The Job Search

5 Ways to Improve your Job Search

Are you trying to find a new job but feel like you’re stuck in a rut and no one will hire you? Do you feel like you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities and there’s just nothing left to do? Here are a few tips you can use to improve your job search and give yourself another chance to land the job you want.

1. Get help writing your résumé. A fresh pair of eyes will be able to help you spot errors that you simply don’t notice. If you haven’t revamped your résumé in a while, now is a great time to do so. Have you already asked for someone’s help but didn’t feel like it helped your job search? This time, ask somebody else, like a professional who interviews and hires candidates. Ask a person who is going to give you honest feedback and point out any flaws so you can improve your résumé. Try to have someone review your résumé who works in your field. They should be able to point out strengths and weaknesses of your résumé and help you modify important features, such as the layout of your document. Also, remember to tailor your résumé, especially your relevant skills, for each and every job you apply for.

2. Clean up your cover letter. Your résumé may state that you are creative, well organized and proficient on the computer. But, does your cover letter say otherwise? How you write your cover letter can say more than the words you use. An employer will notice if your cover letter is dull, unorganized, or lacks proper formatting, contradicting the claims you make about your strengths in your résumé. Create your cover letter to positively represent you and your talents. That may include reformatting or rewriting your cover letter altogether.

3. Practice your skills. Offering your time and talents free of charge to a company will show a potential employer what you could provide for their business or organization. This also gives you the ability to test out the organization, and see if you like working there. An internship can provide the perfect opportunity that will reap benefits for both you and the company. If you are unable to complete an internship, think about volunteering. Non-profit organizations are a great place to volunteer your time because they are always looking for people to help out with their projects. Whether you intern for a company or volunteer for a non-profit organization, you will gain experience and be able to improve your weak or out-of-practice skills before your next job.

4. Check your own references. Make sure your references know that you’d like to list their names as you apply for jobs so they aren’t caught off guard when an employer calls to inquire about you. Tell your references what types of jobs you’re looking for and why you want to work in that field. Be specific about why you want to list them as a reference and how they helped you accomplish certain goals. Mention projects or assignments that they helped you improve on and then thank them for their generosity. Discussing your previous successes will help them point out your strong points to employers. If they can’t remember who you are, it’s time to find new references.

5. Apply through a staffing agency. A staffing agency can help you expand your job search. When you interview at one, you’re actually interviewing for several jobs at once. That’s because agencies have opportunities for direct hire, evaluation hire or temporary employment for many different companies. If you receive a temporary position, that’s a great opportunity to network by talking with co-workers and learning about other job leads. On the job, you and the company can also decide if you are the right fit, which can potentially lead to a full-time permanent position. Agencies fill a variety of positions at many organizations, so they just might help you make the connection you need.

To find the job out there with your name on it, you have to earn it. So, try using these tips when you apply for your next job. You never know; one or all of the tips could be the key to landing your next job.

Which of these tips do you have the biggest challenge with?

9 Tips to a Smooth Start at a New Job

Your first few weeks at a new job are crucial because your co-workers are developing their first impressions of you, and you’re forming work habits that will stay with you for the long haul. During this time, your behavior, attitude and actions will set your work pace and form your reputation, so starting off on the right foot is important. Here are nine tips to help you ensure a smooth start at your new job.

1. Ask questions. If you don’t have the answer to a question or problem you are working on, ask someone to help you out. It’s better to avoid a mistake than to make an irreversible one, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

2. Take notes. Write down everyday tasks and important information that you will need to know later, such as logins and how to operate the phone system. Keep these in a notebook or folder that you can get to at any time. Also, jot down information you learn about the company during training and interacting with your co-workers.

3. Avoid surfing. Stay off of the Internet, and don’t be tempted to check your personal e-mail. If you feel like you have downtime, find company materials you can read to increase your knowledge of the organization, industry and job processes.

4. Turn off your phone. Don’t be a disturbance to yourself and others by answering your cell phone at work. Turn your cell phone off, and let incoming calls go to voicemail. Wait until a break or lunch time to check your voicemail and return personal calls.

5. Complete your tasks. Doing your best work and completing each task on time is critical, because you want your supervisor and peers to see what you are capable of. But, make sure you are also not falling behind. If you find you have too much on your plate, talk to your supervisor and see how you can prioritize your time better.

6. Listen and observe. You can learn more by listening than you can by talking, so be attentive and don’t interrupt others when they are speaking. You’ll be able to learn about company culture, work flow and company policy by paying attention to your co-workers and observing their behavior in the workplace.

7. Be positive. Your attitude shows if you care to be at your new job or not, so be positive and enthusiastic about your new opportunity. Be friendly and courteous to your co-workers while showing them that you are confident and eager to learn.

8. Earn respect. This is your only chance to create a first impression, so demonstrate your work ethic, and give 110% to all of your duties. Be humble about needing help, and make sure to thank your co-workers when they do help you out. Then, they’ll show you respect, because you’ve earned it.

9. Be a team player. Make time to collaborate with your co-workers, especially if they need help. Work together with your new co-workers instead of trying to compete against them. You’re on the same team now, and you’ll get more done working together than you will working alone.

Being successful in a new job takes effort, so put these nine tips to use from day one. Work on a positive image and start your job off right. Your first impression is usually a lasting impression, so make it a good one.

What advice do you have for others starting a new job?

3 Tips for Negotiating Salary During the Job Interview

negotiate salary in an interviewCongratulations, you’ve landed an interview! Maybe you’re even on your second or third meeting with a particular employer. As things move along in the process, you’re getting closer to the time of salary negotiation. To ensure that you’re prepared when the time comes to talk about money, check out the following tips.

Let Them Bring It Up.
You don’t want to be the one to broach the subject of compensation. If the employer is interested in you, you can be sure that the topic will eventually come up, so wait for that time to discuss it. That means you shouldn’t list your salary requirements on your résumé unless you’re required to do so.

Stating how much money you want too soon can box you into a figure that is lower than what you might’ve received otherwise, or it can eliminate you from consideration because the amount is too high.

Also, bringing up salary too early in the process is presumptuous and can make it appear that you’re only interested in money.

Do Your Research.
Before the interview, it’s your job to find out what the going rate is for the position you’re being considered for. This figure will vary depending on your location, skills, experience and education.

To get an idea of what the salary for the job will be, do online research on sites like salary.com, salary.monster.com or payscale.com. If you happen to have friends who work at the company you’re interviewing with or know people who work in the same industry, you can get a good idea about what type of salary you can expect.

Researching compensation before the interview is an essential step to receiving a competitive salary. After all, if you don’t know what’s a fair price, how will you know if the interviewer’s offer is one you want to accept?

Don’t Be Too Quick to Accept the First Offer.
Before you shout “yes” to the first number out of the employer’s mouth, take a moment to think things through. Even if you’re satisfied with the offer, it’s best to not be hasty.
Consider asking for a day or two to review the offer before committing. During this time, evaluate the offer and ensure that it’s in line with the position responsibilities and your background.

If the offer seems too low based on your research, try making a counter offer. But be sure you have solid reasons for asking for increased compensation or other perks. Employers won’t be inclined to dish out more money just because you say you “need” it. That’s why you’ll have to be able to explain why your skills and the position responsibilities deserve a higher salary. Chances are, even if the employer is unable to sweeten the deal, they’ll respect you for thinking things through and knowing what you’re worth.

Before going in for an interview, it’s important to know what a reasonable pay range is for the position you’re applying for and to be able to sell your skills to the employer. By preparing for salary negotiations, you’ll increase your chances of receiving the competitive salary you deserve.

7 Tips to a Successful First Day at a New Job

Imagine you’ve recently received a job offer, and you decided to accept it. The job search is over, but now your first day at your new job is just around the corner. Are you a nervous wreck, overwhelmed thinking about all of the changes you’re making, or are you ready? Do you know how to prepare for this challenge? Here are seven tips to help you have a successful first day at a new job.

1. Refresh your memory. Look again at the company’s website and refresh your memory about all of the company’s information you discovered before your first interview. Review any information you may have been given during the interview process. Also, look over the job description and review what is required. If you have time before you start, you may want to polish a skill or two.

2. Get your rest. No one wants to start off their first day tired, so make sure you get a full night’s sleep. If you are feeling sluggish, drink a glass of water in the morning to help wake up your body. Then, you’ll be ready to tackle the tasks at your new job because you’ll be awake and alert.

3. Dress appropriately. Set out your work attire the night before, making sure to follow the company’s dress code. Scrambling around trying to figure out what you are going to wear will only stress you out and probably make you late.

4. Know the route. Chances are, you interviewed where you will be working. But if not, make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take, and plan accordingly so you arrive on time. Remember to factor in traffic if your previous trips to your interviews weren’t during rush hour.

5. Make a good first impression. Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet at your new job. Make good eye contact as you introduce yourself to others. If you need to, write down people’s names so you can remember them later when you pass them in the hall.

6. Be flexible. Although you may want to meet friends for lunch, keep your schedule open. Your new co-workers might offer to take you out to welcome you to the team. In case this doesn’t happen, take a few dollars with you and find a place nearby so you can treat yourself to lunch.

7. Ask questions. Your co-workers understand that you are new to the job and might need help, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take notes on helpful information you will need later, such as routine tasks and access codes. It’s better to be seen as someone that accepts help than to be a know-it-all that refuses help.

You made it through the application and interview process, so relax and try to enjoy your first day. Remember, the company hired you for a reason. You’re the right person for the position, and you’ve earned this opportunity.

Have you started a new job recently? What suggestions do you have for others that are nervous or overwhelmed about starting a new job?

3 Ways to Keep Your Online Image from Destroying Your Job Search

Have you ever used the Internet to look up an old friend and run across their MySpace or Facebook profile? It’s fairly easy to find online information about ordinary people these days. But, did you realize that some employers use the Internet to search for more information about job candidates? This doesn’t mean they are searching for reasons against hiring them. However, sometimes the information that employers find influences their opinion about an applicant. What would an employer find out about you? Here are a few helpful hints to make sure your online image isn’t keeping you from your dream job.

Search your name. Looking up your name on a search engine can help you find what your name is linked to. If you have a popular name, you might get many results with none of them referring to you. But, even if the info is not about you, employers may not know it. You don’t want to be mistaken for someone with a poor image or a bad record. If this is the case, you can use Naymz.com to create a positive profile that will link to your other positive online profiles, instead of to someone else with the same name. When you Google your name, Naymz.com will be ranked within the first 10 results. Another way your name might also show up is if you leave a comment on a popular blog. If you’ve left a negative comment that reflects poorly on you, try contacting the site administrator to have the comment removed.

Know what you post. Know what information you’ve posted online in case an employer questions you about that information in an interview. You don’t want to be caught off guard by an interviewer asking about a blog post, quote or comment you posted online. If you don’t even remember what you said online, you might appear careless, and employers could think that attitude will translate into the workplace.

Clean up your image. Some of the online information that influences employers’ hiring decisions includes inappropriate pictures, displays of unprofessional behavior and negative remarks about current or past employers. If you are actively searching for a job and have a public blog or profile that employers could see, make sure it reflects positively on you. Remove any information that could negatively affect employers’ decisions about you and hinder your chances of landing a job. If you’re reluctant to remove this type of information and want your friends to still be able to access it, try changing your profile settings to private to limit who has access to your site.

Having an online presence can work in your favor if it reflects well on you, but it can work against you if you aren’t aware of what’s out there. Search your name to find the results employers could also find to determine your online image. Know what you have posted online and be able to answer any questions employers might have regarding the content. And, don’t forget to clean up your image if you see negative results. You don’t want your online presence to keep you from a new job opportunity.

New Year, New Job: 4 Tips to Keep Your Resolution

It’s that time of year when everyone begins to think about their New Year’s resolutions. Some may stick to their resolutions, but others may give up after a week. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find a new job, here are a few steps to help you.

Write it down. You’ve already made the decision to look for a new job, so now you need to commit to it. Write this commitment down on paper and put it some place where you can see it daily. This will keep your goal at the top of your mind. Next, share your goal with someone else. This person can hold you accountable for accomplishing your goal and support you along the way. You are more likely to succeed with a written goal and a supportive person than you are without either.

Set a time frame. Set an estimated time frame for when you would like to have a new job. The key is to be realistic. For example, if you set a goal to find a new job in one week, you might not hit that goal, or you might end up in a job you don’t enjoy. To avoid wishing you had never changed jobs, give yourself time to ensure a good fit.

If you are looking to progress into a different or higher position, you might need to further your education. Completing an educational course will take time, so set your goal for farther down the road so you have plenty of time to successfully complete the courses before you start job searching. Examine your situation to determine when the best time would be to take on a new position.

Update your résumé. You probably haven’t looked at your résumé since you started your last job, so make sure to update it before applying for a new job.  Include any skills, activities and education you obtained while at your current job. Also, proof your résumé for spelling and grammar. If your outdated résumé doesn’t list your qualifications for the job, your résumé will probably be tossed aside.

Start the search. After you are committed to finding a new job and have updated your résumé, it’s time to start the job search. Make sure to follow your timeline. If you plan to be in a new job by the end of the summer, don’t wait until August to start applying for jobs. Because the application, interview and hiring process may take several weeks or more to complete, start applying for jobs two to three months before your time frame of landing a new job.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to keeping your resolution of finding a new job in the New Year.

Why are you looking for a new job this year? What steps are you taking to reach this goal?