Friday, December 31, 2010

Selling Character Traits

College graduates or other young professionals who have acquired little or no relevant work experience still need to make a credible and convincing case in an interview. The good news is that for many employers, character traits are equally as important as work experience. Specific traits that employers seek can vary, but some are universal.
  • Strong work ethic: Think through several ways of showcasing your strong work ethic. Did you rise early every morning in high school to shovel neighbors’ driveways as a source of income? Did you volunteer at a local soup kitchen once a week throughout college? Maybe you took care of a younger sibling or volunteered to lead a college community group. Think of examples that show consistent, hard work, even if they don’t relate to a specific job.
  • Creativity: Explain how you were able to produce something in a fresh or unusual manner or talk about times you were able to work around problems to reach a solution.
  • Integrity: Discuss a situation in which you were able to discern the difference between right and wrong. This is particularly effective if you did the right thing despite pressure to do the opposite.
  • Responsibility: Describe in detail times you have been trusted to use good judgment and sound thinking to complete important projects on time. Perhaps you organized a fundraiser, managed a daily dog-walking business, or wrote a weekly column for the college newspaper. Stress examples in which you were responsible for delivering quality work while meeting deadlines consistently.
Many employers recognize that most job skills can be taught. However, this is not necessarily the case with character traits mentioned above. This is the reason why many employers consider investing in employees with backgrounds that demonstrate impressive character.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Value of Face-to-Face Communication

A strong business case has been made for using web conferences, video conferences, and other technologies to achieve significant cost savings and flexibility for employers and their employees. However, there is still much research and discussion to support the value and preference for face-to-face business communication. According to the Forbes Insight Survey, 87 percent of the 750 business executives surveyed said they prefer face-to-face communication to virtual meetings.

Here are a few key advantages of face-to-face communication, as it relates to the workplace setting.

In-person meetings go deeper. Sitting across from others and making eye contact provides greater insight into how they are reacting to the information you’re discussing. Direct eye contact also fosters trust. Face-to-face communication is vital in the give-and-take required when dealing with complex business communications. These meetings are particularly beneficial for negotiating, persuading, consensus-building, and decision-making.

Stronger relationships develop. Spending time over dinner or at the café provides a unique opportunity to cement meaningful relationships with clients and maintain productive relationships with co-workers. By getting to know your clients and colleagues on a personal level, you will be more apt to build stronger bonds.

Body language counts. You are in a stronger position to gauge reactions when you meet, greet, and shake hands. Using all five senses is a more accurate way for “reading” another person.

In data-oriented presentations or cases where vast amounts of information are being disseminated, video or web conferences may be the way to go. The bottom line, though, is that you should think of technology as a tool, rather than as a replacement for face-to-face communication. That way, you are in a better position to discern which type of communication will more effectively serve your business needs.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Out for Good Behavior

Perhaps you have been in an interview where you were asked a question that began with “give me an example when you…” or “tell me about a time when…” These are called behavioral interview questions and seek to probe into how you respond in certain work situations. They are based upon the idea that the best way to predict future behavior is through past behavior.

Behavioral interview questions can seem tough, but a cool (and well prepared) head can prevail. To answer a behavioral interview question, use the STAR method:

Situation/Task: Describe a situation or a task from your work history that best corresponds with the question asked. For example, if you were asked “tell me about a time when you disagreed with a supervisor,” discuss a situation where you had a disagreement. If you have never disagreed with your supervisor, try describing a time when you disagreed with another co-worker.

Action: Illustrate the action you took in this situation, emphasizing skills that would benefit a future employer such as being proactive, teamwork, solving problems, technical knowledge or anything else that you gather from your research.

Result: Finally, tell the result of your actions and what you learned. The result does not need to be favorable if you took something away that positively impacted your performance.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Transitioning Out of the Military: 5 Steps to Success

Step 3 – Create Your Job Search Strategy

An effective job search is a time consuming process that uses multiple approaches toward the target. You have already learned that an effective job search must be targeted. However, it must also be organized and strategic. Prepare your search strategy by avoiding these common mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Your job search is one-dimensional
As a military service member, chances are you have not conducted the type of search that will be necessary in today’s market. A multi-pronged attack is necessary for success. Sending resumes and cover letters in response to job postings is only one option. You must also start networking. Talk with fellow service members who are employed with your target companies to gain referrals. Inform vendors and military contractors about your transition. Participate in social networking such as LinkedIn by posting your profile.

Mistake #2 – Your job search is too general or too specific
There is no such thing as an effective general job search. If you have no target in mind, you will never achieve your goal. One of the biggest mistakes is to try to cover an entire military career’s job responsibilities in one resume. This will overwhelm an employer with information and underwhelm them in terms of your relevance to their company. Focus your efforts, highlight relevant skills, and leave out irrelevant information.

Before beginning your job search, you must research your targeted industry. Before you write a targeted resume, you need to ensure there is a market for this specialty where you want to live. Your resume and your search must be targeted. However, there has to be a market for your skills where you want to live.

Mistake #3 – You started your job search too soon or too late
Military personnel often begin to make preparations up to two years prior to retirement. However, two years – or even one year – is too soon to start applying to job openings. For federal positions, you can start applying six months prior to your separation date. For civilian positions, you can start applying three months prior to separation. Start too soon and you may knock yourself out of the running with some companies when they find out your availability.

However, don’t wait until the last minute to begin your career transition. As soon as you decide to make the transition, decide on a career target and prepare a focused resume and cover letter. These can be used for networking with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and contractors. It is never too soon to begin networking.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Transitioning into a Second Career

Starting a second career is often the result of a well-thought-out plan. Other times, the decision is a consequence of work becoming too strenuous, industries disappearing, or just the need to make a 180-degree change. Professional career reinvention is possible--with introspection and advance planning.
  • Do a self-assessment. First, identify your values. Do you value independence, structure, creativity, adventure, or a team environment? Is autonomy, security, status, or integrity important to you? Next, consider your interests. What activities do you pursue in your free time? What types of books or movies do you enjoy? What did you like about your last job and what could you live without? What motivates you and why?
  • Play to your strengths. Create a thorough list of your strengths. Are you organized, creative, a terrific public speaker, or a born leader? Are you a great teacher, problem solver, or technology whiz? To ensure you are being objective, enlist help from friends, family, and business associates.
  • Match them up. After identifying your values, interests, and strengths, brainstorm and research some possible careers. Start with the Career Transitions “Explore Careers” section. Consult those who know you best for career matches you might not have considered.
  • Research the requirements. Narrow your search to a few ideas and then determine their requirements. Do you need to brush up on computer skills? Does the job require a special certification? Perhaps a semester at a community college is all you need to move forward.
Re-igniting your career takes courage, self-examination, and exploration, but the effort can lead to an exciting and fulfilling new chapter in your life.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Managing Email Efficiently

The typical professional is spending an average of two hours each day reading, managing, and responding to email. The communication tool that was designed to simplify our lives is often just another place for clutter to accumulate and quickly become overwhelming. By implementing a few simple strategies, you can take back control of that overflowing inbox.
  • Check email only at defined times each day. Checking email only two or three times a day—for example 10:00, 1:00, and 4:00—provides solid, uninterrupted blocks of time to complete important work. Let your boss, colleagues, and clients know that if they need to reach you instantly, email is not the way. Turning off your email program’s auto notify feature will help you resist the urge to check email more often.
  • Respond appropriately. If an email requires a short, simple response, do it immediately. This eliminates the need to go back later and spend additional time re-reading the message.
  • Create folders. Create a “Reply ASAP” folder for organizing time-sensitive emails that require a more detailed answer. Use a “To Do” folder for messages that need a response but are not considered urgent. Set up other folders for storing emails that don’t require a response but provide information you’ll need later. Organize these in a way that makes them easy to find when you need them—by client, project, contact, etc.
Setting up this simple system will help you prioritize your time by sorting information based on what needs to be done now and what can wait for later.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Finding the Career for You

When deciding upon your career direction—whether you are a college student declaring a major or a seasoned professional transitioning to a different field—it is vital to take an inventory of your skills, interests, and values.
People spend considerable hours at their jobs, so it is important to find a position that meets your needs beyond the obvious need for a paycheck. Being energized by your work is a huge advantage when it comes to getting and retaining a position.
  • Skills Assessment: These tests, consisting of a series of questions which can be answered in 30-45 minutes, will help you understand how your strengths and challenges relate to a variety of career options. There are many skills assessment tests available. Check out the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey, Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (for college students), and Strengths Finder 2.0, which is a combination book and online assessment. And coming soon, Career Transitions will include a skills assessment tool.
  • Interests: Working in a job that uses your skills is gratifying, but if the subject matter is not of interest, the job can quickly become routine. To figure out what excites you, consider the types of work you enjoy, the leisure activities you pursue, etc. Then, make time to take the Career Transitions interest assessment, review your results, and explore some of the careers that match up.
  • Values: For long-term satisfaction, consider your values before taking any position. Do so without judgment; the exercise is to understand what you need from your job, not to revamp your value system. For example, consider your views on work-life balance, the weight you place on salary, the significance of career advancement opportunities, and how important it is to you to make a contribution to society.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Information (Interviewing) is Power

Television is superb for making nearly any job seem thrilling, fun, and easy, from being a doctor or a lawyer to a homebuilder or a nanny. However, talk to any physician or litigator or childcare worker and they will be the first to tell you that their jobs are not as romantic as you see on TV. A great way to learn more about a career field or an organization is an informational interview. Talking to a real professional in a certain field or organization can give you inside information to help you make more informed career choices, but there are steps that you have to take first:

  • Do your research: Investigate the field you are interested in to learn more about it. Career Transitions is a great place to start.

  • Create strong questions: In an informational interview, you are the “reporter” doing the interviewing. Create questions that delve deeper into what you have researched and make the precious time with your interviewee worthwhile. Questions more personal to the interviewee’s experience can be successful as well, providing more detail into the nature of the career or company you are researching. Try these examples:

    • What is your proudest accomplishment in your current position?
    • What was the best piece of advice you received that helped you become more successful?
    • What challenges in your current position do you enjoy the most?

  • Contact the right person: When you are ready, contact the person who you feel would best be able to answer your questions. You’ll obviously want to find someone who works in the career field or organization that you are targeting, but how? The best way to do this is to use your network and connect with someone you are interested in through a friend or family member (or even through the friend of a friend or family member). Be persistent in calling on your contacts; degrees of separation are small and they will most likely know someone with whom you can talk-. If you still aren’t finding success, another option would be to send a blind email to someone in that organization or role that you are targeting, but don’t be surprised if you do not hear back. Be honest and sincere in your email, and let them know that they are under no obligation to talk with you or even reply to your email. With the control in their hands and with “no strings attached,” they will be more inclined to speak with you.

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, but knowledge is created through information. Use informational interviews to become a more focused and educated professional!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Transitioning Out of the Military: 5 Steps to Success

Step 2 – “Demilitarize” Your Resume

No matter how qualified you may be, if a potential employer can not decipher your resume, comprehend your military skills and experience, and understand the value you offer, you will not get calls for interviews. In teaching thousands of military service members from all branches of the military, I have learned they find the task of translating their skills to civilian terms the most challenging step.

To begin, you must strip away the military language and acronyms in order to highlight your skills in your resume. Many of the people who will screen or read your resume have no concept of military life. It is your job to provide a clear understanding of the relevant skills and experience you gained in the military. Most military experience transfers easily to the corporate world with the right language.

Instead of: Acted as the battalion secretary to create schedules for the unit.

Translate to: Created calendars and organized training schedules for 150+ personnel.

Instead of: Achieved FMC rate of 88% and 98% scheduling effectiveness rate.

Translate to: Maintained critical equipment availability 6% above USAF standards. Managed time effectively to ensure 98% of all scheduled maintenance was completed on-time.

Additionally, many military job titles are meaningless in the civilian world. Do your research to determine what potential employers are calling the positions for which you are qualified. Take the following example of how you can translate the USAF First Sergeant duty title. Employee Relations Manager (First Sergeant), United States Air Force. As you can see, the official title is still included on the resume, we just highlighted the “civilianized” job title by bolding it.

There are some very useful resources available on the Internet. Here are a few:

O*NET ( – Offers the Crosswalk Search by entering your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Navy Rating, or Air Force Military Occupation Code (MOC).

Army COOL and Navy COOL ( or ( – Works in connection with the Occupational Outlook Handbook to provide detailed career information.

Verification of Military Education and Training (VMET) ( – Provides detailed information about your current position and related civilian career fields.

America’s CareerInfoNet ( – Serves as a military to civilian occupational translator and provides labor market information by state.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Transitioning Out of the Military: 5 Steps to Success

Step 1 – Find a Focus

Whether you have served four years or dedicated your entire career towards service in the military, you may face some obstacles in your transition. Over the next five weeks, I will tackle some of the issues you will face and provide you with five steps you should take in order to expedite the transition process.

This first step is very important; it will determine the effectiveness of your military transition. In order to get results, a job search and a resume must have a target or focus. One of the biggest errors made on military transition resumes is a lack of focus. There is no such thing as an effective generic resume. A resume that tries to appeal to everyone ends up appealing to no one.

Military personnel learn a wide variety of skills and often have countless additional duties on top of their duty title. It would be nearly impossible and certainly ineffective to fit all your previous military experience into one resume. Studies show that the reader affords your resume 10 to 15 seconds of attention. The reader will not sift through all the irrelevant information to get to the most compelling information. Your relevant, transferable skills must be easy to find, not buried among the unimportant information.

For example, a jet engine craftsman whose focus is contract and finance management will never be effective in their search with a resume that focuses on jet engine maintenance. In addition to mechanical knowledge, this candidate has project management, customer service, budget planning and allocation, documentation management, and supervisory experience. Their mechanical knowledge has no place on their resume, as it is irrelevant to the target employer.

Before beginning your transition, determine the career field you will pursue and identify the local companies that have jobs. Discover what qualifications and education you need and define your transferable qualifications. Some research resources are the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook ( and the Department of Labor’s O*NET site (

Making the decision to target your job search will enable you to eliminate irrelevant information from your resume and accelerate your job search. This may mean leaving out some skills and experience or possibly having multiple resumes targeted to different careers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Marketing Your Idea

Selling your idea to your boss, co-workers, or management can be a tricky proposition. Typically, multiple stakeholders are involved, and organizations tend to be slow to change and risk averse. Before approaching your boss or co-workers with that fabulous new idea, consider the following recommendations.
  • Evaluate your target. If the person you need to convince is your boss, determine how he or she would view your proposal. Be prepared to respond to potential trouble spots and be ready to demonstrate how your idea will make his or her life easier. Include some of your boss’s favorite buzzwords and analogies in your proposal.
  • Do the research. Be able to support your idea with facts, figures, and real-world examples. Look at your role as that of an attorney putting together the most effective case. Packaging is also important. How does your boss like to receive information? Does he or she prefer a dog-and-pony show—in other words, an elaborate production—or facts and figures on a spreadsheet?
  • Invite without pressure. Before approaching your boss, convince some co-workers or key people in other departments to support your idea. Invite your boss and other co-workers along for the ride and get them on board early. Move slowly and be willing to accept a bite-sized “yes.” Offer flexibility by pitching the idea as a pilot program that can be regularly evaluated then expanded upon later.
  • Follow up. Keep your boss and other management invested in your project and updated on its progress. If your idea was rejected, find out why—and keep trying. Some of the most successful inventors in history were rejected multiple times before finally being given a chance.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good Magazine's "Work Issue"

The quarterly magazine Good focuses on the world of work in its fall issue. There are many articles of interest for the job seeker or those in a career transition, including the "Good Guide to Working Better." The guide features advice from Daniel Pink, Scott Belsky, Laura Vanderkam, and others.

You can pick up a copy at a local bookstore or check it out online here.

Advance Your Career through Lifelong Learning

The pursuit of knowledge is one of life’s joys. It is also a successful strategy for career planning and advancement. Prospective employers are impressed with people who seek to better themselves.
We all have aspects of our persona we know could use a little improvement. In our society, we are offered infinite opportunities to enhance our knowledge and skills—many at relatively low cost. A few common areas in which people seek to improve include:
  • Computer literacy: Some degree of computer savvy is a requirement for most positions. Have you been getting by with the basics of e-mail and word processing? Improve your confidence and what you offer potential employers by taking a course in advanced word processing, spreadsheets, database management, or social media. Such courses are readily available through local continuing education facilities, career retraining programs and libraries.
  • Communication skills: Both written and oral communication skills are essential to personal and professional success. Business writing classes are available at local community colleges and via on-line courses. Programs such as Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie, available in most communities, can help you improve your oral communication skills, including giving professional presentations to clients or speaking up at meetings.
  • Time management/organization: Multitasking is a fact of life today, but how to do it successfully requires a strategy. Good time management skills will stand you in good stead not only in terms of managing work projects, but in the work-life balance. There are many approaches out there. The key takeaway is to use some type of strategy rather than “winging it.” Sources include books, on-line materials, classes, and consultants.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reframe the Rejection

You know the feeling: your heart leaps into your throat when that email that you have been waiting for appears in your inbox...only to come crashing down when you learn that "though you are an exceptional applicant, your candidacy will not be pursued any further." A difficult situation, but one that can be leveraged to your benefit. Here is how to really handle rejection when job searching:
  • Lick your wounds: When job searching you are most likely going to get rejected. Some people are able to easily bounce back from rejection; some need a bit of time. Don't think that you are a failure for taking some time to reassess and refocus. The pause could give you clarity that will make your search easier.
  • Create a "rejection" thank you note: Send a note to your interviewer, thanking her for her time and wishing the candidate they selected success. This may seem bizarre, but doing so in this circumstance will speak volumes about your character, professionalism, and the graciousness with which you handle failure.
  • Ask for feedback: Contact your interviewer to ask for genuine feedback on your candidacy. You may be surprised about what you hear, from errors on your resume to problems with your interviewing style. Take whatever advice you receive seriously and, again, formally thank her for her time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Careers with 2011 Growth Potential

Despite the challenging job market, some careers are predicted to grow. As job seekers look ahead to 2011, here are some potential growth careers to consider:

  • Healthcare: Although growth in healthcare may not occur in 2011, the field has significant potential for future job growth as the aging population continues to increase in size. For example, home health aides and personal and home aides will be in high demand as more patients prefer to recover in their own homes – not only for comfort but for cost savings. These jobs require an associate’s degree or two years or less of specialized training. This may be attractive to professionals looking to transition careers without investing a lot of time and money in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.
  • Financial Analysts and Planners: Many baby boomers that have not used a financial planner during their careers are likely to look for one as they approach and enter retirement. These baby boomers are looking for a financial analyst or planner who can help them make changes to their portfolio and ensure they have ample savings as they move into this next phase of their lives.
  • Consulting: As the economy recovers and employers start to look for additional labor, they may be reluctant to commit to hiring full-time staff. Instead, employers often turn to consultants. Consultants are often used in disciplines such as marketing, management, information technology, and scientific-related areas.
  • Information Technology (IT) : IT has been hot for over two decades, and the demand for software developers, software testers, and technical writers remains strong. As nearly all business sectors have web-based products or are moving in that direction, IT is an industry that will continue to grow and develop.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Developing Job Leads

Most people would agree that the best job leads come from friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. Someone who knows someone who may have an opening—you know the drill.
The more people you have out there aware of your situation—what you have to offer, where your interests lie—the more likely employment opportunities arise. Some ways of developing job leads include:
  • E-networking: There are many internet sites designed to quickly connect you to people in your industry or field. LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site offering you access to your contacts’ connections. Other sites to check out include Ryze and Plaxo.
  • Professional organizations: There is a professional group for every industry and discipline. Gateway to Associations, offered through the Center for Association Leadership, allows you to search by industry and geographic location.
  • Informational interviews: The quality of your connections is at least as important as the quantity. Generally, people like to share their expertise with others. These interviews are not specific to an open position, but allow you to find out more about a field or industry in which you are interested. The personal contact will keep you top-of-mind when opportunities arise.
  • Project work: If you are between jobs, consider doing some consulting in your field. It is an easier way to get your foot in the door and a great way to build your resume while you meet new people—which can lead to additional projects or permanent positions.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Working from Home: Key Success Factors

Whether you are self-employed or telecommuting, the freedom and flexibility of working from home can be exhilarating, especially after years in an office environment. You’ll delight in the opportunity to think through ideas without interruption, and the flexibility of working around key personal commitments is invaluable. You may also find, though, that there can be some challenges as you make the transition to working from home. For a successful transition, consider the following advice:
  • Preserve the professional mindset: Get dressed and maintain a set work schedule. Align your work schedule with normal business hours, if applicable based on the job and any agreed-upon working arrangements with employers or clients. Consistent work hours are particularly important if you are telecommuting; you need to be available for the core hours your company will keep.
  • Be accessible: Make sure you’re accessible to your clients, boss, or coworkers. Use the advantages of technology that make communicating or working with clients from anywhere seamless, such as smart phone and/or dedicated phone land line/message service, fax machine, web conferencing, file hosting service, etc.
  • Maintain a workspace: Dedicate a specific physical location as your workspace and contain your work to that area so it does not overtake your home. Make sure it is private and that members of the household are aware when that space is off-limits. Have a signal when you are unavailable (e.g. door closed, sign on door).
  • Keep networking: Networking is a key success factor for any job, but consider it even more vital when working from home. Taking breaks in your day is necessary and combining this with networking is a smart approach. Not only may it lead to your next assignment, but continuing to exchange ideas and get input/feedback from professional colleagues will enhance the quality of your work.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Clean Up Your Digital Dirt!

In 2008, an Oregon mayor was ousted from office after she posted racy photos on her MySpace account. She assumed that what she posted was a personal decision; her constituents thought otherwise.
At first glance, you might think the story simply underscores the ongoing debate around online privacy. A closer look, though, uncovers an important job screening lesson.
As the job market continues to remain competitive, an unflattering picture on Facebook or less-than-professional Tweet can create a negative impression of you in the minds of hiring managers. Follow these tips to take control of your Web presence:
  • Search yourself: It’s obvious that a quick Google search can elicit information about you. But try to search more in-depth and root out any potential problems that you need to address.
  • Lockdown your Facebook profile: Are you familiar with Facebook’s security settings? If not, you could be displaying information that you don’t want others to see. Check out this video from the US Army to turn it into Fort Knox!
  • Run interference: Create a profile on that is geared exclusively towards your professional life. It will appear near the top of Google search results and bury other sites that have content you’re working on removing.
  • Make yourself immune: The last advice is probably the best: do not post anything on social media sites that you wouldn’t want displayed on the front page of the newspaper!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Assessing Your Employment Skills

When you read the requirements for any job posting these days, it can be a little daunting. Every position demands strong leadership abilities, excellent oral and written communication skills, project management expertise, relationship-building savvy, etc.
Previous positions may have afforded you some of these employment skills, but don’t forget to look to other areas of your life where you have been using and honing them. These experiences can and should be used to build your resume and your interview repertoire.
  • Project Management: Maybe you haven’t ever held a project management position, but you possess these skills if you’ve chaired a committee at school or a community association. Ever organized a fundraising event or a family reunion? Now there’s the ultimate in project management!
  • Leadership: Think about sports, organized or intramural, for yourself or your children. Any coaching experience provides invaluable leadership opportunities. A winning record is impressive, but so are the anecdotes of children who came into their own under your tutelage. And interacting with the parents of children you are coaching absolutely requires relationship-building savvy.
  • Communication Skills: Obviously we communicate every day, all day long, but the question is how to convey the mastery of these communication skills. Are there any community newsletters you write or to which you contribute? Do you blog on a favorite hobby? If so, how many followers do you have? Perhaps you have felt strongly on a community issue and convinced others to consider the issue and seek action, displaying not only persuasive verbal communication skills, but leadership as well.
These types of opportunities which we encounter in everyday life, inside the office and out, allow us to develop both necessary and practical skills, helping us become the well-rounded candidate that employers seek.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Trending Toward Job Security

The importance of macro trends in society has long been understood by the corporate world. Trends are tracked, analyzed, and forecast to glean opportunities for new products and services. Similarly, when choosing a discipline or industry for your career, be mindful of societal shifts and what the implications are for long-term job prospects. A few examples include:
  • Global Greening: Ecological awareness, concern, and action have been increasing rapidly over the past five years and are expected to continue. This is why government, big business, and entrepreneurs are all investing heavily in this industry. This environmental trend bodes well for “green collar” jobs in many areas: energy research/manufacturing, recycling, waste management, eco-consulting for businesses, and natural resource management to name a few.
  • Graying of America: As baby boomers age, there will be a staggering increase in the requirement for health care facilities and health service professionals to address their needs (e.g., outpatient caretakers, medical and diagnostic technicians, healthcare administrators, etc.).
  • Technology Explosion: The only constant in the field of technology is incessant change. Careers in technology will always be abundant, but there is one caveat to keep in mind. While you will need to carve out a techno-niche for your expertise, be careful to keep your awareness broad and be prepared to work hard to stay tuned in to cutting edge developments concerning your specialty.
  • Economic Turmoil: The U.S. economic recession has resulted in businesses laying off a startling percent of the workforce. As the economy recovers, corporations will need to re-staff but will be hesitant to hire full-time employees. Consultants, freelance workers, and contract agencies will be in high demand in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Characteristics of a Positive Work Environment

As a job seeker, you should identify things that are important when selecting an employer. Some aspects of the job, environment, and company culture, while not obvious, may impact your job satisfaction.
Below are job characteristics that some employees say are important to their overall job satisfaction. These employees are from a range of occupations and industries. Take a look and consider the following factors when interviewing and before making an employment decision.
  • Pay and benefits: Unquestionably, pay and benefits are important. However, they don’t usually make up for other aspects of the job that might create dissatisfaction. As cited in a BNET blog, Leigh Branham, author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, states that most employees leave as a result of issues with their job, manager, culture, or work environment—and not because of pay.
  • Leadership with vision and purpose: A company’s leaders typically define the vision, purpose, and goals for the business. Ask yourself whether these align with your own professional values and goals.
  • Company culture and work environment: Find out if a prospective employer’s employees feel appreciated and that their work is valued. Is there a sense of mutual respect between management and employees? Does the company care about work and family-life balance? Do employees appear positive and happy? What is the overall energy or vibe in the work environment?
  • Manager’s work style and personality: Who you work for has a big impact on job satisfaction, so find out as much as you can about your prospective boss. What is this boss’s reputation among the employees and management? What is his/her personality like? Ask the boss directly about management style, expectations, and how he/she handles conflict, differing opinions, etc.
  • Opportunity for growth: A new job typically offers many growth and learning opportunities. However, once you settle into the job, what is your career path? Is there opportunity to add new skills and knowledge? Will there be advancement opportunities?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Returning to a Past Employer

You left a company and are now considering returning several months or years later. You wouldn’t be the first to request to be re-hired. In fact, companies are experiencing a new trend called “boomerang hiring,” which refers to the re-hiring of former employees.
Re-hiring a reliable and talented employee can be advantageous for the employer. The company usually considers this individual as a known entity—someone who knows the company and its culture and is more likely to ramp up quickly. The previous employee also benefits as well since he or she is already familiar with the company, its culture, and the work, thus minimizing the risk of the unknown.
Before you go too far down this planning path, though, carefully consider the following factors:
  • Be realistic: Your positive memories of the employer may be one-sided, particularly if you’re unhappy in your current job. Remind yourself of the reasons you left and ask yourself if those reasons would be different this time around. Create a pros-and-cons list about the company and prospective job.
  • Give ample time to new situations: Before jumping back into your old job, assess whether you’ve allowed ample time for success in your current situation—a new job, a stay-at-home parenting situation, or other opportunity. Transitions and changes are often difficult and require time to adjust.
  • Leverage established relationships: Reach out to contacts at your previous employer to ask about insight into current job opportunities. They may also consider putting in a good word with the hiring manager.
  • Be honest and humble: Your previous employer will appreciate an honest, direct, and humble approach to your reasons for wanting to return to the company. For example, you might explain that the newer opportunity wasn’t what you had hoped, and you enjoyed your previous work and the company culture.
  • Remember, change is inevitable: It’s likely that the company you once worked for has changed, including the people, its processes, the customers, etc. If you do return, don’t get stuck reminiscing or desiring to move backwards to the way things were done in the past.
  • Prepare for a lukewarm welcome: Some of your co-workers may challenge or chide you about your return, particularly if you return at a higher level and salary. At the very least, be prepared to answer co-workers’ well-intentioned questions about your reasons for returning.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turn an Internship into a Job

Job candidates who have internship experience have an edge. Employers are more willing to hire a job candidate who has internship experience, particularly an internship with their own company. An internship is a great way for both the employer and intern to explore whether there is a mutually beneficial fit. By being mindful of the tips below, you may increase the likelihood of turning your internship into a job.
  • Treat your internship like a real job: You should approach your internship no differently than if you were an on-staff employee—put your best effort forth to deliver quality work, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and act professionally at all times.
  • Set expectations: As with any job, it is critical that you and your manager set goals, define responsibilities, and discuss expectations—on both your parts. To increase the probability of satisfying everyone, discuss these early on and hold status updates to keep on track.
  • Be willing to do any task: Interns are often asked to do menial tasks. However, once you’ve successfully proven yourself competent, you are likely to be assigned more challenging and interesting tasks. The important thing is to say “yes” to any reasonable task and complete each fully and with a great attitude.
  • Take initiative and go the extra mile: Take the initiative to help your boss or co-workers. Ask for additional assignments, share ideas and solutions, and leave them with the impression that you’re always willing to go the extra mile.
  • Learn the business: Soak up as much information as you can about the company and the business. One of the best ways you can do this is by asking questions. Observe colleagues for their knowledge and best practices. Be sure to read up on company and industry news and trends.
  • Network: No doubt, one of the most valuable benefits of an internship is the business contacts that result. Meet as many people in the company as you can. Most people are willing to help someone develop a positive internship/work experience.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winning Over Your Boss

Face it, work is more enjoyable and rewarding when you have a good working relationship with your boss. Although a lot comes down to personalities and work styles, the following are ideas to keep in mind that may help you win over almost any boss, even the difficult ones.
  • Understand and support your boss’s priorities: Be aware of your boss’s work priorities, goals, and challenges so you can support the goals and priorities and minimize the challenges.
  • Recognize work preferences and hot buttons: The more you know about your boss’s work style, including hot buttons, the better you can respond in a manner he/she respects and appreciates. For example, if your boss prefers to communicate via email, then do so. If you know the boss gets irritated by people who arrive late to meetings, be prompt.
  • Understand how your boss evaluates performance: Make sure you understand how your boss prioritizes your responsibilities and what criteria he/she uses to evaluate your job performance.
  • Be dependable: Be someone your boss can count on to consistently do your job well.
  • Maintain a positive attitude: Most people appreciate working with someone who is positive and upbeat-a boss is no exception.
  • Be a team player: A typical boss manages multiple people. It usually helps if you are a willing team player and can work successfully toward common goals.
  • Learn new things: The responsibility of career development rests on your shoulders. Your boss will appreciate you seeking opportunities to grow professionally.
  • Take initiative: Bosses tend to appreciate people who can identify tasks that need doing and who take the initiative to complete the task and/or fill a need without being asked.
  • Maintain professional integrity: Any boss expects and appreciates employees who maintain professional integrity through honesty, trustworthiness, and speaking and acting in a professional manner.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Use Downtime Productively

Inevitably, you experience some downtime on your job, for example, between projects or while awaiting feedback on a current project. How you choose to spend your downtime can reveal the kind of worker you are and will likely be noticed by your manager and co-workers. Use this time wisely to organize and prepare—both should promote success and efficiency during busier times and cause your employer to take notice.
Following are some downtime tasks to consider. Although the list is geared toward those currently working, some of the tasks apply to job seekers as well.
  • Organize your work area: This can involve organizing your desk, files (both paper and online), and reference material, etc.
  • Clean out and organize your email: If your email isn’t automatically archived, consider archiving those you may need to refer to later. Respond to emails that weren’t a priority during busier times and delete emails that are not needed.
  • Prepare for upcoming tasks: If you are aware of upcoming projects and/or tasks, complete any upfront work possible. For example, if you produce the company newsletter, ask for article ideas or submissions in advance. In some cases, you may only be able to plan and schedule upcoming tasks—but doing so may help you hit the ground running once the work begins.
  • Offer to help your manager or co-workers: Offering assistance is almost always appreciated. Your manager, in particular, will be glad to see you taking the initiative.
  • Identify opportunities for improvement: If you have ideas for how a process might be improved or how the company can grow business, use downtime to research the ideas. If you present the idea and it doesn’t get implemented, you’ll most likely still get credit for being proactive.
  • Sharpen a skill or expand your knowledge: Identify resources for developing your professional knowledge or sharpening a skill. For starters, look into a Webinar or take an online training course.
  • Catch up on current industry news and trends: Stay current on what is happening in your industry and the trends that are being discussed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Get Noticed: Use a Resume Summary

A resume summary, also known as a summary of qualifications or a profile statement, is placed at the top of the resume, after the name and contact information. This summary is your opportunity to pitch the qualifications, talents, and experience you have that makes you an ideal candidate for the job. Treat it like a verbal snapshot of you and the value you would bring to an organization.
A resume summary is concise, typically no more than three-to-four sentences in length, and should include action verbs and keywords geared to the specific audience receiving the resume. Make the resume summary even more relevant to a prospective employer by carefully considering the employer and the job requirements. As you read the job description, highlight those skills and experience you perceive as fundamental. Then, review and modify your resume summary to emphasize those skills and experience.
To get started writing a resume summary, look below for a list of points you might consider including:
  • Work experience: Quantify the most impressive experience. For example, “Annual sales leader three years in a row with sales exceeding $150,000/year.”
  • Professional expertise: Emphasize your expertise that most closely matches the job. For example, “An experienced firefighter” or “A senior accountant.”
  • Skills: Include job skills and soft skills. Highlight personal attributes like “strong work ethic” or “excellent communicator.”
  • Credentials: Highlight degrees or professional certifications, if relevant.
  • Achievements: Don’t hesitate to mention awards, promotions, or special recognition, if they’re applicable.
The resume summary, in most cases, will be a prospective employer’s first impression of you as a job candidate. Think of it as the way to draw in the hiring manager or human resource representative to read the rest of your resume.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Long-Distance Job Search

Job searching in current market conditions is challenging, but it can be even more difficult when your job search is out of state. Many employers question why they should hire someone from out of state when there are many in-state candidates to choose. This doesn’t mean it is impossible to find a job out of state, it just means you need a convincing answer and plenty of patience.
Here are things to consider before undertaking a long-distance job search:
  • Sell your uniqueness: Long distance or not, if you have unique and desirable expertise, knowledge, and/or experience in a profession or industry, you may be the right candidate for the job. Be sure this is clearly communicated to prospective employers.
  • Research different locations: If you’ve spotted a job posting you plan to pursue or you’ve targeted certain locations of interest, extensively research these to see if they would be a good fit professionally and personally.
  • Factor in expenses: A long-distance job search could involve long-distance calls, faxes, and even travel if you land an interview. If you are fortunate to receive a job offer, make sure you understand what relocation expenses you will be responsible for, and budget for them.
  • Use location criteria in job-search engines: If you’re targeting your job search to certain locations, use this criteria in job-search engines. Combining location with key words produces even more relevant results; for example, combine “San Diego” and “accounting.” The Career Transitions “Find Jobs” portal enables you to use a variety of search criteria.
  • Visit desired job-search locations: In most cases, you will have at least one onsite interview prior to a job offer. However, technologies like Skype (audio/video conferencing) are reducing the number of onsite interviews required. If you travel to an interview, spend ample time getting a feel for the location before accepting a job offer. If you happen to be visiting a particular location of interest, explore whether you can line up interviews with prospective employers while in town.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Transitioning from Big to Small Business

According to the Small Business Association (SBA) Office of Advocacy, in 2009 small businesses employed about half of the private sector workforce in the United States or approximately 27.5 million people. The SBA Office of Advocacy defines a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees.
With corporate America downsizing, it seems reasonable that we can expect future job growth in the small-business, private sector. In fact, many workers are already making the transition from big to small business. And although this can be a positive experience for many, it can also initially lead to culture shock.
Following are just a few of the differences you might find when transitioning from big business to small business:
  • Multiple hats: Often, small-business employees wear multiple hats, which may fall outside of their primary roles and job descriptions. The mindset is often team-oriented, with a focus on doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
  • Fewer resources: Small businesses typically have fewer resources—financial, human, and technical to name a few. This often means workers must get creative in doing more for less and in problem solving.
  • Hands-on work: Since there are fewer resources, the approach at work is more hands-on. You may find yourself involved with strategy, planning, and even tactical implementation.
  • Sense of ownership: Wearing multiple hats in a hands-on environment can lead to a greater sense of ownership in the work and the overall company performance.
  • Increased exposure: With a lean office team, you may find yourself interacting directly with senior management, including the company president. You may also experience increased contact with customers.
  • Limited red tape: Where big business is often known for excessive red tape and rigid processes, small business tends to be more agile, with fewer defined processes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaving on Good Terms

Whether you’re leaving for another job opportunity or you’ve been laid off or fired, it is important that you leave your current employer on good terms with your professional dignity intact. Your remaining time on the job, in many cases, will be the last impression you make on co-workers before leaving. The following tips will help you maintain a positive professional reputation:
  • Provide your manager with your resignation: Your manager should be the first to be notified of your decision to leave, in person if possible. Follow this with a formal resignation letter. Share the news directly with those most affected by your leaving. But only after your manager, their manager, and human resources have been informed.
  • Give ample notice: Two weeks is considered professional. However, many employers appreciate three to four weeks, if possible. But don’t be surprised if certain situations, like leaving to work for a competitor, cause your current employer to excuse you immediately from the job.
  • Don’t talk negatively about your employer and co-workers: You may honestly feel that your current employer or co-workers are unprofessional, but don’t share your negative opinions. Remember, you may cross professional paths with these people again.
  • Avoid bragging about your next job: It’s fine to be excited about your next opportunity, but co-workers won’t appreciate you bragging about the job’s increased salary or perks.
  • Make it a smooth transition: Wrap up loose ends; turn over organized project files; provide client, vendor, or other relevant contact information; and prioritize work with your manager. These steps will ensure a smooth hand off of your job responsibilities to the next responsible person and/or your manager.
  • Be respectful of company property: Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean you should be careless with company equipment, stock up on office supplies for your personal use, or take home company information. This is unprofessional, unethical, and could even be illegal.
  • Exchange contact information with co-workers: If you wish to maintain contact with co-workers, be sure you exchange information with these people before you leave. Also consider adding them to your LinkedIn network or other online networks.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Boost Your Career: Join a Professional or Trade Association

Whether you’re a student or someone who’s been in your profession a long time, you can realize big gains from joining a professional or trade association. You’ll find there’s an association for almost every profession and trade out there, many with national chapters as well as regional and local chapters. These associations are non-profit organizations that bring together people who have common interest in a trade or profession.
Below are some of the ways these associations serve members:
  • Identify trends and issues: Associations often lead the way in identifying and communicating field advancements, trends, and issues. People who influence a field—business, trade, and academic leaders—often maintain relationships with established associations.
  • Exchange ideas and solve problems: Associations provide a conduit for sharing best practices, ideas, and solutions to problems in the profession. Communication is facilitated through membership publications, websites, events, and more.
  • Provide information and resources: Association websites are often a hub for sharing information and resources about a particular field. Newsletters, journals, blogs, and message boards are just a sampling. Members may be able to sign up for automatic notification about events like webinars, training workshops, conferences, and more.
  • Jobs support: Many associations track and post related job openings; access to these is often limited to members. In addition, associations can be a great resource for identifying mentoring and internship opportunities.
  • Networking opportunities: Association networking events are a great way for members to meet people in the field and even to uncover job opportunities—some of which are “hidden” jobs (those not advertised). Networking relationships may even turn into mentoring relationships.
To find a professional or trade association, start with Career Transitions “Explore Careers” section. Once you select a specific career portal, look under “Professional Associations” in the right sidebar for any related and available association information. Also, ask those who are in your field for association recommendations.
Once you find an association that interests you, be sure you understand the membership costs and benefits. If you’re a student, ask about discounted student membership rates.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Step Away from the Computer

The computer and Internet have changed the way we live and conduct business. Both are powerful business tools and, undoubtedly, enable us to innovate and solve problems more quickly and efficiently. It isn’t difficult to convince most people of the value that computers and the Internet bring to the workplace. But how many are aware of the negative impact that excessive reliance on computers and the Internet can have on performance, productivity, and even health?
Review the points below and consider how you use these tools at work. You may want to make some changes that could serve you better, professionally and personally.
Communication: There is no question that today’s workers manage the majority of their communication through email. Many workers are using less verbal communication in the workplace, and their proficiency and comfort in exercising this important skill is negatively affected. Computer time has limited the need for face-to-face interaction, which can hinder the development of necessary social skills for establishing and maintaining strong business relationships.
Productivity: Sure, computers and the Internet have created efficiencies in the workplace. But can we assume they drive productivity as well? In many cases, the answer is yes. However, you should be aware of how they can also impede productivity. To discern when computer and Internet time have stopped being productive, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Are you wasting time responding to unnecessary emails or interrupting productive tasks to answer incoming email?
  • During job-related Internet research are you clicking mindlessly through cyberspace?
  • Are you using the computer to check Facebook and Twitter or to shop and perform other non-work activities?
  • Is Internet surfing, whether work-related or not, a means for procrastinating on tasks that require your attention?
Health: Excessive computer time can actually have negative effects on your health. In fact, several indicators and medical reports support this claim. For example, workers who report significant time at the computer are experiencing eye strain, back pain, headaches, carpal tunnel, fatigue, and weight gain. If this sounds like you, consider maintaining good posture and using frequent breaks to stretch and take short walks. Some employers are willing to invest in ergonomic office furniture—even onsite yoga and chair massages—to help employees who are experiencing physical strain on the job.
Awareness is the key. So next time you’re “working” at the computer, ask yourself if your productively working, procrastinating, or playing? The answer may save your job—and improve your health.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tap into Your Alma Mater’s Career Services

If you’re a recent college graduate or one from years past, tap into the career services and alumni offerings at your alma mater, particularly if you’re job searching. College and university career services offerings are almost always free, and alumni membership usually has either no, nominal, or an affordable tiered structure to annual dues.
The following are just a sampling of offerings alumni may find at their college's or university's career services department or through alumni groups:
  • Access to assessment tools to identify interests, values, and skills
  • Access to resource libraries that can link users to business databases, company databases, industry and salary information, and more
  • Assistance with researching and applying to graduate school
  • Help in interview preparation including mock video interviews
  • Assistance with writing resumes and cover letters including samples, templates, and critiques
  • Access to college-sponsored job boards for posting a resume and perusing job listings
  • Invitations to in-person and virtual job and career fairs
  • Input and guidance from career counselors
  • Help in identifying and implementing effective job search strategies
  • Access to alumni mentoring program
  • Invitations to alumni networking and career development events
  • Access to alumni business directory with information, such as contact names, companies, positions, locations, and industry
  • Information about alumni LinkedIn group, Facebook page, blogs, and other online networking groups
Remember, one of the key goals of the career services department at colleges and universities is to help students and graduates, including alumni, with job placement and their professional success. Career services professionals, therefore, work to foster relationships and partnerships with employers, and contribute to the employer’s job candidate pool. This is often viewed as one of the most valuable benefits offered by career services.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Online Learning: Worth Investigating

Whether you’re preparing to enter the professional world, adding knowledge or skills that could enhance your current professional standing, or are transitioning careers, consider online courses and certification and degree programs that are available.
Online learning is particularly appealing if you’re looking to maintain a full-time or part-time work schedule, raising children, and desire the flexibility and convenience that online learning delivers. With online learning and education, your access to institutions and programs isn’t limited geographically and your options are plentiful.
If you think enrolling in an online course or a certification or degree program may make sense for you, consider the following:
  • Your ability to be self-disciplined and manage time well: Online learning is designed so students schedule time for online course work (and homework) independently. Self-discipline and the ability to manage your time well will be critical in achieving both your goals and those of the educational institution.
  • Your aptitude and comfort with technology: Since online learning is accessed through the Internet via computer, and often leverages other technology like video and audio conferencing, online chat forums, or electronic file sharing, you not only need access to a computer but should have a general aptitude and comfort with technology.
  • Your ability to work with limited face-to-face interaction: Learning online removes or significantly limits face-to-face interaction with instructors and other students found in a traditional classroom setting. Carefully weigh how you would respond to this type of learning environment.
  • Your participation in broad-reaching exchanges: One of the greatest advantages of online learning is that it can bring together people from around the country or across the globe. Instructors may also bring experts into an online lesson discussion to enhance learning experiences.

Consider theEd2Go course offerings within Career Transitions “Explore Careers” portal as you investigate online courses and certification and program offerings. Most courses are six weeks in duration. In addition, there is increased funding for educational loans as a result of the Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. Go to for information on program descriptions, eligibility, and loan terms.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Up for Lost Income

Many who have managed to skirt layoffs and remain employed are struggling to meet their financial responsibilities as a result of pay cuts, shortened work weeks and downgraded positions. If you’re looking for ways to make up for lost income consider the following:
  • Take a second job: Moonlighting may be a good temporary solution to earning extra income. Be sure; however, that a secondary job won’t interfere with your full-time job. Investigate whether your current employer has a policy on moonlighting and be sure your second job isn’t a conflict of interest (e.g. working for a competitor or supplier). Recognize your priority is your full-time employer.
  • Find a seasonal job: If the commitment and hours of a secondary job appear daunting, think about something more manageable. Try seasonal work such as raking leaves, spring house cleaning or retail work during the holidays.
  • Generate income from a hobby: Are you a talented amateur photographer, writer or seamstress? Your current hobby may garner extra money to help pay bills.
  • Sell items you currently own: You may find several unused items you can sell to earn some money. Sell items in a garage sale, to a consignment shop or use an online auction and shopping site like eBay.
  • Barter services: Although it won’t help you earn additional money, bartering services can help save on expenses. For example, if you’re great with landscaping and your neighbor is handy with basic car maintenance, offer a garden design plan in exchange for an oil change.
  • Look for a similar position at a different company: Search for job opportunities where pay is better and/or there might be more opportunities for advancement. Even in a tough job market, employers usually keep an eye out for talented people.
  • Get a job with a direct sales company: Many have found working with direct sales companies like Avon, Tupperware or Mary Kay to be a great way to earn income. To explore options and ensure you align with a credible company; start with the Direct Selling Association.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Appreciating Cultural Differences in the Workplace

In today’s global workplace, you will most likely come into contact with people of various cultural backgrounds—whether co-workers, customers, or suppliers. As you encounter multicultural work environments or situations, it is important to be respectful and open to understanding the cultural differences of the individuals you meet. The following tips will help you do so:
  • Respect and value individual perspectives: Cultural differences or not, it is simply a good idea to respect other individuals. When working with someone from a different cultural background, assume he or she may have different ideas and approaches than you. Prepare for this by reminding yourself to be respectful and open to the value and unique perspective this person brings to the workplace.
  • Get cultured: Educate yourself about the culture of a co-worker, client, or supplier, particularly if you have regular business interactions with this person. You may discover a host of things—from what certain gestures communicate, like a bowed head or type of handshake, to what religious holidays are commonly celebrated.
  • Pronounce names correctly: Even if you’re unfamiliar with how to pronounce the names of people you meet from various cultural backgrounds, take the time to learn. This will be viewed and appreciated as a sign of respect.
  • Ask for clarification: Communication can be a challenge when certain words or phrases don’t translate well or take on a different meaning in one culture versus another. Strong accents can also be a barrier to clear communication. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something, and encourage others to do so with you. And remember to steer clear of slang terms and industry jargon.
  • Avoid over-stereotyping: Although stereotypes can help provide a general idea about a culture, you should take the time to get to know each person as an individual.
  • Avoid using cultural jokes: It is best to avoid using any cultural jokes, as there is a great risk that the joke could come off as offensive.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Managing Your Online Profile

In the simplest terms, an online profile is your public face, your online reputation. Although everyone should be aware of what their online profile conveys, as a job seeker it should be of particular importance.
There is ample data supporting the claim that most companies use information they find online to screen job candidates. The type of online information being scrutinized by human resource managers, recruiters, and hiring managers includes the following:
  • Comments, photos, and videos you post on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace
  • What you’re doing and saying on blogs, consumer sites, etc.
  • Comments, photos, and videos others post about you
  • Groups and networks you’re connected to
  • Your communication skills
  • What others in your network are doing and saying

The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to monitor and manage your online profile. The tips below will get you started; however, it is worth your time to research the plentiful information that is available on this topic.
  • Enter your name into a search engine, like Google, and check out the search results.
  • Set up a Google Alert for your name. Google will automatically alert you, via email, anytime new content put on the Internet matches your name.
  • Create a professional profile on LinkedIn, the largest online professional networking site.
  • Build a Google profile optimized to display at the top of search results.
  • Register your name as a domain name (e.g. For a small annual fee, you can create your own unique space and address on the Internet. This domain name can be used to build your website, post a resume, start a blog, etc.
  • Research privacy setting options on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace—anywhere you have a profile.
  • Clean up your online profile. Remove comments, photos, or videos that may not be appropriate or could be misconstrued.
  • Remove inappropriate posts on your social media profile pages that friends or others have made.
  • Request that family and friends be cognizant and careful about what they are posting that relates to you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Delegating Effectively

Delegating in the workplace means sharing your workload and assigning work responsibility and/or tasks to co-workers. If you have a difficult time delegating, you’re not alone. However, if you avoid delegating, you might actually be doing a disservice to you and your employer.
Most employers would agree that your time and talents are best served working on important tasks and/or those for which you have a keen aptitude, knowledge, or experience. Therefore, if you target the right people and the right tasks, delegating makes good business sense.
Start by making a list of all the work you have to complete within a given time period. Begin with high-level responsibilities and tasks, and then drill down to the smaller tasks associated with each. Next, identify those smaller tasks that can be delegated, and determine which competent and reliable co-worker(s) can handle these tasks. Now you’re almost ready to start delegating the work, but before you do, consider the following advice:
  • Draw your manager in: Have a conversation with your manager about how involved he/she wants to be in delegating work to co-workers.
  • Delegate wisely: Be smart about what work you delegate and to whom.
  • Be respectful of your co-workers: Whether you’re delegating to a co-worker who is a subordinate, a peer, or a higher pay grade, be respectful and courteous in your approach. Even in cases where you have the authority to delegate tasks, be sensitive to the fact that everyone has their own work responsibilities and deadlines.
  • Communicate expectations and provide direction: Set and communicate realistic expectations. When necessary, provide specific directions on how to complete the task. Set deadlines and communicate necessary checkpoints and a timeline for those checkpoints.
  • Remember, you’re responsible: In most cases, you will be ultimately responsible for the work you delegate; therefore, it is in your best interest to help those you delegate to so they can be successful.
  • Evaluate success: You can measure your success at delegating by assessing the outcomes. Use criteria like whether the work was done well, on time, and within budget. If the work you’re delegating isn’t up to par, rethink whether you’re delegating the right tasks to the right people and whether you’ve communicated clear expectations and directions.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Establishing Rapport in a Phone Interview

Often the interview process starts with a phone interview. One of the biggest challenges in a phone interview is establishing rapport with the interviewer. Without observing facial expressions and body language, it is hard to get a good read on how the interviewer is reacting to you and your responses. However, paying attention to auditory clues like those listed below can help you assess the impression you’re making on the interviewer:
  • Pitch (how high or low the voice is overall)
  • Tonality (pitch change from high to low)
  • Speaking pace
  • Voice volume
Auditory clues can indicate personality characteristics. For example, a soft voice may be perceived as timid, while a loud voice may convey assertiveness. Be aware of auditory clues during your conversation, and consider whether you might use those clues to adjust your speech accordingly. For example, if the interviewer speaks very quickly, it may suggest the desire for efficiency and hint at an energetic nature. If you, in turn, speak slowly, it may frustrate the interviewer or suggest you are less than excited about the job.
Before a phone interview, try recording your responses to some typical interview questions and play them back to get an idea of how you sound. What auditory clues are you sending to an interviewer? Practice varying your pitch, volume, speed, and tonality. Pay close attention to how you sound while discussing achievements or talking about why you’d be an asset to an organization. Are you helping to sell yourself by conveying enthusiasm in your tone?
Here are some additional tips about phone interviewing that can help you make a good impression on the interviewer:
  • Find a quiet place and avoid interruptions
  • Keep your resume and list of achievements handy for reference
  • Dress professionally; If you feel professional, you’ll speak more professionally
  • Warm up your voice prior to an interview
  • Smile when you’re speaking to convey friendliness
  • Stand if you think it will help you convey a stronger voice
  • Avoid simple yes and no answers
  • Recognize when you’ve sufficiently answered a question, and then stop talking so as to avoid sounding nervous
  • Enunciate your words; use correct grammar and complete sentences
  • Be enthusiastic and confident

Monday, October 11, 2010

Previous Job Titles May Be a Road Block

Are your previous jobs titles posing a road block in your current job search? Job titles that don’t convey the actual scope of your experience and responsibilities or don’t translate clearly to another industry may be limiting your job opportunities.
Assuming you’re applying to jobs you’re qualified for, there’s a chance your job title isn’t a match or isn’t similar enough to the job title which the hiring company is seeking. Some hiring companies use resume scanning technology to match keywords or keyword phrases. Others rely on the hiring manager to manually sort through piles of resumes by skimming for keywords. Either way, you may be getting overlooked as a result of job titles that aren’t accurately representing your work experience.
The good news is that hiring managers are looking to fill jobs with the best candidate based on work experience, skills, and education—not job titles. Therefore, you should consider implementing the following tips to clarify misleading job titles and put the focus on your experience and skills:
  • Use a functional resume format: A functional resume format may be a good choice since it organizes experience by skill clusters not chronological order. This resume layout places emphasis on experience and skills.
  • Include a resume summary: A resume summary is placed at the beginning of your resume, after name and contact information, and briefly summarizes your qualifications and key selling points in a short paragraph. It’s a great way for a hiring manager or recruiter to quickly see what you’re capable of and where your strengths lie.
  • Highlight achievements in stories and outcomes: The best way to highlight your achievements on a resume, in a cover letter, or at an interview is to provide concrete examples of positive outcomes supported by specific numbers. For example, you could highlight revenue generated (“…increased sales an additional $100k in a 30-day period”); money or time saved (“…implemented a new process that decreased restocking time by 20 hours per week”); or highlight the number of people/amount of a budget you managed.
  • Address job titles in cover letters and/or interviews: You can briefly address misleading job titles in a cover letter or interview. Mention that your job title doesn’t encompass the actual scope of the job. Associate your actual roles and responsibilities to a role or job title used by the hiring company or by that industry. When you reference this role or job title, state that it’s comparable to the job title you held, so as to clear up any confusion and ambiguity.