Saturday, March 30, 2013

High 5 weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Leadership, Mentors, Networking and More

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • Need a Job but Hate Networking? Do This!"Rather than trying to talk to everyone, make it a goal to establish deeper connections with three to five people. I find this particularly useful at conferences or other multi-day events."
  • The Most Effective Strategies for Success: "Focus on What You Will Do, Not What You Won't Do — Instead of focusing on bad habits, it's more effective to replace them with better ones."

  • 5 Simple but Strategic Steps for Finding a Good Mentor"Having a mentor can help you become a better employee, and can help you identify and achieve your career goals. Be open to finding a mentor anywhere, and don't limit yourself to just one."

  • The Six Deadly Sins of Leadership"
    Self-confidence is the lifeblood of success. When people have it, they’re bold. They try new things, offer ideas, exude positive energy, and cooperate with their colleagues instead of surreptitiously attempting to bring them down."

  • What Will You Create to Make the World Awesome?"Ask: What would I do if I could do anything? What would I do if all jobs paid the same? If I could only achieve one thing in my career, what would it be? What do I really want?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Interviewing for Jobs After You’ve Been Fired

If you’ve ever been fired from a job, it can be difficult to explain during an interview. However, it doesn’t have to be impossible. Career and job search author, Alison Green, recommends five ways to approach this topic in her article titled, In a Job Interview, How to Explain You Were Fired.

Be Honest with Yourself: Look objectively at the circumstance for which you were fired. If you were partially at fault, be willing to admit it. If the job wasn’t a good fit to begin with, be prepared to say so.

Discuss What You’ve Learned: Ease the interviewing process by preparing an answer, in advance, in case you are asked about what you’ve learned from being fired. Be sure to include how you would approach a similar situation differently in the future.

Be Brief: Most likely, your interviewer has a lot of other information to get through, so be brief and to the point when discussing your firing. Only provide more detail if the interviewer asks.

Practice Your Answer Out Loud: This is one answer that you should practice prior to the interview. Say it out loud and listen to the tone of your voice. Make sure you sound calm and not angry or resentful. Your delivery is key.

Don’t Lie: If you don’t tell the truth up front and the interviewer finds out later, it will tarnish your credibility. Show integrity by always telling the truth.

Many people get fired and go on to find gainful and rewarding employment. In your interviews, be prepared. Pretty soon, the experience will be behind you!

Source: Green, Alison. “In a Job Interview, How to Explain You Were Fired.” Money: On Careers. U.S. News and World Report. October 4, 2010.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tips for Success in Group Interviews

Interviews are often a one-on-one experience or a panel setting where you meet with several members of the company at the same time. However, there are many companies out there that use the group interview concept to screen and select candidates.

The group interview is used to evaluate how the candidate interacts in a group setting. They are used evaluate your social and communication skills and they look at how you can stand out from the crowd in that group setting. They can be a fun and exciting experience and provide valuable insight into the company's culture. Use these tips to ensure your success.

  • Don't treat the other candidates as competition - even though they really are. Instead of competing with the other candidates, treat them as you would potential co-workers.
  • Make eye contact with the other candidates as you answer your questions. Compliment others' answers and point out areas that you have in common. Use their answers as a springboard to add information of your own.
  • Don't hog the spotlight. Give other people time to speak and answer questions. It is never a good idea to make yourself look good at the expense of others.
  • Try to be the best dressed in the room. Pay special attention to your attire, your grooming, and your body language to make a positive impression.
  • Evaluate the other candidates and find a way to set yourself apart from the crowd. You do not want to blend or fit into the crowd, you want to subtly set yourself apart.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Networking Strategies

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 Colleen Debaise provides some simple tips to improve your networking, especially if networking does not come easy for you.

Check out her strategies in the video below:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Transition From the Military

I teach a monthly class for veterans who are preparing to transition out of the military. I am amazed at how many people go into the transition process flying by the seat of their pants. In this earlier blog post, I put together a transition schedule that starts as far out as 18 months.

The process of transitioning out of the military is long and arduous, whether you have served 4 years or 24 years. Going into your transition unprepared - especially when there are so many resources available - is never a good idea. Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself to help get prepared. These three questions may not be all you need, but take the time to carefully consider your answers in order to get on target to achieve your goals.

What do I want to do?
This is, hands down, the most important question you will ask yourself during the transition process. Chances are that you have held multiple positions in various career fields in the military. If you try to put together a resume that encompasses everything you will overwhelm the reader with unnecessary, irrelevant information. Once you have identified your target, you can do your research that will help you define your transferable skills into your new career in the private sector.

Where do I want to live and work?
It is very important to decide on your geographic location in conjunction with your research in your career field. If you want to be a cactus farmer, you will have quite a hard time if you want to move to Anchorage, Alaska. Use resources such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( and the O-net at to compare labor markets and ensure when and if you relocate, there will be openings in your career field of choice.

How can I demonstrate that I am qualified?
Once you have answered questions 1 and 2, you are ready to start marketing yourself to potential employers. Before you start identifying your selling points, you have to conduct research ( and )and do some early job searching to identify what employers really want to know about you.

Keep in mind that we are a distracted society with our minds going in all directions. Therefore, make your resume easy to read by targeting it to the specific hiring manager's needs. Once you know what skills you want to highlight, then you can bring out the Problem-Action-Result formula in order to demonstrate how you can positively impact an organization.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Strong Two-Year Degree or Certificate Programs

Many people assume that a four-year college degree equates to a larger payoff, financially, than a two-year degree; however, many two-year degree or certificate programs can lead to careers with equivalent or even higher salaries. Combined with lower college debt, two-year degree earners could actually come out ahead of their four-year counterparts in lifetime financial worth.

The following are several occupations that require a two-year degree or certificate:

Trade Occupations

Electrical technicians: Trade occupations are still in high demand, and within the trades, electrical technicians have experienced the highest increase in earnings over the past 15 years. Often, paid apprenticeships are available. Median salary is more than $46,000.

Medical Occupations

Radiologic technicians: A radiologic technician is one of the fasting growing occupations. A radiologic technician performs such diagnostic imaging as mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs. A two-year degree and a state licensing exam are required, and the median salary is more than $52,000. Often, another advantage is a flexible work schedule.

Dental hygienists and Registered nurses: Both of these in-demand occupations require only two-year degrees. They offer excellent median salaries of approximately $62,000. You can do these jobs no matter where you live, and you can work full-time or part-time. Tuition assistance programs are often available for nurses who later pursue higher education.

Business and Technical Occupations

Paralegal: If you enjoy legal work but don’t want to pursue a law degree, this two-year degree can provide an entry into employment at a legal firm assisting attorneys. Median salaries start at about $42,000.

Computer Support and Information Technology: This field is growing at a rate of approximately 14 percent per year, so demand is high for individuals able to do on-site computer work. Break into the industry with a two-year degree and then gain hands-on experience. Average salaries start around $44,000.

Three questions to get the most out of feedback

Have you ever received positive feedback from a supervisor only to be left wondering what exactly it was about what you did that earned you the praise? You are not alone: research has shown that you are more likely to be given specific feedback about poor performance than for positive performance. Very counter-intuitive, especially for those that pride themselves on self-improvement and exceeding goals. "Good job" just doesn't cut it when you desire to excel.

It's important to remember that the relationship between you and your supervisor is a two-way street. If there is something that you are not getting it could be that your supervisor is not aware of it. Take care of your own development and ask these three questions to get the most out of your supervisor's feedback.

What behaviors did you like seeing? This question hones in on what you specifically did to garner the praise. It could be that your attention to detail was a critical component to the success of your task, or that you were able to put aside other projects in order to focus on the one that needed to get done. Regardless, ask about the specific behaviors in order to hone in on what was important to your supervisor.

How did those behaviors correspond with department and organizational goals? Everything that you do should relate to the goals of the department and the organization. Ask your supervisor how your project and your actions related to those goals. Your idea of what the correlation is could be different from what your supervisor envisions. Either way, you will get a better sense of how the time you put in relates to the broader vision of what your organization has set out to accomplish.

What would you like to see more of, and what would you like to see less of? Ask this question to hone in on what nuances of your work your supervisor finds most and least valuable. Take this feedback for what it is, and be sure to say "thank you."

Create the context for present and future feedback by asking for specific details that will aid your future development.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Grammar Lessons for Job Seekers

I meet HR managers and recruiters all the time that tell me when they see a resume with spelling or grammatical errors, in their eyes the candidate is no longer considered. If this were the case for all employers, our nation's unemployment rate would be much higher. However, whether you consider yourself a spelling and grammar expert or not, the bottom line is that your resume is a paper representation of you. If it is full of mistakes and errors, in the employers eyes this is how you do your job.

One of the biggest issues I see when looking at resumes is the use of the homophones. Homophones are those tricky words that are pronounced the same, yet can have different spelling and meanings. Below I have gathered together - and clarified the use of - a list of the most common homophones that I see on resumes.

Led / Lead
The word lead is one of the trickiest on the list. What it means depends on how you pronounce the word. Lead (pronounced leed) can mean the act of showing the way, guiding, or directing. The word led is the past tense of the word lead. However, many people often use the word lead (pronounced like led) as the past tense of the verb "to lead," when actually this word refers to a soft metal. They led the team down to the lead mine.

Affect  / Effect
The easiest way to remember the difference is that affect is a verb that means to produce a change while effect is a noun that is refers to the change it produces. Rising gas prices affect everyone. The effect of higher prices is immediate. 

There / Their / They're
There is a location. Their is the possessive form of they. They're is a contraction of the two words they are. Here is a sentence that contains all three words: They're going to walk because their car is over there across the street.

Its / It's
When you want to contract the words it is or it has you use it's. When you are speaking in terms of the possessive you don't use the apostrophe and it is written its. It's cold outside so the dog laid in its bed.

Pique / Peek / Peak
You pique someone's interest or emotions. You quickly or furtively glance when you peek. The peak is the highest level of a mountain, frequency, volume, or intensity. After peeking at the peak of the mountain, my interest in climbing is piqued.

Your / You're
Your is simply the possessive form of you. You're is a contraction of the words you are. You're going to get sicker if you don't take your medicine.

Whose / Who's
This is very similar to its/it's and your/you're. You use whose as the possessive form of whom or who. Who's is a contraction of the words who is. Who's the lady whose family is waiting in the lobby?

Patients / Patience
Patients is the plural word that refers to people under medical care. Patience is the quality of being patient or being willing and able to suppress restlessness or annoyance. The patients were losing patience with the long wait time to see the doctor.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Dare to Disagree

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 business leader Margaret Heffernan discusses the importance of conflict and disagreement to progress and challenges listeners to consider how this impacts how we do business and proceed in our work lives.

Watch the video below for more:

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Write a Resume

When I ask people whether or not they enjoy writing their own resume, I most always hear a resounding NO! Some of the most common complaints I hear is that they don't know what to say, they don't know what employers want to hear, or they don't know where to start.

Many people who have attempted to write their own resume describe a painful experience that includes sitting at a computer, staring at a document that is blank except their name and contact information. Although I am not sure I am able to make the process painless, asking yourself these three questions may help ease you into the writing process.

What do you want to do?
It is quite difficult to write an effective resume without the answer to this question. Without a target, how will you know what skills to highlight? Answer this question before you begin the resume in order to focus in on your most marketable skills and accomplishments.

What value can you bring to an employer?
If you write your resume by focusing on the answer to this question, you will set yourself apart from the crowd. An employer is always seeking the most cost-effective employee that will bring them the highest return on investment. Define how you can bring value to an employer, how you will earn the salary they pay you, and how you can solve their problem or fulfill their specific needs.

How did you make a difference in each previous position?
The answers to this question go hand-in-hand with the previous question. For each job on your resume, brainstorm what you did to make things better - increased sales, improved efficiency, and enhanced organization are just a few examples. Insert these accomplishments into your resume and be prepared to tell the stories in detail during your interview for a more successful job search.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Three serious interview tips from comedians

Last night I attended a hilarious comedy show by a nationally-known comedian. I have been a fan of his for a while now and it was a treat to see his show live because of his performance flair and the intricate awareness he brings to his life and our culture.

I was reflecting afterward about how difficult it must be to prepare a comedy routine, and I couldn't help but be struck between the parallels between it and preparing for an interview. There are things you can learn about interview preparation from comedians, ones that would make you a stronger interviewer.

1. Create an air of observation: for a comedian, anything has the potential to be material, from trips to the airport and dinner with a significant other to children and going to the doctor. Comedians have to be perpetually observant and bring those observations into their acts. As it is highly likely that you will one day be interviewing for another job, you need to create an air of observation now, as the material you are creating is material for an interview. What projects have you worked on of which you are particularly proud? What are your workplace strengths and weakness? How do you function on a team and how have you remained productive when working with difficult team members? These are but a few questions to get you thinking and there are many more. Spend time reflecting on your current and past positions to create a bank of interview material worth developing.

2. Develop your material for your specific audience: not every comedian is for every audience. Rodney Dangerfield would bring a different crowd to his shows than a Dane Cook. Knowing your interview audience would allows you to filter through your material and cater it specifically to this group. Think about who your audience is, what appeals to them, what their values are, and what their needs are; this will help you hone your material for them and make your message all the more relevant.

3. Practice like you have never practiced before: comedians practice new material through live stand-up appearances in front of hundreds of people. They refine their stories through trial-and-error and perfecting their deliver so that it is natural and not forced. Most of us, however, cannot practice in front of a mirror. If you want to land a position, practice thoroughly.

If you want to progress in your interview, do the hard work - comedian-level hard work - and get disciplined in your interview preparation.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Happiness, Surviving Layoffs, and Career Success

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, March 15, 2013

Calculating the Return on Your College Investment

College costs continue to rise above the rate of inflation, and many people are beginning to wonder at what point they really get a return on their investment. In the article “Money Matters: Can You Truly Calculate the Return on the College Investment?” Jeff Selingo, editor at large of The Chronicle of Higher Education, takes a closer look (Selingo, Jeff. 11/30/12).

Many economic tools assess the value of higher education, and most make it clear that, in general, a college education does pay off. Varied sources estimate that the difference in lifetime earnings for college versus high school graduates can range from $250,000 to $1 million.

Some states are attempting to go a step further by calculating the return on investment of specific majors and specific colleges. Currently, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia are providing data on average wages earned for graduates within particular majors at their state colleges and universities.

Using this Data

This state-specific data could be a useful tool. For example, a student who’s interested in studying business and considering two colleges in Virginia can start by comparing the difference in tuition at both colleges. Next, he/she could compare each college’s student graduate database for average wages earned by business majors. The results could show one college’s degree leading to a bigger financial payoff after graduation, and that could influence the student’s decision on which college to attend.

Considering Shifts in the Economy

When reviewing results, keep the data in perspective. Remember, the economic outlook is always changing. This could mean that the ten highest paying majors this year may not be the same in future years. Plus, some programs offered today weren’t around ten years ago, thereby yielding little or no data for comparing these programs.

Remember the Limitations of the Data

At this point, only Colorado, Nevada, and Texas are expected to join Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia in using student graduate databases. Also, students need to consider that these databases may not have information about graduates who are self-employed or who left the state.

However, even with limited data, this trend is pointing to one more college search tool that may be helpful for students in the future.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Three Strategies for Connecting with People You Don't Know on LinkedIn

In the midst of an active job search, the ability to land a job is often directly connected with your networking efforts. The larger your network, the greater your chances of gaining access to the elusive "hidden job market." This often means making an attempt to connect with people you don't know in order to network your way into a company. 

Unless the person with whom you are trying to connect is a LinkedIn Open Networker (LION), then you may find some resistance and your requests may go ignored. If you have too many people click the I Don't Know or Ignore button to your connection requests on LinkedIn, you may end up with your account restricted. The best course of action is to ask someone in your network to make a person introduction. If that is not an option, use these strategies to boost your success rate.

Customize Your Invitation
LinkedIn provides you with a template for your connection request. It reads "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." This impersonal template gives the reader the impression that you could not spare the time and make the effort to send a personal request. Instead, take the time to write a short note - LinkedIn only gives you 300 characters - about why this person should consider connecting with you. 

For example, a job seeker may write something such as "We've never met but I admire the ABC Company's dedication to advancing technology in the solar energy field. Can we connect? I'd love to learn more about your company." Remember, successful networkers never talk about what others can do for them. Therefore, asking directly for job leads from an HR manager will be a definite red flag.

Research the Person
Once you have the name of a person, go out and conduct research on this person. Look for articles or blogs they have written, organizations where they have membership or other facts that you can use to make a personal connection. Use this information to customize your invite, as mentioned above. For example, a job seeker may say "I just read your article on (fill in the blank) and completely agree with your point of view. I would love to connect with you professionally so we can continue to share ideas." Simply providing context of why you want to connect will be often enough to convince them to click the "connect" button.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile First
Whenever I receive a connection request from someone I don't know, the first thing I do is look at their profile to determine if they are someone with whom I would like to network. Make sure your profile is updated and in the best possible format before you start making requests. Use this previous blog post to evaluate your profile. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week

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 Fast Company video CEO Nirav Tolia discusses the most important task for a leader:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Common Considerations When Sending Your Interview Follow-up Letter

One of the most commonly cited causes of stress in the interviewing process is the feeling of a lack of control. Once you have finished your interview - no matter how well it went - the next few days (or weeks in some cases) are the hardest of all. While you can't control the candidate pool and you can't control the hiring manager's decision making process, you can exercise some control over how you are perceived.

The statistics vary regarding how many job seekers send these letters, the numbers range from 1 in 50 to 1 in 300. No matter the numbers, the post-interview follow-up letter is an often-overlooked tool that can be used to stand out from the crowd. Sending a follow-up thank you note goes beyond common courtesy and manners. This letter conveys your interest, further establishes a very important communication link, and allows you to address any unspoken information.

Should You Always Send a Letter?
The short answer is yes, after every interview. However, there will be interviews in which you decide you are not really interested in the job for a number of reasons - job duties, environment, company culture, or the boss just to name a few. However, you should still send a note thanking the interviewer for their time. Build bridges and expand your network - even when you are no longer seeking the position.

When Should You Send the Letter?
Ideally, the letter should be on its way within 24 hours. The bottom line is that you do not know how or when they are officially making their decision. You want your thank you letter to be in the decision makers hands as soon as possible.

How Should You Send the Letter?

If you are an effective written communicator and you have legible handwriting, consider keeping thank you cards in the car. Write your thank you right after the interview, walk it back in, and leave it with the receptionist. However, sending your letter by email is perfectly acceptable. Remember to avoid all CAPS, check for spelling and grammatical errors, and look at your email signature and account name before sending your letter via email.

What Should be Included in the Letter?
The letter should be concise and straightforward, though there are some content requirements.

  • Sincerely thank the interviewer for their time. 
  • Demonstrate that you researched the company and have really thought about how you can help them fill their need or resolve their problem. 
  • Remind the interviewer of what you feel was your key selling point in the interview. 
  • Connect the letter with your interview by adding something personal (love of cats, sports teams, etc.) that helped you establish rapport with the interviewer.
  • Clearly state your interest in the position and provide your value statement of what makes you cost-effective. 
  • Offer a timeline of when you will follow up with them the next time.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Three Questions to Reframe Your Workplace Stress

Are you feeling stressed at work? If you are, you're not alone. According to a survey released last Tuesday by the American Psychological Association, 65% of Americans say their jobs stress them out. Nearly a third of workers feel their jobs interfere with work-life balance, and the same number find it difficult to advance internally.

There are gender discrepancies as well: more women than men feel that they are not adequately paid for the time they put in (38% vs. 27%) and that their employers do not help them properly handle their stress (31% vs. 27%). With the negative health consequences of stress are well documented, it's clear that changes need to be made.

Stress is a state of being, however, and not actually caused by an event itself (if my car gets stolen, I will be significantly more stressed than you would be). Easy to understand, difficult to practice.

Difficult, but not impossible. Career coaches such as me help our clients process stress in their lives frequently, focusing on the doing as well as the being. Try on these coaching questions to help you get a better handle on your stress and shift to a more productive perspective:

What is your stress trying to tell you? By seeing stress as a messenger, you can have a conversation with it, learning about why it has arrived and what - at a deeper level - it wants you to know. The approach can seem unusual...but what you learn powerful.

What do you want to celebrate about your stress? To be used with care between a trusting coach and client, this question creates a shift from anger, frustration, and helplessness to gratitude and creativity. Practicing gratitude is a powerful method of cultivating self-esteem and resiliency.

What would it be like to quit? I like this question because it shakes people up. "Quit? Why, if I quit I would..." and then you fill in those consequences: good or bad. It's a reminder that - no matter what - we have power and choice in our lives. It's up to us to determine how to use it.

We oftentimes view workplace stress as a condition that we have to do something about, which is true. But our response is much more effective when tempered with knowledge and some self-exploration.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Promote Yourself, Networking, and LinkedIn

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • How to Give Yourself a Promotion"No matter what your job title is, you can get creative, choose to see your role differently, take on new tasks, and make a huge positive impression on customers, prospects, colleagues, and bosses."

  • Simplify Networking: Apply the 70-20-10 Rule: "First of all, we should enter with the right frame of mind - calming our nerves - and approaching networking as a huge conference where we control the invited guests. Secondly, to impose order, we could apply the 70-20-10 rule."

  • Simple Techniques to Increase Your Likeability at Work"Every behavior in a human interaction is a moving toward, neutral, or moving away behavior. A moving toward behavior increases the bond between you and your conversation partner."

  • 8 Mistakes You Should Never Make on LinkedIn"If you leave a networking event with a handful of business cards, intending to follow up on LinkedIn, it’s much harder for you to remember who’s who without pictures. A missing photo can easily lead to missed connections."

  • 5 Ways You're Doing Yourself a Disservice on LinkedIn"The more hits you get on the terms used by recruiters to source candidates, the higher volume of traffic your Profile will receive – and the more likely you are to be contacted for an opportunity." 

Friday, March 8, 2013

How to Create a Great Online Professional Profile

These days it’s important to create a great online professional profile. Wes Weiler, the Chief Marketing Officer for, uses his blog to share 6 Things Your Professional Profile Needs (Weiler, Wes. 2013. February 27, 2013). Following are some of the tips Weiler suggests for making your professional profile top-notch.

Provide Thorough Contact Information: If you’re job searching online, sometimes potential employers contact you directly through job search sites. However, many still prefer to contact candidates by phone or email, so be mindful to complete all available contact fields.

Complete a Video Profile: You may think video profiles are just for those in creative professions, but what better way to sell yourself than “in person”? A video message can convey a lot and gives the potential employer a sneak peak at the real you!

Provide Useful Profile Information: Companies don’t want to hear boring career objectives in your online profile. They’re more interested in finding out what sets you apart from others. Show them why you are the best candidate, and don’t be afraid to mention what you’re passionate about.

Be Selective about Qualifications and Expertise: If you have specific skills or certifications, mention them. Skip over basic computer literacy because it is assumed everyone possesses basic computer skills. However, if you’ve learned a specific software application, mention it.

Organize Your Professional Experience: Instead of listing your job history in chronological order, highlight jobs that show career growth. Under each job, list examples of what challenges you overcame and what problems you solved. Each job should tell a story while citing examples that make you stand out.

Recap Your Complete Education: Be thorough when presenting education and training. If you have achieved special designations within your degree or attended career workshops in addition to your degree, make sure to include these. Just like a pile of paper resumes, potential employers sift through many professional profiles online. Fine tune yours to be the one that stands out.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Dangers of Using a Resume Template

For someone sitting down to write their resume it is natural to want to use a template in order to give themselves a starting place. You can find templates online, in sample books, in resume building software, and even in applications such as Microsoft Word. Although resume templates can help you launch the resume writing process, there are several negative aspects of using these templates that can actually hinder your job search success.

They Make it Harder to Stand Out From the Crowd
If you were competing with three other candidates that used the same resume template, how would you make yourself stand apart? Now expand this scenario to being in a pile with hundreds of candidates. The ones that seem similar to the others are going to be assumed to be "carbon copies" of the others, making them less likely to be read.

Studies show that when the resume is looked at by human eyes (as opposed to an online parsing program) they make a decision about whether or not to read your resume further within the first 10 to 15 seconds. When you use a template program, your resume tends to blend into the crowd and will not captivate the reader's interest.

They Eliminate the Strategic Marketing Aspect
There is no exact science to resume writing. There are no rules that say "write your resume exactly like this." A good resume is approached very strategically.

Where you locate sections (or whether you include them) on the resume depends on their strategic importance in your job search. For example, a template will always put the education section toward the bottom of the resume. If you are in a career transition and your education is one of your key selling factors, it needs to be moved toward the beginning of your resume. This is a change that many templates will not allow.

They Depersonalize the Resume
There is no one else that offers your unique blend of experience, skills, accomplishments, knowledge, and training. Therefore, your resume must be the way you distinguish yourself from other candidates.

Your personality, personal traits, and personal style should be reflected in your resume in a creative, yet professional, manner. What sets you apart from the crowd does not always fit into the confines of a template that is someone else's idea of what a resume should look like.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: The Skill of Self Confidence

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 Athletic Director and soccer coach Ivan Joseph discusses the skill of self confidence and how we can develop this skill to enhance our lives and careers.

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What Makes a Good Manager?

I was talking with a class last week about the best and worst jobs we have ever had. When asking why we did not enjoy that "worst job" a good portion of people agreed that the difference was our supervisor. Most of us have had that boss that made our jobs miserable, that did not support our efforts, or that were just flat-out bad managers.

Many people strive to move forward in their career, which often translates into taking on a leadership role. However, many of us are not cut out to lead people or go into those jobs unprepared. It is unpleasant to think of ourselves as our employee's "worst boss". Maybe you can use this list of traits that make a good manager to prepare yourself as you move forward in your career - and keep yourself off that bad boss list!

Confidence - A good manager does not need to know everything. However, they need to have enough confidence in themselves to believe that they will figure it out. A good manager is decisive and has confidence in their own capability of making good decisions

Dependability or Reliability - As a manger, your people must be able to count on you and trust that you will support them. Unpredictability is not a favorable trait in a leader.

Calm Under Pressure - When everything is falling apart or the going gets rough, the team needs someone at its helm who keeps their head on straight, figures out the root cause of issues, and does what it takes to get back on track.

Integrity - Leaders must always choose the right path, as opposed to the easiest path. A good manager does what they say they will do and can be counted on to enforce the rules with consistency.

Willing to Share the Load - Managers who are not willing to delegate are not only unproductive, they also never develop the skills of their team. When you delegate tasks, it demonstrates that you trust your team and believe in their ability to contribute.

Flexible Communication Style - Good leaders modify their communication style to meet their teams needs instead of expecting their team to adjust. If a manager can not express their expectations and standards clearly - both orally and in writing - their team will have no cohesion.

Listening Skills - Managers must exercise active listening skills. Ask for and value the opinions, feedback, and ideas of your team and your productivity will skyrocket.

Respect - The manager-subordinate relationship must be one of mutual respect. Running a team as a dictatorship can get results, but will not lead to a positive, collaborative work environment. Speak to your people with respect and try to see things from their point of view.

Dedicated to Their Team's Growth - People often leave a company because they feel like their manager is holding them back. It is a testament to your leaderships skills if you are constantly mentoring and promoting people out of your team. Of course you will miss your well-trained team, but it is selfish and short-sighted not to help your employees succeed.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yahoo! edicts and coping with big workplace change

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer set the business world abuzz this week with her edict that Yahoo! employees will no longer be able to work from home. Many viewpoints from both sides of this decision have surfaced, with some considering her a hero while others reviling her for an apparent attack on work-life balance and other morale-killing signals it sends.

No matter how the issue is examined, Yahoo! employees affected by the decision are facing big change. Their lives will be disrupted and the way they work will be drastically different. Some might be considering whether or not they want to continue with the company. Before they make any drastic decisions there are some career coaching questions I would ask these employees to help them better come to terms with the change in front of them:

1. What does this change mean to you? I would have Yahoo! employees imagine themselves as a fly-on-the-wall in a room, observing how they cope with this decision. What behaviors are they noticing? What feelings are they experiencing? These observations will help them to understand what the change means for them and help them articulate their perspectives on the change.

2. What is hard to let go of? Yahoo! employees need to be direct about what they are ultimately struggling to let go of. Concerns about the commute, the alternate child-care arrangements, and the lack of work-life balance are really masks covering up underlying feelings of distrust, unfairness, and a lack of respect. This question elicits the surface "hurts," which lead to the feeling beneath. Articulating these feelings will enable them to spend some time with them, processing and contemplating.

3. How is your perspective serving you? All of our feelings serve us in some way, even feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, and unfairness. Yahoo! employees need to get clear about how these  feelings are helping them, which may seem like a strange question at first but makes sense in the context of moving forward. When we understand our perspective and how it serves us we can decide whether to indulge this perspective or another one.

4. What's possible now? The decision to eliminate the work-from-home privilege has been made and there is no changing it. This question gives Yahoo! employees a chance to consider the future...a future they can create. Maybe what's possible is looking for a new job, or relishing the opportunity to create stronger collaborative relationships with co-workers. Some might view this opportunity to make their mark on the company or decide that a Silicon Valley job isn't for them. Possibilities abound through whatever the employee wants to create, so long as he/she is feeling empowered by the decision.

How would you approach a change like this in your workplace? Leave your comments below.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Career Happiness, Music for Work, and More

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • 10 Ways to Skyrocket Your Career Happiness"Cultivate relationships with co-workers you like and minimize time with those you don't. Finding a mentor or mentee can help you boost your network, energize your work, and bring more joy to your job."

  • 5 of the Toughest Career Lessons You'll Ever Learn: "Instead, assume that you're your own best advocate, and that you'll need to speak up—whether it's asking for more money or tracking your accomplishments throughout the year to raise when your performance review comes around."

  • 10 TED Talks to Help You Reimagine Your Business"Here are 10 amazing TED Talks that have helped me think differently about what business can be, how to be a better leader, and how to become a better global citizen."

  • 5 Ways to Ace Your Start-up Informational Interview"Regardless of who you’re interviewing with—a founder, engineer, recruiter, or customer service rep—you can assume that they’re underpaid and overworked, but incredibly excited by what they do. And that they want to see that same sort of enthusiasm from future employees."

  • 21 Songs to Inspire You at Work"We all love to be inspired at work, and we all love great music. So I asked people I respect what songs inspire them most at the office." 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Clarifying Your Career Strategy

As the workforce downsizes considerably, many of us wear several different hats at our jobs. You may pride yourself on being able to multitask or always being that “go-to person” your boss relies on, but are these qualities going to help advance your career?

Greg McKeown is a business and leadership consultant and author of The Disciplined Pursuit of Less(Harvard Business Review,, 8/8/2012) and The #1 Career Mistake Capable People Make (, 12/6/2012). According to McKeown, the capable person often finds himself/herself “overworked and underutilized,” and McKeown has advice on how to positively shift your career in the right direction.

Determine the highest point of contribution
Start by looking at opportunities differently. Instead of taking on many, less-significant work assignments, ask yourself what projects reflect your highest point of contribution. Use what McKeown defines as “extreme criteria” to get you there. To do this, ask yourself: What am I deeply passionate about? What taps into my talent? What meets a significant need in the world?

Determine essentials and eliminate the rest
When you give yourself permission to eliminate the excess, you can accomplish more meaningful tasks. Don’t take on a new project until you eliminate an old one. Don’t add a project that is less valuable than one you are currently working on. Just like cleaning out a closet, determine what really matters to you and get rid of the excess.

Don’t assume ownership equals value.
Having trouble determining the value of a project? Ask yourself, if you didn’t have it, how much would you be willing to sacrifice to obtain it? By seeking value and purpose in every task you do, you can focus on what is important and meaningful in your career. DON'T make this a once-a-year discussion at your annual review. DO take on the ability to focus, reduce, and simplify as your ultimate challenge for success.