Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Video Résumés: That’s a Wrap! You’re Hired! - Part One

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a million. Video résumés (Video CVs, or ‘visumés’) were first introduced in the 1980s for use and distribution via VHS tape. While the idea never took off beyond the videotaping of interviews, with the modern capabilities of transmitting streaming video via the Internet, video résumés may be taking on a renewed popularity.

A video résumé is a way for job seekers to highlight their abilities beyond the capabilities of a traditional paper résumé. It allows prospective employers to see, hear and get a feel for how the applicant presents themselves. This short video, 3 minutes or less, typically describes the individual's skills and qualifications and can be used to supplement and not replace a traditional résumé.

While a video résumé does introduce applicants on camera, the value that such visual imagery adds is debatable. A text résumé allows for specific pieces of information to be compared across candidates. When the information is delivered verbally, hiring managers will be left to glean the details themselves.

The paper résumé is egalitarian, which is why human resources professionals are wringing their collective hands over visually enhanced job applications. Many hiring managers and recruiters won't even bother to accept CVs with photos attached for fear of lawsuits. Some companies even block out the candidate's name, citing studies that showed bias toward the white-sounding ones. In such a litigious labour environment, they are worried that video résumés will invite lawsuits by candidates who could claim bias based on race, gender or age, that may be indiscernible on paper but not on video.

But, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet. There are places where you can post your video résumé that will not conflict with a company’s policy of refusing to view video résumés that are submitted by potential employees. The options include the following:

  • Including a link to your video resume in your paper/online resume

  • Including your video résumé or a link to it in your professional profiles on your social networking sites

  • Sending the link directly to your networking contacts

If you have decided that producing a video résumé is yet another tool that you wish to add to your personal marketing collateral toolbox, it is important to keep in mind that a video résumé, like a traditional one, will never to get you a job. When done well, it can assist you in marketing yourself to prospective employers. Conversely, when it is done poorly, it can hinder your chances of getting an interview and even knock you out of contention.

“Career Matters” is an on-line community blog hosted by Mary Salvino. It is designed for those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. Alternatively, you can e-mail Mary directly at

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Network at Social Events

It’s a beautiful summer evening full of pasta salads, watermelon and people sharing a summer repast. You are in the unenviable position of trying to decide whether to join the softball game or one of many conversations under the shade of the trees.

Networking can take place just as easily around a picnic table, golf course, coffee shop or conference room table, just as easily as it can take place anywhere else as long as you are aware that every networking occasion requires a different approach.

The single and most important thread that is common regardless of the networking situation is an ability to build a rapport with those you meet. Everyone needs to know how to have a good conversation.

Why not do both? Starting a conversation is just as easy while sipping an ice-cold beverage under a tree as it is during a casual sporting event. The timing may be different, but the methodology is still the same.

Here are some tips on how to network at social events:

  • The easiest way to start a conversation is to ask a question. Safe topics of conversations can include food, weather, music, vacation plans/destination, books, movies and television. Topics of conversation that are generally risky include sex, politics and religion.

  • Have a good clean joke ready. Nothing brings people together more than laughter.

  • Interruptions abound at social events, so be gracious.

  • Know when to move on. A good exit strategy is also important. When you believe that your conversation is nearing the end, you can say something like, “I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I’m sure there are a lot of other people who want to talk to you.”

  • Bring your résumé cards with you. Résumé cards are micro mini versions of your résumé.

  • Keep a pen and small pad of paper with you at all times. You never know when you will need to jot down a name, number or other critical information.

  • Don't forget to follow-up on conversations

The critical information on them includes your contact information and perhaps some career-related highlights in bullet form on the back.

Always remember that this is a social event, and that general background noise is a perfect cover for someone to ‘accidentally’ listen in on your conversation, so be very cognizant of what information you are choosing to share with whom. This point is especially critically because those who are doing the eavesdropping may not be privy to the entire conversation and could very easily misinterpret the conversation entirely.

“Career Matters” is an on-line community blog hosted by Mary Salvino. It is designed for those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. Alternatively, you can e-mail Mary directly at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How To Stay Motivated When Job Searching

Looking for a new job is tough; staying motivated is even tougher.

The truth is, everything that has happened in my life…that I thought was a crushing event at the time, has always turned out for the better. ~ Warren Buffett (1930 – ) American businessman and philanthropist

resilient: (adj.): capable of bouncing back from or adjusting to challenges and change.

In order to resilient, it is important to do the following:

Focus on results. Results are what we're all really after. Effort and attempts are great first steps, but acting with a commitment to deliver will always bring success.

Learn from your personal history. Mistakes are lessons on how not to do something. Learn from your experiences and accept them as the price you have paid for your future success.

Reinforce. Support each other (and ourselves) by continually reminding and encouraging one another to deliver on the first two points.
Anyone who has been in the job market for any length of time knows how frustrating the process can be. In today's competitive environment, it's not uncommon to send out numerous resumes yet generate only limited response for your effort. This can have even the most confident professional questioning his or her marketability and job-hunting abilities.

While resilience is important, those who have been search for a new job for an extended period of time will attribute their lack of success to a lack of luck.

"Diligence is the mother of good luck."
- Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) American statesman, scientist, and printer

luck: (noun): a force that makes things happen

You want more luck? Be the force that makes it happen...
1. Prepare. Work hard to be ready for the opportunities that are important to you. Research. Practice. Perfect.

2. Be awake. Pay attention to the people, events, and things around you. Evaluate logically and trust your gut instinct.

3. Take action. Put yourself out there. Explore. Be vulnerable. Make contact with people. Take risks.

4. Expect positive results. Optimism improves your chances. If (when) you fail, embrace the lesson and continue on, smarter.

5. Take a class. While your job search is no doubt your top priority, using some of your time to gain new skills can be a wise distraction-and a valuable investment

6. Volunteer. There is no more effective way to lift your spirits than to help others. As an added bonus, you will expand your network, which is particularly valuable during a job search.

7. Set an alarm clock and keep a job search schedule. Treat your job search just like a job, and you’re less likely to feel lost.

8. Go for a walk each morning. You finally have the opportunity to get out, get your blood flow going, see some daylight, and get some fresh air. Fresh air and sunlight does WONDERS for your frame of mind.

9. Get out of the house. Make networking coffee/lunch appointments. If you don’t have lunch meetings, go out for lunch where you can see other people.

10. Take a break. Designate a day when you won't talk or think about employment issues. By allowing yourself some time off, you can recharge and remain productive.

11. Be around positive people. Surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive and maintain an optimistic outlook on life. This will help you keep your spirits high and provide the motivation you need when you hit a career roadblock.

12. Get exercise. Studies have shown that physical activity can minimize the psychological impact of stress. Getting into a regular exercise routine will keep you energized. Hiring managers look for enthusiasm when interviewing job applicants.

13. Attend association meetings. Participating in activities offered by professional associations can help you increase your visibility in the industry’s community. Play an active role in the group, and volunteer for projects. You will make new contacts while providing much-needed assistance to a volunteer-driven organization.

14. Keep a record of your search. Spend about 10 to 15 minutes a day writing down your thoughts about the process. What progress did you make? What setbacks did you encounter? What new avenues can you pursue? The simplest ideas often can be the catalysts for new approaches to your search.

15. Talk to a professional. A career counsellor or professional recruiter can assess your résumé and cover letter, offer an overview of the employment market in your area, and recommend steps you might take to better target your search.

16. Re-evaluate your priorities. Failing to accomplish your job-- search objectives can be discouraging, so it's worth taking a second look at your goals. Have you inadvertently been setting yourself up for failure? For instance, if you are only willing to work for companies in a specific industry or geographic area, you may need to expand your search. Would you be willing to drive an extra 30 minutes each way for the right opportunity? Would you consider a position that has a lower base salary yet room for advancement? Decide your absolute must-haves, and be prepared to compromise on those aspects of the job that are like-to-haves, particularly in a competitive job market.

17. Read books about successful people. Almost everyone has encountered a setback on the way to the top. Learning about the experiences of others can help you keep your own situation in perspective.

18. Join a support group. Talking with others who are going through the same experience is important so you can feel connected and develop new ideas that can help your search. Most major cities have career resource centres that host networking meetings for job seekers. You'll be surprised how willing people are to assist you, whether they offer leads on companies that are hiring or simply listen to your concerns.

19. Don't take job rejection personally. Both Recruiters and employers have a very specific picture in their head about the person they want to hire As much as we'd like to disagree, there is always someone out there who can do a better job than you can. While this may sound negative, it is in fact a drive that motivates us all. Healthy competition is what forces us to get back up, dust ourselves off and try again

20. Follow up. It is important to follow up on both your job applications, to demonstrate your keen interest in the job, and with recruiters, to keep your name and face on their top of mind. with Recruiters for Further Encouragement.

21. Celebrate Success. Celebrate every success, no matter how small. Soon you’ll find a reason to celebrate each day. Your celebration can be as small as a piece of chocolate, or as big as a special evening out. It's Tuesday ...WHO HOO!!!

Career Matters is an on-line community blog hosted by Mary Salvino. It is designed for those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. Alternatively, you can e-mail Mary directly at

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cover Letters: From Good to Great

In the world of career management, there is conflicting advice on the importance of cover letters. Realistically speaking, neither your cover letter nor your résumé will get you a job. Your résumé satisfies the application tracking system (ATS) and allows your document to be scanned for keywords and stored in a company’s database and your cover letter will demonstrate that you have the ability to communicate effectively in writing in a grammatically correct fashion. It is only after you have cleared these two hurdles, along with the obligatory good search of your name in an effort to find juicy tidbits about your personal life that you will be considered for job opportunities within any company.

With that information in mind, you need to think of your cover letter as a not only an introduction but also a sales letter that makes the reader what to know more about you. The foundation of your cover letter depends upon how you put into writing your intention, your interest, your motivation, your enthusiasm, your experience and your skills. From a technical perspective, it should also show your personality and professionalism.

To understand what makes a cover letter great, you need to know the dos and don’ts in a cover letter. The first thing you need to get familiar with is to how you should address your letter. A great cover letter should be addressed to the person who is in charge of the application process. It is in your best interest to do some research to know exactly who is involved in the hiring process/decision and ensure that their name, title and company information is spelled correctly.

Write your cover letter in a conversational tone but strive to keep a formal and professional tone. Your letter should sound like you and not a history book. Also, take the time to review the document to ensure that it is free from grammatical spelling errors.

To create a bigger impact, make use of terms and phrases that are significant to the hiring manager or employer. The hiring company often requires specific skills, experience for a certain job position. This critical information is often included in their posted advertisement. When responding to a posted ad, use those listed requirements and match them to your skills and experience.

Some experts will tell you that cover letters should not have bulleted lists while others suggest that using bulleted lists will make the letter much easier to read. The only ‘correct’ format to use when composing a cover letter is the one with which you are most comfortable.

Cover letters should consist of at least three paragraphs. The first paragraph should briefly state what position you are applying for, how you learned about the vacancy, and how qualified are you and what are your general qualifications.

In general, the body of the letter expands upon your qualifications, states the relevant skills and experience you have and then briefly discusses how your skills and experience demonstrate that you are qualified for the job. The concluding paragraph of your letter should contain your request for an interview. Be specific and direct.

Ideally, your cover letter should never be more than one page long however it is also important to resist the temptation to reduce the size of your font to make it fit into a single page. Short paragraphs and plenty of white space will make your document easier to read.

By remembering and incorporating these helpful hints when composing your next targeted cover letter, you can rest assured that you will be one step closer to landing the job of your dreams.

“Career Matters” is an on-line community blog hosted by Mary Salvino. It is designed for those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. Alternatively, you can e-mail Mary directly at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cover Letter Basics

Well-written cover letters are often your only chance to convince potential employers take the time to read your résumé. Your cover letter should convey your interest in the company and show your enthusiasm for the possibility of working for the organization.

There are two basic types of cover letters. Those that are unsolicited, which are used to inquire about opportunities or request general information about a company, and letters that used to apply for a specific position within a company. Regardless of the reason for writing the letter, the following general guidelines apply:

Use Business Format:
  • Address the letter to a specific person. Avoid using “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”
  • Ensure that your correspondence is error-free
  • Match the font and header/footer on your cover letter to your résumé

Parts of a Cover Letter (Hard Copy)
Top of Page
  • Your name and return address
  • Your phone number and e-mail address (optional)
  • Below your contact information, type the current date

N.B. If you are submitting an application electronically, there is no need to date the document and you should paste the text of your cover letter in the body of the e-mail. The position for which you are applying should be written in the subject line, and your contact information should be placed under your typed signature.

Introductory Paragraph:
  • Briefly state who you are and why you are writing
  • Mention the specific job title and how your found out about the opportunity
  • If you have a personal contact, be sure to refer to them in your letter


  • State how your skills, education and experience match the requirements of the advertised position
  • Use stories or numbers to provide additional details
  • Mention how the your experience will be of benefit to the employer

Closing Paragraph:

  • Express your appreciation for the potential employer’s time and consideration
  • Indicate what actions you would like to happen next, i.e. ask for an interview
  • Sign the document and place your phone number and e-mail address under your name

Although the writing and sending of the letter part of your application, if is best that you do follow up on your submission within 2 weeks. This follow-up step will allow you to confirm that the company has received your documents and give you the opportunity to remind them of your interest in the job.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Common Cover Letter Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

How many times have you replied to a job ad via e-mail by shooting them a copy of your resume and cover letter? If you have been job searching for any significant length of time and not getting the number of responses you desire, the chances that you are guilty of one or more of the following faux pas are high. Here are some of the most notorious mistakes people make and what can be done to improve the likelihood that your cover letter and résumé will get noticed:

Not bothering to find out to whom your cover letter should be addressed. Your cover letter should be addressed to the person in charge of the hiring process. If you do not know the name, call the company directly and ask. While you are on the phone, also ask for the correct spelling of the person’s name.

Not using the full name of the hiring manager. Given that we live in a multicultural society, it is always best to use the full name of the hiring manager. This technique will also help you avoid embarrassing blunders when addressing those with names that are not gender specific.

Not referencing your desired position. Many large companies will have more than one position they are trying to fill. Therefore, it is important to let the hiring manager know for which position you are applying.
Attaching your cover letter to the e-mail. If you copy and paste your cover letter into the body of the e-mail, the recipient of the e-mail will be much more likely to read it, or however much of it shows up in the preview screen, since it is already right there in front of their face.

Using a font that is too small or too fancy. Both your cover letter and your résumé should use a font size between 11 and 12. It is also best to steer away from non-standard fonts because not all word processing programs will translate the font correctly. Some hiring managers will be distracted by the weird little symbols that appear on the page where, for instance, bullets should be.

Writing your whole life story in the body of the e-mail.
Hiring manager do not have the time to invest in reading any material that is unrelated to the many ways that you can solve a problem for them. Keep your cover letters short and to the point.

Excluding information that those who posted the advertisement specifically asked you to include. Some employers may ask you to submit a sample of your work, portfolio, hours of availability and even salary requirements. Whatever it is that they have asked you to include, make sure you include it in your cover letter. There is a lot of qualified talent out there, so you need to keep your application in the “Worth Considering” pile rather than the “Circular File” and the easiest way to do that is to follow instructions.

Not using a cover letter at all. While in some cases, you are selling yourself short by not including at least a brief introduction, there is some merit in demonstrating that you have the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in a grammatically correct fashion. Unlike your résumé, which will be kept on file in the database of most recruiters, your cover letter will likely be deleted after it is read. If you do not send a cover letter at all, it is likely that recruiters will not even bother storing your résumé. Private companies, on the other hand, like to keep everything you send them.

Forgetting to tell the hiring manager why you are the best fit. The most effective cover letters are those that take the time to address, in detail, all of the job requirements in the original advertisement and how you, as the candidate, have direct experience in meeting those needs.

Forgetting a “Call to Action”. Your concluding paragraph should thank them for their time and consideration and state that you will be calling them within a specific time, usually a week, to arrange an interview. E.g., “As I would appreciate an interview to allow me to personally present my qualifications for this position, I will be calling you within the week to arrange a time that is convenient.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

7 Biggest Job Search MISTAKES and How To Avoid Them

The primary driver of how long it takes a job to fill is how much competition and talent shortage there is. As companies find it harder to find ‘the right fit’, the time to fill the job gets longer. The good news is that it is an indicator that the economy is seeing a move back toward a job seeker's market versus an employer's market. Armed with that knowledge, what follows are the 7 biggest job searching mistakes and how to avoid them:
  1. Having a résumé that focuses on you and your past! Potential employers don’t care about your career goals, job objectives, or work history, UNLESS you can show them how it affects their bottom line.
  2. Spending the majority of your job search time on published job openings. Why? Because, you're putting yourself right in the middle of it where everyone else is. If you want a long and painful job search campaign, keep answering ads and visiting agencies.
  3. Using the shotgun approach to sending out your résumé. The theory goes something like this: if you throw enough paper into the market, the law of averages has to work for you. At some point someone will want me. WRONG! The only law at work here is that the printing company, the post office and the job websites are going to get rich.
  4. Wasting your time sending a résumé that is not specifically targeted. Broad distribution of your résumé is the least productive way to look for a job.
  5. Failing to follow up. Don't even bother with a job search campaign at all if you don't plan to follow up personally - by phone, mail and e-mail.
  6. Waiting for the phone to ring. If your attitude is, "I've got great looking credentials, lots of experience, an excellent work history . . . so here I am -- come get me!". . . you're in for a long, long job search. You have to take the initiative. Pick up the phone and find out what's happening.
  7. Interviewing like a WIMP. You get only one shot at the person who could be your next boss. You better come across like a pro. That means: be prepared . . . be rehearsed . . . be assertive. If you're not in control of the interview process YOU'RE OUT!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Job Seekers! Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater!

All too often, job-seekers look at the process from a static, linear perspective: submit information, get the interview(s) and either get the job or not. While not getting the job is frustrating, how you handle losing the battle can actually result in you winning the war.

A huge part of the interview process is establishing rapport winning hearts and minds. If the job opportunity was not offered and interpreting the event as another door closing, change your perspective and look at the experience as another door opening. You have worked hard to make the new connections so why not capitalize on them? Here are some pointers on how to do it:

Step One: Write and sent an appropriate response to being rejected. Your letter should be simple, concise and professional. Your response should include the following:
  1. Tell the hiring manager, or whoever you spoke with in person, how you truly appreciate the time they took to interview you, and be sure to thank them for this.
  2. Tell this person that you hope you’ll be kept in mind for any future openings/positions that may arise.
  3. Wish their company the best of luck, and mention something positive that recently happened, i.e. a new acquisition, a rise in sales, etc. The ‘something’ that you mentions needs to show that you have a strong interest in the company and their continued success.

N.B. This post-rejection letter will get your name & written voice in front of them once again, which increases your chances of being remembered even more. The other reasons for taking the time to write this letter include the following:
  • You don’t know if the candidate that the company decided to hire chose to decline the company’s offer of employment.
  • If, after working at the company for a while, the hired candidate may have decided that the position wasn’t exactly what they wanted, and they may have quit, with or without notice.
  • The company, for whatever reason, may see that the hired candidate was not all they thought he/she would be, and let this person go.

Step Two: Ask for networking help. The companies with whom you have had interviews already know that you are looking for work, so why not ask them for networking help? If you have just impressed them enough to grant you multiple interviews, they should speak positively about you to their friends and colleagues.

Step Three: Keep in touch. Create a system to reach out to everyone you talk with throughout your job search. Searching for a job is no different from a sales campaign; the person who isn’t buying today may be ready to purchase (hire) tomorrow.

Step Four: Get to know the people with whom you have interview. This personal connection will get your calls, emails and requests answered quicker. At the very minimum, ask for permission that they be ‘connected’ to you via your Linked In profile

Step Five: Pay it forward. Find out what you can do for them. Helping someone first is the quickest way to endear you to him or her.