4 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Hired [GUEST POST]

For the unemployed job seeker there are many obstacles. One being, the fact that days spent with a laptop, on couch, and in pajamas don’t exactly translate into a heightened sense of self-esteem.

On the contrary, being out of work can be downright depressing. And when unanswered resumes and failed interviews start becoming the norm, it may feel like your life is trapped under a heavy paperweight. Luckily, there is a solution known as landing a job. How do you do that? Refresh your interview skills by breaking 4 bad habits that are keeping your name off of the payroll.

You Think Practicing is for Chumps

Regardless of how common the initial “So, tell me about yourself” interview question is, it still has the ability to throw people. Why? They don’t practice. Before walking into any interview you should have two sentences about your professional self polished and down cold. Consider yourself your own agent; you need a pitch that is clean, concise and above all, interesting.

In addition to ironing your interview clothes and having your next-day directions ready to go the night before, you should also invite a friend over. In a nonthreatening environment a friend can help you go over the most commonly asked interview questions; don’t stop until you come up with a killer response for each. It’s also a good idea to work out a solid one liner to say at the end of the interview. “Thank you so much for your time; I’m excited about X position and I look forward to the possibility of building a future with your company.”

You Allow Nerves to Get the Best of You

Whether you went to your high school football games or not, there’s no denying that those mandatory pep rallies got you a little pumped. Job interviews are no different; you’ve got to psych yourself up if you’re going to walk in with an enthusiastic and confidant attitude. Consider the alternative, if the interview does not go well you’ll be in the same exact situation; so in actuality, you have nothing to lose and only a job to gain.

For the employer holding yet another black and white resume, they are going to need the right attitude to catch their attention. Weeks or months of unemployment may have you dragging, but a similar attitude will not get you noticed. Have some coffee, listen to your favorite music on the way there and above all, smile. Commit to getting pumped up for just one half hour of your life and find an effective way to pull that energy out of you.

You’ve Zipped Your Lips

Mid-interview are your hands folded? Are you smiling politely? Are you eagerly waiting the next question? Well, you shouldn’t be. Strive to turn the interview into a conversation, where your own input and proactive questions can open your interviewer’s eyes and ears.

Of course you have to listen to an interviewer’s questions and comments, and you should be active in acknowledging or agreeing with them, but then you need to jump off. Build on the topics they present and show off your own skills and unique background. “I understand what you mean about finding someone who can keep up with the busy tasks of this position. When reading the job description it seemed to me that was the big focus. I myself have some experience with that…”

This is the interviewer’s time to get to know you, so don’t let your resume do all of the talking. Instead, use it as a platform for your conversation. If there is one thing you are an expert on, it is yourself. You know your motivations, strengths and weaknesses, so be enthusiastic about sharing the unique qualities that make you a great addition to any team.

You’re Ignoring Culture and Questions

Any job that you try out for has a company history and mission. Do not walk into an interview without knowing those elements like the back of your hand. This way, during the interview you can display your preparedness and invested interest. It is also important to gain an understanding of your potential company’s culture and most important, find an angle in which you can fit yourself into it.

At the end of the interview be ready to fire back when asked, “So do you have any questions?” An employer will be impressed to see that you are already picturing yourself as a position holder with questions like: “How do you hope the next person to fill this position will enhance it? If I were to be selected, what would be the first checkpoint you’d like me to reach? What qualities do you think it takes for a person to excel in your team environment?”

Of course at the end of the interview you are going to shake hands with your interviewer. Be sure to express your earnestness when thanking them for their time. The interview process may be nerve wracking for you, but it can be very tedious for an employer. Make their day by being enthusiastic, interesting and unique. Above all, be memorable and if all goes well, you’ll get a call back.

Know any other interview habits are worth breaking? Drop us a line in the replies or send a Tweet over to @smarterer!

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This is a guest post by Kelly Gregorio

Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a merchant cash advance provider. You can read her daily business blog at http://www.advantagecapitalfunds.com/blog/.

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5 Ways to Make a Great First Impression With Your Resume

ResumeFirst impressions are everything. Whether it’s the first date, first day of school, or a job interview, first impressions set the stage for what’s to come. When applying for jobs, your resume sets the stage for you, arriving on the recruiter’s desk before they even meet you in person. A recent study shows that recruiters and employers will only scan each resume they see for an average of 6 seconds. That means in 6 seconds flat, they’ll decide whether or not you’re a worthy candidate for the position. In that tiny frame of time, you want them to see the best you have to offer them.

Put your best foot forward and make sure your resume is prepped and polished for any position you may apply for. Customizing resumes for each potential job is essential. It’s a good idea to change it up every time you apply for a new job, so it is perfectly tailored each time. Here are five ways to make resume improvements.

The Master Copy

Start with a master resume. This should be one document, several pages in length that chronicles your entire professional history, civic engagement projects, and a full database of skills. From here, you can pick and choose what goes on to each individual resume, so each one is fine-tuned for the job you’re applying for. If you format it the right way, you can even just copy and paste lines directly into your latest resume.

Your Most Recent Experience May Not Make you Most Qualified

What was your last job? If you’re a recent college graduate, there’s a chance it is something in the food service industry, or retail. While it’s all well and good that you worked through college, a summer internship in the field you’re trying to break into might be just the thing to catch your future employer’s eye. List the most relevant experience you have above the most recent experience you have. If your resume is overflowing with amazing and relevant experience, its ok to remove your part-time job.

Buzzwords

When reading a job posting online, or hearing about a job from a recruiter, there are certain triggers that help assure you that you are the perfect candidate for the position. We call these triggers buzzwords, and you’re not the only one who perks up when you hear them. Employers and recruiters are actively searching for candidates who include buzzwords in their resumes and cover letters.

So where do you find these magic words?  Start by looking in the actual job description. If the employer already described their perfect candidate, then you should describe the perfect candidate to right back to them when detailing your previous positions. While you’re at it, make it a point to check the company’s website. What kind of language do they use to describe the company? They might call themselves a group of professionals with excellent communication skills who take pride in their corporate-social responsibility. At your previous job, didn’t you effectively communicate with the rest of the office to plan a volunteer event?

Don’t Limit Your Research

If you’re unsure of the skills desired of your position, try searching for people with the same job title on Linkedin. Which aspects of the “skills & expertise” section are they most endorsed in? If you’re proficient in those skills, they should be on your resume as well.

Necessary Extras

While you’re checking the company’s website for buzzwords, see what kind of organizations they volunteer with. What are they passionate about? If you have any previous experience with any of those organizations, or even a similar organization, don’t hesitate to include it.

If there is anything else you’ve done in the past that might be of particular interest to a future employer, include it! For example, if you’re applying for a  position that will include writing, and you have published writing samples, add the links in an extra section. If you’re applying for a job in social media, and you’ve monitored professional accounts in the past, include those links. Don’t be afraid to show off your work!

By the time you’re through, everything about your resume should reflect your most positive self, who also happens to be the ideal candidate for each specific position. Remember, you only have 6 seconds, so make the most of it!

Build a Personal Website With Zero Development Skill

Build a Personal Website

Personally, I have a huge amount of trouble staying connected in this technology-driven world. I often find myself being pushed around by the tide of new information available everyday on the internet. Here’s what I really need: a hub to connect my social media pages, resume information, and previous work samples. But here’s the good news: even if you have no technical experience, plenty of platforms can provide that service for free. Setting up a personal website will help you define your professional self, direct employers and recruiters to information about your qualifications, and help you brand yourself online.

Here’s a quick guide to help you asses which platforms are best for your professional needs. Not all personal websites are created equal, and we’re here to help guide through the decision process. Keep in mind that you will most likely need more than just a personal website. It’s a good idea create some social media as well. Additionally, most of these platforms can complement each other nicely. You may need to use more than one of these programs for your job search.

Behance

Need Addressed: Put your visual portfolio online.

Pros: If you career revolves around visual craetivity, Behance is a great option for clean portfolios. Not only can you easily and clearly post your previous work, their job board is a vibrant host to creative jobs and freelance opportunities. Recruiters can list their job opportunities and browse your portfolio in the same ecosystem.

Cons: Behance is very selective. In order to have an account, you need to be invited from a current member. Networking through other social mediums (LinkedIn, Tumblr) — or the old-fashioned but dependable “real world” — is necessary to score an invitation to the community.

WordPress + Free Theme

Need: Build a complex personal website (e.g. a blog, portfolio, biography, and a page listing your consulting rates – all in one place)

Pros: WordPress is incredibly versatile for different professions. They offers different page designs, some that are targeted toward certain careers (ex. the Buttercream theme would be excellent for a baker), and others that are plain and adaptable for different professional fields (ex. the Responsive theme). Simple and straightforward for employers, this site is great for consulting job seekers.

Cons: Of all the items on the list, WordPress is the most stuffed with features – and for beginner users, those features can feel a lot like bloat. If you need to keep it simple, WordPress is more overwhelming than slimmer platforms like Tumblr or Clippings (coming later in this list).

About.me

Need: Personal Branding Hub

Pros: About.me enables you to build visually striking profiles that connect your portfolio and social media presence in one place. Recruiters can spot-check the blurb on your profile to get the elevator pitch on your career, and easily access more information about your skills and work experience through connected links. Built-in apps will pull key information from other professional sites, like LinkedIn credentials and Smarterer scores. (We know, we know, ulterior motives – we’d make the same recommendation if the integration didn’t exist, though.)

Cons: A recruiter will only see the short description you’ve written about yourself – it’s up to you to compel them to dig into your arsenal of external links. If you can’t write a compelling ‘hook,’ you may squander your chance to put your portfolio and LinkedIn profile in front of your visitors.

Clippings.me

Need: Writing Samples Portfolio

Pros: If you need to showcase your writing, clippings.me is designed for you. Literally. Since they offer the ability to categorize your articles, recruiters can easily find the articles that pertain job you’re applying to. It allows your web writing samples to live in the environment they were published, with comments and social interactions intact.

Cons: Recruiters can easily see your work, but not your resume. You’ll have send it them some other way. The framework for Clippings is simple, but adding too many articles can be overwhelming for the viewer. Consider adding just your best pieces to your homepage.

So now you’re on your way to being technologically-savvier, more professional, and well-known. You’ve been branded: there’s new job opportunities on your horizon, your social media pages are connected and easier to navigate, and you’ve made yourself and your resume more accessible. Where do you go from here? Up, my friend. Up.

The Missing Ingredient to a Perfect Resume

Perfect Resume - The Missing IngredientIt’s a common frustration: you think you have that perfect resume, but then you never get a call back. The whole process of landing a job has become so standardized that there’s little room for an exceptional candidate to stand out. With cookie-cutter resume formats, cover letter arrangements, and even specified ways to answer interview questions floating around, where’s the crack in the armor for jobseekers to slip through?

Well, according to Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, the answer isn’t found within a perfect resume, but rather the external evidence you can produce to prove your worth. In a Quora thread titled “What are effective ways to assess if someone is good at getting things done?”, Wong chimes in:

The way to assess if someone is good at getting things done is to see what things they’ve gotten done.

But there’s a twist.

Wong isn’t referring that paper you got an ‘A’ on senior year, or some written samples from a previous job or internship, he’s looking for something outside the box that is uniquely ‘you.’ Everyone is required to do school papers and professional assignments, and doing this work, even exceptionally, just proves you can competently follow the rules. Wong believes that the ideal employee, one who routinely ‘gets things done,’ can be found by looking beyond what is expected;

What [employers] are looking for is the person who, in addition to their school/work projects  – for their own personal reasons – decided to build or create something and brought it to a finished point.  Repeatedly.

It is worth noting that the content of these projects is not necessarily important. Wong and other employers are searching for a productive and motivated employee, and someone who put time and effort into some trivial hobby would naturally bring the same work ethic into the professional world. For the same reasons these projects don’t have to be recent, as Wong notes;

People who “get things done” have had ample opportunity to do just that, and they will be able to point to the results.

Patterns of productivity start early and pointing to something from your teenage years simply proves consistency.

Fortunately for the uber-productive out there, bringing these projects into the limelight should be a simple task. As Wong notes, the evidence of productivity is lying around everywhere. Be it in through physical evidence, journals, photos or whatever else, the proof exists, and is ready and waiting to help you land your dream job.

Employers strive to find the best but, with dozens of applicants to look over, they can’t be expected to dig into the pasts of everyone who walks through the door. Be sure to have specific personal accomplishments in mind when contacting potential employers, and don’t be shy if they’re a little strange! You know that you’re heads and shoulders above everyone else, right? All you need to do is prove it. Just a little piece of job search advice from one of the largest websites in the world. (It also happens to be my secret job search weapon.)

Have any personal projects in your arsenal that line up with Wong’s thinking? Fill us in with a comment or shoot a tweet to @smarterer.