Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Stress Test

In the last year, stress has become a top concern for businesses, employees, and job seekers worldwide. In the U.S., 75% of people say they’re stressed out, according to a survey released by the American Psychological Association. And a national health survey in Canada revealed stress levels were up by 30% in 2010.
Stress not only impacts productivity and concentration, but it’s also linked to health- related issues like heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. today. February is American Heart Month and we want to know if all this stress is having an effect on your life.

How to Standout from 3,000 Other Job Applicants

Employeeappreciation As one of the top five of Fortune’s Top 100 Best Companies to Work for in 2010, Google sees thousands of résumés every day. In fact, in 2008 The NewYork Times reported that Google received more than 20,000 résumés each week – that’s an average of two résumés every minute. While most companies don’t see anything like two to three thousand résumés every day, let alone in a year, in today’s economy there’s still numerous applicants for every open job no matter where you apply. So how do you get the job when you’re up against such tough competition? 

What Google Looks for in Candidates
Entrepreneur Magazine recently interviewed Google’s staffing manager, Todd Carlisle, on what he looks for in an employee when hiring for Google’s highly coveted jobs, and one of the qualities Carlisle mentions is ambition. “An Ivy League alum with a high GPA is great, but even better is the person who was the first in the family to go to college and did well while working an extra job,” Carlisle said.

It’s probably not a surprise to you that employers are looking for qualities like determination and self-motivation in potential employees. With smaller workforces and heavy workloads, businesses need employees with the drive to help solve problems and boost productivity.

For unemployed job seekers, it’s difficult to stay motivated and driven when finding work has become a full-time job in its own right. For employees who are looking to job hop because of stress, employee engagement issues, or job security concerns at work, it’s tempting to play it safe and lay low in their current position. But, to get the job and stand out from the crowd, determination and aspiration are exactly what you need whether you’re unemployed or just job hopping.

Preparing for Your Next Interview
Before your next interview, come up with several examples that demonstrate your ambition, whether it’s when you took initiative to make a process more efficient at work or when you went to night school while you working full-time to build a better future for you and your family.

Above all, as you continue your job search, remember to stay motivated. Don’t settle. Keep learning. Keep dreaming. Keep growing and doing. The skills you acquire and develop today will help get you the job of your dreams tomorrow.

Shorten Your Job Search by Becoming a Networking Pro

Networking When your job search stalls, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Many people assume all it takes to land a new job is sending out a handful of résumés and waiting for the phone to ring.

However, the reality is the average job search can take months – even a year or more. But with a little networking savvy, you can greatly improve your chances of landing your perfect job in record time.

Bring back the personal communication. Don’t underestimate the human element in landing a new job. Job boards and internet postings are great resources, but when your job search slows, it’s time to step out from behind the computer screen. In fact, many job postings are never even advertised. That means the only way you’ll learn about these hidden gems is by networking with others.

Let others help. Surveys reveal that approximately 80% of jobs are found as a result of a personal referral. So don’t let your contacts go to waste. Make sure that everybody – from your Great Aunt Ethel to your mail carrier to the man sitting next to you on the airplane – knows you’re looking for a job and you’re open to recommendations. You might be surprised to discover how eager friends, family, and even casual acquaintances are to help you in your hunt for a job.

Make the most of referrals. After you put the word out that you’re in the market for a new job, keep the ball rolling by following up on all leads. For example, if the man on the airplane gives you his business card, send him an email or traditional letter within a day or two of your meeting. Thank him for taking the time to discuss your job search, and briefly reiterate what sort of job you’re seeking. Don’t forget to include an updated copy of your résumé in case your contact knows of an immediate opening.

Broaden your circle. If you’ve run out of leads using your current contacts, it’s time to expand your network. Joining professional groups, taking continuing education classes, or attending chamber of commerce meetings are great ways to widen your professional sphere. You’ll develop deeper relationships within these new networks by selecting the most promising groups and becoming an active member. Again, don’t keep your search a secret. Your new acquaintances can only help you if they know what you need.

Make the most of social networking sites. If you’re not currently using websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter consider creating profiles on these sites today. Used wisely, these sites can be powerful tools for connecting with a large network of potential employers and colleagues.

Set goals to keep you on track. Determine how much time you can invest in networking and set daily and weekly goals for meeting and following up with new contacts. Even making just a few extra phone calls or in-person visits each week can greatly speed up your job search.

Networking is a learned skill, and just like anything else worth developing, it requires practice to become a professional at it. From neighbors to former bosses, anyone can provide the referral you need to land your next big job. To make the most of your contacts, it’s essential to communicate your needs and ask for help.

If you’re ready to put your job search in the fast lane, take a step out of your comfort zone and away from the computer screen. You’ll soon discover the truth behind the saying, “It’s all about who you know.”

From a Hiring Manager’s Perspective: What Are They Thinking After Your Interview?

Interview After you interview for a job, the ever-fun waiting game begins. Will you get a second interview or a call saying, “Thanks for interviewing, but…?”  Whether or not you advance in the interview process is now in the hands of the hiring manager. It’s time for the interviewer to process what they’ve learned about you.

So, what could make or break the deal? In deciding whether or not you get a call back for a second interview, here’s an inside look at two questions an interviewer is sure to ask themselves about you.

Do I like the candidate’s personality?

Can this interviewer see you getting along with the team? Would you fit in well with the company culture? On your résumé, you might be a great fit, but there’s a lot that a hiring manager can learn about you during – and after – you interview. Not only will a potential employer evaluate the answers you gave during an interview, but they will take into consideration your nonverbal communication skills, investigate your online personal brand (a.k.a. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), and check your references. All of these items are taken into consideration when a potential employer is debating hiring you to their team.

Is this person driven?

Are you self motivated and eager to learn and take on new projects? Right now, with the continued uncertainty about the economy and tight budgets, companies are still playing it safe when it comes to hiring. With fewer workers and heavier workloads, employers are looking for hard-working, motivated individuals who can stand the test of time.

To determine if you’re the employee for them, hiring managers will be taking all things about you into consideration when making a decision – your work history, your interview responses, and your references’ feedback. To put your best foot forward during the interview, make sure your résumé is up-to-date, research the company, brush up on some potential interview questions, and dress to impress. Also, contact your references so they can be prepared to give you a recommendation. The day of your interview, it’s your day to shine. Your goal is to make a lasting, positive impression that makes the hiring manager want to hire YOU!

Beat Job Stress with a Positive Outlook

Stress Fear of layoffs. Longer work hours. Budget cutbacks. The list of today’s on-the-job stressors goes on and on – creating the perfect storm for workplace negativity. But with a few tweaks to your attitude and daily routine, you’ll sail through turbulent times with a smile on your face and a lot less tension. 

Keep complainers from darkening your day. Nothing sucks the joy out of a workplace like a perpetual pessimist. These naysayers always have plenty to gripe about – from the snacks in the vending machines to a new computer system to the weather. If you’re not careful, you’ll quickly find yourself dragged down by their contagious negative energy.

Put up a mental buffer. To prevent grouches from ruining your workday, refuse to react to their outbursts. Don’t provide ammunition for their tirades by offering an emotional response. Instead, remain neutral and resist the urge to fire off your own complaints.

Map out your day. Whenever possible, mix up your routine to avoid getting trapped in lengthy conversations with grumpy co-workers. Consider taking your breaks on an adjusted schedule to avoid a potential water cooler gripe fest.

Once your gloomy co-workers realize you’re not interested in being their sounding board, they’ll be less likely to dump their complaints on you.

Chose to see your glass half full. While you may not be able to change your co-workers’ bad attitudes, you can keep your own attitude upbeat. Like sunshine on a cloudy day, other people are naturally drawn to those who exude positive energy.

Live long and prosper. Need more motivation to look on the bright side? According to a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh, optimists live longer, healthier lives than their more cynical counterparts.

Don’t get typecast as a grouch. Take control of your outlook by recognizing when you’re letting negative thoughts have the last word. If your inner monologue sounds more like a tragedy than a comedy, lighten up, and take a look at the bright side. Counter self-pitying thoughts by listing three things you’re thankful for.

With practice, you’ll find yourself more prone to positive thinking, which will more than just boost your mood, but likely improve your health as well.

Extinguish stress. When tension threatens to erupt in a volcano of negative energy, take time to cool down and regain your composure. Try taking deep breathes in the break room for five minutes, catching a quick laugh by watching a funny video, or enjoying a relaxing lunch with friends. Whatever you chose, make releasing stress a top priority.

Leave it at the door. Every now and then, you’re bound to have a rough day at work. But some people prolong the stress of the day by fixating on everything that went wrong.  Instead of taking your troubles home with you, give yourself a mental break. When you leave work for the day, resolve to not dwell on negative situations.

Focus on you. To keep on-the-job problems from overwhelming you, it’s important to find healthy outlets to relieve stress. That might mean taking a photography class, going for an evening jog or getting a massage. By separating yourself from the tension of the workplace, you’ll feel more refreshed and have better work-life balance – which is essential to maintaining a positive attitude at work.

By choosing to face difficulties with optimism, you’ll soon discover the benefits of positive thinking to your health, friendships and career. Then, no matter what the workday brings your way, you’ll be able to keep your outlook bright.

60 Seconds to Better Personal Branding

BetterbrandingWhether you’re on the job or on the job search, how you brand yourself can have a big impact on your future. From your résumé to your appearance to your experience, expertise, strengths, and knowledge, everything you do at work and on the job hunt says something about who you are to employers.

Every effort, big or small, you make helps to develop your brand. So, take 60 seconds today to boost your brand by making your email signature count.

Having an email signature that represents you well is a must. It not only makes it easier for co-workers, business contacts, and perspective employers to find your contact information, the right email signature can show your professionalism and demonstrate your attention to details. Make sure your email signature has these three things for a better brand.

1. Contact information
First and formost your email signature should contain correct contact information like your name, phone number, and email address. So make sure you provide the right information whether it’s adding your extension, or twitter handle to make it easy for people to contact you. And, don’t forget to update it from time to time when information changes like when you get a promotion and need to change your job title or you get a new cell phone number.

2. The right look and feel
These days, you can go way beyond the simple name and contact information, so make sure your email signature has the look and feel that’s right for you and your brand. If you work in a creative industry for example, consider a fun font and layout for a more exciting signature. You can left justify your signature, center it, bold specific content, change font sizes, add colors, and more!

Have fun with your signature to make it stand out but also remember to keep it professional. If you’re representing a business, keep company branding in mind as well. For example, my work email signature integrates my company’s colors in the links I share. Also, remember to be mindful of fonts and images that may not be compatible with other computers. If you’re emailing perspective employers, you may want to stick with a basic font like Arial, Tahoma, or Times New Roman to make sure they receive it correctly and it’s easy to read.

3. Share links to social media information and more
If you have a LinkedIn profile or a Twitter or Facebook account that you’d like to share, make sure you add the correct links to your email signature. You can even share your or your company’s website. Just make sure that your social media efforts and website information also support your brand. You don’t want to direct a potential employer to your Facebook profile if you have information posted you wouldn’t want them to see.

You can do a lot to help brand yourself for the industry you’re in and every little thing helps. So, take 60 seconds today and reinvent your email signature to help you and your contact information stand out.

What’s Missing From Your Résumé?

Resume_1 Do you ever wonder what goes through someone’s mind when they read your résumé? Are elements missing? Could your work history information be explained better? Employers are good at evaluating résumés because they’ve seen so many and have done it for a long time. To help you design a résumé that gets a second look, here are five standout tips.

1. Include a brief summary. Who are you and why should an employer be interested? Highlight your skills and abilities at the beginning of your résumé. The key is to tell the employer why the company should hire you – or what you can bring to the team. Share information like years of experience you have and highlight two or three of your skills. Be specific and keep your résumé summary to about two sentences. Use this as a quick way to grab an employer’s attention and encourage further reading.  

2. Don’t be overly wordy. Using more words on your résumé will not necessarily make you look more impressive to a potential employer. They don’t have a lot of time to devote to reading a lengthy document – instead they’re scanning for what stands out. Since you won’t have a lot of time to impress them, be sure to catch their attention quickly. Be clear, concise, and get to the point.

3. Be honest. In other words, don’t say you have five years of experience in something if you don’t. It’s always in your best interest to be truthful because an employer will find out. Employers are being more and more cautious about hiring. They’re not only checking your references, but they’re also searching for information online. Make sure you’re honest and upfront. 

4. Identify your results. Employers are more interested in your impact than your job duties, so include quantifiable information on your résumé to identify your accomplishments. Don’t just tell an employer what your responsibilities have been, but also identify how you’ve made a difference. For instance, if you’ve previously helped raise funds for something, tell how much money you received. If you created a system for streamlining your company’s printing process, tell how much time and money you saved the company. Also, if you’ve managed individuals, specify exactly how many.

5. Brag a little. If you’ve won an award or received a certificate for a job well done, make sure you share it on your résumé. Now is your chance to let others know why you’re amazing and the right person for the job. Create a short section at the end of your résumé and title it “Accomplishments.” Then, list out a few of your greatest achievements.

Creating a résumé isn’t a difficult process, but it does take a little strategizing and time. Block off some time on your calendar to focus on yours, and use these tips and others from our Résumé Boot Camp to ensure that yours isn’t missing something it needs.