10 Tips to Getting a Job Long Distance

There used to be a time some years ago when employers would readily hire candidates from out-of-state.  Not saying that they don’t still do it, but I believe they don’t do it as much.  Now, it is still possible to relocate to another city, but you must have a strategy and let employers know your value.  In other words, why should they hire you over someone else who may be local?  They are probably thinking it will take you longer to actually be able to start the job and you may require relocation assistance and these wouldn’t be issues for a local candidate.

I have relocated twice in my career.  The first time I relocated from Missouri to Dallas and the second time was from Alabama to Dallas.  (Yes, I relocated to Dallas twice!)  Since I have been asked about this subject a lot recently, I thought I would share some of the bumps and bruises I encountered when relocating and give you tips to get around them, which should make your transition smoother.

1) START EARLY IN YOUR JOB SEARCH

You should start your job search 6 – 9 months in advance to give yourself plenty of time to plan.  Since you will be relocating there are a lot more things to consider than if you were just getting a job across town.  Starting early gives you time to save your money for the actual move.  You will also need to use your vacation/sick/comp time sparingly as you may need this time to make multiple trips to your desired location for interviews and house hunting, etc.

2) TAKE YOUR ADDRESS OFF YOUR RESUME

This is to level the playing field so employers won’t automatically discriminate against you because you are not local.  Yes, your phone number will still be there, but employers know people have cell phone numbers from all over so this doesn’t necessarily give away that you live somewhere else.

3) LOOK AT JOB WEBSITES SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR TARGETED AREA

So, if you wanted to relocate to Dallas you would look at  ‘jobsindallas.com’ or ‘dallasnews.com’ or ‘dallasjobsite.com.’  You can also simply Google the job you are looking for in the city you are looking to move to.  For example, ‘Engineering Jobs Dallas, TX.’  You may be surprised at the results and discover more companies that hire for your position than you think.  It also might not be a bad idea to work with a head hunter/recruiter in the area.

4) PICK 10 COMPANIES YOU’D LIKE TO WORK FOR

You will have to do some research because you MUST target your job search.  If not, it may take longer for you to find a job.  Pick 10 companies you are interested in working for.  Once you have identified those companies, submit your resume whether they have a job opening or not.  60 – 80% of jobs are never advertised.  They may not have an opening now, but they may once they receive YOUR resume.  Once they see your resume, they may realize that they need someone like you at their company.  Remember, you want to relocate so you have to BE BOLD!!

5) USE LINKEDIN TO CONNECT WITH EMPLOYERS

Go to the ‘People’ tab on LinkedIn and do an advanced search.  Enter the zip code of your desired location and select the industry to find employers.   You can also look for those who  have a certain title and work for a certain company…particularly the 10 companies you identified.  Be sure to personalize your invitation request when you connect with these employers.  Flattery still works!  You can say something like ‘Hi Ms. Smith, I was very impressed with your profile and I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’

That’s it…..nothing more…..at first.  You must have a very subtle approach.  After they have accepted your connection, wait about 2 weeks and then mention that you are trying to get some tips on the industry.  Ask if they could give you some advice and perhaps some feedback on your resume.  BINGO!!  You get your resume in front of an employer.  You will just have to feel them out after that to determine your next steps – informational interview, asking to pass your resume on to someone else, chatting with you on the phone, recommending job websites, etc.  Under no circumstances do you ever start off by saying “I WANT A JOB WITH YOUR COMPANY!”

Also, join groups on LinkedIn for your desired industry and location.  If you want a teaching job in Dallas, you would join ‘Educators Dallas-Ft Worth.’  This will connect you to more employers and also other professionals in your industry who may be able to give you some insight.   People are nicer than you think but DO NOT STALK THEM!!

6) CHANGE YOUR HEADLINE ON LINKEDIN

This is the part immediately under your name on your profile and it is a way to market yourself.  You want to definitely showcase your 3 areas of expertise so employers can find you.  You can say “Human Resources professional seeking opportunities in Recruiting, Employee Relations, or Workforce Planning.”  Now be careful…..because your current boss may be watching!  So if you think that might be the case change “seeking opportunities” to “with expertise.”  This will at least let an employer know what your experience is in.

Also in the Summary section on LinkedIn you can actually say you are looking to relocate.

7) SET UP A SKYPE ACCOUNT

Do this if you haven’t done so already.  This will come in handy for your interview and again level the playing field.  And of course, practice answering interview questions on Skype (see my blog “How to Prepare for a Phone/Skype Interview”).

8) WRITE TARGETED COVER LETTERS

Your cover letter is your time to make a personal connection with the reader.  This is where you can mention that you will be relocating in the near future.  If you are willing to pay for your own relocation, then say that as well.  You can mention that you will be in the area soon and you would love the opportunity to interview (see the next tip).  Most importantly, let them know that you are available for a traditional, phone, or Skype interview.

9) PLAN A TRIP TO DESIRED LOCATION

This is probably the most strategic thing you should do if you want to relocate.  Plan a trip during the work week so you can do interviews – informational and traditional – whether you have any real job prospects or not.  You have to show employers that you are serious about moving and have to make interviewing you convenient for them.  Remember, you are at a slight disadvantage than local candidates by being out of town.  So you have to take the extra step.   When you connect with these employers (Tip #5), try to set up an informational interview FACE TO FACE.  The whole point really is to turn the informational interviews into real interviews, so you should treat them as such and be prepared.

(I did this and it works! I had sort of been getting the run around by an employer I really wanted to work for.  I’d had numerous phone conversations with this employer and he seemed to like me but was hesitant to make me an official job offer.  So, I planned a 3 day trip to Dallas and left him a message letting him know when I would be in town and I would love to stop by just to chat with him in person.  Once I made it to Dallas, I called him again and he told me to meet him for lunch.  I did and the next day he officially made me a job offer!   I would like to believe my assertiveness had something to do with it.)

10) DO RESEARCH ON SALARY / COST OF LIVING

Now, I didn’t do everything perfect on my first relocation to Dallas.  This is where I messed up because I didn’t quite realize the difference in the cost of living.  So consequently, I didn’t factor that into my salary negotiation.  I now know how important it is so make sure you have done the appropriate research to know the difference.  You can use www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator to figure out the difference between your current city and your desired city.

So there you have it….ways you can position yourself to get a job long distance.  As I mentioned before, it’s not impossible but you do have to be strategic and have a definite plan of action.  These tips worked for me and I’m sure they will work for you as well.

Happy Relocating!!

The 8 Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

1)  Not Catering Resume | Cover Letter to EACH Job

Yes, this is time consuming but very necessary.  If you have 1 resume and cover letter that you send out to 25 jobs you have just wasted your time.  Employers are telling you exactly what they are looking for in the job description, so use that as your “cheat sheet” and cater your resume/cover letter accordingly.  Plus employers want to feel like you want to work specifically for them.  The cover letter is where you can make a personal connection with the reader and show the research you have done on the company.  You should mention accomplishments on your resume that directly relate to the job description.

2) Not Networking and Making Connections

60% – 80% of jobs are never advertised so if you are not networking to access the “hidden market” you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  You should network before you really need to and have job prospects before you need them.  You never know who you might meet now that may be able to help you in the near future.  You should also have business cards with you at all times so those you meet will be able to contact you in the future.  When you meet someone connect with them on LinkedIn within 24 hours while they still remember you.  Be sure to personalize your invitation to include when and how you met.

3) Sticking to Traditional Methods

The days are long gone where you can just see a job online and apply and wait for the phone to ring.  That alone does not guarantee you a call for an interview.  Just like you are looking on the internet for a job so is everyone else.  You have to think of non-traditional methods that will set you apart from other candidates.  Some of those methods would be asking for an informational interview or connecting with employers first on LinkedIn; then very subtly asking them for tips on breaking into your desired industry or asking them to review your resume.  You can also mail your resume to an employer using snail mail.  Everyone likes to receive something in the mail so that will get the employer’s attention.  Also, sending a video resume, which is  your 1 -2 minute commercial, is a definite way to make yourself stand out.  You can send it to an employer right along with your regular resume.  Creating a “brand” on social media is almost necessary these days no matter what your industry is.  If you position yourself correctly you can let the job/employer find YOU.

4) Disqualifying Yourself on Social Media

Now, while it is important to create a “brand” on social media, it is equally as important to do it the correct way.  93% of employers nationwide use social media for reasons to hire or not hire a candidate.  Because they receive so many applicants, employers will Google your name and look you up online for reasons to eliminate you.  Those reasons might be inappropriate pictures, profanity, discriminating remarks, or negative comments about job/supervisor.  I would suggest you Google your name once month to see what an employer will see when they look you up.  If there is something out there that may raise a red flag, delete it.  Having more “professional” things like a LinkedIn profile, professional Twitter account, blog or portfolio will counteract anything negative that may be out there.

5) Not Marketing Yourself Appropriately

Your resume, cover letter, online presence and professionalism in person are how you market yourself.  They should all match and you should be the same on paper, online and in person.  If someone didn’t know you and only had to use your resume, cover letter and online presence to “judge” you or initially get an idea of who you are, what would your image be?  Think about your top 3 areas of expertise.  Does your brand match up with those 3 areas?

6) Poor E-mail Etiquette and Written Communication

I recently had someone whom I’d never met send me an e-mail like this….

             hey dena its michael, here is an updated resume…thank you so much for taking time out of your day and helping me with my resume!

This was all the e-mail said….nothing more.  So, I explained to this person that if I had been an employer I would have deleted it without replying.  An employer is very busy and receives numerous job inquiries so time is very critical.  They are assessing you in various aspects and you never know what will cause a red flag.  You should never send an e-mail like you would send a text message.  If you’re not getting any responses to your e-mail, it could be your e-mail etiquette.  You always want to be very professional and use correct grammar.  Address the employer by Mr./Ms. with their last name until they tell you it’s okay to call them by their first name.  You can’t say you have great written communication skills on your resume and have a poorly written e-mail or cover letter.

7) Not Answering Interview Questions Adequately

There are several types of interview questions – traditional, behavioral, hypothetical, etc.  You should be prepared to answer all of them and you MUST practice. Even the most seasoned job seeker should practice answering questions in a manner that comes across natural and conveys what he/she can do for the employer.  That should be your focus – letting employers know what you can do for them and how you can solve a problem or fill a need that they have.

Traditional questions generally relate directly to the job duties and are asked to understand your background and experience better.  Behavioral questions are asked to see how you would handle certain situations.  Have SPECIFIC examples prepared for these types of questions.  Hypothetical questions are asked to see how well you think on your feet and perhaps to see what reaction the question will get.

For tips on answering the various types of questions, read my other blogs, view my videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/denabilbrew) or look up the various types of interview questions on Google.

8) Not Following Up

It is very important that you follow up as that could be the difference in whether you get the job or not.  You want to follow up to an interview or networking event immediately – preferably within 24 hours.  Send them additional information about you – LinkedIn profile, letters of recommendation, portfolio, etc.  Thanking the employer for his/her time is a nice gesture and proper etiquette.

 

How Should I Prepare for a Phone / Skype Interview?

Employers receive 100+ resumes for every 1 job they post. The whole process of posting a job, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, extending a job offer, and training a new hire is very long and tiring.  So, employers use phone/Skype interviews to assist them with the process.  By using these tools, employers are able to narrow down the potential candidates to the top 3 they want to bring on site.  That being said, there are certain things to consider with each one so that you make the most of the interviews.

1)      TREAT THEM AS REGULAR INTERVIEWS

They are still interviews and should be taken just as seriously as a regular interview.  Remember, you have to pass this stage to get to the next stage which is the on site interview.

2)      NO NOISE  OR DISTRACTIONS IN THE BACKGROUND

For phone interviews, you should not have any noise in the background i.e. music, dog barking, roommate talking, phone ringing, etc.  For Skype interviews, there shouldn’t be any distractions in the view of the camera i.e. messy desk, tv on in the background, etc.

3)      PRACTICE IN ADVANCE

Have a friend call you on the phone and ask you some questions so you get used to answering questions over the phone without seeing the person you are speaking to. For Skype, practice speaking so you will know how to adjust the volume.   See what colors show up best on the computer to help you decide what to wear.

 4)      EXPECT MORE THAN 1 PERSON TO CONDUCT THE INTERVIEW

Because they don’t have the luxury of interviewing you face to face they will more than likely have someone else sit in on the interview to help them get a feel for you.  So, don’t be surprised if you are interviewed by more than 1 person.

5)      SMILE AND BE ENTHUSIASTIC

 Use your personality and enthusiasm to make up for the fact you are not there in person.  Your excitement should be “felt” through the phone and the computer screen.

LinkedIn 101: 10 Tips to a Superstar Profile

If you’re new to LinkedIn or you’ve created a profile but have no clue how to improve it, don’t worry you are not alone.  I speak with people daily who are just like you.  LinkedIn is the #1 way to network these days and if you are not out there or your profile is not complete, it could be unfavorable for you.  I recently heard an employer say that when she gets someone’s resume the first thing she does is look them up on LinkedIn.  If they are not out there, she won’t even consider them for an interview!  Yikes!!! Now all employers may not feel that way, but imagine how many of them do.  93% of employers use LinkedIn (and other forms of social media) to find out additional information on potential employees.  Please be aware that the LinkedIn profile is the new job application.

To make sure you are seen as a professional when an employer views your profile,  I’m going to give you 10 quick, simple steps to help you have a superstar LinkedIn profile in no time!

1.  Include a professional Photo – Remember, people will see your photo before they read your profile and this will be their first impression.  You don’t have to spend money on glam shots, just simply stand in front of a blank wall and have someone take a close up picture of you.   Do not use a picture that has other people in it or where we can tell your boyfriend/girlfriend was cropped out!!  Most importantly, DO NOT take a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror.  Did I say this should be a PROFESSIONAL picture??!!!

2. Use a strategic Headline to brand yourself – This is the section immediately below your name and will also be seen by others before they become a connection and have viewed your profile. You should put some thought into what you want to say.  If you have expertise in a few areas, be sure to include that.  If you are seeking a job say that as well.  Some examples are:

Hospitality Management professional with expertise in Event Planning, Weddings and Restaurant Operations

Expert Human Resources Manager seeking opportunities as a Human Resources Director or Employee Relations Manager

3. Use the Summary and Skills & Expertise sections to elaborate on your skills/expertise – In the Summary section you can show a little personality to make a connection with the reader.   This is an excellent opportunity to include buzzwords and terminology for your industry. You can put the number of years of experience you have in certain areas and also list short/long-term goals.  LinkedIn will allow you to list up to 50 Skills & Expertise, so list 50!!!  Trust me, you do have 50 skills….but be truthful.

4. List your Experience whether paid or unpaid – Describe your accomplishments using as much hard data (dollars, percent, numbers) as possible.  This is the time to show what you can do based on what you have already done.

5.  List more than your major/degree in the Education section  – Let employers know what you have been exposed to academically.  If you are currently in school or you graduated within the last 3 years,  list GPA (3.0 or better), relevant coursework, projects, scholarships, and student organizations.  If you graduated more than 3 years ago, it is not necessary to include all of this because you now have some work experience.  If you graduated more than 10 years ago, don’t put your graduation date because it will age you and may work to your disadvantage.

6.  Personalize your profile – Think about what the most important sections are in your profile and then rearrange it so that those sections are seen first.  You can also add things to your profile such as certifications, languages, organizations, Twitter, blog, presentations, etc.

7. Be diligent about getting Connections – That’s the whole purpose of LinkedIn, right?  Every time you go to an event, connect with those you met within 24 hours while they still remember you.  However, be sure to personalize your connection requests to include when and where you met the person.  (Tip:  Go through your cell phone and e-mail addresses and connect with everyone you already know.  Do it TODAY!)

8.  Ask for Recommendations – This is the best way for a potential employer to see what others think about you.  If you have 300+ connections and only 2 recommendations that doesn’t look too favorable for you.  You can also get endorsements for your skills and expertise.  The best way to get recommendations is to recommend others. 

9.  Join Groups and follow Companies in your industry – The best way to position yourself as a professional in your industry is to join related groups and network within those groups.  Occasionally, start a discussion or respond to someone else’s discussion.   You can communicate your career objectives and people in the group will be able to offer some advice or perhaps help you get a job.  If there is a company you would like to work for, follow them and you will be able to see their employees that are on LinkedIn (and connect with them) and see jobs that they have posted.

10.  Keep your profile Up-to-date –   If you submit your resume for a job, your resume and LinkedIn profile should match.  Obviously, if you get a new job or complete your degree you should update those things on your profile, but also if you learn a new skill or are the keynote speaker at an event.    Keep in mind, when you make changes to your profile it causes it show up on your connections’ homepage and reminds them of who you are and what you do.

BONUS TIP:  If you have a common name such as John Smith, you may want to start using your middle initial or middle name to brand yourself from all the other people with your same name.  Ladies, you may want to include your maiden name and married name to brand yourself.  Whatever name you decide to use, make sure it is the same as what’s on your resume, business cards, and other social media accounts.

 

Social Media & Your Job Search – How to Let the Job Find YOU

Social Media is everywhere.  Let’s face it…you can’t go too long without checking your Facebook page, tweeting on Twitter, pinning on Pinterest or looking up something on Google on your mobile phone.  This is the world we live in.  You can find whatever you need or practically whoever you are looking for through Social Media.  So why not use this to your advantage in your job search?

There used to be a time many years ago when job seekers had to actually “pound the pavement” to look for a job.  They would look through the newspaper to find openings and call the employer or go to the location in person to fill out an application and submit their resume.  In the 1990s the internet came and people could search for openings that way.  They would identify companies that they were interested in and submit their resume on the company website.  Then the new millennium introduced job boards where you could upload your resume and search for jobs all in one place.  Now, we have social media where you can basically let the job find you — if you use it correctly.

93% of employers say that they utilize social media in their recruiting efforts.  They use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a few others to find out additional information about candidates.  If they have several candidates to choose from they will use social media to decide who they will call for an interview.  They use these tools to find out the good and the not so good.  The benefit to employers is speed, transparency, authenticity and an overall view of candidates.  They are also looking for ways to “weed” candidates out such as unprofessional pictures, profanity and poor communication skills, discriminating comments based on race or sex, negative comments about employers and lying about qualifications.

Knowing this information you should be careful as to how you position yourself on the internet.  The truth of the matter is if you’re not using social media and an employer can’t find you, you may be viewed as out of touch and/or irrelevant.  Keep in mind, your “brand” should be the same no matter what medium you use.  If you have enough positive stuff out there the negative stuff will go down to the bottom of the pile and perhaps never be seen.  Here are some tips to help you use social media effectively.

1.  Google yourself at least once a month.  This will help you to see what an employer sees when they search for your name online (and they WILL search for you online). You may find some things out there that you didn’t even know existed.  When I googled my name a while back, I found an e-mail I posted to a Yahoo group back in 1996!  Thankfully it wasn’t anything that could harm me all these years later.

2. Delete anything that could raise any red flags.  You never know what might turn a potential employer off so don’t give them anything that might raise an eyebrow.  If you even think for a second that it might not be appropriate, it probably isn’t….so delete it!

3. Have only professional pictures that are accessible to the public.  Think carefully about what pictures you post.  Some pictures should be reserved for family and friends only.  You should think, “Is this an image that I want a potential employer to see?”

4. Don’t just use social media for personal purposes.  It is a great way to connect with potential employers and industry leaders.  You can follow companies and find out the latest happenings.  You can network with people in your industry and get some insight.  You may have to have a personal protected Twitter account for family and friends and a professional public Twitter account for networking.

5. Set up a profile on LinkedIn.  This is the #1 way to network these days and a great tool to meet potential employers.  I recently heard an employer say that if a candidate does not have a LinkedIn profile, she won’t even consider them for an interview!  Yikes!! Also, be sure you have 100% profile completeness.  You won’t be taken seriously with a profile that is half complete.  (Read my blog:  “LinkedIn 101:  10 Tips to a Superstar Profile“)

6.  Use social media to position yourself as an industry leader. You can write blogs. You can tweet helpful tidbits on Twitter.  You can join a conversation on a LinkedIn group.  Share your opinions and knowledge with others.  You never know who may like what you have to say.

7.  Develop a website or online portfolio.  This is a great way to include your experience and qualifications all in place.  It allows you to be creative and will enhance your resume and other traditional documents.  It ultimately gives an employer more insight into who you are.  Be sure to include the link to your website or portfolio on your resume, e-mail signature, and LinkedIn profile.

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If you need career assistance, please contact Dena Bilbrew at resumelady101@gmail.com.