Where Do You Want to Work? Make a List of Target Employers

When searching for your next job, you’re probably focusing your efforts on postings you see online or opportunities pitched by recruiters who find your resume on LinkedIn or major job boards like CareerBuilder or Monster. However, you can be more proactive and broaden your employment possibilities by creating your own target list of 30-50 companies. 

Before making this list, consider these important questions:   

  • What types of positions are you suited for? Where have you gained most of your work experiences and cultivated your knowledge?
  • Which industries will get the most value from your skill set?
  • What industries, companies and products match your personal interests and passions?
  • Where are you willing to work, in terms of preferred cities and states?
  • What size of company do you want to work for, i.e., a large corporation, smaller privately-held company, mid-sized firm or start-up?
  • Which companies would be on your “dream employer” list?

By answering these questions, you’ll be establishing a solid foundation for your list, which makes the list-building process less daunting. With this criteria in place, you can search for specific companies with greater ease. For example, if you’re a lawyer in Southern Wisconsin, you can search for firms (in your area of practice) that have a significant presence in the greater Milwaukee area.

Here are some free resources that will help you find target companies:  

1. America‘s Career InfoNet Employer Locator: This comprehensive database offered by CareerOneStop.org is searchable by industry, occupation, location, and keyword: https://www.careerinfonet.org/select_occupation.asp?next=occ_rep

2. ReferenceUSA.com: This resource is available in most libraries, which allows you to access it from home using your library card and PIN number. Companies can be searched by name, industry, region, sales volume and other specific criteria: www.referenceusa.com

3. Inc. 5000: This is a list of the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S. Considering that large corporations are usually the first to have massive layoffs in troubled economic times, these smaller, privately-held companies will allow you to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2016/

4. Regional business journals: These often overlooked publications provide a wealth of information about what’s new in companies within your local area, which will expand your scope of employers beyond what you’ve seen on job boards. To find a regional business journal in your area, check out: http://newslink.org/biznews.html. (Side note: There’s usually an annual fee for print publications, but many offer free, abridged online versions.)  

5. LinkedIn: Scan through your LinkedIn contacts to see where they are employed and where they previously worked. You’ll get more ideas for target companies, while setting a foundation for future networking. If certain companies appeal to you, add them to your list. Then, consider reaching out to your contacts for referral meetings, networking conversations, or informational interviews, to get a “feel” for what it’s like to work in those companies, as well as for possible connections to hiring managers.

When you have your list together, you can also use it to create targeted direct mail campaigns or to make outreach calls to hiring managers. One of my CPA clients compiled a list of small accounting firms in her area, sent a letter of interest to each one, and made follow-up phone calls to these firms’ managing partners. This effort landed her a job just in time for the January tax season!

Whichever way you plan to use your target list, you’ll have an effective and practical alternative to relying on Internet job boards or recruiters. 

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2017 All Rights Reserved. www.career-success-coach.com

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    Job Hunting Tips for the Holidays

    Holiday-Job-SearchMany people will put their job search activities “on hold” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, because they believe that companies don’t hire during this time of year...and this couldn’t be further from the truth! 

    Employers hire ALL 12 months of the year. Many new positions are funded to start with a new budget year, which often coincides with a new calendar year. Other companies have hiring budgets which must be spent before year-end, so hiring managers have the choice to either “use it or lose it.” 

    Sometimes, it’s even easier to reach decision-makers directly during November and December; in some companies, key personnel and decision-makers will stay in the office during the holidays, while other staff takes mandatory paid time off.

    Besides this, continuing your job search during the holiday season will you an edge over candidates who are “timing-out” until January, which means less competition for you!   

    One aspect of the holiday season is that there are many opportunities to get out there and spread the word about your job search, like company parties, social gatherings and end-of-year professional association events. You never know who you’ll meet who could connect you to your next opportunity. People are also likely to be in a generous spirit and will have more time to help you.

    Here are some ideas to get you started: 

    1. Accept all invitations you receive for holiday celebrations.Use these opportunities to make new connections and to reacquaint yourself with people who could be helpful in your job search.
    1. Reconnect with old friends and colleagues. Get back in touch with former co-workers and supervisors, high school and college classmates, former neighbors, etc. These people can be untapped sources of information, job leads, and referrals.
    1. Host your own holiday party which doesn’t have to be anything formal or elaborate; it can be as simple as a Sunday afternoon open house where people can mix and mingle. While your job search shouldn’t be the central focus of the party, you could mention it during individual conversations at the appropriate time.
    1. Volunteer. There are many opportunities during the holidays to give your time to charities and organizations. Some of these opportunities can help you build your network, make new connections, and bolster your resume with some value-added experience.  
    1. Send out holiday cards, if this is part of your end-of year tradition.  If you’re on a tight budget, e-cards can be more cost-effective than those sent via postal mail. Whichever method you choose, you’ll set the stage to contact the people on your address list after the holidays, to tell them you’re job searching and would appreciate their help.
    1. Update your social media presence. If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create yours. If you have one, give it a fresh look. Invite new people to connect; then give and/or ask for recommendations.
    1. Look for opportunities to get your foot in the door. If you’re currently unemployed, look for temporary or seasonal jobs that may lead to full-time positions.
    1. Reconnect with recruiters. Many are trying to reach year-end recruiting goals at this time of the year, and you may have just the skills they are looking for.
    1. Be reachable. You might be asked to interview at unusual times, even the day before Christmas. Keep your phone turned on. Check your voice mail and  email (including your spam folder) daily, so that you won’t miss important messages about potential job opportunities.

    So, think carefully before deciding to postpone your job search during the holiday season. A job search that continues through December will give you the opportunity to get hired before the end of the year…or a head start over other candidates when the calendar turns over on January 1, 2016.

    © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. http://www.career-success-coach.com

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      Nine Mistakes That Can Derail Your Confidential Job Search

      When conducting a confidential job search, be careful to avoid making these top nine mistakes, to ensure that your search stays off of your employer’s radar: 

      1Attending job fairs. You might think that job fairs are “safe” activities, especially if your employer’s name isn’t on the roster of participating companies at a job fair. This is what one job seeker thought. However, as he made the rounds of the booths, his current boss spotted him, leading to an awkward conversation and his departure from the company sooner than he had originally planned. Don’t let this happen to you! Review the list of participating employers and note the recruiters’ contact information. If you are interested in working for any of the companies, reach out privately, instead of at the job fair.

      2) Responding to “blind ads.” Avoid submitting your resume for positions where the company name isn’t listed. More than one job seeker has applied for “the perfect job” only to find it was their job being advertised! Sometimes, you can find out the identity of the company behind the blind ad, if responses are to be sent to a US Post Office Box. If you can identify the company, you can reach out privately…as long as the company isn’t YOUR employer.

      3) Job searching at work or on company time; this includes making calls from your employer’s landline or cell; or listing these phone numbers on job search materials. You might get unexpected incoming calls on your work phone from recruiters or prospective employers who find you on LinkedIn or through your company’s directory; but you want to avoid making outbound job search calls on your work landline (or cell) because these calls can be tracked and traced. To be safe, make job search calls from your personal cell when you’re on break or at lunch. Be sure that you are speaking from a place where no one can eavesdrop on your conversation.

      4) Using your employer’s computer for job search activities. You can be “outed” by your online search history and inbound / outbound email activity, which your employer could be tracking, unbeknownst to you. Avoid storing your resume on your work computer, using company printers or copiers to make copies of your resume, or connecting to your company’s Wi-Fi to conduct job search activities on your personal cell phone or tablet. And never use your company email address on job search materials. Do your job search activities after-hours from your home computer or through your local library.

      5) Posting your resume online. Not only is it likely to be found by someone at your current company, but will also stay out there forever; even removing contact info might not help you from being identified. It’s better to apply only for positions you’re interested in and qualified for, directly on the company website (or through the recruitment staff in that company) instead of through a job board.

       6) Scheduling interviews during work hours or at work. You will have to be creative about when – and how – you interview. So, schedule interviews on your day off, before work, during lunch, or after work. Phone or Skype interviews should be conducted offsite, preferably from your home.

      7) Posting about your job search on social media. Be sure that you NEVER post ANYTHING on social media about your search or about being unhappy in your current job, regardless of how locked down you think your privacy settings are. Anyone can take a screen shot of your post and share it with someone else.

      8) Attending professional association meetings or networking events in full-out job search mode. Instead, go with the purpose of learning something new and making new connections.  It’s a good idea to volunteer at the registration desk, so that you can meet all of the attendees, without appearing to be an overly-eager job seeker.  If you get good vibes from some of the attendees, you can contact them individually, for an informal networking chat or coffee, outside of the event. Avoid discussing your job search with your new connections, unless know for sure you can trust them.

       9) Being deceptive about looking for a job. This is especially important if the question comes from your current boss. If you’re asked, be honest…and this could actually work in your favor, as it did for one of my clients. When her boss found out she was searching, my client used this opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with her boss, about why she wanted to leave the company. Surprisingly, this resulted in a pay raise and better working conditions, because the company didn’t want to lose her.

      When you avoid these nine mistakes, you’ll protect your privacy,  maintain professionalism at your job, and convey to hiring managers that you respect your employer by keeping your job search separate from your daily work responsibilities.

      (c) Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach www.career-success-coach.com. All Rights Reserved

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        Getting Started with a Confidential Job Search

        One of the best times to look for a new job is when you already have one. Employed candidates are usually more desirable to some hiring managers than those who are unemployed. Some employers have even stipulated that applicants must be employed to be considered; although I’ve heard that some states have banned this practice in recent years.

        Searching for a job while employed also has practical benefits. Your current salary can help offset job search investments, such as purchasing new suits or other business attire for interviews, hiring a career coach to help you get clear about your most ideal work, or enlisting the services of a professional resume writer to have your resume and LinkedIn profile updated.

        Yet there are drawbacks to searching for a new job while you’re still in your current one. The biggest concern is that your current will employer find out you’re looking. Some bosses consider this disloyal behavior, even if they themselves would have no issue with poaching a candidate from a competitor.

        Some companies even have internal or unwritten policies that if an employee is discovered to be looking for a new job, they should be replaced, to avoid having to quickly fill a key position when the employee’s two-week notice is given.

        So, here are some key strategies to use when conducting a confidential job search, to keep it off of your employer’s radar:

        * Choose carefully who you tell. If you tell anyone you’re looking for a new job, ask them to keep the information confidential. Be especially careful with co-workers, who might accidentally let it slip, or who may see you as disloyal. When in doubt, tell no one.

        * Let recruiters know you’re conducting a confidential job search. Ask to be informed before you are presented as a candidate for a specific opportunity, so that you can know ahead of time, if your boss might know the people you’re interviewing with.

        * Tell prospective employers that you are conducting a confidential job search. That will explain why you’re not listing co-workers or supervisors as references.

        * Set up a free generic Gmail or Yahoo email account. Choose a simple and professional email address such as your desired job title; for obvious reasons, do NOT use your name in that email address.

        * Create a confidential version of your resume, starting with putting “Confidential Resume” on top:

        • Remove your name and contact information, except for your generic email address and personal cell phone number.
        • Leave off your home phone number because a reverse phone number lookup may reveal your identity.
        • Provide a generic description of what your employer does instead of listing it’s actual name.
        • Omit the dates from your education section; having your degree, school, and year makes you easier to identify.
        • Save your resume file with a name that does NOT include YOUR name, e.g. “Sales Candidate for Sales Position with XYZ Company.” Be sure you check the “Properties” box in MS Word under the File menu and delete your name and contact info.

        * Watch what you wear. If you typically work in a business casual environment and you show up in a suit because you have an interview over lunch, this is likely to arouse suspicion. Plan enough time to change before your interview, preferably NOT at your current workplace or the company where you’re interviewing; better yet, use your personal or vacation time for interviews; or schedule them after-hours.

        * Keep up your efforts at work while you conduct your job search. In fact, go above and beyond with what you’re doing in your current job. Companies want employees who are committed to their job, not their job search.

        * Look for other ways to get found and increase your visibility, such as opportunities to write, speak, volunteer and advise in your area of expertise, through professional association or club memberships. When you connect with the right people, the right opportunities will find you.

        One of the best ways to connect with other professionals is on LinkedIn. While you want to make sure you have a robust LinkedIn profile, you must also be cautious about what your employers and colleagues will see. Read my next post in this series, which offers specific LinkedIn tips for your confidential job search. 

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          New Year – New Job!

          If your goal is to get a new job in the New Year, here are eight “prep steps” to get you started: 

          1.    Update your resume. While your resume should be customized for a specific job, having an up-to-date resume targeted for a specific type of position is the next best thing. So, if you’ve taken on extra responsibilities in your current job, changed your job goal, or have earned new certifications or educational credentials, now is the time to add this content to your resume. It’s good to get the content “out of your brain and onto the paper” while it’s fresh in your mind. You can always edit your resume later, for a specific opportunity. 

          2.      Develop or update your LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile doesn’t replace your resume; rather, it complements it. Hiring managers seeking candidates with your skills and expertise might search on LinkedIn and find your profile. As well, someone in your network can easily forward your LinkedIn URL when referring you to a hiring manager. Be sure your LinkedIn profile is complete AND up-to-date. 

          3.    Conduct salary research to know what you’re worth. One of the most common reasons people consider job changes is for a salary increase. But how do you know what you’re worth? Check out ww.jobsearchintelligence.com and www.Glassdoor.com to see how your current salary and benefits stack up, so that you’ll have a baseline for negotiating your next offer. 

          4.  Build your network. It is estimated that 40-80% of jobs are found through networking with professional and personal connections. Networking isn’t just about who YOU know; it’s about who your CONTACTS know. Many times, it’s the friend of a colleague who can help you land your dream job. One of my clients had a goal to reach 500 connections on her LinkedIn profile. Shortly after that happened, a recruiter she had never met arranged an interview for her in her niche and she is close to negotiating an offer.

          5.   Manage your online reputation. More and more, hiring managers are checking you out online before they interview you. What will they find when they type your name into Google? How about Facebook or Twitter? Now is the time to clean up your online profiles. Delete any postings hinting about complaints with your current job or employer. 

          6.    Define your ideal job. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” This famous quote from Yogi Berra is important to remember in your job search. If you don’t know what your ideal job looks like, how will you recognize it when it comes? What job titles fit you? What tasks do you enjoy doing? Do you want to work alone, on a team, or both? Do you like short- or long-term projects? Answer these questions to start defining your ideal job.

          7.    Create a target list of companies you’d like to work for. Like your ideal job, you probably prefer a certain type of organization as an employer. Things to consider are: company size, industry, workplace culture, location, and structure, e.g., public, private, family-owned, franchise, nonprofit, etc. Once you’ve made your list, look for companies that fit your criteria. 

          8.  Decide if you need help with your career plans. While the steps above seem simple enough, you might be feeling stuck on one or more of them, which could be blocking your progress. If so, feel free to request a private call with me. We’ll discuss your situation in more detail and determine what the next steps are, so that you can finally land an ideal job that is both fulfilling AND financially-rewarding!

          © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2015 www.career-success-coach.com

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            Best Job Search Tips from A to Z

            Access the Hidden Job Market: The hidden job market comprises 75% of the total jobs and perhaps 90% of the best jobs. Hiring decision makers will talk about the company’s problems, needs, changes or opportunities, long before they advertise an official job posting to the general public. You’ll learn about these opportunities from people you know, so focus on networking instead of just posting your resume on job boards and waiting for responses that may never come.

            Build Your Networking Contact List: Since your best leads to the hidden job market will come from people, it’s time to build your contact list. Start with an “inner circle” of family, friends, and colleagues: people you already know and who are likely to give you referrals to others who may have additional advice, information and suggestions, or who may be in a position to hire you.

            Clarify Your Ideal Job: Write about your ideal job or employment situation, whether it exists or not. Include details about the company (their products, services, location, sales volume, etc.), your boss, coworkers, team members, salary and benefits. When you’re clear about what you want, opportunities will magically appear.

            Diversify Your Employment Options. Try temping, contracting or part-time positions, which may lead to a FT, permanent position. Otherwise, consider starting your own business or consulting practice. You never know where your business ideas may lead. For information on business start-up, contact the SBA or SCORE.

            Eliminate the “Career Objective” from your Resume: Replace with a professional title that describes your industry and professional level, such as Sales Manager, Elementary School Teacher or Senior Marketing Executive. Hiring managers will be impressed with seeing something other than, “Seeking a challenging position in a progressive organization.” <Yawn>

            Focus on Opportunities in Small Businesses and Privately-held Companies. Large corporations are usually the first to have massive layoffs in troubled economic times. Smaller companies will allow you to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Tap into the INC 5000 list, or look to lists available from your local library, e.g., ReferenceUSA or A to Z Databases to find companies where you might want to work.

            Gratitude: Thank each person who introduced you to an important contact, passed on a job lead, provided you with a great reference, or convinced a hiring manager to interview you, even if the opportunity didn’t work out as you hoped. When people know you appreciate their efforts, they will keep on helping you! Hand-written thank you notes sent by postal mail will make you more memorable than email messages.

            Handle Rejection Gracefully: Received a “thanks but no thanks letter” after an interview? Reach out to the hiring manager. Congratulate him or her on the new hire. Ask to be considered for another position in the company, which could be better match for your skills set and experience. Read more in: “You Didn’t Get The Job – Now What?”

            Ignore Negative News about the Economy: The media stays in business by selling headlines and TV ratings. Nothing sells better than bad news! Even though bad news items may be factually correct, dwelling on them will only make you feel worse. According to Law of Attraction principles, focusing on unwanted situations will only attract more of them. Do your best to avoid TV news programs. Read happier sections of the newspaper, or don’t read it at all.

            Join a Job Seeker’s Networking Group: In today’s economy, looking for a job can be a difficult, discouraging, and lonely journey. Consider joining a job seeker’s networking group, aka a job club, which is a facilitator-led group of job seekers that offer each other advice, support and camaraderie during the process. Check out Job-Hunt.org to find a job seeker’s networking group in your area.  

            Know Your Value: Document how you’ve helped your employers save money, make money, save time, or solve a problem. Translate this into your return on investment (ROI) for prospective employers. Be able to confidently explain how they will get a 150% ROI for the salary they’ll be paying you.

            Law of Attraction: Identify your “wants” and “don’t wants” in an ideal career position, feel like you already have it, and allow the universe to bring it to you. When you get into the feeling of having your ideal job and hold this feeling for 17 seconds it has the same impact as 10 hours of job searching activity.

            Motivate Yourself: Motivation is an inside job. Jim Rohn says it best: “The best motivation is self-motivation. The guy says, ‘I wish someone would come by and turn me on.’ What if they don’t show up? You’ve got to have a better plan for your life.”

            Networking Dos and Don’ts: Networking is a lifelong process of building mutually beneficial relationships with others; it is not handing out or collecting business cards and schmoozing; or something you do suddenly, as a reaction to being jobless. A timeless classic on networking is Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need by Harvey Mackay.

            Outcome Detachment: Talane Miedaner, author of Coach Yourself to Success explains: “The easiest way to detach from the outcome is to have something in reserve, an ace up your sleeve…This reduces your neediness and automatically increases your ability to attract what you want…If you really want one particular job, it helps to have offers at [many] other places too, so that you can increase your bargaining power.”

            Prepare a Job Proposal: Create your own position by identifying a company’s unmet need and proposing a solution. Prepare a brief business plan which shows exactly what you will do, for a specific salary, to solve the company’s problem. Read these two articles to learn more: “This Sample Proposal Letter Can Replace Your Resume” and “A Proposal May Get That Job”.

            Quiet Your Inner Critic: Stop scolding yourself over what might have been if you had done things differently in your career. Replace your inner dialogue of “What if?” with “What I learned from this experience” and “What I can do better next time.”

            Referral Meetings: Arrange informal meetings (by phone or in-person) with your contacts to get their help with your career transition. Never ask for a job! Preface your request for meeting with: “I don’t expect you to have or know of any positions in your company right now. All I’m asking for is advice, information, and referrals to others, to plan my next career move.”  Read more in: “How to Tap The Hidden Job Market Through Your Network.” 

            Social Networking 101: Build a LinkedIn profile. Recruiters regularly search LinkedIn for qualified candidates. Use the content from your resume to fill in the employment sections. Be selective in asking others to join your network or accepting invitations. The quality of your connections — who you know and who knows you — is much more valuable than how many connections you have. Be sure to avoid these mistakes when building your profile.

            Try Targeted Direct Mailings: Send targeted resumes and cover letters to 100+ companies where you’d like to work, whether or not they are hiring. Customize each letter with the decision maker’s name and title. Expect a 1% to 3% response rate. Your goal is to meet someone who will talk to you even when there is no open position at the moment.  See “Focus on Opportunities in Small Businesses and Privately-held Companies” above for business directory resources; and check out this post:  “Where Do You Want to Work? Make a List of Target Employers.”

            Upgrade Your Skills and Credentials: Finish your bachelor degree, MBA, or certification program, if you know these qualifications will help you move forward in your career. Don’t rely on you employer to fund your educational programs; figure out a way to pay for them yourself. If you’re unemployed, you may be eligible for free or low-cost training through your local workforce development center.

            Volunteer Your Way to Employment: Volunteering can expand your professional network and list of contacts. Many companies are involved in volunteering and encourage employees to participate. You might even meet hiring managers from large, local companies through volunteering. When you work in a volunteer program you’re passionate about, you’ll create the best impression on anyone you meet. Check out volunteer opportunities on these websites: www.idealist.org,  www.catchafire.org,  or www.volunteermatch.org.

            Wait to Discuss Salary until you have a job offer on the table. The first person to mention a salary figure is at a disadvantage in the negotiation process. Don’t let this happen to you! Ask for a salary range before stating your requirements. Research the market rate for your salary on www.salary.comwww.payscale.com or http://www.jobsearchintelligence.com, so you’ll be in a better position to negotiate the best package for yourself.

            Xs and O’s: Go through your career history and create a list of all the job tasks you’ve ever done. Put an “X” through your least enjoyable activities and put a circle (O) around the tasks you love to do. Congratulations! You’ve identified some key elements of your dream job or ideal career position.

            Your Name, Inc.: Treat your career as though you are self-employed, whether you file a 1099 or 1040 tax form. If you work in a salaried position, think of your employer as your client. Here’s how Brian Tracy, motivational guru, summarizes this concept: “The biggest mistake we could ever make in our lives is to think we work for anybody but ourselves.”

            Zigzag Your Way to Career Success: The path of a successful job search or career transition is rarely a straight line; it’s a series of setbacks, followed by giant steps forward. Think of a job search as a numbers game, like sales: the more no’s you get, the closer you are to hearing “Yes, you’re hired!”

            © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, 2014. All Rights Reserved http://www.career-success-coach.com


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              The Benefits of Joining a Job Seekers’ Networking Group or Job Club

              When you’re unemployed (or under-employed and working part-time), you may find yourself all alone behind your computer, applying for jobs online and posting your resume on Monster and CareerBuilder. While you do need to apply for positions for which you’re qualified, online job search activities can be very discouraging, especially when responses and invitations to interview don’t come quickly enough.

              Alternatively, consider getting out of the house and joining a job seekers’ networking group or job club. The support and camaraderie of these groups will diminish your feelings of isolation and despair, while providing ways to expand your job search efforts beyond print and online job postings.

              Typically, job clubs are structured and facilitator-led, designed to support people through their course of unemployment, to help them get back to work as quickly as possible. Memberships are generally free, aside from nominal fees to offset costs for printed materials or room rental.  Meetings are usually held weekly or biweekly, where members can network with each other, share job leads and key contacts at your target companies, and listen to presentations and workshops by guest speakers.

              Some groups offer opportunities to practice interviewing skills and to have resumes critiqued or rewritten. In others, the group facilitators and members will network with businesses, recruitment firms, and employment agencies within the community, to uncover unadvertised, hidden job market leads, which are shared at meetings, via email and through private LinkedIn, Yahoo or Google Groups.

              To find a job seekers’ networking group or job club in your area, go to Job-hunt.org: http://www.job-hunt.org/job-search-networking/job-search-networking.shtml. Select your state from the list; then scroll through the groups listed for your state. You may notice that some groups in your area serve specific populations, e.g., folks in the 50+ age range or at the executive-level and/or industries such as IT or manufacturing. When you find a group that appeals to you, click on the website (if available), to learn more about it; or contact the group facilitator if a phone number or email address is listed. 

              These groups may also be offered by your local library, church, synagogue, community group, village/municipal township office, or unemployment office / Career One-Stop. You might also find meeting announcements for job seekers’ networking groups in the Business or Community Calendar sections of your local newspaper, a free employment weekly newspaper, or by simply Googling “job seekers’ networking groups” plus your city, state, and area code.

              Before you commit to membership and attend regular meetings, visit the group once or twice, to get a feel for the agenda and goals, as well as the overall energy of the facilitators and members. Most importantly, be sure that the atmosphere is upbeat, positive, and proactive!

               © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin 2014. All Rights Reserved. www.career-success-coach.com

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                Plan Your Job Search Activities Using the 80/20 Rule

                Each day on our calendar gives us 24 hours to use as we please. An average person spends 8 hours sleeping and 16 hours awake. Unlike money, which can be earned back after being spent, time passed is gone forever. Within the context of a job search, using your time wisely will help you reach your employment goals more quickly.

                The Pareto Principle – The 80/20 Rule 

                According to the Pareto Principle, you’ll get 80% of your results from only 20% of your activities. Most people who are successful in accomplishing their goals actively practice this principle and have figured out which 20% of their activities – otherwise known as “high-payoff activities” – bring them the results they want. 

                What are your high-payoff job search activities?   

                There are multiple job search activities you could choose, including, but not limited to:

                1. Applying for jobs and posting resumes online
                2. Attending job search networking groups
                3. Building a strong LinkedIn presence
                4. Connecting with recruiters
                5. Participating in professional associations and groups

                6. Reaching out to people in your network (statistics have proven that 48% of jobs are found through referrals from friends or family, compared with 3% to 5% from classified ads and job boards)
                7. Researching companies where you’d like to work and sending a targeted resume and cover letter to the hiring manager
                8. Visiting job fairs (in-person or online)

                Monitor the time you spend on each one, to determine which bring you the highest quality/ number of contacts and resources leading to right-fit job opportunities. Whichever activities are working best for you will be your high-payoff activities. You need to do more of those and less of the others, to reach your employment goals faster

                For example, if you discover that you make better connections through people you know than at job fairs, then reaching out to people in your network would be considered a high-payoff activity and you should plan to schedule more time during your day for this activity and perhaps skip job fairs, unless they’re targeted toward your industry.   

                Track how you spend your time 
                Of course you’re not just choosing between different job search activities – there are many other activities and tasks competing for your attention. Most of us strive for a well-rounded life that includes time for family, friends, leisure, creativity, exercise, community involvement and other elements.

                There is a time and place for all of that. It can be helpful to think of your job search as your full-time job and spend that many hours towards your employment goals. Track your time to ensure that your job search hours are spent on high-payoff activities, rather than TV, aimlessly surfing the web or social media sites, busy work that is not related to your job search, or lower-quality job search activities.

                To help practice better time management, ask yourself:

                1. What are your high-payoff activities?
                2. How often can you schedule them into your day to get the results you want?
                3. How can you say “no” to activities and distractions that do not support your goals?

                Click here for a Time Management Grid, to help you evaluate how you spend your time. 

                © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2014  www.career-success-coach.com

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                  How To Get Found in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

                  When searching for a new job, you’ve probably applied for jobs online by submitting resumes via email or completing online applications. You may not know that your resume could be stored in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Research reveals that ATS’s are used primarily in midsize and larger companies, and in nearly all Fortune 500 companies.   

                  ATS software helps hiring managers: 1) manage applications for open positions; 2) screen out candidates who lack the required skills for the job; 3) make the hiring process more efficient; 4) comply with EEOC regulations. Hiring managers use ATS software to quickly identify candidates who have the desired skills, education and experience for specific job openings, without having to sift through hundreds of resumes.   

                  When a resume is submitted, the ATS “parses” the information and places it in specific fields inside the ATS database, e.g., work experience, education and contact info. Then, it analyzes this data for criteria relevant to the open position, i.e., years of experience or certain skills. After thatit assigns each resume a score, ranking the candidates in comparison to other applicants, so hiring managers can identify the best fit candidates for the job.   

                  The ATS uses a keyword matching system (established by the most relevant keywords outlined in the job posting) to rank and select candidates. Keywords are nouns, adjectives or phrases that describe skills, abilities, knowledge, education, training and experience. In the ATS, keywords in a resume are graded in two ways: 1) appearance: whether they appear in the resume at all and how many times; and 2) relevance: whether they appear in the correct context, not as random, disconnected words.   

                  To increase your chance of getting found in an ATS query, you first must be qualified to do the job you apply for; then you need to tailor your resume by naturally weaving in relevant keywords from the job posting.  One way to identify these keywords is to use “word cloud” technology. Here’s how:   

                    1. Locate the posting for the position you want to apply for.
                    2. Select and copy all the text to a Word document or clipboard.
                    3. Go to www.tocloud.com or www.wordle.net to create a tag cloud.
                    4. Paste the text into the text box and generate the word cloud.
                    5. Note that the word cloud will highlight keywords and phrases from the job posting. The larger the words, the more relevant they are. Click here for a word cloud example

                  A word of caution: never put skills you don’t have on your resume as an attempt to “trick” the ATS into selecting you: once a resume is chosen, it will be read by human eyes.    

                  ATS software isn’t picky about the resume length, so you can submit a document that is two or more pages. However, an ATS is strict about formatting. Click here for a 1-page guide: “Formatting a Resume for ATS Compliance” which includes a handy checklist.

                  Applying for jobs can be a competitive, frustrating experience. However, if you modify your resume according to how an ATS works, you’re likely to “game” the system into choosing your resume over hundreds of other applicants. 

                  © Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2013


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                    Got Gaps in your Work History? Don’t Despair!

                    Employment at one company until retirement has become the exception in the US, rather than the rule. With the evolution of a global labor market, the 9/11 crisis, and the 2008 economic meltdown followed by “The Great Recession”, “job security” has literally disappeared. These trends have also led many companies to cut their workforce, leaving downsized workers with gaps in their employment history and/or long periods of unemployment.  

                    Gaps in work history can occur for other situations besides the economy, such as family/maternity leave, caring for an ill relative or returning to school full-time. Whatever the reasons might be, the challenge for jobseekers is how to skillfully handle these gaps on resumes, social media profiles and in conversations with hiring managers, without jeopardizing their candidacy.

                    Given today’s economy, hiring managers are usually more accepting of gaps than in previous years. Even so, it’s wise to show them that you haven’t been idle during a period of unemployment. You want to confidently answer the questions: “Why did you leave your last employer?” or “What were you/have you been doing between Job A and Job B?” 

                    Start by filling in the gaps on your resume and on social media profiles with temporary or contract work, survival jobs or volunteer assignments. Here are some examples from my client case studies: 

                    • Educational Programs:  An unemployed business analyst returned to school full time for a certificate in data warehousing. She moved the “Education” section to the first page of her resume, then listed the name of her school, the program she was enrolled in, the core curriculum and expected graduation date.
                    • Caregiver: Several clients who have been primary caregivers for loved ones have listed this as an actual job on their resumes. To properly serve in this capacity, they had to resign from their full-time jobs.
                    • Contract/Temp Work: A laid-off accountant registered with several contract/temp firms. Because one agency kept him busy, he listed it on his resume as his current employer and wrote key bullet points about what he accomplished for each client company.
                    • Survival Jobs: A downsized marketing exec took a job in retail to bring in money while searching for another marketing position. He created an “Other Employment” section on his resume, and listed the retail position there.
                    • Volunteer Work: One client handled a major campaign for a high-profile foundation as a volunteer and listed that as her current status on LinkedIn.
                    • Workforce Re-entry: One woman had a nine-year gap when she took time off of work to raise a family. She inserted “Resigned to start a family” as one of the bullet points in her last job; then she listed the volunteer/leadership activities she was involved in while being a stay-at-home mom.   

                    On LinkedIn, you can even set your current status to: “In Transition,” then include a few sentences to explain that you are actively engaged in job search.

                    For interviews, prepare scripts to back up your gaps. Your scripts should be short, matter-of-fact and close-ended, e.g., “I was downsized because my company closed down the department I worked in.” <period> Then, redirect the interview about why you are perfect for this job.

                    Gaps in work history are part of life. When you have a strategy in place for handling them, you’ll overcome a major hurdle in confidently marketing yourself for the job you want.

                    * This post originally appeared in the May 2012 Edition of Career E-News.

                     © 2012 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved

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