Nail Your Interview – How to Make A Great First Impression

So you’ve landed an interview – great news! You know that this job is made for you, but how do you convince the hiring manager that you are a better fit than the other candidates? If it’s an in person interview, you will likely have a short amount of time to convince the team to hire you, so here are a few tips to make a great first impression and get a leg up on the rest of the competition.

Know What They’re Looking For
Every interviewee has at least a general idea of what the position they’re interviewing for will entail, but you’ll have a distinct advantage if you take the time to study the job description thoroughly. We aren’t quite suggesting that you memorize the job description word for word, but you do want to try and remember the phrases used to describe the job’s duties. Try to work these same phrases in to your answers when discussing how past projects relate to the current position’s responsibilities.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Job descriptions don’t always provide as many details about the open position as we would like. Instead of fumbling through the interview as the hiring manager slowly reveals more about the position, it’s certainly okay to politely ask the interviewer for further clarification. If you are a fuzzy on the specifics, you can simply say something like, “I noticed that the job description seemed to mostly focus the skills needed for this position. Could you please tell me a bit more about the specific job duties the successful candidate will be performing?” The more information you know about the position, the more targeted your answers can be.

Time May be of the Essence
Pay close attention to your interviewer’s demeanor. Do they seem rushed or more leisurely? The higher up the person interviewing you is within in company, the less time they’ll have to speak with you in detail. Have a shorter, more succinct version of your accomplishments ready in case you only have a few moments to show them why you’re the person for the job.

Look for Common Ground
Running a simple Google or LinkedIn search on the hiring manager can reveal a good amount of public details. Do you share common ground with the interviewer, like having the same alma mater or a similar interest in community volunteering? If the interview has a more casual atmosphere, it will be in your favor to try and work any common ground into the conversation in a polite, non-forced manner. Most people like to surround themselves with individuals they share similarities with, and if your skills are excellent, this could be all you need to beat the competition.

Do you have more ways to stand out in an interview? Leave us a comment and share your tips!

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Is Facebook in Your Job Hunt Arsenal?

Welcome back for the second installment of Using Social Media for the Job Search. I’ve shown you how to turn Twitter into your personal job board. Now, I’ll share a few tips on how to add Facebook to your job hunting arsenal.

According to Google Ad Planner, Facebook is the second most visited website in the US and is arguably the most widely used of the social media heavyweights. These days, it’s rare to run across a company that does not have a Facebook presence.

“Like” Who You’re Interested In
Most companies have already embraced the Facebook world, and this means they have a designated page where they can share updates and relevant content with their fans. Even better, companies often reward their dedicated facebook fans with cool perks like special discount codes and other sneak peaks - like being the first place to post hot job openings within their organization. "Liking” a company’s Facebook page is a good first step if you want to stay in the know. Plus, this will ensure that any open job announcements will appear on your personal timeline.

Find the Official Page
For example, if you are interested in a career at Adobe Systems, once logged in, enter "Adobe Systems" in the search bar at the top of the page. Adobe’s official page may appear in this first list of results, but if not, click on “see more results for Adobe” at the bottom of the list. Next, select “pages” from the left sidebar, and your results for “Adobe” will likely be more targeted.

Alternatively, some companies may offer a separate Facebook company career page that exclusively posts updates about job openings, so be sure to run a thorough search.

Jobs Apps Are Where It’s At

Some companies'  Facebook presence goes far beyond the standard landing page. Many have developed customized apps designed to do everything from selling clothing to simulating a photobooth stand. Keeping with our earlier example, many company Facebook pages, like Adobe’s, offer career apps to help turn Facebook fans into potential candidates. Careers apps let you search through open positions without having to navigate through the company’s external website. Click on one that suites your experience and apply!

Get Involved

Facebook isn’t just about keeping up with your immediate connections. By visiting community pages relevant to your career or interests, you can connect with other professionals in your sector. For example, graphic designers should “like” the graphic design community page. There, you can share energy and ideas with other like minded professionals, showcase portfolio work and find post alerting other group members about open positions. Who knows, you might just connect with someone who tips you off to your next position!

Have tips of your own to add? Leave us a comment!

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Tweet Your Way to Your Dream Job!

By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard about the power of Twitter. It’s the preferred method of millions of socially-connected people to keep up with their favorite friends, celebrities and politicians. Sure, you understand how to post links and update your friends with short messages, but did you also know that Twitter can be used as an effective tool to locate open jobs in your area?

Here’s the scoop: Recruiters from small and large companies alike are turning to twitter as the fastest method of making millions aware of their job postings. If you don’t yet understand how to tap into the Twitter job market, here are a couple simple tips that will have you tweeting about landing your dream job in no time.

Find the People Posting
The first trick to finding those jobs is to first locate the tweeps (Twitter jargon for “Twitter people”) who post them. Once logged into Twitter, use the search bar at the top of the page to find tweeting recruiters in your area. For example, if you’re located in the SF Bay Area, try typing in the phrase “San Francisco jobs”. Odds are that you’ll find tweets posted directly by recruiters about open job positions in San Francisco. Next, click the links provided within the tweet to be directed to the job description and application.

You can take it a step further and specify the industry that you wish to land a job in. Try using phrases like “San Francisco IT jobs”, or “Bay Area Marketing jobs” to get even better results. Now that you’ve located the recruiters for your favorite company, make sure to “follow” them so their job tweets will appear on your Twitter timeline.

#Hashtags are Your Best Friend!
Another secret to navigating through the Twitter job front is to use hashtags to your advantage. The “#” symbol, called a hashtag, is used in tweets to mark keywords and also acts as a grouping tool. For example, if your tweet reads, “I’m now in the market for an #ITjob in SF. Let me know if you’ve got any leads for C++ positions!”, because of the “ITjob” phrase you marked as a keyword, your tweet will now appear on a searchable page with all other tweets that also share the ‘”#ITjob” hashtag.

Now, take this knowledge and apply it to your job search. Using the search bar, type in phrases applicable to your own job hunt, like “#javajobs” or “#webdeveloper” and take your pick!

Join the Twitter Chat
At any given moment there are tons of people on the job hunt who are chatting about prospects and sharing energy, so you should join the chat, too. Converse in real time with entrepreneurs, job searchers and top level execs! Follow ChatSchedule, a Twitter handle, for an easy way to find a schedule of applicable chats. Check out the google doc, TwitterChatSchedule, as well. Pick a time and log in!

Looking for more tips? Send me an email and let’s connect. Or, catch me on Twitter!

For more opportunities please visit our Career Portal.

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Career Death… By a Resume?

Can a resume kill your chances of getting the job you are dying for? You bet! Your resume is one of your most effective weapons on your path to nail your dream position: it can serve its “master” and help you get noticed or it can make your profile get buried under a pile of competitor applications. If you have ever wondered why you don’t get a call back for a position that you seemed to be pitch perfect for, take a closer look at your resume and you might find the key to the problem.

Here are a couple insider tips on how to enhance your chances to be seen:

- Take a close look at the job description's key words and make use of them generously in your resume when applying. Large companies like eBay or Facebook often rely on keyword searches when filtering resumes; the more frequently the keyword they are searching for occurs in your resume, the better! So scan the job description and pick a couple key terms/key skills and use these in your resume repeatedly.

- Don't treat a resume like a "one size fits all". Customize your resume based on the job you're applying for; move things around if needed. If you are applying for a telecom company and you have relevant experience, make that stand out. If you went to a good school, don't bury it at the bottom of your resume, but put it towards the top. Are you a member of an industry group that fits the job you are applying for? Place that strategically in your resume!

- Don't write a novel- A good resume should not be more than 2-3 pages depending on your years of experience. The resume should summarize your career and tease for more.  It is your calling card, not your biography.

Hungry for more resume tips? Email me!

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IT Contracting: Is it Right for You?

The debate over working as a contractor versus a permanent employee is a classic one. Some benefits of working as a salaried permanent staff member are well known (such as security and an extensive benefits package). However, contract work also has its benefits and its drawbacks. If you’ve been contemplating a break from your 9-5 job, here’s a look at the realities (good and bad) of working as an IT contractor.

Flexible Schedule

Nothing makes a contracting position more appealing to a woman juggling busy professional and personal lives than the promise of more freedom and flexibility! Indeed, for a working mother, the freedom to choose your own work hours instead of having to stick to the rigid office hours schedule seems like a real treat. Independent contractors aren’t told by the company what to do and how to do it.  What is important is the end result and how it’s reached is up to the contractor. If you work as an IT consultant through an agency, you might also be able to enjoy the flexibility of making your own work schedule as long as your project is completed on time. An IT contract assignment might also be a great option when you return from a long maternity leave as the flexibility can help you adjust back to the work responsibilities gradually.

Unpredictable Future

When you work as a permanent employee, you know what your benefits are, what your schedule will look like, and you can avail opportunities for career growth at your firm. When employed at an established company, there is a definite ability to predict the future. This is not the case with short term contract assignments. Thus, before jumping into IT contracting, you need to consider if the idea of not knowing what you will be doing after your project ends sounds scary or exciting.

Larger Professional Network

Consulting also provides a continued focus on networking. This is especially beneficial for women, as this is often something we don’t continuously prioritize.  Skilled contractors will likely get the chance to work at several of the top companies in their area. By forming lasting connections with their colleagues and managers at these companies, contractors develop a robust professional network to draw from in the future. As an added bonus, they get to meet lots of people with similar interests.

Potential Gaps Between Assignments

Contract assignments tend to last from 1 month to a year. When an assignment ends, you might not always have another project lined up.  Most contract jobs slow down around the holidays and at the close of the fiscal year when budgets are reevaluated.  Thus, if your contract work ends during a slower period, you might be left without a new assignment for a while. Therefore pre-planning your schedule and finances for these downtimes is very important; otherwise you might be left unprepared.

Varied Duties

Short contracting projects give you more opportunities to work on different teams and projects. By the very nature of consulting work, instead of working on similar tasks day in and day out, you have a guaranteed supply of fresh responsibilities when you begin a new project. As a result, IT consultants often have a strong and diverse resume that includes many clients and a variety of projects, which adds value to their professional worth.

Tied to a Contract

If you are considering contract work just to try something new but your preference is fulltime work, be aware that timing might not work in your favor. During your contract assignment, a very appealing fulltime opportunity might occur with you being months away from completing your project. In this case, you might not be able to break your contract and the fulltime offer might not be waiting for you by the time you finished your contract work.

Greater Pay

On average, a contractor can earn more than a permanent employee in the same role. The reason for this is that contractors have two major advantages: they pay less in taxes, and they can deduct their expenses. As an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying your own employment taxes and are not entitled to company provided benefits, but you also take a lot more of your pay home.  If you are employed through a consulting firm, you are an employee of the consulting/staffing firm and you get their employee benefits and they will deduct your taxes as well. However, you will still be able to charge much more hourly than what you would get as a salaried employee to make up for the shortness of the project.

Might Need to do some Convincing to Get a Full Time Offer

When you decide to look for a full-time permanent assignment after working on contract projects, hiring managers might question your commitment to a long term position.  Therefore, they might be hesitant to hire you fulltime and believe you may not stay with them long term if a more lucrative contract appeared.

IT contracting is not for everyone. As with any job, there are clear pros and cons. It is important that you weigh these to decide if it is right for you. However, few other work options will give you the variation and flexibility that contracting provides so it is definitely worth considering.

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Impress Your Recruiter!

Sometimes, jobs with the hottest companies can only be obtained by working with a recruiter. Recruiters have inside knowledge about the freshest jobs in the market. Since they work closely with many local hiring managers, they are often the first to be notified about open positions.

If you want to score a spot on a team that’s working on “the next big thing”, teaming up with a recruiter or staffing firm may be the way to go. Here are several tips to keep in mind that will make it easier for you to land your ideal job.

Introduce Yourself First

When you first contact a staffing firm, you may have to share contact information or details about your professional background before asking for sensitive details about the project. Recruiters often cannot reveal specific details about a position until they can confirm they are speaking to a legitimate potential candidate.

Be comfortable with sharing details.

It is the recruiter’s job to ask questions to make sure the candidate is a clear match for the position. If the candidate stretches the truth about his skill level or cannot elaborate upon his past experience, the recruiter will begin to question his technical abilities and be wary about moving forward with the process. Even if the candidate feels that certain relevant details would decrease his/her chances, withholding the truth is a bad move.

Keep your recruiter in the loop.

It’s very important that the candidate communicate to the recruiter exactly where they are in the job hunt process. If the candidate is close to accepting another offer, they should let the recruiter know. The recruiter may be able to expedite the interview or hiring process to accommodate for his special circumstances. If the candidate is confused about the specifics of a position, he should voice his concerns. The recruiter will be happy to clarify any confusion about the job because they want the candidate to be confident that the position is right for them.

Be flexible.

Remember, the recruiter is on your side and wants to help you score your ideal job, so try to be as flexible as possible when arranging interview slots. The hiring manager also wants to be sure they hire a good match for the project, so several interviews might be required beore they select a candidate. It may be a slight inconvenience to the candidate’s current schedule, but if they are selected for multiple interviews, this is a good thing! It means the manager has strong interest in them and they are a top contender for the position.

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure you get the most of the relationship with your recruiter and find the job you want!

For opportunities please visit our Career Portal.

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Rookie Recruiter? No Problem!

Not all recruiters are equal. In the staffing industry, just like in any other, new hires have to get their experience from somewhere. It can take a few years to be able to competently navigate through an area’s local employment front, and sometimes you may find yourself working with a recruiter who is still a little green. From being submitted to a position that you have little interest in, to missing out on being selected for a job on some minor technicality, working with an inexperienced recruiter has the potential to be quite the headache.

However, if you find yourself working with a junior recruiter, do not fret! You can still come out on top with a great, long-term professional relationship and the job you’re after.

Here’s what we recommend.

Take the Reins

Take the Reins!

We aren’t suggesting that you take complete control of the relationship, but you should be proactive, and in a sense, do the recruiter’s job for them. If you feel like your skills aren’t being properly accessed, you should pre-source yourself for the position by asking for the detailed job description. You will get a better idea of what the job entails and can decide for yourself if it is something that you would like to pursue.

Ask and You Shall Receive

If you’re interested in the position, but feel like there are still some unanswered questions, you can always ask to speak with someone “who has more information.” It’s likely that the junior recruiter is working closely with a more seasoned recruiter, and by phrasing your request like this, they should have no problem putting you in touch with a senior colleague. The more experienced recruiter will have a deeper understanding of the position and the hiring manager’s preferences, and can use this knowledge better present you as the ideal candidate.

Remember, everybody has to start somewhere and your recruiter is there to help you get the job you want, so stay positive! With these tips, any shortcomings an inexperienced recruiter has should no longer be an issue.

For opportunities that require a particular set of skills, please visit our Career Portal.

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