Guide to Investment Banking: Part 1of 3

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A job in investment banking remains one of the most enduring and sought after positions within the financial sector due to the potentially eye-popping financial rewards for key players.

But, those long-term rewards combined with recent banking industry changes have also made investment banking one of the toughest and most fiercely competitive fields to crack into within the financial services sector.

“They’re definitely unique jobs,” says Richard Deosingh, the regional manager in the New York office of Robert Half, the giant professional staffing agency. “It’s very fast-paced, and it’s not at all your typical 9-to-5 position. It’s long, long hours with big returns, if you can get into it.”

And that “if” is the biggest hurdle for those who have their hearts set on a career in investment banking.

What Is Investment Banking?

Investment banking is non-retail banking that generally serves corporate clients, governments and major institutional investors.

Household checking accounts and handy sidewalk ATMs are not the norm for these financial firms and clients, thank you.

Over the years, due to major regulatory changes and global market forces, the investment banking sector has changed a lot — so much so that someone who started out in investment banking in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s can barely recognize the industry that it’s evolved into today.

Before major regulatory changes in the late 1990s, investment banks were usually smaller partnerships that were more associated with raising capital for IPOs, private placements, bonds, and giant merger and acquisition deals, among other things. As a result of these regulatory changes, today’s investment banking units are often housed inside giant banks that have separate retail banking operations.

In the modern era, investment banks are often huge publicly traded institutions that provide a host of investments services, including corporate finance, trading and research analysis.

However, the “core” of investment banking, strictly speaking, is still associated with raising capital and providing advice on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) — and that’s precisely the field many young investment banker wannabes often want to crack into when they think of careers in this lucrative sector.

A Day in the Life of an Investment Banker

Every job within an investment bank varies, usually depending on the seniority and specialties of individual personnel.

But if they’re all rowing together, the collective goal is to find and raise capital for clients, as well as come up with strategies and solutions to secure capital under the best terms possible for major IPOs, private placements, bond issuances, and M&A deals.

And all those deals are usually, at minimum, measured in the multimillion- and multibillion-dollar ranges. They most definitely don’t fall into the category of routine retail or small-business loans.

The jobs entail long, grueling hours of research into individual companies, industries, markets and even the entire economies of countries and continents, as investment bankers and their small armies of researchers try to measure the potential value and sizes of various transactions.

Investment bankers and their team members will also spend long hours on:

  • Courting potential clients
  • Traveling across the country and globe to research and secure deals

Ultimately, investment bankers are not only savvy about negotiating mergers and acquisitions and raising capital, but they must also be good with clients. In the end, they are salesmen and compete fiercely against each other for very high-stakes corporate business.

One important consideration: Investment bankers are on call 24/7. If a company makes a sudden move over a weekend to buy another firm, all members of an investment banking team had better be ready — on any day, at any time.

“It is a great business for the right person,” says F. Mark D’Annolfo, a former investment banker who’s now managing director of the Stephen D. Cutler Center for Investments and Finance at Babson College. “It is very entrepreneurial, and the work is often highly interesting and intellectually challenging. However, since these jobs often involve a great deal of travel and long hours, they are not for everyone.”

About the AuthorJay Fitzgerald is a business journalist based in Boston. Over the years, his articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Herald and other publications.

When, and How, To Bring Up Salary in an Interview

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There’s no telling when the salary discussion may come up in an interview, but bringing up your desired salary too soon could be a risky move. It’s important that your are able to present yourself, your abilities, and what you can contribute to the company before your price tag.

Employers want to get a sense of your salary expectations as early in the job interview process as possible. They will often press you to name a specific salary number or salary range. Avoid this for several reasons:

1.If you name a figure in response to a question about your salary expectations, it could be well above what the employer had in mind, and your interviewer’s thoughts will shift to another candidate.
2. If the figure is too low, you’ll be stuck with less than what the employer was planning to pay—and you may even come off as less qualified to boot.
3. The employer knows the responsibilities of the job better than you and therefore is better qualified to assign it a dollar amount. Once that happens, you are in an excellent position to discuss why you could bring more to the position than someone else.
Here is an example of how to avoid naming the salary first—even when explicitly challenged by the employer to do so:
EMPLOYER: Do you have a minimum salary figure in mind?
CANDIDATE: I have several opportunities I’m considering, and each one is a little bit different, so I’m taking all of the circumstances into account. Would you mind giving me some idea of the salary range for this position?

In most cases, a hiring manager isn’t going to drop you from consideration just because you dodge the initial salary question successfully. In fact, you may have a better chance at getting the job offer in the end because you had the opportunity to go through your value-increasing presentation first; other candidates who name a salary early in the interview process may never get the chance to present themselves fully, because the manager may be turned off after hearing their asking price.

Small Business Or Big Corporation? How To Know What’s Best For You

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As you go through the job searching process, you will find that there are all types of company sizes within every industry. Although you may be completely confident on the exact industry you want to pursue, you may find yourself wondering whether a large or small company is best. The answer really lies with you and your preferences, strengths, and personality.

Whether you’re looking for your first job or your fifth job, your colleagues and the environment you’ll be in everyday is crucial to the long-term career path you will take. So therein lies the question, “What’s the right company size for me?”

To answer that question, check out some of the job factors below and determine what seems to best suit you overall:

Culture and Processes

In a large company, there are a lot of team members that may be dispersed through different parts of the country and even the world. For this reason, the culture and processes in larger companies tend to be more rigid and defined to ensure everyone stays on the same page. Individuals that excel in this type of culture appreciate following processes and clear expectations.

In a small company, teams will be more agile and less defined. You will get to know team members in the company very closely in a relaxed culture that has likely been built organically. Personalities may be strong and opinionated, but each individual will undoubtedly be working toward the same clear goals of the company. For this reason, strict internal processes will be less important and are many times somewhat lax.

Management

In a large company, you will have a dedicated team that works directly with one or two managers who are in charge of all the team members. It is unlikely that you will interact with, or talk to, management that is above your direct manager(s). The company’s vertical hierarchy helps keep those in high-level positions focused on the bigger picture for the company, and the managers focused on making sure the big picture is delivered.

In a small company, upper-level management, all the way up to the CEO, will often interact and even collaborate with all levels of the team. This can provide an invaluable experience that will help you gain knowledge and skills from top leadership in the company.

Personal Growth

In a large company, by focusing strictly on your major tasks each day, you can easily become an expert in whatever you’re doing. This type of expertise can provide great opportunities later on in your career. Advancing within a larger company generally has defined process, which makes it easy to know what you’re expected to do in order to advance.

In a small company, career advancement does not generally follow a defined process, but naturally happens over time. Because all of the team members work with you on a daily basis, upper management is able to see your growth firsthand. Advancements may come in all different forms — increased responsibility, a new title, or a pay increase.

The opportunity to shift your career focus may also be something that can happen in a smaller company. Because of the agility and flexibility a small company requires, you may happen to stumble upon something that interests you more than your current job and find yourself shifting your career focus.

This is your career path, so choose your steps carefully. There is no right or wrong answer for working in specific company size; you may excel in one and not the other based on your personality, strengths, and preferences. Regardless of which fit is best, choosing the path and environment that’s right for you will ultimately help you advance in your desired career path.

What do you think? Do you prefer a small or large company? Why?

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.

 

8 Ways to Bomb Your Interview

 

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1. Go Casual

 You have this interview in the bag- who cares if you’re wearing jeans! You’re Gen Y! Steve Jobs doesn’t wear suits!

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”  – Mark Twain

I’m not suggesting you show up to your interview naked (although that would certainly end your interviewing excursion. Mission accomplished!) Ask the recruiter ahead of time, on the phone or email, about the company dress code. If asking is uncomfortable for you, play it safe with dress pants or slacks and a nice shirt and tie; or skirt and blouse. Even at a “laid back” start-up would be impressed with your professionalism. Better to be over dressed than…well, naked.

2. Arrive Unprepared

 You emailed your resume – certainly the hiring manager had time to memorize it, or at least to print it and bring copies with him. Right?

Bring copies of your resume to the interview. And having a quality notebook or leather-bound portfolio in which to take interview notes will add to the impression that you’re a professional. The more you know about the company and industry before the interview, the better. Do your research to learn the company’s history, major competitors, market niche, products, etc.

3. The Weak Handshake

This is a time-honored first impression killer. The interviewer enters the room. They greet you warmly, smiling, and extend their hand to grasp yours…this can be an awkward moment if you over-think it. Will your hands meet correctly? Will they land slightly askew, resulting in that quasi-handshake, half high-five event?

Use a firm handshake to indicate confidence and potential strength of character.  And definitely make solid eye contact with the interviewer! That will display some competence and social ability.

4.  Your Cell Phone Rings 

This is an easy one to forget since most of us are so completely tied to this little electronic second brain. Turn your phone off (completely off!) before the interview.  If you forget and it does ring, DO NOT answer it, or even consider sending a quick text while the interviewer’s head is turned. This is more inappropriate and annoying than couples who hold hands at the gym! The hiring manager will definitely notice your lack of social etiquette.

5. Your Eyes Glaze Over, Your Shoulders Hunch, You Yawn…

Your body language communicates loudly. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Sit forward- it shows active interest with your full body. Nod your head at appropriate times and ask questions throughout the interview. An interview should be a two-way conversation. Give your interviewer time to explain the opening and the company culture, but jump in with quality questions. By “quality questions” I don’t mean: “How long is lunch in this office?” or “I have a vacation with my boyfriend coming up soon. Is that ok?”

6. Show Me The Money!

You’re just starting out in your career – you’ve already earned a big salary! You should bring that up right away, right? Wrong.

Discuss the position first and foremost. Sure, being paid for your time and skills is how capitalism works! But focus on the job details first- discuss compensation afterward, once you and the recruiter agree that you’re the right fit.

Before the interview, research your industry’s salary rates and the cost of living for the area.  You’ll be prepared to negotiate a salary that will cover your living expenses and enable you to set aside savings for emergencies. Having a job is only great when you can afford to pay your bills. Being underemployed is just as hard as being unemployed.

7. Be Really Un-Friendly

With the exception of very technical positions, employers interview for skills, but they hire for personality. Most entry level skills can be learned through on the job training. The interview reveals if you will be a good fit with the manager and their team. (I once got a job where the interviewer was a big golf nut. I play golf, so we talked about golf the entire interview).

Don’t use polite manners, smile or have an engaging and articulate conversation with the interviewer – avoid these as they will most certainly encourage the hiring manager to consider you further.

8. The Follow Up

Your best chance of not being hired is to blend in with the tens, or sometimes hundreds of other applicants… like job seeking camouflage! Don’t fall into the forgotten pile- send a follow up letter after the interview; at the very least an email to thank the interviewer for their time and add a few memorable points from your discussion (maybe even a question or two that you thought of after the interview). Better yet, send an old-school hand-written letter.

Most interviewees send resumes and wait… or interview and hope. If you don’t want to get hired… don’t stand out.

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at YouTern.

About the Author: Dave Ellis, is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals.

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.

 

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.

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

freedigitalphotos.net

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.