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My passion is workforce development! I've been actively networking with Lansing professionals over the past year - trying to build relationships with employers and job seekers alike. I would like to see talented folks get connected with businesses that are looking for them.
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I have been volunteering to help friends, family and people I have met in their career searches. Often times, I try to give pointers and advice that will hopefully help people to get on the right path. What I am finding lately is that many of my suggestions are immediately shot down. Here are some brutal truths from a recruiter’s point of view.
Recruiters Can Help You!
Did you know that recruiters have their own hidden job market? I’ll tell you, my company works with some amazing companies that a great chunk of Lansing would love to get into. We are very confidential though and won’t go broadcasting which ones they are because we respect their privacy. The same is kept with our candidates. We won’t go blindly submitting resumes without the candidates giving their approval.
Now it does happen that there are certain companies who will advertise jobs they don’t have because they want to “build” their databases up. I’d suggest keeping your ears out and ask any recruiter if that is the goal – to build the database or actually fill a position. My latest brush with a recruiter was from a dude who sounded suspiciously like a bill collector. We chatted a bit and I gave him a referral to a friend of mine who is currently looking for a job with the experience he was recruiting for. She has an interview lined up thanks to me passing her on to him.
Job Gaps Draw Attention
Whether it is a simple few months due to maternity leave or an entire decade, these are one of the first things that recruiters notice. We also want to know what you were doing during these gaps. There are great reasons and then there are ones that are going to weed you out of our possible matches. Be prepared to explain what you did during these times of unemployment, recruiters are going to ask about these.
Believe It Or Not, Recruiters Can Add
If you have a few months of experience in a particular field, don’t gloss over it and say you have 3 years… we can add. You would be surprised at some of the resumes I have seen that have a person working 2-3 months over the span of 5 years. The experience listed is simply “five years of ____ experience.” Um, no. It’s more like a total of 9 months working experience, but nice try.
Low Skills Typically = Low Pay
Sure there are some exceptions to this rule. Perhaps you are lucky enough to snag a job within local, state or federal government which happily accepts high school graduates. However, for the most part nearly every single employer wants to see a college degree or else professional certifications.
Vocational Training vs. Degree
If you are looking to find a quick route to a high paying job, I would suggest doing some serious research before you jump in blindly. There are many trade schools who are plastered all over the media trying to sell you an education for a “high demand” job. Dental assistants, Linux administrators, and computer programming languages are your best bet if you want something rather quick to learn but don’t want to spend four years in college.
One of the over used phrases I hear from job seekers is, “I’ll take ANYTHING!!!” When I hear this, all I can hear is, “I’m DESPERATE and need you to find me a job!” Anything is a pretty broad base, don’t you think? Think of it this way, if I asked you where you want to go on vacation, chances are you could give me some ideas. Perhaps Las Vegas, Chicago or Orlando. The point is, you can narrow down your vacation choices, but you can’t narrow down your career options? An easy way to really find a career path is to sit down with your resume or Linked In profile and write down (yes writing it on actual paper will help you to solidify it in your mind) the things you liked most and least about each job you have held. Get with a career counselor – yes there are folks that do this for FREE at Michigan Works (or your local workforce development office). They can help you find a career path, may have suggestions on pursuing higher education along with funding choices, and more.
Contractual or Temporary Jobs Can Open Doors
While many people cringe at the thought of doing contract work or a temporary assignment, this can be a great way to build your resume and gain valuable hands on experience. This is a fabulous way to gain hands on experience for career changers, non-traditional college students and recent graduates. Plus, if you are on a long term contract or do quite a few different temp jobs, it won’t look like you are a “job hopper” on your resume. It would look better to have something like “Personnel World” for three years rather than six different jobs over the same time period. For those of us that like to check things out and want to get a broad perspective on different industries, companies, work cultures, etc., this is an ideal way to gain that exposure.
Don’t Ask for Advice – Unless You Really Want to Hear It
I have asked for advice from a lot of people and sometimes I get told things I really don’t want to hear. However, I don’t shake my head or shoot everything down they are advising me on. I try to be open minded. Even if you don’t agree 100% with what somebody is telling you, take note of it. Perhaps they have a nugget you need to listen to. One nugget I was given about a year ago from my mentor was that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do. Here I am a year later and I’ve discovered that I need to truly be challenged in order to be happy, hence the switching up my major into something that is going to stimulate my brain, keep me engaged and happy.