Monthly Archives: December 2011

So What’s This Gap in Your Résumé?

Resumegap_Dec2011_webWhen creating your résumé, you may struggle with how to address a gap in your employment. While it’s critical to be honest on your résumé, there are steps to help draw attention to your work experience or abilities and away from your time spent out of the workforce. It’s also important to remain confident. If you dwell on your unemployed time, you’re not focusing on the skills and abilities you bring to the workplace. Keep in mind that most people understand that having a blank spot in your résumé isn’t inconceivable, life happens and sometimes that life takes you away from work. Here are three tips to handling a gap in your résumé.

Formatting to Highlight the Positive

Instead of using a standard chronological format for your résumé, consider a skills-focused résumé that begins by highlighting your skills and education. Make sure to keep your résumé clear and organized. When you use a format that isn’t as common, it’s important to make sure it’s easy to read and still addresses the points in a traditional chronological résumé. It is better to put your work experience and skills above your education because that portion really develops a picture of how you can impact the workplace. Make sure to use specifics when describing your skills, such as how fast you can work, specific sales goals you achieved, or solutions you created that saved money for your past employer. Make sure to cite the versions of computer software you are comfortable working with, and if you aren’t up to date in the current versions, consider taking a class at a local community college, technical school, or online training. You also need to include a list of past employers at the conclusion of a skills-focused résumé.

Put the Cover Letter to Work

It’s important to use a unique cover letter for each position you are applying for, which allows you to specifically cite how your skills and achievements match the requirements of the job. Again, it’s important to paint the picture of how you can impact the workplace and fit into the job. The cover letter is a great place to briefly address the gap in your résumé. Be as direct and concise as possible. For example, “I’m excited to return to the workforce now that I’m needed less at home.” Or, “We’ve been traveling for the past few years for my husband’s job. I’m excited that we have settled here, and I can now return the workforce full time.” If you are seeking a job in a professional role, it may be good to quote a recent trade article or technological development to assure the potential employer you’ve kept a pulse on your career field while out of the workforce. Additionally, if you are a member of a professional organization, check to see if the person hiring for the role is in the same organization, and cite in the cover letter that you hope to meet them at the next networking event. This indicates your involvement in the professional world.

Work Your Network

Now’s the time to activate your networking skills. Send copies of your résumé to former colleagues and co-workers to let them know you are returning to the workforce and would appreciate any referrals to open positions. At Express, 40% of our associates come from referrals. If you know someone at a company you are applying for, it helps to contact that person and see if they can assist you in your application process. Additionally, if this person understands the gap in your résumé, they can help defer attention from it and reaffirm your commitment to joining the workforce. Don’t wait before you find a job to attend community networking events or professional association meetings, but join them as a way to support your job search. If possible, let your network know you’d be willing to take contract or temporary assignments while you are looking for a full-time position to help you return to the workforce even sooner.  

Do you have an example to share on how you’ve managed a gap on your résumé?


By Rachel Rudisill

The Positive Power of Hand Stretching and Hydration

Handstretching_Dec2011_webKeeping your hands safe is very important. We’ve talked about the benefits of wearing gloves and the importance of staying focused when using your hands, but those safety tips are geared more towards workers who operate equipment that can be potentially hazardous if used improperly. There are many who use their hands on a regular basis, but never really put them in obvious danger. Even though you may not be working with heavy machinery or powerful tools, not caring for your hands can still lead to complications down the road.

Dangers like Carpel Tunnel Syndrome happen more often at work than you think. Injuries from repetitive and strenuous activity affect more than 400,000 workers each year. Even if you think your job is quiet and at little risk, follow these simple tips to help protect and prevent your hands from injuries that can happen at even the safest jobs.

Stretch for Safety

In 2002, copper wire manufacturer Rea Magnet Wire learned that 6.4% of its employees experienced hand strains and sprains that year. Worried by the high injury rate, the company adopted changes, which included a stretching program. The program provided employees with a series of stretching exercises for their upper extremities.

Stretching allows the blood supply to reach working muscles and allow any acid buildup to be carried away. It's the buildup of acids that result in inflammation that can cause long term hand injuries. Consider taking five to 10 minutes every hour to not only stand up, but to also stretch your hands and forearm to keep blood flowing and limbs nimble. There are several resources on ways you can stretch your hands and arms. You can even do them in the comfort of your own office. Throughout the day, vary your job duties so you can take a break from your keyboard or station. A few small, easy changes to your day can have big benefits in the long run. 

Hydrate Those Hands

When looking at the data of the yearly injury report, Rea Magnet Wire noticed the number of injuries spiked during the summer months. In order to help workers' body temperature remain cool, the company made water and Gatorade accessible to employees. When working in hot temperatures, a person's blood supply is taken away from normal working condition and instead is brought to the skin to help produce sweat, meaning muscles don't receive the blood supply they need to reduce acid buildup.

There are simple ways you can stay hydrated while on the job. Consider drinking water out of a smaller mug or cup when at your office. This has a double benefit because it will make you get up from your work station, which will keep your body moving and blood circulating more. To change things up, eat some fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Fruits contain higher water content than most foods, which make them a great option for helping keep hydration levels up.

By 2007, Rea Magnet Wire had drastically reduced its hand injury rate to .1%. Because of simple behavioral changes, one company was able to help keep its employees safer, which allowed them to continue to work and enjoy their off-work activities. You can enjoy the same benefits by finding the time to stretch and stay hydrated for happier, healthier hands.

Playing it Cool: How to Survive the Office Holiday Party

Office holiday party_Dec2011_webIt could be your first job and the big end-of-the-year holiday party is quickly approaching.  Past employers never had holiday celebrations before and you may not know how to properly attend one. You could have a lot of questions about how to hold your drinking cup so you don’t greet people with a cold or wet hand, proper business party attire, or how much to eat or drink.

In order for you to celebrate a successful year and get pumped for the new year, here are some easy ways for you to have fun while following the manners and etiquette of business parties.

Make an Appearance

You may feel like passing on the notion of going to a company party. You see the same people for 40 or more hours every week. But not attending could hold back your potential, especially if you see a long future with your employer. This is your chance to talk to and get to know people you work with that you usually don’t see or hear from. Maybe they work on the floor below you, are from another branch, or are upper executives who don’t get out to your normal work area. Expanding your network within your company can help push your career forward when the opportunity for advancement becomes available.

You don’t have to stay the entire time, but try to find 30 minutes to have some fun and make an appearance. If you do decide to stay, don’t overstay your welcome unless you want to volunteer to help clean up if your employer is hosting the festivities.

Party Like it’s 9-5

Just because it’s a social function, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t conduct yourself professionally. It’s not your chance to tell racy jokes, flirt with coworkers, or blow off steam, so keep proper etiquette and modesty in mind when having fun. You don’t need to go back for thirds and fourths at the buffet line. Going too far will reflect poorly on your character and can hurt your image as an employee.

Staying professional is a matter of being polite and warmly greeting everybody – even those you don't like. Try tracking down the manager or executive who approved and planned the party to thank him or her for the party.

No All-Nighter Attire

Check whether the attire for the party is formal or casual or if it has a theme, like say, a cowboy country Christmas. It’s acceptable to dress in festive attire, but avoid the more revealing or skimpy. You don’t want colleagues and managers talking more about what you didn’t wear than what you had to say. If you’re in doubt, ask a co-worker, manager, or party planer what the appropriate attire is. The party is still a business function, so conservative party clothes are always a good choice.

It’s Not Business as Usual

The point of these get-togethers is to raise morale and have a good time outside of work, so try to avoid bringing work into the party during conversations. Work hours are over and nobody wants to discuss business for fun. While it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to the executive heads and decision makers of your company, stay interested in what they have to say and don’t make it about yourself and what you’ve accomplished. You’re there to socialize, not advertise.

When it comes to proper social etiquette, it’s best to use common sense. No matter where the holiday party is held, it’s still a company event, and you should act accordingly, even if others aren’t. But if you follow our advice on how to survive the work holiday party, you’ll be able to have fun and keep your reputation intact.

Help Us Make a Difference Choose How Express Will Donate $10,000

3millionIf you haven’t heard the good news, Express Employment Professionals reached a major milestone this year when Express associates worked a combined total of 3 million hours in one week. That’s more than 80,000 people like you who’ve found jobs at great companies in just seven days.

On behalf of the more than 550 Express franchises in three countries, we’d like to say thank you to our associates for your hard work and dedication because we know that our success depends on you.

Help Us Give Back – Vote for Your Charity of Choice

Now you can help us make an even bigger difference! In celebration of this achievement and the support of our customers and associates, Express is donating $10,000 to a nonprofit organization. You can help by voting for your charity of choice.

It’s simple to do! Just visit and vote by selecting Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, or Habitat for Humanity. You can vote once daily from now until Friday, Dec. 30, and the organization with the most votes will receive $10,000.

About the Organizations

Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Learn more about this organization at

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has been working to help as many children as possible by raising funds for children’s hospitals in local communities throughout North America. Learn more about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals by visiting their website at

Habitat for Humanity
Founded on the conviction that every man, woman, and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live, Habitat for Humanity builds simple, decent, and affordable housing for families in need around the world. For more information, visit


To Give, or Not to Give Gifts at Work: That is the Question

Gifts at WorkIn our November poll, we asked how you felt about workplace gift giving during the holidays. Almost 40% of the voters give gifts but don’t expect any in return while a close 32% wanted to, but couldn’t give gifts to so many employees in large companies. While most of the votes went toward giving without expecting anything in return, you may not be comfortable with what is or isn’t acceptable business practice for gift giving during the holiday season.

Each employer has different ideas and expectations on how they should celebrate and it can be confusing or frightening to figure out what is appropriate when giving gifts at work. The holiday hullabaloo is not lost on us, and if you follow these guidelines when considering whether or not to hand out gifts to celebrate the season, you’ll have a better chance of giving your office a little holiday cheer.

Check Guidelines and Policies

When in doubt, always check with your employer’s protocols. There could be some strict guidelines concerning holiday celebrations. This is especially important if you’re in a business where you work closely with clients, vendors, or business associates outside of your company. Several companies have detailed restrictions on giving or receiving gifts from clients outside of your employer.

An increasing trend with American employers is celebrating the holidays as a whole group so it can deter employees from one-on-one gifting. There are more employers without policies than there are with them, so be mindful of your company culture and see what is expected during the holiday season. Some workplaces may have a Secret Santa type of celebrating where workers choose the name of a fellow employee randomly and buy that person a low-cost gift. Other companies have each department throw their own lunch party to celebrate, while others have no real celebration at all.

It’s All Voluntary

The workplace is more diverse than ever. Not only are there many diverse cultures, but there are also diverse age groups working with each other. When dealing with so many different views, opting out of gift giving should be free of consequences.  You have to be sensible and respectful of your co-workers holiday beliefs. If someone doesn’t want to be involved, you shouldn’t make them feel badly about it.

If you don’t desire or are incapable of participating in your company’s celebrations, you shouldn’t feel pressured into it either. The majority of respondents in our poll didn’t expect anything in return, so don’t feel like you have to return the act if you receive a gift. Take pride in knowing that a co-worker or boss is expressing their appreciation of you and what you do for them. Acknowledging the gift with a thank you is sufficient.

It’s All About Inclusion, Inclusion, Inclusion

The biggest concern when it comes to office gift giving is the issue of inclusion. Nobody wants to feel left out, un-favored compared to a peer, or appear to be schmoozing to get ahead with a boss. If you want to show extra appreciation to a co-worker you have a strong relationship with, consider giving it to them outside of work so it doesn’t alienate your colleagues.  You may also want to consider avoiding impersonalized, super cheap, or generic gifts to all employees. This will characterize you as un-thoughtful and missing out on the point of the holidays.

If you want to give your boss a gift, ask your co-workers if they would like to go in as a group. It can help make the holiday work environment feel less inclusive and can establish teamwork skills among your peers. If in a leadership role, consider donating money in your teammates name to charitable organizations that they are involved with or would appreciate.

Does your employer have any gift giving policies? How are the holidays celebrated where you work? I’d love to hear some ideas on how you give gifts at work.