Battling unemployment and getting hired


Earlier today I received an e-mail asking me to sign a petition aimed at employers who use Monster.com. The petition asks Monster to take action so employers not discriminate against unemployed job seekers.

Curious, I decided to log into my Monster.com account to see if there was a field that you could mark as being unemployed. I created this account a couple of years ago so I could not remember the specifics regarding the profile questions. The closest thing I could find was a field for career status and among them was not an option about being unemployed (see images below). So how employers are making that determination is beyond me. I would imagine it’s extracted in the individuals resume.

Career statuses available at monster.com in the user profile.

I also ended up calling a friend who had been applying to jobs through Monster.com. The only thing he remembers doing is signing up and uploading a resume. His resume shows his work history and notes that he is currently employed. He also mentioned that some sites actually read, extract and place data from your resume into pre-defined fields (such as dates employed, job titles and education). So that is to say that computers can determine if you are currently employed or not based on the information you provide in your resume.

During his job search, he was very fortunate and received almost 100% call backs within the first week followed be interviews. He also received three job offers. Here are some tips from a current job seeker.

1.) Cover letter may not be needed. Many employers who are now hiring may have gone through a reduction in staff in 2008 and 2009. Workers, including HR staff are being stretched thin (including the person reviewing your resume). Employers are going to screen your resume quickly, so instead of including a cover letter, write a short paragraph about yourself at the top of your resume selling your best points. Highlight your strengths specifically to the industry you work in but keep it general enough so that you don’t have to modify it for every resume.

2.) Keep your resume simple. In every job, list your accomplishments whether you made them on your own or as part of a team. Being a shinning star is great but if you work well with a team that says a lot about your personality. Try to captivate them within one or two pages.

3.) Never say you are unemployed Even if you haven’t had a job for sometime, engage in business idea related to your skills. You may not have the start up funds to do so, but you can always manage. Example: If you are in finance, accounting or computer services – start a consulting venture. Even if you only work on it 10 hours a week, that’s enough for you to talk about what you are doing to keep yourself relevant.

4.) Smile, dress well, never admit to having flaws During your interview, especially in panel interviews you want to make them feel at ease with you. Give them the ability to visualize how pleasant it would be working with you. Their visual will be aided by the way you dress and present yourself, thus the smiling. Also, you will often run into questions such as “What is your worst characteristic?”, “What would other say your flaws are?”, “Describe a time when you had a disagreement with a customer/coworkers/etc…”. The best responses typically are “Quite frankly, I can’t really say I have any bad characteristics. Life is good so I am pretty happy all the time. I can’t recall the last time a situation made me upset or feel bad. I must be lucky in that way.” and “Fortunately I haven’t had to experience any bad situation with customers/coworkers. I am a great listener and try to look for non-verbal queues so that I can proactively engage and meet their needs. It’s just a habit I’ve encountered over time and I think that’s really what’s kept me from experiencing such situations”.

5.) Value yourself. When asked, why are you looking for a job. Don’t say, “Because I need one and I don’t have one” or “I am currently unemployed”. Simply say, I am selectively looking at reputable employers who offer a challenging opportunity that will allow me to grow in terms of my profession. I’ve heard good things about your company and wanted to know more.” Be sure to visit their website and read up on them a bit. Another common question asked is what you know about their company. A thoughtful response is usually indicative of genuine interest.

Best of luck. And about that Monster.com thing, man I hope it’s not true but if you care to sign the petition, go to: http://www.change.org/petitions/monstercom-ban-job-listings-that-discriminate-against-the-unemployed

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