Your first thoughts when it comes to interviews are usually, what will I say? What will I wear? But these days there’s another image out there that you have to think about first: your virtual one. An online presence is often what employers see first. Whether it’s a website, a digital resume, a LinkedIn portfolio, or a Twitter feed, the picture you paint online is just as important as the one they see offline.
It makes some job seekers angry. They just want to be themselves on sites like Twitter and Facebook and not have to worry about potential employers finding them. Instead of getting angry, get active. While you’re in the midst of your job search, make a concerted effort to clean up your presence. Use it to your advantage. Here’s how:
DO: Get a great profile picture.
Ask a friend with a nice camera to take your picture. Make sure the area is well lit, your clothes are simple and appropriate, and your smile is friendly. Use this image on all of your public profiles so your look is consistent and professional.
DON’T: Use just any picture. Take the time to do this right.
DO: Stay relevant.
While you’re searching for a job in a certain field, stay up-to-date on the latest industry news. Tweet interesting links or post them to LinkedIn. Use this information in your interviews to ask the right questions and to display your passion for the position.
DON’T: Abandon all your social presences or put them all on lock-down.
DO: Strive to impress.
Instead of worrying what you have to hide, only post things that you’d love to broadcast! Make a Slideshare presentation about what you do. Post a link to your website across all your social channels. The possibilities are endless.
DON’T: Underestimate the power of the internet. Make it work for you.
Read more about how to market yourself on LinkedIn, Twitter, and About.me and on sites like Behance, Slideshare, and more.
Image by Zach Klein.
Without a doubt, every interview comes with a set of tough questions. You may find yourself tongue-tied, without an answer, or rambling in all directions.
But have you ever thought of dishing back some of those hard-to-answer inquiries back to your interviewer? Even though you may be desperate for a job offer, you need to know what you’re getting into before you can feel comfortable saying yes (should the interview pan out in your favor).
Don’t wait until that elusive phone call to inquire about important details that could make our break this position. Dig deep to find out all the questions you need to know to make the right decision. Here are a few examples of questions:
1. Why did the current person leave this position?
If the position is newly available, inquire as to why the last person left. And if it’s a brand new position, ask how it came to be.
2. What are biggest initiatives for the company in the next six months? Where does my position fit into that plan?
Learn a little bit more about the inner workings of your potential new department and how your team supports the company’s goals.
3. What’s the promotion track for this position?
This is the most important question you can ask. You want to grow in your career, right? So make sure this position is not a dead-end track or you’ll find yourself back in that interview chair before you know it.
One more tip: pay attention to the pacing of the interview. Don’t bombard the interviewer with these tough questions all at once or it may set a sour tone. But don’t walk out that door with any unanswered questions. Agreeing to a job opportunity is a big commitment, so make sure it’s the right one for you and your career goals.
Image by the.sprouts.
We’ve already covered three ways to market yourself: LinkedIn, Twitter, and About.me. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few more unique ways to showcase your skills online. These sites will help you get noticed and help you take control of your online image.
Not familiar with this site? It’s basically a social network of PowerPoint presentations. What sounds kind of boring at first is actually a great place to broadcast your knowledge. Create a presentation — even if you’re not actually “giving” this presentation — and fill it with insider tips that only a true expert (you!) would know. It will impress employers and potential networking contacts alike.
This portfolio sharing site is great for graphic designers and other artists who can display their work visually. If you don’t already have a website, this is a quick-and-easy way to showcase your experience. It can also be used to create an edited selection of your work specifically for an application or employer.
No, it’s not a dating site. If you’re looking to network within your industry or expand your skill set with like-minded individuals, MeetUp.com can help. Browse the site for meetups that are scheduled or create your own group.
Read more ways to stand out from the crowd.
We’ve covered the first three job search mistakes you must avoid, but there are even more common job search errors out there. It’s a time of stress and doubt, which unfortunately lends itself to the occasional mistake or misunderstanding. But excuses be gone – memorize these mistakes now and then avoid them fast:
MISTAKE 4: Drafting up a too-long resume.
Whether you’re a recent grad or an experience pro, it’s tempting to list every single position you’ve ever held on your resume. You want to show off your talents after all! Unfortunately, you’ll need to edit your experiences down to just the highlights that are relevant to this position and this company. Here are some other tips on how to de-clutter your resume.
MISTAKE 5: Applying to every job you see.
You’re desperate for a job, but it doesn’t mean that you’re a great fit for just any job. And applying to every job that comes our way is a waste of time. If you’re not sure exactly which position is best for you, create a master resume that includes all of your experiences and talents. Now look at what common skills and qualities run through each of these positions.
MISTAKE 6: Not following through.
“Following through” has many meanings, the least of which is harassing a company after you’ve applied to see if they’ll give you an interview. If you’re interested in applying for a position, start networking. Reach out to your contacts and line up informational interviews. If you’ve landed an interview, don’t walk out without re-stating your extreme interest in the position, and then sending thank you cards. Follow through every step of the way.
Image by John’s Photography.
The anticipation! Can you handle it? Job seekers are often found playing “the waiting game.” They’re waiting to hear back about an application, or waiting to hear when their interview will be scheduled, or waiting to hear if they landed that awesome job offer. The great thing about the waiting game is that you might have good news on the way. The bad thing about the waiting game is that *might* is the key word. And that’s the problem.
Job seekers often put all their eggs in one basket. Landing an interview is a sigh of relief. Finishing an interview is an even bigger sigh of relief. But “might” isn’t a good enough reason to back off your job search. The search can’t stop until you have a signed offer in hand. That means you must continue networking, applying, and interviewing for other opportunities even if you’re in the final stages of interviewing for a dream position. You never know what will happen. And you don’t want to end up empty-handed with no leads.
News of a rejected application or a failed interview will be a lot easier to take if you have another prospective opportunity lined up or if you’re already in the process of filling out applications for a few great positions. Keep the momentum going. The funny thing about interviewing is that the more rejected applications and more failed interviews you have, the more practice you’ll get. And the more confident you’ll get. Sure you’re ego might be a little sore, but you’re ultimately bettering yourself and your search. You’ll get there someday soon.
Image by CmdrFire.
We’ve covered the top 5 bad interview habits you need to break now, but there are steps you need to take before landing that elusive interview — and common errors you need to avoid. Job searching is a time of stress and doubt, which unfortunately lends itself to the occasional mistake or misunderstanding. But now you’ve got no excuses. Commit these mistakes to memory, then avoid them at all costs:
MISTAKE 1: Browsing over important details.
It may seem like a numbers game – the more resumes you send out, the higher chance you’ll have at landing an interview. However, that’s not true. A well-researched application is better than 10 poorly executed applications. First, thoroughly read each job description. If you’re applying to jobs for which you’re unqualified, you’re wasting your time. Next, double-check all the application instructions completely. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time and your potential employer’s time. And that makes no one happy.
MISTAKE 2: Overlooking typos, grammatical errors, and worse.
Spell check isn’t going to catch all of your errors – try reading your resume and cover letter aloud or scanning it backward to catch mistakes. Not only should you proofread, but you should also get a second opinion. Finally, don’t dare click “send” before double-checking the email address, greeting, and company name. You don’t want to send an email addressed to the wrong company or the wrong person.
MISTAKE 3: Selling yourself short.
Your resume and cover letter is your time to shine. If you can’t speak highly of yourself, how will anyone else? Even recent grads can pump up their resume. And you’ll definitely stand out from the pack when you use our number one resume tip: focus on results. Lastly, never underestimate the power of your soft skills – employers love them.
Image by Hannah Swithinbank.
When it comes to our careers, it’s easy to lose sight of our health. Long work days, stressful deadlines, and time-consuming commutes may be necessary to further our career, but they can wear down our bodies. Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to make your workday – and your self – healthier and happier.
Obstacle 1: The Commute
Is your long commute adding stress to your day? Look into public transportation or carpool options. With your newfound free time, you can relax, chat, or read instead of toying with road rage.
Obstacle 2: The Desk Chair
Sitting all day is not good for you. An ergonomic chair or back pillow is money well spent. Get up and walk around once per hour. Or try briefly working from a standing desk or counter if possible. If you stand all day, invest in some supportive shoes – your lower back will thank you.
Obstacle 3: Fast Food
Say no to lunches out and afternoon trips down to the cafeteria for snacks. Spend an extra 15 minutes each morning packing a healthy lunch and snacks. Stock your kitchen with a few frozen healthy meals for emergencies and always keep healthy snacks on hand like yogurts and nuts.
Obstacle 4: No Time to Work Out
This is the hardest challenge of them all, but there are some solutions. Is it possible for you to bike to and from work? Is there a gym at work or close to work in which you could workout during lunch? Can you take a 15-minute break for an afternoon walk each day? Can you work out before work? Commit to exercising just twice per week and you’ll feel a lot better.
Image by puuikibeach.
For a lot of us, it’s hard to stay focused. Whether you’re caught in the middle of a long job search or you’ve found your mind wandering while at work, it’s important to find a productive process that works best for you. Part of being productive is just tricking your mind to get something done. Find a motivation that works for you, then get inspired to work. Here a couple tricks you can try:
If you’re a visual person, you should try… To-Do Lists.
For some, simply crossing items off a list is motivation enough to get a task done. Begin with a master to-do list at the beginning of the week. Seeing the big picture – or the big to do list – should be motivation enough not to procrastinate. At the end of each day, make tomorrow’s to-do list. It should be broken down into a reasonable number of items you can complete during one day. If you don’t finish a task, move it to tomorrow’s list.
If you’re an active person, you should try…Timed Sessions.
Work for X minutes then reward yourself with an X minute break. That’s the basic concept of the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re an athlete or a workout fiend, this trick may work best for you. Think of each work session as a drill. Using a timer, set a goal for yourself – say to work for 50 minutes straight. During this time, you must stay focused. No stopping allowed. At the end of a successful 50 minutes, reward yourself with five minutes of stress-free distractions.
Image by Sean MacEntee.