Possible Reasons for Why You Are Not Getting Hired

Yesterday I posted a link on my Facebook group page about a free webinar that is happening today about 5 secrets to uncovering the hidden job market with Kevin Kermes.  He will gladly send you a copy of his slides if you are not able to attend, but be sure to leave your e-mail address.  You should also take a look at the comment my friend JoAnne left in response to yesterdays post.  The comment addresses her take on the “What is your 5 year plan” question.

To piggy back off the initial topic I would also like to share three reasons for why we may not be getting hired.  These are off the Doostang blog.

1. You Have Unreasonable Expectations: It’s a hard pill to swallow that my previous experience along with my MBA degree will not get me the high paying job that I was promised when the economy was good.  I have lowered my expectations and realize that companies are going back to the lean machine and know that if I don’t, someone else will take the salary they are offering.  This is a little like the skills many require, you may not have 5 out of 5 but the guy behind you does…you may not want to get paid less than amount X, but the guy behind you has lowered his expectations and is willing to accept X.  Just really weigh your options before you say “no” to a lower salary or job that may be a little below you.  Perhaps you’ll be able to learn new skills that you did not have before.

2. You’re Scared of Rejection: This goes against what I wrote before and I rectified that.  I agree that you shouldn’t pigeon hole yourself into one type of job or one industry.  So what if someone says “no” to you, at least you tried.  Go ahead and apply to the jobs you may be under qualified for but are genuinely interested in.  Sometimes your interest and enthusiasm will get your further than someone else.

3. You’re Not Making the Job Search Your Job: It’s true, this is a full time job. There are times when you need to take a day or more off but at the end of that day make goals for yourself and meet them.  I have said  before that a goal for me may be to apply to 10 jobs in a week…it’s time to meet that goal.

The weather is awful so set some goals for your job search.

What did you do today?  Did you meet your goal?

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Always be Ready to Interview

I’m not gonna lie, this morning I woke up feeling grumpy. Partly because it’s Monday, partly because we are in the middle of yet another multi day rain storm and partly because I am still only partly employed.

But, friends and loved ones are what keep my head up sometimes.  This morning I got an e-mail from my friend Sai.  She mentioned to me that Good Morning America did a segment on job interviews and the common questions that can trip you up.  Some of these I’ve covered but others I am glad to have finally a pointer about.

1. Tell me about yourself: Your answer should reflect your professional side and it should directly tie into the position you’re seeking. Sell yourself for his particular job by highlighting that you have the skills the role requires.

2. What is your greatest weakness:  As of late I’ve gotten a different version of this question, asking about the worst part about my latest job.  Since I really don’t have anything bad to say I simply talk about a project that may have been tough to complete but that in the end I succeeded at it.

3. What do you know about us: This might be a tough question especially if all you’ve done is focus on how you will answer the “how do I qualify” questions.  Recently I was a little caught off guard by a very similar question but I would hope that I recovered well by talking about my knowledge of a good competitor and how the two companies differ.  Be prepared for anything!

4. What is your five year plan: This article mentions that you should talk about how you will grow with the company at hand.  Which I agree with…but it makes me wonder if employers who say that the five year plan can be anywhere, not necessarily in their company are simply throwing you a curve ball.

5. How do you handle high pressure moments:  The answer should give a specific anecdote.  If you are looking for your first job then tell a story about a time when you were preparing for exams or working on a big capstone project.

I hope these tips will help you this week and look on the brighter side of life.

What did you do today?

Get Out of Your “Unemployed” Funk!

As I was researching some new topics to blog about I came across an article on yahoo that is titled Breaking Out of Long-Term Unemployment.  Larry Buhl, the author, offers the following six tips that I happen to agree with.

1. Check Your Mental Attitudes: For those of us who have or have not gone on interviews as a result of our never-ending job search know how frustrating it is and with every interview you wonder…will this time be different?  If not…why?  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing to every once in a while have a bad day, everyone does, even those who are employed, but do try to look on the brighter side of life.  Let those happy thoughts roam free, maybe they’ll lead you to a new way of thinking about your job search.

2. Move Your Body: You all know I am a huge lover of all things outdoors and I am 100% in agreement with this suggestion.  Get out there and move around, if for no other reason than to get some fresh air and clear your mind!

3. Step Away from the Computer:  I’ll admit, this one is a little hard for me.  I mean look at me, it’s Sunday and I’m blogging!  But this isn’t the only way to network, get out and actually meet some new people face to face.  Explore a new hobby, maybe it will lead you to a new idea about where you’d like to work.

4. Re-Examine Employment Strategies and Tactics: Are your job search tactics effective?  Perhaps while you are out getting some air you will be able to come up with a new strategy.  It’s spring…do some spring cleaning, in your job search.

5. Fill the resume gap: Your resume should not just be a reflection of jobs you’ve been paid to do.  Keep yourself fresh with new personal accomplishments.  Take an online class or perfect a hobby that will help stretch your skill set.

6. Don’t be defensive about unemployment: You’re not the only who is unemployed but that also should not define you.  Tip 6 goes along with tip 5.  Teach yourself new skills and show that you are proactive and not just sitting back and waiting for the next opportunity to fall into your lap.

Go out and enjoy this Sunday and always think about answering that looming question: what did you do today?

A Splash of Social Media

Thanks again, guys!  Yesterday I got the highest readership ever, 69 people!  I truly appreciate your support.  I guess when you really apply yourself to something you get rewarded.  I am so glad that all of this is paying off and I’m positive that 6 months ago I would not have been able to apply to the jobs I’m applying to now because I didn’t have the social media experience.

And…speaking of social media experience, I am constantly trying to learn more. My brother is working at a company in the San Francisco area and is very well versed in SEO so I asked him to send me some information that I will share with you.  I also received a great comment from Christina Inge from the American Marketing Association, who suggested I check out Hubspot’s Inbound Univeristy.

Let’s begin:

The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization was a very helpful tool and I have to thank my brother for the link.  For those of us who have a very vague understanding of this new way of making sure our websites, blogs, or any other applications are actually doing what they are supposed to will walk away with feeling a lot more confident about Search Engine Optimization.

Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University provides 16 webinar courses.  Those who take the courses and pass the Inbound Marketing Certification Exam become Inbound Marketing Certified Professionals! Best part?  It’s free! Talk about stretching your skill set!

Last week Hubspot also hosted another webinar, this time about the Science of ReTweets.  I was unable to listen to the live webinar but the above link is just as useful. The webinar talks about the most ReTweeted words and most interestingly that “Bit.ly” is a lot more ReTweetable than “TinyURL.” Who knew!  Follow the link and find out which topics are ReTweeted more by males and which are ReTweeted by females.

While browsing my Twitter account I came across a very interesting blog which was…ReTweeted!…by my former colleague Rob Gould of the Via Group.  The blog talks about how social media has come in like a lion into the world of marketing and how its aftershock will destroy traditional marketing practices.  Read The Social Media After Shock Will Destroy Business as Usual and other related social media articles on the New Comm Biz site or simply follow the posts on Twitter or Facebook.

Lastly, visit my Facebook group: “Jobs.Ideas.Networking.” for other useful links I may not have put up on the blog.  I’m looking for more followers 🙂

I hope these links will teach you more about what you may not have known about social media and SEO. I am going to start learning about Inbound Marketing and hope to get my Inbound Marketing Professional Certification soon!

If you don’t get around to much today, at least enjoy this 60 degree day!  Maybe you could even grill something.

What did you do today?

Back to Short Term Goals

First of all, this first part is directed

all of you who read my blog. Thank you all SO much.  I watched my readership dropping and was beginning to wonder if my material was beginning to become stale. However, yesterday I was VERY pleasantly surprised when 59 of you logged on to read my posts! Thank you so much!  I welcome any advice about topics you want me to cover.

On to short-term goals.  The above made me realize that these types of things are what make me happiest. I got my part-time job in the fashion world but was still wondering…ok, what now?  I’m still unemployed in my eyes.

I urge you to focus on your short-term goals today.  You might want to begin by eating some foods that relieve stress.  Not too surprising, chocolate is one of them.  Here are some suggestions for goals you may want to focus on:

1. Order some business cards from Vista print.  Make some that you will be able to use even when you are employed.

2. Perhaps you need to get back to cooking.  Look up a new recipe on the foodnetwork or for some healthier recipes, visit Fitness Magazine’s site.

3. Speaking of Fitness Magazine, I read a great article in the March issue about how with the rise of unemployment, gym membership rates have increased, so go ahead and keep up that exercise routine and now with warmer weather you don’t need to spend your pretty pennies.  Go for a run or walk around the Charles!

4. Get a new book that relates to your industry and plan to read a chapter today. I hope to be halfway through my book, Outliers, by the end of this week.

5. Plan to apply to 10 jobs this week.  I know that today I will be drafting up another resume that shows off my retail and marketing experience so I can expand my job search.

The sun is shining again so lets tackle our short-term goals and feel good about having accomplished something!

What did you do today?

Career Fairs and Interviews

I have yet to go to a career fair, mostly this is due to the fact that the career fairs that are held at Suffolk University are for those looking for a job in finance or accounting.  Today I got an e-mail about a career fair in Boston that will finally have companies looking for people in advertising and marketing industries as well as consumer products!

Now that there’s a career fair to attend I can’t help but think about what interview tips I should focus on.  Karen Burns from US News highlights the 50 Worst of the Worst (and Most Common) Job Interview Mistakes.  Here are the top 10 that I will always keep in mind:

1. Bad mouthing your last boss.
2. Forgetting the name of the person you are interviewing with.
3. Failing to research the employer in advance.
4. Failing to demonstrate enthusiasm.
5. Being unable to explain how your strengths and abilities apply to the job in question.
6. Failing to make a strong case for why you are the best person for this job. –> Don’t forget to mention this in your cover letter too!
7. Asking too many questions.
8. Asking no questions at all!
9. Talking more than half the time.
10. Interrupting your interviewer.

Speaking of numbers 7 and 8…are you prepared to answer the most common questions?  This is another “top 50” mistake.  Here are 10 tricky questions (visit the site for the answers).

1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Tell me something bad you’ve heard about our company.  (I would slightly disagree with the answer.  Perhaps the company’s ability to become more green is being questioned, tell them that you are very interested in seeing how things pan out with combating this issue and hence would love to work here and see how you can help as well.)
3. Why should I hire you?
4. Where do you see yourself in five years? (Personally, I think this is such a weird question…for me, five years ago I would not have said “I see myself unemployed”)
5. How would you react if I told you your interview so far was terrible?
6. What’s the last book you read?
7. Can you work under pressure?
8. Who’s your hero? (Again, I really wonder how this is at all relevant to an interview, unless they expect you to say that your hero is the founder of the company…)
9. Have you ever considered starting your own business?
10. If you won the lottery, would you still work?

Good luck out there!  My goal is to apply to 10 jobs today and then head in to my part time job.  I hope you have a fruitful job hunt.

What did you do today?

Part Time Work

We are back to gloomy weather but I hope your spirits are still up.

Today I started my part time job and I love it.  It’s retail, it’s fashion, it’s LOFT! That is the newly re-branded name of Ann Taylor Loft.

My parents and I don’t seem to see eye to eye on this one but here are my reasons for part time employment.

1. First and foremost, any extra cash I cam make on top of unemployment will actually allow me to save money.

2. When I began looking for part time jobs after being laid off my big challenge was that I had been in corporate America to long and didn’t have any “relevant” experience and was simply over qualified. Thankfully the Loft took a chance on me and I plan on keeping this job even after I find full time employment because if I am in this situation again, I will have recent and relevant retail experience.

3. I am stretching my skill set. There have been a number of companies that I have been interested in that were looking for visual merchandisers and I could only stretch my current skills so much…but at the end of the day I had not worked in a true retail environment since my days at Abercrombie 9 years ago!

4. It’s fashion!  How can I dislike that?

So as I begin applying to today’s batch of jobs I can broaden my searches.   My last words…each job is what you make of it and even part time work can pay off in your full time work search.

What did you do today?

Cover Letters…102?

I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely first day of spring.  My morning included a nice walk in the Blue Hills reservation, sitting by the pond and then running almost ten miles around the Charles River in preparation for a half marathon I am running in early May.

I wanted to share another recent article I received in regards to cover letters.  These tips are once again from Doostang.  Alesia Benedict, a professional Certified Resume Writer and Job and Career Transition Coach, offers the following advice about the three types of cover letters you must have:

1. General Cover Letter: This cover letter should give a broad overview of all of your experiences.
“When contacting a company ‘cold’, a general cover letter is your best bet because the primary purpose is to introduce you and highlight some of the key points brought into the resume. Sometimes referred to as a ‘broadcast letter’, it can be used when sending your resume to many recipients at once in a mass mail, too.

While general in nature, the general cover letter should be ’employer focused’ meaning the wording shows the reader how the company could benefit from the job seekers experience. A general cover letter does not mention specifics such as salary requirements but may mention relocation if it is an issue. Just as objectives are not used on resumes, language that details the wants of the job seeker such as ‘I’m looking for a permanent position with a stable company’ should be avoided.

The general cover letter should always end on a proactive note stating the job seeker’s intention to follow up with the employer rather than closing with a passive ‘I await your call’ message. End the letter with a specific message about when and how you will follow up and then make sure to follow through.”

2. Targeted Cover Letter: This type is used when you are drafting a cover letter for a specific job opening.
” A targeted letter can be morphed from a General Cover Letter but the content will change to some degree. First of all, the Targeted Cover Letter will mention the specific opening by job title in the first sentence so the reader knows it is a response to the advertisement. It is important for the reader to understand right away which position is being targeted.

Second, the Targeted Cover Letter will bring in specific qualifications which correspond to the requirements outlined in the advertisement. For example, if a job ad states “3-5 years experience in Accounts Receivable” is a top requirement, the Targeted Cover Letter would include verbiage that draws attention to the qualification in that area…The Targeted Cover Letter can be a fantastic sales tool, especially when you have all ‘must have’ requirements and many of the additional qualifications the employer hopes to find.”

3. Recruiter Cover Letter: Recruiters don’t look for the same types of information as employers hence the information mentioned in this type of cover letter should be different.
“Recruiters look for candidates for active, open positions and for positions they fill on a regular basis which can be anticipated. Recruiters do not look for jobs for candidates. The recruiter will review your resume to see if your qualifications match up for any active, open positions. If not, the resume is stored in the database for possible future open positions that will match up.

First, the target salary range should be given to the recruiter including base salary and benefits. The one issue for which a recruiter will aggressively advocate on your behalf with an employer is salary because it benefits the recruiter to attain as high a salary as possible. It is to your advantage to work with the recruiter and be open about your salary requirements from the start.

At the same time, salary is a limiting factor for recruiters. The employer gives them a range within which to work. Some recruiters only take assignments at or above certain salary levels, for instance over six-figures. The recruiter needs to know where you fall in the range and it is acceptable to state a range that you are willing to consider.

Relocation flexibility, willingness to ‘pay your own freight’ on relocation, and other factors of your employment can be provided a recruiter in the cover letter. If a company has stated no relocation assistance is available, knowing you are willing to foot the bill to move yourself is something the recruiter needs to know.”

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I know that drafting up cover letters is a huge pain but I am now convinced that it is worth all the effort.  I have a couple of “general” cover letters and then tweak them for whatever job I may be applying to.

I hope these tips will help you start your search off on the right foot this week but for now, enjoy you Sunday!

What did you do today?

Cover Letters 101

I just had to add in another entry before this weekend.  I had a question posed to me on one of my networks about cover letters and I just happened to received an e-mail regarding the elements of a “perfect” cover letter.

I cannot take credit for the following tips, they were written by Rob McGovern of Jobfox:

The name of the position you are applying for. Your resume may end up in a resume pile, and recruiters need to be able to draw context. It will also help them when they electronically retrieve your resume months from now.

The contributions you’ll make in the job. Don’t talk about you–talk about what you can do for them. They’re hiring to solve a problem, and you need to be the solution.

Tell them why they should hire you. This is your chance to show enthusiasm, not for yourself, but rather your interest in working for the company.

Highlight one or two accomplishments. Ideally this should connect you to the job opening. For example, you could say that you were a key team member on a similar project, or that you’ve increased sales at your previous company.

The follow-up steps you will take. For example, “I’ll call you later this week to answer your questions.” This shows your commitment and respect for the process.

A good cover letter should be 3 or 4 paragraphs, and it should be perfect. This means every comma, quotation mark, grammatical usage, document format, letter format, and font choice is absolutely right.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Spring has Sprung!

With everyone having been cooped up for the last few months I bet this week has been a true blessing.  I’ve finally begun allowing myself to enjoy this time to myself so I decided that today’s posting will focus on ideas for what you can do now that the sun is out!

This is one of my favorite activities, Lilac Sunday.  This takes place at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain.  This year it’s on May 9th.  The times I have gone it’s been a bit crazy with all the people.

The next place is a hidden jewel in the heart of Kendall Square.  You would never think that there would be a serene park in this area but all you have to do is go to the parking lot next to the Marriott, take the elevator to the 6th floor and you will be surprised by what you see.  This would be a perfect weekend to visit Cambridge Center’s Roof Garden.

Rockport is another favorite spot for me.  I have gone here by myself or with others.  I always make sure to visit Helmut’s Strudel Shop right before the end of the main street as it meets the ocean.

If you want to take in the weather and sun around the city just pop into L’Aroma Cafe on Newbury street.  Keep in mind that during the weekends it may be rather tough to find a table outside.

All in all, enjoy the 70 degree weather this weekend and we’ll all get back to job searching next week.

Now it’s time to do some spring cleaning, what did you do today?