Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Need A Job!

Well, join the hundreds of other career professionals who are saying the same thing. The competition is at an all time high for the positions currently available.

There are some things that can help set you apart. Do you have a current résumé? If so, have you considered how it compares to the others that cross the desks of employers? If your résumé does not capture the résumé screener's interest; does not portray your value right up front; and does not intrigue the reader to review past the first few lines, then your résumé may end up in the other pile (trash, round file, shredder, see-ya).

The résumé is the key to getting the interview. It is the first step, and the most valuable asset you will need to conduct a succesful job search. If you are not sure how your current résumé will stack up next to the competition, you should consider contacting a Certified Professional Résumé Writer to help you out.Just as you are a professional in your career field, a CPRW (Certified Professional Résumé Writer) is a career development professional, and keeps up with the trends in the labor market of today.

A CPRW will know what the employer is looking for, and they know how to portray your value in a presentation that will get your foot in the door for an interview.

Before your job search runs out of steam, and you find yourself falling into a pit of despair - do your career a favor and seek the help of a professional in reaching your career objective.

Visit Ms. Parker at for assistance, or locate a professional service provider in your area through, the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW-CC).

Interview Questions

There are hundreds of questions a prospective employer may ask, and no matter how much time you put into your preparation, there is bound to be a question you did not consider. And that is ok! The confidence you build during your preparation, will better equip you to respond to those unexpected questions in a professional manner. Always be truthful; if you don’t know an answer or are unable to respond, say so. Some questions are not just factual, but situational. Consider your answers carefully when asked a situational question. Also, some questions are designed to put you at ease or change the subject and have nothing to do with the company, the position, or the work environment. These types of questions may very well be followed with a tough one!

What do you know about our company?
How did you learn about the vacancy?
Why should we hire you?
Tell me about yourself.
Have you ever been fired from an employer before?
Why did you leave your last job?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
If we contacted your previous employer, what would they say about you?
You don’t appear to be qualified for this position, what do you have to offer?
How would you manage an employee with poor performance?
Are you prepared to travel?
How many days of leave or sickness have you had off in the past year?
Do you drive? What kind of car do you have?
Do you have any major financial debts?
What do you think the most important factors are in running a business?
What jobs have you had that you enjoyed the most/least?
Tell me five words that describe your work ethic.
Do you work best on your own, or as a member of a team?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
How do you feel about overtime?
Give me an example of a difficult decision you have made in a previous job.
What is your most significant achievement?
How do you respond to stressful situations?
Have you had any legal convictions?
What supervisory or leadership positions have you held?
Describe a time where you performed above and beyond the call of duty.
What motivates you?
What hours do you prefer to work?
You have five minutes to tell me why you should get this job.
How many ping pong balls do you think will fit into a mini-van?
How do you respond to criticism?
What type of community activities do you participate in?
What is your work ethic?
How do you release frustration at work?
What were your duties at your last job?
If you had to dismiss 30 people, how would you decide who to let go?
What was your compensation package at your last employment?
Do you consider yourself a good leader?
Are you a team player?
What is the most recent book you have read?
Can you explain this gap in your employment history?
What are your long range career objectives?
Why did you choose this career field?
Are you willing to relocate?
Give me an example of a mistake you have made and what you learned from it.
How do you adapt to change?
What three things are most important to you in seeking employment?
Do you have any hobbies?
What percent of yourself do you give to your job?
Have you ever had a disagreement with a supervisor?
How do you resolve conflict in the work place?
Give me an example of when you last motivated your peers in the work place.
Tell me how you would handle a situation involving a fellow employee who stole from the company.
Describe a time when you identified a potential problem, and what you did to resolve it.
How do you feel about following company guidelines, rules and regulations?
Have you ever been counseled on a safety violation?
Do you own your own tools and/or safety equipment?
How do you feel about working in adverse weather conditions?
Are you willing to participate in a physical fitness evaluation?
Do you have any medical conditions that would prevent you from performing in this position?
Do you have knowledge of computers and automation programs?
Have you ever had an accident in the work place?
Have you ever been accused of theft in the work place?

How to Write a Résumé

These aren’t all of things you need to know, but remembering these things when creating your Résumé will lead to results, and help you to be successful in your reaching your career goals.

Be brief. No more than two pages. Your Résumé must capture the attention and interest of a prospective employer in the first few seconds, and at a glance. It isn’t meant to be a novel, or a personal biography of accomplishments. You can present more in depth information at the interview.

Objective Statement. If you use one, try to be specific and make sure it is about the contribution you will make to the organization, and not a summary of your career goals. In other words, do you really think an employer cares about your objective? Instead of writing something like “Seeking a challenging position that utilizes my experience”, try “Seeking a position as an Administrative Assistant in a prestigious law firm”.

Describe your skills. Use action words to describe your accomplishments. Bullet statements are great for saving space, including more information, and portraying your value. Refrain from simply stating your job description or responsibilities. Avoid the use of “I”.
Emphasize your accomplishments. Make each accomplishment measurable. It doesn’t matter what career field you are in – you have done something measureable. A carpenter may have “Framed eighteen, 1600 square foot residential dwellings in a twelve month period”.
Be neat, and well organized. Consistency is a plus in your presentation. The information included should be easy to read, and flow to the next subject.

Proofread. The content of your Résumé reflects your attention to detail. No mistakes! It may help to have others review your presentation for errors.

Introduce your Résumé with a cover letter - always. Think of it like this. The first time you meet a new person you don’t just walk up, shake hands and start telling them your life history. You introduce yourself. So why would you not introduce your Résumé?

Follow up on Résumé submittals. Make sure your Résumé was received, and take the opportunity to be noticed one more time. There are many reasons to follow-up after you submit your résumé, but the bottom line is to take every opportunity to help the employer remember your name. By continuing to show interest in the position, you also show initiative and persistence. This may be the one thing that sets you apart from the other job seekers, and results in getting your name on the list for an interview. You may also be able to determine if the position was filled so you can focus on other opportunities.

Interview Preparation

Preparation for an interview is considered by some to be the most important part of your job search. The interview can be stressful, but your performance and the interviewer’s perception of how prepared you are will most likely be the determining factor on whether or not you receive a job offer.

After identifying potential candidates for a vacancy, an employer must conduct an interview to determine if you are the right person for the job. The interview is your opportunity to convince the employer that you are the best choice. Your résumé helped get your foot in the door; now you have to clinch the deal. By being prepared, you will boost your confidence, and be able to portray your value to the employer with ease.

Being prepared incorporates planning, and a variety of strategic actions on your part. Take note of some of the things you can control as you get ready for the scheduled interview.

Be Organized. Make sure you prepare a portfolio with all of your documentation. Include additional copies of your résumé and references, copies of certifications and licenses, educational transcripts, and any letters of recommendation. Don’t forget to bring a couple of pens and a note pad.

Research. Know the job, know the employer, and know the company. Most companies have a website where you can learn about their history, mission statement, goals and products or services. Become as familiar as you can with the information available. For those companies that may not have a place to research online, you can visit the establishment and speak to employees, or make a few calls to learn more about the establishment. Business owners take pride in their company, and by portraying your knowledge about their services you will impress the prospective employer with your initiative and sincerity in seeking employment with them. Know the current salary range in your area for the occupation you are seeking.

Are you a good match? Take the time to know exactly what qualifications the position you are applying for requires. Know the areas you are proficient in, and identify the areas you may not be as familiar with. When you are asked about your qualifications, be prepared to respond with enthusiasm about your strengths, and be able to identify how you intend to overcome areas of weakness. Think of the interview as a sales meeting. You are selling yourself (product) to the employer (buyer). You must be able to portray your overall value during the interview.How will you answer? You know that you will be asked a variety of questions. Spend some time reviewing the most common interview questions prior to the meeting, and think of how you would respond. Even if the questions you review are different from the ones you are actually asked, your preparation will increase your confidence level, and enable you to respond more effectively. Listen carefully to questions, and consider your response before answering.

Cover Letter Tips

Your cover letter header and overall appearance should match your résumé in order to create a visually appealing, professional marketing package. Including the following information will help you prepare an effective cover letter. Note: Try to format your cover letter with the same heading information as found on your résumé.

Date of Letter

Contact Person’s name and title (Hiring authority, recruiter, human resource director, etc)
Company Name
Company Address

RE: Job Announcement Number or Position Title

Salutation (Never use a first name) (Dear Mr. Jackson:)

Opening Paragraph – State your purpose in writing. Name the position you are applying for, and mention how you heard about the opening or the organization. Indicate what value you will bring to the employer or organization; try to use the name of the company in the opening or state a bold fact about the organization you identified through research of the company.

Body – Explain your interest. Be creative. Mention relevant accomplishments and skills that will benefit the employer, however do not duplicate information included in the résumé. Research the company and weave in some of the information found in your research. Sell yourself!

Closing Paragraph – Refer the reader to your résumé. Include contact information. Close with a positive statement which will let the employer know you are interested. Avoid saying “I look forward to hearing from you”. A statement like this will leave you at the mercy of the résumé reviewer. The employer has no obligation to make contact with you. A good statement may read like, “Please expect a call next Friday so that we may discuss how my qualifications will compliment your organization. For further information, I may be reached at (000)000-0000.” This sort of statement takes charge, and will let the employer know you are serious, and they won’t have to add another task to their busy work schedule.

(Signature Block)

Enclosure: Résumé  (As a foot note, if you are going to write the word Résumé in your cover letter, make sure you learn how to use the accent marks over the letter (é). 

Résumé Tips - Trade Secrets

A lot of job seekers just haven’t been told some of the most important facts about how employers regard a résumé. Have you ever heard that “knowledge is power”? Knowing what an employer looks for in a résumé is valuable information as you begin to prepare your presentation. I have taken the time to list a few things about employers, and other things you may consider as you prepare to submit your résumé to a prospective employer.

The actual hiring authority is not the first to receive and review your résumé. That’s right. Even if you address the résumé to an individual, there are “others” who screen your résumé first. Most every company has a human resource representative, a secretary, administrative assistant, or just a clerk to screen for the needs of an employer.

The typical Résumé only receives about 10-20 seconds of attention. If a large corporation places an ad, or just has career information on their website, imagine how many other job seekers submit their résumé just like you. Then imagine how that human resource representative may have to review hundreds of résumés a week. Your résumé is just a tool for weeding out job seekers.

The best résumé doesn’t always get you hired. You may qualify for the job, even exceed the qualifications, however if the information provided in the presentation doesn’t impress the reviewer with the greatest impact, or portray your skills appropriately, your résumé may end up in one of the other piles. And we haven’t even talked about how an employer may advertise a position to meet basic requirements of law, and already know who they want to fill the position. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get hired!

One, simple typographical error may eliminate your résumé from consideration. That is a scary fact, but true. Employers look for attention to detail, as do their reviewers. Especially when considering applicants for administrative positions. Proofread, over and over again; get help from others.

Spelling and the ability to write without grammatical errors is essential. You may be the best at what you do, but if you can’t spell, or you tend to write like you speak, you may consider having someone else prepare your résumé for you. Your résumé is your introduction, and you want the first impression to be positive, and effective.

Honesty is the best policy. Seasoned résumé reviewers are renowned for being able to see through wordy attempts to inflate experience and proficiency. You don’t have to sound perfect, but you do have to portray your relevant skills. If you have to stretch the truth, then maybe the position isn’t right for you.

Objective statements may result in elimination from consideration. Yep. Think about it. Do you really think an employer cares what your objective is? Most people put this right up top on the résumé, and unless your objective is exactly what the employer’s objective is – you should refrain from stating yours. If you use an objective statement, the best one is specific, focused, and related to the position you are seeking.

Too much information can be just as detrimental as not enough. It pays to research the company, the hiring authority, and the boss. Your credentials may very well exceed those of the person you are trying to get to hire you. The goal is to get your foot in the door for an interview.  Carefully consider the content in your résumé.