Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Build a LinkedIn Profile that Gets You Noticed

Most job seekers have a profile on LinkedIn, but few actually use this tool to its fullest potential.  If nothing has been happening for you on LinkedIn, then it may be an indication that your profile needs a make over.  Here are a few things that can make your profile stand out:
A Stellar Summary.  Your summary provides a snapshot of your skills and experience.  Give yours a quick review.  Is it brief?  Is it engaging?  Does it tell them what you do in 10 seconds or less?  Your summary will either capture their attention or persuade them to move on.

Wonderful Keywords.  An effective use of keywords is what is going to make your site visible to recruiters.  Consider the search terms that they will be using when looking for someone with your skills and be sure to sprinkle them throughout your profile.

A Powerful Photo.  Your profile picture is the human touch in a LinkedIn profile.  Choose a photo that will draw them in.  The best profile pictures are clear, bright head shots.  Pick one where you look friendly and professional; you want people to perceive you as someone who they would like to hire.

Countless Connections.  The more people you connect with on LinkedIn, the more opportunities will be available to you.  Of course, you should only be connecting with people who you actually know, but always be ready to expand your network.

Depending on  how you use it, LinkedIn can either be a precious tool or a waste of time.  If you take the time to use it strategically, it can open doors that you didn’t even know existed.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

What to Do if You Have Been Fired

Sad girlThe day that you’ve always feared has arrived; you were fired from your job.  So what now?  How can you possibly move on from this devastating blow?  Here are some tips that will help you recover from this difficult situation:

Talk to Someone.  Being let go from a job is one of the most challenging situations that you will face in your career.  It shakes your confidence and leaves you wondering how you will manage to pay your bills.  It is not healthy for you to bottle up these feelings.  Find someone with whom you feel comfortable expressing yourself.  When you are given the opportunity to vent, it is much easier to move on.

Reflect on Your Skills and Interests.  There’s no doubt about it; being fired is awful.  However, this difficult situation gives you the opportunity to make a fresh start.  Did you enjoy your last job, or is there something else that you would rather be doing?  Might it be time for a career change?  Evaluate your skills, make a list of your interests, take an aptitude test, or make an appointment with a career counsellor.  Learn about the options that are available to you and try to find a career that you will love.

Don’t Be Negative.  When you have been fired, there is plenty of blame to go around.  You can blame your manager for being unreasonable, your coworkers for not being supportive, and yourself for losing your job.  The problem is that these negative thought patterns will drag you down.  Try to let go of the anger that you feel towards your employer and stop beating yourself up; you are going to need all of that energy to get yourself back on track.

Analyze the Situation.  After a few weeks (when it’s not so fresh) sit down and try to determine what went wrong.  Was it a personality conflict?  Was the job unsuited to your skills?  Did you make a mistake?  It is important that you have an understanding of exactly why you lost your job so that you can prevent it from happening again.

The harsh reality is that most of us will lose a job at some point in our career.  The key to your success is in how you bounce back from it.  If you view it as a learning experience and use it to motivate yourself to reach your career goals, you will eventually see this setback as just another bump in the road.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo Courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When is it Time to Move On?

GoodbyeYou have a steady job, and while you know that you should be grateful, you can’t shake the nagging feeling that it’s time to make a change.  While employers do value candidates with a steady work history, it is also important that your career continues to grow.  Here are some indications that it might be time to look for a new opportunity:

You have no enthusiasm for your work.  Your job has become a chore.  You dread going in to work and you count the minutes until you can go home.  If you ever had any passion for this job, it’s long gone.

You aren’t performing well.  You rarely receive positive feedback and find it impossible to achieve the performance objectives for your position.  While this could be an indication that you need to work harder, if you are honestly doing your best, then you might want to try to find a position that is better suited to your skills.

You have a feeling that your job might disappear.  In this economy, nobody’s job is secure.  You never know when a position might be cut or when a company might go bankrupt.  You need to pay attention to what is happening at your workplace and within your industry.  If you get the feeling that your job is not secure, then it’s a good idea for you to start looking for other opportunities.

There is something else you would rather be doing.  Your job and your interests are two completely different things.  While you enjoy your job, your passion lies elsewhere.  You would love to turn it into a career, but for now it’s just for the weekends.

Sometimes it can be hard to let go of a job (even one that is not fulfilling) but consider what it is costing you.  Life is far too short to be wasting it by staring at a clock, waiting for the end of the day.  Get out there and find a job that inspires you!

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo Courtesy of Stock Images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Friday, January 30, 2015

How Do Employers Search for Candidates?

Searching for candidatesMost job seekers are so focused on themselves that they don’t even consider what the employer is thinking.  Your job search will be significantly more successful if you take the time to put yourself in the employers’ shoes.  What are they looking for in an employee and what steps do they take to find that perfect candidate?

They look at their current employees.  When there’s a position available, most managers do an inventory of their employees to see if any of them would be a good fit.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to get a foot in the door at your target company, even if it’s not your dream job.  Once the employer gets to know you and what you’re capable of, they may consider you for other opportunities.

They consult their network.  Managers are always more comfortable when they hire a candidate from within their network.  If they know you, or know someone who knows you, you feel like a safer choice.  This is why networking is the most effective job search strategy.  If you put in the effort to develop a strong network, you can find out about opportunities before they are even advertised.

They advertise on their website.   If they don’t know of anyone who is qualified for the position, most companies will post the job on their website.  That way they attract people who have some relationship to the company, or who have a strong interest in working there.  It’s a good idea to create a list of your target companies and to check their websites at least once a week.

They review the resumes they have on file.  Before starting a brand new recruitment campaign, most employers will check out the resumes that they have received over the past few months.  If any candidates possess the required skills and experience, they may be invited in for an interview.  This is why it can be advantageous to send your resume, even if the company hasn’t advertised a position.

Only after exhausting these four strategies do most companies post jobs on online job boards.  This explains why most jobs are never advertised.  Use this information to your advantage; how can you adjust your job search strategy to make it more consistent with the employers’ perspective?

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo courtesy of: Imagery MajesticFreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Unique Ways to Find a Job

Standing out in a competitive job market is not easy.  Sometimes you need to do something a little unconventional to get noticed, but these types of stunts can backfire if you don't do them properly.  You want to stand out for the right reasons and make sure that it doesn't pull the focus away from your skills. Here are some tactics you can try that will definitely set you apart from the herd:

Social Media Campaign.  Social media offers today's job seeker endless opportunities to connect with potential employers.  You could make contact through the company page, position yourself as a subject matter expert, participate in discussion groups, take out a Facebook advertisement, start a blog, or directly contact employers.  The key is to ensure that your approach is appropriate and professional and that it effectively demonstrates that you would be a great fit for the job. 

Video Resume.  A video resume is a short video that demonstrates why you are the best candidate for the job.  You can include clips of your work, an elevator pitch, testimonials or anything else that you think an employer might find intriguing.  Just keep it short, interesting, and related to your target job.     

Unconventional Resume.  While this approach is controversial, some job seekers have found it to be effective.  Unconventional resumes are generally only appropriate when the job requires some creativity.  The form that your resume takes is completely up to you, but always stay focused on demonstrating how your skills relate to the job.   

Personal Connection.  Since everyone is so focused on online applications and social media, you can stand out by making personal connections.  Attend community events, professional association events, and any other gatherings where you can meet key decision makers.  Don't be afraid to approach them and introduce yourself.  If you have an excellent elevator pitch prepared, you will definitely make an impression.   

When the usual approaches aren't working, it makes sense to look outside the box.  The type of strategy that you choose will completely depend on you.  Don't be afraid to be bold.  If you keep it professional and relevant to your target job, you can't go wrong.  Good luck!
(Written by: Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stand Out When You're Missing a Job Requirement

You find an amazing job opportunity that would be a perfect fit for your skills.  You have all of the requirements for the position...except for one.  So what do you do?  Some job seekers give up way too quickly.  Remember, job advertisements aren't written in stone and many managers are willing to overlook a few of the minor requirements if it means finding someone who is truly the right fit for the organization.  Here are some tips that will help you overcome this barrier and show the employer that you are the best fit for the job: 

Focus on Your Strengths.  What makes you a great fit for this job?  Identify your skills and experience that relate to the position and highlight them.  The employer may be so impressed with your strengths that they don't even notice that you're missing one or two points.

Be Ready to Address the Missing Requirement.  If you get an interview, you need to be ready to discuss your missing requirements and explain how you plan to overcome this challenge.  Will you take a course to attain the required skills?  If you can successfully put the employer's mind at ease, you will significantly increase your likelihood of getting the job.  

Identify Your Transferable Skills.  Even if you are missing a requirement or two, you probably have experience that is easily transferable to your target position.  You are the expert on your background, so it's up to you to figure out how your skills and experience make you the perfect fit for the job and articulate it to the employer. 

Don't Worry About Preferred Experience.  Employers have a bad habit of including requirements in job advertisements that aren't actually necessary for the job.  For example, if a manager was looking for a receptionist, they may put "ability to speak a second language" as a preferred requirement just because it would be nice to have.  While a bilingual receptionist might be their ideal, they may still be willing to consider your application if you possess the other qualifications for the job.

If you want to impress the employer, you need to exude confidence.  You can't ask someone to believe in you if you don't even believe in yourself.  Don't focus too much on what you are lacking.  Walk in knowing that you are amazing and that they would be lucky to have you on their team and they will respond to that energy.   

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Artur 84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Monday, January 19, 2015

No Experience = No Job?

No experience = no job.  No job = no experience!  How can a frustrated job seeker ever escape this cycle?  It makes you feel like the system is rigged against you.  There are ways to overcome this barrier, but you have to be smart about it.  Here are some tips that will help you get your first job even without experience:

Get your foot in the door.   Once you get into an organization, it is a lot easier to get the employer to take a chance on you.  Even without the required experience, if the employer sees that you are a hard worker and that you have a good attitude, they might be willing to teach you what you need to know.  The key is to be willing to accept any position that will get you into the organization and to exceed the employer's expectations of you.

Show enthusiasm.  Often employers are more interested in hiring a candidate with the right attitude than they are in hiring one with lots of experience.  Use your cover letter to show your enthusiasm for the position.  Allow your personality to shine through.  You can even phone them to follow up on your application; just make sure that you are confident and positive when talking to the employer. 

Identify transferable skills.  Even if you don't have any paid work experience, you do have skills.  Consider your volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and courses you have taken.  What knowledge and skills have you gained from these experiences?  The employer doesn't really care where you got the experience; they just want to find a candidate who will do a good job. 

Use your network.  One of the advantages of networking is that it is an effective way to overcome any employment barriers that you may be facing.  For example, even if you are lacking experience, when an employee at the company recommends you to the manager, your chances of getting hired skyrockets.  As you develop your network, you will find that more doors open for you. 

Getting a job without experience is not easy, but it is certainly not impossible.  However, now that you have identified this barrier, you need to work on fixing it.  Start volunteering or get a part time job.  As you get more experience, your career will grow.  Take the first step today.     

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: Chaiwat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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