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PDF-in

16 Jan

Yikes, I’m sorry it’s been so long since the last post. I am finally home from working in Germany for 2 months and then the holidays came with gusto. Now, it’s back to my normal life and routine.

I highly recommend to everyone that if you have a chance to work in a different country, even for a short time, DO IT! It was so beneficial to see another perspective on the workplace (and life in general) even if it is frustrating at times. But I will treasure all of the things I learned and the great people I met in my time there.

Here’s a quick tip for the day. I know I typically create my resumes on Microsoft Word (I’m sure most of you do). When you email them out or apply online by uploading the document, the format can get really messed up going from your computer to another computer and to possibly another computer after that. It’s best to convert your Word document to a PDF file. That way your resume looks exactly like it should. Not with random characters or unwanted fonts. You have no idea how to do that you say?

Head on over to CutePDF and download the free and basic version of a PDF converter. Once downloaded, all you do is click “Print” with your desired resume and change the printer to CutePDF Writer. Instead of printing, the file is converted to a PDF file. Then you just save it and send it out! Really easy and the instructions are on the website.

You don’t say!

24 Nov

I just had a recent experience in an interview in which a candidate basically trash-talked (ok, slight exaggeration) a program that got him that very interview.

He had a prior internship with my company and was applying to a full-time permanent position. On his resume he had listed a program that my company had created to keep “high-potentials” together and notify them of any entry-level positions. Since I’m currently working in Germany from the US, I hadn’t known about this program so I asked him what it was (so I could also hear his own words describing it). Basically, the program had fizzled but instead of being positive about being picked for it, he basically said (in not so many words) it was useless and didn’t really help him. Even though a contact in that group had gotten him to this particular interview. This incident completely rubbed the hiring manager wrong and it was brought up in the post-interview discussion. This candidate is not going to be offered the job.

Moral of the story: Never put anything in a negative light whether it be a past boss or present position. In this case, he spoke negatively about a program at the very company he was interviewing at! Even if you did not have the best experience in a prior position, you can mention that you wish you had learned more and then try to highlight atleast one positive aspect even if you don’t have much to say. The worst thing you can do it speak even slightly negatively about a prior manager. It just plain makes you look bad. You can speak about how your manager’s personality was different and what steps you took to resolve it. But never throw out something like “Yeah, my manager sucked. All he ever told me was to get his coffee and to make a lot of copies.”

So recent grads and others out there, definitely watch what you say in an interview. It can and will be held against you.

Stopping your job hunt during the holidays?

21 Nov

I came across this article on MSN careers about stopping your job hung during the holidays. Certainly an interesting question. 

On one hand, this time of year is the busiest for companies because they are gearing up for next year. It is a crazy time of the year for most people and it may be hard to be as dedicated to your search as before. But it doesn’t hurt to apply to atleast a few jobs. Yes, you may not hear until the first of the year. You may have to delay your interviewing process due to people taking their last vacation days. But when you apply for a job, it goes into the system. There’s no changing that and your application will always be there for companies to see. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is.

The article states there may be an advantage to those looking this time of year because there are many people that stop their search which lowers your competition. And it also shows that you truly want the job. You could also take the opportunity to network during any holiday parties you might have. You never know which crazy relative has a connection into the working world.

Don’t read too much into this. I feel that yes, maybe there is less competition during the holiday job search and maybe employers do feel more generous and happy but truthfully, it is just like any other time of year in this world. Companies want their jobs filled and will fill them if the openings are there. So enjoy the holidays and don’t kill yourself in searching for jobs this time of year. Atleast save some time watch Christmas movie marathons or to deck the halls.

“Oh, she was a great employee…”

16 Nov

References are an important part of job-searching and needing them tends to come during the interview/hiring process. But you should start thinking about it sooner rather than later (a.k.a. during the application process).

In my opinion, you should not put your references directly onto your resume (unless you are applying for a federal job which is another post for another day). There’s no need for that. You can put “References upon request” at the bottom if you wish. But I never did that and I know many people don’t. Employers should know if they want references and if you want the job, you will give them the references. Even if you haven’t had an employer ask for them yet, it’s definitely best to compile them ASAP. Trust me, it’s so much easier when you have each person’s information in one place.

First, pick 3-5 people you think would make good references. This list typically includes past professors, supervisors, and co-workers. No, they don’t include your BFF, Jill. Or your mother even though I’m sure she would give you a great reference. They have to be professional or education-related, unless noted.

This may seem obvious, but choose people who will actually give a good reference to the company calling and asking about you. Pick people you have had a strong relationship with in the past or will know of your successes. Once you settle on those chosen few…

ASK FOR THEIR PERMISSION!

Obviously, most people would be happy to be a reference. But let them know what kind of jobs you are looking at and what companies could be calling them. Also, it is a good idea to give them an updated resume just in case. Once they say they will gladly speak about how amazing you are to prospective employers, gather their information. The should include: email addresses, phone numbers, companies/schools they are employed by, home/work addresses, position names, and how long you have known them. Keep this a file on your computer. Print it out. Also, it is a good idea to keep this listing on your phone (You seriously never know. I’ve had to fill out applications in-person right before an interview so be prepared). You will be relieved to know that you can just simply pull up a list when asked and you’ll be all set.

Some employers call each person directly, asking them a set of questions. Other companies send out specific links to fill out an anonymous survey about the candidate (my current organization uses this method) and compiles the scores and comments. Either way, the difference between getting a job and not getting a job may come down to one reference.

Words of Encouragement

14 Nov

I know there’s so many of you recently graduated job-seekers out there (and obviously plenty that have not just recently graduated) and “I say just keep swimming” like Dory in Finding Nemo.

I got really annoyed when people would say “Oh, you will find something. Just keep looking. Something will come up.” It’s obnoxious hearing that from people who are currently holding down jobs. But it is true, something will come along when you least expect it. And I know there’s sooo many job-searching tips out there on “How to Have the Perfect Resume” or “Ace That Interview” but most of all, stick to being yourself. Everyone has great accomplishments and skills so just make sure you highlight those. Maybe one employer will reject for not having a particular skill but then another employer will hire you because you have the perfect skill set. You just don’t know and recruiting is very subjective.

Keep your head up everyone! I truly know what it’s like to be searching for hours and hours each day for jobs while all of my friends got theirs. I know that it’s like sitting at home on a weekday pouring over Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com, hoping to find ANYTHING. I know what it’s like to find a job or internship and be laid off not much later due to budget-cuts when I thought I’d be all set for awhile. That’s why I started this blog, to help others who are probably going through the same thing I did, putting all of the advice I got and things I learned along my journey into one spot.

Thanks for reading!

Dear Sir/Madam

12 Nov

It’s really important to address your cover letter to a real person within the company you are applying to (none of that To Whom It May Concern or Dear Sir/Madam stuff). It looks insincere if cover letters are addressed to no one. It may seem difficult but there are ways to find out who to make the letter to, even if it isn’t exactly who is doing the hiring/recruiting for the particular position.

Here are some ways to find that elusive person to address your stellar cover letter to:

1. Research recruiters or HR employees from that prospective company on LinkedIn.

2. Also try the same thing on Facebook or Twitter…you never know.

3. Call the company’s HR department to see who would be the appropriate person to address it to.

4. If you know another employee at that particular company, ask him/her.

5. Simply look at the job announcement if you had found it online. Try various websites that have job searches. Sometimes the contact person is put right onto it.

6. Try to manipulate your Google search with the job title, the company name, and the addition of the phrase “human resources.” You never know what could come up.

I didn’t take my own advice until later in my job search. I actually found the cover letter to the job I’m at currently and sure enough, I had addressed it to one of the directors. It wasn’t EXACTLY the right person to send it too but it seemed to work.

Have a great weekend everyone! I’m off to do a little traveling to Nuremberg which is the closest major city to where I currently am.

Research, Research, Research

10 Nov

It is so so SO important to research the company you are interviewing for. Throwing around a couple of facts or recent pieces of news can really make a difference during the interview.

When I first started interviewing during my senior year of college (2008-2009), my research consisted of just looking at the company’s mission. And that was it. Yes, that is important but should not be all you should focus on. Take a good look at the website. Is there anything that the company does that is interesting to you and you want to learn more about? That’s something you could mention when an interviewer asks if you have any questions. Google the company. Even check out its place in the stock market (if applicable). If it is a non-profit, make sure you are passionate about its cause or else the interviewer will know if you aren’t. Find out something about the company that may be relevant to your position. Research any changes that could be occuring. If it manufactures a product, learn about it.

Also, it is important to make sure your little facets of knowledge about the company aren’t randomly placed. Exhibit A:

Recruiter: “Why do you feel you would be a fit at Monsters, Inc.”

Sully: “I feel that I scare well enough to belong…So your stocks are now at $50 per share? Cool.”

It does not work like that and it could work against you as the job-seeker. Aim for something like Exhibit B:

Recruiter: “What do you feel you could contribute to Monster’s, Inc?

Sully: “I feel that over the years, my scaring skills have progressed qualitatively. I recently saw an article about Monsters, Inc. that you are looking into a new scaring method for children. I have had experience with this particular method in the past at another company and I could offer this expertise.”

I wanted to make this slightly funny but I hope you understand what I mean when this is translated to the real world. Being armed with a few pieces of information about the company will help immensely in interview and even just in applying. I’ve had interviewers say “Did you see this section on our website?” or “What do you know about what we do?” So be prepared.

Why, Thank You!

9 Nov

Ah, the thank you note. Certainly important yet many recruiters report not ever receiving a handwritten thank you note or even just a quick email of thanks from the prospective job candidate. I think it is important to send a thank you note to those who interviewed you and it is another chance to reiterate why you are the perfect fit for a job. It is also good to bring up a subject that was discussed during the interview so the thank you note is not so generic sounding. To make sending a thank you note easier, make sure you get the business cards of those who are interviewing you so you have their contact information.

A handwritten note is nice and adds that extra “oomph” but sometimes a thank you email is necessary because it will get to the recruiters/interviewers far quicker. It also depends on what contact information you receive from them during the interview. Sending a thank you indicates you truly want the job and that you appreciated that the interviewers took time out of their busy days to speak with you. It could be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job if it comes down to a couple of people. Also, make sure you send the note as soon as possible, within 24 hours of the job interview. If you so choose, you could send a quick thank you email a few hours after the interview then follow-up with a real thank you letter afterwards, so it arrives in the day or two after the interview. 

Here are some good thank you note  samples.  As you see, they say why a candidate is a good fit for a job and as I said, it’s good to mention something unique that was brought up during the interview to showed that you actually paid attention. It does not have to be a 3-page letter on why you are so great and thanking them 50 times. Just something short and sweet to show you are truly serious about wanting the job. Also, if 3 people from the company interview you, make sure you do NOT write the same exact note to the 3 of them. They could actually compare, you never know. Try to remember little things about what each person said to include in the note. It may take some thinking but it will be worth it in the end when you receive that job offer call.

LinkUp LinkedIn

4 Nov

There are so many different ways to utilize LinkedIn as a tool to find a job or network with others. I could probably write a whole blog on LinkedIn and its uses alone. But today I’m just going to talk about one idea I recently came across in helping a friend look for a job.

When job-hunting, I was ALWAYS on the look-out for company and organization names (especially local, a.k.a. the Boston area for me) that I could search on the web regarding their vacancies. Whether it be a billboard or an office building near the highway, I tried to get inspired. I know most companies don’t advertise on Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com, you have to dig to find available jobs. I turned to LinkedIn to see where people worked in my chosen field of Human Resources.

Now, you can buy the professional version but being the broke, recent college grad that I was, I refused to fork over the extra money at the time. But my method proved to be relatively sufficient in finding local companies.  I would type in, say, “human resources” (complete with the quotation marks) in the search bar on the upper right-hand side of the page. I left it on the “people” option usually.

LinkedIn would then bring up people who worked in Human Resources. Most likely thousands. So on the left-hand side, you can choose to narrow the search down by city-area. Then, in browsing through the profiles, I could find companies in my area that would have HR departments. I would check out the company websites to see what was available. I also check out former and present companies of my friends to get more ideas for companies. Maybe this isn’t a “highly-rated” way of job-searching but it worked for me!

Another example: A friend of mine is in the health communications field which is a tough field to find jobs. She was having trouble finding organizations that would have that sort of position available. So I used this search method and found a few local companies that could have health communications jobs. It shouldn’t be your number one way, but it’s a good, new method.

Craigslist-Both Good and Bad

31 Oct

Guten Tag from Germany!

As I had mentioned last week when I posted, I will be in Germany for the next 2 months doing a work rotation. It’ll certainly be a cultural experience along with a chance to work in a different environment. Maybe I will even learn alittle to put onto here! Did you know that in Europe, when applying for a job, you put your picture on your CV? And you include information such as your nationality, age, and date of birth? It is certainly a far cry from the United States where none of the information is included until one is hired and it is considered strange of an applicant does include that information.

Here is a small tip I learned during my job search. Now, Craiglist is a good place to look for jobs but I was always wary and uncertain if some jobs were actually legit. I tried to avoid applying directly through Craigslist but instead I used information from posts as a guide to find jobs on companies’ websites. It was a way to see if a job was actually vacant. I know companies do not post all of their available jobs on their career websites but if the Craigslist posting also did not show up on a company’s website, I tended to avoid it. Unless there was a direct email to send a resume to. Like this example below:

As you can see, this post has a legit email and a website that you can find more information. Some Craigslist postings are vague and those are the ones I would avoid. You definitely have to do a little bit of digging if you see a post that interests you.  Really keep an eye out because you don’t want to be sending your information to a random guy who is looking to prey on poor, innocent job-seekers like you.