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Upon graduating from college or university, you might think that excellent grades and academic achievements will help make your job search easier. However, not as easy as it sounds, job hunting is always challenging. You have to compete with hundreds, if not thousands, candidates before actually get the job you want.

Looking for a job is not an exact mathematical science that is as simple as 1 + 1 = 2, but there are more factors that come into play. Those factors will determine whether you are the best candidate who can fill the position or not. A survey conducted by Future Workplace shows that there is a gap between job hunter’s perception of recruiting process and the company’s human resources department’s expectations. This means that sometimes, you can only wonder what hiring managers want and go through with the hiring process without knowing exactly what they are looking for from a candidate.

Here are seven important things you should do before starting your search:

Clean your social media presence – Recruiters are increasingly using social media to ‘stalk’ potential candidates’ personality and determine whether they will be culturally fit the existing company culture. That being said, it is better to spring clean your social media profiles from any sensitive or embarrassing posts and unnecessary information. If potential employers find something that they think negative such as posts containing bad words or controversial issues, it might lessen your chances of getting the job offer.

Find referrals – Most HR professionals would agree that employee referrals can be the best method for finding top candidates. It was said that applicants that are hired form referral start their work faster that those who apply via job boards or career sites. So, before landing a job, it will be better if you get in touch with someone who has been working in the company or other professionals in your expertise who can give you recommendation.

Learn technical skills – According to U.S. News, a quarter of employers rank technical skills as the most skills they are looking for in their candidates because nowadays. By learning technical skills, it will greater your chance to land a job in a position you want. Moreover, developing skills you are lack will boost your self-confidence and candidacy.

Find out the most wanted skills and highlight it – If technical skill is crucial, then so are other skills such as communication, adaptability, or result-driven. These are soft-skills that a hiring manager seek in their candidates. Other top skills company usually look for are leadership and teamwork. Therefore, you better highlight one of those skills so your resume can grab employer’s interest.

Highlight your internship, not GPA – If you are a recent graduate, you probably think that good grades are what employers seek most in candidates’ resume. The truth is, employers are more interested in applicants working experience such as internships and social achievements like volunteering. So, do not just highlight in what you have achieved because experience wins most attention.

Prepare yourself for a sudden test – In some interviews, the hiring manager might want to give you a sudden test because they want to see how prepared you are. Therefore, you should always be ready and prepare yourself for it. As best as possible, try to find out what the test will be about.

Learn the company’s background and history – This is the very last and crucial thing you should always keep in mind before pressing the ‘Apply’ button. Lack of information can cost you your job application. Recruiter might think that you are not serious with the application or you just want to test yourself. So better to prepare rather than regret later.

Read also: Maximize Your Job Search with Matrix Decision

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Just like a resume, a cover letter is a weapon to “sell yourself” to the hiring managers. What differs between the two are the format and content. Resume is a brief description of your cover letter. In cover letter, you should write in detail about personal information and professional quality in order to attract recruiters to shortlist your job application.

Tim Windhof, an executive resume writer at Windhof Career Services in Columbus, Ohio, advices that your cover letter should address the following: how you learn about the opportunity, how your qualifications match the job requirements, your possible availability in the area and how you can be contacted. In brief, your cover letter must describe “why it should be you and not others”.

Take a look at the following tips on how to write an appealing cover letter for successful job search:

01 Choose wording that mirror the ad language  

Before writing a cover letter, you should review the job ads carefully and underline the main points. If your cover letter will be read by hiring managers, they are more likely to skim brief at first to see whether you are a good fit or not. You can increase your chance of getting shortlisted when your cover letter matches most requirements listed in the job ads.

Don’t embellish your qualifications if you don’t really meet the requirements. Only write down real information and present yourself in the best manner by describing as many qualities as you can. You never know which qualifications employers value most.

02 Pay attention to readability

This is important as a cover letter written in readable format will likely to win employer’s heart. In a cover letter, you should only use business letter format. This will make the recruiter to only focus on your content rather than on the writing style. Business letter format usually comes along with 1” – 1.5” margins, 12-point font, professional font, uniform alignment (justify).

03 Address it to specific person

Do your homework and find out who will be responsible to receive and check your job application. Calling or sending email to the contact person provided in the job ads can be an effective way to get such information. You can also ask questions or confirm certain information related to the job opportunity to the right source instead of wondering around.

If you are sending the cover letter via post mail, make sure to write both the employer’s and your address. It usually contains first and last name, street address, city, state zip, and postal code, phone and email for applicant.

Example:

Your Name

Address

City, State, ZIP code

Your phone number

Your email address

 

Date

 

Name of Hiring Manager

Name of Company or Organization

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

On the other hand, if you send the cover letter via email, you can simply start by writing the hiring manager’s name. This is much better than writing with to whom it may concern. Yet, in a situation where you can’t find the name of the hiring manager or head of HRD, you can address your letter to “Dear Hiring Manager.” It’s a better choice than starting with Dear Sir/Madam.

04 Brief introduction

In this part, you should start with when and where you find the job opening. Make sure to specify job position that you want to apply, especially when the company post multiple job positions. Make it into a paragraph that contains two to four sentences.

05 Compelling content

To grab the hiring manager’s attention, you should start by writing your educational background, followed by your achievements such as related training or internships you have completed and work experiences. However, if you are a fresh graduate with no job or internship experience, you can emphasise other skills such as organisational, leadership, or even time management skill, etc.

You can write it in two to three paragraphs for the content. However, you should not be wordy or  spill too much information. Sometimes, giving too much information can hinder you from getting the job offer.

06 A-Okay closing

Always finish your cover letter by asking for an interview and reiterating how much you want to proceed to the next step of hiring process. Also, do not forget to always provide your phone number so the recruiter can contact you with ease.

07 Signature

Always give signature to either written or email cover letter. Use complimentary closing sentence such as best regards, regards, sincerely, yours respectfully, etc. In a written letter, just simply write your full name. Meanwhile in an email, always type your name followed by contact information.

Example:

Sincerely,

(your signature)

Your full name

Mobile: (66) 987-98787

Email: andie@andiejone.com

08 Proofread, proofread, and proofread

Lastly, you should give the right amount of time to proofread your work – in this case, your cover letter, maybe two or three times proofreading. Find out spelling or grammar errors that might lessen your chance from getting shortlisted. Again and again, cut out the flowery words as too much description or information will make your cover letter look unprofessional. As best as possible, keep your cover letter only in one page.

Read also: Passion versus Skill: What Comes First in a Job Search?

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You have graduated from uni with an excellent GPA. Now, you need to prepare yourself to enter the workforce and land a job in your dream company. Before applying for a job, first you have to ensure that you already have the most important weapon in a job hunt: an attractive resume.

A good resume should be more than just a dull list of your academic achievements and personal information. That being said, to write a resume that will get shortlisted by recruiter is not the same as writing a caption for your Instagram updates. There are things you should consider such as the template, opening statement, and career overview. You must put all the best qualities on a single paper to sell yourself because usually a recruiter only give a brief 10 seconds looking at each resume.

Therefore, you should be smart enough to write only relevant qualifications or else you will lose the opportunity to catch the hiring manager’s interest. If you are a fresh graduate seeking to get that dream job, here is a guide to write your first professional resume:

1. Know the audience

Resume is a marketing tool to sell your ability, experience, and accomplishment in order to snatch a job. You should make sure that its message is targeted to right recipients: employer and recruiter. Therefore, before writing a resume for job application, you should consider:

  • The company: including its history, products, services, culture, and recent developments.
  • The specific requirements: skills and experience.  

2. Choose the right style  

You should choose the best style for your resume. There are 3 styles of resumes in general: chronological, functional, and combination. Chronological resumes focus on work experience and list of professional experience from the most to the least recent. Functional style focuses on skills more. Yet, normally, a combination of both styles will work on your first resume. You can point out your professional experience while still draw attention on your skills.

Moreover, you should not forget to certain format on your resume. Normally, resumes have header, career objectives, statement, skills and abilities, work experience, education, and interest. Don’t forget to always highlight the skills and abilities that are relevant to the job.

3. Start with the basic

Before we move to the more complicated task, let’s start by writing the most basic information that should be written on a resume: name, address, phone number, and email address. Make sure to give a professional email address. An email address like mixblond113@gmail.com will not work and the recruiter might think that you are just joking around. Therefore, you should create a professional email right away if you don’t have any.

4. Personal statemen

Recruiters are not only interested in why you are applying for the position and what you can do. They are also curious in who you are as a person. Therefore, providing a personal professional statement on your resume is always a good start to let them know who you are. You can use these questions as a guide to write your statement:

  • Do you fit the company culture?
  • Is your personality and attitude a good match for the company and team?
  • What makes you believe you will land a job in that company?
  • What is so interesting about your life?

5. Job posting as a guide

The best way to summarise your skill and experience is to tailor it with job description. Many recruiters use applicant tracking system (ATS) to shortlist resume, especially if there are so many jobseekers applying. Therefore, you should be able to keep it simple and make sure to include some ‘keywords’ in your resume so the ATS can scan it. Usually, the keywords recruiters use are: hard skills and soft skills. The more you can match with those skills in the job description, the more chances you can get that job.

6. Keep it one page

The average duration recruiters spend to review a resume is 10 seconds. You should make it concise and lean by getting rid of all the fluff. As your first resume should fit in one page, you can only write relevant information in it. For example, if you are applying for a design graphic programmer but you have worked at a McDonalds for 1 year, it will be better if you don’t include that experience in your resume unless it is relevant.

7. Professional look

To impress the recruiter, you should give it a professional look. Make sure that your resume is easy to read by using: common font styles (cambria, calibri, or helvetica styles), give 12 to 14 font size, use appropriate spacing, no more than six highlight and bullet points, margins 1” all around, and left aligned format. However, if you are a graphic designer, you can impress recruiters by designing your resume as creative and unique as possible.

8. Use action and power words

Recruiters are more interested in reviewing resumes that are really dynamic and impressive in action. In order to give that impression, you should use the right action verbs and powerful words. Few examples of those words are achieved, created, generated, initiated, organized, introduced, identified, improved, resolved, launched.

9. Proofread your resume

Finally, never submitted raw resumes that have not been proofread. Before submitting your resume, make sure to always double check or ask your friend to review it. This process will give you clues whether your resume is A-okay to be read by recruiter or not. Also, you can be aware of the misspelling words that will make your resume look unprofessional.

Read also: Passion versus Skill: What Comes First in a Job Search?

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Finally, you get the opportunity to take one step closer to your dream job: an interview. Coming to the company building with all confidence you could muster, suddenly you find your palms producing excessive sweat while your breathing gets heavier. You get anxious as you study the questions and answers you have prepared last night, over and over again. To calm down, you try to convince yourself by whispering these sentences, I have prepared everything, I know everything about this company, I am qualified for this job, and My resume is good enough.

You finally overcome your anxiety, but is that enough to get you ready for the interview?

Maybe, because the fact that the hiring manager invites you for an interview means that your resume has caught his interest. However, more than good resume and excellent hard skills on paper, you need to demonstrate great soft skills too. In that case, you should get rid of these 9 behaviours in order to get accepted in the job you have always wanted:

 

  • Come late

It goes without saying that arriving late to a job interview can lessen your points in front of your employer’s eyes. Therefore, if you realise that you have a morning interview scheduled in the next day, you should prepare yourself by setting the alarm, waking up early, and getting ready for it.

Also, it is so important to not skip your breakfast. Why? Because, Lisa De Fazio, a healthy-lifestyle expert, said that breakfast is an important meal of the day. When you skip your breakfast, your blood-sugar level will go lower and it will affect your attention span which later will lessen your focus. As consequent, you cannot do your best during the interview.

 

  • Ignore the body language

During a job interview, putting your hands on the table is okay but not recommended; as it is better to put your hands on your lap to look more professionals. You should also mind other body language such as eye contact, heads, facial expressions, body postures, and handshakes. Poor body language can reduce your chance of getting the job as the interviewers pay attention to all your moves.

Aside from that, according to Gillett in Business Insider, among the biggest mistake people do during an interview is that they tend to “wishing that the job interview will end soon.” That being said, frequently checking your watch or looking at the clock will make it seem like you are eager to leave the interview room soon.

 

  • Poor word choices

Don’t use foul language! You might be excited because getting a job interview for the position you always want is a rare opportunity and you blurt out saying some foul words. Accidentally saying swearing words can indicate that you are a careless person and unable to calmly and thoughtfully deal with a situation. Therefore, you should be careful when you speak.

 

  • Showing boredom

Waiting for your name to be called and interviewed is boring. Everybody can relate to this. So how will you overcome the boredom while waiting? Checking your phone? Play online game? Or texting?

Most people will do the things mentioned above. Why? Because those activities help them overcome their boredom and pass the time. However, doing those things above will only make you look unprofessional and the recruiter might think that it is a good idea to remove you from their candidates’ list.

What else can you do, then? Show that you are genuinely interested to work for the company by reading the magazine or brochure commonly provided in the waiting room.

 

  • Being too informal

Let’s talk about the dress-code. You should not choose a “too formal” or “too informal” dress because your attire will tell a lot about whether you want to be taken seriously or not.

Dressing too informal will tell the recruiter that you have less interest in the company. On the other hand, wearing too formal clothes tells the employer that you do not research the company’s custom well enough so you might not be a good fit for the job.

 

  • Bringing too much stuffs

Bring only what the recruiter asks you to bring, most will only ask you to carry a copy of your resume and portfolio. Bringing too much stuff in your hands to the room can tell the recruiter that you are an unorganized person. So, leave everything else such as your water bottle or handphone in the car so you can be free to shake hands with potential employers.

 

  • Speaking too much

Stop being over confident! Naturally, people tend to talk more than needed because they want to impress the recruiters that they have certain skills and talent. Well, that is not a good thing to do as the interviewer might see you as long-winded candidate. Owing to which, it is crucial to always think before you speak, just keep it simple, give the interviewer an opportunity to ask you questions and only answer with relevant responses.

 

  • Being too grueling

Asking questions during an interview is important as it will show that you are interested in actually landing the job. However, only ask certain questions that will help you increase your employment opportunity such as, “How do you measure success in this company?” For that reason, you can list questions based on the job position you are applying before attending the interview.

 

  • Being shy

Lastly, you should swipe away your shyness. Being nervous 15 minutes before interview is normal. However, you should not show that shyness during the interview. Shyness can indicate that you are insecure and incompetence. A Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy, suggested that if you are a shy person, you can use that to take your time before answering. She said “slowing down and pausing signals indicate that you feel comfortable, that you are deserve to be there, that you respect this interaction, that you are engaged, and that you are interested.”

Read also: Reality Bites: What to Do When Things Don’t Go as Planned

 

 

 

Where and how should I start to build my career? Should I chase my passion and only find job that fits with it, or should I just be realistic and take on any job to pay the bills? How do I know that this is the right career path for me?

We often ask these questions to find out what our true career goals are and what we can do to improve it and achieve better. You might have sought for copious job-related advices from watching your favourite motivator on YouTube, or reading those stacks of self-improvement books. However, all those theoretical advices will not bring you much significant effects to you if you still find yourself baffled about your own definition of career.

Owing to this reason, first thing you need to do is know the definition of career in itself, and thus jot down your goals and create a career roadmap. Here are 4 tips to know what a career means for you:

What exactly a passion is?

For most individuals, having a job that is in line with their passion must sound like a dream job. The problem is, not every individual can actually describe what passion is for them. Many people are still struggling in finding what they are passionate about and this affects their decision in choosing what kind of career path they should pursue. Therefore, in order to know what passion is for you, you should find something or a job you are most curious about, something that you have huge desire to learn about. Additionally, passion should be something that can fulfil yourself and somehow energise you when doing it.

See career as a jungle gym

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandber said, “Career is not a ladder. It is a jungle gym.” This mean that we should see having a career is not just about how you can get best positions, big salary, or being titled. Instead, every individual should consider a career as an opportunity to learn something new, challenge themselves over and over, do meaningful exploration and experiment, as well as build a sense of belonging in the role. That being said, job is not just a job, but something that helps you grow up, develop your skill, and most importantly, it makes you happy and contented.

Define your level of success

We often define a success with some influences from others, such as how big you company is, how important your position is, how much you earn, or how long it takes to buy that flashy car. You should understand that success is not about how others see your achievement. Instead, the most valuable level of success is what you genuinely want to achieve as an individual. With that kind of mindset, you will have the capability to manage your inner self in order to gain the best results that align with your own level of success.

Measure your ability

By understanding your own quality (both personally and professionally), you will know your best skills and be able to develop them as a strength for you. There are three aspects that you should measure. First, how much you can use your brain to give the best performance in certain fields. Second, what is the best way to upgrade and improve your soft and hard skills. Last, how good you are in communicating, interacting and collaborating with others. When you can figure out where you are best at, it will help you choose what career path you can pursue to reach your best potentials.

Read also : To Work at Full Throttle: How to Find Enjoyment in Your Job

 

“Love what you do, do what you love.”
Does this quote sound familiar to you? Chances are, this sentence is among the most popular quotes people will tell you when embarking on career journey. When it comes to work, it is important to know what kind of occupation you are passionate about, as this is closely related to your productivity and performance at work.
Some people might think that in today’s tough economic climate, passion is not number one priority in a process of job search. As consequence, some people might end up abandoning their true calls and choose a job they actually hate simply because it offers better compensation.
Imagine waking up in the morning with miserable feeling of not wanting to go to work. While your friends are talking about how much they love what they do at work, you have to put on a fake smile to hide your actual feeling about the job. Then what should you do if you are trapped in a job you do not really like?
The key is to handle such situation is by recognising what is keeping you from being positive, changing your work habits and making a quality work-life balance. Here are some tips for you to keep enjoyment at work:

Find the value of the job

Do not let yourself drown in negativity, as this will only hinder you from finding joy and thrill in your job. Instead, you can try to focus on the positive aspects of your job by realising that whatever you do will bring value and contribution to others’ life. By recognising that your job helps others to achieve their goals and make their life easier, it can bring positive thoughts that in turn help you enjoy your job more. Even if you are not passionate about your job, you should think that what you do is meaningful for others.

Don’t shut yourself out

When you hate your job, you might rather get your work done as early as possible and go home instead of hanging out with your coworkers during after work. You will not care enough to build a relationship with your colleagues, you do not chat or engage in personal conversation with them because you do not even want to be there in the first place. Disconnecting yourself from others will only damage your self-esteem, because having good relationship with teammates can provide some much-needed relief, support, and happiness in the workplace. That being said, you can find enjoyment at work by letting yourself be part of the community, as they can be your support system and reason to enjoy your work life.

Find something new

Maybe you feel bored doing the same task and stuck in same routine everyday that it becomes difficult to enjoy your day at work. In such condition, you can approach your manager and ask if you can take on some new responsibilities in the office. But first you have to be aware of your own quality so you can give your best contributions for the new roles.

Maintain work-life balance

Your current job might not fulfill your dream, which then becomes the sole reason why you are struggling to enjoy your time at work. Such mindset might bring negativity that impacts not only your professional life, but also your personal life outside the office. Therefore, it is best to not bring work-related matters home and try to not complain about your job after work. Instead, you should focus on things that make you happy such as doing your hobbies or something that helps you relaxed.

Read also : 3 Ways to Stand Out at Work When You are an Introverted Person

Imagine a scenario where your boss delegate you to be the leader of your dream project. Despite all the time, energy, and efforts you devoted for the project, at the end of the day your supervisor still criticise it and give you negative feedbacks. Trapped in such situation, you might feel both upset and anxious. But relax! Getting negative feedbacks does not mean the end of the world. Rather than letting yourself down feeling defeated and angry, this is the right time for you to wake up and get motivated.

Dealing with the fact that you get negative feedbacks despite all your efforts is not an easy thing to deal with. This becomes more difficult to cope with when you think that you have given the best performance, so such undesirable review will discourage you from striving to do bettter instead.

However, getting negative feedbacks does not mean that you are a poor performer, or your career is going downhill. Everyone has their ups and downs in their job, so do you. Rather than blaming yourself (or maybe others) for the bad review, you should alter the perspective and let the criticisms sink in your mind. Manage the negative reviews the right way and it will turn you to be a better employee.

Here are some ways you can get motivated from negative feedbacks that will encourage you during down times:

Stay calm and listen carefully

It is crucial to not lose your calm when you hear a negative feedback from your boss. The first thing you have to do is take a deep breath and relax. When the feedback is delivered face-to-face, calmly wait until your supervisor finish and focus on what they are telling you. Do not build up a defensive attitude because this will only backfire you. If the feedback is delivered in written form, take some time to pause and digest the words. When you have calmed down, write your boss back and kindly say thank for the feedback. For both oral and written, ask your boss to not only provide negative feedbacks, but also the solution for your shortcomings by providing constructive ones as well.

Act only as needed

Do not be caught off guard and let your emotion mounts up, or else you will lose control of the whole situation. You might want to to defend yourself, but it is important to act sensibly by refraining yourself from doing anything excessive. If you are given an opportunity to present your reasons or refute your boss, do it politely so there will no prolonged problem in the future. Instead of showing defiance and make your boss upset, it would be tactful if you comply with them for the moment.

Make a plan

When you have stayed calm and acted sensibly, the next step is to make a plan. When you get negative feedback, something might be wrong with your job. You are not always right, so is your boss. That being said, this is the right time for you to evaluate your working method. Make a reachable plan that will help you become a better employee. Sketch out an attainable plan that will help you achieve the goal. Observe the root problems that lead you to the negative feedbacks and see the room for improvement. Only when you know what the real problem is, you can think of the way out.

Follow up

Learn from the past mistakes. When you have discovered the root problems and collected the tools that will help you improve your self-development, all that is left now is how you get to make it work. You should evaluate your own performance to assess whether you have been running on the right track or not.

Receiving thumbs down from your boss never comes as a pleasant experience. However, it does provide you opportunity to gauge your own quality and make improvements on it. The main hack to handle this situation is by changing your perspective and turn the negative reviews into positive ones in the future.

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Confident people tend to be more cheerful and possess a positive attitude towards their job. They are unafraid to go for advancement opportunities or to go up against new challenges. Unfortunately, as a person continuously receives high praise, admiration from peers and scoring achievements could result in being overconfident.

Having confidence in oneself is an excellent characteristic, but being an overconfident person can jolly bring down your competency at work too!

Are you being overconfident at work? Check the list:

  1. There’s little or no self-criticism

Overconfident people tend to have a lower level of self-criticism or perhaps even none at all as they feel that tasks performed by them are to perfection. They are convinced that there are no possible improvements to be made and often do not accept criticisms from others.

  1. Conflicts

Conflicts amongst co-workers resulting in a hostile working environment could happen when overconfident people comes into the picture. Co-workers commonly have a basic form of respect towards each other but overconfident people tend to give more criticisms to others’ work (remember, they often do not accept criticisms from others) and belittles their peers’ opinions or ideas other than their own.

  1. Sub-Quality & Frequent Mistakes

Mistakes or sub-quality work often happen as such overconfident workers are less meticulous in their tasks as they feel their work are beyond rebuke. Thus, it is often they forgot to double-check their work or even seek the opinion of another to see if there is any room for improvements.

Also, as such people tend to focus more on important projects while leaving those they feel are unimportant or easily completed tasks to the side. By belittling such tasks and leaving it till the end, one could lose the focus and chances of errors occurring increases.

Having recurring mistakes or handing in sub-par work, clearly isn’t good for your future career progression!

  1. Showing Arrogance

Another consequence of being an overconfident person at work is that it can turn you into being arrogant. Arrogance in a workplace creates negativity and discomfort amongst co-workers, resulting in a disrupted work environment.

Why? As arrogant people seldom or not at all, listen to the views of others as they feel that they already know everything or that their ideas are better than the rest.

Remember, being confident is good. But being overconfident could substantially affect your career in time to come. When you do not listen to others’ advice or opinions, you are putting a stopper to your growth within the company or other future potential prospects.

Being successful in your career doesn’t only require a high self-confidence. Instead, other factors like being a team player, showing respect to others, self-development and more, counts.

Keep learning!

Next read: How to Avoid Looking Like a Job Hopper on Your Resume