Why Job Fairs Still Matter and How to Make the Most of Them

Despite what some may believe, job fairs are actually still a relevant and beneficial component in today’s job market, according to many experts.  They also hold a strong aspect of efficiency, since only at a job fair, can a job seeker make a successful first impression on not just one, but multiple employers in a single setting.

In a culture that is steeped in virtual and electronic communication, job fairs offer employers and job seekers the ability to communicate face-to-face, which still remains an integral factor in the pre-hiring process.

Job Fairs - word cloud

While notice of many job fair events may spread throughout your online social and professional network, websites such as Jobfairsin.com, allow job seekers to search for specific and applicable job fairs in their location of choice.

Once you have decided upon the job fair you are attending, there are several guidelines that will ensure you are prepared and equipped to make the best impression possible.

Research first.

Learn which companies will be in attendance, decide upon which ones you are most interested, and do some online research.  Employers attending a job fair in search of qualified talent expect that you will know something about their company prior to attending.  A simple visit to their website and LinkedIn profile is certainly not difficult, and can help you toward making a great first impression.  One tip is to bring up one of the details you researched, and ask the representative to elaborate some more on the topic.

Dress the part.

When it comes to your choice of wardrobe, the same rules that apply to job interviews also apply to job fairs.  However, at a job fair, you also want to be sure you stand out among the masses, so consider investing in some sharp new interview-friendly garments, if your budget allows.  Also, never leave home with wrinkled clothing, scuffed or worn shoes, or over-the-top accessories or jewelry.

Plan ahead.

While you are most likely going to be focused on the employers you researched, leave some extra time for the unexpected.  There is always the possibility that you will come across a company which peaks your interest out of the blue, so be sure to bring extra resumes, as well as a healthy snack to maintain your energy level throughout the day.

Be introduction-ready.

Often an employer will ask you to speak briefly about yourself and your background, so make sure that you’re prepared with a concise statement that explains in a nutshell, who you are professionally.  If an employer asks where you currently work, and you happen to be unemployed at the time of the job fair, opt for sharing what skills and expertise you gained at your “most recent place of employment”.  Whatever your status, remember that company representatives are likely meeting hundreds of job candidates at just one job fair, so be sure to lead with your strongest attributes to remain memorable.

Job Fair - job candidates in line

Maintain enthusiasm and focus.

Remember that appropriate eye contact, a smile, a firm handshake, and an approachable conversation style is the best way to initiate a meeting with a company representative. Displaying your enthusiasm and staying focused on the respective job opening is important, as is avoiding discussions regarding details of your own job search, etc.  Remain confident, and remember that the representative you’re speaking to is either a hiring manager or HR representative for a specific company, not a career counselor.

Engage in smart networking.

You may have made several promising connections, but if you don’t exchange the proper information and stay organized, you are likely to miss out on a great opportunity.  Don’t leave an employer’s booth without receiving a business card, and be sure to have a safe place to store the ones you’ve gathered.  Also, remember that your resume is not only an indicator of your job qualifications, but also serves as your contact sheet, so be sure all phone numbers, websites, and any other points of communication are clear and correct.

Follow up.

Similarly to how you would follow up after a job interview, you will also follow up with the career representatives you spoke with at the job fair.  A phone call or a brief email, thanking them for taking the time to speak with you, reiterating your interest in the position, as well as the basic qualifications most applicable to the position (to help them identify you) is sufficient.  Additionally, if the any of the company websites offer an online job application, you are giving yourself a double-advantage by completing it and even mentioning that you met with one of their representatives at the recent job fair.

The Takeaway

Job fairs can certainly be nerve-wracking, based on the sheer volume of employers and job seekers in attendance; all with the same goal of seeking important opportunities and meaningful professional connections.  However, remembering your ultimate goal and striving to make a stellar impression on each company representative by following the guidelines we’ve mentioned, will ensure that you leave your next job fair with some amazing new career prospects.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

The Novice’s Guide to Life Planning: How to Preserve Your Children’s Future

No matter what age you become a parent, you may not have given much thought to life planning before having children. However, when kids enter the picture, preserving their future becomes a major priority. Still, most parents aren’t all that knowledgeable on what life planning entails; the important legal documents to get in order, and the other steps they can take to preserve their children’s future. If this sounds like you, this novice’s guide to life planning outlines exactly what you need to know to get started.

Life Planning - Family_house graphic

Life and Disability Insurance

Life and disability insurance are never more crucial than when you become a parent. Raising children is costly, and should you become disabled and unable to work, disability insurance is a lifeline that makes it possible to continue providing for your family’s needs. Additionally, a good life insurance policy is a safeguard that provides a financial means to ensure that your children are cared for, should an accident or illness take your life before they reach adulthood.

Advance Directives

Few things are more devastating than having to make the decision of whether to continue life support for a parent or other family member who has suffered serious injury. To spare your children from having to make such difficult decisions, parents should prepare advance directives that specify precisely what heroic measures you wish to receive under varying medical conditions, such as a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma. Specifically, advance directives serve to communicate your wishes regarding treatment in circumstances in which you’re no longer able to communicate.

Last Will and Testament

Advance directives are also called living wills, not to be confused with a traditional will, or Last Will and Testament. Your “last will” outlines who will inherit your property and other assets after your death, can designate guardians for minor children, and designate financial guardians to oversee financial assets to be used in providing care for your children until they reach a specified age. Both living wills and last wills are essential legal planning documents for parents.

Deeds and Trusts

Deeds and trusts are other legal and financial measures designed to streamline the transfer of property and other assets from you to your children, following your death. Inheritance outlined in wills must almost always go through a process known as probate, a time-consuming and expensive legal process that can hold up the transfer of assets following a person’s death. As such, more families are opting for tools like Quitclaim deeds and irrevocable living trusts to facilitate the transfer of property and the oversight of finances for the benefit of their children, both in the case of inheritance and other instances, as well.

Retirement and College Savings

Personal finance experts suggest having multiple savings accounts for your various financial goals, such as separate accounts for retirement savings and savings for your children’s college education. There are a variety of tools and account types that can be used for either purpose, ranging from 529 College Savings Plans for college savings to the traditional 401(k) and IRA for retirement savings.

While there’s no one right answer for every family, you should take the time to evaluate your finances, weigh your options, and set up a savings plan that builds a nest egg for retirement and start saving for your children’s college education early.

Life Planning - Father and Child

In Summary

It’s far too easy to neglect saving when faced with the day-to-day costs of raising children, so make savings a priority to build a strong financial foundation. Likewise, young parents may not consider the potentially devastating consequences of unforeseen illness or a tragic accident and the financial ramifications these events could have on their children’s futures. Even if you’re a life planning novice, implementing these essential steps will give you peace of mind in knowing that you’ve protected your children’s future to the best of your ability.

by,  Jackie Waters ,    Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

 

Outstanding Résumés… And How To Write Them

It’s not terribly difficult to isolate the best résumé design for your needs.  After all, there are countless web articles, templates, software, and Resume Writing - Working on computer - B&Wservices available to help you achieve the most attractive layout and effectual result.  However, in this article, we are going to discuss what makes a résumé stand out, from the inside out.

Back when you applied for your very first job, maybe replenishing stock in a grocery store, it might have been a good idea to relate that you once had three concurrent paper routes for two different newspapers.  It showed that you were responsible, dedicated, and motivated.

Now that you have graduated college, or have been in the workforce for 10 to 20+ years, no one needs to know that except, perhaps, as a clever anecdote.  Save it for your biography, after you retire.

The First Thing They See

Your prospective employer will initially notice your name, contact information, and likely your general field or industry.  This is what you want the reader to keep in mind as they examine your résumé.  This is your “brand,” so make it big and bold and tie it to their needs.

However, there are other matters to also consider.

Write for the Machine

Today, more and more companies are using Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).  ATS programs identify the exact wording or vocabulary of the job description in order to filter applicants’ résumés.  Unfortunately, most applicants unsuccessfully exploit this fundamental property.

For instance, if the company with which you’re seeking employment is looking for a  SysAdmin, and expresses a preference for people familiar with Network Security, Problem Solving, Information Security Policies, Network Protocols, On-call, Process Improvement, Network Troubleshooting, and Firewall Administration, be sure to use as many of those exact phrases as are consistent with your experience.

One strategy is to envision every distinct phrase in the job description as being worth five points the first time you use it.  Build up your “score”, and the ATS program will add your résumé to the collection “for human review” instead of the “Thank you for your interest” pile.

Write for the Human, too

While software may effectively sort and analyze basic information, human beings are naturally more adept at analyzing and evaluating ambiguous information and reaching thoughtful conclusions.

Of course, copy/pasting the original job description could possibly trick older ATS programs into passing your résumé along; however, they have grown much more sophisticated, so relying on this method is certainly not recommended.  Even if that ploy succeeded initially, a hiring manager would see what had been done.

Tell Them What They Need To Know

It is said that the average HR manager typically reviews a résumé for an average maximum of six seconds before deciding whether or not the applicant has a shot at the job.

Do your best to provide a concise document which describes your accomplishments.  The employer knows the responsibilities involved with their position; after all they created it.  What they need from you is quantifiable, tangible data to help them see where you will fit within their organization.

Did you save “X” number of dollars over your predecessor in your position?  Did you retain 80 percent of customers that we’re thinking of moving on to another supplier?  Did you accumulate 130 percent in new sales figures?  Did you train 80 percent of all new employees, or were your trainees generating 27 percent more sales than those trained by others?  Show them the numbers!

Sell Yourself

The object here is to showcase your abilities, and then tie them in to their requirements.  This is best done within your job descriptions in the body of the résumé.  For instance, if you are applying for an Office Manager’s position which requires knowledge of recruiting and training employees – and one of your prior positions as a Human Resources Generalist required a similar skill set – ensure that this particular bullet-point appears first, and is not buried at the bottom of a long list of possibly more loosely-related responsibilities.

There has been recent deliberation on whether the “Objective” line (the opening statement describing your career goals) should still be used.  Many believe it tends to shift the focus to the applicant’s own needs and goals, rather than what they can do for the organization, itself.  If you are looking for an opening line, perhaps opt for verbiage which highlights what you can offer the company, instead.

The Takeaway: Remember the Basics

Resume Writing - graphicAuthor, lecturer, and Guinness Book of World Records IQ record-breaker, Marilyn Mach (aka; Marilyn vos Savant) once stated, “When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible.  But when it’s flawed, it prompts strong negative associations”.

Given the level of competition in today’s job market, there truly is no margin for error, when it comes to your résumé. Spelling counts; grammar counts; explaining gaps in your work history counts.  You don’t want to risk a hiring manager making unwarranted assumptions because you failed to proofread or because you took some time off for an overseas sabbatical or to write a novel.

Moreover, relevancy also counts.  While there may be room to list hobbies and interests on certain types of résumés, keep these details to a minimum, and avoid divulging any extraneous personal information.

Be truthful, insightful, and describe why you are the best person for the job by including valid examples based on past performance.  Telling them why they need you makes you the best candidate of all.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Communications Review: Are You Sending Effective Business E-mails?

Here to Stay

It’s safe to say that hard-copy interoffice memos are passé; as they’ve long since been supplanted by the ubiquitous e-mail.  The functionality of e-mail allows us to stay in touch with our customers, suppliers, and team members with a significantly lowered cost and increased speed over traditional snail-mail.

business-emails-keyboard_envelope_email-keyE-mail also ameliorates some of the challenges of communicating through international time zones.  For example, your location in New York likely makes it difficult to speak at will to your partners in Japan or Australia, in real time.  Yet, through e-mail, business associates from remote locations can communicate with greater ease, as well as speed.

On a social/personal level, most have forgone the traditional e-mail in favor of texting and other instant messaging platforms, yet in the business world, there remains a certain sense security and formality to an e-mail message.  The ability to encrypt messages, attach confidential documents, schedule messages for later dates, track message arrivals, receive automatic receipt notices when your message has been opened, and correspond with several parties at once, makes e-mail a standard choice for almost all types of business communications.

Best of all, e-mails leave an undeniable electronic “paper-trail”, complete with time and date.  If the need ever arises, you can follow all of your correspondence paths, and even review earlier messages without first needing to file them somewhere physical in order to search and recover them, or any other sort of complex action.

It’s unmistakable that the advantages of e-mail in the business world are immense.  For better or worse, e-mail is a vital part of our culture’s communication method, especial in the business sector. As it won’t be going away anytime soon, be sure you are using it to its full and most effective advantage.

Here, we discuss some basic, yet perhaps forgotten or overlooked, imperatives which we should all be upholding when sending business e-mails.

Good vs. Bad

Succinct Communication

William Shakespeare once wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit”, yet seemingly, many neglect this concept.  Self-importance is hardly a reason to pollute your communications with effects that only you want to hear.

One Question Rule

Ask one question (or two, closely related questions) per e-mail.  Is your e-mail program set up with only an INBOX, SENT and TRASH folder?  Chances are, you have folders for people, various sub-topics, accounts, projects, and so on.

The individual who sends out an e-mail requesting a response regarding the latest financial report, the date of your next golf outing, when you’ll be sending over your new hire assessment, as well as the results of the most recent customer survey, may have a difficult time getting a timely (or complete) response from his or her recipient(s).

Even today, many  individuals feel they are doing their associates a favor by condensing a myriad of issues into one e-mail message, when, in fact, they are actually obscuring the significance of the most important matters (i.e., financial report) while reducing the chances of a timely response on any of the other less pressing questions (i.e., golf outing).  Categorizing questions – even if it means sending an extra e-mail or two – will allow recipients to easily organize topics, better dedicate their responses, and reply in a more timely and thorough manner.

Efficiency

While you should never use the subject-line to type out the bulk of your e-mail’s text, this space should definitely not be ignored or disregarded.  If you must send out a general reminder notice to your group, you can save everyone time by including the brief details in the Subject-line.  E-mail-Verload Solutions offers this helpful list of frequently-used e-mail acronyms to simplify and improve the effectiveness of your subject-line.

The Mechanics of E-mail Construction

Before you begin, you should be able to answer these two questions:

  1. Why am I writing?
  2. What do I expect to gain from this e-mail?

If you cannot definitively answer these questions, don’t send an e-mail.  A nebulous intent before you begin writing makes it almost certain that your message will not be clear.

Remember our friend Shakespeare above, and build your e-mail so that it is brief, functional, and respectful of your recipient’s time.  A template can also be quite helpful.  This particular blog at myenglishteacher.eu offers some extremely useful e-mail templates based on the subject and type of message you need to send.

However, regardless of your e-mail’s topic or intent, there are some basic guidelines which are generally applicable across the board.

  1. Use the name of your recipient(s) in the salutation.
  2. Include a pleasantry to set a congenial mood. (For example:  Extend your congratulations on a recent promotion, or express gratitude for an effort on your behalf.)
  3. State your request or issue as clearly and concisely as possible.
  4. Follow your request with a specific action to take, and then welcome the recipient(s) to contact you for any necessary clarification.
  5. Conclude your message on a hopeful/positive note, and don’t forget to say “thank you”.
  6. Include your closing/signature. (Tip: Be sure your closing/signature is concise and includes your name, title, company name, basic contact information. Use your “settings” function to set up your signature to appear in all newly composed messages.)
  7. Proofread thoroughly before clicking “send”.

When Not to E-mail

business-emails-communication-device-graphicE-mail can have a downside, too.  Sometimes communications require a great deal of detail, which can force you to throw all the conventional rules of a good e-mail out the window, so to speak.

However, when you feel that a particular e-mail’s back-and-forth correspondence is becoming unmanageable, do not be afraid to pick up the telephone, or even better, speak in person, if possible.  Ten or twenty interruptions to your day can be more time consuming than a brief phone call or face-to-face meeting.  You might be able to solve a problem in five or ten minutes on the phone that could have dragged out for a couple of days or more in e-mail.

While e-mail can be an indispensable tool, there will always be times when there is truly no substitute for conversational speaking.  In fact, as this technological age has advanced to a point where many of us are communicating with coworkers and associates almost solely via means of electronic messaging, we have come to realize that a misunderstanding can easily arise for the simple reason that the written word often does not convey the same emotion or intent as does the spoken word; even if the objective is identical.  When texting or e-mailing someone on a personal level, you may include a corresponding emoticon to soften the lines of your message, however, in business, where emoticons are less often used for fear of seeming unprofessional, words can often be misinterpreted.  This article at Fastcodesign.com further describes why certain sentiments can often be misread via e-mails and texts.

The Takeaway

E-mail is a fantastic contrivance, but it is not the ultimate solution to every communication problem.  The average professional can typically encounter up to 100 e-mails per day, and there are times when a brief conversation could eliminate 20 percent of your inbox. Therefore, choose your communication methods wisely, and not solely out of habit.

Conversely, the ability to make your e-mail messages work for you through proper composition, organization, and etiquette, can simplify as well as maximize your interactions with coworkers and associates, while conveniently documenting your exchanges for future reference.  When used effectively, the benefits of e-mail communication truly are invaluable.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.