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Myths and Truths from a Career Readiness Expert

tips for finding a jobRick Sears shares his industry experience with Harris students

Mount Laurel, NJ. Career readiness expert Rick Sears recently presented a job-readiness seminar for students of the Harris School of Business. In a three-hour session, he tackled topics ranging from improving your Facebook profiles and creating LinkedIn accounts to crafting a stronger resume and preparing for an interview.

Sears is the president and CEO of Career Masters International, a career readiness and employee development recruiting firm. In his seminar, he aimed to demystify the job-search process, and in doing so, he provided dozens of useful hints and tips for job seekers. He debunked some common myths and provided practical advice for improving your chances of success in the job market. Read more to find out what the audience learned:

Myth #1: Nobody is hiring! I’ll never find a job!

Truth: Companies are always hiring (whether they know it or not).

If companies do not advertise any job openings, this does not necessarily mean that they are not hiring. If their current employees are not doing a satisfactory job, or if changes in staffing are about to occur, they may be keeping their eyes open for possible new employees without actually advertising a position. For this reason, it is important that you continue to network and market yourself as much as possible. You never know where a job opportunity might arise.

Myth #2: My Facebook and Instagram accounts are locked and private. A prospective employer can’t see what I post.

Truth: Companies can find a way in! Play it safe and keep your online profile clean and professional.

  • Do not use an unprofessional-sounding email address. Choose an email address that contains your full name. Avoid numbers if possible, and definitely avoid any nicknames or anything that would be seen as unprofessional.
  • Do not post any pictures or statements that you would not want a hiring manager to see! Even if you think your profiles are locked, it is usually possible for employers to find a way into your account through your friends’ accounts.

Here are some things to avoid in your postings:

  • Don’t badmouth employers
  • Don’t post pictures or make statements about drinking, smoking, doing drugs, or doing anything illegal
  • Don’t post strongly political statements
  • Don’t use poor grammar, poor spelling, or foul language in your posts
  • Don’t use an unprofessional screen name

Myth #3: I can’t network because I’m just starting out in the field, and don’t know anyone yet.

Truth: Everyone can network if they put their mind to it.

  • Start by talking to everyone you know and tell them you are looking for a job. People want to help you, and will try to get you connected.
  • Set up a LinkedIn account. Be sure to keep it current with your relevant professional information. Use a professional-looking photograph.
  • Invite others to connect with you. LinkedIn will suggest other people that you may know. Use the contacts and let them know you are looking for a job.
  • Find someone in your career field and ask to arrange an informational interview.
  • Ask if you can shadow someone on the job.
  • Attend networking events and industry conferences.
  • Get involved in your career field. Join professional associations, take continuing education classes, read career-related articles online, post and share interesting articles with others.
  • Keep up your appearance and your enthusiasm. Never underestimate the power of a genuine smile when making a first impression. Wear presentable clothing when you are in any situation where you might be able to network.

Myth #4: My resume will never get noticed, and will disappear into cyberspace.

Truth: The competition may be strong, but there are many ways to improve your chances of getting your resume noticed.

Do’s

  • Employers want to know how they will benefit by hiring you. Be sure to include your primary benefit that you will be bringing the employer. Sears call this you “unique selling proposition.”
  • Make sure you are applying for a job that is within your training and experience.
  • Make sure your focus is clear; identify your objective, including the job title you want.
  • It helps if you have had a job with the same or similar job title as the one you are applying for. If you are new to the field, be sure to highlight your relevant training, education, or an internship you might have completed.
  • Include measurable achievements to show the employer that you get results.
  • Tailor your resume for each job opening, using keywords from the job ad.
  • Keep your resume to one page.
  • Use action words, keywords, and industry-related current buzz words.
  • See if you can re-post the resume to the top of the job board periodically (if the job board allows).
  • In an online application, always complete all fields, even if they are not required (except never insert your SSN–for security reasons). Complete assessments or tests, even if they are not required.

Don’ts

  • Don’t send your resume indiscriminately and post it on every job board you can find. Use your time wisely and just apply where your experience is a good fit.
  • Don’t include personal information—keep it professional.
  • Don’t include jobs from a long time ago—if it’s older than 10 years, leave it out.
  • Don’t use any fancy formatting. Use a Word program, and avoid decorative bullets, special formatting, and unusual fonts. Don’t submit your resume as a PDF. A computer will be scanning the document, and may get garbled results if you make it too fancy.

Myth #5. I got an interview, but I know I’m going to blow it.

Truth: Everyone is nervous during an interview. If you follow a few simple rules, and take the time to prepare, you can improve your interview skills immensely.

Do’s

  • Wear a business suit and look professional.
  • Turn off your cell phone and put it away for the whole interview.
  • Make a good first impression: use a strong handshake, good eye contact, and a relaxed smile. Try to avoid any nervous actions.
  • Have a 30-second speech ready about why you are a good fit for the job and what you can bring to the employer.
  • Have a speech ready about your short-term and long-term goals.
  • Do your research about the company. Bring a list of questions. You can ask about the company’s future plans for growth, how the company differs from its competitors, and what are the strengths of the company. Or ask about a typical day in the job, how your job would interact with other departments, and how you would be evaluated.
  • At the start of the interview, if appropriate, you might want to ask the interviewer a friendly question like “What is your role in the company?” or “How long have you been with the company?” This way, you will give yourself a chance to relax and get composed while the interviewer answers.
  • Practice with mock interviews before the day of the interview. Have friends or family members role-play the interview with you.

Don’ts

  • Never be late. Arrive about 10 minutes early. Map out your route the day before and check traffic patterns to make sure you arrive early.
  • Never complain about former jobs or former supervisors.
  • Never lie.
  • Never say anything negative about yourself, even if they ask you about your weaknesses. Instead, explain how you have turned weaknesses into strengths.
  • Don’t ask about the salary/wage. But do your research and know what the average salary is. If they ask you about salary, don’t discuss an exact figure, but say that you are aware of the average salary, and would look forward to discussing it if a job offer is made.

Sears ended his presentation with an inspirational message to students, encouraging them to have confidence in themselves as they begin their new careers. For the full presentation, visit http://cmicare.com/.

The Harris School of Business Career Services department is pleased to be working alongside Mr. Sears in our efforts to help our students find jobs and develop meaningful careers. For more information about job-hunting, visit our Tips to Help You Find a Job page.