Archive for the ‘Resume and Interview Tips’ Category

Reader Request: Music Job Ideas

April 27th, 2011

Just got this email from a reader with a dilemma: his passion is music and he's worked for both local and national record labels, but opportunities in that field have shrunk considerably. So what should he do? Let's take a look at what he wrote...

Hi Rich,

Hope this finds you doing well!  I enjoy your column in the Star-Advertiser and the Career Changers site. I've been using both to try and get some ideas of what I might like to do.  Wondering if I can pick your brain for a little advice...

I've done one thing my entire working career (Music Business, both retail and working for major labels like Sony and EMI along with numerous local labels), and it's the only thing I ever wanted to do since I was five years old.  Music is also my only real hobby --  just about anything I read is music history, I collect music and am a really bad guitarist.  The bad part is now that labels and record stores are for the most part gone, my place in the business is gone as well.  Everything I read is how you need to find something you really love to do... and unfortunately I can't do the one thing I love anymore.

Is it best to just dive into something and hope for the best?  I look at page after page of different occupations but nothing interests me (on paper), and I don't know if it's because of my singular interest all these years or that I'm desperately trying to hold on to something that just isn't there anymore.  What would be some of the first steps that you would recommend? Thanks for any advice you might be able to give.

Aloha,  Jim Williams

I liked his pitch. He's off to a good start with his job search by putting it out there that he's looking for help, and by going to the proper place to ask for advice. His brief email hits all the right notes: it shows he's done his homework since he's checked out my blog and website. The tone is courteous and friendly. He shares something personal that I immediately could relate to -- his love of music. Over the years, I've gotten to know a lot of people in the music biz who were international stars, and a few local musicians as well.

Then he succinctly presents his problem in a way that most of us can sympathize with. Times are changing, old ways of doing business are being phased out, and his options don't appear very promising. I wanted to help this guy, and I hope some of you might have leads or suggestions.

I followed up with an email to ask for a little more info about his strengths and salary requirements. Here's an excerpt from his prompt reply:

I have good managerial skills, am good at handling budgets, able to spot and capitalize on trends, also good at working with deadlines.  Would like a job starting at $45-50,000, but if I found something that interested me I would be willing to work my way up. Thanks, and I look forward to reading what you have to say!

His email contained no misspellings or horrible punctuation. He seems literate and is probably a good communicator. Someone who might be good at dealing with the public or business clients on a professional level. I like that he mentions working with deadlines and handling budgets too.

My first bit of advice is always the same: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. The more people you meet and talk to about your career aspirations, the more chances you'll have of making a connection that leads to an opportunity. As Judy Bishop of Bishop & Company has said in her segments for my Career Changers TV show, you should join different types of groups related to your interests or profession... but also tell everyone you know what you're looking for so they'll be keeping their eyes open for you too.

In fact, while interviewing an office manager for a CCTV segment, I felt like the person was over-qualified for what he was doing. So I asked about his education and background. He liked his job, but didn't love it. I mentioned to my wife that this person was looking for work in the architectural design field, and it just so happened one of her business clients had an opening that was perfect for him. He got the job and has been very happy ever since -- but it wouldn't have happened unless I asked him about his long-range goals because he was kind of quiet, and not the type that would bring it up himself. Rule number one for sales work and job searches: You don't ask, you don't get.

My second recommendation would be for Jim to broaden his search from the music biz to entertainment industry -- something creative in nature. That could be book or magazine publishing. Internet ventures related to the creative world. Local TV shows that deal with the music and entertainment scene on OC16 have pretty good followings, but need sales people who can bring in sponsors and advertisers. Maybe concert and event promoters in Hawaii could use someone with Jim's skills and connections to line up music acts and promote them. Make a list of companies he would like to work for, then pitch them on what he could do for them. Create his own job, in effect.

Anyone out there got a lead or idea? Post them below! Comments need to be moderated, so it may take awhile before they appear.

Bonus Links: Here's a couple of good articles that pertain to Jim's situation -- and perhaps yours.

How to Expand Your Career Potential

The Smarter Way to Change Careers

And of course, you should watch our show on OC16 to get more ideas and inspiration. Click here for daily viewing times, other useful resources, or check out videos from past programs on our CCTV YouTube Channel. Keep those email requests coming!

Follow-ups and Courtesy

July 14th, 2010

Job seekers and entrepreneurs are given a lot of advice about the importance of making good first impressions. Whether it's an interview, sales presentation, or networking at a social event, the goal is to engage people and find a way to connect with them. But I think the next step is just as crucial, and often overlooked: follow-ups.

In my role as co-producer of the Career Changers TV show on OC16, I've been going to job fairs, social media workshops, and business functions where people have pitched their businesses to me as possible stories for future CCTV segments. After exchanging cards, I'll ask them to drop me an email as a reminder of our conversation. Most never follow through. But the ones that do usually turn out to be the most professional, and I'm more likely to work with someone who makes it easier for me to say yes to them.

I've also heard employers say that if they don't hear back from an applicant after a job interview -- just a simple "thank you" email or follow-up call -- they presume the applicant isn't really that interested in the position. Cross that candidate off the list.

One blog reader who had contacted me for advice, mentioned she had dropped off handwritten thank you notes to companies she interviewed with. I wasn't surprised to hear later that she landed a job with a top company, because it's little things that make a candidate stand out from the crowd.

What did surprise me though was her age. She's in her early 20s. Maybe it's just me, but it seems many of the younger people I've encountered of late aren't very courteous. For instance, through my personal connections I recently helped a guy in his mid-20s get a position with a fast-growing company in his chosen field of study. I could tell Young Dude wasn't jazzed about where he was working, and after learning more about his background, I put out some feelers. By chance, a contact of mine said this person sounded like a good fit for her friend's company.

I relayed that info to Young Dude and said he should contact them ASAP. A couple of days went by, and my contact asks if the guy is interested or not. So I email him, and he replies that he hadn't gotten around to sending his resume. I told him to do it quickly because they were expecting to hear from him. A week later, my contact informs me that the company hired him. So I sent an email to Young Dude asking how the interview went. His terse reply said he got the job and he added, "Thanks." I wasn't expecting him to buy me lunch, or send me a handwritten note... but a phone call would have been nice. Sheesh.

However, when it comes to follow-up protocol there's a fine line between persistence and being a pest. One business owner sent me emails every week for about three months asking if we wanted to do a story on him. We finally did, and also ran some commercials for him at a very low price... which he still hasn't paid for, and the invoice is now two months overdue. But now he won't reply to any of MY follow-up emails!

And that's probably the lousiest part of follow-ups for any small biz owner: the collection calls. Anyone out there with good (or bad) stories about follow-up calls or email experiences?

Today's links:

9 Ways to Prep Now for a Career Change Later - Yes, this is a repeat link from US News & World Report, but worth repeating for those who missed it.

Our July show includes a segment about entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas to real investors, which originally aired earlier this year. For new CCTV viewers, you can find daily viewing times on our website (check out our YouTube Channel too!).

Mazie's Jobs Conference - Part 2

June 7th, 2010

I don't know if the new site will have a separate page for blogs like the Advertiser used to, but it appears new posts are showing up in the small "Blogs" box halfway down the home page. So I blog on...

Getting back to Congresswoman Mazie Hirono's Job Hunters Conference in Kaneohe last week, lots of good stuff as far as advice and job leads. I'll be following up on some of those stories in future Career Changers TV episodes. (BTW, if you have suggestions for show topics or are interested in advertising on CCTV, drop me an email at

But the assembled business leaders were also blunt about shortcomings in job seekers -- especially the younger generation. Billy Pieper, a manager at Bank of Hawaii, said too many "want to be CEO yesterday" without paying their dues. Others on the panel immediately chimed in, saying they see a lack of "work ethic" in younger hires. When the clock hits pau hana time, they're out the door.

Another common complaint with 20-somethings: they don't show initiative or a willingness to go above and beyond the scope of their job. Yet those same employees have a sense of "entitlement" -- it's as if they think the employer owes them pats on the back just for coming to work. However, I'd say that attitude has become more widespread than just younger people. Too many employees view their companies as money-machines, and don't look at it from the business owner's perspective. Anyone who has run their own small biz knows what I'm talking about.

Sandra Chun, Director of Civilian Human Resources for the Army Pacific Command, noted that many people "don't toot their own horns enough." She said locals need to put aside the "no like brag" humility and sell themselves to prospective employers. "You want a job, you gotta brag!" she told the audience.

As for minor annoyances, more than one panel member cited cell phone ringtones. Again, this was primarily directed at young job hunters. They don't seem to get that songs about "ho's" or partying all night with their boyz might not make a favorable first impression on a business-related caller.

While panel members were able to laugh about lax attitudes among Generation Y workers, Mark Duda of Distributed Energy Partners said they have a simplified approach to dealing with new employees: "Hire fast, fire faster."

Looking for job leads? Visit the Career Changers TV website for show times and helpful links, including the latest video job listings.

Special thanks to our newest sponsor, Argosy University, which has a small campus in Downtown Honolulu and locations in Maui and the Big Island. The reason you might not be familiar with them is Argosy was just formed in 2001 by the merger of three academic institutions that had been around for over 30 years.

On Camera Job Seekers Wanted!

May 18th, 2010

At prior job fairs, we've taped employers for video job listings on the Career Changers TV show and posted them on our website for those who couldn't attend in person. On Weds., we're going to give job hunters a chance to pitch themselves on TV and our YouTube Channel. Why not give it a shot?

If you plan on going to the WorkForce job fair, May 19, we'll be there shooting between 9 am and 11 am at the Blaisdell Center. According to Beth Busch of Success Advertising Hawaii, the event organizers, there will be over 130 companies and recruiters -- which is a significant increase over last year. So perhaps things are starting to pick up for Hawaii's economy.

We'll be looking for candidates who can succinctly pitch themselves to prospective employers in 30 seconds or less. Tell them why they should hire you, or at least contact you for an interview through CCTV. Since our viewers include small business owners and people in management positions, you never know who'll be watching!

Just look for a short, balding hapa-haole guy (me) and producer Ron Darby, the taller haole guy in glasses with the high definition camera on his shoulder. You can also try calling me on my cell phone Weds. morning at 228-6521, but my phone might be off if we're taping.

We'll also follow-up on some of the job seekers we film to see how things turn out. For tips on how to make the most of career fairs, visit our website and check out some of these YouTube videos:

Beth Busch's Job Fair Preview

Judy Bishop's Resume Tips and Interview Pointers

Good luck to any of you who will be there!

PET PEEVS (oops)

April 5th, 2010

Yes, the headline is an intentional misspelling. No, it wasn't intended as a play on the topic of employer pet peeves in our latest show, which started airing last week. But "not proofreading" resumes or emails probably should be on the list of things that bug potential employers.

For instance, I recently read a funny Texts From Last Night post on Twitter in which a hungover college grad said he just got back from handing out a hundred resumes at a job fair -- only to discover he had mistyped his BA degree as "BACHELOR O FARTS." Oops.

Even if you're normally careful about proofing copy, mistakes can still slip by... especially if you've rewritten or edited stuff and looked at it so many times that you just don't "see" the obvious error. Which is why it always helps to have a fresh pair of eyes check your resume or any important written material before it goes out for public consumption.

However, that's not always possible in our fast-moving, multitasking world. The problem for me as a TV producer is that when we make a typo on a graphic or phone number that appears on screen, thousands of viewers see it. Anyhow, we caught a couple of mistakes after turning in the April episode to meet our deadline, and the corrected version will soon be airing in its place.

So what's the funniest typo you've seen or made in an email or text that came back to haunt you?

Here's a short preview of this month's show (viewing times listed here):

Link to April CCTV preview.

For those who are not offended by profanity and unseemly behavior by young people, here's the Twitter link to TFLN (Texts From Last Night). Often rude or related to binge drinking, but sometimes very funny too. Read at your own risk!