Linkedin job search tips

It’s no brainer that you should research a company before your interview.  Job Seekers have to approach the interview armed with knowledge.  You’ll never get the job if the interviewer thinks you are just going through the motions or that you think it’s all about you.  You have to convince them that you know the big picture and that you believe it’s all about the company.   You communicate this by knowing about the company’s achievements, philosophy, and press coverage.  Improving your interviewing skills by building self-confidence and knowledge of the target will make you stand out.

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After a client interviewed with the huge online retailer, Zappos, we recapped his experience and we discovered that he told the interviewer he felt strongly about working hard and not goofing around in the workplace.  Maybe Zappos wasn’t the right place for him to work because I read him the Human Resources philosophy right off their website.  Create Fun And A Little Weirdness. Miss that and you miss out.  Period.

RESEARCH “The Easy Stuff”

Read company website.  Pay particular attention to value statements and philosophy statements.  Hunt for the company’s current goals.  Then Google the company for News.  Look on the left side of the Google panel and select the NEWS filter to find what has been published about the company.  A great way to emphasize your strong desire to work for the company is to quote a recent article.  When asked, “Why do you want to work for us?” you’ll be armed with knowledge about what is going on in the company and what the press reports about them.

RESEARCH “The In-depth Stuff”

This is where the LinkedIn network you have been building starts to pay off.  Under advanced search, enter the company name with current or past filter included.  First off, you are looking for one of your contacts who worked for the company.  The second tier is to find a contact of a contact and get introduced.  The third tier is to find a LinkedIn Member who is most likely to know the hiring manager, whether you have a connection or not.

The purpose of this effort is to discover things about the interviewer.  What skills will they be focusing in on?  What’s his or her history, in case you have something in common like a college?  What are his or her likes, hobbies, and personal passions? Now, be careful not to sound like a stalker or phisher by asking personal questions that might raise red flags.  Keep family and religion out of the discussion.  Armed with this kind of information, you will enter the interview room with confidence. You will score points and build rapport.  You will stand out.  Connecting with the interviewer is so important.  Delivering information in the style they prefer is key.  Managers’ like to hire people just like themselves.  Thus if the hiring manager is a laid-back jokester, loosen up a bit.

SECRET TIP “Using the third tier.”

Don’t know anyone at the company or have a contact that does?  Cold call someone on the LinkedIn list. You can send them a message via LinkedIn, or Google them to find out contact information.  Do a little quick research on them as well.  “Can you help out a fellow alumnus with some advice?”  Be up front and tell them you have an interview scheduled and want their advice on how to put your best foot forward with the hiring manager.  You will find that since you’re asking their advice, and not trying to sell them something, most people will be pleased to help out the guy or gal trying to get a job.  Years ago, I contacted a fellow who worked for a target company.  He had moved on to work abroad in London.  Nevertheless, he was extremely helpful in sharing insights. I think he was just happy to talk to a Yankee about anything.  Now, be careful not to sound like a stalker or phisher by asking personal questions that might raise red flags.  Keep family and religion out of the conversation.

Don’t get discouraged if the first person you contact isn’t helpful.  Maybe you caught them at a bad time.  Keep trying.  Vary your approach.

Are you getting the idea?  Job Searchers, it’s not about you!  It’s about the company, the hiring manager, and how you can fit into their plans for success.

Tips on cover letter, resume and interviews for accountants and finance professionals

Tell me about yourself.

Walk me through your resume.

These are two most common questions we get from any job interviews. In fact, they are asking for the same thing your story in a nutshell.

The Best Interview Question You Can Ever Ask For

I’d be thrilled to get this question. Why?

  • It offers a great opportunity to create the greatest and most memorable first impression. This is your #1 priority in any job interviews.
  • The question is open-ended which means you can guide the interviewer to ask a follow-up question that works to your advantage.

General Rules

  1. Short Answer Please

Provide an interesting and informative answer in 2-3 minutes.

Anything more than 3 minutes is too much for the interviewer (remember, he/she barely knows you). Anything shorter than 30 seconds does not get to the details.

  1. Develop Your Unique Story

The answer is best presented in your story using this framework:

  1. The beginning
  2. The spark
  3. The development
  4. Why you are here today
  5. Aspiration

We will go through each step below.

Your Story

  1. The Beginning

This is the introduction where you give a general idea of who you are. Everyone knows how to do this, but few do it well enough to give a good first impression.

The Wrong Way:

Keep talking forever about your life and get interrupted by the interviewer because it either gets too long or too boring. You end up not talking about the important points, and you lose control over what the interviewer is going to ask you in the next question.

The Right Way:

Make a short and factual  introduction of the essentials, in 2-3 sentences only:

  • Where you are from, where you went to school, and your major/concentration at school
  • Major and relevant experience before current job (optional, only if you don’t have enough to say)
  • Current job or situation

You will talk about the whys in the next step of the framework.

  1. The Spark

This is the place to state why you are interested in accounting. Most people get into the industry because it is somewhat prestigious and make decent money, parents thought it’s a stable job, they are good at numbers (or not  good with people)

Whatever the reason might be, it is likely not to be that interesting and hundreds of candidates before you said exactly the same thing.

  1. The Development

This section talks about how your spark is developed into a career choice in accounting. If you are an accounting student, talk about why you chose the specific school/accounting program and what you have learned.

If you have some experience (internships, volunteer work, jobs in accounting, jobs outside of accounting), then go through them in chronological order, highlighting what you have learned in each stage of your career.

Creating a Cover Letter

You’ve just spent several hours preparing your resume. Now you think to yourself, Do I need a cover letter? It’s a fair question. Most people don’t really understand the function of a cover letter or why they might need one. After all, doesn’t your resume contain all the information a job recruiter would need to know in order to qualify you for an interview?

To gain an insight into the real importance of a cover letter, job recruiters were randomly asked to give their opinion on the importance of cover letters. While all agreed that a cover letter is important, about two-thirds said that they would read a resume anyway even if it arrived without a cover letter. The other third placed more importance on cover letters. They said that in some cases, but not all, they might discard a resume that was missing a cover letter. Interestingly, less than 5 percent said they would never read a resume if it did not contain a cover letter.

What A Cover Letter Will Never Do

A cover letter will never get you a job that you are not qualified for. Job recruiters are busy people and some of the busiest may have to work through several hundred resumes per day. When it comes to filling a position, the first two things they look for are education and experience. If these don’t make the grade, in all probability they will not even look at your cover letter.

What Does a Cover Letter Do?

Think of applying for a job as going through a series of gates. The first set of gates is education and experience. These are grouped together because in most cases a recruiter will substitute one for the other. That is, if a job candidate lacks the prerequisites in education, experience is often accepted as a good substitute. Likewise, a better education can be used to make up for a lack of experience.

Once the job candidate makes it through the first set of gates, it’s the other, more subtle qualifications that begin to weigh in on his or her chances of securing a job offer. It’s not uncommon for a typical recruiter to locate only 20 or 30 qualified candidates out of 500 resumes. If you make it to that small selective group, your chances of being called in for an interview increase substantially. But this is the time when your cover letter really matters if you want to make it through the next set of gates. Since recruiters are busy people and their time is limited, they may select only 5 to 10 candidates out of the original 20 to 30 for the actual interview. You can be certain that employers will do everything possible to make sure that the 5 to 10 candidates they do call in for an interview are the very best qualified out of that initial group.

The Function of a Good Cover Letter

You can think of your resume as a sort of generic overview of your job qualifications. A good resume should list all the technical details of your employment and educational history without delving too far into the more human, personal side of the equation. The cover letter, on the other hand, is you talking personally, one-on-one, to the recruiter. It is the precursor to the interview and should amplify the human side of your qualifications. It should answer two basic questions:

  1. who you are and
  2.  why you think you will be an asset to their company.

The cover letter should leave the recruiter with the feeling, this is someone I want to meet in person to further discuss your interest in working for the company. You could also think of the cover letter as a sort of tie-breaker. When it finally comes down to the handful of resumes that have more-or-less the same technical qualifications, it will be the cover letter that determines who will get the interview and who will be passed over. Stated simply, it’s the function of the cover letter to get you an interview.

Parts of a Good Cover Letter

A good cover letter should answer the following questions:

  • Which job or type of job you are applying for
  • How you found out about the job
  • Why your qualifications make you a good fit for the job
  • Why you believe you will be an asset to their company

Keep in mind that your cover letter does not work in a vacuum. In all likelihood, the recruiter is only reading your cover letter because he or she liked your resume. Use your cover letter to embellish and highlight points you made about yourself in your resume that may have been hastily read or overlooked. Remember, recruiters often just scan a resume for certain technical details the first time through. Use your cover letter to entice them to want to read your resume through one more time, slowly and carefully this time.