phone and music so there are no distractions. Also, since you are going on camera via your laptop or desktop, make sure you are in a room with good lighting, so the interview panel can clearly see your face.
2. Be Presentable, But Don’t Over Dress
For all of my video job interviews, I dress casually. I usually iron a long sleeve blue denim button down top. I make sure my hair looks perfect, apply light makeup with a neutral lip gloss, and wear my red eyeglasses, which is my signature cool geek look. It is not necessary to dress up in business attire for a video interview because they will only see your you face and chest. Not to mention, you want them to see your authentic self and fancy clothes may be a distraction.
3. Bring Authentic Energy on Camera
Now that I am dressed comfortably in my casual cool geek attire, it’s time to sell the real me. I always do my best to provide a warm welcome at the beginning of the interview. Also, since I have a big personality, I try to convey my excitement, passion and drive throughout the entire interview. Most companies are looking for a culture fit so it’s important to let the interview panel know who you are on camera without being fake. Please be the real you, so you can easily describe your expertise and past work experience.
4. Clearly Answer the Interview Questions
I love answering job interview questions in the form of storytelling and technical explanations. When I am asked about my past career roles, I briefly describe each role and give them a small snapshot of what I did and what I accomplished. I am always prepared to answer scenario-based questions, clearly describing how I would develop and execute a technical solution. You have to sell your knowledge on camera by making good eye contact, smiling as you respond and projecting your voice so they can hear you. It’s important for you to ask non-typical questions at the end of the interview. You want to ask questions that will amaze them about their company, technical processes and the role. Always make sure you stand out from the other candidates.
5. Follow-Up with a Thank You Email
Once the video interview is over, you want to send them a thank you email to display your interest in the role. Most of my video interviews involved more than 1 round with a new interviewer. So, I always send a thank you email within 24 hours of the interview. Always display your excitement for the role you interviewed for when you compose your thank you email. Lastly, make sure you sell why you would be a good fit role in the thank you email.
In the future, video job interviews will continue to become more popular. Please be ready to sell your personal and career brand on camera. Most good companies are looking for authentic personalities, strong career experiences and solid technical knowledge.
Kanika Tolver is a former highly-decorated government employee turned rebel entrepreneur and Certified Professional Coach. She is a serial innovator who’s fueled by an extraordinary commitment to social change and to helping others create their own “epic lives.” Tolver helps individuals establish themselves at the “architect of their own life” to realize career, business, life and spiritual success — all in a way that promotes restoration, balance and nurturing one’s authentic self. Her services include career coaching and technology coaching.
They know you're nervous. They want to see how you deal with it.
John Boitnott, Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor
I’ve talked with a lot of hiring managers over the years and most of them say they hope every interview goes well. The faster they find the right person for the job, the sooner they can move on to tackling other pressing goals.
But the reality is, only a handful of candidates crush the interview process. Few applicants prepare for it properly, leaving their professional fate to hiring managers who must often choose among a group of equally qualified candidates.
What you want to do is put the hiring manager in a position where making you an offer is a no-brainer. Follow the four strategies I outline here to do just that.
Embody the organization’s culture.
As a candidate your job is to display two sets of traits, the first is related to professional excellence. Hiring managers want to find people who will make their lives easier, which is why they try to hire the most talented people they can find. A good candidate will get in tune with roles that a company is trying to fill, learn more about those, and be ready to speak about how they can fill the need.
The second set of traits is related to culture fit. If you think you can nail the first side of the equation, it’s time to focus your energy on embodying the organization’s culture. To do this, you’ll need to invest time in researching the ins and outs of the company. Read the articles and books authored by members of the company’s leadership team. Watch videos of that feature senior leaders.
Look for a company culture deck published on the company’s website, on Medium, or Slideshare. Read positive employee reviews on Glassdoor to better understand the mindset of happy employees.
During the interview, you can demonstrate that you’re a culture fit by carefully thinking about the examples you provide when prompted by interviewers. Ask incisive questions that show your thinking aligns with the company’s zeitgeist.
Since culture is hard to pinpoint, review your notes and prepared questions right before your interview. Your research should help you to mirror the kind of attitude hiring managers are looking for when speaking with candidates.
Calm your nerves.
I’ve seen it before. A candidate is great on paper and performs well during the phone interview. But during the in-person interview their hands shake and their voice quivers. As a result, they’re unable to deliver the goods during a critical question.
Anxiety isn’t a dealbreaker, it’s actually kind of endearing, especially if the candidate’s knowledge shines through. But if he or she can’t work through their anxiety and deliver cogent answers to questions, then you have to question whether they can handle on-the-job pressure. That means you, the candidate, need to take active measures to ensure you’re as calm as possible during the interview.
On the day of the interview, go about a routine that gives you a sense of normality. Arrive to the interview 10 to 15 minutes early. In the few minutes you have before the interview, do some yoga poses or deep breathing exercises. Once you’re in the interview, maintain eye contact and speak with conviction.
Demonstrate your value during the interview.
Most hiring managers are busy people. If they’ve been given the greenlight by HR to open a new position, it probably means their team is at or over capacity. As a result, hiring managers are looking for candidates who can immediately offer value.
Offer value during the interview process to demonstrate that you’re a smart and motivated professional. Think about organizational challenges that you’ve uncovered in the job description or in the interview process and solve for them. If all else fails, outline a 90-day plan that reviews what you’ll do if you’re hired. Share it with the hiring manager after an interview to show your willingness to immediately contribute to the team.
If you don’t get the job, apply again.
A dirty little secret of hiring teams I’ve been a part of is that if your resume is archived, it will never be resurfaced again. Even when we sent an automated rejection email saying the company would reach out if a position was a fit, chances are we were too busy and we forgot about you.
It may feel strange to apply to a company that already rejected you, but if you notice a new position that interests you, by all means apply again. Second time could be the charm. When you do, reach out to a member of the HR team and explain why you’re worth a second look. In most organization, this kind of tenacity can work in your favor.
Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are great at what they do and who can fit into an existing team. When preparing for an interview, put in the research time so you can show them that.
Try to think about it in terms of not leaving the decision up to the hiring manager. Take the bull by the horns. Prove you can add value early and show you’re a culture fit. You’ll significantly increase the odds of getting an offer at your dream job.
John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.
Hiring managers aren't allowed to mention age – and you shouldn't, either.
Age discrimination in hiring is illegal. Nevertheless, it happens, and it's one of the reasons why workers over age 50 experience longer bouts of unemployment than younger people.
A study on laid-off workers from 2008 to 2012 shows 65 percent of those older than 62 were still unemployed after 12 months, compared to 47 percent of those ages 50 to 61; 39 percent for those ages 35 to 49; and 35 percent of those ages 25 to 34, according to economist Richard Johnson, senior fellow at the Urban Institute.
Biases are one barrier blocking older workers from good opportunities, says Dan Ryan, principal of Ryan Search & Consulting: "There's a perception among some people making hiring decisions that [older workers] may be less adaptable to change."
Salary expectations are another salient factor that sometimes work against older people who are hunting for jobs.
"Many people making hiring decisions think that they can hire someone with less experience, if the job warrants that, for a lower rate of pay," Ryan says.
So what can older workers do to improve their chances on the job market? Experts recommend the following approaches:
Improve Your Digital Footprint
Most modern jobs require at least some use of digital technology, and in many industries the hiring process itself has migrated online. That means it's important for older workers to demonstrate that they're savvy with digital tools and to use best practices with social media.
Older workers should take the time to create strong profiles on the business social network LinkedIn, experts say. Highlight specific skills and completed projects, suggests Josh Howarth, district president of Robert Half human resources consulting firm. Take advantage of the option to use a vanity URL – one that clearly identifies your name – for your profile, says Ashley Inman, who works in human resources for the multinational company Ferrovial.
And only use photos that look professional, says Unique Morris-Hughes, interim director of the Washington DC Department of Employment Services, which offers a program that helps people ages 50 to 64 find work.
"You might love your grandkids, but it's not the best idea in your photo to include you and all your grandkids," she explains. "Avoid the playful photos that make folks question your seriousness or your intent." Instead, for LinkedIn photos, she recommends that job seekers wear clean, white shirts and ask friends or relatives to take simple headshots with the camera lens focused on the face.
Just like all job seekers, older workers should learn about privacy settings on the social media accounts they use and "avoid posting things that are controversial or could be considered inappropriate," Morris-Hughes says.
The email address you use may accidentally reveal your age, Ryan warns. Email services offered by AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail date back to the 1990s, while Gmail launched in 2004, making it more likely that someone who uses AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail is "a more mature worker," Ryan says. He advises job seekers to ditch AOL accounts in favor of a more modern option. It's also important that your email address has a professional username.
Keep It Current
Your resume should reflect your experience, not your age.
If you've worked for three or four decades, you're probably proud of all that labor. But hiring managers are only interested in your experience that's most relevant to their needs.
So "limit work history to the last 10 to 15 years" on your resume, Morris-Hughes says. "At the end of the resume, you can summarize the remaining years at a very high level."
Consider removing dates related to your education background from your resume, Ryan suggests. The year you earned your college degree may serve as an immediate – and unhelpful – signal of your age and prove to be a "limiting factor" to your job search, he says. Using a functional resume organized by skills rather than chronological jobs is another way to avoid using dates.
Shore Up Your Skills
If your line of work requires certifications, make sure yours are still valid, Howarth says. That might require taking a few classes to meet new standards or simply contacting the organizations that manage those credentials and asking that they be reactivated or renewed. Acquiring new certifications can also make older workers more competitive in the job market. Ryan recommends a project management professional certification, since it's relevant to many fields.
Joining and staying active in relevant professional associations is another good way to keep your skills current. Plus, Ryan says, these kinds of memberships "show linkage, activeness and value" to potential employers.
Don't Discuss Age
In the hiring process, age should remain a taboo topic. The person interviewing you shouldn't bring it up and neither should you.
If someone much younger than you is doing the hiring, it may be tempting to point out the age difference, but that's a big mistake that comes across as condescending, Inman says. Avoid phrases, no matter how playful, such as, "I've been working longer than you've been alive."
"People think they're assuming a parental frame to break the ice, but it's not helpful," Inman says.
Use a Positive Frame
Older workers should, however, discuss in positive terms what they have to offer potential employers thanks to their many years on the job.
"Speaking about the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring to the workforce is a way to highlight their maturity and age," Morris-Hughes says.
For example, in fields like sales and business development, older workers likely have many connections and wide networks, which can help companies boost revenue, Ryan says.
People who have been working for decades are often experts in workplace communication and team management, Inman says, and they often possess those hard-to-define qualities that younger colleagues haven't yet honed, such as "managerial courage" and "executive presence."
She recommends job candidates highlight these qualities during interviews with statements such as: "I'm a very experienced leader of people. I can identify talent successfully."
Get to the Point
Brevity is an important communication strategy during the job search process. Many of the older job seekers with whom Inman interacts tend to "oversell" and "overtalk."
"Quite frankly, the attention spans of millennials are not as long" as those of baby boomers, Inman says. "When you're giving an answer, make sure you've rehearsed it."
Develop a 30-second pitch that summarizes your experience, strengths and what you have to offer a potential employer, Morris-Hughes recommends.
"In the first 30 seconds or minute, I have formed a thought on a person," she explains. "Use those first 30 seconds carefully and wisely in a job interview."
Rebecca Koenig is the Careers reporter at U.S. News, where she covers employment, workplace culture and editorial content supporting Best Jobs. She previously worked as a reporter for The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Chronicle of Higher Education, where she won the David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists, and as managing editor for Town & Style St. Louis Magazine. She studied English and history at the College of William & Mary. You can follow Rebecca on Twitter or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding a job is not an easy task. It’s especially frustrating when you’ve sent out resume after resume and haven’t landed the dream job you’ve been working so hard for. It may be time to reflect on the real reasons you’re not getting hired and how you can fix them so you can finally land a job you love.
1. You’re overqualified or underqualified
Recruiters and hiring managers expect your experience, strengths, and skills to align with at least 1/2 — preferably 3/4 — of those listed in the job posting. So honestly ask yourself, are you applying for jobs that are above your area of expertise? Or are you beginning to feel desperate and just about ready to accept any offer, even one well below your pay grade?
Solution: It is your job as the candidate to show how your previous experiences line up with those outlined in the job posting. Use language found directly from each individual job posting, then relate it back to your own experiences and skills before applying. If your resume doesn’t clearly show how you’re a good fit, you’re not going to get calls.
2. Your resume needs some TLC
With recruiters only spending a handful of seconds on the first pass of a resume, your resume game needs to be on point and immediately catch their attention.
Solution: Start your resume with a brief summary that quickly highlights how you’re the perfect fit for the company and position. Use the remainder of the page to focus on the value and results you have delivered over the course of your career. A majority of this should be done using accomplishments.
3. You’re submitting your resume and not doing anything else
Submitting your cover letter and resume is not enough. Every application you submit should be coupled with extensive company research and networking, as networking accounts for upwards of 85% of new jobs.
Solution: Each time you apply for a job, seek out five people at the company who hold similar positions to the one you’re applying to. Send a friendly message and don’t be afraid to reach out to them by setting up a networking call or coffee meeting to learn more about the company and the work they do. You have nothing to lose and might just get yourself a reference — or job.
4. You’re networking passively or overly aggressive
Sending your resume to a recruiter or hiring manager with the message, ‘Attached is my resume. Please let me know if you have any positions available’ is passive networking.
Proceeding to then connect with them on multiple forms of social media outside of LinkedIn is overly aggressive networking — and honestly just a bit creepy.
Solution: You need to play an active role in your job search. Networking takes time, energy and effort as you work to develop two-way relations. As a job seeker, you need to put in just as much work as the recruiter or hiring manager.
Follow the companies you are interested in working at and reach out to employees to get a real glimpse into the company’s morale. And don’t be creepy!
5. You’re in need of some honest feedback
If you’ve followed all of the above steps and still aren’t landing interviews, you’re likely in need of some honest feedback.
Solution: Seek out a mentor or coach who can give you the advice you need to hear, not the advice you want to hear. While family and friends can serve as great support systems, they are not the objective lens you need. A mentor or coach can work with you to identify obstacles and remove roadblocks during your job search.
6. You’re blaming it on bad luck
While luck is involved in any job search, the role it plays is small. A vast majority of job search success comes down to hard work and effective job searching methods.
Solution: Focus on the aspects of the job search you do have control over — updating your resume and cover letter, leveraging LinkedIn and networking, seeking out mentorship and coaching, and preparing for your interviews.
Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES is the Career Coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com where he helps people find jobs they LOVE (or at least tolerate). He loves coffee (if you couldn’t tell), writing, and eating the same thing at different restaurants.
By Paul McDonald, SENIOR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ROBERT HALF
You nailed the interviews, submitted great references, and were told the hiring committee would make a decision soon. As days—and maybe weeks—drag on without any word, it’s common to ask yourself questions such as:
As someone who’s counseled thousands of job seekers over the years, I’ve had many conversations with people who have faced a long and mysterious wait after the interview. And in a Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 workers, 57% of respondents said the long wait after the interview is the most frustrating situation in the job search.
My advice to them is to remember that when you face a long silence after an interview, it’s not always about you. Hiring managers should keep you posted on delays, but they don’t always follow through. Here are some reasons you may not be hearing back.
The budget has changed: The hiring manager may have had approval to hire when you applied and interviewed, but something may have changed since then: The firm didn’t meet sales targets. A major client departed. Another department has a more critical need and is now taking the headcount.
Decision makers are out of pocket: Most candidates meet several people at the firm in a series of interviews. One of the interviewers may have been called away for urgent business out of town. There may be an unexpected absence because of illness or family emergency. If a crisis is brewing that impacts the firm, the interview process may be on hold until the situation is resolved. (Some examples: a cybersecurity breach, lawsuit, or natural disaster that hits one of the firm’s locations.)
Something—or someone—was left out of the loop: Before opening a search, I advise firms to bring all the decision makers together to agree on the job description, commit to the hiring timeline, and set the salary range. When that doesn’t happen, surprises can crop up that stall the process. Suddenly, there’s one more person who needs to interview candidates, a skills test that the candidate must complete, or a couple of requirements that are added to the job description.
They’re having trouble making a decision: Companies sometimes get nervous before making the final decision, as they don’t want to make a costly hiring mistake. They may be struggling to decide between two great candidates. Or, late in the game, they may decide to open the search to consider more people.
What to do while you wait
The good news is that silence does not mean a “no” on your candidacy. It also doesn’t mean you should stand still. Focus on what you can control to keep your momentum and spirits high while you wait. Here are some ideas.
Check in with the hiring manager: In our survey of more than 300 hiring managers, 100% advised candidates to check in after the interview. Sixty-four percent recommend contact by e-mail; 36% said the ideal time to reach out is between one and two weeks after the interview. If you’ve received other offers or are nearing final interviews with other firms, let the hiring manager know.
Continue with your job search: You may be very close to the finish line with this opportunity, but don’t let it hold you back from other roles. Continue talking with your network and engaging with recruiters to uncover new opportunities. You may find a company that’s a better fit.
Talk to your mentor and referral source: If you’re feeling anxious, talk with your mentor to get an objective view on the situation. If a networking contact referred you for the role, reach out and ask if he’s aware of any developments. Don’t vent your frustration in writing via email or on any social media site—it’s not productive and will come back to haunt you.
Step away and recharge: Spending all your free time on a job search can be draining. Make sure you spend time with people you enjoy doing things you love.
Believe in your talents and don’t let long waits chip away at your confidence. In this market, talented people are in the driver’s seat. Companies that give prospective candidates the silent treatment are sending a clear message about their corporate culture and ability to make decisions. If this is how they communicate with prospective hires, what will it be like on the job? It’s something to think about.
Paul McDonald is senior executive director at Robert Half.
A 2017 Deloitte report found 33 percent of survey respondents already use some form of A.I. in the hiring process to save time and reduce human bias.
This year about 38 percent of Americans will be looking for a new job, according to a report by Glassdoor.
A number of start-ups and companies now offer A.I. recruitment tools.
by Tonya Riley, special to CNBC.com
"It felt weird. I was kind of talking into the void," said Sarah, a 27-year-old marketing manager in Ohio of her first time using HireVue, an on-demand video interview platform for job seekers.
The recruiter she was working with told her it was "just like an interview on Skype," so she followed the interview tips on the company's website, making sure she was dressed appropriately and had a well-lit background. But to her surprise, there was no human involved. Her recruiter never mentioned that the interview would be analyzed by advanced machine learning, her facial expressions and word choice evaluated by a series of algorithms.
"You usually have a little time to do some small talk, but in the HireVue interview, I only had a practice question and then just went into it. There's not a lot of time to feel ready," she said of the interview that took place early last fall. "For me first impressions are everything, and it was hard to set that tone."
It must have worked, however, because she got the job offer.
About 38 percent of working Americans are actively looking for a new job or plan to sometime this year, according to a recent report by Glassdoor. But, like Sarah, they might be surprised to find that those "first impressions" so carefully emphasized by career coaches are now being outsourced to artificial intelligence.
A 2017 Deloitte report found 33 percent of survey respondents already used some form of A.I. in their hiring process. With jobless rates at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent according to a February report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, recruiters are increasingly looking for ways to bring in the best candidates faster and more efficiently than before. An emerging crop of new, "smart" hiring tools can do just that by cutting down interview processes from what traditionally took weeks to a matter of a few days.
Some of the new tools involve as little as answering a text message. In 2012, while building his company FirstJob, an online job board for millennials, Eyal Grayevsky discovered that many candidates never heard back from employers and that their materials seemed to go into a "black hole."
Four years later Grayevsky launched an A.I. recruiting tool named Mya (short for "my assistant") and rebranded his company as Mya Systems. Mya helps in the recruiting process by directly engaging with candidates via text, asking basic questions such as start date and salary requirements. Candidates can also ask Mya questions; when she doesn't know the answer, she will query the recruiter.
Within minutes Mya rules out candidates based on a preprogrammed assessment model or moves them along to the next part of the interview process. The experience is so seamless that 73 percent of surveyed candidates who had interacted with Mya reported they had interacted with a recruiter when they in fact had spoken only with the bot.
"Now 100 percent of candidates are getting a response; everyone is getting a chance," said Grayevsky. "Candidates feel like they really get a chance to express themselves to the company with more than just a résumé."
The 'race' for talent
Video hiring-tool companies, like HireVue and Montage, also boast speed as a key for why more and more recruiters are relying on their services. On-demand video allows candidates to interview any time of day, and in turn recruiters can review and compare dozens of interviews, all in the time it takes to commute to work.
"The most overused metaphor is that there's a war for talent right now, but it's actually not a war, it's a race," said HireVue CEO Kevin Parker. "And the people that are the fastest-selecting and reaching out to candidates are the people that win and enjoy a competitive advantage."
As for candidates who feel more trepidation than empowerment from video interviews, HireVue offers tips on its website and frequently engages with users on Twitter about how to best handle the hiring process. Many of the suggested steps are ones that interviewers will be familiar with, such as researching the company, practicing and preparing for common interview questions and dressing appropriately for the job.
Where on-demand interviewing differs is that you should also practice your facial expressions and exaggerate them — a huge smile that might seem ridiculous in person will be picked up more easily by the A.I. You'll also need to make sure you have a good internet connection and bright lighting.
One question they get frequently, said Lindsey Zuloaga, director of data science at HireVue, is if an applicant is able to trick the A.I. Her answer: "If you can game being excited about and interested in the job, yes, you could game that with a person as well," she said. "You're not going to game it without being a very good actor."
Eliminating human bias
Another big advantage for HireVue is that it offers a customizable A.I. to help assess candidates' video interviews. The A.I. gives each video a score based on more than 250,000 data points, including audio, tonality and speech patterns, the importance of which can be customized for the client's need. Because of machine learning, the A.I. can refine its accuracy over time based on new data.
Jim Cochran, head of global recruiting at J.P. Morgan Chase, tells CNBC that the process of working with HireVue to build an A.I. that matched their recruiters' needs took about a year, with a substantial part of the process geared toward evaluating the factors that best target a successful employee within the general population.
But after some tweaking, he said their recruiters have been happy with the results so far and are planning on working with A.I. modules for more positions. Though J.P. Morgan has been a HireVue customer for four years, the company believes that adding A.I. has helped speed up the process of filtering through videos.
"It's unstructured video and audio coming in, and this is a way of structuring," said Zuloaga of HireVue. "It's just kind of hard to get the information that you really want to know about a person from a résumé or a multiple-choice assessment."
Zuloaga works with the company's industrial psychologist to make sure the product's assessment tools are up to industry standards, but adding A.I. to the mix gives the tool an important advantage: rooting out bias.
"We can measure it, unlike the human mind, where we can't see what they're thinking or if they're systematically biased," said Zuloaga. If the team does notice a skew in results, it can evaluate the algorithm to see what went wrong and remove the bad data.
And while there's no guarantee that A.I. will completely eliminate bias in hiring, especially once the candidate reaches a human recruiter, companies using HireVue have reported a much more diverse candidate pool. Parker pointed to Unilever, which has improved the diversity of its talent pool by 16 percent since partnering with HireVue.
Grayevsky said Mya's customers have seen similar results.
"It's really easy [for recruiters] to go to the applicants that feel safe or the ones they recognize, whether it's the school or the types of companies they've worked at in the past, but Mya really is only interested in who's active, who's interested," said Grayevsky.
HireVue and Mya are just a few of a growing number of companies looking to make their mark on a recruitment industry that is valued at up to $200 billion and growing. TalentSonar, a California-based start-up, seeks to eliminate bias from job descriptions by using A.I. to tweak the language so that it's more appealing to women and minority applicants.
In addition, to help automate the recruitment process, Entelo analyzes a candidate's social media presence to determine their fit for a position.
Technology to find Grade A players
Though A.I. can speed up the process of getting the right candidate in the door, in professional industries with limited job seekers, making candidates aware of positions in the first place presents a larger hurdle. In fields such as nursing, IT, and middle management, Mya serves customers by actively reaching out to candidates already in their application system, alerting them to new opportunities. Grayevsky says the company is also in the process of launching a partnership with several job board sites in order to further widen the pool. Ultimately, his goal is to "create a scenario where candidates know to reach out to Mya for support" before starting their jobs search.
HireVue is also interested in working with companies improve their internal matching for open positions. The company already offers analysis of predictive job performance, something that the machine learning can only refine through updated data.
Parker says that they also want to help companies directly match applicants, especially recent graduates, with positions based on assessments rather than relying on traditional job listings that might miss the right candidate.
Games or simulations to help candidates get a better sense of a job position are also gaining popularity, with 29 percent of global business leaders using some version of the technology according to Deloitte. Kurt Heikkinen, president and CEO of Montage, which works with a number of Fortune 500 companies, stressed the important of these kinds of highly branded, personalized experiences in an age of competitive hiring.
"Through technology candidates behave much more like consumers, they want and deserve convenience at their fingertips," he said.
But convenience isn't always enough. Cochran expressed concerned that, without proper follow-up, on-demand videos could turn into another "black hole" for candidates.
"I'm very focused on making sure this additional step we're asking them to take is met with a very responsive recruiter or recruitment system," he said.
And while Sarah felt a little thrown off by her first HireVue interview, she said she plans to go back to the same recruiter for her next job.
"Facial recognition is just everywhere. If I can just put on some makeup and that adds a couple points to my score, I'm not going to be mad about that," she said. "I think it's just making sure candidates are informed."
The big-name employer you worked for or the elite university you went to may matter less than you think. It’s what you did there that counts.
BY ALEXANDRA LEVIT
Credentials ruled in the traditional job market. Candidates were coached to dial up the prestige on their resumes, on social media, and on job interviews. Saying you went to Harvard was better than saying you went to the University of Illinois. Describing a stint at Deloitte at age 22 was better than talking up the rare and desirable skills you picked up in a second-act career.
That’s finally staring to change, but not every job seeker has quite gotten the memo. Many still tout their credentials as stand-ins for the job skills recruiters and hiring managers are really looking for. Here’s how (and why) to switch up your approach.
THE TROUBLE WITH PEDIGREES
Employers in all industries are finally wising up to the limits of fancy credentials as predictors of on-the-job success. Too often, high test scores and degrees from elite universities signal wealthy parents and other forms of privilege at least as much as they signal competence and expertise. Relying on signs of prestige doesn’t provide either the diverse perspectives or the grit that employers need their workforces to possess in order to thrive in the modern business world.
For the 2018 Job Preparedness Indicator, my nonprofit organization, the Career Advisory Board, asked 500 U.S.-based hiring managers to share their thoughts on nontraditional job candidates. We defined nontraditional college students and graduates as meeting any of the following criteria:
Since the Career Advisory Board is supported by DeVry University, a for-profit institution that attracts many students from nontraditional backgrounds, DeVry certainly has a stake in the trends my team set out to analyze. Still, half of our respondents said their organizations are hiring more nontraditional students and graduates than they used to: 50% said they “recognize valid, alternative education paths besides the typical college journey”; 34% “desire more diversity in our workforce”; and 32% feel “nontraditional students and graduates have a stronger work ethic.”
And refreshingly, fully 70% of hiring professionals agreed with the following statement: “If a candidate has the right skills for an open position, it doesn’t matter what type or format of education was used to get them.”
These attitudes are reverberating throughout the talent space. A recent LinkedIn survey of some 9,000 recruiters and hiring managers likewise picked up on intensifying efforts to shake up the traditional recruitment process to find more diverse, qualified candidates without elite credentials. And artificial intelligence is playing an ever-wider role in efforts like those. At the same time, tech leaders like Airbnb and Pinterest are expanding apprenticeship programs to hire smart, non-traditional engineers first, then train them on the job. One tech company Fast Company spoke to last year has even started intentionally hiring people with no relevant experience, as long as they possess the right skills and qualities instead.
GETTING BACK TO THE ACTION, NOT THE SETTING
But these evolving attitudes won’t matter if you don’t change your approach as a job seeker in order to capitalize on them. Desperately talking up every impressive-sounding credential on your resume is going to pay diminishing returns in the years ahead. So whether or not you’re a nontraditional student or grad, it’s time to start pushing your skills to the forefront. These are a few ways to do that:
Focus on on-the-job wins. Let’s say you’re applying to a job as a marketing data analyst. In the past, perhaps you led with the fact that you earned high honors studying computer science at a top university. Today you may have better luck mentioning how you mastered analytics skills by selecting and implementing new software at a previous employer, then used the mined data to tell a story about the best path forward.
Speak directly to the job description. You have to know the target position inside and out in order to show how experience directly relates to the job in question. Be prepared to tell your interviewers exactly how you have solved similar challenges–with excellent results. Then, instead of trying to prove why you’re like every “prestigious” cookie-cutter graduate who walks through the door, explain how the organization will benefit by having an employee with your special combination of determination, resilience, and resourcefulness.
Get specific. Rather than trusting that a kid who got a few lucky breaks can hack it in an often chaotic business climate, employers told our researchers that they’re after candidates who “have developed niche skill sets or unique experiences that differentiate them from the market,” “have internal drive and good time management,” “have demonstrated a track record of stable work history, including promotions and cross-functional experiences,” and who are “willing to learn the business and work in whatever capacity the company needs them.”
Arguably, these are all things that hiring managers have sought out since time immemorial–they just used fancy pedigrees as a shorthand for these attributes. As that begins to change, more opportunity is opening up to more job seekers, no matter where they went to school or last worked. All that’s left to do is seize it.
Alexandra Levit is a business futurist and best-selling author who has consulted for the Obama administration as well as Fortune 500 companies including American Express, Deloitte, Microsoft, PepsiCo, and Whirlpool.
Ask An Interview Coach: What Hiring Managers Want to Hear from Candidates in a Phone Interview
by Amy Elisa Jackson
Companies are increasingly using phone interviews at the early stages of screening candidates, before inviting them on-site for in-person interviews. This is a way to efficiently screen through large candidate pools, as the average job has over 250 applicants. Moreover, the phone screen is typically conducted by recruiters, many of whom may be remote so the phone-screen is a good medium to tap into remote talent and reduce the recruiting overhead for the hiring manager.
What is the interviewer looking for?
The recruiter has three main goals for a phone screen:
1. Confirm level of interest
Hiring managers have a limited amount of time, and a recruiter’s first filter is to make sure they are passing along candidates that are truly interested in the role. We are in the era where recruiters reach out to candidates more often than the other way around, and often prospective candidates will take a phone screen just to get interview practice and see what the market is willing to pay. As such, recruiters use the phone interview to ensure you have a genuine interest in the company and the role.
2. Match core skills
A recruiter will not typically conduct a deep-dive on each of your core skills, but rather, they want to make sure you have general experience in the core requirements of the job. For example, if you are interviewing to be a digital marketing manager they are less likely to get into the specifics of how you measure the success of a marketing campaign, but they will want to ensure you have indeed run marketing campaigns of similar size and scope as theirs. This is more of a checklist approach rather than grading your skills in each category.
3. Assess culture fit
Behavioral interviewing is how most companies comprehensively assess “culture fit” in later rounds. However, the phone screen is also meant to do a preliminary check on how well suited you are to the company’s culture. Key areas of interest for the recruiter is whether you have worked in similar environments (e.g., pace of work, level of collaboration), your overall demeanor (e.g., level of humility), and your mindset (e.g., growth orientation).
How to ace this stage of the interview process
1. Demonstrate synthesis
During a phone interview it is easy for the interviewer to get distracted (e.g., check email). This makes it even more important to be succinct and compelling to ensure you capture their attention. This can be applied to the first question the recruiter will ask – “Tell Me About Yourself.” Many candidates ramble and spend too much time on unimportant details, and miss out on highlighting the core aspects of their candidacy. A practical way to solve this and demonstrate synthesis is to focus on the themes of your career progression. For example, you might describe your career in three stages – your first role, your ascension into leadership roles, and your current job, instead of reciting everything on your resume.
You can also describe your career by functional themes especially when your career has breadth and a non-linear path. For example, you might frame your career as being a mix of bringing new products to market, developing and coaching teams, and partnering with cross-functional stakeholders.
2. Be precise about why you want the job
As mentioned earlier, often the recruiter has reached out to you, and it is important to show you are not passively taking a call, but rather have clear interest in the role. This is why it is important to do your research on the company to understand them more deeply, and then weave that into why it fits with the career path you are charting. Specifically, you should have clarity on their mission, their ecosystem (e.g., customer segments, key competitors), and their products/services. Ideally, in your research, you will find something that truly connects with your experience and/or professional interests and speaking to that will show a deep interest in the opportunity.
3. Simulate a real interview environment
A common mistake candidates make is not recreating the environment that brings out their best, professional self. Often candidates will take a call from home, while reclining on their couch, and this casual attitude shows up in their communication style, dimming their professional energy.
Given this, it is important to find an environment that can simulate a professional aura (e.g., a home office, in front of a desk), and dress accordingly as your communication style will be more polished as your brain picks up on the subtle cues. The right posture will also ensure your voice projects well, as opposed to reclining on your couch and sounding muffled.
4. Ask thoughtful questions
The questions you ask towards the end of the phone screen serve as an indicator of what is important to you in the opportunity so avoid administrative questions such as vacation policy. Instead, focus on high-value questions that show you are thinking about things that really matter such as “What does success in the role look like?” These questions will also better prepare you to engage on a deeper level in the following rounds, especially when speaking with the hiring manager.
5. Avoid reciting from paper
Some candidates use phone interviews as an opportunity to script their answers and read them word for word. This takes away from having an authentic conversation, and most interviewers can sense when you are reciting from a script. Instead, you can have a few bullet points written out that you want to make sure you cover in the conversation and also have your resume handy so you can speak to specifics when asked.
Jeevan is the Founder and CEO of Rocket Interview ( www.rocketinterview.com ) where his team helps job seekers ace the most competitive interviews. He was an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company and a VP of a Tech Startup where he regularly interviewed job candidates. Since then he has helped clients land jobs in roles ranging from product management to marketing. His clients have landed jobs at Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and other competitive companies. Email: email@example.com
(That Don't Involve Obvious Excuses)
by Kat Boogaard
Here’s the thing: I don’t really struggle to start conversations with people. But, I’ll be the first to admit that I find it challenging to end them.
This is especially true in networking situations when my nerves are already a little high and I’m concerned with leaving on a positive note.
So, my typical wrap-up? Well, it usually involves me repeating that it was nice to meet that person about four separate times before I make a break for the bar to refill my plastic cup of liquid confidence (uh… cheap wine). I know—smooth, right?
There’s so much focus placed on how we begin networking conversations. But, hardly anyone ever talks about how to end them in a way that’s polite, professional, and doesn’t involve a bunch of excuses or cringe-worthy pauses.
I know just what you’re thinking: Ugh, that’s so true! You’re in luck. I’ve pulled together three different ways to end that exchange—and avoid any dreaded awkwardness.
1. Ask for a Business Card
This is tried and true advice for any networking event. But in the age of LinkedIn, admittedly, it’s something I often find myself skipping.
However, here’s the great thing about capping off a conversation by asking for that card: You not only get that person’s contact details, but you also make it clear that the discussion is coming to a close.
After you both have exchanged information? It’s as simple as saying, “It was great talking to you—I’m really looking forward to keeping in touch!” and moving on to your next conversation.
2. Form a Plan to Get Together Again
Remember, successful networking isn’t about singular meetings—it’s about laying the groundwork for continued professional relationships.
It’s easy to say you’ll connect soon as you’re walking away from that discussion. But, actually pulling out your calendar and finding a time when you both could grab lunch or coffee is a great way to prove that you’re serious about staying in touch.
Plus, part of what makes saying goodbye at networking events so uncomfortable is that you don’t want to be perceived as if you’re blowing that person off for something better. This tactic gives you the freedom to go your separate ways and mingle, without making that other person feel used and discarded.
3. Offer to Make an Introduction
Ending a conversation doesn’t mean you both have to head to opposite sides of the room—it can also mean seguing your existing conversation into a new one (with new people involved).
Let’s say that you spotted someone you know across the room. Why not offer to make an introduction between that person and the new acquaintance you’re currently talking to?
You can then excuse yourself from that conversation (or even stick around if you’d like), while still fostering a reputation as a beneficial business contact who’s all about making connections.
When you’re so concerned with making a positive impression, capping off networking conversations can be awkward at best.
Fortunately, these three different strategies will allow you to gracefully move on from that discussion—without seeming rude (or, often in my case, socially inept).
If you’re ever in doubt? Remember that a simple, “It was really great talking with you!” always does the trick.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.
It’s easy to think that after all the work you’ve put into perfecting your resume, recruiters will at least spend the time to thoroughly reading it through from start to finish. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Recruiters are generally very busy. Resume writing blogger and long-time recruiter Steve Wang says, “During my more busy weeks, sometimes I have to fill as many as 15 positions at once, and when each position gets over a hundred applicants, I can only afford to spend a minute or two on each resume.”
So, like anyone faced with a whole lot to do, recruiters take shortcuts. Instead of looking through every single application carefully, they’ll simply skim through each resume to see which ones might be worth taking a closer look at. Because of this, it’s crucial that even a quick glance at your resume will leave readers awestruck. With this in mind, here are some techniques you can dish out to make your resume super easy for recruiters to skim through and understand.
Use Standard Headings
I get it, you want to get fancy with your headings to stand out from the pack, but doing so can have the unintended consequence of making your resume way harder to skim. Recruiters are used to reading the same old headers over and over again. If you change “Work Experience” to “Work Background”, that can throw off a recruiter’s rhythm – even if it’s just a little. So when it comes to resume headings, stick with what is tried and true.
Digitize Your Numbers
When it’s time to decide whether to spell out numbers on your resume, you might find yourself in a dilemma where you’re unsure whether to use APA or MLA style rules to approach this common concern. While it’s great that you’re paying attention to this type of detail, it’s a lot simpler than you think. Just write your numbers as digits to make information like numerical achievements nice and easy to spot. Whether you follow APA or MLA protocol is the least of anyone’s concerns here.
List All Your Skills Separately
Some job applicants like to intertwine their skills with their job experience. If they used skills A, B, and C while working for Job X, they’ll mention those skills in the same section of the resume that describes the job. While this is certainly a fine way to format your resume, it’s still important to have a separate section that lists out all your skills in their entirety.
Use Short Bullet Points
One to two lines is an okay length for bullet points. If they get any longer though, not only will your resume become more difficult to understand, but it can also hint that you’re trying to get at too many different things at once. Instead, keep your bullet points short, sweet, and to the point.
Choose the Right Template
Some resume templates do a far better job than others at making your content aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand. Make sure that the template you use is taking full advantage of techniques like bolding, USING ALL CAPS, italics, underlining, and even colors to make information like job titles, company names, and dates more distinguishable from one another. Here’s what I mean:
Job title, Company Name, New York, NY May 2016 – Present
This would be considered hard to read. While everything is bolded and italicized to differentiate the entire line from the rest of the resume, individually the job title, company name, location, and date are hard to distinguish.
Job title, Company Name, NEW YORK, NY May 2016 – Present
Here the formatting is far superior. The job title, company name, location, and date all have their own unique style, which makes everything much easier to discern.
If you’re ever unsure about whether a particular resume template might be easier to skim than another, simply test them out by skimming them yourself.
Align Dates to the Right
Keeping all your dates to the right allows you to create a clear timeline of your resume. If a recruiter wants to check to see if you have any work gaps, all the recruiter needs to do is look over to the right and all the dates will be lined up as clear as day.
Begin Each Job Description with a Summary
In some cases, even though each individual bullet point on a resume may be easy to comprehend, sometimes they don’t paint a clear picture of the job applicant collectively when put together. This difficulty is exacerbated when bullet points describe assorted one-off achievements at a particular job. To alleviate this issue, it’s often a good idea to use your first bullet point to give a short summary describing what the core of your job is all about. This way, recruiters can better contextualize how your later bullet points fit into the bigger picture of what you do.
Getting recruiters to thoroughly read your resume is a luxury you have to earn. By making your resume more skimmable for recruiters, you’ll position yourself as a strong candidate worthy of being taken seriously.
And what to leave off…
BY RICH BELLIS
It’s not that hard to update your resume when you’re applying for the next role up the ladder in your field. You’re an associate operations manager trying to become a senior operations manager? Just show how what you’ve already done qualifies you to do similar things at a higher level.
Things get trickier when you’re trying to change industries. You’ve got to rebrand experiences here as transferable qualifications there. You need to explain why you’re a better hire than the candidate who’s spent their whole career in the field you’re trying to get into. And you’ve got to decide which parts of your experience just aren’t relevant anymore.
Figuring this out is a highly situational challenge–what works for one career changer’s resume might not work for another’s. But Erica Breuer, founder of Cake Resumes, says there are some straightforward dos and don’ts that can point you in the right direction.
DO: INCLUDE GROUP WORK
“I often work with career changers who don’t feel they have the right to include projects on their resume that were a team effort, especially when these projects fell outside of their normal job duties,” Breuer tells Fast Company. But it’s precisely those experiences you’ll want to rely on the most. “Including them, while nodding to the team-based or ‘special projects’ nature of the work is the way to go,” she says. “If it happened, it’s a fact, and it can go on your resume.”
Think of it this way: The tasks that are small, routine, or specialized enough for you to complete on your own may not be that relevant outside your industry. But bigger, collaborative projects tend to involve processes and challenges of a higher order, which draw on skills that just about every employer needs–no matter their field.
DON’T: FUDGE JOB TITLES
“Many career changers get the advice to tweak job titles on their resume to look like the perfect fit. This almost always backfires,” Breuer explains. “It risks looking dishonest or, worse, the self-assigned titles they create add confusion more than they align them with a new path.”
While you can’t control your past job titles, you can control how you describe what you accomplish while you held them. Breuer’s suggestion? “Add a tagline of sorts to the true job title, one that states experience related to the new career direction, for example; ‘Director of Operations—Global Recruitment & Talent Acquisition.'” This way a hiring manager in the HR field, which you’re trying to get into, can spot right away that your operations role had to do with recruiting and talent.
(SOMETIMES) DO: DITCH STRICT CHRONOLOGY IF YOU NEED TO
For job seekers with a lot of experience, it’s common to truncate anything that came before the past 15–20-year period. But Breuer says this rule doesn’t always suit, especially “when you have an early-career experience that applies to an upcoming career change. Drawing this line is important, but so is sharing the details relevant at this very moment. If you’re not doing that, the resume is pointless,” she points out.
So feel free to shake up the chronological approach if you need to. “There are a number of ways to loop early experiences back into a resume without the kitchen sink-style timeline,” says Breuer. For example, you might try breaking your work history into subcategories like “Technical Experience” and “Managerial Experience.”
DON’T: GO TOO BROAD
A final common mistake Breuer sees pretty often among job seekers hoping to change careers is “expecting their resume to do too many things at once,” she says. “They want to capture their career wins, life story, hobbies, and persona as a whole, when a resume actually functions best when it’s a compelling and concise record of your experiences as they pertain to the role at hand.”
When you’re worried about being under-qualified, you might be tempted to overstuff your resume to compensate. Don’t do that. The key is to give recruiters and hiring managers a clear narrative about why you’re the best fit from the role because you’d be coming at it from a nontraditional angle. No, that won’t be the full story of your career, but it will probably be the most effective one for this opportunity.
To take some of the pressure off, Breuer suggests remembering that your resume–while important–is only one piece of the self-portrait you’re presenting to employers. She adds, “It should stack with other branding platforms, such as a personal website, LinkedIn profile, or even a cover letter, in order to tell the whole story of who you are and the value you bring.”
by Jillian Kramer
If you’re not a confident interviewer, you may feel as if navigating an interview is akin to walking through a minefield—eventually, you’re bound to make an explosive move. But after speaking with several recruiters and hiring managers, we found out that there aren’t many moves you can make that will automatically disqualify you from getting the job. But there is one thing you can do—the No. 1 thing, if you will—that will make any recruiter or hiring manager say sayonara to you. What is it? It’s trashing a previous employer, they say.
“The No. 1 mistake a candidate might make is to disparage his or her prior employer—either the company itself or people who worked there,” says Laura Handrick, who works as FitSmallBusiness’ HR analyst. “No one wants to hire someone who talks badly of others. Employers want team players, not people who carry negative baggage. Plus, negative talk about former coworkers, the company, or a prior supervisor simply serves to make an applicant look like a whiner. A recruiter will see this person as a future ‘problem.’ and in spite of any great qualifications, they’re not likely to get called back for a second interview.”
Jordan Rayboy, CEO of Rayboy Insider Search, agrees. “If a candidate is overly negative about a current or past employer, it plants seeds of doubt in a hiring manager’s mind,” he explains. “First, that the candidate has a negative attitude in general—and no one wants to hire a potential dark cloud onto their team. Next, that the candidate will likely bad-mouth their company in the future if they end up getting hired. And it also shows a lack of good decision-making skills—as in, what to share in certain situations and what not to. Lastly, and most importantly, it’s a sign the candidate tends to blame others when things don’t work out. They don’t take ownership of their share of responsibility for things. It’s always someone else’s fault—like their current or past employer’s fault—that they didn’t hit their numbers, or didn’t last more than a year there, or anything else that may have happened.”
Trashing a previous employer is something recruiters and hiring managers hate so much that they may ask leading questions in order to see if you’re willing to bad-mouth a boss.
“In an interview, I can identify a bad team player right away by asking questions that lead the candidate talk about his previous team experiences,” says Dave Lopes, director of recruiting for Badger Maps. “When the priorities of that individual supersede the priorities and growth of the team or group, you know you’ll have someone who will not fit well.”
What’s more, “interviewers are, typically, good at getting a candidate to open up,” points out Handrick. “And once a candidate feels comfortable, they might be tempted to say something too revealing or disparaging, such as ‘I left my last company because my boss was a jerk who made me work overtime,’ or ‘they didn’t realize how good I was, so I quit when they wouldn’t give me a raise.’” These types of sayings are red flags to recruiters.
You may very well have had a terrible former boss or are leaving a toxic work environment, but the fact is, recruiters and hiring manager don’t want to hear about it. So what should you say instead? “Instead of talking negatively about past or current employers, candidates should focus on what they learned in different scenarios, how they grew, and what they are looking to move towards as opposed to running away from,” Rayboy says. “Most managers prefer hiring candidates that are looking for a launch pad instead of a landing pad.”
Another thing you can try to do, advises Jordan Wan, CEO of CloserIQ, is to “stick to facts, not judgments. You may want to consider saying, ‘I struggled to find exciting career paths for my growth at the company,’ instead of, ‘the company doesn’t promote top performers.’”
If you see one or more of these warning signs during your interview, maybe this isn’t the workplace for you.
BY GWEN MORAN
The average job hunt takes the better part of three months, according to job search platform TalentWorks. That’s a long time to have your mind focused on how to land the interview, prepare, and make the best impression to get hired. So, it’s no wonder that, once there, many job seekers overlook red flags that they may not be courting the greatest place to work.
“It is important for people to slow down and realize that it’s a two-way interview, because the job is only going to be a great experience for them if it’s a good fit,” says Carisa Miklusak, CEO of recruitment automation platform Tilr, based in Cincinnati. And there are often a number of clues about the job, company culture, and leadership if you just know what to look for, she says. Here are six red flags to watch out for.
ATTITUDE AND APPEARANCE
You may be nervous, but take a moment to look around and observe your surroundings. What you see may tell you a lot about the company and its people. “From the time that you walk in, it starts with the receptionist. As you’re walking through the office, do people seem friendly, do they try to engage with you, say welcome, say hello, make eye contact?” says Tonya Salerno, principal staffing manager at WinterWyman, based in New York City. People who are happy in their work are generally curious about and friendly to newcomers, she says.
Also, take a look around the office. It doesn’t have to be prime office space, but do you get a sense that people have pride in their workplace? Are common areas tidy or in disarray? Does the place look clean? Do people have personal effects in their work space? Does it look inviting?
“I believe an office is like a second home, and that I should take pride in the space and the people with whom I would be working,” says Salerno.
LACK OF PREPARATION
When you sit down with the interviewer, do you have a sense that they know who you are? Has the interviewer reviewed your resume and have some familiarity with your background? If not, they may not be taking the job search as seriously as you are, or it may be a sign that the company has a lot of turnover and doesn’t invest much time in replacing people, Miklusak says. The interviewer should be familiar with the job for which you’re interviewing and have at least a basic familiarity with your background.
HYPOTHETICAL AND SITUATIONAL QUESTIONS
Miklusak says one of her best “job interview hacks” is to listen for hypothetical or situational questions. If an employer asks, ‘How would you react in a situation like this?” listen to the question, she says. “The interviewer is asking because you are likely to be in a situation like that, or in some type of situation where one could make a parallel between the question and the situation.”
So, if an interviewer asks you how you would react if you were in a chaotic situation with little direction, it might be a test to see how you manage disorder. But, it could also be that the interviewer is trying to figure out if you can manage the organization’s way of operating.
A QUEST FOR ELUSIVE CHANGE
If your interviewer talks about how the company is ready for change or needs change, ask a few questions, says Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager and team leader at WinterWyman. Get more information on what needs to be changed, how long it’s been that way, and most importantly, how ready they are to change it.
“I’ve had candidates get excited to be the person to truly impact change at a company, just to find out later that the managing team isn’t ready to change things. So be sure it isn’t just an ideal they’re paying lip service to, but a reality they want you to help deliver,” she says. Or the company may put the responsibility for changing things on you without giving you the resources you need to be successful.
There are a number of questions that interviewers aren’t allowed to ask by law. Yet a 2017 Associated Press and CNBC poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that more than half (51%) of those who have been on at least one job interview have been asked at least one inappropriate or personal question. Questions about marital status, medical history, and disabilities topped the list. If interviewers aren’t aware of basic employment law, that could be an indicator that they’re lax in other areas, too.
“It can be a real cultural flag. For example, if a lot of people are asking you if you have kids. It’s either a super-friendly family place, or they want to put you on a plane 100% of the time and they’re real concerned if you do [have children],” Miklusak says.
If an interviewer asks about your comfort level with certain factors, take note, Miklusak warns. “This question is a huge flag, ‘Do you think you will be comfortable here because . . . ‘ and then the because is something like, ‘Most of the people are younger than you’ or ‘This is a pretty male-orientated sales team,'” she says. Look for what the interviewer is trying to indicate about the culture. Such a question may reflect a flaw, lack of diversity, or issue that has been a problem in the past.
By keeping an eye out for red flags, you can keep focused on finding a job that will be a good fit for you—and more likely free of unpleasant surprises.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and web sites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books.
Employers use interviews to gauge whether you're the right person for a job. But you could tank your chances with a hiring manager by using certain words and phrases, says Barry Drexler, an expert interview coach who has conducted more than 10,000 interviews.
With over 30 years of HR experience at notable companies like Lehman Brothers and Lloyds Bank, Drexler says these are the 11 words and phrases that should be eliminated from your interview vocabulary:
Drexler hears this phrase most often used by recent college graduates. Typically, they've never interviewed for or worked in a corporate environment.
"They talk like they're talking to one of their buddies," he tells CNBC Make It. "They're just so used to talking that way."
However, saying "you guys" is much too informal and sounds like slang, says Drexler. "It drives me nuts."
Instead, he suggests referring to the company by its actual name or saying "your firm" or even just "your company."
"I wanted to get ill after I heard this [word] so many times," says Drexler. "It's too cliche."
He adds to this list other descriptors like "hard-worker" and "people-pleaser."
Not only do these words hold little weight, says Drexler, but they also won't help you stand out because everyone else is using these words to describe themselves.
"Cliches are awful," says the interview expert. "I'd avoid those."
Don't use the word "comfortable" when answering questions about why you want a specific role, type of job or position.
"The word 'comfortable' is the kiss of death when it comes to careers," says Drexler.
Your potential employer doesn't want a comfortable employee, he says, because it insinuates that you aren't a hard worker and that you'll take whatever comes easy.
Drexler suggests saying that you want a challenging role or a stimulating role. "You want something that's rewarding, not comfortable," he adds.
Companies really don't care about your work-life balance, says the interview coach. It's that simple.
"Companies talk the talk about having a great work-life balance," admits Drexler. "At the end of the day, they want work out of you. It's just talk."
Although it may sound cynical, all your employer truly wants to hear is that you're ready to work and that you'll work around the clock if need be, he says.
"If you say you're looking for work-life balance, that translates to, 'I want to socialize and I'm only going to stay from nine to five, and at five o'clock I'm out the door.'"
No hiring manager wants to employ a "nine-to-fiver" or a candidate who is already thinking about their personal life before joining the company, says Drexler.
"I'm not suggesting that [work-life balance] is not important or that a company should work you to death," he adds, "but don't bring it up in an interview."
'Like' and 'enjoy'
Like is a weak word that doesn't really say much. For example, if an interviewer asks, "Why do you want to work here?," you should never respond with a phrase that incorporates the word like, such as "I like doing analytical work," he says.
"It doesn't mean anything," Drexler explains. "I like golf but I suck. I like analytical work but I'm awful."
Enjoy is another word that should be avoided at all costs, says Drexler, because you're wasting an opportunity to use a more powerful word. Instead, use words like "excel" or phrases such as "I do this well" to convey your strengths.
'Can't' and 'don't'
Can't and don't are negative words and negativity has no place in an interview, says Drexler.
Refrain from using phrases such as "I don't like doing this, I can't do this," or "I don't want to do this," he explains. You want to show an interviewer that you are open to taking on any role or task and that no job is too small for you.
Even if you legitimately don't have a skill that the job requires, he recommends letting the interviewer know that you're willing to learn. This gives your interview answer a much more positive spin.
"You don't want to ever be negative," says Drexler.
Drexler explains that interviewees often feel the need to bring up the fact that they were fired just to have it out in the open. However, this dampens the whole interview and isn't necessary.
Plus, there's no way for an interviewer to find out that you've been terminated.
"Get it out of your head. Get over it," says the interview coach. Instead, tell the interviewer that you feel like it's the right time to pursue other opportunities or that it's the right time to find something new.
Also, speak positively about your former place of employment, even if you were fired. Drexler advises saying that you a great career with your previous employer and that you learned a lot, not that you hated the company and the direction it was heading.
"No one is going to hire someone that's going to bash their [former] company because then you're going to bash our company too," says the interview expert.
'You should' and 'you shouldn't'
Avoid giving unsolicited advice. "Never say 'you should' or 'your company should,'" says the interview coach. "You don't work there yet. You're just a candidate."
Conversely, refrain from sharing your thoughts on what they shouldn't be doing. Don't tell an employer that they should stop doing something or that the company is doing something the wrong way unless you're explicitly asked, he adds.
"Candidates do that, I swear," says Drexler. "They're telling the interviewer how to run their own company."
The best way to address a glaring problem, he says, is to start with "In my experience, this is what works."
The interview coach adds that it's perfectly reasonable to not agree with everything a potential employer is doing, but you must bring up your concerns in a diplomatic way.
"It's not what you say, it's how," says Drexler.
Cold email is much more than just a tool for salespeople.You can use it to meet people you admire, raise money for a charity, or even turn a message into a ticket for an exclusive party.
You can also get a new job and even change your career path. While you shouldn’t expect a response that immediately includes an interview slot, a well-written cold email sent to the right person can give you a huge advantage over those still sending resumes through job boards. Why? Because, having done your research and selected the most relevant contact, you’re not one faceless application among hundreds of others going to human resources.
Of course, your email has to be good enough to stand out in a crowded inbox. In fact, many of the rules that apply to sales emails are just as relevant when it comes to looking for work. With that in mind, here are three things to remember and do when using cold email to find a new job or career.
1. Find the right person to contact.
A thoughtful message that paints you in your best light is useless if it goes to the wrong person. For example, emailing the Operations Manager will not help if you're after a job in marketing. It sounds obvious, but there are tons of people out there who will blast an email to multiple contacts at one company, thinking the more emails they send, the greater their chances of success. Instead, pick the most relevant person at the company and concentrate on writing an email they'll find enticing.
To do that, conduct thorough research. Gather essential details (title, size of company, job description) on LinkedIn or the company's website. Check to see if past colleagues or classmates have ever done work with this company; they might be able to introduce you. Look for recent news, awards, or published works from your contact. Referencing such things is often an effective way to open the email.
Thorough research has another advantage, too: it teaches you more about the company's business. When it comes time for the interview and someone asks you to articulate what you think the company does, you won't have to think hard to find an answer. Same goes for those making a full-on career shift—you'll learn way more about your new industry researching companies and contacts than you will reading about them on some job board.
2. Keep it short, simple, and small.
Cold emails are not cover letters. You may be asked to eventually submit a cover-letter-like document, but for this initial introduction, follow the general rule of cold email and keep it short: three to five sentences, max. Unlike a human resources department, your contact will not necessarily be expecting an email about potential employment. So if your message is a wall of text outlining your many skills or how you grew that one website's traffic to over 2 million visitors per month, the recipient's eyes will glaze over, so to speak.
The easiest way to make sure that doesn't happen is to keep your ask small. Don't just say, "I'm interested in any job openings you have in marketing. When can we discuss this?" Don't even say you'd like to meet up to talk about potential employment. Instead, ask to meet up for coffee so you can learn more about the company and what it does.
Similarly, if you see a problem you're able to fix, explain how you can help. A friend of mine got his current job when one of his favorite news sites went down. He sent a cold email to the Information Technology Manager to say he knew how to retrieve the site and get it back up; the company offered him a job about a week later.
For those changing careers, the ask is simple: just say you're considering a change to that person's industry and would love to hear their take on it.
3. Don't hesitate to send a follow-up if you don't hear back.
There's nothing wrong with sending a follow-up email if your contact has not yet responded. While I don't recommend a full eight-touch campaign, some gentle persistence can work in your favor. Maybe the contact was on a deadline when you sent the first email, and meant to respond but never did. Perhaps they're testing you by not responding, to see if you have the ambition and commitment to keep asking. Along the same lines, someone may be waiting for a follow-up to make sure your first message wasn't just a mass mailing to as many companies as you could find.
Don't spend too much energy wondering why the person has yet to respond, though. If, after a follow-up or two, there's still no response, move on. Part of persistence in finding a new job is knowing when to shift your focus to another potential employer—one who may have an even more promising opportunity waiting for someone like you.
What email tricks do you have when it comes to searching for and finding new employment? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.
For more advice on cold email, sales and marketing, check out the Salesfolk Blog. You can also follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn to ask me questions.
Heather R. Morgan is an economist and the founder of Salesfolk, which has helped over 500 companies revitalize their sales prospecting strategies. Having written 10,000-plus cold emails in the past decade, Morgan has developed a new process for crafting mass email templates that still feel personal, combining copywriting best practices and game theory. Her cold emails see at least three times more responses than the industry average. The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
by Heather Huhman
The job market is, and always will be, highly competitive. You can bet that any job you apply for will have a handful (or five) of equally qualified — and equally determined — job seekers vying for the same opportunity. And, to stand out from the crowd, some job seekers will do just about anything to find and land a job — even if it borders on unconventional (and unprofessional).
But there’s a fine line between appearing determined and appearing desperate.
Here are three extreme job search strategies job seekers have taken, why you should avoid using those tactics, and what to do instead:
Tactic #1: The “Will Work for Food” Sign
After being unemployed for more than four months, a St. Louis man decided to take his job search to the streets. Dressed in professional attire and accompanied by a sign that read, “Unemployed. My family’s dreams don’t work unless I do! Please take a resume,” he handed out copies of his resume to passersby on a busy sidewalk.
Advertising your job skills on a busy, city street does take guts, but it doesn’t give you an opportunity to tailor your resume to different jobs and organizations. And, according to a survey by The Creative Group, almost 40 percent of executives say the most common mistake job candidates make on a resume is including information that’s not job-specific.
What to Do Instead: The nature of the Internet makes hitting the streets with your resume in hand unnecessary. There are plenty of other ways to get your resume seen by the masses, while still enabling you to tailor it accordingly.
Social professional networks and resume hosting sites allow you to post a general resume that can be easily searched and viewed by a wide variety of hiring professionals. If you want to take it up a notch, consider creating a personal branding site for professional purposes and feature your resume, a portfolio, references, and more.
Tactic #2: The Resume T-shirt
You might have seen this extreme job search tactic firsthand — the resume tee. As you’ve probably gathered, this tactic involves printing your resume, job skills, and basic need for a job on a T-shirt and wearing it around town. While this literally advertises your skills and desire for a job, it can come across as slightly desperate — not to mention lazy.
Look at it this way. If equally qualified and determined job seekers are out there doing everything in their power to find the right job fit for them and you’re simply wearing a T-shirt and hoping to be found, what does that say to hiring professionals? What’s more, what are the chances that your “resume” is getting seen by the right people?
What to Do Instead: There’s nothing wrong with taking a creative approach to your resume. In fact, creative approaches, such as video resumes, can help you stand out among a sea of job seekers all using the same, lackluster templates. However, it should still come across as professional and relevant to the industry or company you’re looking to join.
Tactic #3: The Brutally Honest Cover Letter
Considering 51 percent of employers said that they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on their resume, according to a survey by CareerBuilder, honesty is the best policy. There is, however, such a thing as being too honest — especially when it comes to the job search.
When drafting a cover letter, for instance, some things are better left unsaid, such as the exact reason you want the job (i.e. when that reason has to do with a paycheck, above all). Instead of being brutally honest about why you want the job, your lack of experience, where you see yourself in the next five years, why you left your last position or the reason for the large employment gap on your resume, frame your answer in a positive light.
What to Do Instead: Your goal, as a job seeker, is to find the right job fit. And you can’t do that without being honest with yourself and your potential employer. While you want to be honest, you don’t want to teeter on the brink of offering too much information (#TMI). Be honest without being brutal.
As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” And, when it comes to the job search, that may just be true.
by Makeda Waterman
The next time you apply for a job posting on Glassdoor, don’t be surprised if you receive a text message from a recruiter. Sound far-fetched? Think again. A Gallup News article recently shared that “sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for Americans younger than 50,” so it’s no surprise that companies like Aegis Worldwide and OpenTable have already leveraged the technology for initial interviews.
Enter: Canvas. Launched June 2017, Canvas is world’s first text-based interviewing platform. Used by recruiters, it allows HR pros to engage more candidates per day, inform possible phone interviews and engage with young talent in the way they communicate most.
“In recruiting, speed is of the essence. Recruiters and hiring managers are moving faster than ever while making smarter, more informed decisions,” said Aman Brar, CEO of Canvas. “With our latest round of platform updates and continued automation, Canvas is creating an incomparable space for recruiters to have valuable conversations with high-quality candidates while reducing the time to fill open job positions.”
The days of hiring managers sending candidates to landing pages to schedule interviews will be a thing of the past. Instead, they send messages where they know candidates will see them: their phones. But there’s a right and wrong way of responding to a text message to win the interest of a recruiter or hiring manager. Before you decide to press the send button, read these tips.
Respond, But Do So Selectively
Most people haven’t encountered a text message interview before, so they may not respond to a text right away because it is either unfamiliar or they would prefer a human connection with a live recruiter on the phone. But if you choose not to engage, you may be self-selecting out of the interview process already — so don’t just ignore it.
However, it is worth screening these messages before responding. Some job hunters have fallen victim to text message scams, in which illegitimate companies request personal information. If you ever receive a message from a person asking for your name, address, date of birth, Social Security Number or other personally identifiable information, do not respond. You can save the message and report it to your local authorities.
Keep It Professional
Text message interviews are one way to find out if an applicant has excellent writing skills and is professional, so treat your replies just as you would any other workplace communication. Avoid abbreviations like “Gr8! C U Soon” or “Thx for the invite!” as well as slang or other informal language. And don’t send any emojis — although you may just be trying to show personality, it can appear unprofessional to some recruiters and hiring managers.
A few other tips to consider when texting interview responses:
If you ever receive a text about a job you applied for, hopefully this article will help you. If you want to receive an invite for an in-person interview, treat it as you would a live phone conversation, be as professional as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Good luck!
by Heather Huhman
The job search can be draining, especially when none of your leads come to fruition. So draining, in fact, that you may feel like you lack the fuel to continue your search. But, instead of halting your job search entirely, consider taking smaller steps toward achieving your end-goal of landing a great job.
After all, small steps can lead to big changes. As Robert Collier once said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
To help you regain your confidence and inch yourself closer toward landing your dream job, here are small wins that you can achieve every day this week to boost your hireability:
Monday: Do your homework.
Just as you expect hiring managers to study your resume before the interview takes place, hiring managers expect you to do your homework on the company and the job at hand.
Know what role the position plays in contributing to the company’s mission and vision (which you should also know). Find out what makes their brand different from the competition. Research the organization’s latest wins so that you can reference them during the interview.
In short, know your stuff.
Start your week off by researching the companies on your wishlist. Knowing where a company has been, where it’s going, and how you can help will not only impress hiring managers, but also give you a better idea if the job and organization are a good fit.
Tuesday: Revamp your resume.
Some things on your resume will stay the same no matter what job you’re applying for, like your education, past work experience, and contact information, for instance. But, with 61 percent of employers wanting a resume that is customized for their open position, according to recent research by CareerBuilder, it’s crucial that you tailor your resume to fit the job you’re applying for.
That can be as simple as highlighting certain skills or accomplishments that are in line with the company’s job description. So, make the most of your Tuesday by customizing your resume to fit each job you’re planning to apply for.
Wednesday: Reconnect with old connections.
There’s no telling which employers will ask for professional references, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and reconnect with anyone who can vouch for various skills and capabilities. Before beginning your job search, reach out to past co-workers, managers, professors — anyone you feel will have something valuable (and positive) to say about you to potential employers.
Set aside some time to reconnect with these people via email or a professional social network, like LinkedIn. Let them know that you’re planning to begin your search and ask if it’d be OK to list them as a reference — they’ll appreciate the heads up.
Thursday: Research networking opportunities.
Don’t rely solely on job boards and social media to discover the latest jobs within your industry, as some jobs don’t ever make it online. Sometimes the best way to discover new job opportunities — especially those that aren’t advertised — is through networking events.
Take some time out of your Thursday to research upcoming industry events and networking opportunities for the week or month and mark them on your calendar. These can easily be found on local industry-related websites, professional associations or organizations’ web pages, or social media.
This takes all of fifteen minutes and can help you form new professional relationships, learn about upcoming job opportunities, as well as give you a great opportunity to practice speaking about your background and skills.
Friday: Clean up your online presence.
Before pressing “pause” on your job search for the weekend, spend some time cleaning up your social media profiles. Considering nearly half (48 percent) of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a candidate, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, you can’t afford to let your social media profiles get messy.
So, what social media content turned employers off the most according to the survey?
Saturday: Go shopping.
A Saturday spent shopping sounds a lot more appealing than a Saturday spent job searching. But this shopping trip is designed to help boost your hireability by preparing you for networking events and job interviews (let’s hope for a lot of the latter).
To help you look the part, stock your closet with outfits that are appropriate for the line of work you’re interested in. Keep in mind that interview outfits should always be slightly nicer than your everyday office wear. When it comes to the job interview, professional garb will work in your favor.
Sunday: Set your goals for the week.
Start your week off on the right foot by setting aside some time on Sunday evening to set your job search goals for the week. Stick to the “small steps” method outlined in this post and strive to get something small done each day to bring you closer to landing the job of your dreams.
Creating a list of job search “to-dos” will encourage you to stick to those goals, as well as help mentally prepare you for the week ahead.
by Sarah Greesonbach
When you’re actively looking for a new job, you can’t afford to wing it on the organizational front. Whether you apply for five jobs or 100, you’ll soon find yourself buried in an extraordinary number of resumes, cover letters, job descriptions and interview invitations. If you don’t keep them carefully organized, you may not identify the right opportunity — or worse, you’ll flounder when the right opportunity comes along.
If you want to stay on top of all of the applications, LinkedIn requests and other digital paraphernalia that go along with your job search, it’s time to break up with your bad organization habits. Here are seven techniques that will help you overcome the most common job hunt organization issues so that you know the where, what, who and how for your next interview:
1. If you aren’t good at organizing… figure out why
Organizational skills aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are just as many ways to be disorganized as there are to be organized. Instead of haphazardly applying “organization tactics” to your job search, try to identify specific ways that you tend to be disorganized and troubleshoot those issues directly.
For example, do you tend to lose hard copies? Digital apps will be where it’s at for you. But if you forget anything that isn’t written on pen and paper, a paper calendar or sticky note wall will be a better solution. And if you aren’t sure how you like to stay organized, try something new. If you’re usually an Apple Calendar kind of person, start using a paper planner, or vice versa.
2. If you have a hard time following up… use a spreadsheet
When your job search is in full swing, it’s way too easy to send an email and forget it. Not only can this cost you when you aren’t following up at appropriate intervals, but it can also make you feel like you’re constantly treading water without getting anywhere. Your job hunt becomes an overwhelming, never-ending headache instead of a systematic, purposeful journey.
Combat this by starting a detailed spreadsheet that tracks all the pertinent details of your job search, such as the company, job listing and contact details. As you move through the job hunt process (and the interview process), highlight the steps you’ve “completed” so you can show yourself just how much work you’ve done along the way.
3. If you need reminders… go high tech
There’s nothing wrong with manual spreadsheets that lists all of the job search details you need to know if it’s working for you. But if it’s not working for you — if you frequently forget to update the spreadsheet and you’re never quite sure about what your next step should be — you need to take your job search into the 21st century with a free online project management tool like Trello or Wrike.
Using a project management tool as a job seeker allows you to organize all of the job search details and automate when and to whom you should send a follow-up note. You can also adjust your settings to automatically receive reminders when it’s time to update the individual jobs or check in on the progress of the hiring manager.
4. If you’re a visual person… try sticky notes
The sticky note wall is a tried-and-true organizational method that works for writing a book, setting goals and yes, getting a new job. First, pick a large wall you can divide into 3-4 columns. At the top of each column, mark out a different stage of the job process or your job search to-do list (e.g. “Draft Resume,” “Apply,” “Interview”). Then, write each job on a sticky note and set it in its appropriate column. As you work through your job hunt and make progress, move the sticky note to the next step.
Not only can it be very motivating to see your progress in such a visual way, but it is easy to get a quick snapshot of where you are in the process by simply glancing at your sticky note wall. Pro tip: You can also use the “Sticky Notes App” on your phone or computer if a digital version of the sticky notes would save you the wall space.
5. If you forget the details… keep thorough notes
If you’re speaking to one or two prospective employers each week, it can be tough to remember who’s who and what you talked about. If you don’t take careful notes, you may unwittingly repeat yourself or send a thank-you note to the wrong person and reference the wrong conversation. Talk about awkward!
If that sounds like something that could happen to you, use a free tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote to keep track of the meetings you have. For extra memory help, pull the LinkedIn photo of the person you’re speaking with into the note sheet and capture notes like the person’s company, job title and location. Not only can you look at a picture of a real person when you’re in the midst of a phone screen interview, but you can also easily go back and remember who you spoke with when you’re considering job offers or writing thank-you notes.
6. If you’re losing motivation… make a list of reasons you’re searching
If you find yourself putting off your job search or simply not looking forward to any part of the process, you’re letting the discomfort of a job hunt distract you from the reason you’re looking for a new job. Get back in the right headspace by bringing the focus back to what motivates you.
Make a list of the reasons you’re looking for a new job — toxic workplace, skipped over for a promotion, low salary, etc. — and keep it in a prominent place. Not only will this motivate you to stick to your plan and find a new job, but it will also prepare you for the interviews ahead by keeping your deeper purpose of your job search front and center.
7. If you’re feeling burned out… schedule some downtime
Little tasks can pile up, especially if you’re managing a full-time job during your job search. Instead of spending a whole day on your job hunt once a month and getting frustrated with your lack of progress, set short but regular periods of time to check in and make consistent progress. A half hour two or three times a week will ensure that you’re responding to hiring managers at appropriate intervals and staying on top of new opportunities as they come out.
A job search is a job of its own: you’re practicing time management, patience and even customer service as you balance your search with your current job. But you don’t have to let the complexity of all the resumes, cover letters, applications and interviews throw you off. Just find an organizational method that works for you so that the energy you put into the job search pays off with a new job — not a new headache!
by Michael Klazema
Whether you are interviewing for full-time jobs or workers from the gig economy, there is a good chance background checks are going to figure into your professional future. Background screening—both as a pre-employment due diligence measure and a post-employment monitoring technique—is evolving fast.
Being cognizant of the trends and changes in background screening will help you prepare for your next job interview and understand what your current employees are thinking. Here are four background check trends that every employee and prospective employee needs to know.
1. Background checks for on-demand workers are becoming more common
For a long time, businesses used nontraditional methods to screen and vet nontraditional workers. Detailed background checks were essential for full-time workers, a little less common for part-timers, and virtually unheard of for contract employees. As the gig economy grows, this habit is dying out. Businesses are increasingly coming to terms with the importance of having freelancers on their teams. They are also starting to recognize that freelancers are still representatives and ambassadors for their brand—even if they are a little more removed from the business than full-time workers.
According to Intuit, gig workers are expected to make up 43 percent of the workforce by 2020. As the freelancing trend continues to spike, more and more employers are running full-fledged background checks on contract workers.
Bottom line, if you are part of the gig economy, you should expect to submit to background screenings to land freelance jobs. These screenings could include anything from criminal history checks to educational verifications. They will likely get more detailed as the gig economy continues to grow.
2. Questions about criminal history on job applications are going to disappear
Depending on where you live, you may have already noticed this trend: more and more employers are removing questions about criminal history from job applications. Some companies are doing it voluntarily, but most have been spurred by a legislative movement called “ban the box.” Ban the box policies are intended to reduce employment discrimination against ex-criminal offenders. By removing the criminal history question from job applications and delaying the background check until after a conditional offer has been made, these policies seek to help ex-offenders get a fair chance at employment.
According to the National Employment Law Project, 29 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted ban the box policies. Some of these laws and ordinances only apply to public (i.e., government) jobs. Others, like a policy on the books in Los Angeles, apply to public and private employers alike.
You can click here to find out whether your city, state, or county has a ban the box policy. Even if it doesn’t, it will only be a matter of time before ban the box is the rule rather than the exception.
3. Continuous background checks and ongoing criminal monitoring will become the norm
Virtually all employers have adopted pre-employment background check policies. Companies are split when it comes to screening current personnel. Some require existing employees to update their background checks every five years or so. Others use continuous screening to get real-time alerts when a current employee is convicted of a crime.
Over the next few years, it’s likely that employers are going to come to a consensus on how to screen existing employees. What that consensus will be remains to be seen: it could be an every-five-years policy, an annual background check policy, a semi-annual policy, or a continuous real-time monitoring policy. In any case, job seekers and employees should know that what they do after they get hired is going to matter just as much as what they do before they get hired.
4. Employers are going to continue using social media for pre-employment screening
“Social media background checks” are sketchy from an administrative standpoint. Employers like to look at Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to learn more about what their candidates are like in real life. However, findings on these fronts are often misleading, out of context, and based on assumptions. Worse, social accounts can reveal personal, potentially bias-creating information—such as sexual orientation, gender identification, race, religion, nationality, and political affiliation—that employers cannot use in employment decisions.
CareerBuilder statistics show that social media background checks are 500% more common than they were a decade ago. As there is still no law or EEOC/FCRA guideline that prohibits or restricts social media screenings, they are likely to remain common for the foreseeable future.
Some employers are changing how they use social media screenings. Some use third-party businesses to do the social media search, requesting reports that exclude information that might create unintentional bias or discrimination. In other cases, a hiring manager might ask an employee or HR rep not involved with the hiring decision to do the social media check.
Employees and job searchers should be aware that companies are looking at what they do online. Ramping up your privacy settings and thinking more critically about the things you post will help you avoid trouble. You may also want to go back through older posts and photographs and delete anything potential employers or current bosses might find objectionable.
Preparing for Your Background Check
As you get ready to start your job search, know that employers aren’t changing their practices because of you. While three of the four trends listed above emphasize employers’ desire to learn more about their workers and candidates, those policy shifts aren’t personal. Instead, businesses are ramping up their employee screening strategies to safeguard their brands, their reputations, their existing employees, and their customer base.
As a job seeker or employee, the best strategy is to be honest, forthright, and amenable to all employer requests. Many employers are willing to overlook past mistakes, but almost none will overlook dishonesty.
Michael Klazema has been developing products for criminal background check and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.
by EMILY LIOU, PHR
As a career coach, my inbox is often flooded with messages from people I’m connected with on LinkedIn who are reaching out about something or another. Now, I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I often find myself sighing with annoyance when I open them up—so much so that I was motivated to write this article.
You see, the thing is, I’m open to making new connections and willing to talk to anyone, so the fact that I often put off responding to messages means people are missing the mark. And that stinks because it takes effort to both find people to connect with in the first place and then cultivate a networking relationship from there.
I want to be excited when I read your message and I know you want that, too (or at least I hope you do!). Often times, it only takes a few tweaks to your words or tone to make that possible.
Below are messages inspired by real ones I’ve received along with my thoughts on why they’re not the best approach.
Quick note though: Unless you have LinkedIn Premium, you’ll need to connect before you send a message. But that doesn’t mean you can just send the generic invite. Instead, send a customized one with with these short templates so they’ll accept your request and you’ll be able to actually send over a note.
1. The Empty Query
It’s nice that you want to find a way to help one another out, but this message doesn’t give me anything to work with. Perhaps there’s something in my my background that led you to reach out in this manner?
Why This Is Better
Anyone can spot a generic, non-customized message from three Wi-Fi zones away, and if you care about standing out, you’ll be careful not to be labeled as generic, right? The updated version attempts to start building a rapport. By including a customized, targeted line, I can tell George has looked into my background and is excited about finding a way to potentially work together. And that makes me much more inclined to respond to this.
2. The Vague Ask
How’s everything? Hm, that’s a rather large question for someone I don’t know in real life. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even know where to begin in responding to this person.
The Revised Message
Why This Is Better
Being clear up front is just good business. It sets clear intentions and demonstrates professionalism. Many people have experienced accepting a meeting only to find it turn into a sales pitch. If you’re clear about the reason why you’re reaching out, you’re going to build a higher level of trust out the gate and find people who are attracted to your proposal. This is what building a network is all about.
3. The Forceful Demand
Hi Matt. My current profile has been updated to indicate that I’m no longer a recruiter (not to mention I definitely don’t specialize in the Florida market as I’m in Los Angeles). If you’re going to spend the time, energy, and effort in sending messages and attempting to foster relationships, it’s far more more effective if you target the correct audience.
The Revised Message
Why This Is Better
If you’re actively seeking a new position and are wanting to connect, it makes a huge difference if you can share in a couple of sentences what you’re looking for and a glimpse of what you bring to the table. Even though I’m no longer entrenched in the recruiting world, I’m still well-connected.
If Matt had demonstrated clear professionalism in a straightforward introduction, and made note of target roles he’s seeking, I’d for sure be inclined to point him to resources or ask him for his resume to pass along.
The thing to remember is that if you’re asking one of your LinkedIn contacts for something, you need to make it as easy as possible for that person to follow up.
It may be difficult to see it, but every piece of correspondance counts—from the way you first connect to how you stay connected. Don’t randomly reach out to 20 of your LI connections for the sake of hoping something falls into place in your job search. By building off of the revised templates above, you’ll be able to initiate conversations that result in meaningful networking relationships.
Emily Liou is the founder of CultiVitae, where she teaches, coaches, and advises thousands of ambitious corporate professionals seeking career transitions. As a former recruiter and human resources professional, Emily has the inside scoop on what companies are looking for. Her passion is in the area of personal and professional development, and she believes everyone has the ability to cultivate their lives. When not reading books and blogging, Emily is often found exploring $ or $$ restaurants in Los Angeles, or rock climbing.
Ask a Real Recruiter: Should I Use a Salary Calculator to Negotiate a Job Offer?
by JESSICA VANN
I think I blew my last interview by asking for too much from a nonprofit using a salary figure that I found through Google. My question is, when asked about salary requirements, is it okay to say a number and then mention that's the number you found on Salary.com or Payscale.com?
Still Figuring Out My Worth
Dear Still Figuring Out My Worth,
For many people, the dreaded salary question is the most nerve-wracking stage of the interview process.
Did you aim too high and shoot yourself in the foot? Or, did you aim too low, undervalue your worth, and leave money on the table?
You’re right to want to be prepared for the question, because if things are going well, you’re going to need to face it. So, let’s start with the question you asked:
Data aggregators, such as the two you mentioned, may be useful as one data point, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. Even further, I wouldn’t recommend volunteering that your source is a salary calculator, as it could signal a lack of insight about your profession and the marketplace you’d be working in, as well as an inability to see the big picture.
Which brings me to understanding the big picture. And I’d actually like break this up into two parts because I think it often goes overlooked in most tactical advice on this topic:
The Big Picture Within Your Own Life
Market data is one approach. But, at the end of the day, it’s what matters for you that should govern what you negotiate—provided you’re being realistic. Consider things like your cost of living, as well as the totality of how this job does or doesn’t makes sense for your life.
For instance, if the pay’s slightly lower, but it provides the work-life balance or flexibility you desire, that’s worth considering. What are the benefits or perks like? How about things like the culture or growth opportunities? In addition to salary, you’re allowed to negotiate for these things, too. (It could be easier for a company to give you an extra week of vacation than 10K more than they budgeted for the role.)
Only you know what would make you feel fulfilled and happy in your role, so take the time to really think about it.
The Big Picture Within the Company, Industry, and City
The hard question: Are you being realistic?
Understand that most positions have a salary range and your experience will likely dictate where in that range you fall.
For instance, are you on the more junior or senior end for a role of this type? Do you have relevant experience or are you more of a transitional candidate?
Moreover, what is the industry you’re applying to, is the company currently profitable, and what do the standard salaries look like based on your answer to those two questions? A Series A start-up is likely to have a very different compensation plan than a publicly traded and more established tech company.
Now, those calculators you mentioned can be a part of how you evaluate what standard is. But, in addition to that, I recommend speaking to your network (and even asking in informational interviews) so you can get a real understanding of what’s normal.
Understanding the above should help you go into the conversation with more confidence. And combining that with reading up on articles like this list of negotiation tips and this piece about knowing your worth should make this part of the process way less painful.
This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Real Recruiter in the subject line.
Your letter may be published in an article on The Muse. All letters to Ask an Expert become the property of Daily Muse, Inc and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.
Before a networking event filled with people whose names I need to remember, sometimes I will mouth out the names to myself right before I enter the room. It makes me feel silly and self-conscious, but it has always served me well.
And now, a new study published in Memory backs me up on why reading out loud is one of the best learning and memory tricks you can do to remember words.
Study: You’re more likely to remember words when you read them out loud
Researchers Noah Farrin and Colin MacLeod from the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada recruited 75 students to take a memory test of vocabulary words. Two weeks before the test, the students recorded themselves saying the 160 words. Then on the day of the test, students prepared in four different ways: They read 20 of the vocabulary words silently to themselves, they heard someone else read 20 of the words in a recording, they heard themselves read the selected words out loud in a previous recording, or they just read the selected words out loud to themselves.
Then the researchers tested the students’ memory recognition by asking them to recall whether the words chosen for the test were words they had just studied or were words from two weeks prior.
Out of all the study methods, having the students read the words out loud to themselves was the most effective recognition tool, with students guessing the correct word order with 77% accuracy. Listening to the recording of themselves came in second place, while hearing someone else’s recording and reading silently came in last.
The most effective memory tool
The researchers suggested that reading aloud in the moment is the most effective memory tool because it’s giving your brain the most tools to remember information. The act of speaking aloud activates motor processing cues because your mouth is physically mouthing the words. Second, it also activates your auditory processing because you’re hearing the words, and in addition to hearing words, you’re hearing them in your own voice, which has been found to make information more memorable.
“This may well underlie why rehearsal is so valuable in learning and remembering: We do it ourselves, and we do it in our own voice,” the researchers concluded. “When it comes time to recover the information, we can use this distinctive component to help us to remember.”
Next time you need to remember some Very Important Contact’s name before an event, try speaking the name out loud.
Monica Torres is a reporter for Ladders. She is based in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’re considering a certain career path. So, in an effort to learn more about it, you gather your courage, heed that age-old career advice, and connect with somebody who already works in the sort of position that you’re interested in.
Yes, you put yourself out there. The hard part’s over right?
Not exactly. Making the most of that conversation involves more than just sitting down at that coffee shop corner table, staring nervously over your latte, and eventually spouting out an awkward, “So… tell me about what you do.”
In order to get the insights you’re so eager to get your hands on, you’ll need to ask targeted and smart questions. Like what? Here are seven you should absolutely have in your back pocket.
1. “What Attracted You to This Career Path?”
Of course, it’s best to dip your toes in and start with the basics.
Kicking off your conversation with a question like this one will give you a greater understanding of what initially drew that person to this sort of position—which provides some necessary context as you move into the rest of your discussion.
2. “What Previous Professional Experiences Have Helped You Most in This Role?”
In a similar vein, don’t be afraid to dig into that person’s professional history. It’s always helpful to understand how somebody arrived at this current point in his or her own career.
Perhaps a specific certification has really given that person a boost in this position—meaning it’s something that you’d also want to look into. Or, maybe he needs to rely on a skill set he didn’t anticipate.
That’s all handy information to have as you consider making a move yourself.
3. “What’s Something That Would Surprise People About Your Day-to-Day?”
You might think that you know everything there is to know about that particular field. But, you’d be surprised—getting a peek behind-the-scenes is always incredibly enlightening.
Maybe everybody assumes she spends her days out in the field—but, her role actually requires a ton of desk work, for example.
Using a prompt like this one will empower you to find out more about those lesser-known parts of a specific position.
4. “What’s One Thing You Wish Somebody Would’ve Told You Before Going Into This Field?”
Sticking with that “surprise” angle, it’s worth digging more into that person’s head to find out what personally shocked him or her about that role.
Whether it’s the fact that he had no idea how much he’d need to rely on his math skills or he didn’t anticipate needing to collaborate with so many different departments, there’s bound to be some element of that job that was unexpected.
5. “What Are Some of the Biggest Rewards of Your Position?”
Of course, the goal of your conversation isn’t to just uncover any surprising or negative parts of that position. You want to find out what that person loves as well.
Perhaps the income can’t be beat or she loves that no two days are the same. Or, maybe the work is fulfilling and rewarding, and she knows that her work is contributing to the greater good.
Finding the right job for you involves finding one that lines up with your own values and priorities. So, it’s smart to touch on the most positive pieces of that role to see if they match up with your own ideals.
6. “How Would You Describe Somebody Who Would Excel in This Career?”
You’re eager to not only discover whether that type of position is what you’re looking for, but also if you’d be a reasonable fit for that sort of role.
The person that you’re meeting with will obviously have some valuable insights into what it takes to succeed in that job, and it’s worth asking how he or she would describe a qualified candidate.
If he or she touches on skills and competencies you already have? You’re well on your way. If not? At least you’ll know what you need to work on in order to present yourself as a seamless fit.
7. “What’s Most Important to Prepare for a Role Like Yours?”
Ideally, you’ll walk away from that conversation with a handle on your next steps. To get some actionable information that you can walk away with, end your conversation with a question like this one.
Is there a certain certification you need to get? A class you should take? Experience you have to have? Other people you should reach out to?
Find out what he or she recommends to help you adequately prepare for that job, and you’ll have leveraged that conversation to actually take steps forward.
When you’re considering a certain career path, informational interviews are an enlightening tool to lean on—provided you’re prepared to ask the right questions.
Make sure to use the seven included here, and you’ll maximize that coffee date—with as few awkward pauses as possible.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.