Tag Archives: Job Search Tips

4 Job Search Worries You Can Stop Stressing About

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Seeking new employment can be stressful—especially when you’re not already earning a paycheck somewhere. That stress cannot be totally mitigated, but perhaps it can be reduced. At the very least, jobseekers can stop stressing about the things that just don’t matter, saving their worry and their attention for the bigger, more significant issues.

In other words: Know what you should legitimately be concerned about, and what you can let go of. We’ll offer a few quick examples of the latter—four things that many jobseekers worry about, but really don’t need to.

Job Search Anxieties You Can Let Go

  • The occasional gap on your resume. While it’s certainly problematic to have a resume riddled with holes, a few short gaps here and there—especially ones in the distant past—are really nothing to fret about. Maybe you took three months off from your career to care for an ailing parent, or you took a sabbatical while you returned to school. An employer may very well ask you about these gaps, but all you have to do is give your explanation, and the employer will almost surely understand. It’s nothing to get hung up about.
  • Requests to contact your current boss. You may be asked if the hiring manager can get in touch with your current employer, as a reference—and you may prefer that this not happen. More likely than not, your job search is something you’d rather keep secret. The good news is, employers understand that, and declining this request is perfectly normal. Don’t hesitate to ask the hiring manager not to let the cat out of the bag with your current boss.
  • Jobs left off your resume. In the interest of telling your story, as succinctly as possible, you may want to omit a job listing or two from your resume—and that’s okay! Now, should you leave off a major job that leaves a seven-year gap on your resume? Probably not. But if you need to cut off your summer internship from back when you were 18, well, that’s not likely to be an issue.
  • An unwieldy list of references. You may have former employers or colleagues on your list who have since moved on, or even retired. Contacting them might be challenging—but that’s not really your concern. When a hiring manager asks you for references, he or she is only asking for your permission to contact those folks. The logistics aren’t your concern!

Another way to eliminate worry from your job search? Make yourself confident by getting a sparkling new resume. Start the process today by contacting the Grammar Chic team! You can reach our resume writing pros at 803-831-7444, or at www.grammarchic.net.

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3 Job Search Methods That Just Don’t Work

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When it comes to finding a job, there’s no such thing as right or wrong. Maybe you found your job because you know a guy. Maybe you found your job through diligently crafting a resume, sending it to a hundred recruiters, and following up regularly. Or maybe you just lucked into it—right place, right time.

What matters, of course, is the outcome. If you end up with a job that satisfies you—and that pays the bills—what does it matter how you got it?

It doesn’t matter, not a whit—but with that said, there are some job search methods that tend to be worthwhile, and some that simply don’t. There are even some job search methods that remain weirdly popular, despite the fact that they’re really just wastes of your time and energy.

For example…

Attending job fairs. You may have heard some wonderful, glowing reports from people who found their jobs via job fairs. And back in the day, job fairs really were pretty effective. That’s because you could go to a job fair, learn about different companies, and actually have a chance to meet with recruiters and interview for jobs on the spot.

That sounds great, right? Well, yeah, it was. But job fairs don’t really work that way anymore. These days, when you go to a job fair, you’re going to meet an awful lot of nice recruiters who tell you to… visit the company website and apply there.

So save yourself the trouble. Skip the fair and just do some online research on your own.

Resume blasting. A resume blast service does exactly what it sounds like: It blasts your resume out to a couple hundred employers, taking a shotgun approach to the application process.

But the way to win the attention of an employer isn’t with this scattershot approach. It’s with customizing your resume to fit the specific position—something resume blasting just doesn’t allow for.

You’re better off sending out three customized resumes, with personalized cover letters, than blasting a general resume to 300 different companies. Really.

Social media. No, wait! We very much believe in the importance of using social media to enhance your personal brand. In fact, Grammar Chic offers full LinkedIn optimization services, something we recommend to many jobseekers.

But what we don’t buy is that very many people get their dream job by hounding a company on Twitter, or that you can interview for a job over LinkedIn messages.

Social media is good, but it’s not that good. Don’t waste your time pursing an outcome that’s really just not very likely.

And don’t waste your time job-searching without a solid resume. Get yours professionally crafted by contacting Grammar Chic today: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Is Your LinkedIn Picture Helping or Hurting Your Job Search?

 

iStock_000008874687XSmallIf a picture’s worth a thousand words, then your LinkedIn profile shot must be nearly as important as the profile itself; you want a compelling resume and some judicious keywords, sure, and ideally you’ll have endorsements aplenty… but if you’ve also got a lackluster or unprofessional photo, then all your optimization efforts may be for nothing.

Some of the basics of LinkedIn profile photos you probably know: Get a professional headshot, if possible. It’s a worthy investment in your career. And always avoid photos that look like they were taken on Spring Break. “Slovenly” and “dead-drunk” are not the adjectives you want people assigning to your LinkedIn page!

But even beyond these basics, there is much strategy that goes into selecting the best LinkedIn profile picture—and if you select carefully, you can get a picture that actually enhances your career prospects rather than holding you back.

Acing Your LinkedIn Profile Pic

Some suggestions:

Appear approachable. Yes, you want to come across as professional, and no, you don’t want to look like you’re at a frat party… but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer a smile or try to convey some warmth and friendliness. Remember that people are looking not only at your skills and credentials, but also at what kind of a co-worker you’d be—and nobody wants an unapproachable colleague.

Don’t be upstaged in your own photo. Including a photo you took during your trip to the Eifel Tower is fine, but make sure it is a picture of you—not a picture of the Tower in which you happen to be waving in the background.

Be truthful. It’s the same advice you’re given when you pick a shot for your online dating profile: Don’t misrepresent yourself by picking a photo that’s 30 years old! You don’t want recruiters to be shocked or caught off guard when you go in to meet with them in person.

Dress code matters. You know that old advice about dressing for the job you want? Well, it applies to your LinkedIn profile picture.

Avoid selfies. Even if you’re a particularly good self-photographer, it’s usually pretty evident when a photo is a solo job—and there’s still a great deal of stigma attached to selfies. Avoid any unwanted connotations by getting someone else to take your photo.

Be smart in picking your profile picture—and yes, at the same time, make sure your profile is properly and fully optimized. To learn more about the latter, contact the Grammar Chic career team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Jobseeker, What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

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We recently shared a few tips on answering some of the most common—and most tricky—job interview questions. One of those questions is sufficiently slippery that it deserves some blog space all its own. You probably know the question already: So tell us… what’s your biggest weakness?

This question is a staple of the job interview process, and if an interviewer asks you to identify your biggest strengths, you can rest assured that a question about weakness is coming next. This question is designed to do a few different things. It evaluates how well you think under pressure. It evaluates your level of self-awareness and candor. And it allows the interviewer to see if you handle a treacherous scenario with aplomb, or if you deteriorate into a flop sweat.

Answering the Question

With that said, how can jobseekers prepare for this question—and when it comes, how can they answer it gracefully and satisfactorily?

Make sure you have an answer ready in advance. You’re probably going to be asked this question, so come up with your answer in advance; on-the-fly responses tend to come across like BS.

Give an answer that is related to your work. This is not the time to address a “weakness” in your marriage or in your out-of-the-office relationships. Don’t drag emotional baggage into the interview.

Be willing to laugh at yourself. If you can think of a humorous example of the weakness you’re discussing, that’s all the better, because it shows real confidence when you’re willing to be the butt of your own joke.

Make it something teachable. The best weaknesses to identify are the ones that you can be coached and trained on—because of course, your new employer can always coach and train!

Explain how you’ve worked on it. Emphasize that your weakness is something you recognize and are invested in improving on.

Don’t do a “humble brag.” Saying your biggest problem is that you work too hard or care too much is lame, and won’t fool anyone.

Arrive in your interview expecting this question—and knowing how you’re going to respond. For more job search tips, hit us up at www.grammarchic.net or 804-831-7444.

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What Your Job Search Needs is an Elevator Pitch

iStock_000020173836XSmallIf you’re in the market for a new job, you need to have a strong, hooky elevator pitch. You need it for a couple of reasons. One, you may actually find yourself in the proverbial elevator with someone—or, you know, having a drink with someone after a conference or seminar—and have an opportunity to do a quick sell for yourself. Of course, you want to be prepared!

You also need an elevator pitch for the job interview itself. Odds are, the interviewer will ask you some version of this tried-and-true job interview question: Why are you the best fit for this position? Or maybe you’ll just get a simple, So tell me about yourself. In either case, the correct response is to offer a succinct summary of your value as an employee. In short: An elevator pitch!

Crafting the Perfect Elevator Pitch

But what does a good elevator pitch entail? Here are a few tips for honing yours:

Remember what an elevator pitch is, and what it isn’t. A good elevator pitch is a 15-to-30-second synopsis of who you are as an employee. It is not a full walk through your resume. As such, you should be focused on high points and the general overview, not on hitting every single job you’ve ever had or every single skill in your toolbox.

Think in terms of value. You don’t want your elevator pitch to be a laundry list of skills. Rather, you want it to be a quick appraisal of the value you can offer an employer. Maybe you work as a Human Resources professional. Don’t list all of your skills in payroll, compliance, or whatever else; instead, say something like, “I can make your team members more motivated, engaged, and productive, and I can do it with a very small budget.”

Start with a full resume. One way to get your elevator pitch perfected is to start with a full page that includes all the things you want to say to a potential employer. Then, cut it down to half a page; then, to a quarter page; and finally, to just a few precious lines.

Rehearse your elevator pitch. The pitch isn’t just about the words, but how they are delivered. You should be able to give your pitch with total confidence. It should be as easy to you as giving your own name.

You need an elevator pitch, just as surely as you need a good resume. We can help with both. Reach out to Grammar Chic at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Dumb Mistakes That Will Wreck Your Job Interview

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You put a lot of time into your resume and your LinkedIn profile. You devote plenty of energy to filling out applications and winning the attention of recruiters. And you expend a lot of mental energy thinking about—and fretting about—your career prospects.

So don’t let it all be for nothing. Don’t wreck your job interview by making a dumb, careless error.

Believe us, it happens—and more often than you might think. Just consider some of these all-too-common, all-too-fatal interview faux pas:

Showing up at the interview with a Monster energy drink/iced coffee/water bottle in your hands. The only thing to bring to your interview is your resume, and, if applicable, a portfolio of your work. Don’t show up with drinks or snacks, because, for one thing, it makes you look like a delivery man. For a second thing, it will leave you with wet or grubby hands. And for a third thing, it makes it seem like the interview is cutting into your snack time. Not a good vibe.

Dressing in a slovenly, unprofessional, or ostentatious manner. Yes, even in an era of somewhat relaxed corporate dress codes, your interview attire still matters.

Showing up even a little bit late. Really: Being tardy by even a minute can set the tone for the whole interview. Trust us: It will be noticed. Don’t risk it. Plan on showing up about 15 minutes early, to give yourself a buffer.

Lying! Don’t fudge the truth, even a little. The interviewer will consult your resume, call your references, and find you out. Interview dishonesty is always discovered.

Focusing all your attention on salary/benefits. Yes, obviously, you want to know about these things—and the interviewer should tell you. If at all possible, though, let the interviewer bring it up. You want to come across like you actually care about the job, not just the vacation days.

Being aloof. Above all, don’t act like you are disinterested in the job. Enthusiasm goes a long way. You don’t need to act foolish or cartoony, but do make it clear that you want the job and are passionate about what you do.

Don’t let a stupid mistake jeopardize your career prospects. Show up at the interview ready for business. That means bringing along a solid, compelling resume—which is something we can help you with! Call Grammar Chic today at 803-831-7444, or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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How to Nail Your (Surprise!) Phone Interview

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For jobseekers, a phone interview can sometimes be just as intimidating as an in-person one, perhaps even more so; when you’re speaking on the phone you have no way of making eye contact or of “reading the room,” nor to pick up on facial cues or other social signifiers. In short, you feel like you’re in the dark—and that can be stressful!

For many job applicants, though, a phone interview is going to be a necessary part of the process. Here’s what happens, and is happening more and more: A hiring manager gets your resume, reviews it, and finds it to be promising. So then he or she will give you a call to ask a few preliminary questions; this is meant to be a “screening” interview, clearing away any red-flag candidates before the real interviews start. These phone interviews will often come to you as a total surprise—which means you need to be ready.

Know When to Answer

Indeed, preparedness is key. The first rule of thumb is that, when you’re in the job market, you shouldn’t take phone calls unless they’re from people you know and unless you’re really ready for them. Taking a phone call from your spouse, your mom, or your best friend? Fine. A call from a number you don’t recognize? That’s dicier.

Your frame of mind and level of distraction matter here. If you’re at the park watching your kids play or just about to duck into a doctor’s appointment, don’t answer. If you can answer, make sure you stand up, walk around for a moment, and clear your head—then answer.

Remember: Any unknown caller could potentially be a hiring manager!

Get Ready for Voicemail

Are we saying that, if you’re too busy to do a phone interview, you just shouldn’t answer your phone? Well… yes. But make sure you’ve got a voicemail box that’s ready to take over for you.

First, change your voice message to ensure that it conveys professionalism—not anything jokey or goofy. Also make sure you’re on a plan that lets you accept multiple voicemails in your box, and that you’ve cleared out enough space to accept new messages!

Be Professional in the Interview

Of course, you’re going to need to connect with the interviewer at some point. Since these phone interviews come by surprise, you can sometimes feel like you’re being ambushed. Avoid this by preparing some quick notes: Get an index card or two and write down one-to-two sentence summaries of all your past jobs/resume entries, as well as a quick note or two about why you’re interested in the job.

The point of this is not to have a script or to be robotic in your answers, but just to jog your memory and reset your mind if you receive a call at a really unexpected time.

Also make sure that you take the time to introduce yourself professionally and to be thoughtful in your answers. The hiring manager may seem to be rushing you, but that doesn’t mean you have to dash your chances by offering hasty or ill-conceived responses.

These phone interviews are critical—but you won’t get one without a solid resume. Get yours today by reaching out to the Grammar Chic team at www.grammarchic.net, or at 803-831-7444.

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How to Avoid Job Search Burnout

Jobless manSearching for employment can be a full-time job in itself—and as such, it can be more than a little draining. You may feel full of vim and vigor when your job search begins, but if it stretches out for weeks or months then you may quickly find yourself feeling discouraged, dispirited, and frankly exhausted.

In a word, you may start to come down with a case of burnout. The good news is, there are a few basic steps you can take to keep your spirits high, your attitude positive, and your energy flowing. These steps won’t prevent you from feeling pangs of discouragement, from time to time, but they can at least keep you focused on your ultimate goals.

  1. Request feedback. Call up an old boss or supervisor, or a recruiter you’ve worked with, and let them know you’re having a hard time. Ask for some pointers on what you might need to do differently. You may not like what you hear, at least not at first, but it will allow you to walk away with some constructive feedback, rather than feeling like your job search has simply left you empty handed.
  2. Change your interview answers. Once you’ve been interviewing for a while you’ll find that your answers start to sound rote or unenergetic. Think of some new ways to address common questions—personal anecdotes, maybe—and try to inject a new sense of enthusiasm into your presentation.
  3. Do some research—not just into the company, but into the manager you’ll be interviewing with. Head to LinkedIn or Twitter and try to find some common ground—mutual acquaintances, a shared hobby, or something else that you can carry with you into the interview and feel confident in.
  4. Remember that just getting an interview is a big deal. That may seem like small consolation, but really: The majority of resumes never even get phone calls, much less calls for an interview. Remind yourself that, if employers are at least talking to you, it’s because they recognize something of worth in you. Hang in there!
  5. Finally, and as with any full-time job, it’s important to have some methods of stress relief in place. Are you working out? Devoting yourself to a hobby or volunteer cause that you find to be helpful?

A final tip: Getting a brand new resume can certainly put a spring in your step. Reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today to request a resume consultation and rewrite: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Are You Overdoing it in Your Job Search?

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The job search can do strange things to a person. It can often be a frustrating and stressful process, which in turn can make folks feel a little desperate. As such, what begins as a perfectly reasonable and even-tempered quest for employment can gradually devolve into something a little bit uglier—a little bit too aggressive.

Yes, it’s possible to be too aggressive in your job search, something a recent Forbes article makes clear. Seeking employment requires you to be confident and proactive, it’s true, but, as this article makes plain, it’s also important for jobseekers to remember the rules of etiquette; to be gentle and flexible when the situation calls for it; and to realize that coming on too strong hurts more than helps their career progress.

The Forbes article lists a few specific ways in which jobseekers fall prey to over-aggression, and some of them are worth highlighting here:

  1. Not following the accepted protocol on LinkedIn. Yes, LinkedIn can be an invaluable networking tool—but not if you come across as desperate, which you absolutely will if you send out a generic, mass request for more connections. Networking on LinkedIn takes more time, patience, and good manners than that.
  2. Not following the accepted protocol at networking events. The same holds true at live networking events. Showing up with the sole aim of handing out as many resumes as you can—instead of cultivating actual relationships—will get you nowhere fast.
  3. Being too pushy in trying to schedule an interview. Remember: Once you submit an application, there’s nothing you can do but wait and, within reason, follow up. It’s not up to you to schedule the interview; don’t try to force yourself on an employer who simply doesn’t have interest, or maybe just hasn’t had the time to contact you.
  4. Saying you’re the best, instead of just showing it. Hopefully, you have a resume that speaks for itself, and highlights your worth and achievements in a meaningful way. Statements like “I am the best candidate for the job” can actually be a turnoff, Forbes

If we could offer a quick coda to this entire topic, it would be this: Having a firm yet delicate approach to the job search—being assertive but also exercising good judgment and finesse—will take some confidence. Nothing makes a jobseeker feel confident like knowing that he or she has a great resume being circulated. If you need help crafting your own killer resume, don’t hesitate to contact the Grammar Chic team at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Using Holiday Parties to Help Your Job Search

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Just last week, the Grammar Chic blog weighed the heavy question of job hunting over the holidays—that is, should it even be attempted, or are you better off putting your job search on hold until January? The possibly surprising answer is that the month of December is actually an ideal time to job search: Competition is thinner, employers are more desperate, and you have holiday parties to use to your advantage.

Yes, holiday parties. Most of us will attend one or more of them in the weeks to come, and while these yuletide get-togethers can be perfectly merry and bright, they can also be helpful to you as you seek a new job.

How can jobseekers use holiday parties to their advantage? Consider these quick tips:

  • If nothing else—at an absolute bare minimum—you can use holiday parties to hone your speaking, listening, and networking skills. Challenge yourself to talk to as many people as you can; to remember names; to get good at active listening; to ask probing questions, even to people who are frankly kinda boring. You’ll need to do a lot of that kind of thing on the job trail; might as well practice now, in a cheerier and less stressful environment.
  • If you’re in a conversation with someone and the topic turns to work, ask some job-related questions. If the person you’re talking to works in your industry, then great. If not, you can still ask where he or she found work; which career sites he or she recommends; what weird interview questions he or she has fielded; and so on. Again, it’s a great way to hone your skills and prepare yourself further for the job market.
  • Always be networking. Yes, even at a holiday party. Seek out new people to connect with, and if you reconnect with old friends or colleagues—which you very well might, at a holiday party—then don’t forget to follow up. Try to schedule a coffee get-together for next week, or at the very least shoot the person a quick e-mail or LinkedIn message when you get home. Holiday parties can be great for rehabilitating otherwise weak connections.
  • Finally, avoid doing anything that will embarrass you or tarnish your personal brand. Don’t get wasted. Don’t spend all night just talking about you, and certainly don’t spend it bashing your previous employers. All of these behaviors will only serve to hamper your job search.

Even a holiday party can be a platform for moving your job search forward. Another way to enhance your odds, of course, is to invest in a new resume. For more information about Grammar Chic’s top-grade resume writing services, contact us today: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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