Are These Momentum Killers Affecting Your Job Search?

You’ve put hours into crafting the perfect resume, and have tailored it to each application and position. Your cover letter shows personality, enthusiasm and helps highlight the key reasons an employer should choose you over the competition. You’ve even aced your job interviews.

Now it’s time to sit back and wait for the offers to roll in, right?job search advice

Not quite.

You could have the perfect resume, the most eloquent cover letter and you could have finished the world’s best job interview, but still end up without a job offer. When you’ve put in the time and effort to build real momentum in your job search, waiting for the phone to ring — and not getting the call — can be frustrating.

But there’s good news – you can prevent a loss of momentum during your job search by avoiding these common four (4) mistakes:

Mistake #1 Following up incessantly. If an employer says you can expect to hear about their decision within seven days and 10 days later your phone (or email) is still silent, it can be frustrating. Your frustration is understandable! But outside of a quick follow up email or voicemail checking in, you should avoid any type of recruiter “pestering” with follow ups.

While many employers hope to have decisions in a timely manner, sometimes every day business (or other matters) simply get in the way. Maybe the right team members were unable to connect and discuss the candidates, maybe an urgent business matter required “all hands on deck” and pulled decision makers away from discussing your position.

Regardless of the “why,” your actions are what matter here. One follow up within a few days of when you were told to expect follow up is acceptable. Anything beyond that (including calls, emails or social media messages) will have a negative effect on your chances (and could eradicate any goodwill or momentum you had going for you after your interview).

Mistake #2 Going on a few interviews, then doing nothing. Without a doubt, you should be proud of a strong job interview. Review what went well, what could have gone better and identify what you can bring to the table for the next interview.

Yes, the next one.

A strong interview isn’t a sign that you should stop your job search efforts. There are many factors that can influence whether or not you land the job. Many of them are out of your control. So while you can and should reflect on successful interviews and interactions with employers, don’t take your foot off the gas pedal! You should spend time each day (or however much time you can) to search for jobs, prepare resumes and continue applying to jobs that are a match for your skills and career goals. (HINT: The Talent Relationship Managers at Helpmates can help you with this part of the process – we’ll search for opportunities that match your skills and goals and will help you prepare for those interviews!).

Mistake #3 Getting a little too presumptuous. Interviews go well. Job offers may be expected. But you should never assume anything. As mentioned previously, there are many factors that can influence whether or not you get the job.

You may have made a strong impression, but a great interview doesn’t guarantee you the job. So while you may be excited about the prospect of joining your new potential employer, now isn’t the time to “act the part.” Acting as if you’ve already got the job can be a major turn off to employers. Talking about the job as if you’ve already landed it on social media is one way to kill your momentum. Adding recruiters or other employees on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter can also be a major turn off (even if you especially hit it off during the interview process, hold off on adding employees on personal social media sites — LinkedIn is okay — until after you’ve been offered and have accepted the position).

Mistake #4 You change your salary expectations. Confidence can help you impress during job interviews and leave a lasting, positive impression. Overconfidence, on the other hand, can immediately land your resume on the “discard” pile.

For some job openings, recruiters choose to interview or follow up with candidates based on a range of criteria. Sometimes that criteria includes salary expectations. In a state of excitement and overconfidence following a strong job interview, it can be tempting to assume you’re at the top of the employer’s list and as a result, should demand a higher salary.

If you’ve already discussed salary expectations (either the employer has stated the possible salary range and you have agreed, or you have shared your own salary expectations), do not accept a job offer under the condition of a salary that falls outside of that range. Not only could this lose you the job, it could tarnish your reputation. After all, the employer has invested a great deal of time into sourcing, vetting and interviewing you, only to be thrown for a loop at the final hour. Be respectful of expectations and what has transpired during the interview process.

If you’re really hoping for a higher salary, start your job off strong, ask questions, set goals for yourself and discuss them with your manager. Then, track your successes and quantify your performance. At your first employee performance review, you’ll be prepared to justify and negotiate a raise.

Avoiding key mistakes is essential to a successful job search. The Helpmates team can help you stay on track and land great jobs that align with your goals. We work with top employers in Los Angeles, Irvine and across Southern California. Search our available jobs or contact your nearest Helpmates office to learn more.

Are You Choosing the Right Professional References?

Sometimes professional references are the last step between you and your dream job. Often, employers check your references as the very last step before offering you the job.

So how much thought have you put into choosing your references?

Until a formal offer is made, the job isn’t yours. But it can be easy to lose your strategic edge when choosing which professional references to list. When it comes to job search advice, choosing the right references is right up there with a strong resume and polished cover letter.

Be sure to choose professional references who demonstrate these traits:Professional references advice

  • They will take the request seriously. Sometimes former colleagues are also friends – that happens to many of us throughout our careers. But choosing friends isn’t typically a good choice when it comes to your career. Employers who choose to speak with professional references are doing so because they value the insight such references can provide. If you choose someone (or some people) who are unprepared or don’t take the role of professional reference seriously, it can most definitely damage your reputation and result in someone else receiving the job offer. When employers ask you for references, they’re expecting you to choose the people who will position you in the best possible light, and who will be prepared to talk about why you’re a great fit for their organization. If you don’t choose the very best references now, what kind of message does that send employers about the types of choices you’ll make on the job?
  • They can express themselves well verbally (or possibly in writing). Most professional references are contacted via phone to discuss you and your qualifications, but from time to time employers will reach out via email. To be sure your bases are covered, you should present professional references who are comfortable expressing themselves both verbally and in writing. At this point in the process, your professional references are literally “selling” you, so be certain to choose individuals who are comfortable expressing why you’re the right choice.
  • They understand your weaknesses (and can position them well). We all have weaknesses. In all likelihood, you discussed yours during the interview process. But your potential new employer isn’t done talking about them – your professional references should be prepared to discuss them as well (and how you can turn them into strengths). If you’re choosing professional references who served as a direct supervisor, colleague or client, they likely have had an opportunity to see you “in action” and can formulate some thoughts on your strengths and weaknesses. But this your career – don’t be afraid to take charge and talk to your references ahead of time about your weaknesses. You don’t want to give the impression you’re telling your references what they should say. But, having a candid conversation where you ask for insight into your strengths and weaknesses can help prepare your references for having that same conversation later with a recruiter.

If you’re ready to submit your references to an employer, you’re near the finish line – congratulations! But if you’re still looking for your next career opportunity, call Helpmates. We work with top employers across Southern California, and we’ll help you find the right job to reach your goals. Search our open jobs or contact your nearest Helpmates office now to get started.

It’s Time For Spring Cleaning (Your Job Search)

Spring has officially sprung — as the trees blossom and the weather improves, are you where you want to be in your career? Just a few months back, we offered these tips for turning your New Year’s career resolutions into a reality this year. If you haven’t made as much progress as you’d like, it’s time to use the spring season to your advantage. 

Get to work on spring cleaning your job searchHM April Blog 1

The theme of “spring cleaning” has a few different applications – maybe it’s cleaning out the garage, a spare bedroom or your car. Maybe it means changing your diet to focus on healthier foods. This year, take a different approach to spring cleaning — use it to freshen up your job search.

Spring cleaning your job search doesn’t have to be as intensive as a weekend spent cleaning the garage – follow these three steps to take a fresh approach to your career this spring:

  1. Overhaul your resume. You should be reviewing and updating your resume at least once or twice a year (or perhaps more frequently if you’ve changed jobs multiple times). This checklist offers four things many people forget to put on their resumes (make sure yours is complete!). Spring cleaning your resume can really help remove unnecessary clutter and help employers focus on the most pertinent and relevant details. Here are a few places to start: Removing work experience that’s more than 10 years old or isn’t directly relevant to the jobs you’re applying to right now; Freshen up your bullet points by adding your most recent accomplishments (quantifying results wherever possible) – remember to go beyond your to-do list and focus on what you’ve done in your jobs; Tighten up the language by including relevant keywords to your target job titles wherever possible; and Eliminate unnecessary words or clutter to make your resume more visually appealing.
  2. Call your recruiter. Maybe you’ve been working in your latest position for awhile, or perhaps your job search just took a backseat to other priorities to start the year. One of the best ways to freshen up your job search this spring is by calling your recruiter. Either on a phone call or in a meeting, update your recruiter on what you’ve been up to, what your goals are and what you’re looking for in the short and long term for your career. Your recruiter is one of the most critical tools in your job search, and ensuring he or she has the most up to date information about you, your job and your goals means that recruiter is able to match you to the most relevant jobs within those goals. Plus, many recruiters are extremely busy – when you take the initiative to touch base with an update, you’re ensuring that you stay top of mind, which can be a huge boost when new jobs open up.
  3. Spring clean your wardrobe. Hiring managers are using a lot of information to determine whether you’re a fit for their companies. Resumes and input from recruiters play a part, but your wardrobe is also essential. From the moment you walk through the door, potential employers are assessing your wardrobe to determine your level of professionalism and respect for the position and company. In the literal sense, spring cleaning your wardrobe means putting away the heavy sweaters and moving into lighter clothing. But also take the opportunity to determine whether your spring and summer interview clothes truly put your best foot forward. Ask a friend or relative for input if you’re not sure. New wardrobe pieces don’t have to cost a fortune, but your interview clothing should be professional, and your work wardrobe should match the corresponding employment environment of your profession.
  4. Review and revise your online presence. Recruiters are putting in the time to review your online profiles for sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook. While you’re updating your resume, take a few minutes to update your social media profiles to ensure they are up to date and positioning you in the best light. For Facebook, verify your privacy settings keep personal photos and posts to family and friends. Keep Twitter content personal but professional and respectful wherever possible – if you spot something that could be misconstrued or hurt your reputation with a hiring manager, play it safe and delete the tweet(s). On LinkedIn, verify your photo is professional, and update your profile throughout to ensure it helps tell your personal story while highlighting your professional accomplishments. Taking a few minutes on each of these sites helps ensure recruiters and hiring managers see a complete, professional portrait when visiting your social media profiles.

Spring offers an excellent opportunity to recharge your job search – the team at Helpmates can also help you take your career to the next level. Visit our job board or contact your local Helpmates office today to get started.

Mastering the Art of Multiple Job Offers and Counter Offers

Whether you call it a “talent war” or a “skirmish,” one fact is certain: businesses today are in extreme competition for talented professionals. And that competition puts many job seekers at a distinct advantage.HM

Without a doubt, today’s businesses want top talent — and they are willing to provide competitive compensation in order to get it. Position yourself strategically — one excellent way is to partner with a staffing firm —  and there is incredible potential to receive not just one job offer, but multiple offers.

But how do you handle multiple offers and potential counter offers from employers? These tips can help you weigh the benefits of each offer and make the best decision for your family and career:

  1. Think about your current employer first. If you’ve received multiple job offers and visit your employer to review, you may receive a counter offer. This counter offer could be very tempting – you wouldn’t have to learn new processes and procedures, or memorize new names for your coworkers. You’d keep the old, familiar feeling, while also gaining a higher salary or other fringe benefits. Seems like an ideal situation, right? If you’ve already decided to leave but feel lured by the counter offer, consider this: If you have to turn in notice and announce you’re leaving in order to get a promotion or salary increase, does your employer really value your contributions? Or are they simply buying time to find your replacement? Or perhaps they realize that retaining one employee is cheaper than finding and hiring a new one. While the initial counter offer could seem appealing, the long-term ramifications of accepting that offer may not align with your initial plans and goals for seeking new employment.
  2. Get it in writing. So, you’ve decided to consider multiple offers from employers – congratulations! But until the choice has been made, it might be best to temper your excitement and focus on the task at hand. First things first, ensure you have any job offers in writing before making a decision. Verbal offers are not legally offers, and employers may — and this could be unintentional or a miscommunication, but it does happen — change the details of your verbal offer. If you’ve already turned down another employer, you’ll end up stuck with whatever is left. Alert the HR representative making a verbal offer that you are happy to consider the offer, as soon as you get it in writing.
  3. Be careful. Multiple offers are unsurprising to employers today — remember that talent war mentioned above. That doesn’t mean, though, that they enjoy being pitted against one another. It’s important to tread carefully and ensure you’re communicating thoroughly with employers. You most definitely don’t want them to feel that they’re in a sort of game. If you’ve received an offer from one employer while still interviewing with another, wait until the final interview and alert the recruiter that you have received an unexpected offer from another employer. Reassure them that they are your top pick, but that the other offer is appealing. Ask them when they might be considering making a hiring decision, then leave the ball in their court. If they are strongly considering hiring you for the position, they will likely be motivated to enter the fray and make their own offer. If, however, they decide to back out at that time, know that you’ve been totally honest and upfront with the employer, and that you are choosing the employer who is most invested in your future.
  4. Don’t burn bridges. Regardless of which employer you choose, always end the decision with personalized thank you notes. Communicating with an organization after you’ve turned down a job may feel awkward – kind of like running an old boyfriend or girlfriend at the grocery store.  But, sending out a quick note thanking each employer for its consideration officially closes the hiring process while leaving them with a positive impression of you. Sure, you may have chosen another opportunity this time, but you never know when you will cross paths with either that employer again, or with someone you met during the interview process. It is always better to be gracious and honest with employers!

Before you can choose between multiple job offers, you need to jump feet first into your job search. Helpmates partners with talented professionals like you to match them with excellent career opportunities at respected employers. Visit our job board to learn more about our current jobs in Southern California and submit your resume to get started.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ambro 

Job Interview Tips: How to Discuss an Awful Job Experience

While every past position hasn’t necessarily been a dream job, chances are you’ve had a bad experience or two in your employment history. From bad bosses to policies that don’t make sense, you probably have quite a few stories…but how you handle those experiences during a job interview could be essential to determining whether or not you land the job.Juneblog2

Careful handling of past job experiences is key.

Interviewers will expect you to come prepared to discuss past employers and positions, so careful preparation and handling of any bad experiences can make the difference between starting your new job and submitting another resume. Here are five tips to help you get through the discussion with flying colors:

  1. Be honest. It can be awfully tempting to gloss over a bad work experience in an attempt to impress interviewers, but this tactic can blow up in your face – and cause more damage than a tactful answer in the first place. Chances are your recruiter will speak with someone at your previous job and understand that it wasn’t the best situation. Be ahead of the game by sharing honest feedback on your previous experience.
  2. But not too honest. An overview of past experiences – good or bad – can help give interviewers a well-rounded look into your background and how you’ve handled challenging situations. But while honesty is important, be sure to avoid giving too much information during a job interview. A high-level explanation of the challenges in a previous workplace, and how you overcame them, is more than enough to paint an accurate picture for recruiters. Going into more detail can open up additional questions that are uncomfortable and lead to unnecessary details.
  3. Avoid negativity. While honesty is important, tact and class are especially critical. Never (ever!) speak negatively about an individual in your previous workplace (or about an employer in general). While you can mention that you didn’t “have the strongest relationship” with a specific colleague, refrain from getting into blame or personal attacks during a job interview. Sometimes coworkers or bosses and employees don’t get along. It happens to many people, and if you speak about it with honesty while staying professional, you will make a much stronger impression.
  4. Find something positive. While you may not have had the best experience at a previous employer, chances are there was something positive you gained from the experience. Maybe they provided you with opportunities to grow your skill set. Or perhaps their flexible work arrangements helped create a better environment. Tying in something positive about the employer – despite your overall negative experience – demonstrates your willingness to learn and stay objective in difficult situations.
  5. Talk about your other jobs. Once you’ve given a high-level, honest overview of your experience and the positives you gleaned from it, move on. Put the emphasis more on your positive experiences and how they’ve prepared you for the specific career opportunity discussed in your interview. If you focus too much attention on the negative experience, it could end up being the most memorable part of your interview (for the wrong reasons). Instead, get to the details and move on to help tell your story and show why you’re the best fit for the job.

Want to avoid more bad job experiences? Helpmates is hiring professionals like you for jobs across Southern California. Search our job board or contact your nearest Helpmates office to learn more.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/stockimages

Keep Your Job Search Focused This Summer

Summer is an exciting time for many of us – nice weather, vacations, family gatherings, outdoor activities and more. But while the season brings with it many fun activities, those activities could be considered distractions when it comes to your job search. HM_JuneBlog1

Finding a job during the summer requires focus

If you’re looking for a job, it can be easy to get distracted by summer activities and lose sight of your end goal. But while hiring generally slows down in the summer, it also ramps up quite a bit in the fall – the effort you put forth now can help set you up for success in the long term. The good news is that you don’t have to give up on fun entirely during the summer season – these tips can help you stay focused (while giving you some room for fun, too):

  • Schedule your day. Even if you can only devote a few hours each day toward your job search this summer, stay committed to those several hours. Schedule out your days and identify key goals and tasks you’ll accomplish each day. Something as simple as breaking things down into steps can mean the difference between landing a new job and starting over again in the fall.
  • Keep networking. With better weather comes better networking event locations – take advantage! Various networking groups will hold outdoor and other events during the summer, offering a fun way to enjoy the summer while moving your job search forward as well.
  • Stay professional. Summer temperatures are hotter, but resist the urge to wear casual summer clothes to networking or other professional events. Stay professional when you’re meeting with potential employers, recruiters or at networking events.
  • Remember it’s summer. Your schedule isn’t the only one that’s jam-packed this summer – chances are that hiring managers have summer vacations, family gatherings and other events too. Keep this in mind and be patient if you don’t hear back from employers in the most time efficient manner. Stay focused, follow up and be patient – it will pay off in the end.
  • Consider volunteering. Many nonprofit organizations hold fundraisers and other events to take advantage of the good moods and spirit of giving that come along with the great summer weather. Spending a few hours each week helping these organizations is not only a great thing to do for your community, but a great way to expand your network and build your skill set.

Looking for jobs in Southern California this summer? 

Helpmates is hiring! We match professionals like you with great jobs in Southern California. Search our currently available jobs or contact your nearest Helpmates office to get started.

Oops! 4 Things You Forgot to Put in Your Resume

Many blogs and online resources are focused on helping you create the perfect resume to entice employers and show off your skills. And with good reason – your resume is a critical component of a successful job search. Without it, it is unlikely you’ll land an interview and proceed through the hiring process.

Creating an impactful resume is key to a successful job searchUntitled

There are so many details to remember when it comes to resumes: Formatting, contact information, focusing on achievements…it can be hard to keep track of them all. But forget something important, and your resume could end up in the trash bin. Here are three things you shouldn’t forget on your resume:

  • Your website address. Do you have a personal blog or website? Particularly in technical or creative roles, personal websites can be a fantastic job search tool. They offer a unique opportunity to not just talk about your skills, but to actually show employers your work. Outside of technical roles, personal websites offer a great opportunity to showcase your industry knowledge and communication skills. Free websites can be set up on sites like wordpress.com. Be sure to include a link to your website with your contact information on your resume so employers know it’s a critical piece of your portfolio.  And, of course, be sure that the content of your website reflects work and information that you would want a future employer to see!
  • Social media links. This might initially sound incorrect, but it is not a mistake – including links to your professional social media profiles can be a great way to ensure recruiters get the full picture of who you are as a professional and what you bring to the table. In particular, your LinkedIn URL is valuable here. If you have a Twitter account, it can also be a good choice. Personal tweets are acceptable, as long as you also include some professional or relevant tweets (and you avoid profane or inflammatory language that could turn off potential employers).
  • Volunteer work. Employers want to understand your entire professional picture – what you bring to the table. If you’re active in non-profit work, this can be a tremendous asset to employers, and a great way to showcase your differentiators in a resume. In particular, volunteer work that boosts your skills relevant to your position and job title are especially interesting to employers. This is also a great area in which to demonstrate skills you have that might not be directly relevant to the job for which you are applying—you never know what other positions or future opportunities might exist and this will give recruiters and hiring managers a more complete picture of what you have to offer!
  • Achievements/Certifications. You’ve done great work – showing it off on your resume is essential. Whether you were named “Employee of the Month” or “Best Teammate” at a past employer, or you received community recognition for volunteer work, your accomplishments should be a featured part of your resume. These not only help paint that full picture mentioned above, but they show you’re a winner – someone who goes above and beyond to reach goals. Certifications also help demonstrate this key facet of a successful employee. When a professional goes above and beyond to become especially proficient in a particular field, this action shows employers the desire and ability to go above and beyond in the workplace.

Work these four things into your resume, and it will be an even stronger tool in your job search arsenal. And if you’re looking for jobs in Southern California, check out our job board. The recruiters at Helpmates will review your resume, make recommendations and match you with tremendous career opportunities with some of the region’s top employers. Be sure to send us your resume today and we’ll be in touch!

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/phasinphotos

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