How to Spin the Negatives in an Interview

ID-100264775

A savvy interviewer or negotiator may try to destabilize your presentation (or subsequent negotiation position) by tying your hiring chances, compensation, title, or responsibilities to something negative in your work history.  If you have had some rough patches in your career, or you have had a manager who did not appreciate your style, it is imperative that you own those negatives and turn a question about them into an opportunity to either deflect to a positive story or demonstrate how you overcame those issues.

Here are some examples of negatives and how to deal with them:

You Were Laid Off from a Previous Job

There is no shame in being laid off; in fact, it happens to almost everyone at one time or another.  Come up with a breezy two-sentence explanation for the company’s layoffs, and finish with an upbeat recitation of the opportunities that the layoff presented.  For example, you were able to finish school, you toured Europe, you learned some woodworking, and–best of all–you were freed up to look for more meaningful work at a great company.

The trick here is to have a quick gloss for the layoff and then segue directly into a positive wrap-up that conveys equanimity and readiness to take on the next challenge.  Also, don’t be cheesy, but don’t underestimate a hiring manager’s desire to hear genuine enthusiasm about the new position and the prospective employer.

You Were Fired from a Previous Job

This one is a bit tougher, but you absolutely should have a packaged explanation at the ready when the subject comes up, and it’s likely that it will.  The best explanation will openly acknowledge that the situation wasn’t optimal and look for a way to tell the story with a positive ending.  Above all, you do not want to get bogged down in a long-winded explanation of how you weren’t wrong in the first place or how other folks had it in for you.  Even if you were mostly in the right, most hiring managers don’t want to hear the whole story–and will tend to sympathize with your former manager.

Instead, describe the problem in three to four short dispassionate sentences and then speak about what you have done in the interim to fix your contribution to the problem.  If you were fired for poor attitude, you might talk about how you started volunteering and realized how much you took for granted.  If you were fired for being constantly late, you might talk about how you saw a sleep specialist and now sleep 8 hours a night.  Most important, don’t lie about either the problem or the solution; a prospective employer may check your story and blackball you in the industry or profession if your story doesn’t add up.

You Quit Your Last Job

Assuming you didn’t leave your former employer without notice, there is absolutely no shame to this.  Characterize the decision as one you made, after careful consideration, to give you the time and icus to find a better opportunity at a great company.

If you didn’t quit your last job without notice and for a thinly justified reason–and you know there is potential animosity remaining at your former employer, we suggest employing an approach similar to that given above for explaining a firing.  Emphasize what has happened in the interim to develop your professionalism.

Unemployed? 7 Ways to Improve Your Resume

resumeunemployment

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

freedigitalphotos.net

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.

 

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.

 

 

5 Job Search Tactics You Need To Stop Now

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

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 for numerous outlets.

 

When You Should Decline A Job Offer

 

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

In a perfect world, you apply for the job of your dreams, get a job offer that’s $5K more than you expected, realize your co-workers are going to be your new BFFs, and find out the company vacation package includes a time-share in St. Bart’s for employees to use.

Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works. Sometimes the job offer isn’t right for you, and if that case it’s better to say decline than accept, even in this tough economy. Taking a position that’s ultimately not a good fit can stress you out, hurt your resume and network if you don’t stay very long, and keep you from finding the job you’re really meant to have.

So how do you know when to say yes to a job offer and when to say no? Check out the job tips below.

Decline If the Money Isn’t Right

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but especially in a down economy, you’d be surprised at how many people accept job offers that don’t come close to meeting their needs. If you’re really desperate for a job, you might be tempted to say, “Sure, I’ll find a way to deal with $15K less than I’m accustomed to making.”

The problem here is that it’s easy to become resentful of your new employer if you don’t feel you’re getting what you’re worth, which can eventually affect your morale and performance. (Not to mention it’s hard to perform well at work if you’re stressed about money all the time.) If the offer is lower than you expected, try negotiating for another number that’s more doable, more vacation time, flex time, etc. If your potential employer isn’t willing to negotiate, it’s time to just say no to the job offer.

Decline If You Don’t Actually Want to Do the Job

The point of a job interview isn’t just to see if the company likes you, it’s to also see if you like the company and the job. Every now and then, you’ll apply for a position you assume will have one set of responsibilities from the job description, and then during the interview process it’s clear the company’s expectations are totally different.

If this happens to you, and you’re not comfortable with the hours, duties, or expectations the hiring manager has for the open position, say no to the job offer. Just because it originally sounded like something you might want doesn’t mean it is – and that’s what the interview process is all about.

Decline If You Don’t Fit With the Company Culture

Maybe the job sounds great and the offer is fantastic. But you’re looking for a business casual, flexible work environment, and your potential employer is more of a ties-and-jacket kind of place. Or maybe you firmly believe in work/life balance, and your new boss is expecting you to start at 60 hours per week.

If this happens, you should seriously consider saying no to the job offer. Company culture is a huge part of your satisfaction levels; at the end of the day, if you don’t fit with the culture, you’re not going to be happy. And that could mean you’re back out on the job market sooner than you planned.

The morale of the story is that if you can’t go into a job feeling good about the package, position, and company culture, you probably won’t last very long. And why waste your time, or anyone else’s, when the job that’s really perfect for you is out there?

Have you ever said no to a job offer? Let us know in the comments below!

Doostang thanks our friends at myFootpath for this post!

About the Author:  Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages.

7 Ways to Improve Your Resume During Unemployment

resumeunemployment

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 seekers credited 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.

“Have You Ever Been Fired?”

Interview-Questions-e1310752924536

For some, the question “Have you ever been fired?” can inspire a pit in the stomach when the answer to that question is “Yes”.  You may be among an unfortunate bunch who had a horrific experience at a company (or with a certain coworker or boss), that did not end well.  And whether your termination was your fault or not, it can continue to haunt you in your search for future prospects.  So what is the best way to field this tough issue?

Be Honest

First things first:  don’t lie.  It may be tempting to dismiss the topic altogether, hoping that the company you’re interviewing with never finds out – but what happens if they do?  If they find out during the interview process, you’re certain not to get the job.  And if they find out a few years down the line, no matter how great an employee you are, they may still decide to let you go.  A second termination is not what you want on your record, so do yourself a favor and be upfront and honest from the get go.  It’s much safer, and you’ll stress about if far less in the long run.

Provide Some Context

Explain the circumstances surrounding the incident.  If it was a conflict of interest, let the interviewer know.  If it happened 15 years ago, tell them that you now have a lot of distance from the incident and that your stellar work performance since then speaks for itself.  If it occurred in the more recent past, explain that you have learned quite a bit from the incident, but don’t spend your time making excuses.  Lay down the facts, and focus on what you’ve done since and will do in the future to demonstrate that you are a valuable employee who understands what it takes to be an asset to a company.

Don’t Give Away Too Much

While it’s important to be forthcoming in your response to this question, you also don’t want to spend too much time addressing the matter.  Keep the focus of the interview on what makes you the ideal person to hire, and spend as little time as you can conveying what the interviewer needs to know about that particular incident.  People who feel the need to defend themselves tend to over-explain, and this can portray lack of confidence and lead you down the wrong road.  Certainly stray away from speaking ill of your former boss or company, remaining as objective and succinct as possible.

No one likes getting fired and everyone wants to find a new job.  Don’t let one obstacle in your past set the tone for the rest of your career.  Concentrate on what you need to do to land your next job and on the reasons you’re a perfect fit for it, and the rest will follow.

Have a wonderful day,

The Doostang Team

6 Simple Steps to Land Your Next Job

checklist

Sometimes the path to your dream career isn’t about the big moves you’re supposed to make, but rather, is riddled with the little ones.  The great thing about small steps is that you have no excuse not to take them – you can always find a moment to work on your job search.  Here are a few minor things you can be doing to land your next position:

Create an Email Account Designated for Your Job Search

If you haven’t done so already, consider creating an email address solely for your job search.  The first thing you should do is to choose an address that is professional – this will look far better on your resume and when you reach out to employers.  Doing so will also allow you to keep all your job search materials in one place, and will prevent your personal emails from posing a distraction.

Review Your Resume

Take a few minutes of down time to scan your resume and make sure that it’s polished and up-to-date.  You may not have caught all of the typos when you originally put it together, so pay particular attention to spelling and grammar.  Also check that your dates and current contact information are correct.  It’s especially helpful to have an outsider review your resume to catch all the small (or big) issues that you might have missed, so ask some friends for feedback or get a professional critique.

Revise Your Facebook Page

Because so many employers are now turning to social networking sites to see what additional information they can dig up about each potential hire, it’s important to put your best foot (or face) forward.  Make sure that you have appropriate privacy settings in place, and take down any pictures that you wouldn’t want your next boss to see.

Practice Your 30 Second Interview

It’s important to practice your 30 Second Interview, or elevator speech, when you have a moment.  This will ensure that you’re less likely to trip up the next time you’re in a situation where someone takes an interest in your career path.

Network

Take a few moments to find some key contacts that can help you in your career search.  Consider your alumni network or find the contact information of someone at a company you wish to work for.  Send out a quick email to set up a time to ask for some advice, or simply try to establish rapport by reaching out with a question.

Enroll in a Class

If your dream job requires knowledge or skills that you don’t yet possess, enroll in a class that will bring you up to speed.  Once you make that initial commitment to go, you’ll be one step closer to the career you want.

There are a multitude of little things you can do throughout the day that will advance your job search.  So when you have some free time, be proactive and do something small that can make a big difference.

 

5 Things You Need in Order to Have a Better Fresh Grad Experience

ID-100163236

Getting your groove on after graduation is easier said than done. Take it from someone who just went there and had a hard time adjusting to a new lifestyle. I had to learn everything from scratch! Fortunately, I had friends who showed me the ropes plus the ever awesome Internet by my side.

The point is that you can’t rely on your school smarts alone to net you a job right away. You need to be resourceful and think of ways on how to get out of that student mentality while marketing yourself at the same time. Here are five things you could use as personal reminders in order to have a better fresh graduate experience.

Avoid abusing social media

A lot of newbie graduates think that the cyber space is their scapegoat from reality. They rant, curse and share relationship problems on their Facebook walls and Twitter accounts. Try not to do this yourself because it will cause you more harm than good in the long run.

You’re not just a snotty twelve year-old who can say what you want, anytime you want. You’re a degree holder and chances are, employers will do their homework on you. As the famous cop line goes, anything you say can be used and will be used against you

Think twice before you say anything

In connection with the first tip, you need to be wary of the things that’s going to come out of your mouth (or keyboard). Having enemies when you’re working is never okay. Burning bridges simply means losing opportunities. Take care of your connections by speaking only when you need to.

Moreover, you don’t need to constantly update people on where you are right now and what you’re eating. Discipline is a trait that’s going to take you to places. Practice it well and you’re going to be one step closer to that elusive success.

It’s not about you anymore

A lone wolf will never survive in the modern jungle of today. Being a member of the workplace simply means that you’re going to work with another person, regardless whether you like it or not. If you wish to thrive as an employee then you need to learn how to prioritize work over personal preference.

Letting your emotions get the best out of you is pretty much self-sabotage. Instead of being immature, use your head and do your share of work.

Dress to impress people

The first thing that people will notice when they see you is your outward appearance. This simply means that you need to represent yourself in the best way possible. Shop for clothes that you can use for workdays and special gatherings. For starters, you need at least two sets of formal attires and five sets of semi-formal attires in that closet of yours.

Remember that you don’t need to wear anything flashy or expensive. As long as it works then it should be fine. Save money whenever you can because you’re going to need it.

Diligence is often rewarded

Do your job wholeheartedly if you ever get employed. Perseverance and patience will help you earn the fruits of your hard work. Don’t think of what your company could do for you. Instead, think of what you could do for the company.

In addition to that, avoid quitting just because things become complicated and difficult. No job is easy and you have to learn how to evolve as a member of the work force. Otherwise, be prepared to experience the same thing over and over again in your future employment.

Your new lifestyle is going to test how much you’ve really learned at school. Be prepared, steel yourself and never say never. The future is always yours to make!

 About the Author: Veronica Finch is a fresh graduate from New Orleans University who is currently working as a freelance writer for  SuperiorPapers.com. She also contributes to various web sites in the hopes of making a name for herself in the writing industry.