Ever since I’ve started working at The Muse, I’ve gotten cornered by people at social gatherings who whisper in my ear, “Hey, I’m looking for a job, I heard you can help.”
I typically respond by pulling the person into a back alley, opening up my trench coat, and asking if the person’s looking for fully-tailored resumes, or cover letters with witty openers—or, for an extra cost, offer letters that only need their signature.
Just kidding. The lighting in back alleyways tends to be horribly unflattering.
Instead, I typically respond with something about letting their network know they’re looking, since that’s the best way to get their foot in the door. To which they almost always say, “Oh, that’s nice, but I’m trying to keep this pretty low-key right now.”
I get it. When I started my last job search I did the same. I had this fantasy of waltzing into dinner and announcing the news to my friends and family that I landed this amazing new position.
They’d say, “I didn’t even know you were looking.” And I’d casually reply, “Oh, it just fell into my lap.” Then they’d all simultaneously think, “Wow, Jenni must be really good at what she does to leave one great company for another.” Then I’d say something fancy like, “Next round is on me, old chaps.”
How did that fantasy play out in real life?
I got a few interviews, zero offers, and eventually laid off. The good news is that being unemployed left me with no choice but to confront two truths:
I was unhappy in my current situation.
I needed help.
These facts are easy for me to type out now, but they felt so hard to admit when everyone else around me appeared to be thriving in their careers. No one else I knew needed help from their network, so why did I?
However, as soon as I started being honest about my situation, the opportunities started rolling in. Turns out people want to help you! But they can’t if you don’t clue them into what you need.
Think about it: Have you ever turned to a friend in the middle of a conversation about The Bachelor and said, “Hey, would you like me to proofread your resume?” or “My cousin’s company is hiring if you’d like me to connect you two.”
That means that rather than trying to pull this off all by yourself, tell your friends, tell your former colleagues, and tell your family. While you don’t want to shout it from the rooftops (mostly because that’s a wildly ineffective way to communicate), you should clue your network into the fact you’re looking. It’s honestly as easy as sending this “Help me find a job” email.
The majority of the interviews I went on after being laid off came from friends-of-friend leads. Leads I never got before I lost my job because no one knew I wanted them. And the position I ended up getting at The Muse? That “in” came from a former manager’s friend.
So, if you’re serious about looking for a new role, stop treating it like a stealth mission. You’re not in the CIA (unless you are, and in that case, you do you). You’re just someone who’s looking for a new opportunity—and who’s smart enough to know it’s a lot easier to find it when other people are keeping an eye out, too.
By Pattie Hunt Sinacole
Q: I have been told repeatedly to “follow up” after an interview. But how? Should I mail a thank-you note? Snail mail seems old-fashioned. Do I send an email? Or place a phone call? What do you recommend? I have had more than one recruiter ask me to “follow up” with them? But honestly I am not sure what that means. Thank you Job Doc.
A: Following up after an interview is essential. Candidates who follow up after an interview demonstrate interest and show a commitment to the process. Alternatively, candidates who do not follow up are perceived as less interested or less serious about the job opportunity.
I recommend candidates ask about how to follow-up before the interview ends. For example, Marie is interviewing with ABC Company on Tuesday, February 14th. Before she leaves the interview with Tamara, the hiring manager at ABC Company, one of her final questions should be: “Tamara, can you explain to me the next steps in the selection process?” Marie will hopefully learn more about the process. Marie might learn when they hope to fill the role, how many interviews are part of the process and how many other candidates are being considered at this point. This is helpful too because it can set expectations as to how long each step might take. If a company explains that they intend to ask candidates to interview two or three times at ABC Company, then that may take several weeks. If a company explains that they expect to have a decision by Friday February 17th, that is a very different timeframe. Marie can also ask “how do you prefer that I follow up with you?” Tamara may offer several options – by phone, with an email or she may offer a specific date. When we handle recruitment for our clients, I will often ask a candidate to email me by a certain date.
Additionally, always send a thank-you note. Email is typically the best way to send a thank-you note. Make sure you email it within 24 hours of an interview. In the email, you again want to reiterate your interest. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and can serve as a sample for your writing skills.
Your career history will pack an even bigger punch with these dynamic words.
Caroline Zaayer Kaufman
Your resume isn’t a place for modesty; it’s a chance to show companies all the awesome things you’ve done—and what you can do for them if given a chance. Take the opportunity to liven things up a bit. Weak, vague or overused verbs can actually diminish the excellent work you did at your last job, so choose words that more accurately reflect what you do.
“It’s critical to choose active, industry-appropriate action verbs,” says Linda Hollenback, a brand and career strategist who owns Philadelphia-based Hollenback Consulting. “Well-chosen lead action words make the difference between highlighting your skills and undermining your contribution.”
To help your credentials pack the maximum punch, Monster created a list of strong action verbs to make your resume more powerful.
Action verbs for communication skills
Instead of: talked, led, presented, organized
Use: addressed, corresponded, persuaded, publicized, reconciled
You can present data and lead meetings all day long, but does that mean you actually got your point across to an audience? Simply saying that you talked to other people doesn’t prove that you achieved your goals.
Stir the interest of a hiring manager by using words that have a bit more personality than the usual suspects. That might encourage him or her to want to meet you in person.
For example, instead of saying you “organized” an off-site meeting, say you “orchestrated” an off-site meeting. And instead of “leading” the meeting, perhaps you “chaired” the meeting.
“‘Persuaded’ is another great verb to use,” says Christina Austin, founder of New York City–based ExecBrands, a career-branding firm, “as it highlights a candidate’s ability to influence others.”
More precise words can also add a touch of formality to your actions, she says. Words like “addressed” or “corresponded” can carry more weight than a generic “wrote” or “spoke.”
Action verbs for organizational skills
Instead of: organized, ordered, filed
Use: catalogued, executed, monitored, operated
Did you organize a project, then walk away? Probably not, so choose words that express how you organized and followed through with a project to completion. For example, “executed” says that you saw it through to the end.
“By focusing on the task rather than the purpose or significance of the task to the organization, a job seeker may limit the perceived value of his or her experience,” Hollenback says. Instead of “filed account paperwork,” she suggests something more descriptive of your purpose, such as “monitored client accounts.”
Action verbs for management skills
Instead of: led, handled, oversaw
Use: consolidated, appointed, delegated, established
Leadership experience is excellent for a resume. However, just saying you “led” a team is not nearly as powerful as saying you “established” a team, which indicates you took the lead to create something new.
“A word like ‘oversaw’ hints that someone is supervising work on a high level, but not necessarily participating in a project actively,” says Andy Chan, co-founder of Prime Opt, a Seattle-based career-coaching center. Pick words that reflect the true nature of your contribution. For example, “Established a nine-member productivity team and delegated operational tasks to three junior managers.”
Each of these verb choices combines to give the hiring manager or recruiter an impression of your work style—just be sure to avoid repeats. “Multiple repetitions of an action word reduces the word’s impact and makes for a boring read,” Hollenback says.
Grab your dictionary or thesaurus if you’re feeling stuck, and when you’re done, be sure to have a trusted friend or colleague read over your resume to make sure it reads properly. And if you need more help, get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's partner TopResume.
Too many job seekers make the interview process more complicated than need be, thinking they need to do something special to stand out. Actually, you want to focus on the simple over the extraordinary -- nailing basic interview etiquette and typical interview questions. You want to treat the interview like a conversation, not an interrogation. You want to relate to the other person, develop a connection and have a back-and-forth dialogue.
Here are 10 easy-to-follow tips to stand out in your next job interview:
Start Your Interview In The Lobby
The interview starts before many job seekers realize the interview starts. When you check in at reception, your demeanor with the person at the desk is often reported back to the interviewer. If you’re ready with the name of your interviewer and time of your meeting, you appear organized. If you sit with good posture in the lounge area, you exude poise. Start your interview behavior as soon as you enter the building.
Be Excited From The Start
An important part of your interview demeanor is your level of enthusiasm. As a recruiter, I empathized if a candidate was nervous and I tried to put them at ease, but I was always impressed by the candidate that I didn’t have to care of, that was comfortable in a meeting and especially that seemed excited to be there. Many candidates will be qualified – you want to be qualified and excited for the job.
Be Poised From The Start
As you walk from Reception to the interview room, are you grasping for your coat, your bag, your phone, your portfolio, your water, and all with one hand so you keep the other free for a hand shake? You don’t want to look overwhelmed or clumsy at the outset. You know your interviewer is going to come out and call for you. Yet, many candidates are surprised when the time comes and then flail around for all their things. Don’t make me call a U-Haul to help you move your stuff! Hang your coat, and put as much as you can in your bag so you only have one item to carry.
Minimize Nervous Habits
When you sit down with your interviewer, ground yourself with your feet planted on the floor and your hands on your lap or on the desk. If you tend to shake your knee up and down, cross your legs. If you like to twirl or tap a pen, don’t keep a pen in your hand. You know what your nervous habits are, so seat yourself in a way that minimizes these behaviors.
Prepare Your Introduction
You know the interviewer will ask you about yourself – Tell me about yourself or Walk me through your resume or What are you working on currently? Set your introduction in advance so you focus on the most relevant skills and experiences related to this job. If you have multiple jobs, you don’t want to bury your interviewer in unrelated details – pick out what s/he specifically should know to realize your fit to the job at hand.
Prepare Your Stories
Similarly, you know the interviewer will want to check your qualifications for the job. S/he might pull out items from the job description and ask you to give examples of when you did these things. S/he might describe attributes or skills the company wants in this role and ask you to prove you have these. S/he might share a current project or responsibility the new hire will be tasked with and ask how you’d handle it. Prepare the stories from your career that you know are relevant to the job. Use the job description as a guide for what skills, experience, and attributes you need to highlight. Sure, the interviewer might add something that wasn’t revealed in the job description, but this doesn’t happen often. If you prepare against the job description, you’ll be ready for a vast majority of the questions.
Have Questions To Ask
The interview is a two-way exchange. Many interviewers leave time for questions, and use the questions you ask as an indication of your interest in and knowledge of the role. If you have no questions, you’re not interested or you didn’t bother to research the company or role. Next!
At the end of your interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time. Reiterate your interest in the role. Ask about next steps so you’re clear on when and how to follow up. Don’t be so relieved that it’s over that you just run away without ending strong.
Place Cues For Yourself Where You Can Easily See Them
Given all the responses that you need to prepare (your introduction, various examples of your skills, experience and attributes, questions to ask, your strong close) and behaviors you want to model (sit up straight, don’t tap your pen), you might want to give cues to remind yourself so you don’t blank out on anything. Bringing a sturdy notebook or leather pad to take notes is always a good idea so you remember any helpful information you learn in the interview. This is also a good place for cues to remind yourself. If you think you may forget an example, say a financial analysis you did in your last role, write “Financial Analysis” in big letters so you remember to mention it. If you tend to rush out of an interview, write “End Strong” in big letters to prompt you to say, “Thank you, I want to reiterate my interest in the role. What are the next steps?” Placing cues is also something you can do during Skype interviews (position post-its strategically around your webcam so you can see your cues but still make eye contact).
Finally, don’t forget to smile throughout your interview. Smiling relaxes you and the interviewer. It also helps you appear friendlier and develop that connection. If you can even just remember to smile at the opening hand shake, smile at the first question and smile at the close, then you have built in at least three smiles for your interview.
Remember that the interviewer wants you to do well –when an opening is filled it means less work (no more interviews) and help is on the way (you’ll be taking on the work). In this way, you can relax knowing the interviewer is on your side. You can also relax knowing that a good interview is a few simple steps and well within the reach of any job seeker willing to do a bit of preparation.
I am the cofounder of SixFigureStart career coaching. I have worked with executives from American Express, Goldman Sachs, Condé Nast, Gilt, eBay, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. I'm also a stand-up comic, so not your typical coach.
An analysis of 350,000 messages found the best way to end an email if you want a response
I've always thought of obsessing over your email openings and closings as a bit like obsessing over your outfit — not worth it.
As long as you don't do something outrageous — say, sign an email to your CEO with "xoxo" or show up to a job interview wearing a clown costume — you'll be fine with whatever you choose.
I was wrong.
According to a new analysis from Boomerang, an email productivity app, different email sign-offs yield different response rates. And woe to the unappreciative emailers among us: The analysis found that the best way to end an email is with gratitude.
Specifically, results showed that the most effective email sign-off is "thanks in advance."
For the study, Boomerang looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads from mailing list archives in which, they wrote in a blog post, many emails involved "people asking for help or advice, hoping for a reply."
Then they picked out the eight email sign-offs that appeared over 1,000 times each and figured out the response rate linked to each sign-off. Here's what they found:
"Thanks in advance" had a response rate of 65.7%
"Thanks" had a response rate of 63%
"Thank you" had a response rate of 57.9%
"Cheers" had a response rate of 54.4%
"Kind regards" had a response rate of 53.9%
"Regards" had a response rate of 53.5%
"Best regards" had a response rate of 52.9%
"Best" had a response rate of 51.2%
The average response rate for all the emails in their sample was 47.5%.
The Boomerang blog post also cites 2010 research from Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, which found that participants who received an email from a student asking for feedback on a cover letter were twice as likely to help when the email included the phrase, "Thanks so much! I am really grateful."
Interestingly, three separate etiquette experts previously told Business Insider that "best" is the most appropriate way to end an email. And one such expert said that "thanks" is "obnoxious if it's a command disguised as premature gratitude."
The Boomerang analysis didn't measure how recipients felt about the sender — just whether they responded. It also didn't measure the power dynamics at play. Maybe your boss signs their emails "best," and they always get an answer.
Bottom line: If you want a response to your email, it can't hurt to end it with an expression of gratitude. Thanks for reading!
Getting the best possible salary is important, but consider other forms of reimbursement.
If you don't ask for what you want, the answer will always be no! This is especially true when it comes to salary negotiations. However, you can also negotiate other elements of a job offer, such as a signing bonus, training reimbursement and sometimes the amount of vacation time. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating, follow the tips below and build your confidence.
Research salary ranges. You should conduct company research before you walk in the door for your first interview. Technically, you should have researched salaries before you applied for the job to ensure your range was appropriate. Most job postings will not include salary information. In order to get an idea of what the job is worth and what other people in similar roles make, do you due diligence. This means using multiple sources. Use salary calculators such as Payscale.com, Salary.com, Glassdoor.com or LinkedIn's salary tool. But don't stop there. Talk to recruiters in your field and geography. Network with people who are in your field of work to understand what the going rate is. Use as many of these options as possible to develop your desired range. Remember, your value in the marketplace is based on how much the employer is willing to pay, the value of your skills and what your previous employer paid you.
When to negotiate. You technically can't negotiate a job offer until you have one. You should avoid getting into a detailed discussion around salary or attempt to negotiate any condition until you have a job offer. Mentioning your desire to work from home during the interview could sour the deal. And don't try and negotiate on the spot. Ask how long you have to consider the offer and schedule a time to provide your answer. Remember, accepting a job is a major decision and you shouldn't feel pressured to accept an offer.
Negotiate with enthusiasm. If an employer doesn't think you want the job, it could hurt your chances of negotiating, or worse, could lead to the offer being taken off the table. Tell the employer you are interested in the job and why. And be sure to smile.
Negotiate with the right person. The person who extends the offer may not be the person with the power or authority to negotiate. Every company has a different set of procedures. It is important that you know who has final budget approval for the job. While human resources may be the ones who extend the offer, they may not have the ability to negotiate.
Use company research and inside information. During the interview and through networking conversations with company insiders, you may uncover some valuable information. Perhaps you learn that the company has negotiated vacation time for certain employees or lets some of the team work from home once a week. You might be more likely to negotiate those things if there is already a precedent in the company or department. Use the information you uncover to your advantage.
What things can you negotiate? There are many elements to a job offer. Here are some things you may want to consider:
Negotiate salary first. It's important to prioritize what you want to negotiate, and don't be greedy. Negotiate salary first and if you secure your desired salary, be willing to compromise on other items you want to negotiate.
Convey confidence. Your body language, tone of voice and words you use should convey you believe you are worth what you are asking for. And remember, the company has invested significant time and manpower interviewing you. They don't want to start over.
Get your offer in writing. Once you have reached a final agreement on the terms of the offer, be sure you ask for it in writing. You will want this before you begin your first day of work. Managers can change and policies can shift. You want to protect yourself in case anything changes.
Hannah Morgan provides actionable job search and career guidance. She is passionate about keeping up with the latest job search trends and social networking strategies. Hannah has been featured in numerous national media outlets such at Money Magazine, Huffington Post and USA Today and is listed as a top resource by some of the biggest names in the careers industry. Hannah is the author of “The Infographic Resume” and co-author of “Social Media for Business Success.” Besides contributing to U.S. News On Careers, she also writes articles for her own site Career Sherpa.
Stop obsessively fine-tuning your resume and do this instead.
DANIEL BORTZ, MONSTER
Job searching may be at the bottom of your "fun-things-to-do" list—but that might just be because you’ve hit the "job search wall." It happens to the best of us, and it’s pretty common. But it can be reversed!
"Looking for a job is a universal source of anxiety," says Steve Dalton, author of The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster. It’s also intimidating, he says, given that there’s a seemingly endless number of job postings at your fingertips.
That’s the irony: While you have great access to job openings, having too many options can make the job-search process seem overwhelming. Monster asked career experts for their advice to avoid job-search burnout. Here’s what they said can turn those feelings of fatigue back into excitement.
1. ADJUST YOUR MIND-SET
"It’s all about how you look at the job search," says Danny Rubin, millennial career coach and author of 25 Things Every Young Professional Should Know by Age 25.
Instead of thinking of applications as a total time-suck, he says, consider them the next (and necessary) step to scoring a job at one of your dream companies. With every application you submit, you’re that much closer to landing "the one," because it’s a numbers game.
So if you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of job applications, focus on the end result instead—getting that killer job offer.
2. STEP AWAY FROM YOUR COMPUTER
When you’re job searching, you spend a lot of time at the computer—like, some serious screen time. While looking for and applying to jobs online is important—and most likely the way you'll find your new gig, too much of it could drive anyone crazy.
Drag yourself away from your laptop to meet people who work in the field face-to-face. That way, you'll start meeting people who work in your industry, and you can start doing your homework to find the right fit for you. When you get home, research the companies where your new connections work to read employee reviews and get a deeper sense of what the company is about.
"You don’t always need to go to conferences or formal industry events to meet people," says Chip Espinoza, author of Millennials@Work: The 7 Skills Every Twenty-Something (and Their Manager) Needs to Overcome Roadblocks and Achieve Greatness.
He suggests starting with alumni networking events, which can be a fun way to reconnect with people you went to school with while talking about your job search—like mixing business with pleasure.
3. DITCH THE ELEVATOR PITCH
A well-honed elevator pitch can be a great way to explain who you are and what you do, but sometimes you’ve got to go off-script to shake things up. The key to building relationships is establishing trust and likeability; so don’t always feel pressured to sell yourself when you meet new people.
"Hearing an elevator pitch can make people’s defenses go up," says Dalton.
So instead of immediately answering the question, "What do you do?" try to see if you have shared interests outside of work, or any common links so that you can get to know the person you’re talking with on a less formal level.
4. DON’T SPEND DAYS FINE-TUNING YOUR RESUME
Hiring managers have short attention spans. In fact, some only spend a few seconds looking at an applicant’s resume.
"They’re trying to get back to their real work as quickly as they can," Dalton explains.
Rather than devoting a ton of time to perfecting your resume (psst—there’s no such thing as a "perfect" resume), "put three to four hours into updating it, but make sure it’s error-free," Dalton says.
5. WRITE A SKELETON COVER LETTER
It’s okay to use a template for cover letters to help speed up job applications. However, you’ll still want to tailor each letter to the specific company and position. To do so, Espinoza recommends customizing the first paragraph, incorporating language from the job posting.
Keep cover letters brief. (In many industries, a half-page letter is sufficient.) "Tell hiring managers the information that they need to know upfront," says Dalton, adding that if you have an internal referral you should mention it in the first sentence.
Also, "the shorter the cover letter, the less chance there is for grammatical errors," says Dalton.
6. CREATE AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO
If you’re applying for jobs where you need to submit samples of your work (think writing, graphic design, or advertising), don’t waste time attaching multiple documents to each job application. It’s cumbersome, and hiring managers don’t like having to download multiple attachments, says Rubin.
One solution: Create a free or low-cost professional website on Wordpress, Carbonmade, or Contently, where you can house your portfolio, and include the URL on your resume.
7. PREPARE THREE GO-TO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
During most job interviews, you have an opportunity to ask the recruiter or hiring manager questions. The good news: You don’t need to exhaust yourself by trying to come up with unique questions for each interview. Dalton recommends these three:
What’s your favorite part about working here? "It doesn’t require the person to have to sum up the company culture," says Dalton. Simply asking "What’s the culture like?" often leads to a generic answer.
How do you think the market will be different three years from now? "You’re asking for the person’s expert opinion and that shows respect," says Dalton.
If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be? "You’re essentially asking the person why they’re good at their job, which is flattering," Dalton says.
5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable
I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.
All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting - your punctuality says a lot about you.
Being late bothers me so much that just thinking about it makes me queasy. My being late, which does occasionally happen, usually causes me to break out into a nervous sweat. The later I am, the more it looks like I’ve sprung a leak. Catch me more than 15 minutes late and it looks like I went swimming.
On this issue, I find myself a member of a tiny minority. It seems like most people consider a meeting time or deadline to be merely a mild advisory of something that might happen. I’ve been called uptight and unreasonable, or variations prefaced with expletives. In a world that feels perpetually late, raising the issue of punctuality isn’t a way to win popularity contests and I’m ok with that.
There’s a reason we set meeting times and deadlines. It allows for a coordination of efforts, minimizes time/effort waste, and helps set expectations. Think of how much would get done if everyone just “chilled out” and “went with the flow?” It would be the definition of inefficiency. It’s probably not that hard to imagine, considering just last week I had 13 (yes, I counted) different people blow meeting times, or miss deadlines. It feels like a raging epidemic, seemingly smoothed over by a barrage of “my bads,” “sorry, mans,” and “you know how it goes.” The desired response is “it’s all good,” but the reality is that it’s not okay. Here’s what it is.
As I said earlier, I’m occasionally late. Sometimes a true emergency happens, or an outlier event transpires. When it happens, I try to give a very detailed account of why I was late, apologize profusely, make sure the other person knows that I take it very seriously, and assure them it won’t happen again.
Paying attention to punctuality is not about being “judgy,” or stressed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It makes room for the caring, considerate, thoughtful people I want in my life, whether that’s friends or colleagues. Think of how relaxing your life would be if everyone just did what they said they’d do, when they said they’d do it? A good place to start is with yourself and a great motto is something I was taught as a child:
“5 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.”
Brent Beshore is the founder and CEO of adventur.es. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.
5 Steps to Rock Any Networking Event
A great face-to-face connection can help you jump start the career you've always wanted.
Not everyone loves bobbing in and out of a strange crowd with a bundle of business cards in one hand and a plate of cheese in the other. Approaching people you don’t know while trying to build connections can be awkward. Nevertheless, the fact remains: a face-to-face connection can help you to build professional relationships and, in minutes, jumpstart the career you’ve always wanted.
Whether you’re looking for a partner, a client or an employer, networking events can make a real difference. Not only can it help you grow professionally, it can also do good for your personal life.
However, as the saying goes, it only takes a second to make a bad first impression. Before you go out to one of the many networking opportunities available to you throughout the year, it’s important that you hone your approach. Here’s how:
1. Get there early.
You know that saying about being fashionably late? That may apply to house parties and bar excursions, but little else. If your biggest fear is getting stuck in a corner with your plastic cup and a business card while everyone else chats away, be an early bird.
Ditch any notions you have about being a cool kid and get there before the party starts. Networking events can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re going alone. You’re more likely to avoid getting lost in the crowd if you jump in while the group is small, and meet new people as they arrive, one at a time or in pairs.
2. Wear your conversation starter.
First impressions are everything. In just a quick glance a person can make an opinion about who you are based on your appearance and how you carry yourself. While a well put together look is key, consider heading into your networking event with a piece that will help you stand out.
Avoid drowning in a sea of black and navy blue outfits by adding a pair of fun shoes or unique earnings. Make sure you appropriately express your individuality within the context of your situation. If there’s a dress code or dress expectation, make sure you follow the rules accordingly. You definitely don’t want to leave an impression that you’re gaudy or unprofessional, but remember, this is supposed to be fun!
3. Don’t get sucked in by negativity.
Negative Nancies always have time to show up at a networking event. They’ll rag on anything from the economy and job market to your business and career prospects. While you should do your best to dodge these people as much as possible, know that running into them will happen.
Never feel pressured to engage with a negative person, especially at a networking event. Instead, do your best to turn the conversation around with constructive comments. If the person shows no sign of changing their attitude, politely move on. This may sound weird, but kids are the best networkers out there. Not only are they extremely upbeat when making new friends, but they also are unafraid and excited when they approach their peers. If our kids can do it, so can we.
Similarly, don’t go and be the one whose name tag reads, “I’m Nancy Too.” Be sure to hold positive conversations only. If you’re feeling down about work, consider this a prime opportunity to find new positions. Shift your lament onto hopes for a new position and the amazing skills that you have to offer.
4. Research, research, research.
Tactical networking practices work best when you’ve come prepared. Remember, networking events won’t go on all day. You’ll have a small window to make an impression on a large group, so help yourself out by doing research ahead of time.
Start by knowing who is hosting the event. They’ll likely have a limited amount of time to talk but remember they’re the ones who brought in all of the people you’re networking with. At the very least you’ll want to introduce yourself.
Your biggest priority should be having an understanding of the guest list. Typically, events will post the guest list online ahead of the function. Use the list as a way to make note of the people you will definitely want to make connections with. If your host has a team, reach out to co-hosts or assistants to help make introductions with guests beforehand.
Lastly, don’t forget to utilize social media. Learn to recognize the faces of those who you’re most interested in talking to, and make sure to target them first before you get lost investigating where everyone is getting the chocolate samples.
5. Pretend your business card is money.
You might have an unlimited amount of business cards, but there’s no way you have as much brain storage. Before you go and make your business cards rain on your networking event, consider that successful networking requires genuine connections. You wouldn’t go to Target and throw your money at every item you could buy. Don’t do that at an event. Don’t be Blackjack Betty.
Instead, take some time to evaluate where your card is going. Use the event to make real exchanges with others -- listen as much as you speak (ideally more) and really listen. Understanding a person’s passions will help you to build the relationships you came for. Aim to offer your card to people you’ve spent time talking with, whose passions you understand and whose goals align with your own, and vice versa. You’re more likely to have a successful follow-up with them later.
Andrew Medal is a street geek and entrepreneur. He is the founder of web and mobile development shop, Agent Beta, amongst a handful of other startups. Recently, he's been helping the California Education Department solve the student and job problem through technology.
It can feel awkward to ask a recruiter or an HR person "How much does this job pay?" There is no reason it should be sticky to talk about compensation.
The most responsible and talent-aware employers lay out the pay rate for their open positions. Either they mention the pay range in the job ad or they tell you as soon as they contact you about the job, "Here's what the job pays."
There is no reason to withhold salary information apart from a desire to be cagey with applicants.
If a recruiter, HR person or hiring manager can find out what you earned at your last job before they tell you how much they've budgeted for the position, maybe they can bring you on board at the bottom end of the pay range -- or even below it.
That is unethical, and it's bad business, but there is a lot of unethical behavior and a lot of bad business in the hiring process almost everywhere you look.
When a company recruiter or a third-party recruiter contacts you about a job opening that might be a good fit, it is always appropriate to ask them "What is the pay range for the position?"
If they say "I don't know" or "That is still being decided," get off the phone or end the email correspondence with them, because they are lying. Nobody recruits for a position without knowing the pay range -- it would be absurd to do so.
If you reach out to an employer and they invite you to a job interview, you can go to the interview without establishing the pay range because you contacted them. You can meet them and decide whether you want to continue the conversation. They will also decide whether or not to keep you in their interview process.
Don't go back for a second interview, however, until you know that your salary target and their salary range overlap. When someone from the company sends you an email message or calls you to set up the second interview, broach the salary topic this way:
You: Sally Jones!
Martin: Hi Sally, this is Martin Van Buren from Angry Chocolates. Our team really enjoyed meeting you last week and we'd like to invite you to come back and meet Margaret Hamilton, our Director of Quality, next week. Will Thursday afternoon work for you?
You: Thanks, Martin! I will have to check my calendar to see whether Thursday could work. In the meantime, is now a good time and are you the right person to sync up on compensation? I want to make sure we are in the same ballpark salary-wise.
Martin: I can talk about compensation with you. What are you earning now?
You: In this job search I'm focusing on roles in the $50,000 range. Is this job in that range?
Martin: Yes, it is. This position is budgeted in the high forties or low fifties so we should be in good shape.
You: Excellent! Let me check my calendar really quickly.
The talent market is shifting fast. Employers need smart and capable people like you. Candidates who know their value and who will stand up for themselves are more valuable to employers -- but only to employers who care about talent.
Some employers talk about talent but it's all talk and no action!
You get to decide which manager to work for and which organization to invest your time, energy and brainpower into. Choose wisely. Not every company deserves your talents.
Only the people who get you, deserve you!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.
Making a great first impression in a job interview can be the difference between getting an offer and getting passed by. And according to research, you may only have a few moments.
People make snap judgments about each other within one tenth of a second, a Princeton University study shows. In a blink of an eye, hirers draw conclusions about your likability, trustworthiness, competence and aggressiveness.
And, the study suggests, those first impressions stick: Hirers quickly begin to expect you to conform to the ideas they've just begun to form about you. If you seem familiar and friendly, you could get an offer. If you seem sloppy or overly aggressive, you could be overlooked.
To make those first few moments of your job interview count, follow these rules career experts say are crucial:
1. Dress the part
"Your wardrobe should be clean, pressed and well-fitting," says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume. "The goal is to look like you belong at the company."
The career expert suggests job candidates do some investigating into the job's dress code by asking around within your professional network.
"Do some reconnaissance online and with your professional network to determine the company's dress code," she says. "If the organization is laid-back, dress as you believe they would for an important meeting with a client."
2. Arrive on time
Nobody wants to look or feel rushed at an interview. Being punctual will help you relax.
"I recommend arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled interview so you have time to register with reception, complete any paperwork, use the restroom to freshen up," Augustine says. "Get your bearings before the interview begins."
3. Pay attention to body language
The goal in a job interview is to appear "confident, professional, and friendly," Augustine says. A firm handshake, a smile and eye contact are crucial to that.
Not making eye contact makes you appear nervous, says career coach Becky Berry. "Keep your head up."
4. Sound professional
When people are nervous, they have a tendency to raise their voices a bit, studies have shown. Resist the urge, experts say.
"We tend to tighten the vocal chords when we are tense, and the high, sometimes screechy sound does not sound powerful," says Patti Wood, a body language expert and author. "Bring down your voice."
For more tips on how to appear confident, check out body language tricks to exude confidence. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/14/7-body-language-tricks-to-exude-confidence.html?slide=1
By Sammi Caramela, Business News Daily Contributor
As they say in the business world, it's all about who you know.
Sure, hard work and an impressive resume help, but having connections and possible referrals are often crucial to landing the job of your dreams. In fact, according to a study by recruiting software Lever, referred applicants are almost 10 times more likely to be hired than candidates who aren't referred. Of candidates who aren't referred, only 1 in 100 is hired for every position on average, compared with 1 in 16 for those who are referred to the company and 1 in 22 for those who are recommended by an agency. "For some time now, talent acquisition teams have been increasing their focus on proactively sourcing candidates and encouraging employee referrals," Sarah Nahm, CEO and co-founder of Lever, said in a statement. "[Our] findings prove that those efforts are worthwhile, and paying off."
Other key findings Lever highlighted in the study include:
> The size of a company correlates with its hiring ratio. The smaller the company, the greater the hiring efficiency. For example, Lever found that companies with fewer than 100 employees have an average of 94 candidates for every open position, while companies with more than 1,000 employees have an average of 129 candidates for every open position.
> The average candidate goes through 4 hours of interviews. Although it depends on the position, candidates spend an average of nearly 4 hours interviewing for a job. Candidates for technical jobs spend the most time interviewing, at 5.5 hours on average, while sales candidates spend an average of only about 3 hours interviewing.
> It takes an average of 34 days for a candidate to be hired. However, larger companies tend to take longer. The average hiring time for companies with more than 1,000 employees was 41 days.
> Recruiters consider nearly half of candidates "underqualified." Cold applicants who apply without a connection are the most likely to be seen as underqualified (52 percent). On the other hand, just 22 percent of proactively sourced (referred or headhunted) candidates are considered underqualified.
Building your referral path
So what can you do to ensure you stand out as a capable applicant?
1. Create a soft referral for yourself.
You can take matters into your own hands by reaching out to others for help. Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer at Lever, advised candidates to "think as broadly as you can about potential connections you have into the organization." Ask yourself if you know anyone, even just briefly, who can potentially offer a referral.
2. Search for first- or second-degree connections on LinkedIn.
If you find yourself empty-handed after considering possible connections, turn to the company's LinkedIn page, click "see all employees" and check if you have any first- or second-degree connections.
"If you have a first-degree connection, reach directly out to them, explaining why you're interested in working for the org[anization] and asking if they can refer you," Srinivasan told Business News Daily. "If you see a second-degree connection at the company, click on their profile to figure out how you're connected, and see if there's a mutual connection who might be able to give you a warm intro."
According to Srinivasan, many companies have referral programs and offer incentives to employees who refer candidates. You may be surprised by how eager your potential connections will be to refer you.
3. Establish a legitimate connection.
If all else fails, think about possible ties you can make with the company — for example, any positive experiences you've had.
"Try to establish a legitimate connection, even if it's experience-based," Srinivasan said. "As a candidate, your object[ive] is not to game the system. On the other hand, if you come to the table with authentic examples of times when you've exhibited a particular value that the company champions, those could come in handy during the process."
Additionally, it helps to show your curiosity about the company's culture and values. Don't be afraid to ask questions and show that you've done your research.
The Lever report collected data from more than 4 million candidates, across 999 companies that use Lever, from August 2015 to July 2016.
Sammi Caramela is a senior at Rowan University with a major in writing arts and a double minor in journalism and psychology. She is President of Her Campus magazine and I Am That Girl at Rowan, and contributes to other writing platforms on and off campus. She expects to graduate in 2017 and continue her freelance work with Business News Daily. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org
How cool would it be to have an X-ray into the head of the person who controls your career fate? To understand exactly what a hiring manager at your dream company is thinking when she’s picking which lucky candidate she’ll bring on full-time?
Well, until CAT scans start to pick up hiring decisions, that day may still be far away. But in the meantime, let me at least give you a glimpse into the typical interviewing process so you can get a sense of the main criteria hiring managers use to make those decisions.
How Humans Evaluate Each Other
Even though your potential boss has the fancy title of “Hiring Manager,” at the end of the day, she’s just a human being. Which means that contrary to all that time you’ve spent obsessing about brainteasers, she doesn’t actually care how many tennis balls could fit in a 747.
Instead, she’s going to size you up the same way that all humans size each other up: By getting to know you for a few minutes and then making a snap judgment. It’s really not that different from meeting someone at a party, making some chit-chat, and then getting a gut feeling that either says: “Mm…I like talking to you. Tell me more!” or “Umm…I think I need to go to the bathroom. Will you excuse me for a second (a.k.a., the rest of your life)?”
But where does that gut feeling come from?
One Psychology theory suggests that these flash judgments are really based on two data points:
1. Warmth: Do I like you?
2. Competence: Are you good at what you do?
In other words, we ultimately reduce everyone we meet into four buckets:
1. Warm + Competent
2. Warm + Incompetent
3. Cold + Competent
4. Cold + Incompetent
Any guesses which of these buckets your hiring manager is more likely to pick?
Let’s look at her inner monologue for each:
How to Get Picked
So clearly, your goal is to get into that top-left quadrant: warm and competent. But how do you do that?
The trick is to not only focus on coming up with specific answers to questions that may be asked. But to also focus hard on how you answer those questions. Because, as you’ll see, warmth and competence judgments aren’t definitive evaluations but mere perceptions. And while you can’t change who you are, you absolutely can change people’s perceptions of you.
As an example, let’s take that old interview chestnut: “Tell me about a time you influenced a team.”
A standard answer might go like this:
“OK, so there was this time that I had to work with a bunch of people on a project. Some of them weren’t that easy to work with, so I really had to influence them to do a better job. Which was super tough because they weren’t that motivated. But after I talked with them, they started doing way better. So that’s how I influenced my team.”
The person listening would most likely think the following: This person is both cold (it feels like she’s throwing her teammates under the bus) and incompetent (wait a second, what did she actually do here—does she even know how to work with other people?).
While there’s a lot more to this person’s story, this snap judgment from a hiring managers
makes it clear just how quickly interviewers can rush to evaluate a candidate.
But it also illuminates the importance of how we tell our stories. Because now consider this same story told a second way:
“OK, so there was this time that I got to work with a bunch of people on a big project—the launch of a new website. I was nervous about it because we all came from different departments—sales, marketing, and engineering. So the first thing I did is I got to know my engineering colleagues better by setting up coffees with each person and learning about their backgrounds and goals. And then, when we ran into a situation where the engineers weren’t making as much progress as we had planned, I was able to reframe the new website around their own goals. Seeing the connection between their personal ambitions and our team mission really seemed to light a fire under them. And the result was that we not only hit our deadline, but we actually launched two weeks early.”
Again, same exact high-level story. But notice how the telling of it changes the candidate from cold to warm (“Nice—I’d want to grab coffee with her too!”) and incompetent to competent (“Wow—she knew exactly what to do and got the results to prove it”). All through subtle techniques like:
> Using specifics: Instead of focusing on the boring abstract, the candidate brings her story to life through details: a new website, falling behind, coffee chats, a clear result
> Being self-aware: Instead of needing to stroke her own ego, the candidate shows she’s human and likable by admitting to her nerves
> Going step-by-step: Instead of glossing over the meat of the story, the candidate draws a clear connection from the challenge to her response to a specific outcome
I updated my LinkedIn profile and it's made a huge difference in my job search. I am employed but I'm looking for a better opportunity.
Two recruiters contacted me because of my new and improved LinkedIn profile. One of them was kind of a jerk. He demanded my salary information right away. I told him my salary target, but he said that wasn't good enough.
He said he needs to know what I'm earning now. I told him it wasn't a good fit and I got off the phone.
The other recruiter is awesome. His name is Mike. He has two job opportunities that may be a good fit for me.
We've talked on the phone twice and we're supposed to meet in person next week. Mike asked me to send him my resume and I did.
It's ironic because Mike told me he was very impressed with my LinkedIn profile, which I re-wrote in a human voice following your instructions a month ago. He liked the human voice in my LinkedIn profile well enough to contact me, but when he got my resume he said "It's too conversational."
When I sent Mike my Human-Voiced Resume he said his clients don't want to see resumes that use full sentences.
He wants me to re-write my resume in that zombie style that I just evolved out of a month ago. Should I do it? I firmly agree with you that only the people who get me, deserve me!
Congratulations on your re-branding and your new partnership with Mike!
A recruiter is a partner in your job search. You get to decide which recruiters to partner with, if you partner with any of them.
If Mike has strong relationships with his clients, then I recommend that you revise your resume and send Mike what he's looking for.
He knows his clients. Some employers are on the ball and excited to meet a candidate with a human voice in their resume, and others are not.
If Mike knows that his clients would love to meet the real Nora but would be freaked out to meet you via your Human-Voiced Resume, then follow Mike's instructions. If you trust his judgment, then it makes sense to go along with his instructions.
You are smart to think about how far you are willing to bend to get a new job. It's one thing -- a relatively minor thing -- to revise your resume in accordance with a recruiter's wishes.
However, what if the next instruction you get from Mike is to lower your target salary expectations?
What if Mike tells you that you have to take online tests and supply his client with free work in order to be considered for employment?
I hope at that point you will say "I like you, Mike, but I don't like you enough to lower my standards!"
Every job-seeker has to have a floor beneath which you will not sink. If you do not establish standards for your job search (and for any recruiter who represents you), you will waste countless hours and brain cells.
You don't need to contort yourself into pretzel shapes to get a job. The right employer -- and the right recruiter -- won't expect or require you to crawl over piles of broken glass to get a job.
You can make your expectations and requirements clear to Mike right now, at the beginning of your relationship.
You can tell him "Mike, I'll be happy to revise my resume and send you a version that uses sentence fragments, even though I don't like that communication style.
"I will be as flexible as I can in meeting with employers when it works for them, but I can't be all that flexible because I am working full-time. I know that you are dealing with me on one side of the desk and your client on the other side, but I need to let you know right now that I am not desperate. I have a job already. My brand is important to me, and the way I am treated during the recruitment process is extremely important to me, too."
Way too many job seekers submit to horrendous treatment from recruiters and employers because they think that's just the way things work. That is not the way things work!
No one can mistreat you during your job search without your permission.
Listen carefully to Mike's response when you tell him that you will disappear from his life and his candidate roster the minute you feel the chill wind of candidate abuse blowing in your direction.
Not all employers deserve you -- and not all recruiters do, either!
All the best to you --
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.
For years we’ve heard that hiring managers and recruiters will spend five to ten seconds reading your resume — and no more.
Of course, you cannot really read a resume in five or 10 seconds. I’ve read tens of thousands of resumes over the years and I still read resumes every day.
It takes time, and if you advertised a need for candidates, then you should have the time. If you don’t have time to read the resumes you receive, you shouldn’t be recruiting!
However, managers and recruiters are famous for “reading” resumes in a single glance. They may not even scroll down the screen to see the second page of your resume. That’s shameful, but it’s reality.
On the other hand, recruiters will reach out to you if they find your LinkedIn profile and think you might be qualified for a job opening they’re trying to fill.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. The recruiter needs you, or they wouldn’t take the time to contact you. When you talk to a recruiter on the phone, it’s your turn to screen them the same way they screen job-seekers like you.
Some recruiters will get you on the phone and immediately start asking questions about your background. You can stop them cold and say “Let me ask you this: have you seen my LinkedIn profile?”
If your LinkedIn profile is up to date, they are wasting your time by asking you questions your LinkedIn profile has already answered.
If the recruiter is pushy with you and says “Yes, I’ve read your profile but I have to ask you the questions on my list” politely hang up the phone.
Recruiters cannot earn a dime without candidates like you. If a recruiter reaches out to you — intruding on your busy day — and can’t take the time to prove his or her value to you by answering your questions before launching into a mini-interview, they cannot help you!
You must vet the recruiters who call you. You get to decide who will represent you to employers. Don’t choose someone who is rude or pushy! Choose a recruiter who respects you and your background, as well as your time.
When a recruiter contacts you, don’t start answering their questions about your background right away. They haven’t yet earned the right to ask you any questions.
You have questions of your own that need to be answered first!
Ask the recruiter whether they have a specific job opportunity they are working on — one that you might be qualified for. If they are simply trying to add people like you to their database, that’s a good reason to get off the phone quickly.
If they have a specific job they’re working on, ask them the basics: where is the job located? What is the general outline of the role? What is the rough salary range for the job? Every good recruiter can answer these three questions. If a recruiter won’t play ball, say goodbye.
Employers are having trouble finding great people to fill their job openings. On top of that, most medium-sized and large employers have broken recruiting systems.
Their recruiting processes are so slow and cumbersome that good candidates drop out of the pipeline. That’s one reason so many employers work with recruiters. The recruiters keep the process moving!
A good recruiter in your corner is a fantastic asset, but as in any profession, there are more unsuitable recruiters than top-notch ones around.
Invest the time and energy to screen every recruiter you talk to before agreeing to share your resume with them or to allow them to represent you.
You are not just a bundle of skills and certifications. You are a talented professional that employers would be lucky to recruit. Remember that only the people who get you, deserve you!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.
Not every employer will pay for training to get you ahead but they all notice when you're falling behind.
by John Boitnott
To maintain a strong career trajectory, professionals need continuing education. Whether it means learning about the latest technology or mastering a new skill, with the right training, employees can boost their resumes and remain competitive. Thanks to the Internet, consumers now have access to an endless array of free courses, on almost any topic they need to learn. Here are eight free tools that can help entrepreneurs connect with the online learning opportunities they need.
1. YouTube videos
Consumers use YouTube to watch old TV commercials and cat videos, but they may not realize the site is filled with tutorials on a wide variety of topics. Prospective students can search for classes by topic or subscribe to specific channels like those hosted by Bloomberg Business, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Entrepreneur. YouTube is also a valuable resource for learning how to use software, from popular solutions like Microsoft Office to more obscure software specific to an industry.
ALISON brings free courses in everything from entrepreneurship to psychology, making it the perfect resource for pursuing various interests. Courses are self-paced, with assessments helping students gauge what they’ve learned. At completion, students can download a learner record that shows all of the courses they’ve passed. Courses are offered at both diploma and certificate levels to help students build a resume.
With courses from the world’s top universities and colleges, Coursera can help entrepreneurs get certificates from respected institutions. Lectures and non-graded materials are free, with financial aid available for courses that come with graded assignments and certificates. Entrepreneurs can learn more about popular topics like data science and machine learning or study basic business skills.
Udemy bills itself as an online learning marketplace, with more than 40,000 courses. Not all of the courses are free, but a search of free courses on the site reveals pages of free courses on topics such as web design, iOS programming, and SEO. For personal development, Udemy has free courses on painting, photography, goal setting, and more.
With courses from Harvard University, MIT, The University of California Berkeley, and other universities, edX is the only leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider that is both nonprofit and open source. Students take free courses in subjects like supply chain management, data analysis, healthy living, and Linux. In addition to study materials and instructors, edX provides unique learning tools like game-like labs and 3D virtual molecule builders for hands-on learning.
6. MIT OpenCourseWare
Known for its research and education in science and engineering, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a top-notch reputation. MIT OpenCourseWare brings some of the school’s courses online, with free lecture notes, videos, and exams from the school’s instructors. Students can choose from thousands of courses in the fields of business, engineering, science, and more.
In addition to providing courses, FutureLearn offers a community of learners, with students communicating with each other to enhance the experience. There are numerous free upcoming courses, including many covering business-related topics. The site’s workplace learning program gives businesses the tools they need to managing training for all of their employees in one place.
For Apple device users, iTunes has a wide variety of courses available for download. Professionals can search iTunes for the subject they need or browse through this list of free courses offered through the platform. Through iTunesU, instructors put together their own classes and offer them to consumers, including participants like Harvard and Stanford universities. While some of these classes can be found elsewhere, Apple device owners may find it easier to search for the classes they need where they can download them directly.
Professional development courses can be a great way to improve efficiency and boost a resume. With so many courses available online, professionals can take these classes in their free time, often on their favorite mobile devices. Interested students should first determine the courses they’re interested in taking and search one of the above platforms for an affordable option that fits their unique learning needs.
John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.
Matt Lindner, Chicago Tribune
Is the cover letter a lost art when it comes to applying for jobs?
"Electronic application processes make it easier for many candidates to apply, which sometimes means many more applications need to be sorted through before decisions are made," says Andrea Alaimo, director of human resources at Chicago based logistics firm Redwood Logistics. "That may be a reason that cover letters don't hold the same value they used to. Today, we see a small fraction of total applicants also include cover letters"
"Cover letters are becoming less of a requirement and more of an option," says Parker McKenna, a human resources disciplines panelist for the Society for Human Resource Management. "Many recruiters or hiring managers aren't reviewing cover letters if they feel they have gotten a full understanding of the applicant's background by reviewing the resume alone."
Not only are hiring managers glossing over the cover letter, job seekers in many cases are omitting it altogether.
"Only a small percentage of applications we receive include cover letters, perhaps 10 percent," says Tracy McShane-Wilson, executive director of talent acquisition at accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP.
Nationwide, just over half — 55 percent — of all job applicants include a cover letter when applying for a position, according to a recent survey from job board CareerBuilder.
But those who omit a cover letter, or submit one with an obviously halfhearted effort, could be missing out on an opportunity to set themselves apart from the crowd.
"You can generally tell when a candidate is very interested in a particular position and/or the organization, as they will take more time to delve into why the role and/or organization fits well within their own professional goals and passions (in a cover letter)," says Valerie Keels, head of D.C. Office Services for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.
The cover letters that hiring managers are getting, by and large, aren't exactly blowing them away.
"Many that we see are generic and thus not that valuable," Alaimo says.
"Letters that only state the obvious, such as the position applied for and advising that a resume has been submitted doesn't generate much interest from the hiring manager," Keels adds.
But a well-written cover letter could be the difference between getting your foot in the door and getting one of those dreaded generic response letters from a company telling you that those in charge of hiring are impressed with your qualifications but have decided to pursue other candidates at this time.
A Grant Thornton spokesman says the company is on pace to hire an estimated 2,500 people this year, a figure that includes interns as well as entry-level and more experienced hires.
McShane-Wilson says she'll receive anywhere from 50 to 100 applications per job posting, on average.
"The number of applicants has increased significantly over time, due to the greater availability of information about open roles through job sites and social media, as well as the much greater ease with which candidates can submit applications," she says. These technology developments have allowed us to vastly expand the potential pool of talent and have greatly increased our candidate traffic."
Given the amount of competition, McShane-Wilson and other hiring managers say putting a little effort into composing a thoughtful cover letter could go a long way.
For one, it tells a hiring manager a lot about how passionate you are about the position you're applying for.
"If you are the type of person that is thorough, fully engaged and takes the time to write a cover letter, then you're probably also the type of person that cares about making sure it is well-written, informative and persuasive," McShane-Wilson says.
Alaimo says she's not the only person involved in the hiring process, and thus not the only one candidates have to impress if they want to make it to the next round of the hiring process.
Including a cover letter tells her and her team a lot about a candidate's most basic communication skills.
"In the end, each hiring manager determines how important mastery of the written word is for the role they are seeking to fill, but confirming good written communication skills can only help our review of a person's total communication skills, from traditional writing skills to our current-day, often-instantaneous technology-based communications methods," she says.
Matt Lindner is a freelancer.
Executive Resume Writer and Career Strategist at www.virginiafrancoresumes.com.
These clients come through my doors all the time: smart, achievement-laden professionals, rusty where job searching is concerned. Many have not been in the job market since before the recession and others have never needed to job hunt — until now. Most have heard through the grapevine what it takes to successfully land a job.
As an executive resume writer who has helped thousands to navigate the job search landscape, I can attest that while some of these job search truths are true to some extent, others are simply unfounded. Perplexed? You are not alone.
#1: I Must Apply Online To Get An Interview
The Reality: In my experience, the online application process may work for some, but usually does not work for most. This is because many things can occur between the time a posting appears and when you apply.
From budget freezes to managers going in another direction to someone having the inside track before the posting even gets published — it will be tough to get a response no matter how perfect you are for the role.
The Workaround: Regardless of whether a job posting is viable or not, online advertisements do serve a positive purpose. They can reveal which corporations appear to have budgets for hiring, and they provide a bit of insight into the corporate culture. They are an ideal starting point for networking — which in my experience yields a far greater return on your job search efforts than responding to roles via a portal ever would.
Use these postings to identify which companies to target and to locate decision makers or connections you may have within these organizations. Get started with outreach and see it where it leads you.
#2: My Resume Must Have Keywords To Get Noticed
The Reality: If you pepper your resume with a bunch of industry keywords your resume may make it past applicant tracking software but will probably end its journey as soon as it gets before a human. Why? A resume must tell the story of how you are a perfect fit for the role. No amount of keywords will accomplish this without context or an explanation of how you performed your role and how you succeeded.
The Workaround: Include a "Skills" section in your resume that allows a reader (and the machine!) to quickly scan core skills in which you are highly proficient or even an expert. Use the rest of the resume to tell the reader about your achievements and proud moments — which in turn will allow them to figure out what you can do should they hire you.
#3: Recruiters Will Find Me As Long As I Have A Completed LinkedIn Profile
The Reality: A LinkedIn profile that is at "all-star" status (check where yours is by going to "Edit Profile" and looking in the top right corner of the screen) will absolutely rank more highly in searches than one where key sections have been left blank. However, in a highly saturated or competitive industry, a complete profile alone will not likely give you the advantage you need.
The Workaround: In my experience of writing LinkedIn profiles and guiding clients on this platform during their job search, the more active and engaged a client is on LinkedIn, the more likely they are to be contacted and the shorter their job search will be.
This can be accomplished by reaching out to first-degree connections, connecting with second- and third-degree connections, and sending a note to those who have viewed your profile. Additionally, spend a few minutes each day liking and sharing content of interest within your targeted industry.
While Technology Will Continue — People Don't
There’s no doubt the job search landscape has changed — thanks in large part to technology. What hasn’t changed, however, is people.
At the end of the day, people still respond to people — whether through a strong case articulated on paper or in person. In other words, the powers of outreach and networking will continue to trump other forms of job hunting for years to come.