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Turn Your Age Into An Asset

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2018

If you’re an experienced professional above 50, you’ve likely had a few concerns about age discrimination in the workplace. Going out into the job market at any point in your career increases anxiety levels and adding age discrimination just makes the task even more daunting.

Age discrimination is illegal, but we all know it happens, so how can you counter it and land an interview where you can show them what you can do?

It starts with a powerful, compelling resume that gets you the interview. It is imperative that your resume is targeted to the job and the company – the content must be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Pack your resume with keywords and display accomplishments that are powerful, quantified, and state the benefit the company derived.

Don’t go back to the beginning of time with your resume, 10-15 years should do it. It’s not a history of your career, but rather a marketing brochure demonstrating the value you were to previous employers while predicting your future value to employers. An earlier experience that is relevant can be included on the resume, but it does not need to be dated. It can be mentioned in a profile, summary, or an early career section.

If you are job hunting, you are going to be googled. It is an absolute must that you have a LinkedIn profile today that aligns with your resume. Just because LinkedIn will always ask for more information, does not mean you have to fill in earlier and earlier jobs. Use a flattering picture that judiciously shaves off a few years, but don’t get extreme here by using a picture that shows you 20 years younger.

We live in a social media world and while millennials may be finding jobs with Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, if you are not comfortable doing so, don’t. But certainly, educate yourself on these social media platforms and get comfortable talking about them.

Keep yourself technologically savvy — up to date with technology in general, but most importantly the technology and trends in your profession and industry. Stay current, get necessary certifications, or take refreshers if your certifications or any of your training is dated.

Don’t forget about current software and applications. Consider enrolling in local classes or take the online classes (LinkedIn Learning), look at the software’s demonstrations, take their tutorials, or download free trials to boost your knowledge.

If you demonstrate that you are continuing to learn and getting better every day on your resume, in phone screenings, and during the interview, your extensive experience can become an asset.

Conducting a Successful Job Search

Thanks to the Internet, searching for a job today is vastly different than it used to be. Until fairly recently, a job seeker browsed local classified ads, found a compatible-sounding job listing, prepared an elegant résumé on bond paper, and sent it out by fax or U.S. mail. That has changed. Today, finding and landing a great job comes with the challenge of learning how to utilize the many available Internet resources to aid in your search.

Searching for a Job on Internet Job Boards
Searching for a job online has become a common, but not always fruitful, approach. With all the publicity given to Internet-based job boards and career sites, you might think that online job searching makes finding a job easy. Job board sites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com list millions of jobs, but actually landing a position is much harder than just clicking your mouse and waiting for a reply; it takes perseverance and wise use of online job boards.

  • Career Builder (careerbuilder.com)CareerBuilder claims to be the nation’s largest employment network. Users can search millions of jobs by category, geographic location, keyword, industry, or job type (full-time, part-time, internship).
  • Indeed (indeed.com)One of the newest and fastest growing job search sites on the Internet, Indeed.com is a metasearch engine that uses a Google-like interface to search the Internet for open job listings.
  • Monster (monster.com): Monster.com offers access to information on millions of jobs worldwide using a search technology called 6Sense that matches applicants with the best job opportunities for their skills. Because of this cutting-edge search system, many consider Monster.com to be the Internet’s premier job site.
  • College Grad (collegegrad.com)CollegeGrad advertises itself as the “number one entry-level job site” for students and recent graduates. In addition to searching for entry-level jobs, users can also search for undergraduate and graduate degree programs to help them develop marketable skills.
  • Career JournalPart of The Wall Street Journal; CareerJournal provides listings for high-level executive and finance positions.

Beyond the Big Internet Job Boards
Many job seekers may turn their backs on job boards but not on online job-searching tactics. Savvy candidates know to search for jobs in other ways. Some examples are:

  • Company Web Sites: Probably the best way to find a job online is at a company’s own website. Many companies now post job openings only on their own websites to avoid inundation by the volume of applicants that respond to postings via online job boards. Many job seekers find that they are more likely to obtain an interview if they post their résumés on company sites. This allows a more direct connection to decision makers, and job seekers can keep their job searches (and personal information!) more private than on job boards.
  • Professional Organization Web sites: Online job listings have proven to be the single-most popular feature of many professional organizations, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Sales Professionals, the National Association of Legal Assistants, and the Association of Information Technology Professionals. Although you pay a fee to join, the benefits of being a member of a professional association in your career field are enormous. Remember that it is never too early to start networking. If you join a professional organization while you are still in college, you will be setting yourself up for future success as you build a network of professional connections.
  • JobCentral National Labor Exchange: JobCentral is a public service website provided by the DirectEmployers Association, a nonprofit consortium of Fortune 500 and other leading U.S. corporations. Many companies now use jobcentral.com as a gateway to job listings on their own websites, which results in the advertising of millions of jobs. Best of all, this service is free and bypasses the big commercial job boards. You can search for a job description or job title, and apply directly on the website of the hiring company.
  • Local Employment Web Sites: Although many of the big job boards allow you to search for jobs geographically, many job seekers have more luck using local employment websites such as CraigslistCumulus Jobs and JobStar.
  • Niche Web Sites: If you want a job in a specialized field, look for a niche website, such as Dice (dice.com) for technology jobs, Advance for Health Care (www.advanceweb.com/jobs/healthcare/index.html) for jobs in the medical field, and Accountemps (www.accountemps.com) for accounting positions. Niche websites also exist for job seekers with special backgrounds or needs, such as older workers (www.workforce50.com) and veterans (www.veteranjoblistings.com).

Social Media Sites
Perhaps you already use sites such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with family and friends. Did you know that users are-increasingly tapping into social media sites to prospect for jobs, and that recruiters use these sites to find potential employees? Linkedln is currently the top site for job seekers, with over 200 million users, including job seekers and recruiters. Other popular sites include Plaxo, TheLadders, BlueSteps and Jobster. Twitter has created a job search engine called TwitJobSearch (www.twitjobsearch.com), and many companies now post recruitment videos on YouTube. Savvy job seekers use these tools to network and to search for available positions. Of course, the most successful job seekers understand the necessity of maintaining a professional online appearance and taking the time to connect personally with recruiters.

Use Caution
Be aware of dangers associated with using Internet job boards and other employment websites. Not only could your current boss see your résumé posted online, a fraudster could use your information to steal your identity. The following tips can help you safely conduct an online job search:

  • Use reputable sites: Stick to the well-known, reputable job boards. Never use a site that makes you pay to post your résumé or a site that makes you feel uneasy.
  • Be selective: Limit the number of sites on which you post your résumé. Employers dislike “résumé spammers.”
  • Use a dedicated e-mail address: Set up a separate e-mail account with a professional-sounding e-mail address for sending and receiving emails related to your job search.
  • Limit personal information: Never include your social security or other identification numbers on your résumé. Consider omitting your home address and home phone number to protect your privacy when posting on big job boards.
  • Post privately: If given an option, choose to post your résumé privately. Doing so means that you can control who has access to your e-mail address and other contact information.
  • Count the days: Renew your résumé posting every 14 days. If you keep it up longer, it will look as if employers have no interest in you. If you have not received a response in 45 days, pull your résumé from the site and post it somewhere else.
  • Keep careful records: Keep a record of every site on which you post your résumé. At the end of your job search, remove all posted résumés.
  • Protect your references: If you post your résumé online, do not include your references. It is unethical for job seekers to post their references’ personal contact information online without the references’ knowledge.
  • Do not respond to a “blind” job posting: Respond only to job postings that include a company name and contact information. It is unfortunate that many scammers use online job boards to post fake job ads as a way to gather your personal information.

Finding the Perfect Job (For Students)
A successful job search requires an early start and a determined effort. Students with proactive personalities are the most successful in securing interviews and jobs during and after college. These successful candidates are not passive; they are driven and “make things happen.” Recruiters respond to a proactive nature. They will also consider your education, life experience, grade point averages and internships when reviewing your qualifications. Communicating what you have learned inside and outside the classroom—and connecting with other—people will continue to be critical elements in landing a great job. Traditional job search techniques, such as those below, can help you find a position that fits your interests and skills, while building your professional and personal network.

  • Check announcements in publications of professional organizations: If you do not have a student membership to professional organizations, ask your instructors (or librarian) to share current copies of professional journals, newsletters, and other industry resources.
  • Contact companies in which you are interested, even if you know of no current opening: Write an unsolicited letter and include your résumé. Follow up with a telephone call. Check the company’s website for employment possibilities and application procedures.
  • To learn immediately of job openings, use Twitter to follow companies that interest you.
  • Sign up for campus interviews with visiting company representatives: Campus recruiters can open your eyes to exciting companies, job locations and positions. They can also help you prepare by offering mock interviews.
  • Ask for advice from your instructors: Your teachers often have contacts and ideas for conducting and expanding your job search and growing your skills.
  • Develop your own network of contacts: Networking still accounts for most of the jobs found by candidates. Therefore, plan to spend a considerable portion of your job search developing a personal network.
  • Attend career fairs: Job fairs are invaluable in the quest to learn about specific companies and future career options. The more you know about the company and its representatives, the more comfortable you will be soliciting a position and giving a great interview.

For information on conducting a successful search for a job, creating a standout resume or performing well in your interviews, contact us. Our Career Services can help you succeed!

Getting Most out of Your Resume

Does your resume grab the attention and hit home with employers? Does it generate responses? A resume is not just a history of your career, a listing of jobs you held and the tasks you performed. It’s a future-oriented marketing piece positioning you as the most qualified candidate for a position. To do that, the content must be based on the position you are seeking, not just the ones you held. The content needs to be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate initiative, problem-solving, and value to previous employers.

Know what’s important to the employer. Begin with a strongly focused introduction. Concisely summarize responsibilities and focus on your accomplishments. Be very strategic; paint the right picture with your words. Use formatting to enhance readability and drive your message home. Write tight; trim and polish at least three times. Take these 10 tips to heart when preparing your resume.

  1. Get into the right mindset. Overcome procrastination and don’t lose sight of the real goal. It may seem like your goal is to write your resume, but your real goal is to capture the employer’s attention and land a job.
  2. Start fresh. Get rid of old resume baggage. Keep your eye on the job you are seeking. Approach your resume with today’s perspective.
  3. Assume the employer’s perspective. It’s not the story you want to tell, but the story the employer wants to hear. Demonstrate you can solve problems, save money, and make money.
  4. Don’t tell me, sell me! Job hunting is a sales job. Your resume is a sales tool, marketing brochure, and calling card. In sales features attract, but benefits sell. Load your resume with benefits. Articulate your value, previous contributions, and successes.
  5. Use industry keywords liberally and appropriately. Don’t just dump them in the resume, use them in context throughout the resume.
  6. Capture attention with a combination style that includes an introduction, career history, short job descriptions, bulleted accomplishments, education/professional development, specialized training, credentials, and certifications as well as affiliations, memberships, and community involvement.
  7. Distinguish responsibilities from accomplishments. Responsibilities are the tasks they hired you to do; anyone with your same title has the same responsibilities. Accomplishments tell us how well you performed those tasks and how valuable you were to your employer. Accomplishments are unique to you. They differentiate you from other candidates.

Avoid weak responsibilities; they do more harm than good. Ineffective resumes include long laundry lists of bulleted responsibilities. They tend to be passive, uninspiring, and make you look like every other candidate. (i.e., troubleshoot networking components, install, configure, and maintain computer equipment). Do not just repeat your job description.

Use strong responsibilities that paint a robust picture of what you did. (i.e., Service Manager. Managed a 7-member team repairing an average of 390 warranty and non-warranty repair orders per month.)

  1. Make accomplishments strong. Maximize the most powerful content on your resume. Quantify or explain the impact of your work on the organization. Frame your results with context. State how you improved or streamlined something, mentored someone, avoided a crisis, helped a customer, increased productivity, saved money, and so on. (i.e., Consistently beat annual profit target of $1.5M by at least 2X. Delivered 20% of company’s total 2015 revenue with 15% profit margin.)
  2. Avoid standard templates that make you look like every other candidate and follow good resume writing practices. Be generous with white space; select a common font; vary sentence structure and employ parallel construction; use emphasis sparingly; be consistent in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, type, and line spacing.
  3. Edit, proof, and polish at least twice, then walk away and look it over with fresh eyes in a day or so.
Written by: Roberta Gamza (www.careerink.com)

How To Negotiate A Raise

Most Finance and Accounting professionals are well versed in the technical side of their jobs but are not as skilled at the behavioral and interpersonal side of business. Many employers assume technical skills are a given, so employee skills can quickly become an overlooked commodity. In this culture, Finance and Accounting professionals must develop effective communication and negotiation skills in order to receive performance-based pay increases.

“In business you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

Negotiating your salary with your employer is a good test of your negotiation and communication skills. Many people dread this often-intimidating process. However, it is important develop these skills for two key reasons:

  1. You would like more money and;
  2. You will be judged by your employer based on how you handle yourself during the negotiations. Most savvy employers are able to make quick, accurate judgments about your value to the company based on how you negotiate.

So how do you negotiate your salary? Consider these tips to demonstrate your masterful negotiation skills and improve your chances of getting an increase:

  • Understand the macro financial constraints that exist:How is your organization doing vs. the overall plan? How is your department perceived? Is your organization’s market growing? How is the organization’s performance vs. its peer group?
  • Remember that there is always budget for salary increases for great employees: Just keep in mind that there is seldom a reason to mention this to your employer!
  • Be able to quantify the value have you added to the company over the last year: What real, tangible cost savings or revenue enhancements can be directly attributed to your performance? It only counts if it has a real dollar impact, not if it “made us more efficient.”
  • Know how your boss is perceived in the organization and how much authority they have: Can they approve a raise without anyone else’s input or do they need to get approval? Are they going to go to bat for you? Why would they?
  • Consider your relationship with your boss: If it’s not great, it needs to be rebuilt before you request an increase. If there is no trust between you and your employer, odds are that you aren’t going to get anywhere in a salary negotiation.
  • Step into the shoes of your boss as you prepare for your negotiation: If you were them how would you respond to such a request? Your chances of success are greatly enhanced if your employer agrees that an increase is fair.
  • Be yourself in discussions: Prepare what you are going to say but make sure it’s in your own words and comes from the heart. If you are new to negotiating, tell your boss that you are nervous. Your honesty will melt all but the most hardened hearts. In certain situations, you could improve your bargaining position by asking for help. Getting your boss on your side of the table when negotiating with the organization can improve your chances of being heard.
  • Keep the negotiations face to face: Don’t use email or text, as these means are useless when trying to convince people to do anything for you. Using text or email will simply demonstrate that you’re not being direct; you’re actually avoiding face to face interaction.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal signals you are giving: Eye contact and hand movements are the most common means of non-verbal communication. Take a pen and notepad into the meeting and take notes if you need to keep your hands busy. Be sure to make eye contact.
  • Talk slowly and ask questions: Be prepared for questions that your boss might ask about why you think you deserve an increase. Answer the specific question that’s asked and listen well to responses that indicate you need to improve (or more clearly demonstrate!) your performance.
  • Plan the timing of your request: What day of the week and time of the day is best for your boss? Drop hints before your request to let your boss know what’s coming. Mention that you would “like to find a convenient time to discuss your compensation” so they can take time to think about it before you meet.
  • Prepare for your scheduled meeting: Do some industry comparisons as a guide or get some coaching from Aclivity or another trusted resource. Talk to colleagues and find out what tactics have worked for them. Write down your thoughts in advance and practice your negotiation with your trusted advisor. Be brief. Make your points and stress that you are seeking fair compensation for the value you provide to the company. If possible, don’t rely too heavily on your notes in the meeting. If you are trying to make more than 5 points, it’s too many.
  • Own your perspective: Truth is a matter of perspective. If you are going to make a point in the discussion that is subjective, be clear that you’re conveying “how you feel.” No one can argue about how you feel and it sounds less threatening than telling your boss what’s “true.”
  • Don’t compare your salary with others’: Don’t use comparisons of your compensation vs. other internal employees as a bargaining tactic. This argument will make you look petty since it attempts to justify your increase by comparing yourself with other people. It also reveals that you have had conversations about confidential topics with other employees, suggesting that you may not be trustworthy. Focus on the value that you bring to the table.
  • Don’t make threats: Don’t threaten to quit or say you will be forced to start looking for another job; your boss will know that’s a possible outcome if they turn you down. Listen and take feedback. Being told “No” this time will make it easier to get a “Yes” next time. If your negotiation is trending negative you could ask to defer the conversation and request their agreement to bring the topic back up again at a specified time. Ask your boss what behaviors, skills or contributions would necessary for them to consider giving you an increase in the future.
  • Don’t justify the raise by talking about your personal expenses: Bringing up your personal finances will be interpreted as a request for your company to compensate for the fact that you cannot manage your own affairs. Focus the negotiation on your tangible value to the company (how you personally make or save them money).
  • Remember that there are other types of “increases:There are a number of other things that you can ask for other than a pay increase which may be easier for your boss to grant. Consider asking for an increase in bonus potential, an extra week of paid vacation, tuition assistance, expense reimbursements like cell phone or home office, a spot bonus for specific tasks well done, or a 401(k) match.
  • Do your research: Communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills can be learned. We all have weaknesses in these areas, but we can compensate for them with a little effort. Learning about effective communication and negotiation methods will also help you “read” your boss—and adapt to limitations in their communication skills!

Negotiating a raise is a process, not an event. Introduce the topic and plan on having a number of discussions. Be patient and demonstrate your value without getting defensive. Let the other party warm to your point of view. Rarely will you go in, ask for a raise, and get it without a bit of negotiation. And, remember that we’re here for you if you’d like advice (or practice!) before your negotiation!

Good luck!

How to Write Your First Resume

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2017

Hot Not to Lose the Job

Congratulations Graduate!  You’ve earned that degree; now is the time to put it to work and land your first job. You’re going to need a resume!

Sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The goal of a resume is to generate interest and interviews, so your resume must position you as a valuable candidate. As a new grad, you may feel you lack the experience necessary to do that, but you have more experience than you think.

Resume writing must start with a goal and that goal is to land a desirable job with a desirable employer, not just any job with any employer. Make a list of companies and positions that are of interest. Then look for job postings that align with your choices. Carefully examine those postings and look for keywords. Keywords are the words applicant tracking systems are going to use to filter online applicants; they are industry buzzwords and terminology, the names of applications and tools you use in performing the job, action verbs, and hard skills you need to perform the job. Job postings are loaded with keywords and your resume needs to contain about 70% of the keywords the hiring manager selected to pass the filter. Now that you have your targeted employers and positions, you can work on your resume content strategy. Resumes are future-focused marketing documents intended to position you as the best candidate for the job. They must contain content that is meaningful and relevant to the hiring manager and demonstrate your potential to learn and perform. To gather content, take a fresh look at your classes and class projects, extracurricular activities, volunteer experiences, and jobs, even the menial jobs you’ve held. There’s a lot more there than you think.

There are 3 resume sections that are a must for new grads: Education and Relevant Coursework, Work Experience (paid and unpaid), and Extracurricular Activities.

Education and Relevant Coursework

  • Course work and projects often simulate real world work and can add valuable experience to the resume just like internships and fellowships.
  • Academic or project competitions can highlight your contributions, teamwork, and accomplishments.
  • Participation in special academic programs and international studies speak highly of you.

Work Experience

  • Summer jobs demonstrate dependability, trustworthiness, accomplishment, and growth in responsibility.
  • On-campus and off-campus jobs while attending classes demonstrate time management, organization, and prioritization skills while revealing your motivation and determination.
  • Internships

Extracurricular Activities

  • Volunteer roles, working with community charities and fundraisers can show everything from leadership, commitment, and problem solving skills to passion and kindness.
  • Roles and responsibilities in fraternities, sororities, as well as student clubs and organizations show your commitment, initiative, and often teamwork and/or leadership qualities. If you’ve planned and led a special event, you have experience in project planning, logistics, leadership, and fiscal management.

Be sure to write powerfully and concisely; use active tense. Allow sufficient time for this part of the process. It takes much more time to write tight, concise, and targeted content. Be prepared to write and rewrite a few iterations of your resume. Remember format is equally as important as content. You must make it easy for the reader to consume this content, so forget gimmicks, slick fonts, and brightly colored paper unless you are a graphic artist. Stick to tried and true, common fonts and use plenty of white space and bold judiciously. Don’t use templates unless you want to look like everyone else. Most importantly, never determine length before you have your content. You resume may fit on one page, but don’t try to cram it onto one page. If your content demands more than one page, go to two pages. Just be sure all content is meaningful and relevant to the position you seek.

Don’t Forget the Resignation Letter

A resignation letter is more than an official notice that you are terminating your employment with your company, it is also a professional means of ensuring that you will leave your employer on good terms. When it’s time to move on to another position, don’t forget to resign at least two weeks in advance with a tactful, diplomatic letter. You will show respect for your employer and better your odds of a positive reference in the future.

To create a resignation letter, use the basic elements below (or search online for a template):

[Company Name] [Supervisor Name] [Supervisor Title] [Supervisor Department] [Company Address] [Company City, State, Zip Code]Dear [Mr./Ms. Supervisor Name],

As of [Date], I will be resigning my position as [Your Title] at [Company Name].

I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had during my employment with [Company Name] and offer my best wishes for your continued success.

[Conclude by providing summary information relevant to the next steps that you will take; i.e. offering to help with the transition, or terms for return of key cards or company equipment.]Respectfully yours,

[Handwritten Signature] [Typed Signature]Though you could resign verbally (or leave a Post-It on the computer saying “Goodbye!”), it’s a good idea to take the time to tactfully end your relationship with your current employer. It will give you good practice at communicating in a potentially difficult situation, and will remind your employer that you are a respectful employee.

Need help with your resignation letter? Want to find a new career?

Call us! We’re here to help!

Why Should I Hire You?

This question might be a lead-in to your worst interview nightmare. However, every employer wants to know why you deserve the job. Be prepared to tell your interviewer why “you” would be a great fit for the position! Better yet, present yourself in a way that provides an answer before the question is ever asked. This is a very valid question if you are to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes.

  • Know the job description: Do your homework and make sure you examine the job description point by point. Know the requirements of the position you’re applying for and how well suited you are to the position. Make notes on work you’ve done or skills you’ve grown that exactly match points on the job description. Also note skills you may need to learn to be successful in the role. Be honest with the interviewer about your limitations, but focus on your strengths. Tell the interviewer why you would be great at the job.
  • Give concrete examples: While you are looking over the job description, make notes about past projects, growth experiences or life skills that make you well suited for the position or company. Take your notes into the interview and make sure you speak to specific points that show them you’re right for the position. Employers want to know that you’ll fit into their culture and that you’ll hit the ground running.
  • Be confident in your abilities: The best interviews end with you silently asking yourself, “Why wouldn’t they hire me?” Sell your skills and experience in a confident, but non-arrogant way. You bring unique skills, knowledge and experience to the table. Remember that the interviewer is just getting to know you, so you will need to tell them (and show them!) who you are and what you will contribute to their company.
  • Dress for success: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Strive to be someone they remember as well put together from head to toe. Even if you know the work environment is casual, go to the interview as if you are applying for a CEO position. A well-dressed person oozes confidence, professionalism and respect; all traits employers seek.

With a little practice, you can master the art of giving a good interview. ACLIVITY offers a variety of Career Services that help you get the job! Call us for coaching, resume help or interview skills training. We’re here to help!

Why You & Your Company Should Use A Recruiter

Many managers would say that 90% of their success in their management role depends on the performance of the employees on their team. From this vantage, hiring the right people is a key to any company’s success. When you know you need help—the right help—it can be difficult to spare the staff, time or focus to search for the needle in the professional haystack.

When you need top talent, using a recruiter is a great idea!

  • Recruiters are the right tool for the job: If you need your car fixed, you take it to a mechanic. If you are sick, you go see a doctor. If you need outstanding human resources, you hire an agency that succeeds by leveraging their network of talent to meet client’s staffing and consulting needs.
  • Recruiters help you define what you’re looking for: A recruiter can help you flesh out your position description, understand the market rate for the role you’re filling and connect you to pre-screened, available talent.
  • Recruiters keep employers focused, saving time and money: For companies without a dedicated Human Resources department, finding new talent is not always the best use of time or energy. Recruiters save employers the distraction (and cost!) of hours spent evaluating resumes, managing online postings, scheduling interviews, testing basic skills—and then doing it all again every time a position opens up or turns over.
  • Recruiters know where to look for talent: Recruiters have the data-mining tools, subscriptions and network you need to find the right employee for the position you are filling. Recruiter’s networks develop with an eye for finding, and keeping in contact with, the best available talent.
  • Recruiters are less likely to lose the best candidates: The talent you are looking for should be handled with care. When a recruiter finds the one best candidate for an open position, they have already done their homework. Recruiters know the types of positions or companies the candidate is most interested in. Recruiters know the job market and what your competitors might offer the candidate for a similar role. And, recruiters can encourage the candidate that’s best suited to the position that it’s a good idea to join your team.
  • Recruiters produce risk-free results: Recruiters work on a contingent basis. Though they have no control over the actions you take to ensure the success of a placement, recruiters guarantee their placements. There is no risk since you pay after your needs are met!

When you’re looking for your next great employee, contact Aclivity! Our Five-Star Client Promise (www.aclivity.com) guides all of our actions, guaranteeing you a great recruiting experience. Call us today and let us put our network of Finance, Accounting and IT professionals to work for you!

Is Your Resume’ Catching Attention By The Appropriate People

If your resume reads like a job description, it probably will not land you an interview. A recruiter is more likely to contact you for an interview if you have effectively quantified the work you have performed in your previous positions. When evaluating the strength of your resume consider the tips below.

  • Highlight certain skills and experiences by using a “Strengths & Skills” section at the top of your resume. Use bullet points to detail the skills you have used and the ways you have succeeded in your career; just make sure those skills align with the job description.
  • For each previous employer, list the company name and department, size (in revenue), industry, number of employees, the states or countries the company operates in and the name, title and department of your direct supervisor.
  • Use action words! Words such as managed, led, organized, reduced, improved and won are all great ways to communicate that you have actively contributed to your employers’ success.
  • Demonstrate how you have utilized your skills to create measurable success for the companies for which you have worked.
  • Quantify your work. Use dollars, numbers and percentages to show that show you have been an asset to your previous employers. You could detail the number of your direct reports, size of your department or budget, important schedules you have followed, reduction in turnover rates during your employ, specific projects you have successfully completed or key entities you have supported. You could also include information on changes in company rankings, revenues, clients, customers, sales and/or procedures directly attributable to your efforts. Be sure to highlight time or money saved and increases in efficiency. Draw the recruiter in with numbers that prove you are a great candidate for the position for which you are applying.
  • Proofread your resume! Typos and omissions speak volumes about your attention to detail.
  • Perform a final review of your resume, ensuring that it clearly describes your strengths and accomplishments in a quantifiable Remember, recruiters want to hire people with experience in the role they are staffing!

Our Career Services can help you create a resume that communicates your unique skills! For more tips on finding and landing the right job, contact us today! We’re here to help!

Writing A Cover Letter

Your cover letter is just as important as your resume. Cover letters offer you an early opportunity to highlight your experience specific to a position or company. Any time you are responding to an advertised opening, inquiring with a company about possible opportunities, or asking to do some networking within a company of interest, you should include a cover letter.

All cover letters should:

Explain why you are sending a resume:

  • Introduce yourself and let the reader know what you are asking for. Be specific: are you responding to a specific ad for an open position? Are you inquiring about future opportunities? Are you looking for an internship?

Indicate how you learned about the position or the company:

  • Reference the location of a job posting, or name a networking connection or current employee. If you were referred by someone, mention their name to solidify the referral.
  • State why you are interested in the position and/or company.
  • If you are not responding to a specific position, indicate the types of positions you are interested in.

Convince the reader to view your resume:

  • The cover letter forms a recruiter’s first impression of you. Take the time to write a detailed letter that demonstrates your communication skills and reflects your personality.
  • This is your opportunity to “sell yourself.” Call attention to any skills and experiences that directly relate to the job or company.
  • Let the reader know why you are a perfect fit for the position.
  • Provide any information requested in the job advertisement, especially if the information is not on your resume.

Indicate your plans for a follow-up:

  • Do not assume the company’s contact will call you. Provide your contact information as well as a statement about your intent to follow-up.
  • If you are applying for an advertised or open position, take the initiative! Say something like, “I will follow up with you in the next two weeks to arrange a time to meet and discuss my qualifications.”
  • If your cover letter is expressing an interest in the company, but not for a particular position, say something like, “I look forward to contacting you in the next couple of weeks to learn more about your organization and possible opportunities.”

Our Career Services can help you find and land the right job. Contact Aclivity today! We’re here to help!

Really Different or Rarely Different?

I hate labels such as “Millennials” – a term first coined by Strauss & Howe in their book Generations.

My wife asked me to write an article on Millennials in the Workplace. The general definition of Millennials seems to be those born between 1980 and 2000. Now, I am in the habit of doing (almost) everything my wife asks of me, but why me? I doubt I have anything more to add to the myriad of opinions out there. Everyone has a position on the topic, and none of the research is conclusive. I have spent the last week having an internal debate in my head and thinking of reasons why I should not do this. I can’t justify turning down my wife…

So here are my Generation X (generally born between 1960 and 1980) observations, solely within the workplace.

This is based upon what I have observed, what I feel etc., not scientific conclusions, just my biased non-researched views. So there, you can’t challenge me for this article. And, by the way, what qualifies me as remotely capable of writing down my views? Probably because I have three Millennials as kids and that I work with about 30 of them at Wazee Digital every day.

The way I think about Millennials in the Workplace is to begin by understanding what they faced when they entered the workplace. Yes, there could be all sorts of psychological factors that influenced them prior to that. However, I focus on what they faced from about 2005 to 2010 when the earliest group of them left their college and protective parent years behind and entered the workplace. Not quite losing the generational lottery, but during this short 5-year period here is what they generally saw:

  • Global Financial Crises & the Mortgage Loan debacle
  • Many of their parents unemployed and or savings depleted
  • Disastrous and costly Middle East Wars
  • Climate Change and an Environmental mess
  • Political gridlock
  • Corporate scandals
  • Resurgent China and offshoring depressing wages
  • Terrorism close to home

As I think about it, the only things Generation X have provided Millennials that provide great utility are: The Internet, the cellphone & e-commerce.

So, I totally understand why Millennials often exhibit a high degree of skepticism and distrust with Generation X. Estimates say that by 2020, nearly half of all workers in the workplace will be Millennials. I believe all workplaces have this unavoidable Millennial/Gen X combination – typically with Gen X as management and Millennial as non-management. Workplaces will have to understand these factors and challenge the traditional management/employee dynamic. For me, the cornerstone is all about inspiring the Millennials, understanding the different views and avoiding stereotypes.

While I agreed with my wife to write an article (short) not an essay (long), let me close by listing all the disparaging terms I hear about Millennials and give you my opinion as they relate to the workplace: They..

  • Have a lesser work ethic than Gen X – untrue. You are not inspiring them.
  • Want to do meaningful work – true. What’s wrong with that?
  • Have been so sheltered – why is this even relevant? If it’s true it’s the Gen X’s fault – so fix it.
  • Are overconfident – great.
  • Provide immediate candid feedback – who wants to work with folks who “suffer in silence” anyway?
  • Think communicating is texting – true. Texting and email are great for information sharing but awful for convincing or relationship building.
  • See supervisors as mentors not bosses – yes, Gen X’ers they actually want your help!
  • Are over entitled – sometimes. Probably because Gen X parents over protected them and are not finding that “air-cover” in the workplace.
  • Don’t have a defined career path – fair point. Keep encouraging and give them freedom to explore.
  • Value job satisfaction over financial rewards – correct. But the Gen X obsession with money has not worked out so well.
  • Look for a better work/life balance – correct. Why not? Travel, health, and rest are proven to provide more productive employees.
  • Don’t trust management – correct. Most Gen X management teams have not earned this trust.
  • Change jobs when the going gets tough – fair point. This is one the Millennials must own. The grass is rarely greener.
  • Don’t ascribe to Corporate Values – partially true. But most corporate values are BS anyway.
  • Rudely multi-task – yes, Millennials (and a number of Gen X’ers) you are guilty as charged. You can’t fully participate in a conversation and have one eye on your phone.
  • Have a strong BS detection antennae – correct. They sniff this out very well.
  • Have a greater sense of community purpose – correct. Companies should be part of the societies in which they live. Millennials are challenging companies to turn this from an annual report fable into a true commitment.

Hopefully my views can form part of the beginning of a generational understanding in the workplace not the end of the debate. Yet most of all, I hope that Millennials have the courage to mimic the Gen X strengths and learn from our Gen X’s many mistakes – so that they can preserve my social security benefits for years to come!

Mark A. Pougnet | COO and CFO

Seven Steady Tips to Acing The Phone Interview

The job market is tough these days. There are so many experienced applicants, many with degrees; recruiters find themselves inundated with qualified candidates. If you are lucky enough to receive a positive response to your application, you might be selected for a phone interview. These ten or fifteen minutes are all about deciding if you are worth a recruiter’s time and if you deserve an in-person interview. That is not much time to get your foot in the door, so it is important to use those few minutes to your advantage. Consider the tips below the next time you are scheduled for a phone interview, and show your interviewer how your experience, skills, and attitude qualify you for a second interview. Once you’ve gotten the in-person interview, take a look at our tips here.

Be ready. Do not skimp on the research. Learn all you can about the company and the requirements of the position you’ve applied for. Read over the job description and be ready with concise points that demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for the position. Remember that fitting within the company’s culture is critical to your success in the position. Be clear about your ability, and willingness, to fit into the culture.

Be professional. This is not just a chat. It is an opportunity. Take on that opportunity with professionalism. It might be tempting to get comfortable on your couch in your pajamas while you take the phone interview. Resist that urge. Dress as if you are going to an in-person interview, sit at a desk, and put on your “game face.”  Have your resume handy and be prepared to speak to every aspect of your career, and every transition between jobs.

Mind your energy. Put a smile in your voice and convey your enthusiasm about the job. Demonstrate through your energy and attitude that you really want the position and that you are easy to communicate with. If you sound timid, the interviewer is going to think you are timid, or not very interested in the position.

Stay focused. Do not look in a mirror while you hold the conversation – you will be focusing on yourself when you need to be focusing on the interviewer. Visualize the person you are talking to and develop a more personal connection by looking at a picture of the interviewer. Odds are good you can find an image on their LinkedIn or other social profile. Keep that picture in view and remember that you are talking to a real person. One who could impact your future.

Listen before you talk. Be sure to listen carefully to questions posed and construct your responses so they clearly answer the interviewer’s inquiries. When you are nervous, you might blurt things out or talk too much. Pause before answering questions. Demonstrate your thoughtful consideration, rather than a rush to speak. Keep your responses simple. If you are not sure that you have given the interviewer the answer they were looking for ask something like, “Is that what you were after? Would you like me to clarify that in more detail?”

Ask questions. There is always a place in an interview where the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” Never say “No” to that question. Be prepared with thoughtful questions generated from your research, and use this opportunity to show your enthusiasm or ask about specific aspects of the job. Your questions should clarify the responsibilities of the job, aspects of company culture or simply demonstrate that you are serious about putting your experience to work. At this point, it is not appropriate to ask about processes, salary, benefits or start dates. Those questions come after you have secured the in-person interview. Rather than asking what the company will do for you, stay focused on what you will do for them.

Figure out what comes next. The last thing to cover in a phone interview is, “What’s next?” Ask the interviewer if there is more information you can provide and if they can confirm what the next steps are. Should you provide references? Will there be another interview? Do not be shy about asking how to continue the process. If you are serious about the job, you will naturally be curious about what comes next. The recruiter will expect no less.

When a company offers you a phone interview, they are really giving you a window of opportunity. Prepare to do your best with that opportunity. With solid research, a professional demeanor, and clear communication about what you bring to the table, you can help the interviewer feel like you are a good use of their time. In the end, your preparation could get you what you really want; an in-person interview.

Good luck!

Getting the Interviewer Past Your Age

 

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2018

When you are a 50+ job seeker, your success depends on your attitude. If you think your age is going to be a factor, then it will become a self-fulling prophecy. You earned this interview by demonstrating your qualifications on your resume and perhaps during a phone screening. You’ve got a legitimate chance at this job, so don’t let a biased interviewer stop when she/he sees your grey tresses – take control of the interview and show them what you bring to the table.

Of course, it is natural to be concerned, age discrimination is a real thing in the workforce, but don’t carry your baggage into the interview. Interviewers can sense your discomfort and will interpret it as a lack of confidence may be due to your qualifications or maybe due to your age.

Second only to attitude is preparation in this effort. Find out everything you can about the company. What’s going on in the industry? Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis of the company and be prepared to talk about what you know. Become familiar with their products and the position they hold in the market. Learn about their competitors, especially their #1 competitor. Even if your findings are less than perfect, you’ll earn their respect for being well prepared.

Walk into the interview confident, willing to show how you can solve problems and contribute to the bottom line. Focus on what you can do for the company. Turn the interview into a working session by asking about real problems they are facing now. Specifically, ask about what keeps them up at night and what is the biggest problem you can solve for them. Tell them how you would solve the problem. If it is a gnarly problem, then show them how you approach gnarly problems. Any time the interviewer goes astray and focuses on your shortcomings, get back to solving their problems.

If you get the interviewers to trust that you can solve their problems, the job will likely be yours.

Transform Your Age into an Asset

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2018

If you’re an experienced professional above 50, you’ve likely had a few concerns about age discrimination in the workplace. Going out into the job market at any point in your career increases anxiety levels and adding age discrimination just makes the task even more daunting.

Age discrimination is illegal, but we all know it happens, so how can you counter it and land an interview where you can show them what you can do?

It starts with a powerful, compelling resume that gets you the interview. It is imperative that your resume is targeted to the job and the company – the content must be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Pack your resume with keywords and display accomplishments that are powerful, quantified, and state the benefit the company derived.

Don’t go back to the beginning of time with your resume, 10-15 years should do it. It’s not a history of your career, but rather a marketing brochure demonstrating the value you were to previous employers while predicting your future value to employers. An earlier experience that is relevant can be included on the resume, but it does not need to be dated. It can be mentioned in a profile, summary, or an early career section.

If you are job hunting, you are going to be googled. It is an absolute must that you have a LinkedIn profile today that aligns with your resume. Just because LinkedIn will always ask for more information, does not mean you have to fill in earlier and earlier jobs. Use a flattering picture that judiciously shaves off a few years, but don’t get extreme here by using a picture that shows you 20 years younger.

We live in a social media world and while millennials may be finding jobs with Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, if you are not comfortable doing so, don’t. But certainly, educate yourself on these social media platforms and get comfortable talking about them.

Keep yourself technologically savvy — up to date with technology in general, but most importantly the technology and trends in your profession and industry. Stay current, get necessary certifications, or take refreshers if your certifications or any of your training is dated.

Don’t forget about current software and applications. Consider enrolling in local classes or take the online classes (LinkedIn Learning), look at the software’s demonstrations, take their tutorials, or download free trials to boost your knowledge.

If you demonstrate that you are continuing to learn and getting better every day on your resume, in phone screenings, and during the interview, your extensive experience can become an asset.

How to Write Your First Resume

How to Write Your First Resume

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2017

Hot Not to Lose the Job

Congratulations Graduate!  You’ve earned that degree; now is the time to put it to work and land your first job. You’re going to need a resume!

Sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The goal of a resume is to generate interest and interviews, so your resume must position you as a valuable candidate. As a new grad, you may feel you lack the experience necessary to do that, but you have more experience than you think.

Resume writing must start with a goal and that goal is to land a desirable job with a desirable employer, not just any job with any employer. Make a list of companies and positions that are of interest. Then look for job postings that align with your choices. Carefully examine those postings and look for keywords. Keywords are the words applicant tracking systems are going to use to filter online applicants; they are industry buzzwords and terminology, the names of applications and tools you use in performing the job, action verbs, and hard skills you need to perform the job. Job postings are loaded with keywords and your resume needs to contain about 70% of the keywords the hiring manager selected to pass the filter. Now that you have your targeted employers and positions, you can work on your resume content strategy. Resumes are future-focused marketing documents intended to position you as the best candidate for the job. They must contain content that is meaningful and relevant to the hiring manager and demonstrate your potential to learn and perform. To gather content, take a fresh look at your classes and class projects, extracurricular activities, volunteer experiences, and jobs, even the menial jobs you’ve held. There’s a lot more there than you think.

There are 3 resume sections that are a must for new grads: Education and Relevant Coursework, Work Experience (paid and unpaid), and Extracurricular Activities.

Education and Relevant Coursework

  • Coursework and projects often simulate real-world work and can add valuable experience to the resume just like internships and fellowships.
  • Academic or project competitions can highlight your contributions, teamwork, and accomplishments.
  • Participation in special academic programs and international studies speak highly of you.

Work Experience

  • Summer jobs demonstrate dependability, trustworthiness, accomplishment, and growth in responsibility.
  • On-campus and off-campus jobs while attending classes demonstrate time management, organization, and prioritization skills while revealing your motivation and determination.
  • Internships

Extracurricular Activities

  • Volunteer roles, working with community charities and fundraisers can show everything from leadership, commitment, and problem-solving skills to passion and kindness.
  • Roles and responsibilities in fraternities, sororities, as well as student clubs and organizations show your commitment, initiative, and often teamwork and/or leadership qualities. If you’ve planned and led a special event, you have experience in project planning, logistics, leadership, and fiscal management.

Be sure to write powerfully and concisely; use active tense. Allow sufficient time for this part of the process. It takes much more time to write tight, concise, and targeted content. Be prepared to write and rewrite a few iterations of your resume. Remember format is equally as important as content. You must make it easy for the reader to consume this content, so forget gimmicks, slick fonts, and brightly colored paper unless you are a graphic artist. Stick to tried and true, common fonts and use plenty of white space and bold judiciously. Don’t use templates unless you want to look like everyone else. Most importantly, never determine length before you have your content. Your resume may fit on one page, but don’t try to cram it onto one page. If your content demands more than one page, go to two pages. Just be sure all content is meaningful and relevant to the position you seek.

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Great Resume

Does your resume grab the attention and hit home with employers? Does it generate responses? A resume is not just a history of your career, a listing of jobs you held and the tasks you performed. It’s a future-oriented marketing piece positioning you as the most qualified candidate for a position. To do that, the content must be based on the position you are seeking, not just the ones you held. The content needs to be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate initiative, problem-solving, and value to previous employers.

Know what’s important to the employer. Begin with a strongly focused introduction. Concisely summarize responsibilities and focus on your accomplishments. Be very strategic; paint the right picture with your words. Use formatting to enhance readability and drive your message home. Write tight; trim and polish at least three times. Take these 10 tips to heart when preparing your resume.

  1. Get into the right mindset. Overcome procrastination and don’t lose sight of the real goal. It may seem like your goal is to write your resume, but your real goal is to capture the employer’s attention and land a job.
  2. Start fresh. Get rid of old resume baggage. Keep your eye on the job you are seeking. Approach your resume with today’s perspective.
  3. Assume the employer’s perspective. It’s not the story you want to tell, but the story the employer wants to hear. Demonstrate you can solve problems, save money, and make money.
  4. Don’t tell me, sell me! Job hunting is a sales job. Your resume is a sales tool, marketing brochure, and calling card. In sales features attract, but benefits sell. Load your resume with benefits. Articulate your value, previous contributions, and successes.
  5. Use industry keywords liberally and appropriately. Don’t just dump them in the resume, use them in context throughout the resume.
  6. Capture attention with a combination style that includes an introduction, career history, short job descriptions, bulleted accomplishments, education/professional development, specialized training, credentials, and certifications as well as affiliations, memberships, and community involvement.
  7. Distinguish responsibilities from accomplishments. Responsibilities are the tasks they hired you to do; anyone with your same title has the same responsibilities. Accomplishments tell us how well you performed those tasks and how valuable you were to your employer. Accomplishments are unique to you. They differentiate you from other candidates.

Avoid weak responsibilities; they do more harm than good. Ineffective resumes include long laundry lists of bulleted responsibilities. They tend to be passive, uninspiring, and make you look like every other candidate. (i.e., troubleshoot networking components, install, configure, and maintain computer equipment). Do not just repeat your job description.

Use strong responsibilities that paint a robust picture of what you did. (i.e., Service Manager. Managed a 7-member team repairing an average of 390 warranty and non-warranty repair orders per month.)

  1. Make accomplishments strong. Maximize the most powerful content on your resume. Quantify or explain the impact of your work on the organization. Frame your results with context. State how you improved or streamlined something, mentored someone, avoided a crisis, helped a customer, increased productivity, saved money, and so on. (i.e., Consistently beat annual profit target of $1.5M by at least 2X. Delivered 20% of company’s total 2015 revenue with 15% profit margin.)
  2. Avoid standard templates that make you look like every other candidate and follow good resume writing practices. Be generous with white space; select a common font; vary sentence structure and employ parallel construction; use emphasis sparingly; be consistent in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, type, and line spacing.
  3. Edit, proof, and polish at least twice, then walk away and look it over with fresh eyes in a day or so.
Written by: Roberta Gamza (www.careerink.com)

Really Different or Rarely Different?

Really Different or Rarely Different?

I hate labels such as “Millennials” – a term first coined by Strauss & Howe in their book Generations.

My wife asked me to write an article on Millennials in the Workplace. The general definition of Millennials seems to be those born between 1980 and 2000. Now, I am in the habit of doing (almost) everything my wife asks of me, but why me? I doubt I have anything more to add to the myriad of opinions out there. Everyone has a position on the topic, and none of the research is conclusive. I have spent the last week having an internal debate in my head and thinking of reasons why I should not do this. I can’t justify turning down my wife…

So here is my Generation X (generally born between 1960 and 1980) observations, solely within the workplace.

This is based upon what I have observed, what I feel etc., not scientific conclusions, just my biased non-researched views. So there, you can’t challenge me for this article. And, by the way, what qualifies me as remotely capable of writing down my views? Probably because I have three Millennials as kids and that I work with about 30 of them at Wazee Digital every day.

The way I think about Millennials in the Workplace is to begin by understanding what they faced when they entered the workplace. Yes, there could be all sorts of psychological factors that influenced them prior to that. However, I focus on what they faced from about 2005 to 2010 when the earliest group of them left their college and protective parent years behind and entered the workplace. Not quite losing the generational lottery, but during this short 5-year period here is what they generally saw:

  • Global Financial Crises & the Mortgage Loan debacle
  • Many of their parents unemployed and or savings depleted
  • Disastrous and costly Middle East Wars
  • Climate Change and an Environmental mess
  • Political gridlock
  • Corporate scandals
  • Resurgent China and offshoring depressing wages
  • Terrorism close to home

As I think about it, the only things Generation X have provided Millennials that provide great utility are The Internet, the cellphone & e-commerce.

So, I totally understand why Millennials often exhibit a high degree of skepticism and distrust with Generation X. Estimates say that by 2020, nearly half of all workers in the workplace will be Millennials. I believe all workplaces have this unavoidable Millennial/Gen X combination – typically with Gen X as management and Millennial as non-management. Workplaces will have to understand these factors and challenge the traditional management/employee dynamic. For me, the cornerstone is all about inspiring the Millennials, understanding the different views and avoiding stereotypes.

While I agreed with my wife to write an article (short), not an essay (long), let me close by listing all the disparaging terms I hear about Millennials and give you my opinion as they relate to the workplace: They.

  • Have a lesser work ethic than Gen X – untrue. You are not inspiring them.
  • Want to do meaningful work – true. What’s wrong with that?
  • Have been so sheltered – why is this even relevant? If it’s true it’s the Gen X’s fault – so fix it.
  • Are overconfident – great.
  • Provide immediate candid feedback – who wants to work with folks who “suffer in silence” anyway?
  • Think communication is texting – true. Texting and email are great for information sharing but awful for convincing or relationship building.
  • See supervisors as mentors, not bosses – yes, Gen X’ers they actually want your help!
  • Are over-entitled – sometimes. Probably because Gen X parents overprotected them and are not finding that “air-cover” in the workplace.
  • Don’t have a defined career path – fair point. Keep encouraging and give them the freedom to explore.
  • Value job satisfaction over financial rewards – correct. But the Gen X obsession with money has not worked out so well.
  • Look for a better work/life balance – correct. Why not? Travel, health, and rest are proven to provide more productive employees.
  • Don’t trust management – correct. Most Gen X management teams have not earned this trust.
  • Change jobs when the going gets tough – fair point. This is one the Millennials must own. The grass is rarely greener.
  • Don’t ascribe to Corporate Values – partially true. But most corporate values are BS anyway.
  • Rudely multi-task – yes, Millennials (and a number of Gen X’ers) you are guilty as charged. You can’t fully participate in a conversation and have one eye on your phone.
  • Have a strong BS detection antennae – correct. They sniff this out very well.
  • Have a greater sense of community purpose – correct. Companies should be part of the societies in which they live. Millennials are challenging companies to turn this from an annual report fable into a true commitment.

Hopefully, my views can form part of the beginning of a generational understanding in the workplace not the end of the debate. Yet most of all, I hope that Millennials have the courage to mimic the Gen X strengths and learn from our Gen X’s many mistakes – so that they can preserve my social security benefits for years to come!

Mark A. Pougnet | COO and CFO

“Why Should I Hire You?”

“Why should I hire you?”

This question might be a lead-in to your worst interview nightmare. However, every employer wants to know why you deserve the job. Be prepared to tell your interviewer why “you” would be a great fit for the position! Better yet, present yourself in a way that provides an answer before the question is ever asked. This is a very valid question if you are to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes.

Know the job description: Do your homework and make sure you examine the job description point by point. Know the requirements of the position you’re applying for and how well suited you are to the position. Make notes on work you’ve done or skills you’ve grown that exactly match points on the job description. Also, note skills you may need to learn to be successful in the role. Be honest with the interviewer about your limitations, but focus on your strengths. Tell the interviewer why you would be great at the job.
Give concrete examples: While you are looking over the job description, make notes about past projects, growth experiences or life skills that make you well suited for the position or company. Take your notes into the interview and make sure you speak to specific points that show them you’re right for the position. Employers want to know that you’ll fit into their culture and that you’ll hit the ground running.
Be confident in your abilities: The best interviews end with you silently asking yourself, “Why wouldn’t they hire me?” Sell your skills and experience in a confident, but a non-arrogant way. You bring unique skills, knowledge, and experience to the table. Remember that the interviewer is just getting to know you, so you will need to tell them (and show them!) who you are and what you will contribute to their company.
Dress for success: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Strive to be someone they remember as well put together from head to toe. Even if you know the work environment is casual, go to the interview as if you are applying for a CEO position. A well-dressed person oozes confidence, professionalism, and respect; all traits employers seek.
With a little practice, you can master the art of giving a good interview. ACLIVITY offers a variety of Career Services that help you get the job! Call us for coaching, resume help or interview skills training. We’re here to help!

Conducting a Successful Job Search

Thanks to the Internet, searching for a job today is vastly different than it used to be. Until fairly recently, a job seeker browsed local classified ads, found a compatible-sounding job listing, prepared an elegant résumé on bond paper, and sent it out by fax or U.S. mail. That has changed. Today, finding and landing a great job comes with the challenge of learning how to utilize the many available Internet resources to aid in your search.

Searching for a Job on Internet Job Boards
Searching for a job online has become a common, but not always fruitful, approach. With all the publicity given to Internet-based job boards and career sites, you might think that online job searching makes finding a job easy. Job board sites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com list millions of jobs, but actually landing a position is much harder than just clicking your mouse and waiting for a reply; it takes perseverance and wise use of online job boards.

  • Career Builder (careerbuilder.com)CareerBuilder claims to be the nation’s largest employment network. Users can search millions of jobs by category, geographic location, keyword, industry, or job type (full-time, part-time, internship).
  • Indeed (indeed.com)One of the newest and fastest growing job search sites on the Internet, Indeed.com is a metasearch engine that uses a Google-like interface to search the Internet for open job listings.
  • Monster (monster.com): Monster.com offers access to information on millions of jobs worldwide using a search technology called 6Sense that matches applicants with the best job opportunities for their skills. Because of this cutting-edge search system, many consider Monster.com to be the Internet’s premier job site.
  • College Grad (collegegrad.com)CollegeGrad advertises itself as the “number one entry-level job site” for students and recent graduates. In addition to searching for entry-level jobs, users can also search for undergraduate and graduate degree programs to help them develop marketable skills.
  • Career JournalPart of The Wall Street Journal; CareerJournal provides listings for high-level executive and finance positions.

Beyond the Big Internet Job Boards
Many job seekers may turn their backs on job boards but not on online job-searching tactics. Savvy candidates know to search for jobs in other ways. Some examples are:

  • Company Web Sites: Probably the best way to find a job online is at a company’s own website. Many companies now post job openings only on their own websites to avoid inundation by the volume of applicants that respond to postings via online job boards. Many job seekers find that they are more likely to obtain an interview if they post their résumés on company sites. This allows a more direct connection to decision makers, and job seekers can keep their job searches (and personal information!) more private than on job boards.
  • Professional Organization Websites: Online job listings have proven to be the single most popular feature of many professional organizations, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Sales Professionals, the National Association of Legal Assistants, and the Association of Information Technology Professionals. Although you pay a fee to join, the benefits of being a member of a professional association in your career field are enormous. Remember that it is never too early to start networking. If you join a professional organization while you are still in college, you will be setting yourself up for future success as you build a network of professional connections.
  • JobCentral National Labor Exchange: JobCentral is a public service website provided by the DirectEmployers Association, a nonprofit consortium of Fortune 500 and other leading U.S. corporations. Many companies now use jobcentral.com as a gateway to job listings on their own websites, which results in the advertising of millions of jobs. Best of all, this service is free and bypasses the big commercial job boards. You can search for a job description or job title, and apply directly on the website of the hiring company.
  • Local Employment Web Sites: Although many of the big job boards allow you to search for jobs geographically, many job seekers have more luck using local employment websites such as CraigslistCumulus Jobs and JobStar.
  • Niche Web Sites: If you want a job in a specialized field, look for a niche website, such as Dice (dice.com) for technology jobs, Advance for Health Care (www.advanceweb.com/jobs/healthcare/index.html) for jobs in the medical field, and Accountemps (www.accountemps.com) for accounting positions. Niche websites also exist for job seekers with special backgrounds or needs, such as older workers (www.workforce50.com) and veterans (www.veteranjoblistings.com).

Social Media Sites
Perhaps you already use sites such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with family and friends. Did you know that users are increasingly tapping into social media sites to prospect for jobs and that recruiters use these sites to find potential employees? LinkedIn is currently the top site for job seekers, with over 200 million users, including job seekers and recruiters. Other popular sites include Plaxo, TheLadders, BlueSteps, and Jobster. Twitter has created a job search engine called TwitJobSearch (www.twitjobsearch.com), and many companies now post recruitment videos on YouTube. Savvy job seekers use these tools to network and to search for available positions. Of course, the most successful job seekers understand the necessity of maintaining a professional online appearance and taking the time to connect personally with recruiters.

Use Caution
Be aware of the dangers associated with using Internet job boards and other employment websites. Not only could your current boss see your résumé posted online, but a fraudster could also use your information to steal your identity. The following tips can help you safely conduct an online job search:

  • Use reputable sites: Stick to the well-known, reputable job boards. Never use a site that makes you pay to post your résumé or a site that makes you feel uneasy.
  • Be selective: Limit the number of sites on which you post your résumé. Employers dislike “résumé spammers.”
  • Use a dedicated e-mail address: Set up a separate e-mail account with a professional-sounding e-mail address for sending and receiving emails related to your job search.
  • Limit personal information: Never include your social security or other identification numbers on your résumé. Consider omitting your home address and home phone number to protect your privacy when posting on big job boards.
  • Post privately: If given an option, choose to post your résumé privately. Doing so means that you can control who has access to your e-mail address and other contact information.
  • Count the days: Renew your résumé posting every 14 days. If you keep it up longer, it will look as if employers have no interest in you. If you have not received a response in 45 days, pull your résumé from the site and post it somewhere else.
  • Keep careful records: Keep a record of every site on which you post your résumé. At the end of your job search, remove all posted résumés.
  • Protect your references: If you post your résumé online, do not include your references. It is unethical for job seekers to post their references’ personal contact information online without the references’ knowledge.
  • Do not respond to a “blind” job posting: Respond only to job postings that include a company name and contact information. It is unfortunate that many scammers use online job boards to post fake job ads as a way to gather your personal information.

Finding the Perfect Job (For Students)
A successful job search requires an early start and a determined effort. Students with proactive personalities are the most successful in securing interviews and jobs during and after college. These successful candidates are not passive; they are driven and “make things happen.” Recruiters respond to a proactive nature. They will also consider your education, life experience, grade point averages, and internships when reviewing your qualifications. Communicating what you have learned inside and outside the classroom—and connecting with other—people will continue to be critical elements in landing a great job. Traditional job search techniques, such as those below, can help you find a position that fits your interests and skills while building your professional and personal network.

  • Check announcements in publications of professional organizations: If you do not have a student membership to professional organizations, ask your instructors (or librarian) to share current copies of professional journals, newsletters, and other industry resources.
  • Contact companies in which you are interested, even if you know of no current opening: Write an unsolicited letter and include your résumé. Follow up with a telephone call. Check the company’s website for employment possibilities and application procedures.
  • To learn immediately of job openings, use Twitter to follow companies that interest you.
  • Sign up for campus interviews with visiting company representatives: Campus recruiters can open your eyes to exciting companies, job locations, and positions. They can also help you prepare by offering mock interviews.
  • Ask for advice from your instructors: Your teachers often have contacts and ideas for conducting and expanding your job search and growing your skills.
  • Develop your own network of contacts: Networking still accounts for most of the jobs found by candidates. Therefore, plan to spend a considerable portion of your job search for developing a personal network.
  • Attend career fairs: Job fairs are invaluable in the quest to learn about specific companies and future career options. The more you know about the company and its representatives, the more comfortable you will be soliciting a position and giving a great interview.

For information on conducting a successful search for a job, creating a standout resume or performing well in your interviews, contact us. Our Career Services can help you succeed!

Seven Ways to Nurture Your Company Culture

“Defining Your Company Culture” helped you ask the questions – and come up with the answers – that hone in on, and clarify, the culture you want your business to represent. But, it’s not enough to just define your culture, you need to maintain it, communicate it and keep it a living, breathing part of your business. Consider these seven ways to nurture your company culture. Define and communicate your core values. It’s easy to be cynical about this – until you realize how important it is. Some companies come into existence knowing their core values are to “never sacrifice quality” or “always do the right thing.” But if they don’t communicate it, and hold employees to that standard, those values go unsupported. Know your values and communicate them. If you’re not so clear on your values, ask your team to (anonymously) comment on what they think the company’s values are. This could be a rude awakening if you haven’t been careful to manage your values, but it can also give you an idea of what messages are coming across – so you know which messages you need to manage. Defining and communicating your values is key to bringing everyone on the same team to support the specific vision of your company. Keep it fun. Culture is all about a certain version of fun. No matter what business you’re in, you can have fun. You could host events for families (summer picnics?), publish media that is specifically for your employees (a weekly newsletter to keep them informed and inspired), dress-up days (wear costumes to work) or any engaging and fun activity that purposely blurs the lines between personal and work life. Show employees you care about them (for real). To build loyalty among your employees, make sure to show you care about them in the totality of their lives. When they start working for you, find out their kids’ birthdays and their wedding-anniversary date, to commemorate those events with a card or a call. Ask about their hobbies and interests, so you can talk about those things, or reward them in ways they’ll actually enjoy. Hire only the types of people who fit your culture. Finding people who fit for your company can be difficult. It’s common to interview dozens of people and only find one that would actually match your environment. Though hiring is a challenge, don’t settle for someone just because they’re a body to fill a position. Make hiring easier by narrowing the field. Place well-crafted employment ads that define the culture, and demonstrate what fitting that culture would mean in action. Create interview questions that help you define the candidate’s fit for the culture (“How do you spend your free time” or “Select three values from the list below that tell us what kind of person you are.”) Administering a skills test during an interview is a great way to see what aptitudes a person brings with them and get a feel for how a person reacts when they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Everything about your interview (and possibly a probationary period) should allow the candidate to demonstrate how well they fit your vision, mission, and culture. Hire only the employees that really fit. Get rid of employees that “don’t fit.” Now that you’re trying to hire the best fit for your company, apply that logic to deciding who to keep. Odds are you have staff that is holding you back from embodying the identity you’re trying to bring to life. Many of us have worked for a company where employees whine, act like children, are difficult to work with and generally don’t produce the work results or have the personal qualities that make them a good team member. If you’ve given employees the tools they need to succeed and they aren’t succeeding, you have an obligation to remove them from your team. No matter how developed your culture, retaining staff that undermines your cultural values has a negative effect on your team. Check in to see how it’s going. Come up with ways to measure your employees’ satisfaction periodically, and then respond to their feedback. Be sure to make any feedback you request anonymous, and don’t just focus on the positive feedback while ignoring signs that you need to improve your management. Employees want to know that you take their ideas seriously. When you receive feedback that is negative, act on it. Change the situation. Make things better. Employees will notice if you pat yourself on the back for the positive feedback and ignore the rest. Deal with the criticism and use it to make your culture stronger, clearer and more attractive for your employees. Acknowledge your employees. Everyone loves getting a paycheck, but that’s not the most important thing about having a job. We spend so much of our time at work that how we are made to feel at the office determines how happy we are. We all want acknowledgment, respect, recognition, and a simple “thank you.” Don’t expect that paying the wages is all it takes to get great work, and loyalty, from your team. Give them a little extra appreciation and they’ll keep supporting your culture and company success. Once you’ve taken steps to define your culture, keep developing and maintaining it. After all, when employees enjoy coming to work, they are more likely to contribute their best efforts and stay around. Though nurturing the culture you have defined is a daily, challenging task, it can help you boost productivity and retain your top talent.

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