Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Strategies to Help Offset Diminishing Job and Income Security

With company downsizing and employee layoffs still looming at many companies, there’s no time like the present to act on strategies that can help prop up your current or future job and income security. To explore these CBS strategies, click here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Choosing Employment References Requires Careful Preparation

Many job seekers underestimate the power of their references and are passed over for employment as a result. Knowing this, you must carefully choose employment references that compliment your resumé.

Think about people who would be willing to vouch for you as a reference or who would be willing to write a letter of recommendation. Select three or four people who know you well and who can comment positively about your work habits, skills, and personal qualities. Typical references include former and/or current supervisors, colleagues and/or subordinates, former customers and/or clients, or contacts from work-related associations or volunteer work.

Ask your potential references if they feel they could write a strong recommendation. Choose only those who can provide this for you. To make the task easier for your references, provide a copy of your resumé or other information about your direction and background.

The people you choose as references should be available by telephone when a prospective employer calls. If a person isn’t easily available by telephone, ask the person to provide a letter of recommendation. A letter of recommendation offers a written appraisal of your work habits, skills, and personal qualities. Ask the person to address the letter “To Whom It May Concern,” so that you can use the letter over and over again.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Get Out of the Job Search Rut: Four Ideas to Put into Action

If you’re feeling a bit stuck in your job search, are tired of scouring the online job boards. and think your network has heard from you one too many times, it may be time for some new job search tactics.

CBS shares pointers for using your online social network more efficiently, blogging, tapping into technology tools to identify leads, and volunteering your way to a possible next job. Great job search ideas are just a click away.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Weighing A Job Offer Look at the Warning Signs

During these difficult economic times, it’s easy to fall prey to the anxiety of being unemployed and accept the first job that you’re offered. When confronted with certain realities, such as a dire financial situation, job seekers often need to be practical and agree to the offer. However, if you have the means to be more selective, the Wall Street Journal describes five types of trouble-filled job prospects from which to walk away. To learn more, click here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Preparing for a Federal Government Job Interview

While similarities exist in the interviewing process between the federal government and the corporate and non-profit sectors, there are some important differences to consider when preparing for that all-important government job interview. In a career advice series on landing a federal government job, the Washington Post offers suggestions to help set you apart from other interview candidates. To learn how to effectively do so, click here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Employment Longevity: Employee Loyalty Takes On New Meaning

The Wall Street Journal-India takes an interesting look at the topic of employee loyalty and employment longevity. It’s quite common for younger generations to switch jobs every few years, and with more and more organizations’ laying off workers, older generations are rethinking the definition of loyalty to any one company. To read this article, click here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Career Spotlight: Line Installers and Repairers

On occasion, The Daily Leap will spotlight a particular career by providing an intriguing snapshot into an occupation our blog readers may or may not have considered. For those thinking about changing careers, we’re hoping these occasional spotlights prompt further exploration and possibly a move toward new career options that might not have otherwise been considered. Today’s spotlight is on Line Installers and Repairers.

The Work
Line installers and repairers construct and maintain vast networks of wires and cables that deliver customers electrical power, voice, video and data communications services. Electrical and telecommunications line installers construct new lines by erecting utility poles and towers, or digging underground trenches to carry the wires and cables.

Once construction is finished, line installers string cable along poles and towers or through tunnels and trenches. Other installation duties include setting up service for customers and installing network equipment.

In addition to installation, line installers and repairers are responsible for maintenance of electrical, telecommunications, and cable television lines. When a problem is identified, line repairers repair or replace defective cables or equipment.

Work Environment
The work environment requires strenuous physical activity at times, and can present serious hazards, such as, working with high-voltage power lines.

Education and Training
The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma; however, many employers prefer people with a technical background in electricity or electronics obtained through vocational programs, community colleges or in the military.

Job Growth
Line installers and repairers are employed by electric power generation, transmission and distribution companies, electrical contractors and public utility commissions. Overall employment is expected to grow 6 percent between 2006 and 2016.

The job details in this blog entry are from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-2009 Edition. The full text is available in Career Transitions. Click on Explore Careers >Career Targets. Select “Click here to browse careers” and enter lineman in the search box. Click to learn more next to the occupation listing, and then select “Career Overview”.

To get a visual look at the job of a line installer and repairer, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Set Yourself Apart with Soft Skills

What are soft skills?

Employers are not only looking to hire candidates who meet their “hard skills” requirements, but who also have great “soft skills.” It’s important that job candidates understand both and their differences.

Soft skills (people skills) refer to a person’s qualities, personality traits and social skills. Examples include work ethic, attitude, time management, problem-solving, and communication. Hard skills refer to specific skills necessary to perform a particular job, such as financial analysis or proficiency with a software application(s). Hard skills can typically be measured and quantified.

Most people think to highlight their hard skills, but may overlook the value of soft skills. The best place to emphasize one’s soft skills is in an interview. In fact, some companies use psychology scoring tests to assess a potential job candidate’s soft skills; however, most use open-ended questions like these:

Give an example of a time when you had to confront problems you had with your supervisor. How did you handle this situation, and what was the outcome?

Tell me about a team experience you’ve had—what worked and what didn’t?

You’ll be in a better position to answer these questions and showcase your soft skills if you prepare. Take a soft skill that you think the employer is looking for, like team player, and make a list of team projects you’ve worked on. Practice talking about your specific contributions, as well as your ability to collaborate, and by all means be sure to share any examples of helping to resolve team conflict.

Workplace communication and leadership expert, Peggy Klaus discovered in both one-to-one and group training sessions that a significant number of people weren’t getting where they wanted to go at work. “Whether young or old, experienced or inexperienced, what struck me most about their stories of missed opportunities and derailed careers was this: Their problems rarely stemmed from a shortfall in technical or professional expertise, but rather from a shortcoming in the soft skills arena with their personal, social, communication and self-management behaviors.”

Although difficult to measure, employers understand the value in soft skills like dependability and motivation, and they have an expectation that any qualified candidate must have both hard skills and soft skills.

To hear more about soft skills, click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Capitalizing on Your Job Shadowing Experience

The previous post on job shadowing presented tips for setting up a job shadowing experience. Now you need to consider what it takes to make the experience a successful one.

Don’t Be a Shadow Puppet: The economic environment today has translated into more people looking for shadowing opportunities. The more knowledgeable you are about the field, the organization, and the industry, the better your chances of landing an opportunity and turning it into a robust learning experience. In addition, this background knowledge prepares you for asking good, thoughtful questions during the course of the day. And who knows, you may also end up with the chance to share some industry knowledge that your mentor was not aware of. After all, the more you can actively participate, without overstepping your bounds, the more valuable the day is to both you and the person you are shadowing.

Be Professional: Be prompt and dress appropriately for your day. At the start of the day, explain to the person you’re shadowing that you’re hoping to experience a typical day and that his/her job is not to show you only the positive side of the job. At the same time, make it clear that you’re interested in all aspects of the job—the expected and the unexpected. It also helps to remind him/her that you’re hoping to see the company from an employee perspective. Remember, if your reason for job shadowing is to learn about a particular field or career, you need to do more listening than talking, but at the same time, you want to use this opportunity to ask questions. Be mindful that during the course of a shadowing day, you may become privy to confidential information about patients, products, profits, and more. Even if you aren’t required to sign a confidentiality agreement, basic professionalism suggests that you need to keep this information to yourself, during and after the experience.

What Not to Expect: Job shadowing is a fantastic way to get a feel for what it takes to do a particular kind of work. However, every organization doesn’t operate the same way. Company cultures can be vastly different from one to the next, so continue to keep your eyes and ears open as you research businesses in a particular industry. Don’t assume that one organization’s hiring standards or practices are representative of every other in a field. If you’ve shadowed someone who has been in the field a long time, don’t expect him/her to necessarily be up-to-date on current education requirements for breaking into the field. Expect to have to complement job shadowing with continued research on different organizations, the industry, and the education requirements for succeeding in a particular field.

And, by all means, when your job shadowing experience is over, follow up by thanking the person you worked with—even if it is a friend or relative—and his/her organization for providing you with a job shadowing opportunity. A verbal thank you to wrap up the day is appropriate, but you should also follow up with written thank-you notes.

Remember, every effort you make to turn a job shadowing opportunity into a useful experience should result in positive dividends once you’ve launched your new career.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A New Career May Be Lurking in the Shadows: Setting Up a Job Shadowing Experience

Many jobs can look and sound glamorous from a distance, but until you experience them firsthand you can’t know your potential for achieving job satisfaction. Job shadowing—the act of accompanying someone on a typical day or two on the job—can be a viable and valuable activity for anyone, at any age, who’s considering a new career. It’s a perfect way to get a small dose of what life on the job will be like before committing all your resources to a career that may or may not be right for you. In this first of a two-part series on job shadowing, find out what you need to do to set up a successful job shadowing experience.

When to Job Shadow: Before approaching someone you’d like to shadow, you’ve hopefully done your homework about what field (or fields) interests you. Unlike internships, pursuing a job shadowing situation isn’t suggesting you’ve made a total commitment to that field. However, you do want to go into the experience with a reasonable level of knowledge and interest so you’re not wasting the time of the person you will be shadowing. Remember, if you do end up pursuing that field later on, this person could turn into a great resource for landing an internship or a job; therefore, you do want to leave a good impression.

Setting Up the Experience: Assuming you have a limited amount of time you can devote to the valuable, yet unpaid, endeavor of job shadowing, you want to know you’ve identified someone who is truly representative of the field you’re interested in learning something about. For example, if you’re interested in physical therapy, shadowing a registered nurse will provide you with exposure to the health care field, but not to the job of a physical therapist. Use your network of family, friends, and associates to help you land the right shadowing opportunity. If they can’t help, expand your network by approaching school counselors, professional associations, and businesses and organizations that might employ people in the field. Be creative and diligent in your search. Don’t just phone a hospital’s human resources department; instead, call directly to the therapy department if that’s the type of job you want to shadow. Is it real estate that interests you? Pay attention to community awards to identify a local realtor who is outstanding in the field and would most likely be honored by your request to learn from an expert.

Be Patient: Nowadays, confidentiality issues and a tough competitive market make it harder to be approved for certain job shadowing experiences. Many businesses are trying to do more with fewer people, so they don’t have as much time to devote to activities that don’t directly impact their bottom lines. And in the health care arena, patient privacy regulations have lengthened the approval process for bringing non-employees in to observe. That’s not to say your shadowing request won’t get approved in business or health care environments, but rather that you need to build in time for those approvals to fall into place.

Up next: Capitalizing on Your Job Shadowing Experience.

Monday, November 2, 2009

In Pursuit Of A Practical Degree

There is a growing trend amongst post-secondary students to pursue degree programs that are very practical in nature—degrees that position graduates to land jobs in occupations that are in-demand and/or growing. With the rising cost of education and a challenging economic climate, students are looking for jobs that offer more financial promise and opportunity. Jobs like software engineers and computer systems analysts are, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2006-2016 projections) among the top 30 occupations with the most growth potential.

It is no surprise that students are turning to colleges and universities that are able and nimble enough to meet the needs of the ongoing changes in the marketplace. They're looking toward those that provide students with the education and skills to pursue occupations that are growing and/or emerging.

With a laser focus on revitalizing the economy and creating emerging jobs like “green jobs”, the trend toward pursuing practical degree programs will likely not be short-lived.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Phone Interviews Growing in Popularity and Complexity

Companies and recruiters are turning to phone interviews and asking in-depth questions to identify the best candidates from the large pool of qualified candidates who are responding to their job postings. What may have typically in the past been a brief phone interview with general questions has become an hour-long interview. Plus, potential candidates are expected to speak in detail about their work history, including providing specific project examples and statistics that demonstrate their strengths and successes.

To read more about phone interviewing and find tips that will help you prepare, click here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Evaluating Compensation: Higher Salary or Lower Salary with Benefits?

Given the state of the job market, many job seekers are willing to compromise on salary and benefits; however given the choice, should you accept a job offer from a company that has higher pay or one with lower pay that comes with benefits?

According to (a Forbes Digital Company), job seekers should look for companies that offer various benefit packages rather than those that offer a slightly higher pay but no benefits.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 70% of the workers surveyed in July 2009, were granted retirement and healthcare benefits from their employers. As part of healthcare benefits, those surveyed employers paid 82% of the cost of premiums for single-person coverage and 71%for family coverage. With healthcare costs skyrocketing, can you afford a job that doesn't offer healthcare benefits?

Investopedia also advises that your employment offer include a retirement package, unless the salary being offered is high enough to allow you to contribute regularly to a retirement fund.

Be on the lookout too, for companies that offer cafeteria plans that allow employees to choose a benefits package that best suits their life situation. For example, a single worker has different benefits needs than a married worker with young children.

Evaluating all the compensation components of any job offer will help you make a decision on whether a job meets your financial needs and/or goals. For other tips regarding salary and benefits, click here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Revive Your Job Search

If some time has passed and you’re not satisfied with the results of your job search, it may be time to rethink your approach. The Wall Street Journal covers this topic and offers tips, such as:
  1. Use a highly targeted job search approach
  2. Find leads to job openings that are not advertised
  3. Monitor news and trends in your target industry to identify potential job opportunities
  4. Learn a new skill and gain experience applying it by doing some pro bono work

To access this article and read more tips, click here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Meeting Objections To Being Under-Or Over-Qualified

It is unlikely that your skill and experience will match up perfectly to the requirements in a job posting; however, it's important to determine if you are being overlooked for jobs because you are perceived as either under-or over-qualified. Although not an easy task, it is definitely possible to overcome either of these perceptions, but it requires networking and personal contact with someone on the “inside.”

To check out strategies for meeting objections to being viewed as under-or over-qualified, click here to read an article from The New York Times.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finding A Recovery-Related Job

According to the U.S. Government Web site,, one of the key goals of the Recovery Act is to create and save jobs, largely in private sector. For job seekers interested in resources that help inform and point to finding a Recovery-related job, click here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Could Your Next Job Be Working In Non-Profit?

If you’re motivated by the idea of doing work to better the world you live in, you may want to look to a career in the non-profit sector. If you’re used to the culture of the private business sector, you will quickly learn that non-profit organizations function differently, the most obvious being they rely on external donations for their main funding, their true measure of success is their impact on the community or people they serve, and their key decisions are typically made as a result of collaboration and consensus by board members and staff, and not that of one company leader.

The good news for job seekers coming from the for-profit business sector to the non-profit sector is that your skills are necessary and transferable. Skills such as project and people management are highly valued in the non-profit sector. These skills and your professional experience should be highlighted in your resume; however, it is equally important to demonstrate your genuine passion and experience in the non-profit world as well. Volunteering experience will stand out. If you don’t have much or any, you can definitely find a limitless number of volunteer opportunities. A good place to start is online at volunteer matching sites. Here’s a sampling of two:

And as is the case when searching for any job, do your homework on any non-profit organization you’re interested in pursuing—understand their mission, programs and funding sources.

Once you’re ready to search for non-profit jobs, tap into Career Transitions, click on “Find Jobs”, enter non-profit into the keywords search—and happy perusing.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Working with a Recruiter to Find Your Next Job

Many people find working with a recruiter a successful strategy in finding their next job. Recruiters are paid by their clients, companies who have requested their services to find candidates for their job openings, and not by the job seeker.

The primary focus of recruiters is to continuously find available jobs and then match candidates to fill these jobs. Recruiters are closely networked with an expansive base of employers—and have a pulse on not only the current available jobs but those becoming available in the future as well. This relationship recruiters have with their clients gives them insight into the corporate culture, the people who are doing the hiring, the company pay structure, career path and more.

Many recruiters specialize in a particular industry. To find a recruiter, you should start by asking those in your personal and professional network, as well as doing an Internet search for recruiters in your field and geographic area. Also be sure to have a current profile on LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals, since many recruiters use LinkedIn to search for potential job candidates.

A recruiter will want you to submit your resume, and considering the number of resumes they receive, your resume needs to succinctly communicate your focus, core competencies/skills, and career accomplishments. It is wise to send them a quick cover note with a few points to outline the type of job you desire.

Keep open communication with your recruiter. You’ll interact with your recruiter to establish a relationship, prepare for job interviews they’ve lined up, but you should also plan to debrief them after an interview and keep them abreast of any career changes.

A good relationship with a recruiter can be very valuable—and can lead you to one or several jobs throughout the course of your career.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Refresh Your Online Resume

If part of your job search strategy includes posting your resume to various job boards, you may want to consider updating and re-submitting your resume on occasion. The reason for doing so is simple; the newest resumes appear at the top when recruiters and/or employers search and sort job board postings. It is important to note that if you have no new information to add to your resume, make at least a minor copy change, since some job boards will only return sort results with resumes that have been refreshed. Don’t miss an opportunity though to add new information, when you have it, to further enhance your resume, such as:

New skills: Computer, technical or specific to your occupation

Professional development: Training and/or certification, educational course work, industry conferences, etc.

Keywords: Add current keywords that are relevant to a particular industry or occupation—employers use search terms to identify suitable candidates

In general there is no exact answer to how often you should refresh your resume; suggestions range from weekly to every few weeks. You are in the best position to make choices about how and where to invest your time in your job search. This awareness of job board search and sort techniques is just another piece of information to factor in.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Company Culture Fit

Every company, no matter how big or small, has a company culture. In fact, one of the greatest factors in determining job satisfaction and possible career success is the ability to fit into a company’s culture. Company culture includes items like: a company’s values; the way in which business is conducted; how employees interact with one another; and the overall atmosphere. With so much weighing on company culture, it is important that you understand your personality and the type of environment where you’d do your best. Take this knowledge forward as you assess any company’s culture before accepting a new job.

Actions, Observations and Questions
Luckily there are some actions, observations and questions you can ask in getting a feel for a prospective employer’s company culture, such as:

•Use the Internet to do research on a prospective company—look at an annual report or news coverage for items like how they describe themselves, whether they speak to work/life balance, participate in community service activities, etc. Search to see if they’ve won any “best place to work” or other awards. Tap into a site like LinkedIn to search for people who previously or currently work for the company, and ask them to describe the company culture.

•Observe clues when you’re waiting for your interview or are in your interview such as: What is the demeanor of the workers—are they smiling or do they seem stressed? What is the dress code? If you walk past office space, do the managers’ offices exist amongst their teams or are they in big offices with closed doors? Does the interviewer seem prepared and able to provide a thorough job description and offer details about how the role is viewed within the company?

•Ask questions to both the interviewer and current employees like:
What is a typical work day like?
What type of person would be most likely to fit in and be successful in your company?
What is the average tenure for employees within the organization and group that I am interviewing for?
How are decisions made and what type of decisions might I be involved with?
Can you describe an experience of working on a policy, process or other change initiative? What was that experience like? Was there any resistance from management, your staff, or other employee groups?

In addition to all the above, don’t discount your own intuition. Remember, you’ll be spending your valuable time and energy with this company and its people—make sure this is how you want to spend it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Temporary Job Solution; U.S. Census Bureau

Every ten years, the Census Bureau conducts a count of everyone living in the United States including, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas. The next census will begin in March 2010. This census information guides the distribution of federal funds to state and local governments each year, determines each state’s congressional representation and guides planning decisions such as, placement of schools, hospitals and transportation.

To manage this big undertaking, the U.S. Census Bureau hires thousands of temporary workers, at the local level, to fill census taker and office jobs. The peak recruitment period begins now with the majority of hiring taking place in spring

To find out more about the jobs available and associated requirements, go to

Friday, September 25, 2009

Working with Uncle Sam; Check It Out.

Have you ever considered a government job? Government jobs have a legacy for job security and great benefits, which can be appealing in today’s unstable job market. Government jobs can be found across various agencies at the local, state and federal levels. A sampling of jobs includes:

Administrative assistant
Registered nurse
Maintenance worker
Environmental protection specialist
Food service manager

To get started exploring the types of government jobs available, go to "Find Jobs" in Career Transitions and enter government in keyword search, or check out the federal government’s Web site

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How About A Virtual Job?

With an evolving global economy and a growing population of people with access to the Internet and other technology tools, coupled with job security and longevity becoming a thing of the past, it is not surprising that more and more people are finding virtual jobs appealing. A virtual job allows an employee to work from a remote location, often times from home, in completing job tasks for an employer. This arrangement can provide flexibility for the employee while reducing an employer’s operating costs.

Virtual jobs are typically a result of one of the following three scenarios:
1. Change existing office-based job to virtual-based (home-based)
2. Initial job arrangement virtual—100% virtual-based from day one
3. Self-employed or freelancer—working independently in contracting out “work for hire”

The below are jobs that are often conducive to being performed virtually:

Call center representative
Administrative assistant
Writer (grant, technical, etc.)
Technical support—supporting businesses and consumers with Internet, Web hosting, desktop support, etc.
Web designer
Sales representative

Before you jump into a virtual job, make sure it is a good fit for your personality. It is important that you are self-disciplined and self-motivated, and can keep with a daily routine and regular work hours. Plus, it will be necessary to establish a private and quiet work space.

To start a job-search for virtual jobs, use the Career Transitions “Find Jobs” section and search for jobs using keyword (virtual) search, with or without, using “my targets”.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Don't Shy Away From Salary Negotiations

Even in a tough job market, negotiating salary is something job candidates should feel comfortable doing with prospective employers. In fact, many employers expect job candidates to negotiate—demonstrating confidence and a valuable, core business skill. But many people are unsure of how and when to discuss salary. The below are some general tips on negotiating salary.

Do your research: Be prepared and empowered with information—know what you’re worth. Salary information is abundant, and it behooves you to research the range of salaries within the industry and occupation you are pursuing. One source you can use is the career optimizer in Career Transitions. By selecting at least one career, industry and state target, the career optimizer will display average salary results for these targets based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sell your value: Sell your abilities and skills—see yourself as an asset to any company. Find out as much as possible about the role you’re applying for in terms of how your filling the position will help solve a major issue for the company or increase sales, etc.

Determine your salary range: Before you can start salary negotiations, you need to identify what you consider a comfortable salary range. Don’t be afraid to aim high, but make sure your range is also a fair market price.

Talk with the decision maker(s): In many cases, your first few interviews may be with a recruiter or human resource contact, and not the hiring manager. It is in your best interest to quickly identify who will be making the final hiring decision, and conduct your salary negotiations with this individual.

Negotiate later and let the employer make the first move: Keep salary negotiations at bay until you have a firm job offer. However, many employers will raise the question earlier in the interview process. If this occurs, respond by stating that you are flexible about salary and that your decision is based on the complete compensation package. If the employer presses further and you have an understanding of the job’s salary range, state the top-end of that range.

Take time to consider any job offer: Take some time to consider the job offer, before making any final decision. Look at the entire compensation package, and if you find the salary less than you desire and the employer unwilling to budge, consider negotiating non-salary benefits like additional vacation days, etc.

To read about a real-life example of negotiating salary in this down economy, click here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Put These Job Search Action Steps Into Motion First

When it comes to looking for a job, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about where to start. The below are some common, first job search action steps you can take:

Contact everyone you know in making them aware you’re looking for a job. Use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

Develop a job search plan that includes targeting the number of hours to spend each day and/or week job searching; outline daily job search tasks before the start of each week, and monitor your progress.

Create an outstanding resume—be sure it is proofread and critiqued. Have print, electronic and text-only versions of your resume available. Consider customizing your resume to a job, so that you emphasize those skills that align with the requirements in a job posting.

Post your resume on job boards and update every few months to garner renewed attention from prospective employers and recruiters.

Line up your professional references before you start interviewing.

Contact recruiters in your professional field and geographic area.

Network at professional association events.

Tap into the full potential of the Career Transitions resource to easily navigate through and manage the entire job search process.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interview Follow Up Is A Must

When it comes to job-search expert advice, there are certainly varying views on any given topic. However, one piece of advice experts appear to agree upon is that job candidates must follow up after a job interview. In fact, some experts mention that monitoring candidate follow-up is a purposeful tactic for some employers, and factors into their selection process. What should your follow-up plan be? Take a look below for some simple pointers:

Ask for the interviewer’s business card or accurately notate their contact information, if they don’t have a business card available, prior to your departure from the interview.

Inquire about next steps and the timeline for filling the position.

Ask for immediate feedback before leaving the interview, and explore whether they’ve identified any barrier to why you may not be the right candidate for the job. You should attempt to address this in the interview, however if time doesn’t allow or if you’re caught off-guard, you may decide to address this in some form of post-interview follow-up.

Review your interview notes to identify a particular point to emphasize in your thank you notes (e.g. if the interviewer mentioned a new client, and you’ve done a little post-interview homework on this client, you may want to share a tidbit of information that you’ve come across). This demonstrates you were paying close attention in the interview, as well as reflects your willingness to go the extra step in learning more about their clients and business.

Underscore your appreciation of their time and interest in you, and succinctly restate why you consider yourself the ideal candidate for the job.

Send a thank you email immediately.

Send a follow-up hand-written thank you note, by snail mail, within a day or two after your interview appointment.

Proofread all your written communications for perfect grammar and clarity.

Make a phone call approximately a week after your interview if you haven’t received a status update on the hiring process—this is an opportunity to build rapport, inquire as to whether there is a need for any further information, and remind them that you are an ideal candidate for the job. Plan and practice what you want to say in advance. Be sure to get right to the point of your call.

Be patient and persistent without pestering. The hiring process inevitably takes longer than expected, so be patient. Be persistent about your follow-up, but do so in a manner that doesn’t come across as pestering. Be perceptive to how the interviewer is responding to your follow up thus far, and discuss a reasonable plan for obtaining ongoing updates.

Whether and how you follow up after an interview makes a powerful impression—be sure your impression is a positive one by implementing some of the tips above.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Resume Formats, Which Is Right For You?

Deciding which resume format to use is important, since it will determine how you present and favorably highlight your professional information. There are two basic types of resume formats: chronological and functional; and then there is a hybrid of the two.

The chronological resume is a listing of work experience chronologically, starting with the most current job and working backwards. Information is typically ordered with employment dates, job title, name and location of employer, and job description. Education, professional memberships, awards and recognition information can follow. The chronological resume is ideal for showcasing a steady employment history and/or progressive growth in a particular career path. It is the format most commonly used, and as a result employers are very accustomed to receiving chronological resumes.

A functional resume may be the right choice for you if your goal is to emphasize your skills, and is ideal for those changing careers and looking to demonstrate their skills are transferable. It is also a good option for people with gaps in their employment history or just starting out in the job market.

The third resume format is a hybrid of both, and starts with detailed paragraphs on job functions followed by a brief listing of employment experience that would include employers and dates. This is a good resume choice if you have a solid employment history but are looking to change jobs, or wish to highlight specific skills in matching the necessary requirements and qualifications in a given job posting.

Consider your situation, and do further exploring of resume formatting, samples and templates to create the resume that is right for you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Next Time You Network or Interview, Remember Their Name

If you’re finding you are spending more time networking and interviewing, you may also be experiencing the frustration of not being able to recall the names of all the new people you’re meeting. If that is the case, you may find the memory strategies below helpful.

Focus your full attention on the person you’re being introduced to—some memory experts suggest to create a strong memory, a person needs 5 to 15 seconds of uninterrupted focus on a particular piece of information

Use your senses: In addition to listening to the person state their name, look at the person’s face and see if there is something distinctive or familiar about their physical character that can trigger name memory recall. Imagine their name written around their head and write their name with your freehand in the palm of your hand.

Elaborate on their name: Is that spelled like the actor’s? etc.

Repeat the person’s name: Within the first 20 or so seconds of your being introduced to them, repeat the person's name in your conversation if possible, and do so in your head several times shortly after your conversation has ended.

Tie the name to another piece of information: If a part of the person’s name is the same as someone you know, a celebrity, or is the name of a town or event, you can tie the two pieces of information together to improve your recall.

Associate a person’s name to a visual: If you’ve just met Mike Brown and he has brown hair, you can associate the two to improve name recall. Or if the person’s name is Megan Sail, link it visually to a sail on a boat.

The skill to remember and recall people’s names takes some practice, however it is well worth the time and effort. Acquiring and using this skill can make a favorable impression on your audience, and when your audience is prospective employers, a positive impression helps move you one step closer to a new, fabulous job.

For more information on this topic, click here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Setting A Career Goal

Many people have a vague or even precise idea of their career goal however, most forgo writing their goal down and identifying the necessary steps for achieving their goal. A career goal can range from pursuit of a particular occupation, position or level in an organization, to setting a specific salary target. Your career goal should determine how you focus your efforts and time, and can help guide a job search for those looking to transition from one career to another.

As a starting point, get a current pulse on your values and interests and how they match up to your skills and experience. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to take the Interest Assessment in the “Discover My Interest” section of Career Transitions.

The following are some basics things to consider in setting a career goal:

Set a clear and specific goal—you should be able to measure your goal progress, and to do so requires you use specific language (e.g. a goal to be an expert in corporate training is not clearly defined, since expert can take on several different meanings)

Establish a reasonable timeframe for reaching your goal—consider breaking a long-term goal (3-5 years) into several short-term goals that roll up into your long-term goal

Set a realistic goal—you need the ability, skills, and in some cases, the financial means to reach your goal

Create an action plan—action steps that will lead you to your goal

Modify your goal, if and when, necessary—be flexible to change your goal if circumstances change (e.g. life change) and consider your values and interests may change over time

A career goal can keep you on the path to career success. If you haven’t set a goal already or you need to consider whether your current goal still makes sense, now is the time to do so.

For more information on setting a career goal, click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cover Letters Do Matter; Make A Good First Impression

If you’ve heard cover letters don’t matter, the experts say otherwise. In fact, no cover letter or a poorly written one can result in your resume being tossed. A cover letter is truly an opportunity to get the attention of a prospective employer, and bring more life to your resume. Your letter will allow an employer to get a sense of your personality, quickly identify your career objective, as well as assess your overall skills to determine if they relate to the job opening.

Be sure to take a little extra time to research the company you’re interested in, and weave in a current company detail or two about what you’ve learned into your cover letter. This demonstrates a sincere interest in their company.

A cover letter is also an excellent way of addressing questions that may arise when an employer reviews your resume, such as gaps in employment, change in career direction, and willingness to relocate if the company is not based locally.

A cover letter is an opportunity to grab their attention—and may be the difference to whether your resume ends up in the trash or in front of the hiring manager.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Add A Mentor To Your Career Resource Collection

A mentor acts as a professional advisor, coach and trusted counselor. You will reap many benefits from having someone or several people act as a mentor throughout the course of your professional career. And if you’re going through a career transition such as searching for your next job, a mentor can be a great resource.

Mentors can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and formulate strategies for skill development. A good mentor will encourage you to work toward your goals, challenge you to grow, listen intently, provide constructive feedback, connect you to their contacts, and help you navigate through a job search, and new or existing job.

Where can you find a mentor? Look to people who are in the same or similar profession as yours, but have a higher ranking position and/or more experience. Scout out those who you respect and have an easy rapport with, and who you believe have an innate willingness to help others move toward professional success. Look at people in your network who may not be ideal for mentoring, but more likely can point you to someone who may be. Also consider current or past co-workers, and those you encounter through trade or professional associations.

Have your radar on and be willing to broach the subject with those you identify as potential mentors. You will soon find yourself reaping the rewards of a fulfilling mentor and mentee relationship.

Click here for additional information on mentoring.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Finding A Job That Is A Good Match

As much as companies are looking to find the “right” candidate, you too need to be diligent about finding the company and job that is right for you. The below is a sampling of questions to ask yourself prior to starting a job search:

Do I prefer working with people, systems or information?
Do I enjoy working with children, the elderly, underprivileged, mid-level management, executive management, etc.?
Do I like working with a lot of processes?
Do I enjoy working with information in the form of numbers, visual graphics, copy, etc.?
Do I imagine myself working in corporate America, at a small, privately-held company or non-profit company?
Do I fit in better with a casual or formal work environment?

Once you’re job searching, some of the things you’ll want to consider about each company and job you’re taking a serious look at are:

Salary and benefits—although some items are obvious, check out extras like, a 401k match program, tuition reimbursement, flexible hours or telecommuting options, etc.

Location—as it relates to your commute and/or impact on your cost-of-living.

Career advancement—is this a job opportunity that will act as a stepping stone to a longer-range career goal?

Stability—is the company financially stable, is it a start-up company or has it been around for a while? What is its reputation in the industry and business and local community?

Work environment—is it laid back or fast paced, is it family-friendly, and what are the number of on and off-the-job hours required?

Values—do your values align with those of the company’s?

The above questions and considerations are just a starting point. If you haven’t already taken the Interest Assessment in Career Transitions, you will find value in doing so. Once you identifying what you’re looking for in a job, you’ll be able to better pinpoint those companies and jobs that are a good match.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Simple Resume Tips for Managing Employment Gaps

It is not uncommon for job seekers to have gaps in their employment history. However, for obvious reasons, most employers want to see a stable employment history in prospective candidates. So if you have a gap, how should you best handle it in your resume? Most experts advise the following dos and don’ts:

Do not make a specific statement in your resume to handle larger employment gaps—this should be done in an interview (it may be explained in a cover letter too, but keep it to a sentence or two).

Do not be concerned about small gaps in employment of a few months or less. Small gaps typically do not need to be addressed, since most employers consider this time reasonable for job searching and interviewing.

Do use years and not months to notate blocks of employment history in your resume.

Do use a functional resume (focus is on skills) rather than a chronological resume. A functional resume also allows for aligning skills to a particular job posting, as well as emphasizing the most important or stronger skills.

Do stay networked and connected to your profession by keeping in touch with those in your profession and past co-workers, maintaining your membership in a professional association, and reading up on trade journals/magazines, etc. Be sure to bring these points up either in your resume, cover letter or interview.

Do stay productive during your time off by taking additional training or continued education courses, and volunteering in various organizations or in your community. Definitely include your training and volunteer work on your resume. Training can be listed within an Education & Training section, and volunteer work could go under Work Experience or be its own section called Volunteer Experience.

Employment gaps shouldn’t become a mental block to finding your next job—follow these tips and find others for addressing employment gaps in a positive manner and move on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Strengthen Your Job Search through Social Media Sites and Tools

With high unemployment rates and companies working diligently to be profitable, it is imperative for job seekers to differentiate themselves. The great news is social media sites and tools are making it easier than ever to do so. Social media sites and tools provide a means to network, target companies, track information, and really brand yourself as an expert in your field.

Here are a few examples of social media sites and tools that can help to strengthen your job search:

LinkedIn ( A business-oriented social networking site used primarily for professional networking with over 40 million members. Used by thousands of recruiters to find new talent and explore potential applicants’ backgrounds. To do: create and complete the entire profile section, join professional groups and set-up your own unique LinkedIn URL by editing and adding your name into the address setting of your public profile. To check out user testimonials, click here.

Twitter ( A social networking and micro-blogging site that is used to send and read messages known as Tweets. Short Tweet messages (posts) appear on an author’s profile page and are delivered to those who have subscribed to be followers. Tweets can be sent and received via the Twitter Web site, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. To do: check out to locate people in your industry or with companies you’re interested in following, plus post Tweets to these people. You can share opinions on a common subject matter or simply comment on their posts. Click here to explore Twitter.

Blitz Time ( A speed networking service that arranges for people to participate in a series of short, one-on-one phone calls. Once members create a profile, they can register for phone networking events that may range from professional round table series to social media discussions. To do: register, explore and identify event options, and participate in events that appear most beneficial. Want to check out Blitz Time, click here.

Delicious ( A social bookmarking Web service for storing, sharing, and discovering Web bookmarks (favorites). To do: check it out and locate Web bookmarks with information from companies or professional people that are of interest to you. To go to Delicious now, click here.

Google Reader ( A feed reader (typical feeds are RSS and Atom). A feed is a list of updated items published from various Web sites (blogs, news services, etc.). You can manage feeds and even share them with others. To do: set yourself up with feeds from companies, professional associations and news services that will help you stay abreast of information to assist your job search. Click here now to check out Google Reader.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are You Ready for Freelance? The Market May Be Ready for You.

If you’re considering or are in the midst of a career transition, whether by choice or as a result of corporate downsizing, you might want to take a fresh look at freelancing. If you’ve always thought about freelancing as being limited to services like graphic design, writing or bookkeeping, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover there is a broad-spectrum of skills and services that can be freelanced out for hire, such as:

Financial planning
Home inspection

Before you dive into the world of freelance though, you need to identify whether there is a market demand for the skills or services you wish to freelance. For starters tap into the “Jobs” portal of Career Transitions, click on “Use Job and Location”, type freelance into the keywords search box, and click search to produce freelance job listing results (customize results by setting state and industry targets). You should also consider connecting with an online community of freelancers at sites like, and using the professional associations you’re involved with to help gauge market demand and glean ideas that can help you launch your freelance career. Also, leverage the challenged business climate to your advantage and look for niche markets: for example, a business communicator/writer may find a growing population of people who need resume writing services.

Getting your freelance business started typically involves branding your business a process that includes, selecting a company name, creating a logo identity, and developing business cards and letterhead. You will also need to register your business name, get a tax set-up, line up office equipment and supplies, and possibly establish a company Web site.

Once you’re ready to go, the majority of your time will involve marketing and selling your services to potential clients. This will take time and patience. Tap into your network—and yes, prepare for a certain amount of cold calling. Don’t worry though, with persistence opportunities will surface and this is when you showcase your talents in delivering beyond what the client expected. Taking good care of your customers will have you earning additional work and referrals in no time.
For a sampling of other services being offered on a freelance basis, and for additional advice on managing a successful freelance business, click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Use References That Can Help You Land a Job

An impressive resume can help get you in the door, the interviews allow you to demonstrate you’re a strong candidate for the job, but it may be the professional and personal references that become the last building block the recruiter or hiring manager needs in making you a formal offer. With this being the case, you need to put careful thought and effort into how you approach and acquire references. Below are some things to consider:

Gather and organize your references now before a potential employer requests them. Keep them separate from your resume—freeing up space on your resume for more details regarding work experience, education, etc. For a professional package, use the same business stationary for your reference list, resume and cover letter.

Ask references for permission—don’t assume they are comfortable acting as a reference. Talk to them in advance about what they would say about your expertise, skills, strengths, etc.

Seek out references from former managers, colleagues, internal or external customers, and business partners who can speak in-depth about your qualifications, talents, work ethic and attitude. Think about aligning references to the kind of company and position you’re pursuing; for example a reference from a past manager in the automotive industry is ideal if the job opportunity is with an automotive supplier.

Prepare references for prospective employer calls—provide them with insight on the type of company and position you’re pursuing to allow them to tailor their input.

Obtain and keep references that represent every key company you’ve worked for (and potentially major roles)—keep in mind it is easier to get these references before you leave a company versus having to backtrack to get them.

Keep updated contact information on your references and be confident they are accessible. A reference that a prospective employer can’t get a hold of either because their contact information is out-of-date or because they are lax about returning calls will do you no good.

Inform references about your job-search status including when you’ve landed a new job. Be sure to send your references a note thanking them for their support whether you get a new job or not.

Foster long-term relationships with your references. These people play an important role in your professional journey, and are likely important to you on a personal level as well.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Asking Smart Questions Says You're a Serious Job Candidate

It is common knowledge that how well you answer questions during an interview directly correlates to whether you move onto a next round of interviews and/or ultimately land a job offer. Have you weighed the importance though of having an arsenal of smart questions to ask those who interview you? You should view a job interview as a two-way process—an opportunity to gather important facts about the company and open position(s). By asking smart questions you demonstrate you’re professional and seriously interested in the opportunity to work for the company.

In addition to the industry, company and type of position you’re interviewing for, you should also base your questions on your audience—headhunter/recruiter, human resource representative, or hiring manager. For example, questions for a headhunter might include: “Are you in direct contact with the hiring manager or are you working with someone in human resources?" and “How many candidates have you had success in placing with this client over the past four months?” A sample of relevant questions to a company’s hiring manager are “How does executive-level management view this part of your organization” or “How will my performance be evaluated, measured and rewarded?”

To get you started, check out “Guide to Job Candidate Questions: What to ask during your next interview” by George F. Franks III, President, Franks Consulting Group.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making the Most of Your Job Fair Experience

Attending job fairs is a cost-effective and convenient way to uncover job leads and to promote yourself to a large number of potential employers. Job fairs also provide the opportunity to network with managers, recruiters, and other jobseekers. If you are considering adding job fairs to your job search strategy, check out these tips for making the most of your experience, as outlined by Lisa Parker, CPRW:

Research and Obtain a List of Potential Employers. Most job fair sponsors will publish a list of participating companies prior to the scheduled start date. Review this list and conduct research to learn more about the companies. To keep yourself on track the day of the fair, create a schedule that includes a prioritized list of companies/employers you want to meet with.

Identify Your Personal Career Goals. Take time to learn about the specific positions offered by the various companies and be prepared to explain how your skills align. Prepare a brief “sound byte” about your strengths, skills, and experience. Practice this sound byte prior to attending the fair so that you can promote yourself in a clear and confident manner.

Plan to Market Yourself and Network. Have numerous copies of your resume and business cards available to distribute. In addition to meeting with employers and recruiters, take the time to network with other jobseekers; these jobseekers may be able to provide you with leads.

Dress for Success. First impressions are important, so dress in business attire as though you were attending an interview.

Present a Great Attitude. To help distinguish yourself from other attendees, display a positive, enthusiastic, friendly and eager attitude at all times.

Be Courteous of Time. Be aware that you are being watched and judged by employers at all times. Also, be respectful of recruiters’ time. Once you have expressed your interest in the position and answered all their questions, move on.

Seek Input, Gather Information. Use open-ended questions to gather information about the companies and the positions being offered. Take notes and compile information from each employer that you visit. Be sure to carry a folder for storing company brochures and other materials. Gather business cards so that you can send personalized thank you notes.

Attend Workshops and Seminars. Job fairs often include opportunities for attendees to participate in training sessions on topics such as resume writing and interviewing. Enroll in workshops in developing your skills and remaining current on job-search techniques.

To access Parker’s full article, click here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

10 Tips for a Successful Interview contributor Jenna Goodreau offers the following strategies for a successful interview:

Compose the Perfect Resume. Avoid sending out identical resumes for every position you apply for. Customize your resume based on your knowledge of both the company and the position.

Be Prepared. Prior to the interview, conduct research on the company so that you are able to provide specific examples of how you could contribute to their success.

Pitch from Strengths. Highlight your strengths as they relate to results you have achieved in prior jobs.

Provide Supplements. Distinguish yourself from other candidates by providing a portfolio, presentation, business plan, handouts or other materials.

Know the Company Culture. If possible, speak with current or previous company employees to learn more about the corporate culture--a company’s core values, customs, beliefs, traditions, and behaviors.

Be Concise. While your responses to questions should be thorough, try to keep your language simple and focused.

Clean Up Your Digital Footprint. Remove any non-work related content or questionable material you have posted on social networking sites.

Show, Don’t Tell. Be conscious of your body language to ensure it conveys confidence and enthusiasm.

Interview Them. Express interest by asking relevant questions about the company and the position.

Follow Up. After the interview, send a personalized note (via email or snail mail) thanking the interviewer for their time. Also make it clear that you are willing to provide additional materials (references, etc.) if necessary.

Click here for additional advice.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tips for "Over 50" Job Seekers

In the August 7 Daily Leap blog entry, we provided job search tips for older workers, which included suggestions like registering with temp firms and hiring an expert to write your resume. Today, we present...the sequel! See below for additional tips for "over 50" job seekers:

Sweat a lot. Finding a job should be treated as a job in and of itself. Write emails and letters to establish contacts, attend as many networking events and interviews as possible, and spend the rest of your free time researching potential employers and jobs.

Look tech savvy. Having knowledge of technology is crucial. Consider creating a web site or multimedia resume to promote yourself and to demonstrate your technological skills.

Seek assistance. If it has been several years (or perhaps decades!) since you looked for a job and you aren’t sure of current job search techniques, consider paying for assistance from an outplacement firm.

Use the time wisely. Use your time away from work to take classes, attend conferences, enroll in training sessions, etc.

Help others. Helping others can be a great way to network. Consider mentoring or doing pro bono work.

Click here to access additional information pertaining to each of these strategies.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Improve Your Your Job Prospects Through Online Education

Looking to acquire some new skills to give you an edge in the job market? Consider taking some online courses in Career and Development, Writing and Publishing, Computers and Technology, or Personal Development through ed2go. There are also many colleges and universities that provide online courses and lectures in a variety of subject areas. So, if you’re looking to make a career transition or to enhance your position in the employment market, think about adding to your skill base, and your resume, by taking a few online courses.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keeping a Career in Motion

Transitioning back into the workforce after an absence can be difficult. Sharon Reed Abboud, author of All Moms Work: Short-Term Career Strategies for Long-Range Success, offers several strategies for helping stay-at-home moms keep their careers in motion in order to ease the eventual transition back to work. While Abboud focuses primarily on stay-at-home moms, people who have experienced time away from work for other reasons will also benefit from the following strategies:
  • Network wisely.

  • Keep Up-to-Date.

  • Build Your Resume By Volunteering.

  • Consider Part-Time as a Possibility.

  • Join the Telecommuting Tidal Wave.

  • Consult or Freelance.

  • Start a Business.

  • Blog or Teach.
Click here to access Abboud's advice for implementing each of these strategies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vocational-Technical Training Can Be the Key to Landing a Job

In these difficult economic times, when the job market is tight, turn to education to improve your prospects. “Education, of all kinds, has been a reliable engine for success by creating opportunities and putting the ‘impossible’ within reach,” according to Burt Wetanson, a professional freelance writer specializing in career advisement. “And the kind of education most directly relevant to getting jobs and creating careers is vocational-technical training — training that upgrades or offers job skills in a particular trade, occupation or profession.”

Consider these 6 major benefits of vocational-technical training:

  • Gives the person still in high school, or who recently graduated, the training and guidance they need to enter the working world

  • Offers continuing education programs to help people remain qualified as job demands change

  • Helps the unemployed person, both adult and school age, find work

  • Retrains the person who’s been laid off or displaced by new technology

  • Prepares entry-level and experienced workers to take advantage of exciting new industries

  • Helps the person who wants to change careers and transition to a new occupation

For more insightful information on career-vocational education, read Burt’s complete article.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ways to Earn $100 a Month

In this struggling economy, more workers are finding it necessary to take on a second job in order to make ends meet. If you are looking to supplement your income, check out this list of 18 ways to earn $100 a month:
  1. Artist

  2. Bartending

  3. Blackjack Dealer

  4. Bookseller

  5. Coach

  6. Crafting

  7. Freelance Writer

  8. Music Lessons

  9. Odd Jobs

  10. Organizers

  11. Referee

  12. Pet Sitter

  13. Seamstress

  14. Survey Taker

  15. Teaching Online

  16. Text Researcher

  17. Wait Staff

  18. Web Site Design

Click here to access the full article from, which provides additional information and links to help you pursue the income opportunities listed above.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Job Searching Tips for Older Workers

“At least one in four older Americans are either postponing their retirement or seeking to return to the workforce, while 4 in 10 employers have designed programs to encourage late-career workers to stay past their traditional retirement age,” according to Art Koff, founder of, a job and information source for retirees and those planning their retirement. Job searching later in life can be a difficult task, but Art offers these 6 helpful suggestions that can assist seniors with their employment search.

  • Register with temp firms in your local area. Many temporary jobs turn out to be permanent.
  • Try to get an interview with an employer you are not interested in working for to practice your interviewing skills. You don't want to go to your first interview in a long time with the employer you are really interested in working for and make easily correctable mistakes.
  • Consider having your resume re-written or updated by an expert as the resume you used years ago is no longer appropriate.
  • Put your resume up on those job boards that connect job seekers with employers seeking to hire them.
  • Look for temporary or project assignments as they are much more available than full-time jobs.
  • When applying for a job, tell the employer you are willing to work on a project or on a temporary basis. This often gives you a leg up on workers who are often unable to accept this kind of employment. Temporary employment can often lead to full-time work.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reinventing Your Career

Between the struggling economy and the increasingly competitive workplace, is it possible for employees to achieve job security? Yes, says Pamela Mitchell, founder of the Reinvention Institute. Mitchell believes that job security can be achieved through career reinvention, a process of “recombining your skills, talents, and experience to move between job functions, departments, or industries.” She equates changing careers and industries to the experience of relocating to another country: “To be successful in your new land you'd have to learn the local language and familiarize yourself with its customs and cultural expectations. The same is true when you want to move to new career territory. To bridge the divide between your old and new careers, you need to learn the language and customs of your new field…and decide what to bring along from your former job.” Click here for additional excerpts from Mitchell's interview, which includes advice for overcoming the challenges of career reinvention.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Increasing Your Career Currency

Lynn Taylor, CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, provides this explanation of career currency: “Each of us brings a unique skill set and intrinsic value to the job marketplace. How we reaffirm our professional worth to ourselves and broadcast it externally (to colleagues, employers, and even customers) can increase our career currency and contribute heavily to our success. Your career currency changes every hour, much like the stock market. A brilliant idea, a masterful meeting, the savvy handling of a difficult matter with a subordinate, peer or manager, your assertiveness—all affect the index. A rewarding day of job hunting, interviews, or bringing a major project closer to fruition all move your index higher.” Click here to access Taylor’s article, in which she discusses career currency as it relates to setting career goals and objectives, plotting a career road map, and more.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Work-At-Home Jobs

Thanks to the Internet, there are numerous legitimate work-at-home opportunities available for job seekers. There also are many work-at-home job scams. Be wary of paying large fees in advance for training, job details, books, manuals, training materials, or supplies. If it sounds too good, it generally is not legitimate. If you are promised large sums of money for working relatively few hours, look elsewhere. Consider these ten interesting stay-at-home career opportunities listed by

  • Virtual assistant
  • Medical transcriptionist
  • Translator
  • Web developer/designer
  • Call center representative
  • Tech support specialist
  • Travel agent
  • Teacher
  • Writer/editor
  • Franchise owner

Friday, July 31, 2009

Worm Farming?

My fellow bloggers and I have spent the last few weeks providing what we hope is useful, timely information on topics ranging from apprenticeships to career mentoring to volunteering your way to a new career. Determining a new career path is serious business, but let’s take some time to have a little fun. We’ve scoured the Internet to find the most unusual and interesting job titles and careers out there. Check them out!

  • Furniture Tester
  • Cowpuncher
  • Snake Milker
  • Dog Food Tester
  • Bath Sommelier
  • Odor Tester
  • Fig Pollinator
  • Cheese Sprayer
  • Worm Farmer
  • Pet Detective
  • Tanning Butler
  • Neck Skewer
  • Hot Walker
  • Oyster Floater
  • Dice Inspector
  • Hair-Boiler Operator

When considering your career options, keep an open mind...your skills and interests might lead you somewhere unexpected!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fastest Growing Technology Companies in the U.S.

Even though there are an abundant number of high tech companies located in Silicon Valley, many others are scattered throughout the country. Career Transitions can help you identify technology specific job opportunities in your location. Use your CAREER TARGETS coupled with the Job Type and Location searches in the FIND JOBS section to zero in on hight tech jobs in your area.

Click here to view the Forbes list of the 25 fastest growing technology companies, including Illumina, Google, iRobot Corp., and Vasco Data Security International.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Career Transition: Entrepreneurship

Did you know that the average person will change jobs 10 times between the ages of 18 and 38? Considering the current state of the economy, it isn’t surprising that more people than ever are finding themselves in the position of transitioning to a new job or career. What you may find surprising, though, is that many people--from dislocated workers to recent retirees--are not only considering a career transition, but are preparing to launch their own business. Starting a business during a recession is not a new phenomenon. According to a recent study conducted by the Kauffman Foundation, more than half of the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession or bear market, along with nearly half of the firms on the 2008 Inc. list of America's fastest-growing companies. If you are interested in a career transition that involves entrepreneurship, consider making use of the resources provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA, which was created as an independent agency of the federal government, helps Americans start, build, and grow their businesses by offering information on everything from writing a business plan to obtaining financial assistance to connecting with other small business owners. They also provide free online courses and links to local resources to help get you started. After you check out the variety of free tools and resources provided by the SBA, be sure to read this story of 10 accidental entrepreneurs who turned unexpected business opportunities into successful careers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hot Jobs, Rising Salaries

Job seekers may consider several factors when evaluating whether a job is right for them, including work environment, company culture, the opportunity for advancement and growth, and job security. An additional factor that frequently tops this list is compensation. If the potential to see increases in salary is one of your career must-haves, check out this list of 10 hot jobs (as reported by for which salaries are currently on the rise:
  • Pharmacist
  • Research Scientist, Biotechnology
  • Project Engineer
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Civil Engineer
  • Physical Therapist
  • Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Registered Nurse
The career overviews for these jobs, which include information on average salaries as well as projected growth figures and educational requirements, can be found in the CAREER TARGETS section of EXPLORE CAREERS in Career Transitions. You can also use the FIND JOBS section of Career Transitions to conduct searches and view listings of current openings in these occupations.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Clothing, Transportation Assistance for Job Seekers

Maintaining a professional appearance is one of the keys to making a good first impression at any job interview. Individuals who are unable to afford professional attire have the option of receiving assistance from one of several nonprofit organizations. Dress for Success, an international organization with nearly 100 chapters/affiliates, provides professional attire to women seeking employment. Each client receives one interview suit; additional clothing is provided when employment is secured. Men in need of business attire for interviews can receive assistance from Career Gear, an organization with affiliates in five states. State- and locally-based organizations such as The Career Wardrobe (Philadelphia) and Clothes That Work (Ohio) provide similar clothing services to job seekers in their areas, and the Salvation Army sponsors many local programs and events, such as this event in Phoenix, designed to help job seekers obtain the clothing needed to attend interviews.

Lack of transportation is another common obstacle for job seekers. Individuals who do not have a reliable form of transportation can benefit from the services offered by nonprofits such as Opportunity Cars, which helps individuals acquire an automobile to be used for finding and retaining employment. Similar programs include Goodwill’s Wheels-to-Work, a program that coordinates the efforts of local organizations to help individuals purchase low-cost cars. Other local organizations, such as The Saguaro Foundation in Arizona, offer job seekers free transportation to and from interviews.

If you are a job seeker in need of clothing or transportation, contact one of the national organizations listed above to receive information on how to apply for assistance.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Maintaining Self-Confidence During Your Career Transition

The stress of recently losing your job can at times be overwhelming. You may have feelings of grief, despair, and anger. As difficult as times may be, view this as an opportunity to reexamine your skills and see how they can apply to other occupations. Keeping a positive attitude and maintaining your self-esteem are important at this time. Professional social worker, Karen Rowinsky, provides these suggestions for keeping up your self-confidence.

  • Expect and accept negative feelings
  • Form a board of advisors
  • Change negative thoughts into positive affirmations
  • Take advantage of your time off

For more insight into these suggestions and additional tips on maintaining your self-confidence as you continue your job search, read Ms. Rowinsky’s article.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mentoring and Career Development

Once you embark on a career path, it’s important to find someone who can offer sage advice for your occupational advancement. That someone is oftentimes a mentor. As you gain experience, you may consider becoming a mentor yourself. Personal branding strategist and professional speaker, Lethia Owens, describes a successful mentoring relationship. “Mentoring is about sharing knowledge and experience with an individual, and, in this case, helping them improve career success. Mentoring builds communication skills for the mentor, as well as providing them with an experience that is viewed positively by organizations for their own career development. An individual who is mentoring another is, and is acknowledged to be, a leader and an expert in their field.”

Visit this site for more suggestions on building effective mentoring relationships and find out which critical qualities a mentor should possess.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Volunteering Your Way to a New Career

While volunteering for an organization is generally considered an altruistic gesture, it is also a valuable learning experience that can lead to different career opportunities. Steve Vetter’s friends thought he was losing two years of his life by volunteering with the Peace Corps after he graduated from college in 1966. His training with the Corps led to a satisfying career in international development. He’s now president and chief executive of a group that connects U.S. residents with people throughout Latin America on projects such as agricultural development and youth programs. "About 12 percent to 15 percent of professional jobs are in the nonprofit sector," Vetter said. "Almost all the people who work in those jobs began as volunteers. It's like baseball's farm team system. You can check out an employer and they can check you out."

To see how others have advanced their careers through volunteerism, read this interesting article from The Washington Post. You can also visit VolunteerMatch, an online database that pairs volunteers and nonprofits.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tips for Successful Informational Interviewing

Informational interviewing is a vital tool for people seeking a second profession, or "recareering" as it's now known. But the process can be daunting and confusing. It takes a different set of skills from the ones you use interviewing and networking in your current field. To succeed at informational interviewing, follow these helpful tips.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Importance of Networking

When it comes to finding a job, nothing beats good, old-fashioned networking -- contacting friends, relatives and former colleagues, setting up face-to-face meetings in the hope of getting job referrals. Yes, it is awkward, but here's why it simply has to be done: At any given time, about 80% of all available jobs aren't posted in the classifieds or on job boards, says BH Careers International, a New York career-management firm. Check out these networking tips that can assist you with your employment search.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recession-Proof Industries

We are in difficult economic times, but there still are many opportunities available in the job market. Whether you are currently out of work, or looking to make a career change, look to these recession-proof industries as possibilities for future employment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Internships for Mid-Career Professionals

While internships are typically thought of as a sort of rite of passage for the college student or recent graduate, mid-career professionals are the latest demographic to discover their value. Internships can provide the opportunity for career changers and dislocated workers to hone their skills and to try out a new career or industry before committing to it full time. They are also a good way for individuals to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence. Several companies, including Sara Lee, have created “returnship” programs for individuals with prior experience who are looking to re-enter the corporate world. Though the majority of internships and returnships are unpaid, many mid-career professionals are finding that the long-term benefits outweigh the minimal financial gain. Click here to read more about non-traditional interns who have made the experience work for them.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Steps to Take Before Transitioning to a New Career

New York University career counselor Linda Stone recommends taking the following steps prior to transitioning to a new career:

  • Recognize that change is a process and that the pace of change varies.
  • Understand why you feel unfulfilled in your current job.
  • Assess your skills and achievements and figure out what you want to continue to develop.
  • Research and conduct informational interviews. Network.
  • Recognize that everyone has personal barriers and constraints in changing careers.
  • Develop short- and long-term goals with realistic objectives based on the first five steps.
Click here to read the stories of four recent career changers who are currently pursuing their dream jobs.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gaining Valuable Experience Through Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeships provide paid on-the-job training in more than 1,000 career fields. Offered in addition to classroom learning, apprenticeships are a great way to get a feel for the field you’ve been studying, while earning money and oftentimes, college credit. Apprenticeships can be valuable to both current students without any work experience and to those already in the workforce looking to change career paths. Possible careers range from electrician and plumber, to fire medic, chef, law enforcement agent, and over-the-road truck driver.

Career, a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education, offers information on what to do once you’ve narrowed your field of choices down and how to obtain an apprenticeship in your location.

If you’re worried about working full time on top of taking a full-load of classes, don’t be. Many apprenticeships offer flexible scheduling of in-the-class learning and on-the-job training, varying by industry, educational institute, and employer. The average length of an apprenticeship is four years; however, depending on the field, apprenticeships can last as long as six years. An apprenticeship should be considered an investment in experience which can set you apart from the rest of the field when applying for positions with potential employers.

Visit the U.S. Department of Labor and Registered Apprentice sites for more information on apprenticeships.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Affordable Schooling Allows Job Seekers to Chase Their Dreams

For some job seekers, making the decision to transition to a new career will involve a return to school. Programs created via federal stimulus money have made going back to school--whether that be a community college, university, or other specialized training program--an affordable option for many. One example of stimulus money in action can be seen in Michigan’s No Worker Left Behind initiative, which provides qualified individuals with up to two tuition-free years at any community college or university in the state. Similar programs are popping up at colleges throughout the country. At Lorain County Community College in Ohio, the “Make Your Lay Off Pay Off” program offers individuals the opportunity to enroll in tuition-free continuing education classes, college credit classes, and job training workshops. Rebound, a program recently implemented by South Suburban College in Illinois, provides tuition-free classes to help train dislocated workers for in-demand occupations such as pharmacy technician, teacher’s aide, and computer technician. While the focus is often on the negative consequences of the struggling economy, job seekers and dislocated workers have discovered the silver lining--the chance to explore a new career and chase their dreams by going back to school. Check out this article for a list of other colleges offering free or reduced tuition programs.

Libraries Becoming Career Centers

The fact that you’ve logged on to Career Transitions indicates you already have some awareness of the value of the library as part of the job hunt process. But are you really making the most of what your library has to offer? Beyond the books and DVDs, many libraries now offer job seekers the opportunity to build their skills via free workshops, computer classes, and career counseling sessions. Check out the articles below to see how libraries in Louisville and Brooklyn have been transformed into career centers and are making a difference in the lives of job seekers in their area. And after you’ve explored Career Transitions, be sure to discuss career resources with your librarian to ensure you are fully benefiting from your library membership.

Louisville Free Public Library Opens Job Shop

Brooklyn Public Library Provides Key Resources for the Unemployed

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Self Assessment, the Key to Successful Career Planning

The self assessment process is an integral part of career planning whether you are embarking on your first career or preparing to transition from one occupation to another. A self assessment of your values, interests, personality, and skills can help guide you to a more fulfilling career. Career planning professional, Dawn Rosenburg McKay, stresses the importance of a values inventory. “Your values are possibly the most important thing to consider when you're choosing an occupation. If you don't take your values into account when planning your career, there's a good chance you'll dislike your work and therefore not succeed in it.” Visit this site for more helpful information from Dawn on the self assessment process.