Having debt in generally is pretty stressful and can cause you not to grow fully in height. YES, that’s exactly why I am not as tall as I hope. Lets be realistic here because we all know life is pretty boring if you have nothing to pay. I make it a job for me to always be employed and pay my bills and debts. However, there’s a problem. I have accumulated too much bad debt that I can no longer save up for a house or that sexy Jeep Wrangler Rubicon I want! It has been going on for 8 years now. Balances goes up and down and I guess I was finally fed up with all the interest crap. New goals (a house) mean new better habits (no credit cards).

Luckily, I have saved up a lot in my 401k which is more than the average person my age. I don’t recommended this to anyone because pulling out your 401k to clear up bad debt is the worst idea ever. You will pay 10% in penalties and pay your taxes as it counts as income. Double whammy, don’t do it. However, my case was a bit different. I did the math and the numbers came out a lot better by withdrawing my retirement. The credit card interest was 4x times the interest I was gaining from a 401k. Doing all the fun calculation of compounded interest for 5 years (my goal for a house) I realized that I needed to do this.  Still have plenty of time for saving up (26 years old) for retirement and it’s better to start fresh and save more.

This morning I woke up from the bright sun. I had a gut feeling that I might be late for work but I looked at the clock and I was up an hour early than usual. I tied my curtains and looked out the window at the streets of ghetto Long Beach and said to myself (embrace the ghetto, haha). Birds chirping (or having sex), loud Mexican music blasting away, and my hard nipples from the cold morning. This was pretty much the typical morning for me except for the 1 hour difference. Now here’s the best feeling! I logged into my bank account and noticed my balance was 5 digits, excluding the cents. My gloomy morning face was filled with a smile that my cheek bones could not handle it. Took a nice shower and even danced to a bit of Mexican music. It was time to head out to work on the 405. Another typical day on the 405 and stuck in traffic. But you know what was different this time around? I was smiling in traffic! Got in the office and paid all the credit cards in full. Credit cards gone now and time to save up for my house.

Yes, feel better than sex. You should try it. Well, just wanted to share my awesome day because I know yours probably sucked.

Congratulations! I know it feels great to finally get a call back from a company after submitting dozens of cover letters and resumes. You have passed through the resume screening process and your resume shines throughout the others. Now it is time to get your game face on and prepare for battle. You are now going to have to position yourself as the best candidate in the interviewer’s mind. How do you do that? Well, I will discuss what I know and did.

We all had our fair share of success and failures when it comes to interviews. I can recall my first job interview for EarthCalc back in 2002 and it wasn’t the greatest. I was shy and quiet during the interview and was pretty nervous. I had a lot to offer but only could put it on my resume. I didn’t know how to market myself besides what was on the paper. I personally would have not hire myself then but I am very glad they gave me that opportunity. It shaped me into the person I am today and is very grateful for it. However, I was 16 years old then and those kind of opportunities don’t come around when the job market is this competitive.

Therefore, you need to use some more basic marketing approaches! You need to sell yourself to the interviewer but not like a typical sales person. Why should they choose you over the other candidates? What can you do for them? Remember this should also be included your cover letter! I like to think myself as the interviewer who is looking for someone fit for the organization. Then I  can start with the preparation process.

Beforehand, I would like to talk about being nervous for an interview. Why? There is no reason for someone to be nervous. What could possible happen to you that would impact your life so negatively that you would be nervous? Okay, maybe if it was a CEO position that could start you off with a million dollar salary. But let’s be realistic here. No future CEO would need to read this blog about how to better improve your interview skills. Life works wonder when you think positively and your actions show it. You should be proud of yourself after spending thousands of dollars for a college degree so lets put the nervousness aside. Interesting, you never went to college? That doesn’t matter much when you have the experiences and the ability to understand and adapt to situations. Personally, my college degree only helped me to apply for the jobs that required college degrees. It has nothing to do about where you look for a job and how to handle interviews. In fact, many millionaires never graduated from college so NEVER let that discourage you. Education is free, yes free! The internet, libraries, book, and even from the people you have conversations with is education. Now lets start preparing for that interview!

Research the Company:

I like to prepare and plan myself for any obstacles that I may come across in life. This includes preparing for a job interview. Where do I start? Google! I did this before hand but it’s more thorough after a confirmed interview. I try to look for the company mission and values to include in my interview. Big companies are a lot easier to research and prepare for as there are plenty of information online. However, the smaller companies are usually invisible online and I would have to go else where. Where? I find out the industry of the company and look into larger companies within their industry. This gives me a general idea of how their business operates and how I can prepare for interview questions. Last not least, I look at the job posting I saved and try to understand the roles of the position. I am basically learning and teaching myself here if I am not familiar with it. It really all comes down to how bad you want that job. I suggest researching applying because you might end up not wanting to work for this company. Life is more enjoyable when you are happy to be going to work every morning!

Research Company’s

  • Background
  • Industry
  • Competitors
  • Mission, values, and goals
  • How they treat their employees
  • Any legal issues in the past that jeopardized them?
  • Job duties in the job posting and how it applies in the industry

Preparing Questions:

Always prepare questions! Chances are that you will end up over preparing for the interview but it’s better than not preparing. In fact, the interviewer might not be prepared also because I am sure they have a whole lot of things to deal with at work. In this case, you need to prepare yourself with questions that you think the interviewer will ask you. Interview stages varies per company and each have their own set of standards. Some interview may be the entire day while some could only last for 30 minutes (bad) to an hour (good). I cannot help you much here because it’s going to be your job to find out the type of questions you need to answer. But what I can do is tell you what I did!

Phone Interviews:

These tend to be roughly 30 minutes to an hour long and they are more personality questions. This is part of the screen processes also before a personal interview. The recruiters want to know if you can at least communicate well and learn a little about you. Always imply that you would love to do a face-to-face interview after.

  • Why I was interested in the position and industry (ice breakers)
  • What do you know about the company (ice breakers)
  • What type of work experiences I had that could benefit their organization
  • My work ethics
  • How I accomplished the things I listed on my resume
  • My educational background and how I can apply it to the job role
  • Technical questions regarding the job position (will be asked for sure!)

Face-to-Face interview:

Face-to-face interviews can be difficult for many people and it takes practice. I will write more about this afterwards and some techniques I used to get me through some tedious ones. However, I am simply focusing on the type of questions you should prepare for. You should always ask the recruiter or hiring manager who is interviewing you and their job role. Questions related to face-to-face interviews are usually the same as phone interviews but more technical. Meaning they will ask you a few questions personality questions and a whole lot of the profession related question. For example, if you are in marketing then they would ask you about social media and target marketing. What type of analytical research skills you have? There are just too many questions that can be asked. My best tip is put yourself in their shoes and that your working for the organization.

  • Everything listed above!
  • Technical questions of topics related to the field profession

Preparing your portfolio:

This will be very simple. If your an artist or have drawings then you make a portfolio of your work to show to the interviewers. But I’ll just list the basics for the regular job hunters like me.

Have these before you walk into an interview, be prepared.

  • Pen
  • Few copies of your resume and professional references printed on RESUME PAPER.
  • A binder, messenger bag, or anything you can store all of that in.
  • Copy of college degree and transcripts (not likely)
  • Your best office outfit for good impression

I know it took me awhile to post this one on the blog. I’ve been extremely busy since I started working and will try to wrap up the last portion. The interview itself and after the interview. Good luck friends and I do hope you all find something close to your dream job. I know I did!

Should I? Should I not?

I know it is very tempting to call and ask if they received your resume status but doing this is a double-edged sword. It can work in your favor but also ruin your chances completely. Once again, think of yourself as the HR manager shuffling through thousands of resumes. They are constantly looking through resumes to find the perfect fit even if it’s not there. It’s tedious work and they know best when it comes to finding the right person for the job. There is a lot of mix responses and comments regarding this subject.

Should I?

It depends on many factors. How big is the organization?  Is it a small company or large corporation? How bad do you want the position and how dedicated are you? Is it worth the effort? If it is a low paying job then is it really worth your time and effort? I usually look through my list of companies I applied for and see which one is more promising to work at. I choose a very small percentage and focus all my efforts to them. It’s roughly between 10-15% and they are based on pay and happiness! I normally wait about 2 weeks before attempting a resume followup letter, email, or phone call. The delivery method really depends on them. I really don’t like calling large organizations because I know HR is digging through thousands of resumes. Smaller ones with 50 employees or so wouldn’t be that bad right? Well it really depends!

Should Not!

You really just don’t know. I know many people say it’s good to call because it shows enthusiasm, ambition, and interests. You want to differentiate yourself right? However, if the HR person is getting 30 calls a day from people to ask about their resume status. Then you might end up being in that pool of annoying candidates who is trying to get a little attention by making a useless phone calls! It really do depends and you can sometimes hear it in their voice if they are annoyed. Therefore, I sometimes send out an email 2 weeks later stating my interests and would like to have a personal interview the following week. If you get nothing back then move on to the next. They aren’t interested in you.

Keep in mind, if they say please do not follow-up then please don’t! If you do then you are out the pool because you did not follow instructions. Personally, I did receive a few phone interviews by following up with companies after my resume. I also got put into the pool of annoying callers! “chuckles”

Keep on trying and let me know how it goes! I have the interview preparation and follow ups left and that’s it.

Resources:

Prepare for phone follow-up

Writing a follow-up letter

Follow up letter sample

Customize or prepare to work for food!

I was writing an article about preparing for interviews and had realize I completely forgot about the resumes and cover letter section! A few friends and family asked me to help them out with resumes so I figure this would be the appropriate time to write. I did cover a little about it in my previous post but this time around I will supply the necessary resources and examples.

Your resume can shine to an employer, however, he probably did not look at it because your cover letter was generic or poorly written. Anyone can use the shotgun approach and send dozens of resume to employers. In fact, you can even attach that generic cover letter too. But do you actually think the recruiter will waste their time looking at your resume if you didn’t take your time to show interest in them?

Therefore, I am going to write a little about the importance cover letters and resumes. It is your first selling point so take your time and make sure it flows. I am not going to write about how to write one because it’s a matter of writing style. I will supply resources about how to organize it, what to include and exclude, and formatting.

Cover Letters

A new cover letter should always be written for different companies. Why? Every company have different goals, culture, and expectations. How can you benefit the company while also fitting into their culture?  It’s your chance to sell yourself to the company and to convince them why they should look at your resume. I know I have grammar mistakes in this blog but I triple check grammar when it comes to cover letters. In fact, I ask friends or family to read my first few cover letters to see if there is a hook effect. Be professional but also let your personality shine through your writing. Don’t try to be fancy by using a thesaurus to make you sound smarter. Just write as you normally do and make it flow.

Update: A lot of you sent me a message said I needed to write more on this. If you guys just click that link below, right there! It’s a great how to to help all you out. There’s no reason for me to rewrite all of that here if it already there.

Here is a good link that explains all the basics and formats!

Resumes

Resumes… oh resumes. What shall I put in you? I bet you might have too many work experience, education, and contributions that you cannot fit it all in one page! Right? Right? It’s more of the other way around sometimes if you’re fresh out of college or simply haven’t had a career based job yet. I always try to make sure it’s all in one page. It’s easier for the hiring managers to skim through them to look for specific requirements you may fit.

I edit my cover letter based on the job requirements. I only put experiences and contributions I see that would fit the role. A position in market research analysts would care more about my analytical skills rather than my management skills. Cater your resume to the job specification and it will help you more than a generic resume. For example, I have separate resumes towards marketing, IT management, project management, and a generic one. Keep them separated and don’t lie just to fill empty spaces! No one like liars!

Resources:

Use Google! You can find tons of different formats for different profession. Ex., Google accounting resume.

Note: I know it is tempting to just spam out massive amount of applications. But you really might end up working where you don’t want to. Take your time and send out quality cover letters and resume. If you did a good job they will at least look at it and that’s all that matter.

Lock, Load, and fire

One of the biggest issues about job searching is knowing what to search for. I briefly touched on that subject in my previous blog and now would like to go into more details. I know many of us use the shotgun approach when we are desperately looking for a job. But what happens if you land an interview and you have no idea what the job duties are and how to do them. Why waste your time and the employers time with an interview that you know will not lead to anything. Therefore, you should avoid using the shotgun method and start targeting your employers.

You will notice I write a lot about marketing when it comes to job searching. Why? Because it’s all about marketing when it comes to finding that dream job. At least, close enough to a dream job where you won’t be miserable from 8am  – 5pm. Now you want to take a piece of paper or open a word document and start writing what you can do into categories. I did this for a good few hours before I started looking for an actual job. I listed the tasks into great, good, average, bad, and need improvement. Of course, my great and good filled most of the space! But try to remember things you did in your previous jobs that required a long learning curve. Remember, it’s not about what you like or don’t like. It’s about what you can and can’t do. Some people don’t like what they are doing but they are great at what they do.

Moving on, it’s time to write about targeting! A business always want to understand the market and find its target. It allows them to focus more on their target market and use their resources effectively to sustain and grow their customers. Similarly, you also want to use your resources and target the right employers for you! Once you know more about yourself and what you can do then  you can start narrowing out your job search. If you happen to land an interview then you wouldn’t have to prepare much! If you haven’t read my previous blog then please do. It is now time to start targeting those jobs based on the criteria you had set. I searched by jobs by 3 different job targets; industry, location, and interests.

Targeting by industry

Majority of us start our search by industry. It’s very straight forward and one of the best approaches when trying to find a potential employer. There could be more than a few industries depending the type of job duties you can perform. It can take a day or two depending how dedicated you are to finding what you want. I spent over a week sorting and organizing everything before I started my job searches. Take a look at the links I provided to help you understand more about different type of industries and what suits you!

Targeting by location

When I first moved to Long Beach, CA I drove around my area. I wanted to see what type of employers where located downtown and around the area. I created a list and did quick online research by looking into their website. You may not know it but your future dream job may be 2 miles away from your home! Many of us look at the job market and tell ourselves we need to go where the job is. Honestly, I said that to myself also because it was a rough 2009-2010. The economy was in a dip and it I kept  hearing news about employers laying off jobs out by the thousands. Not a good thing to hear when you are about to graduate and there is no job market.

A large factor of the US economy is driven by small employers. You don’t always have to look for that fortune 500 company because the company next door might just work for you. I started out looking towards my area first by creating a list of employers in a 30-50 mile proximity. Afterwards, I created a list of States where I did not mind relocating to if there was an offer that was too good to refuse. I took a few major factors into consideration such as universities within that area as I do plan to go back for a Master’s degree in the near future. One of the reasons why I love being a bachelor because there are no attachments and I am free to go as I wish. However, not many of you are capable of that. “looks up”

Targeting by your personal interests

Sometimes things don’t work out and the pay doesn’t matter much. As long as it’s enough to survive and your happy then you’re good! This is also part of my job search because it feels good to wake up doing what you enjoy. Some may want to work in a non profit company to help third world children educate themselves. Many may want to work for a green company that doesn’t hurt the environment. There really is no better feeling than working for a company that can improve society as a whole.

You now have an idea about searching. Create a career profile for yourself and personality test. I provided a lot of links that I saved in my bookmarks when job searching. Remember, finding a job is a job nowadays! I will write about interviews and preparations when the time is right. Good luck friends and tell me how it goes. I know a lot of you are starting to land job interviews this year! That’s because the job market is slowly picking back up so keep searching!

Resources:

Career Direct

Career Development

Career Assessment Tools & Test

Free personality test

Employer Locator

Yahoo B2B directories

Job search sites

Forbes fortune 500 list

Fast growing private companies

<– Don’t do it!

I would love to bang my head here but I don’t think my monitor is up for the task. It’s a New Year, 2011 yay!, and many of us are looking forward to a better year especially for those who are unemployed. The job market is fierce and competition seems to be growing yearly with new graduates. Recently, I graduated with a B.S. in Business administration in hopes to open new career opportunities and driving that car I always wanted. New opportunities did open because now I can fill out those fun online applications that says “bachelor degree required”. However, the problem is landing that job interview.

Things sure have changed since I last applied for a job and to be exact it was 7 years ago. Now you no longer drive to the location to drop a resume off, ask for a manager, or any social interactions at all. You simply look online and apply there. Trying to pass the automatic screening process in hopes it would reach an actual human being. The purpose of this blog is to encourage all you frustrated unemployed or unhappy employed individuals not to throw in the towels and keep on trying. I am going to write what I did during my job search and how I did it. I also want to pin point that this is more of a career search than a “job” search. But it will certainly help you out even if you are looking for just a job. I know many individuals say a job is a job. But I am looking for a career to build upon my prior career experiences. I will post some information to help ease that frustration.

Where to look for work?

Many of us search for jobs of what we would like to do but that should not be the only criteria used. I am sure many of you know this but I will post it anyways as a reminder. Someone who graduated in bio engineering could be the director of marketing because it doesn’t matter what degree you have but more what you are good at. However, it doesn’t apply much after a bachelors because by then you know what your field of study and profession should be.

Now back to the topic. Where do you look for a career nowadays? I used a few different job search techniques. Utilizing job search engines, local online paper ads, Craigslist, and the company career page. I will list exactly what I did and why I did it. Each have their pros and cons but it also varies based on your personal experience and skill set.

I like to use these websites to look through companies that are hiring. I then look through the position and job requirements to make sure I am capable of doing it. Now here’s the tedious part. I copy and past all the companies, titles, and link to an excel spreadsheet to organize everything. I do this so I can keep track of all the places I have and have not applied to. It also allows me keep track of all calls, interviews, and everything else related to the job search. In addition, the leads from these websites can also allow you to go into their career page and apply for more positions. I will get into that later.

  • Online Ads (Craigslist, local newspaper website)

Not too  many people use Craigslist because it can be filled with too many spam. Tons of fake marketing and sales job topped with the good ol’ pyramid schemes. Work at home today and make gazillion of dollars! However, don’t let that push you away because I’ve actually landed some interesting interviews using Craigslist. Smaller companies tend to use Craigslist and they know what they want. This reduces your competition with hundreds of other people who are using the shotgun approach (sending mass resumes out) that will get filtered out. Don’t just keep applying for any random job you see on there. Take your time to find the ones you are capable of and then email a cover letter and resume. I know some people love to send the same resume and cover letter to every place they apply for. I don’t do that at all. I write every company a cover letter and revise my resume to meet their job requirements. Why? Because if you’re applying for an IT job and you listed mostly your marketing skills then that will filter you out. So remember! Custom cover letter and resume that caters to the job requirements.

  • Company career websites

Company career websites are great for applying for jobs. A lot of larger organization use this because they don’t need to pay any fee on job search engines. In addition, they don’t have to deal with recruiters and such. I use my excel sheet to look through all the companies and search through their listings. The good thing about using career websites is you can have a profile with them. In this case, you can simply use the shotgun approach by applying to as many positions that you match. In addition, your cover letter can be slightly more broad focusing towards the organization and what you can offer them as an employee.

  • Career fairs

If you are still in college you should always go to a career fair at least a few times. Otherwise, you are going to have a very hard time finding a career of your choice. Career fairs helped me stay in contact with a few recruiters for some companies I was interested in. It’s all about networking! I have had friends of friends who asked for my resume just to submit to their employer because they liked me and knew what I was capable of. Ask for the recruiter contact card and always keep an eye on their career page. If something comes up you can email the recruiter and try to stay in contact. The recruiter is the person who will screen you, phone interview, and then pass you onto the hiring managers.

  • Job agency

This is the last resort and I am glad I did not have to go this route. Job agencies are good because they are trying to find a company that matches you. It’s their job to do that! Personally, I don’t like it because I wouldn’t need someone to tell me what I enjoy doing and suites me. Know thyself! Now the bad thing about job agencies is they take a good percentage of your income. It can vary from 5-10% depending on the position, pay, and time. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and to impress the employee. It can lead to a full-time job and eliminating the job agency once the contract is up. I had a few friends who went this route and it turned out great for them. They didn’t have to go through the interview process and it was great for a few of them. Why? Because these guys where smart but they weren’t good at selling themselves.

I am going to supply some links and resources that will help you with the frustration. I will continue to write more about job targeting, cover letters, resumes, references, interviewing, and follow ups. For now, keep going at it and keeping that job pipeline strong.

Resources:

http://www.rileyguide.com/network.html

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