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Job Hunting Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

For every person who wakes up one day to a recruiting call for a perfect job, there are 100 people who must pound the sidewalk/internet for openings. Job Hunting has changed dramatically since the introduction of the internet, 30 years ago you did pound the pavement. You had 1 to 200 copies of your resumes in envelopes and you basically went and knocked on doors. "Do you have any openings?", "Here's my resume just in case something comes up". Networking was still important only it was done by word of mouth. "Jimmy's daughter is looking for a job" was a refrain through the workplace, clubs and soccer pitches. And yes my first job came from my dad's friend's girlfriend who worked for Ontario Hydro. Lucky Me!

Job Hunting might be the hardest job you ever do. You want to find the perfect job. You want to be fussy. There are 2 categories of Job Hunters and depending on which category you are can make the hunt more or less stressful.

You already have a job:

Needless to say, if you are the job hunter who already has a job but is looking for a change or upgrade, the stress you have you are putting on yourself. Maybe you don't like your boss or your job. Yes, it is time to move on, looking for a job while you have a job is still the best scenario. Because you aren't behind the 8 ball, you can wait for the perfect position. Hiring Managers will have to make you a competing offer.

YOU DON'T HAVE A JOB:

Other than maternity leaves or going back to school, being out of a job for any length of time can make that climb back into the workforce extremely difficult. Employers start to wonder why no one else has hired you.

FOR BOTH SCENARIOS DON'T FALL INTO THESE PITFALLS:

Getting discouraged is inevitable but try to focus on the positive. Negativity will come across in your interviews. Treat each interview as a learning experience.

Don't take rejection as a negative, it's not that they don't like you, it might just be that the other candidate had something extra to offer. Ask for feedback. What do you need to do to move forward with this company? If this position isn't for you ask about other openings in the company. Keep in touch with the Interviewer and Hiring Manager.

Try not to apply to every job on every job board. Chances are if you are interviewed for a job you don't want, you won't present well in the interview. Interviewing for jobs you want will make you more positive and exuberant about the position.

Don't try and trick the systems by applying to the same job with different emails and changing your name around. Yes, people do that. It clutters up databases and can make you appear desperate.

Networking still works. It can be embarrassing to be out of work, your first reaction can be to hide your unemployment. Some companies give their employees bonuses for referrals. People like helping people, let them. Even just a referral to their recruiter will help you get the door open and pass the 1000's of resumes that recruiters receive in their inboxes. Don't hide. Put it up on LinkedIn, mention it to the parents at your child's hockey game, everyone knows someone who knows someone. You never know where your break will come.

Forget that times change. Systems are updated, there are new languages. You may just have to bite the bullet and go back to school or upgrade those certifications. If you have been out of work for a while, be prepared to lower your expectations both re salary and management positions.

Highlight your achievements when job hunting. Looking back on your career, pick out the key times when you really made a difference. Duties are boring, make your career a story that people want to read and add a chapter too.

Keep in mind there are some great resources out there for job hunters, from government programs to internships to using a professional recruiter. Take advantage of their expertise and remain positive your door will open.


What To Expect When Working With a Recruiter

Recruiting Companies started making strides into the marketplace in the 70's. They were probably one of the first outsourcing practices large companies moved to. Also known as head-hunters, they were known as just a step above a used car salesman. This all changed when large companies like IBM, Ontario Hydro and the Banks realized they were being inundated with resumes for every job they posted.

Remember every resume back then was paper, yes, I said "paper". Delivered in the mail, gasp! The mail room, to the HR secretary to the actual HR Managers were being drowned in paper. Not only did they have to manually screen (no ATS systems) each resume, they also had to reply - yes, gasp, again by paper and stamp. HR Departments were being clogged. Great candidates were being missed. Hence the rise of the "employment/recruitment agencies".

These agencies also had to change the way they did business. Companies didn't want them sending over 100 resumes, they wanted 3 to 5 for each position. The agencies now had to screen all these resumes and find the best candidate. Just like buying a house, the companies attitude was "find me the right candidate or I'll go to another supplier". Keep in mind the agency was only paid if the client hired a candidate. Recruiters had to become experts in their field (technology, finance, administration to name just a few). They also had become experts in the interview process.

Over decades, the recruitment process has changed. Which leads us to the question, "What to expect when working with a Recruiter?"

Industry/Company Knowledge

Recruiters tend to specialize, so if you pick the right one they should be a wealth of knowledge about their field. If you have hooked up with the wrong one the first thing they should do is direct you to an expert recruiter in the field you are looking for. Take advantage of the Recruiter's expertise in the company. Ask them detailed questions about the company and industry. Start with a few simple questions:

  • Company culture - will you fit in, is it a stuffy company, is it too relaxed, does it promote from inside, is training available?
  • is the company expanding?
  • is the company doing lots of hiring?

Expertise in Their Field


Live Jobs

  • Recruiters sign contracts with companies for specific live jobs. These positions could be exclusive to one or more recruiting agencies. They aren't available on the company webpage. This gives the Recruiter you are working with direct access to the hiring manager. Part of this relationship includes knowing what the hiring manager is looking for, and what kind of candidates they have liked in the past.

Resume Help

  • Yes, I said Help. Because of their expertise, they know what the company is looking for. Most companies don't want to see 10-page resumes. Your recruiter will help you to discard the superfluous information and leave in the information the company is interested in for that particular position. Be prepared for them to reformat your resume. Move education from the last page to the first. Highlight the key technologies. Resumes with "I did, I was", "John changed, John has" will be rewritten to use prominent action words. Expect this from them, they are experts in having their candidates (you) get to the next step.

Interviewing

  • Screening Interview: after receiving your resume, be prepared for a screening interview. This interview is basically to make sure you are available, do you have the education and technologies, finds out if you would be willing to do the commute or relocate if necessary. This interview can be done by a Junior Recruiter.
  • Telephone/Video/Face2Face Interview: Prepare for this just like you were being interviewed by the company, with a little less stress. The recruiter's job is not only to find out if you are capable and experienced enough to do the job but also to help you to interview well. They will be looking for your accomplishments and helping you to present them in a relaxed manner. Your "elevator speech" will be fine tuned. Practice your questions and possible interview answers with the recruiter.

Salary/Benefits 

  • The Recruiter will discuss the salary/benefits with you. You don't have to worry about it being discussed in the actual company interview. The Recruiter is your salesman, after finding out what you are expecting they will present this to the Company and help find the perfect match. This will include not only salary negotiation but also vacation, benefits, bonuses, start dates, etc.

Job Offer

  • This will be presented to you and explained. And then you will take it home and read it over again. If you have any questions - call your Recruiter.

Feedback

  • Why didn't you get the job? The recruiter will have feedback from the Company and they should explain to you why you didn't get the job. What were you missing? Was it experience? Education? Too nervous? Too cocky? What can you do to improve? Was your salary expectation too high? Remember they want you to get a job so it's to their advantage to help you improve and analyze what happened.

References

  • This also falls under the bailiwick of the recruiter. Depending on the company the Recruiter will call your references. That doesn't mean they will lie for you so make sure your references are up to date.

Resigning

  • This can be very stressful especially if you have been with the company for a while. The Recruiter will help you through this step. They will offer advice on how the company may make a counter offer and whether you should take it or not. Although their client is the company they also want you to be satisfied in your decision. Recruiters love repeat customers.

 

Do you only get in touch with a Recruiter if there is a specific job you are interested in? Definitely NOT. Recruiters can help you with career changes, re-education advice, getting back into the work force, etc. They are a job hunting resource, use them and form an honest and fulfilling relationship with them.


8 Questions to Ask Yourself when Changing Careers

It is important to assess or clarify exactly what you are looking for short term and also where you want to be long term.  Remember when changing your career it also affects your family life and your social life.  Here are 8 questions to help you analyze your next career change:

  • What is your objective
  • What type of organization
  • Supervisory or not
  • Salary
  • Type of employment
  • Location
  • New technologies
  • You and/or your family

1. WHAT IS YOUR OBJECTIVE?

  • Are you looking to gain new skills?
  • Do you want to move into a leadership position?
  • What technologies do you like working with the most?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years and what will help you get there?

2. WHAT TYPE OF ORGANIZATION?

  • Is there a specific industry you are interested in, ie finance, manufacturing, health, government?
  • Would you be interested in a large national/international company where there is room for transfers to other locations?
  • How about a start-up?  Do you have the skills that could take a start-up to the next level? Or just like the excitement of new and innovative environments?
  • Do you like bureaucracy or are you more comfortable in a family environment?

3. SUPERVISOR OR NOT?

Some people are made to be in a supervisory position, other people find it very challenging.  There is nothing wrong with either side.  It is important for you to analyze yourself and decide if you like and want the extra challenges that go with supervising people.

  • Do you like a challenging puzzle? If you like getting involved in a puzzle then supervising might not be for you.
  • Supervising means making time for people and their problems and idiosyncrasies.
  • You have to be tough and soft and fair.

4. HOW IMPORTANT IS SALARY?

  • Is money the most important thing in your life right now?  No shame in admitting this.  Money makes the world go round and helps you buy a house, go on a vacation, or pay off a loan.
  • Is learning a new skill more important than the salary?
  • Is this a good time to add extra experience and education to your resume and not worry as much about the salary?  Sometimes a long term career path means not necessarily going for the big pay cheque.

5. CONTRACT OR PERMANENT?

  • Do you like the security of a permanent position?  These can include scheduled raises, health benefits, vacation time, possibility for advancement.  Your job may be like your family.

OR

  • Are you more comfortable being a contractor and being your own boss.  Like having control of your salary and where the write-offs go.  The larger salary compensates for time off between jobs.  Do you like the idea of being able to take a summer off or travel for 4 months?  Do you find that new people, new systems, new companies enhance your work experience or do they stress you?

6. LOCATION – TO COMMUTE OR NOT?

Commuting is a big deal breaker on my list.

  • Do you like to drive?
  • Are you and the company close to public transportation?
  • How about the expense of car, parking, public transportation?
  • How long does the commute take?  Are you going to be happy with needing an extra 2 hours for transportation?
  • Don't forget to think about those long Canadian winters when you factor in commuting.

7. comfortable with NEW AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES?

Are you comfortable with the technologies you are using or do you want to train with the new technologies on the marketplace?

  • Keep up to date on new/emerging technologies and what companies/systems are using them.
  • What’s hot, what’s not?  COBOL, Java, Hadoop.  What companies offer training in the new technologies?
  • Read industry publications to keep up to date on emerging technologies.
  • Do you need to go back to school or take a course/certificate?

8. what about YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?

Times change and so do you.  Just graduated, no family ties – then long hours and travelling with your job are great.  Add a family into the scenario or have an older parent you need to help with.  Your needs change and so do theirs.

  • There is nothing more fun than coaching one of your kids at yours/their favourite sport.  Will the new job provide the opportunity to get home early enough for that?
  • Does the new company have a day care centre?
  • Health Benefits can make a huge difference in your life style.
  • Older parents, spouse’s career, are you at an age when you would like a little more time off.  These are all factors that you have to analyze when you are looking for a new position.

WHAT FACTOR IS THE DEAL BREAKER FOR YOU?

Everyone has different needs.  As you grow in your career your needs will change.  It’s important to analyze each factor for each time in your life.  Be honest!!  Changing careers and companies is a hard decision and not something you want to regret.
Start with these 8 questions and analyze each one.