what skills do successful job seekers have?

If you would do a search online for “successful job seeking skills” a long list of opinions would come up. Some of the same skills will be on everybody’s list, but at the same time there’d be some differences. It gets overwhelming, doesn’t it? I think that if you look at the combined lists of skills as a description of your inadequacies and stop there, you’re in trouble. 

Probably the worst thing to do when you have been searching for a job unsuccessfully is looking at yourself as a failure and giving up. Probably the best thing to do when you have been searching for a job unsuccessfully is look at yourself as ready to take steps to improve and taking one step.

Do you see what’s different here? It’s not in having all the skills the market is looking for; it’s how you look at yourself honestly, acknowledge your inadequacies, and take action to improve yourself. Those are the skills that successful job seekers have because they have kept working at the various things on their plate and not given up.

Here’s a good first step: start reading the posts on this blog under job search. Here’s a good next step: do something you realize you need to do after reading one of them. And all the steps after that are variations of the same idea: research for solutions and pick one to do. What do you want to/need to change? I know this isn’t easy but with each step you accomplish, you get some confidence. You will develop a skill set that works in any part of life, including the job search and ultimate employment.

are you shopping for a resume service?

There’a a lot of discussion in marketing about “today’s consumer” and the ways we are different than shoppers in the past. And it is true that today’s shopper is different, but the reason is not that people have changed so much. Our choices have changed, giving us online options that were undreamed of before the advent of the internet.

Having a lot of options is good if you know what you want and are ruthless about filtering down to the perfect fit. It can be frustrating to come up with nothing that fits, though, right? If you are trying to find the “perfect fit” in a resume service, it gets even trickier because you may not be sure of what you need or want.

One thing to filter out in your search would be any resume service that isn’t professionally certified. You are looking for the equivalent of custom tailoring and the expertise of the tailor really makes a difference here. That perfect fit is the result of getting measured and fitted for exactly what you need.

The A La Carte Services offer a basic list of services that can be purchased separately. Reading about each thing on that list will give you an idea about what is available in any good resume service. If all you need is one thing on the list, this is where to get it. The service will still be professional and customized for a perfect fit and you will have the one thing you need.

If you need the equivalent of an entire “outfit,” there’s even an option of customized packages to save you a little money.


linkedin has a new tool to use

LinkedIn’s popular “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” just added a new feature: “How You Rank”. It provides a lot more insight on the way you stack up in this essential network, and that’s good because it also provides suggestions for improving your ranking.

I sure hope you have a profile on LinkedIn because, if you don’t, you are missing out on the best way to network with potential employers, clients, colleagues…and all the rest of the professionals who have joined. Networking is important because the reason why strangers don’t get good jobs is measurable: 92% of recruiters and hiring managers said either “they knew the person or the person was referred by a co-worker or other trusted source. What’s even more interesting – and far more important – is that the primary decision to hire these people was on their actual ability to do the work and excel at it, not on some arbitrary list of skills and experiences.” (Lou Adler did this survey and explains it in the linked article.)

  1. So the research shows that people who are even vaguely familiar with you are more apt to see your value, and the “How You Rank” tool gives you a customized list of ways to improve your ranking.
  2. Improving your ranking means that more people are looking at your profile, which means that more people will be familiar with you.
  3. The more people, particularly professionals in your career field, that are familiar with you — the more apt you are to get a job when you apply.

The customized ways to improve your ranking are pretty important because this is LinkedIn telling you how to get higher rankings on LinkedIn. That means you should pay attention to their suggestions since they know the algorithms for the site. And I like how you can use the tool to track your networking progress and analyze the results. You can even look at the higher ranking people in your network and see how your profile and activity compares to theirs and get a few more ideas on improving yours.

If you want an even more individualized strategy for your LinkedIn enhancement, consider our LinkedIn Profile Development service. The “How You Rank” tool is good, but a professional evaluation that works with you to improve your online brand is better.




be creative about summer jobs

It’s that time again, the season where suddenly everybody wants to find a summer job if they are old enough to need money. If your teen (or even pre-teen) is asking about ways to earn some cash around the house, use this summer as a foundation for developing creative skills that come in handy their entire working career.

Look For What Someone Will Pay For

Challenge your kids to be entrepreneurs and create their own jobs. I know a kid who very carefully surveyed his siblings about which candy bars they liked and invested in a stash of their favorites — which he sold at a profit to his family members when they got the urge to snack. This is how a lot of jobs are created because it’s the essence of business.

Look For What Fills A Need

Again, this is the foundation of many entrepreneurial startups. Does a neighbor need help with yard work? Can they take over making dinner, or shopping? Is there a big project around the place that could use them? Is this a one-time need or an ongoing need? Sometimes a kid can earn some cash by doing these jobs, other times it is volunteer service but this leads to the next point…

Look For The Skills You Will Learn

The ability to see what needs to be done and do it is a skill that must be learned and practiced or your quality of life suffers. The ability to keep doing what isn’t fun anymore just because you said you would is part of being a responsible person. Keeping track of any money you earn, knowing how you spent it, and possibly saving some is a good idea at any age. Learning how to make change, for instance, will probably be in most entry-level summer jobs in the real world.

When a teen is ready to go out into the job market for their first summer jobs, having done some things that developed basic job skills really can make a difference in what their first ‘real’ job is like. Imagine two teens: one has never done anything to earn money or volunteered any service anywhere. The second teen has regularly done volunteer community service with a club and did odd jobs on the side. Which one would you want to hire?

the one thing that puts you ahead on the job

Did you ever think about what a potential employer is really looking for in all openings, no matter what the job description is?


No matter what that job description is, and on top of any skills listed as requirements, their foundational need is a worker who shows up on time consistently and does the job responsibly every time they are expected to do so. Sometimes an unforeseen crisis may prevent a perfect attendance record, but an employee who is reliable is a better investment than hiring a brilliant whiz kid who doesn’t show up or goofs off most days.

This need for reliability is why references are so important. Your references are people who testify to the way you are to work with, the kind of person you are, and ultimately how reliable you will be. And that promise of being able to rely on you for a job well done is what an employer is putting their faith in when they hire you. So, how do you go about getting a good reference…regardless of the circumstance that discolors a dubious job history? Sometimes the work situation was not your fault but affects your record. If this is the case, choose your reference providers with care.

If you can, do some volunteer work that will show you are reliable. You want to make a case for your potential reliability by showing how you have been reliable in the past and proving it with the testimony of those who worked with you in the project. If you must address the issue during your interview, avoid disparaging remarks about your previous employer and be professional in your representation. Point out your best accomplishments and the fact that you look forward to being more productive.

Diplomacy is professional and always impressive. You are showing in real time that you can be relied upon to do the best you can in any circumstance, and that puts you ahead of the pack.


sometimes a critic is a good thing

Okay, criticism does usually have a bad rap, but when you look at the definition of “critic” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it reads like this —

:  one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique

:  one who engages often professionally in the analysis, evaluation, or appreciation of works of art or artistic performances

Doesn’t that sound like a good thing? I think it does, particularly when you are talking about a resume or cover letter. A good resume and cover letter are truly works of art, the product of skill and technique. They put on a performance displaying your qualifications for a starring role: the job you are applying for. Wouldn’t you want to make sure your resume and cover letter passed the high standards of a professional critic? After all, another professional critic will be reading these documents and deciding whether or not you pass the test to get called in for an interview.

Why You Should Hire A Resume Critic

One of the best investments you can make is the Resume Critique because you are paying for a professional assessment of your resume (and cover letter, if you choose) by a certified resume writer. Certified resume writers earn that qualification by passing necessary tests and standards are high. A critic who is certified in their field counts as a professional in every sense of the term.

When a professional critic looks at your resume and cover letter in order to give you an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses along with a plan for improving those weak spots, that’s a good thing.



a great graduate gift suggestion

You know the story; someone you love is graduating and you want to give them a gift. But you don’t want it to be a gift that doesn’t really help get them on their feet with adulthood. You want your graduation gift to make a difference for the future.

An Entry Level Resume is a great gift because it is a service that results in a customized, professional resume that displays a graduating student’s coursework, internships, early experiences, and skill sets. It includes an initial consultation and unlimited email support, which really can help that first job search and the entry-level resume, a cover letter, and a thank you letter in both ASCII and PDF versions for electronic submissions.

That unlimited email support can come in handy for a newbie in the job market, and the benefit of a professional resume writer working with your graduate to clarify their skill sets and highlight what might be missed is worth more than you think.

Because a professional resume writer is tuned into what employers are looking for and does this all the time, a process that is painfully convoluted and prone to mistakes becomes a challenge skillfully met. They work with things like keywords and SEO and can write for the computer that screens the resumes as well as the human who reads the resumes that got through the initial filter.

If you don’t do that all the time, it’s tricky. Even an English major will have some trouble with writing a resume for today’s job search because it does take more than writing skills.

So consider this graduate gift suggestion: an Entry Level Resume from Professional Resume Services.

3 questions to ask at your job interview

There comes a point in good interviews where the job applicant is asked, “do you have any questions for me?” This is a tipping point that can go in your favor if you show that you have researched the company and care about the job itself more than the paycheck or benefits. It doesn’t have to be scary, deer-in-the-headlight feeling, though. Here are three questions you can ask that will make you feel more confident during the Q&A part of the interview:

Ask a question that shows you know their mission statement. The company’s mission statement has usually been the result of a lot of research and debate. If they care about community service, for example, ask how they invest in the local community and are expected of volunteers. If they care about the environment, ask how they go about reducing their carbon footprint or the recycling program.

Ask a question that shows you care about results. What goals do you have for this job? What are the benchmarks and deadlines? What qualities would you say are important to filling this position successfully? The answers you get should be on your list of “make-sure-to-do-it” once you are hired, because you know that is what will be considered in your job performance review.

Ask a question that shows you want to understand their company culture. Does the company observe holidays with special traditions? Are there regular contests, like decorating competitions between departments? Does this company have any fun quirks that make it unique in workplaces? Every business will have its own culture and traditions, and it’s a good idea to find out if you’ll fit in, if possible. It also can be a good conversation item that puts you in a favorable light.

Interview questions are really important, and it’s a good idea to be prepared for all the possibilities that you could encounter during your job search. Both asking and answering questions is the bulk of what happens in a job interview. If you feel unprepared for what that will entail, consider one of our coaching services for individual help with interview skills. That job is worth it!


are you using this free stress-reliever?

There is a great workplace stress-reliever available to most of us, and it is absolutely free. You don’t have to pay any membership fees, you don’t need expensive equipment, and you probably can do it on your next lunch break. Can you guess what it is?

Take a walk outside.

Not much of a secret, I know, but most of us don’t do what we already know is a good idea. The benefits of doing this simple thing are big, though, so think through some of your objections and see how to add a walk outside to your day:

  • park far away so you have to walk to get to work
  • have a walking meeting with a co-worker or two (more than three gets awkward)
  • walk inside in bad weather; it’s better than not walking at all
  • take a walk when you are stuck on a project so you can ruminate on solutions
  • walk a little bit if you can’t walk much

This is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your workplace stress, and it’s free. You may have to bring some shoes from home and switch into them, but that’s about it. Your health will improve, your attitude will improve, and you come back inside with a fresh take on problems.

What’s the alternative? Sitting at your desk stewing over things, your thoughts chasing each other like hamsters on a wheel and not going anyplace, your body settling into a blob of unhealthiness. So get up, go outside, and take a walk. It’s free, it’s good for you, and it gets rid of some of that stress.

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