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At some time in your job search campaigns you will be asked by a prospective employer or recruiter to submit a list of references. The information provided by your references can either increase or reduce your chances of getting the job. It is, therefore, extremely important that you take some time to be sure you have the proper references and that they are prepared to respond properly when contacted.

After developing your references you should take the following actions:

• Contact each reference and get his/her permission for use as a reference. Inform your references of your ongoing search campaigns and what you intend to tell any prospective employers as to why you left a previous position (your Tip of the Iceberg).
• When you submit your reference list to a prospective employer or recruiter immediately contact your references and inform them of this action. Also discuss with your references any particular subjects that came up in the interview that might be asked of them for confirmation.
• Ask your references to inform you when they have been contacted.

I recommend that you initially develop a list of five references and follow the steps above. Do not include your reference list on your resume. Wait until asked before providing the references.

The purpose of the Thank You letter is to reinforce feelings created during the interview. Brevity must prevail because letters do not win jobs. Your credentials must be clearly established during the interview. Your success will be determined by your ability to respond to questions with polished CAB (Accomplishments) stories, ARQS (Responding to career liabilities) and being able to ask intelligent questions. The Thank You letter should include a one or two sentence paragraph containing no more than 50 words for inclusion in the format. The focus must be on the important issues discussed during the interview, particularly areas where you feel you can make a difference or a significant contribution to the company, division or department. The identical letter can be used with minor variations if several individuals are involved in the interviewing process. I recommend that you send the Thank You letter within 24 hours following the interview.

SAMPLE – Thank You letter

Dear Mr. Nelson:

My sincere thanks for the time, courtesies and consideration extended during my interview on June 30, 2009. I felt the chemistry was good and I am confident that I can make a meaningful contribution to the ABC Company.

I say that because of the extensive experience I gained in counseling people while serving in the personnel and administrative fields in the US Navy. This experience coupled with my education will allow me to easily assimilate the knowledge and procedures needed to be an effective ABC counselor.

Again, Mr. Nelson, my thanks for the time and courtesies extended. I will touch base with you in the near future. Until then, my very best regards.

Sincerely,

First M. Last

To help target your job search campaign, and later to help you reach a decision on which would be the most appropriate job offer to accept, I would submit that you consider the criteria listed below. Consider each item individually. Rank each item on a scale of 1 to 10 (lowest to highest) in importance to you. Next, use the same criteria and rank your present or last job. Later, as you begin to receive offers compare multiple offers to each other and to your present or last position to help in your decision on which offer to accept.

• Advancement opportunities
• Autonomy
• Benefits
• Challenge
• Commuting distance
• Creativity
• Geographic location
• Leisure time
• Mentor availability
• Power and influence
• Prestige
• Product line
• Respect for Co-workers
• Salary
• Job security (apparent)
• Size of company
• Stress health
• Title
• Travel
• Variety

The one question that I am asked frequently because of discrimination concerns is: “Should I include my picture on my profile page at CareerCampaigns.”
I spent quite a bit of time before launching our site investigating the legal and corporate HR issues relating to use of pictures, and I feel safe in telling job seekers they can use their picture on their profile page at CareerCampaigns, so long as they are comfortable doing so. Our laws say you cannot discriminate, almost (but not quite!) as simply as that. And of course at CareerCampaigns we do not condone discrimination of any kind. But consider that if someone were prone to discriminate on the basis of age, race, country of origin or gender, many of those characteristics can be deduced from a plain vanilla resume. Not to mention that most recruiters and hiring managers will inevitably Google a candidate — and many people today have images of themselves online (Facebook and MySpace). Finally, with the possible exception of age (do I really look over 40?), all such characteristics are immediately apparent once a candidate presents themselves at the first interview.
I believe it’s worthwhile to put a well chosen image of yourself on your profile page. Nobody expects you to look like a model but everyone can look friendly, smart and professional in a well-taken and well-presented photo. Have a professional photographer take a natural head-and-shoulders shot of you looking the way you want employers to see you. If you are looking for a position at a workplace where suits and ties are the norm, wear a suit and (for the men) a tie. If the workplace is more casual, dress business casual for your photo session. This photo is your first and best opportunity to make your profile page come alive, and show some of your personality and/or your professionalism.
Having said all the above, at CareerCampaigns we respect that passive candidates will prefer not to put up a picture of themselves. So not only is it not required, we make sure we don’t penalize the appearance of your CareerCampaigns’ profile page. There will be no ghastly looking question marks, slashes or props where the photo should be. We will only use a small, discreet silhouette.
I hope this addresses the question about photos on your web page.

The first thing one needs to consider in establishing your marketability profile is to discover what it is that makes you unique. Begin by looking at your goals – goals must be SMART: specific, manageable, achievable, realistic and timely. Goals give your job search a direction. You need to know where you are going. Goals require knowing yourself and understanding what you want to achieve. Test your goals by writing them down. Set your goals high and read, review and revise your goals periodically. Next consider your attributes. Your vision and purpose help you unearth who you are. Vision is how you see the world, what you want to contribute and accomplish. Purpose is more tangible. Examine what you can do to actually turn your vision to reality. Values are your guiding principles. Having great Passion is also very important. If you can connect to a passion of what you want to do you will be much more content with yourself and your life. Vision and Purpose provide the big picture. When you connect these with Values and Passion you will be successful.

Quite apart from the work situation, you may have a set of values which demonstrates how you live your life. To the basic list of values below, you may add any others which you also consider important.

• ACHIEVEMENT (Enterprising,, industrious, ambitious, high standards, money)
• ADVENTUROUS (Exciting, active)
• AUTONOMY (Freedom, independence, free choice)
• CREATIVITY (Building, creating something new)
• EQUALLY (Brotherhood, equal opportunity for all)
• AESTHETICS (Appreciation of the arts, literature, drama)
• FAMILY SECURITY (Taking care of loved ones)
• HEALTH
• HUMOR (Witty, jovial)
• INTELLECTUAL (Challenge, intellectual situation)
• INTIMACY (Emotional closeness with friends and family)
• INTEGRITY
• JOB SECURITY
• NATIONAL SECURITY (Concern for country’s welfare)
• NURTURANCE (Helping, guiding, mentoring others)
• ORGANIZATION ( Discipline, order, schedule consistency)
• PERSONAL GROWTH (Learning, developing new skills/interests)
• PLAY (Fun-loving)
• PLEASURE (Enjoyable, leisurely life)
• POWER (Leading, authoritative, controlling, dominance)
• SOCIAL RECOGNITION (Respect, admiration, reputation, status)
• SPIRITUAL (Religious beliefs, inner harmony)
• WEALTH (Prosperous)
• WISDOM (Mature understanding of lie)

Now indicate your five most important and five least important.

In my next blog we will take a look at the criteria you need to consider for your next job choice.

In today’s workplace turmoil, it is more important than ever to clearly understand your goals, motives, values and attitudes otherwise they will not be clearly understood by others. Asking yourself the following basic questions and writing them down is one way to start this process.

What are my strengths? Am I using them in my present or previous position? Can they be better used elsewhere?

What kinds of people do I like to work with? Looking back, what people have I most enjoyed or least enjoyed working with?

To what extent am I willing to give up my outside life for my job? Are 60-hour work weeks acceptable, even though my social or family life will suffer? How much stress am I willing to take? What balance do I need?

What is my personal definition of success?

How do my ethical beliefs affect my choice of organization or job?

Be honest with yourself. There are no right or wrong answers. In my next blog, I will provide you a list of values and ask you to identify the five most important and five least important.

A brief, positive, factual, honest statement about why you are in the market

It’s a scientific fact that only the tip of an iceberg, about one tenth of the total configuration, is visual to the casual observer. Ocean liners and other vessels rarely run afoul with this “tip”. However if the skipper is careless and runs close enough to contact the base, disaster generally sets in.

“What does that have to do with my job search?” most people ask. Here’s the answer. In the interview, it should be expected that the interviewer will ask such questions as, “Why did you leave your last position?” or “Why do you want to leave your current job?” Here is where the tip of the iceberg technique comes in handy.

Many interviewees promptly respond by chipping away at the tip of the iceberg to justify their position. “Well there are a number of reasons. I am not getting along with my boss, he never considers my feelings. He brought his son into the business as a supervisor and the kid has no experience. There is a wage freeze and still management has plenty of money to replace their company cars,” etc. This type of response will create a negative impression and prompt more questions. Almost without fail, your “ship” will sink.

However, if you keep your head above water and focus on satisfying the question(s) by providing a clear view of the tip of the situation, you’ll maintain control while heading off potential disaster. Give a complete, factual, honest response showing only the tip of the iceberg. Use a response such as; “My association with Alpha Company has been rewarding to this point and I have been able to enhance my skills and knowledge, but further growth appears to be limited due to the decline in the industry. I have decided to seek a new association where I can apply the skills that I have developed and make a major contribution.” Conclude your statement with a control question such as “Does that answer your question?’ Then, SHUT UP! The interviewer should feel satisfied with your response and once you perceive that satisfaction, move on.

This same technique will apply to handling questions about any area of your professional or personal life (i.e. divorce, previous business failure, termination, demotion, etc.) wherein the details are not pertinent to the hiring decision at hand. It is neither necessary nor desirable to share your life history. Be positive, brief and upbeat in your responses.

The questions you will face in the interview will, in many ways, parallel the myriad of the experiences in life. There is no crystal ball; there is no way to predict what you will be asked. Yet, as in every facet of life we must live one day at a time, so it is with the interviews – face them one at a time. Be prepared for the unexpected and when it comes up you’ll not be surprised. Effective communication skills promote self-confidence.

Now develop a Tip of the Iceberg for each position that is listed on your resume.

Background
Finding out that a new job is not the right situation can be very distressing. Sometimes the problem is one of internal politics or personality conflicts. It may be an honest misunderstanding of what the job requires or you may have been misled in the interviewing or negotiating process. Regardless of the reasons, it is best to face up to the situation and take corrective action quickly. That is why you are currently involved in a search. Demonstrate your ability to deal with problems, even your own, in a forthright manner.

Redirect
Short-term employment raises several questions. Your prospective employer might believe that you lack commitment or that you are trying to escape the results of poor performance. You must be prepared for some skepticism and try to alleviate any doubt s the interviewer has.

Qualifying
Extremely short tenures (three months or less) may best be left off your resume. This allows you to treat the job as a temporary measure which you are using to bridge the gap between career positions. If you have a history of short term employment (less than two years in several positions) you need to pay particular attention to my blog titled “Frequent Job Changes” in these liability reviews. If the only short job is the last one, a good qualifier is to refer to your previous history of commitment at another r company.

Try to demonstrate, if possible, that you have made contributions despite your lack of time on the job. Qualifying statements can use recent CABs about your accomplishments and stress your dedication to improving the organization regardless of the situation. In many instances you can suggest that your performance did not meet your own expectations, due to conditions beyond your control.

Additional Concerns
Most employers expect a long-term commitment from prospective employees. You must emphasize that you have learned from your recent experience and are dedicates to finding a new position which offers a continuing opportunity for you to contribute to the organization.

Background

In this age of the “Gen Y” and the “Millennials” it is sometimes hard to believe that anyone could be too young for anything. But many employers have a preconception about appropriate age ranges for a given position which you might not meet. This is not a serious a problem as other liabilities, since it is usually easy to convert to a positive perception.

Redirect

One underlying concern here is that you are lacking in experience. Other areas to consider are the obvious ones of patience, stability and sound judgment which have come to be associated with age.

Qualifying

Being specific about what you are seeking in the job can help to alleviate concerns about experience and stability. Show that you understand the job requirements and are looking for a challenge over the long haul. Concentrate your accomplishments on high quality achievements tightly tied to the position. Stress the benefits commonly associated with youth: enthusiasm, drive and energy.

Additional Concerns

Do not try to compensate by dressing or acting like you think someone older would. It is difficult for accomplished performers to bring this off; you will only heighten the sense of your immaturity. You can be particularly attentive and curb any tendency

Background
Pursuing a job in an industry where you have not worked before can be a daunting experience. You may not be familiar with the jargon or “buzz words” which are second nature to insiders. Many of the relationships which you developed in your previous positions may not be helpful in an unrelated sector of the economy. Certainly, many employers will be concerned about someone who is unfamiliar with their industry. There is a credibility gap which must be satisfied effectively for you to be competitive.

Redirect
The problem with a lack of industry experience is in convincing the employer that you will be as good as or better than someone who has been working in this field for a significant part of their career. It is frequently easier to go with the “devil you know” rather than a lesser known quantity. Concerns include your ability to be immediately effective in an area where you will also be learning a lot of background. Every sector of the economy also has common practices and terminology which is an important part of the day-to-day interaction. Many positions, not only sales and marketing, rely heavily on an existing network of contacts which supports the efforts of the person holding the job.

Qualifying
The functional design of your resume and its focus on accomplishments will help to direct the interviewer’s attention to your transferable skills. Many managerial and professional tasks are similar across several industries. It helps if your targets have a connection of some sort to your past experience. Accomplishments which demonstrate your ability to respond to new situations, how quickly you learn, and your success in processing multiple demands on your time can be very effective.

You must become as knowledgeable as possible about the industries you are interested in. Read the trade publications and follow leading company activities in the Wall Street Journal and other more general newspapers. You may want to set up information interviews with people in the industry to help you with practices and terminology.

Similarities of customers, vendors, distribution methods, production processes, materials or practices from you previous jobs can go a long way to resolving doubts about your ability to develop an understanding of the culture and a meaningful network in the industry. You can also use the contacts you develop during your search to broaden your knowledge of other segments of the economy.

Additional Concerns
The best strategy for this situation can be a twofold combination of transferable skills and the opportunity for cross-pollination. Get the interviewer to concentrate on the tasks involved in the job and then show how your experience and accomplishments can apply. You may also suggest that “new blood” can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the problems confronting the company. The techniques you learned in your previous jobs might just be the solution needed in the position you are considering.