What about “gaps” in your employment history?

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Depending on why there is a gap in your employment history, it will dictate how you are going to handle it. Anything under six months really doesn’t need to be explained, but if you do need to do some explaining:

SICK: Well (and I hope you are well now) just simply tell them that, without all the details, keep it short and sweet. TMI is the golden rule here. Unless you are in the medical field and you are applying for jobs in the medical field and your audience would enjoy the details then, by all means, I guess…

Example:

  1. I was in an automobile accident and was recovering from my injuries and now I am back to my normal activities.
  2. I was ill/had surgery/broke my leg and I was recovering from my…….….and now I am back to mountain biking/tennis/jogging…(if I were you I might pick a relevant activity to the job I am seeking, just saying!)

LOOKING FOR A JOB: This one is tricky and you have to handle it correctly. If you have been pounding the pavement (we don’t do that anymore, but back in the day before computers we physically had to go out into the world and walk into brick and mortar buildings-hence pounding the pavement) anyway, if you have been at it for more than six months and been getting nothing but NO’s, well it is probably best if you kept that to yourself. Ditto if you have been hearing crickets for six months.

So, what have you been doing with your downtime other than listening to the cricket music, well you have been industrious and have been taking self-improvement classes on leadership, time management, computer coding, teamwork, networking etc…anything that makes you better at what you do, adds skills and shows that you are a lifelong learner.

This also gives you something to use as an answer to that painful interview question: Tell us about one of your weaknesses? Well, I received a certificate in….to overcome…and I have implemented it in my….and the results have been…….

MENTAL BREAK: We all need them, but sadly few of us take them. Now how to handle it on a resume and at an interview. I would be honest and tell them I took a break to take care of life and myself or reconnect with my family or be a parent or whatever the case may be. Keep it short and sweet and don’t dwell on the days you laid on the couch and watched your favorite show for hours, uninterrupted with commercials, because you pay for the premium service. Or how you started 10 projects, but never got around to finishing them.

Hope this made you smile. Have a happy day!!

4 Steps To Find A Job

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1. Define your career goal by asking yourself these questions:

  • Moving forward, what direction do I want to take my career?
  • What are my qualifications, such as experience, education, and skills?
  • What parameters do I want or need in a job?
  • What culture do I want or need in a company?

Prioritize the answers to these questions, making note of what you might or won’t give up. Be open to options that exclude the explicit Director, President, Manager job titles. My Skills My Future shows you what is available according to your past and current job. However, it is a useful tool for discovering what else you qualify for. Drill down defining your career goal until you can summarize your objective.

2. Build your brand based on your summary objective and the education, ability, and skills. A TedTalk by Jason Shen targets, “Looking for job? Highlight Your Ability, Not Your Experience” Fill in your LinkedIn profile and hire professionals to create a resume and business cards. Now is not the time to be cheap! Career coaches and graphic and document designers know current trends and resources. Keeping track of how you connect; meet, greet, and collect business cards or contact information. Conferences, past and current jobs, volunteer work, universities, and social media are great places to connect. (Ideally, you keep this up even when you aren’t looking for the next job.) Your tag line, business card, and about page communicate your brand throughout your current and working network.

3. Track your connections on a spreadsheet or other table, including companies where you want to work, who and where your contacts are, and how you connected. Spreadsheets, such as the one below, help you keep track of your networking and job-hunting contacts.

4 Steps Spreadsheet
Sample Job Tracking Spreadsheet

Look up articles on the subject of networking and finding work.

4. Target jobs, using your network. It is not how hard you look as much as who you know that most likely gets you a job. Spread the word. Even if nothing immediately pops up, someone may remember you when a job opens. For starters, look for work through your sources:

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Searching Google Jobs
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Search Results on Google Jobs for Content Producer

Research companies that interest you, seeking contacts or job listings. Remember to update your spreadsheet or table to keep track of contacts and, also important, follow-ups.

Finally, don’t be discouraged if it takes time, and remember “How to Stay Motivated During Your Job Search.”

Now go find that perfect job!!

The Road Not Taken

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This year I came to the crossroads of career paths and after much thought decided to take the road less traveled.

By: Cynda Alexander and Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a career path,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where 8 to 5 met freelance;

Then took the attitude, of laissez-faire,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was time and I wanted freedom;
Thinking as for that the passing of time
Had worn me really down of the game,

And both that morning equally lay
In my career path trodden black.
So, I kept the first for another day!
Knowing how 8 to 5 leads on to 60 hours,
I doubted if I should ever go back.

I shall be telling this with a smile
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Top 3 Mistakes I See On Resumes

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I have seen a lot of resumes and consistently I see the same mistakes. If you decide to go it alone and write your own resume, be careful not to make these mistakes:

  1. MISLEADING JOB TITLES: Recently I updated a resume for a client that had very industry-specific position titles that would not apply anywhere else. When I received his resume and started to dissect it, I was extremely confused. His job titles did not match the bullet points. Not even close. While it is necessary to generalize your job title, be careful to pick something that represents what you did. For example, when I worked at the university, my internal official HR title was a Student Development Specialist. I googled it and guess what??!! The only job I found with that title was at the university that I had worked at.
  2. GENERIC BULLET POINTS: Don’t waste valuable real estate with generic bullet points. Don’t list soft skills and some hard skills (as in they are understood that you would possess or you would not be applying for this job), so use the space to focus on a skill that you use at work and how you used that skill. Show don’t tell!!
  3. LAST MINUTE RESUMES: Thinking that it really doesn’t matter what is on your resume, you can sell all your wonderful qualities when you get the interview. The problem with this approach is that chances are you will never get an interview because your resume is read by a computer, not a human when it is first submitted. Computers can’t tell the difference…

 

 

How to Educate Your Resume Without a Degree

College was the default word of every parent and high school counselor when they talked about what you were going to do after high school. A degree shows two things—you can learn and you have learned a lot about a specific subject. However, you also earn an education through your years of employment and living life. So, what do you do when you don’t have a college degree? Impress the employer with your work history, experiences, certifications, volunteerism etc… show them you know how to perform the job duties.

As a former hiring agent, I can tell you that applications that present, first, a neat resume, second, a roster of long-term employment, and, third, a capacity for learning new things are resumes that get top billing. A degree is great if you have it, but there is a world of other opportunities to show your ambition, accomplishments, and aptitude.

You can add certifications and/or credentials to your resume through activities, such as:

  • Conferences that you attend and, even better, where you presented
  • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses – unlimited participation and open access via the web)
  • CEUs (Continuing Education Credits toward certifications)
  • On-the-job training
  • Other local public events

You can find events through places, such as:

  • Public libraries
  • Facebook groups for local events, like The Art of Business Planning workshop I took that was a combined effort of the local Arts Council and the university’s College of Business
  • Subscriptions to local-oriented print or digital publications
  • Eventbrite

The web is a world of easily accessed learning opportunities. Forbes provides an article of The Top 7 Websites For Free Online Education. Financially strapped? Try one of lifehack.org 25 Killer Sites for Free Online Education.

Also, consider LinkedIn skill assessments!! Easy to do on a lunch hour! Forbes talks about hiring managers’ use of them in LinkedIn Just Added A New Way to Showcase Your Skills.

How do you find the time for all this if you are employed? Present a neat proposal to your manager that includes event details, such as, when, where, how much, and, most importantly, how you’re taking the online course or attending the conference benefits the company’s missions, values, and/or goals. Follow up with a meeting to impress him or her with your enthusiasm for the opportunity. Doing this also proves you are a team leader or deserve a promotion.

Whether on or off the job, remember to keep track of all your experiences, including event title, hosting organizations, type of event, any certificates or CEUs, and especially dates. It is easy to forget the details of something that occurred months or years ago. It is important to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date, regardless of your employment status. When you need that next job or promotion, your education documentation is at your fingertips the moment you need it for your resume.

Whether or not you have a degree, continuing education is vital to staying on top of the latest trends, pedagogy, formulas, theories etc…and the best part– you can finally tailor your education to fit your career goals!

How to Write a Cover Letter

What is a cover letter and why is it important? Isn’t my resume enough to apply for a job? What do I put in a cover letter? A cover letter compels the potential employer to look further and harder at your resume and ultimately you.

One of my grad professors taught me a very valuable formula to use when I need to persuade someone of something.

Paragraph 1: Build RAPPORT

They have a job opening and you qualify for it. Write exactly what position you are applying for and where you heard about the job—newspaper, online, a friend, a colleague, someone that works there already… if you have a good relationship with another employee, a client, or a partner, ask to include their recommendation of the position or company. Third, mention your current relationship in a similar position, a significant project, or applicable degree. The key is to immediately hook the employer through connection. Pick the top two job duties that you do extremely well and tell them how in two sentences. Use the STAR method:

Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.

Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.

Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.

Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

Example: I am writing to express my strong interest in the International Marketing position open at WellCam, Inc. My colleague Janna Doling recommended that I contact you directly about this position, due to my years developing successful campaigns for XYZ Company.

Paragraph 2: Influence THINKING

This is your sales pitch! In this paragraph provide all the necessary information about yourself that will get the employer to read your resume. So research the company itself. Read their documentation or website to learn their mission, values and goals. Use company lingo as you continue your cover letter. Play a game of match the job qualifications with your resume. Tie those together with how that would benefit the company–show them how your skills transfer to this job. Don’t repeat your resume; your goal is to get them to read it!

For example, if engaging customer service is one of the company’s values, show them a great customer service experience, including a brief testimonial or what value it added to the company. If they strive to be a leader in advancing technology, share your vision and activity in that field. As you write, remember your audience wants a professional AND personable coworker. It benefits you to show good relationships in teamwork or collaboration, such as, “Our department’s collaboration on V project doing X resulted in an amazing Y because my department did Z to successfully collaborate.” Relate it directly to the position and to the company and remember to be brief because employers sometimes sift through hundreds of resumes.

Paragraph 3: Ask for a specific ACTION

This is twofold–you want them to read your resume AND get an interview. Reinstate how your skills make you a strong fit for the company and position. State that you would like the opportunity to interview or discuss employment opportunities. Encourage the employer to act on your resume through a psychological prompt, such as,

“I appreciate the opportunity to discuss/look forward to the opportunity of discussing my hire as an asset to position X and company Y. I include my resume and am available for interviews at Z times. Thank you for your time and consideration of my application.”

Paragraph 4: Leave audience with a positive ATTITUDE

Mention that your resume is enclosed and indicate your desire to meet with the employer. You may want to suggest alternate dates and times, or simply advise them of your flexibility to meet. Include day and evening contact information. Include a statement or question that will encourage the reader to respond. Be sure to communicate your plan to follow up. Finally, thank the employer for his/her time!

Finally, tag on a stimulating sentence, “I know we will achieve great things together in company Y.”

Sincerely,

Your signature

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Want To Be Happy at Work?

We’re finding it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time ~ Shaun Achor

If you work harder than you will be truly happy. Right? What if you can have positivity and happiness in the present…

Blue Skies by Y. Hope Osborn Happiness at Work Today
By Y. Hope Osborn

Shaun Achor, Harvard grad and happiness guru, will in just 12 minutes with his TedTalk, The Happy Secret to Better Work, increase your happiness through laughter and insight. Enjoy and be happy!

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