Category Archives: Hiring

How to Use Job Hunting Sites to Find Jobs during COVID-19

I wrote a series of posts several years ago about job hunting, but let’s be honest, this year, everything has changed.

Since COVID-19 has introduced new normal on a massive scale across the globe, millions are searching for remote jobs to make both ends meets.

Knowing exactly what to do is most important since scores of online platforms claim to help job seekers but most of them mainly advertise jobs redirecting the visitors to the companies’ page.

It doesn’t suffice since you are looking for something effective than a mere ad posting service. If you want to know how to find jobs during COVID-19 keep reading this till the end.

Use the Right Job Hunting sites for your career

If you also are among those thousands of professionals who lost jobs during the lockdown you need not panic.

Finding remote jobs online isn’t a tough ask however you need to know the right place where you can find the most suitable vacancies. Indeed.com, monster.com, workopolis.com, glassdoor.com, and LinkedIn.com are some of the most credible platforms for you to find the right job in these critical times.

Before using these sites, the following are the important preparatory steps as homework to optimize the chances of success:

1. Self-Assessment

Some governments are offering unemployment benefits to anybody who lost his or her job during the pandemic. If you haven’t filed for your locally allowed unemployment benefits, do it right now!

It is important to assess the situation carefully and see if the jobs in your industry are still open in other countries. If the lockdown impact has hit your industry hard, for instance, the hospitality and travel industry, widen the scope of the search to look for a job in a different industry not heavily hurt by the lockdown.

Your skill set and experience aren’t necessarily limited to one industry so make sure to shortlist other industries where you can translate your expertise without much effort.

For instance, if you worked as a tourist guide, you may now target the jobs for which communication skills, adaptability, and customer service skills are required.

2. Analyze the Situation by Browsing Careers

Perceptions can be wrong especially under critical circumstances. Don’t rely on the guesswork!

It is a good idea to first browse through different major industries to see if new positions are still available. This will give you a better idea of the ground realities.

Once you spend sufficient time browsing through industries and careers, shortlist the industries you think are suitable depending on your expertise and experience.

3. Try a Variety of Relevant Tags and Keywords

Websites and social media platforms heavily depend on tags and keywords. Make sure to try a variety of well-targeted keywords to get the most relevant search results.

You can also search for jobs by inserting hard and soft skills, for instance, Social Media Marketing, Virtual Assistant, Customer Service, etc.

4. Remote Jobs and Area-Specified Jobs

Now move on to prioritize the location or region if you are not interested in remote jobs. However, amid COVID-19, I feel safe to say that remote jobs are more suitable until you don’t find a job in your area.

Obviously, the hiring process for remote jobs is quicker as compared to in-office jobs. Most job-hunting sites offer a Remote Job or Work from Home tab to filter search results.

Popular job-hunting sites let you create your account and profile making it easier for you to save and track the status of jobs and applications.

5. Be More Specific

After browsing through careers and available vacancies, you can afford to be more specific by using job titles instead of a bunch of tags and keywords. Don’t forget to make the most of all available filters. The best way is to hit the Search tab without filters and then try applying filters one by one.

6. Enable Job Alerts

After losing your job, you must not mind receiving email alerts since these are exceptional circumstances and you can’t afford to neglect apparently minor things because you never know when a job alert introduces you to your next job when you desperately need it.

Popular job-hunting websites offer job alerts you can enable to keep receiving the latest updates in your inbox.

7. Proofread Your Resume before Uploading

We all keep digital copies of CVs and resumes and it is natural to forget updating these documents. Make sure to proofread your CV and resume before you upload.

See if the dates are correct, the cover letter is up to date, and the objectives are not off the mark. You might have last updated your resume before the COVID-19 breakout.

Things were different then, and today, you may have to shift the industry to update the cover letter accordingly otherwise things might look silly since the entire situation is different now.

8. Don’t Lose Momentum

It may take longer than you want to find the right job or get an interview call. Signs of frustration in such unprecedented times are obvious but don’t let frustration break your momentum.

Be consistent with job hunting efforts, try multiple platforms, and spend sufficient time without skipping days. In addition, make sure to keep everything ready in an anticipation of an interview call on short notice.

9. Stay Positive and Ready

“I’ll start preparing for the interview as soon as I receive a call”, is what you MUST NOT tell yourself.

Instead, always anticipate the positive scenario and keep practicing for the interview, check Zoom or other virtual meeting platforms if they are working alright, make sure that the internet connection stays stable, and keep practicing in front of the mirror or by recording video sessions to identify and overcome the mistakes you must avoid during the real interview.

Conclusion

In some countries, governments are helping jobless professionals with virtual career coaching programs. Get the information about such positive steps from the federal or local government and make the most of these facilities to effectively search for jobs during COVID-19.

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 5 (Interviewing)

Check out the previous posts related to the Job Search.

Part 1 – Job Boards & Recruiters
Part 2 – Networking & Other Job Search Methods
Part 3 – LinkedIn
Part 4 – The Resume & Cover Letter

 

Confident Interviewing 

Before you even consider the tips and bits of advice that will make the interview less stressful, you must, first of all, fit the role. An interview is intended to give you a chance to prove why you are the best fit for the job at hand. 

You should have a clear understanding of the company’s operation and objectives instead of telling them where you think you would fit. An interview requires confidence in order for the interviewee to convince the interviewers easily. Nonetheless, it is important to practice. 

Practicing and playing out the interview in your mind will help you avoid small mistakes that can affect your interview. A good preparation will also make you confident as you enter the interview. 
You can use the STAR exercise to present your career accomplishments briefly during the interview. It is also important to prepare questions concerning the role you are applying for. The questions should not be confronting but as a way of knowing more about the company.
  

Executing a Great Interview as a Senior Level Professional 

Most executive professionals are the ones who usually hire employees. When it comes to getting hired, you have to be prepared as well. 

Every executive panel will be difficult despite your job position so it is up to you to prepare and give them a worthy reason to hire you. 

First of all, you have to be able to sell your skill and not simply tell it. The difference between the two is that with telling you are just pointing out what you have accomplished while with selling it is quantifying your achievements in an orderly manner. This is more or less providing the best definition for your career accomplishments. 

Be sure to turn negative comments to positive comebacks that will show you are competent in coping with your weaknesses. You should, however, avoid being too confident and boastful to avoid putting the employers off. 

Getting an appointment booked means you have already passed the first test and the employers want to hear from you and even give you a chance. All that is left to do is taking the initiative and making sure the interview is smooth and streamlined. 

Good Leadership Skills 

If you are looking for a senior level job position, then you should know that leadership is one of the main aspects that is usually tested. 

An employer will want to work with someone who can get the job done and also have the appropriate managerial skills to make work more efficient. Focusing on your leadership skills and accomplishments can help you ace your interview especially if the employer is looking for a manager and not simply a technical employee. 

Being a leader is not something simple. In a business setting, you will find many different pressures that can sometimes make you less effective in your managerial duties. Employers look for employees who can undertake managerial duties and not be overwhelmed. If you can portray these qualities in your achievements, you can be sure to land the job. 

 Learning how to Maneuver ‘Deep’ Questions 

For top-level professionals being vetted for a job, the questions that are asked during the interview may differ a lot as compared to other technical employees. 

Some interviewers may want to know how you dealt with your worst or biggest challenge and which is the biggest mistake you have ever made. 

These and other similar questions are aimed at determining how you respond to situations. As a senior level professional, you should prepare yourself for such questions during an interview. 

For you to effectively answer these questions, you have to be self-aware. These deep questions test whether you have really understood the cause of your mistakes in the past or if you still are not certain as to what may have caused the problem. 

Top level management jobs are prone to more intensive grilling compared to other technical employment since the job has larger responsibilities that affect the company largely. In most cases, these deep questions are what causes most people to either lose or win the interview. 

Your Ambition is Priceless 


Being open and vocal about your ambitions can be very important in winning over an interview. Employers usually opt for someone who is passionate and goal oriented. 

If you can prove to the employing board that your ambition in the company would bring them more benefits they will be more inclined to give you a chance. 

Openly discussing your ambitions may be sensitive but you should be able to bring out your true nature which is one of the factors that employers look for. Your ambition should be linked or tuned towards the company’s objectives to bring more impact to your pitch. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 4 (Resume & Cover Letter)

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:


 

Writing a Resume for a Senior Level Position 

Despite being in senior management positions, most people do not know how to write a winning resume. When it comes to executive positions, crafting a resume requires a bit more prowess in order to convince the employer that you are good enough for the C-Suite. 

One of the things that you should tweak from your old resume are the resume objectives at the top. In an interview, you want the employers to look at your executive professionalism that claims you suit the role before they can view your personal goals and aspirations. 

  • A five-bullet summary of your value propositions will act brilliantly in convincing the employers of your qualified status. 
  • For your executive objectives, you can include a section on the resume to highlight your core executive principles. This section should display some of your areas of expertise in senior level management. 
  • If you intend on posting the resume online, you can use keywords which will make it simpler to be found in an online search.

 In writing a resume, you have to update your current skills and achievements in order to be most appealing to the employer. For most people, they don’t find it necessary to change their resume when applying for a new job and this can negatively affect their hiring. 

In the case of senior-level positions, most employers will expect you to fit the role of an executive profile and your resume will help in building this. One of the things you can do to boost your resume is getting a professional to review it. This can help you see what your resume may be missing to awe the employers. 

In your resume, you should have valid numbers and data that supports your credentials. Numbers speak a lot in a resume and they can easily convince the employers instead of having to explain every single executive achievement. Your relevance to the job position should also reflect on your resume. Having a current and updated resume will make it less tedious to convince the employers and land a job. 

Creating a Cover Letter 


For top-level executives in Customer Service, writing a cover letter may prove to be quite hard. This is because the cover letter is the first impression you will have on the employers. 

First of all, your cover letter should be well suited for the specific role you want to get. Ensure that you are the exact fit for the job you want when writing the resume. 

A brief and detailed cover letter is more inviting than one which is crowded. Always make your cover letter short and to the point so that the employer can have the entire scope of what you can do in a moment. You can use bullet points to list down executive prowess in a simple and reliable manner. 

It is important to always leave your contact information on your cover letter because this is what the employers will use to determine whether you are fit to hire.  Employers will always want to see the team building and leadership experience skills that a top-level executive has to offer and this is what you should provide on the resume. 

Sharing statistics can be more compelling than simply writing the task you had undertaken although it is important to keep the cover letter as brief as possible. It may add you some points if you choose to start the cover letter with a salutation that is directly aimed at the employing board. This will show that you have done your research and know what you want. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 3 (LinkedIn)

Check out Part 1 – Job Boards & Recruiters & Part 2 – Networking & Other Job Search Methods.

Using and Leveraging LinkedIn

For professionals who are seeking to get a new job, having a LinkedIn profile can be of great service.

As we know, LinkedIn is one of the top professional social networking sites which provides a platform for companies to find qualified employees. It’s a site I’ve been using and writing about for years!


LinkedIn is not like every other job searching website in that you can have the chance to show your full profile. For most people who are successful in using LinkedIn to land a senior level position, they can tell you for free that how you present your profile is what determines if you get hired.

Having a welcoming profile with frequently updated skills and achievements will make it easier to land a job on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn headline is also an important tool in job searching. People usually see your profile picture and your headline when they search for candidates and it would be quite convincing if your headline was a brief statement highlighting all that you do.

LinkedIn has numerous features that you can use to make job searching much easier. First of all, you can employ the Advanced Search on LinkedIn to find specific businesses or people and learn more about them from their profile and bio. Like all social platforms, LinkedIn gives you the option of following companies you are interested in and stay informed about their news and vacant positions that may arise.

You can only fully benefit from LinkedIn if you are active and current. Posting recent objectives and accomplishments can help improve your profile to prospective employers. The more interaction you have, the more you are noticed and the more likely you will land a superb employer. 

Targeting the Hidden Job Sector 

In the Customer Service Field, it is true to say that not all jobs are posted on the common job searching websites. Sometimes you have to look for the hidden jobs that do not make it to advertising platforms. 

This hidden job sector accounts for up to 80% of Customer Service jobs that are not advertised. To get to this hidden job market you have to be creative and smart. You have to look where others are not looking. For example, you can use Google Maps to locate companies that are hiring around your area. 

You can also reap from online alerts like Google Alerts to learn what is happening in different companies that you are interested in. Use your network of friends and associates to find the jobs that are available but not posted on the websites. 

What to Avoid when Searching for a Job as a Senior Level Executive 

In most cases, senior-level professionals don’t see the need to sell themselves. They think that their reputation and work experience will be enough to awe the employing company to hire them. 

This is a wrong mindset to keep in today’s world. C-level executives have to be even more convincing in interviews if they are to be given responsibility for managing or being in charge of a section of the company. 

Preparation is just as important for a C-level executive as it is for a technical employee. As a senior executive, you have to be prepared for confronting questions that may put you on the hot seat. A thorough preparation for the role you desire to get is crucial in winning your interview. 

Avoid asking too many questions about the role and focus on selling your skills and management prowess to the employing company. Being proud of your previous achievements will not help you land a job with new employers. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 2 (Networking)

Continuing on from our previous post (How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 1), let’s stay focused on the Job Search process.


Thought Leadership in Job Searching

Have you tried thought leadership in your job search? Thought leadership is a job searching method where you share your opinions, views, and insights within your target companies or on your online career profile. This is aimed at attracting employers who are looking for that specific mindset. 

The main aspect of thought leadership is to be able to show your employer how you think and how you would react in most circumstances. Thought leadership is not about re-blogging and reposting other people’s opinions and posts. 

Thought leadership is a brilliant job searching technique for management-level professionals. This is mainly because managerial positions require an opinionated person who can make firm decisions and ensure usual business activities are run despite shortcomings. Thought leadership will also work best if you have a powerful profile that people can associate your ideas with. This will help build your professional image to the public as well as prospective employers. This method is easy to implement given the technology advantages that we have today.

Networking in Job Searching


Networking is not for everybody. Some people prefer getting a recruiter or someone who will help them get a job. What these people don’t know is that networking can help you build your career profile. 

In customer service, communication and social skills are some of the automatic instincts that a professional should have. This will put them in an easier position to network with other managers. 

Networking is all about forging business relationships that are mutual and supportive of both parties. One of the benefits of networking is that you never lose. Even though a contact may be unsuccessful in landing you a job in a certain company, you don’t leave empty-handed. Since the contact is a professional as well, they can offer guidance and advice on how best to tackle a specific interview or how to sell the profession. 

Having a network of business contacts is also important in letting you know the latest business posts and news in major firms. This can help you be among the first to learn about a hiring program or a vacant position that you are suitable for.

Company Targeting

Company targeting is a way through which you can search for jobs in companies that are yet to provide the job vacancy. Company targeting is like requesting for jobs that are not yet available but when they do become available then you will be the one of the first to be notified. It is quite convenient for senior executives who are not interested in hiring or looking for recruiters. 

Company targeting can be applied by people who cannot find their specific job descriptions in the listings online and so they can approach a business owner directly to pitch their idea. Although you won’t get a job immediately with company targeting, you can become a prospective employee of the stated company.

Connect with Your Alumni

Associates from University and College can help you get a desirable job. In order to reap career-wise from your alumni, you have to have networking skills. These skills will help you interact with the individuals you are sure can lend a hand in the corporate world and possibly find someone who can get you a job. 

Today, you will find that most schools have created groups on social media where alumni can interact, share ideas and get details about each other’s lives. This platform, if used correctly, can be a great tool in searching for jobs.

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

How to Land the Perfect Job – Part 1 (Job Boards & Recruiters)


While this post is not specifically customer service or operations-related, it is something you’ve probably experienced or will experience at least once in your career so it’s worth exploring. I’ve talked a bit about interviewing and using LinkedIn and other job boards in some previous posts.

I’ve also talked about job searches, resumes, and how to be effective at finding a new role.

In the next set of posts though I thought I’d bring it all together.

Benefits of Using Job Boards

If you are stuck in the middle of a job hunt looking for the perfect job, you should try searching on job boards. Job boards are quite convenient when it comes to being updated with the latest job positions available. 

One of the major benefits of job boards is that employers can find you instead of you searching for them. In job boards, you can post your resume under your profile such that employers can see your qualifications and contact you. A better resume will attract more employers.

With job boards, you can customize your searches regarding the specific job you want. This means you can get a job that fits your exact qualifications. Unlike other job searching methods, job boards allow you to spread your resume across different employers without physically presenting it. This increases your chances of landing a job

Job boards can modify or arrange your resume and cover letter to make it more appealing to the employer. They have professional writers who can write you a winning resume that is sure to impress the employers. Job boards are a simple and affordable way of job searching.

Working with a Recruiter 

When you’re searching for the perfect job, a recruiter can be very important in helping out. A good recruiter with a number of connections with employers can be exactly what you need when looking for a senior-level job. 

For most recruiters to provide their services, they will probably require that you have strong credentials that will no doubt land you a job. The advantage of having a recruiter is that they will ensure that you get a job whatever it may take. Since they are paid on commission, landing you a job is their main goal. With their experience in the hiring field, you can learn helpful information that will help you sell your role to the interviewing firm. 

You should know that the recruiter doesn’t disclose every detail to you. After receiving the company’s hiring requirements, he can determine whether you are fit for the role by looking at your present skills. The company may not be after your profile but it may be after your skills.  

Recruiters usually have a broad network of employers through which they can easily connect you to. If you haven’t had any fruitful results lately, you can try searching for a recruiter. 

You can take the easy approach and ask your friends for a recruiter they know or you can search online through the Advanced People Search Page on LinkedIn. Through this channel, you can get a wide array of recruiters including those who have been hired by specific companies. 

Nonetheless, recruiters are inclined to accept strong profiles so don’t be offended when they refuse to contract their services. It simply means you should build your career profile some more. 

Feel free to continue this series of posts or skip ahead to a section that is more relevant to yourself by choosing one of the options below:

Setting up and Launching a Remote Office

In the early days of my career I was responsible for setting up an operation in a different city. It was a great opportunity for me and something that I really wanted to succeed in, however looking back on that person with the experience I now have. Well, lets just say that I was very lucky that I didn’t fall completely flat on my face!

The City

As a native Torontonian (that’s what people in Toronto, Canada call themselves for my International readers!), I’d visited Montreal a couple of times and had always enjoyed spending time there, so when my boss asked me to set up a new office in that city I thought it was a great idea! I mean, how hard could it be?

Well, it was 1998 or 1999, and while I was working for an Internet company, the many conveniences we’ve all come to expect and enjoy had yet to be invented or for that matter even thought of! Websites like Yelp! and Foursquare didn’t exist and while the multiple listing service (MLS) was there, it was really only useful for residential properties and in most cases you needed a realtor to provide the information.

I didn’t know how to promote my company – we were established in Toronto but no one outside of that city had heard of us. I didn’t know where to open the office – downtown would be great but the rents would be a lot higher than out of town, but how much higher? I didn’t know how to get new customers or even hire staff for that office.

The Marketing

Knowing what I didn’t know (which is I’ve found the first step!), I decided that I couldn’t do it all by myself. I’d need help. Local help. So I started interviewing marketing companies that could help me with two of the things on my list – promoting the company I worked for and finding new customers.

Fortunately I was able to find a small bouteque agency that was priced right and seemed to have all of the appropriate credentials. I didn’t interview three different firms though or get competitive quotes (mistake #1?), but they seemed to know their stuff!

Over the course of the next 2-3 months, we were communicating back and forth about radio spots, billboards, print advertising, product pricing and other minutae relevant to launching in a new location. Again they seemed to ask all of the right questions so I thought I was onto a winner.

The Hiring and Staffing 

While the marketing piece was going on, I started looking for office space and staff to work in the office. Based on the model we had in Toronto, we’d need a local manager and customer service/technical support staff that could both resolve issues and perform administrative and billing functions in French and English.
Monster.com had launched and was used quite extensively in Canada around that timeframe so the interviewing process began in earnest.  Fortunately it was very buyount job market so getting some good quality candidates was fairly straightforward. The local MGR however – well that one took a while and although I ended up putting someone in place he wasn’t my first choice (mistake #2).

Now vs. Then

Looking back, I think I did the best that I could with the tools I had available at the time. Money was tight so my budgets were definitely constrained. Everything was moving extremely quickly and change was happening at an ever increasing pace.
Comparing the piecemeal strategy of those years with the way I’ve setup two new locations over the previous 2 years is very much night and day. Part of that of course is my seniority now and my ability to talk to people and leaders that are higher up the food chain. People that can actually negotiate based on the potential upside that they can see. The other part of course is the confidence I’ve gained in doing this a couple of times now and knowing some of the potential pitfalls inherent in having remote staff and operations.

You see, while the Montreal operation was successful both of my mistakes ended up coming back to bite me. My manager choice – well, without local oversight, he turned out to be a bit of a dictator and was making the office environment toxic for the other staff. He had to go and I had to find someone else. My first mistake though – the marketing company – was probably the bigger one. While the comminucation and interaction had seemed positive and enthusiastic they didn’t actually end up producing anything of real worth. Sadly, they actually ended up going out of business themselves before we’d launched which set us back several months.

What could I have done?

Hindsight is always 20-20 isn’t it? With the tools and information available to us today, most of my requirements could have been dealt with, without even leaving my office. I would have been able to search and get reviews on other companies that had done the same things. I would have been able to pick and choose marketing companies and been able to interview them remotely only after shortlisting them based on reviews and feedback from clients. I would have been able to evaluate property prices and rental costs remotely and conducted interviews remotely. Would I have had to go to Montreal at all? Yes, probably, but for different reasons – more along the lines of ensuring things are moving smoothly vs. setting up.

Things have definitely changed in only a few short years – I’m fortuntate that the mistakes I made early in my career helped me to learn how not to do things and I’ve taken that knowledge and applied it. I wonder what mistakes await the next generation though? I’m sure they are going to be doozies!

Some Resume Essentials

Your CV and Resume is your primary tool in finding a new role.  Without having a properly formatted and targeted resume, you are not presenting yourself in the best light possible and you will lose out to others.  Spending the time now is a wise investment not only in your future but also in your career as it can set you apart from your competition and maximize the interview opportunities you will receive.
Formatting

It is essential that you format your resume to the role that you are looking for.  Management jobs should clearly be emphasized if you are applying for a management role, and similarly if you are applying for a sales executive position, you need to show and demonstrate your sales skills including revenue generation and territory growth.

Do not forget to emphasize your Customer Service and Client Management skills as most roles – regardless of the title – will be looking for these.

What Can You Do?

It is absolutely essential that you provide your readers with an idea of the skills and capabilities that you possess.  This should be a very high level statement but quite explanatory and anyone reading it should understand at a glance what you are capable of and what you bring to the table.
Please note that this statement should NOT be your personal objectives.  You should actually avoid including these in your resume entirely as those statements are what you want and not what you can DO.  The company hiring you wants to know what your skills are and how they can benefit them – not why you want the job!
Give Them Real Numbers
This is one of the most important components to your resume. You need to communicate in your resume not just what you do, but what HAPPENS when you do what you do! This technique also helps employers envision you working with them, helping them with similar challenges and issues.
Use The Right Words
Key words organized in a group called something like “core competencies” for instance, will do two things for you. It serves to potentially qualify you for more interviews, assuming those companies you are submitting your resume to use key word scanners. Second, key words. i.e., your strengths that stand alone allow the reader to view your competencies independent of any past company associated with it. This has a positive psychological effect as again, it enhances the reader’s ability to picture YOU in the position they are working to fill.

Conducting an effective Job Search

It’s easy to make a mistake when searching for a job, unfortunately, by doing so you are adversely impacting your ability to find that role of your dreams and case should be taken to minimize this as much as possible. In this difficult job climate, care must be taken with even the smallest detail and your review should include your resume and cover letter as well as your own references!

Paperwork –

Your Resume/CV and Cover Letter are generally your first introduction to the company. You can never make a first impression again so it pays to ensure that the information you are providing to the prospective employer is accurate, factual and well presented. Use good quality paper if sending out or providing hard copies and ensure that it is readable. Try not to exceed 2 pages by formatting and if necessary deleting or editing out previous roles to ensure that it fits.

More Details –

Cover Letters are your ticket to selling yourself. While a CV/Resume is by its very nature a dry and factual document, a cover letter speaks to your passions and ambitions and you should utilize it fully to draw the reader’s attention to the parts of your background that are most applicable to the specific job.

Customization –

It is essential that you customize your resume & cover letter to the job that you are applying for. Having a “master” version of your CV that is available to you is a good first step and then depending on the role that you are applying for and what they are looking for you can and should tailor your CV (resume) and Cover Letter appropriately.

Networking –

If you only depend upon the job boards for roles, you are missing a vital clue. Make sure that you network (use LinkedIn for example) and speak to your friends and family. Get involved in some “after school” activities and clubs and meet other people in your community and in any professional associations. Some studies have shown that almost 60% (or higher) of roles are filled in this manner and it is significantly more effective than mass applications!

Please & Thank You –

Being polite never hurts and you will find that it pays even greater dividends in the job search! A professional “Thank you for the time” after an interview is absolutely essential. In addition, it helps to bring your name back to the forefront after they have seen a raft of other applicants and also demonstrates your interest in the company and position.

The Boy Scout Code – “Be Prepared”.

Make sure you know your resume and are comfortable with all the details included in it. Make sure that you carry extra copies of your resume to your interview with you. If you have written references take them, if you have demonstrative project work … bring it!! More than likely you will not need all of this, but you are guaranteed to need it if you don’t have it with you!

Do your Homework –

It is 110%(!!!!) essential that you know the details of the company that you are interviewing with! What do they do? What products do they sell? Who is their biggest competition? What is their revenue? Are they public or private?? Not doing your homework on the company shows a distinct lack of interest and regardless of how well you interview the hiring manager is going to think … “if you’re not interested in me, why should I be interested in you??”

Using LinkedIn to find a job

I’ve mentioned a couple of times now (see this post and this one) and its a really great tool not only to keep in touch with old work colleagues and keep apprised of whats going on in your industry but also to find a job.  LinkedIn’s job search should complement whatever you are currently doing to find a role via other online tools.

The greatest advantage and feature of LinkedIn (aside from the fact that some hiring managers use it exclusively so this is the only place you would be able to find that specific job) is the fact that you can get your existing colleagues and friends to act as your references and based on your “links” to the job/company in question there is quite a good chance that you can be recommended for the role by someone already working in the company.

In the current market, any advertised job posting can generate hundreds (if not thousands) of applications from potential candidates.  By using LinkedIn however you are able to get a referral from someone that already works in the company and this could possibly make a huge difference to your chances.  LinkedIn takes the traditional formula of networking and modernizes it in a perfect manner.  Keep in mind that studies have shown that 60-80% of all jobs are sourced purely through word of mouth – with that being said, having a way to make yourself visible to a larger market is bound to improve your hiring potential.

Step by Step –
  • Log in to LinkedIn and create an account.  Upload your CV/Resume and indicate all the companies and roles you’ve had in the past.  Find all the contacts in your previous roles and add them to your network (sorry, went through this really fast, but I will go through this in greater detail in future posts).
  • Now that you have a network in place, you can start searching for jobs that are close to you.
  1. Click on Jobs -> Find Jobs
  2. Click on Advanced search (under the Search Button)
  3. Fill in the fields on the next screen but make sure that you sort by Relationship
  4. On the next screen, you will be presented with a list of relevant jobs based on the criteria you have selected previously.  Underneath each role, however, is the phrase “See people in your network who can help you get this job”.  Click on this link and you will see people that are currently in the company that is hiring for that role.  Each layer of your network is given a number so if you see a “1” for any of these names then that means this is someone you know and have in your direct network.  A “2” would be someone that knows someone that you know – that is, you share a common contact.  Each subsequent number indicates a person that is that much further away from you.  Remember, with the LinkedIn search you can actually search for a specific company or a specific region to narrow down your search even further and you can even filter by the relationship.
  5. Once you have found someone that can help you, the next step is initiating contact.  If they are in your direct network that’s fairly easy as its a simple email from within LinkedIn.  If however they are removed from your direct network by one or two steps, you would need to get a referral from someone that you know.  LinkedIn

makes this easy also however as they give you a list of people in common that you share and you simply have to ask someone you know to refer your application onwards.

  • Once you have established contact with the person inside the company that has the job, its a simple matter to get additional details of the role, the name of the hiring manager, details about the company etc… With this information in hand, you can then personalize an application for the role and either have your internal contact forward it on for you or have it delivered directly to the hiring manager.  Aside from the fact that your application has been delivered from or via an internal resource, the personalization itself will make your application stand out even more!
Whether or not you are invited to interview for the suitable positions you’ll apply for using this process; your response rate should be higher than if you just apply blindly to a job. Best of luck on your job hunt!

Using LinkedIn effectively

I’ve already spoken previously about the power of LinkedIn and how useful a tool and site it is. However, it definitely bears repeating as if you are not using LinkedIn properly you are missing one of the sharpest quivers in your bow when searching for a job or networking in general! If you do not know about LinkedIn at all – make sure you visit the site immediately and input as much information as possible to build a complete and accurate profile.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make with LinkedIn – check your account and ensure that you are not making one of these!

Personalize your profile

Add a photo. People prefer photo’s and images and generally, if a photo accompanies your profile, it will receive a higher level of attention. Make sure that people can find you by using your real name. The default setup of LinkedIn has a bunch of letters and numbers which means that people will only find you by searching for skills and location, not your name. In addition, LinkedIn allows you to have 3 additional sites that you can refer interested parties to. Use these to reference your blog, your company’s website or even your Twitter Feed. 

Recommendations

One of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths is its recommendations feature. Quite a few companies that utilize LinkedIn for their hiring will not even look at candidates without recommendations so make sure that you have as many as possible from your work history. You definitely want to get supervisory recommendations, but you should also aim to get peer recommendations to. 

Making it stand out

Use keywords and descriptive words throughout. While you do not want to have something that is 10 pages long, at the same time you are not restricted to 2 pages like most CVs and resumes so you have an opportunity on LinkedIn to actually explain what you’ve done throughout your career and how your achievements have helped in each of your previous roles. In addition, you want to expound on the actual “bottom line” – what did the company you worked for “get out of it” and why was it a benefit to them.

Errors and Proofreading

Perhaps something that doesn’t need repeating, but silly typo’s and grammar issues are one of the worst things that you could do. It immediately shows a prospective employer that you are NOT detail oriented and that you DO NOT make the appropriate effort in your work.

Updating and Groups

Another big no-no is inputting your information and forgetting about it. LinkedIn like lots of other sites thrives on content so if you’re not updating your information or participating in discussions and groups you are losing a whole new avenue to keep your name “out there”. Ensure that any new posts you make on blogs or other sites are advertised in the “What are you working on?” box and that you’ve linked your Twitter account so that it automatically updates for you.

Treat Your Job Search – Like a Job!

How do you ensure that your CV does not just disappear into the void and that recruiting managers remember your name when the role that you are suited for finally comes available?

  1. Well firstly – ensure that you are applying for those roles that you are actually suited for and that your CV and resume shows how your skills suit the position.  If you are trying to get into a new industry – expect to start at a more junior position and ensure that you highlight why you are suitable in your covering letter (you were going to send a covering letter weren’t you?)
  2. Ensure that your CV/Resume and Cover Letter (remember the cover letter always … its extremely important and gives you a great area to highlight your skills outside of the 2 page CV/Resume format) include the key-words that the job specification indicates are necessary for the role.  However do not just fill your CV up with key words – no one will be fooled – ensure that you job experience matches the role (see point 1 above) and that you are able to speak to this skill in an interview.
  3. Formatting, formatting, formatting.  Presentation is key here – you want to ensure that you’ve minimized any spelling or grammar errors and also that your CV stands out (by that I DO NOT mean print it on fluorescent pink paper!) from the crowd.  Ensure that your name and contact details are clear and use legible font that can be decreased in size without losing clarity throughout your document – I would suggest Tahoma/Arial/Verdana as they are all very clear even down to Font Size 6 allowing you to get a lot of information on the page.  However – try to ensure that there is enough white space on the page as too much text is just going to kill the reviewer and they will not bother reading the whole document.
  4. Structure – in addition to the overall look and feel of your document you need to ensure that you are emphasizing your achievements (not your job duties … people know what a Customer Service Representative does, but they don’t know that you’ve sourced and built the ticketing system that the company is using for example!).  The top of your CV should have a couple of sentences speaking about what you are looking for and why you would be a good fit for the role. 
  5. Network 60-70% or more of jobs are never advertised – well, not in the public domain anyways.  They come about through word of mouth and the jobs are sourced and filled by people that other people know!  You should always ensure that you have your name on others lips and keep yourself active on sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook for that matter!
  6. If you’ve been lucky enough to secure an interview – make sure that you’ve done your homework on the company!  Come dressed to impress at the interview and ensure that you send a follow up email or letter after the interview thanking them for their time.  Remember they might be seeing 10 or 100’s of people for the role and if you are one of the early people you want to get them to remember you again when they are closer to making the decision.
  7. Treat your job search like a job!  That means that you need to maintain a list of contacts (recruiters) and websites that you have advertised yourself on and you should spend 2-3 hours a day looking for new opportunities and following up on previous ones.  Do NOT just send an email with your CV and expect that you will get the job immediately thereafter.  To get the right role takes motivation and effort and you shouldn’t give up after 1 or 2 strike outs. 

So to reiterate – 

  • Apply only to jobs where you are most suited 
  • Format your CV and cover letter to include the key words that they are looking for 
  • Check your CV for spelling/grammar errors 
  • Ensure your CV is structured correctly 
  • Network 
  • Follow Up 
  • Treat it like a job!- During a recession it often takes 17+ interviews to get a job so keep your chin up.

 You may find these related posts of interest:

Getting the job

OK, alot of my previous posts have stressed the importance of networking and CV reviews with regards to getting that next role.  What lots of candidates fail to account for is the actual importance of the interview itself assuming that their CV will “sell them” to the prospective employer.  It cannot be stressed enough that while your CV will get you into the door, it is only through an exceptional job interview that you will get hired!
You may find these related posts of interest:

With the current ratio of interviews to hires during this recession time, Employers can afford to be picky with the candidates that are walking through the door.  There are always more people looking for a job and most employers want to ensure that they are getting the best value for their money.  Generally in recessions, the ratio of job interviews to job offers is as high as 17-to-1 (this drops to 6-to-1 during the “good times”) so nailing that first impression is paramount.

Some common assumptions that candidates make about the interview process are:

  • I am good communicator – while this is obviously important (confidence at the interview stage is key) you need to remember that communicating in the workplace is different to an interview.  Quite often you are going to be interviewed by people that are not skilled in the role that you are trying to fill and they will not understand the jargon that someone who does the job you do would.  Also there is the potential that you will have group interviews where you will be cross examined by multiple parties simultaneously – remember that focus your attention on the person asking the question, but you need to be cognizant of the body language of the rest of the panel also.
  • I can do the job – while this might be absolutely true, it really has no bearing on the interview itself!  As I’ve already mentioned, if you’re being interviewed by someone who doesn’t understand Routers, talking about the TCP/IP stack is not going to get you anywhere!!
  • I am (was) a Manager and have interviewed people before – there is a big difference between interviewing and being the interviewee.  Once you’re on the other side of that table you need to ensure that the answers you are providing are relevant to the questions being asked.  You need to show enthusiasm for the role and do not be afraid to show some ambition when asked the question – “What are your plans for the future?”  If you’re able to answer truthfully that you want to get back into Management and would like to eventually be sitting on the other side of the chair again yourself that would probably not be misconstrued – however do NOT be arrogant and assume that you can do the job of the person that you are speaking to tomorrow.  Just as in your previous role, this one is no different – its not just the technology that you need to learn but also the people and he has that knowledge whereas you will need to learn it again.
  • I know all about the business/sector – while you might have worked in this sector before, you actually DO NOT know it all.  Eat a little humble pie here.  The key thing that you should do though is ensure that you know EXACTLY what the company is looking for and also as much information about the company as possible.  It is more than frustrating for an interviewer to ask the candidate what do they know about the company they are interviewing with and then have the candidate waffle on.  In today’s world, there is really no excuse not to know as much as possible about the role and the company – BE PREPARED!

Now while this is by no means an exhaustive list, it definitely covers the main things that I’ve had experience with from both sides of the chair.  Practice doing interviews in front of a mirror, make notes about how your strengths line up with what the company is looking for, BE CONFIDENT and ensure that you project that image of yourself.

Practice, Practice, PRACTICE!!!!

Remember that that the job search is a job itself and should be treated as such. Your resume and CV opens doors, your personality will get you the job!  Best of luck.

The Job Search


OK, unfortunately, its that time of year again and you need to get your name out there and start looking for another job.  Now, this might be for any of a variety of reasons and we’re really not going to worry about that here.  What we are going to discuss however is some good tools that you can and should be using to ensure that you are promoting yourself correctly and that you are looking in the right places for your new role.

First Question – what do you do now and are you happy?  

Sorry, I know it seems a little bit redundant, but you need to ask this one as so many people just go from job to job without doing what they enjoy.  Considering you are spending 8+ hours a day there and over 40 hours a week – it really makes sense for you to seriously think this one through.

If you are not happy with your current career – perhaps it is time for a change?  Think about schooling options and time away from the workforce in relation to your bills.  Assuming that you can afford to do it, get the relevant training you need so that you can progress forward in your new chosen career.  Remember for a lot of us, our job is just something we “fell into” after school – more often than not, it has no relation to what you studied, so this is your chance to do it right from an adult point of view!

One thing you should obviously consider is that whatever new career you start, you will be starting at the bottom.  Just keep it in mind and don’t expect to immediately be at the same level you were previously.

Hows your CV/Resume?


Make sure you have a professional looking version of your CV available.  There are many free templates available on the Microsoft Website itself that are a good starting point if you have not built anything at all yet.  Here are some links to some good ones – but check the site itself for even more:
Now if you recall in a previous post, I mentioned the fact that when first creating your resume do not worry about page length.  The most important thing is content and information.  You want to think about having a “master” version of your CV that you can tailor specifically for the job that you are applying for.  So your master version could be 10 pages in length, but the tailored version once you’ve gotten rid of the jobs/roles that are not relevant and shrunk down the wording and font would be 2 (or 3) pages.


Advertise yourself – 

OK, so assuming you’re happy with your chosen career and you have an appropriately formatted CV to show the world, you need to get your name out there.  There are probably three main ways to do this and to be honest they are all somewhat interrelated.


Networking

Even though job search networking is one of the most successful ways to find a new job, it can sound intimidating and sometimes seems a little bit scary. It doesn’t have to be.  At least 60% – some report even higher statistics – of all jobs are found by networking.

The thing you have to keep uppermost in your mind is that your Job Search IS a job!!  You need to treat it as such and ensure that you assign some time to do it right.


Develop contacts – friends, family, neighbors, college alumni, people in associations – anyone who might help generate information and job leads – although you are not selling a product, you are selling yourself and that’s how you should think about it..  Contact everyone you know. You may be surprised by the people they know.   Make yourself pick up the phone and call.  Networking isn’t a process of making cold-calls to people you don’t know. It’s talking to people you do know or asking them to introduce you to others.

Email is a perfectly acceptable way to network as well.  Keep your message brief and to the point and be sure to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Formal networking works too – try going to a business social or an association meeting or event.  You’ll find that many of the participants have the same goals you do and will be glad to exchange business cards.


Job Board

Now there are lots of different Job Boards that you can find and use.  One of the most popular ones of course if Monster.  In addition to Monster, you will find many that are specific to your country or region and I will try to cover most of the bigger ones for the US/UK and Canada over the coming months and years.  However, another International tool that is definitely worth looking into – especially as it ties into the Networking topic mentioned above is called LinkedIn.


This site is different as it is very similar to social networking sites like Facebook and others, but it is professional in nature.  Your work friends and colleagues will be your networking contacts here and these are also the same people that through their own network will assist in getting you a new job.
The main reason that companies are using LinkedIn is to find passive job candidates. Another reason why companies are using LinkedIn, is because referrals from their employees are highly valued because they typically have a higher success rate (hence the popular “employee referral bonuses”). LinkedIn helps companies leverage the networks of their employees.

 

It’s also important to note that LinkedIn has reached a point where it’s almost unprofessional not to be on LinkedIn. There are members from all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies. LinkedIn members comprise 130 different industries and include 130,000 recruiters.

Recruiters

Your third option in your Job Search is Recruitment firms … now, don’t think of this as your last option as they should not be … they are simply another arrow in your quiver and should be used in conjunction with the other two methods already mentioned.


Try to ensure that you target recruitment firms in your chosen sector vs. general recruiters as the specialists are most likely to have an opening in an area that you are interested in.  I’ll try to cover some of the better/bigger ones in the next little while, however finding a recruitment firm is probably best done through Google and other search engines.

Active Listening

I recently took some training on Interview techniques and Active Listening.  It was an eye-opener, to say the least!!


The difference it makes when someone is really listening and paying attention vs that same person doing something else while you are speaking makes an amazing difference to the speaker.  Much more than I thought – if you don’t believe me try this little exercise with someone yourself.
  1. Write down two different topics.  The first one should be one that you are passionate about and could speak about for hours if given the chance.  For the second topic, choose something that you really don’t care about and/or have no interest in.
  2. Get a little timer (60seconds should do) and have someone sit close to you.
  3. You are first going to speak about the topic that interests you … however the person you are speaking to should not be paying attention to you … they can doodle on a piece of paper, answer their phone, check emails and speak to someone else.  See how long you last and can keep on speaking about your chosen topic before you completely lose your train of thought and start to wonder yourself … I doubt you’ll make it to the 60second mark if the other person is ignoring you properly!
  4. Now choose the topic that doesn’t interest you.  The person you are speaking to should actively listen, however … they will be questioning you and showing a keen interest in what you are saying.  I bet that you’ll find you have a lot more to say about this second topic than you thought you did and that it will be a lot more enjoyable!
This is a small example of the power that another person has.  Remember it when you are interviewing other people when you are giving your staff an appraisal or doing a 1-1 with them.  You need to be paying full attention and not letting distractions get in your way as you will be doing yourself and the person you are speaking to a severe disservice.

Job Search & Resume Essentials


Fortunately (and unfortunately) as a Manager you will frequently get involved in the process of hiring new staff.  The unfortunate downside is that as a Manager you will also have to sometimes terminate staff – see my post on PIPs earlier – but this to some extent goes with the territory.  Let’s look at the positive aspect first and let’s look at it in two parts as it might be you on the other side of that chair at some point!


Selling Yourself

Now the first step in selling yourself is a decently formatted CV/Resume and appropriately detailed and specific cover letter.  There are lots of places that will send you to resume writers and so on, but you have to remember something very important – your resume is really only the 1st step – YOU need to be able to speak to someone about everything that is on there and if you cannot do that, it will not matter whether or not you got an interview.  You WILL NOT get the job!

Now, if you can speak about everything that is on your resume congratulations, that is important as that is what you will be questioned on come interview time.  You need to ensure that you are comfortable with it and to be honest, depending on your experience, you should not be frightened if your initial resume is 10 pages long (just do not send that version out!).

Once you have built a starting resume, the next task is to weed it down to the appropriate keywords that the company is looking for – see why I said 10 pages is OK?  You can use those keywords and the accompanying ‘blurbs’ to flesh out each of your jobs so that you present yourself in the best possible light.  Most books and companies would state that you should aim to have your formatted resume (the one that the hiring managers see) be approximately 2 pages in length.  Any longer and unfortunately unless the hiring managers are very bored, will be generally disregarded.  Keep in mind in today’s economies there are almost always more people applying for a role than there are positions available and correspondingly lots more resume’s!

Now, this all might sound a bit dry and factual (although there are lots of different formats and ways of presenting yourself in your resume to make it less so, the end goal to keep in mind is that you are presenting a “Professional” image of yourself.  Where you have an opportunity to be a bit more risqué is in your covering letter.  Although your resume has been tailored towards the job that you are applying for, your experience might not always be an EXACT match and in these instances, you would use your covering letter to explain why you are a suitable candidate for the role being advertised.

A hiring manager uses the data in the cover letter that you have provided and would compare it against the information in your resume to receive a positive or negative impression as well as an initial determination of suitability for the position.  You don’t just want to throw keywords into the cover letter in a random order, you need to ensure that the information you are presenting about yourself matches what the company is looking for and also as mentioned earlier, if your resume is not an exact match, why should they talk to you?  Remember, these simple pieces of paper determine who gets seen first and who gets pitched to the side.

Some key things to always include in a cover letter are:
  • Key Accomplishments and Awards (i.e. How did you benefit your last company?  How much money did you save them?  What process improvements did you initiate and how successful were they?)
  • Customer Testimonials – if you are applying for a Customer Service role and your customers are willing to be your advocate that says some really good things about you and the level of Service you are able to provide.

Finally, with regards to your CV/Resume and cover letter, there is probably one really important thing that I have not yet mentioned … it is extremely important so please pay attention … studies state that 85% of applicants currently applying for new positions, make this simple elementary error.

PROOFREAD YOUR WORK!!!!!


In today’s day and age with the tools we have available, there is no excuse for simple spelling and grammatical errors.  Remember, Hiring Managers are looking for a reason to put you in the NO pile – don’t give them an easy out!!  Once you have read it, read it again and then get your wife to read it and your brother and as many other people as you can think off.  Not only will they hopefully find any errors, but they might even be able to add some additional accomplishments that you’d forgotten!  

In addition unless you are in a highly specialized field, you want to ensure that your resume is readable AND understandable by the “lay” person – remember more often than not, the Hiring Manager in HR does not really understand the role that they are hiring for and is really only looking for those keywords I’ve mentioned before!

I hope that the above has been useful information with regards to CV/Resume creation as well as the cover letter.  In later posts, I will cover the different job boards (for you and your candidates), recruiters as well as the disciplinary and termination process.