The 9 Best Job-Seeking Tips from Staffing Leaders

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What is the most effective way to get a job?

Talent acquisition leaders from greater Boston health care organizations and recruiting agencies recently came together with career counselors, résumé writers and job hunter coaches at a forum hosted by the Association of Career Professionals-New England. They provided a potpourri of valuable insights and tips for you to consider:

1. Respect yourself. "I don't want to hire you unless you are proud of who you are," advises Bobby Tugbiyele, the talent management specialist at the Lowell Community Health Center.

If you appear to be hiding key facts about your background, including your age, you show yourself to be evasive. For example, if you have a gap in employment, are older than age 50 or have other special circumstances, don't try to cover it up. Rather than make a staffing person guess what is going on, convey your own story in the best possible terms. Otherwise, you can easily disqualify yourself.

2. Embrace LinkedIn. LinkedIn is crucial to the staffing efforts of independent recruiters like Robert McInturff, president of McInturff & Associates and Kathy Provost, managing director of Biomedical Search Consultants, as well as for Tugbiyele and Michael Cawley, senior manager of talent acquisition and organizational development at Tufts Health Plan. While each use social media in different ways and to varying degrees, all agreed that so far as the eye can see, LinkedIn is "the wave of the future" for sourcing strong candidates. They all use it to review candidate profiles at one point or another in the hiring process.

3. In-person networking never gets old. Employee referrals remain a primary source for good hires, and employees are compensated when they refer others who are then hired.

This has obvious implications for job seekers. Panelists all encouraged job seekers to find people whom they know in their target company through LinkedIn or other means, and network themselves into consideration.

4. Recruiters work for employers, not candidates. "No one needs [to pay a fee to] me to find just 'a person,'" says McInturff. "They look to me to find people in the top 15 percent of whatever, who they don't already have in their database."

While recruiters can make an impact on a person's career trajectory, they place only a small portion of people who are hired. Unless there is something stellar in your background, chances are you are not great recruiter bait.

5. Always maintain contact with key recruiters. "Whenever you are approached by a recruiter, take the call," Provost advises. Even when you aren't looking, it is wise to keep your network active.

Provost also says it's a big mistake to say "I'm always looking" or "I'm always open to new opportunities," even if you are open to being recruited. Rather than conveying that you're receptive to hearing about a new possibility, it gives the sense that you're open to being a job hopper, and are only looking at this present opportunity as a stepping-stone to the next one.

6. Be prepared for your interview, but be yourself. Tugbiyele argues that getting precise answers down pat to the top 300 most-asked interview questions is over preparing. Of course, you want to be able to speak fluently and cogently about your experiences, successes and capacity for future growth. But he warns against so over preparing that you come off sounding robotic. Instead, strive to let your natural character and professionalism shine forth with a degree of spontaneity.

7. No one is right for every job. No matter what your background might be, you aren't a great fit for every job, and not every employer will be a great fit for your temperament and work style. Be selective. And when you don't get a job, continue to love yourself, remember all that you have to offer, and appreciate the fact that other opportunities will arise.

8. Always be respectful of others. Stories abound of candidate bloopers that lead to disqualification, and most of them in one way or another relate back to being disrespectful. Remember that everyone with whom you interact, from the phone screener to the receptionist and the hiring manager, will be commenting about you.

9. If you are older, don't use "old-person speak." You play into age discrimination when you highlight your own age with statements like, "Yeah... that (whatever "that" is) is what we used to call..."

When you do this, you demonstrate that you aren't up on the current lingo. Moreover, you can even come off as condescending.

Instead, keep up to date with your field of expertise, including the latest jargon, and speak the same language as those with whom you want to work.

In the end, it all comes down to "respectful, professional persistence" argues Tugbiyele.

Happy hunting!

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.

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