Monthly Archives: May 2017

Why Reading Comprehension is Important to Your Job Search

How many times have you had an email exchange similar the following:

Your email:  “We will be meeting at the ABC Café at 11:30am on Monday the 12th to discuss the marketing proposal attached.  See you then!”

The emails you get back:  “Where are we meeting?”, “What time should I be there?”, “What is the purpose of this meeting?”, “I don’t have a copy of the proposal, can you send it to me?”

Does it frustrate you?  Make you laugh?  Do you silently judge the person who replied?  Well guess what?  You probably do the same thing all the time, and it’s costing you more than you think.

Researchers noticed as far back as the 1970s that Americans have a reading comprehension problem, and our productivity as a nation is suffering from it.  While some people may shrug off the scenario above, it is indicative of a deeper problem, one which may leave you at the bottom of a list of potential candidates for employment.  This is because the problem extends far beyond seemingly harmless email exchanges.

What do you think happens when you fail to follow the guidelines set out to apply for a certain position at a company you’d love to work with?  Your application will be dismissed, and you will lose the opportunity.  Or, what do you think happens when you show up for your second round of interviews, and you’ve failed to bring something that was clearly requested of you in your exchanges with the hiring authority?  You guessed it; you’ve just tarnished your image as a candidate for that position.

And while you may not think of it as any big concern (after all, you can send what was requested as soon as you leave, right?), in actuality, it is a concern.  From the point of view of a hiring authority, if you hold a Master’s Degree, but are unable to follow through on simple directions such as following application guidelines or bringing particular materials that have been requested of you, then where else will you fail in the course of the position for which you’re interviewing?

Sometimes, something which seems like a small, overlooked detail can end up costing a company millions, as in the recent case with Oakhurst Dairy of Maine. They lost a $13M dollar lawsuit because of a missing comma, which led to a reading comprehension debacle that resulted in their drivers going to court to sue for overtime pay.

Don’t be the one who loses your company $13M because you misread something important.  Read everything thoroughly, and be sure to respond appropriately.  Trust me; everyone will be glad you did.

Does Networking Work in this Economy?

National unemployment is slightly down at 4.4% (from the Bureau of Labor statistics) and certain areas of the country are seeing an even rosier picture — in Boston mayor Marty Walsh states that the unemployment rate is 2.3%.

So we are trending in the right direction! A consequence of this positive activity is that many professionals are encouraged to seek better jobs and to develop better upside potential for themselves. Some estimates state that between 50% and 75% of the American working populace are currently in the job market.  Unfortunately for them, the vast majority of these job seekers are only utilizing recruiters, job boards and company web sites to search for opportunities. This works less than 15% of the time. Most job seekers find their next opportunity through networking.

MDL Partners estimates that between 80% and 90% of all new jobs in the US are obtained through personal contacts and introductions from influential people. Organizations would much rather hire someone who has been referred to them from a credible source, so it is incumbent upon job seekers to commit most of their job search effort to networking.

You should aim to meet individually with 3-5 new contacts per week, the objective being to develop a critical mass of good network connections. And follow-up is crucial! As things change in the marketplace, it’s vital to ensure that you are at “top of mind” with your connections. A “networking on steroids” mindset leads to the best chance of success in career transition.

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

A simple question that causes too many people to talk too much!

It doesn’t matter that your boss had a classic case of paranoid schizophrenia or that no one in the company had a clue of what revenues were.  In an interview or networking situation, you do NOT go there in any answer.

Your response should be formatted as a simple, straight forward statement. If you keep it simple and state yourself in a matter of fact manner, people are satisfied.

Consider a response such as:

“The company lost a major contract, had to downsize and my role was eliminated.”

“The CEO and I had a difference in view on direction of the company.”

Don’t volunteer further information; you will find that in 99% of the time your simple, straight forward answer will be accepted and you will move on in the discussion.