"It is hard for many job seekers to know how best to ask for help," says Miriam Salpeter, co-author of 100 Conversations for Career Success. A noted speaker and coach in the Atlanta area, Salpeter and her co-author Laura M. Labovich offer advice to the all-too-often tongue-tied individual at every stage of the job-seeking process, from initial calls for informational interviews all the way through effective communication via social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
1. For individuals dealing with long-term unemployment ... Chances are, you have been doing the same things, the same way, over and over for many months or even years. "Examine your methods. If what you are doing isn't working, don't keep doing the same thing. Make a change," Salpeter says.
In particular, she advises that you reassess your job-searching materials—cover letters, resumes, and online profiles. "Ask yourself: do your documents sharply define your personal brand? Do they clearly articulate your experience and the successes that you have achieved so far in your career?" Perhaps it is time for a resume rewrite, with a fresh branding statement, and reworking of your elevator pitch.
2. For recent college graduates ... "Focus on figuring out your skills," Salpeter counsels new grads. College tends to be a time where one has a broad, general attitude of "I can do anything."
She continues: "Now is the time to understand what you are really good at doing." Find employers who need whatever it is that you excel at to be done. To be taken seriously and be successful, you will need to become less general, and demonstrate to an employer how you're a good fit by the value you can bring with you to a first job.
3. For people fired for cause from their last job ... Of course there are numerous reasons why an employer can terminate an employee, and there can be no single strategy that will work in every situation. However, you can pick up the pieces and continue contributing to a new employer, even after a career disaster. "The first thing you need to do is overcome the stigma in your own mind," Salpeter suggests. "Understand that the topic of why you left your job is likely to arise in your interviews, and determine what to say."
Moreover, understand that you don't want to put a potential employer into the uncomfortable role of having to judge between you and your former employer. Your discussion of your situation must be honest, but rather than going into all the details of the situation, Salpeter suggests you "keep your answer focused and brief."
While networking is important for everyone, "it is critical that you leverage, grow, and expand your network," Salpeter says. "It will be necessary for you to work a little harder to find new people with whom to interact, and inspire them with your expertise."
In each of these instances, Salpeter displays the no-nonsense, practical approach that is inherent in the many scripts in her book. It comes down to stepping back from your situation to gain perspective and understanding how others perceive you. Once you do this, you will be empowered to create effective messaging to inform, motivate, and support all who have the ability to assist you in your job search.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.