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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    Now the next part is getting responses from some of my online job applications. I've applied for at least 15 different jobs in the last month and have had one interview. I work in retail and am looking for an entry level position in a corporate office. I'm not sure if there's a lot of applicants out there or if my experience isn't translating or what.
    You aren't applying for enough jobs. As I keep telling my son, if you want a job like that (entry level, doesn't require specialized skills), you need to apply for about 100 jobs. That will get you 5-10 interviews out of which, if you are hirable, you will get one offer.

    Your math supports what I've been telling him too. You applied for 15 jobs and got 1 interview. If that math held, you would need to apply for 150 jobs. But I think 100 is probably fine. Let us know what you're doing and I'm sure we can supply some suggestions.

    Where are you getting your job leads? I was able to rustle up 265 possible companies for him to look into in about 2 hours after he told me there weren't even 100 places he could apply to. And I could have easily found 2x that but I got tired and petered out.

    Quote Originally Posted by PRlady View Post
    I am ALWAYS asked for writing samples, sometimes submitted with the resume, but my job is heavily dependent on first-rate writing.
    Exactly! It depends on the industry. I would totally expect to have to provide writing samples for a job in yours. Mine? Not so much.

    Something that tends to annoy me about these threads is when people (not you) emphatically declare their advice like it's The Truth when it's just want they do or sometimes it's just what they believe people should do and, even if it's true for their industry (which it isn't always), it's true for absolutely every one.

    The best advice IMO comes from people who actually screen resumes and interview applicants and hire them because they are telling you what they actually do not what people wish they'd do.

    As an example, I have read 100x that you should screen your resume for typos and spelling errors and that many employers will throw a resume out if it has even one typo in it. Now, I think it's good advice to proof-read your resume several times. Typos are embarrassing if they are noticed. (And speaking of the resume writer question that started this thread, one of my complaints with both the ones I used was that they *introduced* typos and grammatical errors into my resume that I then had to hunt down and fix.)

    However, I can tell you that every resume I was given this year to look at prior to interviewing a candidate has typos and misspellings in them and that we not only interviewed those people, we hired some of them. Yes, it bugged the crap out of me. But it's the nature of my industry and the job I do that management doesn't care about those things even presuming they speak English well enough to even notice. It's also the nature of my industry that, if you threw out all the resumes with errors, you wouldn't have many to look at and you'd be throwing out some good candidates.

    (That said, I gave the thumbs down to one that was so bad I felt like working with the person would be a nightmare because it would be impossible to communicate with them and I suspected their attention to detail was even more minimal than the people we already have.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    Forward thinking companies are getting away from the cattle call method of hiring and returning to more human forms of applicant review, looking for attitudes and qualities as much as actual education and experience.
    Wishful thinking on your part IMO.
    "Cupcakes are bullshit. And everyone knows it. A cupcake is just a muffin with clown puke topping." -Charlie Brooker

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    Wishful thinking on your part IMO.
    It's not a wish, it's reality at many companies. I have personal experience with several that hire based first on attitude and other qualitative measures, and have been widely recognized and studied for their continuing success in recruitment, training and development, retention and performance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    It's not a wish, it's reality at many companies. I have personal experience with several that hire based first on attitude and other qualitative measures, and have been widely recognized and studied for their continuing success in recruitment, training and development, retention and performance.
    Companies often search for candidates that possess the "soft skills" they want using a technique called behavioral interviewing . Behavioral interviewing asks candidates for examples of their experiences that demonstrate such things as teamwork, conflict resolution, dealing with adversity, decision making, time management, handling schedule pressure, multi-tasking, taking initiative, setting and achieving goals, leadership, etc. During the interview your listening and critical thinking skills will be evident. Most soft skills will not appear on your resume. But if you can weave these topics into your cover letter and job descriptions, you will look like a strong candidate. In my past resumes and cover letters, I tried to mention teamwork, leadership, and taking initiative as strengths I could bring to the job.

    I recommend boning up on behavioral interviewing on the web so that you have prepared some responses ahead of time and won't be caught off guard in an interview. Take care to cite examples that will look good in the employer's eyes. For example, if they ask you how you handled a conflict in the past, use an example that makes you look professional and perhaps creative in coming up with a solution. You don't want to highlight a "pissing contest" where you won, or say bad things about a co-worker.

    A few good tips on interviewing are here:
    http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interv...erviewtips.htm

    Also, the employer won't tell you if they are using behavioral interview questions, so you should be prepared for this in case it happens.

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    Even if an employer isn't using behavioral questions, it's a good idea to answer that way. Like if they say "what would you do in X situation?" say "When I was at a past company, we had a situation like that and here is how I handled it" followed by how great it worked, of course. This way, your answer sounds so much better than someone who gives a canned pie-in-the-sky answer.

    But you still have to have the keywords on your resume. Resumes get you interviews; interview get you hired. Attitudes and soft-skills are for once you've gotten past the screening process except for a few places that believe you can give some sort of personality test even though studies show that doesn't really work.
    "Cupcakes are bullshit. And everyone knows it. A cupcake is just a muffin with clown puke topping." -Charlie Brooker

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    Quote Originally Posted by madm View Post
    Also, the employer won't tell you if they are using behavioral interview questions, so you should be prepared for this in case it happens.
    "If" it happens? I've never been in an interview (as part of a hiring committee) that didn't include at least one behavioural question.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    Quote Originally Posted by madm View Post
    Also, the employer won't tell you if they are using behavioral interview questions, so you should be prepared for this in case it happens.
    I always tell interviewees that I am using behavioural questions. The point of the interview isn't to trip the candidate up or catch them with a hard question, it is to get me an understanding of their skills. Unfortunately even with this explanation, candidates often answered questions "I would do..." as opposed to an example of an actual situation and their reactions. But it's even worse when I don't do the explanation at the beginning. I also like to tell candidates that I have no problem with them taking a few minutes to think of an example...if nothing else, it puts the candidates at ease and it's easier to assess their competence when they are not nervous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    Again, this all depends on the industry and the job. Therefore, when getting advice, it's important to get advice from people in your industry ... preferably ones who actually do interviewing and hiring.

    Personally, I have never needed 5 copies of my resume. At most I needed 1 for someone who forgot to bring theirs to the interview. That is because 100% of the time, the resume is submitted electronically and everyone prints their own copies and marks them up beforehand (or not.. sometimes the people interviewing me are woefully unprepared ) I generally bring 2 copies just in case, because I tend to be over-prepared.

    I have never been asked for writing samples either. Never. Not even in the 80s when I was very junior. Once in a while I'm asked for code samples but that's unusual especially for a senior position. Instead, the trend is to make you write code on the board or to give you a coding problem to solve before you come in for the interview.
    Yeah my fiance was hired by a rising startup in the Bay Area as a programmer, and once he passed the initial screening, they gave him a pre-interview coding problem. When he passed that, it would be an interview over Skype. And then an in-person all-day sort of interview to make sure he would mesh with the culture. Unfortunately he didn't quite mesh as well as he hoped, which is why he quit. But it was pretty intensive. Also, not everyone can program mobile applications, which is why they can get pretty hands-on with it. They didn't even have an HR department, and everyone in the company (there were less than 50 people) had a say in the hiring.

    Also, I don't think he ever had a paper resume throughout all this. He has a domain with his own name, that only contains links to previous projects and a short description of what languages/programs he used to make them. That's it. For a small high-tech firm, that is likely all you will ever need.

    I got lucky when I graduated college, I only sent my resume out like, 10 times. It was for an entry-level lab technician job, and everyone else who was qualified was off to med or grad school. Heck, my boss even hired me after what I thought was a botched phone interview.

    But I was PISSED because I had a very nice-looking resume, and all the online job applications would require me to retype everything into their own plain text field.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMadame View Post
    You aren't applying for enough jobs. As I keep telling my son, if you want a job like that (entry level, doesn't require specialized skills), you need to apply for about 100 jobs. That will get you 5-10 interviews out of which, if you are hirable, you will get one offer.

    Your math supports what I've been telling him too. You applied for 15 jobs and got 1 interview. If that math held, you would need to apply for 150 jobs. But I think 100 is probably fine. Let us know what you're doing and I'm sure we can supply some suggestions.

    Where are you getting your job leads? I was able to rustle up 265 possible companies for him to look into in about 2 hours after he told me there weren't even 100 places he could apply to. And I could have easily found 2x that but I got tired and petered out.
    I'm mainly getting my job leads online. Like I said, I'm working as a retail manager and am looking to move to a retailer's corporate office as either a buyer, planner, or merchandiser. The thing is, so many of them are in NYC or LA and I'm looking to stay here in the South. That severly limits my leads. I would keep working in a store if the right opportunity came around, but that's not the main focus of my search. There's other positions I see out there in other industries that interest me; however, so many of them ask for specific experience that I don't have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    That severly limits my leads. I would keep working in a store if the right opportunity came around, but that's not the main focus of my search. There's other positions I see out there in other industries that interest me; however, so many of them ask for specific experience that I don't have.
    Do you think you could do well in the other industries? Do you have skills you can transfer to those industries?

    If so, then I'd say go ahead and apply. Take the 'I have the skills to succeed in Industry ___. Although I lack experience in it, my experiences in Industries __ and ___ qualify me for the position.

    If you present yourself in a professional, sincere, and personable manner, you might get a response.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    I'm mainly getting my job leads online. Like I said, I'm working as a retail manager and am looking to move to a retailer's corporate office as either a buyer, planner, or merchandiser. The thing is, so many of them are in NYC or LA and I'm looking to stay here in the South. That severly limits my leads. I would keep working in a store if the right opportunity came around, but that's not the main focus of my search. There's other positions I see out there in other industries that interest me; however, so many of them ask for specific experience that I don't have.
    Okay, that's a more skilled job than I was thinking from your original description. For my son, he is looking for jobs like being an admin or a pizza delivery guy or a retail clerk so pretty much any company will do. But I bet people here can help you even with something as specific as you are looking for.

    My suggestions are:
    -talk to the buyers who come to your store and get their advice and even their references and job leads if they are willing to do that. If none ever visit your store, look up ones that work for your store in the corporate directory and cold call them.
    -use Google to expand the list of companies you can look up to see if they have job openings because there are probably 2x as many companies with corporate headquarters in the south as you think but you just never heard of them. I say that because this is true in every industry -- there are tons of smaller companies located in places you'd never expect and a smaller company is more likely to take a chance on someone with less experience because they get less job candidate or pay less or don't have as good benefits as a bigger company

    But definitely, if you are trying to change careers, it's a numbers game. The more places you can find to apply, the better your chances. You aren't in the same position as someone who has 20 years of experience in a field and is looking for a job doing exactly what they did before. So you need to apply at a lot of places.

    And you need a great cover letter that sells your experience and points out how it really does apply even if your resume doesn't have a bunch of jobs on it with the correct job title.
    "Cupcakes are bullshit. And everyone knows it. A cupcake is just a muffin with clown puke topping." -Charlie Brooker

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    I'm mainly getting my job leads online. Like I said, I'm working as a retail manager and am looking to move to a retailer's corporate office as either a buyer, planner, or merchandiser. The thing is, so many of them are in NYC or LA and I'm looking to stay here in the South. That severly limits my leads. I would keep working in a store if the right opportunity came around, but that's not the main focus of my search. There's other positions I see out there in other industries that interest me; however, so many of them ask for specific experience that I don't have.
    Where are your own company's corporate offices? I work next to HR/staffing in a corporate retail office, and store GMs are PRIME candidates for many jobs, because they have the real hands-on experience of the very core of the business (unless of course you're talking more DTC - online and phone). I'd even say that entry level assistant buyer is below GM level. Typically, if a GM is a great manager, they want 'em to be a District Manager or HR rep. But if you've also shown your design and merchandizing talent on the job, especially when DMs and execs have done walk-throughs, they're keeping track!

    Of course this doesn't help if you're not looking to relocate where your corporate offices are.

    So 1.) Are there any retail corporate offices in the area where you live or want to live? Start by finding the companies first, then the positions. If you've ever had to go to a GM conference and know others across the countries that may have moved on, get in touch with them!

    2.) Don't undermine yourself in terms of experience. Apply anyway even if you've got *some* of the qualifications and a lot of the enthusiasm!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quintuple View Post
    2.) Don't undermine yourself in terms of experience. Apply anyway even if you've got *some* of the qualifications and a lot of the enthusiasm!
    But please please please (speaking from an employer's perspective) make it very clear in your application how your qualifications, even though they are limited, will translate into what the employer is looking for.

    A while ago I sat on a hiring committee for a position that involved the responsibility of organizing a major multi-day event that happens a couple of times each year. I cannot tell you how frustrated the entire hiring committee got at receiving endless numbers of resumes saying that the person had participated in putting together a small one-day (or shorter) event, but didn't tell us what they had actually done on the event and how that would relate to their ability to organize this much bigger event. To be blunt, for a lot of the applications it was apparent that the applicant hadn't even looked at what these big events are like (all of which is easily findable on the web) - they just saw "event organizing" and listed whatever events they had been part of, without considering what exactly the event related to this job was, and what it might require.

    Don't expect the employer to connect the dots. Because, quite honestly, if they have a lot of applications to get through, they won't bother with the ones that don't make the connections themselves.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quintuple View Post
    Of course this doesn't help if you're not looking to relocate where your corporate offices are.

    So 1.) Are there any retail corporate offices in the area where you live or want to live? Start by finding the companies first, then the positions. If you've ever had to go to a GM conference and know others across the countries that may have moved on, get in touch with them!

    2.) Don't undermine yourself in terms of experience. Apply anyway even if you've got *some* of the qualifications and a lot of the enthusiasm!
    I'm not really looking to relocate to where my company's headquarters are. I've actually interviewed out there, but I wasn't selected. It was definitely puzzling to me because it was an admin position and I was overqualified as it was but that's another story. They never did any kind of followup/constructive criticism/whatever you want to call it, so I'm ready to move on. I'm more of a department manager/asst. store manager so I don't get to go many places. Most of the other managers I know stay in this same position or have moved on to similar positions at other companies.

    Thanks for all the info! Here's another question for y'all. How do you ride that fine line between being persistent and annoying when following up? Here's my example.

    I've applied for a couple of positions recently that I'm really interested in. However, I haven't heard anything. I've made phone calls and left messages for the people I need to reach, but they haven't called back. I've even figured out how to e-mail one with no response. Do I keep trying to reach them or at some point do I need to move on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    Here's another question for y'all. How do you ride that fine line between being persistent and annoying when following up? Here's my example.

    I've applied for a couple of positions recently that I'm really interested in. However, I haven't heard anything. I've made phone calls and left messages for the people I need to reach, but they haven't called back. I've even figured out how to e-mail one with no response. Do I keep trying to reach them or at some point do I need to move on?
    What do you say when you call or email?
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    Just as I was thinking that I never had to apply by filling in blanks on a website...I did, yesterday. What a PITA. I used as many keywords as I could, and I did upload my resume, but I'm afraid they will take a look at one key "no" answer and just toss. It's a much larger NGO than the one in which I'm now working.

    Which is a shame because I could do the hell out of that job.
    "Youth and vigor is no match for age and deceit." -- Prancer

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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    I've applied for a couple of positions recently that I'm really interested in. However, I haven't heard anything. I've made phone calls and left messages for the people I need to reach, but they haven't called back. I've even figured out how to e-mail one with no response. Do I keep trying to reach them or at some point do I need to move on?
    Unfortunately when you hear nothing for awhile it often means they are negotiating with someone else, and are keeping their options open in case it doesn't work. But ....

    One thing that can really help in job hunts (and certainly once on the job) is to make friends with assistants, secretaries and receptionists. They can often advise on the best way/time to get to someone, can put you to the top of the pile of resumes or call backs, and might even let you know where the process stands.

    You'll often get them on the phone when you try to call, or you can try dropping in - "I was in the building/neighbourhood and was hoping to say a quick hello to so and so - are they in?"

    Which reminds me - I don't think this would work everywhere and this is long before the days of electronic resumes and email, but when my husband was fresh out of college, he took a different approach that got him a job on day one. He had a list of companies he was interested in - all small and entrepreneurial - and spent a day just walking into each one and asking to see the person in charge (he had the names). Of about 15, I'd say about 5 saw him, and two had jobs open.

    There are some people out there who are happy to talk to people who show some initiative and interest, and if you catch them at the right time, you could score. For retail, you might try walking into one of the company's outlets and seeing if the store manager will talk to you - they might give some valuable advice/names to get in at the regional or head office level, and you'll be able to say "so and so down at the xxx location said I should give you a call."

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    What do you say when you call or email?
    I usually ask if the position has been filled or not, and if it hasn't I ask what their timeline is for the hiring decision or conducting interviews. I figure it's better than just flat out asking for an interview.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    I usually ask if the position has been filled or not, and if it hasn't I ask what their timeline is for the hiring decision or conducting interviews. I figure it's better than just flat out asking for an interview.
    How about advancing your chances? Nicely, of course.

    "Hello. I'm calling to follow up on my application for position X. I have not heard back and am wondering if the position is already filled. I'm very interested in working for company Y because company Y is working on project Z and I believe my background and experience would be a good fit. Is there a person to contact for more information about the position?"

    This means that:
    1. You have matched your resume to the qualifications and there is substantial overlap.
    2. You've actually researched company Y and have good reason to believe your skills would be useful to company Y.
    3. You've done deep research and know about project X.

    I think the key in a hyper competitive job market is to be focused on what the company needs and be able to demonstrate how you, above many other candidates, can help the company.

    eta If you're not willing to do research for each position, I think your only option is temp work. Most applicants do the research, so you're not likely to get past the first interview without it.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

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    Quote Originally Posted by ross_hy View Post
    I usually ask if the position has been filled or not, and if it hasn't I ask what their timeline is for the hiring decision or conducting interviews. I figure it's better than just flat out asking for an interview.
    IME what you're asking might be why they aren't responding. In the hirings I've been involved with, "has the position been filled" can be a difficult question to answer because:
    - there might be a list of candidates who are OK, and the hiring committee is still trying to decide which one to offer the job to, or
    - an offer has been made and the candidate is making up his/her mind, or
    - the candidate has tentatively accepted the offer but there is still negotiation going on as to salary, hours, etc.

    So in all of those situations, yes, the position has been filled in that the search for candidates is finished, but the position actually hasn't been filled because someone hasn't formally signed a contract.

    Also, a lot of times, stating a timeline for interviews or hiring is difficult. It all depends on how many candidates are being interviewed, when they can come in for an interview, how long the committee takes to make a decision after the interview, how many layers of bureaucracy have to approve before an offer can be made, etc. etc. etc. There might be a general plan as to when these things should happen, but

    I think Aceon6's suggestion about what to say in a message is excellent. Another possibility is to say that you applied for Job X and are just following up to let them know that you are still interested if the position is still available. That doesn't put any pressure on the hiring person re deadlines, and it might make them go back and take a look at your application.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    I'm dragging this thread back up with an update and a question.

    Update: Since this thread became dormant, I took a half-lateral/half-promotion with my company. It did allow me to relocate to a metro area (Nashville) where I think I'll have a better chance at finding a job. I'm still looking to work at a retail headquarters. I've applied for several positions, and while I haven't had an in-person interview yet, I've been told I'm a good candidate for these positions. However, there are others more qualified and/or there are internal candidates. So that means I'm still looking, but I'm going to be persistent and keep applying to the companies I'm targeting.

    Question: My resume is on a couple of different job boards. If you've ever done this, you know that you can get a lot of random e-mails. (If you want to sell insurance, put your resume on a job board!) I did, however, get an e-mail from a recruiting firm that does localized recruiting here in Nashville. I qualified to be listed in their candidate pool, but they suggested I do some re-formatting and make some changes on my resume. They offer this service; it's about $150. How does this sound to you? A good opportunity from a company that would help me get a job? Or something shady? I should add that just being listed wouldn't cost me anything, they only charge for things like resume and cover letter help, LinkedIn updates, photos, etc.

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