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Articles and Advice

 WNY Job Seekers Q&A

By Joe Stein

From the Mail (E-mail) Box – Spring 2013

On a rather frequent basis, A WNY Job Seeker will send a note to yours truly at the e-mail address found on the bottom of this article.  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 compilation of some of the questions (and my answers) that have crossed my e-mail box over the last several months.  We are assuming that these types of concerns are on more than just the minds of the writer and can be useful to others.

Topic #1:  What If You Have Been Terminated?
The most common question received lately, without a doubt, involves how to address being terminated when searching for a new job.  In general, you do not “have” to provide a reason for leaving your last position.  Failure, however, to provide any answer to this question (or providing a real vague one), either on the application or in the interview, will generally cause a person to speculate that there was a “hidden” reason.  It is human nature to then assume it is because the reason is not a good one (at least in the eyes of the prospective employer).

In one Job Seeker scenario, the writer asked about not providing the “real” reason for the termination and will the prospective employer find out.  Most companies do reference check, but your previous employer may or may not provide them information beyond dates of employment.  I never endorse falsifying your application by making a non-factual statement (i.e., lying).  This is for an individual to decide, on an individual ethical basis.

In another situation presented by a Job Seeker, they were in an ill-suited Manager position, then were terminated and are now seeking a lower-level position similar to what they have been successful doing in the past.  In general, this is not a worst-case scenario to be in, as a Job Seeker can focus on how good he/she was in their previous lower-level position, how the Manager role was not a good fit, and that they do not plan on going back to a leadership position.

I am probably not writing anything that isn’t obvious when I state it is best to not get terminated from a job.  If you are in a situation where this has happened to you, how much you state is often determined by the reason of the termination.  Generally speaking…less is more on the application (without being suspiciously vague).  It is better to get into the details of the situation in-person, rather than on paper (even though I would recommend limiting the detail even then).  Remember, the time spent explaining your termination is time that you are not selling why you are the right person for the job.

Topic #2:  What If I Don’t Have the Skills Needed?
A reader sent me an e-mail regarding a certification that she needed in order to be qualified for a job that she used to be qualified for.  In this situation, the writer was frustrated by both the cost and time needed for this training and wondered what they could do about it.

Unfortunately, in today’s competitive work environment, most companies recruit new employees that will need minimal additional training due to both the expense and the fact they need the person productive immediately.  It is a very difficult situation when new technology arrives and a person has not been able to obtain the new skill.  If you find yourself in this situation, a suggestion would be to seek out assistance from a non-profit organization (or the NY State One-Stop service) that help those seeking reemployment. This reinforces why it is always important to try to stay one step ahead of technology. If you are employed, it generally is in your best interest to volunteer to learn new software or machinery.  It tends to make you more valuable to not only your current employer, but also in the labor market.

Topic #3:  Using a Resume Service
A reader inquired regarding the use of resume services.  A resume service is a company (often a self-employed person) that will review and edit (or write) your resume for a fee.  Writing a resume can be the most difficult part of the job search, resulting in undesirable procrastination.  A poorly written resume can, unfortunately, result in a Job Seeker not being able to obtain interviews for desired positions.  The use of this type of resume service is, however, often a real dilemma for a Job Seeker because the folk who may need it the most can least afford to pay the cost.   

I do not provide recommendations regarding for-profit resume services. I would suggest, if you are going to go down this route, to make sure you contract with a certified resume writing professional. If all you need is some self-guided assistance, you can go on our website @ http://www.wnyjobs.com and search the database of archived articles (even better…it is FREE!).  You will find numerous columns that address resume (and Cover Letter) preparation.  You can also contact a New York State One-Stop service for the next time they are conducting a resume seminar.  If you qualify, you may also receive assistance from the numerous non-profits that offer help in resume writing/preparation.

As always, best of luck in your job search!