When Applying for Jobs, Do You Have to Do Everything Employers Ask For?

Jumping Through HoopsEmployers ask for a lot of things – cover letters, salary histories, desired salary, first-born son…the list goes on. But do you have to comply with all those requests, every single time?

Well, it depends. Your level of frustration with a job hunt – and ultimately how long it will take – is heavily determined by what sort of job market you’re in. Are you already being offered plenty of interviews for attractive jobs? Then you can pretty safely ignore all those extras that employers request. I’m sure your eldest son will thank you. But if you are not getting calls, maybe you should pack him a bag lunch and follow the rules.

But how do you know how strong your job market is? How sought after are your skills? Well, first you need a decent resume and you need to not be invisible. You’re probably invisible if your coworkers are all being recruited, and you’re stuck in neutral. The first rule of Recruiter Club? Get on LinkedIn. The second rule of Recruiter Club? Get on LinkedIn! Fill in as much info as you can, including a quality, professional-looking picture. Build out your network of contacts – connect with your colleagues and friends. You could be in a strong job market, and your specialty might be hotly desirable for recruiters and companies, but without LinkedIn, you’ll never know for sure. Being invisible on LinkedIn means modern recruiters won’t find you.

If a river of opportunities starts flowing once you’ve set up LinkedIn, then you might have some negotiating leverage. Your skills are currently in high demand, so when you’re applying for jobs, you can probably overlook some of those typical requirements – cover letter, salary history – without fear of repercussion. Most employers will call you anyway. Even better, you will likely have enough leverage to negotiate a higher salary. Check out my recent interview with compensation expert Kim Keating, so you can better level the playing field during negotiations. (By the way, don’t expect your hot streak to last forever; job markets are just as prone to supply and demand fluctuations as any other).

But if you’ve updated your profile and answered a few job ads, and the response is more like a trickle in a dry creek bed, take that as a sign that the market for your skills is not that hot. It doesn’t matter how talented and wonderful you are, if there is an overabundance of talent in your field, then you’re just lost in the noise. You don’t have much in the way of leverage, so be sure to follow any instructions to the letter. Do all that you can to ensure you have the best chances of getting interviews and callbacks. You’re one of many options, so forgetting a cover letter or ignoring salary requirements/history will easily get your resume thrown in the reject pile, since there are still plenty of candidates to choose from who followed instructions to the letter.

How To Get Help From Busy People

frustrationVery few people know how to grab the attention of a busy person. As a recruiter, I get dozens of emails a week from job seekers, and daily requests to connect on LinkedIn. 99% of my LinkedIn inbox requests are the standard invitation, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Don’t do that. Sending the generic LinkedIn invite is a terrible idea.

Now, I’m in the business of placing people, so I’ll still make the connection, but lots of other busy people won’t. That’s why I loved a recent article about how to get important people to respond to your emails. It’s a great read, filled with six common-sense and easy to follow bits of advice that should start helping you today. If you want your email or LinkedIn invitations read – and more importantly, responded to – read it.

So if you want help from a busy person:

  • Get to the point.
  • Provide some context.
  • Explain what you want specifically and succinctly.
  • Thank them.
Once you’ve made a connection, cultivate it. If email won’t cut it and you need to make a phone call, the advice in this article will keep you on track – try to keep it under 15 minutes.

Is your Job Different than you Expected? Change How You Interview.

Job Realities Difference

A recent Glassdoor survey found what you probably already know….often the reality of a job differs from what you expected. If you’ve been burned before, here are a few ways that you can do a better job of knowing what you are getting into:

Do Your Company Research Before the Interview:  Hiring managers get frustrated by candidates who don’t know the company, its mission, products, history, competitors, strategic goals or big news stories. Avoid it by doing proper research – three hours at least, not the one hour or less you might be attempting right now. If you don’t know where to begin, our post has five ways to get you started. If possible, you should also try to research your boss ahead of time, see this post for more on how.

Ask More Questions During the Interview: Consider that Glassdoor found 39% of candidates were unclear about the job responsibilities for their new position. If you’re one of those people, often you could have avoided the disaster if you had asked more and better questions during the interview.  Not only will you be more clear on the specifics of the position you’re applying for, but asking smart questions is also one of the best ways to impress the hiring manager. And no, it’s not a breach of etiquette. Our post has plenty of suggestions to get you started. (Also check out our related post, Smart Questions to Ask in an Interview)

20 Things to be Cautious of While Interviewing: We would all like to assume that the person you are interviewing with is completely honest and telling you everything you need to know. But sometimes this isn’t always the case, or the person you’re speaking with just isn’t as knowledgeable as you would like. Our post has a few of our favorite “red flags” to watch out for while interviewing.

When the New Job Doesn’t Work Out: Sometimes, even if you were well prepared, the position just isn’t what you expected. How do you decide if it is time to quit and cut your losses, or if it’s time to stand and deliver despite the obstacles? Check out Bob’s article in the Washington Business Journal with a few questions to ask yourself before you cut and run.

More of a visual person? Check out Kelly’s quick YouTube video with a few tips on how to prepare for your next interview.

A Search Firm Insider’s Tips for How to Use LinkedIn for Career Visibility

Almost everyone maintains a profile on LinkedIn to advance their career visibility. But very few people are being coached by a search firm insider like Kelly Dingee.

Now you can get the inside scoop on how to create your profile to attract more career opportunities.  Just click the play button to watch the entire series on how to use LinkedIn more effectively.

Or, click here to watch the entire series on YouTube.

Being Digitally Approachable in Your Job Search

 Job searches rely on making lots of great first impressions. And once upon a time you could control your first impressions, by actually being there when they happened. It may surprise you to learn that, a long, long time ago (back when I was 40), humans introduced themselves to one another in person. Face to face, not on Facebook or Facetime.

Those days are long gone.

Today, job seekers make most of their first impressions online. You can’t get through a dinner out with friends without someone pulling out a smart phone to look something up. When I recommend a restaurant, or movie, or a beer, where do you go to check it out? You go online. In the office, when you mention you are looking for a solution to an IT problem, and I recommend my IT vendor, what do you do? Do you leap to the phone to call them … or do you check them out online first?

When you Google your own name, what do you see? There is your first impression. Google is the new business card.

Every time someone refers a candidate to me, I check them out online. If they are on the hunt for their next position, I assume they paid some attention to their digital first impression. And I’m often disappointed.

If you are a business professional about my age, and your LinkedIn profile is bare bones, you are sending the message that you are behind the curve with technology. It is assumed that you either don’t understand it, or perhaps you are afraid of it. Like it or not, that’s your first impression, and it is darn hard to shake. The fact that you have not yet found social media relevant to your work, or that you find it a silly waste of time only confirms the suspicion.  You may think that not having a robust online profile confirms that you are a mature, secure, serious professional who has no time to waste on YouTwitFace. But among people who use Google to form a first impression, rest assured, that’s not what they think.

Conversely, if you are an early career business professional, and your LinkedIn profile is bare bones, it is assumed that you know your way around social networks because you are young, so the absence of a professional profile means you are either lazy or perhaps you just don’t understand how things work in the real world. Not good.

So if your current job is quite secure, and if you have no interest in being contacted about a new job, then by all means, feel free to remain digitally anonymous. Put out a big old “Beware of Dog” sign online. No problemo.

But if you are even thinking of making a first impression with someone who is in a position to help you, like an HR professional, or a headhunter, or someone who is well networked … well then, you would be wise to make yourself more digitally approachable.

Could Facebook help more in a job search than Linkedin?

Linkedin is a professional network. Facebook is a social network. So which will get you your next job? Turns out, they both can!

Bryce Christiansen from Balanced WorkLife brings us an interesting perspective on how Facebook can be more useful than Linkedin for landing a great job. Bryce gives lots of ways that Facebook can help, even if your security settings are Private.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • It’s more engaging. Businesses can create a page, entice users to it, and then communicate with anyone who stops by.
  • More users. Facebook has over 800 million active users; Linkedin only has 120 million… And, most update Facebook far more frequently.
  • Ads you want. Businesses are paying for targeted ads to Facebook users who match the profile.

Check out the article if you want to learn what Facebook habits you should adapt to have it land you a job.

Ways to Get Online Recommendations

Want a way to boost your online credibility?  How can you make your Linkedin profile more impressive without adding content?  Ask for recommendations! If you want to, but don’t know how to request them, you’re in luck… John Sumser  gives us 10 tips for how to ask for and get great recommendations you’ll be proud to show on your profile.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Ask people who truly know you – Preferably someone you’ve worked with; someone who knows you personally instead of only online.
  • Write one for someone else first – Often, they will return the favor and post one for you (without you even having to ask).
  • Offer a sample of the type of recommendation you would like – Especially when people are busy, they may gladly welcome the suggestion.
  • If you don’t like it, don’t post it – You get to approve (or reject) it before it goes public, so feel free to ask for revisions from the writer.
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