Revive Your Job Search: Dress for Success

Dress for SuccessHave you been looking for a job for quite some time? If you’re beginning to feel discouraged about your prospects, take heart – you can improve your odds of landing a good job quickly by following the tips below.

Let your appearance make a positive first impression.
Appearances matter. To compete in today’s job market you need to consider what your look is saying about you. When was the last time you updated your hairstyle and wardrobe? If it’s been more than five years, it’s time to get a makeover. Sporting a dated look makes employers wonder if your skills and ideas may be old news as well.

If you’re not sure what’s in style, turn on the TV or flip through some magazines to get a few ideas. Then go to your local department stores and look for bargains on classic business garments such as button down shirts, tailored jackets and black trousers and skirts.

Once you’ve got the clothes, it’s time to take a look at your hair. Your hairstyle is one of the first things people notice about your appearance, so make an appointment at a reputable hair salon to get an updated look. Hair stylists can also help groom unruly beards, sideburns and mustaches in a fashionable way.

Parts 2 and 3 of this series will touch on keeping your skills up-to-date and expanding your job search.

Get Ahead by Becoming a Team Player

being a team playerThe workplace is made up of many individuals working toward a common purpose. As in sports, in order to have a winning team, the players must work together to achieve their goals.

Get Recognized.
Do you want to get noticed as an MVP? Then focus on developing a reputation as an employee who strives to help others succeed. When you build up those around you, you’ll foster good will among your co-workers and demonstrate to management that you’re a natural leader.

Be a Team Cheerleader.
When you go out of your way to cheer on your teammates and help them achieve the team’s objectives, it gets noticed. Your boss will be impressed when you demonstrate leadership skills like mentoring, training and encouraging those around you. And remember, many people can do good work as an individual but it takes an exceptional employee to be able to build others up.

Offer Your Support.
To become a better relationship builder, motivator and leader, look for opportunities to help your teammates. Is a co-worker stressed out by a tight deadline? Offer to pitch in to help complete the project. Does your boss seem discouraged? Lift their spirits by sharing good news or reminding them of recent team successes.

What type of team member are you? Do you cheer on co-workers’ successes or do you long for more individual recognition?

Are You Trainable? 3 Qualities You Need To Learn Anything

You may have noticed that a job offer or promotion doesn’t always go to the candidate with the most experience or best training. Instead, employers often hire and promote the candidate who seems most willing and able to learn the new role.

You might be asking yourself why a manager would ever pass up on a candidate with greater experience or more up-to-date skills. The reason is simple, really. While work history and capabilities are important, they’re no match for a willing attitude. In any new position there will always be new things for the employee to learn. That’s why the candidate who’s most trainable is often the preferred choice.

Becoming more trainable will not only make it easier to learn a new job, it will also boost your career by demonstrating to employers that you’re ready for any challenge. If you’re not sure how teachable you are, review the traits below and find out. If you fall short, don’t worry – once you know where you’re lacking, you can work on making improvements.

1. Enthusiasm – Eagerness to learn is a quality employers value highly in job candidates as well as internal recruits. A go-getter attitude makes learning any job easier, and enthusiasm increases a hiring manager’s confidence in potential employees’ abilities. 

If your outlook toward work tends to be more ho-hum than vroom vroom, you can kick up your career a notch by displaying enthusiasm during interviews or at your current job.

Remember, it’s no fun to train someone who doesn’t want to learn. That’s why when someone comes off disinterested, it’s no wonder employers are skittish about offering a position. So, slap a smile on your face and show some drive by demonstrating excitement about your work.

2. Humility – It’s impossible to learn new things if you don’t think those around you have anything to teach you. Author C.S. Lewis once said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.”

In order to be trainable, you have to come to new situations with an acceptance that you don’t know everything. Being humble isn’t the same thing as putting yourself down or having low self esteem. It’s important to feel good about yourself and to display confidence, but that doesn’t mean stepping on other people or refusing to listen to their instructions.

You can show your willingness to learn by valuing the opinions of others and asking for advice from time to time. When employers see that you respect the knowledge of those around you, they’ll be more inclined to hire and promote you.

3. Commitment – Learning new things isn’t always fun. Sometimes, training can be frustrating or boring. But, dedication is what enables you to overcome hurdles and succeed in a new role.

Do you stick it out even when times get tough? Hiring managers know that there’s a learning curve associated with any new position. That’s why they want to hire and promote individuals who are willing to stay the course.

You can increase your level of professional dedication by always following through on your commitments, turning projects in on time and keeping your word. Employers will be convinced of your perseverance when you can show a track record of dependability.

Do you want to be an in-demand employee? If so, focus on becoming more trainable by demonstrating enthusiasm, humility and commitment. Your efforts will be rewarded with interest and respect from employers.

9 Tips to Safeguard Your Job

It’s always a good idea to perform well for your employer and be prepared for possible career bumps in the road, but with economic indicators pointing toward a possible recession, it’s more important now than ever to safeguard your career.

Here are nine tips to help secure your employment, or help prepare you in case you find yourself without a job.

1. Be in the know. Make sure you know what’s going on in your market. Read the newspaper, conduct online research or simply ask your boss what’s happening in the industry. Knowing what’s going on in your field and company will keep you from being blind-sided by potential layoffs.

2. Self-assess. Take a look at yourself and determine if you’ve grown in your current position. Make sure you have skills that set you apart from your co-workers. If you find yourself lacking in these two areas, put career development at the top of your priorities. Volunteer for more projects, or assist your co-workers on some of their tasks so you can grow beyond your current role.

3. Be a leader. Take the lead on projects if you don’t already do so. Be the one who others come to for career advice or the one they ask tough questions. Showing your boss that you can be a leader in your department will demonstrate your strong work ethic and dedication.

4. Vocalize your success. Sell yourself to your boss. Make sure they know what projects you’re working on and the successes you’ve achieved. This will show your boss how valuable you are to the company and that you’re capable of producing results.

5. Know top management. Make sure you’re aware of who the decision makers are and get to know them professionally. Getting in with top management who have the ability to protect your job will prove valuable during troubled times.

6. Be flexible. Don’t be so dead set on keeping your current position that you don’t see other job opportunities in your company. During times of recession, most job cuts happen in areas that cost the company money. Your willingness to transfer to a different department will increase your chances of keeping a job during possible layoffs.

7. Update your résumé. Be proactive. Make sure your résumé is reflective of your current capabilities and accomplishments in case your company starts handing out pink slips. Keeping a current résumé on file will help you get a head start on your job search in case you find yourself looking.

8. Network, network, network. Don’t wait until you’re out of work before you start joining organizations or contacting old friends for help finding a job. Get involved now in professional or social organizations and start making contacts sooner rather than later.

9. Continue your education. Learning new skills is always a good idea. It not only shows employers your willingness to improve and grow in your career, but it’s necessary when marketing yourself to other companies.

Economic downturns can be unsettling, especially when the job market takes a turn for the worse, but by following these tips, you can potentially safeguard your career and be prepared in case you need to search for a job.

Five Things No Résumé Should Ever Say

It’s hard to know exactly what to say in a résumé, much less how to say it. A great résumé will highlight your experience, skills, qualifications, education or training, and community involvement. A well-written resume will also leave out certain details that are either best left for the interview or best left unaddressed altogether. Check out this list of things to avoid on your résumé.

1. “I”
Along with “me,” “my,” and “mine,” this word is off limits in résumé writing. The document has your name on it, so recruiters will know who it’s referring to. Putting too much of this self-focused language in your résumé will make you sound inexperienced at best and self-absorbed at worst. Instead of saying “I exceeded the goal by 30%,” simply put “Exceeded the goal by 30%.”

2. “Failed”
Your résumé should honestly represent your work and accomplishments, not dwell on your failures. Focus on the positive when writing your résumé, and describe actions, results and improvements you made. Employers may ask questions about strengths and weaknesses in an interview, which gives you a chance to elaborate in person, so save stories of failure and triumph for when you’ve already got the employer’s attention. 

3. “GPA”
Unless you recently graduated and had a grade point above 3.5, don’t put your GPA on your résumé. A high GPA is not usually relevant to employers, and a low GPA can actually take you out of consideration, so save that space to describe community involvement instead.

4. “Fired”
Stating explicitly on a résumé that you were fired from a position, even if you go into detail and explain your side of things, is an absolute no-no if you want to land another job. You may (or may not) have been on the side of right in a termination situation, but bringing it up on your  résumé  that you were fired not only demonstrates that you could be a difficult employee to work with, it also makes you appear naïve to the hiring process.   

5. “Hate”
It doesn’t matter how much you despise something – a task, a company, a political stance, a policy, a person or a former employer. No matter what, avoid saying you hate anything in your résumé. Negative language makes you appear to be a negative person, a trait which isn’t looked upon kindly by recruiters.

Take a glance at your résumé and see if any of these no-nos made their way into it. If so, it’s time to update it. And while you’re at it, you might enjoy these related posts.

What Super Bowl Ads Can Teach You about Your Career

Whether you caught the Super Bowl or are just catching up on the buzz, you’ve likely already seen or heard about all the commercials. So if you’re looking for an excuse to check them out again, why not learn something in the process? Here’s what some of the ads from this year’s Super Bowl game can teach you about your career.

  • Budweiser Dalmatian Spot – What’s better than a Rocky-style story of a Dalmatian training a down-on-his-luck Clydesdale and helping him make the hitch? This No. 1 favorite of the night can do more than bring a tear to your eye, it can also teach you something about persistence and the value of  mentors.
    Career Moral: Don’t give up if you miss that promotion. With hard work, you can improve your career. And don’t underestimate the value of a workplace mentor who believes in you and will help you achieve your ambitions.
     
  • Carrier Pigeon Fed Ex Commercial – An employee showcases a cost-saving innovation to his boss, but it turns out to be a disaster.
    Career Moral: We all make mistakes at work. When you do, it’s important to do what you can to remedy the situation and improve things. Also, don’t hide mistakes from your boss, learn to communicate bad news instead. They’ll find out eventually. It’s better to face problems head on.
     
  • Tide Talking Stain Spot – A qualified-sounding candidate’s job interview is derailed by an unsightly (talking) stain on his shirt.
    Career Moral: In the interview, first impressions are everything, so don’t forget to check your appearance and hygiene before your interview. Make sure your clothes are unstained, pack some breath mints, spit out the gum and take a glance in a mirror. The little things can make the difference between landing the job and inspiring a Super Bowl commercial like this one.
     
  • NFL True Story with Chester Pitts – Ephraim Salaam discovers Chester Pitts in a San Diego grocery store. The oboe-playing grocery bagger was drafted in the second round and now plays for the Houston Texans.
    Career Moral: This inspiring story of success, dreams and the power of having someone believe in you shows us never to underestimate the power of networking. You could find your next career-making relationship anywhere.
     
  • Coca-Cola Ad with Bill Frist and James Carville – The two politically differing figures stop arguing for a minute through the shared love for Coke and end up sharing some quality time in Washington together.
    Career Moral: You can get along with people you don’t see eye to eye with in the workplace. The trick is finding commonalities and giving them a chance.
     
  • Taco Bell Fiesta Platter Ad – Two employees rush to a meeting with their lunch in hand. They’re encouraged to take time to savor their lunch instead.
    Career Moral: Win at work life balance – take a lunch break!
     
  • Follow Your Heart CareerBuilder Spot – A woman at boring job watches her heart jump out of her chest and speak the truth to a horrible boss.
    Career Moral: Sometimes, change is necessary. Listen to your heart to see if you need a change.
     
  • Gatorade Ad with Derek Jeter – Everywhere he steps, Derek’s surroundings are influenced by the game. He notes that for him, “… the next game begins when the last one ends.”
    Career Moral: When you’re passionate about your work, it’s visible.
     

In case you missed them, USA Today has a rundown streaming all this year’s Super Bowl ads.