Is Your Lack of Responsiveness Killing Your Chances of Landing a Job?

I have worked in recruiting, HR, and talent acquisition roles throughout my career. Some of the job openings that I’ve filled in the past were roles that had a dire need to be filled right away. Other positions were roles that had an immediate opening, but could take a little extra time in finding that ideal candidate. Others  I’ve recruited were simply made for pipelining in preparation for a change or a need that would occur in the future. Regardless of the situation, I aggressively tried to contact individuals who would be great candidates of the openings. As you can imagine, it was very frustrating when candidates would not answer, take weeks to respond, or respond and then become unresponsive. For people who are putting themselves out there as passive or active job seekers, why wouldn’t they take the time to respond to an opportunity?

I understand that life is busy and sometimes you don’t have time or access to respond right away. Or, maybe you’re not even interested in the role. But I feel that as a job seeker, you must do your due diligence. As a talent acquisition specialist, we need to be able to connect with prospective candidates for our job roles; which means we’re aggressively trying to reach out candidates that seem qualified for the role. This could mean we’re reaching out to several people on a daily basis in order to find the one individual who is interested and a rock star for the job requirement needs.

If you’re a job seeker looking for your next role, it would be in your best interest to try and respond ASAP. This might mean having your emails forwarded to your phone so you always have access to whoever is reaching out to you. Or this may mean setting aside time each day to check voicemails or emails and respond. Even if you can’t speak to the recruiter that day, it would be wise to let them know that you’re unavailable and make the effort to schedule a time when you are. This can help the recruiter keep you on their radar as a potential candidate before deciding who to move forward with.

Additionally, if you have connected with a recruiter it is absolutely imperative to stay responsive. There are times where I’ve witnessed candidates who had started the interviewing/application process and then fell off in the middle with no warning. They were also unreachable. Then several weeks later they would contact me again asking if the position was still open. That type of situation could make recruiters consider you unreliable and would potentially assume that you would do that if you did land the job. This is never a good side.

So, job seekers, keep yourself available. Recruiters are working so hard to find you and are trying to present great opportunities for you. Sometimes our job opening needs move fast, so make sure you respond as soon as you can in order to avoid any situation where you may miss out on a dream job opportunity.

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The Truth about Filling Jobs

A survey shows many Greensboro employers had trouble filling jobs.

Many candidates who are passively and actively job seeking have openly talked to me in the past about their frustrations with the interview process. They often want to know: why a job opening stays open for months at a time; why their application status seems to be at a stand-still; why their interviews are spread out over weeks at a time; why there seems to be no conclusion or status update after the interview process; and much more. I’ve been a job seeker before so I can understand how frustrating it can be to have unresolved answers about an application. However, I have worked HR roles and am currently recruiting so I understand the typical job-filling timeline.

Job openings aren’t always open right away. Additionally, some jobs call for a rigorous interview process that can sometimes make the application/interview process seem to drag on forever. The facts below can help job seekers understand why processes are the way they are:

  • Jobs aren’t always readily available: Sometimes companies post job openings because they are preparing for a change in their workforce. Maybe someone is taking a new position and the ramp up time will take several weeks, maybe someone is retiring/quitting and isn’t leaving for another few months. Perhaps a department is planning on expanding in the near future. The point is the job won’t be filled tomorrow. Recruiters have the time to interview a large amount of eligible candidates and will make the decision closer to the time the job will open. Therefore, the job will be open, just not right away.
  • Recruiters create candidate pools: Sometimes, positions aren’t even open. However, to prepare for future ramp ups, recruiters will source for qualified candidates, interview them to ensure that they are qualified, and will keep them in their recruiting systems so they can easily keep track and contact candidates when (or if) the position does become available. This means that you could have interviewed for a position that may take several months to open, or it may never open.
  • Some interview processes can be long and tedious: Most job seekers are used to the typical interview loop of two interviews. However, some companies are implementing new interview processes which could include various interviews with different departments or team members to see if there is a cultural fit, or “shadow days” where the candidate gets to spend half a day in the position to see if it’s a candidate/job fit. These extra interview processes can double or even triple the typical interview timeline.

With that being said, I feel that candidates (whether they are jobless or currently employed) should spend time networking with recruiters for positions and companies that might be of interest to them. This can keep candidates ahead of the game if there ever comes a time that they lose a job or are ready for a new venture. Candidate’s job seeking efforts could be compromised if they are dealing with financial strain and stress. It’s best to network and interview when that pressure is off to ensure they are making good choices. Additionally, since these processes can take several weeks or months, it would be good to get a head start, especially in this economy where anything can unexpectedly happen.

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Early Careerists: Don’t Burn Yourself Out

Post written by: Vera Swain

Did I format my résumé correctly? Should I have included a cover letter? When I follow-up on the application who do I follow up with?! Such are the questions I and thousands of other job-seekers have asked ourselves during our job search, and for some of us, myself included, at times, we’re still not sure of the answers. Such are the trials of the dreaded job search. But these are trials we must all go through at one point, so how do we cope? How do we stay positive when it looks like no one wants us; why do we continue to apply when we believe no one’s reading the multitude of applications we’ve already put forth?

I’ve been applying for jobs since I was 15 years old. I guess you could say I was an über-early careerist. At that age, though, landing a job was a lot simpler. I went down to the local Taco Bell because it was within walking distance, I filled out an application, and I was hired on the spot. Then I went through hell for six months until I was 16 and could apply for a more lucrative position in the bakery of Atlanta Bread Company. Today, the job search could still be done this way. Taco Bell is still open and doing better than ever. But now that I’ve been out of college for a few years and am officially an adult, this isn’t the kind of job search I’m embarking on lately. It seems that once you walk across the stage, diploma in hand, you’re no longer allowed to fill out paper applications for jobs. The job you want involves an online application to which you must attach a résumé and a cover letter and maybe even references. No longer do you complete your application, walk up to the cash register and say, “Is your manager here?” And just like much of your adult life, this new job search is a lot more stressful than it was as a teen.

So, how do we make the process less stressful? How do we see the light when it seems like the end of the tunnel is barricaded by a brick wall, ten feet high? Follow these simple steps and you may be able to survive the job search with your sanity intact:

1. Slow down. I know your instincts might be telling you that you need to apply to as many jobs as possible because with more worms, you’re bound to catch at least one fish. I think, at the height of my job search madness, I once applied for at least 50 jobs in one day. This was when I moved to Las Vegas after graduating college and I was determined to find a job in hospitality. I don’t know about you, but filling out one application is stressful enough; imagine 50! Slow down. Take a break. Do two to three applications a day. You can’t devote the proper attention and time needed for an application if you’re doing this many at a time. Write cover letters. Customize your resume. Breathe.

2. Network, network, network. I’ve found that networking has helped me alleviate some of the strain of the job search because it makes me feel like I’ve got a team on my side. Through networking, I’ve been able to gain access to recruiters and hiring managers I never would’ve found if I didn’t know who I know. Talk to your friends; if they’ve got a job you admire or work for a company you’d like to work for, see if they can connect you to a recruiter at their workplace. Use LinkedIn. I’ve been introduced to several recruiters and hiring managers by a friend who is a very avid LinkedIn user. When your friends and previous coworkers can help you in your job search, it takes a large weight off your shoulders.

3. Read. Do your research on performing an effective job search. There are countless books on the market on how to go about finding a job. These books can help you find new methods when it seems like you’re not doing anything right. In addition to these books, read articles on the Internet. I’ve learned so much about constructing a cover letter, strengthening my resume, and contacting recruiters through articles I’ve read on the Web and books I’ve borrowed from the library.

4. Have a drink and RELAX. Sometimes the easiest way to de-stress is the most obvious. Take a break when your eyes start to blur. Ride your bike. Watch a movie. Go out with friends. Clearing your head will better prepare you to tackle your next round of applications and will give you a new lease on the process.

I know the job search can be stressful. I’m actively searching. But it doesn’t have to be maddening. Use your resources, relax, and breathe. You’ll find the job you’re looking for because you’re experienced and suited to it, not because you drove yourself crazy looking. And when you do, let me know; I’ll treat you to the drink I mentioned above.

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About the writer:

 Vera Swain is a young professional who is active in the job market. Currently, she is seeking a position in Marketing in the Los Angeles area as she is in the midst of relocating from one coast to the other. When not writing and job searching, Vera can be found with her nose in a book on her feet on the dance floor. Always seeking adventure, she is an avid traveler who loves to see and experience new things, especially food. To hear more from Vera, follow her on Twitter at @swverausc214 or check out her LinkedIn profile here.

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Formatting Your Resume to Work with ATS and TAS

To help recruiters manage the overwhelming amount of resumes they receive, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Talent Acquisition Systems (TAS) are being utilized more frequently. Although this technology is a phenomenal tool in helping recruiters make their workload more manageable, these tools can sometimes accidentally weed out candidates that are qualified for the job opening. This issue can cause candidates to wonder why they weren’t good enough for a position when in reality; their resume may have been screened out and was never seen by a recruiter in the first place. It has been determined that this accidental screening-out of resumes is simply caused by resume formatting that isn’t compatible with the ATS and TAS software. In order to increase chances of having your resume getting through this screening, you must format your resume properly.

After speaking to a few IT professionals that deal with these systems, I was able to compile a few tips on how to format your resume in a favorable way:

  • Save it in a format that allows editable text: For example, Word documents may be the best format to save it in. Other formats, such as a PDF, can make it hard for the ATS/TAS system to pull information from it. Additionally, sometimes recruiters need to adjust some things on your resume (i.e. grammatical errors) before passing it along to the hiring manager. Therefore, editable versions of your resume would be best to submit.
  • Do not use templates: different word processor software and career sites have resume templates created for your convenience. This is a great way to learn how to lay out your resume in a clean, easy-to-read format but using the template can actually cause issues during the screening process. The pre-formatting of these templates are not easily readable by the software, so it’s best to only use the template for ideas on how to lay it out (but don’t actually use them).
  • Keep it clean: As mentioned before, do not use the templates but ensure that your “free-hand” format is clean. Make sure you break up your sections, such as education and work experience, in a clean and easy-to-read way. Be sure to label them accordingly.
  • Use keywords: One of the biggest screening criteria for these tools is the keyword optimization. ATS and TAS will compare your resume against the job description to see how relevant your experience is. Take the time to review the job description and tweak some of your verbiage to match what the description has. This can help create a higher percentage for candidate/job match.

Seeing that more companies and job boards are using ATS and TAS, it may be in your best interest to reformat your resume to work best in your favor. These little tips can really make all the difference. Additionally, it can help your job search by ensuring you aren’t wrongfully screened out for a job that you are qualified for due to a format that is unreadable by the systems.

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Life at a Startup

I’ve been networking with a lot of job seekers lately who have expressed their frustrations about finding good jobs in corporate America. Some of them have considered working for startups even though they know that sometimes working with a startup could be unstable. Others have even considered starting their own. Regardless, many of them were curious to know more about life at a startup to determine if it was the right choice for them. Luckily, I have recently connected with an individual who lives in Silicon Valley and has worked in different startup environments. She was happy to provide useful information about this.

Jocelyn Aucoin, who currently works at WorkSimple in San Francisco, has been kind enough to answer the following questions about startups. Here are some details to help give a realistic idea about it:

Ashley Perez (AP): How did you get involved with startups?

Jocelyn Aucoin (JA): “A good friend of mine originally approached me about helping him out with a startup he was working with, knowing I had a background of running my own business and knowing how key an autonomous work ethic is to working at a startup.  I was immediately hooked. Startup life really feeds my love of building and creating.”

AP: What are some of the most interesting lessons you’ve learned?

JA: “I’ve learned to be just as proud of my failures as I am my successes. If I’m not pushing myself, if I’m staying comfortable, then I’m probably pretty safe, right? But if I’m working to constantly do more with what I know, challenge the status quo, and think ‘sideways’, then I’m going to fail. It’s inevitable. And I’m totally fine with that. I’d rather try and fail then never try.”

AP: What are some examples of things that go against common belief in terms of starting a startup?

JA: “I think there’s a misconception that people ‘settle’ for working at startups. This is just not true. The brightest, bravest, most creative people I’ve met in my working career are the ones working for startups. If you want to be inspired – daily – it’s where you want to be.”

AP: What are some of the challenges that startup employees face?

JA: “The biggest challenge for me personally is the extreme ebb and flow. The work pace is unpredictable and things happen fast and without warning. That means you have to be on your toes at all times, ready to go. And whereas that’s difficult in terms of planning out a week or a month, it’s a catch-22 because it’s also what keeps me from getting bored.”

AP: What are some realistic situations that employees can deal with when accepting a position with a startup (i.e. lack of benefits, lack of stability?)

JA: “Well, there aren’t always a lack of benefits. That can be the case – but not always. It depends on the type of work you’re in and the level of the startup. But yeah – it’s realistic to expect a bit of instability. Again I’d say that’s what makes it exciting. It’s a bit like walking a tightrope. It’s not for the faint of heart.”

AP: What is the difference of a startup environment vs. an established company?

JA: “Established companies typically have ways that things have been done and they require things be done in this way. Startup culture is built around innovation – and that shakes down to every level. They will generally welcome new ways of thinking and new ideas which breeds energy and creativity. You notice the difference from the moment you step foot inside a startup. You can feel energy.”

AP: What is some advice you can give to job seekers who are considering working for a start up?

JA: “Practical advice? Identify the companies where you can see yourself and start connecting with the people who work there via in any way you can. Don’t send a blind resume. Instead, say you’d like to chat and share ideas. Remember, startup culture is about collaboration and ideation. And things move fast.  Also, these places don’t have big HR systems in place, so don’t expect process to move in an overly processed way. General advice? Buckle. your. seatbelt!”

I was thankful for connecting with Jocelyn because this seems to be a hot topic out in the working world. Her answers proved that startup life can be exciting. Also, working for a startup can have an equal share of failures mixed with successes. If your personality and work ethic match some of the things Jocelyn had mentioned, I’m sure you will find your experience rewarding no matter what the outcome may be.

 More about Jocelyn: Jocelyn Aucoin is the Community and Social Media Manager at San Francisco and Minneapolis – based startup, WorkSimple. Find her at Blue Bottle Coffee or on Twitter at @jocelynaucoin.

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What Your Online Presence Can Do for Your Job Hunt

When I thought about the ideal job hunt, I always had believed that to be the most professional and proactive hunter, it was best to update your resume often and simply upload them to career websites. In addition to this, I was led to believe that the best way to get my resume in front of a recruiter was to apply to jobs online through job boards and applicant tracking systems. After all, these systems were put in place to help our resume be re-routed to the appropriate person, right? That used to work just fine until everyone else started to resort to this option. Now I realize that job seekers need to do something more to really set themselves apart. Over the course of the last few months, it became apparent that creating a personal brand via online can really help you during your job hunt.

I always assumed that doing anything online or on social media was typically considered something personal. I also heard the stories about how companies Google candidates to find these sites to do a quick “background” check before considering them for an interview. When I was in college, many teachers and guidance counselors told us to keep our online presence private or to delete anything that can potentially cause us to lose a job. With all these warnings, I never felt that having an online presence would help me land the job that I wanted. But after months of searching and being unsuccessful, I decided to give it a try.

To play it safe, I decided to keep my personal social media accounts private but then decided to create separate accounts strictly for business and maintaining a professional appearance. Of course, I decided to focus on LinkedIn first because that site is all about networking business professionals. It didn’t really pick up steam, though, until I invested more time into it. Putting up a profile with your experience isn’t enough to catch the attention of recruiters. You really need to participate. Here are some things I did on LinkedIn that helped me get more job interviews:

  • Update profile content and headline. Use keywords relevant to what you’re searching for so recruiters can find you easier.
  • Join groups. Joining groups are great but you must make sure you take time to participate in order to really allow yourself to get exposure. Comment on members’ discussion posts in a way that can show you are knowledgeable about a subject. Even post your own discussion questions on there to welcome interaction.
  • Keep the conversation flowing. In order to network effectively and build relationships, you must invest in time to keep the conversation going. If you comment on something or post a discussion question, make sure you respond to those who are also commenting. This flow of communication can help people get to know you better and open up an opportunity to connect.
  • Post interesting articles. Spark up some further conversation by posting online articles, publications, blogs, etc. This could grasp people’s attention and also display the fact that you keep up with industry trends.
  • Get personal. If you plan on sending a message or an invite, be sure to add something personal in the message. If you’re adding a recruiter, you could even mention that you’ve applied to a specific position at their company and wanted to talk more about it. This could help them pull your resume from the pile of hundreds they get regularly.

After I got LinkedIn up and running, I decided to take it a step further and see what Twitter had to offer. I used to use Twitter sporadically since 2009 and never really thought it could be useful for anything more than personal use. I was SO wrong. After using Twitter in a professional capacity, I ended up receiving more job offers, interviews, and assistance to find a job than I ever did when I used to just apply to online job boards. I couldn’t believe it. Here are some ways I effectively used Twitter during my job hunt:

  • Add people that are relevant to the industry you’re trying to get a job in.
  • Add recruiters that work at the companies you are interested in working at.
  • Write thoughtful responses to their tweets to help open up communication.
  • Tweet links to relevant online articles, publications, blogs, etc.
  • And most IMPORTANTLY, join Twitter chats(this was the easiest way I was able to get interviews.) Twitter chats are amazing. It opens up real-time communication and could help you get exposure to the right people. Some TweetChats I’ve joined that were really great for my job hunt were:
    • #JobHuntChat – Mondays @ 10PM EST
    • #TalentNet – Tuesdays @ 7PM EST
    • #TChat – Wednesday  @ 7PM EST
    • #GenYChat- Wednesday @ 9PM EST
    • #HFChat – Friday @ 12PM EST

These chats are either geared towards connecting job seekers with recruiters or the chats are HR related which means you can easily connect with HR and recruiters. Of course, these are just a few chats of the many that are out there. I would suggest researching chats that are relevant to the industry or job type you are looking for.

After a while, I really started to enjoy the results I was getting from this and decided to take it even another step further. I created a blog that was relevant to the industry I was targeting (Human Resources) and started to write on a regular basis to help extend my online presence even more. I promoted it via LinkedIn and Twitter. This blog has helped recruiters to see my competency, knowledge, and even get to know a little more about me. They were able to see how I could fit in with their company. If you are able to do something virtually that is relevant to the industry you want to work in, give it a try. It could really help you stand out even more and add something extra to your candidate profile.

Having an online presence can really help you if you do it right. Keep it professional but also keep it YOU. Your online presence can help hiring managers, recruiters, and companies really get an idea of who you are and what you could potentially do for them. I was happy to see that investing time in this has paid off. After committing time to this, I was able to get job interviews, internship offers, and guest blog post offers. I felt that I made more progress doing it this way than the months I spent just dedicating time to job boards and online applications. Give it a try, it could make a huge difference.

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How Will Your Career Benefit from Business Networking?

“It’s all about who you know,” I’d often hear people say to me while I was going to college. More seasoned professionals had constantly told me that in order to leverage my position into the working world, it was best if I knew someone. I figured that knowing someone wasn’t as important as getting the education and experience to prove that I was competent enough to do a job. However, I soon found out that the advice of getting to know people was important for my career. Getting knowledge and experience was great but if you didn’t know someone to display that to, then your career hunt could be a bust. Therefore, I’d like to focus today’s post on the benefits of business networking, both internally and externally.

Sometimes people underestimate the importance of networking (I was one of them at one point). As I network more and more, I really do see that there are some fantastic benefits to it. Networking can help your career in the following ways:

Externally:

  • Keep you abreast about industry trends: Networking can help you learn about industry trends, concepts, technology, news, and resources that you may have never easily learned about on your own. Additionally, talking to individuals that know more about this topic can allow you to get a deeper understanding and obtain knowledge that could give you a competitive edge for your job hunt.
  • Keep you in the loop about what companies are hiring: There are a lot of great companies out there that you may not know about. Networking can help you get exposure to companies that fit what you’re looking for but you haven’t discovered yet on your own. Additionally, finding companies that aren’t as well known could help you have less competition for the jobs you are applying to.
  • Allow you to know ASAP about job openings in the companies you are targeting: Companies don’t always post their jobs externally. Networking with people can allow you to know about job openings before others do, which could increase your chances of being selected.
  • Open up communication with other recruiters/hiring managers: Sometimes the people you network with won’t always have an opportunity for you. However, if you build these relationships they’ll be more willing to refer you to other individuals that do have openings and could put in a good word about you. Referrals are highly regarded.

 Internally:

  • Raise your professional profile within a company and/or industry: Networking internally could help you build your reputation in a positive light. You could go from the average employee to the go-to guru. Building clout this way could help you obtain a promotion at your current employer or become a desired employee that companies seek.
  • Get opportunities to work on special projects: Getting to know people can allow them to learn your interests and your abilities. Therefore, they could easily consider you for any upcoming projects in your workplace that are relevant to these. Having the opportunity to work on these special projects could help you gain useful experience and knowledge that will build your resume up nicely.
  • Showcase experience to correct hiring managers when attempting to get a promotion or raise: Your professional profile and contributions to special projects could easily catch the eye of the hiring managers in your workplace. These things can support your resume and could allow managers to confidently consider you for promotions or raises.

There are so many benefits networking can provide. I’ve started networking a lot more and wished that I had done it sooner. I’ve met so many interesting people that have taught me so much about the field I’m interested in and even more. These individuals have been so helpful and were willing to spread the word about my blog. They have also sent my resume out to their connections to help my job hunt. It’s been a joy networking with these people and I hope that I can pay forward the kindness they have shown me. I strongly suggest that you take time to build these relationships because they could be great for your career in the long run.

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Determination for a Successful Future

Recently, I was talking to some college students about their expectations for their careers. I was happy to hear that many of them had a bright outlook for their future but became a little distressed when I learned that they didn’t realize the lengths and effort they need to put into it in order to reach their career goals. Many assumed that simply getting a degree and getting a little experience from interning could help them easily land a job. I tried to explain to them that in this economy, the bare minimum just won’t cut it.

That conversation had me thinking about people I knew that were particularly admirable in this capacity. I instantly thought about my friend, Desiree Louca, who I’ve known since kindergarten. She had always impressed me with her drive and self-motivation, even when we were younger. As we grew older, she harnessed these personal traits and worked hard to obtain the future she dreamed of. Her determination allowed her to have a successful future at the ripe age of 21 years old. Her future gave her the financial security and independence to support herself in ways that some adults may never know throughout their lifetime. With that being said, I felt that she was a perfect person to interview for this topic. Here’s the story on how her hard work paid off:

Ashley Perez (AP):   How were you able to pinpoint what career path you wanted to pursue so early in your life?

Desiree Louca (DL): “Growing up, I always had a great feeling inside when I helped out people in need. I was always fascinated with the medical field, probably from watching so many reality shows of the ER in hospitals. This was the first position in the medical field I really had my heart set on. At 14, my mother took me to the local hospital and I signed up to be a junior volunteer. I volunteered for 3 years and it was such an amazing experience.

“However, after only a few months of volunteering, I quickly learned that being a nurse was not for me. I could not handle it emotionally. I always found myself to be extremely emotionally strong, but I could not bare certain situations that I watched. Maybe I was too young to have seen them and would be able to handle them better now, but it is something that will never leave my mind. I simply could not disassociate myself from my emotions on the job. You can’t have a cry break every 30 minutes as a nurse, especially in the ER!

“I still knew the medical field was for me, though, and that there were tons of other jobs in the field. Teeth were another fascination for me. At 16, I began a paid internship at a local dental office. I absolutely loved it! I worked at a multi-specialty practice, so I was fully able to experience every single aspect of dentistry. I was initially working as a dental assistant but I knew I wanted more, so I decided to go to school to become a dental hygienist. While in school I felt a deep sense of comfort, stability, and enjoyment. I knew that this career was meant for me. In conclusion, I was able to pinpoint my career path by basically going and trying out each field of employment that I felt I may want to pursue.”

AP: What course of action did you determine was necessary to get the experience and education needed to be successful?

DL: “Research and resources! We are lucky to have the internet these days but I feel that doing it the old fashioned way is sometimes better. Before receiving the internship at the dental office, I walked in to the office and asked to speak to a dental hygienist. That dental hygienist was very happy to sit and answer the questions I had written out on a notepad. My questions included; job description, schooling, and stability in life.”

AP: Did you have goals and timelines? What were they?

DL: “Absolutely. Procrastination gets nowhere. Everyone at this point in life knows that you will not get anywhere unless you make moves. Right after high school I went right on the path to becoming a dental hygienist while still working at the dental office. This helped me greatly because while learning everything I needed to know about the field, I was experiencing it hands on. My goal was to be done with school in 4 years, that way I would be starting my career at 21 years of age.”

AP: What are the sacrifices you had to make in order to stay focused? Do you regret making them?

DL: “Starting to work in a professional environment at 16 years old forced me to mature much faster than my friends. Going to college to become a health professional from ages 17-21 while all of my friends were partying at college and going out every weekend was very hard for me to deal with at the time. However, being on a career path that I loved was a constant reminder that everything was going to be okay and well worth it in the end. I have no regrets. Even though I hardly went out nearly as much as my friends, I still had the chance to occasionally, and that was all that I really needed. In the midst of my busy life, I sit back and feel very accomplished realizing where I am in life at 24 years old compared to most people my age who live in my area.”

AP: What advice would you give people just starting out?

 DL: “Be a go-getter! Don’t sit back and think something is going to come your way or that the wind will blow one way and magically you will know where you are meant to be. It is a natural instinct to have things that interest you in life. Write them down, research ways you can try them out; such as volunteering, internships, or actual employment. You will not know if it’s right for you in a day or even weeks, so give it at least a few months. As I’m sure most people have heard more than once in their life, ‘Just do it’.”

Desiree provided some great insight and tips on how to pave your way to a successful future. I’ve personally seen her dedicate time and determination throughout the years and can honestly say that it seemed to work. I’m proud of her success and happy to see that it paid off early on in her life. I believe that many college students and early careerists can benefit from these tips and should try to test them out as soon as they can. Desiree is living proof that putting yourself out there can help you secure a place in your career.

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The Impact of Lost Dreams

Today I decided to do something a little bit different. I don’t normally include “creative writing” pieces on this particular blog, but I felt that this might tie in nicely with some of the topics I discuss. I wrote this short, fictional story a few months ago. Basically, this story discussed how sometimes people get sucked into work and responsibilities that they don’t realize their dreams and life are passing them by. This piece is meant to remind people that you need to sometimes stop, catch your breath, and make sure you don’t lose that deeper part of you completely. I hope you enjoy this break from the typical business blog post:

The Impact of Lost Dreams

By: Ashley Lauren Perez

 

I sighed as I rubbed my hand down my face. My phone was sitting on the passenger seat, beeping uncontrollably. Another voicemail from my mom asking if I’m still alive. A text from my boyfriend confirming that I won’t be home for dinner again. A Facebook comment from my friends wondering when I’ll see them again. An e-mail from my boss giving me directions to the restaurant where a networking dinner is taking place tonight. I’m being pulled in a million directions and even though I extend myself, I’m still falling short.

The sun had already set. I’ve accepted that this has turned into another unexpected day of working overtime. I can’t remember the last time I left work at a reasonable hour and went home to relax. I don’t recall the last time my social activities weren’t a work event. When was the last time I did anything for myself or took the vacation I promised myself? My life has been so filled with engagements and obligations that all these days have blended into one continuous day of rushing to the next thing on my to-do list. I don’t know how I got to this point.

I pulled out of my company’s parking lot and onto the highway. I slowed down to a red light at an intersection when my phone started ringing. It was my boss, most likely calling to confirm that I was on my way. I contemplated ignoring it but knew she would just continue to call until I picked up. I selected the “Answer” button as the light turned green. And that’s when it happened.

I turned my head to my left to see headlights heading straight towards me from the driver’s side. It felt like slow motion.  I knew I was defeated in this situation so I closed my eyes, gripped the wheel, and braced for impact. This couldn’t happen. I barely even got to live my life.

My breathing sounded foreign when I finally came to. My eyes slowly fluttered open and light penetrated my irises causing me to squint. That’s strange- I was driving at night, last I recalled. I slowly sat up and assessed the environment around me. I expected to see the highway, the inside of an ambulance, or a hospital. You can imagine my surprise when I realized I was sitting on a dirt path in some sort of forest. I looked up and saw the sunlight dancing between the fluttering tree leaves. Everything was silent except the faint sound of nature surrounding me. There wasn’t a person or house in sight.

I pushed myself up and tried to search for the best direction to bring me back to civilization but the path seemed to disappear into thick brush behind me. The only direction to go was forward, where I could see a clearing in the distance. I followed the path and enjoyed the feel of the soft dirt under my bare feet. The spring-like breeze lightly blew my hair away from my face and I couldn’t help feeling déjà vu. I felt like I’ve been here before but this version was better. I should have been terrified because I had no idea where I was or how I got there, but strangely, I felt more comfortable here than I ever have anywhere. I walked further.

After a few minutes of walking I had finally reached the clearing and my breath caught in my throat. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. Directly in front of me was the beach and ocean, but the scenery was far better than any travel magazine could ever attempt to capture. An expansion of white sand and colorful tropical flowers led the way to the clearest, bluest, and calmest ocean I could ever imagine. The sound of the rolling waves onto the shore was soothing. But that wasn’t the thing that caught my attention. Every direction I turned had a different landscape. Surely, there could be no place in the world that could combine all of these things in one place. Where was I?

I wandered off to the right side into a deep, heavily treed part of a forest. Ducking under low hanging branches, I stepped carefully on smooth stones to cross a cool-watered creek. Across the creek, I came upon an abandoned stone building. Part of the ceiling had caved in and a tree sprouted out of the opening. It looked ancient and I highly doubted anyone roamed in there for decades. I stuck my head inside and saw a disheveled library hidden among the rubble and vines. Curious, I stepped through the door and traced my hand along the uneven, stoned walls. My fingers felt the dirt and moss that lingered on these walls until I came upon a loose stone. I wiggled it free and noticed a leather-bound book hiding in the hole.

I slowly pulled the book out, careful not to potentially destroy the weathered pages. The cover gave no indication on what it could be so I opened it up. The first page had a statement written in sweeping, beautiful calligraphy. It stated, “Only in the purest solitude will you rediscover forgotten dreams.” I fanned through more of the pages and concluded that it was a diary of someone’s hopes and dreams.

I crossed the creek again with the book in tow and headed towards the left side of the path. This side offered a wide expanse of meadow, peppered with colorful wildflowers and a distant mountain range for a backdrop. Wild horses galloped and played, while others grazed peacefully. I trudged along through the tall grass to a lake surrounded by blossoming trees. The fragrance of lilacs filled my nose and reminded me of an old tree I had in my backyard as a child. Soon, I found a swinging hammock tied under a cherry blossom and decided to lounge in it. The branch shook as I got situated in the hammock and caused the petals to fall around me like slow rain.

I got lost in reading the words on the pages. It seemed as if this author had the same thoughts and hopes I once had. A soft smile spread across my lips as I felt the passion and optimism in the words. I felt something inside of me change, like I was young and innocent again. I was inspired; almost like these dreams were truly within my reach.

I lost that feeling along the way when life’s obligations took away my imagination and only offered a reality that left no room for it. The more I got rejected or told that these things were impossible, the deeper these dreams got buried in my soul, to a place that they would never be found again.

As I read further, I came across a dog-eared page that simply stated, “This is your world now. You will need nothing more and nothing less.” I reflected on those words and quickly decided that they would resonate with me forever.

I didn’t know where I was or if I’d ever find my way back home but there was one thing I knew for sure- I will fight to take back my life and I will never lose that part of me again.

 

What Recruiters Would Like Candidates to Know

Yesterday I wrote a blog post from the job seekers’ point of view. This post discussed the many pain points that seekers deal with during their job hunt. They hoped that bringing these points to light might allow recruiters to understand and find ways to make the candidate experience better. Also in that post, I promised that I would allow recruiters to have their side of the story told. Being that I’ve done internal recruiting as well as recruiting for staffing agencies, I’m well aware that recruiters also have their pain points during the job-filling process. Today’s post will highlight some of the highly noted issues in hopes of allowing candidates to understand that side of the process.

Being surrounded by recruiters day in and day out made it easy for me to learn some of the main issues they wished that candidates knew. Some of these points are as follows:

From the moment they start the day to the moment they leave, recruiters are swamped. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a recruiter have a “light” day. Phones are constantly ringing off the hook, e-mails are flooding in, daily status meetings interrupt the day, and screening candidates is time consuming. For most recruiters, this is their day-to-day. Basically, they do the job that could truly require the help of three people. With all those disruptions occurring, it can take a bit longer for them to pull your resume and review it.

• They are not purposely ignoring you, nor have they forgotten about you. As you can see above, recruiters are trying to do as much as they possibly can. You are on their “contact back” list as soon as they get a moment to do so. With that being said, it is not necessary to call and e-mail them multiple times a day. This just adds more to their already overwhelming work-load. It is perfectly fine to touch base with a recruiter but, please, keep your communications reasonable. Filling a job opening doesn’t happen over-night.

They’re not purposely withholding information. Sometimes getting information from a hiring manager or a client can be like pulling teeth. Additionally, sometimes the hiring manager or clients have no idea what they’re looking for which can hold-up the process further. Recruiters try to give you as much information as they could possibly obtain, but sometimes that might not be a whole lot. I’m sure they also wish that they had that information to help them place candidates better!

• They would love to provide useful feedback. But unfortunately, sometimes they can’t. Trust me; your recruiter is empathetic of your situation. They would love to give you the reasons why you weren’t hired (if they knew the reasons). They also would love to give you advice on how to make your chances better next time. However, most of the time recruiters cannot give this feedback because of potential legal reasons. They do not want to put themselves or their company in the way of a lawsuit because their innocent feedback was misunderstood.

• Job openings don’t always get filled right away. Sometimes, jobs can be open for several months and the hiring process can become a grueling one if the hiring manager keeps changing the criteria or just generally doesn’t know what he/she wants. In addition to that, sometimes job openings might not actually be open yet. Hiring managers create these postings to find a pool of qualified candidates so when it finally does become available, the candidates are set and ready to go. This means that your resume could sit in the “Under Review” status for several weeks or even months.

Job seekers, just like you wish recruiters could understand your side of the story; they want you to understand theirs. Recruiting isn’t easy and challenges arise on a regular basis which can cause stalls or setbacks. I know that it’s hard to be patient if you’re jobless and are fighting hard for stable work. You must believe me that majority of them are trying as hard as they can. Sometimes, though, the end result is out of their hands. The best that you can do is to give them as much detail as possible so they can determine the ideal job to place you in. Also, practice your patience as much as you can. And remember: they’re fighting for you!