Business Solutions Forum: Laid-off employee after job-seeking advice

The Business Solutions column in our new Expert Network section is designed to be your personal business advisory sounding board with experts from different business areas available to answer your questions. This installment offers tangible tools to answer this query: You have talked about how a company can survive this economic crisis, but what about employees? I was recently laid off from a position that I have held for most of my adult life. The Internet seems to have completely restructured the way to look for work. Any suggestions?
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All industries can interact and communicate to help out each other -- ours are no different. The Business Solutions column in our Expert Network section is designed to be your personal business advisory sounding board with experts from different business areas available to answer your questions. The format for this as with other Expert Network sections will not be unlike a "Dear Abby" for business; however, SNEWS® will expand beyond the typical single columnist to tap into a broader panel of experts, many from among SNEWS readers. Together with experts, SNEWS will offer a forum for readers to discuss a topic, chime in with their own ideas, and suggest different recommendations to a variety of business concerns or issues.

Our Business Solutions expert panel is hosted by Ascent Advising, using contributions from several sources. Offer your input via the Chat area to add your comments or ideas to expand the forum into a lively, interactive, open discussion that we hope will benefit all.

Have a question you'd like our experts to answer? Email it to BusinessSolutions@snewsnet.com.

Q. You have talked about how a company can survive this economic crisis, but what about employees? I was recently laid off from a position that I have held for most of my adult life. The world is a different place compared with the last time I was looking for work. I am very comfortable with email, but the Internet seems to have completely restructured the way to look for work. Any suggestions?

A. You are right. The methods and media that we use to seek work and seek employees are quite different. Most of the process is done via the web and via email. Here are a few of the mistakes we have seen, and some suggestions for how to avoid them.

  • Sloppy file names -- One applicant we saw recently had his resume file named "new_new_new resume." Made us wonder what the old_old_old resume looked like.
  • Making customization work against you -- Technology does allow you to customize your cover letters and resume for specific jobs, but being too blatant makes the prospective employer suspicious. One recent applicant combined this mistake with the first mistake. His cover letter file name was, "finance cover letter" when the job was in sales.
  • Communications and typographical errors made easy -- Electronic media allows for rapid-fire communications…but also rapid-fire mistakes. We have found errors in emails in about a quarter of the applications.
  • Wrong message in your address -- Email addresses like FunIsLife or RollMyOwn might work for your friends, but may not send the desired message to prospective employers. Email addresses are free. Get one that sends a positive message and one that will make employers want to talk to you.
  • Joint applicants? -- If you and your significant other share an email address, get one that is just for you and just for professional communications. Somehow receiving an email regarding possible employment from "Mary and John" sends a less-than-ideal message.
  • Wrong software -- Use a word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) that is universally available. If you have used the latest and greatest version that can't be opened by your prospective employer, you've unnecessarily created a dead end for yourself. You can use a new version of the software, but save the document as an older version.
  • Bad spelling and grammar are still bad! -- Ten years ago or a hundred years ago, it has always been bad form to have spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors in a cover letter or resume. Avoiding these has never been easier thanks to computers, yet a shocking number of errors still exist!
  • Don't toss out "old fashioned" forms of communication -- With electronic communications so easy, few applicants use phone calls or paper mail to contact prospective employers. This is exactly why it might be a good idea for you to do just that!

Ascent Advising provides wide-ranging business advisory services to companies around the globe, coming alongside business owners and executive teams to define and achieve even greater successes. The popular email newsletter, "Adages from Ascent," brings to light vital and innovative concepts for running a business. For a free subscription, and to view past issues of the newsletter, visit AscentAdvising.com and follow the link for "Adages from Ascent."

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