Doostang News March 7: Small Things that Make a Big Difference in Your Job Search

Associate – PE, New York, NY
Consultant, Boston, MA
Investment Banking Analyst, Greenwich, CT
Project Manager, Chicago, IL
Portfolio Analyst, Nashville, TN

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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.

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Make New Goals for Your Career Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Finance/Business Coach, Boston, MA
Research & Marketing Intern, New York, NY
Investment Analyst, Philadelphia, PA
Technology Coordinator, San Francisco, CA
Investment Strategies Analyst, Boston, MA

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Your resume is the most important vehicle for sending a positive first impression of you and your skills to hiring managers.  However I hope a strong resume isn’t the only strategy in your tool box for 2011. Many people discount the value of New Year’s Resolutions but recognize the power in writing down intentions. Make a commitment to a successful job search in the coming year by defining your direction. Use the list below or be inspired to come up with your own!

1.  “I will target my job search efforts instead of using the old shotgun approach.”

It’s so easy to send your resume to multiple sites via the Internet, but results are not always optimal. Your resume may become one of hundreds in the hiring manager’s inbox. Target jobs of greatest interest and be diligent about your interactions with those companies as noted in the following intentions for the New Year.

2.  “I will expand my list of contacts by 2 people or organizations each week.”

Add contacts face-to-face, via phone, or electronically. Help new contacts see you as a viable partner in the organization by highlighting how your strengths can further their mission.

3.  “I will improve my resume by emphasizing accomplishments and recent experiences.”

Accomplishments can be communicated to new contacts as well as in revisions of your resume and cover letter.

4.  “I will participate in regional job fairs.”

Job fairs are a great opportunity to reach your weekly contacts goal, make you more visible, and expand your knowledge of the local job market.

5.  “I will make cold calls to regional prospects.”

Calling prospective employers helps you in many ways. You become more than a name in the endless string of resumes. The relationships you develop may leverage an interview and eventually a position.

6.  “I will develop action plans and present to major companies in my job search.”

The action plan is a great strategy and clearly sets you apart from other candidates. Taking time to research the corporation and create a plan that addresses company needs or goals communicates your initiative and unique talents.

7.  “I will use business intelligence and corporate research to revise my cover letter.”

Do research on companies to identify values, projects, and initiatives. Incorporate information into the cover letter by telling prospective employers how your experience and talents solve their problems.

8.  “I will become more active in my professional and community organizations.”

Being active in organizations not only enhances your networking, but may also help you develop additional skills. Serving as member of a Board clearly conveys your leadership skills.

9.  “I will demonstrate my qualities as a solid candidate in every action with potential employers.”

Interactions at every level of the organization reflect on you in the application process. Each phone call, social network posting, and face-to-face contact will be reported up the chain of command. Be deliberate and considerate to be successful.

10.  “I will present a consistent brand in my resume, cover letter, and professional contacts.”

You may have heard President Obama’s brother-in-law describe the importance of behavior on a basketball court in assessing an individual’s overall character. Although not under constant scrutiny when applying for positions, you must be aware that behavioral inconsistencies will be magnified or misinterpreted. Display your best character.

11.  “I will develop an “elevator speech” to use with my expanding professional network.”

Encapsulate key aspects of your skills and professional brand into a 30­-second speech. Use it at every opportunity.

12.  “I will use old-fashioned thank-you notes to follow up all types of contacts and keep my name fresh in people’s minds.”

You may be tempted to send an email note to follow up on a professional meeting. The sheer number of emails most people receive is overwhelming. Sending a hand-written note is another way to distinguish oneself from the crowd.

13.  “I will use social networking sites to my advantage, including adding professional resources, such as resume and career advice consultants.”

Smart use of social media can accelerate progress in your job search. You expand your network and are more likely to be seen by potential employers. Clean up any questionable postings and present yourself professionally to make the best use of social media resources.

14.  “I will continue my professional development activities to improve my skills, expand my network, and maintain my enthusiasm.”

Participating in professional development activities becomes even more critical during employment gaps. You gain focus, new ideas, and strategic contacts.

Most importantly, don’t become discouraged.  A job search can be daunting, but with a specific plan, you can re-gain a sense of control and direction. Well-defined intentions can provide a framework for a successful job search. Be confident as you move into the New Year. Armed with effective goals, you can make this your year to secure a new job!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Fire Up your Job Search by Broadcasting Strengths!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Operations Analyst, New York, NY
Sales and Trading Associate, SF Bay Area, CA
Financial Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
IT Manager, Boston, MA
Analyst – Private Equity Firm, Philadelphia, PA

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Think in Terms of Strengths

Being unemployed, under-employed, or under-appreciated in your current job can erode confidence.  In order to “fire up” your job search, you may need to re-assess the strengths you are emphasizing.  Follow these simple strategies to shift to a position of strengths.

1)    Brainstorm about what you love to do.  This first list should be exhaustive, including strengths from work and personal areas of your life.

2)    List specific skills developed throughout your work history.

3)    What results did you achieve from strengths listed in the first 2 steps? Review positive comments, good performance evaluations, or actual awards to jog your memory.

4)    Think of job requirements for positions in which you are currently interested, and combine the top 2 or 3 items from each of the areas above that you want to emphasize. Use this information to create an “elevator” speech for yourself – a brief, 30-second to 1-minute summary to describe your assets, not a laundry list, but a mini-story. Consider the director pitching his new movie project to a potential producer, or the inventor describing her idea to a potential investor. This becomes your “pitch” – a brief overview of strengths that set you apart from the crowd by outlining what you can do for the potential employer.

Write it Down

Why write it down?  It helps you own the statement.  Not only does seeing the statement in writing help you feel more confident, but it also helps you begin to believe it more strongly yourself.  However, if you notice what you have written down actually rings false or makes you question strengths you have identified, then something about what you have written “doesn’t fit”.  Stretching yourself to fit a particular job opening can be positive, but stretching the truth is never wise. If you can’t believe it yourself, the hiring manager will struggle, too.  Compare your “pitch” with what you created for the first 3 steps above.  Pay attention to how you feel in reviewing the lists and you will be able to fine-tune your pitch into an authentic statement of your strengths.

Practice

Making a brief statement of your strengths isn’t easy.  Practicing the statement will make you feel more comfortable and help you prepare to use it whenever the opportunity arises.

1)    Use the old “in front of the mirror” technique to help you own your new view of yourself, just like you did in speech class or for that first presentation at the office.

2)    Ask family and friends to serve as an audience – request honest feedback about your delivery – how believable are you?  If you don’t believe what you’re saying, it will show. They may notice it even if you didn’t.

3)    Use your network to practice.  Perhaps a small group of job seekers – whom you trust – can try out elevator pitches on each other and incorporate comments to improve the approach.

Networking Contact Follow-up

Remember to follow up after any type of networking contact, whether casual or formal. Incorporate your “pitch” into the follow-up correspondence.  You can send a “thank-you”, “nice-to-see-you”, or “I believe we have a mutual acquaintance” note – all of which can include a comment about your strengths.

Examples of situations where you might send a follow-up note include:

1)    Casual contact (“nice to see you”)

2)    Initial Meeting (“nice to meet you”)

3)    Job Fair Follow-up (“I enjoyed learning about your company and how closely my experience aligns with your needs.”)

4)    Introduction from a friend (“I believe we have a mutual acquaintance, Bob Smith, who suggested I contact you as my strengths could benefit your organization.”)

5)    Thank you (for any suggestion of an opportunity). Even though thank you letters may seem old-fashioned, they can be effective for that very reason – they set you apart from the crowd!

You can be sure the competition isn’t shy about broadcasting strengths and achievements, and their boldness could walk them right into your dream job! You have golden embers smoldering in your work history that, if stoked, will “fire up” your job search. Write down those strengths, practice your “pitch”, then confidently broadcast it!


About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Steal the Spotlight with the Right Resume Format

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Private Equity Associate (Pre-MBA), New York, NY
Analyst, Chicago, IL
Equity Analyst, Louisville, KY
Sr. Marketing Manager, Nationwide
Research Associate, San Francisco, CA

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In this tough economy, employers can expect to weed through literally hundreds of submissions for a single job posting. That’s why job seekers cannot expect a hiring manager to read every word of each resume he or she receives. There simply are not enough hours in the day to make that possible, since whittling down an applicant pool is a time-consuming task.

If an employer is only able to spend 30 seconds on your resume, you need to make sure the most important information is obvious. Otherwise, your resume will likely wind up in the rejection pile along with candidates who may not be as qualified as you are.

It’s tempting to believe that attracting an employer’s attention can be achieved by opting for the most flashy resume possible. This often backfires, as job seekers tend to go overboard with visual bells and whistles when creating their own resumes. Utilizing too many options every word processing program offers for fonts, colors, and graphic elements can create more of a distraction than a solid presentation of your skills.

We already know that the audience being targeted is comprised of harried hiring managers reading a huge pile of resumes. Without realizing it, well-meaning job seekers who create multi-colored, crammed “works of art” are only hurting the eyes of important people who are able to give them a job!

The best format choice is simple, polished, professional – and most importantly, easy to read. If your resume contains any of the five features below, it’s time to consider a redesign:

1. Lack of White Space

Are your margins pushed to the absolute max? Are you using 8-point font? A quest to squeeze in as much content as possible comes at a steep price. While it may look fine to you, most readers will find they need to keep a magnifying glass handy in order to read small print with ease. If your resume is too dense with text, you can bet the reader is just not going to make the extra effort to read through it.

It is better to be more concise in your wording — or even sacrifice some content altogether. That way, you can hook an employer into reading some of what you did rather than overwhelming him or her with too much information that will not get read at all. Besides, you will have ample opportunities to expand upon your vast experience during an interview.

2. Colors

While some professions call for a more artistic flair on a resume, most do not. There’s a big difference between a graphic designer and a corporate banker trying to pull off using a red page border. Rather than risk having your resume look amateurish with a rainbow motif, it’s advisable to stick with basic black or gray tones.

3. Photos, Graphics & Logos

A resume is not the appropriate place for a photo, graphic, or logo for a variety of reasons. Strictly speaking about formatting, it’s a bad idea. Such items will increase the file size of your resume, make it more likely to get snagged by a spam filter, and create an inconvenient and time-consuming downloading process.

4. Too Many Bullets

Bullets are a great formatting device to create emphasis, but some job seekers like bullets so much they bullet practically everything. If you bullet everything, the emphasis is lost because the text drowns in a sea of bullets. For example, if you have a job description formatted as a long list of bullets, it will be hard for the reader to identify what’s important. Bullets should be used to draw attention to your achievements, but not to describe basic job duties. That way, if an employer does nothing more than skim your resume, he’ll notice the most impressive accomplishments first.

5. Fancy Fonts

The only characteristic that makes a font best for a resume is that it is easy to read. Sticking to one typeface will also spare the reader from eye strain.

Less is often more where resumes are concerned. Let your qualifications shine by allowing them to be your resume’s centerpiece, and you will set yourself apart from your competition.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!