Posts Tagged ‘employment’

6 Tips for Starting a Consulting Practice (or Launching a Job Search!)

September 28, 2012

“Take my advice, I’m not using it” has always been one of my favorite lines.  Why?  Because it describes in a comical way how I started my consulting practice as a Career Coach and Training Consultant over 20 years ago.  I didn’t have a business plan, didn’t have a website for many years, have never had an office outside of my home, didn’t have fancy marketing materials or even a cell phone!  But what I did have was a passion for helping people find jobs and performing better in their careers. I had a belief that because I knew what I loved doing and was good at, there would be a market for what I was offering…….and it turns out, I was right.

My experience should give hope to anyone thinking about taking the entrepreneurial plunge.  Who would have thought that starting an independent consulting practice and starting a job search would require many of the same considerations?  So based on my 20+ years of surprisingly successful experience as a Career and Training Consultant, here is some advice to aspiring consultants and job hunters alike!

  1. Follow your bliss – What have you’ve always longed to do?  To me, there is no more important question to answer when considering becoming a consultant or job hunter:  Is there a way to do work that I am passionate about, find meaningful and will support me and my family?  A new job or consulting opportunity that is a perfect match for your passions and expertise may well be out there.  So figure out what your passions are, what you’re good at and what you have to offer the marketplace.  Most people tend to undervalue their talents, skills, and experience, so it may take an outsider to help you identify your most marketable skills and expertise and that could be a wise investment before starting either endeavor.
  2. Test the marketplace – Can you really get paid for your expertise and passions?  Where is the need in the marketplace for what you uniquely offer? Find out byinvestigating the marketplace and researching organizations that may need or are looking for your skills and expertise.  Find out what’s going on right under your nose – in your neighborhood, local businesses, community, and non-profit organizations.  Just this week, one of my job search clients walked into a company a mile from his house to apply for a job in person (yes, people still do this and should!), left his resume with the receptionist and got a call back from the hiring manager that afternoon!  I encourage my clients and aspiring consultants to read local newspapers, business journals, organization websites, and talk to professional and personal contacts about current company needs, initiatives, and problems that might require their unique talents and skills.  I encourage them to meet decision makers through information interviewing or through a referral.  This is crucial in determining if there is indeed a need and market for what you are offering.
  3. Watch your expenses and keep your overhead low – Many of my colleagues have made the mistake of signing expensive lease agreements for office space that their practice simply couldn’t support.  Many of my job search clients do the same: setting up elaborate home offices, or buying new computers and phones – spending money they need to live on while looking for a new job. Make a coffee shop your office!  My best guess would be about 75% of coffee shop regulars are consultants or job hunters who are meeting with potential clients, having interviews, writing resumes and cover letters. I should know, I’m one of them!
  4. Network, network, network – Do you have to network?  The unequivocal answer is Yes – that’s if you want to be successful!  99.5% of my consulting business has come from networking and 80% of all jobs come through networking.  Networking who you know, and who knows you, is the most effective way to find a job or consulting gig.
  5. Develop marketing materials – A consulting brochure, a website, or resumes and cover letters,  need to sell your expertise, skills, and your “value proposition” to potential customers and hiring managers in a high impact way.  Engaging the services of a professional web designer and resume writer can be extremely beneficial.  In fact, I just bartered my career coaching services with a web designer and I now have an attractive new website that cost me nothing more than sharing my expertise.
  6. Blow your own horn – Whether you are selling your consulting services to potential customers or selling yourself to potential employers, you must have well prepared “verbal commercials” that promote who you are and what you have to offer. In coaching hundreds of clients looking for new careers, I have learned that this is one of the hardest things for people to do.  And you can and must learn to promote your “brand” as a job hunter or consultant, because your competition is doing it loud and strong!

Starting a consulting practice requires confidence, determination, and self-motivation – and so does an effective job search.  But the satisfaction and rewards are worth the effort!  I encourage aspiring consultants to contact the Center for Women and the SC Women’s Business Center for help getting started on the right track.

Jan Moorman is President of Jan Moorman & Associates, a Career Coaching and Training Consulting Firm located in Charleston, SC. She can be reached at www.janmoormanandassociates.com or 843-410-3526.

Social Media for Recruiting: Are Women Business Owners at a Disadvantage?

September 7, 2012

No matter the size of your business, recruiting the best employees is a challenge. With the increased usage of social media as a recruitment tool, women business owners may be at a bit of a disadvantage.

According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, women use social media more than men. This would seem to give women business owners a bit of a leg up when it comes to using social media to recruit candidates, but that may not be the case.

The Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2012 showed that 93% of business owners who use social media for recruiting used the site LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the only social media site that is used by more men than women. In fact, the Pew Research study showed there were nearly twice as many men using LinkedIn as women.

Because business owners who use social media for recruiting report a 43% increase in the quality of candidates, women business owners may be missing the boat on some of the best available talent.  Of course, you can also use Facebook and Twitter for recruiting, and women use these sites much more than men.

Now is the time for women business owners to consider using social media as a recruiting tool.

Ways to Use Social Media for Recruiting

Identify Candidates

Just as business owners are learning to use social media to recruit candidates, job seekers are using their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages to seek work. Some of the best candidates aren’t actively looking for a job, but you can still reach out to them. By identifying these passive candidates, you will expand your pool and increase your chance of finding the best talent.

Post Open Jobs

Posting open jobs on social media sites is another way to use social media as a recruitment tool. Some of your followers will share the job posting with their own network, and greatly increase the number of potential candidates.

Social media isn’t only effective for recruiting full-time employees. It is possible to effectively recruit a seasonal or part time employee using social media as well.  You will reach college students, stay-at-home moms and other groups who are looking for supplemental income.

 Current Employees

Ask your current employees to aid in your recruitment efforts. One way that they can do this is by posting about their job and spreading the word to their social network about any openings. Having a current employee vouch that your business is a great place to work can further increase the interest from qualified candidates.

Consider offering your employers an incentive should their networking result in a new hire.

Screen Candidates

Another way that you can use social media in the recruitment process is to screen candidates once they have been identified. A quick peek at their Facebook profile may be enough to knock some candidates out of the running.

Keep in mind that when you look at the profiles of potential candidates, there is a good chance that you will see protected class information – that is information that cannot legally be used to eliminate candidates. This includes race, gender etc.. Even if you do not use this information to make a decision there is a chance that someone will say that you did.

A Helping Hand

Social Media – Just a Tool

Social media is just one tool. It does not take the place of other methods of recruitment and it certainly does not eliminate the need for the proper screening of candidates. To be sure that you are following all applicable employment laws during the recruitment process, it is a good idea to have a helping hand.

Working with a human resources consultant can ensure that you don’t put yourself in a position to come under scrutiny. A qualified HR consultant can make the recruitment process easier and give you a better chance at retaining quality employees.

Other Tips

Get on LinkedIn

If you do not use LinkedIn, you need to start. While the other social networking sites can aid in your recruitment efforts, LinkedIn is the only one that is specifically for business use.

Need a Following

For any type of social media initiatives to be as effective, you need to continue to develop a following. The more followers, the more access you’ll have to qualified candidates.

Continually work on developing your social media presence.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

It is no secret that many candidates embellish their resumes. The same is true for what you read on their social media profiles. Don’t believe everything that you read. Instead, you will need to verify important information.

Women in business who are not using social media as a recruitment aid may be missing out on some of the best talent. The next time you have a job opening to fill, or if you just want to develop a list of potential talent for future positions, social media is a great place to start.

Pat Eardley is a Human Resources Advisor with more than 16 years’ experience in human resources management as a recruiter, trainer, and executive. Pat has a diverse background, having industry experience in retail, telecommunications, hospitality and manufacturing. As an Advisor she supports small-business owners in managing growth, compliance, work performance and employee relations, allowing Small Business owners to focus on creating a successful business environment for them and their employees. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, a SCORE Mentor and Center for Women Job Coach. Pat volunteers with local shelters and nonprofit organizations and assists with resume writing, interviewing skills, professional appearance and job placement. You can find out more about Pat and the services she offers at www.pateardley.com.

* First appeared in the Business Review section of The Post and Courier on Monday, July 31, 2012.

The Job Coaches: Managing up builds trust

March 16, 2012

It is no accident that women are moving into positions of team and organizational leadership and also that large numbers of them are well-positioned to make a leadership difference.photo

In settings where team performance is highly valued, a leader who encourages open exchanges, collaborations and collective creativity provides a new culture and becomes an enabler of productivity. Ursula M. Burns, the chief executive of Xerox, was quoted in The New York Times on this new approach when she said, “I want (Xerox) employees to take more initiative and be more fearless and frank with one another. … We’re family, so we can disagree.”

The interactive transformational leadership practiced by women developed over a period of time from learning to manage up.

The way organizations operate today is a product of the forces of rapid economic and technological change, an economic shift to a post-industrial, global economy, a work force that is diverse and evenly divided between men and women and the investment market emphasis on short-term profits that contributed to the current recession. Collectively, these forces have dismantled many old dysfunctional operating systems.

Driven by competition, organizations met these challenges by restructuring. They took advantage of the new information-sharing technologies to bring together in work teams, either physically or virtually, people with differing backgrounds, information sets, resources, perspectives and problem-solving skills. The approach worked so well that firms were able to raise productivity and profits while simultaneously reducing the layers of corporate bureaucracy, trimming the number of long-term employees and cutting back on benefits.

Much of the organizational work today, particularly the creative work, takes place in teams because, done right, the result is a collective creativity. But work teams are effective only when people buy into the organizational goals in a cooperative endeavor and the organization delegates power to the team to go ahead and solve problems.

The problem organizations have is that as they restructured employee trust eroded. Queried in 2009, more than half of American workers said they did not trust their organization’s leaders. An even higher percentage said their employer had violated a contractual relationship. A survey in January found that more than 60 percent of employees said they would leave for another job if they had the chance.

The organizational dilemma is obvious. Companies needed to find team leaders who excel at bringing people together and motivating them to solve problems, leaders who can create a climate of trust in a work team and themselves be entrusted with power.

What many firms are finding is that this means they need a new type of leader: one with an interactive, open style of leadership that is based on skilled communication.

Because this is exactly the job approach that many women cultivated so their talent, experience, education and work skills would not be brushed aside by gender bias, they are moving into these new positions of leadership in organizations. These women will be instrumental in putting our economy back on track.

What steps can you take to begin cultivating the skills to move into one of the transformational leadership opportunities in your company? Begin by managing up, building trust one step at a time.

  1. Know your job. Be so good at it that everyone in your work setting understands that you know what you are talking about.
  2. Figure out what your company needs to be successful. Do your homework.
  3. Network throughout the organization. Build relationships with people who understand your ability to get things done.
  4. Go where the action is. Join work teams and contribute in a collaborative way. When you think you are ready and the opportunity presents itself, don’t bypass a chance to lead.
  5. Focus on the task at hand and the goals of your team and organization. Remember, it is always professional, never personal. Avoid getting sidetracked into pushing your own agenda and personal interests.
  6. Articulate clearly what you and your team need to achieve its goals. Enlist your supervisor, keep him or her informed, leverage his or her strengths and talents in carrying out the team objectives, and make sure that the supervisor knows you appreciate and acknowledge the value he or she adds to the team.

Dorothy Perrin Moore, Ph.D., is professor emerita of business and entrepreneurship at The Citadel. The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, February 26, 2010.

The Job Coaches: Dealing with layoffs: Keep moving, change lanes later

January 20, 2012
Following 10 years of promotions, Margaret was laid off for the first time in her career. Her company had been hit hard by the recession and needed to dramatically reduce its staff.photo

Included in those reductions were key performers like Margaret who worked in functions no longer deemed “business critical.” Margaret believed being laid off meant that she had failed. She froze, personally and professionally, and did nothing for several weeks except look back at what had happened, wondering what she could have done differently.

Margaret hadn’t failed at her job; however, she was failing at dealing with the situation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between December 2007 (when the recession officially started) and October 2009, there were 49,357 mass layoffs affecting more than 5 million people. (A mass layoff is when 50 or more people are laid off at the same time.)

So there are many individuals like Margaret who are dealing with an unexpected speed bump in their career path.

Hitting those career obstacles hurts, just like it did when you fell off a swing when you were 10 years old. But, just like you did way back then, pick yourself up and keep moving. View the situation as a “teachable moment” for exploring, growing and learning instead of allowing yourself to withdraw.

As Albert Einstein remarked, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Use these seven lessons and inspirational quotes to keep moving:

1. Look for lessons to be learned. Work with a trusted confidante to explore your thoughts and feelings about what happened. There’s something positive to be learned from nearly every situation that will make you better the next time around.

Consider this quote from songwriter and scholar Bernice Johnson Reagon: “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

2. Aim for acceptance. Denying what happened or looking to find fault won’t make the situation go away or change the outcome. Focus instead on what you do well and look for opportunities where you can apply your strengths.

As author Carlos Castaneda reminds us, “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

3. Analyze your thoughts and feelings to become more self-aware. Take a long hard look at your reactions so you can better understand your motivation.

Ponder these words from American essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”

4. Keep taking wise risks. Expand your comfort zone. Learn and grow by trying something new.

As Aldous Huxley, English writer, tells us, “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

5. Build bridges to the future; don’t burn those to the past. You never know when a past boss may be-come a future boss, so you want to assure that the relationship remains posi-tive.

Billy Cox, author of The Dream Book, offers some excellent advice, “Taking the high road is usually not the easy one to take or the most popular … but if you compromise your principles and your integrity, it will always end up costing you far more in the long run.”

6. Be optimistic. Shed those “what if” thoughts or “maybe I should have” worries, and remain positive.

As author Remez Sasson writes, “The difference between can and cannot is only three letters. Three letters that can shape your life’s direction.”

7. Get, and stay, moving. Volunteer, take a class, work out, become a mentor, network. Learn from the past and energetically move on.

Reflect on these words from orator and philosopher Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

The next time you are cruising down the highway and see the road sign that reads “keep moving, change lanes later,” smile and follow the good advice.

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group. The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Search Assistance Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, register for a workshop or make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, January 1, 2010.

The Job Coaches: Increase your stock value at work

October 21, 2011

photoEverywhere you turn these days, the conversation is about the state of the job market.

Pundits debate the recovery given still sky-high unemployment rates and people everywhere are more concerned than ever about finding jobs and keeping jobs. What does it take to make sure that your name is on the short list of people who are valued and viewed as “keepers” in the slippery world of business today?

1. Understand the business. I’m talking about the big picture of the business. It’s not enough just to master your job or even your functional area. Think in systems terms about how what you do every day affects the success of your business on a macro level. Study the marketplace. Understand the context in which your business operates and who its competitors are. Figure out how the job that you do contributes to the ultimate experience of your company’s customers.

2. Get clear on the strategic direction of the business. Time and time again, when I ask people what they need to be successful at their jobs, what they say to me is, “Just tell us where we’re headed.” If you don’t understand your company’s vision, it’s hard to add relevant value. Don’t be afraid to ask your company’s leaders to share their vision for the organization. And if you’re one of those leaders yourself, remember that a huge part of your job is to clarify strategic direction for the people you’re depending on to get the job done.

3. Build relationships. High tech or not, every business is a people business. The quality of your relationships often contributes as much if not more to your success as the quality of the job you do. Take the time to invest in connecting with the people that you work with in a way that builds trust and respect.

4. Be proactive. The business environment in which we operate today is far too complex for most directives to come in the form of a tidy list of instructions. One of the most important skills you can develop is the ability to ferret out critical information, study it, and then take the initiative to do something about it. Don’t wait for somebody to tell you what to do, or you may just find them telling you where the door is instead.

5. Take on the tough assignments. If you know or suspect that you have the ability to successfully complete challenging projects that have not yet been offered to you, ask for them. If you know that there are assignments that other people shy away from, put your name in the hat. Your visibility can increase exponentially if you take on the thorny jobs and do them well.

6. Focus on outcome vs. activity. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the significance of their jobs is all about how they spend their time each day, as if being busy is what matters. Businesses value results, and what you do to produce them is far less important than your bottom-line ability to deliver the goods. Make sure you understand exactly what results the company is looking for, how they are measured, and how you can exceed their expectations.

7. Understand the culture. Every organization is unique in terms of what it values, how it operates and the kinds of behavior that are expected and rewarded. Getting a handle on the culture of your company is kind of like mastering the unwritten rules. The playbook may be elusive, but it’s important. Make it your business to understand what matters.

8. Manage perceptions. The currency of value in any organization is how you are perceived by others. You may be the most talented person in the world, but if the decision-makers in your company don’t see that, it doesn’t count. Make sure that your behavior, how you communicate, dress, act, etc. reflect the image that you want to convey and the substance of what you bring to the table.

9. Be a team player. Virtually any environment these days, regardless of industry, relies on teams to deliver its products or services. Being a good team member requires compromise, adapting to different styles, and learning to collaborate in a way that produces results that you couldn’t achieve on your own. Invest in developing a camaraderie and flexible working style with your team members that makes it a pleasure for them to work with you.

10. Study the superstars. Every company has them — the top producers, key contributors. Observe how they operate. What makes them effective? How do they communicate? What do they prioritize? What can you learn from them? Sometimes the best way to get ahead is to heed the example of those who have gone before.

Advancing your career is largely about increasing your own stock value at work. Make sure that your strategy helps you to bring the best of yourself to the business, and have others take notice!

Barbara Poole is a master-certified coach and president of Success Builders, Inc.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, February 5, 2010.

The Job Coaches: Plan for references, background checks

October 14, 2011

photoQ: A company that interviewed me wants references and is going to do a background check. What do I do?

A: Most companies check references and do background verifications for security and legal reasons. They also want to assure that your resume and application contain the facts. References are a make-or-break part of getting a job offer. Successfully handling this part of your job search requires some prior planning.

Who should be on your list of references? Prospective employers want to talk to people who can vouch for your work accomplishments. Excellent choices include former supervisors (ideally your most recent), indirect supervisors (your boss’ boss), customers, vendors, professors/advisers, clients, colleagues and direct reports. Employers will question your credibility if you include close friends and relatives as references.

How do I know what people will say? Always invite someone to be a reference. A first-rate initial question is: “Are you familiar enough with my job performance to give me a positive reference?” If someone hesitates or is lukewarm with their response, that’s a good sign to pick someone else. You must know in advance that your references can confirm the content of your resume and speak confidently of your contributions, strengths and performance. If your references work for a company that limits the information they can share to just dates of employment, job titles and salary history, you need to be aware of that; so ask.

Is there a way to prepare my references for calls? Provide your references with a copy of your current resume along with a list of companies or people to whom you have given their name. Secure current information from your reference: current job title, company, address, telephone numbers (home, work and cell) and e-mail address. Ask them if they prefer a phone or e-mail contact, and include that information in the list you give to potential employers.

Will I have to sign any releases or waivers? Don’t be surprised if a possible employer asks you to sign a release so they can check your references. They are simply protecting themselves from possible liability. If a company is using an outside company to conduct a background check, you must provide written authorization to them before the review happens.

What kind of information is included in a background check? While the list of items checked varies from company to company, any of the following (and even more!) could be researched: criminal history, previous employment, driving record, military experience, Social Security number, court records, credit history and education.

What do I do if something bad turns up? Upfront honesty works best. Employers typically check your background once they are interested in you. So disclose that DUI from your college days. Tell the truth on your resume – don’t inflate job titles or college degrees. If you were fired or involved in other difficult situations, work with a job coach to develop an interview response. More and more companies are also checking you out online — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — so clean up anything that could be embarrassing or compromising.

With some thoughtful preparation, you can ace the reference and background check part of your job search.

Jane Perdue is the principal/CEO of The Braithewaite Group.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, August 28, 2009.

The Job Coaches: Take steps to retool skills, rethink options

September 30, 2011

Dr. Dorothy P. MooreBy Dorothy Perrin Moore

A new beginning requires re-examining one’s skill set. To assist, academic institutions are offering programs that address the needs of workers in transition.

Among the types of offerings are certification programs, part-time career re-engineering and more. The objective, perhaps best stated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is to enable people to “reconnect, renew, refuel, relaunch, re-enter, retool, reinvent, rekindle, reinvigorate, redefine, re-create, rethink, re-establish and re-equip.”

How can this approach assist the woman in transition who has no definite job prospect? First, she should focus on a personal profile based on an inventory of her talents. This will enable her to examine the full spectrum of job and career options she is capable of filling. It requires thorough research on prospective firms in fields of her competency. Then, she must use this knowledge to build more flexible approaches for new career options.

The position you are seeking may only exist because you show an employer how your set of skills can contribute to the firm’s bottom line. Developing a new profile and self-image can lead to creating a job niche. For example, assume you are a recent journalism graduate or laid off reporter, but the newspaper business has reduced columns and coverage due to a fall in subscriptions and advertising. How do you take your set of writing skills, which the majority of people in the labor market do not have, and turn it in to a creative position?

If you present yourself as a reporter primarily, you have not renewed, refueled or relaunched. You may be presenting the image that narrows your job opportunities. In short, you are showing employers your skill set in a closed box. The real skill you have is the ability to write, to articulate, to communicate, to market, to state things clearly, to improve the numerous essential documents all firms generate. Market it.

Suppose your background is in fabric design, but due to the large number of textile companies that have left the Carolinas, there appears no way for you to get your foot in the doors that remain. How can you use your creativity to launch your job search in new directions? Looking at the field more broadly is one beginning. Closely examine the spectrum of jobs that are being advertised. Visualize where additional openings might occur. Then determine what business skills might best fill out your resume for these potential openings. You might want to add some courses in marketing and advertising from your local college or technical school to expand your job search opportunities and also to develop new networks, friends or associates who may recommend you to an employer.

There are other avenues. If you are still in school, you are probably already aware of the vast array of services offered by the institution’s career service center. Graduates, and sometimes those unable to complete a degree, may not be aware that these services also are available to them. In many cases, institutions wave fees for the services in the interest of building goodwill (and possibly attaining future contributions). Many extend the services to members of the community as well.

If you elect retooling by taking a new program of study, it will be important to determine as nearly as possible what your future set of skills will be and how they will relate to the job market. Watch out for quick fixes that have no new jobs attached or require a substantial investment on your part. Stay focused on the return on investment for your time, effort and dollars.

Most of all, remember that you are the framer of your image and skill set. The steps you take in retooling are important.

Do the homework. Effort and perseverance count. Make at least three new contracts every day. Stay healthy, avoid hibernation and keep up your exercise and fitness program.

Dorothy Perrin Moore, Ph.D., is professor emerita of business and entrepreneurship at The Citadel.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, September 18, 2009.

The Job Coaches: Distinguish yourself online

September 23, 2011

Q: I’ve applied to dozens of jobs online, but can’t even get an interview. What am I doing wrong?

A: Probably nothing! Remember, you’re just one of thousands of people out there searching for a job. Hiring managers who post jobs online probably receive upward of 100 resumes a week and have various ways to winnow their list down to the top candidates to interview, so even if you’re following instructions perfectly, you may not receive a response. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of scoring an interview.

First, don’t be “Ms. Everycandidate.” If a cover letter (via e-mail, of course) is requested, don’t send a form letter. Don’t state the obvious, such as “attached is my resume” (because it is attached) or “I am applying for job XYZ” (because you are). Customize each e-mail to the position and company you’re applying for, and let your personality shine through. Your first two sentences should grab a hiring manager’s attention. For example, if you’re applying for a job in the graphic design field and you have 10 years working experience and a great portfolio, your first sentence could be “I’m perfect for the position you’ve posted because …” (and then state your most valuable attributes).

Also in your cover letter, you should indicate that you know something about the company. Do your research; at the least, visit the company’s Web site, read recent press releases, Google the company and find something positive that you can mention that explains WHY you’re interested in working for this company. A hiring manager will appreciate a candidate who has done her research, and it will improve your chances of getting your foot in the door if it is clear that you’re not just sending the same e-mail you send when applying for any job.

Second, there are a few things you can do to impress prospective employers when applying online. Even if you have a wonderful resume in Word format, consider signing up for www.VisualCV.com. It’s free, it’s easy, and you can set up your own resume Web site with links to former employers, scan letters of reference and upload them, and include samples of work you’ve done in the past (depending on your industry). Once you have your VisualCV set up, you can simply send a link to your resume online when applying for jobs. And because VisualCV is fairly new, most prospective employers will be impressed simply by the fact that you have an online resume.

Additionally, VisualCV is adding new employers to its job search feature every day, so you can actually apply for jobs within VisualCV.com (and prospective employers can search candidates — they might even find you before you find them!).

Additionally, if you’re not already on LinkedIn, you should be. I know, I know — “I’m already on Facebook/MySpace/Twitter … why do I need ANOTHER social media account?”

LinkedIn has some great features for searching for jobs online, joining groups that are specific to your industry, and interacting with people who can connect you to people who work for or make hiring decisions for the companies you want to work for. Monster and CareerBuilder are great tools in an online job search, but having your resume and profile on LinkedIn and reaching out to make connections is a more personal way to find the right job for you.

With our unemployment rate in double-digits, adding some online networking components to your job search can help you stand out as a prospective candidate. Happy hunting!

Kelly Love Johnson is the author of “Skirt Rules for the Workplace: An Irreverent Guide to Advancing Your Career” (Globe Pequot Press, 2008). The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, September 4, 2009.

The Job Coaches :: Organize listing resources to search for the right job

November 5, 2010

By Jane Perdue, Principal/CEO with The Braithewaite Group.

Q: Where’s the best place to look for a job?

A: Knowing where to look for a job used to be straightforward: You read the help-wanted ads in the local newspaper, especially on Sunday. Now, like the number of cable channels, the options have exploded for finding open jobs. While the sheer volume of places to look for a job can be overwhelming, using simple steps can help you organize and focus your search.

–Use your network. Fifty percent of all jobs are found through networking. Tell friends, colleagues and relatives that you need a job. Ask them to share job information at their company with you. Tap into social media networking sites such as Linked-In, Plaxo or Digg. With its exploding growth, Twitter is another source. Go to search.twitter.com and enter jobs, career, hiring or job angels in the search box.

–Check major job boards for general positions. If your area of expertise applies to many industries, skills such as administrative support, supervision, etc., use Monster.com, CareerDirect.com , Indeed.com or CareerBuilder.com.

–Tap into local job boards and services. Charleston offers a number of online job-hunting resources: charlestonjobmarket.com, SCIway.net, Charlestonjobs.com, charles.sc.jobs.com, postandcourier.com and lowcountrytoday.com. Be sure to check out the services offered by The Trident One Stop Career Center in North Charleston.

–Visit the career placement department at your alma mater. Many colleges and universities offer free job assistance to students and recent graduates, so give them a call.

–Check out specialized job boards. If you know specifically what job you want, target Web sites that focus on that industry. CoolWorks.com, mediabistro.com, artsusa.org, salesgravy.com and accountingjobstoday.com are just a few examples. Internetinc.com offers a list of the top 100 niche job sites.

–Watch the classifieds. Not all jobs are posted, but the local newspaper remains a viable source of open jobs. If you are targeting a particular industry, trade journals and magazines are other sources.

–Target specific companies. If you have a clear idea of the company you want to work for, frequent its Web site to look for job openings.

–Use online job boards that specialize in freelance work. If you’re tired of the 9-to-5 routine, check out sites that specialize in freelance opportunities: guru.com, elance.com, sologig.com, sparkplugging.com or workathomesuccess.com.

–Executive positions. If you are looking for a job with a six-figure salary and have funds to invest, TheLadders.com and ExecuNet.com are resources that require a membership fee to see their job listings. Using a recruiter who specializes in your area of expertise is another alternative.

So the best place to find a job means understanding the kind of job you want, then organizing job listing resources to match your needs. That can simplify what otherwise can be a complex process.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, August 21, 2009.

Marketing yourself gets the job

September 16, 2010
Virtual Resume & Letter

Image by Olivier Charavel via Flickr

By Dorothy Perrin Moore, a professor of business administration emeritus, The Citadel.

Q: I am a recent newcomer to Charleston. I feel that getting a job depends on who you know. But I don’t know many people. How can I get a job without contacts?

A: Four things: First, understand it is not about you. The approach, “Here I am, here is what I have done,” will not interest many recruiters. Anyone with a job opening is interested in what you can do for them.

Second, market your skill set. Your education, background and employment record will be important, but sending the same resume and cover letter to 50 different potential employers and following the same personal script at any resulting interviews only makes you one of the crowd. Take advantage of the job coaching sessions held by the Center for Women. Having a job coach review your resume will enable you to gain a fresh view of your accomplishments and transferable skills. The position you find may not be in the job field you just left.

Third, make any position you apply for your sole focus. Do some research to find out what the company is likely to want. Tailor your resume and cover letter to their position description and explain how hiring you will advance their interests.

Finally, create the networks you need. Who you know and who knows you is important. As a newcomer, attend professional meetings and events of all kinds. Get involved in community and social organizations and your church. Circulate. Talk to people. Volunteer. Keep busy and always be professional. (See below.)

Q: I keep reading that the way I dress and act and carry my body is critical to a successful job search. What does this mean?

A: Appearances count. Most people make up their minds about someone in the first 10 seconds. A friend, a specialist in interviews, recently told me, “When she came in for the interview, I knew she thought she was wearing appropriate clothes, but she wasn’t.”

Unfair because people don’t see the inner you? Perhaps, but that’s the way things work. Proper attire and the projection will effect not only every job interview but also every potential business and social encounter.

Classic works best. In attire, this means ankle-length, well-tailored slacks or a knee-length skirt that is not too tight, a blouse with sleeves below the elbow or at the wrist and is not see-through, tight or cleavage revealing. Go light on accessories. Avoid long hanging or big loop earrings, jangling bracelets and long painted fingernails. Professionally groom your hair. Wear shoes that enclose the toes. Avoid heels that can get caught in a grate, sidewalk or carpet. Sandals and flip-flops are out.

Remember the importance of the first 10 seconds. Practice pitching your voice low and speaking slowly and clearly. Shake hands firmly. A shrill, piercing voice, nervous laughter and a handshake like a bear or a fish will strongly impact that first impression.

Upset that projecting a professional appearance in your job search excludes piercings, tattoos, strangely colored cosmetics, miniskirts and the sexy clothes you see on TV? OK, go ahead and make a strong statement of your personal right to express yourself. Just understand that you will probably need an independent income for the duration of your job search.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, July 24, 2009.


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