Are You Employable?
Excerpted from "Career Building: Your Total Handbook for Finding a Job and Making It Work"
Here's the bottom line: You have to get a job, you have to go to work and someday, you'll probably have to change jobs. "CAREER BUILDING: Your Total Handbook for Finding a Job and Making It Work" (Collins Business) is a one-stop guide for navigating all those times in your career.
If you find your job hunt isn't giving you anything but a stress headache, maybe it's time for a refresher. Ask yourself these questions:
Is my résumé targeted?
Just because you're applying for multiple jobs, don't assume the same résumé works for every position. Each job posting will stress different qualities over others, so rework each résumé to highlight the experience and skills that correspond to that particular employer. Your résumé will prove not only that you're qualified for the job but that you also pay attention to detail.
Am I networking?
We've said it once; we'll say it again—networking is crucial. Think about this: There is only one of you and there are thousands of job openings. The more people know you're looking for a job, the better your chances of finding one are. You can never be sure who will know of an available position. Networking can also connect you to a hiring manager, directly or indirectly, giving you the edge over other candidates.
Do I know something about the companies I'm applying to?
"Tell me what you know about the company" or "Why would you fit in well here?" have become staple interview questions, so don't be caught off guard. Shrugging your shoulders and saying, "I don't know" isn't going to score you points. Look at the company's Web site and read press releases and newspaper articles to see what's going on with your prospective future boss. In addition to preparing for the interview, you'll learn whether the company and its culture are a right fit for you.
Has someone else evaluated my résumé and interview technique?
Feedback is critical to job hunting. Ask someone else to read your résumé and review it as if they were hiring for the job. Friends or colleagues can provide objective points of view to help you revise your résumé.
Your interview skills need the same attention. Are your answers succinct or too short? Thorough or rambling? What you think you're saying isn't necessarily what others hear, so find this out now rather than in the interview. If you don't think that a colleague or friend can offer constructive feedback, make an appointment with an interview coach.
How am I presenting myself?
Employers are assessing your presentation before you even show up for an interview. Your e-mails and phone conversations with hiring managers or recruiters should also send a professional message. Don't send emails written in all capital letters and/or using three exclamation points—it's bad netiquette in personal correspondence, but it's even worse in business. Put the same thought into your outgoing voice mail message. Don't try to be funny by playing 30 seconds of your favorite song or talking with a mouthful of food. Hiring managers might hang up instead of ask you to call them back. Give a normal, casual greeting, or use one of the preprogrammed options that come with most accounts.
If a recruiter calls you, don't try to hold a conversation with your TV blaring in the background or your child screaming on your lap. If you're asked whether it's a good time to talk, you can be honest and say you're in the middle of something. Then ask if he or she can call you back in 15 minutes or find another day that's convenient for both of you. You'll be prepared to answer all the recruiter's questions and won't be distracted.
Your goal is to find a better job than you had, right? So you have to conduct a better search this time around. Put the effort in and you'll see the results.