Saturday, June 30, 2012

High Five 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. The Socially Savvy Career
"I’ve gotten all of my jobs by emailing, phoning and personally visiting people over and over."

2. Steve Guttenberg's Guide to Career Success
"Read everything that you can and talk to everyone in whatever area you want to work. You have to live it 24/7. It doesn’t matter what the job is."

3. 9 Ways You Must Invest in Your Career
"If you want to make sure you stay on the right career track, it takes more than just getting the day-to-day work done to be successful."

4. For Career Direction, Use Your Imagination  
"The quest for the right career field frustrates students both before and after graduation ... If that's your situation, you first must imagine what that field might be."

5. 7 Tips to Rev Up Your Job Search This Summer
"A mid-year review of your professional and personal career goals can help you refocus your energies and establish new mini-goals to advance them."

When Does the Job Interview Truly Begin?

On the surface, this may seem like a silly question. Of course the interview begins once you sit down to talk with your potential employer, right? Not really; the interview truly begins much earlier. If you don't pay attention to these key details before you even start the interview, it may make no difference how much you prepare for the questions you are asked.

Quite honestly, the interview begins the moment you submit your application for employment and does not end until you receive the job offer. Here are some details you may not have thought of before.

  • Manage your first impressions. As a candidate, our resume usually makes the first impression for us. Ensure your resume is professional, compelling, and clearly states the value you can offer an employer.
  • Every contact you have with the employer makes an impression. Proactively manage all the impressions an employer has of you from the very start. Things such as an error-free resume, a professionally addressed cover letter, and even the paper you choose (when mailing or hand delivering the resume) can make a difference for you.
  • Think about the impression you will be making when the potential employer calls you. Don't answer your phone in a noisy environment such as in the car with your three kids laughing and screaming in the background or in a busy restaurant.
  • The employer will happily leave a voice mail - as long as your voice mail greeting is professional and appropriate. Turn off the musical ringtone and take your kids singing "Old MacDonald" off your voice mail until you receive that job offer.
  • Be polite to EVERYONE you meet once you arrive for the interview. The parking attendant, the door man, and the receptionist are often asked for their opinion of how you treated them before a hiring decision is made. Make sure they have nothing but positive things to say about your courtesy and professionalism.
  • Wait patiently in the lobby. Sit up straight, don't pace, don't talk on the phone, and don't chew gum. You never know who may be watching you while you wait to see if you are nervous or unprofessional.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Co-Op Education Can Make It Easier to Transition to the Workplace

Cooperative education, or “co-op” education, combines education with practical work experience. Co-op education programs are offered at the high school and college level. Some institutions have built strong reputations for being co-op focused; in fact, it’s what sets them apart, for example Georgia Institute of Technology or Kettering University in Michigan.

Co-op programs enable students to gain academic credit, and in some cases, modest compensation, in return for their work. There are different co-op work arrangements; one of the most common involves an alternating schedule between class-course semesters and work semesters. Another popular co-op arrangement has students taking a few courses while working simultaneously.  Some co-op programs are summer-based only: students work during the summer break and then returns to school in the fall.

Most of these programs try to place students in jobs that are related to their areas of study and fields of interest. Some may require students to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and may only consider students who exhibit certain desirable traits, such as leadership or an interest in community involvement. Co-op students are typically matched with faculty advisors who work with the students to set individual co-op goals and monitor and evaluate student performance.

Through a co-op education, students can gain valuable job skills that are desirable to employers, like critical thinking, problem solving, organization, time management, and teamwork. Students can also acquire skills that can be helpful in a future job search, for example creating a resume and interviewing.

In summary, a co-op education is a great way for students to make the connection between the classroom and the work world while testing their skills and aptitudes as they explore a field of interest.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Confessions of a Real Post Grad: Jeremy Felice

I will be interviewing different post grads to document their journey, give advice, learn from their triumphs and mistakes and so other post grads know they aren't alone. I will be talking to those lucky few who got their dream job right after their degree or those who went in a completely different direction than they had planned.

1. Explain to readers where and when you graduated, your degree and your current job/schooling.

I graduated from Oakland University in Spring 2012 with a history degree. I currently work for DTE Energy and work on power lines.

2. You just described your current situation, is this where you thought you'd be as a post grad? Explain.

I thought I would be teaching a high school history class and definitely didn't plan on working outside with dangerous equipment and situations every day.

3. What is your dream job?

My dream job would probably be owning my own brewery and standing behind the bar serving happy people delicious beers.

4. What is the best thing about being a post grad?

The best thing about being a post grad would have to be the freedom and the feeling of accomplishment of getting a degree. Also, being a post grad of Oakland University, the best thing may be the ability to park my vehicle with ease.

5. What is the worst?

The worst thing would have to be that I do miss learning a lot but also that I do not have a job in the field that I studied five years for.

6. What advice do you have for recent post grads?

Great Job! You did it! Now get to paying off those student loans!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Are You Forgetting the Importance of Listening?

It seems as though we spend our lives preoccupied these days. How often do you see two people sitting at a dinner table both looking at their smart phones? Whether we are distracted by our phones, our problems, or too focused on what we want to say next, many of us could stand to take a deep breath, focus, and follow these rules of listening better.

Be Present and Attentive
Put down the cell phone, turn off the ringer, and promise yourself you will not look around the room at other people when listening. Take a moment before you start a conversation, take a deep breath, and make a conscious decision to be an active participant in the conversation. Don't be preoccupied with how the other person wants you to react. Be yourself and react with authentic emotions.

Listen as an Equal
When having a conversation with someone, what they often want most of all is a sounding board or an ear. Don't approach the conversation as though you are an expert - or someone above them - who needs to fix their problem. Try to approach conversations without an agenda or a plan in mind which will often taint what we hear and how we hear it.

Confirm What You Hear
Ask questions to clarify what you hear, ask the person to elaborate or explain, and confirm what you hear by stating what you heard. By actively listening to the other person and providing immediate confirmation of what you are hearing, and whether you are hearing correctly, you can clear up any misunderstandings before they grow into bigger issues.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Handling Your Career Leadership Saw

As a career blogger and coach, I look to many sources of inspiration for my clients and me; some of them are conventional, others less so. One such source manifested itself recently, one I didn't expect but has embedded itself in my mind since I read about it.


One of my favorite bloggers, EvilHRLady, posted about how her kid is going to be my kid's boss someday. And why will this happen? Because her kid knows how to appropriately handle saws, pocket knives, and cook and eat their own food.

Did I mention he was three-years-old?

You read that correctly: a three-year-old is managing sharp metal instruments and cooking for himself. EvilHRLady-who is an American expat living in Switzerland-signed her son up for a "forest school" experience, one very common in that country. I'll cease going into the details (read the blog post) but suffice to say that she brings up an important issue: that we are undermining our children's leadership potential by operating from a perspective of fear, "protection," and a belief that children cannot be self-reliant.

But, today, I'm not talking about three-year-olds. I'm talking about you. Because we were all once three-year-olds. And in many ways, we still are.

It's easy to see the saw as a metaphor for that which we think we cannot handle, but-in reality-we can. If a three-year-old can play in the wilderness-rain, shine, snow, whatever-for four hours, what can you do in your career that you currently think you cannot? What challenges have you been turning your back on? What beliefs you hold are holding you back?

I have blogged before about taking the 'easy' out of your careerbeating your career saboteur, and changing perspectives. I invite you to go back and reread them, along with the other excellent practical and inspirational posts here at the Daily Leap.

You grow as a leader by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, facing your fears, and believing more in yourself than you thought possible.

Don't you think it's time that you picked up the saw?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

High Five 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. 5 Ways to Rebound from a Layoff
"When you get laid off, it hurts. You're thrown completely off-course, and usually at the worst possible time."

2. How to Explain the Gap on Your Resume
"If you’ve been downsized or jumped from project to project with some noticeable gaps in the timeline of your resume, you’re not alone."

3. Don't Like Your Job? Change It (Without Quitting)
"Maybe you're in the wrong field, don't enjoy the work, feel surrounded by untrustworthy coworkers, or have an incompetent boss. Most people would tell you to find something that's a better fit. But that may not be possible."

4.  Second Job Interview: 5 Ways to Seal the Deal  
"Congratulations -- you've landed a second interview with your dream employer ... Now you just need to win them over. Here are five great tips that will help you snag the job."

5. Embracing Risk in Career Decisions
"If you want your career to take off, you may need to do the opposite of what risk managers try to do: Instead of focusing on how to reduce risks, you may need to embrace and enhance them."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Not Everything Belongs on Your Resume

You may have given considerable thought to what to put in your resume, but how about what you should keep out? Everything you communicate on your resume should be accurate and relevant, while positioning you as an excellent job candidate. That may mean keeping some things off a resume. Keep reading.

Grammar Flaws
For good reason, misspellings and poor grammar are at the top of the list.When hiring managers or recruiters finds these types of errors, they will likely conclude that the job candidate would make the same unprofessional errors on the job.

Unnecessary Personal Information
Your resume is not the place to share your photo, date of birth, marital status, religious or political affiliations, extracurricular activities, or outside interests unless they are relevant to your profession. Likewise, this personal information should also not be factored into the interview process.

Generic Statements and Fluff
A resume should be a comprehensive, professional snapshot of the job candidate, something that positively differentiates him or her from the others. A resume with generic statements and fluff adds no value; instead, use specific statements that showcase pertinent experience and skills. Whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments.

Unrelated and/or Outdated Skills or Experience
If you have a particular job skill or experience that is clearly outdated or unrelated to the job you are pursuing, omit it from your resume. Other things to leave off a resume include grade point average, industry acronyms, salary expectations, and references or the “references available upon request” statement.

Your resume is an extremely important and necessary part of the job-seeking process and, as such, should be of the highest professional quality. A multitude of resources can guide you in the resume-writing process, including Gale’s Career Transitions portal (learn more here). So get started today, and create an extraordinary resume.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Importance of Common Sense in the Job Search

Yesterday, I was teaching a class about resume writing to military veterans. Interestingly, when I asked the class what qualities they thought you needed to effectively market yourself in the job search, one of the responses was common sense. In all the years I have taught that class, I have not had anyone else point this out. However, it made me realize that common sense really is critical to success in the job search process.

We have all read those articles about the crazy things job seekers say or do during an interview. In fact, earlier this week, I wrote a post that detailed the most common interview mistakes and most of those common mistakes defied common sense. Here are some mistakes that job seekers make that could be avoided if common sense was employed.

  • Turn off your cell phone before going into an interview. Should you forget to silence the phone and it rings, do not answer it. Apologize profusely and silence the phone before returning your attention to the interviewer.
  • Don't chew gum, eat, or drink during the interview unless you are at an interview lunch or dinner meeting. If the interview involves eating at a restaurant, think about what you are ordering and how messy it will be before ordering.
  • Go to the interview alone. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I have had candidates show up to interviews holding hands with their boyfriend, pushing kids in strollers, and even had a candidate show up for an interview with a bird on their shoulder!
  • Your email address must be professional. Keep your fun, silly, or racy email address for communicating with friends. The email listed on your resume must be simple and professional - first name and last name or first initial and last name only.
  • Always look in a mirror before entering an interview. Check your zipper, check your teeth, ensure all your buttons are done, and ensure there is no food stuck in your mustache. 
  • Be polite to everyone you meet, from the minute you enter the company's property. A very high percentage of companies ask the receptionist how you treated them before making a hiring decision. Remember to treat everyone - including the parking attendant - as a potential co-worker.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confessions of a Real Post Grad: Alice Phun

I will be interviewing different post grads to document their journey, give advice, learn from their triumphs and mistakes and so other post grads know they aren't alone. I will be talking to those lucky few who got their dream job right after their degree or those who went in a completely different direction than they had planned.

1. Explain to readers where and when you graduated, your degree and your current job/schooling.

 Just a few days ago, I graduated from University of California, Davis with a degree in History and Asian American Studies and a minor in Native American Studies. As of now, I'm currently working on applying for jobs in the government.

2. You just described your current situation, is this where you thought you'd be as a post grad? Explain.

I always thought that I would either work for the government or a non-profit organization, so I am working towards getting to a place I want to work.

3. What is your dream job?

My dream job would either be working with a non-profit organization or the government. I want to work in a position that would allow me to use my social media skills, as well as my passion to help my community.

4. What is the best thing about being a post grad?

I have a new challenge for myself. I'm discovering who I am after college and trying to do the right things for myself because it will affect my future. I like that I'm starting a new path and that new opportunities await me.

5. What is the worst?

The worst is no longer having to attend school! Although I didn't enjoy every aspect of it, it was certainly enjoyable to be a college student.

6. What advice do you have for recent post grads?

Although things may seem difficult at certain moments, let those moments encourage you. Find ways to overcome them. There are resources, advice, and inspiration out there that can help you or lift up your spirits.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Non-Verbal Communication is Critical to Interview Success

I read a recent article on CareerBuilder about the most common interview mistakes. According to a survey of hiring managers, these are the errors job seekers make most often in an interview:

Answering a cell phone or sending a text - 77%
Appearing disinterested - 75%
Dressing inappropriately - 72%
Appearing arrogant - 72%
Talking negatively about current or previous employers - 67%
Chewing gum - 63%

It was interesting to me that of these top 6 mistakes, 4 of the errors are based in non-verbal communication. As job seekers, we often focus so much on what we are going to say in an interview that we neglect to think about how we say it or how we look when we say it. Non-verbal communication is much more than facial expressions. Let's look at the 5 most important types of non-verbal communication and how each one can positively - or negatively - affect your performance in your next job interview.

Facial Expressions
The same message can take on vastly different meaning dependent upon the facial expression that accompanies the message. A genuine smile conveys that you are friendly, interested, and engaged in the interview.

Posture and Body Language
Posture can also convey confidence and enthusiasm. Sit up straight, hold your shoulders back, and lean into the conversation with your entire body to convey interest. Hold your head up high and stand up straight when you walk into a room to convey confidence. Be aware of nervous habits or ticks such as shaking your leg or cracking your knuckles and try to avoid them during the interview.

Once again, the tone of voice you use can be the difference between sounding enthusiastic or disinterested and arrogant or confident. Speak up, speak clearly, and vary the tone of your voice to keep your interviewer engaged in the conversation.

Eye Contact
Eye contact is critical to making a connection with someone - especially an interviewer who is trying to determine if you will make a valuable addition to their team. Direct eye contact can convey confidence and honesty. Avoiding eye contact erodes your impression of self-confidence and makes it difficult for the interviewer to trust you. Eye contact should be natural and comfortable, do not stare.

There is much to say about dressing for interview success. For a start, try this blog post to read about some common fashion mistakes. However, as a rule you should be dressed professionally, at the appropriate level, and in clothes that are freshly pressed, clean, and neat. Your appearance needs to show that you will fit right into the company and should not be memorable at the end of the day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Three Ways Exercise Can Help Your Career

There is no question that exercise is beneficial...but can it be beneficial to your career? Researchers across the globe have studied the impact of exercise on one's career and have made some surprising discoveries. Here are three ways that you could benefit by incorporating intentional physical activity into your daily routine to move up in your career:

Getting along with others: A study by researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University in England found that those who engaged in exercise were able to get along better with co-workers than those who did not. By looking at workers who had access to a corporate gym, the researchers had the workers report their ability to get along with others as well as other metrics on a seven-point scale. Completing the scale on days that they exercised as well as on days that they didn't, the Leeds group found that exercise increased interpersonal relations among workers.

Increased mental capacity: But that's not all that the study found. Exercise increased the ability of the participants to deal with job stresses and their ability to meet deadlines. The workers were given the option to exercise between 30 and 60 minutes, but, surprisingly, the researchers found that the amount of time did not matter. They type of exercise, be it aerobics, yoga, or a pick-up game of basketball, did not matter either. The workers who exercised found their performance boosted by 15 percent.

Physical conditioning: The American College of Sports Medicine released a brief report on the impact exercise can have on those with physically demanding jobs. By analyzing the requirements of their jobs and creating exercise interventions that duplicate and compliment their movements, workers can increase their physical conditioning and perform better at work.

Incorporate more exercise into your daily routine to have a happier and more productive career!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

High Five 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. 6 Must-Ask Questions Will Keep Your Career on Track
"You must manage your career – or fall victim to someone else managing it for you. Here are six questions that you must manage in order to keep your career on track."

2. How to Say No Without Burning Bridges
"If you thoroughly weigh the pros and cons and decide that the job isn't right for you, don't be shy about letting the employer know."

3. Don't Ignore that Gnawing in Your Gut; It's Your New Career Calling
"Most career change dilemmas come down to this: You want to be happy. But then again, you want security. It’s either one or the other in most people’s minds."

4.  Building Trust Through Skillful Self-Disclosure  
"There is considerable evidence that leaders who disclose their authentic selves to followers can build not only trust, but generate greater cooperation and teamwork as well."

5. 4 Things Your Dog Can Teach You About Starting a Business
"Dogs can be constructive influences on our personal lives, and they can teach us a lot about how to be better, happier entrepreneurs. Here are just a few things humans can really learn from them when starting up a business."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Negotiating is a Business Matter

One of the challenges to negotiating a raise or salary for a new job is approaching it strictly as a business transaction.   In some cases, emotions come into play out of concern for jeopardizing an existing professional relationship or job opportunity, or simply out of a fear of being denied.   Although the emotional side is understandable, the fact is, you need to be your own career advocate and sell your value.     

The first questions to ask yourself:  Do you believe in and have you identified the value you bring to a particular job and employer?   If you’re not confident or aware of this value, then you certainly can’t sell it to an employer.  To help identify your value, list your professional accomplishments, and if at all possible, quantify these by identifying related cost savings, increased revenue, increased efficiency, or other quantifiable measures.  If you haven’t done so recently, be sure to research current salary information for your particular occupation and industry to determine a salary figure that is realistic and reasonable for your field.   

Before you present a salary request, factor in your experience, skills, and education, plus any information you may have about the employer and the employer’s salary structure.  Make sure to have an acceptable salary range in mind, including the minimum you consider acceptable.  It may also be a good idea to pad the salary number you propose, even upwards of 15 percent, to allow room to negotiate.   A salary request should always be presented professionally and in a non-confrontational manner.  Regardless of whether the employer accepts your request, you should respond respectfully.  In cases where you are turned down for a raise by a current employer, ask for feedback on the employer’s decision and whether you can take steps to increase your earning potential in the future.  For job opportunities with a new employer, ask about future opportunities for increasing your income, such as merit increases, bonuses, or commissions.  

Lastly, don’t be afraid to be creative; consider negotiating benefits like vacation time or a flexible schedule. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to Sell Yourself Without Bragging

I attended my niece's 8th grade graduation this week. She goes to a small school, only 15 kids in her graduating class, so each student gives a 3 to 5 minute speech at graduation. Some of the kids were sweet and shy, some funny.

However, one student stood out with the way he spoke of himself. I believe he used terms such as "smartest kid my baseball coach ever met," "stellar athlete," and "handsome young man" to describe himself. His speech made me wonder, at what point do we cross the line into bragging and arrogance.

If you follow my blogs, you know I am a proponent of selling yourself - both in the resume and the interview.  However, if you come across as bragging or arrogant, you will turn off most all employers. Here are some tips to help you sell yourself without sounding like a jerk!

  • Try to be confident as opposed to cocky. Arrogant and cocky people can not admit their flaws - they don't think they have any! Self-confident people can admit their weaknesses and demonstrate that they now how to compensate for and overcome them.
  • Limit your use of the word "I" in your conversation. Instead of saying "I am the best computer programmer my company ever had." try "My previous supervisor consistently complimented me on my creativity and resourcefulness in computer programming. He once told me I had some of the best programming skills he had ever seen."
  • Stick to "just the facts." Bragging turns into selling yourself in the job search when you can back up your assertions with statistics, numbers, and examples. 
  • Be willing to give others credit and offer up compliments freely. Arrogant people often come across as thinking they are better than others. By sincerely complimenting those around you, giving credit where it is due, and being willing to take the focus off you once in a while, you come across as confident and a team player.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Confessions of a Real Post Grad: Michelle Parker

I will be interviewing different post grads to document their journey, give advice, learn from their triumphs and mistakes and so other post grads know they aren't alone. I will be talking to those lucky few who got their dream job right after their degree or those who went in a completely different direction than they had planned.

1. Explain to readers where and when you graduated, your degree and your current job/schooling.

I graduated in May of 2010 from a private university in the Midwest. I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Management. I'm currently working on my Finance MBA and will be done this August! Besides schooling, I also work full-time as a financial analyst and have had this job since I graduated with my undergraduate degrees.

2. You just described your current situation, is this where you thought you'd be as a post grad? Explain.

Honestly, I wasn't sure where I'd be after I graduated. I dreamed of traveling the world, but I bought a house 3 years ago and with that comes the reality of paying the bills. However, I do love my job though and enjoy the people that I work with.

3. What is your dream job?

My dream job would include me being successful in the financial services field. I'm very interested in trusts and estates, and would enjoy to continue doing this.

4. What is the best thing about being a post grad?
The best thing would be not having homework! Once I am done with my Finance MBA, it will be nice to have extra time. Between working 45 hours a week, about 10 hours of commuting and classes 12 hours a week, there's no time for anything!

5. What is the worst?

The worst would be... Well I honestly can't think of anything. I would say growing up, but I moved out at the age of 18 and have always paid my own bills. So college life and being graduated actually aren't that different for me.

6. What advice do you have for recent post grads?

My advice would be to set a realistic budget for yourselves. You will definitely be tempted to spend a lot of your bigger paychecks, but you might have student loans and other debt to pay first! Also dream big and try to negotiate your salary and benefits if you have the opportunity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Fear Behind Common Job Search Discrimination

Whether we like to admit or not, discrimination is a factor that we will all face at some point in our lives. Discrimination is born from ignorance or fear. When you face discrimination in your job search, you must make it your mission to educate your discriminator (your potential employer) and help them overcome their fears. Let's look at three of the most common causes of discrimination and examine how we can overcome them.

Age Discrimination
Age discrimination is based on the fear that the potential employee is lacking in several key areas. The employer may feel that you lack the energy to do the job. They may fear that you are not flexible and open to changes in the industry or technology. They also may fear that they can't afford you.

Most of these fears can be dealt with in an interview. Therefore, the first step to overcoming these fears is to ensure that an employer has no idea of your age from your resume. Don't go back farther than 10 years - 15 years maximum - on your resume. Don't list dates of education, especially if those dates are before the last 10 years. Second, make sure you keep updated on changing industry standards and trends a well as emerging technology. Last, be sure to express energy, enthusiasm, and vitality in the interview.

In a job market where many people are "underemployed" this is a common problem. The overqualified stigma is based on the fear that you will just leave when something better comes along and the fear that they can not afford your salary.

To overcome this fear, be sure to clarify that you are looking to work for their specific company, cite some reasons why you chose their company based on your research, and finally express your interest in tenure and your focus toward long-term employment. In terms of salary, make every effort not to discuss how much you want to make until they make you a job offer.

Sexual Discrimination
Believe it or not, discrimination based on whether you are male or female is still prevalent in the job market. Often employers will discriminate against a woman because she has family and children at home that will take her focus away from work. Often this form of discrimination is based on ignorance of your capabilities.

No matter whether you are male or female, I recommend leaving your personal life (marital status, kids/no kids, ages of kids) out of the interview. Instead focus on what value you can bring to the company. Showing hands-on experience performing the tasks for which you are applying should help to overcome much of these fears.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

High Five 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. Tips on How to Stage a Career Transition
"Don’t let fear, a lack of confidence, or the perception that you don’t possess the correct combination of necessary skills prevent you from applying for a position you think you would love."

2. Are You 'Bringing it' at Work?
"You have the power to take small and incremental steps on your personal career journey to lead you to where you want to go."

3. 9 Hot Skills that are Trending on LinkedIn
"Here are nine key phrases to consider adding to your skills and expertise on your LinkedIn profile."

4.  Five Tips for Your First Job  
"Following these suggestions will make for a more worthwhile experience for you, while balancing some of the stress and struggles of a brand-new work environment."

5. Dressing for the Best Impression in Your Job Interviews
"Deciding what to wear for an interview can be tough process at times. Focusing more on what will give you the most confidence over what is most expected can help you project the best impression you can!"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Vocational Careers May Be Right for You

Exciting vocational careers are available across a span of industries.  Preparing for one typically requires completing a post-secondary training and education program, either through a vocational school or a two-year community college.  These programs provide practical, hands-on training and equip students with employable skills that can be applied almost immediately upon entering the workforce.
Top Vocational Options
Many young high school graduates overlook their vocational or technical career options. Some may even have misperceptions regarding the associated job growth and income potential and miss out on many rewarding vocational career opportunities, including those listed below.  Note: Salary and job growth information is based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data as published in its Occupational Outlook Handbook and available within Gale’s “Career Transitions” portal.

Computer Support Specialists provide computer equipment and software assistance to organizations and their employees.  This is one of the higher paying vocational careers, with a median annual salary of $46,240, and jobs are expected to grow 18 percent from 2010 through 2020. 

Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurses practice basic patient care under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. They monitor blood pressure and other vital signs, insert catheters, change bandages, and more.  The median annual salary is $40,380, and jobs are forecasted to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020.  

Legal Assistants and Paralegals help lawyers prepare for court trials and legal hearings, often researching legal cases and identifying how laws may apply.  The annual median salary is $46,680, and jobs are projected to grow 18 percent from 2010 to 2020. 

A selection of other top vocational careers with positive job growth and competitive annual median salaries include dental hygienists; diagnostic medical sonographers; heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers; respiratory therapists; environmental science and protection technicians; and medical equipment repairers.  These are all great vocational careers, but the important takeaway is an awareness of vocational careers as a viable option.  Researching your vocational options is well worth your time, and you may just conclude that there is one perfectly suited for you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Want to Change your Career and Life? Change your Perception.

Have you ever met someone who has a totally different perception of a person or situation than you do? Often if we have formed an opinion of a person, when we meet someone whose opinion differs from our own, we dismiss their perception as wrong. What if you are the one who is wrong?

John Moore said "Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception - do not confuse them with "facts" or "truth." Wars have been fought and millions have been killed because of the inability of men to understand the idea that everybody has a different viewpoint." This concept applies to people as well as it applies to situations.

Often, we find ourselves wanting to change careers, leave a job, or work for a different boss simply because our perception is skewed. Ask yourself, did you have a realistic perception of what the job would be like when you accepted the position? Before you make a change, you must define the root cause of your discomfort. Here are some tips to broaden your career perspective in order to make decisions that are based in fact.

  • Ask yourself why you believe what you believe. For example, if you are feeling that you are too old to make a career change, you will never have the courage to make a change because of the perception you have of your limitations. Chances are you have bought into a societal rule or a common opinion regarding age in your family. as opposed to the truth of the situation.

  • Remove the limitations that have been imposed on you by society, your family, your previous boss, or any one of the number of voices in your head telling you that you can't do it.

  • Make sure your expectations and perceptions are based in reality. If you fantasize about a new job coming along to "save" you from a job you dislike, you are probably glorifying what that new job can do for you.

  • Before rushing to judgment about a person, put yourself in their shoes. Does your boss yell at you because they are so stressed and under so much pressure that they need an outlet? Possibly they are yelling because they need an outlet for the stress they are experiencing due to the fact that their father is dying of cancer.

  • Take time to be introspective. When you have a strong opinion or belief, take time to evaluate the "why" behind the opinion to determine whether or not you need to revise your stance.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Confessions of a Real Post Grad: Sara Gaona

I will be interviewing different post grads to document their journey, give advice, learn from their triumphs and mistakes and so other post grads know they aren't alone. I will be talking to those lucky few who got their dream job right after their degree or those who went in a completely different direction than they had planned.
1. Explain to readers where and when you graduated, your degree and your current job/schooling.

I graduated this past May 2012 from Fairleigh Dickinson University with my BA in Communications with minors in Sociology and Public Relations. I am currently a Public Relations Associate at Gail Schoenberg PR in New Jersey.

2. You just described your current situation, is this where you thought you'd be as a post grad? Explain.

Yes it is. Not to sound cocky at all but I had numerous internships throughout my college career and got heavily involved with public relations in many different ways so I could have a career in my field. I was also active in clubs in school and organizations out of school that were well known like the Intern Queen campus ambassador program.

3. What is your dream job?

I am working my dream job in a sense at the moment. I realized my last year of college how much of a foodie I am and started a blog which lead to the company I work for finding me. I love doing public relations for restaurants and food brands. It's a passion of mine and I'm happy I'm doing it now. If I could put my passion for public relations, food, and television together that would be my dream job. I interned at The Rachael Ray Show the fall of my senior year and loved it, I want to be the next Rachael eventually.

4. What is the best thing about being a post grad?
Not having class to wake up for. I love waking up everyday for my job and my schedule is awesome. It's also nice not having to worry about anything school related except for loans. The independence is great. I was able to move out sooner than expected so as much as it can be a challenge at times, I'm grateful. I am also enjoying having weekends open to an extent, because I've worked jobs where weekends were mandatory. I can relax if I want.

5. What is the worst?

Bills. Now that I have bills to pay I really need to budget. So as much as I have freedom it's going to be a test for me to budget. It's not the worst but it's a challenge. 

6. What advice do you have for recent post grads?

Don't put yourself in a box, you can do whatever you want and always stay busy & motivated.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Life and Career Lessons from my Grandmother

This past Saturday, my grandmother died at the age of 100. Believe it or not, even at 100 her death took us all by surprise because she was very healthy and active. She still lived on her own at 100 years old! In honor of my grandmother, I would like to share with you some life lessons I learned from her and discuss how these might also apply to your career.

Life Lesson: Do what makes you happy.
We may not all be so fortunate to live to be 100 years old like my grandmother. Make the most of every day, whether you are given 100 years or 40 years by pursuing your passions and doing the things that interest you most.

Career Lesson: Life is too short to hate your job!
I have told you before, that I held a job that I hated for a year and it was torture. Many people feel stuck in their current position and stay simply because they think there are no other options for them. Yes, you must pay your bills and put food on the table, but don't give up on your dreams until you have looked at all your options.

Life Lesson: Say what is on your mind . . . tactfully.
We sat around the dinner table last night telling stories we remembered about my Grandma. Most of them revolved around her speaking her mind. She would say what she thought, when she thought it, and in exactly the way she thought it. This did not always come across as politely and tactfully as it should have, but you always knew where you stood with her.

Career Lesson: Be assertive and be your own advocate.
If you believe in yourself and truly believe that what you have to say is important, then others will feel the same way. Speak clearly, calmly, politely, and professionally. Take credit for your ideas and accomplishments and advocate for your own success.

Life Lesson: Keep good records!
Can you imagine all the changes and advances my Grandma saw in her 100 years? I find myself wishing I had sat down with her and recorded her memories, thoughts, and observations. Instead, all of those memories died with her. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts and observations for your future generations.

Career Lesson: Keep good records!
I meet with so many people who have not updated their resume in 5 to 10 years. I can't remember what I did last week without writing it down, much less 5 years ago. Start an accomplishment folder - call it your "I love me" file - and keep a record of measurable achievements and career successes as they happen. Updating your resume and preparing for an interview will come so much easier if you follow this simple rule.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Applying for the Same Job as a Friend - Part 2 of 2

Last week's blog post presented a tricky scenario: a friend informs you that he is going to apply for a job that-as it turns out-you would be perfect for, too. After carefully assessing the position itself and contemplating your relationship with your friend, you have decided to apply. How do you break the news to your friend, and how will he take it? If you are interested in preserving your relationship with that friend, make note of the tips below to apply respectfully, appropriately, and in a way that minimizes the impact:

1. Make no mention of your application unless you get an interview: Even if you strongly feel that there will be no adverse impact to your relationship, there is no need to share news of your application before you get an interview. If you fail the initial screening, there is no affect on your relationship, so why say something that could have an impact if there is no impact? Keep it to yourself until something actionable occurs.

2. If the conversation needs to occur, be honest and upfront: If you find out that you have been accepted for an interview, there is still a chance that you will not get hired and your friend will never know. But at this stage, it is likely that the identity of the candidates will be revealed, particularly if the interviews are conducted by groups. It is now time to have the conversation. When you tell your friend, do so in a private place, preferably in person, and be direct with the fact that you assessed the opportunity yourself, felt it was a good fit for you and right for your career, and that you decided to apply. Emphasize that your reasons had nothing to do with your friendship and your hope that it will not be affected. 

3. Expect relationship strain: Despite every attempt to placate your friend, there still could be strain on your relationship. Some friends could be slightly hurt by this news, and others could see it as an out-and-out betrayal. If you have come this far, you should expect to encounter any of these reactions and determine, for you, if the impact on your relationship is worth it. Friends with strong relationships will be able to pull through, while others may not be able to. You have to be open to all possibilities and be ready to accept the consequences of your decisions. 

Two friends applying for the same position can be a true test of a relationship. But through objectivity, planning, and honesty the situation can be handled with grace. Good luck!

Applying for the Same Job as a Friend - Part 1 of 2

A close friend and coworker contacts you on the phone, talking excitedly. Listening more carefully than normal (you have to; you've never heard him so energetic!) you are able to decipher that he found a job posting with another company that would be perfect for him. "Check your email," he says, as he has sent you a link to the job description. After hanging up the phone and gently laughing to yourself, you make your way over to your computer to read the job description. When you get halfway through it, the smile disappears from your face. The added responsibilities, the ability to supervise more staff, the engagement with senior leadership...this position is fantastic.

In fact, it would be fantastic for you.

The above scenario sets in motion a not-uncommon ethical dilemma for job seekers: when two friends apply for the same job (particularly if one found out about it "first"). This is a tricky, burdensome, emotional space to exist in, one that needs to be handled with delicacy, honesty, and practicality. In this two-part series, we will delve into both the logical and emotional components of applying for the same job as a friend.

Pre-Application Assessment

Look at your potential application objectively: As talented, skilled, personable, connected, and everything in between that we feel that we are, none of us are shoo-ins for any job. Nearly all of us have a story where we did not make it past the application phase for a position that we felt we were perfect for. Further, with the many factors that go into hiring the right person for their position (including past experience, skills/abilities, how the candidate presents him/herself in an interview, references/recommendations, professional dress, the candidate's social media history, etc) it's impossible to say which of these is the determining factor that will lead to the candidate being eliminated. The point is that-controlling for these factors between you and your friend-there is no guarantee that you will or won't get the job, so check your ego at the door if you feel you will outperform your friend. All that you need to do is to determine whether you meet the minimum requirements to apply.

Look at your relationship with your friend: For most people, the most difficult part of these situations-even after convincing themselves that the application process won't favor one or the other-is their relationship with their friend. There are two possible outcomes if you apply: your friend will care or you friend will not care. If your friend doesn't care, you're fine; you go about your business and the chips fall where they may. But if you feel that your friend may care, or if you're not sure, you have to be prepare yourself for a tough conversation...and possibly the loss of the friendship. 

Next week: how (if necessary) to have a conversation with your friend.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

High Five Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

June is the traditional month of graduation, a time for new beginnings. For those 2012 graduates who plan to join the world of work, this weekly roundup is devoted to you.

Below are links to some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these so that you have some great resources to prepare you for your transition into the workplace. Enjoy!

  1. Workplace Guide for New Graduates

  2. Be a Gutsy Grad: LinkedIn Tips for the Class of 2012

  3. Still No Job After Graduation--Now What?

  4. How To Get Started Using Social Media for Your Job Search

  5. For Today’s Graduates, a New Answer to the Old Question: “What Are You Doing Next?”

Friday, June 1, 2012

Job Criteria to Ponder

Each year, assorted organizations create and publish lists of best and worst jobs across industries. For example, U.S. News & World Report recently released its Best Jobs of 2012 rankings.  At best, lists like these can be informative and provide general occupational details, such as median salary, education, and training requirements. At a minimum, these lists can spark awareness about criteria to consider when choosing a college major or an occupation. Whether you’re drawn to checking out best job lists or not, the following are a few things to consider when pursuing an occupation or particular job.  

Projected job growth and median salary:   Projected job growth is the estimated change in the number of jobs that will be available within a given time period.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes occupation projections over a 10-year period; the most current report represents 2010–2020 data.  The BLS publishes these employment projections as well as median salary figures for specific occupations on its website and in its Occupational Outlook Handbook.  The current BLS data can also be accessed within the Gale Career Transitions portal product. 

Physical demands, risks, hazards, and environmental conditions:  Before pursuing an occupation or particular job, you should consider special job requirements and conditions. Take into account the physical effort required to perform a given job as well as hazards or risks as they relate to an occupation.  Will you be working in life-threatening situations—think police officer—or exposed to chemicals and toxins that can be detrimental to your health?  Other environmental conditions to consider include noise, lighting, temperature, and the overall condition of the space in which you will be working.  

Quality of life:  Many aspects of the job can impact your work-life balance and overall quality of life.  These vary in importance depending on the individual, but some things to think about include job security, financial stability, work hours, flexible work arrangements, challenge, and stress. 
All of this is only part of the equation.  To find the right occupation and job requires a holistic approach that includes assessing your interests, values, and skills and then matching these to your education, training, and relevant work experience.   With a thorough approach and careful preparation, you should be well on your way to finding the right job for you.