CLEARED JOB SEEKER GUIDE As a cleared job seeker your job search is a little different. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to provide you with tips on how to make your next career transition as smooth as possible. If there were one type of recruiter or hiring professional it would be easy to determine the best tactic for getting their attention, securing the interview, and landing the job. But there isn’t. Each hiring professional is as unique as the job seeker who wants to meet them. Your job search strategy must encompass many different tools and approaches. If you need assistance or have questions, contact the ClearedJobs.Net Customer Service team available live daily from 8am-6pm EST, at CustomerService@ClearedJobs.Net or 703-871-0037, Opt. 4.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Career Development Strategy 2. Resumes, Profiles and Your Elevator Speech 3. Job Boards and Career Sites â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Research and Tactical Tools in Your Career Search 4. Networking for Success 5. Career Events and Job Fairs 6. Social Media and Online Networking to Support Your Career Search 7. Acing Your Interviews 8. Salary and Benefits Negotiation 9. Starting a New Job on the Right Foot 10. Good Hunting
1. CAREER DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY People who have a written plan for their careers tend to be considerably more successful. To that end, we recommend you create a Career Strategy Plan to formalize: • What you want to do • What you don’t want to do • How you plan on achieving your goals • Positions you’ve held • Skills and accomplishments • Dates of employment • Education and training The Career Strategy Plan is your master document to keep all the info you use to develop your job search tools in one convenient location.
I Don’t Know What I Want to Do For an effective job search you need to know what you want to do, or at least come close to it. If you’re unsure what you want to do, your first steps are research and self-reflection. • Look at the types of jobs that might interest you and see what the skill requirements are. Do you have those skills or are they attainable? Be realistic. • If you’re unsure what work that is or you want a comprehensive overview of any field, check out the Riley Guide. It has links to all sorts of career information. • Find the professional and trade associations that are relevant to your interests and read everything they offer on the careers, companies, trends, and issues of the field. Go to some meetings to learn about current topics and meet people in the field. • Talk to friends, colleagues and mentors for feedback on your skills, the things they think you enjoy as well as what they think you don’t enjoy. Their input might surprise you. • Go on informational interviews Learn about the day-to-day activities of fields that interest you. They may not be as glamorous as they appear from the outside.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
I Know What I Want to Do
Research the Market
In developing your checklist for a new position, answer these questions to focus your job search and prepare yourself for the coming steps of the job search process.
Now that you have determined which of your skills you enjoy and want to pursue in the future, research the market for those skills and interests.
Where am I in my career Are you looking for a position that is a stepping stone to future success so you can add to your skills and experience? Or will your next position likely be your dream job? What do you really want from your next job?
Find a job board that you think will be relevant to your search and do keyword searches. Use those job board search results to gather intel on:
What salary, benefits and other compensation do I want Research both external market trends and pay data for your role and about the value you can demonstrate to an employer. Do your homework so you have a realistic range of your value when you are asked about pay expectations. Where do you find this data? Glassdoor, professional associations and from networking.
• What types of positions are available and match your skill set
Where do I want to work geographically How far are you willing to commute? Are you open to relocation?
• Which companies are hiring • Where they are hiring
• What keywords companies are using for your skill set Are there any new skill sets, education or training you need to pursue for your desired targets? For the companies you want to target, check out their web site and social media profiles to get a flavor for their culture and focus. Review them on Glassdoor and on Indeed Forums to see what their employees are saying about the company.
What companies do I want to work for You need to target potential employers and focus on them in your job search. The goal is to build relationships with recruiters and employees of those target companies to gain access and knowledge about the jobs the company has to offer, the culture, goals, etc. What do I enjoy doing and want to do in the future This question gives guidance to your elevator speech, networking priorities, interviewing questions and resume. What do I not like to do and want to avoid in the future It’s important to figure out what you want to avoid as well, because you may have accomplishments in areas that you didn’t enjoy. Focus on the areas that you do enjoy.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Job Search Metrics Develop and maintain metrics to keep your job search organized and chart your progress. How many jobs have you applied for at General Dynamics-IT and what were they? Who did you interview with at HP six months ago? If you’re up for another HP position, that info will be helpful. Who have you networked with at HP that could put in a good word for you? And so on. For some job seekers it’s a spreadsheet. For others it’s handwritten in a notebook. Whatever your method, it’s important to keep track of your progress to identify weak spots for correction and to keep your job search organized and moving forward. Some of the items you should consider tracking: • Potential target organizations reached • Connections contacted • Applications made / resumes submitted • Phone / screening interviews completed • Face-to-face interviews completed • Follow-up interviews completed • Offers received
2. RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH After you develop your career strategy and goals, it’s time to build your resume, online profiles, elevator speech and interview talking points. Use the Career Strategy Plan you created as the guide for building these tools.
“Job seekers use an elevator speech more than any other job search tool. Make sure you give yours the time and attention it deserves.” Mike Bruni Talent Acquisition Manager, SAIC
My Work Is Classified Your work is classified, but there are many aspects which are not. Do you do data analysis? Write reports? Prepare action plans? Brief others? Define software needs? Integrate various sources into a comprehensive whole? Interview people? Manage projects? As a worker, are you someone others turn to for help? Do you train new people? Are you the technical expert for your field? Do you manage people who love to work for you? Can you turn a difficult client into a fan? Or sell new ideas? Are your data sets always clean and useful? There are ways to talk about your work without endangering operational security. Steer clear of details such as names of colleagues, project titles and budgets, or agency-specific tools. Experienced cleared recruiters know how to read between the lines of cleared candidates’ resumes.
Cleared Resume Your cleared resume is an ad, not your biography. The goal of your resume is to get a hiring manager or recruiter to contact you. Great resumes catch the reader’s attention immediately and show a pattern of accomplishment or achievement. A recent study showed that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume.
RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
Keywords are nouns or phrases that describe your skills or responsibilities. Key words are hard skills such as .Net Developer or Systems Administrator vs. soft skills such as team player. When recruiters search a job seeker database such as ClearedJobs.Net, they are searching on keywords to find you.
You must customize your resume for each job you apply for, using the keywords of your field as well as the keywords of the targeted employer. Does this employer refer to the position as an Instructor while you’ve been using the keyword Trainer?
Common resume mistakes for cleared job seekers: 1. Copying a resume used in an RFP written in the third person 2. Listing responsibilities vs. highlighting accomplishments 3. Failing to customize the resume to the position 4. Burying your security clearance
Formatting does matter, as this heat mapping eye chart that follows a recruiter’s eye viewing two resumes demonstrates. The resume on the left is written in paragraphs like a novel. The resume on the right uses bullet points, bolding and white space, which draw the recruiter’s eye through the entire document. 5
RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
The Most Important Section of Your Cleared Resume
The formula to develop your accomplishments:
This is the top 2-3 inches of the first page, often referred to as the Golden Zone. It’s particularly important on job boards as recruiters will initially view your resume in a small preview pane that only shows them the top of the resume. Don’t waste this space by making your name too large or over listing contact phone numbers and emails. The critical elements:
What were the tasks or responsibilities that you had, the actions that you took and the results of those actions. Demonstrate your growth and tailor what you have accomplished to the position you are applying for. Show your target audience what you have to offer them, so they have no reason to turn you down. A couple examples:
1. Your name. Be consistent with your name across all channels of your job search so you don’t confuse recruiters. 2. City and State. You don’t need to include a street address. 3. One contact email and one contact phone number. Don’t provide multiple options to confuse the recruiter. 4. Security clearance. Don’t make a recruiter search through your resume to find your clearance. Put it at the top. 5. Summary. An objective is optional because that’s all about you. A summary is what you offer of value to the specific targeted employer you’re interested in. Include two to three lines of crisp, clean, jargon-free critical experience and relevant attributes such as certifications. Accomplishments Not Responsibilities. For most job seekers, this is the most important improvement you can make to your resume. Communicate your accomplishments for each position. List the company name, job titles and dates. If you work for a small contractor, include a very brief sentence about the company. Make your accomplishments relevant to your target; particularly when you are changing the focus of your job. State your achievements in terms that are easy for the hiring manager and recruiter to understand.
Task – Action – Results
• Led strategic redesign of the HR and Payroll department from silo to team-based operation. Results: improved customer service to government client while lowering turnover in HR/Payroll department. • Took over failing contract; within 90 days built effective customer relationships, improved critical metrics, closed all overdue items, and led team to successful re-award. Resume Design. Your resume will be scanned at some point in your job search, even if you provided a hard copy. Keep it simple and avoid heavy paper, colored fonts, shading, overbolding and tiny type. Five things to avoid when designing your resume. Resume Length. For a defense contractor your resume should be no longer than two pages. Delete all information that does not directly support your value. Cut down on older jobs, especially if they are more than 10 years old. Don’t waste space on education or training that is not needed now. Skip old professional associations or awards or recognition. Keep only those which will help you make your case right now. The only exception to this rule is if you are very senior. Operational Security. The resume that you upload to ClearedJobs.Net should include your security clearance and skills and accomplishments. No version of your resume should include classified project names or the names of colleagues, office size or budget. Your public networking resume and your LinkedIn profile should not include your security clearance.
RESUMES, PROFILES AND YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH
Elevator Speech or 30-second Commercial For an effective job search you need to communicate who you are and what you are looking for in interviews, at job fairs, or in any networking situation. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need several versions of your elevator speech depending on the situation. 1. Try to keep to 30-45 seconds, or four or five sentences. Tailor your speech to the situation as necessary. 2. Think of headlines or an ad that you could write for yourself. Make sure you interest the listener. State the main focus of your past work achievements in 1-2 sentences. 3. When talking to employers, reference the type of work youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done, your strengths in that line of work, and soft skills that demonstrate your value. 4. Include your clearance when talking to a recruiter from a cleared facilities employer 5. Avoid buzzwords and say what makes you unique. 6. When networking, include what brings you to the event, what issues you are interested in, and ask the other person what interests them. 7. Ask for feedback from friends on your speech. Practice!
3. JOB BOARDS AND CAREER SITES Research and Tactical Tools in Your Career Search Job seekers use job boards to search and apply for positions and to mine the data contained in a job board to develop their job search strategy. Job boards are the second most important source of hire per recent studies by ERE and CareerXroads, so using a job board is one of the tactics to use for a comprehensive job search.
Search Tips When you first start using a job board, don’t be overly specific with your keyword searches. Job descriptions vary greatly and many companies use different terms for the same type of work. For example a Recruiter may be called an HR Specialist or a Talent Acquisition Manager. Begin with broad searches and then refine as you get the hang of creating the search strings that return the results you are seeking.
Your Profile and Why It’s Important Your job board profile includes your contact information, industry, education, salary, key skills, certifications, desired work location and security clearance. When a recruiter does a keyword search their results display the job seeker’s profile, so your profile information is critical. The recruiter also can preview the top part of a job seeker’s resume if the profile grabs their interest. This format allows recruiters to quickly view job seekers’ information in a standard format. It also allows them to see preliminary information, as viewing your complete resume triggers OFCCP reporting requirements. 8
JOB BOARDS AND CAREER SITES
Do You Want Your Information to be Public, Private or Anonymous You control whether the cleared facilities employers who have paid to have access to ClearedJobs.Net can view your information. The options on your account dashboard: Searchable vs. Unsearchable This controls whether or not recruiters can find your resume through a keyword search. Resume is Public vs. Resume is Private This controls recruiters’ access to your Profile. If you don’t want recruiters proactively contacting you, make this Private. Resume is Active vs. Resume is Inactive This controls whether your account is active or inactive. It’s a quick way to shut down your account without deleting the account. For example if you’ve found a new job, you can make your profile inactive, but it’s still available to you the next time you’re seeking employment. I’m an Anonymous Job Seeker If you want to be anonymous, make your Resume Private and Searchable, while also deleting your name or other identifying information from your resume. The recruiter can send you a message to contact them, which is sent to the email address linked to your ClearedJobs.Net account. Block Employers from Accessing Your Information Use the Block Employer function in your Profile to block your current employer— or any employer—from seeing your information. You will still be searchable by other cleared facilities employers.
JOB BOARDS AND CAREER SITES
Statistics Statistics let you know how many times your resume has been viewed. If no recruiters are viewing your resume, review your keywords to make sure you’re using the appropriate terms. Statistics also tracks your saved searches and recent searches you have performed. If you failed to save a recent search that you wanted to keep, this is where you can find it. Lastly you can track your Job Applications. View how many jobs you have applied for, the company name, date applied and a link to view the job description. It’s a great tool for keeping your job search organized.
Refresh Your Account At Least Every 30 Days Log in to your account at least once a month so recruiters know you are still an active job seeker. Recruiters view their search results in chronological order, and they typically search only job seekers who have been active in the past 30 days. Beyond that timeframe recruiters assume you are no longer in the job market or have found employment.
Job Agents Once you have figured out the keyword searches that return the results that interest you, save the search as a Job Agent. You’ll then receive an email with any new positions that match your criteria.
4. NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS Most job seekers get their new job through some form of networking. A job search that is effective and that results in a job that is right for you means you have to network both online and offline.
Who Are Your Contacts Determine your contacts as a first step. If you have a LinkedIn account you’re way ahead of the game as LinkedIn will quickly build your network. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account now is the time to create one. You want to determine who your contacts are: • Colleagues, managers, clients, vendors
In government contracting employee referrals are very important; more so than in the private sector as a whole. A 2012 Jobvite study shows that 1 in 7 employee referrals are hired. Those are pretty good odds. And it’s why focusing on the target companies you want to work for and networking with employees of those companies can be so effective.
• Friends • Classmates, teachers, professors • Church, professional or other group organization members Contact these folks via phone, email, LinkedIn, Facebook, in person – however you communicate with them most effectively. The information you want to share and what you are looking for from them: • You’re launching a job search • Specifics about the type of work you are seeking, target employers, geography, etc., It’s a version of your elevator speech • Are they aware of any jobs that meet your criteria Continued on following page...
NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS
• Do they know anyone in your field or target employers
Care and Feeding Your Network
• If they work at one of your target employers, any tips or contacts they can provide about the company • Can they recommend you on LinkedIn or serve as a reference
Maintain your network both during job search and after you’ve landed your new position. You never know when you may need them again. To maintain your network:
Is there any way you can help them? When you network effectively you’ll have valuable information to pass on to your network as well.
• Communicate when you’ve taken an action related to them. For example if they referred you to someone, what was the outcome?
Don’t overly focus on your close friends and contacts. Their networks are often very similar to yours. Contacts that you barely know may be able to provide you with the best results as their networks are likely very different from yours.
• Keep them posted on at least a quarterly basis the status of your job search. Ask about them as well. Is there anything you know that may help them? • Help people they refer to you and communicate the outcome.
Informational Interviews Informational interviews are a good tool for building deeper relationships with your contacts and gathering valuable info. Tips for effective informational interviews:
• Send any news or info that may be relevant to them, such as job listings, news or articles. • Respond to them on social media, such as retweeting their Tweets or commenting on articles they post on LinkedIn.
• Be early • Offer to pay for the other person’s purchase • Respect their limited time, so ask for 15-20 minutes • Do your homework ahead of time so you’re not asking basic questions.
• On LinkedIn provide Endorsements or better yet, Recommendations for folks you worked with that might end up being references. You’ll also show up higher in LinkedIn search results. • Remember them at the holidays, birthdays, or other appropriate events based on your relationship.
• Your goal is to gather information about the company, job openings and any advice they may have, as well as what their career goals and plans are. You might be able to help them. • Be sure to thank them and ask if they have a contact they could recommend you talk to • Send a thank you
5. CAREER EVENTS AND JOB FAIRS The recruiters at a job fair are typically not the people that will offer you a job or hire you. They are the ambassadors or the gateway to the company. Their job is to talk to you about their company, screen you and your skills, and assess if you should be promoted to the next step in the process. A recruiter can be your internal champion and an important resource for you.
“Talk to every employer at a job fair. This is networking time and an opportunity might be where you neglect to go. That’s why they call it job hunting.” Bill Lewis Talent Acquisition, Engility
To prepare for a Cleared Job Fair: 1. Research the companies that are exhibiting and the positions they are seeking to fill. 2. Dress as if you were going to an interview. If you are transitioning military, a uniform is acceptable. 3. Bring extra hard copies of your resume. The facility may not have the ability to make copies, so be prepared. 4. Talk to as many employers as you can. This is your opportunity to explore and learn so don’t limit yourself to the big names in the room. Check out the small- and mid-sized companies too. 5. You have a limited amount of time with each company recruiter so be very sensitive to this. The more specific you can be about what you are looking for and any particular positions that interest you, the better.
6. Make sure you nail down specific follow up details. Ask if you can connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn and get their business card. 7. Be sure to thank the recruiter for their time. Send a personalized thank you email that lists one or two key points about why you would be an asset to their company. 8. Network with other job seekers. While you’re standing in line waiting to talk to an employer talk to the job seekers around you. You’ll gain new contacts for your network and information that may aid your search. 9. Take advantage of any extra offers such as professional resume reviews or career seminars.
6. SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH Social media has three impacts on your job search: 1. Expands your networking and information sharing options 2. Provides reputational information about your skills and abilities for potential employers 3. Offers a rich database of information to aid in your search You need to determine how you will use social media in your job search and the limitations that you should employ based on the classified nature of your position.
Your Social Media Profiles Will Be Reviewed Recruiters have many tools at their fingertips for sharing and gathering information. Most will be using LinkedIn, but others will be using Facebook and Twitter as well. If you have an active presence on Facebook or Twitter, they can be effective tools for your job search. Various studies have shown that close to 90% of recruiters will review job seekers’ social network profiles and online presence. Many of the same professional guidelines that you would use in a networking event apply to your online networking: Connect with people appropriately, be courteous and professional and acknowledge and thank others for connecting with you.
Take Control of Your Online Brand You need to know what information about you is available to potential employers online. • Google or Bing yourself and review the information that appears. Be sure to check images as well. • Do you need to change any profiles or other information you control so it’s employer appropriate and employer friendly? • Do you need to change your privacy settings to limit the information available? 14
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
Set up a Google alert to monitor mentions of your name and mentions of the companies you are targeting for employment. That way you can stay on top of relevant news for your target employers.
Recruiters react most negatively to: Pictures of alcohol consumption
References to doing illegal drugs Posts/tweets of a sexual nature
Profanity in posts/tweets Spelling/grammar errors in posts/tweets
If you have a very limited online presence and you are targeting high-tech employers or if you’re an older (40+) job seeker, consider creating a Google profile to develop a more robust online presence. Being in touch with today’s technology and being open and adaptable to change are highly valued skills for any employer.
Be Consistent with Your Information 70
Source: Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2012
Don’t create seeds of doubt in a recruiter’s mind. Be consistent with your information across all social media platforms. • Use the same name on all sites, on your resume, cover letter, job applications, email address, email signature, etc. • Use similar biographic information. • Use the same professional head-shot photo on all social media sites.
“Social networking is an invaluable resource if you use it wisely. Maintaining a professional online presence is very important if using social media as a job searching vehicle. Social Media allows you to connect with recruiters in real time to talk about your career search and learn more about the company you are interested in joining. ” Celinda Appleby HR Global Operations, HP
• Link your social media profiles. For example include your LinkedIn profile on your Google profile.
LinkedIn In today’s professional world, it’s an expectation that you will have a LinkedIn profile. This is where recruiter’s focus, so make sure your profile is complete and a proper reflection of your talents and accomplishments. Create a profile and upload information from your public resume. Be sure to use relevant keywords and include a headshot of yourself in professional attire. Do not post your security clearance on your profile. Add Skills, which both adds keywords to your profile and shows you other professionals in your network with the same skills.
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
Build your professional network. LinkedIn will constantly recommend to you people to connect with because there is information on their profile that is similar to yours, such as schools, employers, groups, or people you are connected with. Whenever possible personalize your invitations to connect so you can ensure the person you are trying to connect with knows who you are. Be a thought leader in your network. Demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism to potential employers by posting relevant status updates of articles or information, and commenting on information others in your network have posted. Do this with both status updates and in groups. Join and participate in relevant groups. Follow and join discussions, ask questions and view job postings from other members of the group. Network and engage with others in the group by posting information and commenting on posts from other members, especially if they are employees of your target companies. Join the ClearedJobs.Net LinkedIn group Get and give strategic recommendations. Recommendations give potential employers another window on how you perform on the job. It’s information they likely will not see on your profile or resume. Make sure your recommendations have substance and are not just “attaboys”.
When you search a company on LinkedIn you find info on the company’s employees which can be a starting point for a deeper connection. For example if employees of the company attended the same college that you attended, were in the same branch of the service, etc., you have a shared attribute you can use to make a connection.
Select appropriate Skills. Endorsements are a crowd-sourced form of confirming your expertise in particular areas. You want to proactively select Skills, which adds keywords to your profile. This also means that when others in your network endorse you, it’s for Skills that you have chosen vs. what LinkedIn has pulled from your profile. Research and follow companies. LinkedIn is a goldmine of information about your target companies and the people who work there. When you search a company you get information on the people in your network who have a connection with that company. You can also search on particular employee details to make a connection, such as School attended, Profile Language, Groups and so on.
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
Content recruiters want to see: 80%
Memberships in professional organizations
Volunteering / donations to charity
The primary benefit of Facebook for your job search is being able to share with your friends that you are looking for a job. Other ways you can use Facebook in your job search: • Include work information in your profile
• Upload your public or networking resume to your notes. This is a public forum so don’t include your security clearance.
Content to post with caution:
Follow ClearedJobs.Net on Facebook
Overly religious poasts/tweets
• Like and follow your target companies and professional organizations
References to Burning Man
• Re-check your privacy settings so you know what information you’re sharing
Source: Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2012
Twitter is similar to text messaging, with a 140 character limitation. Many use Twitter as a news feed for instant information and updates. Companies and their recruiters use Twitter to share job openings and other news about the company. How can you use Twitter in your job search? • Follow and connect with your target companies and their recruiters. • Network and connect with experts and others who work in your profession. Follow practitioners in your field that you think may be a step ahead of you on your career path. If you follow someone they generally follow you back, which will build your network. • Use relevant keywords in your profile and make sure it’s employer appropriate. • Share information that shows you are a thought leader in your profession. It can take a good six months to become known as a thoughtful voice worth following. Follow ClearedJobs.Net on Twitter
SOCIAL MEDIA & ONLINE NETWORKING TO SUPPORT YOUR CAREER SEARCH
Other Social Networking Options You may also want to search for a networking group on Meetup. There are industry groups, networking groups and alumni groups which will introduce you to other professionals who can support your career search. YouTube is a rich source of job search information, with many videos on interviewing tips, elevator speeches, what it’s like to work at particular companies, and so on. Also check to see if your target companies have YouTube channels and review their videos. There are several ning groups that may help your job search. These specialized social networks allow you to create a profile and network and share information with similar professionals. If you’re interested in working for state, federal or local government, check out GovLoop.com. If you’re an intel professional, visit TheIntelligenceCommunity.com. SlideShare.net is another popular source of information that is relevant to your job search. SlideShare is a platform for PowerPoint presentations, but don’t let that keep you away. There’s a lot of relevant job search info presented in an innovative format.
7. ACING YOUR INTERVIEWS Your interview starts with the first interaction you have with a potential employer. From your online profiles, resume, and conduct on the phone, you are already being evaluated and opinions about you are being formed. Be prepared and professional for each interaction you have.
Phone Screen Interview Most recruiters will do an initial call to determine whether you meet the position specs, if they can afford you, and whether it makes sense to send you to the next level of the process. • If a recruiter calls and you’re not prepared, reschedule. Then do your homework. Research the company and the position and determine if this is the job for you. • This is your chance to use your elevator speech or 30-second commercial to share with a recruiter who you are and what you are looking for. Make sure you’re ready for that too. • Prepare a few questions that you can ask the recruiter. Is this a current opportunity or are they bidding on a contract? What are the opportunities for growth? Be positive and energetic. • If this isn’t the job for you, say so. Do you know anyone who would be interested and qualified? The recruiter will appreciate the referral.
ACING YOUR INTERVIEWS
Face-to-Face Interview You’ve been called in for an interview. As you know, first impressions are critical. The people you interview with will unknowingly make judgments about you within the first 30 seconds of meeting you. Those impressions may be based on how you shake hands or how you’re dressed, among other things. Bad impressions are very difficult to overcome, so strive to make a positive first impression. 1. Research the company and the position. Update your research on the company and the position before each interview. Google the company and check out their social media profiles for the most current information. 2. Practice your answers. You don’t want to sound as though you have canned responses, but you do need to prepare for difficult questions you may be asked. Especially if you don’t think quickly on your feet. How would you answer these difficult interview questions? 3. Show up on time. Promptness is important and showing up late plants seeds of doubt in the interviewer’s mind as to whether you are dependable. If you’re going to be late, call your contact. Apologize and let them know when you think you’ll arrive. When you do arrive address the issue head on and apologize again for being late. Don’t be too early though. Arrive 5-10 minutes before your appointment time. 4. The interview starts in the lobby. Your interaction with anyone you meet -- whether it’s the receptionist, security guard, or hiring manager – is the start of your interview. 5. Turn off your cell phone. Better yet, leave it in the car. If you forget and your phone rings, apologize and turn it off. Do not answer the phone. The most important thing at this moment is your future and your potential employer sitting in front of you.
6. Bring hard copies of your resume. Always bring enough copies of your resume to provide one to each person you interview with, plus a couple extra. It shows you are a prepared professional. 7. Dress appropriately. A job interview is not the time to show your fashion bent, particularly in the conservative world of security cleared professionals. Grooming is important as well. Looking your best shows the employer that you take the interview seriously. If you’re transitioning military and used to wearing a uniform, here is some guidance on Veterans Dressing for Civilian Interview Success. 8. Know where you’re going and who you’re interviewing with. What is the exact location and time of the interview? What are the names and titles of the individuals you will interview with? Get those in advance and Google their public LinkedIn profiles as part of your research. The more you know about the individuals you’ll interview with, the better you will perform in the interview. 9. Don’t bring up pay or benefits before the employer does. For security cleared job seekers pay is often discussed much earlier than in other industries due to contract requirements. But let the employer bring up the subject first. Review Preparing Your Job Search Salary Strategy. 10. Don’t speak poorly about your previous or current employer or colleagues. Take the high road. Never speak poorly of employers or co-workers. When discussing difficult situations you’ve encountered choose your words carefully. Don’t finger point, and don’t blame. You’re a team player focused on finding solutions and problem solving. Check out Difficult Interview Questions to prepare.
ACING YOUR INTERVIEWS
11. Ask questions. Demonstrate that you’re interested in the position. Even if you think all the bases have been covered, you need to ask the interviewer a couple questions that show you’ve done your homework. It’s OK to take a list of questions with you to reference during the interview. Unsure what to ask? Check out Interviewing What to Ask for a comprehensive list of sample questions. 12. Pay attention and be present. Think of your future, and focus. Focus on the interviewer and listen attentively. Look the interviewer in the eye when you speak, and when the interviewer speaks. Smile when appropriate. Appearing bored or disinterested is not a skill set that employers are seeking for any position. 13. Aim for a balanced interview. A job interview is a two-way street. Both sides need to gather information from the other to make informed decisions. Strive for a balanced conversation. 14. Be positive. A positive attitude is critically important. In general, companies are looking for team players with positive, can-do attitudes. Be genuine and authentic as well. 15. Close the deal. If you want the job be sure to express that to the hiring manager, without being too over eager. Keep these things in mind for any interaction you have with an employer, whether it’s an initial phone interview, a conversation at a Cleared Job Fair, or a face-to-face interview.
Interview Follow Up Recruiters are continually amazed at how few job seekers follow up properly after interviewing for a position. If you and another job seeker are equally qualified, this could be the deciding factor. Write thank you notes. Within 24 hours you should send a thank you note via email to everyone that you spoke to. Vary the emails a bit to show that you were paying attention to that particular person. A handwritten note to the most senior person in the process shows that you value them enough to take the time to do something extra. It can make a difference. Good thank you notes are: • Short and to the point, two or three paragraphs. • Thank the person for their time, interest, and the information they provided. • Say something new about your value that is relevant to the job. If you forgot something in your interview this is your chance to communicate it. Reconnect with your contacts at the company. Communicate with your references and any contacts you have at the company to let them know you interviewed and that you are interested in the position. If you are no longer interested say so. If you find upon reflection that you are not interested in the position, let the recruiter know you’re no longer interested and why. Treat the recruiter well and they will help you with positions of interest in the future. How often do I follow up? Ask your recruiter for appropriate follow up timeframes. A weekly or bi-weekly check on progress is standard.
8. SALARY AND BENEFITS NEGOTIATION In the government contracting community salary ranges are set based on the government contract, so often there isn’t much leeway in making large salary changes. Many times this discussion of salary range with a government contractor will happen during the initial phone screen. This goes contrary to what many standard salary negotiation articles will tell you— to wait until the offer is made.
When you receive an offer you need to make some decisions: • Your first consideration is: Do you really want the job? Don’t waste anyone’s time with negotiations for a position that doesn’t interest you. • If you want the job you can accept the offer or decide it is close enough to be worth negotiating. Many employers will do some negotiating. Explore whether a target employer negotiates salary offers as a part of your company research. • Some aspects of an offer cannot be changed, such as the terms of medical insurance and retirement plans. Base pay, incentives, stock/options, vacation, telecommuting options, and relocation expenses are often negotiated. If you are asking to change a lot of the offer, ask yourself if this is really a good match. An employer is going to wonder about your interest if you ask for too many changes. Some may withdraw an offer.
SALARY AND BENEFITS NEGOTIATION
Making Changes to a Job Offer Consider the 1-3 changes you want and why. Then rank them.
1. Restate your interest and the value you bring to the position.
• The most critical change I want: • Current offer:
2. Ask for the specific changes to the offer you would like to see – two to three changes max – with the business reasons for the changes.
• Difference between what I want and current offer:
3. Be quiet!
• Supporting business reasons for this change:
4. Be willing to offer alternatives. If you can’t get more pay immediately can you get a 3 month review or be included in a bonus program? Be positive about working with the hiring manager and remind them that you will make immediate contributions.
• Options I would also consider: Next think about what you will accept. Is the original offer acceptable if the organization refuses to change it or will you walk away? If you can only get your highest priority change made will that be enough? Call the hiring manager and talk about what you love about the organization and the job and what your concerns are with the offer. Do this quickly after you receive the offer. Thank the recruiter or hiring manager for the offer.
If the offer is revised, be prepared to accept it immediately.
9. STARTING A NEW JOB ON THE RIGHT FOOT Congratulations on landing a new job! Be sure to thank everyone who helped you. Let your network know about your new position and don’t abandon them. You need to maintain these ties and help them when you can. You never know when you’re going to need your network again. Setting the right foundation in your new position is critical to your success. If you haven’t switched jobs in a number of years the change can be daunting.
Steps to Success When You Start a New Cleared Job 1. Make your job board profiles inactive and update your LinkedIn profile. This keeps your network informed and signals to your recruiter that you’re fully committed to the new position vs. still looking for a better opportunity. 2. Dress the part. Ask your new boss or your recruiter what the office dress code is. Just what does “casual Friday” mean? Business casual? Ask. Or if in doubt, overdress. 3. Be on time. Map out your route ahead of time. Expect traffic delays. A plan to be on time is a plan to be late. 4. Be thankful. In the confusion and nerves of your new job remember to say thanks to people who help you, even if it’s pointing you to the bathroom. This is the time for you to build bridges. Politeness goes a long way. 5. Build your internal network. Say yes to lunch invitations. Meet with others in your department and in related areas to learn more. You need to build relationships within the organization. It will help you accomplish your goals and make you more effective in the long run.
STARTING A NEW JOB ON THE RIGHT FOOT
“Many of the failures in job performance can be traced back to the actual start of a new job. Start right so you can succeed.” Patra Frame, Founder, Strategies for Human Resources
6. Embrace the moment. If you are psyched about your new job let others know about it. Sometimes in the name of being “professional” we forget to let our enthusiasm show. Others are drawn to enthusiasm, so if you feel it, let others know. 7. Ask questions before making pronouncements. Listen to others. Don’t immediately try to recreate your old job in your new job, or instruct everyone on what they have been doing wrong. You’re new. You may have been hired to revamp the organization, but get the lay of the land first. 8. Pay attention in orientation. You’ll learn many things in orientation, including information to help you make decisions that are critical to your financial future. Pay attention so you make smart, informed decisions. 9. Make sure you and your boss are on the same page. Do you know what is expected of you in the first 3 months? 6 months? How will your boss know whether or not you are succeeding? How is success defined within your job? When is your first performance review? If you didn’t nail these things down in the interviewing process, do so now. Or if you did, reconfirm them. The bottom line? Listen more than talk. You want to contribute and you will have the opportunity to do so…after you have more in-depth knowledge.
10. GOOD HUNTING View additional ClearedJobs.Net resources
Your job search is…a job. Go forward. Ask for help when you need it. Find your future. ClearedJobs.Net wants to be a resource for you. Remember, your success is our success too. If you need assistance, contact the ClearedJobs.Net Customer Service team available live daily from 8am-6pm EST at CustomerService@ClearedJobs.Net or 703-871-0037, Option 4. • Search for a job on ClearedJobs.Net Ò • Learn more about upcoming Cleared Job Fairs Ò • Read our blog Ò
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Special thanks to ClearedJobs.Net HR Specialist Patra Frame for her many contributions to the creation of this Guide.