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12 Days of Getting Hired

The crafty elves at SRG have been working overtime to bring job seekers everywhere the gift of knowledge this holiday season. While finding a job is on everyone’s wish list, not everyone knows how to tweak their tactics and land a job in the new year. In our ongoing efforts to help SuRGe your career forward, we have come up with “12 Days of Getting Hired” – a daily dose of job searching knowledge and tips to hopefully make a job search more successful. Beginning Wednesday, December 12, we’ll update our list each workday with a handy tip, article or nugget of knowledge. So stick with us on Facebook and Twitter for a first look at the tips.

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On the First Day…  Finding a Job is a Job!

For those serious about finding a job, it can easily be a full-time commitment, and frankly it should. Finding a job takes time, energy and diligence. For those beginning the journey, we suggest treating your job search AS a real job. This means waking up every day, showering, getting dressed as usual (maybe not in a three-piece suit, but not your pajamas either), and eating a good breakfast. Getting a routine started helps you set goals for the search and put you in the right mindset each day. Whether you have a coffee meeting or searching for leads and jobs online, get moving at the same time every day.

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On the Second Day… Help Your Resume Get Noticed

Objective – The top 20% is the most important part of your resume, so be as clear as possible in your objective. Use succinct and concise wording; save the prose for something else. Use easy to understand terminology and take it easy on any industry speak that might be hard to understand for hiring managers. The clearer that objective, the easier it will be for hiring managers to focus on you for the job.

Quantify – Use quantifiable numbers to explain any impact you have had in previous positions. For instance, how much money did you save your previous company when you suggested or implemented a new cost-saving program? Did the numbers decrease year over year? Generally speaking, what type of ROI have you have had on a company.

Brag! – Is your career progression clear on the resume? If your career has progressed in ways that play to your benefit, then highlight those positions so hiring managers know you moved up in a company. If this happened fairly quickly, explain that as well. Have you won any awards or been recognized with an honor? Include that too. Companies are looking for driven people willing to work hard and be recognized in their careers.
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On the Third Day… Clean Up Your Social Media 
Facebook photos are so much fun! You are a fun person and have great friends and maybe you like to grab drinks on the weekends to unwind. Unfortunately, hiring managers don’t want to know that. In fact, if there is anything on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages that could be deemed “unsavory,” such as party photos or rude Twitter posts, then delete them if you are serious about getting a job. (Here is a good article about it.) HR departments scour the internet for information about a candidate and then take notes on everything they see. Don’t give them any reason not to hire you.
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On the Fourth Day… Use Social Media to Find a Job
You put yourself out there every day on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and the like, so why not have those outlets work in your favor when you are job searching? Be sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, and use LinkedIn to research companies where you have a contact. Use Facebook to follow companies you like, and maybe even use private messages to let your network know that you are in the market for a job. Follow companies or people you know and like on Twitter. Many staffing firms and companies use Twitter to post jobs.
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On the Fifth Day… Network, Network, Network!
It has been said that roughly 80% of jobs are found through networking. Sitting at a computer all day emailing your resume to job prospects can be tiresome and frustrating. But by working your personal network, you have a better chance at finding a job that may not get posted online. Your network is everyone you know through family, work, community, church, friends, or friends of friends. Have coffee with a former boss. Ask your network to put you in touch with people they know. Be willing to get up early and meet someone you’ve never met at Starbucks in hopes they might know someone at a company you’ve been eyeing.  Then thank them with an email or written note. It’s also a good idea to keep track of everyone you meet, as you may have to refer back to them later in the game.
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On the Sixth Day… Do Your Research
In order to successfully pass a test in school you normally had to study the information beforehand, right?  In the adult world, if you hope to “pass” a job interview (phone or in person), it is in your best interest to research the company you are interviewing with, as well as the person conducting the interview. Be prepared to answer questions about the company and the position. Don’t forget the inevitable: “What do you know about the company?” Scour the Internet, read the company’s website and get a solid understanding of the company’s mission. Research the executives or the hiring manager on LinkedIn. Having this information in your pocket will show the interviewer that you are serious about the job.
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On the Seventh Day… Your 30-Second Commercial
During the job search, you will inevitably be asked to, “Tell us about yourself.” It can make you feel put on the spot, but it shouldn’t. Hiring managers want to know about you. Come up with a “commercial,” or a few sentences about your career, your accomplishments and your strengths. Keep it short and sweet and practice saying it in the mirror. Make sure this coincides with what you have as your objective on your resume, as well. A good idea is to take a few minutes and leave yourself a message on your voicemail, then listen to it and see what can be improved. Practice in front of the mirror, your friends, your parents, your dog – it doesn’t matter. Practice makes perfect. When the time comes to answer the question, you’ll be ready!
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On the Eighth Day… Rocking the Phone Interview
The phone interview is conducted by a company’s human resources representative and lasts about 10-15 minutes. Before getting on the phone, research the position, the company and the person conducting the interview. Find a quiet location, preferably on a landline, with no distractions and no background noise. Since most interviews start with the “Tell me about yourself” question, have your 30-second commercial ready. It should be polished and flow freely out of your mouth. At the end of the phone interview, always say thank you and ask open-ended questions regarding the position, such as “What is the next step?” Send a hand-written thank you or email to help close the deal.
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On the Ninth Day… Dress for Success
They say the clothes make the man. This saying is especially true when it comes to dressing for a job interview. All talent and experience aside, what you wear on a job interview says a lot about you, so make sure what the clothes are saying is “I’m the best person for the job.” We aren’t suggesting you go out and purchase an expensive suit or dress, but what you do want is something that fits you, clean and presentable (i.e. ironed or steamed). Make it look like you put some effort into the clothes, just like the hiring manager hopes you will do for the job. We suggest taking out facial piercings and leaving off any fragrance or cologne, as well. There will be plenty of time to show your true colors after working hours are over. For some acceptable office fashion inspiration, follow the SRG Pinterest page for suggestions.
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On the Tenth Day… Arriving on Time is Late
At this point, we’ve helped you write a killer resume, clean up your social media, network, rock the phone interview and dress for success. Now, you are on your way to the in-person interview! Think of it actually starting the moment you drive up to the building where the interview will be held, after all, there might be cameras? Arrive at least 15 minutes early and just wait in the car if you must. Punctuality is rule number one with an in-person interview. By respecting their time, it could only play in your favor. If you ARE going to be late, then call, email or text your interviewer that you are going to be running late. But don’t be late if you can avoid it. Leave extra time and plan ahead.
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On the Eleventh Day… Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts 
Today’s the day – your big job interview! Remember, even though you have come this far in the process, it’s not over yet. A few “do’s” to remember when you are in the interview:
     – Remember, showing up on time is late (see Day 10).
     – Shake hands firmly at the onset. Practice your handshake prior and make sure its firm. Nobody likes a limp and clammy handshake.
     – Sit up straight, look the interviewer in the eye and speak clearly. Smile like you are excited about a potential job (because you are!)
     – Refrain from speaking ill about any of your previous jobs or bosses. You never know who knows whom.
     – Remember, it’s all about them. Your job is to sell the interviewer on you and that by hiring you, their problems will be solved.
     – Always follow up with a thank you to the interviewer and anyone else in the interview. A written note is preferred; email works too.
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On the Twelfth Day… Accept with Confidence
It’s the day you have been waiting for – acceptance day! We know you have worked long and hard to get here, but this is no time to slack. There is still more work to do before you show up for the first day. When they offer the job and the salary, remember to consider all the aspects of the position before accepting or not accepting. Gather information about health benefits, potential for job advancement, corporate growth, holiday/PTO and anything else that would be considered part of the company’s total compensation package. Review the entire package carefully and never base your job on salary alone. Don’t consider it a job, but another step in your career path. As for negotiating a salary, remember that there is always room for negotiation. Be prepared to discuss your strengths and experience when discussing numbers. Once this final step is completed, you can congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Keys to Rocking a Phone Interview

These days, it seems a phone interview is the inevitable first step in an interview process. It’s often overlooked, which could mean a missed opportunity for job seekers. When done correctly, a good phone interview can help make or break a candidate’s chances for moving on to the next step in the interview process.

The phone interview is normally conducted by a company’s human resources representative and lasts about 10-15 minutes. During that time, the HR representative is searching for clues that a job seeker is competent, qualified and can work within the salary range offered for the job. Below are a few tips to remember when preparing for a phone interview.

Prepare and schedule: Before getting on the phone, do your research on the position, the company and the person conducting the interview. Find a quiet location, preferably on a landline, with no distractions and no background noise. Even if you are used to having the television on as background noise, turn it off. You run the risk of sounding unprofessional with “Jeopardy” music playing in the background.

Create Your 30-second “Advertisement”: Most interviews start with the “Tell me about yourself” question. Prepare a brief 30-second statement about yourself and your professional career. Keep it professional (no personal information), and include pertinent positions in the last 10 years, your work specialties, expertise and any solid numbers you can give regarding your accomplishments at the jobs.

Practice Your “Advertisement”: After getting your statement together, practice by rehearsing it over and over until you have it memorized. A good tip is to leave yourself a voicemail with it. Look for your pace, annotations and “umms” and “ahhs”.

Closing the Deal and Follow Up: At the end of the phone interview, always say thank you and ask open-ended questions regarding the position, such as “What is the next step?” or “I am open next week if you want to meet with me.” Following the call, a hand-written note to the interviewer is ideal, but a nice email or LinkedIn message is also a way to end on a good note.

How to Write the Perfect Resume

Your resume is one of the most crucial aspects of your job search. A resume is what represents you and your expertise. With the Internet, now more than ever, the appearance and flow of your resume is more important. Rarely, do people who are job hunting drop off their resumes in person. Your resume has one shot to catch the HR’s (or recruiter’s) attention within the first 20 seconds they look at it. Below is a list of what your resume must have…

Heading
Make sure to list your name, address, two phone numbers, and e-mail address. It is prudent that employers can reach you in a timely fashion.

Objective
Be sure to have a broad objective if you are entry level. As you move ahead in your career, you can make your objective more concise. There is no problem with altering your objective to help fit the job you are applying to.

Summary
A summary section is used by a person who has been working for a while in their given field. Many times their resume will be several pages and this will help the employer decide if they want to spend more than 20 seconds scanning the resume.

Work History
This can be the hardest section of the resume to get correct. It can be tricky to get the balance between giving too much information or not enough information. If you put down too much information, there will be nothing to talk about during the interview. If there is not enough information an employer cannot properly assess if you are the right person for a job. A brief job description followed up by bullet points is one of the widest used formats. Be sure to include any awards or accolades for customer service or company savings.

Education
List your education starting with your highest degree of education completed and then go back in order. Include the academic institution, location (many colleges have satellite campuses), and major. Only put your grade point average (GPA) on your resume if your GPA was a 3.0 or higher.

Miscellaneous
This section is where you put additional information about yourself (interests and special skills) that you would like for a prospective employer to know about. Be sure to use positive words in this section when describing what you are like. Use words like dependable, hard working, willing to learn, enthusiastic, loyal, etc.

Top 10 Resume Mistakes

  • Misrepresentation. Do not lie on your resume. Now, more than ever, companies are conducting thorough background checks to make sure they are getting the best candidate.
  • Inappropriate language or comments.
  • Negative remarks or comments about your previous employers or your departure.
  • Never use slang or catch phrases.
  • Spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Bright colors or graphics.
  • Giving too much information.
  • Using acronyms from your previous company.
  • Cuteness / cleverness.
  • Only listing years for tenure at a company and not including the month you started and ended. For example, if a person says they were at a company from 2000 to 2001, the employer does not know if the person has been there from 1/2000 to 12/2001 or from 12/2000 to 1/2001. Not including months is a serious red flag for potential employers.

If you follow the above formula you will end up with a resume that looks good and reads well. It will allow employers to see what you have done in the past and what you can do for their organization in the future.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Interviewing

When it comes to the interviewing process, it pays to be prepared. Put your best foot forward with our top Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts.

Interview Do’s

  • Be on time.
  • Give a firm handshake and always make eye contact.
  • Dress for success. Look your best while maintaining a conservative appearance.
  • Do your research. Make sure you know what the company does and can speak about it, if asked.
  • Have something to write on and write with. Write down a list of questions before you go to the interview.
  • Take your time and think about each question that you are asked. Be concise with your answers and do not get off track.
  • Give specific examples of what you have done for a company versus just stating that you can do a specific task.
  • Have additional hard copies of your resume with you.
  • Be yourself. People who conduct interviews can tell when a person is being fake.
  • Send a hand written thank you note to the interviewer for their time.

Interview Don’ts

  • Don’t be late. Give yourself enough time to arrive early or account for unexpected delays. If you are going to be late, call the company.
  • Don’t forget to turn off or silent your cell phone. If you forget and the phone rings, don’t answer it.
  • Don’t lie!
  • Don’t use slang or inappropriate language.
  • Don’t wear strong perfume or cologne.
  • Don’t slander past employers, coworkers, or bosses.
  • Don’t give more information than they are looking for. Answer questions concisely.
  • Don’t discuss compensation until the hiring manager brings up salary.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Don’t tell the hiring manager how great it is to be on unemployment.

4 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Social Media Profile

Your resume and interview aren’t the only things your potential employer is taking into consideration when it comes to the hiring process. Today, your online reputation is just as important as your offline one. If the thought of your boss checking out your Facebook account or Twitter feed frightens you, it’s time to clean them up. We recapped how to survive the social media scrutiny:

1. Pictures. It’s time to hide your party pictures, or delete them altogether. Your employer wants to hire a responsible adult, someone they can count on to show up on time, represent the company at social functions, and be coherent throughout the day. Sloppy photos of you slipping on the dance floor don’t send the right message and could end up costing you a well-paying salary. If you’re not ready to delete the photos, visit your profile’s privacy settings where you can control who can and cannot see your posts.

2. Content. It’s time to revisit your social media bios. Make sure your bio makes sense by saying who you are and what you do. Include a little personality if you can. Your bio is often the first thing people look at to decide whether or not you deserve a following. Outdated info, confusing banter, or a blank canvas don’t convey anything except for unprofessionalism. Show employers why you deserve to be hired.

3. Friends. You are who you associate with. Today, employers are checking out who you’re connected to. If your social media friends don’t have a good rep, they may question your credibility too. We recommend routinely deleting or unfollowing people you don’t contact to keep things tidy.

4. Consolidate. With so many social platforms, things can get a little hectic. There are a number of tools like HootSuite or BufferApp that can help you consolidate, allowing you to actively engage with people all from one central location. If you find that you’re neglecting some accounts more than others, it may be time to delete a few. Employers are always looking for the most up-to-date info so if you have an account, use it.

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