Dear Tina

This is really more of a rant than a question, but here goes: I've been doing an aggressive job search posting my resume on Monster and Careerbuilder, but lately all I'm getting are calls from recruiters for sales jobs that I don't even want. Some of them in places like Spokane when I live in Chicago. I've been working in IT for over 13 years, so I knew that my resume would be attractive to HR people, but even though I state clearly that I am NOT interested in relocating and that I want to stay in database management, why am I still getting calls like that? Don't recruiters even read??? Why are they just wasting my time?

Signed,
Terry in Chicago, IL


Dear Terry,

Contrary to popular belief, posting your resume on popular career websites is NOT conducting an aggressive job search.  Rather it's the equivalent of writing your name and number on the bathroom wall - resulting in a lot of unwanted calls.  This is not to imply that those sites aren't useful, but the search for a new opportunity should be a strategic one.  Here are 3 quick tips that you can implement to streamline your search:
  1. Remove your phone number from your resume. I know you're thinking "but how will they contact me?". Answer - they will email you when they're interested.
  2. Create specific email addresses to use during your job search (i.e. TerryITMonster@email.com, TerryITCareerBuilder@email.com, TerryITDice@email.com, etc).  Most free email providers have an option to create multiple addresses that filter into your main address.  This will allow you monitor where your emails are coming from and to evaluate which sites are the most effective vs ineffective.
  3. Use your LinkedIn and professional association contacts for job referrals or even a referral of a quality headhunter in your area. Tell them exactly what you're looking for and let the headhunter do the heavy lifting as they often get opportunities that aren't publicly posted, giving you the inside track.
Once you've started this more strategic approach you'll notice a huge difference in the quantity and quality of contacts that you receive.  Delete the sites that are ineffective and who knows? You may even long for the days that you get offered positions in Washington State.


 
 
Dear Tina,
Any tips as to where to look for serious upwardly mobile employment in this job market? We are willing to relocate (but not to Nebraska or anything lol). Any help, advice or inside information is GREATLY appreciated!

Signed,
Reina in Philadelphia

Dear Reina

As we continue to move towards a truly global environment, any career where you can flex your international muscles (i.e. speaking several languages, working in the international business or technology sector, etc) will have some of the most promising mobility over the next decade.  Additionally, according to Forbes.com the 4 of the top five best large cities for jobs are in the state that kicks butt and takes names - Texas.   So grab a copy Japanese for Dummies and get fitted for your ten gallon hat, partner.
 
 
Dear Tina,
I'm a single father of 2 who doesn't have a lot of outside help with my kids.  I'm looking for a job where I can work from home, but I don't want to get scammed. I see ads all of the time, but how do I know if they're legit? Do legit ones even exist? I appreciate any advice you can give.

Signed,
Scam free dad in Decatur, GA


Dear Scam Free Dad,

There are unfortunately a large number of outfits that look to take advantage of people by offering a job for a "processing fee" or they turn out to be Networking Marketing or Multi-Level Marketing [READ: pyramid] schemes. However, there are definitely some legitimate work at home jobs out there if you know where to look and how to avoid the scams like these:
  • Too good to be true: Only Demi Moore has been promised $1M for a few hours worth of work, and even that didn't come without some hidden agendas. So if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Set up fee: Jobs that ask you to pay a small "set up fee" are generally a scam.  Ideally when you're going to work, you're making money.  This should be the idea regardless of the location of your office. Also be leery of any companies that ask for referrals before you even get started.
  • The Amazing Kreskin: Whaddayaknow? Just as you were thinking about possibly searching for a work from home job, you got an email in your bulk mail folder that shows a gorgeous woman leaning against a luxury car that she bought with money she made from stuffing envelopes.  Unsolicited job offers from unknown sources should be approached with extreme caution.  Remember, if it looks too good...
To help you find some legitimate opportunities, I would recommend checking out RatRaceRebellion.com, which pre-screens some opportunities and also teaches you how to look out for scams. There are also several books that have been written about this subject, so hit your local library (why buy a book that your city will lend you for free?) and at the end of the day, go with your gut.

Good luck!


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Dear Tina

I know that I am not supposed to say anything negative about former employers on a job application, but how do I explain being wrongfully terminated without saying anything negative? Are you allowed to just say advancement, which makes no sense because I am unemployed or what else can I say that will at least get me considered for the position?

Signed,
Help! in Philadelphia


Dear Help!

I'm sorry to hear about your employment situation.  The best way to address it when asked is to say that the company went through a "restructuring".  Avoid the Noid, er I mean, avoid using the term "wrongfully terminated". It rings of bitterness and drama and possibly a lawsuit. Believe it or not potential employers like to stay far away from lawsuits.

During your interview, you may be asked what you liked most and least about your previous job - focus on the POSITION, not the company. Try having at least one positive thing that you can say about working there- even if it's just how your experience strengthened due to projects that you've worked on. That way you won't come across as bitter/upset so they won't think twice about the "restructuring" that left you unemployed.

Now time for a shameless plug: Need a job?  Be sure to check out the postings on Jobology - positions updated daily!



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Dear Tina,
I suck at writing cover letters, any tips?

Signed,
Uncovered in Yonkers


Dear Uncovered

A cover letter is simply a one page introduction to your resume that outlines your interest in the position and highlights why your qualifications are a match for the job.  Here are a few tips that should help you create an effective letter:


  1. Personalize your letter by addressing it to the person outlined as the contact in the job description.  If no one is listed, some quick research can help you find the contact.  Search online for the department head,  check your LinkedIn contacts for anyone who may know the answer, or simply call the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager (do not ask to speak to them). If all else fails use "To Whom It May Concern", but avoid using "Dear Sir/Madam" (seriously, when was the last time that you called someone "madam"?).
  2. Remember that it's not a novel. Your letter should be 3 well written paragraphs that underscore your education, experience and what skills you plan to bring to the position/company.  You may also add a few bullets that highlight your core competencies, but the letter should not be one giant grocery list.
  3. Include all requested information. Be sure to read the description carefully and address any specific requests such as adding your salary requirement.
  4. Proofread and spell check your letter.  Nothing screams incompetence like someone who blatantly ignored the wavy red lines under their misspelled words.

If you're still unsure of what to include in your cover letter or need more assistance, consider hiring a professional!



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Dear Tina,

If you are looking for employment in another state, how do you stand out from the other local candidates?

Signed,
TD in Philadelphia

Dear TD

Depending on the position, many companies are only looking for local talent due to cuts in their recruiting budgets so you'll need a few tips on ways to mingle amongst the locals from miles away. 

One of the first things that you can do is remove your current address from your resume.  Long gone are the days when employers would send you that little "thanks, but no thanks" post card, so the only contact information that you need are an email address and phone number.  Although your area code may not raise any red flags since people tend to keep cell phone numbers regardless of location, you may want to get a Google Voicenumber with the area code of your desired city.  It's a free service that will forward calls made to that number to any landline or mobile phone of your choice. 

Your cover letter is a great way to sell yourself to a company when you're out of the area.  In the letter explain that you are relocating and give them an estimated date that you will expect to be available to both interview and start work.  If you won't be able to do in person interviews, offer to do the interview via Skype.

One last thing that you should discuss in both your cover letter and in your interview are the benefits that you would bring from a different city. For example, if you're in sales or account management, highlight your current client relationships and how you may bring a national perspective to their sales philosophy.  Regardless of the industry, innovation  is always welcomed within a company and being able to bring a fresh set of eyes to the region may really set you apart from the local talent.  This way, even if you're seeking relocation assistance, they will see you as an investment rather than an unnecessary cost.


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