Staying Organized in your Job Search

Push pin on employ text conceptIt can be difficult to keep track of your job search details these days with the use of job boards, social media, online advertisements, and recruiter calls. However, it’s imperative that you come up with a system that works for you to keep track of companies you have applied for, Managers you’ve interviewed with and locations on the internet you have posted your resume. Inconsistencies in these areas can cost you your next job.

Here are some brief tips that can help you stay organized:

1. Create a “spreadsheet of opportunities”

Head to Google Drive or Excel to organize every job you’ve ever wanted, heard of or applied for. Be sure to include even those companies where you’ve only dreamed of working. I organized mine by Company, Position, Contacts, Job Application Link, Date of Application, Notes and Status.

Update your spreadsheet daily. It will help you keep track of when to follow up, where you might need to make a new contact and what homework you need to do to prepare for the next interview stages.

This also comes in handy if you’re on unemployment. Having all this information in one place is a great reference guide when you need to prove you’re actively looking for work.

2. Save answers to application questions

Job applications are significantly more complicated than they were just a few years ago.

Many applications now ask specific questions about a project you’re most proud of or require a list of your most useful skills. Instead of just typing this directly into an online form, store those answers (proofread and spell-checked, of course) in a Job Hunt folder in Evernote.

For your next pesky phone screening, keep these questions open during the call so you can quickly reference your best answers. The more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll get answering these questions. (I’ve memorized most of mine by now, which is a bonus since I began to sound really articulate during those calls.)

Evernote also has great a great tagging system, so it’s easy for find responses pertaining to skills or project results when answering new questions on the fly.

3. Save your cover letter templates

Though you should submit a customized cover letter for every job, it’s OK to start from a template. Each template should include your favorite accomplishments relevant to the role you want. This makes applying for jobs the right way easy as pie.

Save your cover letter templates and a PDF of your resume to Dropbox so you can access them from anywhere on any device. So if you meet a lead for coffee and the conversation goes well, you can send your resume right there.

While my title has pretty consistently been “Social Media Manager,” that can mean different things to different people. Instead of limiting myself to roles with the same title, I applied to content strategy and community management jobs as well as more traditional marketing positions. When I sat down to write a cover letter for a position, it was helpful to have a few different templates to start from.

4. Become best friends with your calendar

Randomly applying for jobs will not get you hired. My biggest successes have always come from meeting people in person.

Whether it’s at a formal networking event or meeting a friend of a friend at Starbucks, talking to humans always trumps applying online. Regularly talk to people who love their jobs. Buy them coffee in exchange for picking their brains about work, projects and valuable skills.

This means you need to invest time in organizing your calendar. And don’t forget to pencil in valuable Parks and Recreation time so you don’t go crazy — there is such a thing as too much networking.

Set a schedule for what you will do each day: Who you’ll reach out to, what jobs you’ll apply for and what action steps you can take. With an organized calendar, your job hunt will feel purposeful and productive instead of listless and hopeless.

Top 10 Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Resume conceptThe quickest way to get screened out as an applicant is to submit a seriously flawed resume. Here are the most common resume mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.

Top 10 Resume Mistakes

1.Misspellings and grammatical errors are killers
Spell check and proofread. Then have your document reviewed by a career coach, a friend or family member. It’s hard to catch your own mistakes, so having someone else read your resume for you will help. Reading it
out loud is another option for catching mistakes.

2.Not including keywords from the job posting
Your resume should include the same keywords that appear in the job listing. If your resume doesn’t have the right keywords, it most likely won’t get noticed because you won’t fit for the job.

3.An outdated resume will make you look obsolete
You should update your resume for each new job. Be sure to rewrite your skills section as well as your work history. Check to be sure that the computer and other skills you list are current.

4.Including too much information
Don’t tell your readers everything about each job. Focus on the highlights and keep your document 1-2 pages
in cases outside of academic research settings. Use bullets and short paragraphs. Limit it to 10-15 years of work experience.

5.Writing a resume objective which doesn’t match the job
Avoid using an objective statement that doesn’t correspond well with the focus of the job. Many job seekers
now leave an objective off their resume or use a profile instead. If you include either, make sure it underscores your interest in the type of work for which you are applying.

6.Including a career summary that doesn’t match the job requirements
Don’t use a mismatched summary of qualifications at the top of your resume. Your key assets in the summary should match many of the key job requirements. Leave anything else off.

7.Writing position descriptions that don’t show what you’ve accomplished
Avoid job descriptions which simply list your duties or responsibilities. Instead write active statements which showcase relevant skills and accomplishments. Make sure the employer can easily see how you added value
to your role.

8.Leading your paragraphs with mundane or irrelevant duties
Start with the hardest hitting statement which shows that you have key skills related to the job at hand. Otherwise your reader might just skim by that description.

9.Not listing your accomplishments
Avoid empty, self-congratulatory phrases by quantifying accomplishments or providing other concrete evidence to support your assertions.

10.Being too modest
Share any awards or recognition you have received in a matter-of-fact manner (i.e. promoted to associate director after increasing annual donations by 25%).

Getting Ready for an Engineering Interview

Business man and meeting table background

In a series of interviewing tips, our focus this week is on the entry level engineering interview. You’ve studied hard engineering courses for five years and you may feel that you’re ready to step into an engineering job. What you need to know, however, is that your potential employer wants to hear how you’ll add value to the business. You’ll be able to do this in your first interview.

Questions

They’re there to allow you and the interviewer to have a conversation. The questions are there because your interviewer seeks to understand what kind of an engineer you are. To prepare for your interview, align your thoughts to your specialty. If you are a civil engineer, think about structures. If you’re a mechanical engineer, visualize engines and anticipate questions that may be thrown your way in addition to synthesizing what you have learned with real life scenarios.

Presentation

Employers like to hire people who can present themselves. When a potential employer invites you for an interview, he or she is providing you with an opportunity to showcase yourself and your professional achievements.Your potential employer has already gone through your resume and determined that you have the necessary qualifications. However, you’re not alone, so the game change may be how you present yourself. Be on time, dress well and polish your knowledge of current affairs so that you feel ready and relaxed.

Getting Prepared

Reading is one preparation that many candidates overlook before heading into an engineering interview. Graduates may feel they already know enough because they passed their engineering courses. Because it is not unusual for an interviewer to ask questions about what you learned, it’s a good idea to brush up on key points.

Company Background

The company wants to know you have a genuine interest in what they do, so learn about the company. Search for it online and read about its work in trade publications. Your reading should give you something topical to discuss and it will help you to ask your own questions about the company. Your potential employer wants to know that you are not just out to get a paycheck, and asking questions shows a genuine interest in the company.