Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Does Your Online Reputation Really Matter in the Job Search?

At a recent conference for career services professionals, there was a presentation by Joshua Waldman, an author and social media expert. In his presentation, he stated that 95% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to find candidates and 80% of employers admit to looking up candidates on LinkedIn before calling them for an interview. Additionally, they say that 50% of candidates are rejected because of something negative the hiring managers find online. It seems from the evidence that the answer to the title question is a resounding YES!

Your online reputation has become critical to your job search in today's market. Having a LinkedIn profile is no longer an option - it is a requirement and an expectation. However, your online reputation goes much deeper than just creating a bare bones LinkedIn profile. Here are some additional areas for you to consider.

  • Conduct a Google search on your name and see what comes up, you might be unpleasantly surprised. If you share a name with a controversial character or a popular celebrity, your presence may be harder to find. Be sure to include your LinkedIn link on your resume so HR can find you.
  • Clean up your Facebook presence - both on your page and on your friends' pages. Evaluate pictures of yourself to ensure there is nothing inappropriate. If you would not want your Grandma to see it, chances are your potential employer won't like it either!
  • Evaluate your Twitter and Facebook accounts for posts on controversial topics such as religion and politics. Don't get screened out of the job because you and the hiring manager don't agree on which political party to support. You would not discuss your religion in the work place, you probably should not talk about it online either. 
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile is 100% complete. Not having your LinkedIn profile 100% complete, with a professional photograph, is like putting on your best interview suit with old ratty tennis shoes. Put your best foot forward in your online reputation by optimizing the tools LinkedIn offers to you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Five Resume Myths That Are Hurting Your Job Search

A quick Google search for "career advice" returns over 15 million hits. That's a lot of career advice. And, as you would imagine, some of the it is good, and some of it...well...leaves a lot to be desired. In this series, I will delve into the pieces of advice that are outdated, unsubstantiated, or just flat-out wrong. First up: resumes.

1. A resume should only be one page: A resume can be over one page if your experience allows. If you are a professional with over three years experience in one field, it's entirely possible to have a resume over one page. Recent college graduates, however, will most likely have a one-page resume unless extensive experience in college calls for two. A resume beyond two pages is dicey, though, unless you are a senior executive (vice president or above) or are creating a curriculum vitae.

2. A resume should only list positions chronologically: This is a myth to an extent, as many job-seekers will use functional resumes to try and hide gaps in their employment (a big no-no). However, it is entirely acceptable to highlight first those jobs that most directly relate to the applied-for position. In the past I created two resume sections - "Related Experience" and "Other Experience" - to highlight the experience that was directly relevant to the position and then my other experience that could indirectly contribute. My job history was maintained, but I directed employer to what was most important to them at the top.

3. Every resume should be in a Times New Roman font: With the ubiquitousness of Times New Roman, the look of your resume could suffer if you use this font as it will not stand out. There are plenty of great alternatives depending on your needs, such as Garamond  High Tower Text, Tahoma, Arial, Calibri, Georgia, and Verdana. These fonts will make your resume visually pleasing without being caustic or extreme. Which leads us to our fourth myth...

4. Use a "creative" resume to stand out: Unless your job field calls for it (graphic design, fashion, game design, or other typically creative fields), a creative resume with extensive use of charts and graphics is not recommended. While a creative resume in a creative field will highlight your work and expertise, one outside of those fields will come off as distracting and unprofessional.

5. Every job you ever had should be on your resume: Many people do not understand that a resume is a marketing document, not a chronologic history of every single job they ever had. That position in high school when you are now 45-years-old? Keep it off. Most resumes - except for extreme circumstances - should profile only your last 15-20 years of work experience.

These are five resume myths, but there are most certainly more. What resume myths have you encountered? List them - with an explanation of why they are myths - below in the comments. Or, if you have a question about whether or not something is a myth, leave a comment about that, too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Elevator Pitch, Promotions, and Career Killers

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 for Making a Short and Succinct Elevator Pitch
"With a well-planned, succinct, targeted introduction, you'll inspire additional conversation with your networking contacts."

2. 8 Gimmes You Need to Include on Professional Emails
"Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, are extremely valuable to employers. Every message they receive from you will serve to form an impression."

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos 
3. 8 Things to Consider if You Were Passed Over for a Promotion
"Don’t let this derail you or your career goals.  Learn from this situation and take the right actions that will get you where you know you can go."

4. 5 Career Killers to Avoid
"A surefire way to ensure you never move up the corporate ladder is to become complacent in your job."

5. 10 Scary Job Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
"Sometimes, reality is even scarier than our dreams, and these common job interview mishaps are too nerve-wracking to ignore."

Friday, October 26, 2012

When is Too Comfortable Too Much in a Job or an Interview?

To some degree, it can be beneficial to be comfortable in your job or, if you’re a job seeker, in an interview. However, there is a fine line between being comfortable and too comfortable. Getting too comfortable in a job can lead to complacency and disinterest. If you find your work no longer challenges you and you are performing your job on auto-pilot, it may be time to look for opportunities to take on more responsibility. Start by identifying any immediate tasks or projects you can assist with, and meet with your manager to see if he or she agrees or could propose other additional responsibilities.

Performing mundane work, particularly over time, can stymie creativity, problem-solving skills, or the ability to handle unexpected situations and tasks. Dull and routine work can also lead to careless errors and poor quality, plus productivity can slide.

In interview situations, being too comfortable can also backfire and even be detrimental if that comfort is mistakenly interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm about the job opportunity. Additional drawbacks may include being too casual in your responses or sharing personal information that is unrelated to the job you’re pursuing. These behaviors are often perceived as unprofessional.

Learn to recognize when you’re crossing the line between being professional and being too comfortable. It’s a fine line that you don’t want to cross.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Go Ahead and Fail! Why Failure is Actually Good for You.

I have an 8-year old daughter who is not the most confident little girl you have ever met. She changed schools this year, moving from a public school to a charter school environment that is much more challenging. So much so, that in August she had an F in math. I am proud to say that just two months later, she has raised her grade to an A-. Her reaction when I told her that she broke 90% was priceless. It inspired me to write to you about failure today.

So often, we don't take chances or make changes in our lives because of our fear of failure. I would like to encourage you to step away from that fear and give yourself permission to fail. In fact, I would like to show you that it can actually make a huge positive difference in your life. Here are some ideas of how failure can help you.

You Appreciate Your Success More When You Have Failed
I know for a fact that my daughter appreciates her hard work and her achievement of improving her grade so much more than she would have if she had been at that level all along. When you don't immediately get the outcome you are looking for, you often get discouraged or frustrated. However, when you finally achieve success, you know the hardships you went through to get there. It makes success that much sweeter.

You Grow and Learn When You Fail
Failure is not pleasant, it is not easy, and it is not fun. However, your attitude toward failure defines whether it can be a positive or negative experience. Remember Thomas Edison said that the hundreds of attempts to create the light bulb weren't failures, they were simply his way of discovering the ways it did not work. When you fail, take time to look at why and learn from it. Use the experience to motivate yourself to move outside of your comfort zone and grow in your abilities.

Failure Increases Your Chance of Success
It seems counter-intuitive. However, a Stanford University Psychologist's research shows that people who are open to growth and change, as opposed to having closed minds, are more likely to become focused on achieving success. The experience of trying something and failing gives you the advantage of experience over someone who has not had the learning experience of failure.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Top 3 Categories You Must Include on Your Resume

Fall is the season for resume writer conferences. I attended one session and listened to a recap of another session with recruiters and hiring managers from Fortune 500 companies that are currently hiring globally. In these sessions, they shared with our group of career services experts these 3 key points they are looking for on your resume.

Your Value Proposition
An employer is searching for the best, most cost-effective candidate. When reading a resume they are looking for your core competencies, your strengths, your areas of expertise, and a clear statement of the benefits you can deliver their company. Think of yourself as a product, what would your brand statement be? What can you deliver that others can not? How do you differentiate yourself from your peers? The answer to these questions must be found in the resume and cover letter.

Your Chronological Work History
Most recruiters admit to skipping right over the summary (although they say you should still include this section) and going straight to work history first. They want to know what you did, where you did it, and how long you did it. Include details about each company such as number of employees, annual revenue, its core customer base and competitors, and whether it was a start-up or an established public company.

When discussing your experience, detail the big picture - not the minutiae of everyday details - of your position's functions and challenges. Use statistics that measure your value such as number of personnel supervised, dollar amount of budgets managed, and promotions through the company.

Education and Professional Development
Employers want to know that you are dedicated to keeping your knowledge current and your skills updated. Seek out opportunities to further advance your skills by attending free workshops, webinars, seminars, or courses in your area of specialty. In addition, affiliations with industry-relevant organizations is another way to demonstrate your focus on honing your craft.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Five Thank You Note Mistakes to Avoid

The thank you note is a mainstay in professional culture. Thanking the interviewer for her time shows graciousness and politeness, a reflection of the worker that you will be. However, there are mistakes to avoid when preparing thank you notes. Follow these tips to make sure what you send has impact:

1. Sending the note too early: this might seem counter-intuitive, but makes sense when you think about it. Thank you notes have become relegated to the "box interviewees check" category, to the point where the tone of the note can appear to be "I'm doing this because I have to." The timing of the note is a perfect example of this idea: sending a note minutes after your interview (or, worse, writing the note before the interview) puts you into this perfunctory category. Send a thank you note within 48 hours after your interview, but give it at lease two to three hours to show that you are not simply acting on an obligation and being disingenuous.

2. Failing to advocate for your candidacy: do not simply thank the interviewer for her time in your note: use it as an opportunity to readdress specific points brought up in the interview and how your knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal qualities can help the organization reach its goals. Perhaps you thought of a better example that more clearly demonstrates how you can help solve an organizational problem, or there was a skill that you want to emphasize. Addressing these points shows how the thank you note is not a mere professional obligation, but an extension of the interview and positions you as the strongest possible candidate.

3. Spelling & grammar errors: it goes without saying, but candidates can hurt their chances by not proofreading their work. Do yourself and your career a favor by double-checking for spelling and grammar errors.

4. Believing you have to send a physical note: there are arguments abound whether sending a physical note or an email makes you stand out as a candidate. In our current business environment, either one is acceptable. When you get down to it, it is the content of the note that will make you stand out. Focus on your content...not on the delivery method.

5. Not sending notes in other professional contexts: thank you notes do not have to be (and should not be) exclusively for interviews. Strong leaders see the contributions of their supervisors, colleagues, and supervisees, and send pointed and specific thank you notes to show them appreciation for their efforts. Incorporate this into your professional life and see the difference that it makes.

Do you have any thank you note tips that have been successful for you? If so, leave them in the comments.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Career Plans, Networking, and Must-Read Books

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. Do You Have a Career Plan?
"So many people get caught up in the casual momentum of their career that years go by without any room for growth or new opportunities. Take control of your career destiny and develop your plan."

2. 10 Must-Have Skills and Must-Read Books for Today's Worker 
"As a job seeker, employee, and/or a business of one, you will want to develop and promote these qualities in terms that are quantifiable and meaningful to your future or current boss."

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos 
3. Never Say No to Networking
"The best networking suggestion I can offer? Always say yes to invitations, even if it's not clear what you'll get out of the meeting."

4. 14 Bad Habits That Can Cost You Your Job
"A single bad habit is not likely to get you fired immediately, but the cumulative effect of the bad habit over time can."

5. 10 Things College Kids Must Do Now to Snag a Job Post-Graduation
"Never waste a summer. Sure, you know that interning is one way to get some job experience while still in college, but don't be afraid to take on more than one over the years of your entire college education."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Career Setbacks Can Lead to Opportunities

Most everyone experiences setbacks or disappointments throughout their career—some people may encounter many. Although they’re not always welcome, setbacks can serve as invaluable growth and learning opportunities.

Look at the Big Picture
When you experience a setback, it is easy to view the situation personally and over analyze it. While it is important to acknowledge your feelings, once you get over the disappointment, you’ll benefit more from viewing the big picture and studying the matter objectively. You may discover that the decision leading to your setback or disappointment was not personal at all and had more to do with management’s need to meet numbers at a specific point in time. Or, if you are truly honest with yourself, you may find that you weren’t ready to take on that new role or project you were trying for. It may help to think back to other times in your work or personal life where disappointment eventually led to bigger and better opportunities.

Uncover the Opportunities in Every Situation
Situations involving setbacks or disappointments are often opportunities for personal and professional growth. Focus on what you can learn from each experience and identify actions you can take that will help you grow. For example, if you were bypassed for a promotion due to your limited project management experience, are there existing team opportunities for leading a group project at work or through a volunteer organization.

Any career will have its ups and downs, but with dedication, hard work, and the right attitude, your career journey can still be rewarding and fulfilling.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated Job Search Strategy - Directly from Recruiters and Sourcers

Last week, I spent three days in San Diego at the Career Director's International annual conference. I learned so much about the resume writing, career coaching and career development industry. However, there was one session I thought you might be particularly interested to hear recapped. For an hour, we were able to ask four recruiters and human resources professionals questions about their thoughts, preferences, and recommendations for job seekers. Here are some highlights.

  • Although all the recruiters said their company uses some kind of electronic database, also known as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), they also cautioned that the systems are not the same. Therefore, they recommend to keep your resume uncomplicated without lots of text boxes and columns so it can be seen properly in any system. 
  • The recruiters cautioned job seekers about losing the "human element" of the resume by focusing too hard on making the ATS happy.
  • All the hiring professionals said they still do a 15-second scan of the resume. The first impression is still very important when capturing their attention.
  • Following up is highly recommended. One recruiter went so far as to suggest connecting with them on LinkedIn and sending a personalized message as a follow-up after submitting your resume online. One of the recruiters cautioned that there is a big difference between follow-up and stalking!
  • Every recruiter agreed that the resume is not dead, dying, or even in critical condition. None of them foresee an immediate future with no resumes. 
  • Each of these HR professionals mentioned their use of LinkedIn. They are using it to find and connect with potential candidates and research candidates before an interview. They strongly suggested having a PROFESSIONAL photo on LinkedIn to go with your profile.
There you have it, important information straight from the professionals that are screening resumes, interviewing candidates and making hiring decisions. All these are solid pieces of advice that can jump-start your job search.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Four Interview Topics to Keep in your Back Pocket

In a recent Daily Leap post we recommend that you have a current resume ready at all times. This is excellent advice for the reasons detailed in the post. Just as important as keeping a current resume handy are topics that can be used in an interview. When you are interviewed, you are asked questions about your work style, experience, character, decision-making, and other aspects about yourself. Keep from struggling to come up with answers by focusing in on these four broad areas, ones where - if you reflect on them regularly - you will be able to interview with ease.

  1. Strengths and weaknesses: Nearly every interviewer will ask you something about your personal strengths and weaknesses, so it would be wise to have answers for these topics handy. Regarding your strengths, take a psychometric assessment such as the Strengths Finder 2.0 to obtain an objective appraisal performed, then add to it with examples of how those strengths manifest themselves in your work. For your weaknesses (or your strengths), complete a 360 degree evaluation of yourself to find areas of development, and address those areas in an interview and what you are doing to correct them.
  3. Successes and failures: You will almost always be asked about your successes and failures as well, so as you go about your work make note of those projects that have been successful and the role that you played in them. The more successful projects that you led or provided substantial direction with, the better. Conversely make note of those projects that were not successful and what you learned from them. Both of these areas are essential topics for an interview.
  5. Work style and environment: Be sure to have an answered prepared about your work style and ideal work environment. Do you like to be given a lot of direction or minimal? Do you prefer to frequently work with groups of people are you more of a solo contributor? Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment or one that is more slow and steady? Or do you like to work for larger organizations or smaller ones? Be prepared with answers to these and similar questions with clear, concise examples.
  7. Working with others: Regardless of whether or not the job is strongly team-based, you will likely have to work with other people. Think about your experience working with others - including times you have had to professionally confront problems, work with a team, and had to work through divergent opinions - and prepare answers for them.
A good defense is the best offense. Reflect weekly on these four broad topic areas and - the next time you need to interview - you will be well prepared.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Negativity, Returning to School, and Meaningful Work

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 Secret of Successful Networking: The Informational Interview
"The classic and most effective way of building a business network for job hunters is to engage in the process of embarking on many informational interviews."

2. 5 Steps to Releasing Your Negativity and Improving Your Opportunities 
"I’m sorry, folks, but if you want to build a great and satisfying career, you need people to help you.  You simply can’t do this alone, sitting at your computer."

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos 
3. Tell Me a Little About Yourself
"If you have ever been on a job interview the odds are you were asked this open-ended, break-the-ice question, which is often the first one asked."

4. Should You Go Back to School for Your Career?
"If you've been thinking about getting some additional formal education for a while and wondering if it's right for you, consider the following four questions before making your final decision."

5. Wanting Meaningful Work is Not a First World Problem
"Can you fill your belly and your wallet with meaning? Isn't meaning just the ultimate first world problem, just another saccharine flavor of: hey, which color leather should I choose for my new luxury SUV to match my plush designer handbag?"

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weigh a Contract Offer Carefully

As business and industry are experiencing increased volume and sales levels, more companies need to add people to support the additional work. However, many companies are responding by hiring contract resources instead of adding employees to their payrolls. This can be an effective way for employers to manage to the ebb and flow of business demands while, in most cases, delivering cost savings.

If you’re considering a contract offer, what are some things you should consider before you accept?

Know the Terms of Your Contract 
First, know who is responsible for managing the contract and your compensation. For example, contract positions are often filled through contract or temp agencies, not the employer.

Make sure you understand the specifics of your contract:  
What is your compensation? Will you be paid hourly or a flat project fee? If hourly, will you be paid for overtime?  What is the length of your contract and is there an end date? Will you or the agency be responsible for paying for your federal and state income taxes?

Potential Impact on Other Income Sources
Taking a contract position may impact your current or potential income sources. For example, if you’re receiving unemployment benefits, be sure to research your state’s benefits eligibility guidelines and earnings caps. Similarly, if you are receiving severance pay from a previous employer, determine whether accepting a contract job precludes you from continuing to receive severance pay. For the answer, read any documentation details you received from your previous employer or contact the company’s HR department.

Additionally, if you are mainly interested in securing a full-time, on-staff position, accepting a contract position temporarily impacts your availability to accept a staff position. In addition, it precludes you from dedicating much time, if any, to a continued job search.

A contract job can be rewarding and may even lead to an on-staff position, but before you accept a contract, understand all the details of the contract and how they impact you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are You Making One of These 3 Critical Job Search Errors?

You have a great resume, you have purchased the perfect interview suit, and you have practiced all your interview responses. You are ready and your job search is foolproof, right? Not so fast! If you are making one of these three errors, you just may be sabotaging your own success.

Failure to Add Networking to Your Job Search
You already know that your applications are all made online - usually through a company's website or an online job search engine. However, if your only means of looking for open jobs is surfing the web for openings, you are missing out.

I spoke recently to a global recruiter that told me 80% of the positions she fills are never even posted. She searches LinkedIn, asks her existing staff for referrals, and reaches out to her network to find candidates before she even considers posting a job. Don't discount networking - both social networking and in-person networking - as a critical factor in your job search success.

Failure to Use a Cover Letter
The cover letter is a professional introduction to the resume and is still expected by hiring managers and human resources professionals. The cover letter will most likely not make or break whether you get an interview. However, not sending a cover letter is definitely a strike against you.

Human Resources may not read the cover letter during the screening process. However, they will pass your letter along to the hiring manager who uses this tool to get to know a little about you, your personality, and communication style before the interview.

Failure to Focus Your Search
There is no such thing as an effective generic resume. In order to do its job well, the resume must be focused to a specific job, industry, and company. Don't make the HR person work to see how you will fit in their company. Chances are, if you don't make your targeted presentation of how you fit in within the top third of the resume, you will never even get close to an interview.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Success Secret of Boring Dressers

President Barak Obama's suits come exclusively in two colors: blue and black. Dr. Cornell West of Princeton perpetually wears the same black suit, white shirt, and black shoes. Mark Zuckerberg's wardrobe consists almost exclusively of grey t-shirts. And you can hardly say "black turtleneck" with Steve Jobs popping up in your mind.

Who cares about the awful fashion sense of these men? You should, because it demonstrates a strong principle of successful decision making.

Take Steve Jobs, Apple's late-CEO: how many decisions do you think he had to make in a day? Anecdotally, I would guess…a lot. Further, what do you think was the significance of those decisions? Considering his reputation as being very (some would say overly) involved with the development of Apple products and their design factoring prominently into their success, you could assume that his decisions were very important. The lesson here is that successful people making significant decisions find a way to remove extraneous or unimportant decisions from their lives. The decisions that they reduce to the simple ones (i.e. what to wear that day) allow the more time to focus on the big, important decisions.

Options are all around us, and it's easy to become overwhelmed. Go to a discount store and marvel over how many different kinds of shampoo, spaghetti sauce, or pens there are. Go online and you can spend hours if not days shopping for a dress or a shirt. This isn't to say that clothing or shampoo isn't important, but does it deserve the time that you are giving it?

Reflect on your career: what decisions have you been avoiding because you have been wrapped up in the "small" ones. Reflect on your life: what decisions are you spending significant amounts of time on that, quite frankly, do not need all of that time? Find your own areas of improvement and make a commitment to change, and write about it in the comments below.

Saturday, October 6, 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. 9 Things Successful People Do Differently
"It’s not surprising that getting specific about what you want to achieve is a good thing, what’s surprising is how good it is ... It turns out that you’re multiple times more likely to reach your goal if you get very specific about it."

2. 7 Things You'd Better Do If You Want to Get Promoted 
"If you want promotion you need a clear goal of where you want to be promoted to – in some companies you could be promoted to a job where you are doing the same work for more money."

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos 
3. 8 Work Habits That Will Kill Your Career
"Your work might be fantastic, but if no one knows about it, it won't help your reputation, your salary, or your advancement opportunities."

4. Managing Risk in Career Decisions
"Any new job offer is an opportunity. But with opportunity comes risk. Deciding whether to take the new role or stay where you are is a tough choice."

5. 10 Phrases That Are Holding Your Career Back 
"How you phrase and frame your message colors the way people perceive you. The words you choose may be the difference between being thought of as problem-solver or a problem."

Friday, October 5, 2012

Community Service Opportunities through Your Employer

More companies are getting involved in community service, and the results are not only rewarding for the organizations but for their employees as well. Many businesses recognize the importance of being socially responsible corporate citizens and the benefits that result when the community is strengthened. In addition, community service often results in positive public relations, which helps to attract loyal clients and employees.

Large organizations typically have community relations teams managing the company’s community service efforts. In these cases, the budget for community service is often generous and its reach may extend globally. Employees are likely to find a multitude of volunteer opportunities at large organizations. Smaller companies typically appoint someone in human resources to oversee their community service efforts, which are typically on a smaller scale. Even so, smaller organizations can accomplish big results by organizing local community service efforts company-wide. Large or small, some companies even capitalize on the benefits of community service activities by structuring them as team-building opportunities.

Like their companies, employees who get involved in community service reap many rewards. For starters, most people find serving in their community to be fulfilling, and they gain a sense of accomplishment knowing they are making a difference. Volunteering at work can be more convenient since the employer handles the facilitating. It can also build camaraderie among coworkers as they collaborate to accomplish a common goal. New skills may be gained while existing skills are fine tuned.

So, the next time your company presents a community service opportunity—get involved; not only will others stand to benefit but you will too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Always be Prepared. Keep a Current Resume at all Times!

I am a big believer in the Girl Scout and Boy Scout motto "Always be prepared." When I teach a resume writing class, I always tell my workshop attendees that once you get your resume done, you must always keep it current. Let’s look at some of the main reasons.

You Never Know What May Happen.
Many years ago, my husband and I were both laid off from our jobs within 6 weeks of each other. Now, this was before I started my resume writing business, but I can tell you that neither one of us had a current resume in hand. When you are laid off, let go, or feel the need to resign a position, you want to be able to jump right into the job market again.

When I am faced with change, action is often the best method for me to feel better about what is happening. Don’t force yourself to wait on getting your resume updated. Have your resume current with your most recent job and all your fabulous accomplishments waiting in the wings (or your computer).

You Never Know What May Come Your Way.
When opportunity knocks, you want to be ready to take full advantage. Often the window of these opportunities is short. Whether this new opportunity comes in the form of a networking contact, someone who finds you on LinkedIn, or you find a job posting on the internet, you want to be armed and ready with a current resume that you can send out on a moment’s notice.

Do You Remember What You Did a Year Ago?
My memory has been likened to Dory the fish from Finding Nemo. However, I know I am not alone. When I meet with clients, I often have to help them dig deep and mine out their accomplishments that they have forgotten or overlooked. Keep current and updated records of your accomplishments as they happen so that you are not scrambling for details when it is time to update your resume. What better place to store these than in your own resume?

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Sponsors v. Mentors

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video, editor and author Kate White suggests that one should seek out sponsors and not just mentors: mentors offer advice while sponsors "open doors" and "make introductions".

Watch the video below for more:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Where Good Advice Should Come From

Wednesday morning I was in the gym on a rowing machine, going through my repetitions, when I was approached by a woman. She approached me because, she said, she noticed some errors in my form; specifically, I was putting all of the work in my arms and flailing my elbows out from the sides of my body. She recommended that I keep my elbows in, and work harder to pinch my shoulder blades back to really focus on my back. I thanked her and told her I appreciated her advice. She smiled and went on her way.

The woman who spoke with me didn't look like Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, or any other female health guru that you might have heard of. She was actually older (about a grandmother's age), short, and-to be completely honest-slightly plump. You wouldn't expect her to know much about exercising, let alone how to properly row. But she did, and after I made the adjustments that she suggested, my back muscles were burning in a way that I didn't expect.

We have the notion that good advice-espeically career advice-has to come from a source that meets some kind of visual, experiential, or aesthetic standard. Those who look thin and healthy are the best at giving health advice. Those with PhDs are experts in their academic fields and the best at dispensing advice in those areas. A government agency-like the Food and Drug Administration-is the highest authority on what do eat. 

But, oftentimes, we can dismiss good advice because it comes from a source that judge to be unworthy: an annoying coworker, a younger person, a neighbor, or someone outside our career field. The "package" that the advice comes in supersedes what is said…and we miss lessons that could propel us ahead much further than we had anticipated.

This week, challenge yourself to open up to new sources of advice or guidance. We are being sent messages all the time, important messages that can significantly shape our careers. What messages did you receive? Please share them in the comments below.