YOU Magazine - February 2009 - Job Hunting Expert Advice for Landing the Ideal Job
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Lyn Bankowski     Lyn Bankowski
AVP/SR. Mortgage Loan Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage Company
Phone: 360-679-5633 / 360-969-5550
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Alaska USA Mortgage Company
February 2009

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Job Hunting
Expert Advice for Landing the Ideal Job

Job Hunting - Expert Advice for Landing the Ideal Job

With the national unemployment rate rapidly approaching double digits, many Americans are finding themselves in need of a job. Since it's no secret that searching for employment during a down economy can be both strenuous and terrifying, we at YOU Magazine decided to seek out some expert help.

Meet the Experts
In the spirit of designing a well-rounded game plan, we recruited two experts in the field of employment, each from somewhat opposite sides of the fence.

Enter Orville Pierson, senior vice president with Lee Hecht Harrison LLC (, a company specializing in leadership consulting, executive coaching, and career transition. The latter is Mr. Pierson's area of expertise. He has authored two books on the subject, The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search and Highly Effective Networking.

Our second expert is Jerry Donini, vice president of human resources at UCG, the parent company for YOU Magazine. While Mr. Donini has been with UCG since 2006, his work in the field of human resources dates back more than 25 years. Among his other duties, Donini is responsible for employee selection, placement and retention.

Even more interesting than having two experts from somewhat opposing spectrums is that both share many of the same opinions on the subject of job hunting. Read along, as they candidly give their best advice for landing the ideal job.

The Advice
We started our interviews with Pierson and Donini with the same question. What is the most important aspect of finding employment during a down economy?

Pierson was quick to point out we're in a market that favors the employer. Due to the large numbers of applicants, he says that many companies are spending less money searching for candidates. Donini agreed, claiming a high unemployment rate generally means that a larger number of applicants are seeking out employers, as opposed to the other way around.

As a result, both men feel that a proactive job search through diligent networking is more important than ever before. Pierson advises to decide which organizations you desire most and then begin meeting the people who work there. He says the objective is to meet your next boss BEFORE he or she has an opening. "Waiting for jobs to open is nothing more than reacting to what shows up," claims Pierson. He adds that in tough times, not a lot will randomly show up.

Pierson and Donini's words ring true, especially when you consider the average job hunter talks to about 25 managers before getting hired. While it may be a scary time right now, the two men agree that your job search should be a focused interpretation of the law of large numbers. Do not waste your time worrying about your competition. Concentrate instead on meeting and forging relationships with managers working at the companies you admire – as many of them as possible.

The Cover Letter
We asked Pierson and Donini to run us through the dos and don'ts of a formal cover letter. Each began by stating that cover letters don't have the influence they once did.

"It's important, but it's definitely not the first thing I look at," claims Mr. Donini, admitting that he always starts with examining the content of the résumé. If the applicant is in the ballpark in terms of experience, he then examines the content of the cover letter.

Donini's best advice for writing a cover letter is to be creative, but not off the wall. Attempts to stand out too much can be jarring to the person who's reading it. He recommends keeping your message crisp and focused, and relevant to the position you desire. He also advises to not be wordy or give an abundance of details. Less is more in this case, and attempts to oversell yourself can oftentimes work against you.

Pierson agrees with this assessment, adding that when an applicant conducts a proactive search through networking, a formal cover letter becomes even less important. The introduction has most likely already been made. All that's left is to express your interest in the specific position.

The Résumé
When it comes to the formal résumé, Pierson and Donini each shared several interesting tips.

Due to the search protocols in many companies' databases, Pierson recommends the use of key words within your résumé. Specific skills, experience, and past employers pertinent to the job you're seeking should appear as words or phrases within the body. This way when a company searches for these specific terms, your résumé is more likely to receive attention.

Donini added that he likes to see an applicant's experience listed in reverse chronological order with no unexplainable lapses in employment. In terms of the overall length of your résumé, he says it's not a "tragedy" for it to be three pages, but he much prefers when it's only two.

Pierson recommends having a couple of versions of your résumé, one that appears on quality paper stock and printed in an appropriate font, and an electronic version. When sending your résumé via email, Pierson suggests including it in the body of the email, as well as attaching it as a Word document. He also cautions to always include a revision date on the bottom of the résumé itself. According to Pierson, many job search websites will sell their résumé databases to other companies. Including a revision date will ensure that a hiring manager who finds it in some database a year from now will know when it was written.

Pierson's final advice is to make sure you write your résumé for the people you want to be hired by. Think about it like writing a brochure, or talking to buyers. Donini agrees with this notion and says, "A résumé that doesn't nail down its importance to who's looking at it is not a good résumé."

Both Pierson and Donini caution everyone to be completely honest with the information they put on their résumés. It's one thing to talk about yourself in a positive light. It's a whole other story to lie about facts. Companies are known to hire third party agencies to do fact checking, as well as call on any references. In addition, a good manager has the ability to detect these types of lies during the interview process.

The Interview
Obtaining an interview with a desired company means you've successfully moved towards the head of the pack. It's also the last step in terms of getting hired. These two facts make it a very important process.

Both our experts agree that the most important task prior to your interview is to thoroughly research the company, the manager, and the product. Read the company's website top to bottom and conduct a Google search in order to find out what's been written about them.

Pierson says the best part about the aforementioned advice is that it can be accomplished in a very short amount of time. However, he adds that by networking your way in to the interview, you will have already learned the majority of the pertinent information.

We found it interesting that in addition to answering questions, it is equally important to ask questions during the interview process. Donini stresses the importance of asking good questions, at the appropriate times. One question Pierson likes, "What would I need to do in order to receive a top performance review from you, one year from now?"

Pierson and Donini both recommend putting together a small library of "accomplishment stories" that illustrate you operating at peak performance and utilizing your full range of skills. Use these stories to illustrate answers and to draw analogies between your accomplishment and company culture.

Donini says that while there's far more tolerance nowadays, it's definitely a good idea to present yourself as a professional. Be prepared and bring along your A game. In addition to accomplishment stories, be ready to give references. Even more important is to contact the references prior to your interview, alerting them that they may be getting contacted.

After the interview has been completed, both men recommend some sort of follow-up. Donini thinks it's a great idea to send a short note, referencing the interview and thanking the manager for their time. Pierson adds that another nice touch is to include an article or short piece of research that pertains to the discussion during the interview. He claims it's a nice way to show the manager that you want to work for them.

Both of our experts are not too fond of a follow-up phone call. Donini says that if your interview went well, the company will most likely be contacting you. In addition, saying the wrong thing over the phone could damage your status. Pierson illustrates this point by saying the worst thing you could do is make a demand such as, "When are you going to make a decision?"

If you are currently unemployed or are concerned about your future at your current place of employment, we urge you to listen to the aforementioned advice and above all, remember that you have to hang in there. While jobs may be at a minimum, one thing is for certain. Your ideal job is out there waiting for you. Your job right now is to go out and find it.

We wish you the best of luck!

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