Job Changing Tips

Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years.What I have learned as a Search Consultant can be applied to any Job Changing situation. The other parts of this web site that cover Resumes, Interviewing, and Searching also apply to any Job Change, but these are equally important.

                                             Clean Up Your Digital Dirt

Anyone can read what’s posted about you on the Web.  Make sure you know what it is before you put your name out on the market, and take care of it before a potential employer or recruiter surprises you.

In a recent survey of over 100 executive recruiters, 75% of them use search engines to uncover information about candidates, and many candidates are eliminated because of information that is found online.

Search engines are here to stay whether we like it or not, so here are some guidelines to help you find and clean up any “Digital Dirt”:

  • Find out what’s out there:  Go to Google.com, Yahoo.com or MSN.com and type your name in quotation marks.  If you haven’t done this yet, you could find this very interesting.
  • Removing unfavorable information:  It’s a long shot, but contact the site’s owner and ask that something negative be removed.  If the answer is “no” contacting the search engine is probably a dead end.  A social-networking site like Facebook.com can change settings so that only certain groups can view the information.
  • Bury the “dirt”:  One way to make something go away is to have an online presence of your own.  Search engines rank their results based on the number of sites linking to those pages.  Just make sure the pages you want recruiters to see have more links to them than the unfavorable ones.  One way is to start a Web page or a Blog.
  • Follow the “dirt”:  Sites like Pubsub.com will allow you to monitor your Web presence. They will actually alert you by e-mail when your name is mentioned in Internet newsgroups, blogs and various securities filings.

You can’t be too safe in the world we live in that is getting smaller and flatter all the time.  The importance of knowing what is being said out there is that then you can deal with it.  No one likes surprises.

                               Write a Thank-you Letter Following Your Interview

Regardless of the result of your meeting, writing an effective and poignant letter of thanks is a must following any job interview.  Not only does it help them remember you, it gives you the chance to solidify the reasons why they should hire you.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Emphasize your strongest qualities:  Here’s your chance to compare the responsibilities of the position with your strongest qualities and experience.
  • Prove that you were listening:  Mention the issues that were discussed in the interview as specifically as possible.  This shows that you were focused on what was really going on in the interview and that you are really serious about the opportunity
  • Keep it professional but in line with their culture:  Whether it is up-beat or laid-back, make sure it is obvious before going that route.  Although it is important for them to know you will fit into their culture, remember that they need to learn that you know proper business etiquette.
  • Write to everyone you interviewed with:  Send each person a customized thank-you.  You will have learned something from each person you interviewed with so be sure to demonstrate your listening skills mentioned above with each person.  If you don’t remember their names and titles, find out by asking someone (secretary, receptionist, recruiter)
  • Spelling & Grammar:  There is no excuse for poor spelling and grammar.  Proofread it, re-proofread it, and then let someone else proofread it.  It has to be right.
  • E-mail or paper?  There are pros and cons to both ways.  Generally speaking, it is ok to e-mail a thank-you letter but it will come down to some observations and gut-feelings.  Although e-mail is becoming more and more the accepted way of communicating in the business arena, there are still a few “traditionalists” out there who will be impressed with a well-composed letter on quality paper.  Check out the office environment for computer terminals and smart-phones in use.  Was there reference to e-mail usage in any of the interviews?  When in doubt, ask someone (recruiter, HR person).  If still in doubt, go to paper.  Use the same method for each person you interviewed.

In the final analysis it has to be personal, and you have to write one within 2-3 days following the interview(s)…no exceptions. Oh, and don’t be afraid to tell them you want the job

Remember, one question they have (and probably won’t ask) is “will your personality fit into our company”.  Writing a well crafted, personalized thank-you letter will help them learn that you will.  Don’t miss the chance.

                                      Write a Cover Letter for Your Resume

A good cover letter can turn your “shotgun” resume in to a “rifle” resume.  By following a few simple guidelines you can avoid having to create multiple resumes for different situations.  A cover letter should be more directly focused on a particular job opening and should highlight your skills as they apply to a position you are interested in.  To put it another way, your resume tells your whole story and your cover letter highlights the parts of your background that apply to a given position.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Make it personal:  Your cover letter, and your resume for that matter, should be a reflection of your personality.  For that reason you should write it yourself. It’s ok to use a template from one of the many available sources but make sure it reflects you.
  • Make it focused:  This is your chance to parallel your skills and experience with the description of the job.  You don’t want your cover letter to come across like it is generic and used for all situations.  Make it be specific.
  • Do your homework:  Start by researching your potential employer.  Employers are always impressed with people who know something about their company and their uniqueness.  Your research should give you the ability to parallel your achievements with the job you are inquiring about and the company’s unique situation.  For example, let them know you have solved problems similar to the ones they have.
  • Don’t mention money:  In almost all cases, it is wrong to mention compensation in a cover letter.  Even if you are responding to an ad that asks for your salary requirements, let them know you are flexible and will be glad to discuss it with them.  If you are the right candidate for them, this will not be an issue.
  • Use a Postscript:  Put something creative and relevant in a postscript (pertinent to the job, of course).  Everyone reads a P.S. and there is even a chance this is what they will read first.

A cover letter should be concise and void of lengthy paragraphs and descriptions.  It should never be more than one page long and should state (a) why you are writing, (b) why they should be interested in you, and (c) that you will follow up in 10 days.  Don’t ever just sit back and wait for them to call you.  Trust me, they won’t.

A good way to test your Cover Letter’s effectiveness is to send it and your resume to some trusted friends and ask for their feedback.  Ask them if it reflects your goals and personality.