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