September 1, 2014

The Job Hunt: To get a job, you have to go after it, experts say

Job hunting has changed a lot in the past decade. For one thing, employers have converted to applications online.

The job outlook looks grim in places. Automation, job outsourcing and the recession eliminated many jobs and morphed others into those with low pay, with no benefits.

Need a job? Wichita has job recruiters, educators and business owners who will help.

Ray Frederick has devoted much of his life to employing people, either at the Wichita plumbing company he owns or through his past work as a Wichita Area Technical College interim president and board member, or now as a member of the Kansas Board of Regents’ group that oversees Kansas technical and community colleges.

He said employers are increasingly baffled by how little effort many job seekers put into the hunt and how so many people commit so many blunders in seeking jobs.

Over the next few days, he and other job professionals tell how to do it right.

The application

Keep your application short. Keep it clean.

“I’m not going to read long cover letters,” job consultant Alicia Holloway said. “No one else reads them, either.

“Keep your cover letter to the point. ‘I am responding to your job advertisement. I am fully qualified for that job. Attached is my resume. Reach me at this number. Thank you. Sincerely.”

Be careful. One spelling error can kill your application.

“I had a lady, fully qualified, but she left off the ‘e’ in the phrase ‘part time.’ Her letter said she wanted ‘part tim.’ I’d put her letter in the ‘no’ pile. If that’s your best foot forward, you just failed,” Holloway said.

Many people today don’t even have a resume, or the one they have is out of date, said Chris Wallace, a Wichita career management consultant. “A mistake.”

Job hunting has changed a lot in the past decade. For one thing, employers have converted to applications online.

“Most companies won’t accept a paper resume anymore,” Wallace said.

Employment consultant Rhandalee Hinman reviews thousands of resumes every year and says many get rejected quickly.

Many read as if they have been sent to fulfill a state-mandate to apply for jobs to keep unemployment benefits, Hinman said.

“You shouldn’t write ‘I’ll take whatever.’ It’s hard for me to figure out where they will fit in. You need to articulate: ‘These are my skills. This is what I can do. This is why I want to work in your organization.’ ”

To keep your application from sounding like you are sending out baskets full of resumes, work hard at research. Wallace said you should find companies you want to work for, where their needs match your skills.

“Be patient. Most of us are not patient. A job search takes longer than most people think, these days.

“Don’t get all tunnel-vision on one job and then stop all other search efforts,” she said. “Keep looking even if you think you’ve found your dream job.”

Clean up Facebook

Check your Facebook page. Do this even before you call anybody.

“Make sure there’s nothing on your Facebook account that you don’t want any employer to read,” Wallace said. “Your resume is your brand, your Facebook account is your image and your brand. And you can build a professional-looking profile on LinkedIn.”

But social media is just one part of your image.

“Pay attention to what your voice message mail sounds like,” Holloway said. “If you’ve got rock music playing, change it. And if your e-mail is ‘dirtysexycowgirl,’ you are not even going to get a second look.”

Finally, make it easy for people to get in touch with you.

“If your call-back contact is your phone, then check your voicemail,” Holloway said. “You won’t believe how many people don’t check their voicemail and don’t return calls.”

Go after the job

Many companies don’t want you to drop in and interrupt. They want online applications only.

But there are some exceptions.

Frederick said that he and some other small-business owners won’t even contact you unless you come in first. Find out what their needs are. Drop by.

“If I just get an e-mail from somebody, I usually delete it,” he said.

“Don’t be bashful,” Frederick said. “I am never offended if someone comes in unannounced and asks if he can talk for a few minutes.”

A common refrain: Many people, young or older, don’t seem to press their case.

“My biggest challenge is to get students to do that,” said Jill Pletcher, the director of career services at Wichita State University.

To get a job, you need to go after it.

“If you follow up with a phone call after an application, you’ve already done what most people don’t do, which is show interest,” Holloway said.

Reach Roy Wenzl at 316-268-6219 or rwenzl@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @roywenzl.

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Personal appearance is a big reason people get rejected for jobs.

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