Archive for March 2014

Connie’s Career Corner “Do your groundwork”

March 27, 2014

Tip for the day:   When I read a good resume, I never wonder how long it took the person to write it. Spend as long as you need to make your resume outstanding.

Q: I have been working very hard to get a job. I still have not found a job. What else can I do to find employment?

A: You may need to work smarter, not harder to find employment. Often we think because we are staying busy, we are working hard to accomplish a goal. The truth is job searching techniques change over time. You may be job searching using outdated methods.

Use the right tools for your job search, such as:

  • a good resume
  • solid training and preparation
  • the proper uniform for the job
  • the right attitude for the job
  • good telephone techniques
  • good job-search etiquette
  • the right interpersonal techniques

Start by building your network of acquaintances. People are more comfortable hiring a person recommended by someone they know. When you start a new job you are not the only one that has to make adjustments. The employees that you will be working with also have to adjust to you and your work style. Hiring managers know that if someone they trust recommends you there is a greater chance of you blending in and being a positive addition to their work unit.

It is important for you to know who you are and what you have accomplished in your work life. If you do not know how to express this to a prospective employer, it will make it difficult for you to tell him how valuable you will be to the company. Try writing your accomplishments down on paper (use your resume as a guide.) Then practice explaining your accomplishments to a friend until you can deliver the information in a smooth, conversational manner.

If you are not job searching at the present time, you probably will be in the future. On the average, most workers change jobs every three years. So, while you are happily employed, go ahead and do the work to get your skills up to speed and keep your resume current. Then, if you do need to search for a new position you will not have to do the groundwork during a time of stress.

Connie’s Career Corner “What to do when you lose your job”

March 27, 2014

Tip for the day: It is your job to clearly express to a potential employer what you can do for their company. Toot your own horn!

Dear Connie: I just learned that my company is closing and I am losing my job. What do I need to do to find another job?

Dear Soon to be Unemployed: Learning that your job is ending can be a shocking discovery. The fact that you can not do anything to prevent this from happening can make this a stressful time in your life.

What you can control is your search for a new job. Most people make the mistake of waiting until their job or unemployment benefits end before starting their job search. It may take you months to find the job you want and to be offered the job, so, start your search now.

First, take advantage of everything your company offers to help you transition to another job. Some companies provide outplacement service that may include workshops on resume writing and interviewing. You may have state and local representatives on-site to explain filing for unemployment and local career center services.

Next, you need to treat your job search like a marketing campaign. You need a marketing package that consists of your resume, cover letter and references. This marketing package becomes your personal advertisement! If you do not have a resume, this will take some time. You will need to identify your skills and present them clearly in written form.

This is the time to sharpen your interviewing skills. There are several different types of interviews. One type that is favored by employers is the panel interview. Knowing how to handle different types of interviews and practicing your response to questions will help you be more relaxed during your interview.

Finally, let all of your friends and family know you are job searching. Call up old co-workers and spread the word you are looking for a job. Networking is the way many people find their next job.

Connie’s Career Corner “There is no such thing as too old to learn.”

March 20, 2014

Tip for the day:  It is never too late to follow your dreams.

Q:  Dear Connie:  I never finished my degree.  It would be so helpful in securing a better job but I am too old to go back to school.  I will be turning 45 this year and do not think I would be able to do the work.  Do you think I could do it?

A:  Dear Need to Finish my Education:  Going back to school is a big decision.  Many people have gone back to school who are your age and much older.  Belmont had a young lady of 70 to complete her degree several years back. 

There are many skills that you have picked up in your life that will help you manage the stresses of college.  Your organizational skills are probably much better developed than when you attended college as a young person.  You will also see the full value of the almost lost opportunity of your first college experience. 

Consider all of the things that might be barriers to your success in finishing your degree:

  • Extra      expense that results from attending college
  • Less      time to be available to your family
  • Amount      of support from your family and friends
  • Your      own dedication to completing this goal

Work with the financial aid department to inquire about the amount of funds from PELL, scholarships and loans that are available to you to put toward paying tuition and books.  There are many sources of funding available and the financial aid officer will be able to suggest many different avenues for you to research. 

It is important to have a realistic idea of the time commitment required.  Talk with the schools academic advisors to get information about the classes you will need to complete your degree. Discuss the amount of time that will be needed to finish out-of-class assignments. 

Let your family know that you have always dreamed of finishing your degree.  Express your belief that education is important for everyone and can lead to a better life.  Ask them to support you in this effort.

The main thing you will need is to believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish this valuable goal.  You need to go into this venture with the determination that you have what it takes to complete your program of study.  You will build your self-confidence along the way as you see that you can complete the assignments and can do them well. You can do it! 

Connie’s Career Corner “Is your dream job just a dream?”

March 13, 2014

Tip for the day:  Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. Janet Lane

Dear Connie:  I am not happy in my job.  How can I tell what job I would be happy doing?

Dear Looking for My Dream Job:  Happiness is a state of mind and is defined differently for each of us.  Most people are happiest doing work they love.  When you find the job that is best suited to your skills, abilities, and values, you will look forward to going to work instead of dreading Mondays.

If you love working with people, you probably will not enjoy sitting at a computer and entering data all day.  If you like to give a lot of thought to your projects, you will probably not enjoy being in the middle of a place where there is constant noise and phones ringing.  If you love talking to people, you may really enjoy the daily interaction of a salesperson. 

You need to spend a little time thinking about what you like and dislike about your present and previous positions.  Take a sheet of paper and on one side list all of the things that you enjoyed about the jobs you have held and on the other side list all of the things that you disliked about the jobs you have held.  You will want to be specific when making this list.  “I do not like working in retail” is too general.  List what you did not like about working in retail, such as, “I did not like the seasonal cutback on my work hours.”

There are websites you may want to check out to get ideas about the kind of work that might be a good fit for your interests and skills.  Go to www.princetonreview.com and click on the tab at the top “College” and in the middle of the dropdown you will find “Career Search.”  This is a quick free online quiz to help you find careers by identifying your career interests and working style.

Another online free quiz called MAPP, the Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential, gives you a more detailed evaluation.  Go to www.assessment.com to try this assessment.  This is longer and will take you about half an hour to complete.  You can find other quizzes on sites such as www.CareerBuilder.com and www.Jobstar.org  

Remember, no one should ever decide what job you should do.  Assessments and tests should be used only to provide you with information to help you make a good decision.  Only you know what type of work will really interest you and will lead to an enjoyable career path.

Connie’s Career Corner

March 6, 2014

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

“Do not get caught in Junior High Drama”

Tip for the day: Guard your reputation. It is the best asset you have.

Q: Dear Connie: I have a co-worker who is constantly trying to make an issue out of whatever is happening. She spends more time talking about things that do not apply to the workplace than working. Can you give me some tips to avoid this drama?

A: Dear Wanting to Avoid the Drama Queen: One thing that can derail a career faster than anything else is to be a part of “junior high drama” in the workplace. Supervisors will not deem a person an asset if that person is always spreading gossip. I am glad you see the situation for what it is and are seeking ways to avoid being involved with this type of behavior.

Some people thrive on the excitement that they can generate by making personal issues a workplace problem. Often trying to cause problems between co-workers is a result of needing attention or a low self-esteem.

The question is, “What is your responsibility in this situation?” You will want to always approach workplace problems with professionalism. When you bring personal problems into the office, it opens up the opportunity for other to share their opinions and even gossip about your personal life. Share the positive things in your life, but consider keeping conflicts at home out of the workplace.

Ask yourself, “Is this situation a part of my job?” If it is work related, address the challenge. While at work concentrate on your business life; not your personal life. If you share your personal life with this person, you are opening the door for their involvement.

Do not get caught up in “he said, she said.” Remove yourself from interoffice drama by keeping your opinions of others to yourself. This will avoid comments you make from being repeated and maybe misrepresented. Sometimes it is best to just walk away from a conversation.

When this person learns that you will not engage in talking about co-workers or be a part of spreading gossip, she will probably leave you alone and move on to talking to someone else. Professionalism is they key.

Connie’s Career Corner: The “Don’ts” of an Interview

March 6, 2014

CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER

 

The “Don’ts” of an Interview

 

Q:  Dear Connie:  I am worried about going on an interview.  I have practiced answers to difficult questions with my friend and feel confident I can represent myself well in the interview.  Is there anything else I need to do at the interview? 

 

A:  Dear Ready to Go:  I am glad that you are practicing how to answer questions regarding your skills and abilities for your upcoming interviews.  Here at the Career Center, we give our customers a list of questions they may be asked during an interview so they can do the exact preparation work that you have done.

 

The one thing that is overlooked many times is what should not be done before, during and after an interview.  You will be observed from the time you enter the building until you are offered or denied the position you are applying for with a company.

 

Two things to avoid before the interview are arriving late and being rude to the receptionist.  If you arrive late, you are really saying, “The possibility of working for your company really isn’t that important to me.”  When you arrive and are rude to the receptionist you are saying, “I am not easy to get along with and you are not important enough for me to try to get along with you.” 

 

During the interview you want to be original, ask questions, stand out and be professional.  If you answer every question with standard responses you are really saying, “I have nothing original to say about myself.”  If you do not asked questions about the company and the position you are applying for, you are conveying that you are not really interested in the company or the available job.  When asked the standard question “Tell me about yourself,” this is your time to shine and stand out.  Tell the employer what makes you special.  Using inappropriate language during the interview says,” Just imagine how unprofessional I will be as one of your employees.”

 

Your job is not finished when the interview is over.  If you do not thank the interviewer, you are saying, “I did not really value your time and I have no manners.”  Finish the interview process in style and write a personal Thank You note to every interviewer you met with during the interview process.

 

Interviewing is a process.  Be prepared for what you should and should not do and you will come out the shining star.

 

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information.  E-mail questions for future columns to ConniesCorner@Nashville.gov .