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Just Saying: Alison Doyle

Alison Doyle, Guide to Job Searching, is a job search and employment expert with many years of experience in human resources, career development, and job searching. We asked her about current trends.

You’ve covered job searching for a long time. What’s changed the most in the last three years about what it takes to get hired?

What’s changed most about job searching over the last few years is that for many types of jobs simply posting your resume or filling out an online job application isn’t enough. Employers are taking recruiting social and using professional networking site LinkedIn and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to seek candidates for employment. That means it’s important for job seekers who are seeking professional positions to have an online presence where companies are hiring — or they will be at a disadvantage in this competitive job market.

What are the three biggest mistakes job seekers are making right out of college and how can they correct course?

The first mistake college students often make is not taking the time while they are in school to gain work experience. It’s not enough to have a college degree.

Companies are looking for college graduates with internship or work experience. If you are having difficulty finding a first job, consider a post-graduate internship to help bolster your resume.

If you haven’t yet used your career office, make an appointment. Most career offices help alumni as well as students. The staff can help with resume and cover letter writing, practice interviewing, job listings, networking events and career fairs. Take advantage of all the resources your school provides.

Another mistake is not using your connections. The people you know are a terrific source of job leads and recommendations. Tap your college alumni network (check with your career and/or alumni office) to get a list of contacts in your field(s) of interest to get job search advice and assistance. Talk to your family and friends and everyone you know to let them know you are job searching and they will be glad to assist.

What three tactics do you recommend for older jobseekers to avoid hearing “you’re overqualified?”

For older job seekers, it’s important to revamp your resume. You don’t need to include 20 or 30 years of experience on your resume because that is an immediate indicator of your age. The last 10 to 15 years is plenty. Be sure all that experience is relevant to the job you are applying for. The more relevant your skills, the more qualified you will be considered, rather than overqualified.

Look the part. Appearance does count, even though it shouldn’t. Take some time to makeover your image, so you don’t appear “older” and out-dated. You don’t need to look like your children or grand-children, but an up-to-date appearance can mitigate your age and the possibility of you being considered overqualified. The more you look like a fit for the role you are applying for, the better chance you will have of getting an offer.

Be honest. If you are downsizing your career, it’s fine to say so. Rather than downplaying your skills and experience, mention how you are looking for a new role for this part of your career and you want to transition. Then, be sure to talk about how your credentials are a fit for the job you are applying for. Give specific examples of what you can accomplish during job interviews.

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