Top 10 Tips for Grads Starting Their Career Search

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com
 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,
As a recent graduate with my bachelors, what are the top 10 tips you would suggest for me
starting out in my job search?
P.J.
Millburn

[Read more…]

Graduate Job Seeker

The writer isn’t graduating until May, but how should he handle his job search now?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics in May 2011. I applied for corporate graduate training programs in financial services firms so I would have a job upon graduating. They seem to be all filled. I have been advised to wait until I’m near graduation and then see what entry level positions are available. I’m worried with the state of the economy whether that is a good idea. What would you recommend?

JS
Short Hills

 

Corporate Graduate Training Programs in many of the financial services firms have reduced the number of graduates in their program. These programs are very competitive and typically require a high GPA and previous internship experience. Involvement in some related student activity or clubs and having someone inside the firm recommend you is very helpful.

Although many of the graduate program selections are typically made between year end and February, there are usually some last minute fall out that occurs within these programs as previously committed graduates change their decision to accept. With the economy being tight, there will probably be less drop-outs than previous years. I would suggest you send holiday wishes (can be holiday cards or via email or LinkedIn) to all of the professionals you interviewed with and to all previous internship connections letting them know that you are searching for an opportunity upon graduation in May 2011. Offer to meet with them in the new year on an exploratory basis. As they respond, set up appointments.

Using LinkedIn allows you to connect and invite them into your network for the future. Your LinkedIn profile needs to be ready to present as this is your social online resumé and presence. Obtain a few recommendations from previous internships and from professors. When you are in active search mode, “post and update” often with either an article you have read and want to share with your audience (LinkedIn connection) or reminding your contacts that you are graduating and seeking an opportunity.

Use this time to gain informational knowledge. Engage others in a conversation about careers. Ask them about their job, their industry and what they see for future career development. You will learn more about various companies, and most people enjoy speaking about what they do and many will enjoy the privilege of informally mentoring you. Ask your parents, family members, friends of your parents, with your parent’s permission of course, and neighbors about potential individuals they can recommend you contact for exploratory or informational meetings.

Networking is the key in this job market. Do you know any previous graduates in the training programs you have applied for that you can connect with? Ask them about the program and see if there are additional programs you may not have applied for. Speak with your University Career Center. Get to know them and let them know who you are. Ask about other companies coming on campus and contacts they may have in the field you want. Ask them to help you set up some exploratory and informational interviews. Ask about alumni at various firms that you can contact. The alumni meetings may be a great way for you to learn more and gain inside contacts so when a position opens, you may be considered.

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This is the time to explore career options. I recommend you broaden your search to include finance opportunities rather than just financial services firms.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Getting Your Resume Through the Door

How do you overcome the technology or screening process for resumes?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

What value has technology brought to the recruitment process? How do you work around the technology screening to get an interview?

F.T. Millburn

 

For larger companies, technology has played a significant role in changing how applicants are selected. The technology, referred to as Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS, is used to screen candidates for qualifications based on matching terminology (key words) on one’s resume relative to the job requirements. It allows the corporate recruiter to see only the candidates that are a match based on the programmed criteria.

Many of the programming criteria for job boards prevent the resume from being viewed by the receiving company if it doesn’t match enough of the job specific criteria. Most of these job boards do not inform you that you have been denied the privilege of being viewed. This is when your network is critical.

If your resume is not getting noticed, then change it. Review job postings and look for consistent key words. Integrate these words into your resume. Using these words is the key to getting through the ATS screen. Most people update their resume by adding their last position. When you begin to look for a job, you need to review your resume for formatting and proper use of terms that will meet the ATS matching criteria. I would suggest looking at your resume with a critical eye. Seek others’ opinions from friends, recruiters or a career coach.

The way to work around the ATS is through your network contacts. These contacts are individuals that care about you and truly want to help you. Having your contact introduce your resume to their company’s recruiter or hiring manager is usually very helpful. Even if they introduce you to someone that knows someone inside can be helpful. Informing your friends and family about companies that you are targeting will help them determine if they can help you. If the introducer is respected and known for delivering value, then the introduced resume, or you, will typically be granted a phone screen and possibly an interview. It is important that you keep your contact informed of your job search status with the potential employer. This allows the introducer to follow up naturally with their inside contact as well.

The question for the hiring organization is to ask if they hiring for a specific position or hiring for potential to help grow their company. What most successful hiring managers, recruiters and HR professionals do is to hire talent based on critical skills, matched values and potential. Any hiring manager who understands this blend when hiring will drive success.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

Getting Noticed

How to differentiate yourself from the other candidates who submit their resume.

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

How do you get your resume noticed? I have sent out many resumes after graduating from school last May and have not gotten many interviews yet.

S.S.
Short Hills

 

This is a great follow up question to last week’s column on Getting Your Resume through the Door. Although technology has played a significant role in changing how applicants are selected, the key to getting noticed is to networking your way into an organization.

Applying for a position online is not enough. You need to determine if you know anyone at the company or if someone you know knows someone in the organization. With all of the online tools, the ability to search for connections is at our fingertips.

The key is how you introduce yourself to a new connection and then how you develop this network connection. There is protocol to requesting a connection pass on LinkedIn. You write a note to your direct connection asking them to connect you to their connection. The in-mail should clearly explain the value of connecting you with their contact. When you do this, you want to think about how to engage this once removed connection further to cultivate a new relationship. You also want to keep your initial direct connection informed of your activity on this matter.

Think of social media as one conduit to connecting but the real connection comes in the relationship that is established over time. Think of your personal relationships. You speak with your friends and family often. You will need to engage with your business contacts that have common interests or where you can complement each other on a steady basis. It helps to build the relationship and create a value proposition between you.

There will be times when you are asking and there should be times when you are giving. It will not always be an even exchange depending on what projects and learning stages you and your contact are in. Asking your connections their opinion is great way to obtain some guidance and also provide them with an unspoken message that you value their thoughts.

Getting your resume introduced to the company’s recruiter or hiring manager is incredibly helpful to getting noticed. Let others in your network know what you are looking for and know what they are seeking. If they are working, offer to help them with some research possibly for a project they are working on. This will build your knowledge and you will be adding value to your connection. Get noticed by engaging others in building relationships over time.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Dumbing Down Resumes

You don’t want to seem overqualified for a position, but dumbing down a resume can backfire.

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

What do you think about leaving off or adjusting credentials—such as PhD’s, managerial experience—work years from one’s resume during this economic downturn in order not to appear overqualified for a job?

TL Millburn

 

In today’s market, with all of the online search capabilities, it can be challenging to present yourself as someone you are not when social media can give you away. How you profile yourself on LinkedIn.com is more typically how you will appear. Think about “Googling” your name to find out what data comes up for you. Although you may choose to have multiple resumes, your social media profile is your tell all.

Typically, when you hear you are overqualified, this can reflect a number of concerns. Some potential employer’s concerns may include that they believe you will be bored in the position, you will not remain in the job long, you may try to expand the job and reach for work that is someone else’s responsibility or they may not be prepared to pay what they believe your experience deserves.

One technique for shortening your resume is to limit your experience to your most recent and relevant positions and then consolidating your earlier experiences showing only highlights of achievements.

I do not recommend changing your job title because when a prospective employer checks your references, typically the company will provide the latest title held just prior to your departure. Other inconsistencies may turn up in your social media data. Think about how you may have been were quoted in an article, blog or book. How were you referenced?

Your confidence and body language during an interview can also tell a lot about you. When you interview, your presence and how you handle yourself reveals your confidence, experience and abilities.

Keep in mind that today’s market is challenging and compensation is approximately 10-20 percent lower than where we were before this economic downturn. Some interviewers can be intimidated by a person with a wealth of experience. Others will be thrilled to have your experience on their team. It is up to you as the interviewee to present yourself in the most appropriate manner to the interviewer.

Be careful when dumbing down your resume. It can backfire on you. A person I know presented a dumbed down resume to the company of his dreams even though his experience was greater than the position he applied to. As he was in the midst of interviewing for the director role, a VP level position opened up. Now, he had to explain his passion for the company and how he was willing to come in at junior role so he could join their operations. Thankfully, the hiring manager was so taken with his abilities and impressed with his commitment to the company that he hired him. This situation could have been interpreted differently. If he saw the candidate as disingenuous, the situation could have gone the other way.

Although I do not recommend dumbing down resumes, you may choose to selectively highlight certain experiences and scale back on some other experiences for your resume. The challenge is adjusting your on line presence to reflect a consistent message. When you interview, you may choose to adjust your answers to reflect the level of experience required. You may wish to address that you have additional experience but that you understand what is required for this position and stay focused on making your answers consistent with the job at hand.

Remember what Sir Walter Scott said: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

Do People Look at Resumes on the Internet?

They do, but here are some tips to help get your resume get noticed.

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

Maybe you could guide me on how to find a job. My husband has been laid off and he is really struggling to find a job. It seems the only way to get into somewhere is to go on line and apply. Does anyone really look at these resumes?

MS Millburn

 

There are many reasons companies post jobs on the Internet. The primary reason is to be able to identify the qualified candidates for consideration. Another reason is to reach populations they may not have through word of mouth. And another reason is for compliance.

The Internet provides organizations with the ability to tap passive candidates. A passive candidate is one that is not in an active job search, is typically working and looking only if something interesting captures their attention.

When a company makes a posting for compliance purposes, they post the position for a selected time period to review potential candidates when there may already be a candidate identified. This allows the hiring manager to say he has done their due diligence in making the job available to the general public.

There are job postings that remain circulating on various networking groups when the position has been filled some time ago. The viral posting and recirculation of positions can be challenging to impossible to control. I have seen some organizations reply to submissions informing clients that the position was closed some time ago and would the applicant please help inform the group the position is no longer available.

When a company advertises an opening in today’s market, the volume of resumes that come in is tremendous. To filter through all of the candidates can take a lot of resources.

Answering advertisements on the Internet often leads to a great deal of frustration due to the one way nature of the communication and the knowledge there is no way of knowing what happened to your resume. One way to avoid these difficulties and to come to a true understanding of whether a job opening is real and whether your application is being considered is through social networking.

Social networking involves actively looking for a contact within a target company in order to have a less anonymous presence associated with your resume. Getting referred is typically a stronger way to connect into a company. Social networking can help to clarify if there is indeed an opportunity available and if you are qualified.

It can also move your resume from the pile into a special category of consideration that requires the recruiter to notify both you and the person referring you regarding your status. It generally results in a more careful review of your qualifications. In the end, even if you do not get the job, you will have made a new connection or strengthened a relationship with an old acquaintance that may help you with your search. The new connection may extend their network to assist you if you establish a rapport. Establishing new contacts helps expand your prospects of finding a job considerably.

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How you grow and cultivate these relationships over time is where you will see the true benefits in social networking and ultimately career development. People typically refer people they like to work with when an opportunity presents either at their own organization or to a friend seeking talent for another organization. You want to create a rapport that enables your contacts to know what you are up to and what you enjoy and want. It allows them to refer you naturally.

 

About this column: 

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

Building on the Resumé

How can you get more information out there about you beyond your resumé?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on  MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

As I linger in my job search, partially because I delayed my hunt, I find myself wondering if I am presenting properly. My resumé has been edited numerous times yet there is not much traction. Help please.

CD
Short Hills

 

Being in transition, the politically correct term for being unemployed and in the midst of a job search, can have moments of bliss and moments of anxiety. The bliss may come from having the time to explore and the choice of how to spend your day, and the anxiety may come from not having an agenda to follow or a goal to achieve.

Having your resumé ready is important whether you are in job search or not. Preparing your resumé properly is an excellent process as it forces you to examine your skills and abilities relative to the demands of the marketplace. Resumés are one element of the multimedia marketing platform required today. How you present in today’s market involves an online presence as well. When was the last time you took a snapshot view of your online reputation? Are you satisfied with it? Think about where you want to take it next.

Think about how much exposure you want and need online based on what you do or wish to pursue. If you are a in a business that requires you to be a subject matter expert, then consider blogging or write a few guest columns on the subject. If you are breaking into a new field, consider following knowledgeable individuals in that area and then pose some thoughtful questions to engage in the dialogue.

Where you choose to engage with social media is up to you. Facebook is the “like” page. LinkedIn is the Rolodex with discussions and groups for information exchange. Twitter is exposure and sharing, and blogs tend to be topic specific based on the writer’s preferences. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily if you understand what you are trying to achieve. Which platform offers you the connections you need in your job search strategy?

A resumé cannot stand alone as most hiring managers will perform Internet searches on candidates before interviewing them. Their search can influence their decision to hire or not. Carefully consider what messages you have communicated and what you want to continue to communicate in the future. Determine what platforms work best for your targeted audience. This may include in person presence as well. Attending meetings, speaking or teaching will also enhance your reputation. Reputations are built over time and consistency of the message helps.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.