Here are some of the key pieces of information I’ve learned over the years that are most often overlooked (or willfully ignored) by career advisers:

    1. Expect not to have your phone calls returned. Construct a polite but confident voice mail message that will entice recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers to return your calls. Once you leave a message with your phone number you really shouldn’t call back. Try not leaving a message if you want to
    call multiple times so you can reach the contact in person.

    2. Setting up advice calls, cold calling and trying to reach
    decision makers is a numbers game. They say it takes 39 no’s to make a yes.
    Always anticipate a yes but know that as a rule it is volume that reaps

    3. Friends may stop inviting you out to the theatre or to restaurants if they
    think you are financially strapped. Let people know your social capabilities and
    invite others out so they know you are still active.

    4. Recruiters do not always read cover letters, so don’t spend much time
    crafting them. Keep the message short and include whether you are willing to
    relocate and your salary range.

    5. The job of the Human Resource person in a company is usually to screen you
    out. Don’t discount the power of the screener as they have a huge influence over
    the decision maker. Be prepared and professional at all times.

    6. Help the reader of your resume out by citing an Objective and a Profile or
    Highlights of Qualifications. If the resume reader likes what they read in the
    Profile they will read the rest of the resume.

    7. Look great when you arrive for an interview, shine your shoes, have an
    up-to-date haircut, put a spring in your step, a smile on your face and get rid
    of hair in unattractive places.

    8. The more senior position you hold the less facial hair you should sport.
    If you look at pictures of Boards of Directors very few executives have
    moustaches or beards.

    9. The receptionist at a company is your first person of contact. They are
    often asked their impression of you when you interacted with them upon your
    arrival. Treat them like your new best friend.

    10. If you are called to do a telephone interview on the spot, ask if you can
    call them back in 10 minutes so you can free up your time and be in a quiet

    11. After the initial greeting in an interview, ask for a detailed written or
    verbal job description so you have the same concept of the position you are
    interviewing for as the interviewer.

    12. Every question you are asked in an interview has a purpose and is asked
    so as to uncover a skill or strength that will solve a problem within the
    position. Try to understand why they would want to know that before you set out
    answering the question.

    13. Potential employers like to know how you would fix their problems. After
    explaining your accomplishment on a certain skill, relate it back to an obvious
    problem or challenge that position possesses.

    14. Potential employers like to know you can think outside the box, you have
    a creative mind and have put some thought into their individual company’s
    position in the marketplace. For a second interview draft a 30/60/90 day outline
    of what you would anticipate doing in the job for those time lines.

    15. Always ask “Where do we go from here?” as the end of every interview. For
    your peace of mind it’s nice to know what the interviewer’s plans are moving

    16. If at the end of an interview they tell you they will get back to you in
    x days, ask them if you don’t hear from them can you please call them. Ascertain
    whether they prefer email or a phone call for their favoured correspondence.

    17. Send a postcard , thank you card or a nice typed letter of thanks after
    each advice call or interview. Cards sit out on desks, letters get filed.

The list goes on and on. I’d love to hear from you if you have an incident to
share that you were unprepared for because someone failed to enlighten you about
some aspect of your job search. Ultimately it is each person’s responsibility to
read books, attend networking meetings and talk to other work searchers to pick
up tips that make your search easier and your interviews shine.

Colleen Clarke

Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of
Networking: How To Build Relationships That Count, and How To Get a
Job and Keep It