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Six Tips to Landing a Job This Year

Posted by | September 10, 2013 | Job Advice

Finding a new job can be a frustrating task.  Submitting applications and preparing for interviews start to become monotonous.  However, when it comes to finding a job there are several things you can do to ensure that this is the year you land that dream job.  Here is a list of six helpful tips that you may not have considered before.

  1.  What worked what didn’t:  Have you gotten a lot of interviews?  Did you get any response from your applications?  Taking the time to analyze where your strengths and weaknesses are at is helpful in determining where to focus your energy in your job search.  Maybe your resume is great but you need to focus on your interviewing skills.  If you are not getting any calls for interviews, you may want to examine ways to improve your resume.
  2.  The Unfortunate Typos:  Unfortunately, the number one mistake that job seekers make is having typos on their application.  Make sure you have double checked your application before turning it in.  If you are sending in a resume, use spell check and have a friend or family member review for grammatical errors.  Speaking of friends and family…
  3.  Get your family and friends involved:  Make sure that everyone knows you are looking for a job.  Not only is it a good way to network for opportunities, they will also keep you motivated and help hold you accountable.
  4.  Goal Setting:  Write down your daily and weekly goals for job searching.  Perhaps you want to put in 1 application per day or maybe 10 per week.  Whatever the goal, keep it reasonable for your schedule.  Having your goal in writing will keep you motivated and moving forward.
  5.  Follow up:  This step is just as important as any other step in the job seeking process.  Since many people fail to follow up after sending in resumes or applications, this is a great way to get noticed.  After sending in your application, call the company to check on the status of hiring.  Once a hiring manager has interviewed you, send a thank you note.
  6.  Practice, Practice, Practice:  Developing your interviewing skills takes practice.  Ask a friend or family member to interview you with some common interview questions and have them give you honest feedback.  You may also want to have them ask you some surprise questions such as, “What do you feel your greatest weakness is?”  Practice will not only help your interviewing skills improve, but will also help you project more confidence.
asking interview question

The Interview: Your Turn to Ask Questions

Hiring managers usually give a few minutes at the end of an interview for potential employees to ask any questions you may have regarding the position you are applying for.  Most often, the person being interviewed is so anxious to get out of the room, their response is, “No. I think you answered all my questions.”  By not taking the opportunity to ask questions, a person is missing the opportunity to find out more information about the company to see if it is the right fit for them.  They are also losing out on a chance to make the interview more memorable in the hiring manager’s mind.

Below are a few questions you may want to consider asking at the end of an interview

1.  What happened to the person previously in this position? Or is this a new position for the company?
You will want to know if there were any previous problems or potential with this position.  For instance, it may be helpful to know if the previous employee was terminated or promoted

2.  Why did you choose to work here? Why do you continue to work here?
This is your opportunity to get the inside scoop on what it is like to work for this company.  This also provides the opportunity for the interviewer to stop thinking as a “hiring manager” and think on a personal level.

3.  What is the first task that the person you hire must focus on?
Setting expectations right from the beginning is a great way to make sure that you and the manager are on the same page.  Showing up for your first day of work and becoming overwhelmed with a stack of projects is not how you want to start your new job.

4.  What can you tell me about my supervisor?
This may be your dream job but if your personality clashes with your manager’s style of supervising than your job will be anything but dreamy.

5.  What are the company’s five-year sales/profit projections?
Hopefully you have already completed your research on the company and know the answer to this.  However, it is always good to get an insider’s insights.  In addition, you are indirectly showing that you have done your homework and are serious about a future with the company.

6.  What is the next step?
This is the most important question to ask at the end of the interview. You need to know what happens after this point. If you feel comfortable, take the lead and set the plan for a follow-up.  Make sure that you have the interviewer’s direct phone number and the best time to call.  Also ask for a business card.  This will be helpful in sending your follow up thank you note.

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Unfortunately there is no simple solution to get around discussing a termination in an interview.  However, there are steps you can use to minimize any damage it may cause.  Here are two important things to observe when a hiring manager brings up the topic of a previous termination.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Unfortunately there is no single phrase that fits every person’s situation when trying to answer for a termination.  However you choose to explain it, the best advice is, “do NOT lie about it!”  Be as honest and objective as possible on your point of view of what happened.  The worst thing you can do is to be less than honest about the situation and then the potential employer later discovers that you lied.  Therefore, be candid about the event.

There are a multitude of reasons for termination.  However it is best if your explanation focuses on being objective and not placing any blame.  Sometimes an employee is fired due to personalities clashing or perhaps the job description did not match the expectations.  Regardless of the circumstances, most often there are two sides to the story.  When asked about a previous termination, you have the opportunity to show that you are a compassionate person who can understand events from another person’s perspective.  Placing the blame completely on another person and having a chip on your shoulder will only be a turn-off for your potential employer.

Lesson Learned

What could you have done differently?  How could you have handled the situation better?  Sharing the answers to these questions in the interview shows that you took the occurrence very seriously and you want to improve yourself to avoid a similar event in the future.

Everyone can improve in some areas and it is good to stress that to a prospective employer.  Getting fired from a job is not as terrible as getting fired and not learning anything from it.  Explain the situation from the perspective of what you should have done differently rather than what your previous employer should have done differently. If you follow these steps you will find that most hiring managers will be impressed with you.

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The Power of Thank You

Posted by | June 6, 2013 | Job Advice

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According to surveys, about 85 percent of executives say that a post-interview thank-you note has some influence on the hiring decision. While only half of candidates send thank-you notes, it seems to be an easy gesture everyone should use to greatly impact the hiring process. Surveys also suggest that hiring managers are divided in terms of preference for receiving thank-you notes by email or letter. It is therefore up to you to decide which method best fits the culture of the organization.

 

Pros of A Handwritten Note:

  • More thoughtful
  • May end up on their desk or bulletin board for a while, reminding them of you.
  • Very few send handwritten notes, therefore, you will instantaneously stand out

Pros of an Email Note:

  • May appear more professional
  • Arrives more quickly
  • Can be forwarded on to other people within the company

How to Write A Thank You

  1. Send the note the day after the interview.
  2. Check your interviewer’s name and title, and be sure of the correct spelling. Get her or his card for this very purpose, or check with the secretary or receptionist.
  3. Address the recipient by a formal Mr. or Ms.
  4. Thank the interviewer for a great interview.  Be sure to describe what made it great: (you feel it is a good fit, you are excited about a career with them, this is a wonderful opportunity.)
  5. Describe your expectations. For example, “I will look forward to meeting with the Department Manager.”
  6. Complete your letter with your closing such as “Sincerely” or “Gratefully”
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Your First Job: Earning Respect

Posted by | June 4, 2013 | Job Advice

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You’re a new college grad with a new job.  Congratulations! You have worked hard to get to this point.  Last thing you want to do is fall flat on your face now.  Unfortunately, it happens all too often.

Typically new grads are knowledgably prepared for the task ahead of them.  The trouble lies in persona.  Here are a few key ingredients to making sure that your first few weeks on the job get you on the right path with your career.

Arrogance:

You’ve sat in classrooms, listened to lectures, and you feel that now is your opportunity to burst forth with your creative ideas.  Not so fast.  It’s best to resist the temptation to jump in and take over projects.  Assuming you know how the workplace should be run will only come across as arrogant and disrespectful.  Tread lightly and the experienced colleagues will be more open to accepting your thoughts and ideas.

Gratitude:

Good managers are taught to make their employees feel appreciated in the workplace.  But that same principle goes the other way as well.  Giving a simple and sincere “thank you” to your coworkers and your boss can go a very long way in earning their respect.

Hard Work:

Many workers are watching the clock ready to grab their car keys the minute it is quitting time. Typically those are also the same people that will do the minimum amount of work that is required for their job.  Therefore, you can really stand out from the crowd by occasionally offering to help with a project of staying a little late to complete a task.  This shows the management team that you are dedicated to your career and the success of the company.

Be Teachable:

Practice the art of listening more than speaking.  Despite your enthusiasm of sharing your knowledge and ideas, this is still a time of learning.  A new employee who is constantly trying to prove his/her knowledge will have a difficult time earning the respect of other employees.

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Lakeview, Illinios will soon be home to the area’s first LGBTQ senior affordable housing community.  The 26 million dollar development will provide 79 studio and one bedroom apartments as well as a community space.

Alderman Tom Tunney has been working on the issue for 10 years as one of Chicago’s first openly gay alderman.

“The selection process is going to be interesting because the demand is gonna be amazing,” Tunney said. “And getting it open and learning in general how to integrate the community center with the housing component, I think there’s gonna be a few challenges there.”

Construction is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2014.

 

Resume

Mirroring

When the hiring manager is looking through stacks of resumes, they are looking for people with the qualifications that they have specified. There are many different words that can be used to describe a work skill.  Make sure that your resume uses that same language that is exhibited in the job description.  For instance if the job post is looking for a “Manager” and your resume currently states that you were a “Supervisor,” be sure to change the wording to “Manger” to match. 

Stick to the Truth

It happens all too often – little white lies on the resume.  Perhaps you included a certification that you have never actually received or noted a software program that you have not yet learned.  It is time to clean it up.  If the skill set is something you are working towards, you can always include them as something you are “pursuing.”

Objective Statements Are Obsolete 

At one point, resume experts encouraged you to include an “Objective Statement” at the beginning of your resume.  However, this has now been deemed a waste of resume space.  It is clear that your objective is to get a job, therefore it is pointless to state it in the resume.  Remove the Objective and instead focus on explaining who you are and how you can benefit the hiring company. 

 

Remove Redundancies.

Hiring managers sort through many resumes so it’s best to get right to the point.  It is a waste of time going into great detail explaining what they already know.  For instance, if you were a social media marketer for a shoe company, do not say “Marketed shoes to potential customers on a wide variety of social media platforms.”  Reiterating the self-explanatory is unnecessary.  Instead, focus on describing more specific achievements of your previous job.

Rev Up the Language

Review the verbs that are used in your resume.  Are they strong or boring?  For instance, can “Responsible for…” be replaced with “Managed” or “Supervised”? To keep your resume from becoming boring or monotonous, be sure that you do not use the same verbs repeatedly throughout.

 

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Are You Highlighting The Wrong Skills?

Posted by | May 23, 2013 | Job Advice

Of course it is important to highlight skills that make your resume stand out above the rest.  However, many people are still highlighting skills that no longer have much relevancy in today’s workplace.  Take a look at which skills are a thing of the past.

Spanish 
Spanish is the second most prominent language in the United States, after English. It is estimated that, over 35 million U.S. residents speak Spanish at home. (According to census.gov.) Because the Spanish speaking community has become so prevalent in today’s world, it is no longer considered a special skill set.  In addition, Spanish is less commonly used in the business world compared to Japanese and Chinese.

Legal Research

With the job market flooded with law school grads many have had to take positions in legal research.  Therefore, this is no longer an impressive skill set to include.

Mortgage Loans

When the housing industry collapsed so did the usefulness of this skill set.  Renters are on the rise so you may want to find a different skill to highlight in your resume.

Software Installation/Upgrades

Knowing how to install or upgrade computer software used to be a great achievement.  Now, with more user-friendly software on the market, most workers have the capability of  completing this task.

Unknown

Many people go into a job search having a good idea of what their dream job looks like.  However, 70 percent of Americans feel undeserving of that job they wish they could have and never go for that amazing job they really want.  Stop holding yourself back and consider these tips to landing the career of your dreams.

How Qualified Are You?

Before discarding the idea of applying for a great job, you must first figure out what triggers your feelings of fear.

  • Do you feel there are parts of the job you could not do well?  If so, which ones?
  • Are there parts of the job that you feel unqualified for?
  • Are you holding yourself back out of fear of the job search process?

Keep in mind that most employers would rather hire someone with a good work ethic and wiliness to learn over someone with a poor work ethic who meets all of the qualifications.  If you meet just a small percent of the qualifications then it may be worth your time to apply.

Importance of Support

Getting coaching or mentoring is always a great idea during your job search.  However it is even more important when you are experiencing feelings of doubt or ineptness.  Whether you turn to a trusted mentor or pay for a professional coach, getting support is a great step in going after that dream job.

Boost Your Confidence

All too often we dwell on the negative things in our life.  It is a good idea to keep a notebook or journal of your accomplishments.  Even writing down your small ideas or projects that you have accomplished can go a long way towards boosting your confidence.  Keeping track of and reviewing these achievements during a job search will help to keep you from backing away from that dream job.

Ask Questions

Remember that an interview is not only a chance for an employer to make sure a potential candidate is the right fit, but it is also an opportunity for a potential candidate to make sure that the employer is right for them too.  Asking your own questions is a great opportunity for you to assess the workplace and make sure that it a place you can feel confident and thrive.

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How To Find A Good Employee

Posted by | May 7, 2013 | Job Advice

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Employees provide a first impression of your organization and, of course, it needs to be a good one.  Therefore, a good employee is extremely valuable to your business. Getting good employees starts with a good hiring process.

 

 

 

Hiring a Good Employee

  • Write down the characteristics of a good employee for your organization. Consider the attributes of your current employees that you would like to see in your newly hired employee.
  • Be sure that the qualifications of the prospective employee match the requirements needed to perform the job. Overqualified employees may seem enticing at first.  However, it is possible for them to become bored from not being challenged.  An unmotivated employee can be detrimental to a department or organization.  Good employees have short and long term goals and need to have room for growth.  A good employee will choose to use his/her talents on an organization with potential career advancement.
  • Meet the candidate more than once.  After several interviews, the potential employee will begin to relax and you can start to see their real personality.
  • Check all references. Even if you receive a wonderful report from a reference, it is best to be thorough and contact all of them.
  • Competition is not just for customers. You are also competing for good quality candidates to work for your organization.  Make sure that your salaries, benefits, and atmosphere are equal or better than that of your competition.
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Tired of working long hours and never getting a day off? Then it’s probably time to bring in some help. Here are ten tips for hiring employees for your small business.

High Expectations: Do not expect to find someone who is the exact same as you.  Your motivation, habits, and ideas are uniquely yours.  You do want to hire someone who is in-line with you.  However, hiring an exact replica is unreasonable and could hold you back from moving forward even faster.

Know Your Expectations: Write down exactly what you expect from your new hire. Clearly communicate the skills, talents, and education that are needed to successful complete the job you have in mind.  List the goals you have for what the new hire and what your expectations are.  The more clear you are with your description the better chance you will have at finding a candidate that is a good fit for your organization.

Be Honest With Yourself: Are you more of a ‘hands-on’ or ‘hands-off’ type of manager?  Different employees have different needs.  Some of them enjoy a manager who gives them freedom to make decisions while others prefer managers who give step-by-step instructions.  Knowing the type of manager you are will help in determining the employee that can best work alongside you.

Give Yourself Time: It takes time to find the right person.  Giving yourself a close deadline could be detrimental.  Never hire a person just to meet a deadline. Plan to interview and train until you have met the person who is the right match.

Make Policies: Sick-leave, personal time-off, and paid or unpaid vacation time all need to be determined before hiring your new employee.  Decide what course of action needs to happen if your new employee cannot be at work.  Will you be able to jump in and cover?

Discipline: Unfortunately having a disciplinary action plan is a part of being a manager.  Before bringing on your first employee you need to have a written plan for the steps that will be taken.  Consider possible issues of both poor performance and chronic absenteeism. How many acceptable warnings will be considered before termination?  How will you communication your warnings and /or termination? This policy needs to be in place before you bring on your first team member.

Create a Fact Sheet:  Creating a one page fact sheet will provide applicants with all the information they need to know about the job. This sheet should cover your basic job description, expectations, and hiring process.

Training:  Make sure you have a written outline for your training process.  It should include all areas of the job that your new employee needs to complete.  Having a written guideline will help minimize frustrations between you and the employee in regards to the expectations for the position.

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Getting Your Email Job Search Right

Posted by | April 30, 2013 | Job Advice

Setting up an email account that is specifically used for your job search is always a good idea.  A professional email address will keep your personal mail separate from your professional mail.  Therefore important emails from potential employers are less likely to get lost in the shuffle.  Do NOT use your work email address, with your current employer, for job searching or networking. Many companies monitor email communications and you may violate your employers’ email regulations by searching for jobs while at work.

Free Email Accounts

There are many choices in free web-based email services.  Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail are a few to choose from.  With any of these options, you can check your email from any computer and/or smartphone so that you can stay on top of your job search.

Choosing An E-mail Address

When setting up your email address, be sure to choose a professional, appropriate name that will be acceptable for your potential employers.  Something such as firstname.lastname@gmail.com would be a great choice as opposed to cutiepiemommy@yahoo.com

Email Format

When you’re sending an inquiry about a job or applying for a job, it’s important to format your email as professionally as you would any other business letter.

Subject Line

If you forget to include a subject line there is a good chance your email will not even be opened.

Salutation

If you have a contact person, address your email to Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name. If you don’t, address your email to Dear Hiring Manager. If you would like, you can exclude a salutation and simply start with the first paragraph of your message.

Body

When you’re applying for a job via email, copy and paste your cover letter into the email message or write your cover letter in the body of an email message. Be sure to send your resume as an attachment, send your resume as a PDF or a Word document.

Be sure to create an email signature and to include it with every message you send. Include your full name, your email address, and your phone number in your email signature so it is easy to find how to contact you.

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Formatting Your Cover Letter

Posted by | April 25, 2013 | Job Advice

When you are applying for employment, how you format your cover letter is important because that letter is how you are going to make the best impression on the employer.  If your letter isn’t easy to read, it can knock you out of contention for a job.

Cover Letter Contact Section

When you are writing a cover letter to mail the first section of your cover letter should include your contact information and your employers information. If you are emailing your cover letter, your contact information is included in the signature.

 

Your Name        Unknown

Your Address

Your City, State, Zip Code

Your Phone Number

Your Email Address

Date

 

Employer Contact Information

Name

Title

Company

Address

City, State, Zip Code

 

Cover Letter Salutation

It is best to include the employer’s personal title and full name in the salutation (i.e. “Dear Mr. Timothy Miller”).  If you are unsure of who will be reading your cover letter, address the letter “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Cover Letter Body

The body of your cover letter is the section of the letter that tells the hiring manager what position you are applying for and why the employer should select you for an interview.

First Paragraph:

The first paragraph of your letter explains why you are writing. Include the position you are applying for and where you saw the listing. If you have any contacts or a person who referred your to the job include it here.

Middle Paragraphs:

This section should describe what you have to offer the employer. Make sure you understand the position and use similar wording to describe your skills and strengths.

Final Paragraph:

Finish your letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow-up.

Cover Letter Signature

When you send a paper cover letter your signature just needs to include your first and last name.  If  you are sending an email cover letter include all of your contact information in the signature line.

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Finding Your Passion

Posted by | April 23, 2013 | Job Advice

Want to transform your life?  A big step is to find something you are passionate about and do it for a living.  It may not be easy, but the rewards are worth the effort.  If you are not feeling challenged or feel lack of motivation staying in your current job will not only continue to make you unhappy, but you are not realizing your full potential in life.  It’s time to dare to dream, dare to imagine the possibilities, and dare to actually search for what you love, and it is not only a possibility, but a probability.

Passion

Consider your hobbies.  Is there something you loved as a child?  Something you love now?  It’s time to research the possibilities of making money from it.  What do you enjoy reading about? Don’t close your mind to these topics. Look into them as a career possibility.

Brainstorm. Get out some paper and start writing down ideas. There are no bad ideas at this stage. Write everything down, and consider them later.

Research. Learn as much as you possibly can. Read everything you can on the topic through websites and books. Find other people in the same profession, preferably in your area, who you can interview.   If there is no one in your area, find someone on the internet who you can interview via email.

Practice. Amateurs do not make much money. To make money, you need to have professional skills. If it’s something you love, the practice should be something you enjoy doing.

Don’t quit. It takes time to find your dream job. Success doesn’t come easy, so giving up early is a sure way to fail. Keep trying, and you’ll get there.