Monthly Archives: March 2018

Poll Results: Ace Your Next Interview With These Top Tips


Last month we drilled down on what readers want to see on Movin’ On Up. We asked one simple question: “What part of the job interview process do you need help with?”

Your answers were as follows:


What’s next?

The results were almost evenly split among the top four, so we’ll be sure to cover all those topics in upcoming blogs. But before that, here’s a bit of information about the top four.

Asking Relevant Questions

Questions you ask after an interview should be uniquely tailored to yourself or your interviewer. The key is to ask insightful, culture-based questions that won’t typically pop up during the interview. A few examples:

  • What is a typical day like at [company name]?
  • How is this company different from other companies you’ve worked at?
    • What makes it unique?
  • Tell me about a project or incident you experienced that truly embodied the spirit of [company name].

How to Create an “Elevator Pitch”

First things first—what is an elevator pitch? As defined by Investopedia, an elevator pitch is a “…term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service, or project.” In the world of interviewing, your “elevator pitch” is a short way of describing who you are and why you’re right for the job. Think of it as a super quick version of your cover letter.

The easiest way to craft an “elevator pitch” is to look at your cover letter. You’ve already done the work! Just condense it into a few bullet points, and mix those with details specific to the job you’re interviewing for.

Despite the name, an “elevator pitch” doesn’t have to take place in an elevator. It works perfectly as an answer to an introductory question like “tell me about yourself.” When an interviewer asks that, they don’t want to hear you list your resume. They want to know about you as a person and how your experiences make you qualified for this position.

Discussing Skills/Past Experience

Listing past jobs in an interview is easy. Really getting into those experiences and the skills they represent is harder.

First, remember that you’re focusing on accomplishments, not job descriptions. Speak on how you increased ROI by a certain amount, typed a certain WPM (words per minute), or completed however many projects in a certain amount of time.

How Much to Share About a Previous Job

It can be difficult to answer questions about your previous job experiences when some of those experiences weren’t exactly positive. If you had a boss that was a tyrant, should you mention it? What about a company culture you didn’t fit in with?

Always keep in mind that your personality is being interviewed just as much as your job experience. You don’t want to appear rude or unprofessional. So, when an interviewer asks you about your previous manager, keep it to the basics. Feel free to mention why you didn’t fit in with a particular management style or company culture, but stay away from personal judgements.

Anything else you want to know about the interview process? Let us know in the comments section below!


Save Money with Job Search Tax Deductions

Do the new 2018 tax rulings affect 2017 job search expenses?

With the recent passage of new tax laws, some are worried about what it means when filing taxes for the 2017 fiscal year. The good news? The law doesn’t affect your 2017 tax filing. As far as deducting job search expenses go, you won’t be able to do that for your 2018 tax filing.

There are just a few rules to keep in mind:

  1. You must search for jobs within your same profession path. Meaning if you’re a warehouse worker right now, you can’t deduct expenses incurred looking for a social media job. Same goes if you’re a nurse looking to get into accounting.
  2. Don’t let too much time pass between your last job and your new one. If you got a new job but the job search lasted too long, you can’t deduct those job expenses.
    • The IRS doesn’t specify how long this “substantial break” is, but notes that situations like stay-at-home moms getting back into the workforce after years at home do not qualify.
  3. If this is your first full-time job, expenses are not tax deductible. You must be progressing on your career path in a given position.
  4. If you’ve already had the expenses reimbursed in some way, they are not deductible.

And as for how to deduct them? Job search tax deductions must be claimed as miscellaneous deductions.

What then, are you able to deduct? has the answers.

Employment and Outplacement Agency Fees

Some employment or outplacement agencies charge a fee for their services (Express Employment Professionals never does). Depending on your situation, and so long as you’re looking for a new job in your current profession, those fees may be deductible. Any agency fees paid back by your employer, however, will be taxable after the fact.

Moving Expenses

Certain moving expenses may be tax deductible. However, this is subject to two requirements (these requirements are waived if you are a member of the armed forces moving due to permanent change of station):

  • Your new job must be at least 50 miles farther from your previous home than your old job was from that home. If your old job was 5 miles from your old home, your new job needs to be at least 55 miles away from that home.
  • For one year (12 months) after you move, you must work full-time for at least 39 weeks. If you are self-employed, you must additionally work a total of at least 78 weeks in the two-year (24 months) period following your move.
    • So long as you are on track to meet these goals, you can deduct your moving expenses prior to completing them.

Other Expenses

Travel and transportation expenses are a gray area when it comes to deducting job search expenses. For travel expenses to be deductible, the main purpose of the trip must be for job searching, such as company research or a job interview. However, even if the trip is not completely devoted to job searching, some expenses may still be deductible. Your ability to deduct them will depend on how much of your trip was devoted to job search vs. how much time was spent doing other activities.

This article is purely informational and should not be taken as financial advice. As no two situations are the same, you will need to follow up with an accountant/financial advisor to see if your job expenses qualify as tax deductions.

Have any other questions about which job-search expenses are tax deductible? Let us know in the comments below!

Spring Clean Your Resume

From top to bottom: out with the old, in with the new

For college seniors, graduation is right around the corner. For the rest of us, a change in weather might inspire a change of career. Regardless of the reason, spring is a great time to modify your resume to get rid of anything that isn’t working. Plenty of people clean out their houses this time of year; why not spiff up your resume?

Mop Up Your Address and Contact Information

Starting at the top, we have your name, address, phone number, and email. These are the first things your potential employer is going to see, so make sure they’re updated! Nobody will contact you if your contact information is wrong. And you most definitely don’t want your college or previous address on there. Companies want to know that you’re in their area and ready to work (unless you plan on relocating, which should be noted in your cover letter).

Clear the Cobwebs Off Your Experiences

Do you have anything new to add to your experiences? An outdated resume is an easy way to reject a candidate. If you still have your high school fast food experience on your resume, now might be a good time to remove it (unless it’s one of the few experiences you have, of course). Keep everything to one page. And if your work experience is lacking, don’t be afraid to put down involvement in charities or professional groups.

Verb tense matters. If you still have your last job listed with verbs in the present tense (oversees, leads, conducts, etc.), change those to the past tense (oversaw, lead, conducted, etc.) And if your current job duties are listed with verbs in the past tense, change those to the present tense. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s a big pet peeve among the HR community.

If you haven’t looked at your resume in a while, consider a revamp of the way you present your experiences. Change boring words like “did” and “saw” to action verbs like “presented” and “oversaw.” Have peers and professionals review your resume to make sure you present yourself in the best way possible.

Polish Your References

Remember how you used that professor you loved as a reference because you performed well as a leader in the big capstone group project? That’s great to include if you’re graduating this year, but not so great if you’ve been working for five years. The references you choose should be not only relevant, but also timely.

Take the time to contact your references and make sure their phone number or email is up to date. While you’re at it, send thank-you letters to references you’ve provided in the past.

Dust Off Your Cover Letter

A cover letter provides a chance to show that you’re more than a number or words on a page. It is by no means extinct. You’re a person, with your own thoughts, values, and experience that show you’re the right person for the job.

Your cover letter should be a living document. That means changing it depending on the company you’re sending an application to. It’s great to have a standard cover letter, but use that as a base and adapt it to each new company. If you’ve been using the same cover letter for years, update it and remove unnecessary information (e.g. old experiences, outdated references, etc).

Vacuum Your Social Media

Social media may feel anonymous, but it’s not. Your face and name are there for all the world to see. Social media is the first place recruiters go after you’ve impressed them with your resume. If your page is full of activities that aren’t exactly work safe, you won’t look right for the job. Same goes for extensive posts about your political views.

Set your social pages to “private,” and create business pages where appropriate. If most of your Facebook and Twitter information is hidden, the recruiter will settle for your LinkedIn page. That’s what you want them to see—the professional version of yourself they need to hire.

For more on resume re-education:

Resume Tips to Impress Your Interviewer

Sizzling Hot Resume Tips

Have any other questions about revamping your resume? Let us know in the comments below!

On the Job Podcast – Never Too Late: One Man’s Journey from Temp Job to CEO

Owning a business is a dream for many. Listen to the incredible story of how a temporary position through the Express Employment Professionals in Hickory, North Carolina, set one man on the path toward ownership and the C-suite. We’ll meet this remarkable individual and learn what it takes to rise to the top

Jobs give us a connection to our communities and the ability to provide for ourselves and our families. Your work may be your passion or it could just be the way you make ends meet. Each week, On the Job will share stories about the pursuit of work by delving into the employment situations people from all walks of life face each day.

Don’t miss an episode!
Download the On the Job podcast on iTunes or anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts. And, be sure to check back next week for the next episode!

Job Spotlight: Warehouse Worker

Is the warehouse life for you?

Despite already having experience with several jobs, many working adults are unable to answer that age old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We want to help you answer that question with our new Job Spotlight monthly blog series. In this series, we will review all the basics of specific job types, from salary to duties to why people do the jobs they do.

Warehouse Worker

This month’s Job Spotlight is on warehouse workers.

Warehouse workers do more than unload cargo. They lift boxes, push carts, organize inventory, and process goods. They’re the unsung heroes of our product-focused society. Everything you see in a store, everything delivered to your door; it’s all been handled by a warehouse worker at one time or another.

If you work in a large warehouse, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. Speed is the name of the game—getting everything organized for shipment as quickly as possible. In a small warehouse, work can be slower, but you’ll have a great opportunity to know the people you work with.

Required Education

High school diploma or GED certificate.


Although it varies depending on a variety of factors (e.g. experience, position applied for, etc.) warehouse workers can make as much as $40,000 per year.

What Warehouse Workers Do

Warehouse workers handle a variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Receiving and checking in arriving packages.
  • Distributing and logging the internal delivery of the received goods into inventory.
  • Processing and checking outgoing packages.
  • Acting as an internal resource on delivery logistics, quality goals, and employee training.

What Companies Look for in Warehouse Workers

  • Willingness to gain industry training and skills.
  • Accountability and a strong work ethic.
  • Experience in maintaining a safe workspace.
  • Applicable experience in a similar job role, if possible.
    • Experience using forklifts and pallet jacks, along with being familiar with warehousing and delivery related processes.

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S and Canada. If you have any questions about warehouse worker jobs in your area or job search in general, feel free to contact your local Express office or fill out our online contact form.

Are you a warehouse worker? How do you feel about your position? Let us know in the comments below!

Beginner’s Guide to Retirement

Save well, retire well.

Coming up with a retirement plan is tough. If you’re employed, you have to add retirement planning to your normal job responsibilities, in addition to any family responsibilities you might have. And if you’re unemployed, figuring out how to save can seem difficult when just paying daily expenses is more than enough to think about.

To make retirement planning a bit less stressful, we’ve compiled a few of the most popular retirement questions, along with insightful answers to those questions.

Do I Need to Start Saving for Retirement Now?

Yes. It’s worth the time and trouble of finding how much of your budget you can devote to retirement. You never know what’s going to happen in the future.

Retirement savings aren’t just for going on vacations or replacing your income source after you retire. A modest retirement account can pay for medical expenses, moving from one home to another, or simply paying for help with tasks you are unable or unwilling to do when you’re older.

Even if you plan on working for the rest of your life, a retirement account is worth it to cover expenses. Social security and pensions aren’t sure things, but putting a bit of your own money into an account you can check up on whenever you want is. Check out CNN’s retirement guide to get started.

Am I Too Young or Old to Start Saving for Retirement?

No. If you’re young, that just means you have more time to save, even if what you’re able to save each month doesn’t seem significant. Those dollars add up, especially if you’re putting money into a 401k account that your employer matches. After a certain point, the interest you earn on your savings will generate interest of its own. This is known as compound interest, or ‘interest on interest.’ See investopedia’s compound interest article for more information.

And there is no age too old to start saving. Having something in that account when you come of retirement age is better than nothing. Try to find ways to balance your budget to make larger savings contributions possible.

Traditional vs. Roth IRA or 401K

An IRA , or Individual Retirement Account, as defined by Wells Fargo, is simply “a type of savings account that is designed to help you save for retirement and offers many tax advantages.”

A 401k, on the other hand, is a retirement account offered by your employer. In many cases, the employer will match a certain percentage of your contributions.

There are two types of retirement accounts, whether IRA or 401k: traditional and Roth. The difference lies mainly in the type of tax benefit each choice offers. Roth accounts will be distributed free of taxes and other penalties when you access them in retirement. You just put money straight into the account from your paycheck after taxes have been deducted. With traditional IRA accounts, you don’t pay taxes on contributions, instead taxes are paid on investment earnings when you withdraw funds.

You don’t really have to choose between one type of account or the other—as Time notes, both are great for different times in your career.

  • It all depends on what tax bracket you’re in right now. If you’re going to end up in a higher income tax bracket when you retire (meaning you’ll be making more money, and have a greater amount of that money taxed), you’ll want to opt for a Roth account, paying the relatively lower taxes now.
  • If you’re older, and don’t anticipate large increases in pay in the future, you might want to opt for a traditional account, paying lower taxes when you retire in a lower tax bracket.

Can my retirement savings be garnished?

In most cases, retirement savings are protected from garnishment. However, in certain situations, such as past due child support or unpaid federal taxes, a court order could make your retirement savings subject to garnishment. In short, the answer to this question depends on your individual situation.

Have any other questions about retirement? Let us know in the comments below!

On the Job Podcast – Concrete Plans: An Unconventional Journey

In this week’s episode of On the Job, we hear the career journey of Oregon concrete finisher Liz Nichols.

Liz had a checklist – she wanted to work outdoors and make enough money to support her family. After a few false starts, she found just the right fit as a concrete mason. Even though she was often the only woman on the job, she learned to navigate that new world with grace and will pass along to her son the lessons that hard work and perseverance are rewarded

Jobs give us a connection to our communities and the ability to provide for ourselves and our families. Your work may be your passion or it could just be the way you make ends meet. Each week, On the Job will share stories about the pursuit of work by delving into the employment situations people from all walks of life face each day.

Don’t miss an episode!
Download the On the Job podcast on iTunes or anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts. And, be sure to check back next week for the next episode!