In Your Job Search, Focus on What You Can Control

Famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to tell his players to focus only on those things they could control.

His wisdom applies to your job search: you can’t control how many job interviews you receive but you can control how many people you reach out to. You can’t control whether or not you receive a job offer as a result of one of those interviews, but you can control how well you prepare for your interview, how much research you perform on the company and the hiring manager, how much you practice for the interview, and so on.

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Take a look below for other things you can focus on in your job hunt.

  1. Making sure your resume and cover letter are free from typos, misspellings and grammatical mistakes.

You don’t want to trip up your chances from the get-go, so proof your resume and cover letter for any and all mistakes. If you feel your grammar and spelling skills are sketchy, ask someone you know who is up on spelling and grammar rules to proof your documents.

Another way you can really help your candidacy is to write a different cover letter for each position to which you apply. You also should tweak your resume to showcase the skills and experience you have that best meet the job’s requirements. Yes, this takes more work, but every job is different and your resume/cover letter should “sell” your skills, education and experience in a way that best fits any particular job.

  1. The best positions often go to people who know someone at the company.

Is this “fair”? That’s not the point: this is reality. However, you can control your own network and allow it to help you find a great position. So start asking around (let people know what you’re looking for and the skills you possess). If you see a position you like, check LinkedIn to see if anyone you know has a connection with the employer.

  1. Many people apply for the same position. Competition can be TIGHT!

Don’t let that worry you because as someone who wants to take control of his/her job search, you are going to contact the company (or ask around your contacts) to find the name and contact information of the hiring manager for the position. Then you’re going to contact that person directly. Yes, you are!

There’s a lot you simply can’t control about the job search process, but there’s plenty that you can when it comes to your own efforts. So take as much control as you can and contact potential employers directly, make sure your resume/cover letter is different for each job and has no mistakes at all, and expand your network to help you learn of – and be recommended for –terrific positions.

If your job hunt is taking too long, consider working on some temporary assignments with us here at Helpmates Staffing as you search. Many temporary assignments can – and do – turn into more permanent positions (so you may not need to search anymore)! Take a look at our current job opportunities and then either apply or contact us.

When You Get Caught in a Lie

It happens: you’re feeling great and there’s a ball game you’d love to see playing downtown that afternoon. So you call your boss in the morning, giving the best “I have a bad cold” impersonation you can muster, telling her you’re not feeling well. She buys it and you head off to the game.

But who should you run into at the ballpark but your boss (who took official PTO for the afternoon). She’s not happy and she told you to meet her in her office the next day at 8 a.m. sharp!

Are you toast? Possibly, but not necessarily.

The scenario above actually happened several years ago and the gotta-go-to-the-ballgame employee was fired. But that may not be the case today, as many companies now meld vacation and sick-days into one entity called Paid Time Off (PTO). Employers generally want their workers to take time off for vacations and stay home when they truly are sick. But if you lie about it….

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Most of us are employed at will, which means a company can fire us at any time for any reason. (We also can quit at any time for any reason.) Most employers understand that “things happen,” and pretty much wait for egregious actions (theft) or big mistakes (losing a major client) before using the employed-at-will option and firing an employee.

But you definitely could be fired for lying (such as calling sick when you’re actually well).

However, most lies aren’t serious ones. They tend to be small: you made a relatively minor mistake and you’re trying to cover it up. Chances are you won’t be fired for these, but such a lie will damage your reputation with your manager and affect her trust in you.

So what can you do if you find yourself caught in a lie? Some strategies:

  1. When found out, don’t try to cover it up.

You’d just be continuing the lie and making the consequences when truth does come out even worse for yourself.

  1. Immediately. And sincerely.

As you do so, take full responsibility for your lie. Own it. Say you knew it was wrong and stupid and you deeply regret it. Don’t say it was a small lie, it didn’t affect anything. You can explain why you said it, but don’t try to use that explanation as an excuse: again, own your actions.

  1. Tell your manager you realize she may not trust you as much.

Again, this is part of owning your lie. You must understand that she probably won’t trust you to the same extent going forward and you must address this. Tell your manager you will work hard to rebuild her trust and that you realize this will take some time to do.

  1. Work hard to regain your manager’s trust.

It will take time, but no self-pity allowed. Work harder than you ever have. Unfortunately, you may never regain her trust. If that is the case, after a few months of giving it your all, you may want to start looking elsewhere because chances are good you will miss out on promotions and other opportunities.

When it’s time for you to look for another position in Southern California, make sure you take a look at our current job openings with some of the region’s top employers. If you find one or more opportunities that appeal  to you, apply online or contact the Helpmates office nearest you for more information.

Want to Make Sure You’re Happy at Work? Choose the Right Job AND Company

Since most of us spend more than a third of our waking hours Monday through Friday at work (one arguably could make the case that it’s more than a third after adding on commuting time and the business of getting ready for work in the morning), all of us more  than likely want an enjoyable one-third day. Maybe even a great one-third day. Certainly not a miserable third.

Many of us, therefore, may think we need to find the perfect career or certainly perfect job in order to be happy.

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But even perfect jobs/careers have their bad sides. We know of one physical therapist, for example, who loves treating her patients. The other four hours of her day typing up notes and treatment plans? Not so much: she truly hates the paperwork part, so much so that she’s seriously thinking of changing careers.

So the first thing we need to realize is that we’re not going to be happy for all eight-plus hours on all five days per week.

But we can work to make work pleasant most of the time. Here’s how:

Plan for it.

What we mean is this: you’re not going to stumble into happy circumstances on the job. Instead, you need to know what kind of working environment you enjoy along with the work you like to do. You also may want to consider the personalities of your coworkers.

Another real life example: we know of one woman who took a job in a cube farm that was dark most of the time because her colleagues who worked near the wall of windows on the southeast side couldn’t see their computer screens most of the day because the sun shined right onto them.

She also noticed during the two interview she had with the hiring manager that her future colleagues seemed to keep pretty much to themselves most  of the day. The room was dark and exceptionally quiet.

A voice inside her told her she would be miserable but she took the job knowing she would enjoy the actual work and believing its great benefits – quitting at 2 p.m. every day in the summer, five weeks of paid vacation a year – would make up for the quiet, dark room.

She was miserable and ended up leaving the job within six months (before summer and before she qualified for even one week of vacation).

So ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you like working alone or as part of the team most of the time?
  • Do you need windows?
  • Do you need an office where you can close the door and concentrate?
  • How do you feel about colleagues in an open office playing their radio/streaming music quietly? Televisions on the wall?
  • Ask your boss how she prefers to manage people. Autonomy-with-guidance-as-needed or is she someone who checks on progress every day? Does her management style jibe with how you prefer to be managed?
  • And so on.

These questions may sound trivial, but if you were to talk to either of the women mentioned above, you’d understand that the trivial – the details – are critical to being happy at work. Even the work you love to do can become a burden when the where, how and some of the what makes you miserable.

If you’ve found yourself stuck in a position that you thought would be a great fit work but you found soon enough comes with aspects that make you despondent, consider taking on a temp-to-hire position through Helpmates Staffing. These are temporary assignments that allow you to take work in a position for about three months before signing on more permanently (if both you and your on-site manager agree). These types of temporary positions are a terrific way to “test drive” a company’s and department’s culture to see if you enjoy not only the work, but also your colleagues and work environment.

Take a look at some of our current job opportunities. (Use Advanced Search and click on Temp-to-Hire under Employment Type.)

How to Make a Good First Impression in Your Job Interview

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. When it comes to your job search, that first impression is especially critical.

Stand out for the right reasons in your next job interview

From the moment you walk through the door, you’re making an impression on potential employers. These tips will help ensure it’s a good one:HM_10142

  • Arrive on time. This seems like a no-brainer, but arriving on time — actually, about five
    minutes early — is the biggest way to make a good first impression. Be sure to map out your directions ahead of time, and if you’re really concerned about a punctual arrival, actually visit the employer’s office a few days before your interview to get a good idea how long your commute will take. Arriving on time isn’t just avoiding a late arrival, though – be sure not to arrive too early. Five minutes early is usually a good time to arrive. Any earlier, and you may be interrupting a meeting or inconveniencing the interviewer, who may feel obligated to bring you into the interview early. If you’re concerned about arriving on time or directions for arriving at an employer, your recruiter can help.
  • Look the part. You can’t underestimate the importance of a professional appearance for job interviews. Not all interviews require a three-piece suit, but pants and a shirt that are clean, well prepared (in other words, not wrinkled) and in good condition make an impact. Confidence also falls under “looking the part” – stand tall, make good eye contact when you’re first introduced and be mindful of your posture. If you demonstrate confidence in your ability to fill the role, the interviewer is more likely to think you’re a good fit too! If you’re unsure whether a particular outfit is appropriate for an interview, talk to your recruiter. We know our employers’ needs and preferences, and can help you choose the perfect outfit to make a good impression.
  • Be prepared. Doing a little research on the company and role can make a major impact when first meeting with an employer. Most information about an employer can be found online, but your recruiter is an invaluable resource when conducting this research. Be sure to have at least one conversation with your recruiter, asking thoughtful questions, so that you arrive to the interview knowledgeable and interested in the company and position.  Not only will this make a positive first impression, you’ll also stand out from the pack. Very few candidates put in the time and effort to do this research.

Looking for jobs in Southern California? At Helpmates, we match professionals like you with positions at top companies across the region. Search our current job openings or contact us to get started.

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The Burning Question: What Your Resume Must Answer

Your resume represents the first impression you’ll make on a prospective employer. This piece of paper, or more commonly an electronic file, will singlehandedly determine whether you’ll move on to the next round—the all-important 148132650interview—or get voted off the candidate stack. And the key to grabbing an employer’s or recruiter’s attention is making sure your torch burns brighter than all the other “sell sheets” in the pile.

So how do you do that? Make sure your resume is crafted to answer the single most important question employers ask themselves about every job application that crosses their desks.

What’s the question?

Of course, recruiters and employers want to know whether you have the necessary education and skills for the position. The problem is, a majority of the resumes they review will meet those basic qualifications. The more important question—and the one your resume must answer—is this:

What makes you better than every other candidate applying for this particular job?

It’s not about simply making yourself employable. That term fits just about every job seeker on the market. You need to look like the logical choice, the perfect fit, for this position at this company—with every resume you send out.

What’s the answer?

The best strategy is to take a completely different view of resumes. Rather than simply creating a list of your experiences and accomplishments, you need to view your resume as a marketing tool.

When applying for a job, you are selling yourself to employers and recruiters—or rather, the idea of yourself as a standout employee that they simply must have on their team. This means leaving out the jargon and the vague descriptions with ten-dollar words. Keep it straightforward and get right to the point. Remember there’s a good chance you’ll be sourced online, so your resume should use direct, compelling language.

Make sure that your actual work experience, strengths, expertise, and work-related skills are clearly articulated. Highlight your accomplishments, achievements, and awards, and don’t forget to emphasize your soft skills—an area that’s becoming increasingly important in today’s business world.

Finally, reach out to an executive recruiter for help highlighting your attributes and polishing your words. Having an extra set of professional eyes lets you bring out positive aspects you may not have otherwise noticed—after all, we’re often the worst judges of our own strengths.

Helpmates: We’re here for you

Helpmates Staffing can help you craft the solid resume you need to impress employers and land your dream position.  After spending more than 40 years partnering with top employers throughout southern California, we offer insider access to unique opportunities that aren’t available elsewhere. Contact us to find out how we can turn your resume into a compelling marketing tool.

 

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