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Job Searching When the Unemployment Rate is Low

 

 

By Roberta Gamza, JCTC, JST, CEIP

© 2019        
     Founder, CAREER INK (www.careerink.com)

 

When the unemployment rate low, it’s a job seekers market. There are fewer people looking for jobs, so the competition is reduced. However, in a tight labor market, employees tend to job hop, so it is even more important for employers to make good hires – ones that not only have the right skills, but are also a good cultural fit. Employers are looking for hires they think will stay around and make a lasting contribution. They are taking longer to hire and putting candidates through extra interviews to ensure they’ve got the right candidate. And they are willing to sweeten the pot to entice the right candidate in a tight labor market.

 

Most employers have robust internal employee referral programs to assist with recruiting. In tight labor market, the employee referral system is even more important and so is your professional network. However, people have a tendency to ignore their network when the economy is strong and jobs are plentiful and only turn to it when the economy tanks, jobs are scarce, or when they are actively in the job market.

 

Your professional network is a living system. It is a great source of advice, information sharing, and personal introductions. It is a critical asset that must be nurtured and never neglected. If you have neglected your network, revive it and sustain it. Strengthen your LinkedIn profile and connections. Get and give recommendations and endorsements. Join and participate in groups. LinkedIn is the number one place recruiters look for candidates. Potential employers will Google you and look at your LinkedIn profile. They want to know how well you worked with your teams, peers, and customers.

 

When the unemployment rate is low, it’s a job seekers market. Now is the time to stretch and aim high!

Job Searching When the Unemployment Rate is Low

By Roberta Gamza, JCTC, JST, CEI 
 Founder, CAREER INK (www.careerink.com)

When the unemployment rate low, it’s a job seekers market. There are fewer people looking for jobs, so the competition is reduced. However, in a tight labor market, employees tend to job hop, so it is even more important for employers to make good hires – ones that not only have the right skills, but are also a good cultural fit. Employers are looking for hires they think will stay around and make a lasting contribution. They are taking longer to hire and putting candidates through extra interviews to ensure they’ve got the right candidate. And they are willing to sweeten the pot to entice the right candidate in a tight labor market.

Most employers have robust internal employee referral programs to assist with recruiting. In tight labor market, the employee referral system is even more important and so is your professional network. However, people have a tendency to ignore their network when the economy is strong and jobs are plentiful and only turn to it when the economy tanks, jobs are scarce, or when they are actively in the job market.

Your professional network is a living system. It is a great source of advice, information sharing, and personal introductions. It is a critical asset that must be nurtured and never neglected. If you have neglected your network, revive it and sustain it. Strengthen your LinkedIn profile and connections. Get and give recommendations and endorsements. Join and participate in groups. LinkedIn is the number one place recruiters look for candidates. Potential employers will Google you and look at your LinkedIn profile. They want to know how well you worked with your teams, peers, and customers.

When the unemployment rate is low, it’s a job seekers market. Now is the time to stretch and aim high!

You Have an interview, Now the Question is How Should You Dress?

 

Shenia Ivey MBA, CPC, Ivey Concepts & Solutions (www.ivey-solutions.com) | © 2018

What you wear to the interview will demonstrate how serious you are about the position.  It does not matter if  the recruiter, hiring manager, or the CEO has called you in for the initial interview it is your immediate task to get off to a great start.  Here are some key elements that will not let you down.

  • Be on time
  • Be prepared
  • Take notes
  • Ask Questions
  • Have done your homework about the company
  • Know how you are going to be instrumental
  • Dress professionally

Just because the employer set an interview does not mean you have the job in the bag.  Remember you never get a second chance to make that first impression. So now you need to impress the decision maker with what you know, and basically you should treat your interview as if it is an audition.  What are you auditioning for you might ask? The interview or job audition is usually to determine if you are a good fit for the culture of the organization, the office, the team or all the above.  It could be the first of many, so take a deep breath and be yourself.

  • Do Not over dress.
  • Do Not wear jeans.
  • Do Not wear flip flops.
  • Do not wear shorts.
  • Do Not wear anything with holes in it.
  • Do Not wear tennis shoes or sneakers.
  • Do Not wear tank tops.
  • Do Not wear clothes with profanity on it.
  • Do Not wear anything too revealing.
  • Do Not wear strong cologne or perfume as it may offend the decision maker.

Have you ever heard the saying “Dress for the position you want, not the position you have?”

Keep in mind that being called in for an interview is wonderful and gives the decision maker a great deal of power and being successful in the outcome of an interview requires that you feel confident with yourself. Confidence is portrayed in a number of methods, knowledge, communication skills, and appearance.  Allow your confidence to give you back some of the power.

  • Do choose attire that is clean.
  • Do choose slacks that are not too tight.
  • Do choose a dress or skirt that is of appropriate length.
  • Do choose wrinkle free clothing.
  • Do choose a nice shirt (possibly a button down collared shirt).
  • Do choose closed-toe shoes.
  • Do wear appropriate make-up.
  • Do manicure nails and or facial hair.
  • Do try to cover up body parts that have been tattooed.

Women do not have to wear a dress to an interview, however a nice pair of slacks that fit appropriately will do.  Do not wear anything too low cut or revealing as you do not want to offend anyone.  If you have body piercings or tattoos you may want to keep them covered (if possible) until you understand the climate of the organization.  Men: a tie is not always necessary; however, it does provide the professional look that most corporations are looking towards.

Keep in mind that you may be given leverage to wear more casual attire once hired and tattoos or body piercings may not be against company dress code.  What we are talking about is how you should dress for is the interview.  It is about the initial impression you are sending to your potential new company when asking them to embark on a journey with you.

Good luck!

Seven Tips for Temps – How to Keep the Job

Congratulations, you have landed a temporary position! Now that you have gotten your foot in the door, is it time to coast? Nope! It is time to think about being a valued temporary employee and improving the odds that you will be offered permanent placement.

In today’s employment marketplace there are many skilled, educated candidates vying for open positions. Employers have the freedom to choose from a large pool of qualified candidates. Once you have been selected for a temporary assignment, it’s important to start thinking about how NOT to lose the job. Putting into action the seven tips below can improve your odds of being kept on, given a great recommendation, or offered permanent employment.

  1. Be on time! Employers see tardiness as a sign of disrespect, or worse – inability to conform to expectations. If you must be late, make contact as early as possible and have a good reason.
  2. Present yourself well. Do not let go of your professional manners or behave casually in a professional environment. Remember that, at work, there are always unique, and sometimes lofty, expectations. Be willing to meet those expectations and present yourself as a willing, courteous and engaged employee.
  3. Know your culture. Before you accept a position, ask your recruiter about the type of company culture you will be working in. If the temporary position is short-term, it might not matter as much to you, but if you are taking a temp-to-permanent position, it is important that you know what type of work environment you are expected to fit into. Fitting well into your company’s culture is a key determinant of longevity in a position – and increases the odds of you being happy to go to work every day.
  4. Learn willingly and take notes. All new jobs come with a learning curve. Chances are good that you will make mistakes as you come up to speed on the requirements of your position. Own up to your mistakes and learn from them. Coming into a position with a “beginner’s mind” and a willingness to learn as you go will make it easier for others to work with you – and will help you develop your skills, making you a more useful member of the team. Always have a notepad on hand, and take notes on “who, what, where and when”. This will not only help you remember important details but show the client you are serious about learning and mastering your position.
  5. Remain productive and volunteer. You have worked with the type – the paycheck-focused employee that takes any and every opportunity to use their “down time” to check Facebook or Twitter, email friends or make personal phone calls. If you want your employer to see you as a valued employee, do not be that type. When you are on the clock, there is no real “down time”- there is always something to do to add value. If you are at a loss and feel there is time to twiddle your thumbs, ask someone in charge how you can make yourself useful. Do not just sit there surfing the web.
  6. Be part of the team. A workplace is a small, specific community. Even as a temporary employee, you are part of that community. You can increase your comfort and communicate your willingness to continue in the company by getting to know the people you work with and letting them get to know you. No matter the role a person is playing on the team, you are on equal footing – because you are human too. Try not diminish, or let others diminish, your value as if you are “just a temp.” You have a part to play, and it is easier to play that part if you are willing to be a friendly, interested and engaged part of the team. Establishing rapport with the people you work with does not just improve your chances of being made a permanent part of the team; it is also a great way to expand your personal and professional network by practicing your interpersonal communication skills.
  7. Take care of your health and wellness. Your physical and mental state has the potential to affect everyone around you. Take good care of your body and mind – make time for lunch breaks, get enough sleep and exercise, voice any concerns you have about your work environment, and communicate any personal problems you might be experiencing to your supervisor or recruiter. There are often resources made available for people working through loss, depression or other personal challenges. If you speak up when you are not feeling physically or mentally well, you will be seen with understanding. If you keep quiet, you might be viewed as unproductive, moody, or unable to meet the requirements of your position.

It can be challenging to be a temporary employee. You have been pre-approved for a job, but you are also on probation the minute you walk in the door. Your actions in the workplace will determine if the employer trades you for another temporary employee, or if they bring you on board permanently. Be willing to bring your best self to your work. Use the tips above to become a better employee and a more considerate person.

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)

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!

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!

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!

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!

Protect Your Resume and References

We have heard from clients and candidates who are displeased with other staffing firms sharing resumes and other personal information without consent. It is important to protect your resume and references – and Aclivity treats your personal information with care!

Did you know that when a staffing firm calls you for an interview, a position might not actually be available? Many times, staffing firms call on candidates to simply fill their database or “fish” for leads. Sometimes, they send your resume to multiple clients, making the selection pool look larger to a client even if you are not right for the position. Providing your resume and references might not always be to your benefit.

A reputable recruiter will ensure that they are sharing your information with your consent, and offering you available positions that fit your interests and skill set. When deciding on your next career move, be sure to find a professional advocate or online service that will protect your privacy.

Here are some tips to consider when sharing your personal information with a recruiter:

  • Ask the recruiter to identify the opportunity clearly, including the client name and job description. You have a right to know where a recruiter is sending your resume. If a recruiter claims he/she cannot tell you the name of the client, or that the company name is confidential, you should immediately disengage and seek out a more reputable staffing firm.
  • Tell your recruiter that he/she will need your permission before posting or sending your resume anywhere. In the worst case, a staffing firm can/will send your (and others’) resume to dozens of companies without your consent.
  • Protect your references. DO NOT list them on your resume, as staffing firms use the information to identify new business opportunities.
  • Ask the recruiter about the staffing firm’s placement success rate. How many of their candidates are placed in jobs? How soon after application? What is their job turnover rate? The answers will determine how much time recruiters spend matching you with the right job; not just any job.
  • When posting at online recruiting sites, avoid posting your resume to multiple job boards. Consider using other sources, such as LinkedIn, personal networking or a trusted recruiter’s website.

Whether you are actively looking for work or just curious about opportunities in the market, share your resume and references carefully. Research the staffing firm or recruiter website and review social media profiles and reviews. Avoid the temptation to restrict your job search to the Internet and speak directly with a recruiter. Ask questions. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident that the recruiter will protect your privacy before you share your personal information. An experienced, professional recruiter can safeguard your privacy while finding you a rewarding career!

For more help finding and landing the right job, contact usWe’re here to help!

The Value of Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn

The Value is in the LinkedIn Basics

There is so much untapped value that comes from becoming a member of LinkedIn, if you were unaware. LinkedIn can help you promote your business if you own or operate one, it is a fantastic way to network with others in the industry of your choosing, or locate either new talent or a new career!

LinkedIn is the place to meet:

  • Where else can you mingle with the more than 500 million members from all around the world?
  • More than 250 million active members each month
  • The average LinkedIn member has an average annual household income of $140,000
  • Two people create a LinkedIn profile every second!
  • LinkedIn now has 3 different job posting platforms in use.
  • Nearly 50% of LinkedIn members have decision-making authority for their companies
  • The people on LinkedIn are there primarily to network or grow their business

The top ways that LinkedIn promotes you:

  • LinkedIn allows members to create a personalized professional presence
  • It’s an online resume that can work for you all day long by creating a place to post your experience and intentions.
  • LinkedIn encourages the community to endorse you via online recommendations that back up claims you make about your professional abilities and character.
  • LinkedIn is a professional forum to share links, images or documents that demonstrate work you’ve done.
  • The forum is set up to gain introductions to potential employers, colleagues, or clients in your field.
  • Follow companies that you are interested in pursuing and directly search member job postings.
  • Join various groups that align with your interests and participate in discussions. Having an interest group in common with another LinkedIn member is one way you can invite others into your network and have access to group job listings.
  • One of the most famous statements in business is, it’s all about who you know. So step towards the best way to be more connected than you could have ever imagined. With LinkedIn, you can benefit from the connections of people you know and benefit others with your connections.

To get started on LinkedIn, you’ll need to:

  • Know how you’d like to use LinkedIn. Are you directing people to your website? Are you looking for employment? What you want out of the social network will determine how you use it.
  • Create a login and take the time to create a profile that demonstrates your unique strengths and experience.
  • Check in frequently and make connections to resources that align with your current or desired field.

With a few basic steps in place, you can market yourself or your business worldwide!

If you’d like more help getting started on LinkedIn, email shenia.ivey@aclivity.com to receive information on personalized coaching and training!

Never Look for a Job Again

Never Look for a Job Again

Wouldn’t it be nice to never look for a job again? We’ve all known people who seem to get all the breaks. They often get offers for highly coveted positions the rest of us didn’t even know about. Ever wonder how they do it? Why is it that recruiters call them first?

The answer is simple, these people have become very attractive passive candidates, the recognized experts in their field, the people you go to for the answers, the ones you believe can solve your problems. These are the people companies want to hire and recruiters want in their prized database.

So how did they become so attractive? They capitalize on their strengths, are always authentic, outperform their job descriptions and peers, and build strong networks and enduring relationships they can call when needed. They provide extra value to the company; they plan and manage their business and career and don’t waste time, energy, or resources. They become so good at what they do that they don’t have to look for jobs, jobs find them. They may not be looking for work, but are open to the right opportunity when presented with it.

If you start with these 5 steps and continue them throughout your career, opportunities will come your way.

  1. Know your strengths and drivers and use them. If you match your abilities, natural aptitudes, and values with the right work environment, the result will be workplace success and satisfaction. When you work outside your strengths, you dread going to work. You are going to have more negative encounters at work and you will probably treat customers or co-workers poorly. You’re likely to complain about the company, achieve less, and have fewer creative ideas. When you work within your strengths, you’ll build energy and excitement, increase your productivity, and feel good about your work and yourself. You will do good work; success and satisfaction will naturally follow.
  2. Exhibit leadership qualities: initiative, influence, collaboration, and communication. Leaders volunteer and show initiative; they formulate and implement strategies; solve problems; respond to threats and adapt to change. Leaders support innovation and collaborate across boundaries. They engage and inspire employees, co-workers, and even customers. Leaders set or influence goals and readily accept responsibility for outcomes, good or bad.
  3. Find meaningful work that builds career value. Meaningful work is the intersection of your strengths, drivers, and values with company goals. When these things come together, there will be no stopping you. If you’re not experiencing career value, ask yourself why. Are you in the right position? Is something stopping you? Can you negotiate it into your job or do you need to find another job?
  4. Commit to lifelong learning and invest in your career. Change is the one constant we face. What is the minimum investment required to stay meaningful and relevant in your field? What is required to make you a thought leader? Join professional associations, read trade publications, attend conferences and online training. Find a mentor or adviser. If your employer doesn’t invest in your development, don’t let that stop you. It is your career; your investment will ultimately pay off in a better job with a better employer.
  5. Build powerful connections and communicate frequently with stakeholders who have a vested interest in your efforts. Having a robust network and connections builds professional credibility, keeps you relevant, can eliminate obstacles, and create opportunities. Make yourself visible, but not annoying. Communicate business benefits and results; be sure to share the spotlight and credit contributors.

Highly attractive passive candidates always practice these 5 steps; they are second nature to them. With a little practice, you can become an attractive passive candidate that hiring managers and recruiters seek out for their opportunities. Wouldn’t it be nice to never look for a job again?

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2016
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