Is Stress Exasperating Your Job Search?

OVERCOMING THE STRESS OF AN UNPRODUCTIVE JOB SEARCH
January 14, 2016 – 8:30 – 10:00 AM  Cost: $10.00
The Gunnet-Shoval Group
630 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, New York, NY   (Across from St.  Patrick’s Cathedral.)

Stress is the combination of a perceived threat — whether real or imagined — and one that feels beyond control.  Few things are more stressful than coping with unemployment.  Few things are more dangerous to conducting a successful job search than allowing stress to overcome you.  There are, however, ways to take control of your stress thus preventing it from taking control of you.

On January 14, Drs.  Karyn Gunnet-Shoval and Bruce Hurwitz will conduct a 90-minute workshop designed to help participants manage job search-related emotion and replace it with logical and purposeful decision making.

This event is limited to the first 20 people to register, so register today!

Feel free to bring your own hot beverage and breakfast.  All attendees will receive a free copy of the e-book edition of Bruce Hurwitz’s book, A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Executive Recruiting and Career Counseling.

Meet the Speakers

Karyn Gunnet-Shoval, Ph.D., of The Gunnet-Shoval Group, coaches companies, executives, Human Resources professionals, and individuals to create a culture of improved stress management.  With fellowship experience in stress-related issues and interventions at Yale School of Medicine, and a Ph.D.  in Counseling Psychology, Karyn understands stress and stress management. As an executive coach, Karyn coaches businesses, HR teams, attorneys, business executives, professors and other professionals and their clients to better manage the stress of time management, clients and colleagues, communications, among other issues.  Working as a Group Leader with employees of a company or nonprofit, Karyn tailors stress management coaching to fit individual and company needs.  Participants develop skills to enhance confidence, happiness, productivity and effectiveness.  And as a Human Resources trainer, she works with HR professionals in the area of stress management, leading workshops and seminars and creating company plans.  Supervisors report improved employee happiness, attendance and productivity.

Bruce A.  Hurwitz, Ph.D., President and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., whose mission it is to promote the hiring of veterans, has been an executive recruiter since 2003.  The author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting, he is a recognized authority on career counseling, recruitment, and employment issues, having been cited in over 600 articles, appearing in close to 400 publications, across the United States and in 23 foreign countries.  Bruce is an honors graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from where he obtained his doctoral degree in International Relations, majoring in International Law.  He is the author of over 120 publications including peer-reviewed books, journal articles and reviews, as well as newspaper and magazine contributions.  In addition to serving as an Ambassador for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and hosting their weekly podcast, The Voice of Manhattan Business, since January, 2015, he has been a member of their Board of Directors and Co-Chair of their Entrepreneurs Network.  He has a total of over 51,000 followers to his posts on LinkedIn Pulse and his own blog, Employment Edification, as well as his YouTube videos/webinars and on Twitter.  He also hosts his own podcast, Bruce Hurwitz Presents!

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Creativity Should Sometimes be Avoided in a Cover Letter (and Resume)

I admCadburyit it.  As far as I am concerned, with all do respect to Mr. Hershey, Cadbury chocolate is my favorite.  But what I especially like about them today is that, at least according to the post I found on my LinkedIn feed, and assuming this is authentic, they actually respond to some job applicants whom they reject.

Here’s what the letter states:

Dear Mr. Jones:

We regret to inform you that your application for the position of Global Quality Manager has been unsuccessful.  We don’t normally respond to unsuccessful applicants but in your case we’ve made an exception in order to return the £5 note you attached to the references section of your application under the line “Elizabeth *wink wink.*”

Some notes regarding your application:

  • Listing “Super secret spy work I can’t legally talk about” as your previous work experience won’t fool anyone.
  • In future you might want to refrain from using sentences like “C’mon, let me be a part of this great gig you’ve got going on.”
  • eBay feedback isn’t a relevant reference.
  • Your attached sketch of an “everlasting chocolate bar” was unwarranted, absurd and quite frankly it scared us a little.

We wish you all the best in your future endeavours,

Sincerely,

Alan Carle

I do not know if this letter is for real.  (Given the spelling of “endevours,” it might be!) But for the sake of argument, let’s say it is.

What we have here is someone who thinks that being smart, being a wise guy, will differentiate him from his competition, get him noticed and get a response.

Well he was right.  Except that he was noticed for being a fool and he only got a response because of the five quid bribe.

Yes, in your cover letter  and resume you want to differentiate yourself.  Sadly, today it is easy to do by just writing a well-written letter.  As I have written previously, all you have to do, all you should do, is to keep it short, sweet and to the point.  No self-praise and, most certainly, no nonsense.  The same is true for resumes.  After all, no one hires a fool!

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor.  He is the author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting.  To take advantage of his December Career Counseling Special click here.

5 Simple Rules for Succeeding at Job Fairs

I have attended well over a dozen job fairs since I started my company five years ago. Every year I attend fewer and fewer. Now I am down to one. For me, they are a waste, because attendees do not know what to do. So let me give job seekers a few simple rules to make job fairs beneficial.

1)  First and foremost, set reasonable expectations. CEO positions are not presented at job fairs. Entry- and mid-level positions are what you will find. There will be scores, possibly hundreds, and maybe (for me it was a job fair for veterans) thousands of attendees. A meaningful conversation will not take place. The most that you can hope for is to receive an application form and drop off your resume (although most will want it e-mailed).

2)  Look like a professional. It boggles the mind how many people go to job fairs dressed like they are on their way to the mall. Dress like a professional. When you are at a job fair, you are marketing you! The way you market yourself tells an employer everything they need to know about how you will market them!

3)  Follow-up. Always take the business card of the person you meet. Always write on the back of it something they told you specifically about their company. If they asked you to e-mail them your resume, do it that day. When you send the resume, mention what they told you, what you wrote on the back of their card, so that they know you were listening and that you are not sending them a form e-mail.

4)  Build your network. Even if you are not interested in any of the positions they are promoting, that does not mean there are not others or that there won’t be others in the future. A job fair is a great way to build your network. Send an e-mail to every employer you meet. Thank them for taking the time to tell you about their company. Tell them you were interested in what they had to say and, as just mentioned, mention what they told you, what you wrote on the back of their card, so that they know you were listening and that you are not sending them a form e-mail. In this case, you want to ask for a 10-minute informational meeting to learn more about their company, industry or profession, as the case may be.

5) Practice your pitch. Lastly, even if the fair is a complete waste of time with no suitable jobs being promoted and no companies for which you would like to work attending, you can still make it worthwhile. Simply practice your pitch. Get used to explaining who you are and in what type of job you are interested. Practice really does make perfect. When you finally meet the right employer, with the right job, you will deliver your pitch with confidence. There is nothing more appealing to an employer than a confident candidate.

Five Steps to Career Change

If there has been one question I have received more than any other during the past few weeks it’s, How do I change careers? My answer: You don’t. Someone else has to do it for you! Why? Because changing careers requires networking. You need help.

Here are my five steps to career change.

First, don’t quit your day job. As difficult as it is to get a new job while unemployed, it is exponentially more difficult to change careers if not presently employed. It’s possible, just more difficult.

Second, research. Find out everything you can about your chosen new career. That way, when you start networking, the people in your chosen career will be impressed with your knowledge.

Third, look at the LinkedIn profiles of the people who have careers similar to the one you want. Pay special attention to their education. If they have a degree or certification that you will require, get it. When choosing the school or program you plan to attend, base the decision not so much on the quality of their classes but on the quality of their job placement services. Then, once you graduate, use them to find internships and, ultimately, jobs.

Fourth, join groups where you will be able to meet persons in your chosen career. Look for mentors. By “mentor” I mean someone who will help guide you in your new career for free. If they charge, they are consultants and you’ll pay a fortune for limited, if any, results. You want someone who will take you under their wings, so to speak, offer constructive criticism and introduce you to the right people.

And fifth, volunteer. It does not matter what the cause is, as long as you truly believe in it. What is most important is that you serve on a committee, or in a role, where your new skills will be utilized and, most importantly, seen by people in your new career or industry. That way they will be able to help you navigate their networks or, ideally, maybe even offer you a job, once they have personally seen the quality of your work.

In conclusion, career changing is not for the shy or the lazy. It takes help and it takes work.

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor.  He is the author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting

How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

Philosophy: Employers will not spend more than ten seconds reading a cover letter. You have to show them that you can get to the point, that you are focused, can prioritize, understand business, know what they are looking for and that you are the person for the job. Here’s how you do it:
• If at all possible personalize the letter. If you cannot get the name of the recipient, “Dear Hiring Manager” will suffice. NEVER use “To Whom It May Concern.” That makes it appear to be a form letter.
• In the first paragraph let them know the job you are applying for, when you heard about it and where you saw it advertised. That way they know you can get to the point, that you do not procrastinate, and that you understand that it is important for them to know where they are getting the best bang for their advertising dollars.
• In the second paragraph give them an example of the one thing that you have done in your career that speaks to the job for which you are applying and will convince them to look at your resume. That’s the purpose of the cover letter, to get them to look at the resume. (See my post, “How to Write an Effective Resume.”)
• In the third paragraph, if they ask in the ad, tell them what your salary requirements are. Include “not including benefits” so they know you are flexible.
• In the fourth paragraph, make reference to your resume.
• End politely and be certain your full name, address and contact information appear at the top.
Dear Ms. Smith,
I wish to apply for the position of warehouse manager that I saw advertised in today’s Post.
With my three years experience in the Army overseeing a warehouse stocking thousands of unique items, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, I am certain that I will not only be able to fulfill the requirements of the position but to surpass them.
My salary requirements are $50,000, not including benefits.
Attached please find a copy of my resume for your review.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,
Your Name
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Don’t forget to take advantage of my year-end career counseling special. Come January, it will be gone!

How to Deal with Age Discrimination in a Job Search

Some time ago I was doing a search for an IT systems administrator. Despite receiving resumes from scores of candidates, I only had two who I felt comfortable submitting to my client.

The first, a young guy with a one-page resume, was concerned that he did not have enough experience. The second, an older guy with a seven-page resume, was concerned that he was too old and could not compete with younger candidates. The former was preferred by the department head, the latter by the owner. The former’s references were awful; the latter’s were stellar. The old guy got the job.

I tell this story probably once a month to “older” clients who come to me concerned that because of their age they won’t be able to get a job. I put “older” in quotation marks because clients in their forties, fifties and sixties all consider themselves “old.”

This is a problem of attitude. Yes, there is some basis for it in fact, but mainly it’s a problem of marketing and branding. The older clients don’t know how to “package” themselves.

Let’s begin with a little honesty. If an employer is going to discriminate against you based on your age, they are going to discriminate against you based on your age and you will never be able to prove it. So why go through the process, wasting your time, and keeping you from the employers who are going to realize your worth? Why hide your age? They are going to figure it out when they meet you!

My first piece of advice: Don’t hide your age, boast about it. But do it sensibly. Don’t begin your resume stating that you have decades of experience. Begin with a list of five or six accomplishments that will make the employer want to invite you in for an interview.

There’s no law that says you have to list every job you have ever had. Cut your resume off at a logical date. The advice I give is to go back approximately 10 years or to the year 2000. You’re not hiding anything; you’re just choosing a logical cutoff point.

Second, don’t apply for jobs that have as a qualification “3 to 5 years’ experience.” If you have 20, they don’t want you. It’s basically entry level. So why waste your time?

Third, not being seen as tech savvy (ironic given that my first example concerned IT!). This one is easy. At the top of your resume, next to your contact information, aligned with either margin, have a QR code. It could link to your website, LinkedIn profile, e-mail or text. Regardless, it sends the message that you are comfortable with technology. Similarly, include your LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle, or other social media, if relevant to your profession, as part of your contact information.

Fourth, appearance. Surprisingly, this seems to be more of an issue for men than women. Some men dye their hair. Personally, I think it’s silly. You can almost always tell. But if it gives them confidence, that’s a positive. Of course, the employer may react negatively thinking to themselves, What else is he trying to hide?

In any case, health is far more important. You have to look healthy. That means make an effort to lose the extra pounds. Don’t wear tight fitting clothes. Look sharp.

Fifth, let the employer know you are looking for a long-term gig. But do it subtly. Employers will be worried that you will leave after a few years to retire. Let them know you want to stay for the long haul. You can do that in two ways:

When they ask, and they will, why you want to work for them, if you were able to find this out, and LinkedIn profiles are the place to go, tell them that you noticed that most or a large number of their employees have been working for the company for a long time and that they promote from within. That, tell them, is the type of company you want to work for.

Or, in response to a question about a plan they want implemented in, say, three years, answer that you can complete the plan within three years but that you consider that to be only a first phase. The follow-up could take another seven so you see it, in essence, as a 10-year project.

Sixth, competition with the supervisor. If you are an “older” worker, by definition, your new boss will probably be younger than you. You could be their parent or grandparent. They know it; you know it. And they might think that you are after their job. So put them at ease. When they ask you what you like about the job, if it’s true (never lie!) tell them that the most satisfaction you get is seeing colleagues grow. (Give an example to establish credibility.) Explain that you’ve been the center of attention, now you want to help others get that attention. That’s the job satisfaction you are looking for.

Finally, the biggest advantage that “older” workers have is that they have what to say and know how to say it. Unlike younger workers who lack experience, and thus meaningful stories to tell, older workers have them in spades. They can choose the story which will best resonate and thus help get them the job.

This post is based in part on Chapter Four of my book, A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting.

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Need career counseling? You have until December 31 to take advantage of Bruce Hurwitz’s year-end special.

How to Answer Easy Job Interview Questions

I do not believe that there is such a thing as “difficult” or “hard” interview questions. If you do your homework, you should know what to expect. If you prepare, you’ll know how to respond. Given that, what are traditionally seen as “difficult” questions, are really quite easy. For example:

Why did you leave your last job?

Simply tell the truth. It is amazing to some people when I relate to them the number of HR professionals I have had as career counseling clients who, when I ask them this question, give the usual responses: It wasn’t a good fit. The company went under. There was no room for growth. In other words, the people who interview candidates have been candidates themselves and have had, or know people who have had, the same experiences as the people they are interviewing. So just tell the truth. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, they won’t. They’ve lived it too!

Of course, if you were fired, that’s a different matter. In that case, look the interviewer straight in the eyes, briefly tell them what happened and then turn a negative into a positive. Tell them what you learned from the experience and why it will make you a better employee.

Some clients come to me especially concerned because they believe they were fired when, technically, they may not have been. As a general rule of thumb, if you are fired your employer will challenge your request to receive Unemployment Insurance. If no such challenge is made, and your employer never said, “You’re fired,” but, rather said something like, “Your services are no longer required,” then you can honestly tell the interviewer that you were let go and no reason was given. If they ask specifically if you were fired, you can then say, “No. If I had been I would not have received Unemployment Insurance. They would have challenged my claim. They never told me I was being fired, only that my services were no longer required.” (This is also why you should refrain from asking why they are letting you go! After all, if they tell you, you’ll have to tell the interviewer.)

Why do you want to work here?

Now is your time to shine. No matter what position you are applying for, you want the interviewers to know that you prepare well for meetings. Employers expect you to sing the praises of their companies. Don’t do it! It will sound phony. Get into the weeds, so to speak. Show off your research skills. Mention, for example, the number of their staff who have received awards for their volunteerism. Then tell them that you want to work for a socially conscientious company, one that is involved with the community. Or, check out the LinkedIn profiles of their staff and, if it’s true, say, “When I was reviewing your staff’s LinkedIn profiles, I noticed that many, perhaps the majority, have been here for a long time and you promote from within. That’s the type of company I want to work for.” No phony praise; just meaningful facts. And the last example has the added advantage of sending the message that you are looking for a long-term engagement, something that is especially important for “older” candidates.

Tell us about yourself.

Don’t summarize your resume. They have read your resume. They know what is there. Tell them what isn’t. Talk about your morals, values and principles. This is your time to differentiate yourself from your competition. The key is to tell them a story about you that will resonate with them and will make them want to hire you.

(Storytelling is both art and science. I will be writing a separate post on it in preparation for a presentation I will be making as part of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Series. If you are interested, here are the details.)

Tell us about your biggest failure.

It is surprising how many people are shy about talking about their failures. They are nothing about which to be ashamed. In fact, you should be proud of them, as long as you learned from the experience and knew when to pull the plug. Most employers, at least the good ones, want risk takers; they just don’t want irresponsible risk takers.

What are your weaknesses?

If you do not have any weaknesses, you won’t get the job. Everyone has weaknesses. Saying you don’t means that you do not recognize your limitations or, worse, you’re a liar. So be honest. Tell them a weakness and how you cope with it. It’s as simple as that. Just make certain it’s a real weakness. “They tell me I work too hard,” is not a weakness, it’s an insult to the intelligence of the interviewer.

Do you have any questions?

If you do not have any questions, it’s a sign that you are not really interested in the job. You have to have questions to ask. They should primarily be based on your research. Without saying so, you want to continually show the interviewers how well you prepare for interviews/meetings. But you also want to show maturity. For example, a popular question is, What happened to the last person who held this position? In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it sounds gossipy. And, frankly, it’s none of your business. So ask what is your business and lets you come across as a consummate professional: What did the last person who held the position do that you want to see continued and what would you like to see done differently?

What are your salary expectations?

I end with THE question, the one I get asked most often, “What do I say when they ask me about salary?” People work themselves up over this to such an extent that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The answer is simple: If you are employed, “I am currently earning X, not including benefits.” If you are recently unemployed, “I was earning X, not including benefits.” If you have been unemployed for a while (your definition), prepare a budget and say, “I need X, not including benefits.” All you are doing is answering a question, you are not negotiating. The negotiations will come later. And “not including benefits” sends the message that you will want to negotiate.

Just remember, the candidates who are the best interviewers and don’t have to fear “tough” questions, are the ones who research the company, research the interviewers, and research the company’s employees. They know everything they can about them and, of course, are prepared to talk candidly about themselves.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140930160554-2335221-how-to-answer-easy-job-interview-questions?trk=mp-reader-card

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