I usually don’t like to take my work home, but since I have some experience in this field I figured I would share some of my expertise! I am a vocational/educational counselor, or an employment/rehabilitation specialist. (yes, I have 4 job titles) It’s slightly annoying because I don’t know what to call myself.
In today’s job market, some may feel that they are “stuck” in their current job, some are laid off and looking for work, and some are just graduating college and fighting harder than ever to find somewhere to start their career. Whatever the case, persistence is key to finding a job. I would like to offer some tips to help people along their journey.
Don’t ever leave dates off of your resume. This is one big red flag to employers. It makes you look as if you are trying to hide something. Big gaps in employment don’t look appealing to employers. They want to know why you haven’t worked in over a year. Makes them wonder if you were out hustling on the streets, or incarcerated for those 2 years that you didn’t work. But, in this economy, with many people laid off for long periods of time, employers are a little more understanding when it comes to gaps and less suspicious. And sure, age discrimination does happen so you might be a little less inclined to put that you graduated high school in 1965 or 2010, but unless you are living in a retirement home, put your graduation date.
Make sure to always add an email address on your resume. Chances are you have one already, but some recruiters prefer to communicate through email, so make sure you also check your email regularly. AND, make sure your email address is appropriate. Do not add your email address if it includes things like “booty”, “420”, “mobster”, you get what I’m saying. You may laugh, but I have seen this more times than I would have liked! gmail and yahoo are great places for free email accounts.
Surf the web. There is nothing wrong with finding a sample resume on the internet and working off of it. That’s what they are there for! If you’re an electrician, just go to a search engine website like google and bing, and type in “sample resume for electrician” you will find plenty to chose from!
You do not need to add every job that you have had! If you have had 4 jobs in the past 10 years, list them all, but if you’ve had 8 jobs in the past 10 years, just list the last 4. a 3 page resume is not functional. There is too much to read. Employers are going through hundreds of resumes and don’t have time to read them all, they may skip right by yours if it resembles something like War and Peace.
Not enough job history? Make sure to add a summary of qualifications. This usually goes first, under your header and should include your skills and interests. Also, pull some qualifications that you have from the job description that you are applying for and add them in here. That will fill up a quarter of the page and not make it look so empty, but everyone should have this on their resume.
Get rid of the unnecessary stuff. You do not need to add “references available upon request” at the bottom of your resume. Also, if you were president of your fraternity in 1995, no one cares.
Ultimately this is what recruiters look for: qualifications, jobs held, where, and for how long, education and any other certifications or skills that are transferable. So keep your resume clean, simple, and focus on making those areas looking good.
First impressions are HUGE! Some job postings won’t ask for a cover letter, but send one anyway. They can be bothersome since they have to be changed for almost every job you apply for, but worth it. Here are some ways to get that perfect cover letter
Always make sure to add the name and address of the contact person on the job posting. You then want to start the letter off, as if you were writing a letter! Dear Ms. or Mr. Smith (always use Ms. if you are addressing a female, believe it or not, you can turn someone off if you start with Mrs. and she is not married!) and it’s just more appropriate.
Be sure to add in the first paragraph, what position you are applying for, where you saw the posting, and try to mention the name of the company in your letter atleast once. It makes it more personal to the employer and not so generic.
A cover letter is a great place to explain some sketchy areas on your resume. You can explain why you may have had some gaps in employment. Also, if you are looking for a career change, you can add in here why, and what transferable skills you have.
Again, keep it short. You want to capture the readers attention and not scare them away. So use good choice of words, and get your point across. Keep it simple.
Once you have managed to score an interview. Here are some tips to help get you on top of the list!
Dress appropriately! I have sent people home that have come in for interviews dressed in their concert tshirt! No joke! Wear something clean and comfortable. You don’t have to wear the three piece suit unless you are interviewing for CEO, but in that case you should know better.
Body language. This is so important. Even though everyone knows how nerve wracking interviews can be, employers still want to see how well you do under pressure, so there is no sympathy there! Some hiring managers even go through trainings on how to read body language, so be careful, they could be analyzing you. Keep your hands on your lap or by your side. Do not cross your arms, don’t click the pen in your hand and don’t twirl your hair. Sure, if you talk with your hands, you can do it, just try to keep it under control so you are not too animated! Eye contact is huge! Do not have a wandering eye, always make eye contact.
Do not go into an interview and talk about yourself as if you are going to run the joint one day. Yes, it’s great to have a positive attitude and show interest in moving up in the company, but big egos are threatened by even bigger egos!
Practice practice practice! Practice makes perfect. Most employers ask pretty much the same questions during interviews. Here are some common interview questions http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-answer-23-of-the-most-common-interview-questions
Know about the company you are applying for. This will impress them. And don’t be afraid to ask THEM questions.
Applying for a job is just the beginning, but sometimes the most work. There is a ton of competition out there and you need to be prepared to land the job you want.
Here are some other helpful tips to keep you organized.
Make a list of the jobs you applied for, include the date you sent your resume and the contact person, so after a few days go by, you can email or call them to follow up. (and to avoid applying at the same place twice!)
Keep hard copies of your resume, and spend some money on resume paper. There is nothing wrong with just walking into a place whether they are hiring or not, and handing your resume to the management.
Ask around. Talk to friends, friends of friends, and family members to find out if their places are hiring. (This is how most people get their jobs anyway!)
Most of all, don’t get discouraged. Job hunting can be a full time job and it can take weeks or months to hear from a place you applied to, but don’t ever give up. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is so much more that goes into getting the job, then actually working the job. Hopefully these tips can get you started. So remember..research, plan, persistence and a positive attitude at all times! Happy job hunting!