Job Seeker? Put First Things First

Too many questions

Lots of jobs are going begging; just keep applying until you get lucky. Become an entrepreneur – there’s funding for that. Try the Second Career program. There’s funding for that. Become a contractor and work for yourself. Start a home-based business. There’s funding (sometimes) for that.

You’re newly unemployed and trying with every atom of your being to get back into the workforce quickly. Your friends, your family, your outplacement counsellor – not to mention newspapers, job sites and career blogs – are all bursting with advice for you:

If you’re tossing in a torrent of tips, you’re probably putting the cart before the horse. In marketing terms, you’re trying to identify your customers and market your product to them–before you’ve ever defined  your product!

“But I know what I do! I just want to get back to doing it (preferably at my previous job)!” “I have a dream job, but I’ll never get it.” “I always seem to wind up down the black hole.”

If your inner voices sound anything like these, we strongly recommend you do some prework before rushing off to apply for jobs, funding, retraining. or any combination of the above. You’ll save yourself a world of frustration and rejection.

It’s Not the Same River

“No-one ever steps in the same river twice,” Heraclitus said, “for it’s not the same river and it’s not the same person.” While you were working at your job, your field changed, the workplace changed, and you changed (or possibly you stopped changing). This has always been true. Continue reading

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Dear Job Seeker: I Don’t Care If You’re Passionate

Close-up Of Bored Businessman Rubbing His EyesYes, I know my HR department (whom I don’t control and to whom I pay insufficient attention) has asked for a dedicated, energetic, goal-oriented leader with a passion for quality. And I know your outplacement consultant has suggested you mirror the language of the job ad. But the truth is, I really just want to know that you have the technical qualifications and experience to work here before I interview you. I’d like to have a sense of whether you actually delivered value to your previous employers, and didn’t just scurry around performing “duties”.

Of course, I also need to know that you actually want to work for my company, and whether you’ll fit well with my team. I’ll judge that for myself when and if I decide I should interview you. Then I’ll confirm my judgement by getting my team to talk to you, and by talking to your references. I’ll look for confirmation that you’ll be an asset to the company, and won’t let me down.

So, please do us both a favour – ditch the fluffy verbiage in your resumé. Give me the clear sense up front  that you’re the right candidate, and don’t hide your best arguments inside your cover letter, which I won’t read (and always seems to get lost between HR and my desk anyhow).

As I write this tonight, there are IT 4,000 vacancies in Ottawa. Let’s work together to make it only 3,999 tomorrow.

Your Would-Be Future Manager

Letter discovered by Jennifer Bulman, who regularly gives a workshop called “The Hard, the Soft, and the Fluffy: How to Describe Skills in Your Resumé”.

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Will Your Resume Open Doors?

Fingers crossed“I’ve sent my resumé out dozens of times, and nobody answers.” “I gave them my resumé and that’s the last I ever heard….”

You’ve spent hours on your resumé, incorporated multiple suggestions from friends, made multiple changes to please job agencies and your secret mantra has become “Oh, please!” – but employers’ doors remain stubbornly shut.

Failure to get your foot in the door and land an interview – even when you’re qualified for an advertised opportunity – can happen for many reasons; but it often boils down to not telling a convincing story from the very start of your resumé.

Two Burning Questions

Most employers hate the time and risk involved in the hiring process. The cost to companies of recruiting and onboarding a new hire can be as high as one year’s salary. When an employer picks up your resumé to give it the ten-second glance, they are looking for quick answers to two burning questions: Continue reading

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