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  1. 1. CAREER DOCTOR: SILLY SELF SABOTAGEEveryone who has ever recruited or hired people has seen plenty of silly errors. While some errorsmay enliven a boring day in the recruiters office, they hinder your chances. You may think youwould never do something so stupid. But we see these errors every day.Finding the right job is hard enough, dont make these common errors.RESUMESHow does your resume represent you?Too many resumes are poorly written, have incorrect grammar and spelling, are too long, or aredifficult to read. A. Start your resume with the basics. Surprising how many people forget these! - You need your name and contact information right up front. - If you do not want to be contacted at work, give only your home or cell phone numbers. Besure your voice-mail message is professional. - Use an email address that you can get such email on and one that has a professional image. Cutesy names, braggadocio, and nasty names hurt your chances. When topstud , blondbabeand similar handles show up, both hiring managers and Human Resources folk wonder about thebusiness sense of the person - and are more likely to pass on you even if your resume is terrific.B. Describe your achievements, skip the job descriptions.C. Be sure to have others review your resume for clarity, focus, spelling and grammar.Solution: Remember a resume is an ADVERTISEMENT designed to present your best attributeseffectively.Multiple Objectives, One ResumeSo, you want to be an editor or do marketing or manage online content delivery. List them allon one resume and you will never get called. It is not my job to figure out what you want to do.But it is my job to weed out the unfocused.Solution: One resume tailored to each objective.RESEARCHWhy bother? I just need a new job!Do you really know what you want to do? What industry, environment, positions, and workculture offer you your best shot at success?Solution: Do your research before you begin a job search and at every step of the way. Use it toshow your professionalism and to improve your chance at the right job.Organizations are overwhelmed with resumes from folks who do not know what the organizationdoes, what it is like, or which ignore the ads’ stated position requirements.
  2. 2. A. Networking for information: have a specific purpose in mind. Many professionals are willing tohelp but are also quickly turned off by un-focused requests. Dont: * just ask for "help" -know what you want and ask for it clearly (leads, contacts, information, etc.)* use these contacts as a way to figure out your goals or desires. * ask for too much time or assistance from one person. * sell yourself short or act apologetic or desparate.* forget to thank people who help you.Want more networking tips? Try www.schmoozemonger.comB. Figuring out the positions, organizations, and environments for you.Some good basic URLs for job-hunting info include:Cornell Universitys job search guide: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/library/ reference/guides/show_guide/default.html?guide_number=104Interviewing questions and info: http://job-interview.net/Job hunting skills from a headhunters perspective: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/basics3.htmRunyons Corollary: A few hours on the Internet often saves a few minutes in the library.Everything is not on the net. But your public library has a lot of resources. Take a look at variousbusiness periodicals for leads. Read trade publications. Look at the business reference sectionsmaterials for appropriate topics. Review various business guides and SEC information. Checkout their online resources - often these are ones requiring paid access otherwise. Ask thereference librarian for sources or help.ALONG THE WAYIgnore the RequirementsYou have seen a job ad and you are interested. You dont match all the requirements so youjust ignore them when you apply. And just why should I dig to see if you have met therequirements?Solution: Cover letter includes section with requirements stated and your matchingachievements. Two columns is easy and attractive. Put in something closely related if you haveone you do not match.We wont even talk about all those who apply with few, if any, of the requirements, but ithappens. Dont ruin your chances with the company or recruiter for the future. Skip the jobswhere you do not match most of the requirements.Be assertive, the requirements are wrong.Sure, you know better -- this is the job you want. Tell the recruiter all about why what theorganization says it wants is wrong and how you know what skills the job should require (say,yours?). And the recruiter should ignore her boss/client for you why?Solution: Apply for jobs for which you are qualified. If they have a requirement that you feel isnot relevant, ask about it but dont fuss. When you do contact a recruiter, remember that mosthandle a range of jobs. Be positive and professional and you might get a call for anotherposition that does match your skills. Always better than being on the "you wont believe thisapplicant I had" discussion list.
  3. 3. Blast your resume all overSo you got a list of recruiters or other organizational contacts and you immediately e-mailedyour resume to everyone on the list. And maybe you sent it out to all at once rather than toeach individually. And you signed up with every recruiting agency you could find -- some ofwhom also blasted your resume all over. So now you look desperate; but, you dont look like agood candidate.Solution: Target your resume to the types of organizations that have jobs you are qualified forand interested in. Contact each individually and tailor your cover email/letter to them. Usereputable recruiting agencies, recommended by people you trust, who will only send yourresume to their clients who have a specific current need for your skills.Answer that ad immediatelyAt last, an ad that looked like just what you want -- and you zipped off the resume or hit the replybutton immediately and included a general cover letter or nothing at all. And the recruiter issupposed to know why you are the best candidate...even though you give no indication howwell you match the organizations values and needs?Solution: Check out the organization before you answer their ad. Your cover e-mail or letter withyour resume can talk a lot more specifically about how your skills match their needs if youactually know what they do and what is currently going on in the organization.Ignore your friends and networksOK, you dont want to bother your friends for every job lead. Or you dont know anyone in theorganization that has the opening. Maybe you are embarrassed to ask for help or contacts. Oryou dont have time to contact someone -- even if they could help you understand theorganization and tailor your application. Besides, you hate to ask anyone you know for theirsupport and risk hearing a no.Solution: Think about your contacts. See if you know anyone in the organization or who knowssomeone who is. Ask for their help. You will certainly learn something that helps in your jobsearch. AND, you may find a way in via the employee referral program.Forget your mannersThe secretary is giving you the run-around. The receptionist told you to have a seat but did notoffer you anything. The first interviewer is late. The hiring manager doesnt have your resume.And you get upset, dont they know you are busy! Then you get huffy, or complain loudly, ormake snide comments.Solution: If everyone you deal with makes you wonder about the organizations culture, maybe itis the wrong place for you. But mistakes happen in the best places. If there is just a glitch or two,stay calm and polite. Ask for information or the restroom if you need it. Check to see if youshould reschedule if the delay is a problem. Never go to interviews without extra copies of yourresume. Take something to read or do. And remember, many senior managers ask the supportstaff for feedback on applicants -- thinking how you treat your customers relates directly to howyou treated the support staff.
  4. 4. Be defensiveWhy does every interviewer keep asking about why you got laid-off? Why are there so manyquestions about all those jerks who were your past bosses? What business is it of theirs what youhave been doing the past six months? Why do they keep asking about your career changereasons? Why do they ask about your professional activities outside work, like you have time?Solution: Be prepared for common questions and test your answers with good friends. Dont benegative about past bosses or companies -- the interviewer will think about how negative youwill be if she hires you. Give yourself time to grieve a job loss and get your feelings sorted outwith others before starting interviews so you will not sound upset or defensive. Bad thingshappen to almost everyone. If you can sound positive about the good things and be briefabout the bad, you will win the interviewers confidence that you can succeed in theirorganization.COMPENSATIONYou want to talk about your pay expectations in terms of the position you are seeking. Thismeans you need to do some research about what current salaries are for the jobs which interestyou. Many professional associations do salary surveys for their members. You can also ask thesequestions when you are networking: "what is the typical current pay range for X position", "whatdo you currently see happening to pay rates for Z". You can ask headhunters you know for theirtake on the current market.Metropolitan areas always have a very wide range of salaries for most any job because theyhave a wide range of options. Typically, one job can pay very differently depending on:- type of organization: non-profit, major national company, government contractor, servicebusiness, federal or state agency, health care organization, association, law firm, etc.- size of organization- function within the organization -- positions in the organization’s core functions generally paymore than similar positions in a non-core function.- location. While most of us realize that pay rates differ across the US, it is also true that many jobshave noticeable differences depending on whether they are in a city proper, in inner or outersuburbs, etc.- and the state of the market always plays a part.If you looked at a good local salary survey, you would find that a 25-40% range in averagesalaries exists in many positions depending on how the data is cut (for example: by thecategories above.)Sometimes during interviews you may be asked what it will take to get you to accept a position. When that happens, you have an ideal opportunity to ask for what is most important to you.And, if you are realistic, to get it. (Greediness does crop up but usually the result is no offer.)More often, you may be asked about salary expectations during an interview or the organizationmay just check what salary data you have provided on their application. In such cases, youmay want to negotiate some aspects of an offer. Be smart and realistic about what you wantand what you are willing to settle for - best to think these things out in advance.Hint: you might be surprised at the number of people who say one figure/range in an interviewand then want more when the offer comes -- dont do this to yourself! Hiring managers feelbetrayed when this happens and even if the offer is not rescinded, you both are unhappy if you
  5. 5. take the job.REFERENCESOrganizations ask for references to check your past work experiences. Good friends and familyhave no place in your references. Past supervisors are most critical, other management orclients are also good. You need to work with the people you select as references in advance.Ask them if they are willing to be a reference. Send them a copy of your resume as a reminderof the work you did together and your other attributes. Ideally you want to have 6-8 referencesidentified and agreeable to being contacted. You want their current phone number ofpreference.Then, when you are asked to give your references for a specific position, pick 3-4 who can reallyspeak to your skills for that specific position. Contact them and tell them that you areconsidering position X and want to give their name. Use this contact as a way to remind themof the skills and attributes you want them to talk about in the reference check so that they canbe prepared to speak well for you.BUMPS ALONG THE ROADRejecting a Job OfferDo it as quickly as you can. Be professional. You do not have to give a reason. You can saysomething simple -- perhaps just that you have another opportunity which more closely meetsyour goals. You never know when you will run into the hiring manager or other companyrepresentatives again and you do not need to create a bad reputation. Yet every hiringmanager and HR person can tell you about a candidate who blasted someone/something intheir organization when turning down a job. And many of us can tell you about the next timewe saw them job-hunting at our new or a friends organization.Changing Your MindYou accepted the job...and now you want to take another job or you have realized that youmade a bad decision. What do you do? Contact the hiring manager immediately. No emailson the day you were supposed to start. Tell her/him quickly and professionally that you havechanged your mind and will not be coming to work with the organization. If you have signedand returned an offer letter, send in a new copy rescinding your decision after you have talkedto the hiring manager.In recent years, too many candidates, at all levels, change their minds but do not let thecompany know until the day before or the day they were to start. Such behavior leaves a verybad impression in the minds of those involved in hiring.SUMMARYJob search and interviewing are hard work on both sides of the desk. You are making a biglife-impacting decision in taking a new position and need to know you can succeed there.
  6. 6. Internal and agency recruiters are often swamped with poor to mediocre candidates while theirhiring managers are demanding 3-4 "perfect matches." Both recruiters and hiring managerswant to hire people who will succeed in their jobs and feel the pressures of making thosedecisions.You can increase your chances of success by: * applying for jobs where you match most, if not all, of the requirements * seeking out those organizations which match your needs and values * avoiding common mistakes * developing a relationship with all the recruiters, internal and external, you talk to * acting like the top-notch professional you are (or aspire to be)!Patricia Frame’s columns on the job hunt can be found at:http://www.dcwebwomen.org/jobseekersPatricia is the founder of Strategies for Human Resources which provides consulting services andmanagement support to help organizations match their strategy and goals with effectivehuman resource management practices. Services offered include: design through implementation of policies and practices, organizational and career development programs and training, human resource audits, publishing staffing and process improvement analysis, transition and interim management.©Strategies for Human Resources, HRStrategy@aol.com, 2003