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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2007

Say the Write Thing

A job paying $18 per hour was advertised in the newspaper. Only three people would be hired, but approximately 800 applied in one week s time. The competition was fierce.

I was one of several persons reviewing applications and was surprised to see how many job seekers left the special skills question blank, a question that gives the job seeker opportunity to show how their skills match the requirements of the job.

Most job applications have a question like this, where the job seeker is free to toot their horn. It may ask for special skills, machines operated, subjects of special study or languages you speak. Do not leave this space blank fill it in carefully and completely.

The job seeker should consider the requirements or duties of the job when deciding what to put in this space. It would be silly to list singing or dancing as a special skill if one were applying for work as a construction laborer. The words the applicant chooses should cause the employer to select him or her for an interview.

Employers who hire entry-level assembly workers say that they look for crafty people. A crafty person sews, does needle work or works with their hands. You should see how your special skills make you more attractive for your particular job choice.

Some job seekers downplay the significance of speaking a language other than English. In today s diverse society, the ability to speak another language is important to any employer for any job. A job seeker might reason, I m a landscape laborer, what good are my foreign language skills? The ability to speak that language would be an asset even for a laborer if the landscaping company encounters customers who only speak a language other than English.

Employers value a person s ability to learn. The special skills question also provides the opportunity to list something that demonstrates your learning ability like playing a musical instrument. Make sure to list any computer skills in this section regardless of the job you are seeking.

Lankard s rule: List all relevant skills.

Reason for Leaving Last Job

Recently, a former job center client introduced himself to me. What I remember about you, he says, Is you telling me not to use the word fired on my job application.

The question of why one leaves a job gives the possibility of a lot of red-flag answers any answer that causes the employer to discard your application and go on to someone else. Answers such as quit, fired, didn t get along, didn t like the job, or not enough money are likely to eliminate you from consideration.

Some suggest writing will discuss to the why did you leave this job question. This is only a temporary solution because sooner or later you will have to deal with the question.

Since the goal of an application is to get an interview, substitute a positive alternative for the red-flag answers. Some less offensive explanations include job ended, financial considerations, not my type of work, and wanted career change. I recommend practicing some sort of truthful explanation if it comes up in the interview.

Should you ever claim to have been laid off when you actually quit or were fired? If after quitting or being fired, you applied for unemployment compensation and were found eligible, you can use the term laid off. However, you could still be on shaky ground if your prospective employer contacts your previous employer.

Lankard s rule: Explain your reasons for leaving a job positively.

Bob Lankard Bob Lankard, a business columnist for the Indiana Gazette and former program manager at the state Job Center in Indiana, Pa., offers common sense advice and innovative tactics to help all levels of job seekers satisfy their employment ambitions.

Copyright CTW Features

By Bob Lankard

CTW Features



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