Paula Reuben Vieillet
When it comes to job hunting, it is often best to consult the professionals. Job and career counselors are certified specialists in their field and know from experience, with their own clientele, what works best and what does not. They also know the nuances of different stages of the job hunt and different industries.
Not everyone can afford a career counselor or has access to free job placement services. Therefore, I asked my job counselors, who helped more than 400 people on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) return to work last year, about their best suggestions for getting a job.
Every one of them began with “Preparation is the key to success!” So take these tips to bring out the best qualities you have to offer an employer!
Condense – “Keep your resume condensed and simple: one to two pages max,” recommends senior vocational counselor Ray Morrison, who places clients in on-site jobs.
Customize – “Customize your resume by adding experiences and skills that will pertain to a specific job requirement or preference,” says work-at-home specialist Lisa Seeley. “It is very common to have more than one resume.”
Keywords – “Be sure to demonstrate in your cover letter – if using one – that you are a great candidate for the position,” urges Sarah Lind, who finds local jobs for clients. “Incorporate ‘keywords’ from the job posting, as applicable. Remember, today’s job market is not a “cookie cutter” one size fits all cover letter.”
Use of Cover Letters – Not every position needs one. Work-at-home counselor and administrator Kimberly Bounds says, “Cover letters are mainly used in professional positions. It should be one-page only and should not contain the same information used on the resume. It should be addressed to a specific person (including his or her name, title, the date and company address). It should be used to highlight specific projects or accomplishments of the job seeker.”
Be Prepared – Ethel Lawrence, who specializes in work-at-home jobs, always urges her clients to: “Research the company, practice sample interview questions and wear a smile…it comes through in your voice!”
Be Positive – “Be sure not to make negative statements about past employers during the application or interview process,” stresses Suzanne Cutler, who places clients in jobs from home.
Be Concise – “When responding to interview questions, practice the ‘KISS’ principle – Keep it Short and Simple. Most questions can be answered in one or two sentences,” says job counselor Sarah Lind.
Phone & Virtual Interviews
Dress The Part – “Prepare yourself mentally and physically as if you were doing an in-person, face-to-face interview,” advises Sandy Darnell, who does both work-at-home and community placement.
Sound The Part – With more than 20 years of human resources experience, Pam Barnette, a senior job placement counselor, always reminds jobseekers during phone interviews to, “Make sure you have informed your friends and family members not to interrupt and make sure dogs and children are not heard in the background.”
Follow Up Is Key
Show You Are Committed – All of the job counselors strongly recommend following up with employers after you apply. This demonstrates initiative and motivation; develops rapport with the employer; provides an opportunity to let them know you are qualified for the position; and they will remember you!
When in doubt, always remember what job counselor Sandy Darnell says, “Research each company and try to let them know what you will bring to them. They already know what they are offering you.”
Social Media – “Now more than ever, employers are using social media to recruit, research and reach out to candidates,” says public relations specialist Lori Adler. “Make sure that you have a professional, updated LinkedIn account. If you are not able to connect directly with a recruiter through email or phone, you might want to try connecting with the recruiter through social media.”
Paula Reuben Vieillet is the president and founder of Employment Options Inc., a certified Social Security Administration Employment Network in the Ticket to Work Program, which assists those on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSDI/SSI) benefits in returning to the workforce. She is a frequent consultant to the Social Security Administration on the Ticket to Work Program and has authored three books on job placement. Her company, which also has a Facebook and Twitter page, lets interested jobseekers apply online for free services at www.MyEmploymentOptions.com. If you have any questions about the company, jobs or resources for people with disabilities, please email Lori Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-441-3114, ext. 763 (Lori) or ext. 754 (Shieka).