Avoid the Employer’s Black Hole…Establish a CONNECTION

Category Archives:Interviewing

Avoid the Employer’s Black Hole…Establish a CONNECTION

Job_Search_Tip_of_the_Week_Black_Holes_crosswalkProbably the greatest frustration for job seekers is not hearing back from employers when they apply, email their resumes, send cover letters, leave voicemail messages and EVEN after interviewing.  I totally get it, and your frustration is justified.  However…your frustration is not serving you, and most employers are unlikely to change their current practices (at least, not any time soon).  So, what can YOU do to avoid the employer’s black hole?

80% of job offers originate with some sort of connection to the employer. It could be a currernt employee or someone who has worked there in the past.  These people are connected to other people at other workplaces, in the community and to their own circles of friends and family.  And some of them are connected to you. Read More

Category Archives:Interviewing

Job Search Tip of the Week: Use the Interview to Determine if the Job, Department & Organization are a Fit for YOU

Job_Search_Tip_of_the_Week_Interview_Questions_crosswalkThe Interview is about determining fit for both the employer AND the job seeker. The employer must decide if the candidate possesses the skills, experience, aptitude, mindset and personality considered important, if not required, to be successful in the position, department and organization as a whole. As the job seeker, it is YOUR responsibility to decide if the job, department, organization and culture are a fit for YOU. Otherwise, you are leaving your success with the organization to chance and risking re-entering job search mode in the not-too-distant future. Here are 3 questions to help you gain insight into whether the job, department and organization are a good fit for you: Read More

Category Archives:Interviewing

Recruiting the Long-Term Unemployed

This is an excellent article for hiring managers, recruiters and the long term unemployed.  If you have been out of work for a while, you definitely need a story to tell interviewers about how you have used your time during this period.  It doesn’t matter whether you have used it to gain new skills, dabble in self-employment, volunteer your strengths and passions, or catch up on projects around the house.  What matters is that you are positive about your life in general and that you have used your time “productively.” Read More

Category Archives:Interviewing

Many Employers Pass on Applicants Due to Social Media Posts

My two cents…This is the “age of accountability.”  Any information on the Internet is free game to employers AND to job seekers.  Both parties should utilize all resources available when considering fit and making long term employment decisions.

Advice to job seekers:

  • Don’t post information or stories on the Internet that may be perceived negatively by employers considering you for employment.
  • “Google” yourself and look everywhere else you might appear on the Internet so that you are aware of what others will see.  Clean up what you can.
  • Conduct “damage control” if there is something on the Internet that may get you kicked out of the running by telling Interviewers about it when they ask, “Is there anything else we should know about you?”

Great article and stats from Recruiting Trends…

Many Employers Pass on Applicants Due to Social Media Posts – Recruiting Trends. Read More

Category Archives:Interviewing

5 Strategies for Communicating When You Don’t Even Like to Talk | Entrepreneur.com

Great article.  I’m an Introvert myself, and it is a challenge sometimes.  I’m submitting an article to vitalink next month about my own experience as an Introvert and how my “get it done” strategy completely changed my life.  I can’t wait to share it with you.

5 Strategies for Communicating When You Don’t Even Like to Talk | Entrepreneur.com.

The stereotypical entrepreneur talks to everyone easily, but introverts need not be discouraged. Reticence does not doom you to failure.

Social science finds at least a third, and maybe half, the population is introverted. Successful entrepreneurs who are introverts make their personalities work for them. With less interest in the spotlight than accomplishing goals, introverts are inclined to let talented employees run with their ideas. Here are five strategies for making introversion an asset. Read More

Category Archives:Interviewing

7 important questions every job seeker should ask themselves

Great overview of some of the things we are in control of when it comes to job search.  It’s completely up to the job seeker to make sure they are communicating their strengths and impact to the employer…in the resume, the cover letter, and in their conversation with the Interviewer.  Take the time to show yourself in the best light.

7 important questions every job seeker should ask themselves. Read More

Category Archives:Interviewing

How to Effectively Market Yourself for a Job When You’ve Been Long-Term Unemployed

SHRM – the Society of Human Resource Managers – has jumped on the long-term unemployment band wagon and has begun educating its 200k+ members on how to be more inclusive in their candidate searches.  This presents job seekers the perfect time to make sure they are doing all they can to communicate to employers their strengths and how they will contribute.  Here’s a great list of tips from SHRM…

How to Effectively Market Yourself for a Job When You’ve Been Long-Term Unemployed.

For most people losing a job is a devastating experience. Not finding one right away is even more discouraging, but the sooner you get started looking and the more dedicated you are, the more likely your search will be a positive experience. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the largest HR association in the world, with more than 275,000 members. Our members, HR professionals in organizations representing all sizes and industries, recognize that as a result of the years-long economic downturn, an unprecedented number of Americans have been unemployed for six months or more.


We are educating our members on how to review their organization’s hiring procedures to ensure they do not intentionally or inadvertently give less consideration to certain job candidates based solely on their unemployment status. Nevertheless, having a resume with gaps in work history can pose a challenge for the job seeker. This challenge is not insurmountable, and SHRM members offer the following advice to help you, as a job seeker, put your best foot forward.

Step 1: Approach your job search as though it WERE your job


  • Devote time— up to eight hours a day—to finding a job. Set a schedule with daily tasks in order to establish a structured routine. Having a schedule makes people more efficient. Giving yourself a deadline by, say, blocking off 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to work on an application or make your calls is better than saying you’ll get around to it as soon as you can.
  • Try to maintain a flexible attitude, and project a willingness to learn. Your old job/career may not exist anymore, so you may need to develop new skills or apply the old ones in a different way.
  •  If you are feeling stuck, seek out groups of people who are in the same situation. Many community centers, religious entities and other organizations host meetings for job seekers. It may help you to discuss your efforts with others.

Step 2: Stay active by engaging in productive activities


Find activities to show that you are still engaged in your community and focused on gaining skills and qualifications. Activities also fill time on your resume, showing employers that you haven’t been stagnant since you left your previous position.


Personal Development or Professional Development

  • Classes at a community college, university or training program can keep you up-to-date with technology and other trends in your field so that you’ll be informed when you do go on interviews or even chat informally with employers.
  • Many educational institutions have career centers with well-connected advisors who know what employers are looking for and who is hiring.
  • Consider a training program or temporary position, offered by many employers. Short-term positions give you a chance to test-drive a specific job or company.

Development Through Volunteer Engagement

Volunteering can involve much more than planting trees and painting buildings; it’s also a great way to learn new skills. You can design a website, organize an event, write letters on behalf of the organization or have any variety of other responsibilities.

  • Volunteering can give you exposure to a new field or allow you to try out a new career.
  • Volunteering at a specific organization you want to work for is an excellent way to get your foot in the door and make a notable first impression. If you can show you are a valuable and effective volunteer, employers will think you may make a valuable and effective employee.
  • Volunteering enables you to expand your network. By working on a cause you are passionate about, you will meet like-minded people, some of whom may be able to help with your job search.
  • Volunteering is a fun and valuable way to break up the monotony and provide you with an anchor while you look for a job. It can also provide a sense of accomplishment.


Step 3: Update and revise your resume

  • Understand the online application process before submitting your resume.  Applying for a job today requires that you tailor your resume to the specific position.  Before submitting your resume, make sure it contains some of the key words that are outlined in the job description.
  • Use terms that apply to the specific job and/or industry. Sprinkling in newer terms can show that you’re current with the technology and other trends of the field.
  • Include accomplishments—both at work and outside of it—so employers can see how you’ve done, not just what you’ve done.
  • Quantify your experiences. Use numbers to communicate changes or improvements you have made over a specific period. Examples include quantitative gains in production or performance, notable customer satisfaction, greater organizational performance, cost reductions or cost avoidance.
  • Include legitimate volunteer or nontraditional work experience, to eliminate or decrease any gaps in employment.
  • If your formal education occurred more than 10 years ago, consider taking dates off and adding other training or education you have obtained since then.

Step 4: Network, network, network


Networking is still the most effective way to find out about jobs. Prepare your “elevator speech,” in which you describe your skills and career goals in two minutes. Preparing ahead helps you take advantage of opportunities to talk, at a moment’s notice, with someone who may be in a position to help you.


Reach out to family, friends, neighbors and associates.

  • Use your connections to your advantage. The more people you know, the better your chances of finding and landing a job. Talk with your previous employers and co-workers. People who have seen you at work before and are in your field of experience can be the best people to know.
  • Seek out community groups for assistance, including those for unemployed people, who help one another with leads, references and other support. Programs, both formal and informal, have started in communities nationwide.
  • If you can’t find a group in your community, start one. With nearly a quarter of Americans laid off at some point because of the recession, you do not have to be alone in your search. Be willing to help others in your groups. Paying it forward can be of great benefit when your colleagues get settled in a new role. Not only will it help you, but it looks great to businesses if you let them know you started a group or are active in one that helps people in the community.


Use online sites, including LinkedIn.

  • If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one. Employers use this site to look for new talent so make sure your profile contains keywords that are relevant to jobs that interest you.
  • Use the search function on LinkedIn to find profiles of people seeking positions similar to what you are interested in pursuing.  Then use these profiles as templates to modify your profile.
  • See what companies your connections and their connections have worked for. Those who worked at a company a few years ago likely still know people who work there.
  • Join groups that apply to you. Many industries, regions and even companies have their own pages. These are a great source of information and a way to keep current with what’s happening in a particular field.


Reach out to employers that interest you.

  • Many companies host open houses or exhibitions to showcase their work. If it looks interesting to you, check it out. Ask questions and make some contacts, too.
  • If you want to talk with someone at an organization, go for it. Reach out to a firm you have great interest in and ask to come in and learn more about it. Don’t mention employment in the first conversation.  A good first impression can lead to that important referral or helpful information.


Look for local nonprofit or government organizations that can help you with your job search.

Never pay an organization to find you a job—most likely it is not a legitimate business.

  • Take advantage of the services that government-funded Career One Stop centers offer. These centers provide free assistance to job seekers. More information is available at http://www.careeronestop.org/
  • Learn about local nonprofit organizations serving the long-term unemployed. The programs are as varied as the communities they serve and can be researched online. Examples of these organizations are:
    • Platform to Employment (P2E), a five-week boot camp that focuses on both skills development and emotional support. Based in Bridgeport, Conn., it has expanded to many other locations, including Chicago, Cincinnati and San Diego.
    • Neighbors-helping-Neighbors, a volunteer-led organization through which workers help one another network and reinvigorate their careers. It has meetings throughout New Jersey and is expanding to other states.
    • LA Fellow Program, which places qualified middle managers in struggling local nonprofits in the Los Angeles area.
    • Local chambers of commerce, which may list networking events and job fairs.

Step 5: Become More Technologically Proficient

  • It’s no secret that many employers look up their applicants online. While most people know to keep offensive pictures and posts off Facebook, you can take this a step further by creating a brand for yourself. Use LinkedIn as your primary tool, but learn more about how to effectively use Twitter and Facebook as a means of “branding yourself.”
  • Social networks are an excellent way to interact with potential employers. Sharing information via a status update on LinkedIn or re-tweeting or tweeting at an employer or sending messages on Facebook with relevant information can get you noticed.
  • Scanning blogs on relevant topics allows you to stay up-to-date with the industry and hear different perspectives. Commenting on blogs and engaging with their authors are other valuable methods of gaining contacts in the field.
  • Joining listserves is a great way to crowdsource your information gathering. People often mention opportunities they heard of or topics they think are worth sharing.
  • Although it’s efficient to comb through the larger online job boards, it’s worth noting that many listings receive hundreds of applicants. One way to find less visible opportunities is to research what companies you might like to work for and search their sites for vacancies. It takes longer to do this, but you may just find that perfect under-the-radar opportunity. Following up your application with a message to the company contact person further enhances your potential of being noticed.
  • If you need help in navigating the world of computers or even getting access to a computer consider a local library. Most libraries have computers available to the public, and some offer free resources like classes or coaching. Career One-Stops also offer classes and computers for public use.



Step 6: Prepare for your future interview

  • Get fit by exercising and eating right. When you feel good you will come across well in an interview.
  • Consider how you look. A good haircut and neat, clean business attire are a way to say “I respect myself.” You don’t have to buy expensive suits if you don’t have the budget; just scour the resale shops, and make sure the clothes fit and are clean and ironed.
  • Address gaps in your resume’s work history upfront. Offering an explanation prevents a potential employer from making assumptions that may be incorrect. Similarly, take the opportunity to address any possible concerns about your being overqualified for the position. When a candidate raises the issue, this can help put an employer’s mind at ease.
  • Never underestimate the value of a handwritten note. Send one to each person who takes time to meet with you in an interview or with whom you have a key networking conversation. In a high-tech world, the high-touch approach always gets noticed.

Online Resources for the Job Seeker

www.shrm.org/workforcereadiness SHRM developed this webpage to house information about workforce readiness and long-term unemployment. Information on this site can give you a better understanding of how HR professionals view these issues.
AARP resources –AARP’s job seeker page is a good place to start for anyone looking for a job, although their language is tailored for an older crowd.  Resources include cover letter tips, using LinkedIn, career planning for older workers, and advice on how to start your own business.


Career One Stop – This federal government site hosts a variety of services including searches for short-term training opportunities, resume guides, and other resources with coordinating agencies. The site also has a section dedicated to people who lost their jobs, providing information on unemployment benefits, family support, and job centers in various locations.


Idealist.org – Home to over 12,000 volunteer opportunities, Idealist.org can be used to search for community-based volunteer jobs.  The site allows you to search through thousands of job openings, internships, events, organizations, and over 500,000 personal member profiles.


LinkedIn Groups – The LinkedIn Groups Directory lists over 13,000 groups available to LinkedIn users.  After creating a LinkedIn profile, joining groups that fit your interests is one way to stay current with relevant news and connect with like-minded professionals.


Monster.com Advice – With hundreds of articles on topics ranging from industry hiring trends, to interview tips for unemployed workers, Monster provides information on every step of the search-to-hire process.

SimplyHired.com/advice – Like Monster.com, SimplyHired provides hundreds of articles on various aspects of the job search, job trends, career advice and resume tips.


Category Archives:Interviewing

Half of Interviewers Know a Good Fit Within 5 Minutes

Most candidates eliminate themselves during the course of the interview.  Here are some common reasons why…

Half of Interviewers Know a Good Fit Within 5 Minutes – Talent Management magazine.

Chicago — Jan. 16

When it comes to a job interview, the first few minutes may be the most crucial. A new survey from CareerBuilder finds that nearly half (49 percent) of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview whether a candidate is a good or bad fit for the position, and 87 percent know within the first 15 minutes.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive from Nov. 6 to Dec. 2, 2013, and included a representative sample of 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Most Memorable Mistakes
When asked to share the most outrageous mistakes candidates made during a job interview, employers gave the following real-life examples:
• Applicant warned the interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn’t think her interview was indicative of her personality.
• Applicant acted out a “Star Trek” role.
• Applicant answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor.
• Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview.
• Applicant asked for a hug.
• Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview.
• Applicant brought personal photo albums.
• Applicant called himself his own personal hero.
• Applicant checked Facebook during the interview.
• Applicant crashed her car into the building.
• Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits.
• Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview.
• Applicant set fire to the interviewer’s newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said “impress me.”
• Applicant said that he questioned his daughter’s paternity.
• Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her.

Common Mistakes
The most detrimental blunders candidates make in interviews are often the most common, according to employers:
• Appearing disinterested – 55 percent.
• Dressing inappropriately – 53 percent.
• Appearing arrogant – 53 percent.
• Talking negatively about current or previous employers – 50 percent.
• Answering a cellphone or texting during the interview – 49 percent.
• Appearing uninformed about the company or role – 39 percent.
• Not providing specific examples – 33 percent.
• Not asking good questions – 32 percent.
• Providing too much personal information – 20 percent.
• Asking the hiring manager personal questions – 17 percent.

Category Archives:Interviewing

Video: Take Control of Your Personal Brand – Harvard Business Review

The key elements of a positive and effective job search strategy are…1. Have a positive mindset; 2. Be a subject matter expert in you – strengths, talents, wisdom, unique experiences; 3. Know what you want; and 4. Be able to ARTICULATE who you are and what you want to others.  This video offers some great insight into developing your personal brand.

Video: Take Control of Your Personal Brand – Harvard Business Review.

Category Archives:Interviewing

GARNER: Long-term unemployed are falling further behind | Economy | NewsObserver.com

GARNER: Long-term unemployed are falling further behind | Economy | NewsObserver.com.

 — William Van O’Neal, a 57-year-old truck driver from Garner, was laid off from his job last January. He received an unemployment check for six months, but when “the money ran out,” he had to scramble to take care of his family.

Jim Chambers of Holly Springs was hoping he would have a job this Christmas. Chambers, a former general manager for a local medical equipment company, was laid off in October 2011. His unemployment benefits ran out in fall 2012. He’s now making some income as a consultant and draining his savings and 401(k) to survive.

“We are living off our future,” said the 60-year-old Chambers.

Last month, North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, still above the national rate of 7 percent. But O’Neal and Chambers represent a group of the unemployed who don’t seem to be making many gains, the long-term unemployed, men and women who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.

In North Carolina, unemployment benefits end between 12 and 20 weeks because of legislation that went into effect on July 1. The law also reduced the amount of weekly payments, with the maximum dropping from $535 to $350 per week. Those changes also meant that unemployed North Carolinians could no longer get extended federal benefits.

Roger Cameron, a Wake Tech instructor who teaches Human Resources Development classes for the unemployed and underemployed, worries that the basic needs of the unemployed are not being met.

“I see people suffering,” he said. “I see people who are dropping weight. I talked to someone who is not eating regularly. They need tangible help.”

Many have turned to their churches and food pantries for help, straining already stretched resources. Rick Miller-Haraway, regional director for Catholic Charities for Wake County, which operates Catholic Parish Outreach Food Pantry, said he has seen an increase in the number of first-timers.

“We are seeing people whose unemployment benefits have run out, people who used to make $50,000 and are now making $30,000, and a higher number of college graduates who are not able to make ends meet,” he says. “They tell us, they never thought they would need food.”

A downward spiral

Joe Paradise, a financial counselor for Triangle Family Services, also is seeing a downward spiral within the ranks of the unemployed.

Many of his clients have lived from paycheck to paycheck without savings so when they lose their job, they fall behind on their mortgage or rent and quickly sink into poverty.

Others have drawn down their emergency savings or retirement funds and are now scrambling to pay their bills.

“They are living on the edge,” he said. “They are out of options by the time they come to me.”

Paradise teaches a six-week course, trying to help consumers, especially those out of work, make better choices before they get desperate.

O’Neal, who is raising three children – ages 7, 11 and 17 – had worked for the same company for 17 years when he lost his job. He looked for other work while on unemployment without luck.

With money running out and his home in jeopardy of being foreclosed on, he turned to Triangle Family Services for financial counseling.

With their help, O’Neal was able to get help with his mortgage and save his three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. He also learned how to pare expenses (the cable was among things to go) and ask for help. He now receives food stamps, and his children are on Medicaid.

Now to make ends meet, he relies on landscaping jobs around the Triangle and would like to be able to start his own landscaping business, but his credit – hurt by his unemployment – isn’t good enough to let him buy the needed equipment.

Worried about morale

Cameron, of Wake Tech, is a former Lenovo program manager who was laid off in March 2009. He has been attuned to the Triangle’s unemployment scene ever since and is seeing a shift. He said he has noticed that fewer people are attending the Colonial JobSeekers support group in Cary. “The crowds are getting thinner, but I don’t think that’s because people are landing jobs,” he says. “I think they are giving up.”

He also fears that changes at the Division of Employment Security may be keeping claimants from receiving some of the personal guidance they need to get back to work.

The Division of Workforce Solutions, the Commerce division charged with helping job seekers find work, laid off 350 temporary staffers earlier this year, and claimants are not assigned a specific counselor. Instead, job searchers are treated with a one-size-fits-all approach.

Danny Giddens, executive director of operations for the Division of Workforce Solutions, said his staff participated in rigorous training to learn how to better work with customers and provide more career counseling services.

“We don’t have the luxury for having specialists for one type of population or another,” Giddens acknowledged, “but the staff tries to work with all customers based upon where they are in their job search.”

Giddens said that he is also concerned about the state’s long-term unemployed. “We make attempts to elevate their morale,” he said. “Is their resume as good as it could be? Have they been practicing interviewing?”

Possible changes ahead

There are glimmers of hope.

Hiring also has picked up, though not enough to offset job losses. Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner last week said civilian employment in the state rose by 39,400 over the past three months. Though, in comparison, in the first eight months of the year, employment declined by 45,100.

Vitner said the state’s new unemployment law could be a factor. The loss of benefits could cause some people to take a job that they would not have taken before because of its lower pay. But his data also indicate that some job seekers are still dropping out of the workforce altogether, which also reduces the unemployment rate.

Congress is expected take up a bill in January that would extend federal benefits, and Sen. Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, has added a provision to the bill that would restore North Carolina’s eligibility for the federal unemployment benefits. At this point, the details of who would be affected by it are unclear.

That said, Miller-Haraway, with Catholic Charities, doesn’t see much relief coming in the new year.

“It’s not going to change. We have an economy that has replaced good paying jobs with low paying jobs.”


    • The N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund helps North Carolina homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments because of job loss or reduction of income through no fault of their own or because of an unforeseen temporary financial hardship, such as a divorce, serious illness or death of a co-signer.www.ncforeclosureprevention.gov/

    • The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit that provides food for people at risk of hunger in 34 counties. Go towww.foodbankcenc.org to donate or click the “FIND HELP” button to locate a Food Bank partner agency (rescue mission, food pantry, soup kitchen, etc.) in your community, or call 919-875-0707.

    • Triangle Family Services serves about 7,000 families each year through three core program service areas of financial stability, family safety and mental health. Its counseling center is at 3937 Western Blvd., Raleigh, and its education center where workshops are held is at 700 Blue Ridge Road, Suite 101, (between Pylon Drive and Hutton Street, just south of the N.C. State Fairgrounds) Raleigh. Call 919-821-0790 or go to



    Karin Cross, founder and owner of CrossWalk in Raleigh, specializes in the aging workforce.

    The former human resources professional turned life coach advises becoming an “expert” on you. “What strengths do you bring to an organization or company? What’s your brand? … What sets you apart?”

    She offers a free workshop, “Job Search: Behind the Curtain,” where she covers the four phases of hiring: identifying and defining the need, recruiting, interviewing and hiring. She will also discuss why connecting with others is the key to a rewarding job search experience and how to connect in a way that is meaningful and stress-free.

    Seminars scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9, and Tuesday, Jan. 14.

    Register: http://crosswalknc.com/events/

    Cross also offers workshops for a fee. Find out more at http://bit.ly/1ciJYYE.

    Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/12/28/3488321/long-term-unemployed-are-falling.html#storylink=cpy


Lacy can be contacted at RIFworker@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @RIFworker


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/12/28/3488321/long-term-unemployed-are-falling.html#storylink=cpy


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