If you’ve been searching for a job for awhile, it’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t get an interview—or worse, when you land interviews, but never hear from the employer again. After countless applications and resume tweaks nothing is coming back positively for you. You wonder if you will ever manage to get a job and you’re starting to lose hope.

The first thing you should do is read our article on the 9 Reason I’m Not Hiring You. Katie talks about her experience as a hiring manager for our parent company, and the biggest mistakes that keep her from hiring applicants.

Then, there are three positive actions you can take right now to improve your chances of finding a job. Take a deep breath, then get started!

Spruce Up Your Resume

You will start to notice a much quicker and more positive response rate from your applications if you give your entire resume an overhaul. You need an excellent resume objective in order to land an interview. You might need to tweak your resume for each individual job you apply for, so that you can showcase and highlight your strengths. This will take time to refine but once you have got the hang of it, you will soon become a pro.

Our Top Resume Articles

We will makeover your resume for just $49!

Raise Your Interview Game

Landing the interview is one of the most difficult parts of obtaining your dream job. Once you have the interview in the bag, you will need to brush up your interview techniques. Don’t rest on your laurels or credentials in order to bag the role, you will need to be articulate and well informed during the interview. Making a good impression in the interview room is easier than it sounds. All you have to do is be yourself, tell the truth and tell stories about how your previous experience will help you in this job. Make sure you can explain exactly why you applied for this job too, otherwise the panel won’t feel invested in you.

Our Top Interview Articles

Strengthen Your Skill Set

In order to reach your career goals you need keep your skills on top form. The more you can talk about first-hand experience in an interview environment the more impressive it will be to your prospective employer. Go above and beyond to meet the criteria of the job description and you will be sure to impress your future bosses.

Our Top Articles about Strengthening Your Skill Set

Bonus Tip: Start a Side Hustle

If you’ve been out of work for awhile, you’re probably running low on funds. One way to make some money and strengthen your resume is to start a side hustle. There’s a million ideas, from teaching English to Chinese students online for VIPKid, to selling your freelance services on Fiverr.

Our Top Articles on Side Hustles and Saving Money

So get your resume together, gain the skills you need, and get some hands on experience. Employers will be jumping at the chance to hire you as long as you aren’t afraid to showcase your skills and talents. It can be a cut throat world, so there is no time to be shy and reserved. Know your worth and always be positive about your abilities.

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Are you ready to record a video resume and start rocking your job search? If so, you need a script. Our “What to Say in a Video Resume Guide” will help you figure out what to say so you can start getting noticed in your job search right away. Enter your email address below to get your free guide!

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3 Things to Do if You Can't find a Job - #career #getajob #resume

A video resume is an especially good addition to your job application materials if you’ve been applying to a lot of jobs, but haven’t landed an interview. It’s a quick and easy way to stand out in a stack of boring resumes. It shows a glimpse of who you are, and it gives you a chance to show your poise and professionalism.

If you’re one of those people who know that if you can just land the interview, you’ll get the job, then a video resume is a great way to introduce yourself to a potential employer. Here’s what you need to know about video resumes:

1. It’s Not a Live Reading of Your Resume

When I say “video resume,” a lot of our clients think I mean that they should turn on their webcam and read their resume to the camera. That’s boring, and it’s not going to get you interviews.

Think of your video resume as an introduction of your skills and experience to an employer. You’re also trying to show that you have personality and poise—you’re not just a name on a piece of paper. You’re the best person for the job, and they’d be fools not to hire you.

2. Good Video Resumes are Very Short

Your video resume should be no more than three minutes. In fact, that’s a bit long. Keep it short and to the point. You need a script, but you don’t want to look like you’re reading it on camera. You want to seem like you’re speaking directly to your potential employer.

3. You Need a Good Camera

Good, HD-quality cameras are everywhere these days. Anyone can buy a GoPro, and our iPhones take fantastic videos. For example, check out this video of my kid’s lion mosaic I shot with an iPhone 8 in my back yard:

In broad daylight, your cell phone’s camera is a great choice. For best results, shoot early in the morning (before 10 AM) or an hour before sunset. The lighting is naturally flattering, and you won’t be squinting against the sunlight.

4. Get a Friend to Help You

A video resume is not the time to show off your selfie skills. Instead, have a friend help you run your camera. They can hit record and stop in the right places, and signal when you should start speaking. Plus, having a friend there gives you someone to look at as you’re speaking so you look more natural on camera.

A good friend will also help you adjust your script to sound as natural and professional as possible. Good friends who will tell you the truth are one of your strongest assets.

5. Use a Tripod or a Stable Surface

Even with a friend’s help, you still need a stable surface to set your camera on while you record, otherwise your video will turn out bumpy and shaky. You don’t want to distract your audience with a shaky camera.

Ideally, you need a tripod. Luckily, they aren’t as expensive as they used to be, and you can get them anywhere, from Amazon to Target. If you’re recording with your iPhone, you will need a tripod mount. Most GoPro kits come with one included in the box.

6. Your Sound Quality is Very Important

Your beautiful, HD video isn’t worth the memory space it’s written on if your sound quality sucks. Many career gurus say you should invest in a professional microphone for a video resume, but it’s not necessary. As long as you are close to your iPhone or GoPro when you speak, and you limit background noise, you can shoot a professional-looking video without a fancy microphone.

To make sure your video sounds crisp, clear, and professional, don’t shoot your video outside when it’s windy. Your hair may look amazing, but all you’ll be able to hear is the wind.

Make sure noises like barking dogs and traffic aren’t audible on your video, too. Always listen to your recording as soon as you make it so you can make adjustments as necessary.

7. Choose Your Background (or Shoot Location) Wisely

Your background is important. You have to have balanced lighting, which is why an outdoor location is a solid choice. But, if you have a lovely home office, with your fancy degree and awards hanging strategically on the wall behind your office chair, you have the perfect background.

If you choose an indoor location, make sure you have good lighting. You can always reposition lamps or shoot your video sitting next to a window.

You might also think of an industry-specific place for your video shoot. For example, if you’re applying to be a lifeguard, shoot your video resume at the beach or beside a pool. If you’re applying to be a Web developer, position your computer in the background. Get creative!

Related Posts that May Interest You

8. Dress Professionally, but not in all Black

This should go without saying, but every time I think everyone should know to dress professionally when on camera with a potential employer, I end up in a Skype interview with a candidate dressed in a ratty T-shirt and disheveled hair. So, I’m saying it: Dress professionally for your video resume.

Black is not the best color on camera. It usually makes you look like you’re heading to a funeral or hanging out with the mob. If you must stick to a dark color, go with navy or charcoal grey—and don’t forget a pop of color, like a blue scarf or a pink camisole.

Dress as if you were headed for an interview. You want to look polished. Make the time to look your best—you won’t regret it!

9. Just Like Your Paper Resume, You Need More than One

If you’re becoming an expert at job searches (and we hope by now you are), you are applying for several different kinds of jobs within your chosen industry or career field. For example, as an instructional designer, Jarell and I pick up instructional design jobs, but we also look at web development gigs with an education focus, educational writing gigs, retention and student success consulting gigs, teacher training gigs—anything related to educational support. Obviously, the same video resume wouldn’t work for all of those types of jobs. That’s why you need more than one.

Think about your different audiences when you’re writing your video resume scripts, and write a different script for each audience. Most people should have 3-5 different video resumes.

10. Video Resumes Aren’t for Every Industry

Of course, video resumes aren’t for every industry. If you’re applying to be a police officer or a fireman, a video resume probably won’t help you as much as if you’re applying to be a journalist or consultant. If you’re an entrepreneur, a video resume can do wonders for attracting clients. Use your best judgment, and if you find yourself in a situation where you’re not getting any bites on your job application materials, it never hurts to try a video resume.

Example Video Resumes

What to Say in a Video Resume – Our Free Guide!

If you’re ready to make a video resume, the first thing you should do is draft a script. To make it easy for you, we’ve drafted a What to Say in a Video Resume guide that includes examples and a “mad libs” like template for writing your script! Fill out the form below to download your free copy.

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Not Getting Job Interviews? You Need a Video Resume. Free "What to Say in a Video Resume" Guide! #videoresume #career #getajob

Congratulations! You’ve graduated college. Your long journey from home education or public school drama to learn-who-you-are college life is complete. Next step: the real world.

You have a lot on your mind right now. You have to frame your diploma, open your graduation gifts, and wash a semester’s worth of laundry. Sooner or later, though, you are going to have to face the fact that you’re not going back to school in the fall, and it’s time to grow up and start adulting. Are you ready?

You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed, so we’re going to keep this short and easy for you. Here are four small steps you should take right now to start crafting your adult life successfully:

1. Get Your Money In Order

The moment you stepped out of the grand doors of your college institution, your financial circumstances changed drastically. You don’t have a lovely financial aid check coming each semester. Your parents aren’t going to pay your bills any more. If you’re like most college graduates, you now have a student loan to pay. It’s a big smack in the face—you need to take a harsh look at your money situation.

To help with the student loan saga, visit studentloansconsolidation.co to learn how to make it easier to swallow. Believe it or not, there are all sorts of income-sensitive plans for paying back your loans. Your loan officer won’t do this automatically, though. You have to fill out the proper paper work and ask for it.

You should also sit down and create a budget. Figure out what, realistically, you can spend each month on necessities and luxuries. Necessities include food, transportation, and a place to live. Everything else is a luxury.

2. Find a Real Job

Your shiny new degree has a purpose—to help you find a job. It’s the key to unlock jobs that require a college degree. You’ve worked hard to earn it, but now it’s time to let it serve its purpose.

So, you need a resume that shows that you’re more than just that shiny new degree. A creative copywriter can help you spruce up your resume and tell your story in a way that employers see you as the perfect person for the job. You should also tidy up your LinkedIN profile and take a good long look at your social media profiles to make sure you look squeaky clean online for employers. A lot of them will Google you before an interview, so make sure they find exactly what you want them to find.

You also need to prepare for job interviews. Find two outfits you can wear to interviews that are completely professional and make sure they are always clean and pressed, waiting for you to land an interview. You should practice how you will answer common job interview questions, like “tell me about yourself” and “describe a situation where you solved a problem.”

Of course, you also have to actually apply for jobs. Set weekly goals for the number of job applications you will complete, and keep a log of where and when you applied. The log will help you send follow up emails, and it also shows you and your parents the amount of effort you’re putting into your job search.

3. Gain More Skills

Just because you’re done with college doesn’t mean you’re done learning. While you’re job hunting, work on acquiring more skills for your resume, and bonus points if those skills are directly related to your industry. You can learn anything technology-related on the internet, so there’s no excuse not to learn a coding language like HTML or software used everywhere, like Adobe Acrobat.

At the very least, find a course in leadership, management, or marketing. No matter what your industry, eventually you will want to lead something, and learning to market products also helps you learn to market yourself.

The point is, you should never stop learning. The world changes rapidly, and you should be able to change right along with it.

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4. Make a Lifestyle Design Plan

While you’re focusing on finding a job and figuring out how to pay your bills, it’s important that you think about the kind of future you want. You need a clear idea of what you want from your personal life so that you can stay focused on achieving it.

Many people want a family, but there’s no rush for that. Make a list of goals for things you want to do and what your ideal life would look like. Maybe you want to travel the world, or achieve a fitness goal. Maybe you want to meet new friends or stay connected to old ones. Maybe you want a house at the beach or a cabin in the mountains. Making a list, or at least a Pinterest board will help you remember what it is you really want out of life. It will remind you why you’re working so very hard.

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4 Things to Do as Soon as You Graduate College - #career #college #getajob

Choosing to put your career on hold to raise your children is a tough choice. Mothers often sacrifice their careers for the sake of having a family, only to find the career world changed in the time they spent ensuring their children had what they needed for a strong start in life.

While being a mom actually may make you a better employee because parenthood strengthens pretty much every skill you can think of,you still need to prepare before you reenter the workforce. Here are a few actions you can take before its time to get back into work:

1. Brush Up Your Tech Skills

If you’ve been out of the workforce for any length of time, your tech skills are outdated. Technology changes every day, and business needs change with it. Luckily, you can learn almost any technology online for free or cheap.

You don’t know what you don’t know, so start by looking through job advertisements in your industry to see which software programs are advertised as job requirements. Don’t assume that just because you could use industry-specific software five years ago that it is exactly the same. It’s not. Google to find tutorials on the latest versions.

Next, connect with people in your industry on LinkedIN and ask questions about how their companies are using technology and what you should know before you reenter the workforce. Don’t be shy—you aren’t the first mom to go back to work, and if you look just a little, you’re sure to find a fellow mom in your industry that has done the same thing. Besides, you need to get back into the habit of networking anyway, and what better way than to start a conversation with someone in your industry about technology?

If your home computer is more than three years old, replace it. You’ll need to know how to use the latest operating systems no matter what your industry.

2. Start a Side Hustle to Fill Work Gaps on Your Resume

Right now, while you’re just starting to prepare to go back to work, is the perfect time to start a side hustle. A side hustle will give you something recent to put on your resume, and something to highlight in interviews. Besides, who couldn’t use a few extra dollars?

Being a mom makes you a shrewd negotiator and helps you achieve better customer service skills since you spend so much time thinking about the needs of others and mitigating toddler tantrums. You can start a side hustle easily by selling children’s toys and clothes on eBay, making crafts to sell on Etsy, or babysitting children for other moms. If you have a degree or a background in education, you should check out our 10 Summer Side Hustles for Teachers list.

3. Tidy Your Resume (and your LinkedIN)

Your resume is probably a bit dusty after not being used for several years. Modern resumes have more custom formatting than they did just a few years ago, so it’s a good idea to either find a career coach to help you highlight your best skills and target them to your dream job, or at least buy a few modern resume templates online.

Your LinkedIN profile is a powerful tool to help you find a job an prepare to return to work. Update your profile, make sure you’ve connected with as many people as you can, and when you’re ready to find a job, turn on the setting to let recruiters know you’re looking.

4. Gather References

You will need references when you go to apply for a new job. Since you’ve been out of the workplace awhile, you will need to remind your former supervisors and colleagues about how great an asset you were. You can do this by connecting with them on LinkedIN. Don’t be afraid to buy your former boss lunch—it may lead to a job offer or at least a reference.

Also think about connections you’ve made as a mom. If you followed our advice and started a side hustle, you have clients you can use as references, too. If you’ve been doing charity work or volunteering at your kid’s school, you may be able to use your supervisors and connections as references.

5. Practice Your Career Story

Your resume and cover letter will tell the abridged story of your career (if you write them properly), but what will you say in an interview when you’re asked, “Walk me through your resume?” or “Tell me about yourself?” You need a solid career story.

You should not be ashamed of taking time off work to raise a family. Instead, tell the recruiter that you had a “once in a lifetime opportunity to be a mother” and you seized that opportunity and now it’s made you a better employee. It’s your story; tell it in the most positive light possible.

Do any moms out there have any other advice to offer?

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5 Ways Moms can Prepare to Return to Work after Raising the Kids - #momsatwork #career #careeradvice

In the excitement of getting a new job, it’s easy to skip over reading your new employment contract. However, you should read the contract from top to bottom if you want to make sure your expectations align with your new employers.

Employment contracts are full of small print, and without careful review, you could sign something with a clause that limits your career options for years. Remember that everything is negotiable, and the time to negotiate is before you sign. Once your signature is on the paper, it’s hard to convince an employer to make changes.

So, to make sure you know exactly what kind of job you are getting yourself into, it is very important to rake through the contract with a fine tooth comb. Not sure what to check? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Salary And Bonuses

Even though you should have already discussed your salary with your new employer, it’s still a good idea to double check the final figure in your contract. Since the person making the job offer and the person who talked to you about salary are probably different people, you should check to ensure the contract outlines everything you were promised—including bonuses.

Look for typos, vague language, and just plain wrong numbers. If anything looks out of place, do not sign the contract. Ask for explanation, and if the contract says anything different than what you were promised, do not sign. Request a fresh copy of the contract that clearly states the salary and bonuses you expect for the job.

2. The Job Description

While you should expect a clause like “other duties as assigned” in your job description, the rest of the description should match how the hiring manager described the job to you. The duties should match what was posted in the advertisement, and if you are confused or concerned about anything listed in the duties list, don’t sign. Ask for explanation and corrections.

If your employer ever tries to get you to do anything out of scope or tries to force you to work significantly longer than your contracted hours, you might want to find out more at bravermanlawfirm.com about your rights. In this case, your employer might be in breach of the contract, and you could be within your right to take them to court.

Of course, the best way to avoid misplaced expectations on both your part and your employers is to make sure the job duties listed in your employment contract are correct.

3. The Termination Clause

Inevitably, either you or your employer will wish to part ways in the future. Now is the time to clarify termination expectations.

Thoroughly read the termination the termination clause so that you understand the reasons your employer may fire you. Also pay attention to how much notice the employer expects you to give when you resign. Be careful if you spot the phrase “sole discretion” used in this clause, as it means that your employer will be able to end your contract without giving you any warning.

4. Restrictive Clauses

Some employment contracts come with clauses that could restrict you in certain ways. For instance, employees who work in some government bodies will not be able to show political allegiance to any party in any way. You might also notice clauses that say you are not permitted to poach the company’s clients if you move on to a different business. You can find out more about such restrictive clauses by reading globalworkplaceinsider.com.

Most dubious to us are clauses that restrict “moonlighting.” Companies that restrict your ability to earn money in other ways besides working for them do not have your best interests in mind and will not make good employers. This kind of clause shows you that more tyrannical policies are in your future, and who needs that kind of stress?

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A reader asks us for advice in a hard choice: Should she take a part-time job offer, or wait to see if she gets a full-time offer from somewhere else. 

Dear HR,

I have been looking for a job for months! I just applied for a fulltime job at a local elementary school that has amazing benefits, and I’m hoping to hear from them soon. I’ve been networking with the other office workers, and while it’s not a sure thing, it’s definitely more promising than anything else I’ve tried.

Today I was offered a part-time job answering phones in a customer service center for a local company. Do you think I should take it? I really want the Full-time job at the school, and I worry that if I take this part-time job and I get the school job, it will look bad to my new employer to quit so soon. Do you think I should just wait to hear back from the full-time job? I need advice!!

Thank you,

Freaking Out

Dear Freaking Out,

I see your frustration. After a long job search, you may start to lose hope of finding the job you really want. It’s important to keep hope, but realistically, you have bills to pay.

Don’t Count Your Chickens Before they Hatch

When you tell me about the full-time job, you describe how great the job is, how great the benefits are, and that you’ve done a bit of networking with other people who work there. None of this guarantees you the job. None of this even guarantees you an interview.

The truth is, state jobs get more applicants than they can reasonably consider properly. Your application is in a stack with 50 or more other applications. If you’ve been looking for a job for awhile, your application materials and approach to job searching probably need a little work. No judgment, but it’s just a fact of life that most job seekers hit a point where they’re just plain tired of filling out applications, so they stop customizing their resumes and cover letters for each job. So, employers don’t contact them because it’s not obvious that they’re the right person for the job. It’s a slippery slope that feeds the “I suck” monster in your head.

If employers don't contact you, it's because your application materials don't make it obvious that you’re the right person for the job. It’s a slippery slope that feeds the “I suck” monster in your head. #resume #rejection… Click To Tweet

Pay Your Bills with the Part-Time Job

Unless you’re independently wealthy, your bills are probably piling up during your job search. You need cash. You also need opportunities to network and regain your money-making confidence. A part-time job can help with all of those things.

If the part-time job is absolutely awful, then quit. Employers know that not every job is for every person. It’s not as big of a deal as you think.

Part-Time Jobs Can be Fantastic

Taking a part-time job has many advantages. Sure, you might not receive full-time benefits like healthcare plans and 401Ks, but part-time jobs rarely expect you to have full-time loyalty to them, so you can start a side hustleto make up the monetary difference. Plus, some part-time jobs pay a little more than entry-level full-time jobs simply because they don’t offer benefit packages.

Investopedia.com lists other benefits of taking a part-time job, like reduced transportation costs and reduced stress. They also mention networking opportunities—an essential part of building any career.

If You Get the Full-Time Job Offer, Act Classy

You should still pursue finding a Full-time job that makes you happy, even if you take the part-time job. If the school job calls you for an interview, put on your pearls and your heels and rock it. If they offer you the job, do your happy dance.

When you put in your resignation for the part-time job, ask your boss for a private meeting and start the conversation with, “I hope you will be happy for me, but I’ve been offered a full-time job that suits my skill set completely.” Explain to your boss that you appreciate the opportunity he or she has given you. You never know—he might offer you an even better Full-time position.

Regardless, leave with class. Be grateful. Be graceful. Follow your coworkers on LinkedIN. Every contact is a good contact when you’re job hunting.

Related Posts that Might Help You:

Best of Luck,

HR

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Part-time jobs can be beneficial in the right circumstances. Find out how!

Why I won't hire you - confessions of a hiring manager

Have you ever wondered why you didn’t get a job that you thought was perfect for you? It’s easy to blame the employer for not giving you a fair chance, but the truth is, it might be your application materials or some other easy-to-fix thing that’s keeping you from your dream job.

Jarell and I are currently looking for a marketing intern for our parent company, Escape the Classroom. We love to hire interns because it makes us feel like we’re “giving back” for all of the help we’ve had along the way in our own careers. We know it is nearly impossible to break into most industries right out of college unless you have some sort of experience. So, we are happy to provide experience to students majoring in fields like education, marketing, graphic arts, and technology.

The problem is, a lot of intern applicants make giant mistakes that keep us from hiring them, and I don’t think they even know it—which is why I’m writing this probably-too-honest post. This list isn’t just for interns. If you’re having trouble getting a job, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you are guilty of any of these very correctible job application sins:

1. Your Application is Incomplete

The number one reason we don’t hire a job applicant is simply because their application is too incomplete for us to decipher who they are, what their experience is, or what they want to do. We know job applications are annoying, so we try to keep ours rather short, but we still have applicants who don’t answer the questions we pose.

We have no choice but to reject applicants who don’t bother to fill out the entire application. We look at every application with a compassionate spirit, but not all employers do. Most are going to take your unwillingness to complete the application as a sign that you don’t really want the job…and they won’t bother to call you for an interview.

No matter what, always complete the job application in its entirety. It’s the first impression for a lot of employers and you don’t want their first impression of you to be that you’re either uninterested in the job or you’re lazy.

2. Your Resume (or application) is Unprofessional

When we see short resumes for intern candidates, we understand that they don’t have a lot of experience and that’s why they’re coming to us for an internship. What we don’t understand is why they list “JV Cheerleader” as work experience on their resumes.

Here’s a quick list of unprofessional things we’ve seen on recent resumes and applications that you should change immediately:

  • Parents or other family members listed as references
  • High School clubs and awards listed as work-related accomplishments
  • Traits like “punctual” and “hard worker” listed as skills
  • Email addresses like “PookieBear92” or “SandysSister34”
  • Missing contact information, like your phone number or mailing address
  • Missing “professional profile” that starts the story of your resume
  • Glaring typos and spelling errors (the obvious kind that elementary students would notice)

3. Your Resume Does Not Fit the Job Description

Employers don’t have a crystal ball. They can’t see how your skills and talents align for the job they advertised unless you show them.

You need to craft a customized resume for every job advertisement you answer. This means rewriting your professional profile at the top of your resume to include keywords from the job description, rewriting your job descriptions for previous jobs to show that you’ve done tasks that will transfer to the job for which you are applying, and rewriting your skills list to reflect the skills the job advertisement lists.

If you’re applying for a web designer job, don’t turn in the same resume you used for a chicken fryer job at KFC. You may be qualified for both jobs, but you have to reframe your resume’s story to show an employer you’re the right person for the job. Click To Tweet

4. You Didn’t Include a Resume at All

One of the most disheartening things we see in job applications is when a job applicant doesn’t send us a resume at all. Instructional designers like our Escape the Classroom mottos of rebelliously smashing boring educational experiences, so they often fill out the contact form and tell us how much they’d love to work for us…but that’s it. They don’t include a resume or cover letter.

We always answer our emails. We answer these well-meaning educators and ask them for their resume, cover letter, and online portfolio. They never respond.

You need a resume. It’s your argument that you’re the right person for the job. You can’t apply for a job (outside of retail or food service) without one and expect to land an interview.

We will makeover your resume for just $49!

5. You Didn’t Include a Cover Letter

Probably 50% of the job applications we receive do not have cover letters included. It only takes a few minutes to craft a cover letter, so why would you avoid it?

The cover letter is your introduction. It tells an employer who you are and starts your argument as to why you are the perfect person for the job. Not writing one for each individual job tells the employer you aren’t serious about the job and don’t really care if you get it or not.

6. Your Cover Letter is Rude

Believe it or not, the only thing worse than not submitting a cover letter at all is submitting a rude one. When you try to bully an employer into hiring you or making a quick hiring decision, you are not going to get the job. No way. No how.

I say this because we have applicants send us cover letters that end with a statement like, “I have many other job offers, so I need to know right away if you plan to hire me.” No, I don’t plan to hire you.

This kind of statement tells the employer that you are high maintenance, conceited, and trouble. You might think it shows confidence, but it doesn’t. Employers want confident employees, but they also want kind employees that they can trust to make good decisions and impress clients with their diplomacy and helpful attitude.

As a female business owner, the last thing I want to do is hire someone that tries to bully me into it. It’s just not going to happen.

7. You Don’t have Work Samples

We don’t expect our interns to have full portfolios yet, and we give a lot of thought into assigning interns to projects they will be able to use to build solid portfolios so they have something to show future employers. However, if you are applying for a full-time or part-time job in any sort of art, design, writing, or technology-related industry, you must have work samples.

If you don’t have anything you can show, make something. In instructional design, I always want to see finished projects from potential designers so I can have a conversation with the designer about how they planned and built the project. It tells me a lot about whether or not the designer is a good fit for the kind of work we do, because not all instructional design is the same. We focus on high-end projects with a lot of media. Some designers were only trained to plan instruction in text-based format. Both are important types of instructional design, but the skill sets are very different.

The same is true with graphic design. Every artist has her own style, so employers want to see if the artist style matches their needs. Samples are key to this sort of job.

If you work in an industry that requires work samples, make sure you have them!

8. Your Reference Leaves You a Bad Review…or Doesn’t Know You at All

When you list someone as a reference, make sure you have their permission. Believe it or not, we have potential employees list references without telling the reference they plan to list them. So, we call the reference, and they tell us unflattering things about the job applicant. Even worse, some don’t remember the job candidate at all!

Your references are your allies in finding a job. When you list a reference, you’re telling the employer that this person has nice things to say about you. It’s absolutely tragic when your reference trashes you. There’s no coming back from that one—we simply aren’t going to hire you.

9. You Don’t Answer Your Email Regularly

If incomplete job applications are our number one reason we don’t hire someone, number two is when a job applicant doesn’t respond to our emails. Once we’ve chosen our interns, we always email them and confirm that they still want the job and then ask them to attend an information session with us. After the information session, we send them a contract to sign, which includes a start date. Amazingly, at least 1/3 of the potential interns we select never bother to reply to our emails.

If you want the job, monitor your communication channels. You should check your email no less than twice per day.

Related Posts

Who am I Going to Hire?

This post may come across as negative, and it’s not meant to be that way at all. Everything I’ve listed in this post as a reason I don’t hire someone is completely fixable on the part of the job applicant. I will interview the job applicant that completes the application in its entirety, attaches a resume that shows he or she is the perfect person for the job, writes a lovely, friendly cover letter that explains why he or she wants the job is qualified for it, and answers my emails in less than 24 hours. Most employers feel the same way.

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Why I Won't Hire You - Confessions of a Hiring Manager

Don't embarrass yourself at a job fair by not knowing the companies there.

Job fairs are loud, crowded hiring blitzes where after awhile, most every applicant starts to look the same to employers. If you want to walk out of a job fair with a job—or at least an interview—you have to stand out from the crowd and show potential employers that you’re the perfect person for the job.

Here are 10 ways you can make the right impression and maximize your job offers:

1. Research the Companies You Know Will be at the Job Fair

Start preparing for a job fair by looking at the list of companies that will be at the fair. Google each company and look at what they do. Look at their LinkedIN pages and see who works there, and what their job titles are. Decide which companies best suit your career goals, and learn as much as you can about those companies.

If you’re looking at big, national or international corporations, spend some time learning about the company’s history and who their customers are. Larger companies usually have an online employee manual or benefits website so you can research what a potential offer package might look like. The more information you have, the better.

You want to know enough about a company to be able to speak intelligently with their representatives at the job fair. The last thing you want to do is show up to the job fair without any knowledge of the companies represented there, and then ask, “oh, what do you do?”

 

2. Make Sure Your Resume Isn’t Boring

If you’re still using the standard MS Word template to make your resumes, it’s time to make a change—right now. Job fairs are full of candidates that show up with a stack of black-and-white, text-only, boring resumes and hand them to every company they see. Be ready to stand out in that crowd.

You can buy resume templates inexpensively on Etsy. Look for a colorful template that has spaces to highlight your skills and professional profile.

Avoid the “objective” line on your resume because everyone at a job fair has the same objective: to get a job. Click To Tweet

If you are applying for jobs in two or more different industries, make sure you have separate resumes for each industry. Each industry has specific keywords, so make sure your resume addresses them.

3. Prepare Your Elevator Speech

You need a 30-second pitch, or “elevator speech” ready for the job fair. In such a crowded space, you have to make an impression quickly. You won’t have a lot of time to convince the company representatives that you’re the right person for the job, so your best bet is to have a speech prepared.

The best elevator speeches highlight your qualifications as well as your knowledge of the company. You are trying to show that you’re extremely talented, confident, and a perfect fit for the company’s needs.

Here’s a template to get you started. Fill in the blanks and make it your own. Note that you should really prepare a few of these so you can customize them based on the company and industry you are trying to impress:

Good morning! I’m ________ and I am excited to meet you. I’ve followed your work on _______ for years, and I find it inspiring/exciting/amazing. I’m a __________________ with _____ years of experience creating __________. Like you, my work _______________. I have achieved _______________. I would love to talk to you more about your work and how we might collaborate in the future when you have time. Here’s my resume/business card. Let’s connect on LinkedIN, too.

Make it your own, but the goal is to show that you rock, you’re knowledgeable about the company, and you see yourself as an asset. You’ve got this!

4. Dress to Impress, and Remember Your Pop of Color

One of the first things employers will notice about you is how you dress. This isn’t the time to choose comfort over fashion. Wear your favorite power suit or dress.

No matter what you choose to wear, make sure you have a pop of color. If you wear a grey or black suit, wear a colorful scarf or camisole. Draw attention to your face with color.

You want to be memorable. You’re more likely to be remembered if a person can associate you with something you wore. Colorful accessories help you stand out in the right way.

When we go to job fairs and conferences, I typically wear a royal blue or purple dress with nude pumps. These are colors that work for me, but you likely have your own color palette that works for you. The worst thing you can do is dress in all black or another neutral color. You’ll blend in too much with everyone around you.

5. Be Conscious of What You Carry

Don’t be the person who drops a bunch of papers everywhere when she goes to shake hands with a potential employer. Don’t be the person fidgeting with her car keys while talking with a recruiter. Think ahead about what you are going to take with you into the job fair.

You will need a place to put brochures and business cards as you receive them from your new contacts. You also need something to write on, and a place to keep your resumes flat.

I use a leather portfolio when we attend business meetings. Something like this will work:

It has a pocket on the right for keeping resumes straight, a notepad for taking notes, and a smaller pocket for stashing business cards and brochures.

On top of this, I usually carry a small purse for my wallet and car key. Look for a purse with a shoulder strap. You always want to have one hand free for shaking hands. It makes you seem approachable.

A simple, black folder from the dollar store works better than nothing, so if you’re short on cash, use that as your back up. Make sure it doesn’t say anything on it. Nothing is more unprofessional than folders that say “Trapper Keeper” or have psychedelic Lisa Frank unicorns on them.

6. Use Your Time Wisely: Target 5 Companies

Depending on the type of job fair, there could be as many as 200 companies ready to meet potential applicants. You should have five companies in mind when you walk in the door. Talk to those companies first before you turn your attention to other potential employers.

It’s better to make five excellent impressions than 100 half-hearted ones. Focus on your favorites, and then walk the fair with an open mind. You never know when you’ll see a potential employer you overlooked that might be a perfect fit.

7. Smile and Offer Your Hand for the Handshake First

When you approach a company’s table at the job fair, smile at the representatives and extend your hand for the handshake first. This shows that you’re confident and someone they definitely want to get to know.

After the handshake, you can lead the conversation with your elevator speech and see where it goes. Even if you’re nervous, smile and be engaged with the company’s representatives.

8. Ask the Right Questions

A job fair is a good time to “feel out” a company to see if they’re a good fit for you, so make sure you have a good list of questions to ask. The right questions are ones that are focused on how your goals and the company’s goals might align. This isn’t a time to ask about vacation time and medical benefits, but instead ask about what the company’s goals are for this year, and how they’re measuring success. Try questions like:

  1. I read about your XYZ project on your website. It sounds fascinating! How are working towards that goal?
  2. There seems to be a lot of potential to _______ in this field. How is your company approaching it?
  3. I would love to learn more about how your company is achieving __________ this year. What steps are you taking?

If you have time, you might also ask the representatives what their favorite thing about working for the company is. The answers to this question will tell you a lot about the company.

9. Always be Closing

Keep your eye on the prize. You are at the job fair to make connections, land interviews, and receive job offers. Keep that in mind with every conversation.

If the representative isn’t scheduling an interview or saying they’ll be in touch soon for one, you should approach the topic yourself. Ask, “Is there a good time we can connect in the next week or so to discuss the position?”

Try to nail down a time to chat, or at the very least, try to get the name of the hiring manager, if he’s not present at the job fair. You want to walk away with something firm, not just, “we’ll be in touch if we’re interested.”

10. Send Follow-up Emails the Following Day

When you leave the job fair, you will have a good idea which companies you want to work for and which you don’t. Even so, you should send follow up emails to the people who took the time to talk to you. Thank them for their time and tell them how great it was to meet them. Ask to connect with them on LinkedIN and to keep you in mind if they see a position that suits your skill set.

Make sure to ask for business cards or contact information if it’s not offered to you. Job fairs are excellent places to network, so even if you don’t walk out with a job, you should at least walk away with a dozen or more new contacts for your network.

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How to Rock and Job Fair and Walk Out with a Job  10 Ways to Rock a Job Fair