Running a business entails making a business plan before you start the business and following up on that plan once the business is up and running. You should treat your career the same way. Do not wait for your employer to offer you opportunities to develop your skill sets. Even if you do have a job right now, you should continue to network. Find out what is happening in your career field, who is hiring, who is firing. You should know the career trends so you are the one who decides when you make your next career move, not your employer.
The days of the company taking care of your career development are long over. While you do not have to become a business entrepreneur, you have to be an entrepreneur when it comes to your own career.
Think about how you come across professionally on your resume, in correspondence and on the telephone. What type of professional do you want to be? How are you going to brand and market yourself? Your brand is your reputation or how people see you professionally. You may never need an executive bio, but it is a good exercise to write one anyways because it helps organize your thoughts on who you are professionally and how your career development has progressed.
The news is still full of stories about the large numbers of unemployed people in this country. However, the untold story is about people who face chronic underemployment. Not only are their skills sets not utilized fully, their salaries and salary growth suffers as well. Once a person finds herself taking a salary offer that is half of what she used to make, it is then a struggle to regain ground and raise the salary back to where it used to be.
Employers do recognize that the salary growth gets reset every time you accept a position at a lower rate than you normally would because you need a job. However, reputable salary calculators are your best defense against getting low-balled or offered a miniscule salary. Gather your information. Search several different salary calculators for your position in your geographic location. Take careful notes, or even better, print out the salary graphs you find for your particular job of interest. Make sure that the figures you will take into salary negotiations with a potential employer match your education and work experience on your resume.
You may find that the employer will not raise the salary offer even after you have tried to negotiate it. You may also find yourself in a perpetually temporary position, one with low wages and no benefits. If you have to take the temp position, go ahead and do it. However, you will need to set yourself a goal for leaving this position to find something else that pays better, is full time, and is more of what you want.
Your standard dream job description may require an average of three to five years of experience when you only have two years of experience. Do you just walk away and do not apply? No, apply anyways. You may be surprised and get at least a phone interview. Pay close attention to the keywords of the job description and ensure that you put them in your resume also.
Do not inflate your experience in this field or call attention to your lack of three to five years of experience in a cover letter. There are other things a recruiter looks for aside from number of years of experience. Maybe the job calls for someone who can work tirelessly towards a specific goal for long-term rather than short-term gratification. Or perhaps your background in customer service will be a great add-on to the skill sets required in the position. Personal characteristics, related skill sets and ability to work hours that are different from just the 9 to 5 grind may also make you an attractive candidate. If the recruiter describes the type of person that would fit best into this position, listen carefully, then provide information on why you are that person.
Training also counts towards making you the ideal job candidate when you do not have the requisite number of years of work experience. While some managers like to train their new employees from the ground up, realistically, it can be cost prohibitive and time consuming to do so. Arriving with some relevant training can also make starting a new job easier.
A flexible, can-do attitude also counts in your favor. If you can be flexible with start dates, hours, where you work, what equipment you do your work on, all of these things can add up to make you the best candidate for the job, even when you do not have the preferred amount of experience.
You would think that with all of the career resources online and in bookstores, job hunting would be easy. Just read a few how-to books, follow the directions found online and you should have a new job in no time. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. If it were really that easy, there would be no need for recruiters.
Recruiters match people with jobs. They have many of the same skills as career counselors and career coaches. However, many recruiters will only work with you if you and your resume can make them money. You do not need to pay a recruiter to help you find a job; the company that hires you will do that. However, you must have the skill sets that the recruiter is looking for in order for that person to spend time marketing you and preparing you for interviews.
So what kind of recruiter is the right recruiter? Find a recruiter who is knowledgeable in your career field and who has networking contacts in the company or association for which you want to work. A good recruiter will find out what you are looking for and can tell you whether or not you are qualified and will be hired in that field. The right recruiter will be dedicated to finding you another position if the first one you accepted does not work out. Sometimes the fit between the job and the employee is just not right, and it is not always evident to all the parties involved: employer, recruiter or employee. You want a recruiter who will check in with you once you have accepted a job and are working to find out how the job is going.
The easiest way to find a recruiter is to check out online recruiter resources. You can also ask friends, colleagues and family members for recommendations of suitable recruiters. However, you need to remember that a recruiter who is suitable for one person may not be the right one for you.
If you were in a social situation, you would not go up to a person and start talking to him or her without introducing yourself. The same is true of applying for a position. Unless a position advertisement tells you to skip the cover letter, make sure you tell the reader who you are and why you are applying in an introductory cover letter.
A cover letter is not a regurgitation of what is on your curriculum vitae or resume. That is why so many potential employers may skip reading the cover letter unless they asked you to list specific information in it such as salary history or availability for work. However, you can grab your reader’s attention by making a bold statement in the first line of your cover letter. Instead of just listing the job for which you are applying and the fact that you are interested in it, tell the reader why the position is important to you. What piqued your interest enough about this position that you are taking time to apply for it?
The second paragraph of the cover letter should outline how your skill sets allow you to make a difference, to be successful in this position. What makes you the best person for this job? It cannot just be experience. Everyone else applying for the position should have relevant experience too. Your experience is already listed on your resume. How can you use your experience in a way to help this company or organization. Will it increase their bottom line, help them to be in compliance, see that they are more efficient?
Lastly, close with a statement on your desire to meet the employer to talk further about the position. Your interest should show strongly in every statement that you make in your cover letter so that an employer will feel obligated to talk to you, as if he may be missing out on the best candidate for the position if he does not interview you.
When you are busy organizing job descriptions and sending out hundreds of resumes, the last thing you want to do is to think about composing yet another document. After all, many employers do not ask for a cover letter, and many of them may not take the time to read one. So should you just skip the cover letter? It depends on the application requirements and what you want to say to a potential employer.
A cover letter is not a restatement of your resume. The mistaken assumption that it is is one reason why hiring managers do not read them. However, companies often run multiple ads for different positions, and the first line of your cover letter should make it clear which job you are applying for and how you found out about it.
Use the second paragraph to show how your experience can add value at the employer’s company. This is where people make the mistake of reiterating what is on their resume. Instead of informing the advertising employer that you were the Director at XYZ Advertising Agency, you can state that the position also gave you exposure to various media outlets, key decision makers and Fortune 500 companies.
The third paragraph of your cover letter is your opportunity to clarify anything that is not specifically addressed on your resume, such as you have the skill sets for one career but would like to use them to move in a different direction, potentially into a related career. You can also use this paragraph to give the employer information that they asked for in their ad that would typically not go on a resume such as salary history and expectations.
Use your closing paragraph to express that you are looking forward to speaking with the employer regarding the position. If you send a paper copy of your cover letter, make sure you sign it in the space between Sincerely and your full name. This is one detail people often forget to do.
If the employer does not request a cover letter or specific information that does not go on a resume, you do not have to send one. However, a cover letter gives you an opportunity to showcase your writing skills and to give the employer a feel for your personality and work style.
Employers like to hire people who keep their skills up to date. The best way to do this is to become a life-long learner. The Education resume section shouldn’t just begin and end with your university degrees. Keep on learning. Take classes, view webinars, participate in association chat and conference sessions, anything that will increase your knowledge and expertise in life and your job.
There are a variety of places to look for life-long learning opportunities. You can start with Continuing Education through your professional association or college. Many PBS television stations carry some form of adult learning classes. Take the seminars that are offered through your job. Checkout online videos or webinars that showcase college lectures. Search for higher education institutions that allow you to take online classes. Some classes are free while others have a charge for earning credit. Scan your local paper for museums, institutes and other public places that offer classes. Classes for credit are good because you are tested and held accountable to learn what is being taught. But even classes that do not offer credit or that are not taken for credit will still add to your skill sets and knowledge base.
These learning opportunities make you more valuable to employers. Employers are so interested in finding life-long learners as employees that some companies will offer educational opportunities to their employees on a regular basis. It may be in the form of company-sponsored computer classes, tuition reimbursement or even professional conferences. While you may be required to make a presentation on what you learned when you return from a conference, the knowledge gained and the increased skill sets on your resume may be worth it.