Monthly Archives: May 2008

3 Reasons to Attend a Job Fair

Job fairs create a wealth of opportunities for job seekers of all ages and educational levels in one convenient location. So, if you’re looking for a job and haven’t been to a job fair yet, here are the top three reasons you should attend one in your area.

Meet many different employers – Employers from different types of companies, businesses, and organizations have booths and displays at job fairs to recruit qualified individuals for a variety of positions. You’ll have the opportunity to meet all of the exhibiting employers, learn about their companies and open positions, and possibly apply for several jobs in one afternoon.

Gain experience – While you’re at a job fair, some employers may interview you on the spot. This will give you the chance to work on your interview skills and practice speaking with hiring managers as you introduce yourself and hand potential employers your résumé. You can also ask them to give you feedback at the end of an interview or conversation. Ask questions like: “Do you have any suggestions to improve my résumé or interviewing skills?” This experience will add to your confidence level.

Network with decision makers – If your dream job or company isn’t at the job fair, you’ll still benefit from attending. Take this chance to talk with hiring managers who are there, because they typically have many contacts in the community. They may have a friend who works at the company you want to work for, or know of a position you’d be interested in that’s opening up soon. You never know what contact will end up helping connect you with the right person.

The next time you see an advertisement for a job fair, remember these three reasons to go. You could land an interview, or even better, be offered a job. So get up and go!

Get New Habits, Not a New Job: How to Cut Costs by Increasing Gas Mileage

If you feel that your paycheck is shrinking, you may not need a new job, just new driving habits. Record gas prices are being broken week after week. As of mid-May, New York and Chicago are averaging over $4 a gallon, and gas stations across the country are quickly approaching that mark. With what seems to be ever-increasing fuel costs, individuals are feeling the pinch at the pump. To help you get more mileage for your money, try the following these seven tips.

1. Clean out your car. Before you hit the road, take out all the unnecessary junk inside your car. According to the Department of Energy, removing excess weight from your vehicle can save you up to 7 cents a gallon, for fuel priced at $3.72 per gallon. Removing an extra 100 pounds of unnecessary weight from your car can improve your gas mileage by 2%. Keep the spare tire and car lift, but the golf clubs can go.

2. Drive sensibly. “Speed Racer, slow down!” exclaimed Speed’s teacher in the big-budget summer flick of the same name. Driving like Speed will drain your gas because high speeds guzzle fuel. By avoiding rapid accelerations and constant braking, you can avoid wasting gas and also be a safer driver. But, don’t drive too slowly because slow acceleration can bog down your engine and decrease fuel efficiency as well.

3. Properly inflate your tires. Under-inflated tires can also reduce your gas mileage and poses a safety hazard as well, so make sure you pump up your tires to the recommended level. Over-inflating your tires can decrease friction and increase gas mileage, but it’s unsafe because it also reduces grip for braking and turning.

4. Turn off the car. If you know you won’t be moving for more than 30 seconds, turn your car off to save fuel. Turning your car on and off uses less fuel than leaving it idle for minutes at a time. This tip is useful at railroad crossings, ATMs, drive-thrus and long traffic lights.

5. Keep the wheels practical. Shiny new rims on your car might be trendy, but bigger wheels actually increase you car’s rolling resistance. This increase will cause your car’s fuel economy to lower. If you do drive with larger tires, keep your stock wheels and switch out the larger rims on long distance drives.

6. Use cruise control. When you can, use your car’s cruise control. Using cruise control at highway speeds can save up to 7% of your car’s fuel economy. With little need for acceleration and braking on the highway, the constant speed helps save gas.

7. Just park it. Circling the mall, grocery store or workplace parking lot in search of a close spot is a fuel burner. Even by waiting for a car to pull out of a spot, your idle car wastes gas – and your time. So try parking a little further away and burn less fuel while burning more calories.

By following these simple tips, you might just be able to afford driving somewhere other than just to the office and back.

How are record-breaking gas prices affecting you, and what are you doing to cope? How is the fuel economy on your ride?

9 Simple Tips to Write Effective E-mails

Some people might think sending an e-mail is as simple as opening your e-mail, addressing it to the recipient, writing a message and hitting send! What most users don’t realize is that e-mails are more than a quick way to communicate, they can also be a reflection on the sender.

If your message is poorly composed, difficult to read, or vague, recipients may see you as unprofessional, unintelligent, or even rude. This can complicate communication and result in unanswered questions, misinterpretations, and delayed responses or worse, being ignored.

To write an effective e-mail that comes across with professionalism and intelligence, try following these tips below.

  1. Keep messages short and to-the-point so your reader isn’t bombarded with too much content.
  2. Avoid writing in all CAPS, because this portrays anger or frustration.
  3. Don’t write in all lower-case either. This gives the perception of laziness or a lack of education.
  4. Double check your recipients to make sure the intended people are receiving the e-mail.
  5. Proofread your e-mail before you send it to avoid making grammatical mistakes and spelling errors.
  6. Delete e-mail forwards to avoid spamming your colleagues.
  7. Make sure your subject line summarizes your e-mail. This will show respect for recipient’s time and help them better manage your request.
  8. Use the words “urgent” and “important’ sparingly. Overusing these words will cause all your e-mails to lose their priority.
  9. Take a moment before you send an e-mail when writing in frustration. You don’t want to lose your professionalism by lashing out at people.

E-mails are intended to help people communicate electronically for quicker results. However, if you don’t know how to compose an e-mail properly or if you abuse common e-mail etiquette, you may find yourself being viewed as unprofessional – or worse, your e-mails may often be ignored or deleted. Don’t let your e-mails get tossed aside. Follow these tips to write more effective e-mails to make sure your real message gets through.

3 Tips to Ace a Phone Interview

You may think that phone interviews are easier to coast through because you don’t have to shake hands, dress up, or think about nonverbal communication. But, phone interviews can be tricky if you don’t prepare, are easily distracted, or pick the wrong place to answer your phone. Here are three tips to help you get through your next phone interview.

Be prepared – Just like with a face-to-face interview, you should take your preparation seriously. Familiarize yourself with the company, and find out who you’re interviewing with. Also, prepare questions to ask the interviewer, and practice answering commonly asked interviews questions. For a phone interview, make sure your phone is fully charged and has a good signal if you’re using your cell phone. If you can, use a land line instead. You want to be able to clearly hear the interviewers and have them hear you as well.

Stay focused – Schedule your phone at a time of day that will allow you to prepare, and pick an appropriate location to answer the call. Place yourself in a room or a corner away from distractions where you can fully concentrate on your interview. Put your résumé and cover letter in front of you so you can reference them if the interviewer asks you a specific question regarding either one. Have a pen and notepad ready so you’ll be better suited to take notes. Write down questions you think of during the interview so you can remember to ask them when it’s time. 

Limit background noise – Creating a distraction-free area will help you sound professional and stay focused. Phones can pick up background noises very easily, so be sure to limit what you can. For example, avoid chewing gum, drinking, or eating during the interview. It’s okay to have a glass of water available, but don’t gulp it loudly. Turn off the radio or television, and stay away from children and pets because they’ll only create unwanted noise and distractions.

Just like a face-to-face interview, a phone interview can lead you to a job offer, or keep you from landing a job. So, make sure to treat a phone interview with the same preparation and professionalism you would for an in-person meeting.

Giving Back to Your Community: 3 Ways to Volunteer from Your Office

Giving back to your community can boost your job satisfaction, improve your interpersonal skills, and increase your job opportunities. But, you may find it hard to squeeze in time for volunteering with your work schedule. So, here are three simple ways you can help your community without ever leaving your office or adding more work to your full plate.

Recycle – Recycling benefits the environment and cuts down on trash and unwanted clutter in your office. Start by collecting soda cans in an empty box placed next to the main trash cans in your office. Make sure to label it “Cans Only,” and others will soon drop their empty soda cans into the recycle bin. Then, label another box to gather old cell phones and ink cartridges from printers, fax machines, and copiers. You can donate the money you receive from recycling these products to a local charity.

Donate supplies – Public schools are on limited budgets and many of them can use extra school supplies. Instead of throwing out old letterhead, pens and pencils, and other desk supplies, put them all in a box, and donate them to a nearby school in need. Students can use stationery for writing practice, art projects and more. Just make sure to check with the school first before dropping off your extra supplies.

Support a family – Every community has many families in need of food, clothing, and toiletries, and many local organizations provide them with necessities. First, check with the appropriate departments within your company for approval to sponsor one of the families. Then, collect spare change and donations from your co-workers by setting out donation jars around the office for a pre-determined period of time. Donate the money you raised to your chosen charity to pay for the items your sponsored family needs. 

Volunteering without leaving your office is easy once you have a plan. Try using one of these suggestions for a simple and convenient way to give back to your community.

Do you volunteer in your community? What projects have you done that are simple or convenient to host from your office?

Fiction vs. Reality: The Top 5 Careers Featured in TV and Film

film careerFrom years of watching them on TV or the big screen, you probably have a pretty good idea of what a day in the life of an archaeologist or top chef is like, right? Like everything in Hollywood, the portrayals of these careers aren’t always based on fact. Check out some of the professions that get the most screen time and see how fiction stacks up against reality.

Attorney – Most attorneys in fiction are involved in criminal law – either prosecuting or defending high profile cases, usually involving murder, intrigue or conspiracy. In reality, lawyers practice in a variety of specialties such as tax law, estate planning and bankruptcy. In fact, many attorneys never go to trial and instead serve as legal counselors to individuals, businesses, non-profits and government agencies. To become an attorney typically requires a bachelor’s degree, three years of law school and passing a state bar exam.
Fictional Attorneys: Ben Matlock, “Matlock”; Elle Woods, “Legally Blonde”

Archaeologist – On the big screen, archaeologists are jetsetters who voyage to exotic locales researching ancient mysteries and legends. While archaeologists have been involved in some of history’s most exciting discoveries, such as the unearthing of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb, archaeology isn’t all glitz and glamour. Many archaeologists are employed by universities, museums and the government and hold positions as professors, curators and field researchers. When most people picture archaeologists at work, they envision “digging in the dirt” but many archaeology jobs also require a PhD and extensive hours spent researching and writing.
Fictional Archaeologists: Lara Croft, “Tomb Raider”; Indiana Jones, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

Doctor – People love hospital dramas – “House,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “ER” – are just a few examples of popular shows set in the fast-paced world of medical emergencies. TV doctors are often shown entangled in steamy romances or making risky medical decisions without their patients’ consent. In reality, most doctors would lose their licenses if they acted anything like the doctors on TV. Doctors are at significant risk for malpractice lawsuits and generally tread very carefully when making significant health decisions for their patients. While physicians do have the opportunity to improve their patients’ health on a regular basis, many doctors don’t routinely deal with life or death matters unless they work in the emergency room or an intensive care unit.
Fictional Doctors: Richard Webber, “Grey’s Anatomy”; Abby Lockhart, “ER”

Chef – With the growing popularity of the Food Network and shows like “Emeril Live” and “30 Minute Meals,” more people are getting a taste for cooking. The rise of celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Giada De Laurentiis has also created increased interest in the profession. As you probably imagined, there’s more to becoming a great chef than just a love of eating. To become a successful chef, a person must demonstrate creativity in the development of new flavors and recipes. Artistic sensibilities are essential in preparing food that not only tastes great but looks appealing as well. Respected chefs build their reputations over time by consistently creating dishes that restaurant-goers and critics alike applaud.
Fictional Chefs: Monica Geller, “Friends”; Kate Armstrong, “No Reservations”

Forensic Scientist – Do you love solving mysteries? If so, you’ve probably been intrigued by TV shows like “CSI” and “Without a Trace.” These programs feature law enforcement agents solving murders, kidnappings and other high-profile crimes using the latest technology in forensic science. The real-life career path for a forensic scientist is broad – from medical examiner to crime scene investigator and from forensic psychologist to composite artist. The daily job functions and experience required for a position in forensics depend on which field a person chooses. For example, medical examiners spend much of their time conducting autopsies and medical school is a prerequisite. Many jobs in forensics require at least a master’s degree.
Fictional Forensic Scientists: Dana Scully, “The X-Files”; Temperance “Bones” Brennan, “Bones”

While the Hollywood-version of these jobs is often more glamorous than the real-thing, it can still provide a basic introduction to many interesting professions. Just make sure you do your own research before pursuing a career based on what you’ve seen on TV or in a movie, otherwise you might be disappointed to find out not all archaeologists carry whips and that Chihuahuas aren’t generally brought into the courtroom.

Get Connected: Boost Your Career and Your Mental Health

May is mental health month, and this year’s focus is helping people become less isolated and more connected to improve their state of mind. Having people you can count on and confide in is important not only in your personal life, but in your professional life as well.

Research shows that employees who have friends at work are happier and more creative. On top of that, the studies reveal that employees with friends at work are safer, seven-times more engaged in their work and get more work done faster.  That’s why it makes sense for employers to be supportive of workplace friendships.

If you’re in a management position, you can encourage your employees to bond by allowing them some time each day for small talk and interaction. Encourage camaraderie by occasionally sponsoring fun activities such as a pizza lunch or a Friday afternoon department field trip. Not only will your team think you’re a great boss for your acts of generosity, you’ll actually be boosting productivity by encouraging workplace friendships.

Workplace buddies brighten your day by encouraging you to reach your goals, sharing a laugh and allowing you to blow off steam when things get stressful. If you don’t have a few friends at your work, make developing relationships with some co-workers a top priority. To find out how you can form friendships at work, check out the Three Secrets to Creating Allies at Work.

Do you have a good friend at work? How do you think having friendships with co-workers affects your job performance?