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My mission is to help job seekers secure fulfilling jobs & to help those looking to advance their careers to leverage their influence. If you are looking for a new job or career—or want to advance in the one you have—this site is for you.

Five Quick and Easy Tips for Post-Interview Thank You Letters



If you have made it all the way through the resume gauntlet and come out on the other side of an interview make sure to say thank you. The best way to do this is with a tradition post-interview thank you letter. Doing this is not only a case of good manners, it also allows you to subtly keep your name in front of the hiring committee and highlight anything that went particularly well in the interview. 

Before you send that letter off be sure to follow these five general guidelines to be sure you get the most out of your short missive. 

Keep it short. A post-interview letter is not the same as a cover letter. You do not need to go over all of your accomplishments and credentials again. Keep it brief and to the point. Tell them you appreciate the opportunity to meet with them, and that you are available to answer any follow up questions. I suggest something along the lines of 2-3 paragraphs at most.

Be professional. While you might be tempted to write something very casual to come across as personable, remember this is a professional thank you letter. Use a formal letter template with the traditional header and salutation. Traditional fonts like Times New Roman or Arial, size 10 or 12 are best for this type of writing.

Send it soon. This type of correspondence needs to be timely if it is going to have the desired impact. You want them to receive the letter while your interview is still fairly fresh in mind. I recommend writing your letter the day after the interview and them mailing that day it. This way they will be reading it in about 3 days. This is enough time for them to still remember the interview, but not so soon that it feels like overkill.

If possible, personalize. While you don't want to sound unprofessional, after you have met and spoke with the interviewer you can assume a level of connection that wasn't there in the cover letter. So if there is a quick way to personalize the message go ahead, but do not force anything. Perhaps someone mentioned there was a company softball team. This would be the time to mention you were the starting short stop on your high school baseball team. 

Proofread. Then proofread again. This is the oldest advice in the book, but that is only because it is that important. Don't blow it with a typo in your thank you note. 

A note on email: If you know the hiring decision is going to be made in the next couple days, then it is appropriate to send a post-interview thank you letter in email. However, all of the above still applies. Be professional.

Why Your File Name Could Be Killing Your Resume



It is the little things that can doom the prospective jobseeker.

-A resume with a glaring typo. 
-A cover letter addressed to the wrong HR person. 
-A listed reference that with outdated contact information. 

These are all things you should double check before sending in your resume to potential employers. However, there is another small item that is often overlooked: the file name.

The majority of resumes clients send to me for review are called resume.doc This makes complete sense sitting on your home computer, but you have to keep in mind that many HR departments receive hundreds of resumes a day. The standard "resume.doc" doesn't really help you stand out in a crowd.

When I create a resume for someone I always name the file John Doe Resume. This way the document will at least be identifiable in a list of hundreds of resume files. Recently, I came across an even more powerful way to name your document. Professional Branding is something I talk about a lot here at Quality Resumes, so why no brand your file name as well. Instead of John Doe Resume, why not something more dramatic? John Doe Marketing Guru has a nice ring to it.

Another no-no when it comes to file names is using all lowercase letters. Think of everything you write in connection with your job search as a professional piece of writing. LinkedIn status updates, casual networking emails, tweets, and yes, the file names of your resumes and cover letters. It may seem like a little thing, but small holes can sink big ships.

While we are on the topic of file names, this would be a good time to review what types of file extensions to use as well. Sometimes a job listing will explicitly state what type of file they are looking for. The two most common are Word documents or PDF's. If the request is written in the job listing, be sure to follow the directions. This is more than a simple whim of the HR department. Many ATS systems will be set to only read a certain type of file. If you send in the wrong one, your resume could show up as a blank document. If a specific type of extension is not mentioned I always recommend that clients use Word as this tends to be the standard across the industry.

So remember, proofread, check your references and give some thought to your resume's file name. You never know what will help you get through the door.

4 Tips for Using Job Descriptions to Your Advantage.



When it is time to look for a new job or career most people will gravitate towards the classifieds. whether they are the traditional "work" section from the local paper or the pages of Monster.com, paging through the help wanted section is part of the ritual. But how many jobseekers really analyze what they see there? Not enough.

Job descriptions offer a wealth of information to the savvy job hunter. On the surface each one gives the obvious: a general job description along with the required skills and education. However, if you read a little closer you can often find more, such as the following:

  • The methods used to complete the tasks 
  • The relationship of the job to other jobs 
  • Summary of the general nature and level of the job
  •  Description of the broad function and scope of the position 
  • List of duties or tasks performed critical to success 
  • Description of the relationships and roles within the company, including supervisory positions, subordinating roles and other working relationships
So how does a jobseeker take all of this information and use it to his advantage? Here are 4 tips to get you started on the road to an interview.

Write and speak about your related performance success. In your resume, cover letter or email be sure to highlight your past performance in the specific areas mentioned in the job description.


Read in-between the the lines of the job description. There is always more there than can be picked up on in the first casual reading. Study it. What problems do they have that you can solve? Think of how your own background dovetails with those problems.



Don't stop at the job description. Applying to any new job requires research. This is true whether it is a job in your industry or not. Look up the company online and study what they do and how they do it. Between official sites, social media and blogs you can learn just about everything about a company's culture and methods in an hours worth of research. This will be an hour well spent.


Develop all kinds of proof that you have performed your job well. Today's jobseeker needs to be prepared to show, not just tell about past experiences.  Prepare an online portfolio, a robust LinkedIn profile, and a handful of strong recommendations, in addition to a targeted resume.


As a resume writer I always appreciate when a client can provide a link to the job they are trying to get because then I can tailor the resume and related documents exactly to that position. Take this professional's advice and do the same with the documents in your own jobhunter's toolbox. 

Five Tips for Dealing With Resume Gaps


Gaps happen. Resume gaps that is, and they can be a problem if they are not dealt with properly. Whether you have been out of work and looking, or have taken time off purposefully, you need to convince employers of your worth. Potential employers may look at those blank months or years as a negative.


Let your resume bridge those gaps in your work history.
However, if you are creative with your writing you can minimize their impact. Follow these five tips when updating your resume.

1. Gain experience. If you have to be out of work do your best to add to your experience. Volunteer in a related field, take a continuing education class or try doing some consulting work. Experience can come in many forms and doesn't have to revolve around a paid position.

2. Stay current. If you are going to be job hunting for a while be sure to stay on top of the most recent developments in your field. This can be accomplished via online classes, membership in professional organizations or through good old fashioned networking.

3. Format can be your friend. When it comes time to put it all into your resume use a couple simple tricks to de-emphasize resume gaps. Put your qualifications "above the fold". If the top half of your resume does a good job selling your worth, the focus will not be on gaps in your history. For small gaps, use years instead of months. It is a simple thing, but it will erase any small absences from the workforce.

4. Use a powerful cover letter. Often times there is a good reason for gaps in your work history or the appearance of job hopping. The cover letter is the place to explain this. A cover letter is an excellent tool to make a strong first impression before the potential employer gets to your resume. Don't waste it.

5. Cultivate references. If someone feels leery of hiring you, a couple well-placed references can often alleviate those fears. Keep your contacts current and make sure to ask for letters or reference regularly.



Jobseeker’s Guide to Networking Your Way to Your Next Job: Part 3


Informational Interviewing
Get to know people who can help you find your next job — not necessarily the people doing the hiring, but the people who know those people. Make connections with local business leaders, government officials, bankers, commercial real estate professionals, and others who can network you into the top opportunities within the area. Ask for the opportunity to meet with them to learn more about a specific company, opportunity, or the industry. Make it clear you are not asking them for a job — only for information which may be useful to your job search.

Consider contacting members of the professional associations to which you belong. Your colleagues can be a tremendous asset in helping you find unadvertised opportunities. Write a letter or email them asking for their help and assistance. You want contact names and numbers, ideas, and company information. Be sure to ask if you can mention their name to “get in the door” with their contacts to arrange an informational interview.

Use your time wisely. Prepare a list of questions to ask in the informational interview. Ask questions related to the type of work required in the position, what kind of preparation is required for success in the job, which skills are used most often in the job, what qualities are appreciated in successful employees, and what the individual thinks are the prospects of finding a position in this field.

Be sure to ask questions which allow the person you’re interviewing to talk about themselves. How did they get started in the field? What is their educational background? What do they wish they knew when they got started that they know now? What is the toughest part of their job? What challenges/problems do they have that need solving?

Get business cards from these contacts and write a personalized thank you note. Follow-up with your résumé and cover letter only when appropriate, or if you’re asked to provide them.

Networking in a Confidential Job Search
Ever been surprised when a friend announces a new job and you didn’t even know they were looking? You can use networking even when you’re quietly searching for a new position. However, be aware that the more people who know you’re looking for a new job, the more likely your current employer is to find out about it.

One way to avoid this is to build your network even when you’re not searching for a new job. Again, listen to Harvey Mackey’s admonition to “dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Having a robust network can also help you be more effective in your current position, by giving you access to people who can help you solve the problems you face in your daily work.

Contact members of your network individually about your job search instead of mass messages or social media updates. Let your contact know that you are conducting your job search quietly, and ask for their help in keeping your search confidential.

If your primary purpose of networking is for your job search, don’t network on company time or using company resources. And never use your company email to send emails to your networking contacts.

When you are updating your LinkedIn profile as part of your job search, turn on LinkedIn’s privacy setting about sharing notifications before you change your profile or add a bunch of new contacts.

In your LinkedIn account, in the upper right-hand corner of the page, access the drop-down menu under your name and choose the “Settings” option.


Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” under the Privacy Controls section.

On the “Activity broadcasts” pop-up, make sure that the box is UNCHECKED for “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies.”


When conducting a confidential job search, this will ensure that your network of connections isn’t alerted when you make changes to your LinkedIn profile.


Keys to Success
Do you wonder why some people are more effective using networking to find their next job? Here are some keys to success in using networking in a job search:

  • Don’t wait until you need a job to build your network. You should constantly be building — and strengthening — your connections with your network. One of the easiest ways to do this is using LinkedIn. One of the most effective ways to improve your network, however, is through personal contact. Do something to build your network each and every day, whether that’s sending an email to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, or identifying someone new you want to meet.
  • Ask for help. Most people will be happy to help you — but you need to ask!
  • Be specific in what you’re asking for. A specific request for assistance (“Does anyone know someone who works in the accounting department at Company X?”) is more likely to be fulfilled than a general request (“I need a new job! Help!”)
  • Prepare for networking. Have business cards made that are strictly for networking. You can have cards made very inexpensively on VistaPrint (http://www.vistaprint.com/) or use a more attention-getting format like Moo Cards (http://us.moo.com/products/business-cards.html).
  • Follow-up. If a networking contact gives you advice, a lead, or information, follow up on that information — and then also get back to that person to let them know how it went.
  • Give to Get.” By helping people who ask you for assistance, your network will be stronger when you need it.
_________________________________________________

Series: Jobseeker’s Guide to Networking Your Way to Your Next Job
In Part 1 we cover the basics of networking and why it is important.
In Part 2 we cover how to use your network once you have identified it. 
In Part 3 we look at the overall keys to success in networking.

Jobseeker’s Guide to Networking Your Way to Your Next Job: Part 2


There are a few ways to use your network to find a new opportunity. The first is to contact specific people in your network — or your entire network — and let them know you are looking for ideas, information, advice, and contacts/referrals. Create a networking cover letter (samples are included in this guide) and send the letter with your résumé to each of the contacts in your network. This is the broadest way to use your network, and can be useful if you are currently unemployed and not worried about jeopardizing your current job by visibly pursuing a new one.

A more effective way to use your network is a more targeted approach. Identify the specific need you have, and then contact people who are in a position to help you reach that specific job goal.

For example, if you see an advertised opening for a position, go through your network and see who might be able to provide you with access to the hiring manager (or someone else who works at the company), information about that specific company (or the company’s position in the industry), or information about the specific position you’re seeking.

You can use your network contact to make an introduction to a hiring manager — either asking them to pass along your résumé to that individual, introducing you directly, or allowing you to use their name when making an initial contact.

Technology and Networking
Social media can also be effective for helping you achieve your networking goals. You can let your network know you are looking for a new position by posting status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This is particularly useful if you are currently unemployed and you’re not worried about your boss finding out you’re seeking a new position. (Even if you have your social media profile privacy settings locked down, remember that anything you post online can potentially become public information — all it takes is someone you know taking a screenshot of what you’ve posted, or mentioning the information, and it’s no longer private.)

You can also research a potential connection using social media. Find out if the person has a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, or Twitter account. LinkedIn is particularly effective in helping you take your existing contacts and leverage them into even more networking opportunities. You can see how you’re connected to a company or another individual using LinkedIn.

Use social media to arrange in-person get-togethers. For example, if you make a new contact on LinkedIn, if they are local, arrange to meet them in person. Technology makes networking easier, but face-to-face interaction is still the best way to network.

You can also use technology to personalize your networking, even when you are contacting many people at the same time. (For example, you can use Microsoft Word’s “mail merge” function to create personalized networking letters for each of your contacts.)

Networking Cover Letters
One of the most effective ways to network your way to your new job is to get your résumé in the hands of those who are in a position to help you. One way to do this is through a networking cover letter.

The purpose of a networking cover letter is to let your network know you’re looking for a position, and ask for specific help. You can send an email or a hard copy of the letter and résumé by mail.

Here is a sample networking cover letter after a layoff:

Dear (Contact Name):

I am reaching out to you to ask for your help. As you know, my position was eliminated when Chandler-Roth Department Stores was acquired last month.

I am looking to stay in the retail industry and, ideally, remain in the Minneapolis area. My “perfect” job would be another associate manager position — one focused on operations or merchandising (or a combination of both) — in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

I would appreciate any advice, contacts, or industry insights you can share with me. I’ve attached my résumé — please feel free to pass it along to anyone you think may be interested in it. If you know of a company that is looking to grow its retail management staff — or fill any open position — please let me know. I’d also appreciate any recommendations of retail recruiters, or recruiters who work on placing management candidates in the Minneapolis area. (I’d prefer to stay in the retail industry, but would potentially consider a management opportunity in a new industry.)

Highlights of my qualifications include:
Success in delivering year-over-year same store growth — contributed to 12% growth in 2012 (well ahead of the industry average for non-food sales growth of 2.26%).
Introduction of innovative product merchandising and customer service programs that have increased average transaction size by 22%.
Led an employee engagement initiative which reduced turnover by 18% over a six-month period, reducing hiring costs by more than $22,000.

I’m lucky enough to count you as a (friend, colleague, client, co-worker) and I want to thank you (in advance) for any help you can give me.

Thanks.

Jon Jobseeker

P.S. — If you’re on LinkedIn, let’s connect on there. You can find my profile at www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanjobseeker

Here is a sample networking cover letter for a jobseeker who is relocating:

Dear (Contact Name):

I recently relocated from California to Ohio. Consequently, I am looking for my next challenge! My focus is a management role drawing on more than 15 years of experience in manufacturing and production. I have enclosed my résumé, which outlines my qualifications.

I am asking my network — including you! — to help me identify possible employers that would value someone with my experience and skills. My work history emphasizes supervising production teams (up to 30 employees per shift), keeping manufacturing lines operating at peak capacity with a minimum of downtime, ensuring quality and regulatory compliance, and managing special projects.

If you know of someone I should contact to explore an opportunity, I’d appreciate the referral. You can reach me at (phone number) or email me at (email address).

Networking cover letters can also be used to update contacts about a job search:

Dear (Contact Name):

Happy Spring! I wanted to drop you a note to give you an update on how things are going in my job search. Since leaving ABC Company in January, I completed two short-term contract projects, most recently with XYZ Company. I’ve applied for several full-time accounting positions, but have been finding things to be a bit slow. So now I’m turning to my friends-and-family network for your help!

I’ve enclosed an updated copy of my résumé in the hopes that you might be able to help me identify and/or make contact with a company or organization that might need someone with my skills and experience. While I’m most interested in a full-time position, I’m also open to a contract opportunity — particularly one that might lead to a full-time position.

If you know someone who might be interested in what I can do for them, would you mind passing along my résumé? And give me a call if you have any ideas for me, or if you want to catch up on things. You can reach me at home (phone) or on my cell (phone).

I appreciate your help!

_________________________________________________

Series: Jobseeker’s Guide to Networking Your Way to Your Next Job
In Part 1 we cover the basics of networking and why it is important.
In Part 2 we cover how to use your network once you have identified it. 
In Part 3 we look at the overall keys to success in networking.