Monthly Archives: June 2015

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Get More Job Interviews

Posted: June 30, 2015 at 3:48 pm

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We’re all familiar with the old adage No news is good news. Unfortunately, one of the few times that adage doesn’t hold true is during a job search. Radio silence after you’ve fired out a resume typically means that a recruiter has taken a pass on meeting with you. Of course, rejection happens to everybody. However, it’s time to take a hard look at how you’re conducting your job search if you’re receiving little or no response at all. Here are five of the most common reasons why you’re not being called in for a job interview.

  1. You didn’t proofread your resume and cover letter. First impressions are everything in a job search, and that means your resume and cover letter must be perfect when they land on a recruiter’s desk. Typos or misspellings will absolutely sink your efforts as a job candidate. There’s no question that the worst offense is submitting a cover letter addressed to the wrong person, or carrying the wrong company name. It’s a very easy mistake to make when you’re submitting several job applications each day. Slow down and give each cover letter and resume the attention it deserves.
  2. You’re only applying online. Applying for a job online is one way to obtain a job lead, but it is also an incredibly difficult way to obtain a job interview. You’re likely competing with hundreds – or potentially even thousands – of other job candidates. It’s a mistake to rely exclusively on job search engines for job leads. Reach out to everybody in your professional and personal networks to find an “in”. A recruiter will always select a job candidate forwarded by a personal contact over somebody that came in cold.
  3. You’re only applying to big companies. Expand your ideas about where to apply to include small and mid-size firms. Fortune 500 companies and larger firms can receive hundreds of resumes for just one position, and thousands over the course of the year. They may not even see your resume. Smaller companies attract smaller pools of potential candidates simply because they lack name recognition. It is much more likely that they’ll notice your resume when it comes their way.
  4. You’re aiming too high. We’d all like to believe there ain’t no mountain high enough to keep us from getting to our dream jobs, but sometimes the job you’re applying for is too much of a reach – at least, for now. Spend some time getting real about your current skill set. Consider having a heart-to-heart with a friend or colleague about where you should set your job seeking sights. If necessary, rewrite that resume – and yes, your cover letter too- and gently steer yourself back on track.
  5. You failed to customize your resume and cover letter. Earlier this year, we provided an in depth look at how critical it is to customize your resume and cover letter to secure a job interview. If you fail to customize your job application, it’s unlikely that you’ll even clear the computerized system used by companies to identify appropriate job candidates. Take the time to craft a cover letter and resume that make you look like the perfect candidate for each specific job. It will absolutely reduce the number of job applications you’re able to submit each day, but it will also drastically increase the response rate.

5 Signs It’s Time To Make a Career Change

Posted: June 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm

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The realization that it’s time to make a career change is rarely a lightbulb moment. It tends to be more of a quiet build over time. Think of a persistent whisper gathering volume and momentum while you go through the daily motions of your job. I don’t want to be here. I’m bored. There must be something else. Of course, it’s hard to heed an inner voice calling for a career change when that job pays well. There’s no denying that the professional and financial risks of making a move are very real. So how do you know when it’s time to take the plunge?

    1. You’re miserable. We’ve all heard hackneyed expressions like Work is work. That’s why they call play, play. While there’s some truth there, that doesn’t mean you have to keep your chin up and soldier on in an unfulfilling career until retirement comes calling. Consider that most of your waking hours are being spent at a place that makes you unhappy. If there are viable alternatives, slogging away at an unfulfilling job is no way to live.
    2. Your career has stalled. Routine can feel comfortable at work. It’s nice to know what to expect, where you’re needed, and that a steady paycheck is coming in. Unfortunately, there simply is no such thing as job stability these days – and operating on automatic pilot can be a career killer. If there’s nowhere to go at your current company (but where you are now), there’s a very real risk that you’ll become professionally obsolete. Start looking for new opportunities as soon as you can.
    3. You are stressed out all of the time. It’s normal to encounter stress in the workplace. Co-workers, supervisors, and deadlines are just some of the factors that can set your teeth on edge for weeks at a time. However, it’s not normal if you’re experiencing stress all of the time. High levels of stress are terrible for both your physical and emotional health. If this is the case, then it’s time to move on.
    4. Higher education is calling your name. Pursuing a degree can be a boon to existing careers, or a fantastic ticket to charting a new career course altogether. However, make sure you’re not using school as an excuse to escape reality. Everybody knows an attorney who doesn’t practice law. A diploma might look nice on your wall, but that’s a pretty expensive piece of artwork.
    5. You’re ready to start your own business. Some people get the entrepreneurial bug, and just can’t shake it. If you’re dreaming of big things,  that’s fantastic. Make sure you do your research, and that you’re prepared financially. Launching a new business can be a high risk endeavor, and it’s very common not to turn a profit for years.

Ultimately, you’re the only person who can decide if it’s time to take the plunge. If it is time, dig deep, find some courage, and hatch a plan. There are rarely quick fixes, but there is almost always a way forward. Good luck!

Four Networking Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

Posted: June 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm

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I own and operate a popular website in the parenting space in New York City. Because the website has a strong following, I’m often approached by colleagues and businesses in the area requesting editorial placement and promotion. Almost without exception, I’m glad to lend a helping hand to members of my personal network. The key word here is almost. Occasionally, somebody missteps quite seriously – and I find myself withholding the kind of help I typically dispense quite freely.

There is one woman in particular with a fledgling company who I have been extremely generous with over the past six months. We wrote a profile, promoted one of her events, and I personally woke up at the crack of dawn to attend that event on a Saturday morning. So I was a bit taken aback when her intern contacted me with an “invitation” to purchase a ticket to their next event along with a request that we promote her next upcoming event complete with pre-written ads I could blast out to my social network on her behalf.

This was a networking fail on so many levels. She didn’t touch base with me personally. The email her intern sent was clearly a templated form of communication she had used with every other media outlet except for the part where she was asking for us to promote her event at no cost. When I failed to respond to her intern, THEN I received a personalized email. All of this strikes a particularly obnoxious note because she has failed to invest the time with me personally to get away with this kind of behavior.

Are you cringing because you’ve made these kinds of mistakes? That’s fine. We all make networking mistakes (myself included), but we can also all do better moving forward. Here are four networking mistakes that should be avoided at all costs.

Sticking to the script.  When you’re networking, it’s easy to fall back on canned responses in both written and verbal communication. However, a failure to really engage with the people you meet is going to leave your professional network painfully thin. You’re a person, not a robot.  Choose to listen, be thoughtful, ask questions, and get personal! Use what you know about a person in the course of conversation. If you’re familiar with their school, hobbies or children, then ask about them. Show genuine, actual interest. Don’t just ask people for whatever it is you need.

You’re a ghost of your former self. It’s never cool to pull a disappearing act after somebody has helped you out, connected you with a colleague, or hooked you up with a job lead. You don’t need to buy them a BFF necklace (does anybody remember those besides me?), but touch base to let them know what happened. Send a thank you note on actual stationary. Offer to return the favor in the future. Establishing meaningful connections is difficult enough as it is, so don’t burn bridges by appearing unappreciative or dismissive.

Making promises you can’t keep. It’s always exciting to meet new people in your industry, especially if they’re a prospective employer.  In an effort to make a good impression, some of us might overextend ourselves a bit. Of course, I have time for coffee! Yes, I can attend that conference! I’ll definitely connect you with my colleagues! Need that taken care of tomorrow? No problem. You get the idea. Express a willingness to help, and be clear about how you can add value. However, don’t commit to anything until you’re away from the pressure of a face-to-face conversation. It’s important to assess how much of your time and resources you’re actually able to extend before somebody is relying on you to deliver the goods.

It’s not all about you. It’s about building a relationship. If you only touch base with people when you need something, then you’re going to wear out your welcome quickly. Touch base with members of your network just to connect. Ask them what they’re up to, how the kids are, and where they’re going for vacation. Offer your expertise if they need it. Meet up for drinks, lunch or coffee just to have a good time. You know…treat people like people rather than favors that can be traded.

There are no shortcuts to building up the kind of professional network that builds a career. If you choose to cater only to your own needs, then prepare yourself for a lonely, tough slog.  Take the time to do it right, and you’ll find hands raise up to help move you – and your career forward –  when you need them most.