Your List of Entry-Level Accounting and Finance Jobs for 2014: Part 3 of 3

Your List of Entry-Level Accounting and Finance Jobs for 2014: Part 3 of 3

Welcome to part three in our three-part series on entry-level finance and accounting jobs to consider for recent or soon-to-be graduates with 4-year accounting or finance degrees. In parts one and two, we covered entry-level jobs in the fields of accounting, insurance, finance and banking along with the median income for these jobs as estimated by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). To wrap up, we will cover some positions you could find at a number of other private, public or government organizations.

So for recent grads interested in working for businesses in other industries or the government, plenty of opportunities exist to kick off their accounting and finance careers. Think about topics and industries that you migrate toward when you hear news online or when you’re watching T.V.

Entry-level finance and accounting jobs can be found in manufacturing, at marketing and advertising agencies, for technology and energy companies, with city, state and local governments and more. If you look outside of traditional accounting and finance firms for work, you might be surprised how many operations (big and small) have openings for recent accounting and finance grads.

Along with the traditional entry-level accounting jobs we discussed earlier, here are a few additional positions to consider in the private, public and government sectors.

Tax associate/specialist, auditor, collector or revenue agent. Does tax law put a spring in your step? Then you will have plenty of entry-level job opportunities with corporations and the government to consider. Corporate tax laws change every year, and an entry-level tax associate can help public and private corporations stay on top of changes in tax legislation and corporate tax code. On the government side, you can find entry-level opportunities reviewing and monitoring tax filings to ensure compliance or assist with collections of unpaid taxes. Median Income: $49,360.

Budget analyst. Whether a business has 10 employees or 10,000, it has a budget to manage. Entry-level budget analysts review existing budgets and expenses and proposed budgets for new initiatives. It is the budget analyst’s job to recommend where expenses and costs can be reigned in and identify opportunities to increase revenues. It helps to be a good communicator and a “people person” in this role, because along with developing financial reports, an analyst typically interacts with multiple departments and personnel to gather data. Median Income: $68,200.

Financial auditor. Corporations are under a higher level of scrutiny since the economic collapse, which resulted in an abundance of new government regulations in recent years. As an entry-level financial auditor you would review financial statements and ensure that public records are properly kept and reported. Monitoring legislation that applies to the business and industry niche to ensure compliance, may also be part of a financial auditor’s job duties. The auditor might also provide insight regarding general business operations, product development and mergers and acquisitions. Median Income: $61,690 (though many financial auditor positions will require an MBA).

Financial manager, controller or finance officer. An MBA is often required for financial manager positions, but some smaller companies will hire graduates with 4-year finance or accounting degrees and some previous work experience for these jobs. Financial managers/controllers oversee a variety of finance-related initiatives and employees. They are responsible for preparing and managing financial reports (balance sheets, budgets, expenses, revenue, forecasts, etc.), monitoring corporate investments, managing human resources concerns and making sure tax and regulatory obligations are met. Median Income: $103,910.

Clearly, this list should just be a starting point for you. You can find a number of additional entry-level jobs under different job titles, with varying job descriptions and many duties that overlap.

If you’re searching for an entry-level finance or accounting position, look to Doostang. We specialize in helping top accounting and finance grads and MBAs find great jobs with some of the top finance and accounting firms and in other industries nationwide.

Ready to start your job search now? Visit Doostang’s website and sign up today – it just takes 30 seconds.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

“Occupational Outlook Handbook.” United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/. Accessed Nov. 29, 2013.

Your List of Entry-Level Accounting and Finance Jobs for 2014: Part 2 of 3

Your List of Entry-Level Accounting and Finance Jobs for 2014: Part 2 of 3

This is the second in our three-part series on entry-level finance and accounting jobs to consider for recent or soon-to-be graduates with 4-year accounting or finance degrees. In part one, we covered entry-level jobs in the field of accounting and the insurance industry along with the median income for these jobs as estimated by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). Here we will discuss opportunities available in the finance and banking niches. The final post will review other jobs in the private and public sectors.

Entry-Level Finance Jobs

If you plan to head to Wall Street or work for a top firm in the finance industry there are a wide variety of entry-level positions to consider. Some of the best jobs often go to candidates with MBAs, but prior experience in the finance industry might get you a shot at positions with the top firms.

Money manager. If helping organizations manage different types of investments, investment pools or mutual funds appeals to you, look into entry-level money manager opportunities. Money managers typically specialize in a specific type of investment or program such as investment portfolio management, portfolio sales or hedge fund analysis. The BLS didn’t provide a median income for money managers, but compensation is based on performance. So if you work hard, know your niche and do your research, a money manager job could net you well into the six figures over time.

Financial advisor or financial planner. Would you prefer to work with individuals versus corporations? Then a financial advisor job might be up your alley. Personal financial advisors help people decide where and when to invest their money over the short- and/or long-term, much like financial analysts do for corporations. Median Income: $64,750.

Stockbroker. Along with your 4-year degree, you’ll need to have thick skin, enjoy squashing the competition and excel at networking to succeed in the highly competitive securities industry. Successful stockbrokers earn a healthy living but on-the-job stress can take its toll. Median Income: $70,190.

Financial analyst. Financial analyst jobs come in all shapes and sizes and specialties. If you are comfortable immersing yourself in large volumes of data, can grasp and communicate complex economic and financial insights and are able to formulate sound recommendations based on your research – consider a job as a financial analyst. Long hours, travel to unglamorous locales and a nice paycheck are typical “perks” of entry-level financial analyst jobs. Median Income: $74,350.

Entry-Level Banking Jobs

The world of banking also offers a plethora of opportunities for recent college grads. Whether you’re leaning toward working at one of the top investment banking firms, one of the “big banks” (think Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, etc.) or a local community bank, an entry-level banking position can open the door for a number of finance career paths down the road.

Investment banking analyst. Competition is tough for entry-level investment banking analyst jobs, much like financial analyst positions – because they both pay well. I-banking analysts perform similar duties to financial analysts, performing research and creating reports, but focus specifically on securities. Median Income: the BLS didn’t provide median income for this position specifically, however these jobs fall into the same pay scale range as financial analysts, so expect a similar median income of $74,350.

Mortgage underwriter. Like insurance underwriters, mortgage underwriters evaluate risk to determine whether to issue a mortgage and under what terms. If you’re interested in a mortgage banking career, an entry-level mortgage underwriter job could be a good start. Median Income: $56,490 (included under the same category as loan officer).

Loan officer. Loan officers at financial institutions perform some risk analysis duties in conjunction with underwriters, but also work directly with individuals and businesses requesting loans (home, business, vehicle, etc.) to make sure paperwork is properly filled out and to review loan options. Median Income: $56,490.

Credit analyst. Another type of financial analyst role, entry-level credit analysts research companies to determine whether they are a safe risk and make recommendations to financial institutions as to whether they should set up a lending arrangement with the business in question. Median Income: again, no specific entry from the BLS, but we estimate pay scale range would be similar to or less than typical financial analysts.

Financial examiner or bank examiner. Would you like to review the books and financial transactions of financial institutions? Look for entry-level financial examiner jobs. These examiners review financial statements, transactions and more to determine if the institution is in compliance with government regulations. Median Income: $74,940.

Part three of this series will cover entry-level finance and accounting jobs in the general private and public sectors.

Ready to start your job search now? Visit Doostang’s website and sign up today – it just takes 30 seconds.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

“Occupational Outlook Handbook.” United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/. Accessed Nov. 29, 2013.

Entry-Level Finance Jobs: 5 Steps to Secure Your Future

Entry-Level Finance Jobs: 5 Steps to Secure Your Future

So you’ve landed your first job after graduation, and your finance career is preparing to launch, congratulations! Keep in mind that your first job is but one step toward a successful, long-term career in finance. Along with working hard on the job, you should take additional steps along the way to reach your goals.

1. Continue learning and achieving education toward additional degrees and/or certifications. Kudos to you for receiving your 4-year undergraduate degree, that’s one of the first steps that you need to take if you want to get ahead in the finance industry. But learning doesn’t stop with your first diploma.

Depending on which career path you’re traveling down, you will need additional coursework, degrees and certifications to advance to the top finance and accounting jobs. Want to secure that senior financial analyst gig? An MBA can help you get there. Is the certified public accountant (CPA) route in your future? Plan on studying for your CPA exam, now.

Interested in working in investments and selling securities? You’ll need to study for and pass your series 7 and 63 exams as required by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Other finance jobs require additional certifications, too, and FINRA has clearly established guidelines and regulations for professionals working in these roles . Your employer typically will sponsor you and have a process in place to help you to attain these goals.

2. Strive to get assignments on high-profile projects and with the top teams. If you want to stand out, you need to continually prove yourself as someone who contributes in a big way. Those are the people who put in the long hours and are resourceful. Learn everything you possibly can about your employer’s business.

Do your research and find out what you can do to position yourself as a change maker who can get things done and contribute to the bottom line. Keep your ears open, ask questions and try to spend time with influencers so you hear about the hot projects or assignments first. That way you can raise your hand when teams are set up or assignments are dealt.

3. Build a strong digital presence and be visible online. It’s smart to make your mark at the organization where you start out, because it might put you in line for promotion. But if you plan to seek out opportunities with different companies in town or across the nation, you need to promote your personal brand online.

Take the time to develop a robust profile on LinkedIn and join groups for finance professionals. Post content, comment on group discussions and connect with people who work at companies you would like to associate with. Combine this with a professional Twitter profile and take part in online forums and discussions about the finance industry regularly. Just be visible. This is also a good time to clean up your digital profiles so your past life doesn’t come back to haunt you (you know those pictures we’re talking about).

4. Attend finance industry networking events on a regular basis. While what you know can help you get your foot in the door early in your finance career, it’s who you know that will help get you a promotion or a better job somewhere else.

Build your network of professional relationships outside of the office by attending networking events and volunteering to organize or help out at future get-togethers or charitable activities. Networking groups provide an excellent opportunity to meet new people in the finance industry and stay on top of the latest news.

5. Don’t burn bridges. Even some of the best and brightest people have been fired or left positions on “not the best of terms” – do the names Steve Jobs, mayor Michael Bloomberg or super bowl winning coach Bill Belichick ring a bell? Losing a job can happen to anyone. And just about everyone has dealt with some backstabbing at the office.

Take the high road and know that everything isn’t always going to come up daisies or go your way. If you have a negative experience with a company or individual, try to suck it up, keep any vitriol to yourself and move on. The pain will ease over time, and your grace under duress will impress.

Remembering the Golden Rule doesn’t hurt either. Treating everyone the way you would like to be treated is never a bad idea. The person you do a bad turn to today, may be the person who decides whether you get hired, fired or passed over tomorrow.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

FINRA Registration and Examination Requirements. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority website. Available at http://www.finra.org/industry/compliance/registration/qualificationsexams/qualifications/p011051. Accessed Nov. 25, 2013.

Financial Analyst Jobs: Duties and Responsibilities

Financial Analyst Jobs: Duties and Responsibilities

Recent college graduates who are looking for entry-level finance jobs often seek out financial analyst positions to kick off their finance careers. If you think a career in finance is in your future and a position as a financial analyst might be right for you, make sure you’re up for the duties and responsibilities involved first.

Financial analysts work long hours, are often required to travel at a moment’s notice and must be willing to immerse themselves in extensive research to succeed. They must also be able to grasp and communicate (verbally and in writing) complicated economic and financial insights and data in order to make financially sound recommendations to the companies they support.

This takes a lot of courage, especially if you are making recommendations that involve millions or even billions of dollars.

Another thing to consider when looking for an entry-level finance position is the type of company you would like to work for starting out. The experience you gain now may dictate where you end up working later on. A variety of types of companies hire financial analysts, such as:

– Private banks.

– Investment banks (buy-side or sell-side).

– Brokerage firms.

– Insurance companies.

– Private corporations.

– Government agencies.

Think you have the passion, stomach and work ethic to make it as a financial analyst? Here’s a breakdown of the duties you’ll be required to perform.

Research, Research and More Research

In general, the role of a financial analyst is to cultivate and review large volumes of data then formulate a recommendation based on what you have learned. You will need to examine national and global trends in economics and finance and make predictions based on this research.

Financial analysts also spend time researching the strengths, weaknesses and risks associated with different companies based on the type of firm for which they are working. They are often required to make lengthy, onsite visits to the companies in question during this research phase.

You may be wondering how an analyst’s duties vary based on the type of firm. While the core responsibilities are very similar, there are some differences, because goals vary from one type of firm to the next.

A financial analyst working at an investment bank will research and evaluate companies to determine risks and the potential benefits and profits pertaining to mergers, acquisitions and IPOs (initial public offerings). They will need to closely evaluate financial and economic conditions and often utilize forecasting tools and models.

A financial analyst at a buy-side investment firm will research companies to determine which businesses their organization should or should not purchase stock in for an in-house fund that the firm manages. They also need to closely evaluate financial and economic conditions and often utilize forecasting tools and models.

A financial analyst at a sell-side investment firm prepares research reports for buy-side firms that are looking to purchase stocks to add to an investment fund. These analysts often focus on a specific industry sector and will spend time comparing the quality of securities in that sector. Ultimately they will recommend whether to buy, sell or hold specific stocks.

A financial analyst at an insurance company or private corporation will research a variety of economic and financial data pertaining to the specific industry at hand. In addition, they will look closely at the financial health of the company itself or other companies that it may have an interest in presently or in the future.

Financial Presentations and Reports

Once the analyst has wracked up hours of research and analyzed untold amounts of data, they need to present their recommendations to a department head or team, depending on the firm.

This is where it helps to have solid technical writing skills as well as experience with preparing spreadsheets, charts and graphs. A good analyst will be able to prepare a technical financial report that clearly supports the recommendations they are making – with both numbers and words.

Staying Abreast of Current Economic and Finance Trends

Along with the company and industry sector specific research that analysts perform, they also need to read general financial and economic industry reports, research, journals, newspapers and the like to stay on top of trends in the finance industry as a whole. Seeking out webinars, media reports and industry events also help top financial analysts stay informed.

So if you still think you’re up for the hard work and long hours that come with a career as a financial analyst, Doostang is here to help. Visit our website to search jobs, today. It only takes 30 seconds to sign up.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sources:

“Career: Financial Analyst.” Princeton Review website. Available at http://www.princetonreview.com/careers.aspx?cid=68. Accessed Nov. 15, 2013.

“Becoming a Financial Analyst.” Investopedia website. Nov. 4, 2012. Available at http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financialcareers/06/financialanalyst.asp. Accessed Nov. 15, 2013.

“Best Business Jobs: Financial Analyst.” U.S. News and World Report website. Available at http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/financial-analyst. Accessed Nov. 15, 2013.

Financial Analyst Jobs: Getting Hired With or Without an MBA

Financial Analyst Jobs: Getting Hired With or Without an MBA

If you’re passionate about making it to the top in the world of finance, securing a financial analyst job is one of the best places to start. And when it comes to entry-level finance jobs, analyst positions pay a decent wage straight out of college. You can expect to earn about $75,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

So what does it take to get hired as a financial analyst?

Education. Education. Education.

It all starts with a solid undergraduate degree from a top university. Depending on the industry or sector you prefer, your undergrad studies should include coursework in economics (macro and micro), business principles, accounting and mathematics. For certain specialty analyst positions, a degree in law, engineering, agriculture, physics, biology or computer sciences might be preferred.

If you’re hoping to be considered for senior financial analyst jobs, an MBA is usually required as well. In fact many firms will hire an MBA from one of the top tier business schools for a senior analyst position right after graduation.

Candidates with undergraduate degrees will typically need to work their way to the top, but will be considered for junior analyst positions if they:

– Can get an interview – stellar cover letter and resume required.

– Have great grades.

– Attended a top 20 undergraduate university.

– Have experience that relates closely to the position.

– Can demonstrate passion for the finance industry.

– Know the history, goals and other ins and outs of the company where they are interviewing.

– Make a great impression and successfully answer top interview questions.

Do I have to get an MBA to rise through the ranks?

Obtaining additional certifications and licenses may help you land a senior financial analyst position. So if you haven’t obtained your MBA, consider participating in a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) program and work toward passing the Series 7 and 63 exams.

The CFA® program focuses specifically on investment knowledge vs. the broad range of topics covered by most graduate school programs. Since it is offered in a self-study format, you can work toward obtaining the charter while you’re completing your undergrad education or if you’re already working.

The Series 7 and 63 licenses are required if you want to sell or take orders for investment securities. FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) manages the testing and requires that a financial securities firm sponsor the applicants.

The Series 7 exam is extensive – 250 questions – and covers investment securities, handling customer accounts and customer financial evaluation. The Series 63 exam pertains to the uniform state securities laws, and allows a representative to work in a specific state.

Earning a CFA® and preparing to pass the Series 7 and 63 exams takes time and hours of intensive studying. In other words, you have to know your stuff. Adding a CFA® or Series 7 and 63 license to your resume can help you advance your career and get hired for a senior analyst position, but not at every firm – many still only hire MBAs.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sources:

“Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Financial Analysts.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.

“CFA® Program.” CFA Institute website. Available at http://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfaprogram/Pages/index.aspx. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.

FINRA Registration and Examination Requirements. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority website. Available at http://www.finra.org/industry/compliance/registration/qualificationsexams/qualifications/p011051. Accessed Nov. 13, 2013.

 

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Question Category: Technical Competence

This is the third in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first two posts of this series, we discussed financial analyst interview questions you should expect to tackle in the categories of Education and Work Experience (part one) and Goals and Company Knowledge (part two). To wrap up the series, we will conclude with the category of Technical Competence.

As we mentioned in the earlier posts, interview preparation is key if you want to stand out as the best candidate for the job and advance your finance career. A seasoned interviewer will notice immediately if you are not prepared. Whether you are applying for an entry-level finance position or have a few years of work experience under you belt, do your homework.

Here are some of the questions regarding technical competence that you could face during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach them.

Technical Competence Questions

The interviewer will ask specific questions pertaining to finance terms, methodologies and your industry knowledge. Further, he or she will want to hear how your past experience (work experience, course work, industry involvement, etc.) has prepared you for the job duties at hand and which tools you have used. Some potential questions may include:

General Finance Questions

- What is EBITDA and how does it figure into revenues?

– What is a DCF analysis and can you walk me through how it works?

– What is EVA and in what scenarios would you use it?

– How do you define cash flow?

– What steps would you take to determine a company’s cash flow?

– When would you use a ratio analysis?

– How would you define present value analysis?

– What is a capital market and how does the concept apply to our clientele?

– What methods would you use to value a company?

– Can you explain in which scenarios you would use marginal costing, standard costing and activity-based costing?

– Which profitability models do you find the most accurate for forecasting?

– What impact can accounts receivable and inventory levels have on an income statement?

Questions Regarding Your Experience

- What quantitative coursework did you complete in college?

– Can you describe in detail a case study you completed in school, how you approached it and how the results would inform how you would approach this job?

– What software programs have you used for financial analysis?

– What types of charts and reports are you comfortable creating?

– Can you share a scenario (course work or real) where a company’s credit risk figured prominently into a financial analysis you performed?

– What stocks do you follow and why?

– Can you explain a financial analysis recommendation that you later regretted and what you learned from the experience?

– On a scale from one to 10, how would you rate your technical writing ability?

The interviewer is trying to: find out if you are well-versed in key financial terms and methodologies; learn how much experience you have making financial analysis decisions based on quantifiable tools and theories; get a grasp on how you approach a project; and determine how capable you are at formulating a recommendation based on the data and intelligence you uncover.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by doing a thorough review of your past course work, case studies and job experience – essentially take a walk down memory lane. Refresh your knowledge of the different skills and methodologies you used, and think about how they would apply to the type of financial recommendations you would need to make if this specific company hired you.

The job description will help you focus in on the areas of expertise that the interviewer is hoping to find in a candidate, so review it closely and be prepared to address how you can excel at handling the specific duties and objectives listed.

There is no doubt that you will encounter a number of questions in your financial analyst interview that we didn’t cover in this series of posts. As we’ve said throughout, if you take the time in preparing for an interview and research the top companies on your list, you can increase your odds of standing out in this competitive job market.

Doostang strives to offer helpful insight here on our blog and offers a number of other great tools for recent finance grads and MBAs. Visit our website to learn more and search for the top financial analyst jobs, today.

Photo source: Shutterstock:

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Question Categories: Goals and Company Knowledge

This is the second in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first post of this series we discussed how to answer financial analyst interview questions based on the categories Education and Work Experience. As with the first post, we’ll share some of the questions you might expect in the categories of Goals and Company Knowledge, along some tips on how to approach the answers so you make a great impression.

As we mentioned last time, if you want to make it past the first interview, you must take time in preparing for an interview and practice answering frequently asked interview questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will feel. So do the prep work and practice hard if you want to stand out.

Interview Questions to Expect by Category

Here are some of the questions you will likely be asked during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach questions about your goals and your company knowledge.

Goal Questions

The interviewer will ask questions about your finance career goals as they pertain to the financial analyst position you are trying to secure, as well as your goals for the future. Some potential questions may include:

– What are your short- and long-term goals in this financial analyst position?

– Where do you hope your finance career takes you in the next five years?

– How much money do you expect to earn in the next five years and 10 years?

– How can your personal career goals help our company achieve its goals?

The interviewer is trying to determine if you are a good fit for their organization based on where you are today and where you intend to be five and 10 years from now. The type of work you hope to do as well as the amount of money you hope to earn should align with what the position in question allows. He or she is also trying to learn how much you know about the company’s goals (more about this in the next section) and if your experience and desire will benefit the company.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by researching the roles of the financial analysts who currently work at the company. Try to speak with someone who works at the organization and has an understanding of the financial analyst roles, goals and responsibilities to gain some insight. Otherwise review the job description closely, and tailor your answers to align with the duties outlined there.

You can also review the profiles of financial analysts who work at the firm (now or in the past) on LinkedIn to see if there are any consistencies across backgrounds and experience, and highlight any of those qualities that you also offer. Earnings information is pretty easily found online or through word of mouth.

Company Knowledge Questions

The interviewer will ask you questions that are specific to the company to which you are applying. Topics can range from specific stats and history to how your background aligns with the organization’s goals. Some potential questions may include:

– Why did you apply for a position with this organization?

– Why would you like to work for us?

– Can you tell me what you know about our company?

– What qualities do you have that make you a better hire for our company than your competition?

– What experience or knowledge do you bring to the table that will help our company improve or grow?

– What challenges do you expect to experience in this company’s financial analyst role?

The interviewer is trying to find out if you did your homework and took the time to research their organization. They are looking for people who will be passionate not only about the finance industry but the firm in particular. If you don’t show any specific knowledge about the company, its history, goals and challenges, the interviewer will likely write you off. And if you can’t show how you can contribute to the organization’s bottom line, consider that another strike against you.

Prepare for this series of questions by doing some good, solid research about the company and try to answer each of the aforementioned questions specifically. Read the company website from top to bottom, and look for the latest news about the organization and its key players online. Again, arranging to talk with people who work with the firm can really give you an edge. Do your homework.

You can read part one of the series here. Next up? We will address questions about your Technical Competence.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

6 Tips for Landing a New Job

Job searches can feel contradictory and confusing at times as you try to cover all the bases while simultaneously targeting a specific industry. In these tough economic times innovation is often necessary to land a job.  At the same time, you don’t want to be seen as too far removed from the mainstream when trying new approaches.  Balance is helpful in strategies and personal responses throughout the ups and downs of a challenging job search.

1.  Target Large and Small Companies

Don’t just pander to the Fortune 500 companies in your job search. As most economists note, small and mid-sized businesses do most of the hiring. Maintain a balance of the large companies and smaller regional businesses in your targeted job search.

2.  Consider a Temporary Position

Taking a temporary position doesn’t mean you will always be in a temporary slot.  The contacts may lead to full-time employment or another project with other businesses by further expanding your network.  Temporary positions can also lead to full-time positions, depending on your performance record and personal relationships while in the position.  Act like a full-timer in terms of big-picture planning and personal investment, and you’re likely to find yourself in that full-time position.

3.  Pursue an Internship

If you are interested in a career shift, consider an internship. These positions are no longer just for those finishing up college. Internships now accept established professionals who want to make a significant change in career direction. And an internship – at any stage in one’s career – serves the same purposes.  The internship will help you make contacts while you establish a skill set in a new industry.

4.  Follow up Judiciously

If you have posted your resume on a job site, be certain to follow up. Check email carefully for related job postings or additional leads. Cold call new prospects and conduct appropriate follow-ups. But remember the fine balance between being persistent and being a pest.  Anxiety or desperation about your job search can be conveyed in following up too frequently, appearing too eager or asking too many questions about the projected time-frame for interviews and hiring. Your best business suit is your confidence.

5.  Adjust Your Expectations

Balance your expectations with the reality of the job market. You may be ready to move into an upper management position, but find those jobs are unavailable. Look at the demographics of those currently in the job you desire. In many companies, those positions are held by folks who may have weathered the recent downturn and could be looking toward retirement over the next few years. Although it is hard to be patient and you may certainly feel you are over-qualified for a lower-level position, it can be important to simply get into the organization.  Once you have been accepted as part of the team, it is likely that you can move up quickly and perhaps that plum position will open up sooner than you anticipate. Moving into key positions is often more likely to occur from within the organization, so place yourself in a position to take advantage of eventual opportunity.

6.  Balance Traditional and Emerging Job Search Strategies

Networking is a tried and true method, but it doesn’t always have to be face-to-face.  Use social networking sites – appropriately – for your job search.  Professionally oriented sites such as LinkedIn provide a great place to start, but be sure to clean up questionable postings on Facebook to improve your chances in a competitive job market.

Dream big and balance your expectations with the economic reality. Maintaining a healthy combination in your approach and attitude will move you toward your ultimate career goals!  Balance is the key to your interactions, plans, and attitude in creating a successful search and landing that job!

Author: Alesia Benedict

5 Hidden Resume Killers!

You may think you have the perfect resume, but you keep getting overlooked for all kinds of positions, and you can’t figure out what’s happening!  Perhaps you are sabotaging yourself in ways you don’t recognize.

Almost everyone is aware of obvious job search killers in resumes, such as spelling and grammatical errors; however hidden mistakes often end up costing you the interview when you have an otherwise solid resume. Protect yourself from being misperceived out of a job opportunity by carefully reviewing your resume for hidden killers.

1.  Highlighting Political or Religious Affiliations

Many people fill their time with charitable work and, in the process, make some strong community contacts.  Great idea and very fulfilling, most likely, but if that organization is your local church or political action group, you may be sabotaging yourself if you include this in the resume.  Just the mere mention of such groups may subconsciously create a negative response in the reader.  Don’t place yourself at risk for potential discrimination or a negative first impression because of an association with a group that may not align with the values of hiring managers.  We all know it’s not ethical, but better to protect yourself, than be naïve and lose another opportunity.

2.  Explaining Employment Gaps with too much Personal Information

Although it is critical to be honest about gaps in your employment history, exercise caution about giving too much personal information or suggesting that your personal life may overwhelm your work life.  Be brief and succinct in explaining any gaps in your personal work history, and be aware that caretaking for elderly parents, for example, is becoming much more common. Career change or geographic moves may be part of necessary family caretaking decisions, which could also be important to explain in your resume. However you don’t need to provide a lot of detail regarding the emotional toll and investment of time such caretaking has taken.  The explanation doesn’t need to suggest you have been consumed by personal obligations, hinting that personal obligations may be more important than your work life.

3.  Broadcasting Weaknesses

Everyone has skill deficits or areas where his/her work could improve.  However, by over-emphasizing these deficits or appearing nervous about them, you are likely to sabotage the strengths identified in your resume.  Being honest doesn’t mean you have to hang your head and kick at the floor like a school child; it’s likely you feel worse about these shortcomings than necessary.  Emphasize your strengths and practice a response to express information about potential weaknesses. What is it that bothers you so much about this particular deficit when you likely have other strengths? You don’t need to be “all things to all people in order to land the job”, and feeling shameful about deficits can only work against you.

4.  Too Many Positions within the Same Time Frame

Sure, you may have worked 2 or 3 jobs in college, but later in one’s career, this may send a message that you are scattered, unfocused, or worse yet, not committed to your primary field of interest.  Potential employers want to know that you are working toward company goals with the same level of energy that they are, rather than being tired and distracted. Review the job history realistically.  You cannot misrepresent your work experience, but try to look at “your story” during that time of your life.  If there were a number of part-time positions pieced together out of financial necessity, be certain to identify the positions as part-time. Perhaps the positions included experiences for certification.  If so, mention it – this denotes a commitment to professional growth, and more clearly explains seemingly dual, simultaneous employment.

5. Over-emphasizing Periods of Self-Employment

Many potential employers question your ability to be a team player if you are accustomed to being the boss yourself.  It may also intimidate hiring managers or suggest that you are over-qualified, if you have labeled yourself President of your own company.  Again, don’t be deceitful, but be cautious regarding labels. Describe creative development skills associated with self-employment in ways that will benefit the prospective employer, such as market analysis, client development, or full P&L.

Increase your own awareness of potential “resume killers”, and you will be well on your way to eliminating obstacles to employment.  Resumes can communicate in many more ways than just using words.  The nuances of a resume are similar to body language – people get the message even if not overtly expressed.  Rid your resume of hidden killers and move ahead in your job search!

Author: Alesia Benedict

6 Mistakes that Could Get You Fired

No one wants to even imagine getting fired from their job, so most people assume that as long as they remain cautious while on the clock, losing their job is outside of the realm of possibilities.  After all, if you’re not embezzling money or getting drunk at work every day, it’s safe to say you’ll be around for a while, right?  Not necessarily… there are a few seemingly lesser mistakes that might land you in the doghouse.  Read on for some blunders to avoid:

1.  Yakking on the Phone

It’s okay to take a few personal calls during the workday (although it’s important to abide by proper office phone etiquette).  But when your personal life starts to conflict with what you should be doing at work, you may be asked to take a hike.

2.  Internet Browsing

We’re all guilty of checking our personal email from time to time or even of taking pause to read a funny article.  However, spending excessive time surfing around on websites that are irrelevant to your job will likely get you into trouble.  Try to save Facebook or online shopping for after work, and never visit adult sites during working hours.

3. Lying During the Hiring Process

This goes back to when you were originally brought on – even if you’re now a stellar employee and a perfect fit for the job overall, if a company finds out you lied in order to get the job, they may still terminate your employment.

4. Gossiping

Gossip can hurt company morale, and you never want to get caught up in spreading rumors.  Stay away from idle chatter that could potentially endanger your paycheck.

5. Searching for Another Job

Never get caught searching for another job while you are on your current one.  Being terminated may seem less drastic if you plan on leaving anyway, but imagine how much more difficult it will be to have to address this new issue during interviews.

6. Dating a Coworker

Companies have different policies regarding dating coworkers, so make sure you know what your company rules are.  You don’t want to get involved in a fling that will cost you your date money.

These are just a few pitfalls that may cost you your employment, so whether you believe it’s justified or not, steer clear of these transgressions during your workday.  A general rule to abide by is that if you have to think twice about something before doing it, make sure to proceed with caution!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team