Start Your New Career Today

Phil: “Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?”

Mrs. Lancaster: “I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

customerservice-groundhog-day

Is your job turning into the same old thing day in and day out? Don’t let your career start feeling like Groundhog Day. Starting a new career can be challenging, but take this inventory to get started.

Do you want a career change?

Answer yes or no to the following questions:

  1. Do you feel comfortable in your position?
  2. Do you feel as though you are using your skills?
  3. Does your education or training match your current position?
  4. Do you wish you were in a position where you faced more challenges?
  5. Do you earn enough on your current salary (including perks and benefits) to meet your needs?
  6. Do you browse jobs openings and “daydream” about having a new career?
  7. Do you feel trapped in your current role?
  8. Is there an ability to move up within the organization?
  9. Is your current organization financially stable?
  10. Is your current organization growing and adding opportunities?

If you answered “yes” to 5 or more of these questions, you may want to consider exploring a new career. Everyone’s situation is different, and experiences can be what you make of them, but if you find yourself wanting a new job, researching what is out there can be the best first step.

Research Resources

Online Assessments

MyNextMove can provide suggestions for careers that may be a good fit. When taking the assessment, you will answer a series of questions. Answer these questions based on what you think you would enjoy doing, not necessarily what may be in your experience. This assessment is especially helpful if you are new to the world of work or may have limited experience.

Are you a veteran? MyNextMove has a Veteran version of this assessment as well to translate military skills into the civilian workforce.

mySkills myFuture assesses your past experience and identifies careers that require your transferable skills. Both assessments provide listings of local schools and training programs that can help you during your career transition. There may even be local job listings at the end of the assessment as well.

For all your occupational and labor market data, review the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This is a nationwide resource. Connecticut Department of Labor has a local occupational handbook, updated annually. (The CTDOL’s Office of Research is temporarily down, otherwise a link would be provided here. This will be updated once the site is available again.)

Local Job Searching Websites

You know all the big name job boards out there, but CTHires is Connecticut’s newest job searching website. The employers are vetted by Connecticut Department of Labor staff to ensure the job openings are legitimate. If you create a job seeker account, you can upload your resume online and have employers find you. You can also use the resume to apply for jobs. With all the customization options, you aren’t limited to Resume Builders from websites of years past.

Bonus tip: You can also use CTHires to explore careers by searching their Career Services page. Career guides, walk-throughs, education and training, and labor market data are all available to you at no cost.

CTJobsChat – LinkedIn Group

CTJobsChat is a LinkedIn networking group comprised of job seekers, recruiters, employers, and American Job Center staff and partners.

We regularly share news about American Job Center recruitment events, training sessions, skill-building workshops, and programs, all available at no cost to the public. Our partners also post job openings and in-person networking event opportunities. Job seekers and other professionals can use this site to build relationships and ask questions. The group members share their advice and experience to assist others in their search for new careers. I welcome you to join today, we’d love to speak with you!

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The American Job Center Network

I can’t speak highly enough about our American Job Centers here in Connecticut. If you’re searching for a new career, the following resources are available to you:

  • No-cost workshops to explore new careers and build skills.
    • Healthcare, construction, science, technology, engineering and math (the STEM careers), check with your local job center to see what career paths are being reviewed in a workshop.
  • Resume critiques from Certified Professional Resume Writers (CPRWs).
    • No matter which office you visit, our collaboration of CT Department of Labor and partnering organizations have many certified resume writers on staff. CPRWs can review your resume so that it stands out from the competition, all while you learn skills on how to market yourself to an employer.
  • One-on-one Career Development Specialists and Career Counselors.
    • If requested, a CDS or counselor can meet with you to discuss career options, review your resume, and identify your transferable skills.
  • Job postings, recruitments, and networking events.
    • Our dedicated team of Business Services Specialists create opportunities in the centers for our job seekers. The Business Services Specialists network with employers and many local employers conduct interviewing and recruitment events for their open positions right at our American Job Center locations. These events are rare in a world of online job postings, and that additional face-time with an employer can give you an edge in this market.
  • Access to the Career Resource Library.
    • Job boards, computers with internet access and Microsoft Word, printers, copiers, faxes, resume paper… All these are available at no cost to the job seeker. Some locations may also have book of resume and cover letter samples, in addition to research materials. There may even be staff available in the libraries to assist with your job search questions.

Surprisingly, the American Job Center offers even more services than this, but to get you started in researching your next career, I recommend you visit one of our locations today. Locations, contact information, and details are available here (just select your location). Connecticut American Job Center Locations.

If you begin using one of these resources and have any questions or comments, be sure to let me know in the comments below. I would love to know what you think!

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Update Your Resume: 6 Tips for Traditional and Modern Styles

This was originally posted on LinkedIn, accessible at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/update-your-resume-6-tips-traditional-modern-styles-erica-tew-cprw

Everyone needs a resume. It isn’t only for those searching for work. This document can launch your career, market your experience, open up networking opportunities, and land you interviews for your next move. If you’re dealing with conflicting advice or are unsure where to start, I have some suggestions for you.

So what is a resume?

A resume is a combination of your skills, results, work experience, and education. Consider it a brief snapshot or advertisement about you, developed for a specific audience.

If your resume is a generic list of your past jobs and daily responsibilities, then it is time to update. This resume style may have worked well enough in the past, but if you want to reach out to new people, build your network or develop leads, then your resume will need a targeted focus.

laptop notebook camera

(image via DeathToStockPhoto)

Your development strategy should reflect your audience.

Identify the purpose of your resume: Who do you want to see it? What do you want to showcase? Where do you want to grab their attention? Think of your audience as you write your content and remove anything that does not speak to them. This extraneous information can waste space. For example, if you are changing careers, explain your career history in a way that relates your skills and abilities to the new position. Focus on transferable skills and accomplishments of your past roles.

Create media that would impress your audience. This doesn’t have to be developed for printed paper either: think larger. You could create a website (about.me is a great free resource for developing your own biographical page), develop an infographic (canva.com has low-cost or free resources to make effective visuals), film a marketing video (use YouTube, Vimeo, or Vine for free!) there is such a wide variety of ways in which you can express yourself and share information.

Get Social

If you are active on social media, share that on your resume. Provide URL links and cross-link from one account to another to allow your audience to connect with you on their preferred platform. You can even promote your resume, be it paper, infographic, or video, across those social links to gain a wider audience.

Some social accounts are used distinctly for marketing yourself as a job seeker. For example, Pinterest can be a resource to those in visual fields. You can share your resume, showcase your work, and follow companies. For a job search related Pinterest, take a look at the Connecticut Career Guidance Pinterest here.

Writing Tips

  1. Avoid “shortcuts.” When it comes to paper resumes, never use a generic template. Why not? Because most of them have a large amount of white space and put all of your information into tables. This makes updating the resume down the line an arduous process (where I normally will just eliminate all formatting until I have plain text outside of tables). Further, this type of resume may have difficulty being “read” for scanning in an online application.

(image via Flickr )

2. Stay focused. Although you may feel a need to explain all the details of each job and why you left, save that for the interview. Keep cutting and editing information until you can get to the root of the matter in a few sentences. A few key ways to do this are to eliminate sentences that don’t start with an action. Cut out references to “Responsible for…” and keep in mind you want to describe the past job. Think of what you did every day in the form of an action (Ex. Resolved customer concerns at call center), not a list of semi-related skills, such as, “customer service, phones…”

3. Make it readable. Now that you have developed your content, find a way to make it easy for someone to quickly scan it. Make use of bullet points or use lines to separate sections. Use bold or italics or small caps to draw your eye in to key sections. For contrast, what you want to avoid is a document that looks like a wall of text. Break it up so it is easier to digest.

 If you’re creating a video or infographic, remember less is more. For an infographic, use minimalist shapes and lines to lead the eye across the image as you tell your career story. Overwhelming the image with graphics and icons can be too distracting.

For videos, make sure you have a quality camera with good lighting and audio pickup. Definitely work with a friend to film yourself: rarely do self-made videos from a laptop camera look professional. There are plenty of software programs where you can edit scenes or delete bad takes. Use minimal graphics to emphasize key words or points throughout. For each scene, stick with the rule of 3: you don’t want to have more than 3 bullets during a scene. More than 3 bullets in a presentation or video can make information hard to retain.

4. Create your own sections. Feeling locked in by the traditional standards? “Objective,” “Work History” and “Education” are not the end-all of resume sections. Some writers call these sections “functional headers,” which allow you to break up your resume content in a way you see fit. If you want to emphasize technical skills, career accomplishments, or volunteer experience, create your own sections and expand on the areas. This can be a great way of getting to your matching job requirements or displaying your experience across the years in one cohesive section.

(via printwand.com)

5. Don’t repeat. For example, if you create a “Career Accomplishments” section, do not copy and paste the same accomplishment and then list it again under the appropriate job in your “Work History.” Find a way to reword it and keep it brief. Choose one section to expand on this accomplishment and leave it there.

6. Proofread. Then have someone outside your field review it. Are you speaking in a lot of jargon? Try to make it understandable in case there are initial gatekeepers reviewing the material first. And of course, please do your best to avoid spelling or grammatical mistakes. Keep an eye out for formatting inconsistencies.

Most importantly: Don’t fret over “rules.”

Everyone has an opinion on resume writing, but you will develop the document or media you feel most comfortable sharing. When people use words like, “Always” or “Never,” take their advice with a grain of salt. There are no set rules in this project- only to create media that impresses your audience and furthers your goal. That goal may be an interview, a new client, or a new connection. Keep the media or document alive and change it every now and again to see what gains you the best results.

What strategies do you use when updating your resume? Let me know in the comments below. Our American Job Centers offer free resume writing resources, critiques, and workshops. Check out our Connecticut locations here.

Waiting? 3 Post-Interview Tips to Improve your Job Search

interviews, waiting by phone

image via bestbuy.com

If you’re waiting to hear back from an interview, don’t be idle. Use this time to continue your job search and keep making a positive impression.

  1. Send a thank you note or email.

Sending this email will show your interest in the job and may set you apart from other candidates that have note sent any follow up communication.

A thank you note does not have to be long, but it should be customized for each interview. Reflect on a topic of conversation unique to your meeting and mention how you learned from the interviewer or enjoyed the discussion. Reiterate your interest in the position and state that you appreciate the time he or she took to meet with you.

If you’ve interviewed with a panel, send a customized note to each interviewer. If you didn’t get business cards after the interview, try searching on the company website or contacting the company’s front desk for correct spelling of names.

  1. Analyze how you interviewed.

Right after the interview is the best time to assess your performance.

  • Were you on time and dressed appropriately?
  • Was there a question you struggled with answering?
  • Did you answer any questions very well?
  • Did you learn something new?
  • Did the interviewer seemed interested in a particular answer?
self assessment, interview, after interview assessment, evaluation

image via shutterstock

This self-assessment will make you aware of any short falls. If you realize you failed to mention something during the interview that you feel is very important, you could incorporate that information in a follow up correspondence.

More than anything, this self-assessment will help you prepare for future interviews. Based on your review, determine if you should do more research on the company or practice answering questions in a mock interview. You can schedule a mock interview with a Career Development Specialist at one of our local American Job Centers in Connecticut.

  1. Update your job search records.

It’s critical to keep your job search organized. You should log your contacts and follow up results in a manner that is convenient for you.   Job search records can be saved in a notebook, day planner, or Excel spreadsheet. You can also categorize your emails to save employer correspondence.

Keeping information organized only takes a few minutes a day, but has great benefits. With a log, you can review your progress and see how your efforts have paid off. The log can also be an indicator if you should try a new strategy in your job search to yield more contacts. The record can assist in achieving short-term job search goals and make you feel more motivated to continue on in your search.

A sample job search log for a week is below, but you can search many templates available online or customize your own to your preferences:

GOAL OF THE WEEK: Contact 3 employers

Notes:

Complete        O Not Complete

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Applied to ABC Co. online (Customer Service Rep) and followed company on LinkedIn. Sent cold contact email to Admin Recruiter, J. Cruz. Attended networking event. Met A. Sanders, Manager of Office Co. Interviewed for Office Assistant position with XYZ Corp. during recruitment event. Emailed thank you note to XYZ Corp. recruiter.
Notes: Application receipt notification. Notes:

Sent resume by request, Cruz mentioned emailing me next week to discuss.

Notes:

Connected on LinkedIn.

Notes:

Struggled with, “Why did you leave your last job?” – Overall, interview went well. Will contact me within 2 weeks.

Notes:

These tips will keep your job search focused, active and goal-driven. Use the interview as a time to market yourself for the open position, but use the time after the interview to assess yourself and continue making progress in your search.

Not the same: LinkedIn vs. Resume Summary

Every job seeker needs a strong resume, and more job seekers are getting onto LinkedIn. You can use your resume to begin building your LinkedIn profile, but the two are very different. I am going to break down the differences between these two sections and show you ways to promote yourself on both.

 

WHAT IS A RESUME?

Marketing document used to highlight your background and match you for a target job.

 

WHAT IS A LINKEDIN PROFILE?

Online profile used to market your experience and goals to connect with like-minded professionals and expand your network.

 

GOAL

They both share a similar goal, with a few minor differences. The goal is to provide a “big picture” view of your experience, achievements, skills, and expertise.

WRITING STYLE

RESUME

  • Business/professional writing that uses an understood “I” and starts with adjectives or verbs. (Sometimes even written in third-person… the horror!)

LINKEDIN

  • Professional, but natural writing. Write your profile similar to how you would introduce yourself to someone.

  

AUDIENCE

RESUME

  • Provides the “big picture” of your skills and experience, typically customized and sent to one targeted employer.

LINKEDIN

  • Explain the “big picture” of who you are, who you would seek to connect with – a general overview that is available to fellow professionals, recruiters, and employers to view.

FORMAT

RESUME

  • Can lead into Core Skills or Career Highlights sections.
  • Option to add images or graphics limited by venue (online job applications, email, printing).

LINKEDIN

  • Can use functional headers within Summary to highlight achievements or skills, but avoid duplication in sections on LinkedIn such as Skills or Experience.
  • Ability to add rich media (links to work, news, slideshare, PDFs, images, etc.) open to user.

OVERALL

The resume and LinkedIn profile will be readjusted throughout your career. Both are living documents that change as you gain experience and knowledge. Although the resume is still widely viewed as a traditional document, use the writing style and language you feel best represents you. LinkedIn offers the flexibility to show a little more into your personality: make the best of it. As long as you are getting results (interviews, connection requests, page views, call backs, etc.) then you edit these sections as you see fit.

Now since these sections may be hard to visualize- below I have captured some samples created by myself and my team here within the American Job Center network. Contrast the traditional, formal style of the resume summary with the more conversational tone of the LinkedIn sections.  I hope you find the samples helpful!

RESUME Samples:

1 2 3

LINKEDIN Samples:

4 5 6

6 Resume Tips from Employers

As an Employment Services Specialist, I find it valuable to reference specific employer preferences/concerns when offering job search advice, presenting workshops or justifying resume edits. So, when I had the opportunity to attend a career fair recently I made a point to talk to recruiters, HR personnel and employers about resumes. I wanted to know what they liked and what common mistakes they saw. Here is what I found:

List a professional email address on the resume. I was ready to write this off as a cliché until I heard it cost someone an interview. Employers consistently mentioned this as a common mistake found on resumes! Check your resume, if there is something other than a combination of first/last name take a few minutes and create a new email address.

Customize the resume to each job. Yes, this is tough to do for career fairs since there are many employers and you might not know who is attending. Your best strategy is to try and find an attendees list, identify a few employers from that list to target then build customized resumes accordingly. If you have to use a generic resume, still provide one to the employer but get a business card and tell them you will email a customized resume later in the day (or next day). An added bonus is you’ve created a follow up opportunity.

Headline Statements are awesome. The headline statement is an occupational title geared toward the job you are seeking. On the resume it appears just below your contact information. The Employer likes this because it is easy to identify the candidate’s job target.

Self-serving Objectives are not awesome. Again, kind of a cliché, yet still mentioned as a common mistake. Remember, employers want to see how your skills benefit them not that you want a full time position with opportunities for growth and fulfillment as a…

Don’t fear the applicant tracking system. Applicant tracking systems are tools to help organize the chaos associated with hundreds or thousands of applications. Follow best practices when completing online applications and resumes such as using proper grammar, matching wording to job requirements, etc. Instead of blaming applicant tracking systems for not getting interviews, work on things you can control like having a resume critique and networking.

Print resumes on resume paper. Resume paper enhances the appearance of the document and shows you are willing to go that extra step. Most resumes employers see at job fairs are printed on regular paper which detracts from the quality. Resume paper and printing is available at no cost at American Job Centers across CT (www.ct.gov/dol).

Looking back, I am glad I took advantage of the opportunity to network with hiring personnel and employers at the career fair. I met very nice people who were willing to share their insight on resumes. If you are considering attending a career fair or are searching for work, hopefully these tips will help you land an interview.

How to Search for “Hidden Jobs”

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Want to learn more techniques to improve your job search? Interested in some strategies for finding “hidden jobs”? I invite you to check out an article I recently posted on http://www.Social-Hire.com. Feel free to comment on here or their blog with questions.

Link below:

How to Search for “Hidden Jobs”

Thanks!

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.

jobfolders

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!

Turn Cold Contacting into Lukewarm Contacting

Aside from an interview, cold contacting for job opportunities is one of the most nerve racking experiences a job seeker can go through. Without the right preparation, phone calls can be awkward, visiting the local coffee shop to meet the manager can turn into a lifetime ban and your cold contact letters might end up back in your mailbox with RTS written all over them. Nevertheless, getting to know people is networking and networking is the best way to get reemployed. Here are some ways to make cold contacting less terrible.

 

First, don’t take it personal. Dealing with the stress of a job search is tough and your emotions can be running high. This is time to put on your “I can do it” hat and get down to business. Would a successful sales person lose their cool after a customer hung up on them? No, they dust off the phone and move onto the next opportunity because persistence becomes success.

 

Develop a strategy. Some ways to cold contact are; phone call, in person, mail (postal and email) and through social media. Begin by determining which is the most effective and appropriate method for your target industry. For example, visiting a restaurant between meal times can be perfectly acceptable whereas swinging into the local hospital HR is not. In either case, is always best to establish a contact through your network before you reach out to a company. This turns the cold contact into a lukewarm contact. If you can’t get an internal contact, don’t get discouraged; your professionalism and courtesy will win out.

 

Research to get prepared. To get ideas for dialogue, review the company’s website, LinkedIn and Facebook page(s) and search for job postings. Focus on industry trends, skills related to the position, their products and other details that interest you. Consider this, you can call a company and say, “I offer an extensive background selling xyz, a product that is similar to yours and I am interested in learning of any openings you may have.” Or, “I am unemployed and I am interested in job opportunities with your company.” The former states what you can do for the company, whereas, the latter asks what can they do for you.

 

Use foresight. An estimated 70% of the time, the HR representative will tell you to apply online. Avoid this hurdle by searching for job openings prior to contacting a company. If you see an opening, apply then make your contact. When you contact the company, explain you have applied to the job, however, you are so interested in the position you did not want to leave your résumé to fate of cyberspace. As a Job Developer, I had many of these conversations for my clients, one of which was with a nationally known home improvement store. During a phone call, I was ensured HR would review all online applications and schedule interviews based on qualifications. After politely requesting alternative methods for increasing my chances, I was invited into the store to speak with a department manager.

 

Practice, practice, practice. I know, “it’s only practice.” But in reality, practicing with someone will break the rust off. Friends and family are always good to embarrass yourself in front of or you can check out a reemployment service provider.

 

Take chances and be assertive. If you want something, use your wit and guts and go get it. Attitude is everything in the job searching world, expect challenges but also expect SUCCESS.

#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.