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Frequently Asked Job Search Questions – and Answers!

by Robyn Winters, Career Strategist

August 11, 2017

ID-100302902Most people have needed to look for work at one time or another. Regardless of (1) when that happened, (2) the process you used, or (3) how long it took you to find the position that made you happy and productive, there are always questions that arise about how to do things…the right way!

While there may not always be a single way to approach job search questions or topics, there will find varying opinions at the best way to approach a situation. At TampaBay-Job-Links, we work with what we believe is the most current, correct, and trending career information, which we are pleased to share with you.

We’ve chosen to use a Question and Answer format, because the questions below have probably been running around in your mind at one time or another. So read on!

Question: What is the correct length for a résumé?
Answer: This is a question that often causes a bit of a debate. If you’re an experienced professional with at least 10 years’ of work history, a one-page résumé will not give you enough space to write a compelling Career Profile, itemize your Work Experience and accomplishments, and list your Education. A recent college graduate might have a one page résumé, or someone who worked for a few years and then left the work force. Otherwise, two pages in length are both acceptable and necessary.

Question: How many references do I need?
Answer: The standard number is three references: 2 professional and 1 personal. The professional references can include colleagues, former managers, former direct reports, project leaders, and college professors. These people need to have direct knowledge of and experience with your work. The personal reference can be a friend, colleague, associate, or business professional with whom you did not work directly, but who can attest to your character and work ethics. A personal reference cannot be a family member! Keep in mind that you should tailor your reference list to the company and the job description; so overall you may need as many as 6-8 names to select from.

Keep in mind that you should tailor your reference list to the company and the job description; so overall you may need as many as 6-8 names to select from.

Question: What should I bring with me to a job interview?
Answer: There are some essential things to bring with you to a job interview that will help you to look Polished, Professional, and Prepared! First, at least 2 copies of your résumé (just in case), a typed list of references (2 professional, 1 personal), a list of the questions you want to ask the interviewer, a portfolio or briefcase for your papers, tissues, a positive attitude, and a SMILE. 🙂

Question: I find networking events to be painful and uncomfortable. How can I make this type of situation easier?
Answer: Networking is the art of cultivating productive relationships – whether to help find employment, to increase business opportunities, or simply to grow your social circle. Here are two suggestions: First, take the emphasis off yourself and consider how you can help the person you’re speaking to. Does s/he need information or advice? Does the person need a recommendation for a dentist? Ask about their needs, and help fill the void. Second, think of networking as an opportunity to make a new friend and exchange information. You may find that you even share something in common if you ask the right questions and listen!

Ask about their needs, and help fill the void. Second, think of networking as an opportunity to make a new friend and exchange information. You may find that you even share something in common if you ask the right questions and listen!

Question: What are the skills that hiring companies looking for?
Answer: According to a 2017 survey by cbsnews.com, by far, the one skill mentioned most frequently is Communication – the ability to listen, write, and speak effectively. All three communication methods are critical in today’s business world in order for you – and the company – to be successful. How can you strengthen this skill? Read more, write more, and listen more. This may mean separating yourself from your smart phone in order to build on the skills you have. It’s never too late to be a great communicator.

But that’s not all! Technical literacy is another important skill. Nearly all jobs require some basic knowledge and understanding of computer software such as Microsoft Office. Another important skill is the ability to work in and foster collaborative team relationships (playing nicely in the sandbox with your colleagues), as well as having a perspective of inclusion: a sensitivity and respect for diverse cultures and generations. Flexibility and adaptability are key traits as well, because they affect your response to change, people, and processes.

Question: I am able to get interviews for some of the jobs I apply for – and I believe I’m well-qualified, but I don’t get the job. Why is that?
Answer: There are a few reasons why you may not be offered a job when you believe you’re the most-qualified candidate. One is that the situation has changed: the budget for the position was cut, the job is no longer funded, and no one was ultimately hired. A second reason is that the company or organization had an internal candidate in mind, but by law they had to post the position and interview external people. And a third reason is that, for whatever reason, the hiring manager did not feel you were a good fit for the position or the company. “Fit” can be just as important as a skill set, so researching a company in advance of the interview to help determine its culture and lines of business is a critical step.

Question: Are career fairs really worth the effort? I usually don’t see companies or positions that are a good match for me.
Answer: Career fairs are often less about finding a job and more about expanding your network. Approach a career fair as you would a networking event: try to meet company representatives at the vendor tables, begin to build relationships, and leave them your résumé and a business/networking card. Even if a company doesn’t have jobs that you’re interested in, there may be other positions in the company that you could uncover by attending a career fair. In addition, the career fair is an opportunity to expand your professional network: you can meet new people, set up meetings outside the career fair, and help yourself while giving support to others. So grab a friend, keep an open mind, and meet career fairs head on!

Even if a company doesn’t have jobs that you’re interested in, there may be other positions in the company that you could uncover by attending a career fair. In addition, the career fair is an opportunity to expand your professional network: you can meet new people, set up meetings outside the career fair, and help yourself while giving support to others. So grab a friend, keep an open mind, and meet career fairs head on!

Question: I had a successful (my opinion) interview and was told that they would get back to me in a week. A week has elapsed, and I still haven’t heard from anyone. What can I do?
Answer: You can wait. It’s not unusual for well-meaning interviewers to say they’ll be back in touch in a week, or two weeks, and then the date slips. You need to be patient – life happens. For example, the person you met with may be away on vacation, there was a behind-the-scenes change in the company, the job was filled internally, or the person was just plain busy.

What can you do? Wait at least 3-4 business days beyond the “promise” date, and send a friendly, upbeat email to check in and determine the status of your application. Here’s what it might sound like (after the salutation): “I hope this finds you well. I enjoyed my interview with you on July 26, and was checking in to find out the status of my application. I feel that my qualifications are a great match for your needs, and I continue to have a strong interest in this position. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.” Then wait. At some point you will hear back – in their timeframe, but perhaps not in yours. Just hang in there and keep yourself busy by applying to other job posting, networking, and having a life.

Do you have a burning career development or job-search question? Send us a direct email at Job-Links@TBJL.org and a professional Career Strategist from TampaBay-Job-Links will answer it.

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