3 job - hunting mistakes to avoid
Brian J. O'Connor / The Detroit News
With the national unemployment rate at 10 percent (Dec.'09) U.S. and the state jobless rate at 14.7 percent (Nov.'09) MI, it's important not to make a job-search mistake, according to OI Partners-Action Management Corp. in Troy and Flint, a global career transition and coaching firm.
"A new technique, or a way of revising one you are currently using, can sometimes mean the difference between getting a phone call or interview, and not hearing anything," according to Joyce Blazen, President.
Blazen warns job-seekers to avoid these mistakes:
1. Not answering the question, "Why should I hire YOU?" in enough detail. In cover letters and personal and telephone interviews, make your strongest case. Thoroughly research each prospective employer and specifically address what value you can add.
2. Not "going the extra mile" to stand out from the others. Offer detailed recommendations on how to improve whatever is in your field of expertise--then document them. Send a plan afterward that will showcase what you can do.
3. Not knowing what your references will say about you, and not updating them on the outcome. Only use references who can address your most recent and relevant skills and accomplishments, and find out exactly what they will say. Update them on the outcome, successful or not, so they'll want to help you in the future.
Why You Didn't Get The Job
Attitudes, Actions & Omisssions That Can Cost You
Because there is an average of only one available job today for every six unemployed people - three times as high as in a normal economy - competition is tough enough without giving potential employers reasons not to hire you, according to the OI Partners-Action Management Corp. (Flint), a career transition and coaching firm.
With 15.1 million people unemployed in the U.S. and only 2.4 million available jobs, that translates into an average of 6.3 unemployed people for every job opening, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Despite these numbers, people find jobs when they treat their searches as full-time projects that must succeed, and preserving no matter how difficult it is. People need to continually be on guard not to defeat themselves through their attitudes, actions, or omissions," said Joyce Blazen, Managing Partner of OI Partners-Action Management Corp. (Flint) (www.oipartners.net).
Following are the top reasons why people today are not landing the jobs they seek, according to career consultants from OI Partners-Action Management Corp.:
-"Not over it yet" or expressing anger or disappointment with previous employer. "During interviews, some people are acting wounded, angry, sad, or are becoming teary-eyed about being laid off. This can make you appear unstable and communicate you don't understand the business reasons for layoffs," said Blazen.
-Failing to ask for the job, or not inquiring into what the next step is. You have a much better chance of getting a job if you ask for it. "Close the interview by summing up what you can bring to the job and ask for the opportunity to deliver these results for them. Also damaging is not inquiring at the end of an interview what the next step is, and assuming you know it,"said Blazen.
-Not being able to personally connect with the interviewer. Chemistry is at the root of nearly every hire. Employers choose people who seem most likely to get along with others, and are the types co-workers want to be around.
-Lacking humor, warmth, or personality during interviewing process. "Many job applicants are one-dimensional during interviews and are too focused on getting their talking points across. Don't forget to show qualities that can be a plus in the decision-making process, including humor in good taste, warmth, and understanding," said Blazen.
-Appearing over-qualified for the job. Because of the lack of job openings, many people are applying for positions below their past income and experience. "Address interviewers' concerns you may leave once the job market improves by countering that your experience will solve problems and create solutions with the ultimate goal of helping the company increase revenue. As a result, everyone's salaries will improve-including yours," said Blazen.
-Failing to set yourself apart from others. Job-seekers must make the strongest case possible why they are the right person to hire. "Specifically address what impact you can have on sales, profits, costs, productivity, complaints, or other areas within the next three to six months. Use quantifiable achievements from past positions to back up your performance promise." said Blazen.
-Not showing enough interest and excitement. Companies are looking for people who are enthusiastic about working with them, and can motivate and inspire co-workers and direct reports. Communicate this in a variety of ways and express your enthusiasm for hitting the ground running.
-Not researching a potential employer and discovering latest news about them. It's critical to do your homework before an interview so you can prepare in advance the right questions about their current and future products and services to discuss during the interview.
-Focusing too much on what you want and too little on what the interviewer is saying. Listen carefully and analyze what an interviewer is saying, translating this into what you can do to help them fulfill their needs. "When answering questions, be sure to match the communication and personality style of your interviewers," said Blazen.
-Not following up frequently or aggressively enough. Many employers seem to be waiting for the absolute, ideal person to walk through the door. "The decision-making process is much longer today. Your follow-up efforts need to be more aggressive and frequent than usual, without becoming irritating," said Blazen.
-Trying to be "all things to all people." Devote most of your effort to what you know, what you do well, and don't try to stretch your actual qualifications too far. Mainly target jobs for which you have at least 75% of the stated qualifications.
-Not successfully transferring past experience to the opportunity. There are more opportunities in some job functions and industries than others. Be prepared to translate your past experience to fit the opportunity using qualifiable achievements, results, and terms that are relevant to the new position.
-Making an inappropriate personal presentation. Not wearing the right level of attire to an interview or sloppy personal hygiene. You only get one chance to make a good impression.
-Over-explaining why your past job was eliminated or referring too much to your previous company. "Don't spend a lot of time talking about your most recent employer, especially the reasons for leaving. If you were laid off from a large company, communicate that you would fit in at a smaller employer," said Blazen.
-Feeling you can "wing" the interview without preparation. Many job-seekers are not prepared to answer difficult questions. "Prepare and practice a 90-second verbal resume and answers to possible questions so that you come across strong and succinct," said Blazen.
Even With High Unemployment,
54% of Employers Do Not Have
Enough Future Leaders On Board
Even with a high unemployment rate, more than half of large and mid-sized companies report not having enough management successors currently on board, according to a survey by OI Partners-Action Management Corp. (Flint), a leading global career transition and executive coaching firm.
- 54% of companies in the survey said they do not have enough qualified successors now working for them to succeed their executives and managers
- Only 32% of companies report currently having enough management successors in place
- 14% of companies are not sure whether they have enough future leaders already in their organizations
The survey included responses from 212 primarily large and mid-sized employers throughout North America, and has an error rate of +/- 6.7%, according to OI Partners-Action Management Corp, (Flint) (www.oipartners.net)
"The survey reveals a real opportunity for executives and managers - especially those now out of work - to show they can accomplish desired results for a prospective employer." said Joyce Blazen, Managing Partner of OI Partners-Action Management Corp.
'This is also a wake-up call for current employees to prove they should be considered for promotion now or be placed on the fast track," added Blazen.
The biggest source of a typical company's future leaders is its own high-potential employees. Employers are more often developing their own high-potential employees into future leaders than they are promoting their now-ready executives, hiring from their competitiors, or recruiting from outside their industries, according to the survey. (Respondents were allowed to select more than one answer.)
- 72% of companies plan to internally develop their high-potential employees to become future top management
- 54% expect to promote their now-ready executives to become management successors
- 40% plan to hire future leaders from their competitors
- 26% anticipate recruiting future leaders from outside their industries
Companies that currently do not have enough management successors are more than twice as likely to hire from their competitors, and are almost two times more likely to hire from outside from their industries, than those that have enough future management talent already in place, according to the survey.
- 48% of companies without enough management successors plan to hire from their competitors, compared to only 21% of employers with sufficient management bench strength.
- 28% of companies without enough executive talent plan to hire from outside their industries, compared to only 16% of employers that already have enough successors
The survey results mean the following for employees and employers:
- There is an opportunity for employees - and especially out-of-work executives and managers - to demonstrate that they can bring real value to an employer. "With more than half of companies reporting they currently lack enough management successors, this is an opening for both employed and unemployed executives and managers to show they can help a company win business, achieve its goals, and keep ahead of its competition," said Blazen.
- Executives and managers who are looking for a new job should determine whether a prospective employer has enough management successors on board. "Companies without enough management successors are a real opportunity for people working for their competitors, and even those from outside of the company's industry," said Blazen. "Find out whether a desired employer needs qualified management successors by contacting current and former employees, consultants and other vendors, and target those companies."
- This is a wake-up call for employees currently working for companies. "Current employees who aspire to reach the top management levels need to prove that they should be considered for available higher-level positions, and/or they should put designated as high-potentials," said Blazen.
- Employers need to determine who their high-potential employees are, and then provide them with the necessary coaching and training to turn them into future leaders. "Employers need to fully assess the capabilities of current employees and those outside of their organizations and decide which ones to grow as future leaders," Blazen added.
With unemployment and under-employment still high and expected to remain that way for much of 2010, more people are focusing on ways to reduce their career anxiety this year, according to OI Partners-Action Management Corp. (Troy), a leading global career transition and executive coaching firm.
"There is higher career anxiety than there has been in decades," said Joyce Blazen, Managing Partner of OI Partners-Action Management Corp.(Flint)(www.oipartners.net). "The employment picture worsened considerably in 2009, leaving many people without jobs, working part-time, or for less pay than the year before. For those who held on to their jobs, there were fewer raises, bonuses, and promotions. More people are intended to have a better career year ahead.
Following are ways you can reduce your career anxiety this year from consultants at OI Partners-Action Management Corp.:
- Put your career at the top of the to-do list each day. "Too many people make check lists for the New Year, and then quickly forget them. Your career is a major part of building a fulfilling life. The best way to take advantage of opportunity is to create it." said Blazen.
- Compile your short-term, intermediate, and long term career goals, and focus first on those that are most achievable. "Evaluate where you are, visualize where you want to be, and take steps each day to realize your ideal career," said Blazen.
- Be prepared for more alternative employment opportunities in a slightly rebounded economy. "When hiring improves, there will be increased demand for contract, freelance, and part-time work before full-time jobs are created. Position yourself to take advantage of these employment options," said Blazen.
- Improve your career resiliency. "Have contingency plans ready so that you can bounce back quickly if needed. Even if you are not laid off, you may want to redirect your career future when there are more positions available," said Blazen.
- Upgrade your professional skills and capabilities. "Invest in your career development by keeping your professional knowledge and skills up to date. Learn new technology, take courses, read books, and be committed to staying relevant in your professional area. Continually improve your employability by increasing the value you can bring to employers and their customers," said Blazen.
- Find a mentor or job-search board of advisors. "Enlist a mentor with whom you can strategize career options and ideas, and whose experience can serve as a guide and resource of support. If unemployed, assemble a personal board of advisors who are equal to or above your organizational level, and may be connected to others who can open some doors for you," said Blazen.
- Enhance your communications skills. "The ability to communicate effectively consistently places at the top of the list of necessary skill improvements for all management levels. Those who can get their messages across to bosses, subordinates, colleagues, and prospective employers are ahead of the pack in getting jobs and being promoted," said Blazen.
- Update your resume, professional network, and your online presence. "In addition to regularly refreshing your resume, continually add new networking contacts, and update your online presence on job search and social networking websites," said Blazen.
- Try to work out negative issues with your current employer before deciding to move on. "Talk over issues you may have such as a negative performance appraisal, missed bonus or promotion with your immediate supervisor. Consult with the company's human resources department, or seek counsel from a mentor, but never make a career decision in haste," said Blazen.
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