The Career Club

a blog providing support & information on career building

Archive for the ‘The Search’ Category

Job Hunting Errors

with 2 comments

Since the economic downfall, I’ve been critiquing almost triple the resumes and conducting one on one counseling than the year before. I’ve also been scheduling several trainings on more campuses then ever before. It still completely boggles my mind the lack of education many of our students receive when it comes to the basics of looking for a job.

In this tight job market, employers are being very selective then before. Candidates need to be well aware of any habits or mistakes that could be the reasons they are not being hired. Years ago I came across an article by Costello, Erdian & Company thats to the point on the top job hunting errors. Here are the top 10 job hunting errors:

1. Poor Resume: The resume is used as a quick screening device by  most employeers. If it doesn’t strike them as outstanding, your chances of an interview may be nil. The resume should describe education and experience in a concise, well-written format. More importantly, it should emphasize accomplishments, over duties and responsibilities.

Create a quality resume using one of the following templates:
Functional Resume Template
Chronological Resume Template

2. Failure to Network: Friends, acquaintances and people you know should be sought out and their information be used in developing job leads.

3. Limiting Job Sources: Classified ads, employment agencies and other sources are often overlooked. Use all possible methods to learn of appropriate jobs.

4. Unplanned Approach: Pre-printed cover letters, quick and unimaginative phone calls and short non responsive resumes save time for the candidate but turn off employers who feel they will take short cuts in carrying out job responsibilities.

Write a simple but personized cover letter using the following template:
Simple Cover Letter Template

5. Too Short Work Week: For the unemployed, the job search should be a 40 hour per week proposition. You don’t get a job by only using part of your free time.

6. Inadequate Interview Preparation: Each situation is a separate challenge and requries unique preparation. Responses must be timely, flexible and address the specific needs of the employer.

7.  Poor Interviewselling  Techniques: A “give and take” honest relationship must be established during the interview. Candidate should exchange information while listening attentively, selling themselves and demonstrating enthusiasm for the job and the company.

Learn more about interviews by clicking here and here.

8. Restricted Job Search: Restrictions on geographical locations, commuting time, parking facilities, size and type of employer, and other personal matters should be secondary to the overall merit of an opportunity. Financial and professional pressures may also change your outlook later and make the opportunity more feasible. Remember that you can always decline a job offer if it is judged to be unattractive or a better one develops.

9. Negative Attitude: Candidates who “have all the answers criticize their managers, second guess employers” are seldom invited for second interviews. Negative attitudes toward prior jobs are seen as predictors of future performances.

10. Poor Physical Appearance: While there is no need to look like a movie star, candidates who do not demonstrate self-respect by creating a positive image are usually judged to be unacceptable.

Source:
Costello, Erdian, & Company
a national outplacement counseling and human resources consulting firm
as posted on University of Wisconsin’s Career Center
Website

Advertisements

Fear Not the Unemployment Rate

with one comment

According to Sify News today, the unemployment rate in the nation is currently at 9.7%, the highist in 26 years. That’s with the job cuts being at it’s lowest this year, with 216,000 labor jobs cut in August.

What do these numbers mean? First of all, the unemployment rate is higher because it’s including those who did not find jobs from the months before. It is also high because blue collar jobs such as construction (with 65,000 job cuts) and manufacturing (with 63,000 job cuts) are being cut at a faster rate then white collar jobs, with the exception of the financial institutions (with 28,000 job cuts).

However, this report should not scare anyone. For one, the Department of Labor is working to bring in more jobs and make the job cuts even lower next month according to Secretary Hilda Solis. Remember that the stimulus package is slowly starting to fund many infrastructure projects which will help the construction sector. I do believe the government needs to mandate the overseas job sourcing for cheap labor. However, that idea will have to wait for another blog.

What can you do when you hear something like this? What ever you do, DO NOT PANIC! You would be surprised how many jobs are available out there, especially in many metro areas such as San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Houston and Miami. At least in San Francisco where I live, companies are going out of their way to not have any layoffs, but pay cuts so that their employees maintain their jobs. You will have to work harder then just posting your resume on an online job board. You’ll have to expand on your network, utilize the social media and even make a few cold calls. Organize your time as to what your tasks are in order to get back into the work force. Something as simple as looking up templates to perfect your resume can do you a lot of good in the near future.

Functional Resume Template

Chronological Resume Template

If you are self employeed as I am, you will have it tougher getting those contracts when businesses are on a strict budget. If you are willing to take on part-time job or even a second job along side your freelance work, I recommend you do so. I also recommend to all my job seekers to take refresher courses in their fields at their local community colleges. If you used to work in the construction or manufacturing sectors, I recommend going back for higher education in another feild or even a certification in a similar sector. It is never to late to pick up new skills that could even help you improve the skills you already have. The Department of Education is encouraging it if anything, they are helping fund it! I had much of my BSBA student loans bought out by the DoE at an extremely low interest rate!

In short, there is much hope in getting back into the workforce by doing your research, organizing your job search tasks, as well as going back to school. Until next time, fear not the unemployment rate reported, stay positive as you continue to work towards your goal.

Happy Labor Day!

To Craigslist or Not to Craigslist

with 2 comments

I have been researching some of these job search engines out there today but focused on the local ones. One in particular always stands out to me, Craigslist. I’ve always used and respected the work Craigslist has done in regards to finding local work, gigs and community events. Something I noticed with Craigslist which I wanted to share with my job seekers.

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting or advertising for Craigslist, just giving pointers on how to use them.

I put my resume on Craigslist where my email address was viewable. In one hour, I had received a good 30 emails, none of them were real jobs. Just a bunch of scam companies promoting working from home wiring money. The same happened when I then posted my resume with the option to make my email address anonymous. When I posted my resume without my email address and just my phone number, then I got about two calls with serious job offers.

Obviously, something is up when using Craigslist.

The companies that continued to email me rarely had any postings up on Craigslist. That could be explained by two things, 1. it does cost $75 per job posting and 2. Craigslist let’s its users flag postings that are seen as spam. It would make sense that companies really looking to hire would invest the time and money to find the right candidate.

What can job seekers do to better utilize Criagslist? I suggest that must you post your resume, take your email out of the equation. You’ll get fewer responses but at least they are serious calls. I would prefer that you DON’T post resumes on Craigslist. Instead, designate time to search jobs posted. You can even have search results from keywords emailed to you on a daily basis so that you don’t miss out. That works more efficiently then getting 30 spam emails.

There are plenty local job search Web sites right here in the Bay Area that you can utilize including Bay Area Help Wanted and Bay Area Jobs. Share your favorite local job search Web sites by posting a comment below, on our Facebook group or message me on Twitter.

Written by Ms. Hala

14 July 2009 at 4:00 am

Posted in The Search

Tagged with , ,

Action Plan for Ex-Offenders

leave a comment »

Last week, on March 21st, four Oakland Police officers were killed in the line of duty. An ex-offender, 27 years old, had violated his parole and had a warrant out for his arrest. A routine traffic stop turned into a battle that ended with his death amongst the four officers noted. The mass memorial service for all four officers in Oakland was attended by the entire Oakland Police Department force along with over 20,000 members of the community and televised on almost every local station in the Bay Area on March 27th. This story truly struck a cord with many in uniform across the nation and with many community members in the Bay Area.

This story struck a personal cord with me, with family and friends on both ends.

It upset me that this young man had a chance to turn his life around after getting parole only to get killed going back to his offenses. I remembered how during my first year of being educated on providing counseling and job training, (ironically also in Oakland), I worked not only with the homeless community, but also with ex-offenders. More then I can count that year did I see ex-offenders get hired in positions they never thought they were even qualified for. Participating in many workshops and trainings throughout the years thereafter, I would almost always meet at least one individual who was an ex-offender that went from having a negative to a positive outlook on what they can achieve; and what an accomplishment they have become!

Below is what I have learned since that year on better helping ex-offenders in their job search as a start to their new rehabilitated life. Those who wanted to truly make those mistakes learning stones and a thing of the past by having a positive outlook on what they can achieve.

Action Plan for Ex-Offenders
If you think you can’t get a job because you are an ex-offender and/or out on parole, think again! The number one reason you may never break this barrier is because you simply don’t want too. Making the excuse that no one will hire you because you are an ex-offender isn’t the way to go. You must be willing, determined and have a positive approach to your job search. You need to develop an action plan on how to you’ll get back on your feet to walk the better paths.

First, you need to be fully aware of what your charges were and that there are no errors of any kind. The US Department of Labor notes that any “inaccurate information may give an unnecessarily negative profile of the individual.” This means that you don’t want to state in your applications and interviews that you were convicted of one offense and the employer does a background check only to find other offenses. You would lose the chance of being hired not because of your offense, but the pretense that you lied to them. So make sure you are all set there by getting a copy of your records and going through them with your attorney or assigned probation/parole officer.

When you have all that information set, you need to learn what kind of work you can actually hold. There are federal laws that prohibit and regulate that those with certain convictions of or involving dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering or participation in a pretrial diversion program for those offenses cannot work in the financial industry in any position with access to money. For example, if you were convicted of theft, you can’t be a teller at a bank. Many states also have similar laws that detail specific industries an ex-offender may not work in depending on their convictions. For example, certain positions with such prohibitions tend to be in industries where those deemed “vulnerable” are directly involved. Such industries include childcare, education, security, nursing and home health care.

That may come off negative but you can’t simply expect to be given such a risky chance without willing to prove that you have changed, learned and can be of a major asset to the employer as well as society. Note though that an employer has the right and responsibility to determine the conviction in relation to the position to be filled. The factors an employer should put in considerations are:

  1. How long ago was the offense?
  2. How old were you when the offense took place?
  3. What was the nature and gravity of the conviction?
  4. What efforts have you made toward rehabilitation?

What can help you, especially with the last factor there, is if you have all your documents in order along with your resume such as any certifications you received as well as a recommendation letter from your assigned probation/parole officer. That takes us to the next step in your action plan. Depending on where you live (and funds available for these programs especially during these difficult economic times), there are many support groups, training programs, courses at local community colleges and even job fairs for ex-offenders. These types of information and resources your officer would almost always know about. Make sure to always be in touch with your officer and never, I mean NEVER, miss a meeting. Its when you can showcase to your officer your action plan and commitment to being a better person that they can be of a better support system to you!

Aside from the steps discussed in the Career Development Guidebook (and throughout this blog) there are extra steps to take to better overcome this barrier of being an ex-offender looking for work. You must always be confident that your conviction, aside from the laws stated above, doesn’t eliminate your chances of being a good candidate for the position you are applying for. Make sure before turning in your application and resume to the company, that you check with the employer if there are any specific convictions that can disqualify you from the position your applying for. This could be that they have certain policies complying with state laws or as mentioned above, what relation the conviction is to the position open. Be sure to note the person’s name and position in the company as this will be important in your application and interview.

When you fill out your application, under where it asks you of any felonies or convictions, BE HONEST! Don’t detail everything in your application! You can write something like, “Will be pleased to discuss during interview.” If someone told you that your conviction doesn’t disqualify you, make sure to add that note after your response, “conviction does not automatically disqualify according to name, job title.” I would also put your assigned officer’s name and number for a reference. This assures the employer that even before they interview you, that you have been making the efforts because your assigned officer is willing to give you a reference!

During the interview, the conviction without a doubt will come up as you noted that you’d be pleased to discuss it then. You do not need to detail everything that happened. You want to say something along the lines of, “When I spoke with name, the job title, I was very pleased that I would be seen for my experience and skills before my conviction. My conviction was _____. Since then, I have participated in a _____ program where I graduated and expanded on my skills in _____. Currently I utilize these skills by volunteering at _____ and hope to obtain this position where I can utilize these skills and learn new ones.” You want to highlight all the positives arising from your conviction. You don’t want to bad mouth anyone or put yourself on the defensive. This isn’t the place, the time or the person to be delving all that information too.

With your action plan, you should be able to break that barrier. Remember, you are confident because you are now a better person then the mistake you made. Be honest, be positive, be willing to ask for support and you will find yourself in a much better place then you were.

To learn more about available programs and support systems in your area, make sure to check the US Department of Labor’s Web site, be in contact with your assigned probation/parole officer and connect with your network. You can always send me an email with your question and expect a response!

Written by Ms. Hala

31 March 2009 at 7:45 am

Posted in The Search

Tagged with , , ,