When you are wrapped up in job hunting, you may not realize there are several things you could be doing differently that could make all the difference in how you find a job and whether you get hired. Rasmussen College career experts identified several common job search mistakes on May 19 during a recent Career Development Google+ “Hangout on Air” entitled Ask the Experts: How to Avoid the Common Job Search Mistakes.
The Career Development Hangout was hosted by Elizabeth Lintelman, career services manager at Rasmussen College. It also featured career services advisors Kelsey Granowski (Twin Cities), Heather Kienast (Twin Cities), Matt Allen (Twin Cities) and Jennifer Cute (Fort Myers). Each of these experts has an extensive background in hiring, recruiting, staffing, teaching and advising.
The team answered questions in real time and collectively provided recommendations for streamlining your job search, such as conducting online research, networking via social media, finding references and building your personal brand.
Here are some of the top questions and answers from the hangout.
Elizabeth Lintelman: What are the biggest pet peeves hiring managers have regarding resumes?
Jennifer Cute: [Hands down] a lack of proofreading; just glancing through your resume isn’t enough. I suggest having someone review your resume when you’re done with it to make sure you have no grammatical and spelling errors. Also, it’s really important you are re-reading your resume when you’re done with it.
Lintelman: Why is a cover letter is important?
Matt Allen: Your resume is really your professional teaser to get you in that door for an interview, so your cover letter is the perfect accompanying document that can help. Make sure to do thorough company research to add pieces into the cover letter; you should also incorporate keywords from the job description to show that you should be invited for an interview and why you’re the best candidate. Definitely, if at all possible, have a cover letter.
Lintelman: I think the keywords are so important … looking at the job description and then writing a custom cover letter. It has to be customized; you have to tell me why I should bother to look at your resume.
Lintelman: What is the best format for your resume and what type of content should it contain?
Heather Kienast: I don’t think there’s any one right answer in regards to the format, but there are some key things to keep in mind when putting content in a resume and formatting it. Your resume can contain an objective or a professional statement. With an objective you’re focusing more on what you want versus what the employer wants. A professional statement should focus on what you’re best at, what you’re interested in and how you can provide value to that prospective employer. You should do that in three to five statement-type sentences.
You also want to make sure you avoid any indents, blocks of texts or long, lengthy lists of bullet points. Those can be really overwhelming to the reader. Also, your resume shouldn’t be a long list of all your jobs. Try not to go past 10 years back, or if you don’t have 10 years, go as far back as your professional experience is concerned. Have your career services advisor help with final formatting of your document.
Lintelman: What do you do if you don’t have references?
Kelsey Granowski: I encourage people to start creatively thinking about individuals in your life that you can identify as your references. Maybe it’s teachers, peers, coworkers, a family friend … so start to think of someone and talk to someone that you can creatively identify in your life that can be used as references, vouch for your work ethic and pieces of your personality. Volunteering is also a good thing to consider doing, and can help build more references for you.
Lintelman: What happens when you interview with multiple people? Why do companies do that?
Cute: Employers are not having panel or group interviews to scare you or throw you off. This type of interview style saves the prospective employer time and money, is a great way for other training to do interviews and it’s possible the employer wants others on the team to meet you. You can prepare by asking the person scheduling the interview what the format of the interview will be—this will help your nerves so you can mentally prepare for it. Once you find out who’s interviewing you, perform research and find out their titles and what they do.
Lintelman: How should people practice and prepare for an interview?
Kienast: Make sure to practice multiple ways answering the same question. You don’t want the practice to sound like a canned repeat, but you want to give the questions some thought.
Allen: When you have an interview, do your company research. Look up their address, put it into your GPS and even practice driving there during the same time of day as your interview so you know the kind of traffic to expect. Arrive 10 minutes early; however, I usually arrive 20-30 minutes early to sit in the car, decompress and get my thoughts in order.
Lintelman: What if you don’t collect names during an interview? How do you follow-up?
Granowski: First, make sure you walk away with a prospective employer’s contact information. If you didn’t get a chance to collect names, have the person who set up the interview with you send a thank-you [note] to the interviewer. Thank-you [notes] are so important. Everybody is busy, so just taking the time to physically write out a thank-you [note] can make all the difference.
Lintelman: How do you answer the question 'Why did you leave your last job?'
Kienast: Make sure you are always responding positively and professionally. You don’t ever want to bash your last employer. Respond that it was simply time for you to move to the next steps in your career and seek out a new position is response enough for that type of question.
Granowski: Also, recapping what you gained from your last employer and bring focus to that can help explain why you left.
To learn more about networking, the number of applications to turn in during a one-week span, average time to expect to be unemployed, as well as hear other great advice, watch the end of the YouTube video.
Hopefully after reading this valuable job search, cover letter and resume advice, you’ll feel much more confident during your next interview and land a job confidently. Don’t forget, you can also check out the Career Services Blog for more helpful bits of advice.
Remember to circle Rasmussen College on Google+ to stay up to date on our future Career Development Google+ Hangouts on Air.