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how long have you been in the race?

Have you noticed that the working world is kind of like a track event? Some races are marathons, and the runners who win are slow and steady folks who keep on moving ahead, where the sprinters, the ones who zip past leaving their co-workers in a cloud of dust, don’t always stay on track. Not that sprinting is bad, it’s just a different race and the techniques that work in a short speed contest don’t do well in endurance challenges. Track events will generally have a variety of contests and different skills will win different events.

Sometimes an athlete will move from one event to another, like the sprinter in the marathon. If the sprinter has developed the endurance to keep a steady pace and still have the strength to run fast at the end, they will likely be the winner. If they have no endurance, they won’t be able to keep up in the long run. An athlete who has learned how to adapt can switch to several events and win them all, but it takes experience and training. It also takes recognition that they are capable of moving from one category to the next.

A worker who has moved up to manager or supervisor and shown 2 – 10 years of quality work is often ready to be promoted from one event to the next, but they have trouble getting the recognition for their abilities. Because they are seen as capable managers or supervisors, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will be seen as executives. It’s like the marathon runner has announced they are entering the sprint.

Our professional resume packages highlight all the accomplishments in your career and showcase the skills that you will bring to a promotion. They are perfect for presenting your abilities as a professional ready to add a different category to your career.

If you have been the race for a long time, maybe it is time to up your game. Go over your resume part by part and make sure it represents who you are today and where you see yourself going. Do your accomplishments shine brightly? Is your experience rich with detail but yet concise enough to not bore your reader to tears? Does your resume have action statement and keywords to pass a keyword scanning machine? To stay competitive, update your resume yearly with highlights of what you did the previous year. Don’t leave it until the last minute when someone is asking for it. Like training, it takes a bit of time and thought, but the results will be worth it.

 

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top questions you should not be asked

In an interview, it’s all about the questions. The conversation is pretty much a standard question-and-answer format for the most part. But there are some questions that should not be asked because it is illegal to do so. Federal and state anti-discrimination laws are designed to get you hired based on your skills, not a stereotype.

Doostang recently posted a list of Ten Questions You Should Never Be Asked In An Interview. It’s a clear list of questions that could be discriminatory and the possible “fair” questions that would be similar. The basic categories are simple:

  • Who you are — your race, national origin, disabilities, age, gender, marital/parental status. These things should not affect your job in themselves, although being eligible to work in this country (national origin) or capable of doing the job with/without accommodation (disability, age) can be fair questions.
  • What background you have — bankruptcy, arrest records, type of military discharges might come up in a security check, but they should have disclaimers or be part of a credit check you approve. They shouldn’t be reasons not to hire you.
  • Which groups you belong to — political, social, religious groups or unions; if the employer is a religious association, they can give preference to those belonging to their religion, but for the most part, it shouldn’t be asked. Job-related groups like professional associations are different.

There are many reasons an inappropriate question comes up during an interview. Often, it has nothing to do with wrong motives. The interviewer is just unaware they crossed a line. Your response can be professional, tactful, and firm without creating more problems. Try answering in the form of how it affects your job. “I am able to fill all the requirements of this position” sounds a lot better than “That is a discriminatory question! You have no right to ask me that!”

Of course, if they push it, you could go there if it’s clear you are dealing with discrimination. But be professional, tactful, and firm about it and you’ll have a better response.

It is important to be prepared for potentially discriminatory questions, and that is part of your interviewing skills. There are a number of helpful posts when you follow the link, and each one will give you good advice. Professional Resume Services has a goal: we want to see you go through the interview successfully and get the job you want!

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3 reasons you might need help with online branding

Online branding is hard to avoid if you are going to be involved with society. It’s actually happening whether or not you want it to, because some of your information is probably online already. Don’t believe me? Try doing a search on your name — I’ll wait.

This is why you need to “own” your online brand. Maybe there was a lot of entries with your name, maybe just a few, but when you submit your resume to a company, the name on your resume is what they will search. It’s a very important part of your professional package. But sometimes, you need to get help in order to get your online brand what it needs to be. Here are three possible reasons to ask for that help:

  1. You are overwhelmed with all that is going on in your life right now.  Sometimes life throws a real curve ball and you are starting over from square one. It could be a divorce, a death or major illness, coming back into the workforce after a hiatus, a family emergency, or even a natural disaster. If there is too much on your plate, this is one thing you can delegate to a professional.
  2. You don’t really know what you are doing with the whole computer thing. You are learning, but you are afraid of making a mistake. I always tell newbies to the computer age, ‘You can’t break it!’ Getting professional help will give you a confident start and you can take it from there. Or you can learn as you go and try it out. Either way it’s a reality you will need to face –e-commerce, for example– you can’t go to an actual Amazon “store”… you need to order online to get what you want from there. Start small and work your way up to profile creation.
  3. You now realize that you blew it big time. You have been buzzing along posting selfies and crazy party photos, and now you wish you’d listened when your mom told you to be discreet. She was right and now you are sorry, but you have no idea what to do about it. A professional would have experience in this area and could help. We help with reputation management and can help you clean up your digital dirt. Then you can tell all the tweens you know to heed your warning.

Professional Resume Services offers several types of online branding help, from LinkedIn Profile Development to Online Branding/Profile Development Coaching and even an Online Branding Power Package (all on the link; scroll down and see). It’s also part of what is offered in our Coaching Services. If you need help with your online brand, you can find it here!

 

 

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Grammar errorWhen it comes to grammar and spelling mistakes, there are usually two kinds of people: those who see it and those who don’t. If you are a member of the latter group, it is kind of like being colorblind. You know there is a difference when it is pointed out to you, but it really doesn’t stick out enough to notice. Unlike being colorblind, though, there are things you can do about improving your grammar and spelling. It really is a skill you need to work on because it will affect you all through your career.

The reason you need to work on writing accurately is because the first group of people (yes, I admit, I am one of those anal retentive types), are the ones who see grammar and spelling mistakes– and can’t help seeing them. They know, because they are told, that grammar and spelling don’t matter to many, but it matters to them. Because it matters to them, it affects the way they view a “professional” who makes a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes — they see an “unprofessional” who doesn’t care about details and may not do a good job.

All the advice on how to avoid mistakes when writing your resume and cover letters applies to your business writing, too. Even executive resume writers make mistakes, but when writing things that affect their job they carefully do their best to correct mistakes by proofreading and using tools like spellcheck. The tools are limited, so the human has to pay attention or the wrong (correctly spelled) word could be used. All the writing you do for your workplace should be proofread because it becomes a permanent record reflecting your abilities to communicate as well as the actual information in the material.

Whenever I hear someone say that spelling doesn’t matter, I think of Dan Quayle and potato. In 1992, Mr. Quayle was the Vice President of the United States, doing the best job he could. He was a guest helper at a spelling bee, using a flash card with “potatoe” on it, and corrected a student’s spelling of “potato” by suggesting it needed the “e” at the end. It would be easy to Google this incident, and you would see what that little mistake did to his political career because it gave his critics an excuse to dismiss his abilities.

Now, Mr. Quayle was not in a position to be proofreading right then. But you usually can be careful with the writing you do for business purposes. You can start to work on your grammar and spelling skills, too, by checking things that don’t look right. There are many helpful (and free) online lessons to take advantage of. If you know you are one of those who don’t “see” the mistakes, assume you are making some and do what you can to correct it. One of the most common spelling errors I see is “manger” for “manager”. I probably notice this the most because I used to make it all the time! Manger is an actual word so it was never corrected by spell check. Luckily, Microsoft Word has tools you can use and adjust to catch your most commonly misspelled words. Spelling matters, so make sure to have a second set of eyes on your work!

 

 

 

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what can you do today that makes your job better?

Have you noticed that small things can affect the way you feel? For instance, when I look at this picture of spring flowers, it makes me smile and think about Spring (if it ever comes back). I like looking at certain things, and when I arrange my surroundings to include those things, then I feel better about my job. I’ve learned that I need to do certain things to be productive and content.

The things you do every day make a difference in your job, don’t they? Of course they do! And those little things add up because a contented, productive worker is valued. When I say “contented,” I don’t mean you have no ambition. You can be very ambitious about your career and still be content in your daily surroundings because you have exercised control over your workspace. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

  • Control the clutter. There are at least 3 ways clutter affects your career: you lose important information, you get overwhelmed, and you look inefficient. It is worth the extra minute or so at the end of the day to restore order to your desk.
  • Keep things clean. Use the canned air to get the crumbs out of the keyboard, and wipe off the mouse and anything else that you touch all the time. If you have disposable wipes in a fragrance you enjoy, all the better. Clean spaces feel better. Maybe because you aren’t breathing all that dust.
  • Put some plants around. There are plants that will do OK in office environments. If you can’t do that, put something you like to look at in the spot you stare at while you ruminate.
  • Keep a fun glass of water at your desk. Most offices have water dispensers, and you can pick up some beautiful goblets and tumblers at thrift stores because you only need one for yourself. You aren’t running a marathon. You are sitting at a desk, so you can add crystal elements to your work space if you find something you like. Mix it up and keep it fun — have a collection to choose from. And drink more than one glass of water a day because office environments are dry.
  • Exercise. Getting your body moving is going to have a positive effect on everything you do. Forbes has a list of the 10 best exercises to do at your desk, and they are entirely doable. I did a few of them… and felt it the next day. Definitely worthwhile.
  • Cut people a break. Their grumpiness probably has nothing to do with you, and a smile exercises your cheek muscles. It also gives you more control over your response to the situation.

The job you have today might be temporary. Your job might be “searching for employment,” You may not currently have a desk to put a crystal goblet of water on or a workspace to call your own. But you do have a daily environment that you can begin to control, and that will make your day better.

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work/family balance is for singles, too

Sometimes the subject of work/family balance seems to be all about parents and kids, but that would be erroneous. Everyone needs to take time off the job and do something that renews their spirit so they can come back to work refreshed and ready to go.

Navigating uncertain times in your job as a single person has a different set of challenges because single adults are often living away from the network of family. Family can certainly be stressful, but family also is a support system for most of us. We need to be part of some definition of family even if that “family” is an online support group we never see in real life.

In some ways, parents have more clear cut boundaries about work commitments. A child comes with obvious responsibilities and you clearly must say “no, I can’t work late” sometimes to take care of those responsibilities. A single person sounds selfish, even to their own ears, when they want to say “no, I can’t work late” because they paid for a yoga class and it is not refundable. Why is the idea of losing out on a yoga class fee selfish? I don’t think it is, particularly if it’s an expensive class.

Everybody needs to have the ability to do these things outside of your work schedule:

  • maintain friendships
  • take care of your health
  • find leisure activities you enjoy

Maybe we should call it work/life balance, instead, because people who live alone still need to have an identity outside of their job description.

What do you think? How have you been able to maintain this important balance in your life?

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is your resume speaking the right language?

Communication is all about getting across barriers to connect. How many times have you suddenly realized that you do not understand what someone means when they use a familiar word? Or have you experienced this: you want a solution to a particular problem and the salesman keeps insisting you need a solution to a problem you don’t have?

Employers encounter a variation of this when an applicant submits a resume. In her excellent article, “How To Speak The Language of Hiring“, Lydia Dishman says that hiring managers want to know the quality of experience and how a candidate will approach the job once hired. Resumes, on the other hand, tend to focus on actions and education. As a result, the resume is addressing the wrong question.

You can speak the right language and address the right question, by understanding the process and perspective of the employer. Your resume has to pass through a couple of filters before you get called in for the interview. Most employers will use an electronic filter first, an applicant tracking system. Then the filtered list of potential candidates will be read by the recruiter, who scans for more detail. Finally, those resumes passing these filters is put on the desk of the person who determines the best fit for the job and schedules interviews.

That’s three different perspectives with their own questions; your resume must pass all of them. Intimidated? You don’t have to be. Just remember to focus on the specific job opening is. Tell how you developed a skill like collaboration by being on a team that worked on the very thing they are looking for. The computer sees the thing, the person sees that you know how to collaborate.

Still confused? We offer resume creation in our A La Carte Services and a Resume Critique for those who just need to know if they are saying what the employers want to hear in language that communicates.

 

 

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