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Resource: Career Advice
Why Specifics Matter In Your Job Search
Thursday, August 29, 2013

A job search is successful when a candidate and the company are a compatible match. Creating these perfect connections all starts with you, the job seeker. You have to know the kinds of jobs you want and know you'll be good for in terms of how appealing you'll be as a candidate for those positions.

Put yourself in the place of the employer and ask whether you would hire yourself. Better yet, ask why you wouldn't. Getting down to the details not only in your resume, but your search tactics will help make the most of your efforts. You should apply to every job with the feeling that you'll get serious consideration, if not an offer.

The following are three areas of your job search where specifics are especially important and why:


Read through every line of your resume and compare it to the job description. Try to make what you can offer as closely as possible to what they're asking for. They only thing that interests employers is how relevant your background is to the job. In order to seriously consider you, they have to believe that you'll be able to do the job well. Be sure to include keywords from the job description in your resume to give yourself a better chance of being selected. This way, even if it gets scanned by a robot first it's sure to be passed on to human eyes.


The interview is your time to shine. The interviewer wants to get to know the person behind the paper. You'll want to avoid making it all about you, though. Keep the conversation focused on things you've done related to the job and show off your knowledge while you're at it. Of course, give specifics with each point you provide. Give them details about a situation that you had to handle and how you resolved the situation.

Thank you note

A customized thank you note is a great way to close the deal. A good first impression is only as good as the last. If you had a rough start or ending, the interviewer is going to remember the worst of the two the most. A good thank you note will touch on the things you discussed in the interview. It's also a good chance to mention things you wish you had said in the interview. Avoid "overdoing it" in the note, you want the interviewer to remember you in a good way.

What You Really Need to Know to Find the Job That Fits You
Thursday, May 09, 2013

Before choosing which field of study you want to major in, you need to have in mind what kind of job you want to pursue with your degree. Even if you didn't go to college, you'll already have an idea of what kind of life you want and what you'll be doing in it. The tricky thing that most people deal with is "How do I become that person?"

When you've been looking for a job for a while, you'll start to think that taking any job is better than having no job, which is true--to an extent. Applying to any job that seems doable and relatable to your experience doesn't mean it's the right one.

There's plenty of career advice out there offering different way to avoid hitting dead ends in your job search. "Follow your passion" or "do what you love" they might say but what if you just want to do what interests you? You may have a passion for vintage cars, but also like the fact that it's completely separate from work.

Given the choice, everyone would want a career that ties into what makes them happy. The problem with making this kind of decision is that people tend to change their minds making it harder to predict whether they will still feel the same about what they do in the future. No one can ever really say for sure that they will love their job until they've been doing it for years. It's rare that you'll come across someone who took a job that ended up meeting all of their expectations.

Often times, a good match between skills and job position can create happiness rather than using what makes you happy to create the perfect job match. Along with preferences and compatibility, a successful long-term career also provides necessary motivation to stay in that career.

Generally, there are two types of mindsets that people have when setting motivational goals: promotion and prevention. Those who see their goals as a way to hang on to everything they've done up to that point, are considered prevention-focused. Promotion-focused workers see their goals as an opportunity to gain more if and when they successfully accomplish them.

Depending on which orientation is your focus-type, you should keep that at the forefront when searching for and applying to jobs. What motivates you and the way you work can be the missing link for lasting career success. When you've been trying to stick a square peg into a round whole, no amount of trimming around the corner is to make it fit.

How Overdoing It Will Get Your Job Search Nowhere
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In the race to find employment, people will go full speed ahead to trump the competition. It's a natural instinct to put forth more effort faster and better than the rest. This approach in a job search, however, doesn't exactly lead to coming out on top.

You would be surprised to know that there is such a thing as being too aggressive in a job search. Sending out too many resumes, contacting people far beyond your own network, and overall spreading yourself too thin. Like most things, a job search has to be executed with a balanced approach in order to progress.

If you're wondering why you haven't heard back from nearly as many employers as you've applied to, an overly aggressive job search could be the reason. Here are some ways to help you determine whether you need to tone yours down a bit:

Calling multiple times to follow up on your application. Following up should usually be done after an interview. Many often think that the follow-up call will impress persistence and enthusiasm upon the hiring manager. Hiring managers, on the other hand, will more than likely tell you that it's more of an annoyance than a good impression. When hiring managers have to deal with piles of applications for just one position, the last thing they want to deal with is getting calls from applicants checking in. As a candidate, it's normal to want to feel like you have some control over each resume or application you send out but in this circumstance, let the hiring managers call you.

Applying to every job without enough thought. This is an easy one. The problem with this is that you may be setting yourself up for failure thus wasting your efforts. The callbacks are bound to be scarce if you're applying to jobs that you're not the best match for. The better approach would be to look carefully through the job descriptions. The closer matched you are to the job description, the likelier a callback will happen.

Showing up in person unannounced. Unless you have an interview scheduled, there really is no reason you should be stopping by the company. Showing up unexpectedly anywhere, especially to a potential employer is impolite, to say the least. There's no quicker way than to get your application sent to the trash can. Hiring managers would more than likely put this as the number one no-no of job seeking. Since most applications are sent electronically now, that even if you went in to inquire about an application they will just tell you to go home and do it online.

How Negative Feedback Can Actually Help You
Friday, February 01, 2013

Every worker feels differently about receiving negative feedback, or it's more common term, constructive criticism. This kind of constructive feedback, however, is necessary for work performance improvement and those that step up to offer it are doing you a favor.

As unenjoyable as they are to listen to, negative comments are effective in providing a real sense of your work performance and what others think will help you. It's not a good move to react defensively or take the feedback as a personal attack. Moving up in your career is bound to come with challenges so it's important to grow a thick skin in order to handle these moments.

Those who take negative feedback and turn it into a positive are those who most likely to achieve career advancement. Here are some tips to help you turn negative feedback into positive action:

1) Accept it for what it is.
Constructive criticism is a way to tell you that something needs some changes. Be open to embracing any feedback that is offered to you, both good and bad. Take notes on what your boss or colleague said to you and think of solutions for each point. Use it as a guide to redirect your plan of action. Focus on ways to improve your skills and become a better, more knowledgeable employee.

2) Bad news, good advice.
Negative feedback is the first step is making productive changes which later produce positive results. It's rare that you'll find someone eagerly volunteering to be the bearer of bad news keep in mind that that anyone who does it for your sake truly has your best interest in mind. The criticism is about your work, not you as a person. No one is perfect in what they do, but those who are open to constructive feedback are in a better position to be the best at what they do.

3) Take it as an opportunity to speak up.
If you feel like you've been misunderstood in any way by your co-workers or boss, take this chance to open up dialogue. The feedback should turn into a two-way conversation. Share your goals and objectives for to let others know of your agenda. Clearing up any possible misconceptions will be more motivation for you to prove your competencies in this role.

4) Do a self-evaluation.
Your boss may have only mentioned one or two things that could use some attention but that doesn't mean there aren't other areas that could do with some tweaking. Do a personal review of your work and ask yourself whether you gave it 100 percent. These could even be simple changes in things such as your attitude approach or certain habits that lower your productivity.

5) Prove yourself to yourself.
The most important reason to make positive changes from negative feedback is for you and your career. It's easy for the average worker to do what is expected in order to maintain the status quo, but those with a persistent drive are more enthusiastic when it comes to making positive change. Take a proactive role in your career by reaching out to others for their advice to move up in the ranks, even if that means seeking out the negative feedback. Chances are your future self will be thanking you.

How to Help Your Job Search By Helping Someone Else
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If you're a job seeker with a fellow job-seeking friend, stepping up to help them can actually benefit your own search. This job search buddy system is similar to friends who pair up for a fitness program. That mutual support can keep you both motivated and on track. Here are some tips on how to be a helpful job searching coach:

1) Only offer advice that is asked for in areas that you are familiar with. 
Job seekers attract unsolicited career advice like bees to pollen. With advice coming at them from every which way, much of it is often repetitive or more damaging than helpful. Unless you are both seeking jobs in the same field, refrain from giving advice that may only apply in your case. Instead, when they do ask you for some help provide some pointers in terms of resources they can turn to for the information they're looking for.

2) Respect their space.
As a friend, it's understandable that you want to play a part in his success. The pressure of finding a job and doing well in interviews is high enough as you can imagine so the support you both offer one another is meant to ease stress of being unemployed, not add to it. If he doesn't keep you updated on how his search is going, even if you wish he would, leave it up to him to share what he's comfortable with.

3) It's nothing personal if your advice isn't taken.
In reality, no one ever takes every piece of advice given to them. We all take the advice and insight given to us and use it form our own decisions. If you're prone to taking things personally, it might help you thicken your skin, an important trait to have in a job search.

4) Share your connections.
A job search is the best situation to have a "friends-with-benefits" relationship, the benefits being access to the other's connections. Having the advantage of someone else's network at allows yours to be twice the size  with less amount of work.

5) Network together.
Going anywhere alone where you don't know anyone is usually more dreadful than exciting at first. Eventually everyone loosens up once they start chatting but it's always easier to get the conversation going when you've got a wing man. You and your friend will more than likely end up going to more networking events together than either of you would have alone.

5 Ways to Spot a Company Worth Working For
Wednesday, January 02, 2013

In a job search, the candidate is usually the one who is graded on his qualifications for the position. Companies are also being put under the microscope, however, and being graded on how good of an employer they are to work for. Companies are competing similar to job candidates for the top spot on lists of best employers. Getting their names on these lists boosts their notoriety and gets them widespread attention.

At the same time, good employers don't necessarily have to be among the companies on those lists in order to be one. Individual companies are good employers for different reasons. You can easily work for one without having to go far to find it. Here are five ways to identify a company that has the makings of a good employer:

1) High numbers in hiring.
A company with a track record for hiring often is a telltale sign that business is booming. But it can also be a sign that people are often coming and going. If the positions they are hiring for are new ones then it shows that the company is growing. If, on the other hand, they have had the same position open for a long time, this is a sign of high turnover which could be a warning sign that the company has difficulty holding onto its employees.

2) Talk with those who know.
Current employees are the best people to turn to for insight. Employees usually don't have an agenda that would motivate them to sugar coat things whereas a hiring manager may be under pressure to get the position filled. Most employees will tell it like it really is, but be wary of employees who may feel that you pose a threat to their job security. Those are the ones who may have an agenda to keep you from wanting to work there. It's always a good idea to get as much information from as many different resources as you can but ultimately it's up to your better judgement to decide whether you want to work somewhere.

3) Check Better Business Bureau ratings.
The BBB is a great resource for seeing what the general consensus is for a company. Typically, a company that cares a lot about its customers will also show the same amount of concern for its employees. A low rating may reflect a tough place to work at. Don't only rely on the BBB ratings to shape your view of a company. A company may have one or two bad ratings but those may also be the only ones. A company where good ratings are hard to find is one to be cautious of. Do your research and see what's being said from various sources.

4) Get a customer's perspective.
To get a 360 experience of the company, try them on for size as customer before you apply. There's a reason why customers are quick to give feedback for bad service experiences while they tend to only rave about outstanding customer service. People form their opinions--which they are more than eager to make--from the treatment they are given from the employees so it's important that they are happy from beginning to end. Throughout the experience, ask yourself if what they are doing is something you want to be a part of and feel like you can make a positive contribution to.

5) Be thoroughly inquisitive.
Even though you are the one who is being considered for job, keep in mind that you're also supposed to be considering them as a place to work. Taking a job just because it is offered to you without considering whether it's the right kind of place for you will more than likely result in an unsatisfactory outcome. Employers expect candidates to have questions so don't feel out of place when asking the questions that matter to you. Good employers are willing to be as transparent. Those who seem to get uncomfortable from your questions may be questionable themselves.

Becoming a Full-Time Worker With Your Seasonal Job
Friday, December 14, 2012

Seasonal jobs are abundant during the holidays to keep up with rising demands in retail and consumer spending. People strapped for cash look forward to this time of year and with all the employment opportunities that come with it.

The major downside to seasonal jobs is that they come with expiration dates. That doesn't always mean that they won't need help after the holiday season is over.

Typically, seasonal jobs don't allow for much growth since employees have specific expectations. But depending on the need to hang onto another worker or two, some companies may select those that demonstrated a good work ethic to stay on permanently. If you're aiming to be one of these part-time to full-time workers, here are some tips to help you stand out of the crowd:

Do more than you have to. Exceeding expectations is the number one way to make an outstanding impression. When your job may be as a cashier or a stock room worker, employers can only expect you to carry out the task they hired you for.

By showing them that you want to take on more responsibilites such as filling in for someone in a different department or working an extra shift, you're telling them that this is more than a job to you. Employers always want people on their team who are more than willing to give 100% effort no matter what kind of work it is.

Offer to stay later and show that you want to be there. Ask to learn new things and help out others even when they don't ask. When employers need all the help they can get, let him see that you are the big help they've looking for.

Now of course everyone would prefer to have the holidays off to spend time with their families. That's kind of the catch about holiday jobs. There's more to go around because there are more people with time off to go out and spend money. That's part the sacrifice you make when you take seasonal job. While everyone is fighting to get prime holiday dates off, step up to the plate and make yourself available. Your boss will remember the time you made his life that much easier.

On top of all, let it be known to your boss that you want to stay. Don't simply mention it passing. Set up a time to talk and remind him occassionally. There's a good chance that being busy will lead him to forget.

If even after all your efforts there is still no chance of you making a full-time position happen, don't give up. Sometimes, the budget just doesn't allow for taking on additional full-time employees right after the holidays. Revisiting them later though is an option you will have. Establishing a good reputation at any company can always be used to your advantage.

Outdated Career Advice You Should Ignore In Order to Be Successful
Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Career advice has been around for as long as there has been a job market. A lot of which has been recycled again and again despite major economic, market, and technological changes. The thing about career advice is that none is actually timeless.

The most useful and effective kind of career advice will specifically reflect current times and culture. Taking advice from the past isn't the best way to move forward.

Let's get one thing clear: career advice has an expiration date, and when its meaning has gotten stale it's time for something fresh.
Often times, the same career advice is just worded in differently. One of these commonly reused pieces is "Do what you love/makes you happy and the money will follow." You've probably been working long enough to know that it doesn't typically work that way. In the real world, the money usually follows when you do what's in demand.

This isn't to say that people who make a living doing what they truly enjoy don't become successful. It's not hard to believe that having fun serves as fuel to stay driven thus leading to making good money. But considering the state of today's society, getting by until you get rich really isn't feasible. The current economy simply isn't flexible enough for just anyone to take those sort of risks.

Say you do follow your passion and the money never shows up. What's Plan B? In many cases, it takes people years and years before they start seeing a hint of profits. You also have to think about whether it's even something that has a consumer base substantial enough to sustain revenue. This isn't a bad idea if you're not bent on the money aspect. Paper chasers, on the other hand, should look for an industry that incorporates their interests and is in accordance with market demands.

Staying informed on the lastest trends and advancements in the business world will help keep you afloat when some areas start to sink. Think of the days of VCRs and VHS that are now gone along with your neighborhood Blockbusters. It can't always be assumed that the job you have today is bound to take you places so always have something else in mind in case of unforseen fallouts.

Life being as unpredictable as it is, preparation for whatever you may encounter a necessary survival skill. Preparing yourself well when it comes to your career means being two-steps ahead of the game, something that's hard to do when your mindset is ages behind you. Next time you think about advice that tells to you to what makes you happy, ask yourself whether making money is important to you. It may not buy happiness, though it does pay for food, shelter, and clothing which is enough to make most people happy.

Making the Part-Time Transition
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If it's been a while since you've worked a part-time shift, it can be hard to acclimate to the new schedule. Part-time employment is run on a completely different set of rules. It offers flexibility that full-time work often can't.

There has been a recent increase of workers looking for part-time positions in order to accomodate their changing lifestyles. Meeting the expectations of a 40-hour work week while juggling a list of other demands can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Switching to part-time work doesn't have to result in part-time pay. Working two part-time shifts works for many people who like the change of scenery and want to expand their experience in different industries.

Transitioning into part-time work is easiest when it makes the most sense. Think about your reasons for wanting to make the move. Is your current full-time job cutting into your family time? Are you feeling burnt out from the workload? Perhaps you want some time to get back in the classroom and want plenty of time to study. Get a good understanding for why part-time appeals to you so that you will be able to convince both yourself and your boss.

Once you know your own reasons for the change you need to get to know the nature of the part-time work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 25 percent of all working women in the U.S. work part-time. This will help you get your point across and your boss to make his decision. Learn as much about what being a part-time worker is like, and if possible, get some insight from someone who works part-time at your company.

Imagine what part-time life for you would look like. Would you be working 25, 30, 35 hour weeks? Depending on the type of job, some part-time work can allow you to work from home or at locations outside of the office. Figure out what your ideal part-time work situation would be like and see if your current boss would be willing to go along with it.

After much giving the idea much thought, it's time to prepare your pitch. Your boss will want reassurance that you're going to be just as good of a worker as you already are. Two main concerns will be your productivity and your accessibility. Schedule a time to discuss your plan so that you both have a fair opportunity to lay out your views and concerns.

In the case that your company isn't into the idea of cutting down your hours, propose the idea of a trial period from one to three months. If they agree to that, make sure you stick to your end of the bargain by showing them how well this new situation can work for the both of you.

What Not to Say In a Perfromance Review
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Were you ever one of those kids who got butterflies when you knew your report card was coming?  A performance review can bring up those same butterflies because you're being critiqued on how well you performed based on others' standards and expectations. Finding out these results can be very stressful when it comes to your livelihood.
A performance review doesn't have to a be a negative experience though. It's really just an evaluation of what's been done, both good and bad, and how this information can help you and your supervisor in the future.
The point of any kind of progress report is to find areas for improvement. It's a good opportunity for you and your team to assess the positive changes that can be made on everyone's behalf. It also points out the good that you've done.
Peformance reviews can be nerve-wracking as it is. The last thing you want to worry about is harming your career in this kind of situation. To avoid coming of your review with your foot in your mouth, here are six things that should never be said during it:
How did I do?
Asking this is risky because you're inviting someone to point out your flaws. You can still get a positive response but why take the chance if what they end up sharing with you is mostly negative? They'll bring up anything they feel is necessary to so leave the questions to them.
How can I do things better?
This question also solicits extra criticism. Instead of asking them to tell you what you can do better, offer them your own ideas. Suggest ways that you can contribute more productively and improve the company as a whole.
I'll work on that.
This doesn't say much in terms of wanting to make efforts of improvement. When your supervisor points out an area that he or she would like you to work on, ask them how. Allow them to explain the direction they want to see you go in. This is your chance to get everything out on the table so don't leave anything out. It'll show that you're genuinely interested and concerned with improving your performance.
Can I have a raise?
Performance reviews are not a time to ask for raises since it's only a chance for you and your supervisor to sit down and reflect on things. A better time would be schedule a one-on-one appointment where you can make your points and discuss the issue of a raise specifically. The performance review is a great way to outline these points to bring up later.
I don't feel challenged.
Even if you're feeling bored you can still turn it into a positive outcome. Point out the things you've been able to do well and other areas that you can make more stimulating. You might want to demonstrate to your boss that you're ready to take on new tasks and challenges, but make sure that you don't mention wanting to reliquish any of your current responsibilties. You want them to see that you feel ready to tackle it all, not just the things you prefer.
A review is only successful when it's interactive and you're engaged in it. By not preparing for it you can expect things to not go as smoothly. Before your review you should conduct your a self-review for any questions or concerns that come up. Without any feedback on your part, you'll just seem indifferent to what they are saying to you. Competent employees have something to say for themselves, don't give them the impression that you are otherwise with your silence.

How to Deal With Job Rejection
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The second you realize it's a potential employer calling, you can feel your heart skip a beat from either fear or excitement.either be exciting or petrifying. Putting the choice of what can change your future for the better or worse in the hands of a stranger can be hard to swallow, especially if they don't make the choice you want them to...

They've told you their answer and your heartbeat returns to normal. Their answer: thanks, but no thanks. There's nothing worse than the feeling of being certain that you'd be accepted for a position only to have your hopes crushed by their decision to go with someone else.

Rejection is tough but it's part of the job searching cycle. Everyone gets rejected during a job search. It would be nice to get your pick out of the several places you applied to but something like that is rare when the positions are more competitive.

Instead of letting the feeling of rejection get the best of you, use it to your advantage as fuel to continue your pursuit. Understand that plenty of thought goes into the final decision. Companies hire candidates who they feel will fit best at their company. Even though you felt like you would fit right in, they are ultimately the better judge of that.

Never take it personal. They are looking out for your best interest as much as their own. It's better that you know ahead of time and have the chance to start looking elsewhere. Another thing to avoid is getting your hopes up. A good interview is never a guarantee for a job offer. You have to go into each interview prepared to be passed on. This helps keep you from setting yourself for disappointment.

The nice thing about interviews is that they get easier as you continue to do more. You'll become comfortable in that setting and feel more confident. So even though you weren't able to get a job out of it,  you still got the practice to help make perfect.

Don't be embarrassed to ask why they decided not to go with you. Their feedback can prove to be very helpful in your next interview. Ask them whether it was something specific or if there was something else they would have like you to demonstrate. See if they might tell you what it was about the chosen candidate that got them the job.

If you think you did an excellent job, then don't let their decision make you doubt yourself. It's them, not you. Had they the ability to, they would probably take on several candidates that they thought were suitable for the job. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner and not being it in this round doens't mean game over. Continue going into each interview with the same confidence you feel when you think you've aced it.

5 Parts of a Successful Cover Letter Formula
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Have you ever been in the middle of applying for a job and stopped to wonder, "Do I really need a cover letter?" It can almost seem contradictory to attach an additional document considering the fact that resumes are emphasized on being brief and to the point.

The purpose of a cover letter is to provide some context to your resume. You want to make a good impression, and since it's hard to do so with a cookie-cutter resume, a cover letter is a great opportunity to introduce yourself. Part of that is being able to communicate your personality well.

Cover letters are often more important than resumes. They can be the determining factor for whether the hiring manager is interested enough to go on to read your resume. A successful cover letter gets attention for your resume and makes the kind of impression that gets you an interview. A cover letter puts the personality missing from your resume on paper.

1) Address the letter to an actual person.

The recipient of a cover letter does not want to see the words, "To whom it may concern." These words are no longer relevant to today's job search. Most employers will specify the person they want the inquires directed so always be on the lookout for names. You can bet your cover letter will go into the reject pile if you do this when the right one has already been indicated. If not, then try to find out for yourself. The easiest way is to simply call the company and ask someone.

2) Check for typos and grammatical errors.

Everyone should be able to write a clear and clean cover letter. As the writer and sender you have the luxury of going back and check it as many times as you want and sending it when you think its ready. If you send a cover letter full of errors, it's apparent that you didn't put the necessary amount of time and care. Mistakes like sentences that are too long, frequent typos, and using the wrong forms or you're/your and their/they're/there are some of the top rookie mistakes. Ask a friend to look it over and make improvements based on his or her feedback.

3) Stay focused on your resume.

Mentioning things on your cover letter that are absent from your resume is not a good move. Remember that it's supposed to be an introduction, not an explanation. If there are parts of your resume that you feel work out of your favor, don't further point them out in your cover letter. It will come off as making excuses for yourself. Plus, it isn't guaranteed that your cover letter will be read rather than your resume so make sure each can be compelling on its own.

4) Make a point in each sentence.

Your cover letter should not exceed one page nor take up the entirety of one. The body of the letter should be roughly three paragraphs long, without about 4-5 sentences in each. That's not a lot of writing which means that everything you include should have a point. A cover letter still needs to have meaning despite being brief. Less is more when it comes to the application process so the key is to relay that theme in both your letter and your resume.

5) Personality Plus Professionalism

It's hard to know what the hiring manager is looking for and easy to want to please. This might tempt you to just let it all out and address the reader like a friend so that they can get to know the real you. Hold that thought. Keep in mind that the hiring manager is still a complete stranger. Coming on too strong can and will backfire. Showing personality in a professional way just means not seeming like a robot. Don't be afraid to show who you are as long as you can do it smoothly.

5 Things That Weaken a Job Search
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's nearly impossible to conduct a perfect job search. You will make mistakes along the way, and most are easy to recover from as long as you learn from them. The job searching process is just that, a process, and improving as you go on is a part of that.

It's definitely a bad sign when you're not seeing results from your efforts, or even worse that you're making the same mistakes more often. Many of these common simple mistakes are easy to fixed when caught. The best way to catch yourself from tripping is with a careful eye and a conscious mind.

Here are some mistakes that yours may be overlooking:

1) Unpreparedness

Showing up to an interview unprepared is like wearing a name tag that says, "Hello, I'm NEW." It becomes obvious that you're not used to the interview protocol. Granted, not everyone has been to enough interviews to become an expert interviewee. All the same, one should always know what their expectations are especially if it could make or break your career.

2) Negative comments

Whether in a cover letter or during an interview, never express hard feelings toward anyone from your professional past. The second you do you can kiss your professional future go goodbye. Remember that everyone goes through hardships at one point or another in their career, but the real test is how you tackle those challenges. Negative comments can sound like bitterness or excuses to a potential employer. Instead, show them how you learned and grew from those tough experiences.

3) Not following directions

When things seem easily doable, people can often ignore the directions with the notion that they already know exactly what to do. The problem is, they don't. Many employers will provide directions on their way of taking applications and for obtaining certain requested information. Failing to obide by specific directions is an quick way to get eliminated as a candidate since potential employers will look for this first. They are checking to make sure that you are thorough and read the fine print. There's nothing worse than making a mistake that is easily preventable.

4) Limiting your resources

Job openings are not only posted online or in the classifieds. You can find them through social media as well as at job fairs. One way that you can find jobs that aren't posted is by creating a list of companies you want to apply to and find out who some of the people are who work there that may be able to help you. These people would include managers, human resources, and recruiters. Since the jobs are going to find you, you have to go out there and find them.

5) Not being social enough on

This pertains to being social on social media sites. No longer can a person get by with having just a Facebook profile and consider that as presence enough. You not only have to be active on your profiles but also have several on different platforms such as Google+ and Twitter, and LinkedIn. Those are just the major ones but by no means should you feel limited to them. Check out sites like where you can customize your profile to serve as somewhat of an interactive business card. This is a fun way to make an impression and also gain some recognition in the social media space.

Volunteer Your Way to a New Career
Monday, August 06, 2012

You might think that because you weren't paid to do volunteer work that it doesn't count as a real job therefore shouldn't be included on a resume. That's a myth.

Volunteer opportunities allow you to gain some hands-on experience working in a particular field that may be relevent to your career aspiritions. Anything relevant to a postion that you're applying for should always be included to your resume to show how much you know about fulfilling the required duties, especially volunteer work.

The very act of volunteering shows that you're not just in it for the money. Hiring managers will see that you actually enjoy doing your work and have a genuine interest in pursuing it. Volunteering also has its benefits in that you can meet other people who share the same interests and build your network. See how you can make your next career move by doing some good in your community.

1) Pick the right places.

Not every charity or organization openly accepts anyone and everyone who says they want to volunteer. In fact, volunteers will need training and supervising which takes up resources. Many places simply don't have the time, money and space to take on volunteers but there are also many that can which you can easily look into.

2) Consider your time commitment.

You might think that you're ready to devote a huge chunk of time to your volunteer work, but realistically, are you? It looks really bad when you make a commitment to an organization that you are not able to ultimately keep. People will see you as unreliable. Part of the benefit of having volunteer work integrated into your resume is to potentially have someone there that you can use as a professional reference. But if they see you as unreliable you can forget it. Know what's doable, start small and then work your way up.

3) Make your motive known.

Let the organization know why you're volunteering from the get-go. If they know what it is you're interested in doing there, then they can send those types of volunteer assignments your way. For example, if you want to help out in the business area, tell them what kinds of tasks you want to do and see if they have any available.

4) Remember that you're still a volunteer.

Since you're there on your own accord, they really don't have an obligation to fulfill your requests. It's the other way around. Like many volunteer jobs, you should expect them to give you assignments that don't  involve using or gaining much skill. They might not be immediately willing to hand over some of the important tasks over to you since it's common for volunteers flake out not long after. Plus, they will more than likely already have people paid to take care of these things and there might not be any extra work to go around. They'll have to try out out first before they can give you any major responsibility.

5) Give everyone a chance.

You might want to be taken on by a big company so that it will look better on your resume, however, most of them will have internship programs as opposed to offering volunteer work. And if they do, these tasks will most likely be the menial work you aren't looking for. Smaller places embrace the free help because they don't have the resources to take on a bigger staff. In those circumstances, you're more than likely to get the work you really want to get your hands on which will ultimately help you out in your career in the long run.

Salary Negiotiating No-No's
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We're all entitled to our fair share of compensation but most bosses aren't going to go around hanging out money--even if it's well deserved.

Working out a salary usually comes down to how well you make your case. You'll have to convince the manager that you will not only earn the amount you're asking for but deserve it based on examples of your performance.

Saying or doing the wrong thing can cost you. Here are some of those things that you'll want to avoid during the negotiation process:

1) Jumping the gun.

Unless you've already gotten an offer, there's no reason you should begin negotiating. Assuming you will get hired can actually work against you. Once an employer has made a clear-cut decision that they want you, you can then begin talking money.

2) Not having an idea.

Depending on where you apply, employers will either tell you what they will start you off at or ask you right off the bat. In both cases you can still negotiate your pay. But if you don't already have a figure in mind, don't expect the employer to start throwing out numbers for you. Do research on the typical starting salary range for your position .Know what you want and see if they are willing to give it to you or try to reach a middle ground.

3) Mentioning salary in your cover letter.

Salary has no place on a resume or in a cover letter. Talking about money at this introductory stage and can actually make you look foolish. Employers want to know what you can do for them, not the other way around. Until you can prove you're worth a certain amount don't put a price tag on yourself prematurely.

4) Taking too long to accept or refuse and offer.

It's good not too rush into anything you are unsure of, especially salary. When a company has agreed to give you some time to think about its offer, you should try your best to give them a timely response. Asking for more than a week will make it seem like you're keeping them on the backburner until you hear back from somewhere else. They won't waste any time finding someone else to fill the spot.

5) Talking about your personal finances.

We all need money. Impressing on them that you are in desperate need for a higher pay is bad form. Employers don't pay based on personal need. They compensate for the work so listing reasons why you need the money won't work in your favor.

Negotiating a salary offer from a potential employer is an encouraged practice. Employers like seeing that you highly value yourself and have the proof to back up it up. Negotiations should be a discussion leading to an agreement, not a plea. Reaching a compromise will produce a win-win situation.

What To Do When You've Got a Job Offer Dilemma
Monday, May 21, 2012

Having multiple job offers might sound like a dream come true. For some, it can be a nightmare when you hear back from one job before you hear back from the one you were really waiting for.

This can be a tricky situation because you don't want to tarnish your professional image when turning down a job offer. You might be tempted to accept the first thing that comes along, but refrain from doing so if you haven't heard back from other preferred choices.

Once you commit to one job, there's no turning back. Going back on your word after accepting the offer for one job can damage your chances of getting other offers from companies in the same industry. No matter what, it looks bad and leaves a bad impression on any and all hiring managers.

Companies usually won't wait for your decision since they can just as easily find another candidate to immediately fill the position. Contact the first company and tell them that you are very interested in the job but need some time to think it over. Ask when they will need a response. In this case, companies will generally give you at least a few days.

They will get the hint that you're waiting to hear back from other places but the longer you wait the more they will doubt your sincere interest and in turn become less interested in hiring you.

You'll need to immediately contact your preferred job choice and find out when they will have a decision. Explain your situation to them and emphasize that they are your first choice. If they are interested in hiring you they might speed up the process for offering you the position.

If they tell you that they can't give you an expedited decision, this can make a difficult situation even tougher. Weigh out the pros and cons of both choices.

Is giving up the first company's offer worth waiting to hear back from the other company on the chance that you may or may not get an offer? Or would it be better to take the first offer while you can while knowing you might have gotten the job you really wanted if you had just waited it out?

At some point in the future you may have another opportunity to seek out employment at your preferred company going back on your word for any company will ruin things for you at almost every company.

In the end, the choice is yours and depends on what you feel is right for you. Make sure to keep all parties' best interests are taken into consideration and your decision may be a little easier to make.

8 Job-Searching Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Career
Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It's becoming more common for people who put in the effort in their job searches to not get any takers without knowing why.

Usually, this is because seekers are repeating mistakes they are unaware of. Unless these errors are corrected, they won't see any change in the rate of rejections. They're easily fixable, but are sometimes hard to remember avoiding. Take it one step at a time and don't rush the job searching process. The goal is to make each attempt count, not to lose count of each attempt.

Here are some common mistakes made in a typical job search:

1) Taking outdated advice.

There's being traditional and there's being a thing of the past. Job searching conventions have changed with technological advances and are continually evolving. Professionals who started their careers decades ago haven't had to keep up with new approaches to job searching so the advice they give might not be as beneficial. Some of the best places to look are online job sites and from people who have recently done a lot of hiring themselves.

2) Neglecting accomplishments.

The habit that so many job hunters have a hard time breaking is just listing job duties on their resumes. Employers don't need to know what types of tasks were expected of you. More than likely, they'll already know. Stick to listing things that you did well consistently as well as any notable achievements you made at your last place of employment. They want to see what kind of worker you are and the contributions you made to the company.

3) Getting carried away.

A resume should be a brief list explaining your capabilities, accomplishments and interests. It's meant to be an introduction--usually condensed to a page or two--but those who turn their resumes into a biography are the first to get tossed. Even though you should be as detailed as possible, these details should refer to experiences that pertain to the most important experiences. The only experiences you should include in your resume are those that highlight you as an excellent employee and can be related to the position you're applying for.

4) Leaving out the cover letter.

These are just as important as a resume. No resume should be sent without a cover letter. The cover letter adds your voice to your resume and makes the interaction with the reader a little more personaland direct. Cover letters that can communicate well with the hiring manager and showing individuality to stand out. The candidates that stand out from the crowd are those that usually get the job. The time and precision that goes into a resume should also be put into a cover letter. Limit your use of generic cover letters as each should be written specifically for the potential company/hiring manager.

5) Pestering employers with follow-up.

Showing an active interest can easily become annoying for an employer. Imagine all the resume follow-ups they receive and then double it. You can easily change the hiring manager's sentiment of you if you call or email too much. Simply remind them of you and and wait for them to make the next move.

6) Showing up to interviews unprepared.

As humans, we expect our little mistakes to be forgiven but it's these same little mistakes that are actually hurting your chances of getting a job. Most hiring managers won't make a big deal if you forget to bring a resume, didn't make enough copies, or whatever else. They'll simply make note of it and rush you out so they can move on to the next prepared candidate. You want to make sure that you've done everything right on your part so that even if another candidate was more qualified you may have a good chance of getting hired.

7) Standing out in the wrong way.

While you want to stand out from the rest of the candidates, you don't want it to be for the wrong reasons. For example, don't stray too far away from conventions by sending in video resumes or even treats. Hiring managers are professionals and don't appreciate gimmicks. Interviews and jobs are given based on merit, not flattery or being over the top. Doing so can have an adverse affect and leave the hiring manager unimpressed and exasperated.

8) Have reliable references.

References above all should be trackable. Don't give hiring managers old numbers that may have since changed or to people who can only be reached at strict hours. Your references should act as your back up, but if you can't keep track of them the hiring manager sure isn't going to hunt them down. Provide references are not just co-workers but people who worked above you, they'll have more influential say on your performance.

Reasons Not to Quit Your Job Search
Wednesday, April 04, 2012

There's no denying it, job hunting is hard work and people often become discouraged when prospects repeatedly turn up bleak. But the worst thing to do in a seemingly unpromising job search is to give up. The outcome of not finding a job in that case is certain but perseverance will eventually lead to a better end.

For those who feel like throwing in the towel--don't--especially if you're using any of the following excuses to do so. There really is no good reason to quit a job search if there was any reason to begin one at all. The way you conduct a job search reflects how you'll perform once employed. The best way to avoid looking like a quitter is by not being one.

I Don't Have Anyone To Help Me
False! Help is all around you if you can recognize it. If you're tapping in to the right resources, then you'll realize that assistance is available whether it be via the internet or your next door neighbor. If you don't know where to start, think about what you feel your search is missing and think about the best place you can go to find them. If applying to a company in an industry different your previous experience, you'll want a relevant reference. Try to get a LinkedIn connection within that industry as it may benefit you more than your buddy from the place you were last employed. Just remember that you're not the only one in this position therefore help is always out there.

I Don't Have Enough Time
Yes, you do. Time never stops, only people and those who have time make it. Designating a certain amount of time at a specific time of day will prove the most helpful rather than doing it whenever you feel like it. Working that into your schedule will help your job search become routine. The same principle is applied to people who say that they don't have enough time to work out. By incorporating an activity into your normal daily schedule you eliminate the issue of making time for it. As your search progresses, your continued efforts are bound to produce results.

I Don't Have What It Takes
Says who? Whether you feel that you lack some self-control or qualifications there is nothing stopping you from obtaining whatever it is you need--except you, of course. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Set goals you can manage and as you accomplish them start building on those goals with even bigger ones. Implementing a no-excuses mentality is the perfect approach to achieving what you put forth for yourself. The most important factor in your entire job search is maintaining positivity throughout. Pessism will only hinder your ability to get anything done. Don't let feeling inadequate stop you from reaching your maximum potential in your job search. Everyone has what it takes, they just haven't proven it yet.

Job Search Rules You Can Break
Thursday, March 08, 2012

So much rides on a job search that people believe that following strict and rigid rules will produce results. While, yes, doing things the right way is a smart approach you have to stop and think if some of these rules may be outdated in the current job market. Job advice is useless if it pertains to another place and economic climate.

We live in a digital world now where the doors to communication are vast and wide open. The rules have changed and some from that are now irrelevant to the 21st century job seeker. For your best chances of making it in today's job market you need to be on the same playing
field as the times.

Don't worry about having to completely change up your entire strategy or fret that you've been doing it wrong the whole time. Change is a
gradual process so as long as you're with the program, just worry about here on out rather than making up for past decisions. These are
some of the rule changes to jot down in your mental notebook:

1) Sound like person.
Up until recently, we were taught to sound as smart as possible by using big words and long-winded language. Basically, the way no one talks in real life. The result? Someone on paper who knew how to do as they were taught and regurgitate unnatural speech. The problem with that is that you don't get an accurate portrayal of the person behind the text. You get a carbon copy of other people trying to sound as intelligent as possible without an inclination of a personality. BORING.

Today, online social media has taken off and become integrated in nearly all aspects of people's lives--including employment opportunities. Networking is great resource when looking for work because it emphasizes human connections and building relationships. The bar has been raised to a point where finding the right person for the job requires more than being able to do the job. It's also about fitting in with the company and having the right attitude. The first way they look for this is through your resume. If a hiring manager can't see who you are in your resume, they're not going to see you at all.

2) Don't sell yourself short at one page.
A nice, considated one page resume is a great way to start but two pages is perfectly fine too. It would be best not to exceed two pages--more than two and you're bound to get an eye-roll--but most people nowadays need more than one. You want to be as detailed as possible
and it can be hard to fully and accurately explain your experience in the little real estate one page gives you. Go ahead and take that much needed sheet.

3) Forget the objective, sort of.
You say it any way you want, but when it comes down to it your ultimate objective is to land a job. You know it, the hiring managers knows it, but quite frankly they don't really care. What they do care about is how you fit in with their objectives. If you have a generic objective it can
actually do more harm to your chances. It's a red flag that you're not actually concerned with working for a particular company but just wanting to be hired by anyone. There's nothing wrong with that, but use discretion. Show that you put some thought and effort into your
resume submission. Hiring managers want to see that you are genuinely interested in working for their company, not just thinking about your own interests.

4) Say what matters first.
Whether it's your work experience or your educational background, put the most relevant and advantageous information first. Even if you went to a prestigious school, if the position you're applying for has more to do with your role at a non-profit then by all means put that higher
up on your resume. Give priority to the most crucial information on the chance that the hiring manager isn't throroughly going through resumes. You might only have their attention for just a few seconds, make them worthwhile.

5) Remove mention of your references.
Saying that your references are "available upon request" is unnecessary because hiring managers will expect you to have them available if they ask for them. It's like the one-page rule, it's not really relevant anymore.

6) Arrive on time.
Getting to an interview too early looks bad. Why? Because you put the interviewer in a slightly awkward position. Give yourself a buffer of just about 5-10 minutes. If you have more time than that, find some way to kill it before walking in to the building. Interviewers will feel obligated to stop what they're doing and greet you and they may not be comfortable having you wait in the reception area too long.

The best thing to do in any case is use your best judgment. Do a little research on the company and get a feel for what their culture is like. Use what you learned as the basis for your approach. Remember that all companies are different so your strategies should cater to each of those companies needs. Companies are looking for someone that will be the right fit for their company, and you should be doing the same for yourself.

How to Use Email to Get a Job
Thursday, March 01, 2012

Spam emails are so rampant on the web that many people tend to ignore most of what's in their inboxes. This may be a big mistake, however, as you might be deleting an major opportunity hidden among the spam.

Email is far from being obsolete, you can't do everything is done via instant messaging or through social networks. Emails offer a form of communication that other platforms can't simply replace which is why companies still use them as a means of notification. Use your email to its fullest potential and take as much advantage of it as you can. Here are some tips to optimize your email usage in your job search:

1) Your Email Address
Nothing says unprofessional more than an email address that is informal or a nickname. You're email address should include your name and some numbers. But if you've only been using "foxylady123" all these years, you will have to create something more appropriate for a professional and corporate setting. Nothing hits a recruiter's funny bone more than a silly email address. Getting other people to talk you seriously starts with taking yourself seriously.

2) Cover Letters
Cover letters go into the body of an email when you send out a resume. They're extremely crucial to the job search process because they tell the reader more about you than what you put in the email. It's your chance to introduce yourself and add a backstory to your resume. People often just send resumes without a word, another big mistake. Your ability to communicate and represent yourself well through a cover letter lets the reader know that you are personally speaking to them and genuinely interested in getting the position.

3) Follow Up
It's much easier to follow up through email than via message not to mention it's also more genuine. Things that take time require more thought and the more thought you put into something the more the receiver can appreciate your effort. Email is the perfect balance between new school and old school. It has the same traditional feel of a written letter only it's through a digital medium.

When you follow up with someone you want to begin a correspondence that will create a valuable contact in your network. When you meet people make sure you find out about their interests so when you email them later to stay in touch (and to referesh their memories) you want to strike up a meaningful conversation whether it be career-related or not.

4) Job Alerts
Job alerts are a crucial email resource that should not be wasted. When looking through online job boards you always want to opt-in for email job alerts that notify you of jobs that you're interested in. This will also help do some of the filtering for you as you pursue your search elsewhere. Make sure to change your email settings accordingly so that they don't go unseen into your spambox. If you're signing up with many different sites, it might be helpful to create labeled folders for alerts from each site to go into so you know where to look for which one.

5) Proofreading
When you think you're done with your email read over, then read it over again. But before you hit send, leave it alone for 5 minutes then come back to it with a fresh mind. Even if you think you caught all your mistakes the first or second time you'll probably be surprised to see some left over. Writing is always a work in progress so you won't be completely satisfied every time you have to change something in your email, but don't spend all day trying to make it absolutely perfect. It doesn't have to read like an award-winning novel, it just has to be error free and make sense and when it is that means it's time to send it.

Don't let the use of your emails go to waste. They're still around for a reason. Job alerts, correspondance, network building...emails are a great way of making contacts with people in the industry along with the help of social media. They add a personal touch and allow you to talk more in-depth with people as opposed to a brief message. Even though the use of networking informally through social networking is becoming more commonplace in professional industries, you can't substitute what you're able to say in an email with an instant message or profile message.