WNY Job Seekers Q & A / From the Mail (E-mail) Box…

By Joe Stein

From the Mail (E-mail) Box….

On a rather frequent basis, a WNY Job Seeker sends a note to yours truly at the e-mail address below.  Sometimes, the e-mail is a Thank You for a tip that worked well, or an overall appreciation that we take the time each week to offer some advice to Job Seekers.  Usually, however, the e-mail contains a question regarding a concern that is troubling the writer. 

Below is a sampling of some of the questions (and my answers) that have crossed my e-mail box over the last several months.

WNY Job Seeker Seeking a Second Job:
Q: I currently work at “Company X”, I was thinking about getting a second job to make some ends meet.  How do I go about getting a second job and what do I tell potential employers on why I would need the job.
A: I really do not see your desire to seek a 2nd job as being a major obstacle for you.  Most people seek a 2nd job as a supplement in income, but whatever the reason, it really is a major probing area.
 I see a key focus item being how you will balance two jobs.  Your current employer will want to make sure you do not compromise your primary job with the 2nd position.  Your 2nd employer will want to understand the requirements of your main job and how this could potentially impact them.  This is the area that I think you will need to explain.

WNY Job Seeker Seeking a Return to Inside Sales:
Q:  I am sure you are very busy and get many requests from your column in WNYJobs.  I was just wondering if you could review my resume and give me some tips on how to redirect my career back to Inside Sales.  I have pretty much focused on an Accounting career since leaving “Company X” in 1998 as an Inside Sales Representative to try to become a Certified Public Accountant.  Unfortunately, I was unable to pass all four parts of the exam and now would like to go back to Inside Sales.  Thank you for your help.
A: After a review of your resume, the following is some high-level suggestions for you to consider.
• Your Objective is very generic.  If you are going to keep this section, I suggest you should tailor it to the Insider Sales job you covert especially since your recent work history is so Accounting focused.
• With your desire to move back to Inside Sales, a key will be a well written Cover Letter that will outline your desire to move back to that field.
• Since you have not been in Inside Sales during the last decade, you may want to explore whether a Functional Resume makes sense for you.  The goal would be for something to stand out regarding your ability to do Inside Sales when the Recruiter reviews your Resume.
• You will want to splash any key accomplishments from your previous Inside Sales positions.  Consider highlighting exceeding sales goals, new ideas, etc.

WNY Job Seeker Witnessing Employment Scammers:
Q: I pick up WNYJOBS every week, or else I view it online.  I always read your articles.  You have great tips and your articles are a great help to me.  I am a combat veteran who was discharged in February 2010.  I have been unemployed since then, and I am still seeking employment.
 Several job ads I have been submitting my resume to online have been asking me to provide my credit report to them.  They said, only after a credit report is provided to them will we be able to process your application.  I have applied to over 15 positions in the past couple of weeks and almost all of them have requested my credit report and also provided a link to a site that provides them. 
 My question is why are employers asking for me to provide my credit report?  Very sensitive and personal identification information is on that report, such as SSN#.  Why would an employer request a credit report from me, and is it legal?
A: I am sorry to hear about your struggles finding employment.  To answer your question….very rarely (close to never) will a legitimate company ask you for this type of information up front.  For some security sensitive positions, there may be a credit check, but that would not be until much later in the process.
 There are some “free” websites that seem to specialize in these types of employment ads. My recommendation would be to focus on the employment websites available, such as WNYJOBS when doing your job hunting. 
 If you have, in fact, submitted personal information to a questionable job or website application, you might want to explore protecting yourself from identity   thieves.

WNY Job Seeker Concerned About Past Work History:
Q: I am looking for some advice on how to find a job after being fired.  More specifically, when asked on an application if I have ever been fired from a job, please explain – how much should I really explain?
 Also, why is that on applications the next question is:  Have you ever been convicted of a felony?  And in parenthesis it states (Note:  a conviction will not necessarily bar you from employment…)?
 This says to me that you can be convicted of a felony and still find a job but you can never be fired from a job?  What are your thoughts?
A: To answer your question, those convicted of a felony do have some additional protected rights compared to someone who has “just” been fired.  This situation is government-driven and not being created from an employer.  Employers typically have to be ready to prove that any disqualification due to a criminal background has a tie to the position (for example, a serious theft crime for someone who will be handling sums of money).
 I never recommend anyone should falsely state that you have never been fired if you have.  How much you state is often determined by the reason for the termination.  Generally speaking…less is more.  It is better to get into the details of the situation in-person, rather than on paper (even then I would recommend limiting the detail).

A 2nd WNY Job Seeker Also Concerned About a Past Termination:
Q: I was fired from a job before, of course, this looks bad on an application. How can I word it so it doesn’t work against me?
A: This is one of the more frequent questions received.
 I am not sure the reason for your job termination and the severity of the particular situation that required you to be separated.
 In general, less is more in this situation.  If the application requires your reason for leaving, then I never recommend committing a fraudulent act by not being truthful.  You can, however, answer the question by providing as limited detail as possible.  Be prepared, however, to explain yourself in a positive, learning experience way during the interview.
 The reality is being fired from a job (I assume you are not referring to economic job elimination) is something that will work against you.  This is why employees should attempt to avoid being fired.  Once you have been terminated, however, the focus   should shift to how it   was a learning experience and how you will not allow it to happen again.  The key is to not make a ton of excuses, don’t dwell on it, and take accountability.

WNY Job Seeker Dissatisfied with “$200” Resume:
Q: I was reading your article in the WNYJOBS.com magazine and was wondering if you could look at my Cover Letter and Resume because I am not having much luck getting any interviews and I paid $200 to get my Resume done by a professional.  Any helpful feedback would be appreciated.
A: I have a few comments regarding your Cover Letter and Resume.
 Let’s start with the Cover Letter.  The Cover Letter should have at least 1 pp. that directly links your Resume to the position you are applying for.  Other than inserting the company name into the 1st line, this document appears to be a generic one.  My suggestion is you take the position description and match up your skills to it by highlighting, in the Cover Letter, were you shine.
 Your Resume, in my opinion, is very basic and not overly compelling.  The hard left justify with the massive amount of white space from center-right presents a very sparse appearance to the document.  I am a fan of concise Resumes with ‘white space”, but this has too much in my opinion.  With your Work Experience, I would place that above Education.  Education goes first when you lack experience, or you have a poor work history (which you do not).  I am not personally a big fan of the Functional type of Resume.  This appears to be a hybrid of a Chronological and Functional document.  It is difficult to match your Key Competencies to where you applied them (and how recently).  The Key Competencies also do not provide much background (ex. “Quality Control”) as to what you did.
 You have your certification and a consistent work history.  Both will be huge plusses for you.  I do suggest that you modify your Resume to better highlight your attributes.

I hope you found interesting some of the items facing Job Seekers in WNY.  You probably concluded that some of the same topics that are on their minds are also on yours.   Keep those e-mails coming!

As always, best of luck in your job search.

Questions / Comments to:    http://www.wnyjobs.com/contact.aspx