What do you give thanks for?
We give thanks for the career group leaders who give their time to help us.
We give thanks for the organizations that allow us to meet in and use their facilities.
We give thanks for the speakers who share their knowledge to help us with our job search for free.
We give thanks for the opportunity to network and meet new people.
We give thanks for the opportunity to help others in their job search.
We give thanks for the support our family and friends provide.
We give thanks for the opportunity to spend more time with our family during our job search.
We give thanks for the opportunities we have living in the USA.
We give thanks for the next great opportunity that awaits us in the future.
We give thanks.
What do you give thanks for?
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving from CareerDFW and CareerUSA.org.
by Jill Cornfield | @jill_cornfield
Companies are increasingly using AI to take the guesswork out of job searches and find the candidates whose resumes match what they are looking for.
The first step to a successful job hunt is knowing how the algorithms work. Then, tailor your resume to use AI to your advantage.
Without even thinking about it, we interact with artificial intelligence every day.
Siri finds nearby pizza places or dry cleaners. Alexa turns on lights and gives the day's forecast.
So it may come as no surprise that AI is now a deep but unseen part of your job hunting.
Just as spellcheck alerts you to a typo, other algorithms pore over your electronically submitted resume for misspellings, grammar and information about your work history.
With thousands of previous versions of a job that can be scanned, the algorithm uses the available data on resumes to find the best candidates for a talent recruiter, according to Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, an online job marketplace.
"Machine learning can cherry-pick and rapidly learn from the employer how to do a lookalike search," Siegel said. "That turns out to be by far the best method you can use to match."
On the other side of the job hunt, AI can match a person to a pool of applicants who have experience or skills in common with the job seeker, and show the jobs they've applied to.
"AI is the new version of keyword algorithms," which have been around since the 1990s, said Robert Meier, a job transition expert and CEO of JobMarketExperts, which deals with a range of employment issues. "Typically, the algorithm looks for continuity of work history, job title progression and education," he said. Specific companies may have different metrics they look for, such as software experience or credentials.
What has changed is the number of applicants. Digital applications are easy and free, Meier says, and any job opening now has so many more candidates for a company to screen.
But most are eliminated almost immediately, and only the top 2 percent of candidates make it to the interview, Meier said.
The algorithms are the table stakes to get you in the door, Siegel said. Give yourself every advantage of getting yourself into the best-match list.
Cover letters still matter
The algorithms are the table stakes to get you in the door, Siegel said. Give yourself every advantage of getting yourself on the best-match list.
More resumes submitted on apps and tablets mean fewer cover letters.
"But it's still an opportunity to stand out and give yourself an advantage," Siegel said.
He recommends every cover letter include what he calls an essential sentence.
"Put things in the simplest, most straightforward language possible."
-Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter
Do some research on the company you're applying to and make sure your letter says, "I am so excited to apply for this job, because ..." Fill in that blank, Siegel advised, with a phrase such as "I love your product" or "My skills are a perfect match to take your product to the next level."
Convey your availability and enthusiasm to project the most attractive version of yourself, Siegel said, and use this as a best practice to approach an opportunity that really interests you.
Given all these behind-the-scenes algorithms, job hunters need to know how their resume looks to computer "eyes" rather than human ones. Here are five things to do on resumes you submit electronically.
1. Be straightforward
"Put things in the simplest, most straightforward language possible," Siegel said.
Clearly list your skills and the years of experience you have with each one.
Instead of "professional sound engineer with varied experience in wide variety of software," check the job description for specifics. Better to say you're a sound engineer with four years' experience using Avid Pro Tools. "The algorithms are really good at deducing these are the key skills for a job," Siegel said.
2. Spelling counts
It's critical to remember that algorithms on job sites scan for a range of signals.
"You might be cavalier about spelling and grammar," Siegel said. "That's an easy signal."
For most companies, that means your resume is automatically discarded.
3. Have an up-to-date format
Algorithms try to turn the information on your resume into usable data, said Siegel, so make sure you use a traditional, text-based format.
Don't use Photoshop on your resume: The algorithm can't derive data from a picture. "Use a modern text editor," Siegel said. "WordPerfect will make for a challenging document."
4. The magic of 'results'
A resume filled with results — not duties and responsibilities — attracts employers like moths to a flame, JobMarketExperts' Meier said.
Phrase your accomplishments as revenue, income or money saved. Perhaps you made some aspect of a company function more efficient or found a way to cut costs.
A resume that includes specific numbers, percentages and quantities will get a closer look.
5. Have a mobile-ready resume
Most job-seeking activity happens on a cellphone or tablet, but those are not particularly text-friendly.
"Create your resume and cover letter in the right format on a desktop," Siegel said. Use a cloud-based service such as Google Drive so you can apply on any site using a mobile device.
It’s no myth that failing to negotiate your salary can seriously impact your earning potential. In fact, last year, Glassdoor released a study that found that the average American could be earning about $7,500 more per year than their current annual base salary. Not only does that hurt your bank account in the short term — since raises and subsequent salary offers tend to be based on your previous salary, a lower initial salary has a compounding effect. Some studies estimate that failing to negotiate can cost you up to $600,000 over the course of your career.
So it’s clear that salary negotiation is important. But does that mean you should always ask for a higher salary when starting a new job? What if you get an offer that’s already fair, or fear that the opportunity might be rescinded if you try to ask for more?
To get to the bottom of this question, we asked a handful of career and salary negotiation experts to weigh in. The verdict? With very few exceptions, yes — you should always try to negotiate your salary. Here’s why.
Most Offers Have Built-in Wiggle Room
You might feel guilty asking for a higher salary than what your prospective employer offered, but odds are, they’ve anticipated that reaction — and their salary offer reflects that.
“In today’s job market, most recruiters expect that the candidate will make a counteroffer and typically leave room for negotiation on base pay or various incentives,” says Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer of Fjuri.
Typically, employers have a set salary “band” for a given position (for example, a company may budget between $75,000 to $110,000 for a marketing manager position). They want to offer a salary that’s competitive enough to attract talented candidates to the role, but they still have a vested interest in saving money where they can. So in this case, the company might choose to offer $90,000, knowing that if the candidate pushed back and requested a higher salary, they could offer an additional $20,000 while still staying within their band. But if the candidate fails to negotiate, that’s an additional $20k saved.
You never truly know what you can get unless you ask, so it’s well worth pushing back on a job offer — especially because the potential rewards far outweigh the risks.
The Worst-Case Response Is Usually a ‘No’
When I first began interviewing for jobs post-college, I was terrified to negotiate my salary, fearing that a recruiter would view my request as greedy and rescind their offer as a result. But in reality, that hardly ever happens.
Why is that? For one reason, if you receive a job offer, the employer has probably already invested a significant amount of time and energy into recruiting you. Rescinding your offer just because you asked for a bit more cash would mean they’d have to begin the recruiting process all over again — and that’s not a cheap or easy thing to do.
“They’ve chosen you, made [an] offer and are invested in the idea that they’ve filled the position,” says Eli Howayeck, the founder/CEO of Crafted Career Concepts in Milwaukee. “Candidates get nervous or afraid that asking for more money or non-financial benefits could put their offer in jeopardy. Employers like this because it keeps salaries from rising too quickly. The reality: the worst thing likely to happen if you ask for more is that your request is denied, in which case, you can still accept the offer and move ahead!”
That’s not to say that no one has ever had an offer rescinded after they tried to negotiate. But on the rare occasion that it happens, it’s probably more about how they asked than simply the fact that they asked.
“Offers are rarely rescinded — and if they are, it’s most likely because the candidate handled the negotiation poorly and displayed behavior that wasn’t aligned with the company’s core values,” says Marielle Smith, VP of People at GoodHire.
Even if the unthinkable happens and a company does reject you for trying to negotiate, there’s a good chance that it’s not the kind of company you would want to work for anyway, points out ICF-credentialed HR Specialist and Career Coach Kristyn Lang.
“If the company does react very negatively and holds it against you, then you have seen their true colors and have dodged a company that probably does not have a great culture,” Lang says.
It Might Be a While Before You Can Revisit a Raise
Some job seekers rationalize taking a lower-paying job by telling themselves they can just push for a higher salary when performance review season rolls around. But unless you’ve been explicitly told otherwise, you shouldn’t just assume that a raise is guaranteed.
“I think you should almost always try to negotiate your salary because you’re not likely going to have another opportunity to address compensation for another year,” Smith says. “As a job candidate, you’re going into a new position with good faith based on a job description and a few interviews — you don’t really know what to expect.”
Even if you knock it out of the park on day one, there are multiple reasons you might not get a raise. Some companies aren’t able to offer raises or bonuses if they’re struggling financially, and others have policies about how long an employee has to stick around before they’re eligible for a promotion or raise — so you need to make the most of each negotiation opportunity that’s presented to you, because you don’t know when the next one will come up.
Of course, all of this doesn’t mean that you’ll be guaranteed a higher salary if you just ask for it. You still need to understand your market value, lay out a compelling argument and make your request respectfully (and even then, a more competitive offer isn’t a sure thing).
But if you don’t ask, you won’t receive — it’s as simple as that. You don’t want to be kicking yourself ten years from now for earning far less than you deserve, all because you couldn’t work up the nerve to negotiate your salary when you had the chance. Who knows? With a little preparation, you might just be able to secure the salary you always dreamed of.
Few situations are as anxiety-provoking as job interviews or first dates. Without appearing desperate, you’re trying to convince a stranger that you’re more worthy of their time, money, attention, and affection than a slew of strangers who you’ve probably never met. It’s awkward, and you’re probably wearing uncomfortable clothes.
Many of us respond to this pressure, which psychologists call “impression management,” by highlighting our successes and talents. This self-selling can be exceedingly obnoxious: “I’m a natural-born leader,” a date once proclaimed, before reminding me for the third time that he worked at Goldman Sachs.
But more often than not, sharing our talents is a well-intentioned instinct. From childhood on, we’re praised for earning high marks, winning games, and earning promotions. It’s no surprise our self-confidence (or lack thereof) is intimately tied with quantifiable success, and the romantic delusion of “innate” talent.
However, a new study from the City University of London’s Cass Business School, published in the journal Basic and Applied Psychology, suggests we’re approaching impression management all wrong, especially on interviews and dates. Instead of emphasizing success, we’d be better off focusing on effort, the seemingly less-flattering flip side of talent.
“A success story is hardly complete or convincing without an explanation for the success,” writes Cass professor Janina Steinmetz, author of the study. “Did the success come easy, thanks to one’s talents, or was it effortfully attained through hard work? Both of these attributions can be part of successful self-promotion, but which attribution is more likely to garner favorable impressions?”
To answer this question, Steinmetz conducted three experiments, two of which emulated job interviews, and one of which emulated a date. Participants were asked to imagine either the role of the impression manager (the interviewee, or the “sharer,” on a date), or the receiver (the interviewer, or the “listener” on a date). The impression manager tries to figure out what will make them appear in a positive light, Steinmetz explains, and the receiver reports what the impression manager would have to say so to make a positive impression.
All three experiments rendered the same conclusion: Impression managers overemphasized their talents and successes, while sharing their efforts far less than the receivers would’ve liked.
“In impression management situations, people usually try to come across as competent because that’s what usual gives them social capital and esteem,” Steinmetz tells Quartz. “Talking about success makes people feel competent, that’s why people do it. But it’s misguided if people only talk about competence and not also about effort.”
Effort, as Steinmetz defines it, means talking about struggles and hard work—the less-glamorous stuff that makes us human.
“When I asked you how you have accomplished so much in your career, you can say, ‘I’m talented,’ or you can say, ‘I struggled and worked really hard.’ The latter is a sign of effort, which is liked by others,” she says. “Effort conveys warmth, likability, and is relatable. Talent conveys competence and ability.”
The key, says Steinmetz, is to do both: People are overly concerned about appearing smart, so they talk about whatever makes them seem smart. However, they forget how much others care about warmth and likability. One is not more, or less, important than the other, but while over-communicating talent sounds arrogant, too much humility is rarely, if ever, a bad thing.
An executive coach who's helped countless people change careers gave them all the same piece of advice
During a job search, it's best to focus on changing either industry or function. Don't look to switch both at the same time.
That's according to Erica Keswin, a workplace strategist and former executive coach at New York University.
Keswin also recommends mapping out the skills you can transfer from your current gig to your new one.
As an executive coach at New York University's Stern School of Business, much of Erica Keswin's day-to-day involved dealing with clients who wanted to make a career change.
Maybe they'd grown bored; maybe they thought they'd stagnated; maybe they felt their true calling was elsewhere.
To all of those clients, Keswin, who is a workplace strategist and the author of the forthcoming book "Bring Your Human to Work," gave the same piece of advice, which she shared on a call with Business Insider: "It's very difficult to change industry and function at the same time."
Yet too many people get overeager and want to do a total 180-degree turn when making a career transition.
For example, say you currently hold a finance role in the fashion industry. Keswin recommends that you consider either staying in fashion and moving to the role you'd prefer or staying in a finance role and moving to the industry you'd prefer. Once you have some experience with either a new role or new industry, you can think about making a bigger switch.
Keswin also led many coaching clients through an exercise in which they mapped their transferable skills.
"These are some jobs that I'd be interested in; this is what I used to do," Keswin said. "On paper, [the new job] looks nothing like [my old job]. But when I really peel back the layers, it's clear that I have many of the skills that would enable me to do [the new job]."
It all comes down to being patient, cautious, and thoughtful — traits that, admittedly, aren't so easy to display when you're fed up with your current job.
Indeed, career coach and former Googler Jenny Blake guides clients through a four-step process when they're making a career change, whether that's moving into a new role at their company or launching a startup. The first step involves figuring out what's working well in their current career stage and how they can leverage that.
Narrow down your options to three new opportunities
Once Keswin's clients completed the mapping exercise and pinpointed some potential new gigs that wouldn't look too dissimilar from their old role, Keswin would advise them to narrow down their options to three opportunities.
That's because, she added, "most people that I work with end up getting that first interview or that next opportunity through some type of relationship that they have built," and not through submitting their resume online.
So you'll want to invest the appropriate amount of time and energy in forging those relationships — think reaching out to former colleagues or classmates. "You can't really go deep enough to make traction if you're looking at any more than three opportunities," Keswin said.
When it comes to conversation, you’re a natural. You can chat up a storm with just about anyone, you’re a pro at listening, and you love meeting and connecting with new people.
But when it comes to starting that networking conversation? That’s a different story.
This is one of the most common concerns we hear about networking: How do you just walk up to someone you don’t know at an event—and start talking?
Well, it’s a tad easier than it sounds. Fact is, no one’s going to turn you away if you walk up, smile, and say, “I’m so-and-so. Nice to meet you.” In fact, others will probably be relieved that someone else started the conversation!
But, the process is definitely a lot easier when you have a few go-to icebreakers in your back pocket. So, we’ve put together a handy list to refer to before your next event—some of our own lines, a few favorites from our career expert friends, and icebreakers our Twitter and Facebook followers have used, too!
1-5 - The Classics
When in doubt, just try the basics: asking what someone does, inquiring why he or she is at the event, or even just reaching out your hand and saying hi.
1. “What’s your favorite conversation starter at a networking event?” - Connie B.
2. “So, what do you do?” It gets them talking first and you can think about how to approach the conversation or how you could possibly work together. - @GrowSouthwest
3. “So, what brought you here today?” - @twofacedhrlady
4. “Hi there! I’m Michelle. What are you passionate about?” - Michelle E.
5. “What’s your story?” It always sparks a fascinating and non-generic conversation. - @leslieforman
6-10 - Location, Location, Location
No matter what, you’ve got at least a couple things in common with every person in the room: the event you’re attending, the place it’s being held at, and the food and drink you’re consuming. Use that to your advantage by striking up conversation about what’s going on around you.
6. If I’m at an event with food, I’ll often use that as a conversation starter, à la “I can’t stop eating these meatballs. Have you tried them?” - @erinaceously
7. “How did you hear about this event?” - @myuliyam
8. “It’s so hot (or cold) in here.” Hey, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but the person will either agree or disagree, and pretty soon you’re talking about weather patterns, your best umbrella, and then your career goals. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse
9. “I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by the deluge of info that’s being firehosed at us today. Is there one nugget of brilliance that’s really resonating with you?” - Alexandra Franzen
10. “What a beautiful venue. Have you been here before?”
11-15 - The Newsworthy
Another thing you have in common with, well, everyone? What happened in your city or the world today. While you don’t want to start up any hot political debates, some light-hearted headline sharing is a great way to break the ice.
11. “What do you think about [insert topic germane to the event or person here]?” I’m biased: News is a great engagement tool. - @thatsportsgirl
12. “Wow, I just can’t believe all the crazy news headlines today. What a week!”
13. “Any chance you read the news today? I missed it, and I’m dying to know what’s happening with [insert news topic here].”
14. “So, was it a pain for you to get here?” The mode of transportation and location in the city are always on peoples’ minds. There’s bound to be a story about it. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse
15. “Did you catch the game last night?” It’s a classic, but it’s a classic for a reason.
16-20 - Great for Introverts
If you’re an introvert, walking into a room full of unknown people can feel extra intimidating. One of our favorite approaches is to look toward the outskirts of the room and find someone who looks a little lonely. Maybe that woman sitting by herself at the table doesn’t know anyone and is just hoping that someone will come talk to her. Be that person, and try one of these lines.
16. “Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?” - Careerealism
17. “As we’re both here at the (buffet, bar, waiting room), I feel I should introduce myself. I’m [name] from [company].” - @ainegreaney
18. I like to compliment people on their clothes and accessories. I find this approach to be more friendly and less about professionally connecting, especially if you’re at a networking event. I believe both men and women can compliment each other on their choice of attire and use it as a conversation starter! - @MsMeganGrace
19. “Excuse me. Do you know how much a polar bear weighs? Enough to break the ice! Hi, I’m Andi. Nice to meet you.” - Andrea M.
20. “Man, I hate networking.” If you sense a fellow party-goer has similar misanthropic tendencies, walk up and start a conversation about your mutual distaste. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse
21-25 The Funny
We don’t recommend using anything like the joke, “How much does a polar bear weigh?” (Answer: Enough to break the ice.) But when you’re meeting new people, a little humor is a great way to ease the awkwardness and kick-start a fun conversation.
21. I always start by saying, “I can’t believe how under-dressed I am for this event.” A little self-deprecating humor is always good, and I’m always poorly dressed. - @EllBell9
22. Something jokey—like “I just came for these carrot sticks.” Then, ask a question, like “How’d you hear about this event?” - @beetorr
23. “So, on a scale of 1 to undrinkable, how terrible is the Chardonnay?”
24. “Did you see the Japanese ‘Attack of the Raptor’ office prank video?” Timely mixes of humor and intrigue can be great. - @kylehsf
25. “I’ll be honest, the only person I know here is the bartender, and I just met him two minutes ago. Mind if I introduce myself?”
26-30 - The Totally Random (But Hey, They just might work!)
If all else fails, try one of these.
26. “Any chance you know a great sushi place around here? I’m not familiar with the area, and I’m headed to dinner after this.”
27. “Hey, aren’t you friends with [fill in random name]?” It doesn’t matter if you really think the person is someone you know, just walk up and ask if he or she is friends with someone you know. He or she will tell you “no,” and conversation will commence. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse
28. If you see a group of people that seem engaged in quality conversation, just approach them and say, “Well, you guys are certainly having more fun than the last group I was talking to.” - CareerBliss
29. “If there is one question you do not want me to ask you, because you are sick and tired of answering it, what question would that be?” - Conversation Arts
30. “I’m working on an article about the best and worst conversation starters ever. Any particularly good or terrible ones you’ve heard tonight?”
Having a well-crafted resume can be the key to getting your foot in the door at the company of your dreams. But figuring out how to make your resume fully representative of your experience and also stand out is easier said than done. After all, hiring managers and recruiters generally only spend about 7 seconds reading your resume before deciding whether to move forward or not. Most people know the basics of how to put together a decent work history, but here are some tips you probably haven’t heard before that can help your resume stand up to the 7-second test.
1. Only include your address if it works in your favor.
If you’re applying to positions in the city or town you already live in, then go ahead and include your address. In this case, it lets the hiring manager know you’re already in the area and could theoretically start working right away.
But if you’re targeting jobs in another area and you’d need to move in order to start working, it’s probably a good idea to leave your current address off of your resume. Why? Recruiters are sometimes less excited to interview candidates from another city or state, since they often require relocation fees.
2. Be a name dropper.
It may be poor form to drop names in everyday life, but you absolutely should do it on your resume. If you’ve worked with well-known clients or companies, go ahead and include them by name. Something like: “Closed deals with Google, Toyota and Bank of America” will get recruiters’ attention in no time flat.
3. Utilize your performance reviews.
You might not think to look to your annual review for resume material, but checking out the positive feedback you’ve received in years past can help you identify your most noteworthy accomplishments and best work attributes—two things that should definitely be highlighted on your resume. Including specific feedback you’ve received and goals you’ve met can help you avoid needing to use “fluff” to fill out your work experience.
4. Don’t go overboard with keywords.
Many companies and recruiters use keyword-scanning software as a tool to narrow the job applicant pool. For this reason, it’s important to include keywords from the job description in your resume—but don’t go overboard. Recruiters can spot “keyword stuffing” a mile away.
5. Use common sense email etiquette.
There are two types of email addresses you shouldn’t use on your resume or when applying to a job via email: your current work email address, or an overly personal or inappropriate email address, like firstname.lastname@example.org. Stick with something professional based on your name in order to make the best possible impression.
6. When it comes to skills, quality over quantity.
There’s no need to list skills that most people in the job market have (Think: Microsoft Office, email, Mac and PC proficient), which can make it look like you’re just trying to fill up space on the page. Keep your skills section short, and only include impactful skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying to.
7. Choose to share social accounts strategically.
Including links to social media accounts on a resume is becoming more and more common. But it’s important to distinguish between professional accounts—like a LinkedIn profile or Instagram account you manage for work—and non-professional ones, like your personal Twitter or Facebook account. While it might be tempting to include a personal account in order to show recruiters who you are, you’re better off only listing accounts that are professionally-focused. Save your winning personality for an in-person interview.
8. Use hobbies to your advantage.
Not all hobbies deserve a place on your resume, but some do. Hobbies that highlight positive personality qualities or skills that could benefit you on the job are worth including. For example, running marathons (shows discipline and determination) and blogging about something related to your field (shows creativity and genuine interest in your work) are hobbies that will cast you in the best possible light and might pique a recruiter’s interest.
9. Skip generic descriptors.
Hardworking, self-motivated, self-sufficient, proactive, and detail-oriented are all words you’ll find on most people’s resumes. But most job seekers are motivated and hardworking, so these traits don’t really set you apart from the rest of the applicant pool. Instead, focus on the specific skills and accomplishments that make you different from everyone else applying to the position.
10. Keep an accomplishment journal.
Keeping a log of your work accomplishments and positive feedback as they come up can make putting together or updating your resume significantly easier. Include as many details as possible so you don’t have to spend time tracking them down later.
Dear Real Recruiter,
What’s the best way to answer when the interviewer asks why they should choose you over another candidate who has the same qualifications?
Not Just Another Number
Dear Not Just Another Number,
Standing out in your job search is crucial, but it’s also hard. The truth is, a lot of people are just as qualified as you when it comes to comparing resumes.
So, don’t think of it that way! Instead, dig into the intangibles of who you are. No, not the straightforward qualifications or keywords that got you the interview, but the actual you.
That’s the good stuff. The secret sauce. The reason they’re going to select you over the other “equally qualified” candidate. Here’s what you can emphasize.
1. Your Grit and Determination
Your rival may have everything you do on paper, but do they have staying power?
No job, no matter how glossy it appears from the outside, is without its challenges. Unexpected dynamics, resource and training shortages, internal political bottlenecks, irate customers, failed product launches—these are all potential realities looming in your future.
Disappointments are a given. The real question is how will you handle them?
In a rapidly-changing business environment that is complex, unpredictable, and intense, no one wants a flake. Demonstrate to your interviewer that you have the fortitude, conviction, loyalty, and staying power to see yourself (and them) through whatever comes your way.
2. Your Enthusiasm
Do you love what you do? Are you passionate about your career, or is it just a means to a paycheck?
You and your rival can both do the job, but if this work lights you up, then let your interviewer know that.
People are attracted to people who are excited about and genuinely love what they do. A client of mine just told me, “I’ll take less experience. I need someone who loves the game. The details. The sport.”
3. Your Cultural Fit
Skill sets are one thing, but employers are increasingly concerned with the cultural dynamics of the workplace and an employee’s fit within it.
Not only are they assessing your skills, but they’re also trying to imagine how you will integrate within their existing team and cultural framework.
As an interviewee, it’s your job to pick up on those cues and speak to them. What are the values and qualities they’ve said are important? Are they looking for someone devoted to their colleagues and interested in mentoring? If so, speak to that. Are they looking for someone coachable? If so, display that you’re receptive to feedback and learning.
Interpersonal dynamics often trump skill set when it comes to making a hiring decision (particularly when candidates are evenly matched) and could easily elevate you above the competition.
Remember that if you’re asked by an employer why they should pick you over another candidate, this is not a curveball question but rather an opportunity to reiterate all the wonderful qualities and intangibles you possess.
It’s not just something your mom told you—you are talented and capable and deserving, so let the real you shine.
Jessica Vann is the Founder and Principal of Maven Recruiting Group, a boutique firm in San Francisco specializing in administrative and human resources staffing throughout the Bay Area. Vann earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley with a double major in economics “to be practical” and rhetoric “to feed [her] soul.” Born and raised in San Francisco, Vann lives in the Bay Area with her family.
As a job seeker looking for positions beyond faculty roles, you have to achieve a lot in one page, and Joseph Barber provides tips on how to make the most of it.
While specific styles of résumés can reflect different career fields and industries, the cover letter offers a much less structured document, and so often leads to much more confusion among job seekers. You will no doubt get different advice from everyone you ask about cover letters for jobs beyond faculty roles, and what I discuss here will certainly add to that cacophony of recommendations.
But having read a frighteningly enormous number of cover letters in my role as a career adviser, my advice comes from a certain amount of experience. That experience can be divided into positive situations, where the letters were interesting to read, and neutral-to-negative ones, where the letters were readable but not very engaging. When you are thinking of your cover letters, the description of “readable” should be the absolute minimum outcome that you aim to achieve. Ideally, your letter will be interesting, engaging, unique, positive, energetic, relevant and optimistic. That’s a lot to achieve in one page!
The first question to ask yourself is what is the purpose of a cover letter? If you have already created a customized résumé for the job you are applying to (and this is essential), then you have already highlighted your relevant skills. You don’t just want to provide exactly the same information again in your cover letter. Reading such information twice doesn’t make it any more impactful but can definitely make it less interesting. Used strategically, the cover letter gives you an opportunity to highlight some of the best parts of your résumé in a slightly different way, and with the goal of explaining why you’re the right person for the job, why your experiences are relevant, and why you want to use your skills and knowledge in this new role at this new organization.
The answers to these questions are not punchy bullet points. Instead, they need to be slightly more narrative in their form. When you use more narrative formats, you can start taking some storytelling approaches to engage the reader. The benefit of telling stories is that you don’t just have to state empirically what happened -- which is what the bullet point in the résumé does -- but you can also talk about the broader impacts of the experience. That includes what you learned from it, how it made you feel, why you sought it out, what was so surprising about it, why is was challenging and so on. Those perspectives are distinctly yours, which makes them interesting to the reader, who won’t have read them in 100 other cover letters. And they can help make your letter more energetic by bringing in action-based emotional states. People remember stories more than they remember generic statements that you have important skills.
Let’s cover the basic structure of a one-page cover letter that I tend to recommend. To make it easier to consider, we can break it down into three separate sections.
Make a clear statement of intent at the start to help the reader put the letter into context. That means avoiding statements such as: “I am writing to possibly explore the opportunity to be so honored to be interested in applying for the position of …” Instead, a more direct approach might be: “I am applying for the position of X that was advertised on your website.”
You can add to that, of course, but be direct. The rest of the first paragraph should be present a takeaway conclusion about yourself. Yes, you can start your letter with a conclusion. That means that the reader immediately knows you have something that they want and makes them more likely to read the rest of the letter to find out more. If you are going to start off with a conclusion, though, make sure that it is relevant to your reader by summarizing what they are likely to care about the most. Take a look at this introduction sentence and see if you can identify what some of the key takeaways are -- and thus what some of the job requirements might have been:
"With eight years of experience managing multistep data collection projects in academic and industry settings, and an ability to establish and maintain relationships with clients, stakeholders and international collaborators, I am excited to bring my creativity and structured approach to this data analyst role."
Once you have made a conclusion statement in the introduction (I know, it sounds a little weird!), the main part of the letter should expand on those themes. You don’t have to go through all of your experiences from the résumé; rather, you will want to highlight the best parts. Everything in your cover letter should be echoed by something in your résumé, but not everything in your résumé needs to be mentioned in your cover letter. And if you are wondering why you can’t just customize your cover letter and send a standard résumé as part of your application, just remember that not everyone will read a cover letter. You want them to, but you cannot make them!
The main body of your letter will contain good illustrations of your relevant skills in action, all wrapped up in a narrative form that includes just a sprinkling of drama. Here is an example of a story without much drama:
"As a project leader in the student health-care consulting group, I oversaw a team of three students and completed an extensive market analysis of the medical device field to determine a suitable pricing model for a wearable device developed by the client."
None of this is bad information; it is just not that engaging. It would be much better as a bullet point in a résumé. And if it were already a bullet in the résumé, it should not just be repeated in the cover letter. Here is an alternative version with a little more drama.
"When I was serving as a project leader in the student consulting group, my team had engaged with a client seeking market access information for a new wearable device. We faced two immediate challenges with this work: the device was unique with few comparable products, and this was the first consulting experience for half of our four-member team. In thinking about the project, I saw their lack of experience as a possible advantage and took the opportunity to encourage the two new team members to think creatively about comparable products in the medical space and beyond. In two brainstorming sessions, we successfully generated sufficient data for our market analysis. I found it really satisfying to see how well the new members complemented and then learned from our more practiced approach."
This is not just a statement of what was done; it illustrates how you approached the assignment. Every project you have been involved with has presented its own distinct challenges. If you can state what those were, and talk about how you have used skills and abilities relevant to the job to which you’re applying to overcome them, then you have the basis for good examples. Concepts that you can touch on in a cover letter that are hard to highlight in a résumé include:
> learning from an experience that went well or badly;
> combining experiences from two separate roles you have had (that might be separated by years on a résumé) to show how you solved a problem;
> explaining why you did something, not just that you did it; and
> demonstrating passion, or enjoying or being excited about something.
Once you have given some examples to illustrate the themes highlighted in the first paragraph, you can move to the final one. Here you might want to answer the questions “Why do you want this job?” and “Why do you want to work here?” The answers to those questions should flow nicely from the examples you have been giving.
"In all these projects, I have found myself most engaged when I have been able to bridge disciplines and draw upon my relationship-building skills to establish productive collaborations. I would enjoy the opportunity to liaise between the marketing and science teams in this project coordinator role, and that would make exceptional use of my lab research skills and creative mind-set. I have spoken with three alumni from my university who work at your institution, and each has highlighted the mentoring program for junior staff as wonderfully helpful for their own professional development. I have been fortunate to have strong mentors in my current lab, which has certainly helped me progress in my research, and I am very excited about learning from the experience of senior staff through this program."
The more you know about an organization, and the role itself, the easier it will be to come up with an authentic answer to the “why this job?” and “why this company?” questions.
There is no perfect cover letter, and different approaches can be just as effective. After all, different people will read each letter, and they have their own ideas about good and bad ones. But I hope you can apply some of these suggestions when composing your next cover letter -- and uncover just a hint of drama as you successfully describe your exceptional skills, knowledge and experiences.
Joseph Barber is associate director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Career Consortium logoand a member of the Graduate Career Consortium -- an organization providing a national voice for graduate-level career and professional development leaders.
Yes, having solid technical skills is important in landing a job, but maybe not as important as you might think. In fact, in a recent survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals, 71% stated they valued emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ. What’s more, 75% said they were more likely to promote a highly emotionally intelligent worker; and 59% claimed they’d pass up a candidate with a high IQ but low emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is going to be even more relevant for job hunting in the future too, the Future of Jobs Report from The World Economic Forum ranked emotional intelligence in the top 10 job skills required for 2020. Since more companies are paying attention to hiring people with high emotional intelligence, if you’re looking for a job it’s an important skill to demonstrate in your interview.
Here are 7 ways that to demonstrate emotional intelligence in a job interview
1. ACTIVELY LISTEN
Instead of focusing on a response to the question being asked, give all your attention on the question itself. Don’t give in to the urge that you have to answer the question immediately. Interviewers are looking for a thoughtful response, instead of an immediate one that indicates that you are giving them an answer that you have rehearsed. Repeat the question back in your own words to make sure that you understand it the way that it was intended. If you are not sure if you are answering the question ask the person asking it.
2. SHOW EMOTIONS
Many interviewees, due to nervousness, can came come across as wooden and tightly controlled. It’s not only okay to show some emotion, but the right emotions will form a connection between the interviewer and you. Smiling, as long as it doesn’t appear forced or inauthentic, is always good. Showing enthusiasm and some excitement is also good if it is real. The caveat is not to force any emotions. If the interviewers get a whiff that you are coming across as someone other than yourself, it will cause them to mistrust you and decrease your chances of getting the job.
3. SHARE THE CREDIT FOR YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS?
Take a cue from professional athletes when they are interviewed after a win or achievement. They always credit their team mates, their team, rather than taking personal accolades. When asked about a project that you are proud of, or that was successful, be sure to share credit with the team, unit, and others who were involved in the project. Make it clear that you are proud to be a member of the group that was involved in the success. This gives more credibility to you being a team player, than if you simply claim that you are, which everyone does.
4. SHARE HOW YOU ARE TRYING TO IMPROVE YOURSELF
The typical advice for answering a question about your weakness is to frame it as something that is actually a strength. For example, claiming to be a perfectionist, or becoming too involved in your job, which can be seem as strengths by an employer. These answers do not cut it any more, as interviewers are looking for something more substantial. When disclosing a weakness be sure to indicate what you are actively doing to work on it and give examples of making progress. Interviewers know that we all have weaknesses and suspect that we may try to hide those in the interview. As long as your weaknesses do not raise any red flags, being honest, open and genuine will help gain their trust and respect.
5. DON’T SHY AWAY FROM TALKING ABOUT CONFLICT
For the question about your strengths, rather than only focusing on your qualifications or technical ability, talk about your ability to work well with others in a teamwork setting. Your ability to adapt to change or setbacks and work well with coworkers and customers is important to bring up. Instead of simply mentioning these things, be prepared to come up with examples of when you had to use those skills. Perhaps there was conflict within your unit or you had to deal with an irate customer. Talk about how you used your soft skills to effectively deal with these situations
6. SHOW THAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
When the interviewer asks about a situation where things went off the rails, the worst thing you can do is to blame others for the situation. State what happened but avoid casting blame. Before answering this question, it is okay to acknowledge some emotions through your expressions and body language. It will send the message that the situation was real and not something that you made up that was of no real consequence because you had to answer the question. Let it be known that it was a difficult time and you struggled if that was the case. What the interviewer wants to know is how you reacted and if you did anything to improve the situation. If asked what your part in it was, be prepared to accept your share of the responsibility but speak in terms of what you would’ve done differently looking back on the situation. Interviewers expect people to make mistakes, but want to know if you are someone who learns from mistakes and took away the lesson.
7. ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT CULTURE AND VALUES
At the end of an interview we are typically asked if we have any questions. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your emotional intelligence. Ask questions around the culture, values of an organization and what it takes for people to be successful in it. Bring up any positive experiences with people in their organization or their customer you have had in the past and your observations. It will show that you are not only interested in a job but are looking to see how you will fit into the company. This indicates to them that you are aware of yourself and the importance of matching their needs with those of your own. They are also trying to assess this, and your awareness will help them in deciding. If you are a fit, it will work in your favor. If not, you are better off knowing at this point and spending your time and energy looking elsewhere.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to theotherkindofsmart.com.
When crafting a resume, it’s important to include powerful, action-focused words that highlight your skills and expertise.
But too many job applicants make the mistake of using weak words that dull their contributions. One of the most common offenders? "Helped."
“‘Helped’ is not a good word,” says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at career consulting firm Keystone Partners. “It’s kind of a vague thing.”
The word “helped” lacks any true meaning, she says. Plus it lacks substance, fails to grab the recruiter's attention and doesn't paint candidates' prior experience in the best possible light. A resume with the word "helped" communicates to an employer that "there’s no level of ownership,” explains Varelas.
Even if you worked in an administrative or junior position, says Varelas, there are much more powerful words to show that you assisted on a project, such as “supported,” “managed” or “collaborated.”
But regardless of the word choice, you must still provide concrete examples of your achievements.
Varelas gives the following example, "I helped our marketing team launch an annual PR event.” This description is extremely vague, she says. For all the hiring manager knows, your role could have consisted solely of carrying boxes into the event space.
“Instead of saying, you 'helped,’ tell me how and what you did,” says Varelas, because recruiters want concrete details showing how you implemented change and owned a position or task. In the previous example, you could briefly describe how you reached out to and secured vendors, got notable people to attend or garnered media coverage for the event.
Varelas notes that the main reason people use weak words like “helped” is because they fail to ask themselves three key questions: What was the problem before you arrived? What action did you take to resolve the issue? And finally, what was the end result in comparison?
Using powerful words sets you apart from the competition says Barry Drexler, an interview coach with more than 30 years of HR experience at companies like Lehman Brothers and Lloyds Banking Group.
A recruiter is much more likely to interview a candidate whose resume says, “I called 200 corporations and managed to get 75 to advertise with our company, which boosted our revenue by $100,000 within a one-year period,” over a resume that says, “I helped the ad sales team increase their revenue by $100,000.”
Drexler adds that even if you’re not applying for a leadership or managerial position, companies still want to see that you can take ownership of a project, or a subset of it, and deliver results. And if you really didn’t do much more than help, then that information probably shouldn’t be on your resume to begin with, notes Varelas.
“Your resume needs to be specific, and it needs to show me a skill,” she says. “Being helpful is a nice skill, but it's not meaningful. “
by Aimée Lutkin
There’s a lot of discussion about diversity and inclusion at companies, in particular those focused on tech, but one marginalized group that often gets overlooked is older people. What constitutes “older” varies wildly depending on your industry and personal outlook, of course, but anyone closer to retirement than their college graduation is approaching work differently. Here’s how you can help yourself in a workforce that seems to get younger every year.
Don’t Try To Hide Your Age
There are a number of invisible barriers to getting the job you want if you’re older and searching for work or entering a new company. People start leaving dates off resumes and strongly editing their work history. It’s possible doing so might get you through the gatekeepers to that interview, but if so, you’re still showing up as yourself.
Remember that you probably don’t want to work at an ageist company, and a hiring manager who doesn’t recognize the value of employees with different perspectives and life experiences is probably not someone you want controlling your day.
Recognize Your Value, Too
You have a lot to offer: if you’re approaching or over 50, you’ve experienced recessions, bounced back, worked in a ton of positions, and you can manage yourself. A study from TalentSmart indicated this ability gets better as you age, according to a survey they did of 10,614 people between the ages of 18 and 80:
Self management skills appear to increase steadily with age—60-year-olds scored higher than 50-year-olds, who scored higher than 40-year-olds, and so on.
There are probably some other benefits to being older that you haven’t even considered; U.S. News reports that older people take better care of themselves in general, eating well and exercising, so they’re actually healthier than most millennials. Sounds great for a manager who needs someone reliable, and potentially also flexible: people heading towards retirement or with big families may want to work only part-time. You’re the right fit for the right job.
Stay Engaged Socially
There are challenges to staying involved in company cultures that don’t make an effort to consider the needs of older people on the payroll. Social events may focus on alcohol or rock-climbing, and you may not want to try and outdistance the college intern doing fireball shots up a 40-foot wall. The camaraderie built among team members during social events is important, and you don’t want to be excluded.
Plan ahead for how you will participate, if you can. If you can’t, this is something worth bringing up with HR. It’s okay to advocate for events that are not only more inclusive to different age groups, but to families with children. There may be people outside your age-range at your company with similar needs, and you could reach out to them for support.
Stay Engaged With Your Work Performance
In the office, there are a few ways to remind your co-workers that age does not equate to disinterest. Monster.com has a number of recommendations for older workers in IT, specifically, to show they’re “in the know.” Is that phrase dated? Oh well.
One of their main pointers if to stay up to date on everything—take classes, ask about trainings, and even work on Open Source projects to appear engaged with the world of tech outside your day job. Constantly learning is good for your resume, but also for your brain. Monster also suggests keeping a tech blog, suggesting it gives people the impression that you’re staying connected to your industry.
Become A Mentor
Hey, you know a whole lot and your workforce is constantly being flooded by people who are just getting started. That’s kind of the whole issue. Ask about opportunities to teach a workshop or mentoring programs. Give some thought to what you want to do or how you think you can contribute. This showcases your valuable experience as an employee, and that you can connect with your team to help them grow.
And remember that mentorship can go both ways. You can probably learn something from younger people, too. Plus, letting someone show you how to do something is a great way to make friends. You need somebody to hang out with at the rock-climbing wall.
Learn when it's appropriate to use hand gestures and head nods when building new relationships.
by Ivan Misner, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI
Body language can be a powerful attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others. People assess you visually within the first few minutes of meeting you. I’ve been asked a lot about body language by the media over the years. Here are some of their questions along with my answers relating to the use of body language in networking environments.
1. What can you do to increase your confidence and to come off as warm, friendly or knowledgeable to others?
People over-think this issue. The answer is pretty straight forward -- be more “interested” than “interesting.” When you are meeting people, practice being an interested interviewer and an active listener. Learn about them and during the process make sure that your facial expressions match that interest. Don’t look bored -- look engaged. You can do that with a smile, appropriate reaction to a comment or a few nods (but not like a bobble head doll). Also, use your eyebrows to show your reaction to comments. Do this in an authentic way. If you really show interest in other people, you will be amazed at some of the stories you hear and people you meet. You will also make a great impression on these individuals. All of these things will help to make you look warm, friendly and confident.
2. What is the latest reputable science saying about hand gestures and how they effect the way we're perceived by other people?
In a study done by Holler and Beatie, they found that gestures increase the value of someone’s message by 60 percent! They analyzed thousands of hours of TED talks and found one striking pattern. The most watched TED Talks were done by people who used effective hand gestures.
Specifically, they analyzed the top and bottom TED Talks and found that the least popular TED Talks used an average of 272 hand gestures during the 18-minute talk, and the most popular TED Talks used an average of 465 hand gestures during their talk -- or almost double!
Remember that hand gestures are good when talking to someone, but don’t turn it into “jazz hands,” where your hands never stop waving! Be purposeful with your gestures.
Also, when doing certain hand gestures, make sure to do them from the listener’s perspective, not yours. For example, if you are talking about the growth of a business, you might naturally do a hand gesture going from your lower left to your upper right. That looks like growth from your perspective, but it would be the opposite from the listener’s perspective. The same goes regarding a timeline. For you, the start of a project would be on your left and the end of the project would be to your right. However, for the listener, your hand gesture should be flipped so that the gesture you are making supports the point you are sharing according to the other person’s perspective. This is a very subtle technique that can really help in your discussions with people.
3. We've been hearing about how the so-called "Power Pose" or "Superman Pose" (hands on hips) may not be as effective as research initially showed -- is this true? Are there other poses that increase confidence?
The “Power Pose” is great if you are Wonder Woman or Superman. For mere mortals -- not so much. It just looks theatrical. Power Posing is a discredited theory of psychology that was based on a 2010 study that has even been refuted by one of the original authors of the paper.
Instead of “striking a pose,” be your best self. Don’t hunch over or look like a wallflower, don’t cross your arms and, above all -- maintain good eye contact. Don’t be looking around the room as you are talking to people. It makes them feel like you don’t care about them. Remember, be interested and look interested when you are talking to someone.
4. Personal space is sometimes an issue. How close should you stand to people when you are talking to them?
The study of proxemics has an application to personal space in a conversation. Personal space varies by culture; however, generally speaking, in North American cultures, personal space is roughly arm's-length away. Don’t get in someone’s space unless you have a relationship with them that would justify that. Don’t make people feel uncomfortable by standing too close. In this day and age -- that is particularly important with the opposite gender.
Body language in networking environments can be very important. Keep the above points in mind. Be comfortable and authentic while not trying to overthink the issue. The key is to practice, practice, practice and observe reactions over time.
It’s hard to get a real sense of a company’s culture in a 20-minute interview, so here’s what to look for.
BY STEPHANIE VOZZA
If you have a skill that’s in demand, chances are you’ve received more than one job offer. Money or a title may be tempting, but don’t jump at your first opportunity—you could be walking into a toxic work environment, says Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work.
“It’s difficult to know a company’s culture in a 20-minute interview,” he says. “Everybody’s on their best behavior, and the skeletons are hidden. If you’re a great candidate, people are trying to sell you and recruit you. They’re not going to tell you anything bad.”
You might assume you can assess a company by looking at review sites like Glassdoor, but they aren’t always accurate, says Tom Gimbel, CEO of the staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network. “Like anything, more people go online to complain than praise,” he says. “The majority of reviews are going to be negative. Don’t discount them, but don’t be blinded because somebody you don’t know had a bad experience. You may have different views on work, life, and business.”
Instead, get a feel for the culture by playing detective. Here are seven subtle clues that can provide insight:
1. OBSERVE THE START OR END OF THE WORKDAY
You can tell a lot about the environment by watching employees. If your interview is in the morning, go at the start of the workday and observe employees.
“Are they running late, walking in like they don’t want to be there?” asks Patel. “Or do they come in early, talking and mingling with coworkers?”
On the flip side, pay attention to the end of the workday. Do employees perform a mass exodus right at 5 p.m.? Do they look relieved to be done with work? These are signs that the culture is bad.
2. ASK ABOUT CORE VALUES
Companies often have a list of core values, such as “quality first,” “teamwork,” and “collaboration.” It’s one thing to list values, but you want to learn if they live them, says Patel.
“During your interview, ask what they are, and then say, ‘Can you share some stories about how people live your core values on a regular basis?'” he says. “If they can’t readily tell you stories, they’re not living them.”
3. TALK TO PEER GROUPS
A company with a good culture will often have candidates talk to the employee who previously had the role they’re being interviewed for, says Gimbel. “If they can’t show you somebody who’s grown out of the role and is still with the company in a different capacity or vertical, then they’re hiding something,” he says. “Meeting with a peer provides a perspective about upward mobility.”
You can also contact peer employees on LinkedIn before an interview, adds Patel. “Say, ‘I’m thinking about applying for a job there. What do you love about your job?'” he suggests. “You’d be surprised how much they’ll share.”
4. FIND OUT IF THE EXECUTIVE TEAM IS PRESENT
While you may not meet with the CEO or C-suite members, knowing that they are involved in the business on a day-to-day basis is a sign of opportunities for growth and promotion, says Gimbel. “If you have a C-suite that’s present and involved, it makes for a lot more continuity,” he says.
5. TAKE A TOUR
If you aren’t given a tour of the office, ask for one, says Patel. “Pay attention to employees’ desks,” he says. “Do they have a picture of family members on their desk, or does it look like they keep the bare minimum? When you’re living in a temporary space, you don’t move a lot of stuff in. Desks are the same way, and they can be an indicator of how long people plan to stay.”
6. NOTICE SMELLS
If you’re interview is around lunchtime, see how many employees are working while eating their lunch. “If you work in an organization that respects you and your time, they’re going to let you have time to eat,” says Patel. “If not, how much work do you have that you can’t pause to eat?”
Companies should encourage people to take a break, or sit with coworkers and people from different department to eat and talk. “It’s building a tribe versus hurry up and get your work done,” says Patel.
7. CHECK OUT THE RESTROOM
Before you leave, ask to use the restroom and look for two things: a mess and how much toilet paper there is.
“When people don’t respect a space, they’ll leave it a mess,” says Patel. “It’s easy to happen in a bathroom because it’s private and seems like nobody’s looking, but it reveals character.”
What’s worse, though, is finding an empty toilet paper roll. “That demonstrates an attitude of ‘That’s not my job,'” says Patel. “You don’t want to work with somebody like that. They’re not a team player. When you take the last piece of toilet paper and don’t make an attempt to refill it, you know you’re about to be a jerk. Employees have the choice to act like a team or not.”
by Amy Elisa Jackson
We’re halfway through 2018. If you made a few resolutions in January, now’s the time to check in to see how much progress you’ve made. And if one of those resolutions was to find a new job, how’s that going? Don’t get down on yourself if you haven’t secured your dream job quite yet. You may have been making a few mistakes along the way.
The good news is that you still have time to rectify those job search mistakes and get back on track. We’re in a hot job market right now where companies are clamoring for top talent with sharp skills and a variety of life experiences. Here are 3 job search mistakes you may have made in the past, plus how to correct them in order to land your next great gig before the end of the year.
Mistake #1: Waiting days or weeks to apply to a newly posted opening.
In the job hunt, as with most things in life, timing is everything. A study by TalentWorks revealed that there is a “golden hour” of applying to a job. They found that if you submit a job application in the first 96 hours, you’re up to 8x more likely to get an interview. Therefore, applications submitted between 2-4 days after a job is posted have the highest chance of getting an interview. After that, every day you wait reduces your chances by 28%.
By having the Glassdoor Job Search app on your phone loaded with your best resumes, you’ll be ready to pull the trigger on any open job you see. Save jobs or apply directly from your phone so you’ll never miss out on a good opportunity. Look for the “Apply on Phone” label. If you prefer to use your laptop to apply, simply swipe on a job listing to email it to yourself, view the company profile or follow the company and more.
Don’t miss out on your next great job because you waited too long to apply.
Mistake #2: Failing to evaluate how much you could earn before you apply.
We’re in the age of transparency. Gone are the days when you had to hope to be paid well. With salary information in job listings plus salary reviews from current and former employees on Glassdoor, you can uncover exactly what a company will pay you. Take it one step further by learning what you could earn in your industry, city and role by using Know Your Worth, a free, personalized salary estimate based on today’s job market. Glassdoor calculates your worth using millions of salaries and current job openings relevant to you.
According to our research, the number one piece of information job seekers want employers to provide is detail on salary or compensation packages. Employers know this and they feel the pressure to be transparent about pay. It’s a job seeker’s market; remember, you’re in control.
Mistake #3: Only looking for one specific job title.
Job titles are as diverse as the companies that create them. One company’s PR Assistant might be another company’s Corporate Communications Strategist, but their roles might be the same. By searching one specific job title, you may be missing out on exciting roles at cool companies that simply describe the role differently.
When you’re setting up job alerts or looking through job postings online, try searching for job responsibility keywords instead of titles, then narrow down the results on your own. For example, if you’re looking for a writing job, consider setting up job alerts for terms like “Content,” “Writer,” “Editor,” “Content Creator,” and “Content Marketing.” While you may have to spend more time wading through postings that may not apply, you’ll be glad you aren’t missing out on what could be your dream gig.
Just because you don’t have experience in a new field doesn’t mean your skills aren’t valuable in that field. Here’s what to do before you make a move.
BY LISA EVANS
Ready for a career change, but worried you don’t have the experience or skills to land a job in your desired field? Filling your resume with your previous work experience that has no similarity to the job you’re applying for is likely to land your resume in the trash can. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in a career you hate forever.
Dawn Graham, PhD, career coach, psychologist, and author of the book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Career–and Seize Success, says rebranding your professional experience is key to a successful career switch. “When you’re making a switch, you need to be a good fit for the role, and while some of your skills and experiences may be transferrable, many may not be,” she says. Here’s how you can prove that you’re worthy of the title, even when your resume shows no previous experience in the field.
1. CHANGE YOUR SOCIAL PRESENCE
Use social media to your advantage to rebrand yourself in your new career area. Follow thought leaders in your target industry and comment on their posts. Connect with relevant industry groups and associations, share relevant and interesting articles within your online network, comment on posts, attend the biggest industry conferences, and develop a network of contacts in the industry. “Technology makes it easier than ever to market yourself in a way that appeals to the audience you choose,” says Graham. The more you can demonstrate that you’re serious and invested in your new target industry, the more credible you will seem.
2. FIND YOUR TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS
Rebranding yourself takes time and introspection. Everyone has transferrable skills, even if you think you don’t. Graham gives the example of a recruiter who wants to move into social media marketing. “You can show off your customer research, analytics, and technical savvy skills,” she says. Demonstrating how you can reach new customers using the same skill set you used to uncover qualified candidates is a way to prove that your experience is relevant.
To determine your skills, Graham recommends breaking down achievements. “If you contributed to saving a large client, consider the steps that got you to that result–perhaps problem solving, diplomacy, creativity, and influencing.” Do the same with other accomplishments and you’ll soon notice a pattern of core strengths. Try going through this exercise with a colleague or manager who may be able to see strengths that you are overlooking.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH
In order to find out what skills and experiences are most relevant to your new career choice, spend time learning as much as you can about your target position. Speak with professionals in your target industry, look for volunteer positions in the industry, take courses, and attend professional events to learn what experiences and skill sets are most valuable in the new industry.
4. DON’T LEAD WITH YOUR TITLE
While most of us use our job title when introducing ourselves, this can be an error when you’re switching careers. Many companies use language that doesn’t translate outside the industry. A title can cause confusion for someone in another industry, and biases their opinion toward your application. They may think right away that you’re not a good fit without reading further into your experiences. Instead of focusing on your title, place the emphasis on your value–the skills you developed in that position.
5. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
In order to highlight your value and position yourself as a good fit for the job, you need to know the challenges the hiring manager is trying to solve. “Many job seekers have incredible accomplishments, but without knowing what is important to your audience, you risk leading off with accomplishments that, while impressive, lead the hirer to think you’re not a fit for the role,” says Graham.
When in a job interview, make one of your first questions about the challenges the company or department is facing at this time. Once you find out the hiring company’s pain points, you can select the achievements from your background that best align with what the hiring manager is looking for in the role.
6. CHERRY-PICK EXPERIENCES
Some of your best accomplishments and achievements may not be impressive to the hiring manager if they have no relation to the job you’re applying for. To be most effective in rebranding yourself professionally, select the parts of your experience that align most closely with your target role. To make your application in this new field stronger, highlight these experiences in your LinkedIn profile. If hiring managers are reviewing your resume and then jump over to LinkedIn and see a whole different type of experience highlighted, they may be confused and cause them to put aside your resume. Rebranding your professional experience may mean dropping what you think are some of your best accomplishments, but by focusing on “fit” first, you will have a better chance of a recruiter recognizing you as a potential candidate for the position.
7. JUSTIFY THE SWITCH
“Every hiring manager wants to know why this job at this company at this time,” says Graham. Your answer to this question will be especially important if you’re a career switcher. Graham argues that switchers can have the upper hand in answering this question because they have most likely spent a great deal of time studying the industry, thinking about what they want in a job when making their career switch decision.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Evans is a freelance writer from Toronto who covers topics related to mental and physical health. She strives to help readers make small changes to their daily habits that have a profound and lasting impact on their productivity and overall job satisfaction.
by Lillian Childress
To include a resume summary, or not to include a resume summary? The nagging question that has plagued many a job seeker.
Well, here’s some advice to clear the matter up: yes, you should include a summary. Unless you are really pressed for space, have a significant amount of description writing in the body of your resume, or you’re specifically directed not to include a summary, it’s an essential addition to a professional resume. “Most people should have a summary,” says Lynn Carroll — a career coach who writes about authenticity in the job search, gender equity in the workplace, and inclusion — who we reached out to to learn how to create an eye-catching resume summary.
Carroll distinguishes between a resume objective, which she says is what the jobseeker is looking to find in a company or position, and a resume summary, which tells a recruiter what the jobseeker can uniquely offer to a company or position. “The objective is now considered by most recruiters as an out-of-date function because it focuses on the jobseeker… The summary is considered more current and a better way to describe the relationship between the jobseeker and the company because it talks about what they can offer,” says Carroll.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your summary:
Keep it Short
There are plenty of opportunities to expound on your qualifications and experience in the job search process, like in your cover letter or the interview. The resume summary is a place to make the resume a bit more personalized, and to frame your resume in terms of the type of candidate you believe the company is looking for. For this reason, it’s important to keep the summary short. Carroll recommends writing a full paragraph at first, and then gradually whittling it down to two or three sentences full of powerful, important words. “By condensing — rather than on the very first pass have a short summary — sometimes you give a lot more thought to what the most important pieces really are,” she advises.
Tell a Story
A resume summary isn’t a place to re-hash your professional experience, or to list out your soft skills. It’s about giving the reader a brief, vivid taste of what kind of person you are in the workplace, what drives you and makes you tick, and what kind of environments you thrive in. Keep this in mind as you write your summary: tell, don’t list.
Use Relevant Keywords
Keywords are important for several reasons. First of all, they can help you stand out in applicant tracking systems, a type of software that companies use to digitally sift through job applications. Second of all, you can show that you know how to speak the same language as the company. “If you were using the word ‘customer’ for example, and they were using the word ‘client’ in their job description, the idea is the same but they don’t see that you are using their same lingo,” Carroll says. “They might feel like you’re not in touch with where they’re at.”
Use Vivid Language
Carroll says she always encourages her clients to use vivid, descriptive language, that brings their experience and skills to life. “If I describe a meeting I ‘organized’, that seems like I set the conference call up. If I describe a meeting that I ‘envisioned,’ or I describe a gathering that I ‘developed’, that sounds like I had more input into the content,” she says. Using verbs that have active connotations rather than passive connotations can help this, Carroll adds.
Match the Tone to the Occasion
There’s no one tone to strike in a resume summary. It all depends on the type of job you’re applying for and the kind of company you’re sending your resume off to. Carroll gives the example of someone applying to a job at a more traditional, hierarchical Fortune 500 company versus someone applying to a job at a Silicon Valley startup. At the Fortune 500 company, she says, the applicant might want to use phrases like “solid foundation” and “excellent skills” to imply stability and reliability. At a startup, however, one might want to use phrases like “creative,” “innovative,” or “dynamic.” It all depends on the job you’re applying for, and also – don’t forget! – what describes you as a candidate the most accurately.
You probably have some room to get a little more.
by Daniel B. Kline
When you get the call and hear that you're being offered a job, you deserve to take a moment and mentally congratulate yourself. You made it through the hiring process and landed the job -- that's a very big win.
Once that happens it's tempting to exhale and celebrate feeling that your work has been completed. In reality, landing a job offer is not the last step in the process. You still have to make the best deal possible for yourself, and there are multiple traps you can easily fall into.
That means you need to get a formal job offer and examine every bit of it. Is it fair? Is the money what you expected? Are there any odious clauses you don't want to accept? Just because you want the job does not mean you have to accept a first offer. There is usually some room to make yourself a better deal.
1. What to do if the salary is too low
Salary is an important part of a job offer to many people. If the number offered is too low, it's important to address that. Your first step is to simply ask for more money. Sometimes a low-ball offer is simply an attempt by the employer to make the best deal possible and a counteroffer is expected.
It's important to state what you consider a fair number. If the employer won't meet that figure, see if the company will consider a path to get you there over time. If you don't set the expectation of where you want to be and you accept a low number, you may fall into a trap where percentage-based raises mean you never get to the salary you deserve.
2. The vacation policy is sub-par
If you're not new to the workforce you should not be treated as an entry-level employee. Many companies have a policy where vacation is awarded by seniority. You can ask to be treated based on your seniority in the industry. If you were at your last job for 10 years, it's reasonable to ask to be considered as a longer-term employee when it comes to vacation.
3. There are benefits issues
In addition to salary and vacation, the benefits package is an important piece of the job offer. Some parts -- like 401(k) matches -- probably aren't negotiable. Other benefits, however, might have more wiggle room.
One area that can sometimes be negotiated is the waiting period for when health insurance kicks in. If a company starts health insurance for all new employees on the first of the month, there might not be any wiggle room there. If, however, there's a 90-day waiting period, you may be able to shorten that.
No matter what the benefit is, it never hurts to ask. If you want to work from home one day a week or have flexibility during bad weather, ask and make a case for yourself.
Be willing to walk away
Turning down a job over money or poor benefits isn't fun, but it's something you have to be willing to do. Obviously, your willingness to negotiate or even walk away depends on how much you need the job.
If you have options, however, it's best to not accept a bad offer. You might be passing on a job you wanted, but you're also passing on a company that perhaps does not fully value you.
Consider not just your short-term happiness, but also whether you can accept the situation six months or a year down the line. If the answer is no and the company won't budge on its offer, you may have to move on.
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 email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org