Career counselor Robin Ryan has published a book she intended for older job hunters but any job-seeker can benefit from its sound advice.
Ryan has been promoting her DVD and book,”Over 40 and You’re Hired: Secrets to Landing a Great Job”, through talks on PBS. I found her to be as entertaining as Loretta LaRoche while offering sensible advice for all ages looking to find work.
The author lists several ‘musts’ when applying for employment.
First, Ryan insists you send a cover letter with your request for an interview. Address your letter to the right person, with their name and job title correctly spelled.
Begin your cover letter with a strong first sentence setting out your top five selling points, what you can bring to the job – your skills, your experience, your training, any innovative moves you made on your previous jobs that benefited the company in a major way.
Before signing your cover letter, proofread it. If you can’t handle the language or spell properly, get help from someone who can. Be sure to include your contact information – phone number, mailing address, even email address if you wish. Ryan says an astounding number of applicants fail to include these necessary details.
“Above all,” Ryan warns, “be honest. Don’t exaggerate your degrees, your job titles, your years of experience. Today employers check!”
Ryan’s second ‘must’ is never to tell the prospective employer your current or previous salary. Chances are good the interviewer will not name a salary until very late in the game. So don’t restrict your prospective salary range by telling them what you were willing to work for in your last job.” Whoever mentions money first, loses,” is how Ryan puts it.
You may have noticed employment ads in today’s newspapers rarely give any hint of the pay range. I don’t know why that is, but I find it both presumptuous and unacceptable. Not only is it difficult enough to even get an interview with today’s aloof employers. Why should any job applicant, no matter how desperate for employment, jump through all of an employer’s hoops without knowing if the pay will be sufficient if she is lucky enough to land the position?
Application paperwork and showing up for a job interview costs time and travel expenses, not to mention stress. An applicant deserves to know at the outset what the recompense is likely to be to judge whether the effort might be worthwhile.
Saying the job pays union rates is little better. Every union has its own pay scale. So why not post it up front? If the job is with a private employer, the pay rate could be as low as minimum wage. Ask what the pay rate is; don’t assume.
If you’re one of the lucky ones invited to come in for an interview, be on time. I once lost out on a dream job when I arrived 20 minutes late, having misjudged how long the taxi trip would take. They naturally concluded if I couldn’t get myself to the interview on time, I might make a habit of being late for work, too.
Before the interview learn all you can about the company. Write out answers to questions you can expect to be asked. Prepare a few questions of your own. You might even go so far as to role-play an interview.
If the interviewer concludes you’re overqualified for the job, don’t give up. You can say you’re looking for a less demanding job with less stress, or a shorter commute. They might offer you a managerial position instead, Ryan says, though I wouldn’t bank on it.
Should you job hunt while you’re still employed? “Yes,” Ryan says. “Moving while you’re employed can result in a pay raise of from 15 to 30 percent. Just keep your intentions to yourself until you have a signed contract .”
Claudette Sandecki keeps an eye on the world through her computer. She lives in Thornhill, BC