Ok, so... January is almost over and you are struggling with continuing to get in shape and pay off the holiday credit. (You're in good company! I'm right there with you!) Have you taken a few moments to figure out how to make yourself a better candidate for a new job opportunity in 2014?

Whether or not you are currently employed, take a moment to think about self improvement. What did you do in 2013 in order to make yourself more valuable to the company you work for, your manager, or your future employer?

Many people expect that they have the right to be promoted/hired while doing nothing out of the ordinary. Those individuals getting promoted are doing quite a bit out of the ordinary of their everyday job. Some ideas may be:

-Take a class in your field. Better, enroll towards a higher level degree than what you currently have! In my years of recruiting, I have never heard someone being passed over on a promotion for having too much education. It's never too late, and there are many online courses to assist older students with families and careers in completing collegiate degrees.

-Start a blog. Get intricately familiar with your subject of choice! Your writing and communication skills are sure to improve! Talk to them. Maybe even help them too! You can start a local networking event if you know enough people from various industries.

-Get involved in your community. Becoming a more well-rounded person makes you a better employee.

-Most importantly, make sure your attendance is impeccable! Nobody likes a pilot who cancels at 3 am before a flight! Stay until the job gets done. Put in 100%, consistently, every day.

Let's set the bar higher for 2014! No more mediocrity. Let's show the world how it's done and all get promoted!!!
No, my loyal readers, this is not a pornographic post! Your cover letter should be no more than 3 paragraphs. 3 short paragraphs! You really don't want to lose your audience before he/she opens your resume.

And speaking of resumes, there is various discussion of whether a resume should span 1 or 2 pages. Based on your level of experience, I am fine with a resume spanning 2 pages, going back no longer than 10 years. Please, any longer than that, and you are not going to captivate your audience in the 20 seconds or less it takes to scan said resume. A full CV is not required for most positions, but is helpful to have on your hard drive to discuss talking points which may be over 10 years old but remain relevant. 

When to follow up after an interview? More than a day is too long! A brief thank you email, including an opening to have the interviewer contact you with questions should be in his/her inbox no later than the morning after you interviewed. Too much time goes by, and your follow up skills may be questioned, especially if a competing candidate emailed sooner! 

Good luck and happy hunting!

Land the plane!!! After a while, I am not listening. You have exhausted me and I am bored. 

This is what I want you to think about when speaking with a potential employer, recruiter, resume writer, or other individual with whom you are networking. There are so many things I need to get done in a day that listening to you yammer on about nothing is not impressing me. Get to the &$*!^! point! Please!!!

I get calls at least weekly asking how I am doing, what’s going on, etc. Meanwhile, you have not identified your name nor the purpose of the call. How am I supposed to have a conversation with you when I don’t know who the hell you are? Really!!!

I was getting a pedicure today. Sadly, the customer who called and talked to my nail tech (they don't have a receptionist) spent a good 5 minutes asking her all kinds of questions and finished by telling her a life story. Thanks for not letting me get her full attention. Have courtesy that the world is not revolving around you every moment of each day!

And this is rampant! At a booth for a local fair with Get Hired and Beyond this weekend, many other vendors stood in front of me to sell me their products, and took time and room away from people who were interested in mine. That’s not good policy. I have consideration for fellow small business owners and sales associates, and would expect that you would respect my time as well. The Golden Rule is called that for a reason.

The same is true when you are working with colleagues! I have colleagues who start a story and 3 days later, they are still telling it. While I would love to hear the moment by moment play by play of your weekend, I am being paid to work. Come to think of it, so are you!

Treat others with the consideration you would want. Not everyone needs to hear your life story. And if you can’t read body language, then you are not going to do well working with people! Be aware when someone looks away, starts writing a list or (gasp!) turns and walks away from you! That is a good indicator that your story was way too long!!!

Recruiters, interviewers, and other employment professionals do not want to hear your entire life story, from conception to yesterday! I was at an event over the weekend and was privy to way more information about people than I needed.

For instance, one woman introduced herself to me and began sharing a great deal of how employers discriminate against her based on age, how she has worked part time, and can’t seem to get a break. She didn’t know me, had no idea how many people in the community I know, and ostracized me the moment her lips started moving. Instead of selling why she would be a great asset to an organization or sharing what she has done and asking how I could help, she treated me as her therapist, dumping her acidic personality and toxicity onto me. Why would someone want to hire her? I couldn’t stand to have a 5 minute conversation with her. 

No matter what has happened in your search and no matter what happened with your previous employer, stop being so damn negative! Your attitude can get you hired, promoted, fired, and keep you on unemployment. Keep your 5 minute and 30 second “about me” presentations positive. Smile. Be someone likeable and people will want to help and hire you, instead of wanting to visit their own shrink to tell him/her: “You’ll never believe what is going on in the unemployment arena nowadays!”

Be the person you would want to spend 40+ hours a week with. When someone dumps their negativity on me, it takes all I have not to scream: “It’s YOU!” YOU and YOUR NASTY ATTITUDE are why you are not working. Look very bluntly in the mirror. See if you would hire the side of you that is looking back. If not, change yourself. Be the best YOU that YOU can be!!!

What are some good words that employers look for? Much of that depends on the field in which you are searching. However, action-based verbs are critical in appropriately and proactively describing what you did/do for an organization.

Make sure your tenses are correct. Use strong verbs such as: organized, developed, implemented, produced, increased (revenue, sales), decreased (costs, overhead), minimized, encouraged, supervised, spearheaded, designed… 

These are powerful words that make a difference! Employers are looking for such things as documented success, excellent provision of customer service, and a candidate who is boldly able to state what he/she can contribute to the overall productivity and success of an organization.

1.     Don’t ignore the importance of a cover letter. It is the introduction to your resume and highlights why a manager should read your resume.

2.     Don’t come up with a generic cover letter to send to all of your job applications

3.     Do take the time to research the company and highlight what you have done in the past that would make you a good fit for the organization.

4.     Do share your qualifications with examples and success stories. Paint a picture of why you are a good candidate. Tie it back to the research you have done.

5.     Don’t forget to include your contact information and an invitation for the manager to reach out to you.

6.     Don’t forget to check for issues with spelling and grammar!

7.     Do research the recipient’s name using www.linkedin.com or calling the organization.

8.     Don’t address it to “sir or madam” unless you have exhausted all options, including internet research to learn the person’s name!

9.     Do read the job description thoroughly and explain why you are the right fit for the position.

10.  Don’t forget to change the name of the company on each cover letter!

As a hiring manager, I do not have time to be your best friend, even if you are a nice person. I am looking to hire a person quickly, so that I can get back to doing both jobs until I am able to hire someone to get the second set of roles and responsibilities off my desk. With that in mind, I am looking to spend somewhere around 30-60 minutes with my candidate, and  have him/her answer the questions that I ask.

Why do ramblers not get the job?

For starters, having been a participant in mind-numbing meetings and conference calls, no one, and I mean no one, likes the person who wants to drag the meeting out an extra 40 minutes with additional questions, commentary, or just to hear them talk. That makes most sane people want to seriously injure the person.  

Secondly, it shows that you are easily distracted and will have challenges sticking to task. It shows that you are not confident in your responses.

The last reason is that if you don’t answer the question at some point, the interviewer has no idea where you are going with your response!

So…instead of answering the question with what you think your interviewer wants to hear (like a bunch of unrelated buzz words jammed together nonsensically), answer the question directly and briefly. Then stop talking. Let the interview probe further if they are interested, or ask you another question to keep the interview moving along. Let the interviewer set the pace. Although being nervous typically encourages people to be chattier, stopping to let the interviewer know it is time to move along allows a comfortable timeliness, and may encourage a good two-way conversation between both of you. And that’s always a good sign!

I read a lot of cover letters with great lists of qualifications. They are so generic that they can be used for any job opening. In fact, if I am not mistaken, they are being used by a candidate for every job opening to which they are applying! In fact, there is no mention of the job duties, title, or what they can provide to an employer.

Think about how your skills will benefit your future employer. Provide real life examples of how you tangibly and quantifiably assisted the company in growth, reduction of costs, profitability, or efficiency. People tend to hire those who produce positive and documentable outcomes. A picture is worth a thousand words. Consider your example the picture you are painting. Highlight examples in interviews as well. It will set you apart from your competition!

1. Outgoing vulgar ring-back tone. I have no interest in knowing that you like big butts, even if it’s not a lie. For real!

2. A very complacent, religious, or rude voicemail when I call. Some real examples: “Yeah, I’ll get back to you when I feel like it”, A 5 minute sermon, or “If it’s important, I may return your call”. If I leave a message, which I probably won’t.

3. Don’t leave me a 20 minute long, ultra-detailed message with a speed through of your name/number. That is the important part of your message. Slow down and leave your name and number twice.

4. Don’t leave a message when you are in a wind tunnel, on an airplane, or at a rock concert. I don’t have sonar!

5. If you have never spoken with me personally, don’t just leave your name/number. Add some detail so I know why I am calling you back.

Happy dialing!

In light of modern communication, there are many strengths and weaknesses in technological communication. The text message is a great convenience, but also a tool to be perceived as a weak communicator. Due to “tweeting” and text limiting the amount of characters allowed in a communication string, there are many glitches in professional communication.

Some examples are:
    “C U 2morrow”
    “Ill get 2 prjct l8r”
    “When RU round?”

I don’t feel like my boss would like me slacking when it comes to communication. Many people email potential employers in text language, and that shows a lack of communication skills and professionalism. It shows you are lazy and not paying attention! Take the time to spell “you”. U’ll be glad u did!