3 Ways to Build Your Career Path

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As you continue to move forward in your career, it is important to take a step back and look at the “big picture.” With 70 percent of U.S. workers emotionally disconnected from their workplace, keeping your eye on what you want in your career can help keep you on track and outside of that statistic.

Whether you’re looking at what next steps to take within your company, or within your industry, it is important to think about what you’re working toward — doing what you love to do and what you’re good at doing.

Here are some ways to make sure your career path is headed in the right direction:

Identify and cater to your natural talents

Your natural talents are the positive traits that you are born with. As opposed to your strengths, which are skills that you build up overtime, your talents are things you do often — most of the time without even being aware of it.

For this reason, it can be tricky to determine what your natural talents are. Take a day or two and pay close attention to what you do. Note what seems to come more naturally versus the things that you tend to struggle with or don’t enjoy as much. There are also courses available that can help you to uncover your natural talents.

Once you’ve identified your natural talents, use that knowledge to find ways to cater to those talents in your career path. Whether it is at your current job or networking at events, show off your talents and demonstrate to others your capabilities. If you start to focus on fostering these natural talents, your career path will naturally progress in a positive direction.

Never stop looking for outside inspiration

As you progress in your career, you will undoubtedly meet plenty of people, read a lot of articles, and attend a number of industry events. For those individuals that leave an impression on you, do not lose touch with them — consider making them a mentor. For those articles that inspire you, bookmark them, share them, and integrate them into your daily life. For those events that leave you inspired to do so much more within your industry and job, continue attending and find other events like it. 

Inspiration is an important part of any successful career — it’s what motivates you to go above and beyond your job description. In the end, your career is not about the quantitative, but qualitative. It is about the quality relationships you build, the people that inspire you, and the actions that you learn from. The things that inspire you most will guide your career path in a less noticeable but very impactful way.

Take a look at where you are right now

Take a moment to step back and look at your current professional situation. Two important things you should ask yourself are: “Do the people I’m surrounded by everyday continually inspire me to be better?” and “Does the prospect of getting further in a career similar to what I’m in excite me?”

Moving ahead in your career is exciting, but remember to slow down now and then, take a step back, and see the big picture. Consider if you’re in a place that you enjoy spending your days and see a future in. If you’re doing what you love, and it is catering to your natural talents and strengths, it is likely you’re on the right path and it will naturally guide your career in the right direction.

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

 

Simple Steps to Boost Your Employer Brand

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As employment branding continues to be a trend in talent acquisition, more organizations are starting to see the positive effects of this, while others are sensing competitive pressures by not having one. As more job seekers become advised about performing their due diligence and researching a company before applying or interviewing, companies need to take stock of what a seeker would see if they did a basic search of the organization. Will the company have a robust presence on social media and enticing career pages, or will their social media pages seem abandoned and will the career page fall flat?

Of course, there are plenty of companies who have an amazing brand, but some of them also have a person or team of people dedicated to managing it. But, what about the companies that don’t have the resources or budget to hire a full time employee or consultant? Do they miss out on the chance of showcasing their culture just because they don’t have the means to do it? The answer is no.

There are plenty of simple things that companies can do to build some traction on their brand, and it doesn’t require a full time person to manage it. It’s simply about optimizing on the things occurring at your organization day in and day out and repurposing it for branding. The person contributing to this effort doesn’t need to be a marketing guru or recruiting genius, but someone who understands the fundamentals of both and who has a little extra time in their work week to keep initiatives consistent.

Below are a few easy things to boost your brand:

  • Social platforms: There’s no denying how useful social media can be when it comes to getting your company’s name out there. Some of the best brands even have dedicated profiles for their jobs or specific job roles. Of course, managing a bunch of profiles can be a huge undertaking. In this case, simply using your established company profiles to include employment branding can be perfect. Ensure you’re regularly scheduling out jobs, events and things showcasing your culture. All it takes is a few minutes a week to schedule out consistent messages through tools like Hootsuite. Just make sure whoever’s managing the profiles also remembers to check and respond to messages in a timely manner.
  • “A Day in the Life” campaigns: When candidates research your company, they’re trying to get the most accurate picture of what it’s like to work there. Including little blogs, short videos or employee Q&A sessions can give them exactly what they’re looking for. Take time to connect with internal recruitment and find out what hot jobs they’re recruiting for and then connect with those currently in the position. Taking time to interview them or get some candid feedback about the aspects of their jobs, why they like it and any interesting facts can help you build that content easily. Keep it authentic—include the good and the mundane aspects. That can allow candidates to get a realistic preview of the job.
  • Employee testimonials: Employee testimonials are considered heavily by candidates, so be sure to consider these in your branding efforts. Creating a Glassdoor campaign to get consistent (and candid) reviews is one suggestion. Also, including employee spotlight features on social media or your career pages can be another simple way to boost the brand. Get a quote or two about why they like working at the company or in the specific job.
  • Sharing events: Your company participates in several events a year and this can be a great way to showcase your culture and happenings. From pot lucks, birthdays, “wins”, conferences, holiday events, social responsibilities and just general good times, this can be opportune for getting visual content. Snap a picture or take short videos. Make sure they’re edited and post away on social media, eblasts or the career sites.
  • Optimizing career pages: I have come across career pages that are so boring, it actually turned me off from the company. Even if they were a reputable company with good opportunities, a bad career page can have adverse effects. This is the time you can hype up a candidate and it’s the homestretch before whether they apply to a job or not. Even if you don’t build out multiple pages to highlight specific things like benefits/perks, corporate social responsibility, and so on, it’s still an opportunity to build out the content on one. What differentiates your company? What can you offer your employees? Why should someone want to work for you? Keep these questions in mind when including key information. Also be sure to include the content you’ve been creating for the branding initiatives, and if possible, feeds to your social sites.

Building a brand doesn’t have to be as involved or as intimidating as some companies might think. It’s just a matter of staying timely, consistent and well-rounded. Dedicating some time to this regularly will build up your content quickly.

For this post, Doostang thanks The Social HR Connection.

About the Author, Ashley Lauren Perez: After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human resources and organizational management, Ashley pursued her passion and secured a career path in the human resources industry. She is currently a Sourcing Specialist for WilsonHCG, as well as a Brand Ambassador for WilsonHCG and #TChat.  Additionally, she uses her experience and knowledge to write a blog focusing on an array of Social HR topics. Even if you aren’t in the Charleston, SC, area, you can easily connect with Ashley onLinkedIn,Twitter and Facebook

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3 Interview Myths

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When it comes to the job search process, job seekers often have false impressions about how things work.  The interview is no exception, and understanding a few common misconceptions about the process can help you do a much better job – and hopefully put your mind at ease!  Read on for 3 big interview myths:

The Most Qualified Candidate Gets the Job

Okay, this is untrue for a myriad of reasons, with jobs going to individuals who know people on the inside, to those who simply reach out at the right time, and so on.  Bear this in mind during your interview, because it’s important to understand that you need to be professional, personable, and on your A Game at all times.  You can be the most fabulous job candidate on paper and in reality, but if you don’t bring confidence to the table, the job could go to someone who had better people skills and impressed the interviewer.  Conversely, if you know your resume may be lacking in certain areas, make up for it by giving a winning interview.

The Interviewer is Prepared for…the Interview

There are several reasons why an interviewer may not be prepared for an interview.  For example, this could be their first time interviewing a candidate and they may be nervous.  Or they could be bogged down with extra work – perhaps the reason they are hiring someone in the first place – and so they haven’t devoted proper time to preparing for the interview.  Thus, the more prepared you are, the easier the interview is for everyone, and the better impression you create.  Decide what you want to tell the interviewer beforehand, and do your best to find ways to mention your past achievements and what you can bring to the table.

The Interviewer will Ask All the Necessary Questions

Again, the person interviewing you might be distracted and might miss some important points. Or you might be speaking with a hiring manager who doesn’t know as much about the job as the person you will be working for, so the interviewer may not ask all the appropriate questions.  Thus, it is your job to bring up skills and qualifications you have that are specifically pertinent to the job, so that the person interviewing you can report these back to the individual who makes the final decision.  If they are the person who makes the final call, make the choice easier for them by addressing every aspect of the job description in a way that paints you as the perfect candidate.  There may be things that you want to bring up that the interviewer never asks about – if this is the case, don’t brush them aside.  Find ways to work these points into the conversation.

Interviews can be nerve-racking for individuals on both sides of the table.  And at the end of the day, an interviewer is just another human being.  If you can enter the conversation confident, prepared, and personable, you’re sure to impress.

Unemployed? 7 Ways to Improve Your Resume

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If you’re unemployed and worried about dust collecting on your resume, there’s no need to panic.

According to CareerBuilder, 85 percent of employers said they’re more understanding about post-recession employment gaps. Whether it’s been six weeks or six months since your last job, it’s important not to stress about the space in your resume. There are endless opportunities to help you fill in any gaps due to unemployment — you just have to know where to look.

But keep in mind that just because employers are more understanding about unemployment doesn’t mean you automatically receive a free pass. It’s up to you to be proactive during your unemployment to gain experience and improve your skills. If you want to quickly land a job, it’s essential to develop your skills and gain experience to compensate for the time you had off from work.

If you’re unemployed and want to strengthen your resume, here are some tips to help you fill in the gaps:

1. Take a class or attend a workshop.

One thing job seekers don’t realize is that their career is more than just having a job — it’s about being a lifelong learner, too. If you’re looking to brush up on your skills or learn a new skill that’s in-demand, this is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity to enroll in a class or workshop. Your skills require constant development as you advance in your career. As you search for classes and workshops, try to enroll in those which will provide you with the most up-to-date training. This will be a sure-fire way to catch the attention of employers by adding an in-demand skill to your resume. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your skills fresh so that when you return to work, it doesn’t feel like you missed a beat.

2. Consider freelance or contract work.

There’s no better way to improve your resume than gaining tangible experience. Freelance and contract work is a great opportunity; you can build your resume and earn a little income at the same time. According to a survey by Intuit, more than 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancing by 2020. Whether you choose to use freelancing or contract work to fill in the gaps, it’s a great way to utilize your time as you figure out your career path. Employers will also be impressed that you took the initiative to continue gaining experience during your unemployment.

3. Polish up your personal brand.

While you’ll be spending the majority of your unemployment searching for jobs, you also need to make sure your online presence is a reflection of your resume. Whether you spend time learning new skills, taking classes, or freelancing, find opportunities to boost your resume and personal brand. Sometimes, it can be difficult to stay motivated when labeled as “unemployed.” But if you take the time to ensure your online presence is consistent with your resume, you’ll be more likely to get yourself noticed by employers.

4. Volunteer.

Another powerful way to strengthen your resume is to do volunteer work. Never underestimate the power of volunteering — it gives you the opportunity to learn new skills, gain accomplishment stories, and give back to your community. When employers see volunteer experience on a resume, it tells them a candidate is compassionate, driven, and enthusiastic. As you gain volunteer experience, take note of your accomplishments and responsibilities. This will help you quantify the experience section on your resume and give employers a chance to see how you can make a difference.

5. Make industry connections.

Believe it or not, networking can be a great way to help you improve your resume during unemployment. Research shows that 40 percent of job seekerscredited a referral for their current jobs. Not only will you make connections that could lead to jobs, but you can also connect with professionals who could serve as a mentor. It’s always a good to have a friend or colleague who can review your resume and give you some pointers. This is especially true if you can make a connection with someone in your field — they can provide accurate advice on improving your resume to make you irresistible to employers.

6. Start a business.

If you really want to strengthen your skill set, consider opening your own business. Although starting a business is a fairly large commitment and investment, it will definitely pay off during your unemployment. Starting a business demonstrates leadership and initiative, which are two soft skills employers strongly desire. Not only will you gain experience, but you’ll also learn the skills that come along with opening a business.

7. Focus on your career goals.

When facing unemployment, it can be easy to lose sight of your career goals. Whether you’ve used unemployment to pursue other goals, or you’ve become discouraged about your career path, your career goals need to be at the forefront of your job search. It will help you know where to look for jobs, and most importantly, find new opportunities to update your resume. For example, think of a goal you’ve always wanted to accomplish, but couldn’t because you were working full-time. Take this opportunity to learn a skill you’ve never had the time to learn. By doing this, you’ll be able to accomplish your goals while adding another line to your resume.

Gaining experience and keeping your skills fresh during unemployment doesn’t have to be stressful or daunting. Just remember to focus on your goals, the skills and experience you have to offer, and improving your personal brand. This way, you’ll be able to fill in the gaps on your resume and impress an employer’s socks off when you apply for a job.

What tips do you have for improving your resume during unemployment?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

10 “Lies” You Should Tell in a Job Interview

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Hiring Managers ask interview questions that are designed to give them reasons not to hire job candidates. These trap questions are meant to expose any problems you’ve had in your professional career. For trap questions, sometimes answering honestly is the wrong answer.

For example: If you’re asked about why you’re looking for a new opportunity and the reason is your boss is a total jerk (see #4), it’s not going to be in your best interest to tell that to the hiring manager or the potential boss sitting across from you. The Hiring Manager is trying to determine if you’re smart enough to lie.

Here are ten statements where you might do better stretching the truth in your next interview.

1. Every job you ever had was great.

What you’re really telling the hiring manager or recruiter is that you are a positive person. We’ve all had jobs we disliked, but it’s not a good idea to talk about it. Hiring Managers will think if you hated your last job, you might hate this one. Have at least one positive thing to say about every job on your resume.

2. Every project you’ve ever worked on was successful.

Hiring Managers don’t want to hear about your failures. Since we’ve all failed at some point, the key is to talk about your successes, and spin your failures to sound like successes. If you can’t frame a failure as a success, don’t talk about it at all.

3. You’ve done this type of work before.

Hiring managers don’t want “quick learners,” they want “experienced professionals” who don’t need training. Figure out ways to make your past experience sound like what the job requires. The more examples you can give of being experienced in what the job requires, the more likely you will look like a strong candidate for the position.

4. Your last boss was brilliant.

Your relationship with your last boss predicts your relationship with your next one. Don’t tell the hiring manager what an incompetent idiot your previous boss was. Instead, tell your interviewer your last boss was great, taught you valuable skills, and was an inspirational leader, no matter how big of a lie it is. It may hurt to glorify someone you hated who doesn’t deserve it, but it’s in your best interest, and doesn’t actually help your old boss at all anyway.

5. You’re currently working.

Hiring managers think in terms of supply and demand of candidates. If you’re employed, you’re in demand, and if not, there might be a reason. If you are unemployed, there are ways to fudge it. The easiest is to “self-employ,” either by labeling yourself as a self-employed “consultant,” or a new entrepreneur building your own business. Another technique is to volunteer at a not-for-profit, and list this position on your resume. You can also say you’re currently going back to school to get a better degree, but need to put it on hold and go back to work for financial reasons. The key is not to sound like your are doing nothing.

6. You love to work late.

What you’re really saying is you’ll work late if the company needs you to. If they ask why, say that “if you have to work late, then it’s a really important assignment, and it makes you feel good to know you can contribute more when it’s important for the company.” Employers don’t want someone who sprints for the door at 5pm, and refuses or resists working overtime when the situation demands it.

7. Every co-worker was great.

You’ve never had a single interpersonal problem with a coworker, not one fight, ever. Of course we all have, and the hiring manager knows it. The candidate who talks about past interpersonal problems, or even worse uses them as excuses, is the wrong candidate. Once again, past problems predict future problems in the eyes of a hiring manager.

8. You learned a lot in college.

More specifically, you’ve learned a lot that has prepared you for this exact job. Be prepared to cite the classes and skills you picked up which relate to the job requirements. Don’t invent classes or fake your degree, but show that what you’ve learned in college has prepared you for this role.

9. You almost never get sick.

We all get sick occasionally, but if asked, tell the hiring manager that you’re the type of person who leads a healthy lifestyle, and rarely calls in sick. Even though hiring managers aren’t really supposed to ask about this, some do, especially if you’re an older worker, or show signs of being unhealthy. Whatever you do, never discuss any past medical issues, unless absolutely necessary.

10. You have no personal problems.

We all have problems, but the key is not to discuss them in a job interview. Key examples are financial problems, family problems, and especially legal problems. Personal problems have the potential to affect a job candidate’s work life, and hiring managers are keen to avoid hiring people who have them.

 

5 Job Search Tactics You Need To Stop

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Ever had a really great interview or found a job posting that seemed like an absolute perfect match? Then, after landing the interview, you may figured you were a shoe-in for the position. So you sat back and waited for the offer letter to come through.

But nothing ever came.

There are currently 6.7 million job seekers in the U.S. and, although job prospects are getting better, the reality remains that there are still a number of qualified candidates looking for jobs in a limited job market. The position you were perfect for likely had at least 20 other perfect candidates apply for the job as well. The bottom line? In order to be successful in your job search, you just can’t afford any slip-ups.

So, if you want to land your next job, stop taking part in these job search tactics immediately:

Proceed your job search based on fear

If you’re looking for your first job out of college, or a job to replace one you just lost, it can be very easy to go into panic mode. Although unemployment numbers have steadied recently, when you’re looking for a job, each hour you don’t hear back from a promising lead can feel like an eternity.

As you’re waiting for ‘eternity’ to end, it’s easy to begin to panic. Your body immediately goes into survival mode and you experience the “flight or fight” impulse. This stops you from thinking objectively and leads to more rash decisions and bad job search outcomes.

What you should do: If you realize you’ve started to enter panic mode, take a breath, close your eyes, clear your mind, and get your focus back on what you started out doing: landing a job. Next, update your resume and cater it to the positions you are applying. Then, utilize all the available job search options, including checking on your network through LinkedIn. If you see one of your connections works at a company that you’re applying to, ask them if they can make an introduction. This will significantly increase your chances of getting the interview.

Once you are armed with knowledge, a support system and the appropriate materials to market yourself to potential employers, your “fight or flight” impulse will subside. With this knowledge and preparation, you can overcome the fear and get hired.

Skip the follow-up

You were not only able to get your foot in the door, but you also nailed the interview. Good for you. Now what? While it is a huge deal to get your foot in the door and have a great interview, this isn’t where the job “courting” process stops. Following up not only shows you are truly interested in the position, but it also shows you have the ability to follow through with work.

What you should do: You need to continue to show your enthusiasm for the position by immediately sending a handwritten thank you note (yes, these still exist!) after the interview. You should also send a more thorough follow-up email to include memorable parts of the conversation, reasons you’re excited to work for the company, or areas where you think you would create value within the position after having heard more about it.

If you’re wondering whether it’s really necessary to send two follow-up notes, it is good to consider the industry in which you are applying. According to a CareerBuilder survey, the bulk of IT hiring managers say they prefer email thank you notes more than any other industry surveyed, while the majority of those in the financial services say it’s not preferred, but still okay.

Perhaps you could consider trying something creative if it is makes sense. For instance, tie in your thank you note with an article that pertains to a conversation you had during your interview. This will show you were really paying attention and you are up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry, without feeling too pushy or invasive.

Display a poor or negative online presence

With social networking sites at our fingertips 24/7, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain the professional/personal line online. However, make no mistake about it: employers will look at your social presence. And if you aren’t representing yourself professionally online, how can you expect them to trust you to represent their company? You can bet inappropriate comments, postings, and conversations online will be a detriment to landing a job.

What you should do: Even before you begin the application process, you need to check your online image. Do a quick Google search of your name and see what comes up. Make sure you are not associated with anything that may make the organization question your professionalism or ability to perform. If there are undesirable images, conversations, or things you are tagged in, take them down or turn them to private.

Moving forward, always err on the side of caution. If you really want to post photos from the fun weekend you had, dedicate one channel to sharing those types of things and then set your profile to private so only your close friends can see them.

Once you’ve cleaned up your channels, include the social media links on your resume or portfolio you want the employer to check out. This way the interviewer knows where to look and you can be sure they don’t find the wrong person. This way you can use your savvy social media knowledge and positive online presence to your advantage.

Provide unreliable references

While it can be very powerful to provide references, this can also be a detriment to one of the final steps in getting the job. Ensure your references are going to be able to speak highly of you and reflect on some of your biggest accomplishments. If you include people who can’t speak to your work experience, they should be able to describe your character.

If your references can’t do any of these things, they could actually hurt your chances of getting the job. Keep in mind the employer is taking time to call each of the contacts you’ve provided to them. If they do this and they are ultimately left with no satisfying impressions of your skills and character, it can be very frustrating.

What you should do: Always tell your references they could be contacted by a potential employer on your behalf and explain what position and company it will be in regards to. When you’re talking to them, discuss some of the accomplishments or points you highlighted in the interview or on your resume and let them know a little about the organization. This will help your references be prepared no matter what the organization asks them and these professional and personal connections will reflect very positively on you.

Use out of date techniques on your cover letter

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a job candidate desperately trying to land a job with your company, and based on my stellar research skills and obvious commitment to the company (after all, I found your name…oh wait…), I believe I would be a great fit for the position.

Ok, this may be a bit excessive, but if you turn in a cover letter not addressed to anyone, not only are you displaying your lack of understanding of the times by including “Sir and Madam,” but you are also showing you aren’t able or willing to take the time to actually find the hiring manager’s name. In today’s world, finding a name is usually fairly simple, so if you aren’t willing to do that, what else might you not be willing to do once employed?

What you should do: Stay away from “old-school” cover letter language and ambiguity. If you can’t come up with a name for the letter through an online search, pick up the phone and call the organization and ask for the name of the hiring manager. Once you know the name of the person, you can also customize the letter slightly to highlight some things you might have in common with them, including your alma mater, hobbies, or previous employers.

If this sounds like a little too much work and you’re considering ditching the cover letter altogether, think twice. According to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, “employers not only expect thank you notes, but cover letters as well. Approximately one-third of hiring managers say a lack of cover letter will likely result in them not considering a candidate for their open position.” So, you’re welcome to submit your resume without your cover letter…and watch it be lobbed into the black hole of resume submissions.

Blindly apply to job postings

With thousands of job postings listed across hundreds of career sites, it is tempting to spend a few hours posting your resume to anything with a few keyword matches and call it a day. The problem is this eventually becomes a big waste of your time. When you begin submitting that many resumes, keeping up with all the companies you applied to — maybe multiple positions within the same company — can be very difficult to keep straight. And how are you supposed to truly know the requirements of each job?

What you should do: Finding a job is very similar to dating. You need to take the time to get to know the organization, the hiring manager, and the requirements of the position. Do your research: check out the company’s website, do a general Google search of the company, and take a look at the employees on LinkedIn.

Then, ask yourself things like, “do I want the same things they do?” or “will their culture suit my preferences?” Quality over quantity in this case will give you a much better chance to get to the finish line. And the fact of the matter is that they aren’t going to hire you without doing thorough research on their end, so why should you accept the position without doing yours?

What other job search tactics have you tried or observed that should be formally put to rest?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president ofCome Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice fornumerous outlets.

 

Cover Letter Mistakes That Will Send Your Application Straight to the Trash

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Your cover letter is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not you will be offered the chance to interview for a job. Don’t skip this step or take it lightly.

This is your opportunity to introduce yourself to an employer and make yourself stand out among a competitive applicant pool. Your cover letter lets the employer know you are a good match for both the company and the position — or not.

Avoid the following mistakes to get your application noticed — in a good way!

1. You didn’t follow instructions

What were the instructions in the job listing? Many employers will request a specific subject line, salary requirements or additional documents, such as a writing sample.

Not following instructions will immediately eliminate you from the applicant pool. Double check your cover letter against the job listing, and have a friend proofread before you submit.

This is your chance to show off your written communication skills, so avoid making costly mistakes. You shouldn’t have to explain in your letter that you’re detail-oriented; a good cover letter that follows the instructions will demonstrate that.

2. You used a canned message

You won’t get an interview if you submit the same generic cover letter with every application. Tailor your cover letter to the job you’re applying for to prove you’re not only a qualified candidate, but also serious about this job in particular.

A great cover letter will express enthusiasm for the company and demonstrate you have the relevant skills and experience the position requires. Your cover letter should directly relate to the role and industry you’re applying for; don’t discuss unrelated career goals or experiences.

Cheryl E. Palmer, M.Ed., CECC, CPRW and Career Development Expert, warns against using form letters: “Recruiters can spot a form letter a mile away. Form letters send the message to employers that the job seeker is not interested in the specific position that the employer has available, but rather that the job seeker is sending out resumes to everyone without giving any thought to what the employer is looking for.”

3. You regurgitated your resume

Your cover letter should enhance your resume, not repeat or summarize it. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Instead of rehashing the skills and experience listed in your resume, expand on why that experience makes you a great candidate for the job you want.

Keep your cover letter short (one page or less), but include details that aren’t provided in your resume. Offer specific, relevant examples from your previous experience to make your application shine.

4. You weren’t professional

Don’t include personal details unless the information directly relates to the position you are applying for. You need to keep your tone professional. Though most applications are submitted online, this isn’t an excuse to be casual. Use a formal greeting and signature. Use professional stationery if you mail in your application.

When in doubt, it’s best to use a standard cover letter format. Sandy Malone, a professional wedding planner and the star of TLC’s Wedding Island, confirms that most hiring managers aren’t impressed by gimmicks: “Just stop with the ridiculous-looking and colorful resumes. Unless you’re a graphic designer, keep it simple and follow a standard format. I don’t want to hunt for your credentials. That just annoys me.”

5. You didn’t proofread

This is one of the most important steps: Proofread, proofread, proofread!

In addition to correcting any spelling or grammatical mistakes, you have to get the details right. You don’t want to start your cover letter with “Dear Sir” if the hiring manager is a woman.

Also, double check the company name and position title so you don’t send the wrong template from a previous cover letter. Lastly, be sure to back up your skills and experience. If you claim to be extremely organized and have strong writing skills, your cover letter should reflect that.

What else would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

This post first appeared on Brazen Life, a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals.

How to Land a Great Job After College

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freedigitalphotos.net

You’ve officially made it out into the real world with your college degree in hand. Congratulations! We have some good news and some bad news.

We’ll get the bad news over with first: While the worst of the recession may be behind us, we’re still feeling the effects. With 71 percent of the labor force on the market, recent college graduates will face tough competition landing a job. And to add on to the competition, workers are more willing to wander — 35 percent of employees are changing jobs at least every five years.

Ok, now the good news: There’s hope for the college graduates who play their cards right. According to a recent study by Jobvite, four in 10 job seekers said they found their favorite or best job through a personal connection. And fortunately, younger job seekers, including college grads, tend to be more “social” job seekers who are more likely to land a great job; they understand the power of a strong personal network and know how to utilize it through social media.

So what should you keep in mind as you begin to forge the path for your career?

Use your network

As mentioned above, using personal connections is one of the best ways to land a job. This is right in line with recruiter preferences as well — 64 percent of recruiters rated referrals as the highest-quality source of hires. So, whenever possible, try to identify a personal connection you have with an employer you are interested in. By using the network you’ve built, you’re much more likely to find a job you’re truly going to love.

Get in front of recruiters

There is a significant disconnect between where job seekers and recruiters are online. An overwhelming 94 percent of recruiters are active on LinkedIn, while only 36 percent of job seekers are. Clearly, if you’re not already on LinkedIn, you should be.

More importantly, if you are on LinkedIn but have an incomplete profile, get that finished today. Having an incomplete profile is actually worse than having no profile at all. Although it may not seem like a big deal to you, an unfinished profile shows a clear lack of motivation for presenting yourself professionally and signifies to a potential employer that you may not be able to handle the tasks they assign you. It should be optimized, updated, professional and caters to the employer audience you want to attract.

Clean up your social profile

We know college is fun and there are a lot of photo opportunities to share with friends and family. However, do not underestimate the importance of a clean and professional social profile. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking: 93 percent of recruiters are likely to look at a candidate’s social profile and 42 percent have reconsidered a candidate based on content viewed in a social profile, leading to both positive and negative re-assessments.

To keep your social profiles in check, modify your social media presence through upgraded privacy settings, delete specific content and untag yourself from pictures, or delete unprofessional accounts altogether.

Mobile is the way to go

According to the Jobvite survey, 43 percent of job seekers use their mobile device to engage in job-seeking activity. But be careful — if you’re a mobile job seeker, there are a few things you need to be wary of:

  • Be mindful of typos or grammatical errors when sending applications through your phone. These costly mistakes can be much harder to spot on a smaller screen. If you must use your phone to apply, take extra special care to go over the text and check for no glaring errors.
  • The LinkedIn mobile app does not allow you to customize your invitation to connect. This is a very important touch to include when reaching out to potential employers. So, make a note of who you want to connect with when you’re searching on your phone, and then add your elevator pitch in the invitation to connect when you’re around a computer.

Know how to find success online

Today, a number of job seekers are mostly dependent on social media for their job search — 30 percent of which includes individuals who earn more than $100k per year. The majority of those social job seekers found their current position on Facebook through an opportunity shared by a contact. However, LinkedIn is where most of the active or passive job searching is done. The bottom line is you should make sure you are active on both channels to ensure you are finding all the best opportunities.

Good luck as you embark on your journey to employment and let us know if you have any questions along the way, the Doostang team is always happy to help!

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president ofCome Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

 

 

Kickstart Your Finance Career in Emerging Markets

 

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You’ve heard and read it over and over. The BRICS this, the BRICS that. The BRICS are booming, the BRICS are unwinding. So what does it mean?

And What the Heck is a BRIC, Anyway?

This four-letter acronym is engrained in the lingo of global financial service professionals who are dealing with or doing business in Brazil, Russia, India and China — superpowers in their own right with massive economic potential. Think young, hungry and eager populations, resources, and a renewed interested in foreign direct investment (FDI). These four countries, along with a handful of others — Turkey, South Korea, Mexico, Thailand and Indonesia just to name a few — offer the risk and rewards that many financial services professionals crave.

Do You Have the Stomach For a Job In Emerging Markets?

You might if:

• You like to travel.

• You are multilingual.

• Political unrest and geopolitics don’t scare you.

• You take the (very) long view.

• You enjoy the thought of higher risks and rewards.

These are just a few traits potential employers will seek out when you walk in their door with hopes of landing a financial services role dealing the world’s emerging markets. These markets are frankly, just that…emerging. Economies are in place, yes, but in many instances, they’re nowhere as developed as that of the U.S. And bureaucracy, geopolitics and stagnation (and the resulting layoffs) are all too real in many of these locales.

I’m Interested, But Sell Me On It

Why now? Emerging market activity has attracted attention from both small and large investment houses. Asset managers looking to diversify have entered the game, and more in-depth research continues to be regularly churned out by some notable financial firms — further proof of the interest in doing business in smaller markets. Political unrest, currency fluctuations and logistics aside, the emerging markets remain on an upward trend.

Why me? Emerging markets truly have something for a number of financial services hopefuls — trading, research and analysis, strategy, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), and overall international deal making are all routes one can travel in this sector. But most importantly, the self-discovery and new business perspectives you’ll acquire may prove to be the most rewarding part of the job.