Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When Can Your Personal Life Impact Your Job Search?

In the midst of the Republican Party's race to select its presidential candidate, we have seen lots of personal "dirt" unearthed. Infidelity, corruption, and questionable financial deals are among the few issues that have been raised. It begs the question, does your personal life really impact your ability to secure a job? As the GOP canididacy - and every day life - has proven, your personal life does make a difference in your employability.

Credit Score
On the surface, one might think a low credit score would not impact your ability to land a job. However, did you know that it is very difficult obtain a government security clearance with a bankruptcy or even a low credit score? The same holds true in banking, finance, and the insurance industry. Employers often look at your credit score as an indication of your ability to make decisions and hold responsibility.

Online Presence
In an earlier blog post I discussed how to manage your online presence. If an employer is conducting a search of your name, what will they find? Pictures on facebook of you drinking heavily or participating in illegal activities are a definite red flag to employers. However, they will also look at comments you make on blogs and on social media sites such as www.twitter.com and www.facebook.com to get a sense of your values and beliefs.

Consider the types of pages, businesses, and causes that are among your "likes" on Facebook. Are any of these organizations controversial or indicative of your religious or sexual preferences? These types of personal beliefs should be kept just that - personal. Remember that when you post something online, it stays there for other people to find, so beware!

Everyone makes mistakes in their life. However, some are more costly than others. If you have been convicted of a felony in your life, you need to be ready to counteract the negativity that will follow. Try to offer a simple straightforward explanation of the conviction followed by the changes you have made in your life since the conviction. Read this earlier blog post for more information.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reprioritizing Cost vs. Worth

When you go shopping you are in a constant battle between what something costs (the amount of money that you will have to give to purchase the item) and what something is worth (the value that you place upon the item).

Let's consider an easy example: aluminum foil. To one person, the regular store brand will sufficiently meet her aluminum foil needs. The name brand-and the higher price-isn't worth it. But another person will pay the higher price for the name brand because of the increased value-worth-that he perceives. Perhaps he considers the quality better or places a lot of faith in the company that produced it.

Neither view is wrong...but how you view cost and worth can have an impact on your career.

Let's take one aspect of how this plays out in your career: dress and grooming. When I worked in a career services department I had a student frantically contact me because he had a job interview that day and wanted some advice. I agreed to meet with him, and when I entered our conference room for our appointment I was struck by how unappealing his appearance was: ill-fitting, mismatched clothes and wild, uncombed hair. When I (gently) brought the matter of his appearance up to him, his immediate response was that he couldn't afford to buy better clothes or get a haircut at the time. Mind you, this is the same student who I often saw purchasing soda out of school vending machines, where the markup is typically much more than buying it at the store.

Do you see how cost and worth are at play here? A soda-in fact, frequent sodas during the week-had a higher worth to this student than buying clothes and getting a haircut that would display him as someone who takes his professional life seriously.

But here's the catch: we are all this student. In our professional lives there are lines that we don't cross because we don't see the value proposition. We balk at paying a professional to write our resume for us or for to hire a career coach to help us pursue our career dreams because, in our minds, we can do it ourselves. It's just not worth it. But what is the cost of being another week out of work? Or spending another day in a miserable, soul-sucking job?

If you are feeling stuck or trapped in your current situation, examine your cost vs. worth viewpoint. Use the questions below as guides:

What is my career worth to me, and how is where my money goes reflective of that?

How does my perception of cost vs. worth play out in career roadblocks I encounter?

What am I willing to sacrifice/not sacrifice monetarily for career satisfaction?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Back to Basics: The 15 Most Important Resume Tips for Young Professionals
"When you list bullet points under each job on your resume (and you should always list bullet points under each job), be sure to list the most important task, accomplishment or responsibility first."

2. Following Up After a Job Interview
" ... 22% of hiring managers dismiss candidates who don’t send a thank you note after the interview."

3. Find Your Superpower, Watch Your Career Take Flight
"Research suggests that leaders who identify their core strengths, and play to them, are more satisfied in their work and better paid."

4. What Every Job-Searching Veteran Needs to Know 
"A common problem for job-seeking veterans is helping civilian, non-military hiring managers understand their work history."

5. 5 Green Jobs that Will Increase in Demand
"As more companies strive to adhere to greener initiatives, you can guarantee that the need for individuals skilled in a variety of green technologies will grow significantly in the next couple of years."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Working at a Start-Up Company: Consider Both Sides

The recent recession’s impact on corporate America and new government policies and programs designed to encourage entrepreneurship like, Startup America, may result in job seekers finding more opportunities at start-up companies than in the past.

Working for a start-up company can be quite different than working for an established company. Start-ups typically appeal to those who are adventurous and not risk averse. Below are some observations that can help you weigh whether you’d be a good fit for working at a start-up company.

Be Part of Something New: Participating in the start of a new business can be exciting, energizing, and adventurous.

Share Opinions and Contribute: Many companies encourage you to share opinions and contribute ideas, but at a start-up company, you’re likely to have more opportunities to do so. And, your contributions may have a greater impact on the company’s success.

Wear Multiple Hats: Start-up companies typically have smaller staffs and budgets, so employees are often expected to perform more than one job function. In doing so, you may vastly broaden your skill set.

Enjoy Camaraderie: Camaraderie often results when employees team together to achieve a common goal. This is often the case at start-ups because they’re smaller and employees feel a greater responsibility for helping the company to succeed.

Recognize the Risk: Working at a start-up company tends to be more risky, since survival is uncertain.

Don’t Expect Structure: Since start-ups usually haven’t been operating for long, they tend to have fewer established processes and business protocols in place.

Prepare for High Stress: A start-up company can mean more challenges, longer hours, and pressure to perform within a short window of time. All of this can result in high levels of stress.

Expect Less Pay: Start-up companies generally work with limited capital and heavy start-up costs, thus needing to keep tight controls on overhead costs, including employee compensation. Expect to make less working for a start-up company, at least in the short term.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Military to Civilian Transition Culture Shock

The transition from a military career to a civilian career can be a very eye-opening experience. This is especially the case when you went straight from high school into the military, served a 20+ year career, and are now facing the task of adapting to the civilian workforce.

You may have noticed from my other posts that I am a big proponent of the motto "Be Prepared." I am a co-leader of two girl scout troops after all! The same applies to the military to civilian transition. If you know, in advance, some of the challenges you may face, you can tackle them much easier. Here are a few I have compiled:

  • In the military, a supervisor is involved in all aspects of his team's life - both work and personal. This is very different from the private sector. Supervisors in the private sector do not get involved with their employee's personal life.

  • For obvious reasons, fitness is a high priority in the military. That is not the case for many civilian workers. It is often hard for a former military service member to relate to someone who is disinterested and unwilling to take care of their health and fitness.

  • Most every task that is assigned in the military comes with very detailed instructions and guidelines. Many veterans become frustrated with the lack of step-by-step instructions and the overall lack of structure they may face. In fact, the company is quite structured - just not to the same level as the military.

  • Economic conditions do not often affect the military the way they do the civilian world. In the military you don't often have to worry about profit margins and your company going out of business. You know that you will have a job every week in the military. Unfortunately, in the private sector, the economy plays a large role in a company's success and often causes reductions in force.

  • In the military you wear military provided uniforms and are provided clear-cut expectations of what you must wear to work every day. When you enter the civilian work force, the expense of purchasing a work wardrobe is quite costly. However, don't forget about the stress of figuring out what is appropriate and expected of you to wear to work every day.

  • Don't forget the small things that you will have to change such as the way you state the time and the way you write your dates. Chances are, if you don't conform the civilian way of telling time, the first time you tell your team to return from lunch at 1300 on 1 October they may look at you like you are crazy.

Use Twitter To Help You Score A Dream Job and Network

Recently, I found an article at The Huffington Post where they posted tweets that were bite-size advice for post grads.

This made me realize how great Twitter can be for post grads. Twitter is not just for spewing whatever thoughts come to your head and sharing funny anecdotes with friends and trying to stalk celebs.

Here are some of my favorite tweets from the article:

(Photos courtesy of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/09/best-advice-for-new-colle_n_859706.html#s276820&title=Carolyn_Steigleman)

 Twitter can be a great networking source, a way to connect with potential employers and get great career advice. Here's how to use Twitter to advance your career:

1. Be professional with your tweets. Don't use Twitter when you're out drinking with your friends or use it to type your every thought. A general rule is that if you wouldn't want your mom or a potential employer to read it: don't write it! If this makes Twitter boring for you, simply have two accounts. Use one for fun and one for networking! Remember to have a professional looking photo as well.

2. Engage in Twitter Chats. Here's a great how-to for moderators and participants. Simply google "twitter chats and (your desired field)" to find out how many chats there are related to the career your desire. In these chats you can find some great advice, meet new people to network with, engage in a conversation and much more. It can be a great way to get yourself out there. Here is another list of some great business Twitter chats.

3. Follow your favorite companies to get updates on their hiring process and try to get in touch with them in a new way. For example, I am a writer so I try to follow all of my favorite magazines. Once an online magazine tweeted that they wanted guest writers and an email address so I tweeted them and emailed them and they actually replied! You never know who you could get in contact via Twitter that you might not have even known how to get in touch with otherwise.

Tell us, how have you used Twitter to your professional advantage?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tips for Answering the Salary Question in an Interview

Whether they are asking the question when calling you to schedule the interview or asking you in the interview, your answer to the dreaded salary question can define your success in negotiating your annual salary - and possibly your success in landing the position. The key strategy when planning how to answer the question about salary is advance preparation. Here are some tips that can help you prepare for and field this question successfully.

  • Become acquainted with sites, such as www.salary.com, that provide a range of salaries that you can expect in your local area. Generate a personal salary report and keep it with your job search records so you can easily access the information.
  • When discussing salary, the most important rule is "the first person to name a number loses." Try to avoid naming your exact number with the following strategy. When asked how much you would like to make, ask the hiring manager to provide you with additional information about the job or ask them to give you an idea of where your range of experience should fit in their company's salary range.
  • If you have to name a number, instead of telling the interviewer how much you would like to make, quote your sources. For example, if you have done your research on www.salary.com, you may say something like this, "Prior to applying for this position, I did some research on salary.com. They state that this type of position in (insert your city) should make between (offer them the entire salary range)." Most importantly, you then need to ask "How does that compare with what you are paying?"
  • Be advised, you may not get what salary.com says you will get based on your years of experience, it is known to be a bit high. However, it is better to start with a higher number and negotiate lower. It is very difficult to negotiate upward.
  • Be aware of non-verbal cues when you state your salary range from salary.com. Try to get a sense from the interviewer's non-verbal communication as to how receptive they are to your numbers.
  • Never be afraid to negotiate salary. It is expected from you in the job search process. If you don't negotiate salary, most likely you are leaving money on the table.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reeling in Reassurance

Imagine that you're walking toward your car, keys in hand and about to leave, when a feeling hits you: did I remember to turn off the lights upstairs? After an initial moment of hesitation, you burst back inside your house and speed upstairs to do a final, final check.

Regardless of whether or not the lights were on, this quick moment of panic prompted a need for reassurance. As Seth Godin states in his blog post on the topic, acts of reassurance (like asking a coworker to look over a report or a friend over an admissions essay) can be symbolic of an underlying fear inside us...a fear that keeps us from succeeding to the level that we able to and aspire towards. And a fear that-unless addressed-can keep feeding itself.

College students and young professionals can especially make themselves victims of reassurance, sabotaging themselves by giving their fears power instead of building confidence in their abilities. Assess your need to seek assurance from others by reflecting on the questions below:

1. On what topics/tasks do I commonly seek reassurance? Whether they are major work projects, small hobbies, or that one thing that you have been struggling to do even though you know that it will make a difference in your life, look for a pattern in your behavior by reflecting on where you need reassurance.

2. What needs to happen to not need to be reassured? Once you have identified your topic or task, reflect further by identifying any gaps that exist between your current level of skill and what you want. If there is no gap, ponder the anxiety that leads to seeking reassurance. Is it realistic? How is it serving you?

3. In what areas do I not need reassurance? We all have abilities and skills that we take for granted even though others may think they are exceedingly difficult. Most likely, you don't need reassurance here. Tap into these areas when tackling the areas where you need reassurance. "If I can do X, then why do I need reassurance to do Y?"

4. What is one small step you can take to eliminate your need for reassurance? Think of that one small action you can take to counter your need for reassurance and do it.

You are stronger than your fear and you don't need others to validate what you do. Build up your resilience to reassurance and replace it with cool confidence.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Career Change--Tips for Successful Transition

"Leverage your strongest skills that transfer across any business or industry."

2. How to Land a Job when You are Overqualified

" ... when you continue to send out applications and resumes with no response to positions for which you are overqualified but under-experienced, how do you work around that issue to land employment?"

3. Interview Beyond Your Reach to Achieve Your Best

"You know in your heart that special job you want for your own to advance your career, but it is seemingly out of your league.  Stop. Think again."

4. Ways to Stay Organized on the Job Hunt

"The more organized you are, the easier you'll find the job search and managing the appropriate next steps."

5. How to Quit Your job with Grace

"Recently I made a job change that required me to reevaluate my career goals, step out of my comfort zone, and resign from my first professional position."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Avoiding Power Struggles at Work

Occasional conflicts and disagreements at work are a normal part of the work environment. In fact, differing ideas and views shared and discussed productively can help generate new business solutions. However, conflict resulting from power struggles and the need for control is not only unproductive, it can be outright detrimental to the careers of those involved. Power struggles can play out in various behaviors. Sometimes it is an attitude and stance of being uncooperative or unwilling to compromise, listen to, or consider another’s perspective. Other times it’s as devious as withholding information, ignoring requests, and/or manipulating facts.

Avoid power struggles when you can; however, if you find yourself involved in one, the following tips may be helpful.

Focus on What Matters

Keep the power struggle from escalating by staying focused on solving the business issue at hand. Communicate your desire to find a solution that works best for the organization as a whole. Suggest working together to review the facts, brainstorm solutions, and combine ideas; then, be willing to openly communicate and compromise in reaching a successful outcome.

Be a Model of Professional Behavior

One tactic that can quell a power struggle with a colleague and help you maintain your professional integrity is to model the behavior you would want your colleague to emulate. Employ sincerity as you listen to other opinions and consider other points of view. Restate what you think you heard to ensure clarity. Find opportunities to acknowledge worthy aspects of someone else’s ideas or solutions.

If Necessary, Disengage

Sometimes the best answer to a power struggle is to disengage until a constructive and professional discussion can occur. Or, simply agree to disagree. In most cases, these are interim solutions. They provide the time needed to let go of any negative emotions or ego-centric intentions, such as a pressing desire to be right, and allow time to gain a fresh perspective. A “cooling off” period may also result in the surfacing of new information or ideas that enable everyone involved to productively revisit the issue and perhaps reach a mutually agreed-upon solution.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Laid Off Action Plan

When a lay-off happens – whether it is a surprise or not – people have a tendency to go through most, if not all, the 7 stages of grief. You often start with shock and denial and then quickly move to pain, anger and depression. Because the process of being laid off is so emotional, having a solid action plan is essential to survival and rebounding in these types of situations.

You can either plan for a potential lay in the future or ensure you are reacting in the best possible way to an ongoing reduction in force using the following action steps. These are in no particular order, as everyone has different needs during this type of situation. However, if you cover all these bases you will be well on your way to a successful transition into the next phase of your career.

Assess Your Financial Situation

You will need to have a clear understanding of where you stand financially to know just how long you can survive being unemployed. The stress of how you will survive financially should be addressed first, so that you can alleviate what will most likely be your biggest concern. Evaluate your expenses and determine where you can cut costs until you are employed again. Experts say you should have a 6-month emergency fund saved at all times so that you are financially prepared for these types of situations.

Update Your Job Search Documents

Throughout your career, whether you are employed or not, I implore you to keep your resume and cover letter updated and current. This proactive approach is often the difference between being able to start the job search immediately and starting it a week later. Standards, job search methods, and resume styles change. Keep your knowledge current or employ the services of an expert who can help you.

Reach Out To Your Network

We are often embarrassed to admit that we have been laid off. Chances are, in the economic times of the last few years, you or someone you know very well has experienced the situation – maybe even multiple occurences. Let everyone in your network know of your new availability, clearly state the type of position you are looking for, and let them know what kind of assistance you need.

Identify Your Local Resources

You would be surprised at all the free resources that are available to laid off workers. Check with your local Workforce Connection One Stop Career Center. These services are paid for by your tax dollars and offer a wide variety of career services, training assistance, and job search support.

Let Your College or University Help You Even After Graduation

When you graduate from a college or university, you figure your relationship with the school ends there. Not true! There are many ways to stay involved with your school's community and let them help you score a great job.

1. Visit your school's Career Services. Make an appointment with a counselor, even if you've already graduated. They can help you find other tools and opportunities you may not have known about. You can also get your resume or cover letters checked out and revised by a professional or get a peer mentor that can help you with all things involved with being a post grad.

2. Visit your school's website and check out their services for Alumni and Career Services. You may be able to search for jobs that companies only post for college students and alumni and apply right through your school. You can also find out information on career fairs, events, workshops and mixers.

3. Keep yourself informed on alumni news and updates by signing up for their alumni email blasts, newsletters, or magazines. You may also be able to find articles on interview tips, job search advice and much more on their website.

4. If their website isn't up to date, give the school a call or visit to see if they have brochures or other information you can easily pick up on upcoming events or advice on being a post grad.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does a College Degree Really Help your Career?

My ten year-old daughter knows in the abstract sense what I do. She knows I write resumes and that I help people “get jobs” (her words, not mine). At bed time last night she asked me if going to college is really important to having a career. Like every good parent I said, “Yes, of course.” However, it made me really think about her question, so I started some research.

With the cost of a college education rising by leaps and bounds every year, I sometimes wonder if anyone will be able to afford that education in the future. Did you know that Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Richard Branson are all college drop-outs? If these billionaires made it without a college degree, does someone who is targeting a middle class income really need a college degree?

Here are some general facts I found about the benefits of a college education.

  • It is estimated that a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn almost twice during their lifetime as much as those with a high school diploma. Someone with an associate’s degree will earn almost 25% more than just a high school diploma.
  • Positions that require a college degree are not only higher paying. These positions often offer better health care and life insurance as well as retirement benefits.
  • A college education does not guarantee a job or job security. You must do your research before pursuing an education. Conduct your labor market research, verify the career’s outlook in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and be sure that the future growth for the industry is solid.
  • People without a college degree are more likely to perform unskilled labor positions. These are most often the types of positions that are being outsourced to other countries or being replaced with technology or automation.
  • The amount of money you will make in your career of choice must make sense in terms of the cost of the degree you intend to pursue. Once again, conduct your labor market research before you make a decision.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Techniques to Fight Nervousness

Today I am leading a workshop for a group of educators, and I'm nervous. Not "climb into a hole and never come out" nervous, but I'm wrestling with the normal jitters one gets when putting himself/herself out there. Questions like "What will they think of me?" or "Will I do a good job?" or "What if I screw up?" dance in my head, none of them really helping me, save to keep the adrenaline up.

Though I am specifically leading a workshop, I could just as easily be interviewing or giving an important presentation to senior management. Practicing self-management in the face of stress and nervousness is a critical component of success. Facing fears and rising to a challenge can help us grow confident and competent in our abilities. When the times comes for you to step up in the face of perceived adversity, follow these tips to give yourself an edge over your nervousness.

Focus on your purpose, not your outcome: Those who are focused on their purpose stay in the moment and zeroed in on the importance of their endeavor. In contrast, those who focus on the outcome needlessly worry about something that they can never control. When preparing for an interview or a presentation, beat your inner demons by staying strictly focused on your purpose and pay no attention to the outcome.

Visualize: Visualization techniques have shown to calm nerves and to produce positive outcomes in those who practice them. Take some quiet time for yourself to visualize your endeavor, creating in your mind the positive outcome that you desire. Feel the resonance from this place and make preparations from this perspective.

Practice! After deciding to be on-purpose and visualizing your success, work out the physical nuances of your presentation through practice. Write down specific goals or objectives that you want to reach and assess yourself on how well you reach them. Enroll a friend, too, if you would like an objective set of eyes.

Adhere to your purpose, visualize your success, and powerfully practice to achieve the level of success you desire. Good luck!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy! 

1. Drooling over career daydream? Try it on!

2. The Career of the Future Doesn't Include a 20-year Plan. It's More Like Four.

3. 5 Career Building Tips They Never Taught us in School

4. 4 Things Every Employer Loves to Hear From a Candidate

5. Confidence is a Numbers Game

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shine By Finding Cost Savings for Your Employer

One way to shine with your employer is to find and propose cost-saving solutions. What employer doesn’t appreciate an employee who can positively impact the company’s bottom line! And, if you are ever back in the job market, actual experience and pertinent examples of how you saved your prior company money can be a real selling point with prospective employers.

Here are some ways you may be able to implement cost savings for your current employer; some are obvious, while others are often taken for granted but are equally important.

Find Ways to Increase Productivity

Look for ways your company may be able to increase productivity while saving money and maintaining quality. Consider process changes, technology solutions, or other creative ideas, even if they require changing long-standing processes or mindsets. Remember to present your ideas professionally, so as not to insult others or come across as a “know it all.”

Identify Problems Early

Problems can lead to unexpected costs, so it is usually better to identify and discuss problems up front, before they develop or grow. Even better¾come to the table with possible solutions to potential problems.

Be Mindful of How You Spend the Company’s Money

If you’re responsible for a project or department budget, be mindful of expenses. For example, when approving or booking business travel, book flights in advance and find hotels offering complimentary services, like free shuttle service or Wi-Fi. Be a good financial steward for and with your company’s money.

Use Time Wisely

An employer expects you to use your time wisely by prioritizing effectively, focusing on appropriate tasks, and being respectful of your coworkers’ time. These tips may seem obvious, but almost everyone has worked with someone who functions quite the opposite at work—surfing the Web for non-work information, arriving late to meetings, or distracting co-workers with idle chit chat. All of these interfere with productivity and, ultimately, cost the company money.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Overcome the 4 Main Factors of Age Discrimination

It is neither legal nor fair. However, age discrimination is unfortunately prevalent in the workforce. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010, there was a 17% increase in the number of age discrimination complaints filed since 2007.

Age discrimination, as with most discrimination, is based in fear. Understand the fear and you can make great strides toward a successful interview. Here are the 4 most common fear factors and some ideas as to how you can overcome these objections.

Lack of Energy
One of the main concerns is that the older worker may not have the same level of energy and enthusiasm for the job as a younger candidate. Once you are in the interview, offer a firm handshake, smile with confidence, radiate positive energy, and clearly demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for your profession.

Health Concerns
You must be realistic about your ability to do the job. I once met with an 80 year-old explosives engineer whose hands shook. Although he wanted to stay in the industry, he no longer had the physical capability. Last week, I met a 75 year-old nurse who walked with a cane. She no longer had the stamina to do clinical nursing, so instead she switched to telephonic nursing where she could do her job sitting down. If you have a clear understanding of your limitations and apply to jobs for which you are physically capable, you should have no problem convincing the interviewer of your capability.

Outdated Knowledge
Have you kept your industry knowledge and technology skills current? You can’t possibly expect to receive an administrative support job when you don’t know how to use Microsoft Office. Keep yourself competitive by keeping your skills current. Focus on your recent classes, certifications, and online courses to show your knowledge of current technology. As an aside, you also want to ensure your appearance – including your apparel, hair, and makeup – is not outdated. You don’t need to go trendy, but aim for modern professional with your clothing and grooming.

Be wary of the fact that people are very protective of their jobs these days. Find the right balance between showing your value without intimidating your younger and less-qualified interviewer into fearing you will take their job. Clearly state the type of support role you would like to take in the company and quantify the value you can offer to your future boss.

Great Filler Jobs For A Post Grad

You've studied long and hard for many years for this moment: college graduation. It is so exciting at first: no more teachers, no more studying, no more homework! Yet, once the initial happiness and excitement wear off, you realize now you're stuck in the world of unemployment, perhaps in a bad college-type job and have no prospects. Perhaps you've been searching for a while now with no avail. What do you do in the meantime? You probably need money to pay bills or obviously want money to be able to have a social life. That is where a filler job comes in.

Don't let anyone tell you that a filler job is a waste of time. If you're actively job searching, going on interviews and networking, sometimes you still need a job to pay the rent. Here are some great filler jobs you can do while you're searching for your dream job:

1. Tutor. Remember your favorite subject in school? It could be Math, English, Spanish, etc. Well, your favorite subject is someone else's worst subject. Sign up with a tutoring company, put up flyers around your alma mater and take on a few kids you can really help. Tutoring pays pretty well, isn't very time consuming and it allows you to brush up on your skills. All while making a difference and helping someone else earn that A.

2. Find some freelance work. If you're into writing or editing, search online or ask your networking contacts if they need help with any projects. Finding jobs on a project by project basis is a great way to get started. It could even land you into the career of being a freelancer if you enjoy the lifestyle. Find out what kind of freelance work you could do for your desired career. You never know what is out there; it isn't just blogging these days. Even if freelancing doesn't suit you, you could gain some great networking contacts and make some extra cash. 

3. Go to a temp agency. Getting some temp jobs could land you in the door of a company you'd love to work for. If you work hard and share your great personality, you may just get hired or make some great contacts for the future!

4. Lastly, if you don't care about getting a filler job that relates to your desired career, find a waitressing, bartending, sales or any kind of job. You never know who you may meet or come in contact with and it could be a way to make some new friends while you earn some dough. It can be a nice time to have a fun, temporary job while you search for the one that suits you best!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weird Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Glass Door just came out with their annual Top 25 OddballInterview Questions of 2011. This article covers some of the most unexpected – and often strange – interview questions that are reported on their site www.glassdoor.com. Among this year’s winners are questions like, what do you think of garden gnomes?, name 5 uses of a stapler without staples in it, and how much money did the residents of Dallas/Fort Worth spend on gasoline in 2008.

You may think of these types of questions as new ways that devious employers have come up with to torture you. You may be right, however most of the time these questions are designed to get the interviewee to drop their interview “game face” and show their true personality. These questions can be a way for employers to assess how the candidate can think on their feet, how they solve problems, how they handle stress, and also evaluate their critical thinking skills.

With so much being read into the answer to these types of questions, you should be sure you are ready for them. There is no way to truly prepare for these types of oddball questions. However, being prepared to answer the mainstream questions will make you less nervous, and you will therefore feel more at-ease and less likely to be stumped by these oddballs.

The most important note is that you should never forget to bring your personality with you to the interview. Be yourself and show your true colors in the interview. Some people fear that if they show their personality that it will cost them the job. That may be true, but wouldn’t you rather be screened out than work in a job where you don’t fit in?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Find Balance Through New Perspectives

I'm currently in a coach training program that requires us to do a lot of introspection and self-reflection work. Particularly around perspectives, because it's perspectives that-in large part-shape our moment to moment experiences and long term outlook. If you can control your perspective, you have a powerful means of changing anything about your life for the better.

Not sure what I mean? Let's take a seemingly insignificant topic to see how the power of perspectives work: mustard. To some, mustard elicits feelings of extreme pleasure. They may think of the summer, ball games, grilling, or other positive feelings. To others (and I admit that I'm in this perspective), mustard is disgusting. It stains one's hands and makes food taste awful. Nothing in the world is worse than mustard. Blech!

Both are perspectives. The mustard? It's neutral. It just sits there.

When viewing life through this lens, it isn't hard to see that anything in life is merely a perspective. The preference to buy PC over Mac. How you feel about your in-laws. The state of the job market. How you feel about your work contributions.

Assessing your perspective is a powerful way to uncover your motivations, values, and your passions. Think of some area in your life where you feel that your perspective is distorted or an area where you feel a change in perspective would be beneficial. That is your "topic." Once you have it, use the questions below to assess your perspective to see if it's the right one for you.

What is my current perspective? Simply describe your current perspective in relation to your topic in, say, three to five sentences.

How does this perspective make me feel? Really work hard to get in touch with your feelings here. Put yourself in those feelings and describe them in detail. Anger, pride, disgust, appreciation, fear, love...strive to get in touch with them.

What does this perspective empower me to do? All perspectives motivate us in some way, even if they motivate us to do nothing. Be honest about what this perspective empowers you to do, even if its to get angry or be immobile.

What is possible through this perspective? This question really hits at the heart of perspectives: if you were to stay in the same perspective for the rest of your life, what would be possible? How would your life look?

What new perspective would I like to "try on"? The great thing about perspectives is that we can change them.
Just like trying on a new hat or new coat, try on a new perspective. Even if you have to pretend...do it! And once you've found one that you'd like to try on, go through the previous four questions again. Do this several times until you arrive at the perspective that fits best for you, and stay in it.

Perspectives play a large role in what we do and who we are. Alter your perspectives to make powerful changes to your life.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. How to find the job you really want in 2012

2. 8 New Year's Resolutions for Your Career

3. Job Lessons from the Movies: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

4. 4 Easy Ways to Make Your Career Better in 2012

5. 3 New Career Habits for the New Year

Friday, January 6, 2012

Working on a Trial Basis

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply try a job, without making a long-term commitment, or just take a test run to evaluate whether the work and company culture are a good fit. If you’re intrigued by these ideas, you might be a good candidate for an alternative work arrangement like one of the following:

Contract Work
Many companies look for contract workers who have specialized skills or experience to support a specific project or increase in business. Contractors work for a specified length of time—from several months to even a year or longer. Many successful contract workers function independently, contracting for and billing their services directly to the company. Others work through a temporary (i.e., temp) agency or a staffing firm that manages placements and contract arrangement details.

Temporary Work
Temp or staffing agencies also place temp workers, typically to compensate for a short-term employee absence or to support a project or a business spike. These assignments may last from several weeks to several months, but unlike contract work, they don’t typically require specialized expertise.

Consulting is similar to independent contracting work in that a consultant usually has specialized knowledge or expertise. However, consultants are different in what and how they deliver that knowledge/expertise. A contract worker may contract to work for a set period of time performing a particular job function—for example, graphic design work. On the other hand, a consultant would more typically focus on helping a client get up to speed in a particular business methodology, process or industry standards—for example meeting new industry quality guidelines.

An internship is a great way to gain work experience while exploring a company and/or an occupation of interest. These are often geared toward college or university students in exchange for college credits. Internships are also popular among those looking to change careers or re-enter the job market.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Top 3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail and What You Can do about it

So, here we are on day 5 of 2012. If you decided, like millions of people, to set a New Year’s resolution, I hope your new behavior changes are going well. In my previous two blog posts, we discussed the first 2 of 3 reasons why New Year’s resolutions often fail – as often as 77% according to a 2007 survey. The third and final reason can be the most challenging, which relates to our own failure to commit to changing our habits.

Reason #3 – You are not committed to your resolution and you don’t believe you can succeed

This reason is related to reason #1, if your resolution is centered on something for which you have no commitment, you will not succeed. Your resolution must have personal relevance and meaning to you. The only way to maintain your motivation beyond that initial burst of enthusiasm to become a long-term lifestyle or behavior change, is to find something that is very important to you.

Self control is very dynamic and changing. There is a saying that whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are right. It is easy to make excuses for ourselves – I can’t stop smoking because all my friends do it and they tempt me. When you are fully committed, and you believe you can succeed, nothing can get in your way.

The challenge for successfully upholding your New Year’s resolutions is three-fold:

> Find something that has meaning to you that you really want to change. Clarify to yourself the reason WHY you want to make this change.

> Make a measurable goal that includes a step-be-step plan. Also, build into the plan what you will do when you have a set-back and how you will re-motivate yourself to get back on-track.

> Believe in yourself and commit all your efforts and motivation to success!

New Years Resolutions For Post Grad Job Hunters

It is finally 2012. A new year and a fresh start is wonderful, especially for post grads who are looking for work. Take this time to reflect on past mistakes, make new goals or resolutions for the year ahead and keep learning what you need to land yourself an amazing job in 2012.

Here are some possible resolutions to get you started:

1. I will go to companies in person and inquire about their needs, hiring process and look professional doing so.

2. I will meet one new person a week to network with. This could be through other networking contacts, a club, a class, etc.

3. I will consider meeting with a recruiter or job hunting expert if I have been having trouble finding a job for some time now.

4. I will volunteer with organizations related to my desired job field.

5. I will make job searching my top priority and consider it a full-time job until I find myself a real full-time job.

6. I will buy myself a planner if I do not already own one to schedule my activities and keep track of contacts, company information and much more.

7. I will set a goal of applying to x companies per week and stick to it.

8. I will have my resume and cover letter read by at least three people and consider taking it to an expert.

9. I will not apply to jobs that I am definitely not qualified for.

10. I will never blow off an interview. Even if it may not be the job I want, interviews are great experience.

Let us know your goals, resolutions, or job hunting tips for the New Year by commenting on this post!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year: New Career Goals

Whether you’re happily employed or searching for a job, the New Year is an ideal time to set or “reset” your career goals. For many, the holidays provide some much needed time off to rejuvenate, refresh, and re-focus, which can help you to hit the ground running, professionally, come the New Year.

Reflecting on 2011

Carve out some time to reflect on 2011—what went well and not so well, professionally. If you set annual goals for 2011, did you meet those goals? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Did you already add these accomplishments to your resume, or do you still need to do that? Can you identify areas in your career that need improving? If so, these can turn into career development opportunities and goals for 2012.

Setting Career Goals for 2012

A year shouldn’t pass without you learning new things and growing professionally, and it’s these experiences that should be factored into renewing or tweaking your career goals for the New Year.

To generate the best results, approach your goal-setting task diligently and enthusiastically. Your goals should be specific and attainable while still causing you to stretch a bit. For example, you might set a goal to create a professional profile on a social networking site, like Linkedin.com, by February 1, 2012, or complete a project management course within the first quarter of the New Year.

Whatever goals you set for yourself, you’ll want to develop a tactical plan broken down into incremental, actionable steps to help you achieve each goal.

Goals—both personal and professional—require your commitment of time and effort. Your New Year career goals should motivate and excite you and advance your professional success.

Financial Help For Post Grads

As a post grad, the world can seem like a scary place. Especially in these times of financial hardship and when your parents may be struggling as much as you are. You may have never had to pay any bills. You may have had a car payment and that's it. Now you're faced with possibly living on your own and all the bills and expenses that comes with it. So how do you deal?

1. Use websites and programs like Excel to your advantage. As a freelancer, it can be tough to keep track of my income. I use Excel to track my monthly income from each client and keep track of how much I make per month and year as a total.

There are also websites like Mint.com that allow you to add your bank accounts and keep track of your income and what you spend and make budgets and goals for yourself.

2. Set up different savings accounts with different goals in mind. For example, if you have to save up for a vacation or a new car, make a specific savings account for that goal. Determine how much of your paycheck you want to add into the savings account each month and stick to it.

3. Use cash. Try to hold off getting a credit card for as long as you can. When you use cash, it is often harder to let go of and you take a hard look at what you're really spending and what you're buying.

4. Find extra ways to earn money. Times are tough and there is no shame in babysitting on the side or finding odd jobs to help pay the bills. Under the table jobs can be the most fun and give you some extra money to help pay your expenses or simply give you some shopping money.

Good luck, post grads!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Top 3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail and What You Can do about it

Happy New Year! Chances are, if you set a New Year’s resolution, you are now on day 3 of your resolution. I hope things are going well. Let’s examine the second reason that New Year’s resolutions often fail. In last week’s post, we discussed how people often lack the motivation they need. The second reason resolutions fail is due to a lack of clarity and lack of planning.

Reason #2 – Your resolution lacks clarity, focus, and realistic expectations

By nature, resolutions are often very vague and represent huge changes. According to a 2007 FranklinCovey survey, some of the most common resolutions are I am going to lose weight, I am going to exercise more, and I am going to get out of debt. These vague, grandiose goals are not only overwhelming, they can make coming up with an action plan an extremely difficult process.

The solution:
The best solution for this issue is to ensure you are setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. This is an acronym for setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, reaching and timely. When we have a plan and a strategy for how we will achieve our goals, they become much more manageable and therefore more easily attained. Let’s re-examine one of our vague goals from earlier – I am going to get out of debt.

The first step is to examine why you want to achieve this goal so you can find your motivation. Next, you apply the S.M.A.R.T. principles to the goal and it transforms into the following; I would like to pay off $6,000 in credit card debt by the end of 2012. I will reduce my monthly expenditures by $500 by lowering my cable bill, cutting out going out to eat every weekend and taking my lunch 4 days a week.

By creating a plan, you can break the goal into bite-sized chunks that enable you to monitor and measure your progress along the way. The specifics of the goal and the step-by-step planning will make your resolution seem less daunting and therefore more realistically attainable.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Take Control of Your Time in 2012

I was running late.

I knew that I was in trouble after I hopped out of the shower and looked at my cell phone to see it frowning at me, lambasting me for being so slow to get out of bed in the morning. I pulled double time, though, and quickly dressed, gathered my things, and rushed out the door to make my bus before it pulled away. As I sat on the bus, I felt relieved. I was particularly nervous because every time I checked the clock I knew there was a possibility that I wasn't going to be able to make it.

Then it occurred to me: why did I keep checking the clock? What was I accomplishing by doing so?

We are all busy people: there's no debate about that. But there's a difference between what we do that takes up our time and what we do that's important to us. Here are some tips to make 2012 the year that you reclaim your time.

Prioritize what matters: In his book 18 Minutes author and consultant Peter Bregman recommends that you take 18 minutes every day to prioritize what matters to you. To increase the feeling that you have an impact on your world, focus your time on those things that resonate most with your values.

Be honest with your time wasters: Are your time wasters Facebook or CNN.com? Or are you distracted by a television while doing work that you feel "helps you focus" while really distracting you? Perhaps when you're late you keep glancing at the clock in a vain attempt to stay on time but doing so makes you later (*ahem*)? Whatever your time wasters are, get in touch with them and be honest with yourself about how they impact your productivity. Then work to correct them.

Try "Robot Mode": Create a list of your to-do items, and then-as dispassionately and unemotionally as possible-tackle that list with gusto, your only objective to remove the item on the list. Going into Robot Mode will diminish the cognitive dissonance that's associated with creating a list ("Look at how big that list is! I'll never get it done!") and help you get things done.

Let 2012 be the year that you take control of your time.