Very few us of are one-dimensional. Most of us have a spectrum of skills and interests which can be ordered, emphasized and monetized in different ways at different times. So far, I’ve had seven careers ranging from educator to government worker to journalist, consultant, publicist, Internet entrepreneur, and ad man. Who knows what will be next?
Job change is personal growth. But change needs to be carefully considered and actively chosen. I use three criteria for assessing new opportunities. Read More →
Last month, I wrote a piece called Conquering the First Obstacle: How to Write a Great Resume. I touched briefly on the problem of length, but that seems hardly to have been enough. Here’s one of the scores of emails I received about resume length:
Should my resume be one page or two? I hear SO many differing opinions.
Here’s the answer. Read More →
There are a million reasons why we love The Onion here at The Hired Guns, but this piece on hiring recent grads has a special place in our heart.
“A Bachelor of Arts? In communications? I mean, where did this kid come from?” said HR director Robert Bradshaw, who, after seeing Wilhelm’s impressive 3.20 cumulative GPA, walked the résumé directly into the company president’s office and said, “We must hire this person immediately.” “I mean, not only did Corey manage to get into the University of Washington School of Communication right out of high school, but—get this—he then graduated with a degree in that very field. A Bachelor of Arts, no less. Rare and gifted is all I have to say.”
“His résumé says he minored in History, too. We really have to move fast if we want to snag this guy.”
Company Immediately Calls Job Applicant Upon Seeing ‘B.A. In Communications’ On Résumé
Today’s question comes from an anonymous but thoroughly frustrated digital innovator:
Companies often advertise for “thought leaders” and “game changers,” but during the interview process, they usually reveal that they really just want to build incrementally on what they’ve already got. In a second interview with a major company, I realized that although they want to be recognized as an innovator in their industry, their major focus is on building the adoption for their current technologies across the company. I can do this, but I have the skills, insight, and passion to build the next generation. Is it worth continuing the conversation with them? Do I stand a chance of convincing them to innovate?
That’s a great question. It’s actually pretty rare for prospective employers to be guilty of outright false advertising. It’s way more likely that they’re “aspirational innovators,” meaning that they want to innovate. Someday. When the stars align and everything is perfect, they’ll take that leap. Unfortunately, that’s not quite your timeline, is it? Read More →
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve received a boatload of requests for a post with all the 28 Days links in one place. Ask and ye shall receive, friends. Here they are! Read More →
February’s BLS Jobs Report landed on Friday, and the numbers were surprisingly positive. A healthy 236,000 jobs were added to the private sector, a whopping 71,000 more jobs than expected. While you might think this would be cause for celebration, the reaction among major news outlets was decidedly mixed. The Gray Lady — followed by scores of other outlets – unleashed a frenzy of upbeat articles, each presenting a rosy outlook for the still-wobbly economy. NPR was more measured in its coverage, being bold enough to give some airtime to the falling participation rate (this number measures the amount of employable adults actively engaged in the labor market). It also balanced Friday’s good news with coverage of the continuing challenges faced by the long-term unemployed. Naturally, The Wall Street Journal did what the Wall Street Journal does best: rain on everyone’s parade.
In short, the numbers are more promising than many observers expected, but change is still to come. Here’s what the situation looks like from our spot in the jobs space. Read More →
Not all internships include a creepy little dude following you. But some do.
by Tyler Bradford
We recently wrote about how to act (and not act) during your entry-level job, but, admittedly, I skipped a small step: actually landing that first job. Gone are the days when companies willingly hired scores of college graduates, paying them a living wage and starting them on the upward professional track. Twenty first-century twenty-somethings can no longer rely on such linear development, faced instead with such ambiguous prospects as scores of unpaid internships which may or may not convert into full-time employment and companies who simply refuse to invest in the emerging work force.
In this weekend’s Style section, the New York Times featured profiles of several such disheartened young professionals, exposing a life defined by nonfat soy lattes and incessant iPhone 5-checking (this is the Style section, after all). If you’re in your 20s (I am) or care about the state of employment at all, the article might just make you cry. Maybe you’ll want to throw your computer against the wall (not going to help your career). But if you take a second to take some deep breaths, there are actually some key points to take away. Besides, you’re never going to be able to beat the odds if you don’t know what you’re up against (that’s what we tell ourselves, anyways). Read More →
Our inboxes have been overflowing since we launched 28 Days to a New Job. We’ve gotten tons of great questions, and we want to make sure we address as many possible. So without further ado, here’s our first question from a fellow who calls himself Beantown Product Guy:
If you find a great opportunity on LinkedIn or another job board, how much “back-channel” networking is appropriate? What’s acceptable? What’s crossing the line?
That’s a very, very common question, and the answer may not be as straightforward as you think. Read More →
February flew by and we can’t believe 28 Days is over. We’ve covered a lot of territory, and all of you should be proud of yourselves with keeping up along the way. The twenty-first century job hunt is definitely manageable, but it also requires hard, consistent work. We’re glad you stuck it out with us, and we hope you’re happy with the results. Before we close the books on an epic month of career navigation, let’s make sure you were diligent to the very end and gave the hiring process the attention it deserves. Read More →
You’re finally at the offer stage. You’re thrilled by the role you’ve been handed. You adore the company. And know you can make an impact there.
But do you love your new boss?
Before you accept that job, you need to really ask yourself this question (and — for once –listen to your spider sense). If the answer is no, then you need to press on and find a boss you can jibe with.
Not picking your boss is a J.V. move that can negatively impact your career for years to come. Today, tenures may be short, but memories and reputations are long and back-channeling is just one click away. These days, it’s essential to show meaningful impact in your first 90 days. To achieve that, you need to have a boss under whom you can thrive, not just survive. Read More →
Anyone who negotiates for a living knows that time kills all deals. Say that aloud — and slowly — right now. Time. Kills. All. Deals.
If and when negotiations starts dragging out and response time lags, it usually means a deal is going to fall apart. To prevent this, you need to have your ducks in a row and be ready to jump into action when you get the call, lest you lose the opportunity. This means you need to know in your gut if you’re going to take the job before that call comes in. That’s why “Time Kills All Deals” should be your mantra during the offer stage. Read More →
You probably never thought you would make it through the dreaded interviewing stage, but you did! Hopefully, this week’s posts made you realize that interviewing is a chance to show off your skills and personality, and not just a necessary bullet to dodge. Interviewing mode is difficult for everyone — especially if it’s been a while – but being a star interviewee just take a little prep work so you can present your authentic self in a polished and articulate manner. Before we move into the ever-delicate hiring process, let’s tick off some boxes before we abandon interviewing for the light at the end of the tunnel. Read More →
Today is the final day of Week Three, and the final day of our Interviewing section. Naturally, we’ve saved the final step in the interviewing process for last. Writing a post-interview thank you email is an absolute must after every interview, and it may make all the difference when it comes to progressing to the second round. It will also be the simplest task in your entire job search. Here’s how to do it well.
Read More →
Only 4.7% of online applications actually converts into an interview. Given how dire that is, if you actually get called in for an interview based on an online application, you’ve earned a hearty pat on the back. But don’t bask in the glow for too long, because it’s time to get your game face on. The competition is on, baby! The next seven days in our 28 Days to a New Job series are going to be devoted to nailing the interview and getting to the fun part: the offer process. Read More →
There is a specter haunting the modern job search. It is a hollow and unfeeling thing, and it seeks only to separate us from our best work. It absorbs. It destroys. It breaks us down into data. It’s called an Applicant Tracking System, and if you’re not hearing back from online applications, it’s probably the reason.
An Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS as they’re commonly known in the industry, can be found in nearly every major company and recruiting shop out there. An ATS is a piece of software that takes job applicants’ data and renders it as searchable bits for the sake of making a recruiter’s job easier. It sounds like a great idea, right? It certainly would be, if it actually worked. Read More →
Here’s a quick list of links help you get where you’re going. We’ll be adding each day’s link to the list below as they’re published. So if you’re stuck, struggling, or just need a little reassurance, drop a comment on our Facebook page or tweet using the hashtag #NewJob28Days. We’ll get right back at you and do our best to help put your job search back on the road to success. Read More →
Remember back on Day 8 when I told you to do less job board surfing and more networking? Remember when I told you to budget 80% of your job hunting time for networking? You should be spending a solid chunk of that 80% finding, connecting to, and meeting recruiters. It’s a great use of your networking time and the payoff can be huge as you get more people advocating on your behalf. Learning how to work with recruiters is crucial, because love ‘em or hate ‘em, by the time you reach mid-career (and earlier if you work in Digital), you’re going to work with a headhunter or an external recruiter.
But not all recruiters are created equal. Choosing the right one can jump start your job search. Choosing the wrong one can derail your job search indefinitely. Read More →
Congratulations! All that work you’ve done on your resume and cover letter has finally paid off. At long last, your application has made it onto someone’s desk.
Good news: now there’s a human reading your resume. Bad news: they’ve read a hundred other resumes before they got to yours. They’re tired. They’re stressed. They’re maybe a little hungover. All they want is one qualified candidate who sounds like they know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, the entire morning has been a thankless slog through waist-deep job board dreck. Few if any applicants have addressed the key points in the job ad. Not even one person has bothered addressing the company’s buzzworthy new product. All hope is lost, and it’s not even lunchtime.
And then it’s your turn. Read More →
As a modern job hunter, you need to not only be smarter than the Average Joe applying for a job — you literally have to put yourself into the recruiter’s shoes. This requires doing the very thing that most people won’t have the guts to do: being empathetic.
You read that right: having “Sympathy for the Devil” or that Evil HR lady who, on a whim, can decide if you move on to the interview process, is one way you can get ahead. That’s because the HR lady isn’t actually evil. She’s just slammed. Read More →
Sometimes it feels like reading a job description is like trying to decode Kryptos. No matter how long you look at it, it still doesn’t make much sense.
From epic wish lists of skill sets that no one person could ever encompass, to posts so brief and nondescript that it’s hard to tell it’s whether it’s a job description or someone’s random Facebook post, job boards are filled with the nonsensical, the ludicrous, and the downright outrageous. Before you throw up your hands and resign yourself to sending out resumes on blind faith, take a deep breath and a step back. Here are some tried and true methods that can help you dig below the surface requirements and hone in on what the role is really all about. Read More →
I you haven’t looked for a job in the last couple of years, you’re in for an extremely rude awakening. A lot has changed, even for the best candidates with the most in-demand skills. There are the added factors of online networking, learning to manage a profile, a brand new etiquette when it comes to approaching recruiters, and the list goes on.
One huge problem we see on the recruiter side is that it’s easier than ever to apply for a job. Features like LinkedIn’s one-click application turn the job search into impulse shopping, which means that everyone applies for everything, which means you’re just that much more likely to get ignored. The black hole of job hunting is bigger and darker than ever. It’s also exhilarating, dynamic, and the best source of increasing your wealth and fulfillment, if you do it right. Read More →
This could have been avoided with a good cover letter
Here’s a question: when does a job interview begin?
The answer isn’t “with the handshake” or “when you arrive at reception.” The interview process begins the second a recruiter or hiring manager receives their first piece of correspondence from you. In almost all cases, the first thing they see is your cover letter. The cover letter is the first test, and if you haven’t taken the time to prepare one that’s tight, compelling, and good at selling your skills, you’re already blowing it. Read More →
It’s difficult to estimate just how many job seekers we’ve seen blow an offer, just because their references were in disarray. Whether they treated them as an afterthought, believed they were either too senior or too accomplished to be asked for them, or just forgot about them all together, job seekers at any level rarely put the necessary effort into selecting, prepping, and deploying references. This is a late-stage mistake that can easily throw a wet blanket on an otherwise successful hiring process. Nail down your references before you begin applying, or you risk playing catch-up down the line. Read More →
In this economy, just showing up no longer counts. Jobs are no longer doled out to the deserving. Instead, they’re given to those that are the most qualified, the best prepared, and who prove that they want it the most.
This is my way of telling you not to start the job hunting process unless you’re willing to make it your relentless pursuit to end up in a hiring manager’s short list — the top three candidates of all the people who applied for a given job — every single time.
Tall order? Maybe. Achievable? Absolutely.
So what can you do today that will make an immediate and positive impact on your job hunt? Start refining the jobs you’re going to apply for. Read More →
Last February: 7th Avenue at 23rd Street
On the surface, there’s not much to like about February. It’s 28 cold, grey, dreary days filled with excuses to stay indoors and count the days until spring. Sure, it could go down like that. Or you could use every one of those 28 days to get yourself in gear and finally score that job you’ve been eyeballing since it was t-shirt weather.
This February, instead of hurrying home from work to hunker down with a toddy and re-watch your Arrested Development DVDs for the ninth time, The Hired Guns invite you to invest that time in finding a new job. And not just any new job — the right job. We know you’ve been thinking about it, and next month we’re going to help you. Every single day. Read More →
Photo from dkb827.tumblr.com.
Over the last several months, the conversation at The Hired Guns HQ has revolved around the feeling that the economy is finally rebounding. We’re getting more good news by the day. From improved housing stats to the Fed announcing in its most recent Beige Book that — wait for it — there are modest hiring shortages, particularly in high tech.
After a recession like the one we’ve just experienced, it’s like crawling out of a mineshaft after five years to find yourself staring at the sun: can a recovery really be true? While I am an optimist, I am also inherently skeptical and feel the need for constant gut checks. One thing I do is constantly talk to real people — especially job seekers — about how they’re feeling about the economy. Perhaps my best barometer for what’s in the air, as unscientific as it is, is what I call “The Taxi Cab Index.” Read More →
Occupy Sandy Distribution Center at St. Jacobi Church in Sunset Park
Like many offices in Silicon Alley and lower Manhattan, The Hired Guns was closed all last week due to Hurricane #Sandy. The good news is that even through rain, dark of night, and a near total lack of connectivity, our clients kept calling and emailing. We were lucky, because as a team we could work completely remotely (those of us who had power or didn’t have trees falling on our houses, that is). We were also very, very busy. Read More →
A timeless classic.
If you’ve had more work foisted upon you during this recession than you thought humanly possible, raise your hand. Now pat yourself on the back. You’ve made it.
Because you’re a good soldier — and because you wanted to keep your job — you shouldered the burden and trudged along, doing the work of two or even three people (even if you’re top brass). You may have even assumed not only the work of your peers, but of your managers as well. So far, it’s kept a paycheck coming but you’ve earned yourself a few premature grey hairs along the way. But as it turns out, this might be a huge win for you right about now. Read More →
Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images
Yesterday, we tweeted that you should watch the #debates from a hiring perspective. @dbenk replied: “Well, yeah, that’s what we’re doing, right?”
Totally right. Americans are in the process of hiring the next president. And instead of being the job hunter, we get to play the role of the hiring manager. But I had an epiphany during last night’s debate: in America, presidential candidates definitely have it easier than job candidates.
A Must-Have You Probably Don’t Have
In a debate, the candidates get to stop answering questions and then turn to the audience and offer their closing remarks. They’re saying, in essence: “Here’s why you should hire me.” In the real world of getting hired, most candidates never do this. And that’s a mistake that I’d like to correct. Read More →
AP Photo Pool/Michael Reynolds
Last week, I wrote about what the first presidential debate can teach public speakers. This time around, I decided to switch gears a bit and consider the vice presidential debate with an eye toward those in Guns-land who are currently (or hoping to be) interviewing for gigs. Because I found myself traveling home via NJ Transit during the debate itself, I was forced to follow the whole thing on Twitter using a CNN hash tag. But being left to my devices gave me a great perspective on what TV audiences found most affecting, effective, distracting, and annoying – much of it focusing on Joe Biden and Paul Ryan’s presentational styles. When it was all said and done, I came away with four themes interviewees can learn from. Read More →
Happy Friday, Guns. ADP and the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their monthly job numbers for September this week, and the overall outlook continues to improve:
BLS: “The unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 percent in September, and total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 114,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care and in transportation and warehousing but changed little in most other major industries.”
ADP: “Employment in the U.S. nonfarm private business sector increased by 162,000 from August to September, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The estimated gains in previous months were revised lower: The July increase was reduced by 17,000 to an increase of 156,000, while the August increase was reduced by 12,000 to an increase of 189,000.”
In sum, growth is happening, if slowly. We’re seeing the first green shoots emerging from the soil after the spring thaw here. ADP’s hedging on their previous numbers makes this month’s performance all the more noteworthy. It’s also worth noting here that as we move into Q4, we’re likely to see sharp spikes in hiring due to temporary, seasonal jobs being added. That’s why September’s numbers are so crucial: it’s the last true measure of employment statistics that we’ll get for the rest of the year. And it looks promising. Read More →
You know that dream where you have to give a presentation and you’re woefully unprepared? The one where everyone laughs at you? The one that makes you wake up in a cold sweat?
Of course you know that dream. We all do.
That’s where Joel Schwartzberg comes in. Joel, our resident Hall of Fame public speaker, is hosting a class on that very subject this Wednesday, October 3 at The Hired Guns Hive. He’ll rework your sentences, polish your posture, and give you some invaluable tips to warm up, calm down, and get focused before a speaking engagement. Better still, you can go for free. Tell us about your worst #presentastrophe. The Gun who shares the most dire presentation moment will be given a free seat at Joel’s upcoming seminar.
Tweet your story to @TheHiredGuns using #presentastrophe or leave your tale of public speaking woe in the comments below. We’ll round them up, have Joel pick his favorite, and announce our winner on the blog next week. We’ll also share the best of the rest with the Guns’ very sympathetic audience.
Joel Scwhartzberg is the Michael Jordan of public speaking. Sure, that’s a cliche that gets thrown around a lot these days (“My uncle is pretty much the Michael Jordan of dishwasher repair”), but in this case the comparison is apt. He won the U.S. National Championship in after-dinner speaking. He won the Massachusetts State Championship in persuasive speaking. He was ranked among the top ten public speakers overall in the US. The man is in the National Forensic Association’s Hall of Fame for his public speaking.
Let that sink in for a moment.
We asked Joel to share his thoughts on the upcoming presidential debates (the first of which occurs the night of his Guns Academy class) and what the Guns’ audience can learn from them. Below is the first of several posts on the debates and career management.
The upcoming presidential debates aren’t real debates at all, of course, but a series of well-rehearsed, carefully-worded, tiny speeches written by committee. (So much for candid truths). But while not much new can be learned at this point about Obama and Romney’s policy positions, a lot can be learned from their public speaking styles. Read More →
Back in the day, there was a cartoon character whose catch phrase was ‘now waaaaayyyy a minute’ when things didn’t sound quite right. That is instinctively what I thought as soon as I read a recent article in Forbes predicting a future in which stable careers are replaced by low wage temp work. While I do believe that permanency in employment is decreasing (and I wrote about it back in 2008), I think the Forbes author chose the cautionary tale route versus the “let’s get prepared for it” one. If you read me regularly, you’ll know I believe that when it comes to your career, have no fear. Read More →
Last week, news outlets reported an odd set of seemingly contradictory statistics: 163,000 jobs were added in the private sector, while 1.2 million jobs were lost. While the latter figure certainly sounds dire, it’s actually not. As WaPo scribe Brad Plummer explains, most of the jobs shed were “seasonal adjustments.” Read More →
Just because you don’t hit every bullet point in a job ad that sounds like a great fit for you, don’t let that deter you from applying. Harvard Business Review notes that 4 in 10 employers have at least one position for which they cannot find an “ideal candidate.” Quite frankly, that sounds on the low side to us. Companies have gotten so accustomed to finding excuses not to hire over the past four years, they’ve forgotten that when you actually need to hire someone, you don’t get the luxury of waiting for perfection. So take a risk! Read More →
According to a recent Careerbuilder survey, some companies believe that job cuts have left their organization a little too lean and mean.
Some 34% of employers believe that unfilled jobs have left the remaining staff overworked, resulting in lower-quality work. Roughly the same number of employers surveyed believed that the job vacancies caused a loss in morale; 17% thought the vacancies led to higher turnover.
And 23% of employers also believe that their companies suffered a loss in revenue because of those vacancies.
You know the one we’re talking about: “What’s your greatest weakness?” If you’re at a job interview and you’re not ready to say what your greatest weakness is, then your greatest weakness is being unprepared.
In a recent “Dear Lucy” column, Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times looked at the right way to go about concocting an answer that will pass muster with the interviewer.
She says it’s dumb to name something that’s obviously a strength, e.g., “I’m too demanding,” “I’m too hardworking.” At best, you’re not fooling anyone, and at worst, your interviewer might think you’re “insufferably smug, deceitful, or [have] no self-knowledge.” (And it might even prompt the interviewer to ask the same thing all over again, in a slightly different way.) Read More →
It’s the classic Catch-22: You can’t get a job or change careers without the necessary experience … but how are you supposed to gain experience if no one will give you a chance?
The answer: find an internship or temp job! And this advice applies not just to recent graduates, but to ANYONE at any age, at any stage of their career. Read More →
There are still lots of unemployed or underemployed workers out there, but many companies say they just can’t find the right employees to fill openings. What’s behind this seeming paradox?
To get some answers, The Wall Street Journal talked with Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and human resources at Wharton, who just wrote the book Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs. He argues that some companies are obsessed with getting people with the perfect experience and stats, so they end up with no one: “for every story about an employer who can’t find qualified applicants, there’s a counterbalancing tale about an employer with ridiculous hiring requirements.”
Cappelli also lays the blame on overly rigid screening software, which is rejecting people who might actually be qualified: “applicants rarely talk to anyone, even by email, during the hiring process,” so there’s no way to clear up confusion over experience, job titles, job-history gaps, or anything else.
Whatever you may be doing at the moment, we doubt it’s quite as unpleasant as the job of the woman in this ad, who’s stuck hand-scrubbing other people’s clothes from within the stifling interior of a … washing machine. It’s one of series of clever ads from Jobsintown.de, a German job board.
You can check out the rest of the series at The Collared Sheep.
Ousted Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson is only the latest high-profile example of an employee let go because of lies or inaccuracies on his resume or CV. Telling whoppers is risky business: a survey by Findlaw.com found that a full 25% of those who lied on their resume got fired because of it.
But if you’ve been less-than-accurate on your resume, how can you remove those ticking time bombs without causing more problems for yourself? The HR Capitalist has a game plan for setting the record straight — and doing it without getting fired.
The way that people find jobs, particularly digital jobs, has changed substantially in just the last three years. These days, by the time someone is requesting your resume, they probably know quite a bit about you, not just via Google but also by digging a little on social-media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
And in a hyper-connected city like New York, there’s a great chance that you and the recruiter or hiring manager know at least a couple of the same people. Read More →
We’re not all the way out of the woods yet with this up-and-down, on-again-off-again economic recovery. But the news is a little bit better each day. We’re feeling the tide turn here at The Hired Guns, which is a good sign, but it’s been a long slog for us, and I’m sure for many of you. So whether or not things are headed up and up from here, let’s collectively make a pact that “we won’t get fooled again.” What I mean is, let’s act now on the lessons we’ve learned, so that whatever the economy does in the future, we won’t be blindsided next time.
1. We are all Hired Guns now.
You are the master of your own career. It’s no secret that company loyalty is dead. Along with it died the notion that someone else was going to take care of us. For the last 50 years employees have outsourced career ownership to their bosses; the trade seemed fair when security was on offer. Without that available, there’s a trade imbalance between employees and companies, which is why everything is out of whack. Read More →
Nobody likes emails that basically say “thanks but no thanks.” But what do you do when you get them? Do you just trash them, or do you write back?
Chances are that whatever you’re doing is a lot better than Ask A Manager’s examples of what NOT to write, such as “You’re making a mistake; I’d be a great candidate.” Or the equally pushy “I’d think I’m at least worth an interview.” Read More →