Wants and Needs: Deciphering Between the Two During a Job Search

While the recession is starting to slowly slip away, it’s still here and it’s still a massive cloud hovering over both employers and candidates. Not everyone is able to quickly find a new job or career right now, largely because of the unemployment rates that are still scarily high across the nation. Numerous candidates are applying to the same position, making it cut-throat, to say the least.

While the job search itself is difficult, you may be finding yourself starting to wonder if the perfect job is out there. Sure it is, but it may not be out there in your neighborhood or even in this time frame. Many professionals who are in the market for a new position are hanging onto the hopes of getting something better than what they had — or at least in the same tier. However, the tough market is forcing many job seekers to carefully decide what they need out of a job versus what they want. It often entails a major compromise and, unfortunately, sometimes a major sacrifice.

Some examples of where job seekers should start considering the need vs. want aspect include:

Scheduling

While a 9 to 5 is something many people want and are accustomed to, you may need to compromise on the scheduling aspect for a certain job offer. For example, you’re a banking professional who is used to standard banker’s hours but the position that’s piqued your interest requires working until 7 two nights per week and one half-Saturday every month. It’s not ideal and you’re dreading the later work times, but it’s an ideal position that is otherwise better than the one you’re currently at.

Pay

Pay is always a tough compromise, even when you’re compromising with yourself. However, you may be better off taking a position that offers slightly less pay than your current or previous position, especially if the job is overall a better fit for you and your future. When it comes to compromising on pay, consider these factors:

  • Does the position allow greater flexibility?
  • Is the position a better job title that will lend greatly to your future?
  • Is it a better working environment?
  • Are the benefits better?

Title

Yes, unfortunately, many job seekers have had to go into a position with a lesser title than their previous position. This isn’t always a bad thing, however, but it can certainly be a hard pill to swallow. Again, if the job is going to advance you in anyway or offer you something that your previous job didn’t, it may be time to swallow that pill (pride). Unfortunately with the market, it may be the only way to stay within your industry until something better comes along.

Conclusion

Compromising your wants and needs for the job search isn’t easy, but it’s sometimes a vital part of finding a position in today’s tough economy. Holding out for something better isn’t always a bad thing, but remember that you may be passing on a great opportunity by not compromising.

Body Language and Appearance

Both can quickly become friend or foe for interview day

You’ve gone over your talking points for the interview, tediously practicing the Q&A process with yourself in the mirror or, if you’re lucky, with a friend or loved one who is as anxious for you to get the job as you are. You’ve polished your resume one more time, making sure to cross your “t”s and dot your “i”s. You know your qualifications and you’re prepared to sell yourself to the employer. Finally, you’ve given yourself the “You can do it!!!!” speech so many times that it’s hard to believe that you might have not had it. You’re ready.

While you may have thought about what you’re going to wear and you’ve got the perfect outfit, make sure it’s appropriate. Depending on the job, a sleeveless blouse or opened-toe shoes might be seen as unprofessional. Keep the jewelry in check and try not to wear large statement pieces that take away from your personality. And guys, the same goes for a pair of khakis and a polo. To play it safe, wear something a step up from what you would wear to work every day. A classic blazer and A-line skirt is professional. Guys, try a classic suit, with or without the jacket depending on the job.

Now for body language. Your body language can speak volumes even while you’re quietly listening to the interviewer’s question. Here are a few tips to keep your body language professional during the interview:

  • Sit up and sit straight

○      Your posture is an important signal

  • Play copy-cat

○      Let the interviewer set the pace and tone for the interview and reciprocate by sharing his level of enthusiasm, tone and overall posture.

○      Speak at the same pace as your interviewer

■      According to Psychology Today, people respond better if you speak at their pace. Also try mimicking their movements, such as head nods and hand gestures, without being too obvious or awkward.

  • Gain eye contact

○      Eye contact is important in a conversation and shows that you’re truly listening and in touch with the interviewer.

  • Relax without slumping over in your chair

○      Being in a relaxed sitting position will help you truly relax during the interview while showing the interviewer that you are comfortable with the process

  • Keep a positive facial expression

○      Smile when appropriate and refrain from furrowing your brow, frowning or otherwise giving off a facial expression that may be misconstrued as disinterest or confusion

Both your appearance and body language during the interview can make or break the interviewer’s impression of you. After all, first impressions are among the most important and, while the job market has still failed to completely rebound, the first impression may be your only shot.

New Resume Trends vs the Basics

Today’s technologically savvy world requires a few twists on things we once considered the norm or status quo. Your resume is no different; there are a few basic “rules” that still apply while new trends are stepping in and merging with the “old way.”

Creating a resume is sometimes difficult, especially with the ultra-competitive job market. You know it needs to stand out without being falsified; it needs to be to-the-point while still showcasing your skills and achievements.

The standard resume rules (read that as required information) that still apply are as follows:

  • Contact Information

    • Make sure your email address is professional (your name is always a good start)

  • Work Experience

    • Highlight your work history including skills and achievements at each position

  • Education

    • Only if you have higher education or have taken classes outside of high school

  • Qualifications

    • Certificates you’ve achieved, past training

  • Achievements

    • Brag a little — if you’ve received any achievements or recognition, let it be known

  • Keywords

    • Buzzwords are all the rage and can be the deciding factor on whether or not your resume gets noticed. Some hiring managers rely on software that picks out keywords, so add them in. They will also stand out to the eye of a hiring manager that goes through resumes manually.

New Trends to Consider

Of course the basics are solid, time-tested and downright important; that being said, however, it may be time to take the next step as far as your resume is concerned. Show off your web skills and savvy by employing one — or more — of the following new trends:

  • Tweeting

    • Harness the power of the almighty tweet — but only if you have a Twitter account with a large number of followers AND you’re professional on your account (you use it more as a branding tool than a personal platform).

  • YouTube

    • Make a short, 1- to 2-minute professional video resume and upload it to YouTube. These videos give you a little edge — the employer gets to see you and get a feel for your personality.

  • Infographics

    • Jump on the infographics bandwagon and create a professional, colorful and efficient infographic that will stand out. If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire someone or skip it! A poorly created graphic will be an eyesore and turnoff to potential employers.

If you choose to employ the hot, tech-savvy trends, follow some of the basic rules of resume building: Target your resume to the job you’re after, be specific, and be ready to supply supporting facts to anything on there.

 

Sprucing Up Your “Skills” Section

Your resume has several sections, all of which offer sneak peeks into what you’re going to offer as an employee. The “Skills” section on your resume displays any number of skills that you possess that will help you in different areas of the position you’re after. But what are the skills you should have?

There are innumerable skills that interviewers and hiring managers will see on resumes. Your job is to make sure that you have the skills they’re after, and they may not be what you think. The first key is reading through the job description thoroughly and looking for any skills they list as “required” or “preferred.” After that, consider sprucing up on the following skills, which are in demand for a number of the top jobs in the nation.

  • Foreign Language

    • Large companies are always seeking qualified individuals who are also fluent in a second language. It opens the door to increased communications with professionals in other countries.

      • Mandarin is particularly in demand; other languages, however, could also be beneficial to your potential employer.

    • Cities with a high population of non-English-speaking residents need employees who can effectively communicate the benefits and services of a company.

  • Problem Solving

    • Complex problem solving involves analyzing related information to develop the best possible solution to a complex problem.

  • Web Development

    • You don’t have to be a master at web development, but learning the ins and outs of the basics (Java, HTML, etc) can boost your resume. A number of free resources can be found on the web to give you the basic understanding you need to stand out.

  • Online Marketing

    • This is something that is pivotal for nearly every business today, and having the skills to perform some intermediate online marketing tasks can make your resume shine among the hundreds of others.

      • Take the time to learn the ins and outs of Google Analytics; polish up your online social media accounts, and learn the basics of social media for business.

  • Excel

    • Excel is good to know, and many employers are looking for a candidate who can work a spreadsheet effectively. The benefits Excel offers go far beyond a typical spreadsheet, however, including analyzing a large amount of information in a succinct and efficient way.

Fortunately, you can learn many of these skills for free or for a relatively low cost. Some universities even offer free courses online pertaining to important job skills. Being able to put any of these on a resume can help you stand out among the other candidates.

Boosting Your Resume While Unemployed

If you’ve been unemployed for any length of time, you may be wondering why your resume isn’t making the impact you feel it should. Even if you have the work experience, skills and education required by the positions you’re applying for, you may be getting overlooked. The job market is competitive; these are hard times and a large percentage of the population is unemployed and looking for work, or currently employed and looking to further their careers. Even if you’re the ideal candidate for the job on paper in your eyes, chances are there is a large number of people out there that share the same experience, education and skills that you have on your resume.

It’s time to boost your resume by taking advantage of some of your free time. While you may be having a hard time figuring out what you can do to improve your resume, rest assured there are many activities you can take part in to boost your resume.

Volunteering

Volunteering always looks good on a resume — and for a number of reasons. Firstly, reaching out and helping a great cause shows initiative and a can-do attitude. Secondly, it shows potential employers that you are able to make the most of your time and are a get-up-and-go person. It shows them you don’t like to stay idle and you are continually looking for ways to keep busy while helping your community.

Another benefit of volunteering is you can often do pretty much anything for a cause you believe in. Are you an expert web designer? If so, check out some of you favorite non-profits and see if they need any help in that area. Administrative skills your strong suit? Many non-profits need help with day-to-day administrative tasks.

Teaching a Class

Do you have a skill that could benefit other people, or that other people are wanting to learn? This could be anything from woodcarving to pottery; painting to knitting; website design to online marketing. If you have a skill, contact your local community’s Parks and Recreation Department and see if they offer community classes. Many cities offer these types of classes and people just like you instruct the class. And while you may not think your special skill applies to the jobs you’re after, instructing a class on any subject can help boost your resume and give you a little edge over your competitors.

Taking a Class

Stemming from the above, you can also take classes. Check out your local YMCA, Parks & Recreation Department, local university extension or your community’s website. Your local unemployment office may also offer classes or have a list of those in your community. In many cases, the classes are very reasonably priced and you can learn a whole new set of skills — or polish up the ones in your repertoire.

Conclusion

Make the most of your time while you’re off the clock by expanding your resume. Every little bit can help, and keeping busy can help keep your mind off of the negatives associated with unemployment.