How to Use a Cover Letter to Define Your Personal Brand

May 5th, 2015

What sets you apart from the thousands of people who are looking for jobs these days? It’s called personal branding, and it can make the difference between career limbo and career success.

Branding: businesses do it, organizations do it, advertisers do it, and job seekers do it – if they’re smart. If it’s done right it can make the difference between a hit-and-miss approach (throwing a volume of resumes out there and hoping against hope that one of them will hit the mark) and honing in on a clearly defined target.

Career Advisor Georgia Adamson uses the analogy of the impact of color on a black and white image. You’ve seen the commercials: they begin by showing everything in black and white and then suddenly add a splash of color that draws attention to the product, making the advertiser stand out from its competitors. By defining your personal brand, you can do the same.

With more than 23-years of experience as a resume writer and career consultant, I have found that cover letters are especially conducive to creating a personal brand. The cover letter accompanies and introduces the resume and is sometimes called a letter of introduction. There’s a formal “resume-ese” required when writing a resume. On the other hand, a cover letter – while remaining professional – can be a little less formal and speak in a more personal tone. This allows you to tell your story: who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what you have to offer, in a way that can be very engaging and distinctive.

But here’s the kicker: people squander this wonderful opportunity by trotting out over-used and canned cover letter verbiage: “To express my interest in a position with your company, I have enclosed a copy of my resume.” I’ve read that line, or variations thereof, a thousand times. I ask you, what does that say to grab attention or make the writer stand out? There’s got to be a better way!

There is. Do you have a favorite quote that expresses your core professional values? Or is there a quote about you from your letters of reference or job evaluations that is particularly glowing and sums up what makes you unique from the pack? Put it at the top of your cover letter. Is there a story in your career history that defines who you are and what makes you stand out? Lead with it! Then use the rest of the cover letter to support your story – your brand, if you will.

For example, a client of mine has a great deal of experience in all aspects of manufacturing management. He is up-to-date on all the new processes, he’s implemented state-of-the-art systems and streamlined operations, and he knows the meaning of the word “lean.” But most production managers have those skills and expertise today. What makes him different?

In talking with him, it became clear to me that he also has an extraordinary amount of integrity, he cares deeply about his employees, and he is very accessible and down to earth. In short, he offers the best of both worlds. In writing his cover letter, this is how I began:

“There was a time when pride in a job well done, personal integrity, and a great work ethic were all it took to succeed. In today’s increasingly competitive business environment, it’s about process improvement, cross-functional teams, and continually identifying strategies to exceed performance, quality, and productivity objectives.

“Would you be interested in someone with a history of balancing both the old and the new? Someone who combines practical, old fashioned common sense with a proven ability to design and implement processes and build lean operations while upgrading production and quality? If you take the time to review the enclosed resume, I think you’ll agree that I have a history of doing exactly that.”

It’s not rocket science, but it is unique to each individual. Creating your personal brand requires that you take a good look at yourself and zero in on what you have to offer that stands out from the competition. Once you’ve got it down, identify a strategy for getting the message across.

A well-written personal cover letter can help you do that succinctly. It can deliver a knock-out splash of color amid all the black and white out there and help you land the job of your dreams.

What’s your personal brand, and how are you getting it across to prospective employers?

~ Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2013, Anne Follis. All rights reserved

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How to Minimize Weight Discrimination in the Job Interview

April 29th, 2015

Some years ago, I was a guest on an hour-long radio program and the interviewer was the top dog for a large organization. He was charming and personable on-air, but during the breaks he showed his true colors.

When he asked my age I thought it was inappropriate, but I wasn’t offended. Later he told me about a receptionist who used to work for him, the operative term being “used to.” I asked him why she didn’t work out he responded with incredible insensitivity: “She was fat. How can you have a fat person representing an organization? I was embarrassed to have her at the front desk.” He bragged that he quickly found an excuse to give her the heave-ho. His bluntness and crushing insensitivity shocked me, and I found it interesting that his off-air persona was so different from the one he portrayed to his listeners.

Note that he didn’t fire her because of her performance. In fact, when I asked about that he changed the subject, as if to say, “What does that have to do with anything?” She was fat. That, he was certain, was all he needed to say about the matter. When I asked why he hired her in the first place, he said, “I didn’t. My associate did. If I’d done the interview, she would never have gotten the job.” I had to grit my teeth to make it through the rest of the program.

According to Lennon Simpson in an article for eHow, “Obesity reigns as one of the most socially accepted basis for discrimination.” Research bears this out: A 2006 Western Michigan University study found that weight discrimination affects all aspects of employment, and that women are more likely to be discriminated against based on their weight than men.

Dress Appropriately for an Interview

As a résumé writer and career consultant for more than 25-years, it has been my experience that larger women and men already know this, and it can be a source of considerable anxiety when preparing for an interview. The temptation is often to over-compensate: wearing a bold colors and then accessorizing with huge jewelry. Of course, there’s also the other extreme: wearing old jeans and/or an over-sized sweatshirt in an effort to hide one’s body.

At all costs, avoid either extreme. Wear something that is conservative and professional. Darker colors are good, but you don’t have to look like you’re going to a funeral. Throw in a splash of color, but remember not to over-do. For women: when putting on jewelry, reach for the pearls or a single chain, and opt for smaller earrings rather than the three-inch hoops. Also, wear simple pumps that are comfortable and classic. For both men and women: When in doubt, remember that it’s always better to be a little understated.

Of course, it’s possible to be too understated! The key is to look professional, regardless of size. Slacks and a nice blouse or shirt, perhaps with a jacket, are fine. And for women: the old rule about having to wear a skirt for an interview went out with the 60’s. Today it is optional, so wear what makes you feel the most comfortable.

Attitude: The Linchpin

Of course, wearing exactly the right outfit won’t do you much good if you walk in with an attitude. And, as with the mode of dress, there are two extremes.

One is the chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. The other is the I-hate-my-body-and-I’m-too-fat-to-ever-get-this-job attitude. Either one is a killer.

When you meet the interviewer, smile, extend your hand, and give a firm (not limp) handshake. Look him or her in the eye, say their name (“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Smith”), and be prepared to explain what value you bring to the position based on your prior experience. Don’t brag, but don’t sell yourself short, either! Convey enthusiasm and remember that if you don’t tell this company what you can do for them, nobody else will.

Also, do your homework ahead of time and then interact positively, asking questions about the company and the position. Search the Web prior to the interview to learn about the organization’s history and values, and when the opportunity arises work what you’ve learned into the conversation. Believe me, nothing impresses an interviewer more than a person who conveys a genuine interest in the company.

Then, immediately after the interview, write a thank you note to everyone who interviewed you. (It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your interviewers for their business cards.) The note can be hand-written on simple stationery or a note card, or you can send it out via email. Hand-written is a little unusual these days and adds a personal touch that may make you stand out. Emails, on the other hand, get to the recipient faster.

Nevertheless, the thank you letter is a small courtesy that speaks volumes about your professionalism and follow-through. In fact, I’ve had interviewers tell me that for some positions they don’t hire people who fail to send a thank you note, regardless of their qualifications. Others have told me that, when all else is equal, the person who sends the thank you note gets the job.

Let’s face it, discrimination is a fact of life, but people overcome all forms of discrimination everyday. You can, too. Regardless of your size, dress appropriately, look and act like a professional, remain positive and confident, and hone in on what you can do for them. And regarding the very rude and ignorant radio talk show interviewer I had the misfortune to meet, I determined within a minute or two into our conversation that the woman he fired was well rid of him.

For more articles on how to prepare for the interview, cut and paste the following to your browser:

Copyright 2013, Anne Follis, CPRW. All rights reserved

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How to Answer the Question “Tell Me About Your Weaknesses”

March 1st, 2013

A question I am frequently asked is how to respond to the interview question, “Tell me about your weaknesses.” The traditional (and very canned) response is to take a strength and disguise it as a weakness. For example, you may say, “I’m a perfectionist, or “I’m a work-a-holic” or “I’m always early and most days I start work an hour ahead of time.” These answers are from the-interviewer-is-an-idiot school of thought, and they aren’t likely to fool anyone. You’d be better off mentioning a genuine weakness that you’ve recognized and made progress in overcoming.

For example: “I’ve had trouble delegating work in the past, but with recent cutbacks we’ve all been overloaded. So I implemented team meetings and cross-training, and I’ve had to learn to trust the people under me more than I normally would. To my surprise, production has gone up and morale is improved. It can be a blow to the ego to discover that you’re not the only competent person in the office, but it was something I needed to learn. I think it’s made me a better manager.”

This tells the interviewer three things: You’re not perfect (actually, he or she already knew that), you’re honest, and you’re able to acknowledge your weaknesses and learn from your mistakes.

Be careful about the interviewer who keeps pressing you to describe more weaknesses, however. After you’ve given one, or at the most two weakness stories, it’s entirely proper to say, “I’m sorry, that’s all I can think of right now.” Some interviewers press on this question in an attempt to find out what’s beneath the surface, and if you’re not careful, you can talk yourself into a corner.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2013, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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How Strategic Are Your Resume & Cover Letter?

February 1st, 2013

A prospective client with ten years of experience as a PE Teacher and Coach sent me her resume with a note that she’s tired of the long hours and is thinking of looking in a field outside of education. But she’s not sure.

The resume, which read more like a cross between an essay and a biography, began like this: “I am looking for an opportunity that will allow me more time for my family in whatever field I choose.”

Try for just a minute to think of yourself as the school administrator or Hiring Manager who’s reading this. You have a couple of openings and thousands of resumes that you must peruse while attending to the many and very demanding functions of your job. You have a budget and a strict timeframe and you simply cannot afford to hire the wrong person.

Now read that second paragraph again, Mr./Ms. Hiring Manager. The person who sent it to you begins by telling you what she wants from you. For you, on the other hand, it’s crunch time. You do not care what she wants from you. You want to know what she can do for you, and if she doesn’t tell you that very quickly you will be moving on to the next applicant.

This is a problem I encounter over and over again on resumes and cover letters, as well as elevator speeches, interview strategies, and Internet biographies. Many job seekers have a fixed idea of what they want from an employer but fail to convey what they can deliver for the employer. Since this is the primary information every employer is seeking when reviewing a candidate’s history, anything that begins by addressing the applicant’s requirements is likely to fall on very deaf ears. Applicants often compound the confusion by failing to present themselves as a good fit for job openings.

To avoid these pitfalls, YOU MUST BE STRATEGIC. Research companies that interest you, network with friends and colleagues, and when you hear of an opening for which you’d like to apply, all of your communication should specifically target that position.

The above teacher continued in her resume: “I love to teach but I would also be interested in a position in another field. I have a passion for learning. I think ‘teacher’ defines me best.”

To an education administrator on the lookout for a PE teacher who can also coach the girls’ basketball team, this is going to be very confusing. Does the applicant want to be a teacher / coach or not? Again, put yourself in the Hiring Manager’s shoes. You simply do not have time to figure out what to do with this person, so you move on, and she misses out on a potential job opportunity.

Do not say, “I’m a teacher at heart and that’s what I do best” if you’re applying for something outside of education. Instead, define a clear segue between the job you’re doing now and the job for which you’re applying. And do not say “…in whatever field I choose” if you are looking for a teaching position (or any position, for that matter). It signals to an employer that your job search has no clarity, focus, or strategy, and you will not be viewed as a serious candidate.

For example, if you’re a teacher but you’d like to supervise a customer service team, stress your experience working with multidisciplinary teams of teachers, administrators, counselors, and therapists. Talk about the challenge of managing a classroom and give examples of how effective you’ve been in keeping students on task. You can handle demanding parents and intransigent students seamlessly. You are a natural for a position in customer service!

Of course, you can turn this around: Ten years in direct customer service, including seven years as a CSR supervisor, have been the perfect foundation for a career as a teacher . . .

No one who is or might be hiring, or who may know of someone who’s hiring, should ever talk to you or read your resume and cover letter and be left to wonder what in the world you’re looking to do with yourself. Simply put, an applicant who fails to define his or her job target and related qualifications will not hold anyone’s attention past the first paragraph. Career counseling

Be clear and focused. Be strategic in your job search communication.

~ Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2013, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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How Hiring Managers Use Social Media to Screen Job Candidates

April 5th, 2012

In a 2011 Reppler survey about how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates, 91% of the respondents claimed they have visited a potential candidate’s profile on a social network as part of the screening process. But why? With all the tweets, status updates and comments, it’s unavoidable for any social job seeker not to be searchable in some way.

To learn more about why recruiters and hiring managers screen job candidates online, I talked to a few social media and recruiting experts.

Why Do Recruiters and Hiring Managers Care?
With social media, it’s possible to learn a lot more about a candidate than what’s on their resume.

“Businesses and recruiters want to know as much as they can about a person who they may give a job offer,” says Eric Meyer, partner in the labor and employment group at Dilworth Paxson LLP and author of The Employer Handbook. “But the real purpose behind screening is to make sure the person you’re hiring doesn’t have any red flags that would make them a bad fit or a potential liability for the business.”

According to the survey, 69% of the respondents have rejected a candidate based on content found on his or her social networking profile. At the same time 68% have actually hired someone. Of those, 39% did it because whatever they found “gave a positive impression of the candidate’s personality and organizational fit.”

“In terms of mindset and outlook on life, people use their social networks and their blogs to really express themselves,” says Rachel Dotson, content manager for ZipRecruiter. “If you see someone consistently posting negative things and it’s apparent they have a poor outlook on life, that’s the kind of thing that’s going to give us a lot of pause. One toxic employee can ruin an entire department or organization, depending on its size.”

When it comes to commenting, posting photos or sharing status updates, we don’t typically update our social media profiles with recruiters in mind. Instead, we post things that are relevant to our lives, interests and personalities, giving recruiters a clearer picture of the person behind the resume.

Tips for Job Seekers
For recruiters and hiring managers who choose to look up candidates online, it’s likely that what they find will also shape their first impression of that person.

“Perception is reality in the business world,” says Amy Henderson, account executive with Technisource, part of Randstad Technologies . “The way people perceive you online, through social media–that’s what they use to make first impressions. And those first impressions are lasting impressions.”

And even with privacy restrictions set up on social networking sites like Facebook, it doesn’t mean an employer won’t take extra steps to get a look at what’s behind those privacy restrictions, even if that means bluntly asking a job candidate for his or her login information.

But by requiring login credentials for candidates’ social media profiles, employers run the risk of losing top talent due to a perceived lack of trust.

“Employers run the risk that if they require job candidates to relinquish Facebook logins and passwords as a condition of employment, those candidates will respond by removing their names from consideration,” Meyer says. “At the moment the company requests that private information, it projects a lack of trust, which is a bad building block for an employer-employee relationship.”

What other best practices should social job seekers consider for maintaining their social reputation online?

~ The career blog welcomes this guest post written by Jennifer King. Jennifer is an HR Analyst at Software Advice, a company that reviews and compares recruiting and employee appraisal software. She reports on trends, best practices and technology in human resources. You can read Jennifer’s full article on the Internet persona and screening job candidates online on her HR blog.

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A Simple Suggestion: How Reduce the Chance of Your Resume Getting Lost in the Haystack

March 22nd, 2012

I get a lot of resumes by e-mail, and I find it interesting that nearly every resume file sent to me has the name “resume.”

I know to the senders it makes perfect sense. After all, it’s their resume that they created on their computer and it’s probably the only resume in their computer. It’s quite simple in their minds: “I don’t want to lose my resume, so I’ll name it ‘resume.'” Makes perfect sense . . .

Unless you’re the employer on the receiving end of dozens to hundreds to thousands of resumes. And they’re all named “resume”?!

So let’s say you’ve spoken with an employer and he or she has jotted down your name and asked you to send your resume. Of course, you sit down at your computer, write an email, attach your resume file named “resume,” and send it out immediately.

It may very well wind up in a database of files, most of which are named “resume.” Do you see where I’m going with this? If someone wants your resume, they won’t know where to begin and probably don’t have the time to look through every resume to find it.

Name your resume after yourself: last name first, period or dash, and your first name, as in “follis.anne” or “follis-anne.” If you have a common name, you might also include a middle name or initial, as in “smith.john.harrison.”

That way you have made it very easy for anyone who is looking specifically for your resume to find it. In addition to the fact that people love it when we make things easy for them, you increase your chance of standing out from the pack.

~ Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

©Copyright 2012, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Power Pack Your Job Search!

January 16th, 2012

Updating Your Job Search Strategy

If you’re like most job seekers, you invest the majority of your time and precious resources in scanning Internet job boards and responding to ads in the newspapers.

Reality check. Estimates vary, but if that’s the strategy you’re using to find a job, indications are that your likelihood of success is around 10 to 13 percent. No wonder people get depressed and quit before they find a job. It can be like pounding your head against a brick wall.

The problem is that there are a lot more people looking for jobs these days than there are jobs available. (I’ll bet you already figured that one out!) Consequently, there are literally millions of resumes posted on the various job boards, giving new meaning to the term “needle in a haystack,” and when an ad hits the Internet, it’s not uncommon for an employer to to receive hundreds of responses, if not thousands.

So if your primary strategy for finding a job is to surf the Internet boards and respond to newspaper ads, you are competing with dozens, hundreds, thousands, and in some cases millions of other applicants, making the odds against you pretty overwhelming. No wonder you’ve begun to feel as if you’re dropping your resume into a black hole! There’s got to be a better way.

There is, but it’s going to take some hard work and initiative on your part. If you enjoy sales and marketing, it will be right up your alley, because for this little window of time (i.e., while you are trying to find a job), you are in sales, and the product you’re marketing is you. And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, there are lots of other “products” out there. Some of them are cheaper, some of them are smarter, some of them are older, some of them are younger, some of them have more experience, and some of them have less. It would be nice to think that the most qualified applicant will be the one who lands the job, but it frequently does not work that way.

Put yourself in the position of the person doing the hiring. You have an opening you have to fill within two weeks. You have two hundred resumes to review and counting. You would love to shut down the office for the next fourteen days until you’ve settled this matter, but that’s not at all practical. And so you get the awful job of sifting through resumes and calling people to come in for interviews while still performing all the other functions of your position. And you would rather submit to a root canal without an anesthetic.

And then some eager beaver (let’s call him Joe) gets a hold of you on the phone. Actually, he’s been calling for weeks. He’s talked to your assistant and sent you e-mails and forwarded his resume and then e-mailed another copy “just in case the first one got lost.” Finally, he calls early one morning before your assistant gets in, just as you are facing the prospect of going through all those resumes. He is pleasant and polite and to the point. He tells you briefly what his skills are, he expresses an interest in your company, and he asks about employment openings.

On the one hand, this call is a little annoying. On the other hand, you look at the growing number of resumes and think, “This guy seems to know a little something about what we do around here, and he’s awfully eager.” And at a subconscious level you’re even thinking, “If he works out, I won’t have to go through all these resumes.”

He presses a little bit. “Would it be possible for me to come in and speak with you? I promise I won’t take up too much of your time, but I would appreciate just a few minutes to introduce myself and present my qualifications in person. Would today be okay or would sometime later in the week be better?”

What would you say? If you’re like the hundreds of hiring managers I’ve talked to who have been through this, you’re likely to say something like, “I’ve got a little time this afternoon if you can be here at 3:00.” So Joe gets a crack at the job, while the 200 applicants who simply submitted resumes and then sat around twiddling their thumbs hoping for the phone to ring may very well be history.

What made Joe stand out? Is he smarter or more qualified? Not necessarily. He was simply the one who called the right person at the right time.

But, you say, how can you possibly know when to call whom?

You can’t. And so what you do is make a volume of phone calls (I recommend 10 to 20 or more a day) and persist through a thousand stalls, rejections, and maybes until you touch base with the right person at the right time who says yes. It’s that simple. And that difficult.

Before you moan and groan and say you can’t do it, it’s not your style, let me reiterate. In the past, the approach to getting jobs was passive. You submitted resumes and waited, hoping for a response. Since back in the good old days there were more jobs than people to fill them, you usually didn’t have to wait very long, and this approach worked most of the time.

But we’ve already established that the world has changed — a lot — and today the onus is on the job seeker. You must take an active, persistent, aggressive approach to finding the job you want. If you don’t do it, no one will. That I can guarantee. And my experience has been that for many people, the process can be exciting and empowering. Rather than submitting helplessly to the whims of the job market, which can be the most depressing experience of a lifetime, you are taking control of the process for yourself.

~ Excerpted and updated from the book Power Pack Your Job Search! by Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2012, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Age Discrimination and the Over-50 Job Seeker

August 20th, 2011

It violates a host of local, state, and federal laws, but age discrimination in hiring happens all the time. Employers are concerned that older candidates are out of touch with recent technological and business changes, will be resistant to change, and will have difficulty working for younger managers. There’s also a concern that older candidates will be more costly when it comes to salary and benefits. There are some things you can do, however, to dispel these concerns.

If you’ve been out of the job market for a few years, or if you’ve been in a dead-end job with limited opportunities to grow, do whatever it takes to bump-up your skillset. Take computer or industry-related courses, talk to people in your industry, learn the latest jargon, and familiarize yourself with information about companies, products, and services.

On the Resume

As a general rule, don’t go back more than 10 or 15 years on your resume (with a few exceptions, including some medical and academic CVs). Anything prior to that is usually outdated, so employers aren’t interested and it only dates you. You must include the dates of employment, but you don’t need to include the date(s) you attended or graduated from college, and if you have post-high school training, leave your high school education off entirely. If you worked for one company for 20 years or more, break it down by jobs, to be listed under the company, go back only 10 or 15 years, and put the dates by the jobs rather than the company. For example:

XYZ Company – City, State

Director of Purchasing (2008 to Present)
[Job description & achievements]

Assistant Director of Purchasing (2003 to 2008)
[Job description & achievements]

When it comes to education, include your recent training, and LEAVE OFF anything that goes back too far and is outdated. For example, if you earned a Data Processing Certification 25 years ago, it is completely irrelevant today. Focus on your more recent knowledge and training.

During the Interview

Present a positive and energetic appearance and indicate your willingness and adaptability (and past experience, if applicable) in working with people of all ages and backgrounds. Stress your experience, good judgment, and grace under pressure. These are valuable assets to any organization, and they often come only with age. When salary comes up, indicate that you are flexible and would be willing to negotiate within their range for the right opportunity.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW; 50+ and still going strong!

© Copyright 2011, Anne Follis. All Rights Reserved.

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Responding to Salary Questions

February 28th, 2011

You may have seen an ad for a job with the notation, “Please send resume and salary requirements” or “Please send resume and salary history.” And you may have wondered . . . how in the world do I respond to that inquiry without shooting myself in the foot?

I used to help clients answer salary questions and prepare salary histories all the time. I rarely do so anymore, because I believe providing salary information prior to an interview is likely to do more harm than good, and it virtually eliminates any negotiation leverage once an offer has been made.

Let’s say you’re making $100,000 a year and the job for which you’re applying pays $75,000. You may be willing to come down somewhat in salary, especially for the right opportunity, and if they meet you they may like you enough to negotiate a bit. But you’ll never get that chance if they see your current salary. “Too expensive for us,” they’ll say, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a polite letter about being “overqualified.”

Or you may be making $75,000 a year, while the position for which you’re applying may be in the ballpark of $100,000. Do you get where I’m going with this? If you tell them what you make, they may decide you’re making too little and they don’t want to give you that much of a raise. Either they’ll lower the salary to fit you (something you would prefer to avoid), or they’ll give your resume the heave-ho and move on to a “more qualified” candidate. Either way, you lose. In addition, a lot of people have a problem with divulging sensitive salary information to a person they have never met.

An alternative is to respond to the question about salary, but to postpone giving an answer. You might say in a cover letter, “In response to your question about salary requirements, I am flexible with regard to salary, depending on the challenges and opportunities that the job offers. I would be happy to discuss this with you in greater detail once we have established a mutual interest.” Translation: Make me an offer, then we’ll talk.

There is, of course, some risk in not answering the dreaded salary question. There are employers who will not consider a candidate who doesn’t comply when asked to put the numbers on the table prior to the interview. In truth, however, there are risks either way. Too much information about salary too soon can sorely limit your opportunities. So weigh the options before you choose how you’re going to respond to a question about salary history or salary expectations.

There is an exception to all of this: When dealing with recruiters, put your cards on the table with regard to salary. Remember that most recruiters are paid on commission, so it is in their best interest to get you the highest salary possible.

To narrow down what salary is reasonable in your field of employment and geographic level, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook for median salary information on hundreds of occupations.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2011, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Catch 22: How to Find a Job When You’re Unemployed

February 22nd, 2011

Research continues to show that people who are currently employed are more likely to find a job than people who are not employed, and I’ve seen this with my clients over and over again. It’s the ultimate Catch 22.

One option: Job seekers can take temporary positions. Temp agencies these days are hiring people in multiple fields, so accountants, warehouse managers, tekkies, and even management level personnel have a shot at a temp position. This serves two purposes. First, of course, it demonstrates that a job seeker is currently employed. Second, it’s a way to get your foot in the door! A lot of companies these days prefer to hire people on a temporary basis to see how they work out before making the big investment of offering a permanent job. I’ve had plenty of clients go from temporary to permanent positions.

Another option is to work as a consultant. Is your Aunt Ruth starting – or having trouble with – her antique store or spa or accounting business? Offer her your expertise and help her out. Call some local nonprofits and see if they need some help from someone with your background. Sometimes they will pay a little, sometimes they won’t, but in either case, you are working as a “Business Consultant” or “Network Consultant” or “Change Management Consultant” or “Marketing Consultant” or “Accounting Consultant” (the options are endless), and that can be reflected on a resume as a current position. Of course, you should be entirely honest and never lie or exaggerate. But if you’re doing real work for a real company or organization, it counts!

Another thing that’s important is to keep credentials up-to-date. Did I say Catch-22? This can be a real struggle if a person isn’t employed and generating an income, but it’s critically important. If you allow your PHR to lapse, or if you don’t maintain memberships in your professional associations, it says to a prospective employer that you USED to do this kind of work, but you are now officially out of the field.

It’s unfair that in today’s economy employers continue to discriminate against job seekers because they are not currently employed, but like it or not, it’s reality. I recommend taking action to keep yourself in the game.

~ Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2011, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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