Getting Back Into the Job Search After a Gap

New year, new you.

Maybe you’ve been staying at home taking care of the kids for the past decade. Perhaps you dropped out of the workforce to care for your ailing parents. Whatever the reason, you’ve been out of the workforce for an extended amount of time, and now you’re ready to jump back in.

But how do you fill that gap on your resume? Although the details will differ depending on the industry you’re trying to rejoin, there are a few things to always keep in mind.

1. Acknowledge the Gap
Companies want to hear you tell them why you’re right for the position. They don’t want to hear your reasons for being out of the workforce—as far as the job search is concerned, those are irrelevant excuses. The first step to getting back into the workforce is accepting that you were out of it, and employers are going to notice that. Don’t try to beat around the bush or fill the gap with fluff.

Having a blank space on your resume is not a negative. It’s an opportunity to do something more.

2. Revamp Your Accomplishments
Turn your excuses into accomplishments. Show off who you are as an individual. Why did you get out of the workforce in the first place? What goal were you trying to accomplish? You have achieved that goal, so don’t be afraid to mention it. Tell prospective employers that you have realized that dream (whether it be raising your children, caring for your parents or other relatives, or traveling the world), and now you’re ready to bring all that passion to a new challenge.

What else were you doing while you were out of the workforce? If you volunteered in any capacity, include it. Even volunteering at your child’s school is something worth noting. If you were in the PTA, put that down, too. Any side projects you worked on are fair game as well.

3. Have a Plan
How do you want to portray yourself to employers? Once you’ve decided, use your resume to accomplish it. If you want a job in childcare, use your experience with your own children to show you can do the job. Taking care of your kids is a job after all.

Think of your gap as a job. What did you do? How many years did you do it for? What were your responsibilities? Apply that methodology to all your accomplishments and your resume will start to take shape.

Set a timeframe for finding a job and plan the milestones required to get there. What skills does your desired job require? What do you need to do to develop those skills? How long will that take? You need to treat your job search like a job. That means setting goals and following through on those goals.

4. Be Willing to Learn
Passion and drive alone aren’t going to get you the job. It’s a competitive job market, so you’ll need to play catch up. Enroll in online classes or check out your nearest CareerTech. You can even enroll in a community college if you have the time. Regardless of method, you need to do something to increase your skillset, and show that you’ve already been doing what it takes to succeed.

A great way to build experience and learn at the same time is volunteering at your local library. Volunteering gives you something to put on your resume, while the numerous books, programs, and meetings available at the library provide opportunities to learn.

5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Above all else, don’t try to equate your accomplishments to those of others. Everyone’s path is different. Just because your friend Sally could be a company vice president and mother of two doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. Your cousin Tom starting a million-dollar tech startup has nothing to do with your own life.

A prolonged job search can be frustrating, especially after a gap. You’ll be tempted to compare yourself to everyone else and where they are on their career path. Don’t! You don’t know their story, and, to be frank, their story has little to do with yours. Focus on yourself and your own goals. What do you want? What makes you happy?

How have you dealt with resume gaps in your career? Let us know in the comments below!

What’s the Best Job Search Website: Part 1

The pros and cons of the most popular job search sites

Our Assessment

Indeed. Monster. CareerBuilder. They are considered the titans of the job search scene. If you’re applying online, chances are you’ve visited some of these sites. If you haven’t, you’ve been doing your job search game a huge disservice.

Each site has its own intricacies and “culture.” Meaning each site is different in its own unique way.

Still not quite sure what we mean? Here are the differences between the major job search websites so that you can choose the right one for you.

Indeed.com

Indeed, along with Monster, is one of the most frequently used job search websites. This is partly because it is both a job search engine (in that it lists jobs the website finds on its own) and a job board (meaning that companies can post their jobs to the site).

The great thing about Indeed is it provides job information for every industry under the sun, and even lists jobs you might not think of that use your skill set. It is the most varied of the job search platforms, and you can find everything from contract, volunteer, and internship work to full-time and professional positions. However, because of its popularity, job listings you find are sometimes unrelated to what you want and may clutter your search results.

Indeed also has a company review function, although the number of reviews varies depending on the company. Keep in mind that when it is used, it’s more likely to be used by those dissatisfied with the company, so you may get a more biased assessment.

There are also many “sponsored” job listings, where companies pay Indeed to feature their content. This, combined with the bare bones look of the site, can be frustrating after a few hours of job searching. On the bright side, the site has plenty of subsections and categories to narrow your search. There’s also a salary predictor so you can get some idea of what others are getting paid in your industry and similar positions.

Monster.com

Monster, one of the older job search engines on our list, was created in 1994. But that doesn’t make it any less useful. All those years of experience have paid off. Monster offers an incredible amount of filtering options, and customer service that responds in a quick and efficient manner.  The website design is clean and pleasing to the eye, and sponsored posts are bolded or highlighted, making it less obvious this is a pay-to-play game.

Monster is also frequently a company’s go-to job search site because of the pricing options. A company pays a flat rate for a job posting of either 30 or 60 days. Discounts are available for multiple job postings. Monster also features more industrial and commercial jobs than Indeed.

CareerBuilder.com

CareerBuilder focuses on job searchers that have college degrees. As implied by the name, the site caters to those that have already been in the workforce for some amount of time and want to continue building their career, not those fresh to the workforce.
Many employers choose CareerBuilder because they want less, more qualified applicants. This means you won’t see as many entry-level job listings on the site.

CareerBuilder is purely a job board, not a job search engine. This means that companies can post jobs directly to the site, but the site won’t pull submitted job listings from elsewhere online. This once again ties into the more selective nature of the platform.

CareerBuilder also has something called “My Career Path.” This is a salary aggregator that can tell you the average, high, and low salary ranges for your position at both the national and state level.

Any other job search websites you want to hear about? Let us know in the comments and we’ll feature them in Part 2!

 

81% of Businesses Expect Growth in 2018

Good news for job seekers! There’s reason to be optimistic about the economic outlook for the new year. In a recent poll conducted by RefreshLeadership.com, Express Employment Professionals’ blog for business leaders, most respondents said they predict growth in 2018.

Of those who participated in the poll, 23% say they will see “exponential” growth, 58% plan on “moderate” growth, and 16% said they would remain “steady, but unchanged.” Only 2% of businesses predict a decrease in business volume—a nearly 4% decrease over 2017’s predictions.

These results continue a positive trend that has been observed over the last three years of the annual poll.

“There’s a lot to be optimistic about in 2018,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express. “For the third year in a row, there is a drop in the number of people who expect business activity to decrease, and the number of companies that predict growth continues to increase. Although there are still challenges on the horizon, like the widening skills gap, overall indications point toward a strong year ahead.”

So, what are some trends to watch in 2018 that could have a major impact on the job search?

The skills gap is widening
Across most industries, there are jobs to be found. However, candidates with the skills to fill in-demand positions are becoming fewer and far between. Attracting and retaining top performers continues to be one of the highest priorities for businesses as more than 42% say it is “somewhat” or “very” difficult to recruit for and fill positions, according to Express’ first quarter 2018 Job Insights Survey.

In fact, results of the survey indicated that the top three reasons business leaders say jobs are going unfilled are lack of applicants with experience, a shortage of applicants in general, and applicants not having the necessary hard skills. You can pull ahead of the competition by using online or community college classes to develop new skills.

Millennials are staking their claim to leadership roles
According to the Hartford Millennial Leadership Survey, 80% of millennials identify themselves as business leaders, and 69% aspire to be business leaders within the next five years. And there are many factors that point toward this generation being successful in their endeavors.

One of the key strengths millennials bring to leadership roles is their tech savvy and ability to integrate new technology into the way their companies operate. They are also one of the most diverse generations in the workplace and actively seek out purpose-driven initiatives or ways to support important social and charitable causes with the work they do. Regardless of whether you are a millennial or not, this heavy millennial presence will necessitate learning to work with others from different generations.

Baby Boomers are redefining retirement
Research from Bloomberg indicates that the boomer generation are increasingly opting to delay retirement. About one-third of workers say they expect to work past age 70. And statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics project that by 2024 “36% of 65- to 69-year-olds will be active participants in the labor market.

From trying out new jobs to exploring entrepreneurship to mentoring younger generations of workers, the path to retirement is becoming less traditional for baby boomers. Businesses that actively embrace and help facilitate the changing retirement needs of older generations stand to benefit from the knowledge and experience they bring to the workforce.

Only time will tell what 2018 has in store for businesses and the economy, but there are many signs that show cause for optimism. Early preparation and forward-thinking strategies are the key to putting your company on a strong foundation for the new year.

How to Get Hired Quickly in 2018

Make 2018 your year

The new year is a time for resolutions, both big and small. Maybe you’ve decided to spend more time with your kids, get to the gym more often, cook a new dish, or start a new hobby. And then there’s your biggest resolution of all—getting a new job.

The key to making good on resolutions is to have smaller resolutions that lead to your goals. For example, if your goal is just to “be healthier,” you probably aren’t going to achieve much. If you set smaller goals like cutting your diet by 500 calories, working out three times a week, etc., you’ll hit your goal in no time. The job search is no different.

Here are a few job search resolutions to ensure that you get that dream job in 2018.

Practice Writing Your Cover Letter

Cover letters aren’t required by all companies and industries, but bringing one to an interview (or submitting one with a resume) can be a gamechanger. A well-done cover letter shows how your skills and experience make you the perfect pick for the job. Physically visiting the business you’re applying to and dropping off a cover letter can be a great way to get noticed.

When you’re applying for jobs, ideally, you’ll want to cater each cover letter to the job you’re applying for. However, nothing is stopping you from basing each cover letter on a general cover letter for the industry you’re interested in. Now is the perfect time to start refining that letter.

A great cover letter shows two things: how what you’ve done is relevant to the position you’re applying for, and why you want to work for the company. Since you can’t focus on the latter in a general cover letter, focus on the former. Filter through your accomplishments and list your strongest ones. If you don’t have any experience in the industry, find experiences in your career that are relevant. Try to feature your soft skills as well.

And even if no one reads your cover letter, going through the process of writing it can clear your head and help you focus on what you’re really looking for in a new job.

Gain Skills or Learn More About Your Industry

One way to stand out to employers is to build up your skillset, whether that means going online to find free learning applications or gaining certifications in new technologies.

Really understanding your industry will grab the attention of hiring managers. One way to build that understanding is to start a personal blog where you write about new developments in the industry. Set goals for yourself, such as writing one or two blogs a week. After a few months, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge about your industry and a blog that showcases that knowledge.

Writing a blog is a great idea even if you aren’t a great writer. However, if you use spellcheck and Grammarly (there is a free edition), you might even become a better writer over time. And writing well is a skill that everyone can use.

And if you don’t have time for a blog? Subscribe to email newsletters about your industry. Industry blogs are good resources as well.

Ace Your Interviews

Obviously, you should want the job you’re applying for—otherwise there’s no point in interviewing. However, you should go into each interview having prepared in every conceivable manner. You should already know almost everything about the company and where you fit in.

Interviews can reveal more about the company and the culture. However, at the end of the day, learning about the company is not your end goal. You’re here to get a job. So do your homework.

Know the ins and outs of the job, know your skills, and prepare a list of questions ahead of time. This could be your only chance to show the company you’re the right person for the job.

Any questions about changing up your job search for 2018? Let us know in the comments below!

The Importance of Celebrating Small Victories

The Importance of Celebrating Small Victories

Big, audacious goals are important. Most companies put extensive research and strategy into setting annual goals that will guide their workforces throughout the year and serve as the finish line looming on the horizon. And when those goals are achieved, a celebration often follows to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication.

But, just as important as the big celebration at the end of a hard fought battle to achieve a major goal is celebrating the small victories along the way. This is especially true for the job search. Even the most dedicated job searchers can burnout when the going gets tough, so reveling in minor milestones that push the job hunt toward completion helps maintain engagement and gives a motivational boost.

According to research conducted by Harvard Business School featured in the Harvard Business Review:

“Even ordinary, incremental progress can increase people’s engagement in the work and their happiness during the workday. Across all types of events, our participants reported that a notable proportion (28%) of incidents that had a minor impact on the project had a major impact on people’s feelings about it. Because inner work life has such a potent effect on creativity and productivity, and because small but consistent steps forward, shared by many people, can accumulate into excellent execution, progress events that often go unnoticed are critical to the overall performance of organizations.”

So, what are the key benefits of celebrating small victories on the path toward achieving major goals?

  • Showing progress: The best set goals outline a clear path toward success with measurable tasks or achievements along the way that show you are progressing in the right direction. It’s easier to avoid job search burnout when there’s always a tangible milestone within reach.
  • Building commitment: When working toward finding a job, it’s important to have full commitment from yourself and even other job searchers. If you connect with others in your position, you can congratulate and push each other on the way to a job. Celebrating small victories along the way helps everyone feel united and personally invested in encouraging each other to reach the next stage.
  • Allowing opportunities to “fine tune” along the way: Small victories are also beneficial when you don’t achieve them right away. If you find progress has stalled and that next milestone becomes harder and harder to reach, you have an early opportunity to assess the situation and make necessary adjustments to get the job search back on track.

Make it meaningful
Although there is no shortage of ways to celebrate small victories, the most important factor is to ensure the celebration is meaningful. That doesn’t mean you have to roll out the red carpet and strike up the band for every little accomplishment, but you do want to feel the hard work you’ve put in so far is worthwhile. From eating a fun snack or getting together with fellow job searchers to share the accomplishments that you personally consider small victories, the important thing is to truly celebrate   what you’ve done. The job search is hard. Each resume sent, each interview had, each networking event attended—they all matter.

Will You Get a Job in 2018?

2018 is here! As you get your resume ready and look to the future, what is your outlook? Are you excited? Cautious? Scared? What do you think the job market is going to look like in the new year?

Let us know by voting in our poll!

Poll Results: Are You Over or Underemployed?

Last month we conducted a Movin’ On Up poll asking whether readers believed they were over or underemployed. A resounding 85% said they are underemployed.

Only 9% said they were well-suited for their job, while 4% said they were over-employed.

It can be hard to keep going at a job where you’re underemployed. You aren’t given a chance to use your skills or show people what you can do. However, you should still try to do your job as best as possible, even in these circumstances.

Why? For one thing, it’s better than the alternative—being unemployed. It’s always harder to find a job when you don’t currently have one. Additionally, you never know what kinds of opportunities could arise when you really give it your all. You might get a promotion or take advantage of a chance to move to a different department.

In addition, you can build skills and network. As long as you find a way to keep learning, that’s experience you can use in your next job. Contacts you meet in this position (whether at your current company or with employees from other companies) could be valuable in your future job search.

At the end of the day, if a job makes you absolutely miserable, you need to move on. However, before you do, make sure that you learn everything you can from that job. Learn as much as possible, meet new faces, and pair all of that effort with a renewed focus on your job search.

How have you dealt with being underemployed? Let us know in the comments below!