Fresh Career Advice That Actually Works

Archive for the ‘General Career Advice’ Category

Essential Advice on Networking

If you’re job hunting then networking is extremely important. Networking is developing contacts, relationships or friendships with people who can potentially help you in your job search. Therefore it’s crucial to mention your current situation whenever you’re meeting new people or for that matter communicating with old friends or former co-workers. You never know where you might find someone who can offer you useful information, advice, support, resources or referrals.

Remember networking is not just broadcasting your message. Don’t just tell what you need, be polite and listen to others, take interest in them and get to know them better. This is the only way you can establish an effective network.

Resume Business Cards

Always give your business card if you spot a possible employment opportunity. The best choice is to have a resume business card. It functions as a mini-CV. On the front it’s like an ordinary business card with your name and contacts. On the back of the card print your most vital career information. The number of years’ experience in your field of expertise, main qualifications and skills, important achievements. Include the address of your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile*. Make sure that everything’s completed and up-to-date. Now when someone becomes interested in you based on the highlights from your card he/she can immediately go online and see the full resume or a portfolio of your work and contact you.

*An additional tip: LinkedIn assigns a unique address to every profile. It looks something like this: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname/2/987/a32. This isn’t suitable for your business card. To select a new address go to Edit Profile screen and then click the Edit link. The best option is to use your full name.

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How to Write an Effective Speculative Letter?

Some employers list job openings on their company websites (and not anywhere else). They’re usually on “careers” pages or “join our team” or simply “current openings”. Sometimes there’s no mention at all of any vacancies. You’ve probably heard that in these cases writing a speculative letter to the company is a good way of eliminating competition.

Unfortunately there’s a very low response rate to speculative letters. In all likelihood it wouldn’t be this way, if it weren’t for the standard mistakes people often make. When we take a look at a regular speculative letter, then the main problem is that it isn’t targeted.

It’s usually addressed to „Dear Sir/Madam“ or worse „To whom it may concern“. This is the best way to ensure it goes straight to the HR department (if you’re lucky) and not to the actual decision maker. Because the letter isn’t tailor-made, the person writing it doesn’t offer a solution to a specific problem. It’s clear that he/she doesn’t know anything about the company, which definitely isn’t impressive. It also hasn’t got a “call to action” (request to do something) in the end of the letter.

7 Tips on Using a Targeted Approach:

1)    Address the letter to a named person who has the power to hire you;
2)    Give a specific reason for writing him/her;
3)    Research the company, so you can offer your advice to improve a situation or add value to the company;
4)    Make it clear you want a meeting;
5)    Ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable position in the future (as an alternative, if they really aren’t hiring at the moment);
6)    Don’t attach your CV;
7)    In the very end of the letter include a “call to action” – make a business proposition and ask them to call you at 555-5555.

You may think that if you have a generic speculative letter, you can send it to a large number of prospective employers. The idea is to cast your net wide enough, that you must catch something. That’s a common misconception. It’s much more effective to send out 3 targeted letters and get 3 responses than 100 universal letters and still get 3 responses.

 

How to Write an Effective Speculative Letter?

Some employers list job openings on their company websites (and not anywhere else). They’re usually on “careers” pages or “join our team” or simply “current openings”. Sometimes there’s no mention at all of any vacancies. You’ve probably heard that in these cases writing a speculative letter to the company is a good way of eliminating competition.

Unfortunately there’s a very low response rate to speculative letters. In all likelihood it wouldn’t be this way, if it weren’t for the standard mistakes people often make. When we take a look at a regular speculative letter, then the main problem is that it isn’t targeted.

It’s usually addressed to „Dear Sir/Madam“ or worse „To whom it may concern“. This is the best way to ensure it goes straight to the HR department (if you’re lucky) and not to the actual decision maker. Because the letter isn’t tailor-made, the person writing it doesn’t offer a solution to a specific problem. It’s clear that he/she doesn’t know anything about the company, which definitely isn’t impressive. It also hasn’t got a “call to action” (request to do something”) in the end of the letter.

7 Tips on Using a Targeted Approach:

1) Address the letter to a named person who has the power to hire you;

2) Give a specific reason for writing him/her;

3) Research the company, so you can offer your advice to improve a situation or add value to the company;

4) Make it clear you want a meeting;

5) Ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable position in the future (as an alternative, if they really aren’t hiring at the moment);

6) Don’t attach your CV;

7) In the very end of the letter include a “call to action” – make a business proposition and ask them to call you at 555-5555.

You may think that if you have a generic speculative letter, you can send it to a large number of prospective employers. The idea is to cast your net wide enough, that you must catch something. That’s a common misconception. It’s much more effective to send out 3 targeted letters and get 3 responses than 100 universal letters and still get 3 responses.

The Best Motivator for Doing a Good Job Is the Job Itself

People are often so desperate for a job that they’re willing to apply for a position they don’t like just for the money. This is truly an unfortunate situation (but can be accepted in case of an emergency).

Every company wants to hire someone who likes his/her job, is interested in it and will work with passion. It’s just as important as the actual qualification. You have more influence on the recruiter if you’re selective and value yourself higher.

It’s proven that you’ll get better results if you enjoy the work you do. In addition you won’t be miserable and exhausted when you get home. It’s also easier to develop your industry skills if you have real interest in the field. The best way to select a position is to forget all the jobs you dislike. Make a choice only between those you’d enjoy doing. Then you won’t just be working pay check to pay check. You’d actually love showing up at your job every day.

After you’ve found a role you’d really like to take on, visit the company website and Google the names of the firm’s most influential members. Do you like their thoughts, ideas and the principles they value? If not, you probably won’t be happy there. Usually a company has the “face” of its leaders.

If the vacancy has passed all your tests and you still like it, be ready for strong action. Refresh your knowledge in the field by reading books and/or professional journals about the subject, doing research on the Internet and networking with people in the same industry. It’ll give you a great boost of self-confidence because you’re now more adequate, informed and qualified. This is something the employer will certainly notice.

When considering your likes and dislikes stay objective. What that means is that don’t apply for a job as a lecturer at a university if you haven’t graduated from high school. Maybe it’s an extreme example but finding a suitable job from the ones you have the potential to get is really important. Otherwise it’ll only cause you negative feelings when you’re constantly being rejected by the employers.

Checklist:

  • Choose a job that you can enjoy or be passionate about.
  • Find out whether you like the ideas and principles of the company.
  • Educate yourself as much as possible in the desired field.
  • Stay objective and apply for a job you can handle.

Start Communicating with Your Prospective Employer

Applying for a job is like selling yourself and your experience to the company. Generally if you want to sell something (especially over the Internet), it takes multiple contacts before someone’s ready to buy. There’s a reason for that. People believe that the more knowledge, trust and proof they have the better (and righter) their decision will be. The job application is the first and for many the last contact with a potential employer.

Here Are Just a Couple of Ways to  Increase the Number of Contacts:

1)    Before sending your application think of a relevant question to ask and call or email the contact person named in the job ad. First of all he/she might be involved in the hiring process. Secondly it may also give you a better understanding of the job and what to emphasize in your application. Remember to always send a thank you letter after someone has helped you.

2)    Be a human not a robot. Add a personal touch to your job application. Do a little research to find out the recruiter’s personal/professional interests. Write in the cover letter something along the lines of: “I am really interested in working with you because we share a love of…”.

3)    If you’re invited for an interview, pay close attention to the details. It’s important because after the interview you should definitely write a follow-up letter. Include: “I appreciate that you took time to have a thorough conversation with me and introduce the potential position”. Also mention something the recruiter told you that was interesting and made you think. Offer your thoughts and solutions (depending on the situation).

Utilizing this knowledge will definitely make you stand out. You’re now a person they kind of already know and who’s pleasant to communicate with. All of the above mentioned techniques humanize you and actually make the employer look for a reason to hire you.

“Almost” a Success Story

This is a story about a good friend, who was at the time in his first year of college. He applied for an Executive Assistant position in a small but reputable company. He didn’t have any experience in the required field (or hardly anywhere for that matter).

Despite the stiff competition, it turned out he was the second best. The employers liked him very much (and probably saw the great potential for growth), so they created an additional job for the young man. He was offered a position as a Research Assistant. You’re probably wondering how he managed to make the recruiters want him so badly.

First of all his CV was top-notch. It was neat, concise, articulate, confident and interesting (even contained some intriguing information). The resume was maximally adapted to the requirements of the job. Everything the student had ever achieved even remotely related to the position was put in the CV. The accomplishments were presented as something special and valuable. The resume painted a picture of a person with wide range of skills and a strong willpower. It was also fresh and creative.

Before writing the CV and motivation letter, the student analysed the job offer. He got a general idea which features of the candidate are valued the most by the employer. The motivation letter addressed a lot of the requirements with small success stories. They were about his previous work experience and different life events which had demanded similar skills. It showed that he had an ability to handle relevant problems.

Maybe here’s the most important part. One task of the candidate was to find some information on the Internet and use it to create graphs in Excel. He also had to write an article on a given subject. He managed to make a very good and thorough work quite fast. He was later told that he was one of the first who sent out the email with the motivation letter, resume and homework. It was really impressive and gave him a strong advantage. It was the key to the interview.

When he was asked to participate in the interview, he started to prepare right away. He read a book about the most frequently asked interview questions and searched for interview tips on the Internet. In conclusion he thought out answers to different interview questions. He tried to create a vision of himself as someone successful with strong convincing power. He even listened to the music that made him feel happy and energetic. After a long good night sleep he went to the interview and managed to shine so brightly that the employers were immediately sold.

Resume Writing Tips from a Recruiter

Have you ever asked the question, what happens to your resume, when it reaches the recruiter? Well it simply goes on top of a thick stack of other CVs and then more CVs will be placed on top of yours. In bigger companies it may be also electronically scanned (for relevant keywords) before anyone looks at it.

There are dozens if not hundreds of applicants to every vacancy. It’s not an easy task to choose the best candidate for the job. The person who has to read all the CVs and concentrate on each one of them feels that it’s just a lot of hard work. So how does this process work?

The very first round is about first impressions. Your resume has to create interest and be relevant to the job you’re applying for. The hiring manager isn’t very selective when he’s having hundreds of sheets of papers to evaluate. Usually with every passing round the competition gets harder and each CV gets more attention and will be reviewed in detail. If your resume isn’t pleasant to look at, it’ll go straight to the trash bin along with fifty other CVs. Now only about half of the resumes remain.

If your CV captured the recruiter’s attention, the focus goes more on the structure, correct language and grammar. Without a logical structure, infested with spelling mistakes and typos, the resume has no hope.

The most important part is the top half of the resume. There you can summarize the whole CV by highlighting your strengths, unique qualities, achievements etc. The recruiter has to see right away that you’re a suitable candidate. It’s crucial to give a short overview of the resume.

Is your CV just a heap of boring facts or is it a colorful description of an impressive person? Your resume has to be distinguishing. If it’s bland and vague, it won’t get to the next round. Your resume should paint an imaginary picture of you as someone who could excel at the position offered.

Lots of people are good in theory and on paper, but the ones with practical skills are always preferred. If there’s any chance to prove your abilities and skills the job needs, definitely do it. Give the recruiter examples from real life experiences or provide links to online material.

Don’t try to be too qualified. It’s not good. The employer wants the job to be a challenge for you. Overqualified candidates are cast aside. Potential employers may feel that they’re using the position as a stepping stone. If you really want a job where you significantly exceed the requirements, it’s better to leave some details out or diminish their importance.

The first step of the hiring process is a game about who wins the CV-round and is invited to the job interview. There’s no doubt that the best way to play it is with your heart and soul.

Is It Better to Trust Yourself or a Professional CV Writer?

Writing a CV may seem a tiresome and difficult task. Maybe someone else with greater skills can compose you a far more impressive and convincing resume than you’d ever be able to do on your own. You’d also waste less time and energy. I don’t know whether you’ve had thoughts like this, but I know lots of people who have.

An expert CV writer creates a feeling of safety and comfort. Usually we believe that a professional will compose a high quality resume and we’ll probably reach our goals sooner. It’s very common that knowledge of CV writing practises is quite low among people. Therefore even if the bought CV is poor or not excellent, it’s possible not to recognize its shortcomings. Sure there are superb experts in this field, but it’s always a gamble.

What the CV-Experts Aren’t Telling You.

It’s only partially true that a professional will save you some valuable time. The first task of a good expert is to acquire enough information about you to compose an adequate resume. It’s a long and demanding procedure to provide someone with a lot of facts and details. Most commonly you have to go to the interview (another alternative is a telephone interview) and/or fill out forms that are many pages long. In addition it’s a must that the CV writer understands your industry and role. This is very hard without first-hand experience. As a result, it’ll all take much more time and effort on your part than you initially expected. One thing’s for sure, don’t trust “an expert” who only asks you to supply a copy of your old CV.

It’s only the first step toward your goal if you’re able to get to the job interview with a CV from a professional resume writer. Consequently you’ll have to overcome another obstacle. It’s vital to know your resume by heart. If you don’t know your CV and what’s on there, it comes across in the interview. That’s a fatal mistake. So when you have a resume that’s composed by someone else, it’s better to pay attention and learn it from the first word to the last. This will cost some more time and nerves.

What about the Price?

Don’t expect to get a cheap price from a really good expert. Cheap or medium priced ($50-$150) professionals don’t give you the personal attention you need. A word of caution – in this price range you could easily get a typing service and not a professional CV writing service. So make sure early on what exactly are you paying for. A decent resume will cost you about $250, quality CV $600 and high quality $800. To get a CV along with professional coaching will definitely set you back more than $1000. These are all approximate prices, because there’s never a guarantee that you’ll receive what you paid for.

You know yourself better than anyone else in the world does, i.e. you’re potentially the best CV-expert for yourself. If you know how to express yourself well through your resume, you’ll get a magnificent result. Don’t be afraid to write a CV that stands out and is memorable. You’re one of a kind. Because of that there’s no reason to use a boring, generic “cookie-cutter” approach to create your documents.

Writing a CV is like a unique language you talk about your life’s course. Once you know how to construct an interview winning CV, the best person to write it is actually you.