Business, Arts, Potpourri, Entertainment, Science, Fun, Trends, Google, Games, Auto, Telecom, Photos, Society, Celebrity, News, Technology, Internet, Web, Legal, Health, Software, Travel, Love, Finance, Greetings, Quotations, Sports, Shopping, Recreation, Resources.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Job search mistakes

Ten Deadly Mistakes Job Searchers Make

Recruiting and Hiring

And Why They Should Matter to Employers:

Sometimes the simplest mistakes make all the difference in the potential joining together of an employer and a job searcher. These opportunities to fail occur before the first phone call is ever exchanged. If you’re an employer, these simple, yet serious, job searcher mistakes tell you volumes about the candidate. These deadly mistakes matter. Here are ten things that employers need to watch for as you review job searcher resumes and applications. Beware of job searchers who:

Fail to follow your directions about how to apply:

Why it Matters: By following your requested application method: email, fax, or mail, the job searcher brands himself as a cooperative person who can and is willing to follow directions. The candidate makes it easy for you to route all applications into an email recruiting folder, as an example. The job searcher is telegraphing that he is willing to stand on his qualifications without the need for games or by-passing your application system. He’s the job searcher you want.

Send resumes or cover letters with typos:

Why it Matters: Typos brand the job searcher as a careless person who didn’t take the time to proof read her resume and cover letter. You can often judge the quality of the candidate’s future work by the quality of the documents that introduce the job searcher. You certainly obtain a sample of the written work you can expect. Many managers use typos as a screen to eliminate candidates from contention – and, wisely so.

Apply without providing the salary information you requested:

Why it Matters: Many candidates are positive that once you see their credentials, and meet them, salary won’t be an issue. Their credentials will knock your socks off. They’re wrong. You have a budget, a job description, and the expectation that you’re not going to waste your time on a candidate who is too expensive. Minimally, this candidate causes you to make a screening phone call. Why spend time on candidates who don’t offer valid applications that follow your directions?

.

Fail to send a customized cover letter with their resume:

Why it Matters: A customized cover letter means more than changing the lead paragraph to mention your company name. It means drawing your attention, point by point, to how the job searcher’s credentials match your stated needs. You already have a generic introduction - the resume. The cover letter is the candidate’s place to shine, to demonstrate that she is worth your time. Candidates, who connect the dots, demonstrate that they are meticulous, interested, and worth your time.

Leave large gaps in their employment – unexplained:

Why it Matters: The first scan of a resume will reveal gaps in the job searcher’s employment history. Trust me. You will always want to know why these gaps exist. Job searching professionals tell candidates to explain employment gaps up front in the cover letter. Otherwise you are likely to believe there is something wrong with the candidate. He appears undependable, has trouble finding a job, and more. And the truth is – there often is a problem with the candidate. Your call.

Tell what the job searcher did; not what she accomplished:

Why it Matters: The job searcher answered a multi-line phone and provided customer service. Do you care? Not likely. You want to know that the candidate improved customer service by 120 percent. The descriptions on the resume must focus on accomplishments; the candidate was promoted three times. She won a prize for customer service. Otherwise, as an employer, you have to wonder if the job searcher has any accomplishments – or is just a bad resume writer who had no help. Either way …

Apply for jobs for which they are way over-qualified; or under-qualified:

Why it Matters: You described the skills and experiences required for the position in your ad. A job description and a salary range exist. If the candidate is over-qualified or under-qualified, the application is suspect. Can you afford the candidate? Is he padding his resume? It doesn’t take long to see that a high school grad is applying for a position that requires a degree and 1-2 years of experience. Don’t waste your time on the application – at least, not much time.

Exhibit problems with grammar and sentence construction:

Why it Matters: Application materials that demonstrate the job searcher is challenged to produce a complete sentence telegraph that the candidate won’t serve you well. Grammatical errors should send several messages. The candidate can’t write very well. Worse, she lacks attention to detail. Her ability to interact with customers is limited by her skills. Will she be a superior performer? Promotable? Not likely, if her prepared, polished resume and cover letter leave you cold.

Use out-of-the-ordinary tactics and gimmicks to draw attention to his resume:

Why it Matters: Candidates believe gimmicks capture your attention. They do - but not necessarily your positive attention. You have enough problems with discrimination laws without viewing the job searcher's resume picture. A resume envelope stuffed with confetti is a pain to clean up. Reading a candidate's life history and viewing training certificates won’t earn a candidate many points - and you'll probably ignore them in the resume glance stage. However, gimmicks ought to leave you thinking - negatively.

Skip Human Resources and apply to the hiring manager or the CEO:

Why it Matters: Job searching books persist in making this recommendation, and maybe it was a good one, once upon a time. It’s still good when a person is introducing herself and making a professional contact. But, when job searchers use this tactic to apply for an advertised position, warning bells better ring. What about her qualifications makes her believe her resume won't be noticed if it arrives over the transom? Does she persistently fail to follow directions? Certainly, the candidate fails to understand the importance of the Human Resources function. (The role of HR has changed radically in many organizations these days.) Will that continue if she's hired? The better managers pass this resume back to HR anyway; they know they have no basis for comparison until HR builds a pool of candidates.

These ten tips inform the manager about job searcher weaknesses that should be noticed and why. Take a look at the same tips addressed to the job searchers for a different perspective: Presentation Matters: Ten Deadly Sins of Job Searchers

Presentation Matters: Ten Deadly Sins of Job Searchers

Why They Should Matter in the Job Search:

Sometimes the simplest matters make all the difference in the potential joining together of an employer and a job searcher. These opportunities to fail occur before the first phone call is ever exchanged. If you're a job seeker, these simply rectified mistakes can keep your resume out of the “no” pile. They can help you find a marriage with the employer of your dreams. Here are ten things that job seekers do that relegate their applications to the slush pile.

Fail to follow the employer's directions about how to apply:

Why it Matters: By following the employer's requested application method: email, fax, mail, you brand yourself as a cooperative person who can follow directions. Also, consider the possibility that the employer is routing all applications that come via email, as an example, into a recruiting folder. Other applications may be missed completely. Delivery of your resume via mail is still acceptable, however, fewer applications come in the mail these days; they are a paper management nightmare.

Send resumes or cover letters with typos:

Why it Matters: Typos brand you as a careless person who didn't take the time to proof read your resume and cover letter. Employers judge the quality of your future work, by the quality of the documents that introduce you. Many managers use typos as a screen to eliminate candidates from contention.

Choose to leave out requested salary information:

Why it Matters: Many candidates are positive that once an employer sees their credentials, and meets them, salary won’t be an issue. Their credentials will knock the socks off the employer. Don’t believe it. The employer has a budget. When you don't submit your salary as requested, your resume will likely be rejected. Minimally, you cause the employer to make a screening phone call. Neither you nor the employer need to waste time in an impossible situation.

Fail to send a customized cover letter with the resume:

Why it Matters: A customized cover letter does not mean changing the lead paragraph to mention the employer’s company name. It means drawing the employer’s attention, point by point, to how well your credentials match the employer’s stated needs. A generic introduction is already available via your resume. Use the cover letter as your place to shine. Demonstrate what’s important to you – and to the employer. Connect the dots for the employer and you’ll likely get a call for an interview.

Leave large gaps in their employment – unexplained:

Why it Matters: The first scan of a resume will reveal gaps in your employment history. Trust me. The employer always wants to know why. You took three years off to raise your child? Tell the employer up front in the cover letter. Otherwise, the employer will often reject your application. You risk the employer wondering why you have trouble finding a job. You appear undependable or, at worst, a mystery. It’s hard to find great candidates. Don’t eliminate yourself from the review.

Tell what the job searcher did – not what was accomplished:

Why it Matters: You answered a multiline phone, provided excellent customer service, and ran the photocopy machine. Does the employer care? Not likely. The employer wants to know that you improved customer service by 120 percent. The descriptions on your resume must focus on accomplishments – you were promoted three times in five years. And, make sure you label the bullet points as accomplishments or key achievements. Otherwise, your resume won’t pass the thirty second glance test.

Apply for jobs for which they are way over-qualified – or under-qualified:

Why it Matters: The employer has described the skills and experiences required for the position. A job description and a salary range exist. If you are way over qualified, or under-qualified, your application is suspect and is filed under “no”. It doesn’t take long to see that a high school grad is applying for a position that requires a degree and 1-2 years of experience. You’ve wasted your time applying. You’ve wasted the employer’s time, too – although I guarantee - not much time.

Exhibit problems with grammar and sentence construction:

Why it Matters: Your image is you. Application materials that demonstrate you are challenged to produce a complete sentence won’t serve you well. Grammatical errors are noticed and telegraph several messages. You can’t write very well. You lack attention to detail. Your ability to interact with customers is limited by your skills. Is this the message you are trying to send your potential employer? I think not. Remember, when the employer stumbles over mistakes, they rule you out.

Use out-of-the-ordinary tactics and gimmicks to draw attention to your resume:

Why it Matters: They do, but I guarantee the attention isn't positive. Employers have enough problems with discrimination laws without viewing your resume picture. Stuffing your resume envelope with confetti isn't a good idea either, even if you’re applying as a creative. Sending your life history and every training certificate you’ve ever obtained won't earn you any points. Nor, will a copy of your degree. Save these until you've at least spent some time together. Skip the rest.

Skip Human Resources and apply to the hiring manager or the CEO:

Why it Matters: Job searching books persist in making this recommendation, and maybe it was a good one, once upon a time. It's still good when you are introducing yourself and making a professional contact. But, when applying for an advertised position, it's the death knell for your application. You tick off the HR people, who are the monitors and caretakers of the hiring process. They build the pool of candidates that managers interview. They schedule the interviews. And, believe it or not, respected HR people have a serious influence on who gets hired.

Here's a Bonus Tip:

If you've ever been tempted to show up at an employer's place of business with your professional resume in hand, examine your brain for poor thinking. The employer is unprepared for you; they don't have time for you. You've invaded their space without permission and you're unlikely to receive a welcome. Now we've come full cycle: the only exception to this rule occurs when you avoid deadly sin number one, "Fail to follow the employer’s directions about how to apply." If asked, stop by; otherwise, this tactic doesn't fly.

How to Make a Potential Employer Fall in Love With You



Do the Right Things Right

Looking for ways to impress a potential employer? Want to make your resume or job application stand out from the pack? In the past few weeks, I've reviewed 485 resumes and applications for 18 different positions. I've interviewed 23 candidates and brought six back for a second, more intense round of interviews.

Believe me, I can tell you what rang my chimes. Some of this advice may surprise you. Some may even make you angry because it doesn't seem fair or right to you. I can't guarantee that all employers will agree with me, but why take a chance in this employers' market?

  • Apply for jobs for which you qualify. My "no" pile of applications is increasingly made up of people who don't even remotely qualify for the advertised position. These job applications frequently consist of a resume in an envelope.

Why waste the paper, the stamp and the time? If you find yourself applying because it's an area of work you might want to get into, or think you'd like, don't bother.

Unless you can make the stretch and fit between your qualifications and background and the described opening, you are wasting your time. Each application or resume gets less than five minutes of my time. You need to quickly qualify yourself as a potential candidate because the employer doesn't have or take the time to do it for you.

  • Write a targeted cover letter that introduces your key qualifications and highlights your "fit" with the position for which you are applying. Address the letter to the person conducting the candidate search, when known. And, no, don't presume familiarity and write, "Dear Susan." Until I know you, my name is "Ms. Heathfield." Additionally, the cover letter needs to specifically address the available position. Spelling and correct grammar do count. So does the spacing of words on the page, an attractive overall appearance, and the "feel" of the paper.
  • Target the resume to the job. Would you like to know how many people are looking for a "challenging opportunity to utilize my skills with a progressive employer who will provide opportunities for growth?" Don't even ask; the answer will break your heart if this is how you routinely describe the position you seek in your resume. Even more importantly, in this day of instantaneous electronic publishing, no one needs to photocopy 100 resumes at an instant print store. Customization counts. Customization is everything when you are looking at substantially different opportunities, too. Say, you are looking for a training position or a marketing position. The identical resume won't sell your skills for either field.
  • Lead with your strengths. What makes you different from 40 other applicants? On your customized resume, start out with the background and experience most important for the position you seek. The stage of your career is also highly relevant to the placement of information on your resume. If you are just graduating from college, lead off the first portion of the resume with your education and degree.

    A seasoned veteran will start with an accomplishment summary and then list jobs, titles, companies and responsibilities chronologically. A network administration applicant should lead with his or her certifications (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and list software and hardware experience (Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server) before listing jobs and education. The key is to make it easy for the resume reviewer to see that you are qualified for the position. You want your resume in the coveted "yes" pile awaiting an interview or phone screening.

How to Make a Potential Employer Fall in Love with You

More about Doing the Right Things Right

Looking for more ideas about getting your foot in the door for the face-to-face interview? You're unlikely to obtain a job offer without a highly effective interview. You have a couple more hurdles to cross, however, before you get that coveted opportunity to impress a potential employer.

  • Not all employers may feel this way, but I hate fishing phone calls that have absolutely no purpose other than to make you notice an applicant. Wonder how many people call me each week to see if I have received their resume? Lots - and only the people I rarely call back. It's a wonderful opportunity for you to make a lasting bad impression. I said to a recent caller, "You are calling to ask me to look through this pile of 200 resumes to see if I have received yours? If you are that uncertain, why don't you just send it again?" Fishing-for-attention phone calls rarely help and usually brand you as a pain.
  • They steal the company's time, irritate the resume screener and generally, accomplish nothing in your favor. In one of my client companies, callers, and especially repeat callers, are known as "stalkers."
  • If you want a call from a recruiter or potential employer, give them a number at which you can be reached. The majority of resumes I receive list only a home phone. Big mistake. I gave up on ten candidates with whom I played phone tag for days. No, I'm not advocating you give a potential employer your number at your current job. But, in this day of inexpensive cell phones, you really need to honor the potential employer's time by giving them your cell phone number. I need to reach you to set up a time and date for the phone screening.
  • Yes, I said, "phone screening." Forward thinking employers don't waste their time or yours these days without an initial telephone interview. Be prepared to schedule a date and time, usually during the 8-5 p.m. work day. (Your potential employer is already working ten hour days.) The phone interview eliminates most of the "yes" resumes from contention.

    Be prepared for a mini-interview and to give the interviewer your salary expectations. People who play coy when I ask about salary are not invited to visit in person. Why would I waste our time interviewing an applicant who is making $70,000 or more, currently, for a $50,000 job? And no, you are not going to be such a wonderful candidate that I blow away the salary range. In nine out of ten situations, the salary range is set with a large number of variables in mind including the local job market and the salaries of coworkers.
  • Preparation counts for both the phone screening and the potential face-to-face interview. If I have set a time with you for a phone screening, research the company in advance. Visit the website to see what the employer does. Many organizations even describe their company culture on their websites these days. If you take just a few minutes to do your homework, the quality of the interview goes up exponentially.

    Think about my time, too, as your potential employer. Imagine the decisions I make about you when you ask me for directions to the company, while driving your car and talking on the cell phone. "Wait a couple of minutes," one candidate said, "while I get somewhere so that I can write this all down." Research the company location online first; call the company for directions as a last resort.

Invited to the Interview?

You've done the right things right. Your materials and credentials made a good impression. You passed the interview phone screening and you've been invited to the company for that all important interview. How do you continue to build the relationship with the potential employer that will lead to an eventual job offer?

  • Take time off work for the interview; don't expect the potential employer to extend their day by several hours to accommodate your schedule. If you're currently working and looking for a new position, hopefully, you've chosen the most ethical path and your employer knows. If you are unable to inform your employer, for any reason, I hope you've saved up your vacation time. A recruiting employer is often willing to interview a good candidate late in the afternoon, but rarely will the interview extend past 6 p.m.

(Remember, most potential employers started work by 8 a.m.) You don't want your potential to contribute as an employee assessed at the end of a ten hour day either.

  • Make the right, positive impression at both the interview and with the company staff. Need I tell you to arrive early, dress up for the position for which you are applying and bring an additional resume with references? Remember to treat every person you encounter with dignity and respect. The receptionist is reporting his impressions of you to the HR Director. Count on it, especially in small- to mid-sized organizations. Be unfailingly polite throughout every interaction you have with the company. Each person is assessing your potential "fit" within their organization. Don't blow your chances by behaving boorishly.
  • You will be asked to fill out an application, so bring your resume and other needed information to complete the document. And, no, "See attached resume," doesn't cut it. It is likely your application information is entered into an employment database and used for company records, government reporting, and more. The filled out application makes the data entry easier. It also allows the company to obtain your written permission to check your references, employment history, do criminal background checks if you are hired, and more.
  • The actual interview is the subject of additional articles. For purposes of this one, remember that the purpose of the interview is to determine if you and the organization are a good fit. The real purpose of an interview, sorry to tell you, is not to gain you a job offer. Do you feel confident that you can do the job and grow with the company? Have you conveyed this to the potential employer? If so, you'll be asked back for a more-intensive second round of interviews at most companies.
  • Follow up after the interview with a thank you letter, and perhaps a phone call. Good manners always count. I received three thank you letters and a couple of phone calls from the 23 people who participated in a first interview with us. Are thank you letters going the way of the dinosaurs? Not from candidates who count with me.

Doing the right things right will result in more interviews, better job offers and a more successful career. Take a little more time at each step and your application will rise above the others. I promise.

No comments: