Archive for December, 2013

So many people, especially women, want to have their dream job and get to the top, but ….they don’t want to sacrifice having a meaningful marriage, having children and all that stuff that comes with it. 121313_glamour 1

We know it’s possible because we see it happening all the time. In magazines, on television and in the movies. Right? Oh yeah … those stories may be embellished just a bit. All those women on Broadway or in Hollywood have assistants and nannies that help them make it work.

So does that mean that the rest of us dream chasers and overly ambitious people can’t have it all? Well a recent article in Glamour says we can and they offered some tips: 

Think like an entrepreneur! Your career is your start-up. So identifiy your goal and create a plan. Meaning – take the initiative and do it! 

Find a mentor. The ones already at the top are busy, so you need to find somebody that has been in your situation recently. They are still fresh with the pains your having and can give you some guidance.

Fail and prove yourself. So you get fired from your attempt in your dream job. Don’t look at is as a loss.

Don’t give up! Setbacks are just a step in finding yourself and proving yourself. Your setbacks are lessons to be learned. Grow from them.

121313_glamour 3Be flexible. To have the flexibility you need to have it all, you need to be flexible too. You also need to speak up when you need that flexibility. Don’t be shy, tell it like it is and why you deserve that flexibility.

Remember, you are your important branding, never forget that. Career experts suggest that you hold onto a position long enough to achieve three major goals. Take the hard knocks and learn from the then apply what you learn.

The job market is getting better, but it still tough right now. There are still more job seekers than there are positions so employers have a wide range to choose from and are looking at the most qualified candidates. Or are they? You have sent your resume that you know you are well qualified for, but you never hear back. So does that mean the competition is harder? 

112713_five_tips_resumes 1Its possible that your resume may be the problem. Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offers 5 possible problems your resume may be holding you back: 

  1. Vital Information Missing:

    All certifications, education, responsibilities and training must be provided on your resume. Leaving any bit off that is applicable to the position you are applying for is going to just put your resume in the bigger stack. Be sure to list anything and every thing that is related to your career objective and the position you are applying, including volunteer work. Use key words and phrases that pertain to the industry too. 

  2. Useless Information:

    When your resume needs updating, do not just add new stuff to the old resume. Totally revamp the resume and cut out stuff that isn’t relevant to the current job market or the job you are apply for. 

  3. Not Enough Experience:

    Maybe you don’t have the experience the prospective employer is looking, showcase the skills you have that would be transferable. This should include any accomplishments that illustrate the skills you have that would be the most relative and transferable skills needed.

  4. Too Much Experience:

    Are you labeled “overqualified”? This may happen if you have management experience but are applying for non-management positions. Instead of your resume focusing on what you accomplished as a manager, focus on what your team did as a whole. 

  5. Lacking Results:

    No matter what position you may be applying for, any prospective employer is looking at what candidates can do for their bottom line. They want employees that can save the company money, add to the revenue or both. They need employees that can streamline a process but still keep customers happy. A resume that shows what results were at previous companies is the resume that will make it to the short stack. 

As we have said before, your resume is your calling card. It is your marketing material and you are the product that you’re trying to sell. So your resume need to be the best of the best to get it from the big pile of resumes to the short stack that will be getting phone calls. 

Ah the holiday buzz! The baking, the parties, the shopping and the wrapping. You’re thankful for all this activity, it takes your mind off your pending job interview. You could use all this busyness to call and postpone your interview. That would give you a little more time to prepare. 112313_december_calendar 3

As we have discussed here recently, the holiday season is perhaps the best time of the year to interview. Everyone is in a giving mood and eager to pay it forward and share the wealth of employment with others. So why postpone it?

Instead, take a deep breath, walk into that interview with a sincere smile and a strong handshake. Have all the right answers and all the right questions that put your resume on the top of the short stack. You can take this opportunity to wow the interviewer and lock in a job to start the New Year.

Getting the most out of a job interview during the holiday season isn’t all that hard. Take a little time to yourself and think about what you want to accomplish here and going into the New year. Then use these 6 tips to open the way to do just that:

One: Read and Read Your Resume

Check for run-ons, spelling and typos. Make sure all information is accurate. and long-winded sentences or inaccurate information. Have somebody read it for you, a spouse, friend, neighbor and look for any run-ons, spelling or typos.

Two: Plan Ahead

The night before your interview, set out what you are going to wear. That includes the accessories, shoes and suit. Knowing what you’re going to wear will make it easier to get ready and remove one line of stress. For women, no dangling earrings and men should empty your pocket. Arrive at your appointment early.

Three: Research the Company

As soon as you schedule your interview, start researching the company so that you can walk into that interview informed.

082613_resume_picturesFour: Prepare

Prepare some examples of your current or past employment to show examples how you are a good fit and what you can bring to the table. Refer to any community service or volunteer work. If you good at solving conflicts or problems, talk it up. When you answer a question, have a support example.

Five: Think Then Speak

When you’re asked a question, don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, take your time. Stay humble and be yourself. If you have made an error in the past, talk about it and explain what you learned going forward.

Six: Follow Up

Regardless how it ends, after the interview, send a hand written thank you note. Make it sincere and thoughtful and let the know that you are anxious and eager to hear from them.

With these 6 tips, you can enjoy the holidays even with an interview or two stuffed in between all the buzz and chaos. Think how good it will feel to know you have a job to start off the New Year! 

121313_staffing_myths 3With so many people unemployed for months, even years, you have to wonder why they haven’t signed on with a staffing agency. The American Staffing Association states that over 90% of US companies partner with staffing agencies and just under 50% of those are reentering the job force or looking for their first job work with a staffing agencies. 

So why are there still so many others that do not see the value in working with a staffing agency? Staffing companies can give candidates a wide range of opportunities. From administrative assistant position to CEO position, staffing agencies have connections that can get people to work. Jobs can be temporary that last from one day to months, even years. Or temporary–to where full time permanent employment is possible. 

The following are some of the most common myths about working with a staffing agency and an explanation why they are wrong:

Myth Number One: I need a “real” job.

Truth: Staffing agencies have “real” jobs and with big name companies as well as small companies. Staffing agencies have relationships with companies such as Amazon, Continental Airlines and Freddie Mac. Companies such as Hearst Publications and Microsoft get a good portion of their staff through staffing agencies as do PG&E, Sony and Visa.

Companies have annual budgets that including hiring a certain amount of full-time employees. A good portion of those budgets are used for hiring temps all year long as business flow dictates the need. When the time comes to fill a position with a permanent employee, the temps are in good position for being offered the job.121313_staffing_myths 2

Myth Number 2: Jobs through staffing agencies are low pay.

Truth: Recent college grads are usually offered assignments that correspond with their experience .. entry level. This is the level you will start at even if you get a job on your own.

It is your actions that will determine if that opportunity will get you to the next level in your career. It is the same opportunity you would have if you get the job on your own. Your future depends on you. The staffing agency has opened the door for you that you may never have even known was there.

Myth Number 3: Staffing agencies are only for entry level or admin positions.

Truth: When staffing agencies first came into existence, that train of thought is probably accurate. However, today we have staffing agencies that specialize in different levels of employment and even specialize in different industries.

Myth Number 4: You can’t get long term assignments through a staffing agency

Truth: That is true in some cases, every assignment is different. They may be as short as one day and some have been known to run in to years. When a candidate gives the assignment their best and the client is pleased, you are very likely to be offered a full time position.

When you work with a staffing agency, you are expired to several companies with several positions and the opportunities are endless. Many companies that are ideal employers only hire through staffing agencies.

Myth Number 5: There are no benefits when you work temp through a staffing agency.

Truth: Today, more staffing agencies are offering employee benefits to their contractors. From 401k and direct deposit to dental and health insurance and even paid holidays and employee referral fees.

The staffing agencies of today are highly professional and can offer you an entry into your career choice or even help you find a career. For anyone that has been working the job market with no success, a staffing agency just may have the job for you. 

100413 Name Salary 1You like your job. You like the people you work with and the work you do, even the extra load you’ve picked up. The only thing you have a complaint about is that you haven’t had a raise in awhile. From what you can see, there isn’t any plan for raises any time soon either. So maybe you need ask for raise …. mmmm? How do you go about doing that though?

Everyone knows that it takes money to live and everyone knows the cost of living increases, thus taking more money to live. However, that is not reason enough to ask for a raise. Simply being strapped payday to payday isn’t going to be reason enough for your boss to approve a raise. Your boss is more concerned about the ROI the company is getting from you.

With that being said, you need to be prepared and have your ammunition ready when you ask for a raise. You should know what your are going to ask for, such as do you want a promotion, a raise or both? If it’s the pay raise you want, how much of a raise? Are you willing to settle for less or are you willing to compromise.100413 Name Salary 2

Ask yourself if the company can afford to promote you or give you that raise. Then review with yourself why you deserve a promotion or a raise. This is definitely a question your boss will ask you, so prepare ahead of time and know how you’re going to answer. The more fact you have that support your request, the better.

Prepare documentation that supports your request. It will not only show your boss why you deserve a promotion or have earned a raise, it will show all your responsibilities and how you’ve grown with the position. Show how your goals have been met each month, quarter or annually.

Before you request that meeting to make your request, do some research for your position. There are several sites on-line that provide salary rankings by industry, region and state. Remember that you are worth what the labor market shows.

Finally, rehearse what you plan to say prior to going in there. Stand in front of the mirror and imagine the questions that your boss will probably ask and practice how to answer them. Give examples how you have contributed to the company in the past and how you see your position going forward.

When you know you are worth the money you’ll be asking for, there shouldn’t be any hesitation in your request. Be strong, think positive and go forth to conquer!

We have recently covered in this space that the holiday season is the best time to look for a job. Yes, the holiday season is the busy season for every, but you can’t afford to put your efforts on the back burner. Here we offer some tips on how to make the most of this season to get that job and start the New Year employed: 

112713_facebook_beer_party 1Social Media: Facebook and LinkedIn contacts are there waiting to help you. There is no better time than the holiday season to reach out and touch base with family, friends, former co-workers. Wish them Happy Holidays and let them know that you are on the job search trail. 

Holiday Parties: Don’t sit home and miss the parties because you’re unemployed. These are great opportunities to spread good cheer and get the word out that you are on the job search trail. Parties are great places to make new acquaintances and network with current acquaintances. 120913_holiday_job_search_tips 2

If you meet somebody that works somewhere you have applied, ask them if they have a connection that may get you past the gate keeper and a step closer to the decision maker. Always be ready to give a sales pitch about yourself to new acquaintances.

Email and Phone: As we mentioned here before, it is the gate keepers that are more likely to be on vacation during the holiday leaving the gate keeper to answer their phones and read their emails. Don’t become a pest, but making at least one attempt could make your the connection you need. 

Keep the email or phone call brief and pointed – but always ask for the interview!

Remember Recruiters: Stay in constant contact with your recruiter. Don’t let the busy holiday get in the way, stay in their eye sight. Mailing a holiday card wit your calling card won’t hurt. 

Be Flexible: If you are asked to come for an interview at an odd time, don’t pass it up. Remember, the holiday season is a busy season and if they see enough about you from your resume, or are intrigued by your attempt to connect during this time of the year, then take them up on the interview no matter what day of the week or what time of the day.

 The last few weeks of the year are yours to grab the attention of decision makers. Beat the competition and hit that job search trail now and you’ll be employed when the New Year rolls in. 

Are you in the job market? Thanksgiving is done and you’re probably setting up the Christmas tree and hanging the wreath on the door. You may be thinking there is no need to look for a job until after New Years. Well you couldn’t be any more off track! Now is the best time to energize, or re-energize, your job search. 

120913_holiday_job_search 1That’s right … now is the time. January is traditionally a busy month for companies to be hiring, so by taking the initiative to get your resume out there right now,you will beat the competition. That is exactly what the job market is today … competitive.

The most oldest myth when it comes to job searching is the time between Thanksgiving and New Years are the worse time to look for a job. Just as any other myth, you shouldn’t believe that one either. Just about every season recruiter will tell you that they have found some of the best candidates during the holiday. This writer landed one of the best jobs I had ever had during the holidays and I was there 10 years.

Those who believe that myth go along with the statement “No body of decision making is in the office during the holidays.” and while that is true to some extent, it doesn’t apply for everyone. December is one of the better months to find the decision maker in the office actually and since more people believe the myth is actually truth, your competition is narrow. 120913_holiday_job_search 3

Do you know who is gone during the holidays? The gate keepers! Those receptionist and secretaries that you couldn’t get past a month ago are the ones that take the last of their vacation during the holidays. For most businesses, except retail probably, December is probably the slowest time of the year. This is when the savvy job seeker should get out there on the job search trail. 

You will probably find that the people you come in touch with are going to be more receptive during this time of the year. They will have more of a will to help others, including interviewing. Remember there are 5 good reasons to use the holiday time for job searching: 

Less Competition
Better Access to Decision Makers
Budget for Next Year is finalized
‘Tis The Giving Season
January Is Hiring Season.

 So if you have put the resume and interview suit away for the holidays, get them right back and hit that job search trail today! 

Whether it’s your very first job interview or you’ve been on more than you care to remember, the process is stressful. When it comes to interviewing, over three-fourths of us pretty much just wing it when it comes to answering questions. Thus, over three-fourths of us end up with our resume in the “not hired” stack. 

We recently covered one of the most dreaded interview questions here “Tell me about yourself.” Probably the next most dreaded question is “Why do you want to work for us?”. With some practice though, you can not only respond to that dreaded request but you can answer that dreaded question with success too and keep your resume in the shorter stack of prospective candidates.

090513_resume_cv 2When you’re asked “Why do you want to work for us?”, it is too easy to come up with the wrong answer:

  • This seems like a good company to work for

  • I see opportunity here for me 

And the worse answer of all:

  • I don’t know

Then there are the responses that you may think give the interviewer the impression that you’ve put a lot of thought into answering:

“I have been very successful in this this industry the past 10 years and I believe I a lot to bring to the table that will make a difference for the company.”

On a scale of 1 to 10 of good interview answers, this answer ranks maybe a 4. It is a stock answer and can apply to any interview. This answer is so standard, it shows you haven’t done any research on the company or indicated your accomplishments of the past.

It doesn’t help that this is often one of the first questions asked in an interview. They haven’t told you about the job or the company to give you a fair chance in answering the best way possible. And that is the exact goal the interviewer has too. They want to see just how much research you bothered doing before you came in for your interview. It tells them if you were prepared or not.

So guess how you can score big with this question? That’s right – do your research. Once you have your interview appointment set, start researching! Do everything you can to stay at the top of the prospective candidate list.

Obviously, the internet is your best source, starting with the company website. Use the local newspaper and industry sites. Social media sites like LinkedIn are great sources too and some companies even have FaceBook pages and Google Plus pages. 

So when the question comes up in your interview, you can talk to the interviewer with some intelligence. Talk about what you know in regards to the company and what you like about it from that. The more specific you can be, the better. Then relate your experience to the position you’re interviewing for and how it can all tie in to benefit the company.

This is the opportunity you need to take what your marketing document, known as your resume, tells them and sell your product, you. Now is the time to close the deal and walk out of there a winner. 

120913_interview_questions 1You sent in your resume. You went through the phone interview. You waited. Now you get the face-to-face interview and here comes that request …. ‘Tell me about yourself’ …. and then awkward silence or the stumbling stuttering follows. 

No matter how many interviews you go on, no matter how much you have rehearsed this question, when a perspective employer ask this, we all give that resounding answer “uuuuuh…” as our mind is racing around thinking of the best way to reply. You leave the interview feeling pretty good except for that part, but you think to yourself “That probably didn’t really have any impact on getting the job.” 

Wrong! The way you respond and describe yourself during that interview could very well make the deciding factor whether or not you get called back for a second interview or get hired. If you realize that there is a better chance you will be asked this than not be asked, you’re in the right direction of preparation. However, you do not want to sound like you just pushed the “play” button and prerecorded message plays. 

When that time comes in the interview, here are some tips on how to, or how not to, respond:

They have your resume right there so don’t rehash what is there already

Instead, talk about what you got the most from your education and what led you to the career path you’ve taken. Was there anyone that influenced you that led you this direction? Talk about the activities you participate in like coaching your son’s baseball team or that your personal goal is to run in the Boston Marathon one day. This is the time you get to talk about what is not on that resume.120913_interview_questions 2

Talk about your strengths AND your weaknesses

This is your time to brag and talk about your professional accomplishments and strong points. Just don’t come off too full of yourself. Be proud of those accomplishments but blowing your own horn at full blast is a good way to get your resume on the bottom of the stack. Talk about your weaknesses,but with a positive spin. ‘I tend to lose my patience when somebody doesn’t that the time to help a co-worker.’ or ‘I often give more attention to details of things that don’t really need it.”These type of statements let’s the interviewer know that you realize you have faults, but they are ‘good’ faults to have.

Most important – BE HONEST

As much as being on time for the interview and looking your absolute best, being honest is probably the most important thing. The well season interviewer will see right through any smoke and glass mirror tricks and that just takes away any and all credibility.

Speak clear and slow

Practice makes perfect and if you find yourself with a lot of “uh” or “mmmm” or silence or worse stuttering, during an interview, you need to practice. These are all signals that you’re grasping for answers and looking for something to say. It’s almost as if you don’t know who you are and if you don’t know you, then who does?

Anyone that has been any number of interviews should know that the “Tell me about yourself” request is going to happen, so prepare yourself. There aren’t any magic words to offer you that will land you the job, but you should be prepared and be able to describe yourself adequately with confidence. The bathroom mirror is a good place to practice! If you wouldn’t hire that person in the mirror, why would anyone else?

The economy has done more back flips and somersaults than a three ring circus the past few years. We’ve had a flimsy, weak job market and hundreds, even thousands, of people who were laid off or their employer went out of business. Many people haven’t been able to find a job and a large number of people took the initiative to start their own business.

Sadly though, many of those businesses just haven’t made it either. Or they aren’t making enough to keep the owner’s head above water. So, back into the job market they go. With the stress of feeling guilty of not contributing to the family budget and nervous about being on this side of the interview table .. again.business meeting

After sending out resume after resume, they finally get an interview. Then the nervousness really comes into play. The dreaded and inevitable interview questions about working for yourself. What is the best way to handle those questions?

First you need to keep in mind that the person on the other side of the interview table isn’t condemning you or judging you for your efforts to be self-employed. So before that first interview, you should prepare yourself for the questions that are bound to come. Just as any interview before, their goal is to ensure that you have the experience, skills and temperament that the position requires. Same as they did before you ventured into the self-employed world.

So, be honest. That is the best thing you can do. There is no need to fabricate details about your business venture. you ran, you will assuredly get caught at some time or another. Simply determine ahead of time the biggest factor in the American economy that is linked to your decision to end your business and return to the rank and file of being an employee again.

No matter the length of time you were self-employed, you should talk about your business’ success up to the point it turned. If your business never got a good start, take the objective approach that you see what was what went wrong and you learned from your mistakes. Stay objective as you talk about it.

It isn’t the end of the world to have started a business that didn’t succeed. What is important is to have a positive attitude and perspective and tell the truth about it. Make your past business venture a learning experience and get that new job with more experience than you had with your last job.