Overcoming Barriers to Employment

What’s keeping you from your dream job?

Usually when we talk about how hard the job search is, we focus on resumes, interviews, or the best websites to check out. Today, we’ll discuss logistical concerns.

What does “logistical” mean when it comes to the job search? Think of it as all that fun stuff that comes with being an adult: transportation, child care, elder care, and more.

Transportation

If you don’t have a car, it can mean having to cut yourself off from job opportunities outside of your local area. And if you can find a way to work using public transportation, even the slightest change in plans (a child’s illness or other family issue) can become a huge time commitment.

Although Uber and Lyft are great ridesharing services, they aren’t always do-able on a budget.

Luckily, other transportation options are available. Don’t say no to a job opportunity until you’ve exhausted these options:

  • Carpooling. Numerous apps, such as Rideshare and Waze, allow for a carpooling option. This can cut down on costs. You’re also free to seek out others that work near your new job and ride with them. If you’re working with a staffing agency, ask them if they offer carpooling options.
  • Public transportation. If you’ve had bad experiences with public transportation in the past, try not to let that keep you from checking it out for each new job opportunity. You might find out there’s a route available that makes sense for your commute.
  • A bicycle. Although this may seem like a ridiculous suggestion, if your job is within biking distance, you can ride there until you’ve saved up enough money for a used vehicle.

Childcare

This is a huge challenge for working parents, both married and single, especially during the summer months. On average, infant child care can cost $10,000 a year, which is just under 20 percent of the median family income of $55,000.

Other opportunities for childcare include:

  • Family (In-Home) Day Care. A family daycare is run out of an individual’s home, and subject to certain state regulations. As noted by csmonitor.com, according to ChildCare Aware of America, “full-time family childcare for infants ranges from an average of $4,544 in South Carolina to $10,358 a year in New York. For a 4-year-old, the numbers dip only to $4,095 and $9,620.”
  • A Nanny. Although nannies are traditionally thought of as high-end expenses, there are different types of nannies for a wide variety of purposes. These range from live-in to part-time, and more. Some are available for $10 to $20 an hour, while others are much more expensive. You may also nanny share—pooling funds together with other parents, and hosting the nanny and other children at your home. However, it is up to you to research a prospective nanny’s experience and background.
  • Family Members. Although this is a common option, we wanted to include it. This is because some individuals feel that burdening their parents with childcare is rude or impolite. Although situations do vary, many grandparents are more than happy to care for their grandchildren. If you find yourself in dire straits, don’t be afraid of having that conversation.

Lack of Resources

Although it can frequently feel like your numerous responsibilities are keeping you from a job, there are ways to overcome these barriers. Nonprofits are available to help with many common struggles, including medical expenses, clothing, shelter, food, rehabilitation, and 24/7 support.

Check out the Express nonprofit guide for specific resources.

Asking Relevant Questions After an Interview

Does your interviewer keep answering your questions before you can ask them? We’ve got you covered.

Last month we asked what parts of the job interview process you need help with. You all agreed that asking relevant questions was your top pick, so that’s what we’re covering today!

During your interview preparation journey, you’ve no doubt come across the tip that you absolutely must ask questions at the end of an interview. This is true. Asking great questions shows your interest in the position and helps you stand out against the competition. However, what do you do if your interviewer already answered the questions you had prepared?

The key lies in your question preparation. You need to come up with multiple insightful questions so you have backups at the end of the interview. However, avoid asking questions just to ask them—everything you prepare should be relevant to the position.

We realize it’s hard to come up with these questions on your own, so we’ve prepared a few of our favorites. Feel free to customize them to suit your unique interview situation.

1. A question asking for more information about the job.

For example: If I were hired for this position, how would my performance be measured?

This question shows that you’re interested in the intricacies of the position beyond the job description. It also shows that you’re goal-oriented and are already thinking about how you can be the best employee possible.

2. Something specific about the company’s culture that wasn’t covered online.

For example: What factors were considered when designing your logo? How did you settle on your current mission statement?

Although this question will change depending on the company, showing an interest in the company’s culture is always a great idea. Such a question displays your passion and interest in the company as something more than a place where your job is.

3. A question specifically tailored for your interviewer.

For example: I saw on LinkedIn that you oversaw [project name]. What was that experience like?

Or: Have you ever had an experience at [company] that really made you think ‘this is what it means to work at [company]? What was that like?

These questions show that you’re curious not only about the company, but about your interviewer as well. A slightly more personal question can get an interviewer to lower their defenses and see you as an individual, not just a job applicant. You can also get great answers from these questions that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the company. Just make sure not to ask about any failed projects or hard financial times.

4. A question regarding the recent history of the company.

For example: I saw that the company recently overcame [problem]. Would it be alright if we discussed how that was achieved?

Be careful with this one. Although showing that you’re interested in how your skills can solve a past company problem, you don’t always know how an interviewer is going to react. Some companies keep these problems close to their vest, while others love to see brave interviewees take on problems before they even get an offer. Research online, get a feel for the culture, and only then decide if you want to take the plunge. Avoid any emotional issues like layoffs or company reorganization.

5. And if it wasn’t covered, always ask:

What will the next steps look like?

This one is more for your benefit than the interviewer’s, but it does show that that you care about what happens next. And you’d be surprised how many interviewers fail to cover it during the interview!

Have any question you’ve had success with in interviews? Let us know in the comments section below.

Job Spotlight: Administrative Assistant

Are you ready for an admin adventure?

Despite already having experience with several jobs, many working adults are unable to answer that age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Our Job Spotlight monthly blog series is designed to help with that. In this series, we review all the basics of specific job types, from salary and duties to why people do the jobs they do.

Administrative Assistant

For this month’s Job Spotlight, we’ve chosen to focus on administrative assistants, since tomorrow is Administrative Professionals Day.

Administrative assistants do more than answer the phone. They keep the office running, act as gatekeepers, distribute mail, and master spreadsheets. A perpetually positive disposition and an organized mind are must-have qualities.

Many administrative assistants work with a variety of coworkers from different departments, from accounting and sales to marketing and more. Every day is different—you never know who might walk through the door or call on the phone.

Required Education

High school diploma or GED certificate.

Salary

Although it varies depending on a variety of factors (e.g. experience, industry, geographic area, etc.) administrative assistants can make as much as $40,000 per year.

What Administrative Assistants Do

Administrative assistants handle a variety of responsibilities, which may include:

  • Managing the boss’s calendar.
  • Processing and distributing mail.
  • Data-entry and typing.
  • Answering/screening phone calls.
  • Interacting with clients or customers daily.
  • Acting as the liaison between multiple departments.
  • Preparing conference rooms for meetings.
  • Taking minutes during meetings.
  • And more, depending on the position in question.

What Companies Look for in Administrative Assistants

Although every position is different, a few key skills include:

  • Two or more years of experience in an office setting.
  • Basic understanding of Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Type 30+ words per minute.
  • Being a self-motivated multitasker.
  • Verbal and written communication skills.
  • A friendly, outgoing demeanor.
  • Organizational skills.
  • The ability to solve problems skillfully and quickly.

Are you an administrative assistant? How do you feel about your position? Let us know in the comments below!

On the Job Podcast with Radio Host Enrique Santos

Enrique Santos loves his job as the popular host of 2 nationally syndicated radio shows. But his path to radio was not a traditional one. Listen to why Enrique devotes his career to remaining open to the opportunities often sitting right in front of him.

Jobs give us a connection to our communities and the ability to provide for ourselves and our families. Your work may be your passion or it could just be the way you make ends meet. Each week, On the Job will share stories about the pursuit of work by delving into the employment situations people from all walks of life face each day.

Don’t miss an episode!
Download the On the Job podcast on iTunes or anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Ask a Recruiter: Your Questions Answered—Part 1

Everything you wanted to know about the recruiting process.

Last month, we asked readers what they wanted to hear about from recruiters. The response was huge.

The same few questions kept popping up again and again, so we decided to feature them in a two-part blog series. We took your questions to our top recruiters, and they replied with expert responses.

  1. If an employee asks for a staffing company to help them find a new job, do they tell your current job that you are looking for work elsewhere or keep that information confidential?

All our recruiters agree that keeping the job search confidential is key. They never notify your current employer that you’ve started the job search, and they recommend that you keep quiet on the topic as well.

“It would depend on the situation. I have found that when a layoff is imminent, managers know and understand that their cohorts will be looking and interviewing at other companies. If this is not the case and business is ‘good,’ I would advise against letting your manager know that you are looking for work.” Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

“In my experience, many applicants ask that we do not contact their current employer in fear of losing their job. Last week, a coworker of mine was working with an associate who was looking to leave their current employer. The employer overheard a conversation that took place at work and fired them for it.”—John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY.

  1. Why do companies require a college degree when it isn’t necessary for the job?

Many companies use a college degree as a baseline. Sometimes a degree is indicative of passion and hard work. However, that doesn’t mean that you might not be able to make up for the lack of a degree in other ways.

“Sometimes this is a company policy. I tell people to never let it deter you in applying. Many clients will take on-the-job experience in lieu of a degree.”—Shannon Jacoby, Bellingham, WA.

“Some positions may require a degree for specialized positions, for example, a mechanical engineer. For other positions, completing a degree signals to an employer that you are a person who is determined to see a task through and committed to doing so.”—Desiree Stevens, Littleton, CO.

  1. Why do some companies/staffing companies continue to post jobs that have already been filled ?

This one’s a bit complicated. When it’s a posting from a staffing company, it could be that the same position is being offered at multiple companies. In addition, some job listings are purchased for a certain amount of time and will stay online regardless of being filled or not.

“A lot of the time, for a staffing company, there is more than one job available or the same job is available with a different company. Also, when a job is posted, it usually has an ad run time of 30+ days to attract the most job seekers. Even if they find an applicant before that time, the ad will continue to run.”—Heather Buster, Texarkana, Arkansas.

“Our office often leaves jobs up on the job boards just in case the candidate who was chosen doesn’t work out. It is good to have extra candidates in our back pocket if we need them. We also use the same strategy for jobs that we may not have now but know we will get soon, so we can cut down on the time it takes to fill the position.”— John Calabrese Jr., Utica, NY.

Have any more questions for our recruiters? Let us know in the comments below!

Is Your Online Activity Costing You the Job?

Your lack of interviews could be due to what you said online years ago.

The internet is a huge and wonderful place. You can search for tips on how to fix your sink, buy a used car, and leave a review for your favorite restaurant. However, it’s important to remember that anything you say online is pretty much permanent. An angry review or a sarcastic comment from years ago could come back to haunt you later.

This is incredibly relevant to the job search. The lack of a face-to-face connection might seem to give you some degree of anonymity, but it doesn’t. Recruiters and interviewers will see what you’ve done and said online and factor that into their consideration of you as a candidate, for better or worse.

According to the HUHS Library Media Center, 45% of all hiring managers use search engines to find information on people who applied for jobs. And, 63% said that something on a job seeker’s social media site caused them to not offer them a job.
And the best way to avoid that situation? Not doing anything bad in the first place. But what exactly is “bad” when it comes to the internet and your job search? We’ve got you covered.

Don’t Complain on Social Media

If you had food poisoning during a recent trip to Sherry’s Crab Emporium, it’s fine and dandy to let them know on social media or a review site. However, avoid ranting or using any rude language. Be concerned and polite. That review might come up when you’re being considered for a great job, and it could be the deciding factor that throws you out as a candidate.

Avoid complaining about a boss or co-worker on any of your pages. Even if you aren’t social media friends with these individuals, it’s still possible they could see your comments through a shared contact. And if you’re applying for a new position, your potential employer could write you off as a temperamental employee.

Don’t Breach the Line Between Business and Personal

Social media can be a great networking tool. However, don’t add interviewers on any social platform. Keep the personal and professional separate. Your online interactions with the company should always be strictly professional.

Avoid contacting companies you’ve applied or interviewed with via social media. A quick question to your interviewer via email is fine, but writing a post to a company’s Facebook page is not. The person in charge of the Facebook page most likely has nothing to do with your interview. And, if you post directly to the company’s Twitter or Facebook feed, you’re letting everybody else see your conversation.

Don’t bother your contacts on social media. Don’t message them just because you can. Avoid doing anything that could be seen as begging for a job. Realize that there is a line between social media for business and social media for personal use.

DO Be the Best Version of Yourself

When you want to impress someone in the real world, you bring your A game. You put on a nice suit, smile, and take care to be as polite as possible.

The internet should be no different. If your name is in any way attached, realize that whatever you say or do is there to stay. Don’t post pictures of yourself partying or say anything overtly political. Keep complaints to yourself, and don’t use any profanity.

To keep your personal life private, it’s important to adjust your privacy settings. Although the method for this will change depending on the platform, you usually can adjust what the general public (non-friends/followers) see on social media through something on the site’s “settings” tab.

Don’t Forget to Log-Out

The internet is a great place, but nothing replaces the power of a true one-on-one, face-to-face interaction. Go the extra mile and deliver your resume and cover letter to a business in person.

If you have questions, pick up the phone. Call the office and schedule an in-person appointment to meet with someone and discuss your concerns politely and succinctly.

Whenever an interview is over, send a handwritten thank you card in the mail. That little bit of extra effort goes a long way.

In all that you do, be quick, polite, and kind. That’s something truly memorable.

Have questions about how to behave online? Let us know in the comments below!

Poll Question: What Benefits—Not Including Health—Do You Value Most From Employers?

In a competitive job market, companies have to be more creative about how they attract and retain top talent. That might mean offering certain benefits over others in a bid to keep you with them for the long-term.

According to MetLife’s Benefit Trends Study, 61% of employees would be more likely to accept a job with a new employer who offers health and well-being benefits, and 51% if the employer offered financial planning programs.

For our April question of the month, we want to know what benefits you value most in a job.