Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Employers Look for in Entry-Level Job Candidates

The marketing world is known for its love of hiring interns but with unemployment rates on the rise, are internships really going to lead to new jobs for graduates? And what are employers looking for?

A new study by Millennial Branding and Experience reveal an employment gap between employers and students. Even though 91% of employers think students should have between one and two internships before graduation, 50% haven’t hired any interns in the last six months. In fact, over three quarters of employers have hired 30% fewer interns into full time positions of late.

As for social media, currently only 16% of employers look to social media to recruit and 35% use those networks for background checks. The majority of them looking to LinkedIn and Facebook in the hiring process. Thankfully, for those twitter addicts out there, only 2% check Twitter…for now.
What exactly are these employers looking for in entry-level talent? Jennifer Floren, Founder and CEO, Experience found the results rely less on education.

Of all the things employers look for when hiring entry-level talent, it’s the so-called ‘soft skills’ that are valued most: communication, teamwork, flexibility and positive attitude are by far the most sought-after skills. Employers understand that everything else can be taught, so they look for the most promising raw material to work with.

If you're looking for an entry-level job, be sure to brush up on your communication skills and prepare to demonstrate your positive attitude, adaptability, and teamwork skills.

This study is interesting for those looking at how we are hiring in this digital age. Keeping these results in mind, employers need to look at evolving their hiring processes and graduates may need to be more targeted at how they approach the opportunities they take before joining the workforce. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Avoid a "Me" Resume and Decrease Your Odds of Being Ignored by Yet Another Employer

It's hard to write a resume and avoid discussing your situation, but it can hurt your chances. Gerrit Hall, co-founder of the great resume-analyzing webapp RezScore, has found that many applicants spend too much time focusing on their current circumstances rather than selling themselves:

Consistently, the biggest mistake we see is that people write a ‘me' focused resume. A primary example of this is the outdated objective statement – if you have the word ‘seeking' on your resume, you're writing a ‘me' resume. Employers don't hire you for your satisfaction; they hire you to fill their own critical need. Think of it this way. If you were in sales, would you ever say to a customer "Buy this item because I need the commission"? And if you were the customer, would you buy? A ‘me' centered resume says essentially the same thing.

Your job is to think of the potential employer as a customer. You've know they're a hot lead because they've taken the time to post the job – so someone is going to close the deal with them. How do you make sure they go with you? By selling to them like you would sell to anyone else. Figure out their pain points. Why are they hiring? Who have they hired in the past? What's their most critical need? And then go in there with your sales guns blazing; be the solution to their problem.

Like we discussed this weekend, it's so important to put yourself in a company's shoes when you're applying for a job. Do your research on them and how they operate and remember to sell yourself rather than explain your situation.

Why You Should Still Apply to a Job Even If You Don’t Meet the Exact Job Requirements

Don't let a job listing's list of criteria intimidate you. The list of requirements are more a wish list for the ideal candidate and may not need to be taken so literally, advises the Daily Muse. Read between the lines and your application might still be successful.

For example, you might not have the specific accomplishments or industry experience listed for the job, but you might have the right skills:

Often, it's not an exact match they're looking for-it's the right skill set. They want an event planner with a couple of hospital foundation benefits under their belt? Your experience running non-profit fundraisers in the arts world will actually probably fit the bill quite well.

The trick is proving that the experiences you've had have given you what it takes to do the job you're applying to. Do this by using specific examples throughout your resume and cover letter. Focus on the transferable skills-in this case, managing vendors, building relationships with donors, and raising money-and how they translate to the responsibilities in the job description.

Or, if you do have the experience they're looking for, just not quite enough, you can point to a positive track record that proves you're ready to take on more. If you've never managed a team of six, but you have directed multiple three-person projects and received great feedback, make sure you've included that in your application.

Similarly for specific hard skills (like knowing Salesforce), your experience with related software (other CRM software) might suffice, so list them on your resume.
Not enough years of experience? If you have close to that number of years, the quality of your work experience and achievements may make up for the difference.
The worse thing that can happen if you apply and aren't a good fit is not getting an interview or the job. If you don't apply? You definitely won't. Check out the full article for more in-depth examples.

Have you gotten a job without being an exact match to the job criteria? Share your success story with us in the comments.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What is privacy?

As job-seekers are judged by their tweets and Facebook posts, uncertainty abounds. When Dave Clarke wants to fill a position at AuthenticMatters in Old City, he sifts through the stack of resumes and looks up candidates on Google.He expects a presence online, he says, especially considering the company’s work — digital strategy and communications consultancy. “That’s your online resume,” AuthenticMatters’ founder says of tweets, blogs, and status updates. “It’s not what you attach to an e-mail. “We’re not digging for dirt or hunting for drunken photos or anything,” he continues. “But hey, if those pop up, it tells me that the candidate doesn’t understand data, or frankly, the Web in general.”

Sometimes, what an employer finds can send a candidate straight to the reject pile. Job offers — and jobs — have been lost over Facebook photos that show misbehavior, or remarks better left untweeted. There’s even a new term for it: Facebook fired.As employers increasingly use social media searches — Google, LinkedIn, Twitter — to screen potential hires, privacy experts, as well as civil liberties proponents and politicians, are questioning the practice. At the same time, some employers consider a search a necessary double check of information — basic due diligence.

“There’s a lot of moving parts and changes happening very rapidly,” says Eric Patton, an assistant professor of management at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “There’s a lot of debate around this entire topic about what’s appropriate to look up and what’s appropriate to use. This is something that’s not going to go away. It’s going to get more and more complicated as time goes by.”

In recent months, politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over reports that employers are demanding Facebook passwords to look at private profiles of prospective job candidates. Proposed legislation that would ban the practice is under consideration.

“As we begin to live parallel lives on the Web, our privacy rights are slipping away,” argues social media and privacy expert Lori Andrews in her recent book I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy.

In the infamous “Cisco Fatty” case that Andrews cites, a college student who landed a summer job with multinational Cisco Systems tweeted about her good fortune, saying in part, “Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” Unfortunately for her, a Cisco associate saw those 140 or fewer characters and asked for her hiring manager’s name. The exchange went viral and reportedly the woman’s offer was rescinded.

According to a new ExecuNet survey of 313 recruiters, about half of the respondents eliminated candidates based on information gleaned from Internet search engines. Information uncovered included DWI convictions, unethical work practices, and blog posts that showed poor judgment, says Robyn Greenspan, editor in chief of the executive business network, based in Norwalk, Conn.

Marc Bourne is vice president and cofounder of Know It All Intelligence Group, a Bensalem company that performs employment background screenings for employers. Most of his clients stick with the traditional review of public records. But a growing number want a social media hunt. He says the best protection against a poor online image is the privacy setting. “You’ll have nothing to worry about,” he says.What about prospective employers who request passwords? Bourne and others say that such stories are rare occurrences that grab the headlines. Employers interviewed for this story said they would never make such a demand.

“I think that’s a little overboard,” says David Neff, president of Neff Associates, a PR business in Philadelphia. “I respect the privacy of other people. As an employer, there’s a certain amount of goodwill.”

How to Follow Up on a Job Interview

You just interviewed for a job and you haven't heard anything. Sometimes this is a sign of bad news, and sometimes it isn't. You want to follow up and find out what's going on, but you don't want to be annoying. Here's how to handle this situation effectively.
A friend of mine is currently in this position, and asked me how I'd word a follow-up email. When I tried to come up with something, I realized I hadn't written one in many years and my skills were a bit rusty. So, I asked the internet for some help and got some good advice. Most agreed on a very simple process.


Send a Thank-you Note Immediately After the Interview

Most people suggest sending a thank you note right away, via snail mail, as it takes a few days to arrive and serves as a positive reminder to get back to you. My sister, Ali, had a few good suggestions for its content:
I almost always will send snail mail to thank them for their time and let them know how nice it was to meet them. I say (if I believe it to be to true) what a nice environment they created for the interview/audition. And I say simply at the end, "I hope to see you again soon."
It's pretty simple, but very effective. The problem with calling or writing to ask for more information is that you're essentially reminding them that they forgot to do something. Although it is legitimate to send this reminder, there's a decent chance they'll be annoyed that they have to deal with you (if they didn't like you) or at least feel bad for ignoring you (if they did). A thank you note is simply a polite and positive reminder that you exist. It will help your interviewer(s) want to get back to you.
Still need some help writing that thank you note? Here's one quick and effective method.


Send a Short, Polite Email to Check In

When you've finished your interview, you'll often be told when you can expect to hear back. If not, that's a question you should ask before the conversation is over. If that amount of time passes and you haven't heard anything, it's reasonable to call or write to check in. An email is less-intrusive and won't put your interviewer on the spot, so it is generally a better way to ask the question. David Hill suggests that email contain two things:
I usually confine it to email and make it a quick note - thank them again for the interview and ask if there's been an update/any movement on the position. If they respond, you can usually get a feel for whether you're annoying the shit out of them.
Deanna Parkton suggests asking the interviewer if they need any additional qualifications or information so your message has an additional, helpful purposes as well.
Regardless of what you decide to do, be sure to keep it short. Here's an example (based on a suggestion from Lifehacker intern alumni Aaron Martin):
I just wanted to follow up in regards to my interview on [date — or "last week"]. Do you have an update, or do you need any further information from me? Please let me know when you have a free moment.
Thank you,
[Your Name]

Of course, this might be a bit formal. You'll want to make the note sound like you and be as formal or casual as is appropriate for the situation. Either way, the content is pretty straightforward and only takes a few seconds to put together.
It can be a little nerve-wracking to ask for an update when you were supposed to hear back, as it feels like you're asking for bad news, but that isn't always the case. If you get bad news, there will be other job opportunities, but sometimes you'll find out that the company needed an extra day because another interview was postponed or they simply haven't had time to get back to everyone. You never know, and that's why you ask.

11 Things Hiring Managers Won’t Tell You

The next time you walk into an interview, consider the following:

Your wedding or engagement ring? Can and may be used against you.

Those photos of kids on a hiring manager's desk? They may not actually be the manager's children—but the photo is designed to get you talking about your kids, or whether you plan to have some eventually.

And then there's the trick that can land some applicants $20,000 more when they start negotiating their salary.

In fact, LearnVest got the inside scoop from hiring managers across the country. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because their methods were so controversial—and not what you'd find in any company manual.

(Plus, we have a special giveaway for you! Find out what it is at the bottom of this post.)
Why do you need to know these secrets? Two reasons. The first is: What you don't know can hurt your chances of landing a job and commanding a higher salary. Second: Today, April 17th, is Equal Pay Day.

And new research out of the United States Census Bureau shows that women still earn less than their male counterparts at every education level. Although women are out-earning men in terms of college degrees and doctorates, our wages aren't keeping up. In fact, the gap only worsens at higher levels of education.

But armed with this insider knowledge—straight from the mouths of those who hire you—you can help improve both these statistics and your bottom line.

I leave pictures of kids on my desk. They’re not even my kids.
Legally, hiring managers aren’t allowed to ask if you have kids, just as they’re not supposed to discriminate against you on the hunch that your child might occasionally have a soccer game. But we spoke to one hiring manager who leaves pictures of her niece and nephew to find out (legally) who has kids. “I’m not allowed to ask about family situations, but if they bring it up, it’s fair game. Kids are a distraction to this job, which requires long hours and weekends. I won’t hire someone who has other priorities.”
How to handle this: It’s very easy to get nervous and resort to small talk. (“Oh, are those your kids? How old? Mine are 6 and 10 ... ”) Commenting on kids’ photos is easy bait, especially if you’re a parent yourself, but avoid it if you can. Talk about the weather or find something to compliment your interviewer on instead.

I check for wedding bands.
One hiring manager told us: This is an entry-level job, and the people we hire are usually fresh out of college. If I see a wedding band, there’s a good probability that candidate is going to start a family soon. If I hire her and she goes on maternity leave, I can’t legally fire her, but I still have to find someone else to replace her while she’s gone. When she comes back I can’t fire her either, so now I’m stuck with two employees when all I needed was one. No thanks.”
This one is an easy fix: Leave your wedding ring at home. You're not obligated to share any information about your relationship status, so try to avoid doing so.

I regularly hire women for 65-75% what I pay men.
Half a century after the Women's Rights movement, the pay gap still leaves women making 70% of what men make. Yet it was shocking to hear part of the reason why straight from the mouths of hiring managers. The causes are numerous, but if we had to narrow it down to one … women don’t negotiate enough.
One manager offers men and women the same starting salary: “The women simply accept, while the men negotiate. I would have essentially the same candidate, the only difference being gender, and I was paying her $20,000 less.”
Some jobs are truly non-negotiable, like an entry-level role at certain Fortune 100 companies. But far too often, people—especially women—leave money, vacation time or benefits on the table needlessly.

I don’t hire old people.
Ageism is real. While this may be as simple as discrimination against people who don’t seem as “with-it” as their younger counterparts, we pressed harder for the root cause of why people really care about age. It comes down to learning new technologies.
“Older people have a harder time adapting to newer technologies, and I’d rather not spend the time training them,” one hiring manager confesses.
Casually let it slip that you’ve been working on gaining proficiency in the latest technology in your field. Bringing this up lets the interviewer know that you not only enjoy continuing to learn about the field, but also have no problem adapting to new developments.

I prefer to hire someone who’s currently employed.
It’s a Catch-22: Hiring managers often would rather hire someone who currently has a job … but of course it’s the unemployed people who need jobs the most. “If you’ve been unemployed for a long stretch of time, it makes me wonder what’s wrong with you,” one hiring manager says.
How can you combat this bias? Continue your education, volunteer your time at your favorite charity or even work or "consult" for free so you have something to write down that may mask a gap on your résumé.

I’m looking for a reason NOT to hire you.
The issue with so many applicants applying for so few jobs is that hiring managers often look for reasons to exclude you rather than include you as a potentially perfect candidate. A typo, a poorly formatted résumé or a low GPA will often get you placed in the “no thanks” pile.
So, yes, you should perfect your application (then proofread it again), but an even better bet is to circumvent the application process altogether. It's estimated that 80% of jobs are found through personal connections, so tap your network, including old bosses, college networks and everyone you know (and they know) on LinkedIn. That will be the fastest way to rise above a huge pile of competing résumés.

Don’t tell me your previous salary. I’ll use it against you.
In the age of pensions, it was uncommon for people to leave jobs. Now sometimes you have to look outside your own company to progress.
But your previous salary needn't follow you. While many companies will ask what it was, you have every right to deflect the question by saying you don't feel comfortable revealing it, or that your previous company preferred you keep it confidential.
“We were interviewing one candidate for a senior manager position and asked for her previous salary,” our source says. “She said she signed an NDA [Non-Disclosure Agreement] to not reveal her previous salary. It was clever because I couldn't press her for more info, and also respected her for maintaining her integrity to her previous employer.”
One caveat: If it's a job you really want, and the company is insisting, you may be smarter to divulge the number. Just explain that you're looking for an increase (and name your percentage) given all of the skills that you bring to the job in question

Don't apply online; you won't get anywhere.
There are too many walls to cross and red flags to trigger when you apply online. “We build our application process to weed out candidates, and extract information like previous salary to use against them,” our source says. “Applying online is a losing game.”
Once you find an open position online, don’t apply. Instead, do some online stalking of the company’s website and LinkedIn to find out who you might know there—or to find another way in. Namely, a human, rather than a blind "submit your application" form. Then, send your résumé to that contact directly and say you heard about this opening—and are interested in any roles that match that particular criteria. 
“I was interviewing candidates and narrowed it down to my top three. Then the Creative Director sends me a résumé she received via email," says one hiring manager we spoke to. "What was I going to do? I had to bring her in for an interview. We ended up hiring that candidate.”

That hot guy you added on Facebook last week? Yeah, that was me.
We’ve heard for years how important protecting your online image can be and that companies may try to search for you before making a hiring decision. What we haven’t heard are some of the ways they’ll get you to open up your social media profile.
“I’ll add several of her friends, so we have several friends in common, and then I’ll add her,” one hiring manager told us. “I now have access to her profile, wall posts, status updates and even those photos from her trip to Cancun she thought were private.”

I go through hundreds of résumés a day and spend less than 30 seconds on each one.
Take an honest look at your résumé. If it isn’t easy to scan for highlights, it’s not going to get you callbacks. One hiring manager at a technology company writes: 
"If I have to spend more than 30 seconds finding out what you have accomplished, forget it … Likely, I will ignore the whole thing, write down in my notes 'poor communicator,' and move on … If you can’t nail it in one sentence, do I really want to look forward to your rambling emails every day? 
"To craft a great résumé, tailor it to my job posting. If I have a skill set in there like 'Windows Administration,' make sure you have at least one bullet point talking about … that skill."
If it’s a job you really care about, you should have multiple people read over your application. It should be clear, concise and tailored specifically to the job you want.

I have no clue what I’m doing.
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that some hiring managers are merely going through the motions. Their job is to get someone who can do the job for the least amount of money. Despite their best efforts, they may not be experienced interviewers, and even they may not know how many ping-pong balls fit in a plane … or if the right answer correlates to doing the best job.
But your best bet is to try to make your interviewer like you, because she'll be more likely to pass on a glowing recommendation (or include you in the résumé stack at all) even if she won't be making the ultimate decision about whether you get the job.