Career & Coffee

Resume Writing, Job Search, Industry News and Erin’s weekly musings on all things career.

When to Walk Away from a Job June 7, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Erin's Musings,Job Search — erinkennedy @ 12:50 am

I was listening to a client recently tell me how she is in this job that she hates. The boss is horrible to her and she now has ulcers, which she (and her doctor) suspect comes from the job stress. She doesn’t want to quit because she is afraid of not being able to find another comparable job.

Even in this tough economic climate we’ve been faced with this past year, there are times when you have to JUST SAY NO and walk away from a job.

Speaking from an experience back in my early 20’s, I can tell you why…

Recently laid off from my pharmaceutical sales job, I found an ad in the paper with the words “Sales Representatives Needed” screaming out at me. Not that I even liked sales. I didn’t, but at the time, I didn’t know what else I would be good at, so I stayed with it.

I arrive at the meeting place, a hotel lobby, around 6:00am and met the DM and two other reps. They start talking about what entrance they thought they’d be able to get in through. A small warning bell went off in my head, “Why can’t we just use the front door?” I ask naively. They all sort of looked at each other and chuckled…”new kid”. “They don’t let us in the front door, they don’t like ’solicitors’ so we find our own way in” chuckle, chuckle, wink, wink.

We get on the road and head over to this company that manufactures chemicals. The DM insisted we sneak in through the back door that says,’Authorized Personnel Only’. I didn’t like this one bit. First, OK, I am a very polite person… I like to be invited places, not sneaking in to a place–especially potential clients. The only time I ever tried to “sneak” in anywhere was a Def Leppard concert when I was a teen–and even then, my good manners told me it wasn’t the right thing to do. But I digress.

 So, short of skin tight black spandex from head to toe, I felt like I was on Mission Impossible (hear the theme song in your head?) creeping through the side entrance and hiding behind boxes until we could “come out” of our hiding spot. Seriously. Keep in mind that I am in a skirt, pantyhose, high heels, and a brand-spanking new white blouse. I didn’t think that I would be slinking around oily plant floors when I dressed for my new job that morning. That is how unethical these people were. Slinkers. My new word.

Now I am thoroughly embarrassed, hating these slinkers, and wanting to leave, but with no ride and not really knowing where I was, I was stuck–and with them for the entire day.

We try to act as if we belong as we brazenly come out from our hiding spots and waltz along the shop floor.

Until we are stopped by the shop superintendent, who didn’t want to hear what we were trying to sell, utterly disgusted that we snuck in, and marched us out the front door. I was very happy and nodded to everything he said, giving him my very best, ‘this is my first and last day of this awful job and I’m chalking this up as a terrible experience, sorry to bother you’ look.

This went on with 4 other “prospects” who all kicked us out. I was SO happy when that day was over.

I have never quit a job without another one lined up. In fact, I’ve never NOT worked since I was 15 years old. But in that instant, I knew I was never coming back. I had been listening to my instincts tell me from the minute I got there that it was all wrong, it wasn’t the job for me, that I would be miserable there. For once, I didn’t stick it out. I didn’t say, “OK, see you all tomorrow!”. I left.

It was the best feeling in the world and I was so grateful to not have to go back.

So, my point is this:  if you go to a job that makes your skin crawl, that goes against everything you believe in, or you are getting treated poorly, LEAVE.

I am the first to think, “desperate times calls for any ole’ job’, but there are lots of other jobs out there that are less painful and cause much less stress. Think of your mental and physical health if you are going to a place of work that you despise. It’s not good for you. I am a firm believer in the mind+body connection. If you are miserable, your health will start to deteriorate and THEN how are you supposed to work?

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Searching the Hidden Job Market May 27, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Interviewing,Job Search,Networking — erinkennedy @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , ,

In a climate like the one we are in, it’s easy to feel like we will never find the job we want, or that ‘no one is hiring‘. However, you can increase your chances of landing multiple interviews if you can tap into the “hidden” job market, or, the one that hasn’t been advertising. Contacting the companies/contacts directly makes a much more powerful impact then random online resume posting to (some useless) job sites.

How do you do this? Have a plan! This may take a little longer, but it’s the best way to control your job search, land quality interviews and increase your pay scale.

1)  Get your online presence together. Chances are, if you are going to be Google-ing companies, they will Google you. Create a Google profile or a LinkedIn profile and put your brand out there for the employer to see. Show your stuff.

2)  Make a list of your target information– industry choice, job position, company listings, etc.

3) Do a Google search on your industry and job titles. There may be quite a few, but you can weed through what you like and don’t like. You can also do a local business search with the same requirements and see what you come up with.

4) Send your resume directly to the hiring person. This is usually the person who is 2-4 levels above where you see yourself within the company. Make sure your cover letter is short and concise.

If this method makes you squirm a little, remember that you will see significantly higher results than you would normally. It’s also good to move beyond your comfort zone. Clients who’ve used it report more interviews, quicker interview cycles and less competition. It is more effective than blindly submitting your resume to lots of job search engines AND it reduces your anxiety of not knowing if the person who you want to see it really saw it or not.

In the end, it will give you greater job search confidence and renewed excitement about the process. Try it and see. Then let me know how it went.

 

Tips for Scoring at a Job Fair May 21, 2009

Many of you know that I was at the Detroit “Good Morning America / Women for Hire” job fair the other day. There were about 25 résumé evaluators and approximately 5000 job seekers. They literally were lined up outside the doors at 3:30am. Talk about motivated people. Wow. What a busy, productive and fulfilling day.

It was televised (GMA and local ABC news crew) and there were camera people everywhere. Sort made us feel like movie stars except the cameras really weren’t on us, and we didn’t get paid. But still.

All of us

(This is a group photo of the other resume writers/critiquers who donated their time at the job fair. From L to R:

Deb James, ME (in black), Dee Duff, Karen D’Anna, Kris Plantrich and Lisa Chapman. A smart, generous and fabulous group of women. We had a great time!)


I was really impressed by the amount of professionalism, ambition and previous success that most of the folks had. There were just a few people that could have used a few pointers. So here they are:

1-      DRESS AS IF YOU ARE AT AN INTERVIEW. Appropriate dress is really a MUST at a job fair. I know you already know this, but I thought I’d mention it again. You know the saying, “First Impressions are a Must”, well they really are.  I saw some people that looked gorgeous and really ‘wow’ed’ me. THAT is how you have to look. Not saying you have to go spend a fortune on new clothes. You can put together a new outfit from what you have. Wash your hair, do your nails, trim your nose/ear hair, you know… the usual. And if you have dread-locks, tuck them into your suit.

2-      HAVE A RÉSUMÉ PREPARED. (and if at all possible, have it professionally done). Yes, I saw many, many résumés and only about 5% of them were impressive. Remember, lead with your accomplishments, not your job description duties. The Microsoft Word résumé template was used in about 80% of the cases (yuck) I saw at the job fair. Remember, that is a template that doesn’t allow much give, so you may be cutting some significant info out because it won’t fit into the “template”. DON’T USE IT.

3-      BRING A SMALL BAG, TOTE OR BRIEFCASE. You will be bombarded with giveaways (pens, company trinkets, business cards, candy, brochures, etc.). It will be easier to carry everything and your résumé portfolio.

4-      GET A BUSINESS CARD FROM EVERYONE YOU SPOKE WITH. You might want to follow up with something you talked about. Even better, after you’ve talked with them, write down some key things you spoke about on the back of the card so you will have it to reference when you call, or if they call you!

5-      KNOW THE COMPANIES. Find out what companies will be there and get to know a little about them. Nothing impresses companies more then when you display the knowledge you have about them. Show off a little bit. Impress them!

6-      GET INTO A GOOD MOOD. I had a few folks come sit down with me who were shaking and I wasn’t even the hiring person! People can tell if you are nervous, distracted, moody, having a bad day, etc. That isn’t the best first impression to offer. Instead relax, smile, speak slowly and clearly (vs. rushing through what you want to say), and remember, the HR person knows you are nervous and understands. So try to relax and enjoy yourself. Fake it if you have to.

Job Fairs don’t have to be a bad/scary/nerve wracking thing. Remember, it’s just another avenue to try out in the midst of your job search. You get to meet new people, learn a few things about different companies, and have free coffee.

 

Interview with a Recruiter May 15, 2009

Interview with a Recruiter

Recently, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with a smart, straight-talking recruiter, Peggy McKee.

Peggy McKee is the owner of PHC Consulting. Her firm specializes in matching medical and laboratory sales reps/candidates with companies, and does so with great success. Despite the economic downturn, Peggy’s company has flourished and she’s had to hire additional staff to meet the placement demands. With her strong understanding of the medical sales industry, interviewing and hiring, she’s helped develop teams of top sales talent for laboratory service companies.

Having my clients in mind, I asked Peggy several questions about her recruiting process, what is important to her regarding hiring the right candidates, her thoughts on résumés, and more. I’ve wanted to “officially” interview a recruiter for a while because of the number of questions I get from my clients about what recruiters look for.

Our conversation went something like this:

EK: “Peggy, where do you find your candidates? Do they come looking for you? Do you recruit them? How does it work?”

PM:     “40-50% of candidates come straight to my website (www.phcconsulting.com). The other half is split between referrals, direct soliciting and social networking. “

EK: “Are candidates are expected to pay you?”

PM: “Absolutely not. Candidates should never pay a recruiter. Companies pay the recruiter for the placement. That’s how it works.”

EK: “It seems like I remember way back when some candidates had to pay the recruiter a percentage or a fee for the placement. I’m glad to know it’s not like that anymore… at least not with all recruiters.”

EK: “So you use some of the professional and social network sites to find talent?”

PM: “Definitely. I use LinkedIn and Twitter to find candidates by typing in keywords, names, titles, searches, groups, etc.”

EK: “And you’ve had good luck going that route? I’ve heard LinkedIn is really a great platform to find top talent. I tell my clients about it all the time.”

PM: “Yes, I use it all the time and love it.”

EK: “OK, let’s talk résumés. Do you have any pet peeves? What are your likes and dislikes? What do you like to see or not see?”

PM: “Well, I want to see 3 things:  how can you make me money?… how can you save me money?.. and how can you save me time? This is what the client wants to know, so this is what I look for.  I don’t like to read long paragraphs. I prefer bullets. I like to see experiences and accomplishments. Love to see numbers, rankings, percentages, etc.”

EK: “Just bullets? Ugh. Boring. I tend to stay away from just bullets. It looks like a grocery list. Numbers are great. Especially in sales résumés… definitely a must.”

PM: “No, I like the bullets. Paragraphs are too long. And yes, numbers are great and show me what they are capable of doing. “

EK: “OK. What about cover letters?”

PM: “I don’t like them, but I have to add that if you are going to write one BE BOLD! Don’t worry about “expectations”. Write something interesting!

EK: “I agree. Nothing worse than a canned cover letter. Make it as authentically YOU as possible.”

EK: “Any last thoughts about the résumé or cover letter?”

PM: “Have your references ready. Bring them to the interview. Have a clear and focused objective on your résumé so we don’t have to guess.  Be ready to answer “tough” questions at the interview. Don’t shy away from them. Be honest.”

**************

Peggy was so fun and enlightening to talk to that I look forward to continuing this conversation and bringing you more insight.

In the meantime, if you want to get in touch with Peggy McKee and help her celebrate her 10th year in business, you can go to her website or visit at www.phcconsulting.com.

 

10 Profitable Jobs for 2-year Degrees May 14, 2009

Filed under: Assessments & Education,Career & Workplace,Job Search,Salary — erinkennedy @ 12:30 pm

(A warm thanks to Laura DeCarlo from Career Directors International (CDI) for this excellent information!)
* 10 Highly Profitable 2-Year Degree Jobs                    

According to the Payscale.com article, 10 Highly Profitable 2-Year Degree Jobs, by Michelle Goodman, the following careers can be most easily entered by clients seeking career change with only a 2-year degree:

1. Physical Therapist Assistant – average $46,111.

2. Web Designer – average $48,785.

3. Electrical or Electronic Engineering Technician – average $47,163.
4. Registered Nurse – average $55,276.

5. Computer Support Specialist – average $46,111.

6. Executive or Administrative Assistant – average $37,669.

7. Dental Hygienist – average $57,148.

8. Surveying or Mapping Technician – average $42,104.

9. Veterinary Technician – average $33,363.

10. Camera Operator – average $42,558.
Great list.
P.S. I am almost back to blogging full time. Just a few more surprises up my sleeve for you! 🙂
 

Is your Attitude affecting your Job Search? April 19, 2009

                

How many times this week has the phrase, “this economy stinks” come from your mouth? How many times this week have you thought, “in this economy, I’ll never get a new job”,

or “I better hold onto my job, even though I hate it, and just be grateful I have one!”.

After you think these thoughts, how do you feel? I can guarantee it is not hopeful or positive. What do you think this does to your chances of finding a job? Would YOU want to hire you? Think about it. You are feeling gloomy and decide to cold call a company about a possible position opening. How is the tone of your voice? Upbeat or down? What is your attitude like? Did you know our mind and body transmit energy frequencies that can be felt by other people?

 

When you go to an interview and you are thinking, “I know I am not going to get this job. Why would they hire ME? I just KNOW they aren’t going to call me back”, what do you think the interviewer is feeling? “This person is not the right fit for the company. I won’t be calling them back.”

Think about the times in your life in other situations when this has happened. When things went EXACTLY as you thought they would.

It is very natural to worry about the economy and the job market. Anyone who turns on the news would agree. But what does all this worry do for you? For your health? For your job searching state of mind?  Remember, you can’t change what is happening out there, so worrying does no good. When my Dad passed away unexpectedly, my Mom said, “I worried for 40 years about something happening to him on the road (he traveled for work), and he ended up dying at home.”

We can’t change things that happen to us, but we CAN change how we react to it. It is very easy to stick our heads in the sand and just hope things get better with the economy, OR we can pick ourselves up and create a healthier attitude about it.

 

So what can we do?

 

If you are in a job presently and you’ve put feelers out and opportunities haven’t popped up yet, then focus on your job in a positive way. Do whatever you can to be the very best you can be. Focus on strengthening relationships with co-workers, vendors, etc. Not only do positive relationships perk up our mood, but they also will let you know if a job has opened up somewhere.

 

If you are job searching, stop worrying about the competition or the ‘lack of good jobs’ out there and focus on your brand and what values you offer to an employer and how you will articulate that in an interview. Expand your job search into new areas: go to networking lunches/dinners, freshen up your resume, and get excited about your job search. You are unique. Sell yourself.

 

Take a chance. Try a new career path. You never know if you might be better suited for something else. But most of all, stay positive and hopeful. Don’t be a victim like everyone else. Stand out from the crowd and be confident. Remember, your vibrant energy shines through and is felt by those around you, including hiring managers.

 

Why I love LinkedIn (and why you should, too!) April 17, 2009

Filed under: Job Search,Networking — erinkennedy @ 12:27 am
Tags: , , ,

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways…

LinkedIn has become my new favorite thing. It is the fast growing professional networking site with 30 million users in 150 different industries. It helps open doors and uncover opportunities on a broad spectrum while building contacts and relationships.

I am constantly asking clients,

“Have you joined LinkedIn yet?” or

“Have you beefed up that LinkedIn profile yet?” or

“If you don’t have the time, let me know and I’ll do it for you— just make sure you do it!”

By now you can probably sense my passion about the site. I’ve only lately become overzealous about LinkedIn because of some very useful information I’ve heard at conferences AND because of the success my clients have had with it.

Did you know that some employers are hiring directly from within LinkedIn? Some are also posting their job openings ONLY on LinkedIn. This is a big deal especially since the majority of these companies are huge.

LinkedIn also has other benefits:

1) Unlimited amount of exposure and visibility of you and your business. “Connect” with as many people as you can. If you are job searching this is a great way to network. Once you start connecting, you become visible on other people’s pages, increasing the chances of getting to the top of a page when people are looking for someone to hire.

2) Use your LinkedIn profile to research companies you would like to work for. Go to the “Companies” tab and type in the name of a company you are interested in.  Check and see if they are hiring and inquire!

3) Get help or advice. Use the “answers” section of it to pose and answer questions. Answering questions and having your answers voted as “best” or “good” boosts your creditibility and gets your name out there. Use it to get answers to just about anything. Be prepared for a lot of feedback.

4) Boost your Search Engine results. If you are a business owner, we all know it’s all about Search Engine Optimization. The great news about LinkedIn is that it allows search engines to index your profile information. Adding your LinkedIn link to your signature line while posting to other sites further strengthens your visibility to the search engines.

This is just a quick version of how LinkedIn can help job seekers and professionals. Create your profile and see for yourself.