Connie’s Career Corner: Soft skills are the key to keeping the job

Posted September 20, 2013 by ncacstaff
Categories: Uncategorized



“Soft skills are the key to keeping the job.”

Tip for the day:   Control the things you can, and do not worry about the things you cannot control.


Dear Connie:  During my recent employment evaluation, my supervisor complimented me on my work abilities, but said I need to improve my soft skills.  What exactly does he mean by “soft skills?”

Dear Soft Skill Seeker: There are two types of skills that employers value most – hard skills and soft skills.  In a nutshell, hard skills are your abilities.  For example, the abilities to type 75 words per minute or to construct a building are both hard skills. Soft skills are not so easy to define.  These are the intangible skills such as the ability to listen to others.  Many employers value strong communication skills (soft skills) more than some hard skills. 

Your hard skills are usually how you get a job and your soft skills are how you usually keep a job.  No matter how talented an employee is, if they do not show up on time or if they create chaos within their working environment, they are usually not going to keep their position.  In a survey of 3,000 Tennessee employers conducted by Dent Davis, 95% of employers say they value someone who is dependable, 76% value someone who follows instructions, 70% value someone who can get along with others, and 70% value those with good ethics.

Fortunately, if you are currently lacking in soft skills, you can work to improve them.  You can become a more dependable employee by simply showing up on time ready to do your job.  Even though you may have personality conflicts with other individuals in your organization, it is still important to listen to them and try to get along.  This may not be easy at first, but by making a conscious effort to understand your co-workers, you are taking the first step to creating a harmonious working environment.  More importantly, you are becoming a more valuable employee! 

The NCAC Career Coaches provide weekly sessions called Career Connection where you can learn more about how to develop your soft skills.  Check the calendar at for a time and location near you.

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

Staying Motivated is the Key! http://ow.

Posted September 13, 2013 by ncacstaff
Categories: Uncategorized

Staying Motivated is the Key!

Connie’s Career Corner: Don’t overlook the company culture

Posted September 9, 2013 by ncacstaff
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,



“Don’t overlook the company culture”


Tip for the day:   “What life means to us is determined not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life; not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens.”  Reverend Lewis L. Dunnington


Q: Dear Connie:  I am thinking about changing companies.  I am interested in working for a particular company but I have friends who do not seem to like working there.  How do I know if the company is a good company or bad company to work for?


A: Dear Looking for a Good Thing: When we accept a position we have expectations regarding what that employer and the position will be like. Two people could have totally different expectations for the same job.  If two people have different expectations, their opinions regarding personal satisfaction will have different results. 


It is important to gather as much information as possible before accepting a job offer from a company.  You will want to find out how the employer manages employee relations, such as, how it rewards employees for a job well done. Also, you should know the financial condition of the company, and most importantly, pay attention to the company culture. 


Some people want to be praised publicly for their accomplishments.   Others value getting a pay raise when they have accomplished their goals.  Being given detailed instructions and clear expectations makes some workers happy. Others appreciate knowing what needs to be accomplished and being given the freedom to work out the details in their own way.


This is why two people doing the same type of job may see the job in a totally different light.  One worker may think he has the best job in the world, but the other may dread every moment while at work.


Every company has its own culture and you will want to know if you fit in with the people you will be working with everyday.  During your interview process, take the opportunity to meet the person who will be supervising you and the people who will be your co-workers. Try to determine if the employees keep their personal life separate from work, socialize outside of work, or support a relaxed or very structured work environment. This is where your observation skills will come in handy.  This is not a question to ask your interviewer.


There is no right or wrong way to feel as long as you think about how you are the happiest and try to find a work environment that best matches the way you do your work best.  The closer the match, the more likely you are to join the group who says they work for a good or great company.


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

Connie’s Career Corner: Managing Job-Loss Grief

Posted August 23, 2013 by ncacstaff
Categories: Connie's Corner, Job Search Tips


“Managing Job-Loss Grief”

Tip for the day:  Anger is a normal emotion.  Handle anger in a way that does not hurt yourself or someone else.


Q:    Dear Connie:  I lost my job and am very depressed.  How do I get to the stage that I can accept my job-loss?

A: Dear Depressed:  Feeling depressed after losing your job is normal.  We go through different stages of grief after job loss because we have lost a part of our identity, our income and the place we go each day to contribute and succeed in the workplace.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Once you have identified the stage(s) of grief that you are in, you can begin to work on some techniques to help you cope with your feelings.

One way to cope with stress is to talk to people about your feelings.  Draw strength from the relationships in your life and give others a chance to be supportive. 

Another helpful tool is to find a support group.  It is helpful to talk to people who are job searching and facing the same challenges.  You may also hear some helpful hints by listening to others share their experiences.  The Career Centers have weekly Career Connection meetings for this purpose.

You need to resolve guilt resulting from being unemployed.  Feeling like we have let our family down can cause feelings of guilt.  Often, job loss is a result of a business decision that is based on the profitability of the company, not on your performance.  Even if you are unemployed because you did not perform well, learn from your experience and forgive yourself knowing you can do better the next time.

Now is the time to exercise and eat properly.  More than ever you need to keep yourself healthy.  Exercise is a great stress reliever and is a positive way to release energy that may be a result of feelings of anger.

Be sure you keep your sense of humor.   Look for things to laugh at during your day.  This will help you to keep your spirits up.  We always feel better after a good laugh.

Finally, develop a job search plan and start taking steps to find that next job.  Once you begin working toward your future you may realize you have accepted the past and are ready to move on with your life.


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

Connie’s Career Corner: Three Styles of Resumes

Posted July 31, 2013 by ncacstaff
Categories: Connie's Corner, News & Trends

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Tip for the day:  An application is what an employer wants to ask you and a resume is what you want to tell an employer.

Q:  Dear Connie:  I have heard there are several styles of resumes.  Which style is the best to use?

A:  Dear Putting Your Skills on Paper:  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  This is especially true when you are trying to impress an employer with your resume.  Employers report that they look at your resume an average of 12 seconds.  It is so important to make the most of those 12 seconds by choosing the style of resume that best showcases your skills and abilities.

There are basically three different styles of business resumes: the chronological resume, the functional resume and the combination resume. 

The most commonly used style of resume is the chronological resume.  This style of resume lists your work experience starting with your most recent position and working backward.  A chronological resume is a good style for a person with a strong work history.  Many employers prefer this style of resume because it is laid out in a logical manner and is easy to read.

The second style of resume is the functional resume.  The functional resume focuses on your skills and abilities without regard to when, where or how you acquired them.  A person with limited work experience or who has gaps in their work history may choose to use a functional resume.

The third style is the combination resume.  In this style you combine the best features of the chronological and the functional resume.  Your most relevant skills and accomplishment are listed at the top of the resume followed by your work history.  It is important in this style to not sound repetitive.  Many job seekers prefer this style because it begins with a summary of relevant information that shows what they have to offer as a prospective employee.

There are pros and cons to each style of resume so choose the style that best displays your skills, education and experience. Resumes are designed to get you an interview, so be sure that yours is concise and clearly written.

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

Career Connections at the TN Career Cent

Posted June 17, 2013 by ncacstaff
Categories: Uncategorized

Career Connections at the TN Career Center in Murfreesboro will feature guest speaker, Jennifer Matikke with United Way. She will present: “Networking the Easy Way.” Begins at 9:30 a.m. Hope to see you there!

Connie’s Career Corner: To Date or Not to Date

Posted June 14, 2013 by ncacstaff
Categories: Connie's Corner, Job Fairs, Job Search Tips, News & Trends


“To Date or Not to Date”

Tip for the day: Past performance is the best indicator of future performance.
Q: Dear Connie: I work with a guy that I would be interested in dating. What is your opinion of dating someone at work?
A: Dear Dater: The decision to date a co-worker is a personal one, but you do need to be aware of some issues that may arise from doing so. Dating relationships in the workplace can lead to some very sticky situations. Many people argue, however, that work is where they spend most of their time so the workplace may be the only place where they can meet other single adults.
You need to first look at your employee handbook to see if your company even allows employees to date one another. Many companies will not allow these types of relationships at all. Some companies may allow employees to date, but only if they work in different areas or departments of the company. Know what your company’s policy is before you decide to move forward.
You did not mention what type of working relationship you have with this individual. Are you his supervisor at work? Is he your supervisor? Dating someone who is your subordinate can open another “can of worms” altogether. There have been many cases where someone has been sued for sexual harassment after ending a relationship with a subordinate at work. Sexual harassment can be difficult to prove under these circumstances, but it is not impossible. Also, if you try to pursue a relationship with a co-worker who is not interested in dating you, you may also be accused of harassment.
One other thing to consider is what will happen if you date this person and then break up. Will you see this person everyday? Do you have to work in close proximity with this person? Many relationships do not last, and you do need to consider the aftermath if you do break-up. You do not want your boss to have to choose between you and your co-worker because you may end up on the losing end.
On a brighter note, there are many “happily ever after” stories from people who met their spouse or significant other at work. If you do decide to pursue this relationship further, proceed with caution and be discreet. Be aware that this relationship may make your co-workers uncomfortable so act professionally at work.
Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information. E-mail questions for future columns to