KMBZ Cover Story: The Big Gig

Stories & advice for landing the right job

May 25, 2017 - 7:00 am

The Kansas City's Morning News Cover Story for Thursday is "The Big Gig," about seeking and landing a job.

This time of year college graduates are sending out resumes at a frantic pace.

Resumes can easily be lost in the pile if they don't have something that grabs an employer's attention. 

Karen Silens of A-Plus Career and Resumes has seen her share of blunders over the years. She advises people against composing resumes that throw in too many details.

"Instead of creating a resume targeted towards a specific industry or job type, they'll create a general resume," Silens said. "And those don't really work well in the systems because their tendency is to be very keyword- and keyphrase-heavy in these applicant tracking systems that they're applying in."

In other words, a job hunter should compose a resume with wording that matches the description of the job he or she wants. 

And Silens says sometimes graduates think the only thing that matters on resumes are activities that made a buck, ignoring accomplishments that may count. 

"If they don't showcase volunteer roles and their associations with the officer positions they can lose out on a lot of jobs," Silens said. 

Long resumes are usually a bad idea. Silens recommends keeping the resume to a page or a page and a half.

How to Search for Work in the 21st Century

People who are looking for work need to be online.

"I remember back in the day when you looked in the newspaper Help Wanted section, said Jerry Hellebusch, owner of Morgan Hunter recruiting firm. "No one does that anymore."

A job hunter who has no online presence is communicating to potential employers that he or she is not tech-savvy, Hellebusch said.

According to the most recent study from the pew research institute, 80 percent of job seekers used online resources to find a job. One third said online job sites were the most important tool.

Job hunters need to have a page on LinkedIn, and perform regular searches for work on websites that post jobs. It is also important to avoid controversial posts on other social media sites because potential employers like to check those to learn more about the character of their applicants.

One old school method that sill works is to pick up the telephone and call the employer to ask for an interview, or to thank the employer for an interview.

"If you're aggressive, make a phone call and follow up," Hellebusch said. "So many times, we all get so many emails, that they they go into a black hole that never get seen again."

Avoiding Pitfalls in the Interview Process

Once the applicant has been granted an interview it is important to know how to make a good first impression.

"An interview is nothing more than a conversation, it's getting to know you," said Nadine Franz, founder of Apex Career Services in Overland Park.

It is important to do homework ahead of the interview. Get to know as much as you can about the company and the person who will perform the interview. 

"I always tell my clients to go on LinkedIn -- look at their background -- look at commonalities that you may have with the interviewer and try to bring that into the conversation so you can build that rapport," Franz said.

Different applicants will have different challenges to overcome in the interviewer. Older applicants should focus on their experience, maturity and certifications. Millenials are known to be innovative and handy with technology but they need to find ways to make a case to show that their attributes will benefit an employer.

Franz says eye contact, dressing appropriately and a firm handshake should also be standard for job applicants. 

Interviewing for the Job of a Lifetime

Kansas City native Josh Earnest knows what it's like to go through a high-pressure interview and find success in achieving the job of a lifetime. Earnest was White House press secretary under President Barack Obama.

Earnest was working is the White House press office when his predecessor, Jay Carney, stepped down. 

"It was late in the afternoon," Earnest recalled. "I was talking to a journalist as I often did in that role, and the president's assistant poked his head in the door."

Earnest had an idea what was coming.

"Brian says, 'Come on, let's go to the Oval Office,'" Earnest said. "I quickly realized what I figured was about to happen, and Brian said, 'You might want to grab your jacket.'"

Earnest worked his way through the ranks during the Obama presidency, and served in the top position beginning in 2014.

"I was nervous and I was focused and I was excited about the opportunity that I would have to make my case to the president," Earnest said.

Now 42, Earnest works as a commentator on national networks. He and his wife have a seven-week-old baby girl.

Changing Careers

Much of the focus on job hunting this time of year is on recent graduates, but people change their careers throughout their working lives.

Surveys show people commonly work at three different jobs within five years of graduating from college. Much of the reason for this is financial, said Roses Amun with Staffing Kansas City.

"I'm not making the money I want to make and I'm stuck here, plateauing," Amun said, relating the thoughts that commonly go through a young worker's mind. 

Amun says about 10 percent of their applicants are looking for a switch in careers.  She says that's a good thing because now a lot of employers are hiring.

"The clients are wanting to hire and finding good, skilled people is challenging," Amun said. "It's a candidate's market and and you've got to move fast."

The most important attribute for career changers to cultivate is confidence, Amun said.


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