job applications

Master Application Workshop

I was invited to present a Master Application workshop at the Employment Encounter Job Fair on April 21, 2015.

The audience was youth/young adult job seekers, many of whom are graduating seniors with a disability. Many are seeking their first job.

This is the slide deck I created and presented (opens in SlideShare). In it, I shared:

  • The difference between a Resume and a Master Application
  • Why you need a Master Application / cheat sheet
  • The elements of a Master Application
  • Documents needed to satisfy the I-9 form
  • The difference between Fired, Laid Off, and Quit
  • How to complete an application if you have limited work experience
  • How to answer the Criminal Conviction question
  • Preparing your references

About 75 job seekers were in attendance.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

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4 ways to reconnect with employers’ needs

Job seekers are too often disconnected from employers' needs

It is up to Job Seekers to show how they are qualified, and to reconnect with employers’ needs.

I recently attended an Employer Forum to discuss their opportunities and needs. Several gave the same complaint:

Job seekers are failing to show how they are qualified for the positions to which they are applying.

Most job descriptions will include Required Qualifications, and Preferred Qualifications. When possible, the employer of course chooses to interview applicants who meet the Preferred Qualifications.

Too often, though, applicants do not show that they meet even the Required Qualifications.

For Job Seekers, if you do not meet even the Required Qualifications, do not bother applying. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. This is why job seekers submit 50, 75, 100+ applications and never get a callback.

On the other hand, it is possible that you do meet the Required Qualifications, but your resume or application is not connecting with employers.

There is a better way.

1.         Understand who you are. Are you a manager? A customer service representative? A food service worker? A warehouse and distribution associate? You can be more than one thing, but know who you are. Connect with employers by applying for positions where you can demonstrate a skill set.

2.         Rethink your resume. How often does your resume use the phrases, “Responsible for” or “Duties include?” Saying you were responsible for a duty does not say whether you are skilled at performing the duty. Connect with employers by demonstrating achievements and accomplishments.

3.         Speak in the employer’s language. If the employer seeks a Customer Experience associate, and you talk about your stellar Retail Sales experience, you are not connecting. DO NOT claim that you have experience that you do not have, but there are different ways to describe your experience. Two applicants being equal, the employer will choose the one who connects by demonstrating a fit into the company culture.

4.         Above all, your resume must match the job description. If the position requires 2 years experience and you cannot show 2 years experience, do not apply. But if you can show 2 years experience by combining your experience across multiple previous employers, then connect with employers by framing your Summary of Qualifications to match their needs.

Do not be the applicant who mindlessly hits the Submit button day after day, wondering why you never get a call back.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

Book Review: “Unemployed but Moving On”

Cheryl Butler Long, in her book, Unemployed but Moving On, identifies herself as a “Workforce Development Specialist for a mid-western state” (I believe Missouri, based on the references in an appendix). She has been doing workforce development longer than I have, and she has worked with more job seekers than I have. She writes with a blunt, sarcastic wit of someone who has seen and experienced a lot.

I do have issues with the negativity of the tone. Basically, Ms. Long is saying (this is not a quote), “The economy sucks, there are not enough jobs for everyone. You probably won’t get hired, but if you follow my advice, you might have a shot.”

Now, the economy does suck. There are more job seekers than there are jobs. And the jobs that are available are not equal to the jobs that were lost. However, I know that there are jobs out there for those who are smart about their job search, and are willing to put forth the effort — which does not include simply submitting your resume to hundreds of online job opportunities or complaining about how bad the job market is. I have been hired three times since the Great Recession started in 2009, I’ve enjoyed each of the jobs I’ve held, and currently love what I do.

Despite the negative sarcastic tone, I find myself agreeing with much (but not all) of what Ms. Long says: decide what you want to do, make sure your resume includes all the appropriate key words, always attach a cover letter, and prepare for the interview.

Ms. Long includes a very helpful chapter on how to deal with criminal convictions, which I rarely see addressed in any job-search book.

She says in one chapter that she was in junior high during the Beatles’ invasion, which by my math means she is in her mid-60s (which, dear readers, is why you never go back more than 10 years on a resume!). This may explain why she is fascinated with computers, spending three pages talking about how the world is different now thanks to computer technology.

She also includes a chapter talking about how one is likely to face discrimination if over age 40, female, gay, or speak with a non-English accent. Sadly, she offers no advice other than to expect it.

Overall, while I agree with much of the book, it is difficult for me to recommend it. The sarcastic negative tone might work when speaking to a group, when you have immediate feedback about how the group is accepting it. In writing, absent external feedback, there is no uplift of mood.

I deal with hope. I am confident that there are jobs available for those who are smart with their job search and put forth the effort.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Long, Cheryl Butler. Unemployed but Moving On! Smart Job Searching in a Web-Based World and a Sucky Economy. Manasas Park: Impact Publications, 2012. Print.400000000000000522352_s4

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

Seven elements of a cover letter

When I ask employers about cover letters, about half say they want one. The rest don’t care, but say that it never hurts to attach one.

I advise to always include a cover letter:

  • It sets you apart from other applicants
  • It is another opportunity to sell your value
  • It proves that you are, in fact, qualified for this position. If you cannot articulate why you are qualified, then chances are you are not, and you can save yourself and the employer time by dropping this position and finding one where you are better suited.

Cover letters do not need to be elaborate, nor difficult to complete. They should, however, be very specific to the position. And they should give this employer for this position a reason to want to meet you. Therefore, you should start with a blank page for each position.

Be creative and show your personality, but in very general terms:

1. Your name/contact information, which match your resume.

2. Today’s date, and the name/contact information for the company.

3. Address it to a specific person. This is part of the test. Ask your friends, family, and personal network if they know the hiring manager for the company. Look for it on LinkedIn. Ask your Career Developer. Call the company and ask the receptionist. If you have done all this and still strike out, then just start the letter. Do not address it, “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”

4. First line: What position you are applying for, and how you found out about it.

5. Second line: Why you are applying for this position. Balance your personal needs/desires with those of the company. Are you switching careers, or applying for a more entry-level position than for which you might be qualified? Or, are ready to resume your career in this industry with this company? Tell them why.  Think, “If I was the employer, what would I want to know?” Then, tell them.

6. Next paragraph: How you are specifically qualified. You are already modifying your resume to meet the company’s stated qualifications, so you do not need to recopy your entire resume, but you should show at least the most important requirements. Sometimes, you can set up a grid with two columns: “Your Requirements” / “My Qualifications.” Or sometimes you just list out your qualifications. You also may want to add the little extra that makes you stand out from other applicants, Make the employer excited to meet you.

7. Last paragraph: Thank them for their consideration (professional, polite), that you look forward to discussing your qualifications in more detail (confident), and that you will follow in a week (proactive), “Regards,” and your full name. If you are hand delivering a printed copy, leave room for your signature.

It takes extra effort, but you will stand out. And in the competitive environment, you want to give yourself every opportunity to succeed.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on FacebookLinkedIn andTwitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!