Tag Archives: Job Seeking Advice

Getting the Job (When You’re Not Really Qualified)

Few things are more discouraging than seeing an open job position that sounds just perfect for you—the kind of role you want, at a respected company, with great benefits—only to find that you’re not technically qualified for it. The recruiter wants five years of experience, and you just have two; or, there’s a list of specific skills needed, and you only possess a handful of them.

A lot of jobseekers run into situations like these and just move on. Of course, that’s perfectly reasonable—but here’s the thing: Underqualified people get hired for great roles all the time—and often, they end up really excelling.

So what can you do to make yourself competitive for a position that, on paper, you’re not suited for? Here are a few tips.

Going Beyond Your Qualification

Show off the skills you do have—enthusiastically.

The recruiter has a list of skills that they want to see—but your job is to take their mind off that list and focus them on your list. Use your resume to sell yourself, highlighting the breadth of your experience and the wide range of things you can do well. Focus on the value you offer, and the specific achievements you’ve had. Build a case for yourself as a uniquely talented and multi-faceted applicant.

Emphasize your potential.

You may lack some of the technical skills needed for the job, it’s true—but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn them. Use your resume to showcase the fact that you’re a quick study and an eager learner. Show off your continuing education and the ease with which you adopt new talents.

Provide context.

You can use a strong cover letter to fill in the gaps and really convince the recruiter that your candidacy is serious. Paint the big picture, portraying yourself as a talented and enthusiastic applicant who is ready and able to learn new things and really grow into the role.

Be a positive force in your interview.

When you sit down for the job interview, that’s when you really have to sell yourself effectively—shifting focus away from the ways in which you fall short of the requirements, and toward all the ways you shine. Avoid negative phrasing (“I’ve never done,” “I don’t know,” etc.) in favor of positivity: “I’d love to work on,” “I’m eager to learn,” etc.

Reach Higher

You may not be the best candidate on paper, but that doesn’t mean you have to take no for an answer. A solid resume and cover letter can get you in the door, and convince hiring managers that you’re just the right person for the job. Get your resume materials up to snuff with a little help from our team; contact Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444 or http://www.grammarchic.net.

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How to Write a Post-Interview Thank You Note

Job interviews are all about making a positive impression—and that’s something you can do even once the interview itself is technically over. Within a day or two of your job interview, send a thank you note to the person you interviewed with. It doesn’t matter whether the interview was a triumph or a total disaster; it doesn’t even matter whether you still want the job or not. You never know when you might encounter someone from that organization again, and it’s simply wise to make sure you leave that strong impression.

Before You Leave the Interview

Even before you exit from the interview, one thing you can do is ask everyone you’re interviewing with for a business card. That way, when you send thank you notes, you don’t leave anyone out—and you don’t get anyone’s name wrong! At the very least, take an extra minute to confirm that you have all the names right before you leave the office.

How to Write Your Thank You Note

As for actually composing your thank you note, here are some tips to keep you on the straight and narrow.

  • Send an individual thank you note for everyone you interview with—not just one blanket thank you for the group. That personal touch goes a long way!
  • If at all possible, send your thank you note within 24 hours of the interview—48 at the very most.
  • Mention specifics. Make note of something about the company you found to be exciting, e.g., “I was excited to hear about New Client A,” or “I think new app B sounds like a tremendous asset.”
  • Highlight a particular skill or achievement from your own resume that you think will align with the position in question.
  • Affirm once more why you feel as though you’re a good fit for the position.
  • Make sure each thank you note is unique! Remember that the people who receive them may compare them, so you don’t want each thank you note you send to be a generic form letter.
  • Keep the letter fairly brief and straight to the point; you want to reaffirm your thankfulness for the interview and your interest in the position, but you don’t need to belabor things. A good thank you note is usually a paragraph or two.

Always Send a Note

Again, it’s always good to send a thank you note—even if you don’t really want the position. Keep those impressions positive—and your bridges from burning.

By the way: Sending your thank you note via email is almost always acceptable, unless you know the company to be especially formal or old-fashioned—like a law firm, perhaps.

And if you need help composing a robust, effective thank you note, we encourage you to use our team. Grammar Chic, Inc. can help you craft the perfect resume, cover letter, and yes, even the perfect thank you note. Reach out to us today to learn more: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Bad Job Search Habits That You Need to Break

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Nail biting. Interrupting people when they speak. Eating junk food. All of us develop a few bad habits over the course of our lifetime, and if we’re really alert, we’ll take note of them and work to break them. The same holds true in the job search. Jobseekers can’t help but pick up a few less-than-helpful practices, but success depends on breaking those habits and replacing them with healthier ones.

So what are your bad job search habits? Maybe you’re already aware of them. If not, allow us to list five of the most common examples. If you recognize any of these habits in yourself, it goes without saying that you should try to turn over a new leaf!

Bad habit: Being vague about what you want.

Say you’re at a party or a networking event, and you mention that you’re looking for work. “Oh, what kind of a job are you interested in?” someone might say. Don’t respond with something generic: “Well, I dunno, maybe something in marketing… or something where I can write… really anything that’s creative…” Nobody wants to hire someone so wishy-washy. It’s better to have a specific job search objective, and to be ready to voice it—like a well-honed elevator pitch.

Bad habit: Applying for every job you see.

Some jobseekers take sort of a scattershot approach to their job search, throwing out five or 10 applications every day to any and every open position they see. It’s almost impossible to truly follow up with such an all-over-the-place search, though, and being focused on applying for only jobs that truly fit your skillset and career objective makes more sense.

Bad habit: Using the same resume for every job.

This goes back to what we said about being generic. Each job opening calls for its own, precisely honed resume—one that highlights how you’re a good fit for that specific role. Having a few versions of your resume that you can choose from is invaluable.

Bad habit: Trying to be too creative with your resume.

Some jobseekers are constantly looking for new fonts, formats, or colors that can set their resume apart—but in the process, they are undermining their own professionalism. The best way to stand out is with a resume that’s organized smoothly and highlights achievements and core competencies clearly.

Bad habit: Not following up.

Applying for a job is one thing, but following up on an application is where the magic usually happens. If you’re not in the habit of routine follow up, it’s time to get there!

Another habit we recommend? Periodic resume tune-ups from the Grammar Chic team. You can start the process by giving us a call at 803-831-7444, or by visiting 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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5 Job Interview Questions Designed to Trip You Up

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It’s the human element that makes interviewing for a job so tricky, so daunting. You can hold all the practice interviews and rehearse all the canned answers you want, but at the end of the day you’re going to be sitting across from another human being, who can ask nearly any question that springs to mind. While it is both good and right to prepare for common, stock interview questions, the applicant must also go into each interview with the knowledge that anything could happen.

On that note: There are some surprisingly (and increasingly) popular interview questions that you should make a special effort to prepare for. These aren’t necessarily among the “stock” questions you’re familiar with, but they’re not uncommon among interviewers—and they’re designed to be a bit tricky, not necessarily with the intention of making you fall flat but rather of helping the interviewer see how well you think on your feet.

What are some of these surprising, tricky interview questions? We’ve highlighted five particularly treacherous ones below.

Why are you seeking a new employment opportunity?

In the surface, this one may seem fairly innocuous—and it can be. Maybe you’re looking for a new job because you’re currently unemployed, or maybe you’re simply ready for a change for you or your family. That’s all perfectly fine.

This question becomes insidious and damaging, however, when you start talking smack about your current employers. That’s really what it’s designed to do: To show the interviewer whether you’re a particularly negative person or not. If you show up at an interview and speak poorly of your current job, why should the interviewer expect you to be any more of a team player at this new company? Prepare for this question by reminding yourself not to air your dirty laundry in public, as far as your old employers are concerned.

How do you manage to find time for interviews?

This question is designed to uncover whether you’re effectively cheating your current employer or not—because if you are, there’s no reason to suspect you won’t cheat your next employers, too. You can deflect—and underscore your interest in the position—by stating that you’re taking personal time for the interview because the opportunity seems so perfect for you, so exciting.

Do you know anyone who currently works for our company?

Here’s another one that seems innocent enough. You may think it’s a great thing to have a friend on the inside, talking you up and recommending you to the hiring manager. It can be—but only if your friend is respected within the company. Remember that the friend’s characteristics and reputation are automatically going to become associated with you—so select your referrer wisely!

What’s your dream job?

The point of this question is to determine whether you’re applying for every job in sight, or taking a more targeted approach—and you want to underscore that you’re doing the latter. “This is the place I’d like to work,” you should say; as hokey as it might sound, this simple answer really is the best one.

What does the word X mean on your resume?

Finally, don’t be surprised to have interviewers ask you to explain certain words on your resume—a relatively recent response to the trend of meaningless buzzwords that proliferate on resumes. If you think you can get away with calling yourself “hard-working” or “diligent” without being able to offer up any concrete examples, well, think again.

This last one, of course, underscores the importance of having a really meaningful resume in place. To learn more about this important step in job search preparation, contact our team today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

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