Networking is an absolute must for a successful career. Unfortunately, many people consider networking events as nothing more than social time akin to a cocktail party. The truth is that networking events are more like a pre-interview on a mass scale. You are on display and you ensure that your goals, value, and expertise are communicated effectively.

One of the most basic mistakes is that people tend to dress down for these networking events. While you don’t necessarily have to dress for an interview, dressing well conveys respect for others as well as for yourself. Besides, every psychological study ever done shows that when people dress they are apt to have more confidence. So put on your best business casual attire and and head to the gathering.

Another mistake people make is not having business cards ready to hand out. Sure, you can use a digital card on your phone and send it to them. But that only works if their phone has that capability and that they know how to use the application. While it may be old school, it is still easier to hand a business card over. Even better, ask which the employer/recruiter would prefer-digital or card in hand. This way they know that you are current with the latest technology, yet still understand the traditional niceties.

Be certain that you observe proper etiquette when at a networking event. The purpose of these events is to mingle and meet as many people as possible. To do this you need to be confident but not pompous. Make certain that you don’t monopolize any one company and be sure to be respectful of everyone you meet. You never know when or where your paths may cross again.

Finally, never stop making contacts in your field. You need these people not only to stay up on current trends, but you may one day need a reference, a new job or even a contact if your company is looking to expand into a new market. It never hurts to plan ahead.

Phrases Not to Include on Your Resume
Your resume is valuable real estate. It needs to be kept as brief as possible while highlighting your past employment and skills in the best possible light. Therefore, it’s important to include the best of the best on your resume.

While it’s important to include as much positive information as possible, it is equally important to know what NOT to include on your resume. Because your resume is one of the most valuable marketing tools in your job search, you want to ensure that you are including information that is relevant to your career goals, and removing anything that does support those goals.

References

Don’t include the line “references available upon request.” It’s completely pointless and a waste of space. Both you and the hiring managers know that you are going to produce references simply because in 99 out of 100 cases they will be required.  Just be sure that you have a reference page, formatted to match your resume, ready to hand over at the interview.

Generic Statements

Statements such as “highly skilled,” “reliable,” or “energetic team player” are generic and really don’t put you in a positive light. If anything, they show you as someone who hasn’t really considered the alternative. If you have been doing anything at all, then you have skills. Show what you have done with those skills instead of using a phrase that means nothing. “Energetic team player”?  What else is there, a lethargic loner? Being energetic and a team player are expected work traits and shouldn’t be highlighted on your resume. It strikes a hiring manager as trying to fill blank space on the page. The same is true of “reliable.” If you aren’t reliable, then you will not last long.

Writing a great resume isn’t difficult if you create a document that matches the needs of the employer, as well as effectively communicates your skills and expertise. Look at your resume the way an employer would and update it accordingly.

You own the space and you need to make it work for you, and your job search.

Job Hunting When You Are Pregnant

Many people will be inclined to tell those who are pregnant to wait until after they have the baby before searching for a new job. This isn’t always possible due to financial circumstances. While it can be understandable that some employers are reluctant to hire someone who will likely be requesting maternity leave almost immediately, it’s not impossible to find those that are willing to hire a pregnant woman when she is the best candidate for the job.

Because there are different stages to a pregnancy, many women who are not noticeably pregnant wonder about the ethics of not telling a hiring manager about their condition. Ethically speaking, unless you are lying, there is no problem. Of course as a new hire you would want to be as upfront with your new employer as possible. Until you have actually been hired however, it’s not a real issue.

The best way to handle the matter as a new hire is to be upfront and honest. Simply tell your employer that you are pregnant and ask if this is going to be a problem considering that you are a new member of their staff. You may need to negotiate returning from maternity leave early or possibly working from home. Try and be as accommodating as possible as this will pay off further down the line particularly during promotion talks.

When actively hunting for a new job while obviously pregnant, try to not call attention to it and allow your work history and skills to speak for themselves. Many employers are far more concerned about those aspects of your history than your temporary condition of being pregnant. As in many cases, if you don’t bring it up then neither will they.


 

 

Back in April, Wired magazine published an interesting article about Klout scores. Very interesting (and alarming in my opinion). For anyone who has never heard of Klout, It’s a measurement of your online presence and influence. While many are quick to dismiss it, many hiring managers are paying attention to these scores. When hiring managers pay attention, it’s time for those looking for a job to pay attention. Oh, and wait! I guess hotel clerks are paying attention as well.

Klout scores, and yours can be found at klout.com, measure your posts and social interactions on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. Even if you don’t sign up, you have a Klout score. There is a 100 point scale and anything above 50 is considered respectable. While many think that this is primarily only of interest in the tech world, we have become a global society and even psychologists need to be concerned about their score because of what it measures: influence.

The more influential you are online the higher your score will be. Hiring managers tend to like this because it’s a measurement of you and your activity in a way that makes it easy for them to assess you as far as social networking is concerned. This in turn can mean a lot to the company because if you are highly influential then you could be the kind of candidate that is going to make the company more influential.

At the end of the day what matters to the job seeker is what helps get them hired. Raising your Klout score is as easy as being more active on social networking sites. It’s an easy way to boost your chances for landing a new job.


You have worked hard and maybe even hired a professional, but you finally have a fantastic resume that highlights every positive aspect of your career perfectly. You have followed every hint for networking and job search that you can find mentioned anywhere. After all of that you are still not getting called in for interviews and are left with the question of whether or not you should dumb down your resume.

This is a popular idea right now because of the state of the economy. The thinking is that if you dumb it down, then you might get more interviews because you will no longer be overqualified for the positions you are applying for and thus not being interviewed. While there is a certain amount of logic to this it doesn’t mean that lying on your resume if a good idea.

Any type of lie, even one of omission of positive facts can be used against you later on in your career. Most importantly, when the deception is discovered, it could be grounds for immediate termination. At best, eventually your boss is going to find out that you lied and wonder what else you have lied about. This is also a pointless exercise because you will probably be caught even before the interview.

There is a paper trail to your life and often an interviewer does a cursory check of the basic credentials of candidates before scheduling an interview. You can’t be certain that your omissions will not come to light then and remove you from candidacy immediately. The better suggestion is to keep applying and handle your over qualifications in your cover letter.

What is Your Biggest Weakness?
In the list of most hated interview questions, the question “What is your biggest weakness?” has got to be number one. You go into an interview attempting to showcase your strengths and they want to hear about your weaknesses. It’s a question that is designed to throw you off guard and put you off balance, and it works very well at accomplishing both. However, there is a third reason that the question is asked: To find out how well you know yourself. It’s a character question and most people fail miserably at answering it well.

When job seekers know that they are likely to be asked about their faults or weaknesses, they prepare a pat answer that attempts to turn a negative into a positive. The most common answer is also the worst answer: “I tend to be something of a workaholic.” This is the wrong answer because that shows you to be unable to strike a balance between work and life. Without that balance you are more prone to stress, being difficult to work with, and a candidate for making mistakes.

So what is your biggest weakness? Everyone has one and all most people need to do is think back over what types of criticisms they have gotten to find one. I tend to ask a lot of questions and over analyze everything. This can be annoying to some people, but it’s also an asset in my line of work. Figure out your biggest weakness and look for a positive angle on it. Then you will be ready to answer the most hated interview question of them all, and turn your most feared weakness into a selling point during the interview.

Using LinkedIn to Improve Your Job Hunting Results
While LinkedIn has become extremely popular with businesses and companies, it still seems to be lagging a bit when it comes to those seeking jobs. That’s a shame because it’s one of the easiest and most effective job search tools available today. Many company hiring managers check LinkedIn before looking anywhere else for new employees.

The main reason that LinkedIn isn’t being used as much as it should be by job seekers is because it’s considered a form of social media and that term alone makes people think of it as a leisure activity. Nothing could be further from the truth where LinkedIn is concerned. There are, of course, a variety of ways to use the service and some are naturally better than others.

To start, you want to make sure that your profile is 100% complete. If you aren’t sure how to go about doing this, consider hiring a professional to translate your resume into your LinkedIn profile. Having a completed profile that stands out is a great way to give potential employers a good look at you before the interview process.

It’s also important to note that many companies are asking for your LinkedIn profile when you submit a resume. It has actually become so common that many people just include their LinkedIn URL on their resume to begin with.

LinkedIn can also be used overtly for an active job search. Because thousands of companies have company profiles and use the site for headhunting, many of their job openings are published on the site before, or even instead of, any place else. Once you have a completed profile, you can simply click a button and apply for a multitude of jobs.

Consider updating, or even beginning to use, LinkedIn as a job search tool. It’s a great way to be seen by thousands of companies fast.

What A Resume Is NOT

So often, when researching how to put together a resume, the posts and articles are a lot of “a resume is this,” and “a resume should have this,” but often, there is no information about what is dangerous or unnecessary in a resume. That is what this post is for–to help you understand what a resume is not so you can create the best and most impressive resume.

A resume is not:

  • A letter: It is not a place to talk or chat about yourself and your accomplishments. You can do that a little bit in your cover letter, but mostly that type of communication will be for your interview.
  • A soapbox: Blatantly bragging or putting false commentary into your resume in order to make your skills sound better than they are isn’t advisable. While it’s good to sell yourself and your skills, sell them on skills you’ve actually done, not what you”think you can” do.
  • A comedy club: You don’t need to add humor or personality to your resume. Employers are not looking for that type of thing in a resume. They want simple facts with enough information for them to decide if they want you to come in for an interview. Add some personality to your social media profiles. Talk about your interests and likes in that type of forum, but a resume is not the best place for them.
  • A grocery list: While, yes, you will list your skills, work experiences, and accomplishments, there is more to it than that. You can’t simply list every job without a few details like dates of employment, job title, employer, and some job duties. You don’t need a lot of detail, but you need enough so your potential employers have an idea of what you have done.

These are things to watch out for. Your resume may seem like it doesn’t have your voice or personality, but that is OK. It doesn’t need all that fluff. Save that for your cover letter and, more importantly, your interview.

 

What Value Did You Add To Your Career Today?
In order to advance in your career or show improvements on your resume, you need to make sure that you are constantly trying to better yourself and your skills. Employers want to see that you will make their company a more profitable place. Whether by awarding you with a promotion or giving you the job in the first place, you need to show employers the value you offer by doing something to enhance your career on a daily basis. You will be surprised how simple it can be to improve and develop skills, which may in turn lead them to give you the job or the promotion.

  • Practice: This is simple, but if you continue to practice the skills you already have, then you will become more proficient and they will become more impressive to employers.
  • Networking: This is another simple thing, but so very important. You need to make sure that employers know your name so that when promotions come up you are one of the first names that come into their head. Make sure your name is prominent on successful projects, that your initiative to move up the ladder is known, and that you introduce yourself to those attending meetings with you, especially when interacting with the company’s executives.
  • Training: Look for training and professional development opportunities in your industry that would help you develop new skills or enhance yourcurrent skills. Training by professionals can be a great way to learn and become impressive.  If the training is especially applicable to your job, employers may even pay for part or all of the training.

There are so many things  you can do to improve your career and resume. If you feel you are not improving, then take the time to ask yourself what you have been doing lately to add value to your career, as well as create a plan to further your skills and expertise. In today’s competitive job market, it is essential that you show employers the value you add to the company, every single day.

Maintaining a Professional Distance
One place where many people fail at work is in maintaining a professional distance between them and colleagues. This is primarily a problem for young and inexperienced workers because they are not used to being in a business environment. This can be especially problematic for those looking for a new job.

It’s normal to look to those you work with for friendship. By working at the same company you already have many common interests and expectations. You know the same people and likely work on the same projects. The problem is that very often your coworkers are also competing with you for promotions, bonuses, and even a job in the event of layoffs or cutbacks.

There is a natural competition that goes on in a work environment to be the best and to be the one that gets the promotions. If you have been overly liberal in complaints, for example, the person you were speaking with just might use that as a means to get ahead at work. It’s better to save your complaints for non-work friends.

It’s especially advisable to maintain a professional distance when you are looking for a new job. More than one person has made the mistake of letting those at work know he was looking for something better only to find out that the boss was not happy to hear about it. Worst case scenario is that this can cause you to lose the job you already have before you find a new one. While networking is important in your job search, keep those you work with, even your friends, in the dark about this.

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