Search Results for: interview tips

The Great Debate: Return to School or Get a Job. How to decide your next career move

Are you struggling with your job search and getting frustrated because you haven’t landed a job, even though you have the education? Many graduates of high school, college and vocational schools have a hard time finding jobs, even after completing their degrees. Some get so frustrated that they want to head back to school to better their chances of finding a job in a different field. But before you decide to go back to school and pursue a new career, try some of these tips to turn your job search into a success.

Evaluate your situation – Take a look at where you are now, what experiences you’ve had and where you want to be in the future. If you’re looking for a job in a field that you don’t currently have any experience in, find ways to get that experience by volunteering, interning or taking an entry-level position. If you’re considering going back to school, look into the opportunities that a new career could offer. Another degree may not promise a job offer, higher salary or professional growth, so decide if it’s worth it to stick with the degree you have and just gain experience in that field. You may have to make a few sacrifices along the way, but the sacrifices you make now will pay off in the future by helping you land the job you want.

Update your résuméRésumés create a lasting first impression. If you’ve submitted résumés to several employers and have yet to receive an invitation for an interview, pull yours out and see what updates or changes can be made. It’s important to grab the attention of potential employers, so don’t be afraid to ask someone else for their input, or contact a professional to help you. Co-workers, friends and family members can offer ways to improve your layout, design and content. Going back to school to add another degree will look great on your résumé, but if you lack the experience needed for the position, your extra degree won’t guarantee an employment offer or even an interview.

Practice interviewing – If you’ve been looking for a job for a while and have been to several interviews but haven’t received a job offer, your interview skills may need some tweaking. Ask someone to practice with you and have them ask questions that are frequently asked by employers, specific to your résumé and pertain to the job you’re interested in. When you practice with others, they can help you identify areas that need to be improved and can offer hints to help you really sell your skills to a potential employer. Going back to school won’t help you master interviewing or land a job. Practicing your interviewing skills is easier and less time consuming than school, so consider taking this step to improve your job search before hitting the books.

Finding a job can be a challenge for anyone, but it’s possible to find a job in your field. Before you give up and head back to school or switch careers, try these tips to improve your job search and land the job you want.

Were you able to find a job right out of school? How did you successfully land a job? Give us your feedback in the comments section below.

You’ve Got the Job, Now It’s Time to Dress the Part

Every office and company differs in their dress code. Some require professional dress Monday through Friday, others offer business casual with casual Fridays. But do you know what the expectations are for these recommendations? Will you be able to dress the part and fit in at your new job? Here are a few basic guidelines for common dress code types to help you dress for success.

Professional – This dress code consists of suits, button down shirts and dress shoes. It can also include ties and vests for men, and pantsuits or skirts with nylons for women. Professional attire is the most formal in a business environment. Full suits are appropriate for everyday wear in certain professions, as well as special presentations and meetings in more casual atmospheres. Professional dress is also the most appropriate interview attire.

Business Casual – Saved for relaxed but professional atmospheres, business casual attire is made up of button-down shirts and slacks for men, and a skirt or slacks with a blouse for women. Wearing a coordinating sport coat or blazer is a nice touch but isn’t usually required. Khakis and a polo shirt that bears the corporate logo is usually acceptable as well.

Casual – This type of attire is reserved for the most casual work environments. In some offices, it’s only allowed on casual Fridays. Casual wear can include jeans, sneakers, polos or even Hawaiian print shirts. If your company allows you to wear casual attire, avoid wearing jogging suits, T-shirts, sandals or revealing clothing. If you aren’t sure how to dress on casual Fridays, khakis and a polo are a safe bet. It’s better to dress one step up than one step down from the dress code.

Make sure you check the company’s dress code before you start your first day at a new job and plan accordingly to make a great impression. If you aren’t sure what dress code should be followed once you’re on the job, ask a supervisor or manager. You can also take clues by observing what others wear to the office, especially those in leadership positions.

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.

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?

Write a Better Résumé – 5 Ways to Get Noticed by Recruiters

resumes recruiters wantYour résumé is your introduction to prospective employers. A well-crafted résumé can grab the attention of recruiters and help you land that all-important first interview. On the other hand, a poorly put together résumé can squash your chances of moving forward in the selection process. That’s why it’s essential to create a résumé that sells your strengths in a polished, professional format. The tips below can help you draft a résumé that gets results.

Eliminate spelling and grammar errors. One quick way to get your résumé thrown in the trash is not editing it for typos and poor grammar. You should always proofread your résumé several times before sending it out. Look out for spelling errors that the computer may have missed such as words that sound the same but have a different meaning (Example: build vs. billed). Consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member to review your résumé as well – you might be surprised what a fresh pair of eyes can catch.

Don’t use first person (I, me, my, etc.) It’s your résumé, so employers know who you’re referring to when you mention accomplishments and work experience. Using first person pronouns makes your résumé sound amateurish, unpolished and even “you centered.” That’s why you would delete the words “I” and “my” in the following sentence: “I earned my associate’s degree in math.” Instead, just write: “Earned associate’s degree in math.”

Use action verbs. Strong verbs bring your accomplishments to life. Action verbs also hold the reader’s attention by making your résumé interesting. See for yourself – which of these two candidates do you find more appealing based on the way they described their past job duties?

Candidate A: Did filing, clean up, phone calls and clerical duties.

Candidate B:  Cataloged department files for 15 employees on a weekly basis. Maintained clean office environment including dusting, sweeping and mopping. Answered over 200 phone calls each day using multi-line phone system.

Communicate results, not just a list of job duties. From the example above, you can see that if you were a hiring manager, you’re attention would most likely be drawn to Candidate B’s résumé over Candidate A’s. That’s because Candidate B’s résumé not only uses action verbs, but it also communicates more about the applicant’s actual accomplishments instead of just listing off a bunch of job duties.

Tailor your résumé to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for 10 different jobs, you can just send the same résumé to each company, right? Wrong. Unless the job descriptions for each position are identical, you’ll need to tweak your résumé for each one. Tailoring your résumé doesn’t have to take a lot of time though. Just make sure you’ve reviewed each job description and know a little about the company you’re applying with. Then, create a new version of your résumé using the key words you found in your research. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a legal assistant and the law firm needs someone with experience working on trial cases and you have it, make sure you describe that experience in the version of your résumé you send to them.

Your résumé is your first touch with a prospective employer, so make sure that your paper introduction makes as good a first impression as you would hope to make in person. You can do this by taking the time to create a professional-looking résumé that appeals to employers’ hiring needs.

What résumé questions do you have? Post them in the comments sections.

Age Discrimination – Does This Affect You?

Age discrimination in the workforce is an issue that is not often addressed; however, there are ways to get your foot in the door if you’re a seasoned employee. According to a survey of 168 executives with a median age of 50 conducted by Execunet, a referral network, 74% surveyed are concerned they will be discriminated against because of their age, and 58% believe they have experienced age discrimination in the past. Although age discrimination does exist, it is one of the hardest discriminations to prove, according to research by AARP.

If you find yourself struggling to find a job and think that your age might be a factor, here are a few tips to aide you in your job search.

Start with your résumé. When searching for a job, make sure your résumé offers the most recent and relevant information. Experts advise mature job applicants to reference only the last 10 or 15 years of your job experience. Often times, candidates are overlooked because they have too much experience. Try taking some classes that educate you on the latest technology or trends in your industry, and make sure to list them on your résumé. Also, avoid listing dates such as high school or college graduation, as these can reveal your age.

Update your wardrobe. In an AARP survey, nearly half of the respondents surveyed felt that older workers cannot adapt to change. When you go in for an interview, make sure that not only your résumé reflects your knowledge of current work trends, but your attire reflects current styles as well. This doesn’t mean you have to dress in the latest trends or fashion, but ensuring your wardrobe and hairstyle aren’t aging you unnecessarily is always helpful when searching for a job. This boosts your self confidence, and allows the employer to see that you are up-to-date with what is going on around you.

Sell yourself. Don’t let the age factor get you down. If you show you’re confident and skilled, potential employers will be less likely to consider your age a factor when making hiring decisions. You may feel that younger people are hired to replace older workers, but keep in mind that younger workers feel most jobs are held by people with experience. Instead of focusing on this remember to sell your skills and abilities. Let the interviewer know you are open to training and learning new things. Make sure they know why you’re there and why you’re qualified for the position. Research the company before you interview so you can offer insight on how your past experience can benefit their company. Show enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, but don’t sound desperate.

Network with peers in your industry. You might feel as though you’re too old to network, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Find a local organization that specializes in your desired industry. Get involved within your community and make contacts with individuals that can help you get your foot in the door with companies. By getting your name and face out there with people in your industry, you will not only increase your chances of getting a job, but you will develop valuable and up-to-date information on what is going on in the field.

Age doesn’t have to be a negative factor when searching for a job. It can actually work for you if you follow these tips. Mature workers have confidence and knowledge in a time when we need it the most. With so many workers reaching retirement age, there is a gap in the knowledge between seasoned workers and younger workers just entering the workforce. Utilize your expertise and show how you can be an added value to the company.