10 seconds to influence hiring decisions? Write a thank you note!

You can move forward more rapidly in your job search by utilizing every opportunity to send a letter, email, or voicemail message to a potential employer and to your networking leads (…without being a stalker of course!). Think about it – you meet with someone, and later drop a quick email saying “Nice meeting you for coffee today – I appreciated your suggestions about my job search.” It would take you about 10 seconds to write this and click send, right? What do you think the reaction will be from the recipient? He will have a nice surprise note in their email that is short and appreciative of their time. He feels good about the note and good about you!

This thank you effort can be a key influencing factor following a job interview. Sending a note (via snail mail or email) is an opportunity to show your initiative, to emphasize a critical point about your background, to mention one more thing about your strengths which may not have come up during the interview.  The employer who received your note is impressed with your timely note and comments. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of candidates send a thank you letter after an interview. So, this makes your note stand out even more so!

How can you look polished with regard to post job interview notes? Be sure to ask for a business card so you have the spelling of their name, and correct email or snail mail address. The letter should be brief and if handwritten –  legible. Start by thanking them for the opportunity to interview and convey your excitement about the position. Then mention one or two key points – perhaps something in particular about the job that you were enthusiastic about, or emphasizing how you feel you could make a contribution to the team. Close with a simple statement indicating that you enjoyed the meeting and hope to hear back soon. Be sure to include your email address and phone number. Just think – this small effort could be the key to getting an offer!

Your “bedazzled” email address can cost you the interview

Do you have a cute, flirty, or suggestive email address on your resume, for example:  hotchick@aol.com, or poodlelover@gmail.com, or perhaps goodtimes@aol.com ?

While this may be fun for emails between you and your friends, this could cause you to lose out on an interview! Think about this from an employer’s standpoint. What impression do they get about you when they read these unique, sometimes bizarre, email addresses? What image do you want them to have of you?

If you want to create a professional impression, then be sure you have a professional sounding email address! The most recommended way is simply to use your first name and last name or first initial and last name, such as: janesmith@gmail.com or jsmith@yahoo.com. So, go check your email address and get ready for the phone to ring!

Is Your Confidence Going Down?

Job Search is often a time of mixed feelings – anxiety, excitement, stress, panic, relief, frustration and more. During a tough economy, many job seekers have been either searching for a long time and / or out of work for a long time, which adds more emotions to the upheaval.  Many job seekers talk about their confidence and self-esteem levels going down. They start to question their own value – if I am not getting called in for an interview, then maybe I am just not good enough? Yet, when they think about it logically, they are very confident that their performance for their last employer was top-notch. They were successful in daily job performance, they were well-liked, they could multi-task, and they can provide numerous examples where they contributed new ideas that improved operations, saved money, or added to the bottom line.

 The loss of confidence and low self-esteem is pretty common during an extended job search.  It is a normal reaction to the circumstances. Think about it – so much of our identity is tied to employment – from the type of work we do, to bringing home a paycheck and being a contributor.  Suddenly, we have lost our identity, our paycheck, and no one is calling.  That being said, it is important to seize control and work on your confidence.  Your confidence level can seriously impact your momentum and the way you come across to others. You want to be viewed as someone who is positive, enthusiastic, and ready to work. Exuding low self-esteem can give employers the wrong impression and lead to a vicious cycle of not getting offers and further extending your search.

 Here are some strategies that may help when you feel low:

√        Positive self talk –think about your successes and strength; remind yourself of top notch performance and impact

√        Take a break – be sure to schedule breaks to stay fresh

√        Exercise – get outdoors or to a gym – those who exercise tend to feel better about themselves and improve their physical stamina; they exude energy

√        Reward yourself – figure out what motivates you – a movie, lunch with a friend, a good book…whatever it takes to motivate you for your efforts

√        Take a class – join a program to learn something new

Implementing strategies to increase your confidence will make you feel better, will improve your attitude, and will help with your professional image to get better results!

Can you be fired for facebook? You betcha!

Do you use Facebook or Myspace for having fun communicating with your friends? As many of you know, these sites have become very popular for connecting with friends including posting pictures (not all discreet) and sharing personal life events (some very personal!).  What you may not know, is that employers are utilizing these sites as well to check you out! AND they are making hiring decisions based on this information. In addition to the usual reference checks, employers can visit these sites and learn all sorts of interesting things about you from a highly reliable source – YOU. Of course, you may protest that this is an invasion of privacy or that info posted there is personal and not work related.  However, the cruel reality is this:  whatever you post on the Internet is obviously no longer “private”. Information that you post will be accepted as reliable, even if you made it up to impress your friends. Employers will form judgments about your personality, your ethics, your trustworthiness, etc. to determine whether you are the kind of person they want working for them.  By the way, employers are also Googling your name to see what type of cool info – or what kind of “digital dirt”*- pops up about you.*

So, what can you do about this? Well, for starters, if you are in job search mode, be cautious as to what you post on these sites. You may want to consider removing some of those pictures from last week’s keg party. Next, there are privacy controls on these sites – so learn what they are and how to use them. Another idea is to check out industry blogs (use technorati.com to search for blogs by topic) and comment intelligently on them – this raises your Google presence and can help promote a more professional image. You can also participate in LinkedIn to enhance your image, a business networking site considered reputable and professional. Guess it’s like anything these days – you may be frustrated by the information I’m sharing with you, but being informed allows you to make choices and have some control in the process. Happy postings! 

 *(A great resource for professionals and executives on building your online identity – “Career Distinction,” by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson.)

Don’t Blame the Economy!

You are a recent graduate who just can’t seem to find a job. You may be motivated, have received excellent grades and have committed to multiple internships, so you can’t figure out why the job search process isn’t any easier! It’s often hard to pinpoint exactly where something is going wrong, but founder Kathryn Sollmann (9 Lives for Women blog) highlights some great areas to examine in her recent post titled “7 Reasons Why Jane Has No Job.”

 Kathryn, who met a “bright and accomplished 2011 college grad who has not yet found a job,” discovered that there were at least 7 reasons why this grad’s job search had stalled. Surprisingly, none of them have to do with the poor job market! Keep reading for some crucial areas to work on.

 Most people think that they can look for a job effectively while doing many other things. But Kathryn points out that “finding a job is truly a full-time job. You have to spend at least 40 hours a week on your search to get any significant action. Keep non-search activities to 20 hours a week. If you can’t afford to limit the temp job, make sure that you’re maximizing your job search time in the evenings and on weekends”

 Similarly, many jobseekers have difficulty networking properly. I always recommend the importance of making industry contacts and building relationships, but many college grads may be doing this in a non-meaningful way. Kathryn writes “there are benefits to networking meetings, but success depends if you just happen to meet the right person. Limit in person networking to one or two events a month that are targeted to a desired industry— “

Beyond maximizing networking events, some people are reluctant to utilize other social gatherings as means of networking. According to Kathryn, her college grad “needs to extend her networking circles and think about people she knows from every aspect of her life (schools, clubs, religious affiliations, sports groups, etc.).” Every time a recent grad is socializing, he or she should also be thinking about ways to network! You never know when the right person comes along that might have the job or connection you need to get your foot in the door.

 Kathryn discusses many other essential job-searching tricks in her post, such as creating a job search strategy, using LinkedIn correctly, and maintaining energy in communication. Read more of Kathryn’s wonderful advice and ensure that you are job-hunting most effectively and efficiently.

9 LIves for Women Blog:  http://9livesforwomen.com/2013/02/08/7-reasons-why-jane-has-no-job/

Special thanks to contributing editor, Leora Kanner