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.”

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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.

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(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.

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?