Blog for Job Seekers

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May 8, 2019

In a Nutshell

These days, we live in a fast-paced society that seems to thrive on instant gratification and tiny bits of information. “Keep it short and sweet.” “Don’t ramble.” “Give me the highlights.” “To the point.” “Summarize it for me.” “I’ll get right to the point.”

That’s why it’s important to have a summary or overview statement on your resume—position it at the top of your resume, just below your name and contact information. It’s a quick way for the reader of your resume to get a lightning-fast highlight of who you are as a professional.

The summary is powerful, so no limp, flat, boring summaries for you. Your summary should be dynamic; it should pop and grab the reader, enticing them to read more of your resume. It should intrigue them to continue to read your resume. It should peek their interest about you. It should reflect the best of who you are as a professional. It’s sort of a written version of your elevator pitch. Remember though, it’s not an objective. Think along the lines of: your value, career highlights, and key strengths.

So how do you go about creating such a summary, you may ask. There are many styles to create a summary for your resume. Here’s a 3-part template you can use for your summary on your resume:

First part: The job you would like to get in the future (the job you’re applying for). Not your past jobs. Not the job you currently have. Not the job you had when you were laid off. This is the time to look into the future and where you want to be with your upcoming job.

Second part: Specific skills you have that are most appropriate for your next job. These skills can be both hard and soft skills. What skills set you apart as a professional in your field? They should directly pertain to the job for which you are applying. While it’s great you have impeccable Microsoft Excel skills, listing that skill most likely won’t get you a job interview for a creative writer, for instance.

Third part: Your accomplishments/achievements/results/outcomes that relate to the job you want. Give a sample of your achievements that directly relate to the job you want. For example, if you’re looking for a job in human resources, as an achievement, you could mention that you implemented a company-wide work-from-home policy, resulting in an 87% increase in employee satisfaction, a 21% increase in productivity, and a 38% decrease in PTO usage.

Some additional details to keep in mind as you craft your summary: Your summary can be bulleted items or phrases—or both. You should customize your summary for each job and the company that you apply for. Your summary should line up with the company’s job requirements. Your wants and needs should align with the company’s wants and needs. You want your summary to help the hiring manager “connect the dots,” so to speak, as to why you’re an outstanding candidate. No flowery, empty words here—use powerful, concrete words that clearly express who you are, as you relate to the job.

Check out these examples of resume summaries:

“An accomplished sales leader with a keen understanding of the market dynamics that impact national advertisers. A proven record of success in penetrating new market segments, account development, and revenue growth. Expert in integrating video, display, mobile, television, and print verticals into a cohesive message. In-depth knowledgeable of creating digital content packages and brand strategy for both start-ups and Fortune 500 accounts. Have secured and managed multi-million dollar contracts throughout my career. In 2010 I surpassed my goal by 127% bringing in revenue of $20 Million for Tribune 365.”

“Architectural Project Coordinator with over fifteen years of experience. Versatile, bilingual professional with management experience ranging in size from small private projects to full scale multi-million dollar high profile corporate construction projects. Ability to oversee and manage hundreds of individuals while ensuring timely completion of project deadlines all while remaining on or under budget.”

“Experienced sales manager in retail industry with strengths in customer service, sales and negotiations. Proven skills in marketing, advertising, product integration, and promotions. Successful in developing strategies that have resulted in an over 20% increase in new customers. Instrumental in developing an incentives rewards program with a repeat customer success rate of over 45%.”

A vibrant summary that positions you as the best candidate for the job is one of the strongest parts of your resume. Don't neglect it or omit it or rush through it. Carefully plan and craft how you'll present yourself in the summary section. Remember that the summary should be the best of who you are, as it relates to the job for which you're applying. Write it so you stand out.

Sources:

1. “Recruiters Spend an Average of 7.4 Seconds on a Resume—Here are 3 Ways to Make yours Pop,” by Courtney Connley, 12/6/18, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/recruiters-spend-average-7-4-170500625.html

2. How to Write a Resume Summary That Lands the Interview, by ZipJob Team, 9/10/18, https://www.zipjob.com/blog/writing-a-good-resume-summary/

3. The Art of Writing a Great Resume Summary Statement, by Kimberly Sarmientohttps://biginterview.com/blog/2013/11/resume-summary-statement-examples.html

4. Write an Amazing Resume Summary Statement (6 Samples Included), by Mike Simpson, https://theinterviewguys.com/resume-summary-examples/

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April 4, 2019

The Blue-Ribbon Phone Interview

Don’t take it lightly. Be prepared for a phone job interview. They’re quite common these days. Lasting anywhere from as brief as 10 minutes to upwards of 45 minutes, many companies are using this as part of the hiring process. It’s a tool to screen candidates. It can be a deciding factor as to who will be called in for an in-person job interview. And it’s a great tool for remote interviewing and hiring. It’s commonly used for out-of-town or out-of-state candidates, prior to having the candidate fly in for an in-person interview to minimize the expenses a company will pay for out-of-state or out-of-town candidates to come in for a job interview. And it’s a quick-and-easy tool for the company to use find out more about the candidate without much effort on the part of the company.

Of course, the biggest challenge of the phone interview is the visual aspect. There is no in-person connection between you and the interviewer. You can’t see the other person who’s interviewing you. Since you’re not face-to-face with the interviewer, you can’t see body language and cues from the other person as you go along. And you’re not able to use appropriate body language to get your message across. And you can’t glean any information about the physical building/setting/environment or other people who work there, as you would at an in-person interview. Remember, all the interviewer has to go by is your voice and the information you’re providing. With that in mind, the goal of the phone job interview is to get an in-person interview. You want to come across as the type of person they’ll want to meet in person. Here are some before, during, and after tips to help you.

It’s vital to prepare for the phone interview.

  • Paper copy of your resume and cover letter and the job posting. Paper and pen to take notes.
  • Distraction-free room, especially of noises.
  • Clear phone access--landline is best.
  • Prior to the interview, confirm date and time of interview, who you’ll be interviewing with, who will initiate the call, etc.
  • Checklist of what you want to accomplish on the interview.
  • Set an intention for the job interview.
  • List of your strengths and weaknesses, projects you’ve worked on, appropriate accomplishments and achievements.
  • Glass of water, a cough drop/hard candy (in case you get a tickle in your throat), a box of tissues, your calendar.
  • List of questions for the interviewer.
  • Do research about the company and be prepared to share.
  • Your favorite object that will calm you, inspire you, give you self-confidence, like that pretty shell you found on the beach during last year’s vacation, a photo of your dog, an image of a  favorite landscape, your lucky charm, an image of a happy face.

Before the phone interview, practice, practice, practice.

  • Choice of words. Be mindful of how many times you use slang words or use “um” or “like” or “uh” or “okay” or “yeah” In your sentences. Try replacing these words with a pause.
  • The pronunciation of the names of the people who will be interviewing you.
  • Body posture, voice projection, speed of your speech, your speech patterns and habits. Muffled words, talking too fast, talking to softly, talking too loud—all no-no’s.
  • Record you voice in a mock phone interview and listen to it and honestly review yourself. Make adjustments as appropriate.
  • Deep breathing techniques to keep you calm—can be done before and during the phone interview.
  • Do some practice answers in front of a mirror to get more comfortable with what and how you’ll respond.

You want to flow through the phone interview with ease.

  • Dress professionally so you’ll feel better about yourself. In fact, you’ll feel, act, and speak in a more professional manner. It’s somehow hard to come across as a professional while wearing torn sweat pants and a t-shirt with stains on it.
  • Have easy access to your resume, your cover letter, the job posting, and your LinkedIn profile.
  • Focus, listen carefully, ask for clarification (if necessary) and enunciate and articulate clearly, concisely, and slowly.
  • Be confident and enthusiastic. Your answers should sound natural, not like canned responses that you’re reading off a piece of paper. Your answers should show that you’re a technical fit (knowledge, qualifications, experience, hard skills) for the job and that you have the necessary soft skills.
  • Stand during the interview to create better posture and an enhanced voice.
  • Don't interrupt the interviewer. Wait 2-3 seconds before responding to a question, to make sure the person is finished speaking.
  • Take notes for later reference.
  • Provide short, concise answers. Don’t ramble on. Stay focused on the questions and your responses.
  • Ask questions. Also, because body language isn’t in play, use phrases that indicate you’re actively listening (“That’s interesting.” “Yes, I see.” “Really?” “Tell me more.” “Yes.” “That’s so fascinating.”)
  • Use “please” and “thank you.” Also use Mr. or Ms., unless you’re requested to use the person’s first name.
  • Smile. Relax. Slow down (this is not a race) and don’t overpower the conversation.
  • Gather contact information for each person conducting the interview.
  • As the interview closes, thank the interviewer, express your interest in the job and company, inquire if you meet their needs, and briefly discuss next steps.

Lastly, after the phone interview be sure to do some follow-up.

  • Send a thank-you letter to each person you spoke with on the phone.
  • Makes notes about the interview and company. Write down what you like (and don’t like) about the company. Review how the interview went (both the good and bad). Make a list of all the great aspects and the areas where you need to improve (and steps to take to improve). Use this interview as a learning tool to improve and expand yourself.
  • Congratulate yourself on a job well done and treat yourself to something special.

Don’t shrug off the phone interview. It’s your first formal contact with the company and a great opportunity to showcase how you, as a professional, match what the employer is looking for in a candidate. So much that they’ll definitely want to meet you in person.

SOURCES:

Job Interviews for Dummies, by Joyce Lain Kennedy

Job Interviews that Mean Business, by David R. Eyler

Knock ‘em Dead, The Ultimate Job Search Guide, by Martin Yate, CPC

The Smart Guide, The Perfect Job Interview, by David Holmes

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-ace-a-phone-interview-2058579

https://theinterviewguys.com/phone-interview-tips/

https://www.careercontessa.com/advice/phone-interviewing/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMpm--LPlQw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDBUZCjWEPs

https://www.job-hunt.org/job_interviews/telephone-interviews.shtml

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February 28, 2019

Know Thyself: Assessment for the Job Seeker

Two simple words can go a long way during your job search. As a matter-of-fact, they should commence your job search.  “Know thyself.” So said the Greek philosopher Socrates. And it’s  inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It’s crucial to the job search process. Just exactly how is it important to finding a job?

More confidence. With knowing yourself, comes confidence--that feeling of self-assurance arising from appreciation of your abilities and qualities. You can relax into your job hunt and therefore reduce some stress associated with job searching. You know who you are and you know that you can bring much value and worth to a company or organization. Plus, with confidence, comes enthusiasm.

Less speculation. If you don’t know who you are as a person and as a professional, how then do you know what kind of career/job you want and what kind of industry you want to work in, and what kind of company/organization you want to work at? You’ll have a clearer course of the kinds of jobs you want to apply for, the kinds of companies you want to work at, and the industries that are of the most interest to you.

Better presentation. The more you know yourself, the better you can present on your resume, at a job interview, in your cover letter, in your thank-you letters, and while networking. So it will be much easier to share your self-possessed skills and talents and answer job interview questions like: “Tell me about yourself.” “What is your greatest strength or weakness?” “Tell me about a time when you showed outstanding leadership skills.” “Was there a time when you worked through a conflict with a co-worker?”

Now we know why an assessment is vital to the job search. But how do we go about doing an assessment and getting clarity about who we are as a professional? How do we get to know ourselves better as a professional? How do we get clear about who we are as a professional, our career goals, and where we want to work? Enter in the assessment, which can come from yourself and from others.

Self-assessment starts with you.  There are plenty of self-assessment tools out there to use. Here’s merely a sampling to get you started:

  • On the My Skills, My Future  web site, enter your current or past job and find career matches. Or explore a specific career.
  • Jump onto the Career One Stop web site and choose Explore Careers, where you can opt for self-assessments or learn about careers.
  • You can identify your strengths at this web site, NJ Career Connections.
  • Jump onto My Next Move and search careers by key words, browse careers by industry; or tell what you like to do. Also, check out careers by these groups: Bright Outlook, Interests, and Job Prep.
  • Develop a 7-area overview of yourself using the author’s Flower Diagram. Find in-depth instructions in his book, What Color is your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles.
  • The website Classy Career Girl has numerous resources to use as part of your self-assessment.

Assessment from others.  Family, friends, former work associates, colleagues, people you volunteer with, people you know from church or your house of worship, and your references can furnish an insight into who you are as a professional, from their vantage point. Set up a time to meet with them or talk over the phone and use a set of pre-determined questions to ask them. Use those individuals who’ll provide constructive feedback and not those who will criticize you or put you down or tell you how you need to improve yourself.

Remember all those yearly reviews you had at work? Most of us dreaded the yearly review, but they can come in handy for this assessment project. They give us a third-party view of who we are at work. And now, they just might be helpful for you to comb through and look for common themes (the great and not-so-great), assuming, of course, that you saved a copy of these at home. You can learn who you are through the eyes of someone else.

Now we’re making progress. What areas do we want to look at during the assessment process?

  • Skills.
  • Motives, behaviors, habits, desires, personal style.
  • Strengths, weaknesses, best/worse qualities.
  • Areas of growth and areas to improve, things you want to learn, new habits to forge.
  • Accomplishments, achievements, success stories.
  • Interests, hobbies, what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, what you’re naturally drawn to.
  • Core values (both work-related and personal), mission, beliefs, belief structure, morals, life experiences, fears.
  • Goals, what you want to achieve/be/do/have.
  • Personality type, work style.
  • Aptitude.
  • Type of company you want to work at, the kind of boss, co-workers, and work environment you’re looking for.
  • Must-have’s at work, what’s important to you at work, what type of work culture is best for you.
  • Your dream job and dream company.

Take the time now to delve into your world and find out who you are and what makes you tick when it comes to your job and career. When you apply for a job or go in for a job interview, the company knows very little about you. And it’s your responsibility to help your potential employer know who you are. A thorough assessment of yourself is the perfect start.

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January 22, 2019

Get on Track: Use Your Imagination to Find a Job

Remember when we were kids, we had such vivid imaginations? We could imagine all sorts of things and situations. And in such detail too. And we used our imagination all the time. If you take a minute to think, I’m sure you can come up with a bunch of those crazy things you imagined as a kid. Well, it’s time to start using your imagination again, but now as an adult, to help you find a job.

Only after you’ve done a thorough self-assessment on yourself (I can’t stress enough how crucial this is  to the job search process), you can start to employ your imagination to imagine that great job, that great boss, those great co-workers, those great benefits, that great company, that great paycheck.

Okay. You’ve taken the time to do an in-depth self-assessment of yourself as a professional and a forthright self-assessment of your career. You have a list of what you want. You know what you want. And you feel good about it. You really need to know what you want before you can start thinking about and imagining that which you want. Quite simply, you need to get crystal clear about what you want.

Take a look at this scenario.

Tom: I’m going to go on a vacation.

Greg: Great. Where are you going?

Tom: I don’t know.

Greg: When are you going on vacation?

Tom: I don’t know.

Greg: Who’s going with you?

Tom: I don’t know.

Greg: Will it be a local vacation or to another country?

Tom: I don’t know.

Greg: How long will your vacation last?

Tom: I don’t know.

It’s hard for Tom to imagine a great vacation, let alone plan and organize a great vacation, since he’s clueless about his next vacation. Same for you and your job. Take the time to develop precise and clear-cut ideas about your new job and new company. Include details. And more details.

After you’ve got these clear ideas around your ideal job, employer, and career, start imagining what that would be like. Use your thoughts, your imagination, and your five senses to experience your new job and your new employer. You want it to be so vivid and so detailed that it actually feels like you’re currently working there. Plus, you want to add enthusiasm, excitement, passion, intensity, and zeal to your imagination. Don’t have a dull imagination. Have a dynamic imagination. Infuse it with spirit and pep.

Here’s the kind of detail I’m talking about. What time do you get up for work? What do you wear to work? Jeans and a t-shirt? Or a business suit? Or a uniform? Or khakis and a polo shirt? How do you get to work? Drive your car (on major highways or do you take all the back roads?)? Public transportation? How long does it take you? What does your work environment look like (office setting, factory, outside environment, classroom, lab)? What does your workspace look like? What does your morning look like at work? Do you grab lunch at the local deli or bring lunch from home? What do you have for lunch? How do you spend your afternoon at work? When do you leave work? Do you stop at the gym or grocery store on your way home from work? What is your boss like? And your co-workers? How would you describe your favorite co-worker? What is the culture like where you work? What is your salary? How often do you get paid? What are the company’s benefits and perks? Do you work for a small or medium-size business, corporate, a start-up, or a mom-and pop store? Or do you do freelance or contractual work? What are your major and minor responsibilities at work? What tools do you need to do your job? What are your goals and aspirations with this job? What are you learning at work? How do you assess your success? What do you like most about your job and company? What do you like least?

Now, with all this vivid imagination going on with your job, add some action to that. Remember: positive thoughts/imagination + action = great results. Get an action plan together and follow it. Positive thoughts using your imagination is wonderful, but this needs to be fueled with action on your part to meet with results more quickly. What steps are you going to take? What is your action plan? What are your goals? What are your aspirations? What are you going to do each day to find your job?

Your imagination can lead you to your perfect job. So why not use this free tool. You can use any time of the day and anywhere you happen to be. Get your imagination to work for you—now! And land that fabulous job.

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December 12, 2018

The 2 Components You Must Bring to Your Next Job Interview

Who doesn’t want to ace the job interview? It’s more than just luck. And you can’t just “wing it” at your next job interview. Success at a job interview boils down to two things. Yes, only two things. Seems too hard to believe. But accurate. And they are: confidence and enthusiasm. Or enthusiasm and confidence (as you wish).

CONFIDENCE. We all can quickly identify the confident person in the crowd. It’s great to be confident. However, confidence isn’t something you’re going to muster up five minutes before the job interview commences. You’re going to walk into the job interview confident because you, as they say, have done your homework. You’re prepared. You know what to expect. You’ve practiced and practiced and you feel comfortable with yourself (and who you are as a professional) and the whole job search process.  You know how to maneuver around little upsets, like forgetting someone’s name or losing your train of thought.

But, you’re not a know-it-all, smart aleck, pompous, arrogant, condescending, patronizing, conceited, or express a better-than-thou attitude. Over-confidence can distort into these. Nobody appreciates that in a person and it’s sure to be a red flag on a job interview.

You want to be confident in three areas: confident in yourself, confident with the job and company, and confident with the job interview process.

Get self-confident. Know who you are both as a professional and an individual. Be comfortable with your strengths and weaknesses. Be at ease talking about yourself and sharing your elevator pitch. Be excited to share your accomplishments, results, achievements, and outcomes. A solid and thorough self-assessment or self-inventory is a great way to gain confidence in yourself.

Get confident with the job and company. You do this by doing as much research about the job and company as you can. Go online. Reach out to professionals you don’t know. Talk with other professionals.  Find other professionals who know something about the job or company. Use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals. Ask questions.

Get confident with the job interview process. To get a thorough understanding of the job interview process, go online and do some research. There’s lots of information online, from commonly-asked job interview questions to how to dress for a job interview to what kinds of questions to ask the interviewers to how to make a great first impression to numerous job interview tips. Practice in front of a mirror—introductions, your elevator pitch, answers to questions—and watch your body language.

ENTHUSIASM. Everyone welcomes a healthy dose of enthusiasm. It gives the impression that you’re interested in and jazzed about the job and the company. A lack of enthusiasm might lead the interviews to believe you don’t want the job. But be mindful, bring too much enthusiasm to a job interview and you’re bouncing off the walls and others are wondering what’s going on (think: red flag).  You might be thinking, “What am I supposed to be enthusiastic about? It’s not like I have the job.”

You’re enthusiastic because you’re interested in this job and the company and are eager to learn even more about this opportunity. You’re enthusiastic about who you are as a professional and all the great stuff you can bring to the job and the company. You’re enthusiastic about the ways you can stand out at this company and not just fit in. You’re enthusiastic about meeting new people. You’re enthusiastic about sharing and learning during the job interview. You’re enthusiastic  about how you can help and contribute to this company. And you’re enthusiastic about sharing all of this at the job interview. Plus, you’re enthusiastic because this might just be THE job.

Which is more important, confidence or enthusiasm? They go hand-in-hand. Both should be given equal weight and value. Does confidence promote enthusiasm or does enthusiasm promote confidence? Neither. Both enhance each other. Gaining confidence and enthusiasm is a process with many steps involved. Start today to develop a plan of what you need to do to gain both confidence and enthusiasm for your upcoming job interview.

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November 16, 2018

Forgetting Something? 7 Often Overlooked Aspects to the Job Interview

We all know the substantial stuff that constitutes how to make a great first impression on a job interview: research the company, dress for success, make eye contact, have answers for the commonly asked job interview questions, use good manners, ask questions, listen carefully, arrive on time, bring your resume, take some notes, turn off your cell phone or device, smile.

Sometimes the devil is in the details. I feel like I’m taking out a magnifying glass and using it, but here goes. What about all the small stuff that can potentially come up on a job interview that you need to be prepared for? Those off-the-wall things that squelch your ability to make a wonderful first impression. Let’s look at some of the never-thought-of stuff of a job interview you want to avoid. So, you’ll need to prepare now as to how you’re going to handle that if it comes up for you. There’s no cookie cutter approach. You need to come up with a method that you feel comfortable.

  • How are you going to handle someone who is conducting the job interview who isn’t savvy at job interviewing and doesn’t know what he/she is doing? Yes, you’ll get this. Not all folks are savvy at conducting a job interview. Maybe they’re not prepared. Or they talk too much. Or they seem distracted. Or they don’t seem to want to share much with you about the job or the company. Or they don’t seem interested in what you have to say. So you’ll need to be prepared. Try this: Acknowledge it and go with the flow.
  • What are you going to do if you lose your line of thinking and draw a blank? How are you going to re-gain your composure? If you’re not able to gain composure quickly, you’re apt to go downhill from there, making one mistake after another. Try this: Take a deep breath to focus and ground you.
  • What are you going to do if you get thrown for a loop with a weird, odd-ball question? You know, one of those questions you are totally and completely unprepared to answer. Try this: Smile, say something like, “Wow. That’s a great question. Give me a minute to answer.” and answer as best you can.
  • How are you going to remember everyone’s names? Nothing worse than calling someone by the wrong name. Try this: Jot down the name on your note pad and you can causally refer to it later in the job interview.
  • What are you going to do if you get nervous? Maybe you have butterflies or you feel tense and can’t relax. Or you’re so nervous you look like a scared rabbit. Or your eyes are nervously darting all around the room. Or you’re rambling on and on and on. It’s easy to spot that nervous person and you don’t want to be that on a job interview. Try this: Smile. Take some deep breaths. Relax your body. Bring to mind something that evokes a sense of calmness for you, like the sounds of waves at the beach.
  • How are you going to control unwanted body language like fidgeting, talking too much with your hands, using the words “um” and “like” too much, slouching in your chair, touching your face, playing with your hair, tapping your foot, adjusting your eyeglasses way too often, clenched hands, fiddling with the pen in your hand? Try this: Figure out what your particular unwanted body language is. Then craft a solution for it. Let’s say for example, using hands too much during a conversation is your big body language no-no. Have a landing spot for your hands to come back to when you’re done, for the time, using them during conversation.
  • What if they ask you a question that’s illegal or inappropriate? Do you know how you’ll answer? Many times, these get asked because the interviewer is untrained in the skill of conducting a job interview or is just trying to be friendly and is unknowingly asking illegal or inappropriate questions.  Try this: Be polite. You can decline to answer the question, ignore the question and redirect the topic, answer the question with a question to get more clarity, deflect the question, or answer the question based on the intent of it.

Don’t let something like a stint of dry mouth and coughing (try this: bring a cough drop with you, just in case) stand in the way of making that oh-so-crucial fantastic first impression.  With a little foresight, you can easily avoid or rapidly remedy any negative situation.

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October 17, 2018

Stuck in Your Job Search?

Yes, it’s true. All job seekers, at one time or the other, feel stuck in their job search. Maybe you feel this way now. You’re actively looking for a job, but feel shipwrecked. No responses. No job interviews. Your networking efforts seem to fall flat. Or maybe you’ve fizzled out in your search because you feel it’s a fruitless attempt. No one seems interested in your job search—much less supporting you. You feel like it’s just not worth it.

“Nothing I do to look for a job brings me any positive results.”

“I stopped looking for a job. It’s too depressing.”

“Well, another day of useless job searching.”

“I’m not good enough.”

“I’m getting nowhere with my job search.”

“I’ll never find a job.”

“This job search feels like it’ll never end.”

“No one’s going to offer me a job.”

But these feelings are okay. Just don’t let them get the best of you and get you stagnant. They also can indicate that change is necessary. Use these negative feelings and channel them into something much more positive and fruitful.  

So think again if you’re discouraged with your job search. Here are some resources to get you out of that rut of feeling stuck and into a more dynamic and agile job search, with the awesome result of a great job offer.

NEVER GIVE UP. This is the #1 advice of discouraged job seekers who went on to meet with success in their job searches: Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. (Source: Richard N. Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, 2018 edition.)

We all can think back to times in our life where it took dedication and time and effort to reach a goal: learning to ride a bike, attending and graduating from college, learning to ski, writing a book, following a weight management program to lose 30 pounds. But you didn’t give up, right? You persevered. So too in your job search.

TAKE A BREAK. Yes, it’s okay to take a short break from your job search—no more than a week. Sort of like a mini-vacation from job searching. Doing just that very well might be the spark you need. It might rejuvenate you and clear your mind and you’ll be revved up to resume your search. You’ll come back with better ideas, a sparkling new approach, more enthusiasm, and upbeat job hunter.

Focus on something else for a bit of time. Find you favorite ways to relax. Do whatever you can to rejuvenate. Find ways to inspire and motivate yourself. Maybe spend time on that pesky problem that’s been lingering. Start planning for an upcoming holiday, birthday or special event. Spend extra time with friends and family. De-clutter the house. Buy that new car you’ve been meaning to buy, but never found the time. Spend time on that hobby of yours that’s fallen to the wayside.

FRESHEN IT UP. If you’ve taken the same approach for a while, maybe now is the time to shake it up. But how do you do that? Here are two paths to try:

Option #1: Swap out the Traditional Approach (which you’re probably using) for the Parachute Approach (an innovate approach).  For example: What are you trying to find out? With the Traditional Approach it’s, “Do they want me?”. With the Parachute Approach, on the other hand, it’s, “Do I want them? (as well as, Do they want me?) Can I do the work I most love to do here, and at the same  time help them?”  See the difference? See how your tactics will be different for each approach? Read about all 12 of the Parachute Approach aspects in the book by Richard N. Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers,  2018 edition, in Chapter 6, What to Do When Your Job-Hunt Just Isn’t Working.

Option #2: Try several of the 50 very cool and unconventional ideas to help you land a job—all with a unique and innovative slant—from the book 50 Ways to Get a Job: An Unconventional Guide to Finding Work on Your Terms by Dev Aujla.  Some chapter titles include: "Map a Network," "Help Five People," "Find Your Future Boss," "Make Your Own Finish Line," "Win Over Someone Who Cast You Aside," "Organize Your Job Search in a Spreadsheet," "Write Fiction about Yourself,"  "Update LinkedIn as Your Future Self," and "Describe Your Dream Job." They sound intriguing--and do-able. Plus, each chapter is short and sweet; no never-ending chapters--a struggle to get thorough just one chapter, let alone the whole book.

Take this chapter, for instance, "Practice Different Ways of Introducing Yourself." The goal of this chapter is create several ways to introduce yourself to craft a conversation that is riveting and reflective of who you are in your job search. The author provides easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank templates to introduce yourself. Some include: If you want to talk about an industry or job function; if you’re interested in multiple potential career paths; if you want to talk about what you are learning; if you want to talk about a job-related, past project.

When your job hunt seems like it’s futile and ineffective, that’s the time to reinvent yourself and your job search path. Getting into the mindset of never giving up can help you move forward. Taking a very short break from job hunting can bring you back into the job search arena fresh and ready to go. Revamping your job search can work wonders for a boost in results.

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September 27, 2018

Down the Rabbit Hole of Experience

Experience. There is no substitute. Period. We all have great work experience to share on our resume and cover letter, while networking, and at the job interview. Over 10 years of experience as a technical writer. Experience driving a forklift truck. Public relations experience working at one of the top 5 PR firms in the nation. Experienced cake decorator, specializing in wedding cakes. Ten years of experience coaching a high school basketball team. Writer experienced in technical writing.

But there’s more. Much more.  What if you could take your workforce experience and morph it into something that really makes you shine and get noticed by a hiring company? And, most importantly, land a fabulous job? How about turning it into something more valuable, from a hiring company’s view, than simply experience. Here’s the secret to taking your professional experience and transforming it into a more powerful, amped up version of itself.

Take your experience and extract the results, achievements, outcomes, accomplishments, and your strengths. To get started, think along these lines:

  • Praise, recognition, promotions, awards, accolades, recommendations, commendations or pats on the back from supervisor, co-workers, colleagues, vendors, upper management, or clients/customers (national recognition for completing a project ahead of deadline and below budget, supervisor continually noticing your ability to calm down irate customers, set the record for the longest consecutive recipient of Customer Service Rep of the Year).
  • Participant in special projects, committees, or task forces (examples: part of the task force to examine the viability of adding an additional parking lot at headquarters; appointed to special project to develop a protocol for the challenge of high absenteeism).          
  • Accomplishments and achievements that you’re proud to share (examples: completing a particularly challenging assignment of a plan to bridge the gap between departments; building the Human Resources Department from the ground up; participate in a department-wide solution that improved customer service, resulting in a 7 percent increase in sales).
  • Results of your actions, accomplishments, or efforts (examples: 12% savings of money and 7% savings of time using a procedure that you refined; spending extra time with a customer that resulted in that customer placing an exceptionally large order for goods or services; due to your impeccable skills in dealing with angry customers, being asked by your supervisor to train co-workers to more efficiently deal with angry customers).

Next, use those results, achievements, outcomes, strengths, and accomplishments and create high-impact, attention-grabbing statements to help position you as an ideal candidate. See the “wow” factor between these “good” and “better” statements?

GOOD: Welder with 15 years of experience at ABC Company.

BETTER: Achieved a record of zero defects in all pipe-welding and ductwork jobs. (This example is from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/resume-accomplishments-examples.)

GOOD: Highly experienced 8th grade teacher who makes learning fun.

BETTER: Dramatically increased pass rate of eighth-grade students from 67% to a record-high of 93% on state proficiency testing. (This example is from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/resume-accomplishments-examples.)

Now, incorporate these key statements into your emails, LinkedIn profile, elevator pitch, resume, executive summary, and cover letter and while you’re networking and on job interviews.

As a job seeker, get in the habit of presenting yourself more through your accomplishments, strengths, results, outcomes, and achievements and less from your experience side. Although necessary and wonderful, work experience can come across as flat and lifeless. Your accomplishments and achievements from your career, on the other hand, have a multi-dimensional impact and delve more into your track record as a professional.

Additional Resources:

LiveCareer: Job-Seeker Accomplishments Worksheet: Brainstorming and Documenting Your Career Success

New Jersey Career Connections: Identify Your Strengths

Jobscan: 39 Resume Accomplishments Examples to Demonstrate Your Value

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September 10, 2018

Network the Smart Way

We all know we need to network to find a job. But, networking can seem challenging, uncomfortable, and elusive—an out-of-reach task for many of us. Really, not so. Want to enhance your networking skills and take them to the next level? Then this book is for you. In his book Friend of a Friend…Understanding the Hidden Networks that Can Transform Your Life and Your Career, author David Burkus (author, speaker, and associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University) takes networking to a whole new level, backing it up with solid research and inspiring real-life stories. He goes over the in’s and out’s of networking. You’ll discover how you can make modest changes in your networking approach that will have an immense impact for your next job. Here are some chapter titles and quotes from his book:

Find Strength in Weak Ties: “Research shows that our biggest opportunities and best sources of new information actually come from our ‘weak ties’ or ‘dormant ties’—our connections with people we don’t see often or haven’t spoken to in a long time.” Take-away message: Start reconnecting with people you haven’t been in contact with for quite awhile: old college friends, previous co-workers, the next-door neighbor who moved out of state, distant relatives you haven’t seen in ages. All these people can help you get closer to a great job.

See Your Whole Network: “The truth is that we are all one big network, and the people who succeed are not the ones with the best collection but the ones who can see and navigate their network best.” Take-away message: Since we’re all connected, everyone we interact with is someone we can network with and find value in. Every person you meet is a potential bridge person for your next job.

Become a Broker and Fill Structural Holes: “Research into networks reveals that, surprisingly, the most connected people inside a tight group within a single industry are less valuable than the people who span the gaps between groups and broker information back and forth.” Take-away message: Make a point to connect and network with people outside your industry, your job, your line of work, or your comfort zone. Think diversity in your networking plan. Expand and share beyond your niche area and see the value in connecting with a variety of people from all areas of life—who just might be able to assist you with your job hunt.

Become a Super-connector: “…the evidence also suggests that most of us have the ability to grow our network large enough to become a super-connector.” Take-away message: Step outside your zone of comfort, get confident, and start thoughtfully and consciously connecting and networking with others. As a super-connector, you have access to mega amounts of people, ideas, referrals, and potential jobs.

Leverage Preferential Attachment: “…building a valuable network might seem like a lot of work now, but eventually it will become effortless.” Take-away message: The more you do it the easier it becomes. Same with networking. It takes practice to polish your networking skills. Become more refined at networking, it then becomes simple and seemingly magical. The easier it is, the more you’ll do it and you’ll accelerate finding your dream job.

Skip Mixers—Share Activities Instead: “...research suggests, we are better off engaging in activities that draw a cross-section of people and letting those connections form naturally as we engage with the task at hand.” Take-away message: Participate in activities and through the process of becoming involved with the activity, networking naturally takes place. Think along these lines--volunteering, team sports, planning an event, activities involving teamwork. Sharing an activity can mean sharing ideas and resources about jobs and career.

Start to leverage networking to your advantage. Embrace networking and it will be your best friend during your job search. This book can help you get the most out of networking during your job search.

Additional resources to review: New Jersey Career Connections: Identifying and Building Your Job Search Network and Networking Conversations.

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August 20, 2018

The Job Gap

When you’re between jobs, use your time wisely. Hiring employers tend to not like to see a long-stretching job gap, where you’ve done not much of anything, on your resume. You certainly don’t want to be asked on a job interview: “What have you been doing the past year, since you stopped working at ABC Company?” And your really don’t want to respond by saying, “Looking for a job.” That response doesn’t position you as the confident, qualified, and enthuastic candidate that you are.

Instead, you want to answer something like this: “I’ve learned how to write grant proposals, while volunteering with XYZ. While expanding my writing skills and honing in on the writing style for grants, I also learned how to gather information and provide statistics and documentation for the grant. At XYZ, I applied for 10 grants. Thanks to my efforts, XYZ was just awarded a $100,000 grant by the state of New Jersey to implement an intergenerational learning program between school children and seniors in the Blairstown School District.” Now doesn’t that sound better than, “Looking for a job.”?

Don’t let a one-month job gap slide into a one-year job gap. Before it becomes a lengthy gap between now and your last employment, be proactive and engage in some meaningful activities that you can do to enhance not just your resume, but you as a professional and make you appear more appealing to a hiring manager. Like what, you ask?

Volunteer: A fabulous opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, network, and have fun. There are so many non-profit organizations, churches, and service organizations looking for volunteers. You’re sure to find one that resonates with you.

Get training, take some classes, learn a new skill, obtain a certification: Any kind of formal training/learning also is great for you, your career, and your resume. Pick from a variety of settings: online, a college class, adult learning education classes at a community college, or local non-profit organization trainings.  

Work part-time:  Working part time still leaves you enough time to look for a long-term, more permanent, full-time job. It could be a fun job or a job within your field or maybe something you’ve never done before. Meet new people. Learn new things. Build relationships. Network with co-workers. A win-win situation.

Start a part-time business, as a side gig: You’ll be busy and learn all sorts of new things doing this. What are you good at or like to do? What are your interests/hobbies? Turn it into a part-time business or freelance/contract work.

All of this should be added to your resume, which will give your resume a fresh, new dimension. Think of these options as an opportunity to enhance your resume and your hire-ability. These can make you stand out among other job candidates and just may get you the job offer. Plus, these enhancements give focus and meaning to your job search and to your life, while you’re not working. So go ahead and add some pizazz to your resume—and your life.

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July 31, 2018

4 Steps to Launch a Successful Job Search Campaign

Looking for a job, says Christopher D. Lee, PhD, SPHR (author, lecturer, human resources specialist, and leading authority on the search process) is a holistic effort. It’s a campaign. Moreover, Dr. Lee says, it takes time. You can’t do it along. And, he continues, there are ways to do it more effectively and efficiently. That being said, here are his four steps for a rewarding job search:

Step #1: Self-reflection. This, according to Dr. Lee, is the bedrock of the entire process and it will give you clarity, so you can better launch your job search campaign. Don’t downplay, or even worse, completely skip, this step. What have you been successful at and enjoyed most from the past? What things (salary, job title, location, job duties, size of company, etc.) are most important to you? What types of positions would you consider? Take time to look at who you are as a professional, make a list of your accomplishments, achievements and results, where you want to go with your next job and your career (both short and long term), your strengths and weaknesses, your career goals and aspirations, and where you want to work.

Step #2: Research.  Some solid research is imperative. You’re looking for knowledge, information and ideas, notes Dr. Lee, that are useful in your job search. Do some online research and connect with experts and professionals to find information like this: current market and trends, job hiring trends, salary ranges, job titles in use, companies and industries you’re interested in, company strengths and weaknesses, company mission statement/values/culture, financial information, current news in your field, target institutions/geographies, and business intelligence.

Step #3: Gather/Prepare Materials. You can’t just start your job search empty handed. Prepare a resume, get your LinkedIn profile up and running and active, create a portfolio of your work (work samples, awards, articles, presentation, reports, design work, blogs, vlogs, web sites, photographs), if appropriate for your line of work, look at current vacancy announcements in your field, have several job interview outfits ready to go, have a professional photo of yourself, practice your Elevator Pitch, have  thoughtfully prepared answers to some of the common job interview questions, set up a system to organize your job search, gather references, write a one-page executive summary, get some networking business cards, and devise an Action Plan with goals and daily tasks.

Step #4: Networking. This is where it all comes together. Now you can do some major networking, both online and in-person, to build your support system. Networking, says Dr. Lee, is the process of connecting with others to have career-related conversations. Dr. Lee emphasizes that it’s a two-way, interactive process. You can network with people you know and people you don’t know. Networking is an opportunity to connect with others, help other people, exchange information, ideas, and resources, get job leads, share your skills and talents with other individuals, find other people you can connect with, and keep up with industry trends and the latest news in your industry. All of this will get you closer to a job interview and then a job offer.

So here it is in a quick overview: self-reflection, research, gather/prepare materials, and networking. Start to implement Dr. Lee’s four-step process and get moving full steam ahead with your job search. Only you can take the first step down the path of your job search. So step in the right direction. Dr. Lee’s suggestions have all the makings that will get you the best and quickest results.

Source: Webcast: How to Launch a Successful Job Search, 3/26/18, on HigherEdJobs

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July 13, 2018

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask These Questions on a Job Interview

Think of a job interview as a conversation between you and members of the company. Frame it as a friendly exchange and sharing of information and ideas. During a balanced conversation, both parties ask questions. That means you get to ask questions during the job interview. Company staff shouldn’t be the only ones asking the questions. Here’s a sampling of some great questions to ask:

  • Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
  • Who is the supervisor for this position?
  • How has this position evolved?
  • How would you describe the company's culture?
  • What other companies are your major competitors? How is this company better?
  • What soft skills are needed for this position?
  • Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
  • What are the four top things you like most about working for this company?
  • Can you give me an example of how the person in this position would collaborate with the manager?
  • How does the company live up to its core values and mission statement? What’s the one thing you (or the company) are working to improve on?
  • What are the challenges of this position?
  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the firm?
  • How do you help your team grow professionally? Maintain home-work balance?
  • When your staff comes to you with conflicts, challenges or disagreements, how do you respond?
  • If hired, what are the three most important things you'd like me to accomplish in the first year at the company?
  • Is there anything I've shared that makes you doubt I would be a great fit for this position?
  • How do you define and evaluate success here?
  • What are some of the challenges (and solutions) your company faces right now? Goals (and timeline) of the company?
  • Can you explain the hiring process for this position?
  • Is this a new position? If not, why did the person before me leave this role?
  • Where do you see the company in three years and how would the person in this role contribute to this vision?
  • Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
  • What's your staff turnover rate? What are you doing to reduce it?
  • What's one of the most interesting projects or opportunities that you've worked on?
  • Is there anything we haven't covered that you think is important to know about working here?

Asking questions is a fantastic tool to use on a job interview. And it serves many purposes. Not only are you looking at how they answer the questions, you’re also evaluating their body language as they answer the question. Asking questions shows you’re interested in the position and the company. And, you’re actively engaging in the interview when you’re asking questions. Plus, pay attention to what they say and what they don’t say in the answer. Look for the obvious and the subtleties in an answer.

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June 29, 2018

Your Successful Job Search Starts with This

Every successful job search needs to commence with a self-assessment. Yes, a self-assessment is the very first step in your job search. You’re constantly growing, expanding, and changing, so before you officially start your job hunt, it’s imperative to get crystal clear about who you are now--as a professional. You need to know exactly who you are as a professional, what you’ve done (achievements, accomplishments, results), where you want to go (career path and goals for the future), your strengths and weaknesses, where you want to work, the kind of people you want to work with (including co-workers and supervisor), the parameters of your dream job, how you can improve yourself, and goals/deadlines for your job search. An honest self-assessment gives you confidence throughout your job hunt.

Before you update your resume, do a self-assessment. And before you start networking, do a self-assessment. And before you start pouring over the online job boards, do a self-assessment. I’m going to say it again. Every successful job search begins with self-assessment. Please take the time to do this. It might seem cumbersome and awkward and perhaps unnecessary, but it’ll save you time and frustration during your job hunt.

There are lots of self-assessments out there. I’m going to touch on Richard N. Bolles’ Flower Diagram Exercise as discussed in his book, What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers (2018 edition). He uses seven areas of assessment. Each area of assessment is a petal of a flower and all of the pedals come together to create a flower, the flower being a clear overview of you as a professional.  This flower diagram can be printed and put up on the wall for daily review and motivation. I encourage you to refer to his book for a more in-depth overview of this exercise.

Petal #1: My Preferred Kinds of People to Work With

Do you opt for working with people who are realistic, conventional, enterprising, social, artistic, or investigative? What traits do you want in a boss and co-workers? What age groups do you prefer to work with?

Petal #2: My Favorite Working Conditions

Do you want to work in an office, factory, or at home? Do you want casual or more conservative work atmosphere? Do you mind traveling for work? Do you want to work in a city or stay more rural? Non-profit, government agency, or company? Start-up, small company, or large corporation?

Petal #3: My Favorite Transferable Skills/What I Can Do and Love to Do

What are you really good at doing? What are your skills that you have (and that you really like to do) that you can bring to another job or industry? Consider both soft skills and hard skills. What are some skills you would like to learn?

Petal #4: My Goal, Purpose, or Mission in Life or My Philosophy about Life

This sums you up. You mission. Your goal of life. The “why” of why you work, so to speak. Is your purpose to help people improve their lives? Is your mission to keep people healthy? Is your purpose to invent technology to make people’s lives easier? Is your goal to prepare food that brings people together? Is it to share information and resources with others? Or to teach or counsel teens?

Petal #5: My Favorite Knowledges/Fields of Interest

This is a list of areas or fields that interest you. Computers? Horses?  Marketing? Health and wellness? Animals? Education? American history? Books? Entertainment industry? Research and development? Management?

Petal #6: My Preferred Salary Range/Level of Responsibility I’d Like

What would you ideally like to earn? What’s the lowest salary you can accept? What benefits or perks are must-haves for you? Do you want high or low levels of responsibility? Are you interested in moving into management or a supervisory position?

Petal #7: My Preferred Place(s) to Live/My Preferred Geographical Factors

Do you want to work in another country? Stay in the USA? Which regions or areas of the USA? City versus the country? Do you want to live close to family or not? Are you willing to relocate for a job?

Many people by-pass the self-assessment, some not even realizing how vital this is to the job hunt. With a clear assessment of who you are, you can confidently start your job hunt. You need to know who you are to move forward with your job search and land a great job.

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June 16, 2018

Say Yes to the Cover Letter, Part 2

In part 1, learn how to use three, concise paragraphs and create a dynamic cover letter.

In your cover letter, ideally you want to delve into of how you’ll stand out at that organization and that which makes you an outstanding fit for the job, not just a review of your general work history or list of your job responsibilities. Try to get across in your cover letter: what makes you better, unique, or memorable at your job than all the other people out there who do the same job you do.  Also, why you’ll fit right in at this company. Maybe include why you want to work at this company.

Here’s an example of a “good” versus “better” portrayal of a job candidate (from the May 29, 2018 online article, How to Write a Cover Letter, by Alison Green, in The Cut):

GOOD:

“I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.”

BETTER:

“In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.”

The cover letter also is a good place to bring up special situations or circumstances. How you can overcome being over- or under-qualified for the job. Or why being a stay-home-mom re-entering the workforce gives you advantages that others don’t have. Or how your experience in a different industry gives you the upper edge.

Some other things to keep in mind, while crafting your cover letter:

  • The cover letter should be customized to each job for which you apply and should be reflective of the skills, experience, accomplishments, etc. that’s in the job ad.
  • Keep the cover letter to one page, as anything beyond that probably won’t be read.
  • Be clear, concise, and to the point. Don’t be wordy and don’t ramble. And don’t be wishy-washy. Rather, demonstrate confidence in who you are as a professional and your skills, accomplishments, and abilities, and how you can enhance the job or company, if hired.
  • For the sake of consistency, use the same font and format as on your resume.
  • Use bullets, if appropriate, to draw attention quickly to an area of your cover letter, specifically the second paragraph.
  • Spell check, grammar check, and proofread the letter. Also review for inconsistencies.
  • Use proper letter format, complete sentences, proper paragraphs, and proper grammar.  Don’t use inappropriate abbreviations or text message-type lingo, for instance “u” for “you” or a casual communication style.
  • Don’t mention salary information—either your current salary or for the potential job, as this will be addressed in a later part of the job application process.
  • Steer away from using words like detail-oriented, team player, highly organized, quick learner, good time management skills, intelligent, and strong communications skills. Instead, demonstrate that you have these abilities.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a little creative and show your personality with your cover letter. You don’t want to submit a boring, run-of-the-mill cover letter that will get lost in the sauce. On the flip side, a more formal cover letter may be appropriate for some areas, like law, medicine, banking, insurance, and financial.

Don’t shy away from the cover letter. A fantastic cover letter can help you get put into the “yes” pile, as opposed to the “no” pile.

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May 30, 2018

Say Yes to the Cover Letter, Part 1

Most job seekers dread writing a cover letter as part of the job application process.  And no wonder.  What do you say? The potential employer already has a resume, so what more is there to add? Well, plenty.

Before we delve into the three essential paragraphs of a cover letter, what exactly is a cover letter and what purpose does it serve? “Cover letters,” according to careerconnections.nj.gov, “allow you to introduce yourself and tell a brief story to persuade an employer how well your skills, abilities, and attributes match the organization’s needs.”

With three short paragraphs, you can say it all and stand out in the vast sea of other cover letters.

Paragraph 1: This is the opening paragraph. Mention the position you’re applying for, an interesting way  you heard about the company or job opening, and if there is a mutual acquaintance or bridge person. Also show that you researched the company (mention a new project the company has started, tell how you resonate with the company’s product, service, mission, vision, or owner’s philosophy, or something unique that you have in common with the company).

Paragraph 2: This is the “meat and potatoes” paragraph. Here’s the paragraph where you can showcase your abilities; or tell a compelling story or successful situation; or mention the productive, positive actions you’d be able to immediately contribute to the team; or show how you can help the company (save the company money, streamline a process, make the company money, help the company with a need or challenge); or highlight your skills, contributions, accomplishments, qualifications, achievements, or results. All of this should correlate with the company’s priorities and show how you can contribute to the company. Don’t just re-hash what’s on your resume. Either mention something that’s not on your resume or expand on something that is on your resume.

Paragraph 3: This paragraph is where you wrap it up. Indicate enthusiasm for this job/company and in your ability to perform the job responsibilities. Let the reader know you’re looking forward to further discussing this opportunity with them and provide contact information.

See, that’s not so bad. In three paragraphs, you can create a compelling, attention-grabbing cover letter. Here it is in a nutshell: Three paragraphs. One page. Short and sweet.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll add more dimension to the cover letter and delve into how to craft a savvy cover letter.

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May 15, 2018

Four Paths for the Job Seeker

Here’s one way to compartmentalize your job search. Basically, you could look at it from four avenues. You can look for employment: 1. same job/same industry 2. different job/same industry 3. same job/different industry and 4. different job/different industry.

For those of you who love a more visual presentation like tables and graphs, here it is:

Same Job

Same Industry

Different Job

Same Industry

Same job

Different Industry

Different Job

Different Industry

Many of us get caught up in the same job/same industry mode, not realizing there’s a whole new world of jobs if we expand a little (or a lot). We all know this route: you’re an admin assistant at a dentist’s office and you look for a job as an admin assistant at another dentist’s office. Perfectly acceptable and, many times, an easier path.

Let’s look at this: with just a little stretch, you could look for the same job, but in a different industry (if you’re an accountant with experience in the manufacturing arena, you could look for accounting jobs in another industry, like healthcare or pharmaceuticals).

Or, you could start to think along these lines with a new job: a different job in the same industry (for example, if you have work experience in the fashion industry as a fashion merchandiser, you could look for employment in the fashion industry as a fashion writer).

The biggest leap, and perhaps the most challenging, though not impossible, is a different job in a different industry. Essentially a job and career change. This might take more time and effort. Many people get out of their current job and industry to peruse a totally different job and career. Maybe you worked at a bank for many years and always wanted to work with children, so you go back to college to become a teacher. I myself did a career change from the publishing industry (writing, editing, and proofreading) to human and social services.

Don’t sell yourself short with a great job, by boxing yourself into only one of these paths. Expand and widen your search and see how many more job opportunities there are for you.

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May 1, 2018

Grab a Book, Get a Job

Let’s face it. Today, there’s many facets involved in the job hunt. Skilling up on how to find a job is vital these days. Don’t use 1990s methods to find a job today. You won’t meet with much success.

Being a bookworm, I couldn’t help focus just a little on books. Specifically, books that will help the job seeker. For those job seekers that love to read--and even those who aren’t so keen on reading--here’s a sampling of some of the recommended books for job seekers. I’ve scoured the Internet and asked the experts and here it is:

What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, by Richard N. Bolles

Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen

How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

The 2-Hour Job Search, Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster, by Steve Dalton

Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters, by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry

Never Eat Aloneby Keith Ferrazzi

60 Seconds and You’re Hired, by Robin Ryan

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, by Gretchen Rubin

The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success, by Barbara Pachter with Denise Cowie

Land the Job You Love!: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, by Mary Eileen Williams

Ask the Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job, by Nick Corcodilos

The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, by Nicholas Lore

Knock 'Em Dead 2016: The Ultimate Job Search Guide, by Martin Yate

The Five-Minute Interview, by Richard Beatty

What a plethora to choose! To start, I suggest you pick one or two books that resonate with you. Maybe it’s the title of the book. Or you like what you read in the online book reviews. Or you like the cover of the book. Whatever your method to choose a book, you’re more likely to read it if you resonate with the book, rather than not. So, grab a book and get up to speed to find your dream job.

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April 7, 2018

This Can be a Big Block to Finding a Job

Sue is very frustrated. She paid a professional resume writer to prepare her a wonderful resume.  She’s going online everyday looking for and applying to numerous jobs. She’s active on LinkedIn.  She’s got her polished elevator pitch. She’s doing her networking. She’s gone on some job interviews. But still, she hasn’t gotten a job offer or found a job. And it’s been awhile. Now she feels defeated and frustrated.

One aspect Sue hasn’t taken into consideration is her thoughts (and perceptions, ideas, judgements, notions, views, assumptions, feelings, concepts, impressions, opinions, awareness, attitude, mindset) around her job and career.

Let’s look at this more in depth. Here’s what author and motivational speaker, Tom Corley has to say about our thoughts and how they deeply affect us, in his online article, Your Thoughts Alter Every Cell in Your Body:

“There are thousands of receptors on each cell in the body. This includes the cells in every organ, including your brain. Each receptor is specific to one peptide (protein).

Anger, sadness, guilt, excitement, happiness, nervousness, each separate emotion you express, releases its own specific neuropeptide inside each cell. The more you habitually express an emotion, the more receptors your cells will create for that emotion.

If you forge the habit of being upbeat, for example, you are literally causing your cells to manufacture more neuro-receptors in order to meet the demand for the positivity-induced neuropeptides your habitual optimism creates. This means, you are building a cellular foundation for more future optimism – or a positive mental outlook.

The same holds true for habitual negative thinking. The more negative thoughts you allow yourself to have, the more neuro-receptors your cells will create, perpetuating a negative mental outlook.”

Maybe it’s Sue’s negative thoughts that are thwarting all her meaningful efforts to find a job. After some extensive work of looking inward, Sue realized she really is afraid of working, since, as a small girl, she saw her father get laid off and fired many times during his life. Deep down inside she’s fearful of getting laid off or fired—and of being just like her father in that regard.

Take a long look at your thoughts, many of which we’re not even aware of, around your job, career, and working. Do you harbor negativity around that or not? It most likely will take some deep delving to get at the root issue. But it’s always good to identify, clear, and release those thoughts that are holding you back.

Check out these ways of thinking that defeat our job search:

I’m too old. I don’t have enough experience. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have a college degree. I speak with an accent. I have  a disability. I’m a job hopper. I can’t write well. I’m too tall. I’m too short. I’ve been unemployed too long. No one hires a stay-home mom returning to work. I have too much formal education. I don‘t have enough education. I look too old. I look too young. I can’t compete in the workforce with the younger people. I don’t have a car to get to work. I don’t present well on interviews. I’ve only worked for the government. I’m too shy. I’m not good at anything. My computer skills are not up to snuff.

Do you resonate with any of these? Now’s the time to deal with those blocks, so you can find a great job.

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March 22, 2018

Volunteer: A Portal to Finding a Job

For job seekers, volunteering goes way beyond a “feel good” thing to do. It can, in fact, help you find a job. This is an often over-looked opportunity among job seekers and one you want to embrace.

Build and Expand your Network Group. “Meeting new people isn’t always easy, but volunteering makes it easier,” says Kip Patrick in his online Huffpost article, 4 Ways Volunteering Can Help You Find a Job. As you meet new people through your volunteer work, these are people you can network with and who can help in some way, to find a job. You also can connect with these people on LinkedIn.

Learn New Skills or Grow your Skills. Want to learn some new skills? Sharpen and hone in other skills? Looking to re-skill? Try out a new skill to see if you resonate with this new skill? Want to acquire new skills? Then volunteer.

I’ve suggested this to many stay-at-home Moms wanting to return back to the workforce in the office environment: volunteer at a non-profit agency in the office and sharpen and enhance those office and computer skills. Also a great opportunity to learn new office skills, since today’s office is a bit different than when they were working in an office setting.

Add to your Resume and LinkedIn Profile. Boost and enhance your resume and your LinkedIn profile with your volunteer work. There’s more. You also can highlight your volunteer work in a cover letter or bring up your volunteer experience at a job interview.

Fill in a Job Gap. Volunteering is a fantastic way to prevent job gaps, when you’re between jobs. Companies don’t like to see long job gaps on your resume and volunteering is a sure way to prevent the dreaded job gap.

When he was a corporate recruiter, Don Stranowski (president, Ascend Career and Life Strategies) mentions in his video interview by CBS 4 News, that his number one question for a candidate with a gap on the resume was, “What have you been doing since your last position?” He suggests, in a case like that, you talk about your volunteer work that you’ve been doing.

Try out a Different Industry or Career Path. Explore another career path while volunteering. If you’ve always been interested in working with animals, but your career has been in an office setting, volunteer at a wildlife rescue and work hands-on with the animals to see what it’s like.

Acquire Job References/Letters of Recommendation. People you volunteer with are potentially a great source of people, once they get to know you, to use a job reference or write you a letter of recommendation or post a recommendation and endorse you on your LinkedIn profile. 

Boost your Self-Esteem and Self-Image. “Helping others is inherently enriching and satisfying. Providing assistance for others and lending a hand to people in need certainly qualify as good deeds. And when you give, you also get,” writes career coach Alex Freund of Landing Expert in his blog article, Volunteering While in Transition Has Many Hidden Advantages. Why not help others through a volunteer position, while you’re looking for a job? You’ll add a fresh, new dimension to your life and infuse your job search with enthusiasm.

Don’t ignore this opportunity to take your job search to a whole new level. Take the first step today to delve into the world of volunteering. There’s a plethora of volunteer opportunities out there and one is sure to fit your needs.

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March 9, 2018

Job Seekers, Do Your Research

Research plays in big role in finding a job. Today you need to be able to find out as much information about a company as you can. And thanks to the computer and the Internet, that’s easy to do today. Online research will help you do that. Before you apply for a job or go on a job interview, you want to find out as much as you can about the company and the staff.

There are several obvious ways. (1) You can go to the company web site and blog site and comb through that. (2) You can do a basic search (via your search engine) with the company name and see what comes up and check out those sources--and use Google News too. (3) You can go to the company’s social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to get a better feel for the company. (4) You can search LinkedIn for the company or current/previous employees.  (5) You also can go to web sites like Glassdoor, Take This Job or Shove It, and Career Bliss, which all have reviews, comments, and feedback about companies. (6) If you’re a college graduate, you can contact the career office or alumni development office for the names and contact info of alumni who work at the company and you can contact these people.

To give you an extra edge, I asked the research librarians at the Warren County Library for some ways to delve deeper into company research. Here are some of their suggestions:

ReferenceUSA: Find basic company facts and company business activities (access this site through the Warren County Library web site, www.warrenlib.org).

ThomasNet: Directory of manufacturers and distributors.

EDGAR: Annual reports of publicly traded companies.

Value Line Investment Survey: investment research on companies, industries, markets and economics.

Business Source Elite: 3-resource package for business research, company and industry profiles, and country and market research (access this site through the Warren County Library web site, www.warrenlib.org).

Corfacts: New Jersey Business Directory (access this site through the Warren County Library web site, www.warrenlib.org).

What kind of information are you looking for? Investment and financial info. Sales volumes. Company mission statement, values, and history. Company culture, office environment, and style. Strengths and weaknesses of the company. Number of employees. Information about the company’s owners, leaders, and staff members. What’s new with the company and any recent events or recent developments. Innovative programs, projects, or special events the company is implementing. Challenges/obstacles the company is facing. Company location(s) and subsidiary companies or affiliations with other companies. Details about the company’s services, products, clients, and customers. How the services/products of this company rank with other companies with similar services/products and the company’s competitors.

When you’re doing your research, be mindful about the source of the information you find online. Sometimes we forget that not all information found online is accurate and reliable. Armed with a plethora of information about the company, you’ll be better able to decide if this is the kind of company you want to work at or not. And you’ll be able to present as a more informed candidate at the job interview.

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February 21, 2018

Job Seekers Need Business Cards Too

A career-focused, networking business card can be your best friend when you’re doing some face-to-face networking during your job search. Similar to the traditional business card in size and content, but it’s tailored to job seekers. Bring them with you wherever you go. You can give this card to everyone that you network with. Remember, you can potentially network with every person you come in contact with every day. Networking can happen everywhere.

Chatting with the lady behind you in the check-out line at the grocery store and find out she works at a company you’d love to work at? Before you start your check-out transaction, end the conversation by giving her your networking business card for on-going communications.

Attending a job fair at the end of the week? Be sure to bring (along with copies of your resume) your networking business cards to hand out.

That sweet, nice 90-year old grandmother you met at your neighbor’s picnic? And she happens to have a grandson who works in the same field you do. Give her your networking business card so you and her grandson can connect.

Catching up with an ex-co-worker over a cup of coffee at Starbucks? A perfect time to do some networking. Before you jump in your car, exchange business cards to stay in touch.

Keep your business cards streamlined, concise, and professional. Don’t pack too much onto your networking business card. You don’t want it to look cluttered and hard to read. Two-sided business cards are best, as you have more room. You can get fancy with some color and images, as long as they’re professional looking. Basically, it should include:

  • Your name
  • Your contact info (phone, email, LinkedIn address, link to your online portfolio, personal web site, personal blog site)
  • Tag line or short phrase that represents you as a professional

Examples 1: Technical writer excels at unraveling complex drug data and info into consumer-friendly content.

Example 2: Award-winning, buzz-producing publicist to take your product to the next level.

  • Short list of 3 or 4 skills (optional)
  • Short list of 2 or 3 accomplishments or achievements (optional)

Example 1:  Spearheaded $10 million launch of new investment software.

Example 2: Increased factory-line production by 15% by implementing a 3-step method to decrease handling  time.

  • Professional-looking photo of you (optional)

Your networking business card is a fantastic tool to stand out in the crowd. It will simplify your networking process and help to position you as a professional.

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February 2, 2018

Take Your Job Search Beyond Average

We want to excel beyond average in our lives. And our job search should be no different. An above-average job search strategy will bring more success.

So, what does average, according to Tom Corley (bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor) in his online article, Average is a Prison, look like in America? The average American is 17 pounds overweight. The average American watches 33 hours of TV a week. The average American reads just four books a year. The average American spends 116 minutes a day (about 2 hours) on social media. The average American spends five hours a day on their cell phone. The average American consumes eleven alcoholic drinks a week. The average American exercises just seventeen minutes a day. The average American has less than $1,000 in savings.

Now take a long, hard look at your job search strategy. Is it commonplace, like the average American? Or is it stellar?  If it’s a bit lacking, don’t worry. Here, according to New Jersey Career Connections, are the cornerstone ways to improve it.

Accept Change. Being unemployed and looking for a job today is different than it was. Embrace, not just accept, this change. Change keeps us fresh and alive.  It helps us grow and expand.  As Bob Dylan said: “There is nothing so stable as change.” Change is a part of life. Accept that, and you’re more apt to thrive.

Take Care of Yourself. Getting frazzled, stressed, and frustrated about your job situation isn’t going to contribute to finding a job. Use this time of unemployment as a time to improve yourself. Take a class. Learn a new language or a new skill. Brush up on computer skills. Take classes for certification in your professional industry. Time for fun, exercise and eating healthy are important too.

Connect with People. There are lots of people out there who can be instrumental in helping you find a job. Network with them. Each person you network with brings you that much closer to a job offer. Be sure to connect with people you know and reach out and connect with people you don’t know, thus bringing them into your support system.

Make a Plan. Devise a daily plan of action--what you’re going to do each day to seek employment. Your plan should be both task and goal oriented. You need to follow the plan every day so you can reach your goal of employment. You might need to update or revise it every 4-6 weeks.

Be your own Spokesperson. Don’t feel afraid or uncomfortable about talking with others about your professional achievements, results, skills, and accomplishments. And be sure to share what kind of job that best suits you. Learn how to accentuate your strong points to others.

Embrace Technology. Many feel computers and technology have made the job search process so impersonal, robotic, and unfriendly. That may be the case, but computers and technology, in many ways, make it easier to network and find a job. So don’t balk at using these tools to your advantage.

Take your job search from mediocre to outstanding. Don’t take a dime-a-dozen approach to your job hunt. Implement these six techniques and watch your job search skyrocket. It takes time, effort, and perservance, but it’ll be worth it, when you land a great job.

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January 19, 2018

Job Hunters, You Need a Pre-Game Routine

It’s pretty much a guarantee you’re going to frequently feel unmotivated and lacking the energy to look for a job. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or not trying hard enough or not good enough. None of us are 100 percent motivated all the time about our job, about life, about our children, about doing laundry, about losing weight, about going grocery shopping, about parenting, about exercising, about eating healthy. That’s just being human.

So, what can get us motivated to look for a job, when we don’t feel like it? Remember, we’re not motivationally challenged, we just need a pre-game routine, says James Clear (author and photographer) in his online article, How to Get Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like It. A pre-game routine, says James Clear, is a series of small things we do to start a project, like looking for a job or lifting weights or writing a novel or cleaning the house.

In his article, James Clear describes his pre-game routine when he was a baseball player. “My pre-game routine started a cascade of internal events that pulled me into the right frame of mind and made it more likely that I would succeed.” His pre-game routine created a series of events that he always performed before playing or practicing baseball. His pre-game routine told his mind, “this is what happens before I play baseball.”

Here’s James Clear’s effortless, three-step process:

Step 1: Your pre-game routine should be so easy that you can’t say “no” to it.

For your job searching, pick something super simple, like getting a glass of water and sitting at your desk/computer. So right now, before you finish reading this article, write down two or three, “I can’t say no” things you can do as part of you pre-game routine.

Step 2: Your pre-game routine should get you moving toward your end goal of securing employment.

Sorry, but eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream before you hit the online job boards, is not going to get you moving toward your goal of finding a job. Your pre-game routine should keep you on track, not get you off track.

Step 3: Follow the same routine every single time.

By following the same routine, it sets up a coherent pattern and indicates to you that you’re now in “find a job” mode. You want to get into the habit of doing your pre-game routine, so that it becomes automatic. Consistency is vital. Tom Corley (author of Rich Habits, The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals) shares in his online article, Consistent Success, that consistency is the key to success and the way most of the self-made millionaires that he studied succeeded.

You don’t need motivation, you just need to start your routine, reminds James Clear. Following these three steps during your job search process will keep you forward moving, help you through the tough spots of a job search, and help you land a great job.

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January 8, 2018

Your Job Hunt: Yes to Self-Promoting, No to Bragging

Most of us feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves to get a job. We feel shy and awkward about promoting ourselves to network, find a job, excel at a job interview, or get some job leads. We struggle with the emphasis directed on us. And we’re embarrassed when we’re in the spotlight while we’re networking. We hesitate to discuss and share what we excel at, our passions, and who we are professionally.  We feel we’re bothering or pestering other people concerning our job search or that what we say feels like bragging or exaggerating, just to get a job. Or that we have to boast, brag, and show off to get noticed and get a job interview.

And then there’s self-promotion. But don’t confuse self-promoting with bragging. Because there is a colossal difference. “Bragging,” according to Tom Corley (author, speaker, and CPA) in his online article, Bragging vs. Self-Promotion—Two Very Different Things, “is about exaggerating the truth. Self-promotion is about telling the truth. Two very different things. The objective of bragging is to try to impress others. We want people who really do not know us to think we are more important than we are, more successful than we are, smarter than we are, harder working than we are, richer than we are, make more money than we do, have more influential associations than we do, etc.”

Non-braggers, who usually are the most successful people, “are great at telling the truth about themselves by sharing their value proposition,” comments Tom Corley.

Compare these two examples given by Tom Corley. One is bragging. The other is self-promotion.

“I help people rise from poverty or the middle-class by teaching them about my Rich Habits through my books, blog, media exposure and speaking engagements.” That’s me self-promoting. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it.”

“I am a huge bestselling author. I know Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dave Ramsey and I’ve been on national TV many times.” That’s me bragging. I’ve sold a lot of books but, huge is an exaggeration. I’ve met Robin Sharma, and Richard Branson once at a speaking engagement in which I was one of the speakers. They probably don’t even remember who I am. I’ve been on the Dave Ramsey show once. He might still remember me, but who knows. I’ve been on national TV three times. Three times is not many times.”

See the difference?

Networking and finding a job requires much self-promotion and sharing. You do need to advance  yourself and make others aware of you and your skills, talents, abilities, accomplishments, and experiences. You don’t need to lie, stretch the truth, exaggerate, inflate, overly magnify, or brag about yourself. Bragging won’t get you far. Self-promoting will bring others into your support system and get you closer to a job offer.

P.S. On the flip side, acts of desperation won’t get you a job either. Avoid anything that comes across as a desperate attempt to find a job. Don’t fall into the trap of using them. Check out human resources guru Liz Ryan’s online article Ten Job Search Moves that Make You Look Desperate.

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December 26, 2017

Tap into the Hidden Job Market

The hidden job market is, quite literally, all around you. It’s that vast chunk of unsolicited, unadvertised job opportunities. It’s looking beyond the online job boards and company web sites for potential jobs. And you’re going to find those job opportunities through networking. Adopt these three, easy-to-implement key points to tap into the hidden job market, from Alison Doyle in The Balance’s online article, What is the Hidden Job Market?

Say yes to invitations, and not just to formal networking functions. Go to the ballgame with your college roommate. Go to your cousin's baby shower. Make time to swing by your neighbor's barbecue. You never know when you'll meet the person who knows the person who has an in.” 

Practice your elevator speech. What do you want from your career? What do you have to offer an employer? What does your dream job look like? Don't worry – no one is suggesting you become the kind of bore who's always cramming their professional goals down everyone's throat. Just be on the lookout for opportunity, and don't be afraid to put yourself forward if one presents itself. Remember: if someone's hiring, they need a quality candidate as much as you need a job. You might be solving their problem, as well as your own.”

Update all your social networks to reflect your new mission. This can be dicey, of course, if you're still employed and hoping to move on, but if you're cautious and change details slowly, you can buff up your profiles without jeopardizing your position. The goal is to reflect your skills, experience, and goals without changing your headlines to JOB NEEDED ASAP.”

Networking needn’t be as anxiety-invoking as you think. In fact, it’s rather non-threatening. Here’s the definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” So start to view networking as a mutually satisfying exchange of information, not as a desperate attempt to sell yourself into a job. And as a great way to expand your horizons and find a job. Each person you network with is getting you one step closer to a job.

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December 16, 2017

Quadruple Your Chances of Job Interviews

What if I told you that you can quadruple your changes of a job interview. Who wouldn’t want to quadruple their chances of a job interview? Here’s what job search and career management expert Martin Yate, CPC says about this in his book Knock em’ Dead, The Ultimate Job Search Guide 2016, says about this in the section, “How to Quadruple Your Chances of an Interview” (Chapter 7: Making Contact), “The more ways you approach your target companies and hiring managers, the faster you will get into conversations with the people who can and will hire you." 

You can quadruple your chances of an interview, according to Martion Yate in his book, if you also:

  • "Identify a potential hiring manager and email your resume directly to that manager by name with a personalized cover letter. This doubles your chances of an interview.
  • Send a resume and personalized cover letter to that same manager by traditional mail, and you will triple your chances of an interview. Don’t smirk at the idea of traditional mail. We all like a break from the computer screen, so delivering your sales message and resume this way can be very effective. When you do this, note in the cover letter that you sent the resume by email and that this additional approach is because you are really interested in the company and wanted to increase my chances of getting your attention. Doing this demonstrates that you are creative, and not a technological Neanderthal.
  • Make a follow-up telephone call to that manager, first thing in the morning, at lunch­time, or at 5 P.M. (when he is most likely to be available and picking up his own phone) and you will quadruple your chances of an interview."

The key is to continue to reach out as often as you can to people. Networking is crucial. If it feels stressful and uncomfortable to network, don’t worry, most people feel this way. For most of us, it’s not a natural ability. Just keep at it and you’ll notice, with practice, it gets easier and you’ll feel more comfortable networking.

Networking is essential, but keep this in mind. More important is who you network with. “Remember,” says Martin Yate in his book, “a successful job search is all about getting into conversations as often as possible with people in a position to hire you. The more frequently you approach and get into conversa­tions with managers whose job titles signify that they have the authority to hire you, the faster you will land that new position, because you have skipped right over the hurdle of being pulled from the commercial resume database, you have sidestepped the corporate recruiter’s evaluation process, and as a result you have the attention of the actual decision maker and the chance to have a conversation, to make a direct and personal pitch.”

Today’s job search is all about networking. Set up daily networking goals for yourself. By using some of Martin Yate’s tips, you can get more job interviews faster. And get a job offer faster too. Who wouldn’t like that?

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December 6, 2017

6 Ways to Stay Motivated during Your Job Search

Looking for a job can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Hard. A struggle. Defeating. Impossible. Too challenging to accomplish. Unattainable. Hopeless. The key is to stay motivated during the process. Let’s face it, we’re probably not going to find a job in one week, so we need a mechanism to stay propelled forward for the long-run. Here are six ways to keep you at the top of your job search.

Have a plan and a schedule. Actively doing something daily to find a job will help you stay excited and keep you moving forward. A solid plan leads to action, which leads to staying motivated, which leads you closer to a job. Have a daily schedule of job searching, maybe 8-10 items, to accomplish each day. Any that you didn’t finish that day, gets added to the next day’s list.

Pal Around.  Find a friend, family member, or another job seeker, so you can stay motivated, inspired, and accountable.  You’re looking for someone you can connect with on a regular and frequent basis to help you stay focused and encouraged.

Time for Non-Job Search Activities. This means, have some fun. Schedule in time for social activities, exercise, and entertainment. Focusing too much and too long on job searching is a sure-fire way toward burnout. As you have fun and socialize, you can network too.

Thoughts. Pivotal is keeping your thoughts positive, uplifting, and forward-moving. Yes, this is easier said than done, but it’s indispensable for job seekers. Keep focused on your strengths, strong points, and all the great attributes you can bring to a new job and company. Manage your thoughts so they’ll enhance your job search.

More help. You might need to find a support group for job seekers, job/career coach, professional resume writer, mentor, or another professional who can help you with parts of the job search where you’re struggling. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Learn or do something new or different. New is motivating. It can spark and ignite your job search efforts. So volunteer at your favorite non-profit, learn a new language, start a new hobby, travel, learn about history, take a college course, start a new exercise plan, learn a new skill, or start a club. Whatever it is, the newness of it will keep you fresh and encouraged for your search. It will whet your appetite to move forward.

Don’t let a long lag in motivation and drive keep you from finding your dream job. It’s vital to stay motivated and manage your stress during your job search. Take the time to develop a toolbox of motivating methods, which will serve you well during the job seeking process.

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November 27, 2017

Nitpicking over the Job Seeker’s Email

Yes, we’re going to nitpick about your email address. You should have it on your resume and it will be requested on the online job application too. Plus you’re going to use it in multiple other applications as part of the job applying process.

What’s the big deal! An email account is an email account, right? An email address is an email address, right? Not so, from the perspective of a hiring manager.

Remember that your email address represents you. Keep these points in mind:

Beware of AOL. If you have an email account with AOL, Hotmail, or any of the other been-around-for-a-long-time email providers, don’t use it when applying for a job. Why? Well, it makes you appear like you’ve been around for a long time, which may not be the impression you want to give.

No Silly Stuff. An email of ilovebeer@, addictedtocoffee@, soccermom@, coolguy@, ghosthunter@, hippiechick@, steelersfan@, or partygirl@ are fine for personal use, but not as an email while you’re looking for a job. It’s not professional and just a big no-no.

Get Professional. Very simply, it’s best to have an email dedicated exclusively for you job search. Most experts say Gmail is best (and it’s free) as an email provider. As is using your first and last name in the email address, marysmith@ or mary.smith@.

No Sharing. Don’t use an email you share with someone else, like your spouse or significant other. And don’t use your work email if you’re currently employed and looking for another job.

Careful of These. Don’t use numbers, symbols, or underscore in your email address. Generally, they just make for a more confusing email address.

One for All. The email you use while networking for a job, should be the same email you use on your LinkedIn profile, on your resume and online job application, on your professional web site or blog site, and with any other aspect of applying for jobs.

Your email address sends an impression to potential employers and can make you look unprofessional, too old fashioned, immature, silly, weird, or a host of other non-flattering stuff. So take the humble email seriously. Use your email to brand yourself as a professional.

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November 20, 2017

Do this One Post-Interview Task to Snag the Job

It’s imperative you write a thank you note following a job interview. Yes, I said imperative. Meaning: not optional. Meaning: you really must do it.  It’s not as hard as you imagine.

Send two thank you notes, suggests Richard N. Bolles, author of the book What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers (2018 Edition). Email one and mail a hand-written note. Incidentally, they should not be duplicate letters. Take the time to write something different in each letter. Handwritten notes have fallen to the wayside and by sending one, you’ll really stand out. As a bonus, you can include your professional business card with the note you mail to the interviewers.

Richard Bolles feels it’s the most overlooked step in the entire process of looking for a job. Citing Richard Bolles, here are his six reasons to not neglect this task:

1. You’ll present as someone with good people skills.

2. It acts as an instant recall for the employer, since they’ve been dealing with numerous candidates.

3. Reiterate your interest in the job and in further communications about the job.

4. A chance to correct any wrong impressions you might have inadvertently made during the job interview or to add something you didn’t mention during the job interview.

5. If you’re not interested in the job, you can let them know and inquire if they know of any other employment opportunities.

6. Your correspondence can be shared with others at the company, who perhaps were not at the interview, but who are part of the hiring process.

Plus, it’s just professional, polite, and nice to thank someone for their time.

So, now to get to the bottom of a thank you letter. Keep it concise and clear—not too long, not to short. Key points are to thank the person for his time, point out what makes you a great fit for this job (another chance to sell yourself), mention that you’re interested in the job (show enthusiasm), and make a comment about something you like about the company, department, or the interviewer (here we’re using a little flattery). And do it the same day as the interview, as a quick response indicates interest.

Here’s a great sample from Andrew LaCivita’s LinkedIn online article, How to Write a Thank You Note that Gets You the Job:

“Hi John,

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I appreciated the chance to learn more about you and the company.

Based on the key points we discussed today, I feel I would be a fantastic match for the job because [insert details here, but be sure this requires no more than two or three lines.]

Lastly, I want to reconfirm my interest in the position. After speaking with you, I was more excited about the opportunity because you verified the company supports my interests related to [insert specifics here].”

More examples include a follow-up thank you email (both a short and long version), plus, a “checking in” email and a “staying in touch” email on Indeed’s online article, Follow-up Email Examples for After the Interview.

Will you thank you note actually get read by someone? You truly never know. Nevertheless, get in the habit of sending thank you letters after a job interview. For something as simple as a thank you letter, it just could be the final deciding factor of who the interviewers like more and who gets offered the job--especially among a group of equally qualified candidates.

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November 9, 2017

Does Your Job Capture the Best of You?

Maybe you’re unemployed and resistant about finding a job in the same old industry you’ve been working in for years.

Or maybe you’re under-employed, but you’re not excited with your current part-time job and you know--deep inside--this isn’t the job or career path for you. It’s too hum-drum.

Or maybe you’re working full-time, but missing that spark in the job. You’re pretty sure it’s time for a career switch, but you can’t quite put your finger on what you’d like to do.

Or maybe you recently graduated from high school or college and haven’t exactly honed in on how you want to spend the rest of your working days.

So, what are you good at? Many come up with the despairing answer, “I don’t know!” No worries. Tom Corley--speaker, author, and CPA--has a great tip on how to determine what you’re good at. Here’s his online article, “What Are You Good At?” I’m including the whole article, word for word, since it’s an inspiring and great article:

“Dawn played soccer, lacrosse and was a gymnast as a child. At age 13 she dropped soccer and lacrosse and, with the enthusiastic support of her parents, devoted herself to being a gymnast. She was a very good gymnast. It got her a partial scholarship to college. Her parents were happy about that. Dawn is 21 years old now. She just finished her junior year in college. Her major is Accounting. She’s interning part-time, over the summer, at a prestigious CPA firm. After only a few weeks interning, she’s beginning to think she may not like being a CPA. It’s not for her. She has no passion for it. She longs for something else. Dawn doesn’t know what to do. She’s unhappy.

Pete played baseball and basketball as a child. He was a stand out pitcher and guard on his varsity high school team. Unfortunately, Pete was unable to get any college scholarships. Because his parents were poor, Pete was unable to go to college. Pete is 28 now. He went into construction right out of high school. He realizes now, he doesn’t like his job. He longs for something else. Pete is a new dad. He doesn’t know what to do. Pete’s unhappy.

Katie was an outstanding tennis player as a child. She, and her parents, focused much of their time and resources on Katie’s tennis, which she continued playing throughout college. Katie went on to get a graduate degree in education. Katie, now 35 and a mom with two kids, has worked as a high school teacher for ten years. She does not like her job. She’s thinking about a career change but doesn’t have any idea what that new career should be. Katie is very unhappy.

Sound familiar? Dawn, Pete and Katie are representative of the vast majority who do not like their jobs. According to a 2012 survey conducted by “Big 4” accounting firm Deloitte, 80% of those surveyed did not like their jobs. In another survey conducted by Gallup in 2013, 63% of the 230,000 employees in the survey said they were unhappy with their jobs.

What happened? What went wrong?

As children, most are never exposed to enough diverse activities which can help lead to the discovery of some innate, god-given talent, or something they like doing.

Experimentation is the only way to discover your innate talents or your passions in life. Your  innate talents or passions are revealed any time you try something new and one of two things happens:

It comes easy to you – this is life’s way of telling you that you have some innate, natural talent for doing something.

You love it – when you really enjoy doing something, when it grabs hold of your emotions, this is life’s way of telling you that you have found a passion.

So, what do you do now that you’re an adult?

The key to finding a hidden talent, or some passion, is to focus on one new activity every three months. If it comes easy or you enjoy it, then you may be on to something big. If it doesn’t, then you move on. You can do your experimentation before or after your work hours. I discovered my unknown writing talent in the early morning hours of 2008/2009. I’ve been writing every since.

When you find your main purpose in life, everything about your life will change. Your thinking will change. You will find clarity of vision. You will become hopeful. Life will become exciting. And you will find happiness and fulfillment.”

Your Next Step:  Start to find your passion and what you’re really good at. As Tom says in his article, focus on one new activity every three months. Pick something that seems to interest you and something you’ve not done before. Challenge yourself to this and you’ll easily uncover your true passion, and you’ll have fun along the way and learn new skills (some of which you can add to your resume).

Here are some ideas:  Think you might enjoy working with children? Then become a substitute teacher or a leader of a 4-H club. Think it would be cool to have public speaking skills? Then join Toastmasters. Feeling you’d like to learn how to cook? Then take some cooking classes. Always wanted to learn another language, but never got around to it? Join Rosetta Stone for online language classes.

Once you’ve found what you love to do, become a master of that. So practice and learn as much as you can, as often as you can. Connect with other experts in that area and build relationships with them and learn from them. Read about the topic and attend seminars and workshops. Do everything and anything that you can to become an expert.

And along the way, you can find a job that uses this new passion of yours. So you’ll be earning a living doing something you love to do. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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November 1, 2017

Your Job Interview: Wear This, Not That

The job interview can be the “make or break” moment of the job seeking process. You don’t want to blow your chances of getting a job offer by wearing inappropriate clothes. Although there’s no one and only outfit to wear to a job interview, the clothes you wear to a job interview send out a message--loud and clear--to those interviewing you. You obviously want your clothes that send out a positive message about you.

So do yourself a favor and do a trial run of getting dressed for a job interview. Now take a look at yourself in a full-length mirror and look at your clothes from a hiring manager’s perspective. What kind of non-verbal message are your clothes giving out? Sloppy and messy? Professional and polished? Out dated? Pulled together? Dishelved and unkept? Pleasant and professionally welcoming?  

Men, Wear This….. Listed From Formal Business Attire to Casual Business Attire

Matching suit with tie. Slacks and button-down collar shirt with blazer with or without a tie. Khaki pants and button-down collar shirt or polo shirt.  

Men, Don’t Wear this….Ever

Sneakers. Sandals. Too much cologne or after shave. White socks. Dirty, scuffed or unpolished shoes. Dirty, stained, faded, ripped, or wrinkled clothes. Outdated clothes. Too tight, too baggy, or ill-fitting clothing. T-shirt. Jeans, shorts, or sweat pants. Baseball/sports cap. Sunglasses. Beachwear or exercise/gym clothes.

Women, Wear This…..Listed From Formal Business Attire to Casual Business Attire

Matching suit (skirt or slacks). Dress with blazer. Skirt with blouse and blazer. Dress slacks with blouse and  blazer. Skirt with blouse or sweater. Dress slacks with blouse or sweater.

Women, Don’t Wear This….Ever

Blouse with too low of a neckline. Too much makeup. Too much jewelry. Too much perfume. Too many accessories. Dirty, stained, faded, ripped, or wrinkled clothes. Outdated clothes. Footwear that is too casual, like sneakers and flip flops. Footwear with too high of a heel. Too short of a hemline on the skirt or dress. Too tight, too baggy, or ill-fitting clothing. T-shirt, tank top, spaghetti straps, or halter top. Shorts, jeans, leggings, sweat pants, or yoga pants. Sunglasses.  Beachwear or exercise/gym clothes.

Remember: dress for success to be your best. And yes, it’s okay to be somewhat overdressed at the job interview compared to other workers or those who are interviewing you. Actually, you should dress a step above the position for which you are interviewing.  Don’t underestimate how important clothes are on a job interview.

Now that you have your job interview clothing style in order, be prepared for any kind of questions you may get asked on your upcoming job interview, with a comprehensive list of questions to help prepare for your next interview (Rutgers University, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, New Start Career Network). On the flip side, here are the Muse’s 51 questions you should be asking the interviewers.

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October 25, 2017

Use a Paper Clip to Find a Job

A paper clip? Really???!!!! No way. Actually, yes, if you apply Trent Dyrsmid’s technique. To become one of the best stock broker’s at a young age, Trent used paper clips to motivate him. And you can use his technique as part of your job search game plan.

Here’s how he did it, from the online article by James Clear (author, entrepreneur, and photographer), How to Stick With Good Habits Every Day by Using the Paper Clip Strategy:

“And yet, despite his disadvantages, Dyrsmid made immediate progress as a stock broker thanks to a simple and relentless habit that he used each day.

On his desk, he placed two jars. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. This is when the habit started.

'Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialing the phone until I had moved them all to the second jar.' —Trent Dyrsmid

And that was it. 120 calls per day. One paper clip at a time.

Within 18 months, Dyrsmid’s book of business grew to $5 million in assets. By age 24, he was making $75,000. Within a few years, outside firms began recruiting him because of his success and he landed a $200,000 job with another company.”

I can think of two ways to apply this technique to finding a great job. You can take this idea and apply it toward applying for jobs and networking.

Applying for Jobs: Let’s say, apply for five jobs a day. Move one paper clip from Jar A to Jar B to indicate that you’ve applied for one job. Five times you’ll move a paper clip. Five times you’ll apply for a job. That’s 35 jobs that you’ve applied for in one week. Using the basic paper clip.

Networking with Other People: To apply this toward networking, set the intention of networking with eight people each day. Move one paper clip from Jar A to Jar B to indicate a networking event with one person. Eight times you’ll move a paper clip. Eight times you’ll network with someone. That’s 56 people you’ve networked within one week. Once again, using the basic paper clip.

Implement this one stellar habit. And see how you met with speedy job search success.

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October 18, 2017

The 10 Commandments for Job Interviews

Here it is. From the guru for job seekers. Best-selling author Richard N. Bolles shares his top ten in his newest edition of his book, What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, 2018 Edition. He first published this book in 1970 and has been revising and updating it annually.

  1. Go after new, small organizations with fewer than fifty employees, at first, since they create nearly two-thirds of all new jobs. Only if you turn up nothing should you broaden the search to slightly larger organizations, those with fifty employees, then if that doesn't prove to be a successful strategy, organizations with one hundred employees.”
  2. Hunt for places to interview using the aid of, say, eighty friends and acquaintances—because a job-hunt requires eighty pairs of eyes and ears. But first do homework on yourself so you can tell them exactly what you are looking for.”
  3. “As for who to interview, once you've identified a place that interests you, you really need to find out who has the power to hire you there, for the position you want, and use "bridge-people" (those who know you and also know them) to get an introduction to that person. Employ Linkedln.com and similar, to find these people.”
  4. Do thorough homework on an organization before going there, using Informational Interviews plus the Internet to find out as much about them as you possibly can. If you have a public library in town, ask there too.”
  5. “Then prepare for the interview with your own agenda, your own questions and curiosities about whether or not this job fits you. This will always impress employers.”
  6. “If you initiated the appointment, ask for just nineteen minutes of their time; and keep to your word strictly. Watch your watch.”
  7. “When answering a question of theirs, talk only between twenty seconds and two minutes, at any one time. Try to be succinct. Don't keep rattling on, out of nervousness.”
  8. “Basically approach them not as a "job-beggar" but humbly as a resource person, able to produce better work for that organization than any of the people who worked in that position, previously.”
  9. “At the end of the interviewing process, ask for the job; "Given all that we have discussed, can you offer me this job?" Salary negotia­tion should only happen when they have definitely said they want you; prior to that, it's pointless.”
  10. “Always write a thank-you note the same evening as the interview, and mail it at the latest by early next morning. This in addition to emailing it. The tendency these days is for job-hunters to only email a thank-you note. You will stand out from the others if you do both.”

I highly recommend every job seeker own and read (cover to cover) his book, What Color is Your Parachute?. If you're serious about your job search, this is a book for you. Sometimes referred to as the job hunters bible, it’s the crème-de-la-crème of job seeking advice from a long-standing expert. Splurge and go with his most recent edition. You won’t be disappointed with his poignant, up-to-the-minute overview, suggestions, tips, and ides for job seekers to meet with success. 

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October 12, 2017

Ending Your Unemployment: Success Made Simple

Attacking your job search every day can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Really? But wait a minute. How do you organize all the little tasks that are part of the job search? How do you manage your time each day for maximum results? How do you remember what you need to do every day and not get sidetracked? How do you resist the endless other not-related-to-looking-for-a-job tasks that so cleverly tug at your sleeve? How do you keep up with followup? Is it possible to achieve continued high productivity during the job search?

Well, here it is. The answer to this dilemma. The Ivy Lee Method.  This is so simple that it seems like it’s doomed and won’t work. But give it a try. Sometimes simplicity brings huge results. Touted by  James Clear as a way to accomplish more at work, I’ve tailored it to finding a job. Here it is in a nutshell:

  1. At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow in your job search. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their importance.
  3. When you start your job search tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work on that until the first task is finished. Then move on to the second task. Work on the second task until it’s finished.
  4. Continue in the same manner. At the end of the day, any uncompleted tasks can to added to the next day’s list of six items.
  5. Repeat this process every day.

Too easy? Perhaps. Think this is too plain and straightforward to be effective? Think again because this is the technique some millionaires have used to become prosperous and wealthy, like Charles M. Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation and Ivy Lee, successful businessman, productivity consultant, and pioneer in the field of public relations. If it worked for these notable business icons, it can work for you. The key is to apply it consistently, day after day.

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October 3, 2017

Looking for a Job is a lot like Dating

What do dating and job seeking have in common? A lot!

It’s a Numbers Game

The more dates you go on, you’ll find your perfect partner sooner. Likewise, the more jobs you apply for, the better your chances of getting a job offer. The more networking you do, the more likely you’ll get a great job. Each time you apply for a job or go on a job interview, you're one step closer to your job. Don’t get discouraged over the numbers.

More No, Than Yes

When you date, you go out with a lot of people that you just don’t connect with and there’s no desire to continue to get to know each other. And yes, you’ll go on job interviews, only to realize this is not the company for you or the job is not what you want. Also, you’ll pass over a plethora of job ads where the job simply isn’t for you. No thanks can be a good thing.

Don’t Take It Personally

Just because the first date dies after the first 20 minutes, if looking for a second date, you can’t think it’s because you’re too short, too tall, not smart enough, too introverted, not rich enough, too shy. Once again, just because a company doesn’t see you as a good candidate or doesn’t offer you the job, doesn’t mean you’re not talented or that you’ll never find a job. Accentuate your positive aspects. Shake off the I’m-not-good-enough mindset.

Online Takes Front and Center

Both job hunting and dating have morphed into an online-intensive endeavor. We just have to accept that. Sure, you can find a job through word of mouth or you can meet a potential partner on a blind date, but online is the way to go these days. Use the Internet to your advantage and land that job interview or first date sooner. Online isn’t such a bad thing.

It Can Take Time

Let’s face it, there’s no magic wand, so expect it to take some time, whether you’re looking for your soulmate or that perfect job. We all want to find a job sooner rather than later--same with a life partner--and we need to have realistic time frames. One thing to do is to learn something new or improve your skills while you're searching. Time changes everything.

Looking for a Good Fit

Both in a marriage partner and in a job, you’re looking for compatibility. Compatibility is crucial. Will you want to stay married to this person long-term? Do you resonate with the company? What common interests do you share with the other person? Is there room to grow at the job and the company? Do you align with the company's values and mission? Sometimes it’s got to fit like a glove.

Just like you should never, ever give up on finding your true partner, you should never, ever give up on finding a great job. Your perfect job is just waiting for you, so go out and attract it.

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September 23, 2017

What’s all This Talk about Personal Branding to Find a Job?

Personal branding will give you that leg up. Make you stand out in the crowd. Give you that razor-sharp edge. Help you dazzle. And get you hired. We like this. But what is personal branding as it pertains to job hunting? How can it help you better navigate the job market?

“By having a clear message of who you are, what experience you have and what direction you're going in, you're conveying your identity to the hiring manager instead of being a faceless part of the crowd,” says CareerBuilder in the online article, “Personal Branding and Your Job Search.”

A personal brand, according to Jacquelyn Smith’s  online Forbes article, “How to Showcase Your Personal Brand in a Job Interview,” is your distinct talents and what you represent. It's what people say about you when you're not around, and how you're positioned in the marketplace. “Personal branding is the process of unearthing your unique talents and communicating them, through various mediums, to the right audience,” says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success. “Everyone has a personal brand, from celebrities to authors to entrepreneurs to employees to students. We all live in a brand driven world so if you don't have a strong position, you will go unnoticed.”

As the article continues, Mike Fenlon, PwC’s U.S. and global talent leader, adds: “Each interaction you have with others enables you to make a mark on those around you.  When you’re consistent in delivering those experiences, you build a strong personal brand that's authentic, differentiated, and memorable. In short, it's your reputation.”

What message are you sending a potential hiring manager? That’s your personal brand. Your personal brand comes through in your resume and cover letter, during a job interview, in your online portfolio, in the clothes/accessories you wear to a job interview, in your professional web site or professional blog site, in your elevator pitch, and in your social media, like LinkedIn. The cool part is that no two individual’s personal brand is the same, since we’re all vastly unique and different. So there’s no cookie cutter answer to personal branding.

Personal branding is not boasting or bragging. Personal branding is not lying, being inaccurate, exaggerating, or blatantly not telling the truth. Rather, “branding,” says Harvey Deutschendorf (emotional intelligence expert, author, and speaker) in the Fast Company online article, “The New Rules of Personal Branding for Job Seekers,” “is a difficult art that involves tuning many tiny, seemingly irreconcilable details into a harmonious whole.” 

So let’s get down to business and create your personal brand. Answer these three questions, as they pertain to employment. It’s helpful to write down your answers. This is an exercise in getting to know yourself better at a professional level. Do some deep thinking, some brainstorming, and some self-assessment. You can, of course, confer with others, but ultimately this is something you have to ascertain on your own.

Who are you?

What experience, skills, expertise, and training do you have?

What job/career path or direction are you going?

Once you’ve developed a strong, honed-in personal brand for yourself and you feel comfortable with your personal brand, incorporate your personal brand into the various aspects of job hunting.

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September 11, 2017

Let’s Talk Salary

So far, the job interview’s going well. You brought copies of your resume. You showed up on time. You’re wearing clothes that are professional and instill confidence. You smile a lot. You’re somewhat relaxed. You’re addressing their questions in a professional manner, showcasing how you can complement the company. You ask pertinent, well-thought-of-questions about the job position and the organization. They seem to like you. This is good.

Then, the whammy. “What’s your current salary?” you’re asked—innocently enough. You freeze. You’re caught off guard. You’re not sure what to say. You get nervous and confused. You try, unsuccessfully, to remain composed. But you still have to answer the question. Help! What do you say? How do you respond?

Many advise to dodge the question. Ask what they have in mind as far as salary. Or ask the interviewer the company’s salary range for the position. Mention that total compensation, salary and benefits, are important to you—not just salary.

Others recommend you give a salary range. Or give the low and high for that type of job. Or give the middle of the high and low. Or know the lowest amount you’ll accept, add a bit to that lowest amount you’ll accept, and tell the interviewer that amount.

Or, here’s fresh stance you might want to consider. Suzy Welch, management author and CNBS contributor, in the August 9, 2017, online article, "What to Say When a Job Interviewer Asks, ‘What’s your Current Salary?’" by Marguerite Ward, offers a two-prong approach:

Know your market value. Do some research and know your current value and the value of that type of job. This will tell you if you’re currently getting paid below, at, or above the average for that type of job.

Disclose your current salary and make your case. Tell them your current salary (and also mention other benefits, bonuses, or compensation). And then advocate for yourself. You can explain your current situation or why you’re willing to accept less or why your deserve more.

Then, sit back and relax and see how they respond—or react, both with their words and their body language. This will give you a keen indication about the company and will help you decide if you want to work for this company or not.

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September 1, 2017

Veterans in the Workforce: Guide to Getting There

If you’re a military veteran and looking for employment as a civilian, don’t gloss over the myriad of assistance and support available to help with securing employment.  Please, use it. This will help ease the transition from military to a meaningful job in the civilian workforce.

What you’ve got to offer

You may not realize it, but you’re in a unique situation that you have skills and experience gained only through your military service. Much of which, by the way, is transferrable to civilian jobs. It’s helpful to take some time to write down all your skills, knowledge, wisdom, experience, achievements, and accomplishments gained through your military service. These make you a valuable employee in the civilian workforce. How can you take these skills you learned in the military and use them in a civilian job? How can they translate into a civilian job? In what types of civilian jobs could you use these?

Confronting your struggles

On the other hand, veterans can have additional challenges to finding a great job. Again, make a list of the barriers, challenges, doubts, weaknesses, and concerns you feel you have around employment. This way, you’ll know what type of support will be most helpful for you, based on your own individual apprehensions. What can you do to overcome some of them? What areas would require some extra guidance or assistance?

Looking for employment these days can be quite intricate. Support is key. We all need backing and especially during a job search. To maximize your job search efforts, check out these veteran services. Also, glean some ideas from 10 “Did You Know” Tips for Veterans Entering the Job Market.

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August 24, 2017

Understanding Social Media during the Job Search

In this digital age, social media has become a common way to interact with friends, family and even employers. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be important tools in your job search. In essence, social media can play three important roles as it relates to your job search - the first is to connect you with employers, the second is to display your job skills and abilities, and the third is to broaden your job search network.

Checking out employer social media pages will help keep you up to date on current hiring needs and recruiting events - it’s common for employers to post job openings on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Following employer social media pages also gives you a way to get a feel for the company’s culture, determine their core purpose and objectives, and stay current on relevant news and information. Many employer social media accounts can be found by searching for social media icons on their homepages.

Using social media to display your job skills and abilities is also important in that companies will often do a thorough social media inspection on prospective employees to determine if they are a good fit for their company. You should look at each of your social media profiles with the expectation that an employer will scrutinize every post, comment, and photo. For some tips on maintaining a professional online presence, visit Clean Up Your Digital Footprint.

It’s called "social" media for a reason. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be invaluable resources for broadening your job search network. Use these platforms to engage with friends and with new contacts at businesses of interest to you and to improve your chances of obtaining the job of your choice. To learn more about networking strategies, visit Identifying and Building Your Job Search Network and Networking Conversations.

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the social media platforms most used by employers to both communicate with the public and screen potential employees, and they are the platforms most conducive to networking. Read on to learn how to best use these social media platforms to obtain your desired employment.

Using LinkedIn to help your job search

LinkedIn is the best known social media platform focusing on business and professional networking. The built-in job search engine allows jobseekers to find openings. LinkedIn also allows jobseekers to see if their connections are affiliated with businesses of interest. When using LinkedIn to help you land a job, consider the following tips.

  • Your experience section should highlight your main job functions at your previous/current jobs in general terms; this section should not provide bulleted details about job functions, as might be done in a resume.
  • Use specific keywords that employers in your field will be searching for when you generate your list of skills. Read job postings to find terms associated with the skills most sought after in your industry.
  • Ask your connections to endorse you for your top skills, and have previous coworkers and employers write recommendations for you.
  • Join alumni groups and other groups in your field. Contribute to discussions as a way to network and exhibit your subject knowledge.
  • Decide who to connect with, with the emphasis being on quality connections.Follow influential people in your targeted industry.

If you do not currently have a LinkedIn account, you can set one up by visiting their website and completing the "get started" form on the homepage. You will then be directed to complete steps to set up your professional profile. Follow these steps while taking note of the tips in this section.

Using Facebook and Twitter to help your job search

The other top social media platforms to tap for job search and networking purposes are Facebook and Twitter. Both platforms allow you to follow, and impress, companies, as well as broaden your job search network.

On Facebook, you can connect with friends and let them know you're looking for work. Even if you keep tight privacy settings, make sure your work and education information is public. You’ll also want to provide a brief description about your professional background in the "about" section of your profile. Consider following recruiters and companies in your targeted industry for current information that may impact your job search.

Twitter's platform allows you to receive frequent updates on employers, recruiters, and industry insiders. As on Facebook, you’ll want to keep your profile up to date and provide a brief description about your professional background in the "about" section of your profile. After choosing relevant accounts to follow, you can participate and make yourself stand out by tweeting to people, re-tweeting posts that are interesting, and commenting on content. Posting links to pertinent articles and other online content while providing your own professional opinion is another way to stand out as an enthusiastic jobseeker.

(From New Jersey Career Connections, careerconnections.nj.gov)

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August 14, 2017

Move over STEM, Soft Skills are Back

We’ve all heard a lot about the importance of STEM/STEAM  these days.  But in the workforce, apparently they’re being overtaken by soft skills. Soft skills aren’t just considered “fluff” any more. And for good reason. “STEM education and technical knowledge aren’t the only skills in demand these days,” says Dan Finnigan (President and CEO of Jobvite) in the Inc. online article, The Soft-Skills Revolution and How it's Affecting Workplaces Everywhere, “the soft skills revolution is growing.”

Such a vague term….soft skills. What exactly are soft skills? “Soft skills,” according to Jacob Share (job search expert and founder of JobMob) in Live Career’s online article, Top 10 Soft Skills in Demand, “are personal attribute-driven general skills, such as the ability to give and receive feedback, work collaboratively, and manage time. They are usually self-developed (as opposed to hard skills, which you typically acquire in school or on the job), and they’ll help you in a wide range of jobs, not just the target job you're applying for.”

A complete list of workplace soft skills would be exhaustive, but here are some examples:

  • Communications skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Team work and collaboration
  • Work ethic and integrity
  • Openness and receptivity to feedback
  • Positive attitude
  • Self-motivation and enthusiasm
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Learning and self-development skills
  • Time and task management

Along with technical skills, experience, credentials, and higher education, you’ll want to include your soft skills on your resume (also include in your cover letter, in your LinkedIn profile, on a job interview, and during your networking). But, don’t just list them. Don’t just tell, you’ll need to show.  A list of soft skills (like team player, punctual, deadline oriented) is actually useless. You’ll need to show or demonstrate or give examples that you’re a team player, that you’re punctual, that you’re deadline oriented.

Here’s an example from a May 2, 2017 online article by Jessica Holbrook Hernandez (President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast), Beyond the Buzzwords: How Do You Show Soft Skills on Your Resume?:

How do you solve the problem of proving you possess the soft skills you claim? I advise my clients to incorporate the related keyword within the context of an accomplishment that demonstrates that soft skill. An example:

 

Recovered $1,000,000 lost revenue through attention to detail and meticulous review of 750 client accounts.

 

Notice how it includes attention to detail and meticulous? These are soft skills, but possessing them as a strength enabled this person to find a critical error resulting is recovering more than $1 million in previously lost revenue. Without her attention to detail she would have overlooked the hidden error.

 

You can do the same with any soft skill that you possess—simply insert the soft skill within the context of the accomplishment.

If you’ve been ignoring your soft skills on your resume, you’ve been short-changing yourself. Promote your soft skills and you’ll enhance your hirability. And you just might get that job offer for a dream job.

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August 7, 2017

The Job Seeker’s Personal Budget and Financial Assessment

Unless you find a new job quickly, becoming unemployed will almost always require a change in spending. Budget Building Tools and Resources  can help you measure and track your spending and thus gain a handle on your weekly or monthly cash flow and determine a realistic budget.
  
Let’s look at ways to trim your spending to meet that budget.

The first step is to assess your current spending and distinguish between wants and needs. Identify the essentials you pay for each month, including housing, utilities, food, work clothes, transportation, insurance, and other obligatory bills. Then use the suggestions outlined below to trim back on these necessary expenses.

All other expenditures are fair game for elimination. These may include dining out, entertainment, hobbies, gym memberships, and household and personal care purchases that you can postpone until your finances stabilize.

Budgeting tips

None of the following cost-cutting measures will, by themselves, solve your cash flow problems, but together these strategies can potentially save you hundreds of dollars each month.

  • If you have more than one vehicle, try to leave one in the garage. When you can, carpool with neighbors, or use public transportation. If a second or third car is merely for convenience, rather than necessity, selling it can bring in cash and reduce your monthly car loan payments. Using rideshare services once or twice a week can be far more economical than owning, insuring, maintaining, and fueling a second or third vehicle. Consolidating errands and shopping trips also can reduce transportation costs.
  • Trim your gas and electric bills by instituting energy-saving measures throughout your house or apartment. Plug drafty windows and doors with weather stripping. Avoid using the clothes dryer or dishwasher during peak hours when electricity may cost more. Install a programmable thermostat, unplug all unused electrical devices, and lower the temperature on your hot water heater.

Saving when shopping

  • Prepare and eat more of your meals at home, and pack lunches rather than buying them. This may be one of the fastest ways to trim your expenses, since eating out and ordering takeout food several times a week can add significantly to your food bill.
  • Look for bargains on gently used clothing at thrift shops and second-hand stores.
  • Check out “dollar” stores for household essentials. Compare the unit prices (price per ounce or per gallon) with prices in regular stores, to ensure you’re not actually paying more for a smaller amount.
  • Reduce expensive impulse buying. Make a list of essential purchases before you go shopping, and buy only what is on your list.
  • Buy items in bulk, purchase generic brands, and shop sales in the grocery store.

Other ideas

  • Get your family involved in reducing expenses and generating family income. Explain that everyone will need to scale back on discretionary spending for a while.
  • Contact your creditors, explain that you've lost your job, and ask for lower monthly minimum payments. Creditors are far more likely to work with you if you’re proactive, rather than waiting until you've missed one or two payments.
  • Apply for any government benefits that you or your family may be eligible for.
  • Unemployment benefits are taxable, so you should understand how this impacts your annual tax return filings.
  • Sell items you no longer use or need. Borrow, trade, or barter with neighbors for items and services.

(From New Jersey Career Connections)

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July 31, 2017

It’s Still True: Dress to Impress on the Job Interview

The clothes you wear on a job interview are just another way to show the potential employer that you’re the ideal person for the job. An interviewer is going to quickly, probably with the first minute or two of meeting you, make a mental note as to whether you’re a great candidate—or not. Your clothes play a part in this. In a nutshell, you’re looking to create a professional image in what you wear.

These are my top three “must-have” pointers when it comes to interview outfits:

  1. Your clothes should be neat, clean, coordinated, and not wrinkled. Take the time to iron your clothes, if needed. Look for stains or rips or frayed areas on the clothes. Make sure the ensemble all matches nicely, including any accessories (like jewelry or belt), socks, and shoes.
  2. Your clothes should fit you appropriately. Your clothes should not be too oversized, big or baggy and not too tight or revealing.
  3. Your clothes should be appropriate for the company and the job for which you’re applying. It’s always better to dress a bit nicer than what’s expected for the position. Many companies are work casual, but don’t worry that you appear over-dressed compared to the interviewer or others at the company.

There’s more than just my top three criteria. Lots more details to consider, in fact. Check out New Jersey Career Connections’s dress your best on a job interview.

Also, a few more favorites of mine: colors you should and should not wear to a job interview, worse things to wear to a job interview, and how to decide what to wear and when.

Your clothes should highlight your professionalism, poise, confidence, and upbeat attitude. And they should contribute to your organized appearance.  So take the time now to craft polished outfits for upcoming job interviews, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

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July 24, 2017

Do This to Become a More Savvy Job Seeker

There’s a plethora of information, tips, trends, and ideas to glean from online articles to add to your career search tool box. These articles also offer new and fresh perspectives from experts.  And the articles will motivate you and you’ll morph into a more savvy job searcher.  

Try this Action Plan: Make the commitment to read one online article each day. Then take some time to determine, and write down, how you can incorporate some of the information into the process of your job search. Then make an effort every day to weave these new suggestions and ideas into your job search strategies.

Good ideas usually go to waste if not immediately incorporated into daily practice. So commence immediately. To get you started, I cobbled together some articles on a variety of topics.

The Exact Words to Use When Negotiating Salary

Six Essentials for Finding a New Job

Behaviors of Job Interview Etiquette that Make You Stand Out

Job Hopper? 6 Quick Fixes to Cover Resume Gaps

35 Surefire Ways to Stand Out During Your Job Search

“My Best Advice for Job Seekers is…”: A Roundup of Advice

9 Essential Tips for Older Job Seekers Looking for Their Next Awesome Opportunity

Laying the Foundation of a Successful Job Search

6 Things You Can Use to Fill Resume Gaps

5 Ways to Stay Motivated in a Frustrating Job Hunt

29 Things You Should Never Put on Your Resume

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July 19, 2017

Don’t Ignore that Thank You Letter after the Job Interview

Think thank you letters are a thing of the past? Think again. A well-written thank you letter can be a prominent ally. And your best friend. It’s not just to say thanks for meeting with me. It’s that and more.  It’s an additional opportunity to shine just a little more after the first interview and a time to influence the interviewers to hire you for the job.  What you’re getting at, in addition to thanking them for their time, is one last thing that will set you apart favorably from the other candidates. Here’s a list of some options to include in your thank you letters.

  • Specify something about you (or an accomplishment or skill) that wasn’t touched upon during the interview.
  • Highlight one of your strengths.
  • Let them know why you’re interested in the position.  
  • Tell why you’re a good fit for the company.
  • Link your skills and accomplishments with those required for the job.
  • Throw in a new skill you’re learning that pertains to the job.
  • Explain how you can save (or make) the company money or time. 
  • Share a professional experience to buttress your skills or accomplishments needed for the job.
  • Provide links to your online portfolio, your LinkedIn account, or your other professional social networking profiles.
  • Mention something you like about the interview, the company, the job, or the interviewer.
  • Indicate how you resonate with the company or the job.
  • Reference how you can solve the company’s  complication or challenge that might have been mentioned during the job interview.

Most of all, the letter should professionally represent you from a professional standpoint. And it should reveal to the reader another facet of you that didn’t come up during the interview. Don’t just re-state what’s on your resume or what you said during the interview.

A thank you letter just might be the deciding factor between hiring you—or not. So take the time to craft a thank you letter that grabs (and maintains) the attention of the reader.

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July 14, 2017

7 Tips to Counteract the Stress of Unemployment

Looking for a job isn’t an easy feat. Yes, the stress is real. And it’s probably not going to magically disperse on its own. How well are you managing the strain of unemployment or underemployment? From anxiety to headaches to mild depression to over-eating to feeling overwhelmed, the physical, emotional, and mental manifestations of   stress can be troublesome to deal with and manage. And sometimes debilitating.

Act now and implement these 7 strategies, from New Jersey Career Connections, to neutralize your apprehension and uneasiness, so you can be at peak performance. Start to engage these stress busters in your daily schedule.

1. Accept and Embrace your New Role: Job Seeker

In this role, you actually have two broad tasks:

  • Manage your job search. The information and resources on careerconnections.nj.gov and at your local One-Stop Career Center can help you do this.
  • Maintain a positive mindset. Because self-confidence and optimism are vital ingredients for a successful job search, staying positive is as important as the actual job-search activities.

2. Focus on your Strengths

Sustain your confidence and self-esteem by intentionally emphasizing the positive.

  • It’s vital to Identify Your Strengths to pinpoint your capabilities that employers will find valuable. Doing this will remind you of your past successes.
  • Track and celebrate the progress you make in achieving short-term goals, developing new skills, and successfully completing the steps or using the resources you’ll find throughout careerconnections.nj.gov.
  • Take pride in your ability to persist in the face of the psychological challenges you’re facing. Unemployment or underemployment is one of the more difficult situations we can face. Persevering in spite of such difficulties is an achievement in itself.
  • Quickly spot self-defeating thoughts when they occur -- and challenge them. If you catch yourself thinking, "I’ll never get a job," respond by telling yourself, "I’m going through a rough stretch, but this will end. I can take specific actions that will bring me closer to finding a job I’ll enjoy. I’m making progress. I have a lot of skills and experience to share. Somewhere out there, there’s a business that will be very fortunate to gain the capabilities that I can offer. I just need to connect with it and educate the hiring decision makers in that organization."
  • Recognize that being unemployed or underemployed can provide opportunities to discover, acquire or strengthen skills, to rethink your career priorities and to reflect on how you want to spend the next phase of your life. At the very least, you’ll have a chance to practice your problem-solving and planning skills.

3. Develop a Productive Routine

There’s a lot of truth to the saying, "searching for a job is a full-time job." Create a Plan of Action to establish a productive routine for launching and sustaining an effective job search.

  • Devote between six and eight hours a day, five days a week, to job search activities.
  • As much as possible, maintain the daily habits you had when you were employed. Get out of bed at the same time you did when you were working, shower and get dressed, leave the TV and other distractions off. Now you can focus on searching for employment opportunities and connecting with employers who are hiring.
  • Each night before you go to bed, make a list of actions you’ll take the following day and the mini-goals you intend to accomplish.

4. Focus on What You Can Control

Break problems and larger goals into manageable chunks and take effective action on those things.  To accomplish this, Create a Plan of Action.

  • If you have a job interview, a key meeting, or another important and stressful event coming up, list everything you can do to prepare for it and then work your way through the list. Once you’ve completed all the tasks, relax. If you find yourself worrying about the upcoming event, remind yourself that you’ve done everything you can and that you’re prepared.
  • If you’re dealing with an unfamiliar challenge, identify all the possible options, learn as much as you can about each option, consider the pros and cons for each, and choose the one that makes the most sense. Imagine what could happen if the worst-case scenario happens -- and consider what other actions you could take to deal with possible problems.

5. Build and Leverage a New Social Network

  • Don’t let embarrassment or a bruised ego keep you from tapping into the best source of information about employment opportunities: the people you are routinely in contact with, so be sure to Nurture and Leverage Your Personal Support Network.
  • Tell everyone you know that you're looking for work, and also tell them about the skills and experience you can offer an employer.
  • Keep track of the contacts that people suggest to you.
  • Spend as much time as possible with positive people and avoid those with persistently negative attitudes.
  • Join a job club or support group. The Warren County Library offers monthly networking and support groups for job seekers. Ask about Jersey Job Clubs and other helpful groups at your local One-Stop Career Center.

6. Assess your Current Spending and Income

To reduce the anxiety caused by financial worries, review your situation and take steps to deal with immediate concerns. Balance spending with your income and resources with a Personal Budget and Financial Assessment and using Budget Building Tools and Resources for more practical steps you can take to balance spending with your income and resources.

  • List all your regular bills: rent or mortgage, utilities, car or other payments, costs of insurance, usual food costs.
  • List spending that is not fixed: meals or social nights out, movies and other entertainment, transportation, clothing, gifts.
  • Consider ways that you could reduce spending in each category. For example, make your food dollars stretch further, buy clothes at a thrift shop, use less expensive transportation, tap into subsidies for insurance, give gifts of your time or skills, or find other ways to reduce spending.
  • Consider ways that you can supplement your earning power. Can you do any part-time, temporary, or occasional work that doesn’t interfere with your job search? Can you barter skills and services with neighbors?

7. Counteract the Stress of Unemployment

  • Maintaining your emotional and physical health is the best morale booster.
  • Exercise each day for 30 minutes, if possible. Exercise relieves stress and improves mood.
  • Spend time each week doing things you enjoy. If activities involve others, even better. Those people can become part of your job search network.
  • Volunteer your time and expertise to a cause that you consider worthwhile, or take temporary jobs. You’ll keep your current skills sharp, possibly acquire additional marketable skills, plug gaps in your work history, benefit from social contact, and, again, potentially grow your job search network.
  • Express your feelings in productive ways to a friend or confidant. Some people find it helps to write down their feelings on paper.
  • If you feel that stress or depression are holding you back, contact nonprofit mental health centers and county mental health agencies to ask if they provide free or low-cost counseling. If so, take advantage of their expertise.

Although we can’t live a life 100 percent free of exigencies, there’s much we can do to release the trepidation of today’s job seeker. Improvements to dealing with the excess worry of unemployment is just as essential as completing an online job application. So don’t neglect this not often talked about concern of job seekers. 

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July 10, 2017

Boost Your Resume

Most job seekers know that a resume gets looked at for a paltry of maybe 10 to 15 seconds—more like a glance. Not much time to grab anyone’s attention. Get your resume to shine and it most likely will get a longer look over, advancing your chances of being considered for an interview.

We’re all looking for that avenue to make our resume stand out amongst the others. After all, we want to move into the next phase of the job application process—the job interview. Well, this just might be it. According to New Jersey Career Connections, here’s how to create persuasive and powerful bullet points for your resume. Remember this formula:

Action Verbs + Details + Results = Impressive Bullet Point

Begin each bullet point with an action verb (examples include: implemented, mediated, reviewed, prepared, clarified, resolved, critiqued, operated, standardized, formulated, directed, overhauled, summarized, collaborated).  Avoid starting a bullet point with the words "Responsible for" and jump right to the verb that tells the resume reader what you did.

Next, add relevant details that show a clearer picture of what you did.

Then briefly describe what you achieved.  The easiest way to identify a result is to ask yourself:  "What was the reason for performing the task?  What would have happened if the task had not been performed?"  In some cases you might be able to describe a numerical impact (dollars, or improving performance by a specific percentage, saving or earning), but more likely you'll need to describe the result in more general terms.

Review these examples of “average,” “good,” and “excellent” bullet points.

Average Bullet Point

(Action Verb)

           

Good Bullet Point

(Action Verb)

           

Excellent Bullet Point

(Action Verb)

Answered customer phone calls

 

Answered an average of 25 customer calls per day. Answered questions, resolved problems, and recommended additional products or services they might find useful.

 

Answered an average of 25 customer calls per day. Answered questions, resolved problems, and recommended additional products or services they might find useful. Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as follow-on purchases. 

Drove a forklift truck

 

Drove a forklift truck, resupplied 12 work stations with all parts and materials needed to operate an assembly line.

 

Drove a forklift truck, resupplied 12 work stations with all parts and materials needed to operate an assembly line. Maintained an accident-free driving record for more than 3 years, and ensured the assembly line never shut down due to a shortage of parts.

Maintained delivery trucks

 

Performed comprehensive maintenance on 6 delivery trucks that averaged 14 hours of use per day and 30,000 miles per year.

 

Performed comprehensive maintenance on 6 delivery trucks that averaged 14 hours of use per day and 30,000 miles per year. Achieved a 98% availability rate and prevented thousands of dollars of unscheduled repair.

Developed and implemented new employee training program

 

Developed and implemented a training program for over 200 new employees on safety procedures and the correct use of tools and equipment.

 

Developed and implemented a training program for over 200 new employees on safety procedures and the correct use of tools and equipment, resulting in a sharp decrease in lost-time accidents, workers compensation claims, and employee turnover.

Processed invoices

 

Processed over 30 invoices per day quickly and accurately.

 

Processed over 30 invoices per day quickly and accurately, reducing average billing-to-payment cycle from 6 weeks to 3 weeks.

See how you can seriously vamp up your bullet points with this method? Adding details and results to your bullet points really enhance the bulleted item much more than just an action verb with a list of completed tasks.

Looking for more? Join us at an upcoming Polish Your Resume Workshop at the Warren County Library. Upcoming workshops are scheduled for July 13 and August 7, 2017. Register at www.warrenlib.org or call 908/475-6322.

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July 5, 2017

Don’t Brush Aside this Part of the Online Job Application

References still are part of the job application process, regardless of whether a potential employer contacts your references or not. Although providing a potential employer with job references seems like a trivial part of the hiring process, your references can help you “win” the job.

The first place you’re likely to encounter them is on the online job application, but the topic of references might come up later—perhaps during the job interview or post-interview follow-up.

Think again, before you list just anyone as a reference. Here are some tips from New Jersey Career Connections:

  • Before making a final hiring decision, employers usually ask for the names of several references -- people you have worked with who will vouch for your work ethic and character. It's a good idea to identify people with whom you have had a successful working relationship, and who are willing to share what they know about you.
  • Most employers will want to talk to three references. If possible, have four to six professional references ready to choose from, so you can rotate your references and avoid overusing any one person.
  • Talk to your potential references ahead of time and ask them for permission to give an employer their names and contact information. You can also remind them about your key strengths, successes, and experiences. Send them a copy of your resume so they'll be aware of the information you've sent the potential employer.
  • If you are targeting a specific position, give your references a copy of the job description.

I’m going to venture to guess that most job seekers aren’t using their references to gain the most optimal results. Ask yourself these five vital questions, crafted by John West Hadley of John Hadley Associates, LLC, Somerville NJ, to determine if you’re making the most of your references.

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your references, as they’ve gone out of their way to support you in your job search. 

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June 29, 2017

More to Offer: The Mature Job Seeker

The mature worker looking for a job can sometimes feel left out with rapidly changing computers and technology and feelings of being unable to compete with the younger workforce. The key is to have the view of being a valuable, viable, and qualified asset to any company or organization. And let your confidence shine.  You have years of valuable wisdom, skills, experience, knowledge, abilities, expertise, and life/work skills that the younger generation simply does not have. So be proud of that. And use that to your advantage.

So don’t dismay. Instead, delve into some of the following resources:

  • PathStone’s Senior Community Service Employment Program is great way for mature, unemployed workers to get paid while learning new skills at a local non-profit organization or agency. There are income and age requirements. Call Carmella Swayze in the Hackettstown office to discuss, 908/797-8494.
  • Rutgers University, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development’s New Start Career Network offers a variety of assistance for long-term unemployed/underemployed New Jerseyans, particularly those age 45 and older, to obtain jobs.
  • Get an overview of mature worker services  complied by New Jersey Career Connections.
  • Brush up on some essential tips for older job seekers in this article by The Muse.
  • The CheatSheet summarizes the top job search mistakes boomers make.

Ageism exists, but don’t let that deter you from finding your dream job. Armed with how to be a more savvy, seasoned job seeker, you can get that job offer sooner rather than later.

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June 26, 2017

What Elevator Pitch? Where to Start for Job Seekers

Yes, you need an Elevator Pitch. There’s no two ways around it. Your Elevator Pitch is a 30-second overview of you from a professional standpoint.  It gives someone a quick introduction as to who you are, what kind of job you’re looking to find, your skills, experience, and accomplishments, how you can be of value to a company.

Here’s a great place to start: the old adage “Know thyself,” the key to a fantastic Elevator Pitch. You really need to know yourself professionally. As a guide to get you going, write down answers to these points:

  • Your strong points
  • Your weaknesses
  • Skills, accomplishments, and experience
  • Type of career/job you want
  • Industry and type of company where you want to be employed
  • What you bring to your new job and employer
  • Professional training, learning, and self-improvement
  • What you’re looking for in a new employer
  • Your ideal job/career/company
  • Professional goals, objectives, work philosophy
  • Your career vision and goals

What’s in the perfect Elevator Pitch? Check out New Jersey Career Connections Your Elevator Pitch and Forbes The Perfect Elevator Pitch to Land a Job.

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June 23, 2017

3 Things I Wish I’d Done Differently When I Was Job Searching

Yes, looking back in hindsight, I would have done things differently while I was looking for a job. But, as Andrew Lincoln said, “I would find myself getting deeply distressed if I lived in hindsight all the time.” Instead, I pass along to you my thoughts on this, in the hopes it will help you find a job sooner, rather than later.

TIME. I definitely should have scheduled my time much, much, much better. Though a normally organized, scheduled, non-procrastinating person, for some odd reason, when it came to looking for a job, I temporarily morphed into the queen of procrastination.  “Gee, I’ll just sweep the kitchen floor before I start.” Or “Let me go for a quick walk, then after the walk, I’ll start.” Or “Well, right after lunch, is a good time to start.” Sound familiar?

Action Step: Every day, follow a pre-planned schedule. Develop a week-long plan of action where you schedule into your daily calendar all types of job searching tasks. No more procrastinating. The good thing is, you can schedule in some time for fun, hobbies/interests, and socialization--and time for exercise too. Plus, you can easily make minor changes to it as necessary.

NETWORKING. Sure, I was networking. I was telling everyone I knew that I was looking for a job. That’s networking, right? Not quite. I wish I’d fine-tuned my networking skills. I think that would have opened up more possibilities for me as a job seeker.

Action Step: Develop your elevator pitch. Good networking starts with a fantastic elevator pitch, your 30-second introduction/overview as a professional. Take the time to develop your elevator pitch—and practice it in the mirror so you feel comfortable with it. Now, weave your elevator pitch into your networking approach.

SUPPORT. I wish I could have found a group of other job seekers. Their support, ideas, and encouragement would have been invaluable. It’s motivating to come together with a common issue and work through it together. I went at my job search by myself. And, believe me, that can be a lonely process. We all need support and someone to encourage and motivate us--and during the job search is no exception.

Action Step: Find a job seekers support group or a mentor who will encourage and support you. The Warren Library offers a monthly networking and support group. Check out the Warren County Library calendar for the schedule.

So, take heed and, please, don't make the same mistakes I made. 

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June 19, 2017

How to Ace the Dreaded Job Interview Question

“So, tell me about yourself.” Seems innocent enough. Right? Not really. It’s a loaded statement that’s frequently asked during a job interview and one you want to answer to set you off as the best candidate for the job. You want to reply with a fabulous summary  of yourself professionally.  (And, no, the interviewer does not want to hear about your hobbies and interests, or recent vacation to the Bahamas, or the adorable shelter puppy you just adopted.)

Ideally, you want to come up with an answer tailored to each interview/job and prepare your answer prior to the interview, as it’s pretty much understood you’ll be asked this. I don’t think I’ve gone on an interview where they didn’t ask this. Not just what you say, but your presentation of this is vital too. Somewhere between not too nervous and not overly pushy. Confident and poised.

Ready to tackle this vexing question? Here’s a good article, How to Nail the “Tell Me about Yourself” Interview Question, to get you started. Other great job interviewing tips to brush up on include, Inside the Employer's Mind, Nailing the Interview and Be Your Best.

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June 16, 2017

6 Keys to Success Every Job Seeker Needs to Know

Today’s job seeker needs to take a savvy approach to landing a great job. These keys to success in your job search, provided by the New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development’s New Jersey Career Connections, can open up employment potential for you. You can easily kick your job search into high gear, by implementing these six ideas.

Although this list is the very basics, even if you’re ignoring one of these areas, it could be preventing you from securing employment. Take a serious look at all these items and ask yourself if you’re neglecting any of these areas. If you are, immediately take steps to get up to speed in that area. 

Also, look at this list to determine if you can do more in one or two areas, again perhaps resulting in job offers for you. Sometimes giving just an additional ten percent of effort in an area, can make a huge difference.

Accept change. The labor market is constantly changing. Learn about current trends, how to use them to your advantage, and pursue your career goals with confidence.

Take care of yourself. Don’t let unemployment stress get in the way of your success. Continue to socialize and do activities that energize you. Get your finances in order and reach out to social service organizations if you need help.

Connect with people. Interacting with people is the best way to uncover the “hidden job market.” Stay active in your community and your social network-- the next person you meet might hold the key to the next step in your career.

Make a plan. Your time is valuable. Decide what your career goals are, and put together a plan to achieve them. Learn about the labor market and focus on industries and positions that align with your plan.

Be your own spokesperson. No one is more interested in your success than you. Always be prepared to discuss your skills and experiences in a positive way.

Embrace technology. The internet and social media have changed how employers find and hire talent. Learn the do’s and don’ts of these powerful tools to help you land your next position.

The Warren County Library can help you get going with these six tips. We offer an array of free workshops and programs for job seekers. Go to the calendar at www.warrenlib.org or call 908/475-6322.