How to Focus your Job Search

The job hunt is a full-time job in and of itself. From networking to writing dozens of personalized cover letters every day, managing your time is fundamental. How do you do so without spinning your wheels, becoming complacent, or going bonkers?

Create a Daily ‘To-Do List’

When you’re at home looking for a job, routine keeps you honest. Make a job search specific list of items you wish to accomplish during the day. Having both daily and weekly goals will motivate smaller successes and help you to keep track of your accomplishments.

Here is an example:

Today’s Goals:

1.) Connect with 3 LinkedIn connections

2.) Follow-up on 5 positions

3.) Apply to 10 jobs

4.) Reach out to 1 2nd degree connection at XYZ Company and request an informal interview over coffee (my treat, of course) to learn more about their experience working there

Weekly Goal(s):

1.) Attend 1 networking ‘meetup’ this week

2.) Search for pro-bono projects

Figure out what you want

Whether you were laid-off, fired, left early of your own volition, or are looking while working, give yourself time to think concretely regarding your next step. In many ways, this may be the most fundamental aspect of the search.

Why? Without assessing where you currently are in your career and why you’re there you are simply going through the motions and may very well end up in the same position in the near future. Make this transition count and it will have been worth the process. 

Give yourself ‘me’ time

Incorporating time to yourself is another extremely important aspect of the job search. Looking for a new job can easily be all-consuming and borderline mentally draining. Avoid constantly checking your phone for recruiter emails. In fact, you might consider snoozing all notifications for a couple hours a day. You’d be amazed what closing your laptop and taking a walk does for your search.

Consider Smaller Companies

Our data suggests that applying to companies with <500 employees gives you 192% higher interview rate; this especially helps mitigate the effects of a recent firing or layoff. Regardless of your industry preference, this may be worth considering.

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Conclusion

Understanding that the job search is another life skill to be mastered will help you to focus your energy and better manage your time. Everyone who needs a job (which is most people) will do this in their lifetime and those who succeed above the rest do so with organization, ambition, and grace. Give yourself the tools to get the job you deserve.

Need some help getting focused? For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

How should I include ‘soft skills’ in my resume?

Dear Sarah,

What are “soft skills” and how would I go about representing them on my resume?

Best,

Big Softy

Hey there Softy,

Soft skills” are skills that can’t be quantified or measured such as “time management” or “problem solving”. Sure, a soft skill is less tangible than say a certification having learned Python, but it’s valuable and should be represented on a resume. The question is how to do so effectively.

Let’s take the soft skill ‘critical thinking’ as an example. Our data suggests that quantifying the impact that you made with numbers helps remove subjective bias, increasing your hireability by +23%. Demonstrating your critical thinking skill along with data-driven examples is a double-whammy:

  • “Audited departmental retention program and piloted new project that increased return purchase by 27% Q1”

Not only does this example demonstrate that you broke down a problem in order to better it understand it, but it shows the positive effect after having implemented your changes.

Many times in the job listing the hiring manager or recruiter will indicate specifically what soft skills are required. For instance, if the job listing requests that this candidate possesses ‘superior communication skills’, literally put ‘superior communication skills’ in the ‘Key Skills’ section of resume. Remember that the majority of companies today use resume parsers to widdle down large applicant pools. Using exact words in your resume will help you get to the next round. (Don’t forget that ‘Key Skills’ section, either! Including one automatically improves your chances for an interview by 59%!)

All the best!

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10 Ways You’re Killing Your Chances for an Interview

At TalentWorks, we’ve heard it all.

From submitting your resume to the wrong job (!) to sending resumes with formatting that doesn’t render correctly, it often seems as though candidates are trying to tank their chances for a job.

Once you’re at the interview stage of the applicant process, you already have a 10-15% chance of getting the position. So, how do you make it there? 

1.) Don’t be a “Team Player”

It may sound counterintuitive, but mentioning any of the following collaboration-oriented words more than twice in your resume will penalize you -50.8%:

  • team player
  • results-driven collaborator
  • supporting member
  • assisted
  • collaborated
  • helped

Why? Everyone works with a team in some capacity. As a hiring manager, how would I know how much you, the candidate, contributed. It says very little about your skills and job responsibilities which leads me to #2…

2.) Don’t be Vague

Using concrete numbers to exemplify your successes and personal impact removes any bias and gives you a +23% hireabilty boost over your competition. For every 3 sentences, use at least 1 number to demonstrate your (concrete) impact.

3.) Don’t Forget to Demonstrate Leadership

Hiring managers see “leaders” as people who are communicative, pivot easily after bumps in the road, and get the job done. We’ve found that adding strong, active, leadership-oriented words greatly helps to demonstrate your candidacy.

Some of the words we detected as strong, active words:

  • communicated
  • coordinated
  • leadership
  • managed
  • organization

(Using a combination of these words boosts your hireability by +50%!)

4.) Don’t Send the Same Resume to Every Job

While we highly recommend applying to as many jobs as you can, you need to tailor your resume. A cookie cutter resume that includes irrelevant job experiences and skills is an automatic ‘no’.

(Also, when you’re tailoring your resume/cover letter please don’t forget to change the company name!)

5.) Don’t Make Grammatical Errors

One of the last positions we advertised for had an applicant pool of which nearly 10% made dumb grammatical mistakes, such as misspellings and forgetting to include an email address. Eight out of ten times, hiring managers will dismiss the application altogether. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

6.) Don’t Apply After 4pm

Our data suggests that applying to a job before 10am can increase your odds of getting an interview by 5x! It’s admittedly tough if you already have a full-time job and the only time you may have is around lunchtime or after work. Unfortunately, those are the worst times to do so.

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The best time to apply for a job is between 6am and 10am. During this time, you have an 13% chance of getting an interview — nearly 5x as if you applied to the same job after work. Whatever you do, don’t apply after 4pm.

7.) Don’t Use Personal Pronouns

Any usage of personal pronouns (I, me, my, myself) automatically hurts your hireability by 54.7%. Yes, doing so is a bit arbitrary as you’re obviously referring to yourself, but it is a recruitment standard.

Instead, use action words and you will increase your chances of an interview by 140%. Here is an example:

Say this:

Developed a world-positive, high-impact student loan product that didn’t screw over people after 100+ customer interviews.

Not this:

After 100+ customer interviews, the world-positive, high-impact student loan product was developed by me.

 8.) Don’t Forget Buzzwords

Surprise! We’ve found that using industry jargon throughout your resume actually increases your hireability by 29.3%!

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We recommend name dropping a buzzword every 3-6 sentences. Companies often use parsing tools to help widdle down large applicant pools and doing so will help you to get past the robots. (Avoid going overboard though, because using too much jargon can be a turn off to actual, non-robot hiring managers.)

9.) Don’t Send off Your Resume Without A Cover Letter

Although there are companies that will never explicitly ask for cover letters (or read them for that matter), you should always include one. A cover letter is an opportunity to go beyond the resume and provide information you maybe didn’t have room for in your resume such as clarifying examples. There isn’t a hiring manager out there that doesn’t appreciate the effort even if they never open the file.

10.) Don’t Include Objectives

In May, we did an analysis of the hotly debated issue of resume objectives and found that job applicants whose resume contained an objective were 29.6% less hireable.

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Unless you’re a recent college graduate or dramatically changing job industries, objectives hurt your chances of landing an interview. Why? They provide zero information regarding how your skills relate to the position at hand. At best, you can hope hiring managers will ignore it. At worst, it’ll give hiring managers an excuse to disqualify you.

Need more job hunting “dont’s”? There’s plenty where this came from. For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Should I list my hobbies on a resume?

Dear Sarah,

I’m updating my resume and I was wondering when (if ever) it’s acceptable to list my hobbies.

Thanks,

Renaissance Man

Hey RM,

If you were to ask me this question even 7 years ago I’d be inclined to say ‘no’, and that doing so is superfluous and unprofessional. Times have changed. Today, companies especially small businesses and start-ups not only ask about relevant work experience but also want to know about what you do outside of work. Here are a couple tips for doing so gracefully:

Context is King

Hobbies need to be relevant. If you’re applying to a job at Salesforce, for example, think to yourself what hobbies might help you best fit into their culture. Salesforce in particular emphasizes giving back to the community, even offering their employees seven paid days of volunteer time off each year. If you’re passionate about working animal adoption events on the weekends it would absolutely benefit you to mention it.

Less is More

Don’t go overboard. If you’re going to mention hobbies, chose a couple. Listing 10, for instance, is overwhelming and starts to tread into irrelevancy. Also, resumes should never be longer than one page, so if you need to sacrifice precious real estate to include them, don’t do so at all.

Use Action words

We’ve found that using distinctive action words at the beginning of your sentences increases your hireability by 139.6%! Instead of just listing your hobbies in a clump (i.e.: Hiking, puzzles, traveling, volunteering) provide full sentences such as, ‘Organized and lead a nonprofit aimed at feeding the hungry’. This particular example displays leadership skills. We also found that incorporating 1-2 leadership-oriented words every 5 sentences provides a +50.9% boost over the competition.

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So remember, if you’re applying to a startup or a company that offers a playful culture such as Google including a relevant hobby that demonstrates your leadership qualities can set you apart! Make sure you use an action word to do so and if it means a resume longer than a page, leave it out.

Hope that helped!

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Stagnant Wages and How to Negotiate from the Start

Picture this: You just received a job offer after months of searching. It’s now time to discuss salary. The initial offer is tempting, in fact, it’s 10% higher than what the recruiter offered during the preliminary screening. You take it. Months later your landlord hikes your rent. What was to be meaningful financial progress did not get you ahead at all.

That’s the reality many workers are facing. A recent Pew Research Study suggests that today’s wages have the same purchasing power as they did in 1974, especially for lower wage workers. Despite low unemployment and higher paychecks (adjusted for inflation) we’re just not financially progressing.

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It certainly seems bleak but you have control regarding your income. What can you do as a jobseeker to ensure your personal financial progression? 

“That’s a good place to start”

If you’re being lowballed in a salary negotiation, don’t be afraid to literally say “That’s a good place to start”. Hiring managers have wiggle-room and expect to use it if you plead your case. This initial offer does not anchor you to a set amount, so understand what the responsibilities are worth and where you need to be financially to re-anchor, so-to-speak.

Understand your buying power.

What do you need financially and what can you do about it? Firstly, understand your regional labor market. Wages vary depending on where you live; do your research before you go into negotiation. It stands that you should be making a reasonable salary per your city. An administrative assistant in the Bay Area should make more than one working in Cincinnati.

At Talent Works we’ve found that going back to school or earning additional accreditations actually improves your professional acumen by +21.9%. If going back to school isn’t possible, check-out what skills/online courses you can take to give you the edge over competition.

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Negotiation makes a difference. Need help? We’re the Jiminy Cricket to your job search.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

What does it mean to be ‘Underemployed’?

The National Unemployment rate is at a 17-year low according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this doesn’t paint the whole picture. Many employed workers have jobs that offer less than full-time hours or a job that doesn’t adequately meet the qualifications the employee possesses such as training and education.

This is referred to as “underemployment” and many people across a variety of demographics are affected. College grads, highly skilled foreign workers whose credentials don’t translate, trade workers, and the disabled are a few examples of the underemployed and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there isn’t yet a way to quantify its effect on the economy directly. So we don’t really know how many people, though employed, aren’t meeting their professional potential.

What do you do when you’re underworked and undervalued?

Tip 1: Apply for Jobs Within ±2 Years of Your Experience

Don’t be intimidated by the job description. If you’re within ±2 years of required experience, hiring managers will often consider you “close enough.” Be flexible and remember that you don’t necessarily have to fit the job post 100%.

Tip 2: Tough it out while you look elsewhere

We found that people who weren’t currently employed took a hit — they were 149% less hireable. Keep your current job regardless of your hours or the type of work while you look for something more fitting. Take advantage of having a position right now and look while you work.

Our data also shows that toughing it out for at least 18 months improves your hireability by 18%!

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Tip 3: Start Freelancing!

Regardless of why you’re underemployed, freelancing can help bring you to the next level. Not only does freelancing provide flexibility in hours and style of work but freelancing jobs and gigs provide the experience you many need to attain your ideal job. For example, if you’re working a part-time in a different industry, freelancing on the side keeps your foot in the door of where you want to be while maintaining your skills and community presence.

Are you currently working a less than ideal job or gig? For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Unemployment is at a record low. Where’s my job?

Dear Sarah,

Apparently, unemployment is at 3.9%…but, I’m still looking for a job. How do I reconcile this and, you know, find one?

Thanks,

Feeling Alone Right Now

Hey FARN,

Jobless rates are at a five-decade low having just recently dipped from 4% (2/10 of a percentage point lower than it’s record low in The 60s). Significant!

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US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Understandably, this is frustrating to read if you’re an active job seeker. Job hunting sucks and there are a variety of factors that are stacked against you of which you have no control.

‘What are you not doing’, you ask?

Here are a few data-backed tips that may help:

The Job Search… just go for it!

If you meet more than 60% of the job qualifications, you should apply! Many people, in particular women, will avoid applying if they’re not 100% qualified. Apply to as many jobs as you can to make up for the fact that any single job you apply for online is nearly zero.

Your Resume

Not only should you have a simple machine-parsable resume format but you should include as many keywords as possible in your resume AND cover letter from the original job posting.

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Also, describe your job achievements with different action verbs. This one resume tip is is associated with +139.6% boost in getting more interviews. Literally, all you have to do is change the first word in your resume skill set to an action word and it increases your chances of an interview over competition by +140%! Also, if you describe the different things that you did at that company with different action verbs, you’ll have finished strong.

In Person

If you’ve made it to the interview stage of your job search journey you have a solid chance of getting the job. Be your charming self and relax knowing that you’ve made it this far.

Oh, and be sure to get the earliest appointment you can in the day when interviewing. Interviewers get hangry.

All the best!

 

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Will Robots Take Your Job? Sort of.

At TalentWorks there’s no secret that we’re big fans of AI and automation, in fact, “automating your search” is at the core of what we do. We promise advanced resume optimization that is guaranteed to improve your chances as a jobseeker and increase your hireability by 5.8x.

With automation comes an inevitable disruption of the workforce, and that’s understandably scary. The McKinsey Global institute’s new research suggests that by the year 2030 approx. 15% of the global workforce could be displaced…BUT, the jobs created from this shift will make up for those lost. In the past, large-scale sector employment declines have been countered by the expansion of other sectors that have absorbed workers. (This chart shows the total employment by sector in the US 1850-2015, courtesy of McKinsey Global institute).

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So in a time of automation, how is the workforce transitioning in the near future and should we be afraid?

Robot + Human

Jobs susceptible to automation include processors and assemblers and are anticipated to drop by 25,000 (word processors) and 45,200 respectively by 2026.

The thing is, the same factory that eliminates human jobs still requires a convergence of both robot and human intelligence. Sure a robot can assemble faster than any human could, but the domain of expertise lies within the human worker who has valuable knowledge and has been on the assembly floor for 10+ years.

Automation in your workplace

The same McKinsey Global institute study found that even a CEO’s job can be automated (25% of it to be exact). An implementation of AI means the time they spent analyzing reports can be better used to manage people.

So how will embracing workplace automation in the near future help, you, the employee? 

  • The elimination or reduction in human error
  • Higher productivity
  • Convenience

Repetitive tasks that would otherwise take a toll on employee satisfaction would be completed much more efficiently freeing you up to focus on the more creative side of your job. Live chat widgets, grocery store self-checkouts, and marketing data platforms are just a few examples of automation that exists in the workplace today.

Working with automation and AI harmoniously means setting yourself up for success. In a world where workforce dynamics are ever evolving, being adaptable is key.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

 

Public, Private, Non-profit: What sector works for you?

Are you looking for a job environment where you’re provided on the job training?

Do you prefer a ‘scrappy’ business setting?

Does working for your city or town interest you? 

Job seekers have many decisions to make. Along with overthinking if you should update your social profiles again or if you should wear a suit, your preference and adaptability regarding different job sectors will inevitably be another decision. The public, private and non-profit sectors all have their own rewards, opportunities, and challenges and it’s up to you to decide what best represents your style of work.

“I enjoy stability, an unambiguous pay-scale, and good benefits”

The public sector constitutes public goods and government services such as public education or law enforcement. Employees who work within this sector enjoy a level of job security that is not offered in private or non-profit organizations. For instance, you wouldn’t have to worry about a possible merger or being sold off to a private company. If you’re interested in making a difference, there are many types of public sector jobs you can explore.

Although a government job offers steady raises and good health benefits/retirement plans there are of course challenges such as slow growth and lack of control. Bureaucracy frustrates both citizens and governmental workers where formal processes are the name of the game.

“I’m looking for significant advancement opportunities, cutting-edge projects, and a high earning potential”

Private sector jobs in the US offer an incredible opportunity for personal and professional advancement with a nice salary to match. According to the National Treasury Employees Union, employees working the private sector received up to a 26% higher salary than federal employees with similar roles. Private sector companies, or ‘for profit’ organizations, offer less bureaucratic protocols which equates to new project approvals and faster iteration in general.

Private sector opportunities also have its challenges. More job instability and less of a guarantee that you’ll be provided with a good healthcare package is a reality that some jobseekers can’t afford to face.

“I’m seeking meaningful work, flexibility, and a highly motivated group of coworkers”

Non-profit organizations consist of both public charities and private foundations and in many ways represents a hybrid of both sectors (i.e.: non-profits/NGOs receive better treatment by the government and are viewed charitably by citizens).

A non-profit organization allows for a great deal of opportunity, as the average employee may find themselves wearing many hats given that their workforce is often understaffed. You will have opportunities to learn what every level of management does (including your boss’ boss) and quickly grow far beyond “your” role. For example, you could be a financial analyst helping to organize the annual gala or the office administrator doing grant research. If you want experience working across various departments and a way to change careers easily, the non-profit sector represents a great way for ambitious people to find on the job training.

Cons? The nonprofit sector faces unique stresses and daily challenges. For one, working environments may consist of antiquated technology and fewer resources. Many well-intentioned people get easily burned out being stretched too thin especially when the stakes are higher.

Conclusion

Whether you decide to start applying to a city job, local start-up or charity there are varying pros and cons you must weigh. Depending on your individual career goals you may find something that either frustrates you or takes your career to new heights.

Need help navigating a job interview within a particular sector? For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Get A Job Fast By Automating Your Job Search

There are plenty of things about the job hunt that can catch an applicant flat-footed. Getting fired unexpectedly or suddenly being asked to navigate confusing benefits systems can rattle even the most hardened of workers. It’s disheartening and that’s before we even get to the truth of the matter: the job search requires you to be an expert in a skill you probably didn’t learn because you hoped to never use it.

While you were out specializing in your field and getting better at what you actually do to earn a living, the rules of the job search were solidifying. Now, recruiters expect you to be versed in their codes before they’ll even give you a call back.

It’s a lot to ask and it’s why we’re here. We know the search and how to cater your application to make sure that it ticks all the right boxes. We can use our troves of data and our AI to remove the hassle from your search and get you back into what you really know how to do.

Here’s just a few reasons why you should consider automating your job search.

Reduce Mistakes

Chances are, you probably don’t work in data entry. (If you do, we can help you, too!) But anyone who does knows that manually entering data only provides more opportunities for mistakes. Introducing the human element into any situation ups the odds of typos and blunders dramatically and that holds true for your application.

If we can optimize your resume and apply to the jobs you want on your behalf, we can eliminate the likelihood of prospect-killing mistakes.

Lean On Experts

We know the job search. We’ve been collecting data on the who, what, why, when and how of hiring for years, scanning millions of  want ads and figuring out what works and what doesn’t for recruiters. Unlike you, we have specialized in the field of getting people hired and we want to share our knowledge with as many people as possible.

Save Time

If you’re scrambling after losing a job (or just looking for something new outside of your already demanding schedule), time can be hard to come by. Trawling through countless job boards and reading untold amounts of postings to figure out which jobs are actually looking for someone like you is more than just a pain, it’s probably costing you money.

That’s time that could be better spent working on something you care about or taking the time to catch up with your family and friends. Let us automate your search to take the searching part out of your daily routine, only offering you the best jobs for your specific skillset.

The best part of all of this? It’s only $5-$10 a week and we guarantee that we’ll get you in the room with the people you need to talk to. Check it out and lose the hassle of self-searching.