There are probably 100s of questions running through your mind during your job search. You need answers. Here popular job seeker frequently asked questions (and answers)!
Too often, I’ve worked with job seekers who don’t ask enough questions during the process. Or, they make assumptions about what they think they should do.
Here’s what you need to know.
No two companies or recruiters have the same process, opinion or requirements. The only sure way for you to know what you need to do is to ask. Remember, knowledge is power. I want you to feel empowered, not victimized by a process you feel you have no control over. The more you know, the more successful you will be during your job search.
Remember, knowledge is power. I want you to feel empowered, not victimized by a process you feel you have no control over. The more you know, the more successful you will be during your job search.
So to help give you confidence, here are answers to the most frequently asked questions by job seekers.
Should I connect with human resources or an interviewer on LinkedIn?
The answer depends on the preference of the person you want to connect with. The only way to find out is to ask. During an interview, ask your interviewer if it’s OK to connect on LinkedIn. Otherwise, you can send an email and ask if you can connect.
But, have you thought about why you want to connect and what the benefit is to the other person? If a recruiter connected with every person that applied or interviewed for a job, how would that help them? They want a network of people who are potential employees. If the recruiter doesn’t think you’d be a fit in their company, why would they want to stay in touch with you or have you in their network? Just because you’re connected doesn’t mean much. Likewise, why would you want to connect with someone you weren’t interested in keeping in touch with?
There are other ways you can stay in touch. It’s called email.
When do I follow up after an interview?
The best way to get this question answered is to ask the interviewer during your interview. Always ask when you should follow up and the best way to reach out to your interviewer. Once armed with this information, follow the recommended steps to the letter.
If you are looking for more advice on follow-up, you can read Advice On How To Follow-Up During Job Search
What if I don’t know anyone inside the company? Should I just apply online?
Have you asked everyone you know if they know anyone who works there? Did you search LinkedIn and Facebook for people who work inside the company (past or present)? Until you have tried both of these things, you won’t know for sure.
As a last-ditch effort, reach out to either the hiring manager or someone who holds a similar job in the company you are interested in. Explain you are interested in acquiring more insight on the company and would like a few minutes of their time. Give them a couple of days to respond before you follow up one more time. The insight and potential for help from an insider is invaluable and worth the effort and risk.
Should I use a separate resume for every job?
No two job descriptions are the same. Take time to review the job description carefully and research the company. Make sure your resume includes the required skills and technology requested in the job description. If your resume already does, then you’re set. If not, you must make sure these words and terms are in your resume. In short, you will probably need to customize your resume for each and every job you apply to in order to make it through the applicant tracking system (ATS).
You can learn more about how ATS work by reading 5 Things You Need To Know About Applicant Tracking Systems
Why haven’t I heard back from the company after I applied?
Did you follow up? If you don’t follow up with an email or phone call, how do you know the company received your application? While it would be nice to receive an update from the company, it doesn’t always happen. Take control by following up and get the answer to your question. Ask where they are in the review process and then ask if they received your application.
I think my past boss is giving a bad reference. What do I do?
If you suspect a previous manager is negatively impacting your job search, the only way you’ll know for sure is to call him or her. (No, an email won’t work in this case.) It isn’t an easy conversation to have, but you need the answer. But before you go there, what concrete facts do you have that make you think your boss is bad-mouthing you? If you don’t have proof, there could be many other things to fix first.
If you need to have this conversation with your past manager, try opening the phone call by informing your boss about your job search and ask if he or she would be willing to serve as a reference. If they say yes, probe further by asking, “Can you think of any reason why you wouldn’t positively recommend my performance?” This should open the dialogue between you and your past manager. The bottom line is if you suspect your past boss is unable to say anything positive, find someone else in the company to serve as your reference (and don’t list their name on your application).
Can I take notes during an interview?
Taking notes during an interview may not have crossed your mind, but it should. The interviewer is taking notes, shouldn’t you? During important meetings, you probably take notes to help you remember important details. The same should be true during an interview. Early in the interview, show you value confidentiality by asking the interviewer if it’s OK to take notes.
PS: You can also bring a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer. Here are 30 questions YOU can ask.
How do I respond to a request for salary expectations?
You will come across this question while completing the online application, during the phone interview and when you meet for an in-person interview, too.
It starts by knowing an appropriate range. This means doing salary research. On an application, never put a salary that is too low or too high. The recommended strategy is to say that your salary is negotiable. However, a better way to respond, when speaking with a recruiter, is to ask what the company has budgeted for the position. Once you have that number, you can respond with an appropriate range.
Learn how to research salary.
Should I (fill in the blank)?
If you wonder whether you should write a cover letter, send a thank-you note, or have any question, the answer is, if it takes more time and is more difficult for you to do, then YES!
When you opt for a more time-consuming or more difficult step, it will help you outshine the competition. There are many people who take a lazy approach to searching for their next job. These job seekers apply to tons of jobs, many of which they are not qualified for, and then wonder why they aren’t getting any nibbles.
The better approach is to always take the harder route. Invest more time in doing the little things that make a big difference in showing you are truly interested in the job and the employer.
This post originally appeared in US News & World Report
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.