With an ear to the job market, career coach Mark Burch tells me he's seeing signs of progress. There's not a lot of movement yet, he warns, but here and there, companies are hiring. One trend he's seeing: a demand for contract workers as financial institutions finalize mergers.
If you're looking for work, this column is all about helping you. I asked Burch to highlight the three questions he's getting the most from job seekers. See his answers below.
Q. I want to change careers. How do I build my resume to focus on my skills rather than the job positions I have had?
Burch says: “This is what we call a functional resume. There are individuals and companies that help folks put together a resume, but also numerous free Web resources. The key to this effort is defining your transferable skills and abilities, and place them in your resume in a manner that conveys to the person looking at you.”
Q. How do I answer questions during the interview, and what questions should I ask during the interview to evaluate a potential employer?
You could write a book on this one. Here are some of the highlights from Burch. He says: “There are six general rules to follow. Smile, be pleasant and outgoing and show self-confidence. Also, do not run down former co-workers and employers, show sincere interest in the company and the interviewer, and know your resume thoroughly.”
Feel free to ask questions about your duties and responsibilities should you get the job. Also, Burch says, it's safe to ask the interviewer about his or her management style and whether this is a new or replacement position. Make it even more personal and ask what qualities the employer is looking for in a hire and what the person you're talking to enjoys about the company.
And while you're preparing, keep this in mind. Burch says knowing yourself and the company is key. And this might surprise you. It's his experience that a hiring or go-forward decision is made in the first three to five minutes of the interview. So do your best to knock it out of the park.
Q. What is an elevator speech, and why do I need one?
Your elevator speech is your pitch. It's how you sell you to a potential employer.
Burch offers these guidelines: Keep your speech short and to the point, no longer than 15 to 30 seconds. Make it not just about you, but about the person to whom you're talking. Burch says identify a problem and solve it and practice your speech as needed. Also, don't set the speech in stone. You may need to adapt it depending on the employer.
Mark Burch is a career coach in Charlotte. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck, and let us know about your story of getting hired.
E-mail Bobby at email@example.com and watch him weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. weekdays on NewsChannel 36.