Components of the Job Search

October 19, 2009

There are four basic components to the job search. 

  • Networking: building relationships to find job opportunities
  • Resume/Job Application with Cover Letter: marketing materials to represent you when you’re not there in order to get you a conversation (the interview)
  • Interview: conversation to get you an offer
  • Negotiating the Offer: to secure the job you want

There was a time when you could focus on developing your skills in one or two of these components – and skimp on the others.  But in today’s highly competitive job market, you need to be strong at all of them.  You need to leverage each of these components to get you the job you want.  In fact, in today’s world, you need to leverage all of these components to get you any job. 

There is a lot of information available to improve your skills in each of these areas.  There is information online, in career centers, at your local library.  It is well worth your while to study them, to learn to handle each step effectively.  Getting a job is hard work, but it can be done.


Should you hire a career coach?

October 4, 2009

That’s the question addressed by this recent article in 

Check it out!

Any coach worth their salt will encourage you to interview several coaches before selecting one.  It is important to match your needs, goals, and personality with the coach you choose.  Many coaches (myself included) – offer a free consulation or even free session to evaluate their services.  Take advantage of that!  Some coaches even offer a guarantee of their services – ask about that.  That can take the risk out of things for you. 

If you’re stuck in your career or job search – the right coach really can help.

Add Keywords to Give Your Resume an Edge

September 17, 2009

Recruiters often scan resumes, quickly sorting them into the “No Way” versus “In Play” piles.  Among other things, they are also on the lookout for key words and phrases that tell them you have the experience they are looking for.

In this job market, you want to do everything you can to give yourself an edge, to set you apart from the other qualified candidates.  Using key words and phrases specific to the job you want and the industry you want can help move your resume to the “In Play” pile. 

So how do you know that you are using the right words to get your resume picked?  The best way is to review job descriptions and postings for your field, and look for common words and phrases, then make sure you are using those words in your resume.  

For more details on how to do this effectively, check out these great articles:

Best Resource for Job Interviews

August 31, 2009

In 1990 a coworker recommended the book, Knock ‘Em Dead by Martin Yate to me.  She recommended it as the resource for how to handle the job interview effectively.  The next time I was looking, I bought that book, read it from cover to cover, did my prep work, and wow!  I went from interview novice and bumbler, to master.   I knew how to interview for the jobs I wanted. 

To this day, 2009, I still find this is the best book on “how to interview” written.  I make sure I have a copy on my shelf at all times.  I recommend it to friends and clients who want to improve their interviewing skills.  Get it.  Read it.  Follow his advice on how to craft answers to classic and challenging interview questions.

I’d love to know what you think.  What is your favorite job search resource?

Do you have a portfolio?

August 18, 2009

I was talking with a hiring manager the other day, and we were talking about the workshop I teach on Job Interview Strategies and Skills.  She said, “Tell them to bring samples of their work.”   She was an IT Manager.   And I thought, you’re right.  I can’t count the number of times the portfolio moved someone from the “No” to the “You’re Hired” column, or the number of times my own portfolio immediately enhanced my own credibility in an interview.

We typically think of portfolios for more arts oriented jobs – visual arts in particular.  But the rest of us can benefit by creating a simple portfolio showing samples of our work as well.  And this can quickly set you apart from the pack of qualified candidates.  One of your objectives in your interview is to demonstrate your work experience.  Show the interviewer that you’ve “done that before, and this is what you did and how you did it.”  They want to know you can handle the job.  The best way is to demonstrate that you’ve done those things before, and done them well.  And while you can speak to those examples in your answers, you can also show it in your portfolio.

Think about deliverables you’ve created: are there documents you can show? status reports, requirements or design documents? spreadsheets to track or measure information?  Just make sure you don’t share any proprietary information.  Also, you only need to bring a portfolio to show, you don’t need to leave them a copy.  (I have even said, I can’t leave this with you, but I’d be happy to show it to you.)

Didn’t save things?  Then go ahead and create samples of what you would have shown them (just be honest and tell them – these are samples I created to show you how I work).  It doesn’t need to be fancy, or expensively bound.  Just keep it neat and tidy, and be able to talk about the contents in the interview.

And let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear what you put into your portfolio.

Know the Job You Want

July 22, 2009

It’s very tempting in the current economy to say “I just want a job.  Any job will do.”  But that’s not the kind of talk or attitude that sets you apart from your competition.  Employers want to know that you don’t want just A job but THIS job.  They want to know that when the economy turns,  you won’t jump ship to something better. 

So how do you know if this is the job you want?  There are a few things you can do to figure that out.

Actually sit down and think about your Ideal Job Criteria.  What is it you want to do?  What responsibilities do you want to have? or not have?  What do you want your work environment to be like?  Do you want to work alone or on a team?  What kind of recognition do you want?  Praise?  Money?  Rewards? What do you want your commute to be?  What kind of benefits do you want? What about compensation? Do you want autonomy, or do you like receiving clear direction?  Do you prefer a fast-paced environment with a lot going on, or do you like to work one project at a time, with time for thinking? 

Write out a description of your Ideal Work Day – from start to finish.  Who do you work with? What are they like? What do you do? Where do you work?  What do you wear? What are your hours? 

Now, prioritize your job criteria.  Group them in one of three categories: Must-Haves (these are non-negotiable), Nice-to-haves (you’ll want some, but not necarilly all of these), and Not-so-importants (these are true fantasy or luxury items). 

It’s important to know what it is you want in your job.  If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never get it.  If you know, you can expect to match about 75% of your criteria!

You can use this information to craft your answer to the favorite interview question: “Describe your ideal job.” 
You can also use this to set “job goals” – for the now job, the next job, and the future job.