Thursday, May 13, 2010

7 Little-Known Reasons You're Not Getting Hired

Karen Burns

If you're job hunting you're surely aware of the most egregious and common no-nos: showing up for the interview ten minutes late; answering your phone during the interview; handing over a resume riddled with typos; using a silly-sounding E-mail address; failing to demonstrate you've researched the employer; bad-mouthing your last boss; neglecting to follow up. You're not doing any of that, are you? Of course not.

But you may not have considered some of the less-discussed, under-the-radar issues. Give this list a look and ask yourself, "Do any of these sound like me?"

1. You have unreasonable expectations. Everybody wants the perfect job. But if your criteria are too high, if you're being too demanding, you may well remain unemployed. Nobody wants to be told to compromise, but the fact is that much of life involves just that, at least temporarily. Analyze your wants and needs. Which are must haves? Which are negotiable? Which can be put on hold?

2. You're relying too much on one search technique. Maybe you are only applying online, or only networking, or only using employment agencies, or only approaching companies that you know are hiring. Don't limit yourself to just one job-search method. Try them all. Cast a wide net, continue to build your connections, get creative.

. You use the word "I" too often in your cover letter. The most effective way to endear yourself to potential employers is to put the focus more on them than on you. Show you've done your homework and understand what your target companies are seeking. Then tell them how you can fill those needs.

4. You are not demonstrating long-term potential. We get caught up in the moment. We need a job now. But employers, the good ones at least, tend to think long term. They want to know not only how you will contribute today but in the future, too. That "Where do you see yourself in five years?" question is not just for drill. They really want to know.

5. You are unknowingly repeating mistakes. After interviews, are you taking the time to review and analyze them? Many times the reason you don't get a job is beyond your control, and, in fact, has nothing to do with you, but not always. Trying to understand why the answer was "No" may help you to fine tune your approach.

6. You have not rehearsed. You may hesitate to rehearse answers to the most common questions. You don't want to sound canned. You want to be yourself. But consider the benefits of creating great answers to those questions you hear the most--short, vivid, three-sentence answers brimming with examples and facts--and practicing them until you can speak with conviction and confidence.

7. You put your job search on hold while waiting to hear back. Don't we all fall into this trap at one time or another? You've had a super couple of interviews with your dream employer. You just know you're going to get "the call" any day now. You think, I'm going to hold off until I hear back; after all, I deserve a little break. Well, no doubt you do deserve a little break--but don't. Keep on networking, applying, interviewing, and researching until you have a firm job offer in hand.

Looking for work is an enormous project. In many ways it's more difficult, and takes more energy, than even the most demanding job. So, in the midst of it all, find a way to nurture yourself. Keep on fine tuning and strengthening your approach. And hang in there.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Less is More when it comes to resumes

Original Author Unknown

Job seekers do themselves a disservice when they send out résumés with too much information. Employers don't have the time or the patience to sift through irrelevant information like your hobbies, interests or how many grandchildren you have. Just stick to the basics and you're good to go.
Here are 10 things to leave off your résumé and why:

1. Your picture
Why to leave it off: Unless a job posting specifically asks for your picture (very few jobs will), don't include it just for fun. Not only are your looks irrelevant to your potential as an employee, but you're putting employers in a bad spot. If they have a picture of you and choose not to hire you, it's possible that you could come back with a discrimination lawsuit. In most cases, they'll throw your résumé away without looking at it, to avoid the issue altogether.

2. Interest and hobbies
Why to leave them off: Unless your interests and hobbies have something to do with the job you're applying for, there's no reason to include them. If you want to show how your passion for art would be asset to a graphic design position, that's one thing. But telling employer that you love to skydive on an actuary application is another. In general, make any applicable connections between your hobbies and the job in your cover letter. Better yet, save them for the interview when you're asked what you like to do outside of work.

3. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
Why to leave them off: Most employers assume that if you're OK with sending out a résumé littered with typos and mistakes, you'll have the same lack of concern for the work you do as an employee at their company. While spell check picks up most errors, it can miss something major (did you work the late night shift? Or did you forget to include the "f" between "i" and "t"?), so have several eyes look over your résumé before sending it out to employers.

4. Personal attributes
Why to leave them off: Similar to sending in a picture with your résumé, your height, weight, age, race or religion are all unimportant to an employer. Though it's illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants because of any of these factors, some will do so, regardless. Keep everything on your résumé pertinent to the job, and you'll be fine.

5. References
Why to leave them off: Many job seekers still include references on their résumé or they include a line that says, "References available upon request." This tactic is not as effective as it used to be. Jack Harsh, adjunct professor at the University of Richmond Robins School of Business, says that when he receives a résumé with references attached, he gives them virtually no weight. "They seldom are specific to the role my company seeks and are not meaningful in considering qualifications or traits of successful candidates," he says. Wait to broach the topic of references until you're asked for them.

6. Minute details
Why to leave them off: Hiring managers don't need to know the details of every task you've ever done in every job you've ever had. It's just too much information, and most of the time, half of that information isn't relevant. Employers want to be able to see at first glance that you're a great candidate, so pick out those details that are most relevant to the job for which you're applying and omit the rest.

7. False information
Why to leave it off: Plain and simple, no one wants to hire a liar. Don't say that you have a master's degree if you've only earned your bachelor's; don't say you're presently employed at a company if you've recently been fired; don't list your salary history as 20 percent higher than it was. Everything you tell an employer can be verified, so play it safe and be honest.

8. Flair
Why to leave it off: No one wants to look at a résumé on fluorescent paper, covered in crazy fonts and symbols. Similarly, links to personal Web sites, your photo-sharing site, or strange e-mail addresses can also be left off. Employers are less likely to respond to than just

9. Negativity
Why to leave it off: Never put anything negative on your résumé. Don't include your reasons for leaving. If you left the position due to a layoff or you were fired, for example, bring it up only if asked. Never write anything bad about a previous employer. Don't explain gaps on your résumé by stating that you were in prison for 10years for killing your husband. Keep your résumé all positive, all the time.

10. A selfish objective
Why to leave it off: Employers are trying to determine whether you're a good fit for their organizations, so everything on your résumé should point to your experience. Employers would rather see a summary of qualifications that displays your accomplishments and background than a generic objective statement like "To gain experience in..."