New-Year-2015-760x570

 

If your goal is to get a new job this year, here are seven things you need to do to prepare yourself for your job search.

1. Update your résumé. While ideally your résumé is customized for a specific job, having an up-to-date résumé targeted for a specific “type” of position is the next best thing. So if you’ve taken on additional responsibilities in your current job, or you’ve changed your job target, or you’ve added new training or educational credentials, now is the time to talk with your résumé writer about updating your résumé. (And if you don’t have a résumé at all, now is definitely the time to put one together! A professional résumé writer can help!)

2. Develop — or update — your LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile doesn’t replace the résumé…it complements it. Someone looking for a candidate with your skills and experience might conduct a search on LinkedIn and find your profile. Or, someone in your network might be interested in recommending you, and forward your LinkedIn profile URL. So make sure you have a LinkedIn profile — and make sure that it’s updated. (Yes, this is something your résumé writer can help you with.)

3. Know what you’re worth: conduct salary research. One of the most often-cited reasons to consider a job search is to increase your salary. But how do you know what you’re worth? There is more salary research data available than ever before. Websites like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com can help you see how your current salary and benefits package stacks up.

4. Build your network. It’s estimated that 70-80% of jobs are found through networking. Networking effectiveness is not just about quality — although that’s important. It’s also about quantity. It’s not just about who you know. It’s about who your contacts know. Many times, it’s the friend-of-a-friend who can help you land your dream job. Grow your network both professionally and personally. You never know who will be the one to introduce you to your next job opportunity.

5. Manage your online reputation. More and more hiring managers are checking you out online before they interview you. What will they find when they type your name into Google? How about if they check out your Twitter profile? Or find you on Facebook? Now is the time to conduct a social media assessment and clean up your online profiles.

6. Define your ideal job. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” That line, from Alice in Wonderland, is important to remember in your job search. If you don’t know what your dream job looks like, how will you know how to find it? What job title and responsibilities are you interested in? Do you want to work independently, as part of a team, or both? Do you like short-term projects or long-term projects? Who would you report to? Who would report to you? Answering these questions can help you define your ideal position.

7. Create a target list of companies you’d like to work for. Like your ideal job, you probably have a preference for the type of organization you want as your employer. Things to consider include: company size, industry, culture, location, and structure (public, private, family-owned, franchise, nonprofit, etc.). Once you’ve made your list, look for companies that fit your criteria.

take linkedin to the next level with these tips

I hope that by now you have a LinkedIn profile because this social media platform is one of the best ways to keep your career viable — if you use it wisely. But once you have completed your profile and started exploring your options, how do you decide what is a good thing to do? And how do you figure out how to do it?

Search Engine Journal has recently given us some good ideas in Kristi Hines’ 10 LinkedIn Tips and Strategies You Need To Know. These are helpful suggestions that may be exactly what you are looking for:

  1. How to unsubscribe from blog posts — a great help in uncluttering your inbox
  2. How to quickly change group digest frequency — another de-clutter benefit
  3. How to see where you rank — it can make a difference
  4. How to put links on your profile — to your site, your writing, etc.
  5. How to get LinkedIn Premium features for less — who doesn’t like a bargain?
  6. How to schedule updates to LinkedIn — and take some of the drudgery out of your life
  7. How to get LinkedIn testimonials on your website — you do have a website by now, right?
  8. How to research customers on LinkedIn — or anybody else, like potential employers
  9. How to target Facebook and Twitter ads to LinkedIn connections — you may not be actually putting out ads, but it is good to know
  10. How to research competitors on LinkedIn — and see how you stack up

How Is Marketing Like Career Building?

It’s true that Search Engine Journal is not usually a site you’d find career advice on, but the line between marketing and career building is very fuzzy. If you think about it, marketing is just presenting the best of your business to the public in various ways so the people see and respond appropriately. Isn’t career building presenting the best of your skills, knowledge, and experience to get an appropriate response?

In fact, skill marketing is a way to get people thinking about you as a potential asset for new positions. The more you can utilize platforms like LinkedIn to show what you have to offer, the easier it is for people to see what you bring to the table.

 

 

how to do voice mail professionally

Are you one of the people they were talking about on NPR recently? Please Do Not Leave A Message: Why Millennials Hate Voice Mail is taking a look at the way that leaving a message is fast falling out of favor as a communication mode. You don’t have to be part of the Millennials to hate voice mail because it can be a sudden challenge you don’t do well. But there’s a problem with refusing to deal with voice mail because it is used in business all the time.

If you are searching for a job, there’s a good chance you will need to leave a voice message. If you are contacting your manager or a client, there’s an equally good chance that voicemail will be involved. The game of Phone Tag came about because of the way busy people can’t always pick up the phone and being able to text doesn’t exactly replace it.

Deal With It & Do It Right

If you know you struggle with sounding professional at the sound of the recording beep, you can learn how to deal with it and do it right. Think about the goal of your call and have a message prepared if you have to leave a voice mail. If you have to write it down before you make the call, that’s practice for the next time you need to use the skill.

The same basic rules that apply to a phone interview apply to a business call, and therefore also apply to a business voice mail.

  • Don’t make a call from a noisy environment. Go to a spot that is quiet and allows your voice to be heard.
  • It should be obvious that nothing is in your mouth, right?
  • Be prepared to state your name, phone number, the reason for the call, and repeat the name & number. Keep it short.
  • Speak clearly and don’t try to cram too much into the message. You can tell them more when they call you back.

Whether you are leaving a message for business or as part of your job search, this is one business skill that you really do need to make sure you can do even if you hate voice mail.

 

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!

 

overwhelmed in your career? start here...

Sometimes the combination of your job or your lack of job with all the details that have accumulated over the months comes crashing down and you get overwhelmed. This is common at the end of the year when you start to look around for financial papers in anticipation of tax season…plus the New Year’s Resolutions game…plus whatever else is in your life right now. Too much stuff to think about is a recipe for feeling like not doing anything about it. Am I right?

This is why the Coaching Services offered by Professional Resume Services was established. Sometimes, everybody just needs an outside voice, giving a fresh perspective on your problems and suggesting concrete steps to resolve them. It’s a good service, one that pays off in multiple ways for every penny you invest in it.

If you are hesitant about hiring a professional, here are a few practical places to start when you feel overwhelmed:

  • Take a break. Walk, play solitaire, nap, or get a snack. Sometimes that break helps your brain to process the details that have piled up and you get inspired to do something.
  • Make a list. Start with all the things you have already done and draw a line through them. See how far you already are?
  • Plot a plan. Break down the things that overwhelm you into smaller chunks to deal with. Decide on a few realistic steps to do each day toward your goals.
  • Evaluate the results. Your plans and lists are not inflexible. If you don’t get something done one day, shift it to the next reasonable time. The idea is to consistently move toward a goal, not get it all done in one shot.

Being overwhelmed with the enormity of all there is to do is a very normal state of affairs for most of us. We can’t do it all, and we can’t do it alone.

questions you should ask during your job interview

Most of the time, a job interview will consist of you answering questions. But most interviewers will also ask if you have any questions, and it’s a good idea to be prepared to ask the right kind. You don’t have to use my phrasing, but think through why these questions are good to ask and how you can ask something similar:

  • “The job description cites these responsibilities. How are those responsibilities filled in a typical workday?” This gives you an idea about the work load and expectations involved.
  • “What do you hope to see this position accomplish for your company?” A question like this gives you an opportunity to hear what their goals are for this particular job and get an idea of the long term plans you will be a part of.
  • “Is there any reason you think I might have trouble accomplishing your goals for this job?” This is a scary question to ask, but it will let you address their concerns and possibly correct misconceptions they may have about you.
  • “I see from the mission statement that you value creativity. How does this position employ creativity in meeting that goal?” This is a sample question…what matters is your display of knowledge about the company and their goals. You can use recent press statements, mission statements, or anything that shows you cared enough about the job to learn more about it and think about how you will do it.
  • “Is this a newly created position or one that has been in place?” An established job description for a position that has been in place usually has a lot of support in place, too. They’ve figured out what works and you just slip into the spot and carry on. You can ask if the previous worker moved into another position, if you will be part of a team, etc. But a newly created position is fuzzier because the bugs haven’t been worked out yet. You can ask what the problems were that led to the creation of the position and how flexible the job description will be as you work on fixing them, for instance.

If the idea of asking questions like these fills you with fear, consider something like our career coaching services to help you prepare. You can choose a packaged deal or a la carte coaching and use the investment to gain the confidence to interact with ease. A coach helps you learn what you need to know and improve the skills you already have to be the best candidate for the job you want.

Dressing For Success: Yes it Still Matters
It’s funny that this still has to be pointed out to people, but it does.

When you are interviewing for a job, you need to dress in a certain manner. Torn jeans, a dirty t-shirt, and uncombed hair will simply not cut it in the corporate world. Neither do gauges, visible tattoos, or  piercings. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with any of those things, but they may work against you. The arguments I most often hear are, “Things have changed,” and “It’s not my style.” Or more recently from some young, still-in-college, twenty-somethings I know, “But the company I want to work for will have a cool, hip culture and they won’t mind if I have gauges, tattoos, or piercings!” Be that as it may, certain standards are still expected. The best resumes, cover letters and recommendations will still only get you to the first interview. You have to take it from there.

Even in companies that at best could be called slacker style, expect those interviewing for a job to be dressed appropriately. Keep in mind that even if you are planning on working for a “hip” or “trendy” company, you still have to interview with the HR person who might be a forty- or fifty-something person that does not agree with that Coke can-sized hole in your ear. It also means men should wear, at the very least, trousers not made of denim, a pressed shirt with a tie and a jacket; a suit is better. For women, the same attire as for men, if you like, or a conservative skirt and pressed blouse; a suit would be better here as well. The attire should be conservative, clean and pressed. Your goal is to get through that first level of interviewing. Once you do that and you get to speak to the person you will directly report to, check out his/her style. If they seem like they encourage more of a unique style, then you are in luck. If not, you may either want to ask them, or look around at the other employees as you are walking through the office. What do they have on?

The point here isn’t as much about your clothing as the image that clothing presents to the employer. You can have the best resume in the world but if you look like a slob, or have too much (visible) body art, the company is going to think twice about hiring you. You want the company to see you as a serious candidate who takes care of himself and presents himself well. You put out the wrong image when you appear looking like you slept in your clothing, or forgot to wash your hands. If you look like that on the day you are trying to show them your best, what on earth are you going to wear on casual Friday?

Dressing the part is often the first step in getting the part. Look at it like this: If you dress well and everyone else dresses down for the interview, you will have set yourself apart in a good way.

Quickly Increase Your Salary at a New Job
Salary negotiations are always tricky. The worst part is that while this is going on you almost have the new job but not quite. You have to get through this sticky situation to be hired. When the economy is poor that makes salary negotiation even more difficult; there may be several great candidates vying for the position.  You know what you are worth, but the company may not be willing or able to pay it. Breathe easy– there is a medium ground to this problem.

The way around this problem is to be open and honest by simply telling the hiring manager that you had hoped for more money but you are willing to accept their offer in exchange for a performance review within six months of taking the job. I think this is a pretty reasonable request and most hiring managers will be happy to accept the deal. This can seal your offer in more ways than one.

Not only is the company getting you at a premium, and believe me they know what you are worth, they also have an employee that is ambitious, realistic and willing to prove himself right from the start. Being reviewed within six months also gives you a head start on any bonuses that your company may be giving out because you will have just been reviewed.

By the simple and reasonable request to review your job performance a bit earlier than they might otherwise, you are showing yourself to be a strong and decisive employee that is someone who can be worked with and is results oriented.

 

Social media mistakes to avoid
Everyone makes mistakes and everyone knows this. The problem is that some mistakes are a bigger problem than others. Never before has this been an issue the way it is now. Today, a social media mistake can be blasted around the world in a nanosecond. That’s why it is so important to simply avoid certain mistakes, no matter what.

Don’t discuss your company online

It’s not normally a problem for your social media friends to know where you work, but avoid discussing your company online. Something you regard as a joke might not be funny to the corporate executives. More importantly, your behavior might be seen by future employers as less than desirable. It’s become the norm for personnel departments to perform a search on the candidates they are considering inviting for an interview. If you are having trouble landing an interview, try looking at your Internet persona from an employers perspective. Your mother was right: if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

Don’t discuss your co-workers online

Everyone has a bad day now and then. You don’t want your mistakes blasted around by your coworkers so don’t do it to them. This is seen by both your employer and your fellow workers as poor judgement and something of a betrayal. It’s not worth the aggravation, hurt feelings and possible questions about your integrity.

Because more and more companies are performing searches on prospective employees and even current employees, you don’t want to make those two mistakes. They can literally be career killers.

They can be the difference between getting an interview, a promotion or even losing your job if the mistake is bad enough. It’s simply not worth the risk. If nothing else, make your accounts as private as possible, but remember that someone else may choose to share your comments. Ask yourself if it is really worth it before you post it.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
The question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is considered to not only be one of the most hated and laziest questions asked during an interview, but also the most common. Because you are certain to be asked this question at least once during your job search process, it’s a good idea to have an answer ready. Because it generally comes towards the end of the questions posed to candidates, it’s a good idea to anticipate it being asked and to be proactive about getting the information you need to answer it.

During the interview there is generally give and take between you and the interviewer. Use this to your advantage by asking about projects that are currently being worked on, what types of projects you are likely to be immediately assigned to, and that sort of thing. You want to have enough fresh information to be able to give a good answer should this dreaded question be asked, and also to properly formulate questions later on when asked.

There is no correct answer to this question, but there are several wrong answers. Answers where you seem arrogant or glib are to be avoided at all costs. You also want to avoid sounding as though you have no future plans and haven’t considered your role and impact on the company.

When you are finally asked the question, talk about how the projects mentioned previously have been completed successfully, how you have moved on to other projects and expanded your role with the company. If there is continuing education involved, talk about how you anticipate it positively impacting your role within the company, completion of projects and your work with assigned teams. This makes you look thoughtful, like a team player and as an asset to the company.

An important note is that when you tailor your answer to your impact on the company you are interviewing with, you save the interviewer the trouble of trying to picture how you would fit in with the company and what you would offer. This is a winning approach to an often dreaded question.

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