Landing a Job Long Distance


Two readers asked related questions…

Dear, Anita,

I’m considering relocating to a new city.  I’m worried that a hiring manager may not look at my résumé because I’m not located in the area of the job.  Do you have any tips on how I should address relocating in my cover letter, to be sure that hiring managers will look at my résumé?

Dear, Anita,

 I want to move to California or Washington from Ohio state because of cold weather. I’m still working in Ohio. Can you tell me please the starting pay rate over there?

Dear, Going the Distance,

Both of you are facing exciting new starts. I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but be sure to do extensive research before any big move.  Hiring managers may be afraid you’ll bail and run “home” with your tail between your legs at the first sign of regret in your new job /city/state.  Don’t confirm their fears by being uninformed.

Businesswoman fishing

If you are in a specialized vocation, make sure that there are job opportunities for you in the new city. For a broad overview of average state wages, you may find the Bureau of Labor Statistics website helpful, though the data is from May 2012.  Click on the state you wish to research, then narrow your search by occupational field to view median wages.  Some states may have more recent data, such as California’s Employment Development Department. You can enter a job title, and even narrow your search by county.

Once you’ve settled on one or two target areas, search for those geographic regions on the online job boards, such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, SimplyHired, and Monster.com. Be sure to Google for regional resources as well. While local newspaper “help wanted” ads may be going the way of the dinosaur, Craigslist, for instance, is popular with employers and job seekers in some areas of the country, but not in others.  Check any of your LinkedIn contacts as well as your friends and acquaintances at clubs, church, or the gym, to see if you can find a connection with anyone in the area to which you’ll be moving.  It’s always helpful to use an introduction to get your foot in the door.

As a general rule, entry-level jobs can be filled with locals, so your chances for landing a long-distance interview for those types of jobs are slim. For higher-level positions, most employers will consider a non-local if they have the specific skill set they need. For specific tips on crafting your cover letter and résumé for your out-of-town job search, check out one of my past blog posts, Job Search Out of State. In addition to mentioning your moving timetable and the fact that you are relocating on your own dime in your cover letter, offer to make yourself available for a first interview via phone or Skype.  Be prepared to foot the bill for a pricey, last-minute plane ticket if they request a second interview.

Consider applying with a temporary staffing company in your future city, such as The Select Family of Staffing Companies. You may be able to sample different local companies, get to know the area, and network until you find a permanent position.

Readers: Have you ever applied for – and landed – a job across the state or across the country? Share your success story!

Do you have a question for Anita Clew? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Résumé Failures and Faux Pas


Good Morning, Readers!

Ever wonder if your résumé is up to the tough challenges of the current job market? With a large amount of top talent, like you, on the hunt for a new career, people are beginning to get a little creative with their résumés and cover letters to spark excitement.

While some spunk may grab the attention of the hiring manager, others are a downright no-go. Today, I couldn’t resist sharing a very interesting and rather baffling CareerBuilder survey I found called “Common and Not-So-Common Resume Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job.” Here are the unforgiveable blunders they discovered:iStock_000018568936Large

  • Résumé was submitted from a person the company just fired
  • Résumé’s “Skills” section was spelled “Skelze”
  • Résumé listed the candidate’s objective as “To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI’s like my current employer”
  • Résumé included language typically seen in text messages (e.g., no capitalization and use of shortcuts like “u”)
  • Résumé consisted of one sentence: “Hire me, I’m awesome”
  • Résumé listed the candidate’s online video gaming experience leading warrior “clans,” suggesting this passed for leadership experience
  • Résumé included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood
  • Résumé was written in Klingon language from Star Trek
  • Résumé was a music video
  • Résumé didn’t include the candidate’s name
  • On the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote “Mr.”
  • Résumé included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss

Do your résumés have any of these formidable faux pas? If so, time to do a serious round of editing to get it up to snuff! Take a look at my post, Reasons for No Résumé Responses, for more helpful hints.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

TextSpeak Tip-Off


Hi Anita!!!!

I wanna ask u for advice cuz i’m not getting any job intvws after 4 mo. of sending my resume to lots of biz and I don’t know Y. Lemme know what 2 do. Ur the best!!!

Dear, Texter Extraordinaire,

texting

Your cover letter could be the difference between getting a phone call for the interview and your résumé going in the “no” pile. While abbreviated answers work well on your cell phone, as a job seeker, you’ll want to be sure to use proper sentences in business correspondence. Below are a few important items to include in your cover letter, whether you attach it as a Word document or include it in the body of an email.

  • Include the job title you are applying for and where you saw the position advertised.
  • Outline how your qualifications make you a good fit for the job, briefly but not in shorthand.
  • Reiterate your contact information, even though it appears on your résumé or job application.

Re-read all correspondence before sending. Incorrect spelling, faulty grammar, and improper punctuation may raise a red flag with your potential new boss. Don’t trust your Smartphone’s auto-correct or the telltale red lines under misspelled words in Microsoft Word. Your computer’s grammar check can help with homophones such as “their,” “there,” or “they’re,” but there is no substitute for proofreading your work.

txting_cartoon

I’d like to offer one final admonition about overusing exclamation points. Here’s my rule of thumb: use one exclamation mark per sentence and one exclamatory sentence per paragraph. There are better ways to add excitement to your writing than exclamation point overindulgence. As we told my grandson when he was younger, “Use your words.”

Bottom line – you may not be getting any interviews because you’re not making a great first impression with your communications skills. Clean up your presentation of your résumé and cover letter, and I bet you’ll “clean up” on the number of interviews you get invited to as well.

Best of luck!

Anita

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Reasons for No Résumé Responses


A reader writes…

Anita,

I am desperately seeking a job and I feel as though I am sending out résumés left and right with no response. I have experience in a variety of fields and have been stretching the boundaries just to find some type of employment. What am I doing wrong?

Hi, Craving Call-backs,

Thanks for the question. I have a feeling many of you out there are experiencing this problem in your job search. With the lagging economy, fewer employers are actively hiring large numbers of people and the competition for those jobs is much steeper.Keyboard Bite

I have come up with a list of 8 reasons why you may not be getting the “we must hire them” response. Check them out below.

1. Applying for a job you are not qualified for. Many of you are looking to find any job available and have tried applying to jobs for which you do not meet the minimum requirements. It seems like it is worth a shot, right? Wrong. Unbeknownst to the masses, job descriptions do serve a higher purpose than just putting some text out hoping to hook a few applicants. They clearly spell out the necessary skills, training, education, duties, and responsibilities of the job. If a company is looking for a person with 5-7 years experience in the automotive sales industry and you have 2 years of sales experience and love cars, odds are you won’t get the call-back. It’s better not to waste your time or theirs by submitting your résumé.

2. Generic cover letter and résumés. Employers are well aware of job seekers that work on autopilot, distributing the same résumé whenever they feel even the slightest pulse. Before you send out a résumé or cover letter, take the time to tailor it to the job you are applying for. For a full list of tips on how to do this visit my post How to Tailor Your Résumé. As for cover letters, do your research and include the hiring manager’s name, company name, and business address, even when it is an email. If you need more pointers, see my other post called Covering the Cover Letter. Remember, it is the little things that get you noticed.

3. Generic job title. As we have seen in the previous section, generic is not the way to go. It can come off as lazy or disinterested. If the job description says they are looking for the Director of First Impressions (or receptionist, in layman’s terms), by all means put that as the job you are striving to obtain!

4. You don’t live there. If you are looking for a job in a city other than where you reside, you will most likely be pushed to the wayside. Employers do not want to pay for relocation and do not want to interview a candidate they know Lost in the Pileis not in the area. If you have friends or family who live near the job location, use their address on your résumé.

5. Keywords in job description not included. With the large influx of résumés coming in for advertised positions, many companies do not have the time to read them all. It is common practice now to feed résumés through software programs that pick up keywords that apply to that position. If you do not reach the set number of keywords necessary to move to the next round, your résumé will be discarded. A great way to lower your chances of this happening is to skim the job description and include as many keywords as you can without being grammatically incorrect or overly obvious.

6. Didn’t follow instructions. Be sure to read the job description very carefully. Some employers have very strict standards and procedures on how they accept applications, résumés, and other materials. If they request that you send your résumé in Word and you send them a PDF, right off the bat, you have shown you cannot follow directions. Who wants a person like that as an employee? If they require that you submit three references and you submit two, odds are that you will be rejected before you can say “hire me.” By the way, this includes salary requirements. I know it seems you’ll be pricing yourself too low or too high, but there are ways to give a number and then indicate you’re flexible.

7. Focus on accomplishments, not duties. Employers want to see what you have accomplished, not what you did on a daily basis. Accomplishments show drive, ambition, productivity, and more. List actions that you can take credit for. Try to use words like managed, implemented, developed, applied, created, etc.

8. Typos in résumés. Punctuation problems, misspelled words, and goofed-up grammar force many employers to slam on their brakes. With computers, spell-check, and (I know I will sound old here) plenty of dictionaries, there is almost no excuse for why you should have grammatical errors and typos in your résumé. Do not always trust spell-check; go through the entire document from bottom to top and read every word. Proofread it over and over again and ask for feedback from professionals you trust. If you notice a typo after the fact, do not send a corrected version, but definitely fix your résumé before sending it out to the next opening.  Be sure to check for these common mistakes I find all the time:

  • Is the correct word there, their, or they’re? It’s or its? Where or wear? Figure it out, and be right!
  • Bulleted items should only end in a period if they are complete sentences.
  • Jobs, activities, and accomplishments you have had in the past are in past tense. Those that are current are in the present tense (manage vs. managed, raise vs. raised, negotiates vs. negotiated).

I hope with these tips you can begin to see the résumé response from employers you are looking for. It is also important to remember that recruiters and employers are swamped with job inquiries. Give it about 1-2 weeks before following up with that prospect or putting that position behind you. Keep your chin up and your attitude positive!

Readers, have you had trouble getting résumé responses from potential employers? What have you found to be the best trick to get the call-backs rolling in?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Happy Hunting,

Anita

Covering the Cover Letter


A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

I have two questions that I hope you can address: What’s the secret to a good cover letter? And is a cover letter even necessary these days?

Dear, “C.L.,”

I have been asked to address the cover letter question by a few readers as I know it’s a hot topic when it comes to searching for a job. I can’t tell you how many cover letters I have seen over the years that look like a generic template and a game of plug-and-play (insert name here… insert date here…. etc.) I’ve even seen cover letters that have a different color font where the hiring manager’s name is supposed to go… a tell-tale sign that it is a standard form letter that has been forwarded or used countless times.

My advice is this…

  • If you’re writing a cover letter just because you think it’s the right “protocol”… Don’t bother.
  • If you plan to reiterate the content of your résumé in your cover letter… Don’t bother.
  • If your cover letter is not a quick, relevant read… Don’t bother.

I, personally, only think a cover letter is necessary if you’re changing careers or if you need to clarify certain things that your résumé can’t explain alone. A cover letter can also serve as a nice personal touch if you recently spoke to someone (say, a hiring manager) about a position. You can use the letter as a thank you for their time and consideration as well as to reiterate 4-5 key reasons why you would be a good fit.

I found the following article on CareerBuilder that I think “covers” the cover letter question very well. I encourage you to take a look: http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-2446-Resumes-Cover-Letters-Do-I-really-need-a-cover-letter-New-thoughts-on-an-old-standard/

Okay HR and Hiring Managers… we want to hear from you. Do YOU think cover letters are necessary? Do you even read them? Please post your comments here!

Anita

Job Seeker No-No


A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

I like to think I am a determined, ambitious, and outgoing person. I’ll practically do anything to get a job at this point (okay not “anything,” but you know what I mean). I have applied to online job listings and have even called to follow up (thinking I’ll stand out) – despite instructions not to do so.
Nothing seems to work. What am I doing wrong?

Dear, “Ambitious,”

I know you are eager to get the job and stand out, but if an online ad specifically says not to call directly… then don’t! By doing so, you are merely showing the potential employer that you do not know how to follow directions – probably not a good first impression!

Hiring managers and recruiters are likely being contacted by hundreds, maybe even thousands, of candidates, and they do not have the time or desire to speak with every single interested person.

The best thing to do when is applying (to help you stand out) is to:

  • Have a concise, professional cover letter that addresses your interest and explains how you can contribute to the position.
  • Tailor both the cover letter and your résumé to the actual position you’re applying for. Doing so shows that you’re paying attention to the unique requirements of THIS job and not just sending the same-old generic résumé you send to every job. Believe me, hiring managers notice!
  • Carefully check for typos.
  • Make sure your contact information is accurate.
  • Do your best to tailor your résumé for the specific position.

Good luck to you!
Anita

 

Listing Pay Rates on Job Applications


A reader writes…

Why do so few job listings show a dollar amount for the pay and show instead DOE? On the apps they ask for a pay expectation in dollar amounts, I can’t respond with DOE. I don’t want to apply for jobs where the income is below my expectations; it wastes my time and the employer’s. I also don’t want to tip my hand and show a lower expected salary on the app to get the job. What do you suggest?
Dear “Kenny Rogers,”

I can’t help it, but when I read your question, all I can hear in my head is the classic 1970s song, “The Gambler” – “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em…”

The fact is, companies hesitate to state actual pay rates in job descriptions just like you, as an applicant, want to refrain from listing your expected pay rate in the application.  It’s a complete NUMBERS GAME – a “gamble.” 

Neither party (meaning, you or the company) wants to be the first to reveal dollar amounts.  For job seekers (as you’ve noted in your question), you don’t want to sell yourself short by listing a low rate.  On the other hand, if you state a high salary expectation, you may scare the employer away and miss a perfectly good opportunity.

Believe it or not, companies posting jobs with “DOE” are going through the same thought process.  They don’t want to state a set pay rate (or even pay scale) because they truly may be open to paying a higher amount for qualified candidates that meet or exceed their expectations.  In contrast, they may not be willing to pay the same amount for someone more entry level… but who could still do a good job.

I hate to say it, but these days, it’s definitely an employer’s market.  With so many people looking for work, businesses have the upper hand.  They don’t necessarily have to reveal anything about the pay because they know they’ll still be able to attract plenty of interested candidates.

That means you, as the job seeker, need to be the first to step up to the plate and reveal your “cards” (I’m going back to the Kenny Rogers reference here!)

Here’s a suggestion on how you can do this:

 

Utilize your cover letter to address the “pay” issue:

 

Within your cover letter, you can mention that your “expected salary” is what you believe is your market value.  But here’s the key so that you don’t seem inflexible… you should acknowledge the fact that you may not have a complete understanding of all of the functions of the job (which may be valued at a different pay scale). 

To go further, I suggest that you state in your cover letter that you recognize there are various forms of compensation (benefits, exciting company culture, etc.) that may make up for a lower pay level.  Express that you are open to considering these items.  Remember folks, “total comp” can include bonuses, benefits, 401(k) packages, etc. — and is not limited to a base pay rate.

So, before you “know when to walk away… or know when to run,” go along with the game and list your rate.  As the economy improves, things will change, and it will go back to being an employee’s market where YOU will have the upper hand.  Until then, I hope this advice helps!

Hey readers, as fellow job seekers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  What have you done in this situation? 

Managers / Supervisors – I’d love to hear from you too!  Do you agree with me on this one?

Look forward to your comments!
Anita

Getting Hired (or not) Based on Age


A reader writes…

I have been out of work for over a year and feel I am not getting any call backs due to my age. I am an Executive Assistant with over 36 years’ experience and feel that most employers don’t want to hire someone who is in their mid-50s instead of appreciating the experience and knowledge I could bring to the job. What would you recommend I do to make prospective employers know I am anxious to work as well as learn new things?

And another reader adds….

I kind of have the same question. I’m 53…and trying to find any NON-physical labor position in what already seems to be a job market for 20-30 year olds has been impossible. I’ve been unemployed for 2 years and 9 months…with only a seven week job a year after being laid off…that I was then laid off from AGAIN.


Dear “Frustrated Fifties,”

You, like many job seekers, are up against “Gen Xers”  (and, well, “Gen Yers”) who have grown up with today’s communications, media, and digital technologies and, quite frankly, are hot-to-trot on dominating the job market.

 Frustrasting?  Yes.
 Impossible to overcome?  No way.

(Now, for my young and eager readers, please don’t take offense.  You too have a lot to offer – but when it comes to experience…. you just can’t compete on this one!)

While I don’t know your exact situation, your interviewing techniques, or the details included in your résumé… there’s not doubt in my mind that you have a drive and willingness to work hard and dedicate yourself to a company.   It’s all about how you present yourself – in writing and in person.  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Stress your loyalty and desire to grow with a company. I read somewhere that younger job seekers (mentioned above) have a tendency to switch jobs every 24 to 36 months.  This can be extremely costly to corporations… not to mention annoying!
  2. Highlight your availability and willingness to work extra if needed. Many “younger” candidates may not be as flexible or available as you when it comes to working overtime or going the extra mile.  Let’s face it…  your days of picking kids up from school or racing home to get toddlers in the tub are probably a thing of the past!
  3. Emphasize the fact that you’re not necessarily concerned about “getting ahead” or jumping to the next position.  You simply want a steady career where you can utilize your skills and experience, while learning new things.
  4. “Age-proof” your résumé and cover letter. Exclude college graduation dates. Limit previous jobs to the past 15 years. Also, don’t list the length of experience you have in your summary (or objective – if you use one); for example, it’s not a good idea to say you have over 36 years of experience. It will flag you as older.  Also avoid promoting your age with terms like, “seasoned professional” – this is sure to let the cat out of the bag!
  5. Tailor your résumé for a specific job. Hone in on your specific skills and experience relevant to the position.  The more you relate to the precise job at hand, the better.
  6. Take a look in the mirror with a critical eye. Now, unless you’re big on Botox, you can’t necessarily hide your age in person (like you strategically can on paper). Here are 3 areas to work on (for the ladies out there!):
    1. Hair – How are the roots? Are you in need of a new (updated) cut?
    2. Purse – Keep it classic (not trendy), but do some window shopping on contemporary styles.
    3. Shoes – Keep them comfortable but professional!
  7. Try networking!  Social Networking sites, especially LinkedIn, are a great way to connect with potential employers and other professionals.  Someone you know may know somebody, who knows somebody… and so on and so on!
  8. Keep your skills current.  Regardless of age, EVERYONE applying for employment these days needs to be able to send email, work on a computer, and have a basic understanding of software programs (like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).
  9. Consider going through a staffing agency.  Select Staffing is part of The Select Family of Staffing Companies, a top 10 staffing firm in the US.  With locations throughout the country and thousands of open positions (many of which are in the Administrative and/or Light Industrial fields), they can help match you to the job/company that’s a perfect match for you!

Hey readers, anyone else experiencing the same thing?  Any additional words of wisdom?  Please post your comments here!

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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