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If you’ve been out of a job for a while because of the recession, employers may actually be more forgiving than you think, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.According to the report, 85 per cent of the 3,000 employers surveyed said “they are more understanding” of gaps in employment after the recession, and a whopping 94 per cent said they wouldn’t think negatively of someone who had to take a position they were overqualified for.
“While job seekers have voiced concern over how they may be perceived if they’ve been out of work for a while or took a job for which they were overqualified to make ends meet, the study shows employers understand the tough challenges the economy has created for workers,” said Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder vice president of human resources.
Here are 10 tips from CareerBuilder for improving your chances of being hired:
1. Take a temporary or contract assignment. Doing freelance work is a great opportunity to continue to use your skills and gain more experience in the field. Plus, it shows employers that you’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing and that you’re not afraid to take initiative.
2. Take a class. It can’t hurt to learn something new. Getting a certification in something useful can make you more competitive and open up better opportunities when you do get back to work. What you know is still as important as ever, and the more qualifications you have, the better your chances are likely to be.
3. Volunteer. Lending a hand at a non-profit organisation or a community organisation by doing something you’re good at, like bookkeeping or writing newsletters, can translate into skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
“Just because you weren’t financially compensated for a skill doesn’t mean that you don’t have a talent for it,” says Jason Willett, director of communications at VolunteerMatch.
4. Start your own business. If you have the resources for this, starting a business can be a great option.
“Don’t bet the house, but if you feel strongly about something, you may consider investing some of your time. Whether it turns into a small side business, a new career, or an international corporation, you’re getting something out of it and learning a lot along the way,” writes Amanda Congdon at U.S. News and World Report.
5. Start a professional blog. Career expert Lindsey Pollack says writing about the industry you’re interested in could advance your career by enhancing your personal band, demonstrating your ability to take initiative and expanding your network.
6. Follow stories on hot industries and job functions. Information technology, engineering, healthcare, sales and customer services are some of the fields with the most hiring, reports CareerBuilder.
7. Use keywords. Many big companies with tons of applicants use a tracking system to scan resumes for keywords to narrow down the applicants before it even goes to the HR team. Use words that appear in the job description and on the company Web site in your resume.
8. Come in with ideas. Interviewers commonly ask candidates what they would change about the company if given the chance. Do your research and prepare a well-thought out response that shows you’ve done your homework.
“Whether it’s an idea for a marketing campaign, new revenue stream, cost savings, etc., the candidates who come to the interview with ideas show they’re excited about the opportunity and always stand out from the crowd,” according to CareerBuilder.
9. Make connections. Building and cultivating your network will significantly increase your chances of getting a job, since the the most common way to find job referrals are through the people you know. Add contacts on Linkedin, attend industry events and join professional organisations where you can meet people who might clue you into new opportunities.
10. Follow through. According to CareerBuilder, two-thirds of workers don’t follow up with the employer after they send in their resume. In fact, Business Insider’s managing editor Jessica Liebman says, the biggest mistake job applicants make is not sending a thank you email after the interview.
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