Title: Misc Stuff
spooky - November 11, 2009 08:22 PM (GMT)
5 easy resume boostersThe Most Dreaded Interview QuestionMake the Most of the First Ten Minutes8 Tips For Better E Mail Cover Letters5 Phrases That Can Poison Your ResumeRecruiter Roundtable: the 'weakness' question6 reasons they didn't call you back
f you feel like your resume is out at sea, and you'd at least like confirmation that you're out of the running, there are things you can do.Interview Myths That Keep You From Landing the Job
1. Contact the company.
Yes, the ad had a NO CALLS warning, and there wasn't a name anyway. But if you're pretty sure you're right for the job, and you've heard nothing after a week, you can still call someone to find out if you're at least in the running. Try to find the hiring manager (HR is too busy, and they almost never want to hear from you).
"If you do follow up by phone, don't leave a voice mail," Opton says. "Early in the morning or after five you're more likely to reach a real person."
2. But don't be a pest.
"If you've had an interview and sent your thank-you letter, wait a week to call," Fox says. One or two emails are OK, but three will probably look desperate, she adds. "And never, ever, show up at the company without an interview and demand to be seen. It will backfire."
3. Re-read the job posting.
Did the resume you sent really fit the job requirements? Or were you hoping they would find another job just for you? "I love it when a candidate has done the homework and already knows the company and the position," Ferguson says. "It makes it easier for both of us."
4. Take a look at your resume.
Get a second opinion, and a third. Does it present you in the right light? Is it professionally formatted? Does it feature accomplishments, rather than merely job titles and dates?
5. Step up the networking.
"It's always best to network your way into a position," Opton says. "You'll get a lot more individual attention than someone responding to a job listing."
With so few jobs currently available and so many people currently hoping to fill those jobs, standing out in an interview is of utmost importance. While jobs themselves are scarce, job advice is overly abundant. And with an influx of information comes an influx of confusion. What career counsel do you take, and what do you ignore? 'Accomplishments' to Leave off Your Resume
There are a number of common misconceptions related to interview best practices, experts say. Kera Greene of the Career Counselors Consortium and executive coach Barbara Frankel offer tips below that can help you stand out from other interview subjects, avoid frequent pitfalls, and secure the job.
Myth #1: Be prepared with a list of questions to ask at the close of the interview.
There is some truth in this common piece of advice: You should always be prepared, and that usually includes developing questions related to the job. The myth here is that you must wait until it is "your turn" to speak.
By waiting until the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, "it becomes an interrogation instead of a conversation," says Greene.
Greene recommends that you think of an interview as a sales call. You are the product and you are selling yourself to the employer. "You can't be passive in a sales call or you aren't going to sell your product."
Frankel mimics Greene's comments. "It's a two-way street," she says. "I recommend asking a follow-up question at the tail end of your responses."
For example, Frankel says, if the interviewer says, "Tell me about yourself," you first respond to that question and complete your response with a question like, "Can you tell me more about the position?" The interview should be a dialogue.
Myth #2: Do not show weakness in an interview.
The reality is that it is OK to have flaws. In fact, almost every interviewer will ask you to name one. Typically job seekers are told to either avoid this question by providing a "good flaw." One such "good flaw" which is often recommends is: "I am too committed to my work." But, these kinds of responses will only hurt you.
"Every recruiter can see through that," Greene says of faux flaws.
Recruiters conduct interviews all day, every day. They've seen it all and can see through candidates who dodge questions. "They prefer to hire someone who is honest than someone who is obviously lying," Greene says.
And for those of you who claim to be flaw-free, think again. "Everybody has weaknesses," Frankel states. But one is enough. According to Frankel, supply your interviewer with one genuine flaw, explain how you are working to correct it, and then move on to a new question.
Myth #3: Be sure to point out all of your strengths and skills to the employer.
Of course, you want the interviewer to know why you are a valuable candidate, but a laundry list of your skills isn't going to win you any points. Inevitably, in an interview, you will be asked about your skills. What can go wrong in this scenario?
"You don't want to list a litany of strengths," Frankel says.
"What is typical is that they will say: 'I'm a good communicator,' 'I have excellent interpersonal skills,' 'I am responsible,'" Greene explains. "You have to give accomplishments. I need to know what did you accomplish when using these skills."
Frankel recommends doing a little groundwork before your interview so that you are best equipped to answer this question. She tells her clients to find out what the prospective job role consists of. "What makes an interview powerful is to give an example related to their particular needs or challenges that you have demonstrated in the past."
Provide three strengths, with examples. You will get much further with a handful of real strengths than with an unconvincing list of traits.
Myth #4: Let the employer know your salary expectations.
One of the trickiest questions to answer in an interview relates to salary. Money talk can be uncomfortable, but it doesn't have to be. The fact is you don't even have to answer when asked about desired salary.
According to the book "Acing the Interview: How to Ask and Answer the Questions That Will Get You The Job!" a perfect response would be: "I want to earn a salary that is commensurate with the contributions I can make. I am confident I can make a substantial contribution at your firm. What does your firm plan to pay for this position?"
Greene suggests a similar response: "I prefer to discuss the compensation package after you've decided that I'm the best candidate and we can sit down and negotiate the package."
Myth #5: The employer determines whether or not you get the job.
While yes, the employer must be the one to offer you the position, interviewees have more control than they often realize. According to both Greene and Frankel, candidates have a larger say in the final hiring decision than they think.
"They should call the interviewer or hiring manager and say: 'I'd really like to be part of the company,'" says Greene. "It can't hurt you. It can only help."
"Acing the Interview" encourages all candidates to conclude their interviews with one question: "'Based on our interview, do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job?' -- If the answer is yes, ask the interviewer to be explicit. Deal forthrightly with each concern."
In today's competitive job market, you need to show hiring managers that you can make an immediate contribution to a new employer. Including your biggest professional successes in the "Accomplishments" section of your resume is an effective way to do just that. 5 things you can't explain in an interview
But keep in mind that any achievement you cite should be a) truly noteworthy, B) relevant to your current career goals and c) relatively recent. Far too often, job seekers miss the mark. For instance, you're unlikely to impress prospective employers by highlighting the fact that you were a finalist in a local pageant held in 1982 -- as one real-life job candidate did.
Following are more examples from resumes collected by Robert Half International that feature "accomplishments" that aren't worth mentioning in your resume, as well as advice for crafting statements that will catch a hiring manager's attention:
The Unquantifiable Accomplishment
* "I am the most talented employee my company has ever had."
* "I am the best and most awesome employee in New York City."
* "My last client called me a god."
Whenever possible, quantify your achievements by noting how you helped previous employers increase revenue, cut expenses, or improve productivity. (Example: "Increased territory sales by 150 percent within one year of being named district sales director.") Boldly heralding vague, unverifiable accomplishments is less compelling and often comes across as arrogant.
The Not-So-Notable Accomplishment
* "Maintained a 2.0 GPA."
* "I get along with coworkers."
* "Overcame procrastination."
Make sure any accomplishments you place on your resume will impress a potential employer. Your ability to do average work or fulfill the most basic requirements of a job does not warrant special mention.
The Offbeat Accomplishment
* "Set record for eating 45 eggs in two minutes."
* "Raised over $6,000 for an organization by sitting on a commode."
* "To be honest, the only thing I have ever won was a Cabbage Patch Kid. This doll was the result of a school raffle, and I was hated by many children for it."
Honors and awards received from professional associations, industry publications and educational institutions hold weight. But being overly playful and mentioning odd accolades as a vehicle to showcase your wacky sense of humor could cause employers to question your professionalism.
The Mistake-Ridden Accomplishment
* "I have successed in all my endeavors."
* "Dum major with my high school band."
* "I continually receive complaints on the high quality of work I perform."
Finally, as with every other section of your resume, remember to carefully proofread the descriptions of your accomplishments. Don't undermine your achievements by misspelling them. Hiring managers are looking for applicants who demonstrate attention to detail. Research by Robert Half International indicates that just one resume error can sink a job seeker's chances of landing a job interview.
One of the most alarming bits of job-search advice going around says, "You don't have to explain everything in a cover letter and a resume. You can leave questions unanswered on those documents, because that'll give you and the employer something to talk about in the interview."
This may be true if you mention in your resume that you won an Olympic medal. A lot of people would want to meet you just to find out more about that. It's the same way if you won a Grammy or were an intern in the White House. You don't have to say much -- you can share all the details in the interview.
What job-seekers don't always understand is that certain, pressing questions can't be answered in an interview. You won't have the chance, because the presence of these alarm-raising issues on your resume will knock you out of the race altogether. Employers like a lot of things in a job candidate, but uncertainty isn't one of them. You need to nail down the big issues right there, on the resume or in the cover letter, or the interview will never take place.
Here are five top items to explain on paper, in your very first overture to a prospective employer:
Gaps in Employment History
Gaps are to resumes what open sores are to people you meet on a first date through a personals site. They're alarming. We can reduce the level of concern by explaining our gaps right in the resume. Months-long gaps can evaporate if you list the years, and not the months, of your assignments. (This won't help in the typical online application form, which asks for months and years both.) You've got to explain, either via resume or cover letter or both, that you took time off work to care for an ailing relative, or start a business, or go on a pilgrimage or what have you. An unexplained gap is an easy "knockout" item otherwise.
Gone are the days when the typical employee's career was represented by a straight shot up the corporate ladder. Most of us take twists and turns these days, but unexplained career dives -- moves from a responsible job to a significantly less responsible one -- give employers the willies. If you quit your consulting job to help your uncle in his landscaping business, say so. Use the last bullet point under each section of your resume to explain your next move: "Left IBM to answer the phones at Friendster, believing it to be the next big thing." Oops.
Employers don't expect (and don't necessarily want) their job candidates to have spent decades at one assignment, but a series of short-term jobs is a major source of concern. If you ran into a rough patch, use your resume and cover letter to tell the reader what was going on. Don't leave them guessing why you spent six months at one gig, nine months at the next, and four at another.
Self-Employment Stops and Starts
Entrepreneurism is a wonderful thing, and plenty of large and small employers appreciate a candidate with the moxie required to start his or her own shop. If your resume includes numerous entrepreneurial stints interspersed with W-2 assignments, employers will shun your resume unless you fill in the gaps. Otherwise, it looks like you went on your own when times were good and only came back to the fold for port-in-a-storm reasons, and that's not what employers want to see.
If you moved from New Jersey to Oregon for a job, that's awesome. If you moved back to New Jersey, then to Alabama and from there to Seattle, employers start to wonder what's up.
You can use some of your resume's real estate to tell us what drove your wanderlust.
A spouse or partner's relocation? Family issues? You don't have to lay your personal life bare on the page, but a bit of insight into your meanderings might make the difference between an interview and a "No Thanks" letter (or not even that).
Don't think, "The screener won't notice that one item." Resume-readers have eagle eyes where oddities are concerned, and you'll be glad you resolved these issues before they had a chance to do in your chance at the job.
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