Q. How long do I wait to follow up with someone regarding a job lead before a colleague said they would make an introduction on my behalf?  I know it’s summer and everyone is busy but would like to get a meeting soon and not sure if I should reach out to the contact directly or wait.
If a colleague or friend offered to make an introduction the reasonable time to wait to follow up is about two weeks before inquiring, that is assuming you know if the person is traveling on business, vacation, etc.  If you know the person who you are being referred to but not that well, ask your referral source to vouch for you and then copy that person on the email you send for the introduction stating that the referral source referred you and that you’d like to get a meeting.  Keeping everyone in the loop but also helping to move the process along is a key way to keep you moving in the right direction and not offend anyone in the process.
Q. How are traditional computer skills evaluated in this market?  It’s not something they emphasize when you graduate school so is it something I should include on my resume?
Given how tough the job market is these days, any skill you feel is relevant to help you get a job or not, i.e., excel, power point, word, etc., should be included on your resume particularly if you are a recent graduate or applying for any type of entry level position.  Just because just about everyone uses one form of computing or typing even if it consists of typing text messages, don’t assume that it’s something you should not include on a resume.  Knowing how to market and leverage all of your skills in a way that does not make you appear to “clerical” in your job search will make you more valuable.  Regardless of the level of the position, having the ability to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty whether you are the CEO, CFO or office manager is important because everyone these days needs to pitch in and help regardless of the exercise.  Leverage and promote all of your skills on your resume it can only help you not hurt you.
Q. When do you think it’s a good time to start my job search after I just took a job with a company I really don’t like?
Well, if you took an interim or full time position just to get by then you should start looking for a job right away.  If there are no better opportunities at the company you work at now, and you really knew this going in, you should seriously consider your next job move and take a job for the right reason not for any reason. Making the right decision about a job offer even if it’s not the job of your dreams is essential so that your resume does not start to resemble a Yellow Page directory.  Job hoping even in a tight market is not something that reads well on your resume so make sure the next position you consider is right for you now and in the future not just for the moment.
Q. I was told that I could not apply for a job within the same department as my husband.  We both work at a mid-sized creative ad agency and there are not a lot of jobs for me to choose from.  What are my options?
Finding out your company ‘s policy on nepotism would help you navigate appropriate and inappropriate reporting relationships within your organization.  If you work in a small firm and there are limited job opportunities, find out what exceptions your company is willing to make in order for you to move ahead and take on more responsibility.  Understanding where you are in your ability to apply for positions compared with outside candidates will let you know if there is a future for you at the company or not.  If you are able to explore other options such as going freelance, consulting or temporary in order to seek a higher paying position then it might be worth giving up the full time opportunity in favor of an interim one. If your company is not flexible, then you may need to consider looking for work elsewhere.
Q. I’m concerned about the perception of being out of work for over one year and how that will look on my resume?  What do I do to help the impact of that when I apply for jobs?  I’m embarrassed that I have not been offered a position in over a year and I don’t know what to tell recruiters when they ask.
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about being out of work for over a year.  It’s a difficult time and transition for you but there are positive ways you can combat any negative perception especially as you continue to apply and interview for jobs.  Telling a recruiter the reason why you’ve been out of work these days is not necessarily a surprise to anyone given how tough the job market has been.  Learning to be optimistic and positive about your job efforts and letting a recruiter know you’ve either been particular about the jobs offered, interested in making a career change or just have not found the right job are all honest answers to what might look like no effort on your part when looking for work.  Finding the right balance in looking for work is necessary but knowing what you want out of your next job is essential.