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Efficient Job Searches

(Originally published on Sunday, May 2, 2010)

Tips and tricks on how to perform and manage your job search online

While summer traditionally means vacations, it turns out that many Filipinos take advantage of the season to look for jobs. A quick look at Google Insights for Search (www.google.com.ph/insights/search), a tool that enables people to know more about what Filipinos search for on Google.com.ph, reveals that searches for jobs in the Philippines typically spike between March and May, likely due to the large numbers of fresh college graduates trying to find their first job.

Filipinos are also the top searchers for job hunting worldwide, which may partially explain the country’s relatively low unemployment rate of 7.5%.

The latest Job Availability Index, using data from an online job portal, shows a 4.7% increase in job vacancies posted online between January this year and the same period last year. With so much competition for jobs, it becomes more important than ever to be a tech savvy job-hunter. There are many web tools out there that can help you find—and land—your dream job. Here are a few tips:

1.      Search smarter

Use search engines wisely and make sure to be as specific as possible when doing job-related searches. Search engines allow you to look for geography-specific information, such as for pages from only the Philippines, and even to those that are written in Filipino only. It helps to define the function and area you wish to target, so for instance, “IT jobs Cebu City” will be more useful than just the generic term “jobs.” Take advantage of suggested terms that search engines provide which may help narrow down your search results. Operators are also a great way to narrow your search. For instance, use double quotation marks if you are only searching for a specific word or phrase (“freelance jobs”), or the minus sign “-” if you wish to exclude a specific word associated with your search (ex. freelance jobs -manila, if you’re not interested in job listings from Manila).

2.      Remember the good ones

Once you’ve found web pages, blog posts, and forum discussions that contain the job hunting information you need, save them as bookmarks in your Internet browser and arrange them in folders for easy access.  Keep your information secure and make sure to sign out of your web accounts and clear your cache especially when in Internet cafes.

3.      Keep yourself posted

Get regular emails on job listings by signing up for job-related alerts through an alerts tool that most news aggregators and search engines offer. Select keywords you’re interested in (e.g. “sales manager Manila”) and have these alerts delivered directly to your inbox or your RSS feed reader, so you can beat out other job hunters when it comes to applying for these jobs immediately.

4.      Check your email regularly

Email is now the primary method of communication between recruiters and candidates, and yet many of us still forget to check our emails regularly. Make it a habit and allocate a specific time to check if there are any responses to your applications. Acknowledge receiving these emails with a short confirmation, and after the interview, send a quick email thank you note to your interviewers as a matter of etiquette.

Also, while you want your personality to be remembered by companies, you don’t want to be notorious because of an unprofessional-sounding email like hotchick345@email.com. When in doubt, just use your given name and surname as your email address.

5.      Get some help

Managing job applications can be daunting, and it may help to use an email program that is very good at managing the flow of information. Gmail, for instance, has Gmail Labs, which are features you could use to customize your job hunting experience online. Useful features include the Forgotten Attachment Detector, to ensure your resume is always attached, Quick Links to your bookmarked pages, Superstars to identify job-related e-mails, and even Undo Send in case you accidentally forward a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) email to a recruiter. To access Gmail Labs, sign in to your Gmail account and click the Labs icon beside the Settings tab on the top-right corner.

6.      Update your resume and write your cover letters

Your CV is your first step to being noticed, and there’s nothing more off-putting to a recruiter than getting an outdated one, or a cover letter that’s addressed to the HR head of a competing company. Getting a second pair of eyes to proofread your CV and cover letters is essential. Make sharing easier by uploading them onto a web-based document editor like Google Docs (www.google.com/docs), an online word processor that enables real-time collaboration between several people on the same document. With every change and comment you make automatically saved, you never have to worry about managing multiple versions of the same document again. And while you’re at it, you might want to try your hand at video resumes, another way for you to distinguish yourself from the job pool. Watch some and then upload your own to YouTube (www.youtube.com).

7.      Put your name out there

Being tech-savvy is a plus in today’s job-hunting environment. Why not go the extra mile and create a website or a blog with your updated resume, portfolio, and recommendations? Social networking profiles are also a must nowadays if you want to get in touch with folks in your target industry. Recruiters are known to use certain social networking sites to find suitable candidates for jobs they need to fill. Get recommendations from current and previous associates and post them online, and provide samples of your work, if possible. Remember to publicly post only appropriate material that you would want your future employer to see.

8.      Make an appointment

Got the coveted interview? Make sure you’re on time by marking it on an online calendar, which has numerous advantages over the old paper organizer. You can create SMS alerts for appointments, add new entries from any computer or mobile phone and share your calendar with peers so that they don’t book you on a time slot reserved for your interview. On your calendar entry, make sure to list down the things you need to bring (resume, portfolio), the clothes you’ll be wearing (corporate or business casual), and information about the location, the interviewer, and the company.

9.     Do your research

Many candidates simultaneously apply to dozens of jobs and end up spouting generic bits of information when asked during an interview why they’d like to work for the company. That’s the surest way to failure. Before your interview, make sure you read up on the the latest news about the company lest you get caught by surprise. Find out their core and extended services so that you can sound knowledgeable and passionate about the company.

10.  Know where you’re going

Now that you know your interview schedule, make sure you know how to get to the location of your interview. Nowadays, digital maps can save you from getting lost. Google Maps (www.google.com/maps), for instance, has a very comprehensive map of major cities in the Philippines. It also lets you look up names of places and street addresses so that you can plot your route, make and print your own maps, and get exact driving directions to your interview–all from any computer or smartphone.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin 2010. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

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Classified Cubicle – Employer Wisdom: More hiring tips from friendly companies

(Originally published on Sunday, April 25, 2010)

By C.F. BOBIS

Recently the Classifieds had the opportunity to talk to Ramona “Dot” F. Velasco, senior executive and human resources lead, delivery center network (DCN) for technology, Accenture Delivery Centers in the Philippines. Her career spans 20 years of experience, which includes 9 years as a systems developer and more than 10 years in HR.

Interestingly, Velasco graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, major in Mathematics, and her career seems to show how you can carve your own path out at business process outsourcing centers in the country. Her company, Accenture, is one of the world’s leading management consulting, technology services and outsourcing companies, with more than 177,000 people in 120 countries. Here, she shares answers to some of the most common questions Classifieds readers ask.

What are the job openings you need to fill most often? What are the duties under these jobs, and what are the qualifications for them? What do you look for in an applicant?

We have many opportunities for fresh graduates. For BPO, we need a lot of entry-level recruits for customer contact BPO, as well as for non voice BPO projects, such as health administration and insurance. We also have various openings for accountants in all levels for our Finance and Accounting BPO projects.

For our Technology workforce, we are looking for entry-level and qualified programmers and software testing professionals.

Talent comes in many forms and from many backgrounds. Each project has its own set of qualifications but generally, we look for bright and energetic people with a great appetite for learning. Accenture has always been known for its high standards but  intelligence alone does not determine success in our company, but a combination of intelligence, work ethic, guts and the flexibility to work with diverse people.

Do you have pet peeves when it comes to job applicants?

As we consider them our customers, we treat all our applicants equally. It’s not good to have so-called pet peeves about jobseekers.

Can you share any funny or unique stories (brilliant application strategies, memorably bad applicants) with us?

Memorably good – We interviewed, through an interpreter, and hired two hearing impaired people who will soon become our regular employees. They do payroll processing for our Global Service Center Organization (GSCO) and communicate mainly through e-mail and Office Communicator.  To help the rest of the GSCO team adjust to working with their hearing-impaired teammates, HR had them go through a special orientation and sign language classes

Memorably bad – We interviewed a sales director who didn’t know her company’s sales targets and forecasts, which left us wondering how she can be an asset to any company!

A lot of jobseekers fail at the interview portion; based on your experience, could you give tips to them with regard to how to answer questions, how to dress, and how to conduct themselves?

The interviewer has to make a good and informed decision based on the candidate’s performance during the interview. A job interview is not a game where you must score points or are eliminated when you make a mistake. A good interviewer sees through what an applicant says or does and makes a good decision based on a person’s potential to do well in the company.

Having said that, there are few tips we can give applicants, except to be yourself and be honest. Express yourself confidently.  Answer first before you explain–not the other way around. And dress appropriately for the job and the company you are applying with.

If you don’t make it, it’s only because the interviewer does not want to set you up for failure at the company, and believes there is a better career opportunity for you elsewhere.

What, in your opinion, is/are the biggest mistake/s jobseekers make?

Some applicants focus and give too much value to the salary, giving priority to short-terms rather than long-term gains. The best way to a rewarding career is going through the right experiences. Endeavor to join a growing company that offers varied opportunities for learning and success, and more room for growth and promotion.

What can a jobseeker do to increase his or her chances of getting hired, both at your company and outside your company?

  • Develop your English skills. You may be brilliant but you need to be able to converse, present and sell your ideas in English, the language of business.
  • Research about the company you are applying with.
  • Always try to express, not impress.
  • Focus on your strengths. Are you a creative person? A people-oriented person? An analytical person? Try to focus on what you do best and get into things that will develop those strengths. At interviews emphasize how your strengths can help the company you are applying with to reach its goals.

Would you have openings that non-college graduates, the differently-abled, and those over 35 can fill? If so, then what are these jobs and what do they require of applicants?

Accenture is an equal opportunity employer so we accept anyone as long as they match our requirements and hurdle our recruitment process. Most of our projects accept second-year college-level or graduates of two-year courses, provided they have at least two years of relevant work experience. We also have a project with hearing-impaired people.

Can you give our readers resume and cover letter advice?

Don’t make cover letters. Recruiters have to read through hundreds of resumes and don’t have time to read cover letters. Keep your resume brief but concise, highlight your strengths; you will have the opportunity to talk about yourself in detail during the interview.

Your best advice for a jobseeker is?

Be yourself. Be honest. Try to think of how your strengths can help the company you’re applying at. Always ask “what’s in it for them” – how can you help the company with, for example, your people skills, creativity, analytical skills, or significant previous work experience.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C.F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

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