Job hunt tips I’ve collected

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I am always coming across new ideas for being more effective when you look for a job. Here are some I’ve collected:

1. Don’t answer the phone when it wakes you up.
I know people get giddy for interview call backs like they get giddy for good-date callbacks. But the combination of giddy for phone calls, and sleeping late because you’re unemployed could be lethal.

Time magazine reports that “the morning haze you experience when the alarm clock goes off is known as sleep inertia, and it clouds your brain more than sleep deprivation. The impairment is most severe in the first ten minutes but can linger for up to two hours.” Bottom line: Let the call go to voicemail and go get some coffee.

2. Edit a wikipedia entry to show you’re an expert.
Writing a blog on a given topic is great for your career. It shows that you specialize and you know you’re stuff. But a blog is a big time investment. I got the idea of taking charge of a wikipedia entry from reading this blog post. It seemed totally natural to this woman to contribute to wikipedia in an area she was becoming knowledgeable in.

We should all think this way. In general, editing wikipedia is not rocket science. It shows that we are good at working in a team (which is what a wikipedia entry is), and that we have expertise.

3. Handle hard interview questions with a positive bent.
“Most times people ask trick questions, the person is looking for you to go negative,” says Cynthia Shapiro, former human resource executive and author of Corporate Confidential. An example of one of these questions is, Tell me about a difficult boss and how you got around it.

The impact of being positive in an interview, and in life, cannot be overestimated. Optimistic people are happier and more fulfilled than the not-so-optimistic.

4. Don’t provide two email addresses.
Why do I see so many resumes with multiple email addresses? If you can’t make up your mind which email address is best, then how will you make decisions for anything once you’re hired? Providing two email addresses is not being thorough. It’s being annoying. Know the difference.

5. Make your resume a tease.
I write all the time about how a resume is a marketing document and not a list of your achievements or (worse yet) your job duties.

But David Perry, author of the Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters, takes that one step further and says a resume should be a tease. You don’t want to tell absolutely everything. You want to tell someone enough to get them to call you to ask for more.

6. Pitch your cover letter from the right angle.
A reader, Harry Hollenberg, wrote in with this tip: “Don’t spend your cover letter telling me why my firm is perfect for you. Tell me why you’re perfect for our firm.”

7. Turn your job hunt into a publicity campaign.
This is actually something to do before you need the job. Debra Feldman, Job Whiz (and Coachology veteran) writes:

“Try Googling yourself. If you can’t find anything that promotes you as an expert in your field, take steps to establish a web presence so recruiters and colleagues can find you and learn about your strengths. You can do this and control the content by establishing your own professional website (not family trips) and including information detailing your achievements, links to other references, white papers, articles, presentations at industry conferences and keynote speeches, internal training you’ve developed or delivered, PowerPoint presentations of general interest.”

“The idea,” writes Feldman, “is to let yourself be found by recruiters and others who are looking for certain skills or qualifications. This tends to make you a more interesting and attractive potential candidate than if you submit a resume or write to introduce yourself. Think how you feel when you unearth a gem.”

18 replies
  1. Humaira
    Humaira says:

    This was incredibly helpful Penelope, thanks for sharing!

    I’ve done the first thing so many times, I know not to now.

  2. AjiNIMC
    AjiNIMC says:

    * Do not forget linkedin networking, checking your orkut scraps (some may check it too).

    >> Don't provide two email addresses.
    This is a personality escape, correct it at character level today that tmrw your personality always reflects it. ALWAYS USE ONE EMAIL ID. See how you can do it

    >> Edit a wikipedia entry to show you're an expert.
    Warning: Be careful of Wikipedia politics. They have a set of editors who keep on troubling everyone.

    Great post.

  3. Emily
    Emily says:

    “Make your resume a tease.” That’s it! That’s how I’ll turn my CV into a marketing tool! E.g., list of publications upon request. Thanks, Penelope – mmwah!

    (I suspect in some contexts they’ll still want a CV up front, but that’s ok…)

    I also agree about not grabbing the phone when it wakes you up.

  4. Maureen Rogers
    Maureen Rogers says:

    Penelope – Great list. I just “googled” myself, and the first Maureen Rogers is an equine cranoscral therapist. Thankfully, my blog places me ahead of the Maureen Rogers who’s an herb grower.I’m glad I’m not looking for a job…

    * * * * * *  *

    Oh, that is very funny, Maureen. My blog is behind Penelope of Odysseus and Penelope. I have read stuff about search engine optimization to get to the top of Google for your first name. Always makes me wish my name were Penelope spelled with a silent K in the front or something.

  5. Alfa
    Alfa says:


    What a timely post!

    I’m currently getting rid of the search engine results that display some information about me that does not support my career plans.

    Regarding the use of search engine optimization, maintaining a blog with your name on it and discussing about a field you’d like to be associated or known as an expert on helps a great deal.

    Thanks for these great tips, Penelope. :)

  6. Changing Careers
    Changing Careers says:

    Especially don’t grab that phone and try to hit the snooze button on it! That’s the only way I’d make the mistake of grabbing it if it woke me up. I don’t deal with anything without that morning cup of coffee. When calling back, I always politely explain that they caught me while I was out walking the dogs. I don’t mention that I was doing it, in my dreams.

    These are all good points though. So people really leave 2 email addresses? Interesting.

  7. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Another tip I learned the hard way: if you answer the phone and it’s someone wanting to do an impromptu telephone interview, make up a good excuse as to why you need to phone them back later or reschedule. It’s hard to switch gears from what you were doing — even if it’s not sleeping — to a job interview well plus you want to refresh your memory on the job or organization calling.

    When it happened to me, it was 2001 — deadsville in job hunting — I’d applied to literally a hundred different positions and I couldn’t remember the details of this one. So I couldn’t ask good questions. I was inarticulate and I’m sure sounded disorganized and uninterested.

    Had I politely said, “I’m just on my way out the door to a dentist appointment, can I call you back in 2 hours?” I would have had time to prepare for the interview and perform better.

  8. Jacob Share
    Jacob Share says:

    This is a great list and some of the comments have welcome additions. I also wouldn’t put too much stock in the Wikipedia ‘expert’; a more credible way to have an online presence is to blog, write a Squidoo lens, or actively participate in responding to articles like this one. Google finds all :)

  9. AjiNIMC - Gmail a part of my personal nerve center
    AjiNIMC - Gmail a part of my personal nerve center says:

    I have a query here. I have a blog and I know I can write atleast some 50 quality post every month but how do I find time.

    I am very dedicated leader for my teams and other non-profitable organizations, churches. I am finding it very difficult to devote time for blogging.

    * * * * * *
    Good question. I think, though, that it’s a question that applies to lots of things — how do you find time for friends, for trade shows, for going to the gym, for supervising people who annoy you. Making time for anything is hard because none of us has enough time in this world. It’s what makes life interesting, right? If we had all the time in the world, nothing would be urgent, and we really really could put off everythign til tomorrow forever. So the fact that we don’t have enough time is actually a gift.

    Use that gift by making good priorities for yourself. If blogging is a high priority, make time for it. If you want to make blogging your job, post 50 times a month. If you want it to be one avenue of building your career, post a lot fewer times. Good luck! Prioritizing is hard work…


  10. Aji Issac aka AjiNIMC
    Aji Issac aka AjiNIMC says:

    Thanks Penelope for the answers. Let me rephrase my query. My Boss is one of the smartest Techy I even met and he writes well too. He can become one of the best blogger but he is too busy to maintain a blog. Will that make him lesser than any other candidate who can find more time for blog (may be as he does not have that much interesting work)?

    Some 4 years back when I started online marketing, which included Search engine optimization, I asked a guru (really genius guy), “Sir, where should I read more about SEO”.

    His answer, “You can read just for one but who really knows the trick are busy doing it. Do not expect them to write tutorials and articles.”

    Hiring manager should use blog as to know more about a person’s skills but should not develop a perception that a blogger is smarter than a non-blogger. Do read the comments here (You will come to know that hiring managers are developing a wrong perception about bloggers).

  11. liz
    liz says:

    “It shows that you specialize and you know you're stuff.”

    Shows that you know that you ARE stuff? Um, how many years have you been writing?

    If you make mistakes with simple, small things like the proper use of your/you’re, how can people trust you not to not make mistake on the big things too?

    * * * * * * *

    Hi, Liz. Yep, you’re right: Typo. I’m not great with details. I even wrote a post about that here.

    Fortunately, there are lots of jobs in this world that do not require great attention to detail, and I have been careful about only taking those where I will succeed without the details. There is a wide range of skills in this world, and attention to detail is not on everyone’s resume. The important thing is to find ways to succeed with the strengths we are born with.


  12. Peter Clayton
    Peter Clayton says:

    Hi Penelope,
    It was really fun to meet you in person, and have an opportunity to record an interview with you – (it’s great, btw) – glad you fit me in-between The Wall Street Journal. :-) Our podcast will go live on Monday Apr 30th. In reading this post, I just wanted to tell you that I’ve added a new interview with Debra Feldman to (the 3rd I’ve done with her) – and over the holidays I did a series with Dave Perry – which has a lot of great advice. And you’re dead-on about wikipedia. I sat-in a session at Search Engine Strategies in NYC recently that covered this topic… and showed a graph comparing the number of hits wikipedia gets everyday – it towers over just about anything else. Just a word of caution: They are very careful to make sure the additions to wikipedia are valid and have content value. If you just try and promote yourself, or use it to link to your content, you will be zapped!


  13. eJob
    eJob says:

    Thanks for sharing the tips you collected. It helps me build my confidence that my applications on different Job Search Engine that are available today can be successful. I’m looking for search engine which enable me to apply multiple jobs automatically and effectively.

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