3 Ways to De-Clutter Your Job Search

When you’re looking for a new job, you probably have a lot of different events and priorities going on.  You’re following up with employers, filling out applications, going to interviews, cold contacting, networking, and in between all of this – fulfilling family obligations who think you may have “free time” to help with any variety of situations.

How do you manage all of this?  Getting organized: you will be in better control of your time, resources, and energy.

1. Create an email address just for job search. This will allow you to properly follow up with employers, and you won’t miss a message because it was buried under junk mail. Get into the habit of even checking your Spam folder, because sometimes employer contacts get accidentally mistakenly filtered through there.

  • You can register for a free email account from many sources including MSN/Live accounts, Yahoo, or Google.  Google is the most dominant but there is heavier advertising in your inbox with these accounts as opposed to Live or Yahoo.  Find one you are comfortable with and choose a professional username such as “firstname_lastinitial@youremail.com.”
  • If your name isn’t available, avoid using the year you were born or zip code. This could provide either too much personal information or be an easy indicator for age.  If your original username option isn’t available, add in parts of your middle name or include your target industry/job title, such as “JohnTSmith@youremail.com” or “Erin_SalesRep@youremail.com.”

2. Schedule your day. This will help you keep a balance of personal and professional activities.  Treat job searching like a full time job, and put in around 8 hours a day towards your search.  This can include working on your resume, meeting with a career advisor, networking, filling out applications, following up, and researching employers.  Remember to keep a balance: if you start working 12 or 13 hours a day towards your job search, you could get stressed out and may not get at least 6 hours of sleep which is required for better cognitive functioning. Getting a good night’s rest and visiting with friends or family can re-energize you and may improve your efforts and contacts with employers throughout the rest of the week.

Below is a sample schedule to visualize the balance of professional and personal activities.  Note that the weekends are slim, with Sunday excluded.  If you treat your job search like a full time job, you can keep bigger activities for later in the week, and enjoy your weekends.  Just don’t forget to check your email in case an employer responds to you and requests a follow up.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Follow-up meeting with XYZ Builders: 10AM Coffee with Jen: 9AM Application and Resume to ABC Co. Review ACME Corp research. Application and Resume to Retail Co. Follow up via email with employers
Resume Critique at Job Center: 1PM Networking Club: 10-11:30AM Phone call with referral contact. Interview at ACME Corp: 1-? Research employers. 1-4PM FREE
Research employers. 1:30-3:30PM Work on cover letters for ABC Co. and Retail Co. Babysit nephew: 5-9PM. Send thank you emails. Dinner with Greg and Lori: 8PM FREE
  • Google calendars, Microsoft Outlook or Excel, a day planner, an app on your smartphone, or a regular calendar can all be useful tools for organizing your daily schedule.  Using a calendar that is connected to your email account has many benefits that make scheduling much easier: if you have travel plans, Google can sync your inbox content with your calendar and search features.  Whichever one you choose, stick with it.
  • For the schedule to work well you need to consistently use it. This will eventually allow you to chart your progress and you can see how much you accomplished over the past weeks. Use this as an evaluation tool. If you notice you haven’t gotten an interview call, see if you can modify your resume or have someone review your application materials to see how you can improve the contact efforts.

3. Storage: save emails or hard copies for later reference.  When you apply to a job, save the job description and announcement. When you have an interview with the company, these materials will be useful to review.  Also, if you find yourself applying to multiple jobs and an employer calls you, you want to know the company and job you applied for immediately to make a positive impression.

  • Hard Copies: When saving hard copies, organize job announcements by company.  If you are targeting different jobs, you can create separate folders based on occupation.  Alphabetizing is quick for an easy reference. Using file folders or accordion folders can make storing the documents more convenient.  If you customized a resume or cover letter specifically to that job, it may not hurt to place copies of those materials in the folder as well.  When you’re called in for an interview, you can review your contact with the company up until that point, and make copies of your customized resume to provide at the interview.The main goal is to not have cluttered piles of papers at your work station.  if you have a desk with your laptop or PC on it, it may be easier to focus if your desk is clear and you can reference your other materials when needed.  Seeing all the piles or your desk may get your materials disorganized, and could potentially add to any stress which would not be optimal when filling out your next application.
  • Electronic files: When using your professional email account, you can save your contacts and messages to folders within your inbox.  Right-clicking on your inbox or seeing a “+” sign by your folders can lead you to an option similar to “Create New…” Under this option, you can select “Folder,” and within each folder, you can make sub-folders.

For example, in the picture below, you will see folders with sub-folders, organized by Job and Company.

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Keep in mind, these directions will be slightly different from provider to provider.  If you have any difficulty, consult your email providers FAQs or Help options.  Typing a question into a Google search can also refer you to helpful forums where experienced users help others resolve issues and provide tips.

Creating a separate email, scheduling your days for professional and personal activities, and organizing your storage system for employer contacts will make your job search more efficient. When you have balance in your schedule, you perform at your best. When you are in work mode, your job search email account and organized contact system will optimize your time spent on job search activities. You won’t need to hunt around for a particular file or resume, because the email won’t be buried under unrelated forwarded messages, nor will you have to search through piles on your desk and add on any stress. If you have any questions on these tips, feel free to message me or comment below.

If you have more organizational tips that have helped you in your search, please share!

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Career Fair Success

There are quite a few articles out there about how Career Fairs are fantastic, or how they can be a “waste of time” but my opinion is this: Career Fairs can be a great opportunity to meet new people, market yourself, and build your base of contacts. Any type of job search activity without a plan won’t be successful, which is why preparation is so important. Below, I have outlined some advice which you can hopefully take with you to your next Career Fair.

BEFORE THE CAREER FAIR

Before you attend the fair, get a list of companies attending and see what jobs are currently available. In the majority of cases, you may be able to apply online prior to the event. Make sure your application and resume are edited for each position, showing how your skills and experience can benefit their company.

Make copies of your resume, even if recruiters at the event tell you to just email it (which you may hear a lot). It is better to have it and hand it to an employer, than leave it at home and show up empty handed. Networking cards are also an effective option- a way someone can contact you, alongside your name and a branded line about the skills you have and the type of position you are seeking. Networking cards are smaller and more convenient than carrying around someone’s resume.

Plan out what you are going to wear. Just like an interview, make sure you try on the outfit ahead of time, and make sure it is presentable and professional. Planning what you wear at the last minute will create an added level of stress. Although Career Fairs aren’t as formal as an interview, you should still use this event as an experience to market yourself and leave a positive impression.

Logistically, seek out the location of the event and get an idea of the parking situation. Show up early, but don’t walk into the event very early. I recommend aiming for 15-20 minutes before the event starts. In some cases, there is a waiting area where you can go grab some coffee. Some employer may arrive late because of long travel distances and traffic, so give everyone time, but being early won’t make you hike too far to find your car when it’s done.

DAY OF THE EVENT

As you get to the event and start heading into the building, get a map of the employer layout. Every employer will have some type of signage, but some may strongly overpower others, and a 6 foot standing banner could block a table in a further row. Take time to walk around casually, to scope out the situation.

A common mistake is to rush to your dream employer and get meeting them out of the way. Even if they are your main goal for attending the event, you shouldn’t rush towards them. Give yourself a chance to get comfortable, and introduce yourself to one or two other companies. This will help you work out any potential issues in how you are introducing yourself.

These events will also have school, military, or job center representatives as well- so if you want to pursue any information outside of jobs, there may be opportunities to do so. In Connecticut, we even offer Resume and LinkedIn profile critiques at our Career Fairs, in order to provide a variety of services to keep job seekers competitive and market themselves well.

As you talk to employers, vendors, and representatives at the event, don’t forget to talk to fellow job seekers as well. More popular employers may have longer lines, so don’t be afraid to flash a smile and introduce yourself. Light small talk or a small joke can break the ice and potentially lead to a great networking opportunity. Whenever you talk to anyone, exchange business or networking cards. Take a minute after you part ways and jot a few notes down about them on the back of their card. Write down the topic you discussed, or maybe a personal detail that came up. Small details will help you remember the person and will make for even stronger thank you cards.

AFTER THE CAREER FAIR

When you leave the Career Fair, you will hopefully have quite a few business cards from employers, and maybe some cards from vendors or fellow job seekers as well. Here’s your time to draft up some follow up emails. In general, keep these emails short; around two to four sentences. Long emails may be overwhelming, but a quick, simple email will continue the positive impression you left with the recipient the day prior.

For the content of the email, tell the contact it was nice meeting them at the Career Fair and you wanted to follow up, sharing that you would be happy to be of help to them if they request. If you are writing to an employer, attach your resume or any other documents that may have been requested. If there are further applications or forms you were directed to, make sure you review our tips for online applications.

As an option to replace contacting via email, you can also see if the person you met is on LinkedIn. I recommend reaching out on LinkedIn to those you met who are fellow job seekers. If you are seeking to get in touch with a recruiter or company representative, then read their LinkedIn profile first. Although I wouldn’t be, some may be not like connecting too soon. As everyone is different, you will notice everyone has a different attitude about connecting with others on LinkedIn. If unsure, I would say email is your safest bet.

Overall, Career Fairs can be a great opportunity for networking events. If you want to meet a representative from a company you have been targeting for some time, then it is in your best interest to get out there and meet with the employer. If nothing else, making connections with fellow job seekers can strengthen your job search dramatically. Practicing how you introduce and market yourself to an employer will also be a skill you will use throughout the rest of your career. So let me know in the poll below, do you find Career Fairs beneficial?

Tattoos and Piercings at the Interview

By Erica Tew, CPRW

Recently, the question of tattoos and piercings at the interview arose and we debated what was appropriate.  We stuck with the conservative approach as general guidance: always cover up best you can in a professional outfit, and possibly remove any facial piercings. The goal is to be remembered for what you said, not your appearance. 

However, there is another layer to this subject I would like to address.  Before I delve into it, I want to share a few ground rules. I do not think under any circumstances should you show a tattoo that is religious, political, or offensive (lewd imagery, foul language, or gory/violent) in any way. I also think facial piercings should be on the smaller side, to not take too much attention away from your words.

Personally, I am a fan of tattoos and piercings. I think the creativity and skill involved in a well-done tattoo can be really beautiful.  I have a few of my own and have even weighed the interview appearance question on whether or not an industrial piercing or a nose ring should be removed. In my conservative workplace, a small nose ring is becoming very common, but I still tend to cover the industrial with my hair down.

Depending on your company’s culture and attire, tattoos or piercings may be acceptable, or even welcomed.  For example, there is a common belief that you should never trust a tattoo artist that doesn’t have any tattoos of their own.  It happens, but it is really difficult for an artist to make it without some of their own. Places that typically do not mind tattoos could be laborious jobs such as warehouses or shipyards. In retail, many shops welcome their staff to be creativity and display their own artwork; not minding tattoos or piercings.

What you may not realize though, is many of our corporate sectors are tolerant of tattoos and piercings as well. Some universities where you may be working independently can be accepting. Small businesses, startups, and other employers can be a mix- but my advice is, when possible, to simply walk into the building before applying.  See how the employees and managers dress. Note any tattoos or piercings and reflect manager norms in your own interview attire. Even if the employees have visible tattoos or piercings, but the managers are more conservative, you are safest with dressing on the conservative side for your interview. Some companies may not mind tattoos or piercings on employees, but when promoting an employee, they may prefer someone who more closely reflects executive style choices. Dress for the job you want, at the company you want.

Overall, researching the company culture will be most important when determining your interview appearance. Although tattoos and piercings are increasingly accepted, many companies still want employees to reflect their corporate brand at all times, and a tattoo may clash with that brand. If you really love a company and aren’t sure of their policy, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and cover up. If you have further questions, please leave a comment below!

#Resume & Job Search Advice for Older Workers

1) Do not list every job you’ve ever had.

Your resume is not your life story. Think of it as a marketing document to sell your experience, skills, and achievements. This document should be customized specifically for the job you are targeting. In simpler terms? If you are applying for a job as a Manufacturing Manager, your experience as a part-time barista during college may not hold any value. If you are concerned about leaving a job out of your resume because it may show a gap in employment, then focus on the transferable skills. What details can you draw from that experience that will impress a hiring manager in the Manufacturing industry?

2) Do not provide unnecessary details.

Why did you leave your last job? That is a common interview question. Information about plant closures or involuntary discharges does not need to be listed on the resume. Instead, develop an answer that will briefly explain what happened without going negative. Wait to share this answer, if asked, during the interview.

Personal details such as marital status, appearance, health conditions, or children, should not be on your resume. Keep everything related to the job. Sharing personal information is not only unnecessary, but it may also open you up for potential discrimination. Marketing your skills and abilities is the focus.

3) Unless you need a CV, try to keep the document to two pages.

This isn’t a hard rule, but most hiring managers prefer if resumes stick to one or two pages. If you have over ten years of working experience, two pages may suit you better than trying to squeeze important information onto one page. If you are changing careers, maybe one page of related skills and experience may be enough. A combination of selecting only appropriate information needed to market you well for the job and formatting skills for margins, font size, and spacing to make the document readable, will help you stay within the one to two page maximum. Keep in mind, hiring managers do not get a lot of time to read through everyone’s resume. The resume is your advertisement explaining why the hiring manager should interview you, and you do not want to waste that space. Grab the hiring manager’s attention by showing how you can make an impact to the company: show a history of achievement, a competitive skill set, or any variety of details that relate to the job.

4) Do not use a generic resume objective.

With the competition for job openings, you need your resume to stand out. If the very first section under your contact information states you are “Seeking a rewarding and fulfilling full-time opportunity at XYZ Industries,” then the resume will probably not make an impact on the hiring manager. The standard resume objective only serves to share what you want from the employer, not what you can do for the employer. The standard resume objective may also be risky if there is an oversight and it isn’t customized. No employer would want to see a resume stating the objective is to work for the competition.

Make this first section show who you are and what you can do. “Results-oriented Manufacturing Manager offering proven record of improving processes and optimizing resources” can pique interest, especially if followed by a section that highlights specific, related career achievements.

5) Customize a cover letter with every application.

Similar to a standard resume objective, many applicants send the same generic cover letter. The cover letter can be a great opportunity to showcase writing skill and further make the match for the employer as to why you would be a great fit for the position. Do not reiterate your resume, but highlight a few key points and explain how your skills could benefit the company. Conducting some research before applying can help your cover letter stand out even more. Does the company have regular community service involvement? Share your volunteer experience to show why this company, specifically, would be your ideal company (in addition to why you are qualified for the job). Furthermore, if a specific colleague from your network advised you to apply for the job, the cover letter can be your opportunity to mention them. Employee referrals are more likely to get a chance to interview than someone going in “cold”.

6) Register for online job applications.

Nearly every company will make you complete an online job application. Hesitancy to provide personal information is understandable. However, many companies make applicants register with their website prior to applying for the job. In some instances, this registration can enhance the applicant experience (but we all understand, in many instances, this can feel like a major pain in the neck). For positive example, by registering on some company application websites, you can check the status of your application, maintain a log of jobs to which you have applied, continuously update your resume, and upload additional documents to make applying to future positions easier and easier. Not all websites are like this, but many registrations allow you to access certain features that may make applying a little easier. What the job seeker must do is maintain a list usernames and passwords, kept in a secure location or create log-in IDs and passwords you can easily remember. Only in very rare circumstances can you “bypass” the online job application. Even with getting a referral and interview by networking, there may still be some HR protocol to keep an application on file for every employee. Depending on how many applications you submit to companies, this list may be long, so organization is crucial.

7) Learn how to tell if a website is secure.

When registering to application websites online, you may be asked to first provide your name, city of residence, and birthdate. This is the same amount of information needed to create an email address. It is smart to play it safe; do not arbitrarily give out this information. In the same respect, online job applications cannot easily be ignored because they request this information. A few key features to look for are the “s” in the URL. A typical URL starts with “http://example…” but a secure page will have an “s” after the “http” such as in https://examplewebsite.com. HyperText Transfer Protocol and HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Additionally, there will be an image of a lock, either in the address bar, or placed somewhere on the bottom of the browser. When you hover your mouse over the image of the lock, there will be more information available about the security of the website. If you view the Certificate of Security, you can see whether or not the Certificate is still valid. If it is valid, you are usually safe to proceed forward. This advice also applies for online shopping, when you must enter your credit card information, or a variety of online activities. For future reference: review this infographic.

8) Most importantly, network.

Networking is one of the most successful ways to learn about job leads. Keep in touch with family, friends, past co-workers, neighbors, and anyone you know who may be able to keep an ear out for you. Make a list of your contacts who work at a company you would like to learn more about, or who may have contacts at a company for which you want to work. General etiquette will always apply; don’t expect everyone to be willing to help, but the more people that know you are looking, the more people you will have who can possibly get you information about a potential lead. Always try to offer your help for anything before asking for any favors, or show willingness to help out if needed.

Volunteering can provide recent experience on your resume as well as help build your network. Going online and joining social networking sites will also make networking easier. LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook (among many other sites) can be used for professional networking purposes. In a previous post, our author George provided a break-down of the top ten social media sites, and how you can use them for job search.

Overall, a successful job search means you employ various methods until you find what works for you. Network in person and online, get your resume reviewed by both colleagues in your field and CPRWs at a local American Job Center, customize cover letters to market more of your selling points, and don’t be too nervous to fill out an online job application if you need to. There are many other strategies out there. This experience can be a learning process, and the American Job Centers offer many no-cost workshops to help you build skills or learn new ways to search.

5 Tips: What to Do at the #Interview

When you make it to the interview, you want to be on point. Prepare answers ahead of time that show situations, actions you took, and results to respond to many behavioral questions. Research the company: the company culture, mission, news, and services, can help you relate your skills in a way that shows benefit to the hiring manager. The interview will go even smoother if you follow this advice:

1. Silence your cell phone

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Most people will say to shut off your cell phone or leave it in the car. However, if you use it to schedule appointments, you may want it handy if asked for a follow up appointment or date for a second interview. If your phone does go off, it’s not an immediate “fail.” It all depends on how you recover. Don’t look at who is calling; just shut it down and apologize immediately to continue.

2. Smile

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Sure, interviews make everyone nervous. It may be a combination of nerves and adrenaline, but researching and practice will help build your confidence before the interview. If you’re too worried about how you sound or are constantly wondering if you relayed everything you wanted to say, your face may not read that you’re someone who is excited about the opportunity. Take a moment, breathe, and smile right when you shake hands. If this is a phone interview, smile as you talk as well. Your voice transforms when you’re smiling and makes you sound more enthusiastic and engaged. Plus, everyone likes being around a friendly person. Would you want to work everyday alongside someone who constantly keeps a serious face on?

3. Don’t talk money or benefits

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Unless specifically asked by the interviewer, do not be the first to bring up pay or benefits. Save these questions for the job offer. The interview is a business meeting where you and the employer are trying to see if you will be a quality match for the position. Show that you can do the job and you want to work for the company. It can be a major turn off if a candidate doesn’t use this time well, but rather just asks how much they would make. If the interviewer does bring this information up first, research average salaries from Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information website. Always provide a range for salary to avoid being too expensive or underselling yourself. For more information on Salary Negotiations, see George’s post.

4. Speak clearly and avoid the “Yeahs, Ummms, and Likes”

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If you need to briefly pause and think about your answer before responding, take the time to do it. The interviewer may need you to be a representative of the company, and depending on how you present yourself, speech included, your casual way of speaking may be off-putting. “Umms” and “Like” are fillers that can be reduced by practicing your answers beforehand. I am guilty of the “Yeah” abuse, but in an interview, the answer is always “Yes”.

5. Dress Appropriately

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You can never go wrong with a button-down/blouse and dress pants/conservative skirt. This rule can be modified from company to company. Some company cultures prefer very professional attire. If that’s the case, then suit jackets and ties should be worn. Everyone can benefit from having at least one great suit in their closet. If the office is more casual, perhaps replace the dress pants for some khakis. Research the company and try to match what the manager would be wearing. Ask ahead of time if you think you may be touring any facilities that may require boots, a hardhat, or similar special circumstances. In general, I don’t know of a time where shorts, flipflops, sweatpants, anything low-cut, or anything revealing could be considered acceptable interview attire. Try on your outfit ahead of time to ensure proper fit, and remember: you want to be noticed for what you said, not what you wore. For more on this topic, check out Uriela’s blog post about appropriate interview attire.

If you have questions or concerns about these suggestions or anything related to your upcoming interview, please drop us a line in the comments below!

[All gifs thanks to giphy!]

Re-Boot Your #OnlinePresence

Every new graduate should see the value in maintaining a solid, professional online presence.  Hiring managers and recruiters could be searching for you online at any point in the job search process. Are they seeing digital gold or digital dirt? Your online presence can validate your candidacy and effectively market you to stand out against the competition.

 

  1. Google Yourself

 

Take control of your online reputation. Try Googling yourself to see if you have any digital dirt in cyberspace. Growing up with the internet means you’ve been going online long before you thought about your career. Information about you (good or bad) may still exist in the form of online journals, games, forums or personal websites.

 

  1. Create Profiles on Social and Professional Networks

 

It’s time to re-boot your online presence. Develop new content on social networking sites, blogs, or personal pages to market yourself and your value as a candidate. To show up on the first page of search results, join sites that have a high Google ranking like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Use social media to your advantage: remove any content under your control that is no longer relevant.

 

  1. Complete Your Profiles

 

So you’re on LinkedIn and Twitter. The only way they will help you stand out is if you complete your profiles. Many sites have step-by-step instructions for completing profiles on these networks. These sites are an opportunity to market yourself and complement your resume. They will only be worthwhile if they contain information that isn’t simply a copy and paste of your resume. LinkedIn can showcase your recommendations, endorsements, previous work history, awards, or skills that you didn’t have the opportunity to discuss in the interview.

 

Not completing your profile or leaving sections blank may not hurt your job search, but it is a missed opportunity that most cannot afford in this competitive market.

 

  1. 3 P’s: Public, Professional, and Presentable

 

Employers want to learn more about you and see if the person they interviewed is the same out of the office. If you prefer to keep your profile private, just remember that everything online has the potential to go public. A friend can retweet you from your private Twitter, you can be tagged in posts on Facebook, and friends can take screenshots on any app or platform.

 

Nothing online is ever truly private, so be proactive. Try finding a way to refine your regular use of social media.  Improve your chances of securing a second interview or job offer by showing hiring managers you present yourself professionally.

 

Some employers look up candidates to determine cultural fit.  Sharing your love of hiking may work in your favor, but your political views may be another story. Make sure any questionable content is removed. Leave any groups or unlike any pages that stir controversy or could be seen as a red flag to an employer.

 

And Remember…

 

Taking extra steps to ensure you market yourself effectively will make you stand out from the competition. Don’t overlook these details – start managing your online reputation today!

Different #Generations in the Workplace

generationcomic

What bothers me is that most of these articles take on the tone of “How to deal with ____ generation.”  That tone is the problem.  You’re seeking advice on ways to work with a diverse group of people and the tone of the article is negative from the start.  Our perception of an experience comes from the choices we make, and our mindset going into a situation can define that experience as positive or negative.

image via infinityconcepts.net/

image via infinityconcepts.net

Many times, generations get unfairly labeled.  You can’t label an entire group of people born within X number of years and expect those views to reflect in every workplace.  Stereotypes will always be stereotypes.  A stereotype, by its very definition, is “an oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing.”  When we oversimplify each other, we begin to oversimplify the human experience and what it means to really get to know one another.  I don’t think I could morally brush someone off because  I believe I think I know about their work ethic simply because I’ve Googled it.

For example, I saw this picture online that said, “My mom says she’s ‘bad at computers because her generation is bad with them,’ and then I remind her Bill Gates is part of her generation.” There are always exceptions! I feel these articles are creating a passive-aggressive tension between generations and other bloggers and I would like it to stop.

I know anecdotal evidence is a flawed argument but my goal is just to make everyone take all of these “Generational Advice” articles with a grain of salt.  I believe if you like what you do, you work hard, and you develop emotional intelligence to mitigate damage to communications- you will most likely not find difficulty in the workplace.  Humor also has this fantastic way of transcending personal factors. I’ve worked in many offices and everyone has had a great sense of humor… thank goodness. You can’t work with people all day long and not find ways to make one another laugh.  (You physically can’t- don’t try it! It would be bad for your health!)

Please don’t take this post to mean a homogenous workplace could be just as good as a diverse workplace.  Perhaps it could, yes, but I truly believe you need diversity in opinions, levels of experience, and varying specialties for an organization to reach its potential.  When it comes to working in an office with multiple generations, I believe the best advice is to just treat people like people.  If you’re new and looking for advice, here:  take a deep breath, smile, and introduce yourself to your coworkers.  You will get to know everyone in time.

Job Search Planning

 

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Success comes from hard work, and job search success takes planning.  When looking for your next position, ask yourself-

1.       Do I know what I want to do?  Can I do that here?  Do I need any further education or training to be qualified for this type of work?

This is a question only you can answer, but there are plenty of skills and interest assessment tools out there to help.  MySkillsMyFuture.org and MyNextMove.org can help get the ideas rolling if you are stuck.  Career counselors and workshops provided at local American Job Centers can also help you narrow down your choices.

Always compare your target occupation against Labor Market Information to see if that job is currently growing or if that position is popular in your area.  Some jobs are only available in major cities, so determining your target job can make you weigh a lot of factors.  Am I willing or capable of moving?  If I stay here, would I be happy to do another type of job?  Do I have the skills to do another type of job?

 If you need further education or training, there are many free online training programs sponsored by the American Job Centers, or see if local college or training programs are an option.  Depending on the career path, sometimes there is funding or assistance available for training.

 

2.      Who knows I am looking for work?

 Make sure your friends and family know you are looking.  When you speak with them, give them a brief overview of what you did and what you would like to do next.  If you’re open to different types of work, be specific.  Avoid saying you’d “Take anything,” because it is off-putting and defeats your purpose.  Saying you’re open to anything sounds like you’re not really focused on anything.  If you don’t know what you want, how can someone else properly refer you?  Keep in contact with your network and help them when you can so they can remember you if a fitting lead comes up.

Catching up with friends or family, going to an alumni or industry-related event, connecting with people through social media, or joining job search groups are just a few ways you can grow your network.  It may be difficult for shyer folks to “put yourself out there” but with research from the first step, knowing what you want may be a confidence boost on its own.  There are also lots of networking event ice breakers you can look up, but being friendly and helpful are always recommended.

 

3.     What am I using to market myself?

 Now that you know what you want to do, and you have researched the skills to take to do it (or are in a training program gaining the knowledge or experience needed,) you’ll need to develop some marketing materials.  Your resume is crucial, and will be supplemented by any other materials an employer can see or will receive.

If you’re applying to a position directly, be sure to optimize your materials with keywords so you make the match for the employer and show you are qualified for the job.

When posting your resume online such as on CT.jobs, be sure you title your resume something related to your field.  “Human Resources Manager” or “Results-Oriented Sales Representative” is better than “Tom Smith Resume” because the employer searches resumes on CT.jobs by keywords.

Searching job postings nationally will give you an array of keywords that are common across your target positions.  Save a list of these keywords so you can use them in context throughout your resume or application materials.

Resumes and application materials are supplemented by any online networking sites you have joined.  It is important to establish an online presence because many employers “Google” candidates prior to interviews.  In the same way that you do not want to be screened out for an improper Facebook photograph, you also want to be noticed for your positive contributions on the web.  Joining and engaging with other industry professionals on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn will reflect positively on you.  By default, Google will typically list these pages first if you actively use them and they are a great way to strengthen your reputation and positive image ever before any interview.

 

 

Targeting, Networking, and Marketing are essential for job search success.  Lay out a plan for yourself and create a list of realistic and manageable goals to complete these steps one at a time.  Like any activity, you get out of it what you put it.  Stay energized and motivated, and if you feel that negative self-talk is defeating your job search, disrupt your routine and try a new approach.  There are hundreds of ways to network and market yourself.  Finding what works for you and what makes the phone ring will take some planning and experimenting, but these tips should get you started.

Send us your #JobSearch Questions!

All of us at CT Career Guidance want to provide helpful information to those local and far.  To better address any concerns, we want to hear from you!  Tell us your job search questions/topics of trouble in the comments below or over email and we will tailor our next posts to respond to everyone.  

Important note- please leave any employer information anonymous so as to not hurt any chances while searching.  Thanks so much.  Hope to hear from you, and we hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

 

Dealing with Questions during your Holiday #JobSearch

Searching for your next job is tough.  It can be even harder during the holiday season when you are back and forth to various family get-togethers.  Family and events aside, depending on your industry- this is a great time to not slow down the momentum of applications.  Many companies are still scheduling interviews and hiring at the end of November through late December, so don’t think everyone at your dream organizations are gone on vacation.  Keep at it; make sure your application materials are targeted for the open position and that you still keep in contact with your network (even if it is just to drop them a line wishing them a safe and happy holiday season!)  You may be surprised at the response rate you could receive.

As far as dealing with aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc… Assume that everyone means well, and people may just be asking for small talk’s sake and don’t mean any ill will by it.

Topic Switch

If family asks, “How’s the job search going?” and it is the last thing you want to talk about due to stress, you could just state something polite and noncommittal such as, “I’m still waiting to hear back from a few places, but I also had the best time with (insert hobby, trip, reuniting with an old friend, event here) the other day.”  If a family member is just asking to make small talk, the topic change is up to you.  That way, no one feels uncomfortable and if you’re talking about something you love, it will be an easy transition.

Unemployment statistics and the economy are also quite often topics on the news, so these transitions are especially helpful when you want to de-escalate some of your family members; specifically, the ones that wait for these social functions all year long so they finally have a platform for their offensive political and religious beliefs that are piecemeal of the evening news and sensationalist magazines headlines at the checkout lanes of the local grocery store.  Aunt Ellen getting loud again, polarizing the family with her views?  “Cousin Sarah, this stuffing is delicious!  Tell me the recipe?”

Networking

Some family members believe they know everything about the job market, even though they have never had to conduct a serious job search in the 21st century.  As a job seeker, you know a LOT has changed in the last ten years.  You can’t walk in and shake hands with a complete stranger anymore, and many places tell you that they don’t take phone calls- and reroute you to apply online.  Once online, you have to provide personal details for an hour just to register with the site before you even begin the timed application, from which you may or may not hear back.  Yeah, a lot has changed, to say the least.

Some aspects of job search, however, have not changed.  Networking has been the oldest way to job search and to this day, it is still the most successful.  Networking opportunities amongst family may be a beneficial avenue you have yet to pursue.  Just to clarify, I am not advocating you put your cousin Joe as your professional reference, but perhaps Joe has a friend who has a company that could use someone with your skill set.  Joe could set up the phone interview, and you could take it from there.  The key here is that everyone must know you are looking for a job, and understand what you can offer, because you never know who may know who that can help you find your next position.

Time with Family

Whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, it is entirely up to you and what is comfortable for you.  Family tends to give you the hardest time because if you’re a member of a loving group of people, everyone wants the best for one another.  Take this time to see the people you haven’t seen in far too long, and enjoy the time you get to spend with them.  Remember that whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, you always need to keep a portion of time each week just for yourself and your own rejuvenation.  Staying motivated and on top of your search is admirable, but don’t feel guilty for taking one day off to spend with loved ones.  For that, I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and fun holiday season!