Ask a coach
Welcome to The Stop Sign – a job-search column offering serious career advice with a touch of humor to help you stand out among the crowd that follows the same-old, same-old advice you find all over the internet. We hope our approach will catch your attention and keep you coming back to read more.
We’re confident you will listen to us, because we at The Stop Sign monitor social media sites daily, present frequently to networking groups, and discuss often the effectiveness of job-search advice. We have years of experience in this business; tons of credentials, and plenty of satisfied customers.
On the other hand, we’re a bit frustrated. We know you’ve been to the state career centers and the networking and buddy groups, and in addition, probably peruse a dozen articles a day posted by experts on LinkedIn and other sites, but we’ve noted how in spite of all the available help, many people keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
For example, we’ve advised plenty of people how to present themselves on video properly—-Just do these 22 things we taught you during a two-Zoom session during which you may have multi-tasked or played Candy Crush— only to see the same mistakes at the very next session.
We asked ourselves, “Why is this?”
After a few not-so-intense debates among the staff, we decided to ask the customers. They basically told us, “There’s so much conflicting data coming from so many career experts; we don’t know who to trust and follow.”
Actually, one job-seeker said, “Ask 100 résumé -writers for an answer and you get 98 different answers” and another said, “It’s all recirculated schlock.”
Realizing how the usual methods don‘t seem to have a lasting effect on job-seeker behavior, our crack(ed) staff looked high and low for a new approach—one that would gain your attention and have a lasting impact. After an intense Google search, we were fortunate to find Dr. Switzer, whose counseling sessions are brief, direct, and extraordinarily effective.
You can view one of his counseling sessions here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw
Using Dr. Switzer’s methods, I’m now going to list five typical mistakes made by job-seekers, and provide concise and clear steps that if followed will immediately improve your chances of landing a fulfilling job:
Mistake #1: Apply to ten or more jobs every day and think that the more jobs you apply for the better your chances are of landing a job.
MISTAKE #2: You created and rehearse often a thirty-second to one-minute elevator speech to use on everyone you meet.
MISTAKE #3: You submit the same résumé to every job for which you apply.
MISTAKE #4: You composed and use with your job applications a generic three-paragraph letter that rehashes your résumé and hopes for a response, or even worse never submit a cover letter at all.
MISTAKE #5: Considering yourself experienced at interviewing, and fancying yourself a people-person, you think you know the drill; so, you just wing-it at interviews.
Why you need to “STOP IT!”
- Trying to land a job by mainly applying online has the same odds as winning at gambling. You may feel good the moment after you click the Submit button, but like a slots-player who feels great after pulling the arm of the one-armed bandit, you’ll lose more often than you win. The statistics prove that most jobs are landed via networking and referrals.
- Everyone goes to networking events to find a lead or referral for a job. Few go with the intent of listening or helping others. They all want you to listen to them. In other words, practically no one wants to listen to you sell yourself for 30 seconds to a minute. In this era when people allegedly have the 9-second attention span of a goldfish, a 15-second maximum networking introduction works much better.
- Most companies use applicant tracking software (ATS) to filter out the majority of submitted résumés by checking for key words. This means your résumé must include many of the words used in the job-posting. In addition, the professional summary should match the qualities and soft skills listed in the ad. After all, once your résumé makes it through the ATS, it must impress the human reader.
- The cover-letter is your chance to show your passion, declare your why and love for the profession, and thus differentiate yourself from the crowd. A manager once told me, “I don’t always read the cover letters, but I process the applications first, that have cover letters.”
- Job-interviews are stressful. If you don’t create and practice your stories and answers ahead of time, the odds are that you don’t come across as calm and prepared during the interview. Your stories won’t be focused and concise. You will lose out to candidates that took the time to prepare fully.
Why you’ll benefit by reading The Stop Sign
I’ve just presented five topics with answers in less than two pages. If you re-read the statements above, you’ll note how I didn’t tell you what to do. I told you what not do to.
And this is how The Stop Sign will operate. We won’t overload you with dozens of steps for success or reveal some secret sauce that will supposedly guarantee you a job. Instead, we will convey precise things that practically all career experts agree you should not do.
For example, 98 résumé -writers out of 100 may differ on a recommended format and wording of some bullets, but I’m confident 98 out of 100 will agree on what you should not do!
Remember, even if you aren’t sure what to do, your job search will experience a vast improvement by excluding what you should not be doing.
So, if you’re looking for career direction, be sure to watch for The Stop Sign. Feel free to send any questions you’d like answered in these posts. We’ll tell you what not to do and where to go—not!
About The Author
Ed Lawrence is a National Certified Résumé Writer (CPRW), National Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE), and is certified in DISC, MBTI, and Skillscan. He has volunteered with the ICT for seven years. Learn more about him at www.linkedin.com/in/educate.
The StopSign is a job-search column offering serious career advice with a touch of humor to help you stand out among the crowd that follows the same-old, same-old advice you find all over the internet. Feel free to send any questions you’d like answered in these posts. We’ll tell you what not to do and where to go—not!