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

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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!

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Avoid a Job Hunt Rut

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com

Investment Banking Analyst, Boston, MA
Product Quality Associate, SF Bay Area, CA
Analyst / Associate, Philadelphia, PA
Fall Intern, New York, NY
Technology M&A Analyst, Foster City, CA

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Does this sound familiar? You see a post for that dream job and promptly submit your resume – only to hear nothing for days, then weeks. You wonder why you didn’t receive a response as you continue to scour postings for the next position that seems like an ideal match.

If your job search has hit this type of rut, take heart. It doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t just as qualified as your competition. It could just mean your job search strategy is all wrong.

In a job market this tough, you need to be more aggressive than ever to get noticed by hiring managers and recruiters. The key is to gain as much exposure as possible. The more you put your resume out there, the greater your chances for grabbing a hiring manager’s attention.

Here are a few ways to jump start your stalling job search:

Utilize job boards

Employers once relied solely on high-priced headhunters to gain access to highly-qualified candidate pools. Now, they can turn to the Internet – namely, job boards — where job seekers post their resumes. The boards match qualified applicants with open positions based on employers’ customized criteria.

While most job seekers are familiar with mainstream boards such as Monster, they may not realize there are literally hundreds of boards tailored by industry, profession, or diversity group. For those concerned with privacy issues, most boards even offer the option of keeping certain details of your contact information confidential until an employer wants to reach you. Most allow job seekers to post a resume free of charge, so there’s really no good reason to ignore these opportunities.

Send a follow-up letter

If you have already sent in your resume only to yield no result, don’t be afraid to take another shot. Rather than just submitting your resume a second time with a standard cover letter, use a follow-up letter. This approach is particularly useful if you’ve updated your resume recently and would like a chance to submit the new-and-improved version. A follow-up letter allows you to reintroduce yourself while demonstrating you are very serious about a company or position.

Unlike making a telephone call to follow up, a letter doesn’t catch the employer by surprise or put him or her in the awkward position of talking to you without the benefit of your resume for reference. Keep the letter short and to the point, but be sure to focus on why you would be ideal for the position. The goal is to lure the reader into revisiting your resume, giving your application a second chance.

Prepare a 30-second speech about yourself

Whether you attend an organized networking event or happen to run into a former colleague in the park, you should be prepared to capitalize on opportunities to establish professional contacts that can lead to your next job. Many job seekers lament that networking events, like those sponsored by college alumni organizations or professional associations, are a waste of time. After all, you meet so many new people and have such a brief window of time to make any impression at all. Before you’ve finished with small talk, the conversation is over without even getting to the reason you were there in the first place.

Going in prepared, however, can make all the difference. Creating and practicing an “elevator pitch” – a 30-second speech summarizing your professional qualifications and goals – can make the most of the limited time you have to establish new contacts. As an added bonus, you will also eliminate those terribly awkward moments when you struggle for what to say.

Take advantage of online networking sites

Setting up profiles on popular networking sites, such as LinkedIn, not only provides you with an online presence for your professional qualifications. It also helps you reconnect with former colleagues with whom you’ve lost touch. The wider your network of contacts, the more potential opportunities will come your way. Joining most of the popular online networking sites is free, so there’s really no excuse not to do it.

Of course, for any of these techniques to be effective, you need to be sure employers can not only find you, but will be impressed with what they see. That’s why it is crucial to make sure your resume is up to par and rich in keywords before these methods can jump start your job search.

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!

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