Posts Tagged ‘employment’

Here are a few tips on doing a killer job search. And no, I don’t mean visiting your former employer and running amok with a machete.

  • From your research (yeah, I know you know how to do that), find some interesting tidbit about each employer you’re targeting in your job search, and mention it in your cover letter.
  • Better yet, connect the tidbit to how you can benefit them. And I don’t mean, “I read in the Boston Business Journal that you’re being sued for sexual harassment. Since I’ve been sued for that several times myself (I like to sneak around corners and bump into my co-workers to cop a feel), I could help you make it go away.” That’s the idea, though. Just substitute a more positive factoid, or one that may be a problem that you can help them solve, but not one that the National Enquirer would pant over.
  • Send your contacts some helpful info. A job lead, a link to an article about something they want info on or a topic they’re interested in, a link to their favorite porn site (not really). But don’t immediately ask for them to reciprocate. “Here’s that info on when Charlie Sheen’s mother ship is coming to take him home. Have any job leads for me?” is SO not cool.
  • Ask more questions than you answer in your networking interactions. And not, “What’s my area of expertise? What do you want it to be, baby?” Just focus more on them than you, and you’ll be surprised at how much more likely they’ll remember you, want to help you, pledge their eternal devotion to you, and grovel at your feet. Really.
  • Dress the part. Even if it’s not an actual job interview. When you go anywhere that has anything remotely to do with job search/networking/strategic shmoozing, dress like a – dare I say it – winner. I’ve seen job seekers show up at networking events in flip flops and muscle shirts. I mean, come on.
  • Keep busy. If you know what time “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?” comes on, you’re in trouble. And if you’re not, in fact, smarter than a 5th-grader, you might be tempted to stick your wet finger in an electric socket. So set up informational interviews, volunteer, work part-time, take a class, teach a class at a community center. Do constructive stuff you can put on your resume, that’ll help you continue to develop your skills and regularly interact with other humans.
  • Keep a positive attitude. If you’re negative, you’ll be much less likely to find a job, for a slew of reasons. Mostly because the majority of people you come in contact with will think you’re a pain in the ass, and they won’t want to have anything to do with you. Unless they’re negative themselves, in which case you can whine together in your dark cloud of blehhhh.

I’m reposting a post from awhile back, partly because it’s been a REALLY REALLY busy week already, and partly because I’m co-managing a job fair scheduled for next Wednesday, March 23, details at http://yourcareersource.com/careerf.htm, so I figure it’s apropos….


Job fairs can be helpful to you in your job search. While you can’t expect to go to a job fair and meet the Magic Job Search Genie who will grant you all your employment wishes, job fairs can be useful for networking (with other job seekers as well as employers), shmoozing with employers to get info on opportunities, and yes, even getting actual job leads.

However, as in any other professional and/or social situation in this life, there are some inappropriate job fair moves that will likely give you a bad rep. Here are some of them:

  • Dressing for a day at the beach. Even though you’re not actually at a job interview, if you don’t dress as though you are, no one will be impressed. I don’t care if it’s 95 degrees out and hailing stones the size of Rotweilers. You need to dress professionally for a job fair. Bring your job fair clothes in a (professional-looking) tote and change into them before you walk in, if you must.
  • Butting in line. It was rude in grade school, and it’s rude now. There are going to be lines before the employer tables, especially for the more popular companies. Deal with it.
  • Rambling on until the employer’s eyes glaze over. This is bad for several reasons (in addition to the eye-glazing). One, it’s much more effective to be focused on what you have to offer, and opportunities the company may have that fit what you have to offer. So practice your elevator pitch before you chat with employers. Two, it’s rude to take up too much time when there’s a line of other job seekers. Three, you don’t want the employer to think you’re a boring bag o’ wind. Being a boring bag o’ wind won’t help you get a job. Unless you’re a politician.
  • Accosting employers in the bathroom. Especially if they’re in a stall. Although come to think of it, standing next to you at a urinal is just as bad. I mean, come on. Let the poor guy piss in peace. You may think only a mentally challenged person would do this, but I’ve actually seen it, and the person who did it was clearly not mentally challenged. Horrifyingly clueless, surely, but not mentally challenged.
  • Ignoring your fellow job seekers. You’re not competing for the Stanley Cup. Every last one of you is unique in what you have to offer, and even if some of you are looking for similar positions, you’ll be much better off helping each other. That’s often how job seekers get good leads. You know, networking.
  • Being unprepared. Just as you would for an interview (yeah, I know you would), research each employer whose table you’re visiting. The company list and available positions are almost always available via whomever’s hosting the job fair, at least a few days prior to the event. Peer at the companies’ websites, look at the positions they’re trying to fill, and mention something specific about the company when you talk with the employer (you can prepare a cheat sheet beforehand). And of course, have your elevator pitch ready to go.
  • Asking dumb questions. This follows from the previous point – if you’ve done some research on the companies you’re interested in and you’re prepared, you’re not going to be asking questions like, “What does your company do?” or “Do you have any jobs that don’t require a criminal check?”


Here’s a sample post-interview thank you letter….

Dear Mr. Frankendater,

I’d like to thank you for meeting with me last Friday about the Horrifying Date position. I enjoyed learning about the services Bad Dates offers the non-discriminating woman, and I find your company’s philosophy fascinating.

I am very enthusiastic about this position, and I am confident that it’s a good match with the skills I have to offer. As we discussed, I have often been known to demonstrate behavior so objectionable that the response has consistently been spontaneous escape, often by jumping out of a moving car. And my unique move involving phlegm and a mouthful of mashed potatoes has elicited exactly the type of response Bad Dates strives to achieve.

Thank you again for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Charlie Wanker Doobenfield

Here is a sample cover letter. Note that it includes the two key elements of an effective cover letter: why you give a flying jockstrap about them, and concrete examples of how you can help them fulfill all their wildest fantasies. Or at least some of them.

Dear Okra-Man,Super Broccoli

I’m very interested in joining your team at Vegan-Superheroes, Inc.  I recently read on veggieherochronicle.com about how your organization is looking to develop your green capabilities. As my particular superpower is emitting highly charged electromagnetic forces after consuming broccoli, I’m confident I would be a valuable addition to your team.

As you can see from my resume, I initiated chlorophyll-induced power-trances at Niblets Corp., which directly resulted in raising our mega-power capabilities in the must-be-a-f*cking-miracle body healing sector by 300%.

Although I specialize in broccoli-related powers, I’ve also improved the quality of drinking water in multiple urban centers by regurgitating magic neurons into their water supplies after ingesting brussel sprouts and Swiss chard.

I would love to talk with you further about your needs at Vegan-Superheroes. You can reach me at 555-555-5555 or greenisgood@gmail.com.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Spew-Green-Magic Man

 

Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?


1.   If you have big yellow sweat stains on your shirt, your first will be your last.

2.   You don’t want to just blurt out anything that comes into your head.

3.   An hour late — not good.

4.   Sizing each other up is what it’s about.

5.   Uncontrolled body noises are frowned on.

6.   Preparation helps.

7.   You don’t want to just blather on about yourself without giving a flying toenail about the other person.

8.   Grabbing a boob in greeting will probably get you thrown out.

9.   If you whine about your ex, you’ll blow it.

10.  If you call them by the wrong name, forget it.


1.  It doesn’t work as well by yourself.

2.   It’s not all about you and your fantasies.

3.   If you send a generic form letter to the one you’re interested in, it’s worth crap.

4.   When romancing a prospect, if you look like a slob, you won’t get any.

5.   If you act like you’re just looking for anything, all bets are off.

6.   If you think it’s not a match, sleep on it.

7.   If you arrive empty-handed, you’re screwed. And not in a good way.

8.   If you forget you have something scheduled that day, it ain’t good.

9.   If you give a sh*t at all, you need to follow up the next day.

10.  If you try too hard, it’ll probably back up on you like a 2-day-old onion burger.

In your job search quest, you’ve probably seen the word “branding” floating around in the job-osphere (here’s a personal branding blog with a lot of helpful tips) and heard your job search strategy compared to a marketing campaign, with you as the product.

While “self-branding” can sound vaguely scary (especially if you’ve ever worked on a horse farm), it’s not as masochistic as it sounds. Marketing yourself is, in fact, an effective way to conduct your job search, and branding is an essential component of that.

Here are some strategies to help you in your job search self-branding efforts:

  • Come up with what you want to be known for — your professional identity (known in marketingspeak as “positioning”). What are your unique talents that make you different from Joe Schmeckel Jobseeker? Are you TechGirl? GrammarGuy? Do you know where all the commas go before they die? Of course, branding yourself as GrammarGuy probably won’t help you much if you’re a forklift driver. It has to be relevant to the field you’re interested in.
  • Figure out what specific benefits your skills/experience can bring to an employer (otherwise known as your “value proposition.”) Fill in the blank: “When my co-workers (or future co-workers) need help with _____________, they come to me.” Hopefully you’ll be able to come up with something other than, “finishing all the leftovers from Adam’s birthday party,” or “remembering the name of Mr. Spock’s mother.”
  • Emphasize your talents on your resume and in your cover letters. Employers, like men in a relationship, hate having to try to read your mind. And when it comes to an employer, since there’s nothing in it for them, they probably won’t bother. If you want them to focus on particular skills that will benefit them, make it obvious which skills those are.
  • Focus your LinkedIn profile and Twitter tagline (excuse the alliteration) on those talents, in much the same way as you focus your resume on them. And don’t tell me you don’t have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You’re job-hunting. It’s 2011. Shame on you.
  • Build a positive online rep. relevant to the type of job you’re interested in. Start a blog in your area of expertise, or at least comment on other people’s blogs, showing your knowledge and offering helpful info. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your talents, and get involved in the discussions. But I wouldn’t get involved in anything too potentially controversial when you’re job-hunting. That’s just me.
  • Establish your style. Yes, if your style is Lindsey-Lohan-meets-Charlie-Sheen, you probably need to rein it in a bit. And resumes and cover letters need to be more on the formal side in terms of tone. But you do want your online persona to pretty much reflect who you are and how you want to be perceived at work. After all, you’re unique. You want to be noticed (for the right reasons). Besides, if your persona is too scattered in different directions, a prospective employer might think you have multiple personality disorder.
  • Figure out what your target market is, and go for it. Who are the employers you want to work for, who are likely to need and value your talents? If you want to use your aerial basket-weaving skills in a free-flowing environment, don’t be looking at companies that specialize in a 3-piece suit dress code and actuarial statistical analysis.

Spider-Man has a job interview. He knows the interviewer won’t just ask him about his work history, but will also probably do a behavioral interview, i.e. ask him to give examples of times when he saved the world from multi-limbed freaks or greedy uber-ambitious guys who climbed out of  the TV sitcom hellpit. Here are some of the behavioral interview stories he’s prepared:

  • a time when he solved a problem –  “I had to figure out how to save a trainload of people without splitting myself in half, so I focused on the problem and used my finger to create a rope….”
  • a story about handling conflict – “When my best friend wanted to kill me ’cause I killed his father and stole his girlfriend, I successfully negotiated a win-win before I knocked him unconscious.”
  • a time when he defused a potentially volatile situation – “I de-limbed Alfred Molina as he was about to destroy a lot of buildings….”
  • his strategies for handling stress – “To keep my general stress level low, I do some deep breathing, climb walls, and bungee-jump without the bungee.”
  • an example demonstrating how well he worked on a team – “I divided up world-saving responsibilities with my alter-ego based on our different strengths.”
  • a time when he initiated a project or strategy – “I started the Spidey’s-Not-the-Bad-Guy Fan Club.”
  • an example of when he juggled multiple priorities – “Well, I had to save three people who were about to fall to their death, so I perched two of them on the roof….”

Here’s an excerpt from “What Color is Your Straitjacket? – A Pocket Guide to Getting and Keeping a Job Without Going Wacko” available as an ebook, http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/what-color-is-your-straitjacket-a-pocket-guide-to-getting-and-keeping-a-job-without-going-wacko/14601180

GIVE ‘EM WHAT THEY WANT – MAKE YOURSELF LESS LAYOFFABLE

In general, your employer will want to keep you around and you’ll be much less layoffable not just because you smell good, but because:

  • you have a positive attitude – no one wants to work with Whiny Guy
  • you’re flexible – not flexible like you can wrap both legs around your neck, but rather like you’re willing to go with the flow and do things outside your job description, like clean the john when the company can no longer afford a maintenance person
  • you’re dependable – you’re there, you’re ready to go, you’re the go-to guy; the one everyone automatically turns to with really dumb questions that have nothing whatsoever to do with your job
  • you give a crap about the company and your co-workers
  • you’re easy to get along with – you aren’t more than mildly irritating, you treat everyone with respect, and you don’t bitch-slap your boss when he annoys you
  • you’re honest – you don’t steal your co-worker’s lunch from the fridge when you think no one is looking
  • you’re presentable – you don’t embarrass your boss in a meeting with clients by telling jokes about whores
  • you refrain from getting involved in office gossip – don’t spread those rumors about the director hitting on an employee in a trannie bar
  • you have unique skills the company needs – you’re the only one in the company who can figure out how the old toaster oven works
  • you take initiative – don’t wait to be asked; think up stuff that’ll not only keep the company from flushing itself down the sewer but even help them make lottsa money
  • you keep your skills and attitude current – if you’re still referring to your PC as “that confounded machine” you may be gone a helluva lot faster than it will
  • you’re eager to learn new skills – eager in a professional way, of course – not eager like a cocker spaniel puppy panting to go take a whiz in the yard

The thank-you letter is an important part of the job interviewing process, and should always be sent as soon as possible after the interview. Remember those thank you notes you had to write as a kid for the flowered footie PJs you wouldn’t be caught dead in that your ditzy aunt sent for your birthday? Well, it’s a little like that. Except you don’t want to use notepaper with baby seals on it.

Here are a few  other thank you letter don’ts (sample letters in a later post):

  • Don’t handwrite the letter. You’re not, in fact, writing a thank you note to the aforementioned ditzy aunt. You may hear conflicting views on this point, but all the employers I’ve talked with say they would view a handwritten thank you letter as unprofessional, in addition to being hard to read. And if you think you have the neatest handwriting in the world, you’re probably in denial. The exception to this is if you interview with an extremely touchy-feely, older mom-and-pop company, in which case they might actually appreciate your sending a more traditional and personal type of thank you note. Otherwise, don’t.
  • If you interview on Friday and the employer plans to make a decision by Monday or Tuesday, don’t snail mail the letter. Snail mail is okay, though usually email is preferable (especially if the interviewers are under 30 or so). If a decision is going to be made quickly, though, you want to make sure they get it before they make their choice. if you write a strong letter expressing your enthusiasm about the job and highlighting a point or two discussed during the interview that clearly illustrates how you can slay the company’s dragons, the employer may more likely hire You the Dragon Slayer than Marty the Nose Picker who was interviewed the day before.
  • Don’t just send the letter to one person if 5 people interviewed you. Make sure you get the name and contact info for everyone who participated in the interview and send them each a letter, emphasizing each interviewer’s priority and focusing on what you talked about with that person. In other words, if you interviewed with the CEO and the IT Manager for an IT position, your letter to the CEO would be more focused on the “big picture” stuff, and the one to the IT Manager more specific to the tech problems the department wants you to help them fix. If you have a group interview with the director and their staff, you can email the director and “cc” the staff (by individual name), and start the letter with, “Thank you and your staff for talking with me about the blah blah position yesterday.”
  • Don’t send the letter to the wrong person, or misspell the name. Get the right name and spelling before sending anything. Besides making a really bad impression, the person who gets your letter who never met you might think they’re having blackouts or something.
  • Don’t say bad stuff. Be positive. You want to focus on your strengths that will allow you to help the company solve their problems and are a good match with what they’re looking for. You want to talk about one or two bits of info you learned in the interview that you liked about the company. You don’t want to say, “Although I don’t have experience in blah blah blah and essentially have no clue what I’m doing, I hope you give me a chance anyway.”
  • Don’t wait too long to send the letter. If you don’t send a thank you letter for a month, even if the employer hasn’t yet hired anyone for the position, if they still remember you it won’t be fondly.
  • Don’t make it too long. You’re not Tolstoy, and the employer doesn’t want to read War & Peace. One or two non-rambling paragraphs are enough.

 

Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?