Questions and Answers with Career Expert Kristen Griffin
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Kristen Griffin, experienced in the recruitment field since 1995, owns Griffin Career Solutions in Richmond, VA.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the best strategy for attracting the interest of a recruiter?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||My first contact with a candidate is through his/her resume and cover letter. My first piece of advice is to ensure that your employment-search documents are attractive, well organized, and quickly provide the recruiter with the information needed to determine a possible match. If you really want to catch the eye of a recruiter; I recommend sending your resume and cover letter the old fashioned way via regular mail; it shows initiative. Or deliver it in person if you are able to. Another tip — resumes that were enclosed in 9×12 white/off-white envelopes, unfolded, marked at the bottom right-hand “resume enclosed” always caught my eye first!|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What is the most important thing every job-seeker should know when using a recruiter?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||When you apply to a temporary or executive-search firm, you may be applying to an invisible position, meaning that recruiters often will advertise for candidates based on a perceived need, not an actual need. If they connect with a candidate that they feel to be “hot.” They will pre-screen the candidate, check references, and then market the applicant to employers. Recruiters, at least the ones I know, who practice this “fishing” approach will not let the candidate know that they have applied to a ghost position. So, if you only want to apply for real positions, avoid advertisements that say something like “we need 12 people to fill the roles of blank, blank, and blank.”|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Opinions differ on the extent to which the economy is recovering, and the employment picture seems to change from day to day? From your observations and experience, just how tough is the job market today? How can job-seekers achieve success and stand out from the crowd in such a competitive market?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The economy is picking up slowly, and with this gradual pick-up, employers are lifting hiring freezes and new jobs are opening up daily. Unfortunately, on the other side of the coin, more people are looking for jobs than there are jobs available. For a candidate to succeed in a job search today, he/she must do homework.
Step 1: Learn about yourself. Perform self-assessments, many of which you can find online, to determine what motivates you, what do you excel at, who you are as a person, what your learning style is, and more. Gaining a better understanding of who you are in the long run will help you in finding a rewarding career that will make you want to get out of the bed in the morning! [Editor’s note: See our guide to free and inexpensive online assessments.]
Step 2: Now that you know yourself better, RESEARCH companies find out all you can including company size, annual income, benefits, geographic locations, how to apply, and more. Based on this information, determine what companies would work best for you. Remember, take good notes; they will be very important to you later on in your search process.
Step 3: Develop a powerful but concise employment marketing package. Your resume and cover letter are the first contacts you have with an employer. You want to be able to summarize who you are professionally, what you have done, how you did it, and what you have contributed or achieved. Many wonderful resume-writing books are available on the market today, or you can make an conscious investment and hire a reputable professional resume writer. You can find someone through professional organizations such as Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC), National Resume Writers Association (NRWA), Career Masters Institute (CMI), and Professional Resume Writing and Research Association (PRWRA). These professionals are experts at resume writing and can definitely help you in achieving your employment document objectives.
Step 4: When applying for jobs, don’t just use the Internet to send your resume. Show some initiative and contact these employers — unless they specifically state NO PHONE CALLS. Basically, market yourself to the employer. And network. Basically, you know five people, and chances are that they know five people, and they know five people. Well, if you put the word out, you may receive some fantastic job leads and contact names.
Step 5: Prepare for an interview by anticipating possible questions. Participate in mock-interviews. Read interview-question books. Tape-record yourself and listen to the answers. The better prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be in an interview. Review your earlier notes about the company, and prepare some questions for the interviewer.
Step 6: In the interview, dress to impress. Take a deep breath before the interview. Keep good eye contact with the interviewer. Remember, it is OK to pause to gather your thoughts when a question is asked. Have fun.
Step 7: FOLLOW UP by a phone call or letter, thanking the interviewer for his/her time and expressing interest in the position.
It’s a lot of work, but in the end you will stand out and achieve your employment objectives.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What are the top 5-10 skills that most employers are REALLY looking for these days? What are the key skills that make job seekers employable?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Every position is different, but recently the trend has been that employers are REALLY seeking professionals with the following eight traits/skills:
These skills/traits can be best summarized by saying that employers want to hire someone who can be highly productive, and provide a significant contribution to the success of the organization and its environment.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||We are hearing increasingly from job-seekers about frustrations with Internet job-hunting. They complain that they never hear anything from employers, and that employers increasingly put up impenetrable barriers to keep job-seekers from following up and being proactive. Are the old rules of job-seeking and follow-up changing?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Times have changed, and job-hunting has changed with it. Personally, I don’t recommend the Internet for resume submission. The Internet is a great tool to quickly send your resume to a potential employer, but it is not often effective. When a recruiter posts a job online, that job may be viewed by the world — and the world does respond. Often, I would receive more than 500 applicants via email after only 48 hours. The “impenetrable barriers” candidates often face have to be in place for time-management reasons. Because of the typical number of applicants, it is also impossible for a recruiter to respond to each candidate personally. You can send an email or try a phone call (unless the ad specifically says NO PHONE CALLS) to follow-up, but chances are that the recruiter will not know who you are unless he/she has called you first.|
Kristen Griffin, owner of Griffin Career Solutions, Richmond, VA, has worked in the recruitment field since 1995 and has experience in both HR-based and executive recruitment. Her company, Griffin Career Solutions, is a one-woman shop offering a variety of recruitment/employment search services geared towards career-seeking individuals and small/medium-sized businesses, including recruitment consulting, job-search assistance/coaching, resume writing, career coaching, and outplacement support. Griffin is a professional member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC), National Resume Writers Association (NRWA), Career Masters Institute (CMI) and Professional Resume Writing and Research Association (PRWRA), Association of Job Search Trainers (AJST), and the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE).
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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