Tag Archives: job searching

“I Don’t Get It: I’m the PERFECT Candidate…”

5 May

Any recruiter, career coach, advisor, HR professional, friend, colleague or cousin will give you their own spin on “why that company hasn’t gotten back to you.” There is always the possibility that you just weren’t qualified enough, or outright lacked an important skill or credential that someone else DID have.  Still, the biggest complaint I hear from job seekers is that it really wasn’t that obvious to them why they were passed over, and they’re left scratching their head when they initially thought they were the “perfect candidate”.  So what might have happened?  Here are a few possibilities that can easily go overlooked when you start to play the ‘ponder and assume’ game of “what happened to my resume?”

  • You applied with an out-of-state address.

“But I will move as soon as I get a job!” This one is a double-edged sword, and very commonly an obstacle, unless the positions that you qualify for require very very specific credential/qualifications/clearances, making locality a non-issue due to the narrowness of the candidate pool to begin with.  Or, you got lucky because the company already exhausted their local talent pool, pushing them to look outward.  The concern companies have with out-of-state candidates is often the transition time from “you’re hired” to “welcome to your first day”.  When a move is involved, whether they’re right or wrong, it’s often assumed that the candidate will need longer to sort out their affairs, and the company is looking for someone to start in the role ASAP.  You can always put a local address on your resume, but prepared to answer to the expectation that you’re available immediately to interview and start.

  • You stated your salary range in your cover letter… without knowing what the job pays.

By all means, if the salary range is listed in the job description, or the recruiter tells you upfront, if it’s within your range – say so.  However, even if you’re pretty sure of what it might pay, be wary of stating your range up front if you’re not specifically asked to do so, because you risk pricing yourself out against other candidates, or conversely, you risk undermining your value by going too low.  Save this discussion for the interview, if possible.

  • Despite your stellar skills, you lack “industry experience”… and someone else doesn’t.

How much weight is put on having the exact industry experience of what the company is involved in?  If you have a major cell phone company hiring for a print project manager with tele-com experience, and you have 10 great candidates with tele-com, and one amazing candidate who’s worked in everything but, there’s no guarantee that amazing candidate will make the cut on skills alone. There are reasons why industry-specific experience is critical to some companies –  language and nuances and practices and other aspects that are specific to each industry.  Even if the job is the same, it is likely that a company doesn’t have resources to train in those areas, and they just can’t take the risk on that new hire not coming up to speed quickly enough.  If that’s the case, it may simply be out of your control.  Move on!

  • You Lack a critical skill component… that you didn’t consider critical.

Same thing if there’s a required software element. It may seem like a small thing to you to not be an expert in “Software X” (you can learn on the job – you pick things up quick, etc. etc.). But if 3 other candidates have it and you don’t, you might be out of luck. Again, most companies lack the time and resources to train someone in the required software or skill areas, even if it’s something minor, and let’s face it, EVERYONE  “picks up new technologies quickly”, so that’s not likely to hold any weight.  Research in advance what type of applications or software knowledge is important to the company and the role, and look at online software training resources like Linda.com to get even the basic understanding of the tools, and you will increase your chances of getting noticed.

Sometimes you’ll just have to rest on the fact that you have no idea why a potential employer may have passed on your resume.  There are a number of circumstantial reasons that can come up – someone was promoted internally, the position was put on hold due to lack of funds, the candidate after you had the same alma mater as the HR Manager, they already have 5 people named Harry who currently work for the company and they want to avoid any further confusion with the email system.  Focus on the areas where you do have control to optimize your candidacy and your chances of getting noticed.  There are tons of “rules” and “how-to’s” out there, but the most important thing is to really pay attention to the company you want to work for, and what it is they want out of that perfect candidate.  Target, personalize and then sell yourself as the fantastic front-runner you are!


Deducting Your Job Search Expenses

12 Apr

Whether you are employed or out of work, the expenses related to your job search may qualify as tax deductible.  Certain expenses typically qualify as deductions, but to be certain talk to a tax professional before filing.  These include expenses related to:

  • Resume Preparation
  • Career Counseling Services
  • Employment Agency Fees
  • Travel Expenses (if the trip was primarily for job-related purposes)
  • Vehicle Mileage (standard mileage rate for deduction is 48.5 cents per mile)
  • Communication (phone, fax, etc.)
  • Associated Legal Fees

There are also certain criteria you MUST meet, depending upon your employment status, in order to deduct your job search-related expenses.

If you are employed…

  • You can deduct expenses related to your job search within the same field, and your search should be at a similar level of responsibility with duties similar to your current role.
  • You can deduct expenses that equal at least two percent of your income

If you are unemployed…

  • You cannot deduct expenses if you were unemployed for awhile BEFORE starting your job search
  • You cannot deduct expenses if you are conducting a first-time job search.  The exception to this is if you held a college internship or related job in college, and your search is related to the same field.

Whether you’re getting your taxes in last minute for 2009 or plan to conduct a job search in 2010, it is critically important to keep track of all of your expense-related receipts so that your deductions are as accurate as possible.  Start now!  And save some coin in 2011.  For more information visit http://www.irs.gov.

New Tele-Seminar Series: Taking the Leap

30 Mar

This month jump-starts a fresh and exciting new 5-part tele-seminar series for young professionals and those entering into the career realm entitled Taking the Leap.

In an age where logistics and circumstances so often define our career decisions and our lives, it can seem like an impossibility to truly follow one’s passion in the face of adversity and challenge. The “Taking the Leap” tele-seminar series explores the lives of 5 young professionals who each made different decisions to take a leap of faith, and ultimately invent and reinvent themselves to create a career and life they are passionate about.  As young professionals  it’s easy to be blinded and overwhelmed by social, professional and financial obligations, and not realize the many different possibilities that are open to you when it comes to navigating your career path.  Not everyone opts to take ‘whatever comes their way’, to settle for earning a steady paycheck, or to take the road most travelled.  Hear the experiences of a few extraordinary people who faced the typical challenges of being a young professional, and redefined the norm in pursuit of their passions… and succeeded.

For more information and to register see the Events page.  Sign up for all 5 seminars and registration for the fifth one is free!

Register Now for the 5-Session Series

Get Your Resume Critiqued for Free!

11 Mar

I’m excited to announce that I will be working with women’s career development and recruitment network, Women For Hire, at their New York City Career Expo on Thursday April 15!  This is an amazing (and free!) opportunity for women of all levels, industries and backgrounds to come and meet with career coaches like myself for free resume advice and critiquing.

NOT Your Ordinary Job Fair! Women For Hire career expos are not like most job fairs, where candidates meet a few recruiters—then leave.

Women For Hire career expos are high-caliber recruiting events that enable talented women in all fields to meet directly with recruiters and hiring managers from top employers. Whether you’re an experienced professional with several years of experience under your belt or a graduating college student, these one-day events are an ideal chance to launch or advance your career.   The  events are day-long affairs that focus on helping women launch their careers, segue from one job to another or reinvent themselves.

The event will be held from 10am until 2pm at the Sheraton NY Hotel and Towers at 7th Avenue and 53rd Street.  Anyone who comes and meets with me will receive a special discount towards a coaching package!  For more information and details on Career Expos in other cities visit the Women For Hire Career Expo website.

April Tele-Seminar: Maximizing LinkedIn

5 Mar

Get ready to empower yourself and positively infuse your job search!  The first in a series of free tele-seminars, in April Dana Leavy of Aspyre Solutions will be presenting a free tele-seminar on how to effectively utilize LinkedIn as a productive job searching and networking tool, and take your online presence to the next level.  Even if you’re not actively in the market for a new position, or are just starting out, you will have the opportunity to learn a few creative tricks and key tactics to build and maximize your network of contacts, so when it’s time to get serious, you will already be one foot out the door in front of your competition.  This is an excellent opportunity for soon-to-be grads and entry-level job seekers to get introduced to LinkedIn’s capabilities, and start building a network now!

LinkedIn offers a wide variety of benefits, many of which users easily neglect outside of making general connections and searching job postings.  The way you communicate and reach out to contacts to market yourself and keep yourself on the front lines of the candidate pool can give you a crucial advantage over your peers, and possibly get you in the door for that interview.  Check back for details later this month!

Subscribe to the Aspyre Solutions blog to make sure you receive regular updates on our tele-seminars and other events.

30 Email Etiquette Tips

5 Feb

No matter what career path or position you’re in, chances are you use some form of email communication to reach out to your customers, colleagues, prospects or associates.  A colleague of mine forwarded me some tips on email etiquette that are really great to keep in mind (and equally easy to overlook).  Especially if you’re a job seeker or reaching out to a party whom you don’t have a prior connection to, adhere to the rules to gain that much more of an edge over your competition.  Behold:

1.    Be concise. ‘Nuff said.

2.    Get to the point. Place your main point, request, or question in the very first sentence of your message.

3.    Spell check. Proofread. Make sense.

4.    Use proper layout.

5.    Use a readable font in a size that is easy to see.

6.    Avoid stationery that takes a large amount of megabytes

7.    Use the person’s name, either in the greeting, or in the body of the message.

8.    Keep language gender neutral.

9.    Avoid text lingo (oops, I mean language.)

10.   Use only abbreviations that are well known.

11.   Avoid emoticons and smiley faces.

12.   Avoid long sentences.

13.   Use active vs. passive voice.

14.   Answer all questions, and anticipate future questions.

15.   Include the important points of the message thread.

16.   Clean up forwarded emails. Either delete unnecessary verbiage or highlight the important points.

17.   Use detailed subject lines to help your recipient quickly understand the focus of your message.

18.   For very short messages, use the subject line as the message, ending in EOM (End Of Message) to let them know not to open the message.

19.   Avoid writing in ALL CAPS. It is viewed as “shouting.”

20.   Use the high priority option only when it is truly high priority.

21.   Use the words “URGENT” and “IMPORTANT” sparingly, and only when it is true.

22.   Use ‘Reply all’ only when every person in the distribution really needs to receive the message.

23.   Avoid sending email messages when you are emotional. Regardless of how you try to mask it, people will “feel it.”

24.   Never forward messages that are off color, offensive, racist, or obscene.

25.   Don’t forward chain emails, or emails threatening you if you “don’t forward in 24 hours.”

26.   Copy ONLY the persons who really need to receive the email.

27.   Avoid using email to provide “constructive criticism.” It is never taken positively. Those conversations should be done in person.

28.   Avoid using BCC to rat out your co-workers. It turns YOU into the rat.

29.   Avoid using email to “discuss” issues among several people – the threads become diffused, and the content is difficult to follow. Call a meeting instead.

30.   Avoid sending urgent emails. If you need a response in under 3 hours, visit or call.

Getting Good Where it Really Matters

4 Feb

Last night I attended a seminar on women as budding entrepreneurs given by Suparna Bhasin of She Creates Change.  I LOVED Suparna’s energy, her enthusiasm, and her ability to connect and relate to her audience, which was comprised of about 30-40 women of all ages and career levels who were anywhere from established business owners to entrepreneurs waiting to happen.  That was the title of her seminar – “Are You An Entrepreneur Waiting to Happen?”  While I won’t recap all of her amazing bullet points (you can find them on her blog at SheCreatesChange.com), there was one specific take-away concept I found particularly fantastic:

“Don’t get really good at what you DON’T want to do.”

In a modern American culture where overachievement is not just a standard, but almost an expectation, especially these days with the market being what it is and layoffs amassing daily, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “Do! Do! XDo!” and then…”Do Better!”  Even if we don’t particularly LIKE what we do.  This is particularly true of younger people, who are fairly eager to prove themselves professionally early-on.  And we’re saying to ourselves, “well, isn’t it enough/aren’t I just lucky to have SOMETHING to do as a career?”  I suppose that comes down to your own personal situation.  Personally, that’s not what I took away from last night’s seminar, nor is it part of my own school of thought.

“Don’t get really good at what you DON’T want to do.”

This one rang loud and personal to me.  I think I can say confidently in any job that I’ve had, even when I know I was completely dissatisfied with it, it was still my nature to do the job well, perhaps above and beyond what was expected – to have everything documented, color-coded, and easily accessible from 5 different places so that I was never out of touch with a single detail, should anyone call upon me for it.  But for what?  Was I ever given a raise simply for my proactivity and organizational genius?  Hardly.  In fact, at the end of the day, it was probably 80% me doing it because I needed to expand that extra energy to alleviate any fear that I might not be doing my job well.  I was so scared of not being “great”, that I considered the only other alternative to be “sub-par”.

As a result there were plenty of things I got really good at that I don’t (and never did) want to do: sales, data entry, using Microsoft Office, customer service, solving other people’s menial problems with communication and organization simply because I could, etc. etc..  These are all great things to have PRACTICED and become good at, because they’re necessary skills for any career, save for the last, but they’re certainly not things I want to become a concentrating expert in.  Get my drift?

“Don’t get really good at what you DON’T want to do.”

Probably in the same way that Freddie Prinze Jr. should have branched out of teen heartthrob movies by the age of 35 (whoops!), many people never heed this advice.  Instead, get good at these skills, the necessary ones, forget the others, and spend that extra time practicing or perfecting the REAL skills that will make you an expert in the field you really want to be in:  takes some classes towards your aspiring field, further educate yourself, conduct research, network, talk to peers, improve your verbal and non-verbal communication skills.  Find happiness.  Find out what you should REALLY be getting good at… and then do it.  Need help with that?  Let’s talk.

Credit: Suparna Bhasin, She Creates Change, LLC

Oiling the Company Machine in Difficult Times

3 Feb

Several weeks ago a friend of mine attended a ‘state of the union’ company-wide meeting for her organization.  It was a dual-purpose rolling out of the numbers from 2009 and the new game plan for 2010, which included across-the-board salary cuts for all company employees.

Now I’ve been a “numbers person” for years, with a front-row seat to the P&L’s and budgets at my last company, so I know well that operational expenses and operational income go hand-in-hand.  However, it doesn’t ease the pain of those employees under the  umbrella, from the soon-to-be college grad intern to the senior VP who started the company several years back.  Knowledge doesn’t refill the bank accounts, or pad the paychecks, it doesn’t pay the bills, and sometimes it fails to simply ease the mind.  While the optimist may say “Well, at least I still have my job,” most people are thinking “I’m expected to do the same job at 20% less of my salary.”  So what’s an organization to do when it comes to the well-being and retention of their good employees?

A few weeks later an email from the CEO arrived detailing a couple of new policies.  “Great,” my friend thought.  “Just what we need- more policies to force us to work harder under diminished quality of living”.  At least this is the mistake many companies make in times of cutbacks – if the company is doing poorly, we simply have to work harder and more diligently to make up the gaps.  But this CEO knew better.  Though a seasoned professional, he was new to the organization, and had been essentially called in to fix the lingering financial and organizational problems that had been plaguing the organization for years.  He knew that enforcing stricter policies when morale was already low wouldn’t do any good – it wouldn’t motivate anyone and it would decrease productivity.  Instead, he worked on ways to “give back” to the employees what he could outside of a financial realm, to increase morale and show that upper management really was in fact taking the employees’ needs and suggestions into consideration.  He announced a new dress code policy, no longer requiring business casual, and allowing for casual dress 5 days a week (with exceptions of course for meetings and sales).  He also announced that employees would have the option of working flex hours to better fit their schedules and increase the work-life balance.  While it didn’t sooth the financial wounds employees felt, it was something, and more importantly sent the message that employees were still valued.

In a time where so many companies are failing and almost everyone is feeling a deep financial pinch, isn’t it important for companies to consider retention of good employees, given that it costs three times as much to hire and train a new employee than to retain an existing person?  At the very least, it’s an exercise in reality and rationale – you can’t run a machine without the parts that work in tandem to make it function.   So keep them clean, polished and do your best to reduce unnecessary wear and tear… and results will be positive.

Photo Credit: Leon Bibel (1936)

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