Archive for April, 2010

Make the Most Efficient Use of Your Search Time

Once a candidate begins his or her job search, she typically heads to the vast array of internet job boards and advertised openings. Once on the web, they find that more than 100,000 employment sites exist today and the number continues to grow. Registering, perusing the mass amount of listings, and then finally applying soon becomes extremely time consuming. A majority of job candidates I see indicate they spend as much a two-thirds (67%) of their search time navigating the web.

When appropriating their job search time, a job seeker needs to bear in mind two factors. First, the majority of data still indicates that less than 30% of jobs are filled via the internet.(Weddles.com, Career XRoads Survey). Second, the explosion of internet job boards has not eliminated the “hidden job market.” The vast majority of openings-estimated at up to 80%- are never advertised. How much sense does it make to spend more than 60% of your time on a venue where your likelihood of success maxes out at 30%? Plus, you only gain exposure to 20% of the opportunities.

With the data still consistently supporting that networking fills over half of all job openings, doesn’t it makes sense to spend the majority of your search time networking with colleagues, friends, family etc. to find more opportunities? Why are you apprehensive to network? You need to ask yourself what holds you back from doing more networking. Share your thoughts, you would be surprise how many people struggle with networking. Look here for more posts on how to better manage your job search through networking.

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‘Conflicting’ Résumé Advice-Case I

A common frustration many job seekers describe involves how often they hear conflicting information about composing quality résumés. Much of this stems from the fact that résumés have different styles and formats depending on many factors; level of experience, employer markets, and types of jobs applied for to just name a few. The job seeker may not understand that the résumé advice someone gives them often reflects that individual’s role in the labor market and the type of hiring situations he or she typically deals with. In multiple posts, I will outline some common scenarios I come across where what appears to be conflicting advice is more a reflection of varied roles within the labor market.

The Marketability of a Chrono-Functional, Hybrid or Combination style Résumé   

In the 2010 Labor Market, many job seekers have found that the profound market shifts affecting their career fields have altered the landscape so much that a career change becomes anything from an option all the way to the only choice they have. The best résumé format for a career changer to showcase their skills is the chrono-functional. Organizing information by skill categories makes it much easier to demonstrate to a prospective employer that one has skills needed for a job than when such skill statements are listed under a job title from a different field.  My boss, Steve Gallison, told me recently that in an informal polling of members of the Professional Résumé Writers Association, writers reported that nearly 40% of the résumés they write currently are combination/hybrid. This represents a true reflection of the times. As more workers seek to make career switches, the demand for chrono-functional résumés will increase. 

Quite often when I discuss developing such a résumé with a career changer, they hesitate. A common argument they give is “A headhunter or recruiter told me to never use a chrono-functional résumé. It means you’re trying to hide something. ” What the career changer may not understand is that most successful “headhunters” or recruiters specialize in specific markets and work mostly with experienced candidates in that field. Unless a recruiter works in a market with a talent shortage, he or she typically would not work with many career changers. Given the fees recruiters charge for a successful placement, they’re  not going to want to explain a different background or format to an employer. From such a perspective, it’s easy to see why a recruiter has little use for a chrono-functional style résumé. But, in most cases as a career changer, you will not likely be working through a headhunter anyway. Your best résumé feedback should come from a career coach or advisor that has worked with individuals making career transitions in the past.

What Do You Do When You Hate to Network?

Well, let’s start with the good news. If you’re reading this post, you have made one positive step already. Most people avoid activities they hate. You are realistic enough to know that despite your disdain for networking, you realize you need to do it to have a successful job search. I want to focus on two critical networking impediments I believe no one who hates networking will ever get past disdaining without resolving.

 Get clear on how networking really works

The first involves the huge lack of understanding of how networking works. Too many people perceive it as just contacting people they either don’t know or haven’t spoken to in a long time and asking for job leads. From such a perspective, is it surprising that people hate the prospect of networking? Most people correctly see such actions as superficial, insincere, and selfish.

 But that’s not what networking is. Networking starts with people sharing information that could prove helpful to all parties involved. In the longer term, it becomes the process of establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.

 How will you be perceived?

The second issue stems from many people’s belief that having to network will ultimately lead others to perceive them in a negative manner. Someone out of work worries that he may be viewed as damaged goods. Well with the multiple economic downturns world economies have had in the last two decades, most people have either had a period of unemployment or known a close family member, friend, or colleague that has. Any stigma has vanished. I always ask people struggling with this how perceive someone that tells them they’ve lost their job. Once they admit they never make negative assumptions about such an individual, I ask why they assume such perceptions will be made of them.

Another individual might view her asking someone for information is an imposition on the individual’s time. We all have developed our own wealth of knowledge and expertise throughout our careers. This does not vanish during periods we’re between jobs. As stressed above, networking is about fellow professionals sharing information which can prove beneficial to both parties. Not many people view such opportunities as an imposition on their time.

 So ask yourself if any of these beliefs are what holds you back from networking. Then take a closer look at how realistic these perceptions are. Committing to improving your networking skills will take time, commitment, and patience. It will be difficult to sustain this commitment when it’s focused on an activity you believe turns you into a pariah.

Networking for Federal Government Jobs

One of the most popular places to apply for a job today is the U S Federal Government. On any given day, USAjobs.gov reports an excess of 30,000 U S Government jobs available worldwide. Now, to describe the Federal hiring process as cumbersome and bureaucratic equates with calling a Category 5 hurricane windy and rainy. With such a complex application process, many candidates believe that networking provides no advantage in finding Federal employment.

Two prominent authors on obtaining jobs with the Federal Government respectfully disagree with this belief. Lily Whiteman, authored the book How to Land a Top Paying Federal Job. In the first of her 10 secrets to landing a federal job, she encourages candidates to not overlook the “back door.” Many candidates report that while working with contract agencies, the make valuable networking contacts that provide inside tracks to federal jobs. Kathryn Kramer Troutman author of Ten Steps to a Federal Job is even more succinct. The first of the ten steps she outlines in the book is network.

Landing a job within the U S Government requires an understanding of how their hiring process works along with the ability to analyze job announcements. Plus, many positions require the candidate to write Knowledge, Skills and Abilities statements, or KSA’s. People that have successfully mastered this process in order to land their Federal Governmant position can provide valuable insights into an agency’s hiring procedures as well as which of the job requirements are most vital. In addition, who can provide better assistance in writing effective KSA statements than people with a track record of successfully writing them. Plus, should you have interest in particular positions within agencies, inside contacts can keep you posted on when openings are made public. Sometimes, the period when applications or résumés are accepted can be very short and one must be prepared to act swiftly.

 So, when applying to any U S Government agency, look for internal contacts the same as you would any private company.