Sifting through the jargon

Researching a job search or career change? As you sift through blogs, magazines and books on today’s job market, you may encounter a bewildering number of terms you’ve never heard before.

While some of the jargon may make it seem like job hunting has gotten a lot more complicated, there’s no mystery to the process. And learning your way around the lingo is a good first step to being successful.

Let’s decode some of the top terms you might face as you enter today’s job market.

Your Elevator Speech

While you might have been led to believe there’s some great mystery to the world of networking, there isn’t. In fact, everyone can and does network all the time, and the “elevator speech” is one of the basics. What is it, in simplest terms? When you’re job hunting, it’s the brief, well-practised answer you give when someone says, “Tell me about yourself.”

Use this 30-second advertisement to introduce yourself, explain your career experience and make clear what you want. Practise before you use it in public so you can stay on point, but leave yourself open to followup questions and conversation.

The Hidden Job Market

Research shows that more than 80 per cent of jobs are not advertised. How can this be?, you ask. Well, a lot of companies hate the hiring process — writing a job description, paying for ads, taking the time to sift through hundreds of resumes, and interviewing candidates — and others often don’t even realize they have a hole to fill until an enterprising job hunter shows them.

The hidden job market comprises all the jobs you can access without answering an ad. How do you go about finding something that’s hidden?

The Targeted Approach Letter

We’ve all heard of a cover letter. The targeted approach letter is a cross between a cover letter and a cold call. It’s a way to show a company how you could fill a need they may not have even known they had. The beauty of an approach letter is that you can send it any time; it puts you in the driver’s seat, advertising what you have to offer.

Speaking of Advertising…

You know that thing you used to call a resume? Don’t worry; the work world hasn’t done away with them. They’ve just decided to call them something else. Your resume is now a “marketing tool.” And a good, strong resume rests firmly on you knowing your “brand.” No need to be intimidated by these terms; while there are current approaches to resume writing that you certainly need to consider when job hunting, they are still at their core a two-page summary of your professional and educational background, as they relate to the work you seek.

Whether you call it a resume or a marketing tool, do make sure that you can get it past the ATS.

And what does THAT mean?

An ATS is an applicant tracking system, used by nearly all recruiters and many large firms in the hiring process. It’s a computer program that sifts through giant piles of resumes so the humans don’t have to. And if you’re applying to jobs the old-fashioned way (responding to postings, rather than exploring the hidden job market), you’ll need to know how to get your resume safely past that screening tool.

What if you’ve had no luck getting past the ATS? Now’s a good time to follow up on those targeted approach letters and schedule some “informational interviews.”

The Informational Interview

Let’s say you’ve sent a letter to a hiring manager at an organization where you think you’d love to work. It’s quite possible you’ll now have the opportunity to speak with them in person. That’s the informational interview, and it’s your chance to ask a pile of good questions about the firm, its culture, and how you might be able to make a meaningful contribution. You’re interviewing them at this stage, arming yourself with the kind of information you need to make a wise decision about your own future.

And if all goes well, you may find yourself being invited back for a different kind of interview, which may lead to a job. What are today’s interviews like?

The Behavioural Interview

One of the more popular approaches to a job interview these days is called the “behavioural interview.” While not a new concept, it’s gaining momentum across disciplines. Rather than ask the standard questions we’ve all heard many times — “What is your greatest strength?” for example — it asks you to describe how you behaved or would behave in certain situations. You do need to be able to think on your feet here, but it’s also very possible to prepare for this kind of interview.

And in the end, a job search is really all about preparing. If you lay the groundwork first by figuring out what you really want to do, everything that follows — no matter how much jargon you encounter — will feel like a walk in the park.






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