Posts Tagged ‘career change’

How to Know if You’re Under-Qualified or Unqualified for a Job

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

At some point in your life, you’ve probably passed up the opportunity to apply for a job because you didn’t think you were an exact match. You’ve also, at one time or another, probably thrown your hat in the ring for a role that you thought you’d be able to learn on the clock, even though the qualifications were way above where you were in your career.

These are somewhat extreme examples, but both illustrate the challenge of knowing when you’re just a little under-qualified and when you should say, “This is great, but probably for someone else” because you are not at all qualified.

Here are a few signs to look for when you’re unsure if you should apply, to help clear things up:

You’re Probably Not Qualified at all if…

You Only Have One Qualification

Most of us have made this mistake plenty of times early on in our careers. You identify the one requirement on a job listing that you have and say to yourself, “Hey, this is perfect for me. I’m smart and can learn the rest as I go.” However, as much as employers understand that candidates won’t know everything there is to know about a role, there is an expectation that they’ll know a majority of the things they need to do it well. If you’re on the other side of the equation and don’t have experience in most of the bullet points of a description, roll up your sleeves and get the experience you need before getting your hopes up too high.

The Company Wants Someone to Hit the Ground Running

The truth is that sometimes, companies just need someone who is (mostly) qualified to do a job and hit the ground running. It’s not illegal to source this way, and when the need is intense enough, it’s perfectly understandable for a company not to be as willing to take on someone more junior. When I was recruiting, we’d make it clear when we just could not support someone who didn’t have the experience we needed. If you notice a job posting that’s very clear about this, don’t spend too much time debating whether or not to apply.

The Gig is a Senior Level Role in a New Field

I’m all for pursuing a career change. I’ve done in a handful of times, and it took a couple of tries to get it just right. However, let’s say you want to switch from a finance role to a marketing role. That’s great, especially if you’ve done your research and understand what that’ll take. However, if you’re in a manager-level finance position and are looking exclusively at manager-level marketing jobs, you’ll quickly discover that being a more senior person in one industry doesn’t automatically qualify you for the same level in another.


You Might Only be a Little Under-Qualified if…

There Are Only One or Two Qualifications You Don’t Have

I’d argue that you’d be hard-pressed to find a recruiter who only interviews candidates who check off every single bullet point on a job listing. If you find your dream job and notice that you don’t have experience in an obscure technology (that you’re sure you can learn), this is not something that should keep you from applying. In fact, a candidate who has just one missing qualification makes many recruiters say, “Oh thank goodness. This person’s learning curve will be incredibly small.” So, go ahead and submit an application.

The Company Prefers Lifelong Learners

All of the things that you should consider before applying for a job that you’re slightly under-qualified for still apply, but many companies make it a point to explicitly state that they support people who seek out learning opportunities. If you find a job that you aren’t an exact match for at a company that encourages perpetual learning, don’t be afraid to throw your hat in the ring. And when you do, make it clear in your cover letter that you’re up to the task of learning as much as necessary—plus some—starting on day one.

The Only Thing Holding You Back is You

At the end of the day, it’s impossible not to look at a job that sounds amazing and think, “No matter how many qualifications I have, I’m nothing but an impostor.” And sure, there will be jobs at every point in your career that you’re just not qualified for yet. But in a lot of cases, the only thing holding you back is you—and mostly because you’re just convinced that you’re not qualified to do any job. If you’ve looked at a handful of gigs that sound incredible, only to pass out of a fear of being rejected, take the leap and throw your hat in the ring.

Of course, no matter how explicit the job description is, or how much you know about the company and your own capabilities, it’s not possible to know for sure, in advance, where you stand with a stretch role. Sometimes you find what looks like your dream job, and when you do, it’s hard not to send your resume and cover letter immediately. However, it can also be deflating to get your hopes up, only to get no response from the company.

So be bold, but also be smart when you’re applying for jobs when you don’t check all the boxes. And as difficult as some of these points might be to hear now, you’ll eventually get the idea when you should go ahead and submit an application.

Good luck!

How to Know if You’re Under-Qualified or Unqualified for a Job (There’s a Difference) | Richard Moy via The Muse.

Avoiding Job Search Burnout

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

We are continuing with our theme this week of stress in the job search.

After working as a recruiter for more than 10 years, I’ve seen firsthand the toll a long, drawn-out job search can take, whether on a new graduate or someone who has been in the field for decades. Sometimes it’s the strain of being out of work longer than anticipated or not being invited for interviews at all or not receiving offers or even returned calls… all of this can make it tough to keep your spirits up.

Even worse, your confidence in your own abilities may fade over time, leading to a crushed spirit that can further negatively affect how recruiters and hiring managers perceive you.

For those of you experiencing a particularly difficult or long job search, here are a few tips to avoid the dreaded “job search burnout”:

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1. Ask for feedback. If you’ve been on the hunt for a while without much progress, step back. Talk to professionals with whom you have a strong and trusting relationship, like a former boss or your recruiter. They get it, and they get you. Ask for, and be ready to hear, specific, constructive feedback and request a mock interview.

Are there things you could be doing differently? Questions you could be answering better? Follow-up that could be stronger?

Their feedback could mean all the difference, and the positive comments they’ll share will be a nice boost to your confidence.

2. Get the inside scoop. Talk with people in your network to learn more about the industry you’re interested in and any changes or trends they’re seeing. What they’re hearing and experiencing on the front lines could be just the spark you need to shift your approach and pick up some momentum.

By the end of your conversation, there’s a good chance you will feel more relaxed, have more confidence and be inspired to excel in your search.

3. Change your approach. Have you been interviewing a lot without much progress? It might be time to change things up.

Are you coming across as bored with the process? Do your answers sound rote? Did you not notice your interview outfit is rumpled or stained? Prepare for your next interview with these potential pitfalls in mind.

Take out your iron and stain stick; come up with fresh, new answers; add energy and enthusiasm to your voice; use real-life examples anytime you can and be mindful of your body language. These small tweaks will help you come across as excited and engaged.

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4. Fake it ’til you make it. If you’re feeling downtrodden going into your next interview, fake it. Smile and be ready to greet the interviewer highlighting your best qualities. Make every interview an opportunity to not only get a job, but to polish your interview skills and build your confidence.

5. Find commonalities. Search for your interviewer on LinkedIn and discover common ground. Maybe you’ll find that you both know some of the same people or enjoy volunteering. Whatever you share, remember that people want to work with people they like, and discussing commonalities with your interviewer is an effective and authentic way to start building the relationship.

6. Fit matters. While it’s appropriate to strive for jobs that may be slightly out of your reach, doing that too often could lead to too much rejection. To keep your job search on track and your spirits high, go after positions that are an ideal fit for your background, experience and interests. Save the long-shot interviews for the one or two employers that really spark a fire in you.

7. Try some retail therapy. Sometimes, if you are feeling lackluster, a new pair of shoes, a fresh haircut, a fun accessory, a new tech gadget or an updated suit will give you the extra confidence and excitement to ace an interview. Walk in with some swagger, and let the interviewer know why you’re the best person for this role. You might be convincing enough to get hired.

If you’ve spent months in what feels like a fruitless search for a new job, don’t lose heart! The opportunities are out there. Try something new, challenge yourself, and step out of your comfort zone. A great job is waiting for you somewhere.

Good luck!

7 Ways To Avoid Job Search Burnout | Sarah Connors via Forbes

Escape a Miserable Career in a Bad Job Market

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

As a recruiter, I’ve heard it hundreds of times over the years: You’re tired of your job, your boss is a nightmare, no raises or bonuses in forever, you feel totally under-appreciated, and you’re really, really ready to move on.

Friends and colleagues, and so-called “industry experts”, however, will likely caution you that it’s really not the best time to make a career change; “wait until the job market stabilizes,” they’ll say, just in case you end up without a job at all.

The problem is, how long does it pay to remain unhappy out of fear? Maybe the market will never be “perfect” again… maybe our whole understanding of employment is transforming (and not for the better). Maybe now is the best time… you can’t know until you try.

So here are some tips for successfully leaving your job and finding a new one:

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Get closer to the industry you’re interested in.

The first thing to ask yourself when considering a career change is: what feeds your soul? What interests you? In what sort of environment and in which field do you think you would flourish? Sites like CareerQA can give you overviews of different fields and tell you what kind of experience and education you’ll need to break in.

Finding a part-time position in a business related to where you’d eventually like to wind up full-time is the perfect transition. Say you want to become a dental hygienist. Securing a part-time job working the front office for a dentist would be a great choice. Part-time front office work will help pay the bills as you’re taking dental hygienist classes and working towards your certification.

Being in the environment in which you’d eventually like to find yourself will do wonders for your self esteem, not to mention keeping you in the loop for possible full-time employment down the line.

Use downtime and grouping.

If you absolutely must keep your current job during the transition to another career, you’re probably going to end up doing a decent amount of job-searching while at work. That means you need to be quick and efficient to avoid angering your current employers. Sign up for notifications from job sites that have positions you want so that you don’t have to constantly search.

Job hunting on weekends isn’t out of the question, either. If you want to get into the restaurant or hotel business, for example, nearly all restaurants and hotels are open Saturdays and Sundays, and there are usually people in upper management positions there to meet with you. Also, more and more businesses are accepting applications online, where you can apply 24/7/365.

If, while still working at your current job, you apply for a new position and prospective employers can only see you during the week, try to group as many interviews in a single day as possible, then take a vacation day (or a sick day) at work. This will afford you the opportunity of meeting with new potential employers without sneaking off for mid-day interviews.

Once you’ve found a position you like and you’re offered the job, it’s time to leave your old place of employment. No matter how bad the situation was, don’t burn any bridges! Whether it’s for a reference or a legal matter that arises later on, your old employer may come in handy in the future, so you don’t want there to be any bad blood.

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Go it alone.

Don’t have the qualifications to land a job in your chosen career field? Make your own employment opportunity: freelance on the weekends. It’s not an option for all fields, but you can find opportunities for everything from web design to marketing online.

Or you can start your own business. Depending on the amount of money required for start-up costs, you may need to save up, get a loan, or find an investor. You should also make sure you have 6 months to a year of living expenses, since many businesses take a long time to earn a profit.

Ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship? Don’t do so unarmed. Be sure to learn as much as you can about your chosen field.

Quitting your job may be one of the most important (and possibly best) decisions you’ll ever make. You deserve to be happy! Don’t let necessity and fear stagnate your career and your life.

Good luck!

How to Get out of a Miserable Career in a Bad Job Market | Juliana Weiss-Roessler via Lifehack

Crafting a “Tailored” Resume

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Since the advent of modern computers, the job application process has certainly become more complicated than it once was. These days, instead of a typed letter of intent sent along with your resume via snail mail, to be screened by an HR clerk perhaps on the other end, you now have Application Tracking Software, massive job board application systems, and “shot-in-the-dark” emailing to hiring managers, all of which has made your job search a hundred times easier and a million times harder than it ever was before.

Imagine the postage and time necessary for each application in the past… now, it’s just a few button pushes and your resume is carried along automatically to the hiring company… to be trapped in an email spam folder, or discarded by an ATS robot for something as simple as using “online content” instead of “digital content”.

You’re also certain of getting into a much bigger pile of applications than ever before, as the ease of applying means dozens, if not hundreds, of totally unqualified people send along their resume as if it’s nothing, for just the merest possibility of an interview, or out of shear desperation, making it easier and easier for your resume to get lost in the shuffle of human and robot eyes.

So, it’s now become common to hear the advice “tailor your resume” to get around these obstacles. If you tailor your resume to a particular company and role, the choir says, it will have a much better chance of sneaking through the filtering of robots and a greater likelihood of being noticed by tired HR clerks, which in turn increases its chance of eventually being seen by hiring managers and the real decision makers.

The instructions are clear: no more stock and bog-standard resumes. Now, you’re making the suit fit the wearer. Certainly a lot more work than before.

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But a major question remains: how do you craft a tailored resume?

Here are a few quick expert tips to get you started:

Actually Read and Try to Understand the Job You’re Applying For

First things first: Sit down with a highlighter and really read the job description. Go through and highlight the points that seem important (think the ones that are mentioned repeatedly or anything that’s slightly out of the ordinary) and the points that you could speak to with your particular experience and skills.

This is always step one—after all, you can’t tailor your resume for a position if you don’t really know what the gig entails.

Make Your First Point Immediately Relevant

Next, with your newfound knowledge of what the hiring manager is looking for, take your resume, find the experience that would make him or her most excited about your application, and rework the document so that’s what’s at the top. Maybe it’s your current position, or maybe it’s some specialized certifications or the freelance work you do on the side. Whatever it is, make it the first section of your resume.

And yes, even if it’s not the most recent. There’s no rule that says your first section must be “Work Experience.” Tailoring your resume means finding what is most relevant, creating a section for it, and filling it up with experience or qualifications that will catch a hiring manager’s eye. If that means nixing “Work Experience,” creating a “Marketing and Social Media Experience” section, then throwing everything else in an “Additional Experience” section, then so be it.

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Revamp Your Bullets Even for Less Relevant Experiences

Now that your relevant experiences are at the top of your resume, that doesn’t mean you should ignore everything else. Nope, it just means you need to pull out the relevant bits of those experiences in your bullets.

From the job description, you’ll likely find more than just the technical qualifications needed to complete the job. Strong communication skills, ability to work in a team, and other soft skills are probably listed as well. So, while your tutoring experience might not be directly related to the sales position you’re interested in, you can definitely still highlight some of the soft skills that both positions require.

Check to See if It’s Clear Why You Are Applying

Finally, your last quick assessment to make sure you’ve successfully tailored your resume is to see if someone else—like a friend or mentor—can explain why you’re interested in the position just based on reading your resume. If your friend can’t suss out why you’re applying or how you’re a good fit, then more tailoring is likely needed.

This largely used to be the role of the cover letter, and many companies and hiring managers still appreciate receiving these, but because of the shear number of applications they will likely be reading through, you can’t rely on them ever reading or even seeing it… so you’ll need to factor this into the resume itself as well.

Of course, sometimes there’s only so much you can do. If you’re making a big career change and you just don’t have the relevant experience, then no amount of tweaking bullets can spell that out. In this case — and only in this case, I might add — you may actually want to use an objective statement to properly explain your interest in the position.

Tailoring your resume, especially if you’re applying for a lot of positions, certainly isn’t the most exciting or enjoyable part of applying for a job, but it’s definitely one of the most important these days. After all, regardless of media reports to the contrary, the resume is not a “dead” document and is still essential… and it’s the document that decides what first impression you make. It might take a little extra work, but it’s worth it to be that much more memorable.

Good luck!

What it Really Means to “Tailor Your Resume” | Lily Zhang via The Muse

“Follow Your Passion” May Leave You Poor and Regretful

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

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Unless you’re independently wealthy, “following your passion” can be costly

One of the most popular career adages given to young people as they are preparing for college and their career is the simple message: follow your passion.

It may be proposed as a solution to figuring out what you want to study, or what job you should take, or even where you should live. It appears regularly during graduation speeches, job training seminars, and even on the lips of your parents and friends when you ask them for advice. And oftentimes, it is emphasized over more practical concerns, like ability, skill, or viability.

And it certainly sounds great… who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their life devoted to what gives them the greatest joy and satisfaction?

But many experts, not to mention people who have tried to live this advice, say that doing this can be tricky when it comes to your career. To be blunt, as Mike Rowe, host of the TV show “Dirty Jobs,” put it, “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”

Here are three reasons you might want to think twice about running after your passions:

A passion for the topic doesn’t mean you’ll like working in that field

After a snorkeling trip to Hawaii during high school, San Diego resident Deborah Fox became fascinated with marine biology, which she subsequently majored in. So when she landed a job at a fish farm upon graduation, she was thrilled — but not for long.

“I was throwing fish chow into the tanks and the fish were going crazy, splashing around and soaking me. Here I am a social person and I’m alone all day with these fish who just splash me with water. What am I doing?” she asked herself. “I found out that having a passion for a certain type of study or interest does not necessarily translate into finding passion for the day-to-day work in that area,” she says.

Career coaches often say the same: You may be passionate about the idea of a career, not the career itself. And, like Fox did, you may find that your personality traits — in her case, a love of people — don’t fit in with the traits needed to do your job.

That’s one reason that before you pursue a certain line of work you think you’re passionate about, you should ask people who have worked in the field a long time about what the job is like, and its pros and cons. You might even shadow someone who does the job you want so you have some real life experience to base your decision on.

You may not be good at what you are passionate about

Many an out-of-tune “American Idol” contestant has learned this message the hard way.

Indeed, there is often a gap between our passions and our skills, experts say. You may love art and dream about being an artist, but if you’re not good at it, that passion won’t translate into a career for you.

Or you may be good at certain parts of the job you’re passionate about, but not others — a fact that Southern California resident Jasmine Powers found out the hard way. Fed up with her administrative job, nine years ago Powers struck out on her own to pursue her passion of becoming a freelance events specialist.

But she soon realized that, while she was great at the events side of her business, she struggled with how to sell her services to clients. “I love working with other small businesses doing consulting and event marketing, but with a crowded marketplace of digital marketing experts and savvy founders, I struggled to prove my value and turn significant profits,” she says.

Those looking to pursue a passion career should do a reality check and be honest with yourself about your abilities before moving forward.

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You may not be able to support yourself on your passion

Many people are passionate about career paths that simply won’t pay their bills, experts say. For example, while tens of thousands of Americans are passionate about crafting, it’s hard to make a living doing it. Indeed, there are few jobs — just over 50,000, about half of which are self-employed people — in the crafting and fine arts arena, and median pay isn’t great at just over $21 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You might enjoy making hats, but a little research will show you that milliners do not have a bright future in the U.S.

What’s more, you may be passionate about a dying field. And that means that while it may pay the bills now, there may not be a future in it for you.

So, unless you’re independently wealthy or have a pile of savings, you likely need to consider whether your passion can pay. Make sure to research your planned career in advance, talk with people who already work in the field, and recognize that if the pay or the future of the career isn’t great, you may find yourself with a second job just to support the first one.

This isn’t meant, of course, to destroy any hope you have of following your dream career. After all, it’s not all about money or ability… there are many other potential reasons to follow your passion, whether it’s personal fulfillment, happiness, or peace of mind.

It’s just important to be realistic and realize that it may not work out, and that even if it does, it may not be as lucrative or as fulfilling as you’d hope.

Good Luck!

This popular career advice may leave you poor and regretful | Catey Hill via Market Watch

Know When It’s Time to Quit

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

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Even in a stable job market, the idea of voluntarily leaving your job can be a bit scary. Compared to whatever horrors you are currently facing, the fear of the unknown often seems much worse and doubt can quickly seep in: will I be able to find a new job quickly and will that new job be even worse than what I have now?

Maybe you’re looking to take a step up the corporate ladder and your current company provides no options. Maybe you’re looking for better pay or benefits. Or maybe you finally want to go into another field entirely. If you stay in the same place forever, you stagnate. But if you move too many times or too often, ironically you won’t get anywhere at all.

So how do you know when it’s time to finally call it quits and move on to greener pastures? Here’s some advice to keep what can be a very emotional issue in perspective.

You’re consistently experiencing more frustration than reward. With any situation, you have take the bad with the good. But if your experience is overwhelmingly negative for a long period of time, you have to consider leaving or some radical change. One unmistakable sign: You breathe a sigh of relief and your life feels instantly better with the mere thought of quitting.

You can’t envision a possible solution or continuing this way. After trying to resolve the issues that have been dragging you down, you still have no confidence things will change. Maybe you’ve been promised a promotion (that’s always fallen through) for years; maybe you’re waiting on others to change their habits when it’s the last thing they want to do. For some situations, like when you’re stuck with a bad manager, you might not have any choice but to quit.

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You’re staying for the wrong reasons. If your decision to stay is based more on fear than on faith, you’re probably in it for the wrong reasons. Are you afraid to hurt someone’s feelings? Staying solely out of a sense of responsibility? Afraid to admit you just made a bad choice or start over (e.g., a wrong career move and now you have to quit a job you just started)?

Don’t think of quitting as either good or bad in itself or a reflection of your self-worth. Many of us have a hard time quitting. For others, change is everything and quitting comes probably too easily. Don’t stay or quit just for the sake of it.

One thing that often holds people back is what economists call the “sunk-cost fallacy”: The belief that you can’t quit because of all the time or money you spent. Beware of falling victim to that kind of thinking.

Spending time on this keeps you from more rewarding endeavors or seriously damages your well-being. Ignore the fear of quitting and consider: Do you think you could achieve a better life for yourself if you quit? Is staying on with a project causing you to over-extend yourself?

Similarly, it’s a huge red flag if your current situation is taking a toll on your mental and/or physical health. Get out of toxic relationships where a partner, client, or boss doesn’t appreciate your value. (By the way, it’s not normal to lose all your hair or take up drinking at 10 am because of your job.)

Your friends and family keep telling you to quit. While the advice of others alone shouldn’t be what you base your decision on, your friends and family want the best for you and may see what you need to do more clearly than you do.

So now you’re probably gnashing at the bit to resign and move to something better. Well, before you do that, you might want to have a couple things in place first, like a new job, a back-up plan, or at least your resume all touched up and ready to go.

And you should also be certain you really understand what is making you unhappy about your job. If it’s the field, then just shifting to another job in the same industry probably won’t help and you’ll find yourself in the same position again in a few months. Or maybe it’s something outside of work, some other personal issue or commitment or just a couple of really bad days in row, that is actually what’s making work so difficult.

But if you’ve finally hit your limit, or better yet decided to take your career by the horns and direct it instead of letting it direct you, then hopefully you’ll now be able to move forward in confidence to whatever is next.

Good Luck!

How to Know When It’s Time to Quit | Melanie Pinola via Lifehacker

Strategies for Explaining Employment Gaps

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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For every professional whose career is a straight road, always gradually sloping upwards, neat and tidy, from promotion to promotion, there are a dozen people whose path not only oscillates up and down like a heartbeat but whose straight road has a few bridges out and big gaps between.

The employment gap, no matter how long ago, no matter the totally and completely justifiable reason for its existence, is the bane of job seekers everywhere. Maybe you took time off to go back to school or raise a family or take care of a sick relative or just couldn’t find a job for a few months during the last recession… that empty space on your resume seems to grab the eye of every recruiter, HR professional, and hiring manager who looks at it, demanding a complex and harrowing explanation.

But if gaps affect so many people, there must be some way to handle them properly? A few experts weigh in on how best to deal with this difficult topic:

Be Honest

Whatever the reason for your time away from work, honesty is always the best policy.

Don’t hide it; explain it. During the entire process of conducting a job search, maintain your integrity and demonstrate it. Jobs come and go, but being known for being truthful—and conversely, deceitful—can last a lifetime.

An example: When a candidate went for an interview recently, she was certain the gap would come up, and it did. When she told the potential employers the truth — that she’d wanted to be home with her children and felt fortunate that she was able to do so — an excruciating silence followed. In an attempt to lighten the mood, she joked that during that time she’d done some freelance work, but she also spent a fair amount of her day tackling mountains of laundry. What happened next surprised her: They laughed and thanked her for her honesty.

“You have no idea how many people come in here and fumble through telling us about some extended project they were working on,” one of the interviewers scoffed.

So even though you might be tempted to invent some elaborate story explaining away your employment gap, it’s best to keep it concise and honest and hope the company understands, rather than running the risk of getting caught in a lie.

Be Prepared

Stuttering and stammering your way through your first sit-down is as unimpressive as showing up late or calling your female interviewer “sir.” Just as you’d prep to discuss your previous positions, employers are going to ask about your time off, so be ready to address that as well.

Whether you managed a household, co-chaired an event that raised much-needed funds for charity, or trekked across the globe, chances are you picked up some important skills along the way—think communicating persuasively, becoming a master organizer, or adapting to unknown situations. Identify them, think through how they apply to the job at hand, and craft a short, compelling statement you can use in interviews.

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Be Confident

While the thought of discussing how you came to be unemployed, especially if you were let go or fired, might make you uneasy, don’t panic. Resume gaps are not as uncommon as you might think.

If a company doesn’t understand what has happened to our economy since 2008 and the impact on individuals, well, you likely don’t want to work there anyway.

So, while answering questions about any period of unemployment can be uncomfortable, know that you’re not alone. Just be sure to prepare for whatever questions come your way, maintain honesty in your explanations, and have confidence in the skills you’ve attained during that break. Taken together, this can go a long way to bridging the gap with poise and professionalism.

Good luck!

How to Explain the Gap in Your Resume With Ease | Elizabeth Alterman via The Muse

6 Job-Hunting Tips for Older Workers

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Whether it’s for personal satisfaction or financial need, many retirees and future retirees want to work in retirement.

In a poll of over 3,000 business professionals conducted in 2013, more than 86% said they planned to continue working once they retired.

But employment for older workers isn’t always easy to come by. Americans aged 55 and over experience an average unemployment duration of 52.7 weeks, according to a July 2011 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up over 160% since December 2007 when the average duration of unemployment for these workers was only 20.2 weeks.

The job-hunting tips below are tried and true methods utilized by many older professionals in securing new jobs. Try them. They work!

1) Look for temporary or project assignments as they are much more available than full-time jobs. Executives, managers and professionals can often use their current skill sets and experience to work on projects where their background works for them and also for the employers that hire them on this basis. There are many employers interested in hiring on a project basis as in most cases employers do not have to pay benefits for these kinds of jobs and even more importantly an employer can terminate a project based worker with little or no warning and little expense.

Register with temp firms in your local area as they are less concerned with age and are more interested in your skills and experience. Their interview process will give you interviewing experience. Also if you get work through a temp firm, even if it is not the kind of job you are seeking, it helps build your resume for future work assignments.

2) When applying for a job tell the employer you are willing to work on a project or temporary basis. This often gives you a leg up on younger workers who are often unwilling to accept employment that does not include benefits.

Temporary employment can lead to full-time work.

3) Volunteer with a charity or non-profit. Although in most cases there is little or no monetary compensation it is good experience and can possibly lead to employment with a firm that is seeking that particular experience or appreciates your work ethic. It is also easier to find employment while you are working/volunteering as you have a better mind set during interviews. Looking for a job on a full-time basis is not a very rewarding experience and frame of mind is more important that you realize.

4) Consider having your resume re-written or updated by an expert as the resume you used years ago is no longer appropriate. You should have your resume on your computer so you can modify it highlighting the experience most appropriate for the employer and job to which you are applying. A single general resume for all interviews is not the best way to get hired.

5) Get information on the perspective employer prior to your interview.

For example, contact someone who works for this employer who attended the same school you went to saying, “Hi. You and I went to the same school but graduated at different times. I’m interviewing for a position with your firm later this week and, before I meet with the hiring manager, I would like to test out a couple questions I have about the firm on you and see what you think the answers might be.”

Research the employer on Google or Yahoo.

6) Search for a job on job boards that specifically connect older workers with employers seeking to hire them and post your resume on these sites. The search and resume posts are free. Set a job alert to notify you if a position is posted that matches your skills, experience and geographic preferences.

What Nonprofit Employers Are Looking for in Resumes Today

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Just as there’s no one right way to develop a resume for the for-profit sector, resumes for nonprofit jobs are also dependent on the target job and organization. With more than 1 million nonprofits in the US, nonprofit jobs are as varied as those in the corporate sector. The best approach is to first understand what the organization is looking for in an ideal candidate, then develop a resume that highlights your relevant experience and training.

General Concepts:

Research Before You Write

Review the job posting, check out the organization’s Web site, read press releases and watch for newspaper and television clips. Learn as much as you can about the organization’s core values and mission. Once you have a good idea of how you would benefit the employer if hired, you can reinforce your key qualifications and show that you would be an excellent team member in your resume.

If you’re interested in a particular nonprofit, consider volunteering to learn more about the culture, show your commitment and expand your network. You might even secure a job interview from an insider’s recommendation.

Demonstrate Your Accomplishments

It’s easy to say you have certain skills, but a strong resume proves you have the stated skills by providing examples of related accomplishments. Pepper your resume with evidence that you’ve contributed to your past employers, went above and beyond your job responsibilities, and worked hard to make a difference.

Quantify your accomplishments so the impact of your work is understandable to outsiders. It’s a misconception that workers from the nonprofit sector can’t provide measurable accomplishments because of the lack of “for profit” financial results. Every job in every field has its measure of success.

Emphasize Your Volunteer Experience

Nonprofit hiring managers usually like to see job seekers who are dedicated to serving the community. Include your volunteer work in a Volunteer Experience section. Mention leadership roles, participation in special initiatives, event planning or orchestration, and assistance with fund-raising drives.

Advice for Transitions:

If you have experience primarily in business but are seeking a position in the nonprofit sector, you’ll want to take a hard look at your resume and consider adapting it for a nonprofit job search. It is to your advantage to make your resume clear, easy to follow, and relevant to the nonprofit sector and the function(s) on which you are focusing your search. Here are a few tips:

  1. When doing your research, you will find you have transferable skills that would be valuable to a nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits are run in an entrepreneurial style, so your corporate accomplishments would probably be of interest. Do emphasize volunteer work and clearly state why you are making this change. Your resume’s Career Summary can contain your passion for a career with a nonprofit and your interest in making a difference.

  2. Nonprofit hiring managers might discard your application if they think you’re too expensive (most nonprofit jobs pay less than their for-profit counterparts). Use your cover letter to explain why you are pursuing this career path so that employers see your enthusiasm for this career. If your reasons for pursuing a nonprofit are personal — say your baby was born with a birth defect and you’re targeting The March of Dimes — mentioning the reason for your career shift will show you’re committed to the cause and may help you secure an interview.

  3. You certainly want to highlight any nonprofit board experience you have, making clear if it was volunteer experience. If you’ve been on a fundraising committee of a board, that would be important to highlight. Executive directors and CEOs are thinking about their cash flow and their revenue projections. Demonstrating that you have capability around fundraising will get you noticed.

Resume Writing Tips For Veterans

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

In honor of the Fourth of July holiday (which has regretably just past), this week we’ll be looking at how veterans can leverage their military service into a solid civilian career via a strong, well-crafted resume:

Veterans face a particularly tough challenge when compared to most unemployed when it comes to resume writing and marketing themselves for job openings. Whereas a civilian mindset, vocabulary and previous professional experiences are already in an acceptable resume format, the serviceman or woman has to go a few extra steps in an effort to translate a career in the military into an attractive resume for a career in the private sector.

While difficult, translating a military resume into a civilian resume is far from impossible, and if anyone can take on the challenge it’s an American veteran. Experience as a veteran will be an advantage in today’s very competitive job searching. Below are just a few tips that will hopefully aid in your resume writing process and give you a bump-up on the competition.

1. Choose a mission, set an objective.

The biggest mistake all job seekers make is using one generic resume for every job applied to… This is a tactically faulted approach, as each position will most likely be seeking a slightly different job candidate. For this reason, your resume should be specifically targeted to each job position being applied to. Don’t be a generalist, but a master of what is being sought by the employer.

2. Remember Civilians Don’t Speak Jargon

It is worth remembering that most employers will not understand even some of the most basic of military lingo including acronyms or systems knowledge specific to military application. This may come as a challenge, but translation will be needed from military jargon to layman acceptable generalist terminology. Resumes containing a lot of military terminology will cause HR Managers’ eyes to glaze over because they simply do not understand it. Instead, convert terms for specific applications into broad terms for generic application.

Did you use a proprietary munitions inventory tracking and monitoring system called SCORPINX-57XP? Well, that bullet point should instead read something like “proficient in inventory and inventory tracking systems”. You get the picture.

3. Match You Skillset

Pick your battles whenever you can. By applying to jobs you are unqualified for, you are only wasting time and energy. Instead apply to jobs you stand a good chance at landing because of your experience and skills. For example, you will have a difficult time landing a marketing job with a mechanical background. Instead, search for jobs using keywords such as “mechanical”, “mechanics”, “mechanical engineering” and the like.

If you still have your heart set on marketing, find a technical school near your community and enroll. An Associates degree can be had in under two years and schools offering general marketing programs are a dime a dozen.

4. Toot Your Own Horn

As mentioned above, it is important to frame your resume with a civilian reader‘s perspective in mind, as that will be necessary to communicate skills, experience, and goals you wish to achieve. However, make sure to display your military experience prominently on your resume as it’s full of golden HR “keywords” such as:

  • Leadership skills
  • Independent thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Applied Teamwork skills
  • Professional dedication

Having served in the armed forces, you are by default a treasure trove of highly valuable critical thinking and problem solving skills. By accompanying your military experience with these skills, you validate your claims, something that many civilian applicants will struggle to do.

5. Triple-Check Fundamentals and Numerically Quantify

As many times as recruiters warn against it, job applicants consistently include grammatical errors or spelling mistakes on their cover letters and resumes. Running a document through spell-check is not sufficient; proofreading requires human eyes. If you don’t have a friend or family member with grammar skills up to the challenge of reviewing your resume, consider contacting an old English teacher. Explaining your service history and desire to find a civilian job, you’d be hard-pressed to find an educator who would refuse helping you out.

Finally, throughout your resume, whenever possible, numerically quantify your achievements. For example, if you led a group of soldiers, state how many, written in numerical form as in “100” instead of “one hundred”. Numerals pop out to HR types and make resumes look more qualified.

Also, add ultimate qualifications by including military honors and any medals earned, as this is definitely one area where civilians will not be able to compete with you.