While the job market is changing overtime, and will continue to change due to the pandemic, people will most likely have to pick up jobs that will lead to disappointment — as a result of the job shortages.
So the question is if you were offered a job that wouldn’t necessary fit what you are looking for, should you take it?
If you are starting your career as a recent college grad or transitioning to a new field but aren’t quite sure on a path, here are some advice that will hopefully point you to a direction:
- For what is worth, look for what satisfies you. The better you like it, the better you will perform in the field/role. If it feels good, you excel at it and you should do it. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes you didn’t like, that didn’t fit or were not fit for purpose.. would you?
- The perfect job is not about what it is, but rather how it makes you feel and drives you to make things better. That is called your passion. Your passion is something that you enjoy doing everyday, where it doesn’t feel like a job; never phased you or felt like a chore. Instead, you let it motivate and drive you.
- Check out some online psychometric tests or career personality tests (like a Myers Briggs Personality Test) to work out suitability, style, character, leadership, ideal career, etc.
- If you like your role, you should also pay attention to the work environment around you. Stay away from negatively charged people, atmospheres where they can be unproductive, infectious and lead down the path to nowhere.
- In any job/internship/volunteer that you have had, what part of each of them did you enjoy the most? Write that down as a job description somewhere.
- Imagine a person like yourself doing that job and try to morph one to five of them that may exist into a job that exists and even more or less, take your best qualities and apply for jobs that you know you can excel at. Learn more of their internal work flow. Apply that to your thinking cap. It doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
- Weigh the pros and cons of any new job. If you find a job that you think will challenge you and the pros outweigh the cons, consider the new job instead. However, you will need to be passionate about what you do, so then it will feel like you’re getting the work done.
- The most important step is to simply apply. This is often overlooked because job seekers get discouraged when they do not hear back after submitting 100+ applications and that networking is the only avenue to take. However, often these days, people do not apply and are collecting pandemic unemployment assistance — which means they are not even entered into the race to land a new opportunity.
- Most times, you do not know if a role is actually perfect for you until you have gone through the interview process and have been able to gather more in-depth information about the responsibilities, team, culture and company. But the key is to at least apply. That is step one.
- A lot of job seekers have not been applying because they are afraid of rejection. Do not be afraid to apply for a job because there is nothing to lose while going through the process. Up until there is an offer on the table, there is no reaction required — it’s all information-gathering until a final decision needs to be made.
- If you apply for as much opportunities as possible (of course, opportunities that pique your interest), and if you land an interview, that is a bonus. You will still gain valuable skills from going through another interview process. You will learn what to expect and what skills employers are looking for. This is still a win-win.
- We only really get to know how warm the water is by putting our foot in it. Apart from when it seems so obvious that the job is not right, accepting an “imperfect” job is not always as bad as we always think. How many of us can put our hands on our hearts and say without any doubt for the jobs we really enjoyed, we knew that they would be like that before we accepted them?
- Any acceptance should be capable of challenging your abilities. That’s needed for the drive we all have.
- Expectation is the root of disappointment so keeping a realistic perspective is the key to finding the balance in a new job. Maybe not “perfect” but more like “ideal”.
Now if the actual position, company culture or benefits are wildly misrepresented by a potential employer, then that is a different story.
Transparency is paramount on both sides to achieve the best outcomes because it is absolutely possible to have a job you love at a company worth your time and your efforts.
- Live by the “Don’t expect, but settle for just good enough” mindset.
- This isn’t often spoken about but I am sure a number of us can relate to below:
- Finding a balance is more important than setting unrealistic expectations of what you expect and want from a job.
- Sometimes when you say you found the best/ideal job you ever wanted, but things are not the way you expected internally (i.e. employee conflict), you will still end up leaving your so-called “best job”.
- There is no best job, best boss, best colleagues. But you can always work on the best version of yourself. Do not aim for the job to be the best. Rather, aim for yourself to be the best. This is a more realistic approach, perhaps.
- As mentioned previously, there is no such thing as the perfect job. Only a multitude of jobs that offer opportunity and possibility.
- That doesn’t mean one should accept any job. Definitely, one should spend time in self reflection and introspection to try to determine what a good fit may look like: a job that plays to your strengths, skills, character and passion.
- Once that is determined, make every effort to go about the business of seeking opportunities that provide a good fit.
- Once you are in that job/position, do your best work and be the best you possibly can be. Create success for yourself.
- Success brings passion, not passion brings success.
- Rarely is anything truly “perfect”. It is important to know your “must haves” and what is negotiable, all while keeping in mind your present circumstances.
After that, you should also consider whether this position could act as a stepping stone to an ultimate goal.
Ask yourself if what you will learn on this job and the job’s responsibilities will be positive additions to your resume and skill set.
Finally, you need to trust your feelings when it comes to the “vibe” you get from the company and the people you have met.
If you have been honest with yourself during this assessment and you decide to take the job, you may find that it ends up to be much more “perfect” than you originally thought.
- That being said, the keyword is trust your gut. Sometimes, we all jump into something for the fear of not having something “more stable” especially for those working on a contractual basis.
However, the beauty of contracting is, you are not sucked into the underlying dysfunctional dynamics that may or may not be going on within the company with the Full-Time employees.
That in and of itself is a liberating feeling. You get a chance to see what the company would be like to work for if you were a permanent employee and the company gets to see if you are a good fit for them in the long-term as well.
Sometimes, it’s not the perfect job, but there is beauty to it.
- That being said, the keyword is trust your gut. Sometimes, we all jump into something for the fear of not having something “more stable” especially for those working on a contractual basis.
Here is an advice from a Certified Career Management Coach:
My advice would be don’t allow perfection to get in the way of progress. Yes, it’s important to think carefully before making a decision, but sometimes over analysis can lead to paralysis.
There is some degree of trepidation when someone accepts a job offer because they don’t know what they are getting into. That’s the reason it’s important to ‘Know your non-negotiables’ as Lindsey Pollak suggests.
Have a baseline of what tradeoffs might be, then use a T-Chart to help you weigh the pros and cons. Make your decision according to where the balance is heavily tilting.
The candidate may also want to consider the following:
> Is this ‘not-so-perfect-job’ coming after an extensive, unproductive job search, dwindling funds and increasing debt?
> Will the job provide an opportunity for growth? Sometimes taking a side-way step can lead to climbing the career ladder.
> Are there new skills I could learn in this role that could benefit me in the long term?
> What’s the worst that could happen if I accept (or don’t accept) it?
Hope those pointers will help those who are sitting on the fence of indecision.
While no job is perfect, we should enjoy the ride and build up our experience to get a next better job which we aim to achieve. Rome isn’t built in just one day. The employee and employer would have to be compatible to make a good team and relationship to build up the business.
While you take your chance and shoot your best shot at whatever life throws at you, you may find the job enjoyable and can find ways to expand to your dream job. Take a job and improve it!
The most important thing/word I’ve learned in the workplace this week – Evolve.
Evolve immediately. You may have committed meetings/webinars/workshops to attend but if sometimes important internal meetings can occur last minute. Evolve, you get it done – then you flip back to where you need to be.
Many employees stay at a company where the company believes in their people. Employee retention matters to the company as well. Be at a company where you can grow from within and allows you to continue growing as a person. Be at a company where it feels like you found yourself in, where they can see that your values are aligned with their values/mission. Be at a company that stands for everything that you believe in as well.
For example – your favorite part of your role in the workplace could be engaging with consumers and that can help you develop to who you are today.
When you consider applying for jobs, think about “What does this employer look for in talent?” If you are looking to work directly with consumers – you may want to do more research on that specific company that you want to work for. That company may list their ideal characteristics on the description – to name a few: someone who is friendly, a team player, someone who cares about their customers by delivering the best experience, and being influential to others.
We all know that there is so much going on in the world today, let alone a pandemic that we are still going through. Ask yourself when applying to jobs or the current role you are in (whether you are entry-level, mid-level, management or executive level – “Can I be someone who can bring a positive light to someone else?” Now this question can only be answered by yourself. An employer can coach/train you on the responsibilities for the role, but something that cannot be taught is how you show up. Your punctuality/attendance is always on you. Once you get into work, there can be perks such as employee discounts – and this depends on your performance – which can be a competitive process.
If you are looking to go into leadership roles when it comes to moving up within the brand, knowing what you want – each sector/employer has so many different critical experiences that you get an opportunity and exposure to. For example, let’s say for the retail sector. You could be a sales associate but the merch team or visual team may come in and ask you some questions about, “Hey, what are consumers saying about this product? What is it that they want?”
Sometimes, you get those opportunities to have a conversation – and those are the opportunities that are the meaningful ones because once you share what you know and your insights, that team would not want you – but they NEED you.
Eighty percent of your development and your growth is on you and twenty percent is on your leader because there is a plethora of opportunities within the brand. When you share what you want to do with your manager/supervisor, you get to sit down and have that conversation with them. You need to own your career development, share with your leader what you want and what you are looking for, know where you want to go. Then based on what you want to do, your leader will try to help you get there however, the number one driver of that is going to be YOU.
Always latch onto a mentor at work – someone who is there that is doing the job that you want.
An NYC recruiter from a global retail brand that I work close with once told me, “When someone tells you that you want to be in a role, don’t see that as a threat. But see it as a great thing that someone wants to have the job that you have. As a leader, you do your job well so you can train someone else to do that job well. So when someone tells me that they want to be a recruiter, I say ‘Great, let me show you the basics – this is what we do – obviously we need to get approval from your leadership team/employer.’ We can spend some time to chat and once there is that opportunity to stretch or get that experience, I will share with them possible openings that they can apply to and if they get the job – then they can get that experience and grow from there.”
It can’t just be you knowing what you want, but your leadership team and those mentors that you surround yourself with should know as well.
During the interview process, there are many ideal competencies and traits that Spectrum is looking for. Spectrum likes their employees to be great communicators, problem solvers, adaptable, detail-oriented among others, enthusiastic efficient and don’t forget – technologically savvy! These are what make a successful employee at Spectrum.
Spectrum’s Talent Acquisition Senior Recruiter of 15 years in the Greater NYC area speaks and shares his 9 tips in this article to job seekers.
When preparing for that interview, a hiring manager typically reaches out to Talent Acquisition and asks to schedule an interview. In most cases nowadays since 2020, that interview will most likely be virtual instead of being in person. This scenario is becoming increasingly more common. Nearly 75% of executives use real time video to interview their leading candidates and 50% of them leverage it to narrow down their applicants. The process enables employers to open up their talent pool to interview candidates who live all around the globe, and not just the ones who live down the street. It also cuts down on traveling expenses.
So with that virtual interview or video interview, well it’s a normal job interview that leverages video technology where a lot of conversations take place remotely. So rather than meeting face to face, the manager and the candidate are going to connect with each other online using video softwares. The tools typically required for these types of meetings involves a computer, a built-in external/internal video/camera and a microphone, a reliable internet connection (try not to do it wirelessly because most of the time that won’t work very well), and headphones if desired.
So generally a video interview follows the style of a traditional in-person interview. Here’s going to be a few key considerations to keep in mind:
- For perspective employee, try to make that pitch by a video conferencing software such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout. It may be a bit daunting, especially if you are not accustomed to it.
I will give you 9 virtual interviewing tips to reduce the stress, aid in helping you stand out of the crowd, and in the end hopefully help you land a job – whether that is with Spectrum or with another company, these tips still work.
1. Test your technology. The minute you agree to a virtual interview, you need to ensure that you test your technology and ensure that you are set up for success. You want to also check your internet connectivity, you’re going to confirm that your camera and microphone is working. If the picture is blurry or you’re experiencing an echo, you might need to buy a different webcam, you might need to not use the computer’s built-in microphone – but use the speaker phone instead or a separate phone. So this is going to be hard to do 5 minutes before so you don’t want to wait until the day of the interview to figure it out. Most computers these days will allow you to use the audio and video connection. Some of them, will have a choice of using just one single device for this video and the audio. But when you have the option to use separate devices, that is the option you ought to take (one phone for the video portion and one phone for the audio portion – like a phone, laptop or tablet).
Of course in some instances, you are able to just only use that one single device but that’s only going to work if everybody is on the same network – for example, if you are doing internal interviews. But when everyone is on separate networks, the best practice is ensuring you don’t lose the connection altogether – if you prefer to use separate devices.
Here’s a note to keep in mind. On the day of your virtual interview, you will also want to test your internet connection again even though you tested it a few days before. Make sure you do it on the morning of.
Being technologically savvy is one of the 10 traits that employers are going to look for. If you come onto the virtual interview fumbling around with your audio or your lighting during the call, you’re giving the hiring manager a reason to question if you’re the right candidate for the job. Make sure you do not only test it beforehand, but on the day of, you’re going to test it again.
2. Be aware of the surroundings. You’re going to set the scene, minimize the amount of distractions while testing your technology, determines where the interview is going to take place. You want to find a room with optimal lighting, preferably near a window or a wall. Somehow, you’ll be able to guarantee that you are the focal point of the conversation. So the best practice in relation to lighting is to simply set up a bright light that is focused on your face. This should at least as bright as or be brighter than the background behind you. Therefore, this will help you and your personality stand out. It will minimize the background. Also, if you are using window lights as the light changes, because sometimes it gets very bright and sometimes it gets very dark – where in some cases it will cause your camera to start struggling and it will become a distraction to the interviewer instead of the help you thought it might be. Choose the lamp effectively.
Whether you sit on your living room couch or home office, be sure to tidy up your surroundings. It is hard to convince the employers that you are detail-oriented or you are organized, when they are looking behind you and they visibly see papers all over your desk. This might sound remedial, but trust me – as a recruiter, we see this all the time. You need to think, sit in front of your computer and look at yourself and behind you – what the hiring manager will be seeing in the background.
Once you have all of that settled, you are going to want to limit your distractions. This means turning off the TV, turning off the stereo, closing any nearby windows just so you can muffle traffic and neighborhood noise.
3. Sit down and be prepared to engage. Just because you’re in front of a computer, doesn’t mean you can search the web for answers in a middle of an interview OR avoid to start clicking around when a hiring manager asks you a question. So you want to appear focused and ready to answer the question without the help of the internet. No one wants to think that you are cheating on your answers. Trust me, it happens.
You want to do your research on the company ahead of time before you sit down. Print out a copy of your resume and have it near by so you don’t get the key talking points that you want to bring up. However, as with any interview, you’re going to come prepared with answers to any coming questions. This isn’t particularly an interviewing conference call, but there are some that you are going to know how to answer. For example, “why are you interested in the role?”, “what do you know about the company that you are interviewing with?”, “what do you consider your greatest weakness?”, “what do you consider your greatest professional achievement?”, “tell me about some of your challenges and how you dealt with them”, “what are you looking for in a new role and why are leaving your current role?”
The key here is, you want to avoid memorizing each response. That’s not engaging. You don’t want to over rehearse. Instead, write some high level thoughts down on a post-it and stick it to your computer. So being aware of how far your eyes are moving from the screen, because if your notes are far away, it will appear that you are searching for your answers and reading them instead of engaging in that dialogue.Note that you don’t want your notes resting on your lap or from a place where you want to look far away from the screen. In that case, it is going to come quite apparent that every time you are answering a question, you are looking away from your interviewer for an answer. Of course, that is not a good plan.
You want to come prepared and engaged. And how do you engage? You will do that by practicing our next tip below.
4. You have to come mentally thinking about this being a “dialog”, not something that is memorized. So you are going to have to practice. Practice on your dialog that you will have with your interviewer. Don’t focus on trying to memorize all of your anticipated responses. You’re not going to get all of your questions asked anyway. When you have an interview, you want to have a good conversation. Not rehearsing the points that you memorized, because you are going to sound like a robot throughout the interview, whether you are answering, asking or even giving your quick elevator pitch. It is easy to tell that you do not sound genuine.
It is a good practice to run through a practice with your friend. Pull your family members in and have that conversation. This is going to give you a chance to rehearse with different personalities since each person will be asking you a question or answering you a bit differently and it will throw you off so that you will be more ready when you begin to interview with your employer.
So while you are practicing your interview with your friends and family, it might seem a little awkward. But one of the keys that will benefit you from doing that though is you will have a safe atmosphere where it is okay to make mistakes. You can learn from them. You may not have answered the way you thought you should have or you didn’t come across the way you anticipated. That’s where you can hone in your interview skills so that you are better prepared for the real thing.
It is really important that when you are interviewing, you’ve got to keep it really simple. You don’t want to feel like you have to give a long-winded answer if a short answer will do. You won’t know that until you practice some of those answers. So being able to be clear and concise is the most important thing that you are going to need to do in a job interview. So a great answer will always tell your interviewer at least 3 things. Every one of those answers put it on the back of your mind. That answer ought to say what you did on the job. You don’t want to say how well you did what you did on the job. And the very important one you ought not to leave out, because most people do, is your answer ought to tell what was the impact of the action you had on the business or project. So what you did, how well you did it, and the impact it had.
When you prepare those types of answers and you are able to give them freely without memorizing them, or at least not sounding like you memorized them, now you are ready to have a dialogue with your interviewer – and not just a rehearsed, memorized set of answers.
Well that in fact, brings us to our next point. First impressions still count, even in a virtual environment. In with that in mind, there will be 2 tips that I’m going to mention.
5. Monitor your body language. Obviously, you can’t firmly shake a hiring manager’s hand or easily exude enthusiasm through the video, but what you can do is monitor your body language. The main way to communicate confidence during these interviews; well, you’re going to sit up straight, you’re going to smile, you’re going to keep your camera at eye level. You want to avoid the tendency to look at yourself on the computer monitor while you talk. I would suggest you put your computer/laptop on a box so that your eyes are right on the center of the screen and you’re not looking down on yourself, or having to look far up because research shows that employers are more likely to remember what you say if you are maintaining eye contact. So you want to keep your focus on your camera when you’re talking – not looking at the hiring manager. The time when you look at the hiring manager is when he/she is talking.
This brings us to the 6th tip here. You gotta make those first impressions count.
6. Dress for success. So you might be sitting on your bed, but you shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of the bed. You want to dress like you’re going for an in-person interview. Just because a person can’t see what you are wearing from waist level, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to dress. For men, you’re going to wear a button up shirt and dress pants. For women, you might want to consider a dress, skirt and/or a blouse. Besides not knowing if for some reason you’re going to have to suddenly stand up in the middle of an interview, well professional clothing will show that you are serious about the job.
Well, there are personal benefits as well. Studies show that people feel the most authoritative, trustworthy and confident when they are wearing formal business attire. So when you feel good about yourself, it is easier to execute a lot of these tips especially our next one.
7. Connect on a Personal Level. You never know how many interviews a company may conduct for a position. You may be at a long list of people that the hiring manager or recruiter spoke to that day. That’s why it is important to make that small connection. So don’t be afraid to have a short aside about a common interest when you’re in an interview. The recruiter or hiring manager might enjoy the break from the routine questions that they have gone through that day.
You and I know that it is not easy to connect with everyone, but it is a crucial part of the interview. Don’t be afraid to share about yourself or connect about that one thing you discovered that you both like. Take a moment and touch on it, because you want the interviewer to be able to remember a story you told or a common interest that you both share. That is one of the best ways to prevent you from simply blending in with everyone else who came in and interviewed for the same spot.
Trust me, these little tips are what we as recruiters go through each and everyday. We trust that that investment in your time and you will be able to remember these. Use them on yourself and you will see the difference in your own interviewer.
Now, making that connection will really come from a predetermined mindset to employ this next to last tip.
8. Be Yourself. The hiring team is essentially looking for the interviewee to answer 2 major questions. The whole point of the interview: 1) Can you do the work that they need? But guess what, there’s another side. 2) Will you be able to fit into the company culture and department that the hiring manager has as well?
A key task for the recruiting and hiring team is in determining whether in fact, yes – you can do the work, but how will you fit in the team/company’s culture? This can be challenging during your virtual interview because there’s this physical disconnect. We don’t get to see your whole body and we don’t see how you reply to every question, or are your feet moving around a lot, or are you twirling your fingers. We don’t get to see a lot of those verbal or visual cues that helps to go along with your comfort level. So it’s more difficult for your interviewer to understand your enthusiasm or screen them, so make sure that you are more expressive when you are answering the questions.
If you want to use your hands, you may want to do that freely. Let your expressions be bold. If you are a more of a straightforward kind of person, be sure that you’re using those active listing techniques so that your dialogue is free and flowing between you and the interviewer.
Some people are great interviewers. They’re going to be able to tell your vibe. They’re going to be able to tell if you’re going to fit the company culture right off the bat. With that being said, you want to be able to walk away and give your interviewer a reason to push you to the second round of the interview, by shining a light on how you can help the organization grow.
This begins with not just with can you just do the work, but can you fit into the company culture. They are not looking for a robot. They are looking for you. So be sure that you are being yourself on these interviews.
This is going to lead us to our last point.
9. Don’t forget the Professional Graces. As soon as that interview is done, you’re going to do some immediate follow up within at least 24 hours of the interview. You’re going to send an individual Thank You Email to everyone you met. Sometimes they don’t provide you with that information so you should send that Thank You Note to your recruiter and they will forward it to the leadership team. But, make sure you’re taking that extra step.
Put it in a Word Document so you can upload it to your profile so the next recruiter can see that you’re communicative and that you possess those professional graces. It’s not only going to show that you valued your interviewer’s time, but it’s going to give you the opportunity to resell yourself and express your unique traits that you can bring to the role, or share any talking points that you forgot to address.
If there was something specific that you have bonded over during the interview, you want to mention it briefly and follow up in the Thank You Email so you can keep it on the top of your mind.
Or, if the interviewer brought up a particular business challenge, you’re going to use that to follow up; as a way to propose that potential solution – saying something to the affect of: “It was fantastic to have met you today and I remembered one of the challenges that the business had was ITEM A and here’s what I have done in the past that I can do to help.”
You want to keep the email concise of course. It is not a paragraph. You want to just leave a short note and leave a lasting impression, not one that will immediately end up in the circular file because it was too large or too long.
These are the key tips that we as recruiters have seen either in people that are not employed OR employed effectively. It helps them stand out and be remembered. They bring the right successful profile, but if they’re not able to get the hiring manager to remember it, then that becomes a challenge.
Job searching in the middle of a pandemic has been the most challenging for job seekers. Job seekers have been blindly applying for 10 months or more and building their network. Some have been plugging away and applying to jobs since March and have had little success with interviews and no offers with no feedback. And some have been forced (by the pandemic) into starting their own businesses/side hustles to pay off student loans, rent, debt, etc.
Whatever the case may be, job searching has always been challenging. However, the best way for it to be a success is to remain positive, and to not give up. Giving up is not an option. Show employers that you are willing, wanting and able to work!
Here are some New Year’s resolutions to help jump start your motivation and pave way to a successful job search.
- Connections can help a great deal. Spend more time talking to people than submitting your application to posted job ads.
- The quickest way to get back into the job market will be your network and your referrals. Who knows that a 30 minute coffee chat could turn into an opportunity of a lifetime.
- You would be surprised that you will have connections in your circle who know about the existing job vacancies that aren’t posted on job boards. In other words, the hidden job market.
- When reaching out to your connections, you may want to follow the email template below:
- “Hi [Connection’s Name],
I hope this email finds you well. How was your holiday season and New Year’s? It is shocking how 2020 flew by.
I wanted to reach out because things have changed at [Current Company] and am specifically looking to transition to [Job Title] at [Industry/Sector/Company] where I can utilize my [Insert Relevant Skills] to be able to do [Insert Desired Activities].
I wanted to reach out to see if you know of anyone who could connect me to such an opportunity. I understand that this is a big ask and your time is valuable. If it is too much right now, don’t feel any pressure as I totally understand.
Either way, I hope you are staying healthy and safe. I look forward to catching up with you soon!
- “Hi [Connection’s Name],
- Update your resume.
- Your resume should always be different and tailored based on the job description. Study the job description carefully and proofread your resume before uploading it on the job board because you want to get past the Applicant Tracking System.
- Education: Don’t just focus on the schools and institutions that you have attended. Include organizations that you were involved with as well! If you had a GPA that is higher than a 3.0, showcase it and be proud of that achievement!
- Work Experience: I mention this all the time but make sure your duties are not only duties, however make it into an accomplishment by incorporating quantifiable metrics using numbers and percentages. Also, tailor it towards the field that you are interested in.
- Leadership Experience: This is important whether you are looking for a job or internship. If you were active in many organizations and clubs, list it and highlight that leadership because that is always going to be a plus.
- Skills and Projects: Again, just like your work experience, tailor your relevant skills towards the field of interest. If you have worked on special projects that were tailored towards the specific field of interest, include that as well.
- Have your peer, mentor, career coach or a professional critique your resume.
- Your resume should always be different and tailored based on the job description. Study the job description carefully and proofread your resume before uploading it on the job board because you want to get past the Applicant Tracking System.
- Hone your interview skills.
- Have a friend or family member interview you and provide feedback.
- Participate in mock interviews. Especially during this pandemic, many virtual platforms are partnering with big companies (such as Moody’s, Google, McKinsey & Company, Credit Suisse) to connect with nonprofit organizations and social ventures to give back and provide these free services to job seekers.
- Sharpen your skills.
- If there is a specific field you are looking to go into or a job that you want to apply for, study the job description closely and discover if your educations and skills are going to be a good match.
- If you do not have the skills that the employers are looking for, you should look into taking online classes that will help you move forward in your intended field.
- Map out what you are looking for.
- Don’t just randomly apply for jobs because you need a job. Seek purpose in the kind of job you want. Make sure your job search has a path. What is it that you really want in your job? Do you want to work entirely remote? Do you want to work on-site? Do you want to work flexible or set hours?
- Follow the SMART goal outline via FlexJobs.
- (S)pecific: What industry or sector do you want to work in? Do you want to stay local, or are you willing to move? How much do you need to earn?
- (M)easurable: To meet your goal, how many resumes will you send out per week? How many networking events will you attend each month?
- (A)ttainable: Do you understand the difference between your dreams and your goals? Keep in mind that some things are beyond your sphere of influence. You cannot control how many interviews or offers you get, but you can set a goal for the number of business connections you’ll make each month.
- (R)ealistic: What can you achieve in this moment? If you have little experience, it’s unlikely you can move directly into a C-level job. Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve right now, but also plan for bigger and better goals in the future.
- (T)imely: When is your deadline? This aspect of goal setting is often overlooked, but deadlines—even arbitrary ones—are important motivators. Since you can’t control when you’ll get hired, you may find that a resolution such as “I will find a job within the next six months” is less effective than “I will apply to at least five vacancies this week.”
- Target specific companies that you are interested in working for.
- Make a list of your top target companies
- Research, research, research them!!! Anything you can find such as articles, interviews with executives, surveys, podcasts, etc.
- LinkedIn is a valuable platform for you to use in landing your dream job at your target company. From there, you may want to locate contacts who can refer you into your target role such as a hiring manager, team lead, recruiter or a friend who was hired there.
- Reach out and cold email them.
Many students often had this question pondering in their minds about what they should do in their life after graduating from college. Some may have studied or majored in a field that didn’t match their interests or passion, and ended up pivoting their career paths – simply because the jobs or internships that they have worked at, are depressing and unsuitable for them.
On the other hand, older individuals who have been in the same role or sector/industry for many years often want to switch careers due to the following reasons:
- Lack of professional advancement or career dissatisfaction
- Job Burnout/Stress
- Job isn’t suitable for you: Being bored or depressed because of the work you do
- Loss of interest in that specific field/sector/industry
- Re-entering the path of self discovery
- You want to earn more income
- You want better benefits, perks and rewards
- Your life has changed because you have to take care of family or an illness so workplace flexibility is a must
- The job outlook has worsened for your career field
During this uncertain time of the pandemic, it is difficult to imagine what the future of work will look like since anything can change over the course of the next few months. However, it is still crucial to establish personal and professional goals that pave the way to success.
So the big question is, “Where do I begin?” “How do I figure out what I want to do with my life?” As you are discovering what you want to do in life, the way to do it is by shifting your mindset from looking for a job, to achieving a purpose. Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck. This is a reminder that what we want isn’t always what will be the best in the long run. You could say you have the passion to become a Mental Health Counselor because you have that kind of personality – compassion, empathy, therapeutic and you just love to talk to people. But you strongly dislike completing the caseloads and paperwork at the end of the session because administrative details aren’t really your forte.
With that being said, a good tip to consider for undergraduates or graduates who are still in school – you want to go behind the scenes in the professional world. In other words, you want to explore different career paths to see what really is your cup of tea. This will then establish your vision and clarity. Know where you want your dreams to take you.
Figure out your call to action. Prioritize what deserves your time, energy and happiness. Face the things that you have always desired to do and achieve. You want to map out a career plan/road map for yourself. What you want to do should align with your core values and strengths. Know and validate your strengths. Think about the jobs that you have worked for and think about what you do in your personal life and during your free time. List the things that you truly enjoy doing; things that bring a smile to your face and boosts your energy. Then list the things that you do not enjoy doing. Also, brainstorm and write down where you see yourself about 5-10 years from now.
You may also want to discover more things along the way. Discover what you don’t like by exploring, traveling, tasting, feeling, experiencing the things that you don’t like. Go out there and be fearless. Do the things that you’re afraid of because who knows, it may turn out to be your hobby/passion.
Another way in evaluating your core values, strengths, weaknesses, interests and skills are to take personality tests or career assessments to see where you want to be. There are numerous free career aptitude assessments that you may want to check out. Career Explorer also offers a free assessment to help you discover your career matches.
Once you have your road map in place, invest your time to hone those skills. Don’t compare yourself to your friends or connections who have landed a full-time role in Microsoft, Google, Facebook with good pay, perks and benefits. They are not you, and you are not them. Instead, you want to learn from them — and what I mean is learn from like-minded individuals — those who already have their life figured out and take advice from those who have what you want. In other words, surround yourself with individuals who are already at the level you want to be or those who possess similar goals who inspire you, motivate and encourage you to achieve your goals. Who you spend time with the most is who you will become. It’s important that you surround yourself with positive individuals — be it your friends, family members or colleagues.
Surround yourself with friends, family members and colleagues who serve as your life mentors; they believe in you even if you don’t believe in yourself. Surround yourself with leaders who will set you up for success by helping you learn, grow and taking your life to a new level!
LinkedIn is also a huge asset during your job search process. Reach out to your contacts on LinkedIn and set the tone. See below for an example.
Hello (Your Connection’s Name),
I hope this message finds you well. My name is (Your Name) and I decided to reach out to you since your background really stood out to me. I am interested in seeking for your advice regarding career transitions in (Role OR Sector/Industry) as this really piqued my attention.
If you have some time to chat, I’d love to hear more about your career trajectory and current role.
I know your time is valuable, and this is a big ask coming from a stranger. If it is too much right now, I totally understand. Either way, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
Rushing yourself to create success will cost you more in the long run. Speed costs accuracy. You don’t want to do that. What you should do, is lay the foundations carefully step by step. Do these things accurately and slowly, and you will get to where you want to be in life. It is never too late to rewrite your future, reignite your dreams and reinvent yourself. Keep learning and growing because your greatest achievements haven’t been accomplished yet. You matter and your value doesn’t go unnoticed. Wishing you the best of luck in your future endeavors, future leaders and topdogs! Onward and upward!
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”— Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios) via Stanford University Commencement on June 12, 2005
These are common things I want to briefly highlight some resume advice for folks who typically miss out on the important details.
✎ Add a section called SKILLS. Many job seekers forget to do that. This section is just as important as your work experience and education. Here, you would put the names of the software and apps SPECIFICALLY that you use well and that you’re proficient with.
✬ E.g. Microsoft Office is too general as many only just list that. Expand on it – do you use MS Publisher, MS Access, MS One Note, One Drive, Teams, and SharePoint as well? These are also part of the MS Office Suite, and some are critical business tools as well. So, list out the all the tools used by name.
What about social media tools? Skype or Skype for Business, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter? The list goes on, but you should list the ones you use. If you have a LinkedIn profile, add it to your resume – if not, be sure to create one and start to network there if you’re looking for jobs. This is a good thing to show employers as they can see beyond your resume. According to Zety, “a recent study says that up to 40% of employers may not consider interviewing you at all if they can’t find your LinkedIn profile.”
Please also keep in mind that hiring managers also look at “crossover skills”… that is what OTHER skills do you bring as shown on your resume? — Does your resume show a history of consistently sticking to your goals? Do you stay on jobs for short-term or long-term? You want to be mindful of that because if you are selected to the interview — During the interview, did you come across as teachable and focused on success, or “just need a job” attitude? If you don’t know what crossover skills you should include, you may want to refer to 8 Crossover Skills You’ll Need Whether You Go To College Or Not.
✎ EDUCATION – Just list your most recent education. If you have attended a college/university, please do not forget to include what your major is. This is especially helpful for employers to know when you are applying for a job in a specific field.
Note: High school graduates, College students and recent graduates often include their GPA in their resume. However, if you are worried about a low GPA, simply leave it off your resume. You can still include your school, graduation date, and any awards received.
If you are still attending high school, or you are currently an undergraduate in college, or if a high school diploma is your highest degree, you can include your high school information. To save space and time, there is no need to include your high school if you have completed higher education. It is only relevant if you have graduated from high school and are not planning to attend college or a university.
However, once you complete any other form of education including a training program from a trade school, you should eliminate this HS information from your resume. Your resume should constantly be up to date.
✎ WORK EXPERIENCE – I cannot stress this enough, however job candidates often miss out on the details of “numbers that define” how they did their job. Always use numbers to show how you helped your employer, as that is what many employers want to see.
Remember, list accomplishments/achievements, and not just your duties. Don’t forget to include numbers as well!
♛ “Greet customers” tells me what you do… but not how well you do it; “Managed 50-60 face-to-face customer inquiries daily” tells me both;
♛ “Restocking shelves” tells me what you do… but not how well you do it; “Supported store revenue goals by overseeing 17 aisle inventory consisting of 300 items per shelf” tells me both.
♛ How many team members did you collaborate with? What tasks or goals did you meet together?
♛ Were you involved in monthly, quarterly, or annual cycle count of the inventory at either store?
Don’t forget – employers are looking for candidates who bring the “tools” for success.
❅ E.g. What tools did you use for custodial duties?
✎ For a general resume, what is listed above would be ideal… I want to underscore that. That said, however, with a little more effort on specifics, you’ll be able to transform it into a “powerful personal branding tool”. Your resume is your marketing tool of selling yourself to the employer.
✎ You can also visit O*NET OnLine, where you can point your cursor to Occupation Quick Search and search up “Customer Service Representative” and there, you will find many performance objectives that match up things you also did. Use those to create additional bullets that demonstrate your acquired skills and experience.
I am sure many of you are aware of what an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is, since all job applications are required to be submitted online. Back then, job seekers had it way easier. They just had to rely on the newspaper and telephone, and they will be asked by the employer to come in for an interview. However, they have since, revolutionized the hiring process and the labor market in a blink of an eye.
An ATS is basically a robot that is programmed to pre-screen the applicant’s resume before the hiring team gets a chance to lay their eyes on them. Obviously, it is not as intelligent as humans are, since it is pre-programmed to do what it has to do.
The ATS is programmed to scan for specific keywords that the employer has entered into the system. Some resumes will only be selected to move on to the next step, based on the keywords that the employer has configured. Many employers use the ATS as a way to screen out candidates by asking knockout questions. This is a way to determine which candidates are able/willing or unable/unwilling to perform a job function. For instance, if an ATS is programmed to eliminate resumes that do not hold a Bachelor’s Degree, then those with an Associate’s Degree will definitely not be considered. Here are more examples of the types of knockout questions to look out for when applying on an online portal/job board.
The ATS has simplified the hiring process for employers, since 75% of recruiters and talent managers use some form of recruiting or applicant tracking software; according to Capterra.
On the other hand, causing it to be opposite for job seekers – the ATS makes their job search process more challenging and stressful as they have to pay close attention to every little detail. According to Mashable, nearly 80% described their job search as time-consuming and stressful, and many reported that they would be deterred from completing an application if they encountered tech hurdles (60%), couldn’t upload their resume (55%), couldn’t follow up on the application’s status (44%) or couldn’t complete the application on a mobile device (20%).
The nitty-gritty of getting past the ATS is to analyze and study the job description and keywords carefully as you tailor your resume to what they are looking for. Many job applicants tend to just submit their resume without tweaking their resume to the positions that they are applying for. Always make sure your resume matches the job description and that it has the exact keywords listed.
Note: The ATS is unable to distinguish the difference between the terms CPA and Certified Public Accountant, it is always more safe to list the whole word out instead of abbreviating or shortening it.
Note: Make sure your resume font and format is simple, organized and consistent. If a resume looks too fancy and abstract with colors, images, symbols and other unnecessary stuff, the ATS may count it as unqualified and will move on to the next resume. According to Forbes, studies have shown that up to 75% of qualified applicants are rejected by ATS programs because they can’t be read. You don’t want to be one of the 75%.
- Keep your font simple. Use Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or any font that looks “appropriate” and “legible”. Make sure the size font is between 10-12. No bigger, no smaller.
- Use simple bullet points like the one I am using at the moment or even a dash (-) works as well. Just make sure it isn’t a special kind of symbol because that can program the ATS to view your resume as “unqualified” and you don’t want to jeopardize a qualified resume just because of an unrecognizable symbol.
- Consistent formatting. This is important to ensure that your resume will pass an ATS, so that it would not confuse the system.
- Margin Size: 1 inch
- Left Alignment is the way to go because that is the standard way of reading. Don’t center it or align it to the right. Definitely, do not include text boxes. I’ve seen some job seekers do that. This will just confuse the ATS. If we all read from left to right, that is how the ATS will be programmed to read it as well.
- Length: Keep it minimum at 1 page and maximum at 2 pages. Remember, make sure it has the included keywords and is visually appealing to the employer! You are not writing a Curriculum Vitae. Unless you are applying for a profession that you have had years of experience in and highlighting publications that are linked to the work you do, (i.e., college professor), there is no need to go past 2 pages with irrelevant experience. Know how to distinguish the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae.
- Font: As mentioned in the first bullet point.
- Your resume should aim towards the specific position. Like I have mentioned earlier, read and study the job descriptions. Always always always, keep a look out for specific keywords whether it is in the required qualifications or preferred qualifications that involves your education, competencies/skill sets, licenses, trainings and experience.
- Do your research on the employer! Make sure you are always tweaking your resume based on their mission, goals and culture.
- How can you be of value to them? How does your experience, education, skill sets match the employer’s needs of the role?
- Make sure your section headers are simple: “Objective”/”Professional Summary”, “Skills”, “Certifications/Licenses”, “Work History”/”Experience”, “Education”
- Unless you are a graphic designer, avoid including images, graphics, tables/charts, special fonts or unrecognizable symbols. The ATS is programmed to read simple and straightforward things.
- As mentioned in the DO’s section, section headers are preferred to be simple rather than overdone. An ATS will not understand “Where I Attended School”. So leave it as “Education”.
- Do not misuse keywords. Use them where you see fit.
- So many job seekers that I have assisted often put on the bottom of their resume, “References Available Upon Request”. This consumes space and employers obviously know that if needed, they will contact you for it.
- Select the right file type for your resume. To play it safe, upload your resume as a .doc, .docx or .pdf file. These are the most common and preferred formats. It just looks more appealing to employers as well.
- Please avoid using specialty formats such as .dot, .dotx, .rtf, .txt, .htm, .docm, .dotm, .xml, .mht because not only are employers unable to access the file, but many ATS can’t read them.
- Categorize your section headers carefully.
- If the employer is seeking specific skills (pro tip: when they list the requirements/qualifications, pay attention to those on the top as those are what they looking for in a candidate the most) and you have that, you may want to shift your skills section to the top while leaving your experience and education to the bottom.
- If the employer is seeking 5+ years in talent management and you’ve been a talent lead or in the HR team for over a decade, you may want to put your experience first and highlight those relevant skills as you go along.
- Never list your job duties using other terms other than action verbs!
- When listing out your experience, make sure you do not include the word “I”. It should always be in third person as if you are the narrator of your resume.
Still need more career and resume advice on how to tackle the ATS and ensure that you land your dream job/career? Check out TopResume’s useful article and their informative infographic about ATS.
While there are certain sectors or industries on the rise, job searching can be tough during this current economic uncertainty. With over 30 million Americans unemployed, many may not have the experience or knowledge base for the role that they are applying for because 1) the job that they were temporarily/permanently laid off or furloughed are currently unavailable since there are no openings due to COVID-19; OR 2) the available jobs available in the labor market is not what they are ideally searching for.
This has been extremely overwhelming for the whole nation and this especially makes it harder for individuals who have to keep a roof over their families’ heads, have babies/children to feed, pay rent and bills, etc.
The key component that is really important right now, is your RESUME. As we all know, it is mid-July now… we are all home since mid-March, which has been 4 months. There are ways that job seekers can change their adaptations of their resumes from what used to be on their resumes. Back then, we generally like to include as many details as possible and what we are proficient in to tailor it according to the job description.
Ideally during then, you want your resume to look presentable to the employer. However, the main issue has always been that job seekers struggle very hard on translating or interpreting that information to their interviews. Now, with COVID-19 and people being home, what job seekers need to do is to draw themselves between two things. Either you are a good public speaker and you should just have general stuff listed on your resume so that you can save it all for the interview to showcase your excellent communication skills; or if you are more shy/introverted, you might have all detailed information on your resume but you will need to practice more on improving your communication effectively during your interview.
Many individuals oftentimes get so nervous about changing their resumes. It shouldn’t be hard when they have it on their flash drives or saved onto their desktops. Many of them right now just do not want to go back to square one again and I totally feel for them. And that can pose issues for those who may have criminal justice record, failing a drug test and anyone who refuses to start from scratch all over again.
On the other hand, those who are still working in their part-time jobs or have reduced hours, are the ones who are still hungry and are currently looking for work. They’re hungry by saying – “Now is not only about experience and not about your resume, because everyone not only in New York City but the U.S. is looking for a job right now. It’s you versus everyone.” Unless you have a good relationship with people and can build or have built some kind of connection with them through LinkedIn or by volunteering, it will be difficult.
So let’s say, what if you only have 1 month of experience at a retail store because it was a seasonal role? What if you do have experience but you couldn’t translate that into a resume? Especially with difficult times like these, you really want to hone in on your job description and you want to place emphasis on the skills that you know the employer wants – which is conveyed in the job description. For instance for a cashier role, if they are seeking someone who is great with the cashiering, customer service skills and using numbers to define how much revenue you increased for the company – you want to really emphasize those things on the resume but you have to tailor it each time because each job, each employer desires different things. And if it’s a customer service job, you will want to shift the customer service bullet up to the top and if it’s not, then you either take it off or shift it to the bottom. This is what would be recommended for someone who does not have a whole lot of experience, on how to at least get the resume to help them advance to the next step.
One of the most resourceful and quickest ways in landing your job/career if you have not built your network, is to seek a career coach to assist you with your resume since they are armed with many valuable resources. On top of that, they have connections with many employers from different industries and sectors – which they can help place you in a job that you are looking for. Many non-profit organizations that are workforce providers offer free services on career development such as resume/cover letter writing, honing your interview skills, career advice, work readiness training and even job placement assistance.
Career coaches are very helpful during this time since they have employer partners who reach out to them for recruitment assistance. They are the ones who are consistently up to date with the labor market trends and which industries/sectors are hiring and not hiring. Career coaches and job placement specialists have seen and judged resumes that they thought would not make it to a job, that actually made it. If they are referring the job seeker to an employer, a useful way with helping them tailor the resumes are by looking at the job description as mentioned earlier. If the job description doesn’t convey honestly what the employer wants, your career coach can help you find out what the employer wants. Career coaches will take their time to coach and counsel you to the best version of yourself and make sure that you know every single thing before you walk into the interview.
They will be there to teach you not to give up, to really hang in there for the long haul, keep applying, keep at it – although we know at this time it is terribly difficult.
Normally, job seekers are asked “What have you been doing ever since you’ve lost your job and how do you fill in that gap?” and now we want to replace it with “What have you been doing since COVID-19 has invaded our lives?”
If you are learning how to use Zoom, remote work or even taking courses to enhance your digital literacy skills, then that is a resume builder. If you are currently taking care of family, then you are a caretaker.
To wrap this up, this is about teaching yourself how to fail. This is about teaching yourself how to not be afraid, how to throw your chances out there and be hungry. If you’re not taught to fail and you’re just going to hold onto that one job, what if they never practiced their interview skills after working in that same job for 2 years?
Moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to throw your resume to every single job opportunity out there in every field because guess what? You may end up liking that job that you’d never imagine that you would be doing. In many cases, there is always room for advancement regardless of what your title is, what department you work for or which industry/sector you are coming from. Your learning experiences come through your resume, you’re receiving feedback during your interviews and if a job really wants you, then you will possess that confidence.
It has been such a fast and deep downturn and that’s what’s unprecedented – we can’t compare it to any other downturn because of that. The problem is that we don’t know what the next 6 to 24 months are going to look like but the job search/hunt process and every new growing opportunity out there is, has always been and will be limitless.