Frequently Asked Job Search Questions and Answers.
Lawrence M. Light, a job coach with over fifteen year’s experience who has helped many different types of individuals through their career transitions, answers your questions. Some questions were submitted during the recent Webinar conducted by InternsOverForty; others are common questions that job seekers ask regularly. We welcome your questions and will try to answer in our characteristic frank, blunt style. The hope is that these responses will help you find a new job quickly.
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Need a job to retire at 70
I’ve been working for $10 an hour since August. I’m 63. I need a job to earn some money to help me retire at 70. I am computer savvy, do public speaking, but starving. How do I set my new path? I was President and sole owner of 5 businesses until last year, when an audit discovered my CFO had been cooking the books. I’ve been uncertain about a career and when I do apply for jobs as even a small business manager, cannot be hired.
— Kenneth L.
It stands to reason that, if you ran five businesses, you have a deep well of experience in more than one field. Sort out which field you liked best, and begin to network in that field. Don’t ask for a job, ask everyone you talk to for information about the field and how you might help companies in that field. If you do this persistently, and courteously, a small miracle will happen. You’ll learn what you possess that could be valuable to some companies in that field. Then go for it. One other thought: A good group to connect with is VC firms. They often need high-level people to run the businesses they’re investing in, and you might just fit in there.
Best Way To Apply For Jobs.
What is the best way / best portal to apply for jobs?
— Charu J.
There is no “best way,” Charu. There is no magic portal. They’re all good. Some may be better, some worse; but as I’m fond of saying, it only takes one company that wants to hire you, no matter where you find them or they find you. If you want to hedge your bets, conduct a multi-level search. Respond to job listings, network, use social media like LinkedIn,work with recruiters, and send out a Broadcast Letter. That way you’re operating on three different levels, and you’ve greatly increased your chances of finding an opening that suits you.
How do you gain credibility / proof points?
— Jeanne B.
Well, for starters, put it in your resume. Put it in your cover letter. Repeat it again in any interview you have. Make sure it shows you as a person who got something done for your company, for your customers, for your fellow workers. And, most important, tell it as a story, a short story, that demonstrates exactly what you want to prove to a potential employer. Stories are powerful. People remember them. They stick in people’s minds. You want them to say, even if they don’t remember your name, “Isn’t she the one who had that clever idea that solved a problem just like ours?”
Effective Assessment Tool
What is the most effective assessment tool to assist in Career Transitions?
— Karen D.
I’m partial to the BTSA, which I think is a more complete tool than Myers-Briggs. Many years ago I met Ned Hermann, who worked for GE as their resident creativity genius, and he had an assessment that mapped which parts of your brain you used, dividing all of how you thought into four quadrants. Upper right, for example, could be thought of as creative; upper left as proficient in the engineering or accounting areas requiring lots of detail. The BTSA is similar. It maps the way you use your abilities now against how you originally used them when you were younger, and highlights where you diverge from what you like to do naturally. It goes without saying that, if you do what you’re good at, as opposed to what you’ve forced yourself to do, you’ll fit better and be more productive. That’s why I like it. Anyone interested in this, please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with a professional who has a good track record of administering the BTSA.
Length of resume
Is a two page resume tooshort for a 30 year career?
— Valerie M.
That’s like asking, “Should a novel be 150 pages?” A resume is a communication and, as such, content rules. I get a lot of questions about how long should a resume be. I’ll repeat it, content rules. And now that I’ve said that, I don’t think a resume should be more than three pages long. That’s arbitrary, but I’ve seen it works. In my eBook, “An Insider’s Job Search Guide”, I have examples of long, densely-packed resumes. Anything under three pages is fine, provided you’ve wrung every last achievement out of your experience. I’ve seen resumes that got jobs that ran half a page, and others that were so packed with good, strong achievements, we had to use 10-point type and reduce the spacing between sections to a very low number. So work on the content first and foremost, and then begin worrying about the length. Remember, your resume (and cover letter, which is a completely different subject) has to make them say, “We want to get this person in for an interview.”
Best format for a cover letter
What is the best format and information to add-on a cover letter?
— Gustavo B.
We get a lot of questions about this. A lot of people think that a cover letter needs to wax eloquently about how much they love their field, the job they’re applying for, and how wonderful they are; in short, they tell the potential employer that you think they ought to hire you. These type of gushy cover letters, often churned out, copy after copy, probably end up in the trash basket as often as a bad resume does. A cover letter can point to your resume (and, believe me, the resume has to back it up) by simplifying the job of the person who reads it because it matches your job requirements to the experiences and achievements you’ve had. Nothing more, nothing less. If you go out on a limb, and add something more, no matter how sterling it is, you take the chance that they’ll be turned off, I believe. It makes sense that, if you’re a great match to their requirements, they’ll want to talk to you. That gets you a shot at an interview. That’s what you want.
Are employers looking at LinkedIn and Facebook?
I’ve heard that a lot of employers are looking at what I wrote about myself in Facebook. What should I do about it?
— Mary F.
Yes, they are. Not all, but a growing number. If you’re an employer, and you’ve narrowed your search down to, say, five individuals who are all qualified in terms of, at least on the surface, meeting the job requirements, why wouldn’t you try to find out more about these candidates before you decide to bring them in for an interview? Maybe you can eliminate one or two, which would make your job easier. Maybe you can learn something about them so compelling, you want to make sure you ask them in for that interview. So Facebook and LinkedIn are naturals for that. You can learn about these candidates’ hobbies, connections, types of friends, even attitudes, political leanings, becausethey’re all out there on the Web. So it goes back to what I call a “Killer” Resume. If you create it first, and then transpose it into your profile out there on any social media site, you’re (1) in synch with what they are looking at, (2) you’ve culled and sorted and displayed your strengths once again, and (3) you then need to make absolutely sure that your personal public postings NEVER detract from any of the qualities a potential employer may be looking for. The key here is “public”. Never forget, when you’re in job search mode (and thereafter) that you’re displaying a public face that certain people can look at, and judge you by.