Through no fault of your own, you find yourself suddenly out of a job during the Pandemic. Now what?Continue reading “Surviving Sudden Unemployment In Today’s Ever-Changing Job Market”
Your profile photo on LinkedIn is significant. Did you know that profiles with photos attract 50-70 percent more inquiries than profiles without pictures? On LinkedIn, the thumbnail photo is small, so be sure to choose your photo carefully.
Here are some useful tips:
- Don’t use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because the profile picture on their LinkedIn profile is from several years ago.
- Use a photo of you in your profile — don’t use a picture of an object.
- With the “new look” LinkedIn, your photo should include your head and shoulders (not just a close-up of your face).
- Smile! Radiate warmth and approachability in your photo.
- Photos should be professionally done, if possible (but not Glamour Shots).
- Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but muted (tan or light olive green) or jewel tones (dark green, navy, or burgundy) will draw attention to you, not your clothes. Above all, avoid patterns.
- Don’t include other people in your photos (and don’t crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your LinkedIn photo!).
- Make sure the background in the photo isn’t distracting. (Plain backgrounds are better)
- Look directly at the camera.
- Take multiple shots and ask people their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
- Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts or Hawaiian shirts. No busy or crazy patterns.
- Tips for Women: Wear something that makes you feel comfortable. No t-shirts. No significant or busy patterns. Soft, dark V-necks look great. Black always works; avoid white. Long sleeves are best, so you’re not drawing attention to your exposed arms — instead, you want them to notice your face. (Uncovered arms also appear “bigger.”) If possible, get your hair and makeup done professionally.
Informational Contributor: Bridget Weide Brooks
Picture: Adobe Stock
To get that first interview call, your résumé should be pristine and natural for anyone to read – from the layperson to a technical/military expert.
Using common military or workplace acronyms in your résumé or LinkedIn profile without spelling out the base word at least once could be negatively impacting your job search because the applicant tracking system (ATS) or the person reading your résumé may not be familiar with them.
Why spell the words out? Employers’ representatives often choose specific keywords for ATS systems to filter and find the right candidates and may not use their related acronyms. Or, the acronym may apply to multiple base words which could also confuse readers.
So, when preparing your résumé, here are a few simple basic rules to help navigate your resume through non-human and human hands to an interview.
The first rule: when choosing to insert common acronyms, be sure to spell out the complete wording once. Abbreviations such as ATM for automated teller machine could have been spelled out as qualifications by the company as “automated,” “teller,” and “machine,” and the system would not recognize that “ATM” has the same meaning.
The second rule: don’t capitalize words the words that have acronyms (only capitalize the acronyms and proper names).
The final rule: take the time to make sure your acronyms are correct before you forward your résumé. Spell Check is not enough and easy mistakes can be costly – i.e., the common medical acronym “HIPAA” is often incorrectly written on medical-related resumes as “HPPAA”.
The most popular interviewing trend used by employers today is the behavioral interview. This form of interview questions tends to focus upon your past experiences as well as your integrity, leadership abilities, initiative, communication skills, ability to problem solve, interpersonal skills, adaptability, knowledge, and past performance to determine if you will be a good fit for the employer.
The behavioral questions lead the interviewee into more in-depth and revealing answers to specifically designed questions. A complete response to behavior-based interview questions must explain the task or problem for which you were responsible, the specific action you took to complete the job or solve the problem, and the results of the action you took.
There are three forms of behavioral questions:
Open-ended questions – This type of question requires more than just a “yes” or “no” answer. It often begins with “Describe…”, “Tell me about…” “When…”
Closed-ended questions– verify or confirm the information you have previously given the employer, such as “You graduated from college, is that correct?”
Why questions – reveal your rationale for decisions you have made in the past. An example would be, “Why did you decide to go into the service when you had a UNT scholarship?”
Here are some sample behavioral questions and possible ways to answer them:
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Approximately 80% of all interviews begin with this question. Many candidates, unprepared for the question, start with a prolonged recap/narrative of their life story.
HOW TO REPLY: Commence with your latest related experience or training. Communicate why you meet the criteria by matching your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. To answer, you must try to uncover your interviewer’s greatest need, want, problem, or goal in filling the position and tailor your answer. Recall recent work experiences that demonstrate your good behaviors or actions, especially your teamwork, leadership, and customer service abilities.
Why are you leaving (or did you leave) your most recent position?
HOW TO REPLY: If you left an employer on bad terms, you still must follow the inviolable rule: never badmouth your previous industry, company, board, boss, staff, employees, or customers. Never be negative! Any negativity brought into your reply will cast a shadow on your abilities, candor, and disposition. Do not discuss an increase in pay, even if that is part of the motivation. If terminated from a position, don’t lie about being fired. It’s unethical and can easily be verified. The best way to answer is to attempt to redirect the reason from you personally. Make sure you’ve prepared a brief, positive reason for leaving your last position.
What are your greatest strengths?
HOW TO REPLY: You should match your abilities to the company’s wants and needs. You should also have an example or two demonstrating strengths from your most recent work experience. You should have this list of your greatest strengths (experience, initiative, customer relations) and corresponding examples from your achievements committed to memory.
What are your most significant weaknesses?
Often called the “eliminator” question because it is designed to shorten the candidate list. An admission of a weakness or fault will earn you an “A” for honesty and an “F” for the interview.
HOW TO REPLY: Assure the interviewer that you can think of nothing that would stand in the way of your performing in this position with excellence. Then, quickly review your strongest qualifications.
Aren’t you overqualified for this position?
HOW TO REPLY: The employer’s main concern behind the “overqualified” question is that you will leave your new position as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to the employer and reassure him that you’re looking to stay for the long-term will help you overcome this objection. Also, assuring the employer that you love to learn and take on new responsibilities will soothe their wariness.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
HOW TO REPLY: Employers want to know that you plan to stay with them. Assure the interviewer that you are making a long-term commitment and that this position is what you want to do and what you feel you do very well. Looking to the future, you know that future opportunities will take care of themselves if you perform with excellence.
Tell me about your ideal company, location, and job.
HOW TO REPLY: The correct answer is to describe the company you are interviewing with (by reviewing ahead of time), what the company is offering that you like, how you feel you would be a good fit. Make your answer believable with specific reasons, stated with sincerity, why each quality represented by this company and opportunity is attractive to you.
Why do you want to work for our company?
HOW TO REPLY: By doing in-depth research of the company, you should make this your home run. Sources for research include annual reports, the corporate newsletter, contacts you know at the company or its suppliers, advertisements, and articles about the trade press.
Tell me about a situation when an employer criticized your work performance.
HOW TO REPLY: Begin by emphasizing any positive feedback you may have received throughout your career. No one is always perfect, emphasize that you always welcome suggestions on how to improve your performance.
What are your outside interests?
HOW TO REPLY: Try to shatter any stereotypes that could limit your chances. If you’re over 50, for example, describe activities that demonstrate your intergenerational teamwork abilities, technology, and physical and mental stamina. If you’re relatively young, mention an activity that reflects your wisdom. Keep in mind that employers hire employees for what they can do for them.
Looking back, what would you do differently in your life?
HOW TO REPLY: Indicate that you are a happy, fulfilled, optimistic person and that, in general, you wouldn’t change a thing.
How well do you work under pressure?
HOW TO REPLY: Convey that you work well under pressure (and then give a recent example).
What was the most challenging decision you ever had to make?
HOW TO REPLY: Be prepared with a good example and explain why the decision was difficult. Talk about what process, or processes, you used to make the decision. Then relate how you carried it out. If you are looking to leave the military, you might want to describe how difficult it has been to decide not to continue with the military as a career.
May I contact your present employer for a reference?
HOW TO REPLY: If you are employed and haven’t told your employer that you are looking for a new position, then convey to the interviewer that you’d like to keep your job search private but proud of your record with your current employer.
What are your future goals?
HOW TO ANSWER: Be prepared to discuss your career goals and personal development and learning. Express your desire to stay with a company. Avoid family, physical (health), community service, and any spiritual goals.
How do you define success, and how do you measure up to your definition?
HOW TO ANSWER: Define success by incorporating you, your strengths and abilities, a position within the interviewer’s company, and how that the combination would mean the ultimate success to you personally.
Looking for or need a job during the pandemic? Now, more than ever, having a specific career goal is essential because the competition for any and all jobs today is fierce.
You might find yourself wondering again: What does this uncertain future hold for me?
One study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, younger baby boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48. During this same time, these individuals experienced an average of 5.6 periods of unemployment. With re-employment, some job-seekers made minor or major career changes. A construction worker may decide to start his own home remodeling business. A newspaper reporter may become a TV news anchor. Or a physician may quit, becoming a comedian.
Having “career clarity” about where you are going will help you identify what job you want to pursue. It can also give you insight into the specific skills and qualifications you need to be a candidate for the role, and it may even help you identify who is hiring for the type of position you are seeking. Once you’re ready to apply for a job (or contact an organization about an unadvertised opportunity), your résumé will need to clarity your career direction to secure job interviews and offers.
Your résumé and LinkedIn profile are not a “career obituary” of where you’ve been. They should be forward-looking marketing documents that showcase your skills, education, and experience in the context of where you are headed and have a strong emphasis on the value you can deliver to your prospective employer. A résumé should take a diverse work history and create a cohesive, compelling career story showcasing your qualifications.
Finding the thread to sew together an eclectic work history, or seeing a pattern in your previous positions, can set you and your career documents apart. Assisting a prospective employer to understand who you are and what you can do for them is the key. So deciding what you want to be “when you grow up” or even just “next” is critical.
How often have you been talking to a colleague about their job search, and they say, “I’m not picky. I want a job that pays more.” It’s not about being picky — or not being picky — it’s about being focused.
If you wanted a different car and asked, “What kind of car do you want?” you would benefit from being specific with your description. Two doors, or four? Sedan or SUV? Cloth seats or leather? New or used? What color? What make and model?
Suppose you know what you want (whether a car or a career), it’s much easier to find. Once you have clarity about the job you’re seeking, you (or your résumé writer) can tailor your résumé and cover letter to showcase how you are the ideal candidate for the position — cutting through the clutter of hundreds of other applicants.
There are two paths to achieving “career clarity” — otherwise known as a crystal clear job target.
The first is through self-exploration. There are numerous online resources you can use to identify what you want in your next job — or your future career. The second is to enlist the assistance of a professional. You can hire a career coach to help you work through the process.
The Self-Help Route
The federal government has several excellent, free resources to help guide your research. These include: The Occupational Outlook Handbook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
The OOH provides career information on job responsibilities, education and training, pay, and the outlook for hundreds of occupations. O*NET Online: http://www.onetonline.org/
O*NET Online provides detailed descriptions of the world of work, including the daily aspects of a particular job and the typical worker’s qualifications and interests in that field. My Next Move: http://www.mynextmove.org/
My Next Move is a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. The website identifies tasks, skills, salary information, and more for over 900 different careers. It also integrates the O*NET Interest Profiler, which offers personalized career suggestions based on a person’s interests and work experience level.
CareerOneStop Toolkit (Formerly America’s Career InfoNet) http://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit
The Toolkit is a “one-stop-shop” to find information about careers, training, skills, jobs, wages, state and local resources, and more.
You can also take a variety of online assessments and career inventories to discern your career path. Keep in mind, however, that these may not be scientifically valid. However, they may help remind you of areas of interest that could potentially lead you in a new career direction.
Getting Professional Help
If you want to go beyond your research, consider engaging a professional to help you identify your career direction.
Career coaches (also sometimes referred to as “career counselors”) can help you assess your interests, skills, and values, investigate career options, and define a career path. Some states require individuals to be licensed to call themselves a career counselor. The key is finding a fit for your particular needs — ask people you know for recommendations. Talk to several coaches and make sure it’s the right fit.
Your career coach may use various tools and methods to help guide you through the career exploration process. These can include career testing, conducted assessments and exercises, and interviews.
You can find career coaches in university alumni centers, community agencies, private practice, and potentially in your state’s Department of Labor. The cost may range from nothing (when seeking assistance from your state’s Department of Labor) to several thousand dollars to work with a clinically trained professional in private practice throughout several weeks or months.