Your Top 5 Job-search Questions Answered

Job seekers spend a lot of time online.  Faced with a daily barrage of conflicting information, many job seekers wonder how they’ll ever get a job again. Fortunately, there is a great new book written by a recruiting expert that gives us the honest answers we’ve been looking for.

Phil Blair, Executive Officer of ManpowerSan Diego and author of the new Job-Search Book: JOB WON, gives us an inside peek into the minds of recruiters:  What are they really thinking when we walk into a room? How should I really format my resume?  What should I say in my cover letter? And much more.

With over 500,000 hires under his belt, Blair has seen and heard it all.  Job Won provides a step-by-step guide to navigating the job-search market and helps you identify the mistakes you may have been making in your quest to land that perfect job.

Last week, I sat down with Blair and asked him the questions you’ve been asking me over the past few months.  For the sake of space, I have selected the top 5 questions. If you’re interested in receiving a complete list, feel free to contact me at the email address at the end of this blog.

AM I BEING PASSED OVER FOR JOBS BECAUSE OF MY AGE?

Ever feel like you’re being overlooked for a job because you’re too old?  Well, according to Blair, it has nothing to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with your resume.  If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest technology and skills, companies are going to look for someone who has.  Age has nothing to do with it.

In fact, unlike twenty or thirty years ago, employers don’t expect workers to become “lifers” at their company.  According to Blair, the average life span of a job is just over 3 years.  So whether you’re thirty or fifty-five, employers know they’ll probably only have you for a finite period.

“The reality is that most companies like a blend of ages,” said Blair.  “You don’t want all twenty-year-old with no experience working for you.  Just like you don’t want an entire staff made up of experienced workers.  It’s important to find a balance of ages AND personalities.”

“The funny thing is that young people think more experienced workers are getting all of the jobs.  And older workers think younger people are.  I hear both of those complaints all of the time.  The truth is, the most qualified person who fits in with the company culture is the person getting the job.  Their age doesn’t matter.”

HIS ADVICE:  Be confident and stay competitive by getting and keeping your skills up to date.  Stop complaining and start doing!   “If you want me to believe in you, you have to believe in yourself,” he said.  AND – Don’t try and disguise dates on your resume.  This only makes interviewers suspicious.  You NEVER want to raise red flags by leaving out information.  It makes the interviewer wonder what else you’re hiding.   You don’t need to include your retail job from thirty years ago, but include important, relevant information that’s related to the position you’re applying for.

WHAT IF I HAVE A BIG GAP ON MY RESUME?

Been a stay-at-home mom or dad for ten years?  Blair says it doesn’t have the stigma you imagine.  The important thing is to address it head-on and fill in the gap with all of the things you’ve been doing for the past ten years.

Chances are, it’s a lot.

Stay-at-home moms and dads don’t just stay at home and clean all day.  They work – all of the time – even if they’re not drawing a paycheck.

From volunteer work to running meetings to taking classes – all of the work you’ve done is relevant and should be included on your resume.  They are all transferable skills.

“Sell the interviewer on the fact that you’re an accomplished person,” said Blair.

HIS ADVICE: Get those skills up to date, do volunteer work and start studying.  SHOW the interviewer that you are continually working to better yourself, stay current and expand your skill sets.

AM I BEING JUDGED ON MY APPEARANCE?

The answer is a definitive yes – from the moment you walk in the door.  And I don’t mean any of your physical characteristics.  I mean the way you present yourself.

It seems obvious – I always thought it was – but Blair has seen his share of candidates dress inappropriately for interviews.

“Leave the cleavage and short skirts for the nightclub,” he advises.  “There’s nothing that makes an interviewer more uncomfortable than seeing cleavage and short skirts.  And men: always wear clean and pressed interview clothes in keeping with the company’s image.  When people come into my office, I immediately imagine them with my biggest client.  How would they act, speak and dress?  The way they present themselves in the interview is how I imagine they’ll present themselves with my client – and the client is my number one priority – so I’m only going to send them the candidate that I feel will represent Manpower and their company in the best light.”

HIS ADVICE:  Follow these rules of thumb when dressing for an interview:

  1. Dress professionally.  Your dress should reflect the company culture.  Show you’ve done your research and dress in a similar manner that would suit their standards.
  2. Limit jewelry.  Blair said that there’s nothing worse than bangles or bracelets clanking against a desk during an interview.  A watch is always important.  It shows the hiring manager you pay attention to the time.
  3. Go easy on the makeup and perfume.  You don’t want the hiring manager to be distracted by anything you’re wearing.
  4. Your clothes should be clean and pressed.  Even if you can only afford one interview outfit, keep it crisp and clean and ready to wear at a moment’s notice.
  5. Wear a smile – a positive attitude and demeanor will get the interviewer’s attention much quicker than a brightly-colored blouse.

work online in company

CAN TEMP WORK HELP ME GET BACK IN THE GAME?

Blair is passionate about temp work.  During his 37 year career, his team has placed over 500,000 candidates in positions throughout San Diego.   And he feels strongly that it’s a great way to get back to work.

According to Blair, there are multiple advantages to temp work:

  • You can put company names back on your resume
  • You can to see and use the latest technology
  • It gives you a chance to test the waters and make sure you can manage your family’s schedule with a full-time job
  • Temping offers daily networking opportunities
  • Your job might turn permanent
  • You can meet the hiring managers directly and get the inside scoop on upcoming positions
  • It gives you the chance to show employers your skills rather than just explaining it on paper
  • You can earn some much-needed income

Did you know that 42% of temp assignments turn into permanent jobs?

Did you also realize that temp jobs are no longer JUST limited to clerical work?  There are jobs available in ALL types of fields.

HIS ADVICE: Check out your nearest staffing agency, set up a meeting and explore the possibilities.

WHERE DO I DRAW THE LINE BETWEEN HEALTHY PERSEVERANCE AND COMING ACROSS LIKE A STALKER?

While it’s really good to know as much as you can about a company, “Googling” the interviewer is downright creepy.  Blair said that he has had people come into interviews and try to bond with him over personal information they dug up on the internet.

He suggests approaching your follow-up with “polite persistence.”

It’s OK to look at their LinkedIn profile, but don’t do a background check or bring up anything personal during an interview.  You may think you’re showing initiative, but the interviewer is probably worrying that you’re going to show up at their house in the middle of the night if you don’t get the job.

Also, thank-you notes are ALWAYS welcome – if not essential.  A hand-written note goes a long way.  You can even drop the interviewer a quick message about an article you came across that was relevant to something you discussed.  It will be appreciated and show that you listened when they spoke.

HIS ADVICE: Always keep your interview professional.  And make sure you follow up on the interview with a healthy amount of “polite persistence.”

About the Author: Carol James is an EssayLab psychology department writer and senior editor. She has MA degree in social sciences and is an excellent specialist in this field. Carol worked with numerous materials on the subject and is eager to share her knowledge with our readers.

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