Perky Perspectives

A positive view from young professionals building their careers


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If a Tree Falls on Your Car Does an Employer Hear it?

A month ago a tree fell on my car. When I first saw it I yelled a few French words, laughed (very briefly) in disbelief, then stared in shock. My insurance agent deemed the car totaled. Even though my situation could have been a lot worse, I still felt it was fair to have beef with the situation.

Since that time I’ve had four interviews. I heard back from one and was regrettably informed that my qualifications do not match those needed for the current openings within the organization. Now it’s down to three job prospects and I am anxiously waiting to hear back. It’s uncomfortable. After 10 weeks of updating my resume, rewriting my resume, submitting numerous applications, attending Job Search Focus Group meetings, going to job fairs, having my car hulk-smashed, and interviewing, I will soon either be employed, shopping for a car and regaining my independence; or, I will be back at square one.

My advice this week is on how to stay focused and positive when the sky starts dropping large objects on your life.

Use your family and friends as resources. It’s hard for those close to you to help if they don’t know you are job searching and what you are looking for. Past neighbors and friends have passed on my resume in their offices, which in turn has opened doors for interviews. I’ve also met new people and gained new strategies for job-hunting by going to the Job Search Focus Group here in Cincinnati. Furthermore, when your morale is low, family and friends are there to support you keep you positive. When you need help, use your resources and supports, they are out there!

Get out there. While some job searching involves using the computer, find opportunities that will cut down on your reliance on the screen. Get out of the house and find a way to meet with people. Attend a local event. Volunteer. Find a hobby. Do something that you enjoy. This will not only lend to more networking opportunities but it will also keep you positive and relieve some of the stress of the job hunt.

One sunny day for me quickly whirled into a windstorm that resulted in a tree to crushing my transportation and adding new obstacles to my job search. It would be a lie to say it hasn’t hindered my spirit. But what a relief it was when my neighbors came out to help remove the tree. My parents have been generous on letting me borrow the car, and a friend has been helping me get around as well. I can’t come and go as easily as I could a couple weeks ago, but I still have been able to get to meetings and events to help me continue to move forward in the job search. At the end of the day it is important to have a strategy to help yourself stay focused and positive so you can continue to move forward in your own career building efforts.

The best to you,

Kris

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Make Me an Offer I Can’t Refuse

Raise your hands

Remember the teacher that would ask for a volunteer and when everyone in the class eagerly raised their hands he would select someone and tell them that they just volunteered to do extra homework? Oh, you sneaky teacher. You got us every time. The lesson that we were supposed to learn from this was that you shouldn’t accept something until you have all the information. Now fast-forward fifteen years. A place that you recently interviewed at has called to offer you a job. Your instinct might be to say yes immediately, but what exactly are you saying yes to?

After weeks of resume writing, networking, and interviewing, receiving a job offer is an exciting moment. You did it! You’re in! What are you waiting for? Say yes! While saying yes means the end to unemployment and the beginning to a new and exciting career, it’s important to take time to analyze the offer. Some employers may make verbal job offers, but it’s important to have an official written document that details the position and the compensation package. Here are some reasons why:

A written offer ensures that the details discussed throughout the interview process are the same as what you are being offered

– A written offer allows you to evaluate the compensation package and decide if it’s sufficient to meet your financial obligations

– If you have received multiple job offers, having the offers in writing makes it easier to compare the terms of employment and compensation packages of each company

Once you receive a written job offer, carefully read and analyze this document so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not to accept the job. Once you decide, let the company know right away.

In my case, for the job I was offered I was emailed two documents. The first was a full job description of the position that I was being offered. This allowed me to ensure that the responsibilities were the same as what was discussed throughout the interview process. I also received an official offer letter. This included information such as position title, supervisor, and start date. The letter also detailed the position’s compensation package, including base salary, retirement plans, medical and dental plan, etc. As the offer aligned with details discussed in my interviews I knew that the company was transparent, professional, and responsible.

The bottom line is that job offers and acceptances should be in written terms. If you are in limbo between being told you will be hired and receiving a written offer, I encourage you to continue job searching in the meantime. After all, your arm will get tired if it’s in the air too long while you’re waiting for your sneaky teacher to call on you to volunteer.

Stay positive,

Hannah


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Step Right Up!

The county job fair is coming to town!The county job fair is in town!

 A job fair was coming up and my interest was sparked, as the event would include non-profit, government, small, mid, and large-sized companies. Even though the booths at this job fair weren’t going to have tasty fried food on a stick or the tracker pull, the potential to meet, ask questions, and set-up interviews with employers looking to hire is an event all job seekers crave.

Career fair ready!I prepared for the job fair similar to how I would for a first interview. I started by practicing my short, 30 second TMAY (tell me about yourself) introduction that I would use to make a good impression. I also practiced other basic interview questions; such as rehearsing my successful projects in AmeriCorps, career goals, strengths, and weaknesses. I then came up with some informational questions to ask the different employers. My final preparations involved printing out copies of my updated, proof-read resume, putting extra business cards in my portfolio folder, and picking out my professional attire.

On the day of the career fair, there were unfortunately only 6 companies present. After visiting all of the booths, I did not find a position that aligned with my career goals. This was discouraging, as it would have been nice to get a foot in the door to somewhere of interest. Yet as I walked out of the conference room I felt at ease. First off, I had gained some practical practice interviewing. Furthermore, speaking about my past work experience had refreshed my confidence in the fact that I have a lot of professional skills and abilities to offer to a company. Speaking about prior projects also reminded me of my passion for working in the community development and service sector. Overall, I realized that even though I am young, I have a developed skill set that makes me a qualified candidate for the area in which I want to work. This energy has carried through the last two weeks, and I have even heard back from two places.

As I continue with the job search process, I am going to work on increasing my time actually meeting with people. The value you get from meeting with a recruiter in person is ten times greater than conversing with a recruiter through email. While this can be a long process, the end result will be worth the wait. I hope you can find ways to meet employers and others who can support you to reach your career aspirations as well!

Best to you,

Kristin


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Love Hurts

The Scenic Railway at Luna Park, Melbourne, is...

Job hunting is like a roller coaster. You have to complete a series of ups, downs, loops, and corkscrews before you’re done with the ride. Your highest moments might be meeting a great contact at a networking event or being asked to interview for a position. The lowest times are probably when you are rejected for a position that you wanted. So how do you handle rejection in your job search? Gracefully? Begrudgingly? Bitterly? Even though you might not want to, it’s important to respond positively and professionally to rejection. You never know, it might even help you to land the job after all.

I fell in love with one of the places I applied to. The company was in an industry in which I wanted to work, the job description lined up with what I wanted to do, and employees had given the company positive reviews online. I submitted an application and was eventually called in for an interview. After two interviews, my positive impressions of the company were confirmed and I knew that I wanted to work there. I loved it. I wanted it.

Not Hiring Sign

I was called about one week after I had my second interview and informed that I would not be receiving the position. My application would be put on hold in the event that a position opens in the future. From application to my final interview I had waited two months for this call. It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear. Rejection in the job hunt hurts. You invest a lot of time and energy trying to get a position for which you know you are a well-qualified candidate. Yet you essentially lose to someone else. Yuck.

Even though I was disappointed, I called the human resources manager, asked her some questions about what being “on hold” meant, reiterated my interest in working for the company, and thanked her for her time. I thought it was a closed door at that point and decided to move on in my search. About one week later I received a call from the same company offering me a job.

Had I cut off correspondence or responded negatively, I doubt I would have been given a second thought when the position was re-opened. I believe my decision to react to rejection positively and maintain my goodwill with the company helped me to get the job in the end.

I encourage any job seeker to respond to rejection in a positive and professional manner. It can be as simple as writing a short letter in which you thank the company for the opportunity to interview and reiterate your interest in working for the company. By doing this you are demonstrating professionalism and keeping the door open for future opportunities. Furthermore, I think it’s emotionally healthy. Having your final correspondence with a company be positive helps you to move forward with a positive attitude.

Stay positive,

Hannah


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40 Applications and Counting

I recently received an invitation to interview for an organization I’ve submitted several applications (40 to be exact) for various positions. Finally an interview! I think this breakthrough was the result of networking. I submitted 36 applications and had yet to hear back. In the midst of submitting applications, I found a friend who worked at the organization and was willing to pass my resume on to a recruiter. This brought an opportunity to meet with a recruiter with whom I discussed my work experiences and received feedback. A week after the meeting and submitting applications for four more positions, I received the email for the opportunity to interview!

I just completed the interview which made for an interesting experience as it was done over the internet. Faced with the typical interview questions, I had to record my answers on video using my webcam. With the grace to record my answers till I was satisfied, this interview turned out to take a while because I felt the pressure to make sure my answers sounded flawless, and well, I had several takes for all 11 questions.

I’m sure the interview would have taken less time if I had been practicing. My last position as a substitute teacher had ended two months prior, and I have not spent much time answering interview questions that incorporated my new professional experiences. So my first piece of advice (and note to myself) is to regularly practice interviewing. I’m going to try to do this at least once a week.

From this online interview experience, one insight on being strategic and efficient in practicing questions is to record yourself. I was able to catch verbal crutches in my speech, as well as pick up movements I do that could be distracting to the information I’m attempting to communicate. Practicing in front of a mirror is helpful, but recording yourself will allow you to accurately hear and view how you present yourself. Make up a list of interview questions, there are many online resources (such as Vault, Wetfeet, Glass Door, LinkedIn) to help make up this list. Get out your updated resume. Then get access to a recording device, such as a webcam, a digital camera, or phone. If you don’t have one, borrow from a friend, or a local library.

Many people say job hunting is a game and it’s tough. Be strategic as you play. After all the effort that goes into applying and networking, once you receive an opportunity to interview, being able to effectively communicate your experiences and “sell your brand” is what will separate you from other well qualified candidates to land the job.

Now as I wait to hear back from the interview, it’s back to the job hunt game and staying positive!

Best to you,

Kristin


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That Darn Resume

What a rascal that resume can be. Love it or hate it, you need it. It’s what a recruiter or hiring manager will quickly scan to determine in a matter of seconds whether or not you are qualified for the job. Knowing this, it was one of the first things I focused on at the start of my job search. Even though I hadn’t looked at my resume in over 3 years, it was easy to find. My computer hard-drive is kind of like library data-base, as opposed to a hoarder’s basement. Things have their places. I quickly found and opened the document and skimmed what I was working with [insert twisted, scrunchy, sour face here]. I’ve gotten jobs based off of THIS? It was prehistoric. I had some work to do.

Anyone who has sought help on resume-writing through a website, an organization, or a consultant knows that the world does not lack an amount of opinions on how to write a stellar resume. 10 things you should do this, 15 mistakes to avoid that, and so on. The two biggest takeaways that I have learned and applied to my resume throughout my job search are this: focus on results and tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for.

A big mistake I had made in the past was that my work experience detailed my responsibilities and duties within a role, instead of the results that I achieved. I knew that mumbo jumbo wasn’t going to fly with any potential employer. Solution: replace non-descriptive activities with quantitative results that I achieved within the role. Here are some examples that are on my master resume under my experience as a community economic facilitator in the Peace Corps:

– Secured and managed over $10,000 in local, state, and international grant funding (Results, nice!)

– Developed local workforce skills through the instruction of over 600 hours of business, ICT, and ESL skills (Quantitative, hoo-rah!)

– Consistently demolished by 10-year olds in evening soccer matches (Wait, what?)

Another mistake I had made in the past was that I would send the same resume to all jobs that I was applying for. It took me a couple failures to break this bad habit. And even then, I still didn’t want to do it. Because the fact that I facilitated the planning and implementation of a recycling program, collecting over 6000 pounds of recycled materials, was cool! And I wanted everyone to know about it!

Realistically, a hiring manager looking to fill an account coordinator position that has nothing to do with environmental initiatives or project design and management, probably doesn’t care about my super awesome recycling center. Ouch. It still hurts to say it out loud. I will say, though, that the companies that have called me for interviews were the positions for which I tailored my resume and only focused on the work that I had done specific to the position that I was applying for. Besides, I’ll just wait until I get hired to tell them about the recycling program.

That darn resume. When I’m not thinking about it I’m working on it. And when I’m not working on it I’m writing about it. It’s really got me wrapped around its finger.

Stay positive,

Hannah


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This Ain’t Your Grandmother’s Job Market

Social media? Networking? I guess I am supposed to know these things since I’m a said “Millennial”. Well the truth is, up until about 2 months ago, I didn’t. But let me back up a few years and start from the start.

I have been used to the good old system of create a resume, submit the resume, get an interview, get the job. It’s how I’ve gotten every job I’ve ever had, starting with my first job as a cashier. Followed by receptionist, receptionist again, waitress, financial analyst, etc. My last job was a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica. Best job I’ve ever had. But I digress.

Around my final 6 months as a volunteer I knew that my service was coming to an end and I needed to start thinking about my career. I started to think seriously about the projects I had done, the work I enjoyed, and what I was truly passionate about. Reflecting on all of these things I was able to come up with a loose idea of what I wanted to do; be a community development, marketer, fundraiser, event planner, person. Sort of. Ok, I didn’t really have it figured out but I knew what interested me and started looking at companies and positions that spoke to my career goals.

Move home. Start applying. No calls. Oh, crap. After about 1 month of applying to places with little response I realized that I needed to change my game plan. I quickly realized that I would have to start networking and get active on some social media platforms to get results.

During my past 2 months of job hunting I have had failures and successes. Not getting a job yet: fail. Learning about job hunting, networking, and social media: success. Attending networking groups, setting up informational interviews with professionals in the career industries that I am interested in, and learning to use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest has not only helped me to get closer to getting my dream job, but it has helped me to grow both personally and professionally. I know that I will be bringing new skills and knowledge to my future job that I didn’t have before I began my job hunt.

The truth is that job hunting is a process. Especially when you are young professional still trying to figure out your career goals. But it’s a good process. Every day that I research companies, send out resumes, write cover letters, and go to interviews, I get closer to understanding what I want in my career and how to achieve it. While being out of work isn’t ideal, it’s a time to learn, grow, and come out better than you were before. And that is just what I’ll be documenting on this blog. I hope you will follow my experiences, share your own, and that we can learn from each other.

Stay positive,

Hannah