Thursday, November 29, 2012

3 Common Mistakes Older Job-Seekers Make

Mary Eileen Williams has a great article about the 3 Common Mistakes Older Job-Seekers Make.  I love the article because the #1 mistake she cites is wrapped up in a personal statement I make all the time about avoiding competency complacency.

Here are the three common mistakes Williams cites:

1. The appearance of complacency
2. Hesitancy to toot your own horn
3. Allowing the media hype to get you down

Please read the complete article for her great insight and how to overcome these mistakes.

Other resources for older job seekers:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Make a Difference – Be a Registered Nurse!

The United States Department of Labor said that the career outlook is bright for Registered Nurses up to 2020.   The expectation is that over 1.2 million job openings for Registered Nurses will become available during that time.  

It seems there are two reasons why.

1. Many nurses are baby boomers who are getting ready to retire.
2. The US population is aging and there will be great need for health care practitioners.

There are many options to train to become a Registered Nurse. 

There are tons of nursing programs and so you should do your research to find one that is a good fit for you.  

- Look for schools that have a focus on health care training.  
- If you are looking at large colleges and universities, look for those with collaborative relationships with medical centers and hospitals.
- If you are looking for smaller, for-profit career training schools, look for those recognized by the state’s Board of Nursing.  For example Medtech offers an RN program at three of its campuses.  

If after your research you decide being a Registered Nurse is not for you, use these other career resources to expand your career and industry awareness.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Evaluate Key Support Services When Choosing a Career Training Program

Career training is a great for job seekers get practical job skills that will help them be more competitive in the job market.  
I recently wrote an article for Yahoo Voices about some of the key support services that career training programs offer and how to evaluate them.
Here are three things to evaluate as you look for a career training program.
Ask About Career Advising 
  • Does the program allow you to meet with career advisors before you begin the program?
  • Do they assist with job search skills such as resume writing or conduct mock interviews?
  • Do they allow students to connect with successful alumni?
  • For how long will graduates have access to career advising after graduation?
Ask about ESL (English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes) 
  • This is relatively new for career training programs.  For example Medtech offers an ESL program for Spanish speaking individuals at two of its campuses in the Washington DC region.   
Find out about Financial Aid Services 
  • Ask if qualified financial aid counselors are readily available for in- person visits?
  • Can you get answers to emails or even communicate via text messaging?
  • Are they willing to speak with only you or will they discuss financial aid impact with your family as well?
Read - Choosing a Career Training Program? Evaluate These 3 Key Support Services 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is your Resume all Fluff and No Flavor?

Professional resume writers are not the only ones being bombarded with resumes from job seekers who are having no luck with their job search. Recruiters are too.

Too many of those resumes contain more fluff than flavor and really do not stand a chance. When you have 20-30 seconds to impress a recruiter or hiring manager as they complete a power scan of your resume, fluff won't help your resume make it to the "keep" pile.

Here are 3 resume writing tips to ensure that the top 30% of your resume packs a lot of punch, offering less fluff and more flavor:

1. Limit name, address and other contact details to two lines maximum. That is all you need. This may be harder with college resumes with a temporary and permanent address or some addresses in other countries. 20 Ways to Audit Resume Contact Information so Recruiters Can Find You

2. Audit your resume objective for relevance and focus. Get to the point! Guidelines for Writing Resume Objective Statements

3. Try a powerful summary of qualifications. One trick to writing a powerful summary of qualifications is to write it last. Pump up Your Resume with a Summary of Qualifications

The key is to make sure there is nothing in that top 30% that will make the recruiter stop reading.  Your goal should be to help them get to the other 70% of your resume where you share relevant skills, education and talk about outstanding outcomes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What to do while you wait for your dream job

You wrote an awesome resume, performed well in the job interview and now you are waiting to get the job offer from your dream company.  As you wait, check out these three tips from the Salary Reporter about how to stay professional while you wait:

1. Say thank you through a thank-you letter.  The last statistic I read said that only 15% of job seekers do this.
2. Don't stalk the company.  The last thing you want to do is irritate the recruiter and HR staff.
3. Don't put all your eggs in one employer. Be thinking about alternatives.

Two other tips:

1. Connect with anyone you know who might be connected to the company.  You might be able to network your way to an offer.  Tread carefully though, here.  Recruiters don't want to feel pushed.
2. Think about their competitors in the same industry.  Explore employment opportunities there as well.

Read the full article from The Salary Reporter

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kiplinger's 10 Best College Majors for Lucrative Careers

Have you seen this list from Kiplinger?  Still trying to decide on your next career move?

The careers on this list are evaluated based on:

  • salaries (median salaries below)
  • training and education (look closely at education and training)
  • projected increase in the number of jobs available
1. Pharmacist and Pharmacology ($105K)
2. Nursing ($48K)
3. Transportation Science and Technology ($68K)
4. Treatment Therapy Professions ($62K)
5. Chemical Engineering ($86K)
6. Electrical Engineering ($86K)
7. Medical Technologies ($58K)
8. Construction Services ($65K)
9. Management Information Systems ( $71K)
10. Medical Assisting Services ($54K)

Of course I always caution that just because the numbers ($$$$) look good to you doesn't mean it is the career for you.  This list is a good place to start your research.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Vo-Tech Career Centers Can Use Twitter

Career Training and Vo-tech programs put a lot of emphasis on career planning and career advising with their students.  One of the best new tools that career centers are using to connect with students is Twitter.

Here are 7 ways that Vo-Tech career centers could be using Twitter.  Whether you are a career advisor or a student, Twitter could play a really important role in how you move through the job search: (Read the complete article here)

  • Use Twitter to inform students; not stalk them 
  • Twitter Lists can help students catalog information by subject
  • Share information about career workshops and events as they happen
  • Vo-tech students can help to market career center services using Twitter
  • College students can tweet questions to presenters during workshops
  • Twitter helps career advisors direct the research of career information by students
  • Career centers use Twitter to connect with employers who don't recruit at their school

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why do Bright Employees Get Fired?

I first shared this list about 3 years ago when a colleague told me the story of a bright mid-career professional who was terminated for saying too much to a client.

No one, including her immediate supervisor, stood up for her. Why? They all felt she had it coming. Everyone felt it was just a matter of time before this bright employee imploded her own career.  It turns out the fired employee had told a client about some of the logistics issues her company was having delivering services. She actually encouraged the client to find a different provider, since her own company "couldn't seem to get anything done". The client called the CEO and the employee was fired.  This really bright employee had crossed the line and jeopardized her own career.

It turns out that bright employees get fired all the time.  Sometimes for making dumb mistakes.  Here is my list of why bright employees get fired. After 13 years in the career management field, I think I might have seen all these before.

1. Someone else who is better connected wants their job.
2. They don't know when to stop talking and say the wrong thing to the wrong person.
3. They are too cocky to learn anything new. They have all the answers.
4. They are in the wrong job and under performing.
5. They refuse certain assignments they think are beneath them.
6. They show no respect for the corporate culture or chain of responsibility.
7. They mix work and play and have Facebook running on their desktop all the time.
8. They whine about everything from salary, to assignments, to co-workers
9. They have offended so many people, no one is looking out for them.
10. They wait too long to get a mentor.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

10 Reasons Some College Graduates Can't Find Jobs

We are fast approaching graduation season.

Although the economy is bouncing back a bit, it will still be challenging to find a job.  New graduates from vocational or career training programs need to remember that job search success requires constant effort.  Use this list as a checklist to ensure you are doing everything you can with every job opportunity that comes your way.  This list of the 10 reasons some vocational and career training graduates can't find jobs can keep yourself on track.  In most cases, you can do something about a job search if things are not working out.
  • Using bad resumes and cover letters.  Find sample resumes at TheHBCUCareerCenter 
  • Not using their college resources.  Check out the alumni network and VISIT the career center.
  • Overlooking internships after graduation. Internships are still possible after college.
  • Engaging in negative social networking. Clean up your online persona.
  • Resumes show a lack of leadership experience from college.  Not all experience has to be paid.
  • Not understanding what employers want. Do your research.
  • Poor networking skills.  Networking doesn't just mean asking for help.  It means helping as well.
  • No job interview preparation.  Find a way to do a mock interview.
  • Little or no follow-up.  Every lead is important.
  • Too much career ambiguity.  If employers think you don't know what you want, they might not hire you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Resumes for STEM Majors Should Include These Items

There is huge demand for students, college or vocational, to focus on education in one of the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  The career prospects for students in these majors are very good.  So says the US Department of Labor.  
As STEM students seek internships or jobs after graduation they should be thinking about how to include information on these four things in a STEM resume.   
PROJECTS - Include relevant information from non-trivial projects.  Don't forget to add information about what role you may have played on a team or what lab equipment you used.
RESEARCH - Lots of STEM majors collaborate on research with professors on and off their college campus.  Add information on research methods etc.
INTERNSHIPS AND CO-OPS - Successful STEM majors do their share of internships and co-ops.  STEM students should know that employers want students who have completed internships.
SUMMER FELLOWSHIPS - Many STEM majors spend summers during summer fellowships.  This is a great way to show employers and graduate schools that you have had productive summers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Get a Great Summer Job

Was doing some research today to compile my list of favorite summer job resources for high school and college students. I found a great blog post at Bobcat Career Advice.  Please read the entire blog post, but I wanted to share their sample list of suggested summer job sites:

A sample list of suggested summer job sites:
·         Theme and Amusement Parks
·         National and State Parks
·         City Park and Recreation Departments
·         Camps (Types of camps: single sex, co-ed, day camps or overnight, athletic camps, camps for physically or mentally disabled, church or religious sect camps, and wilderness camps)
·         Hotels, Resorts and Spas
·         Dude Ranches and Country Clubs
·         Local Recreation Centers
·         Companies with service related positions such as Retailers and Call Centers
·         Federal Government summer job program
·         Market Research Firms such as The Gallup Organization
·         Employment and Temporary Agencies
·         Non-Profit Agencies
·         Museums, Libraries and Theatres
·         Health Fields (hospitals, clinics, labs, doctor’s offices, etc.)
·         Restaurants and other Food Industry employers
·         Service Providers (Supermarkets, Courier/Delivery Services, and Daycare Agencies)
·         Construction Companies

Thursday, March 8, 2012

4 Engineering Careers with Two Year Degrees

Many people do not know that it is possible to have a successful job in engineering jobs with a two-year degree.  These 4 technician jobs in the engineering field have relatively higher wages and good potential growth for the future. (Source Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Electrical Engineering Technicians
Electronic Engineering Technicians
Nanotechnology Engineering Technicians
Environmental Engineering Technicians

Details of salary and training.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Job Search Advice for Teens Looking for Summer Jobs

I know teens just went back to school after the break, but it is not too early to start thinking about summer plans.  The summer plans for many high school and college teens include finding a summer job.  If you have read my blog for the last six years, you know that this time of year is when I start to speaking to teens about the summer job search.

Teens should know there is a lot of competition for summer jobs in a bad economy.  Although employers are hiring in greater numbers than they have in the last few years, teens still need to think about the old adage - the early bird gets the worm.  The summer job worm that is.  These articles will help you or your teen get an early start on the summer job search.

Teens Looking for Summer Jobs Should Write Cover Letters Too
Why American Teens Need Summer Jobs
How Summer Jobs can Impact a Community
4 Steps for Teens to Get a Summer Job in a Government Agency
Looking for a Summer Job?  Government Agencies Hire Students
5 Ways Teens Can Shine in the Summer Job Interview

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What do You get from a Job Besides a Paycheck

Great post by Paul Crowley from Recruiting Blogs.

His article takes you step by step through some of the questions you really need to ask yourself about your work and what you do for a living.  Some of the questions are particularly appropriate when you are trying to make a decision about a new job or new assignment. 

If you are at a career crossroads ask these questions.  Some of the questions Paul Crowley encourages you to ask:

Does this role provide the opportunity to develop my career?
Is the work I am going to be doing marketable?
Are the companies values and corporate philosophy in line with mine?

Read the entire blog post to learn more about what the answers could reveal about the prospect of longer term career satisfaction with the job.   

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Find Good Career Advice on the Internet

The internet has EVERYTHING!

In fact so much stuff is floating around in cyberspace, it is hard to keep track of what is real and what isn't.  One of the things career management folks talk about all the time is when job seekers preface comments with, "I saw on the internet that I should do this or that..."

The same advice teachers give to students sometimes about being leery of internet sources, is the same advice I will give here.  This advice on how to find good career advice on the internet is not new.  I wrote about it in an article here, but wanted to summarize the tips for the BullsEye blog:

When sifting through career information on the internet:
- Still ask other real people you know or are connected to through networks for recommendations

- Read online endorsements or testimonials or the career professional online such as through a LinkedIn profile

- Check out their tweet timeline on Twitter if they have a twitter account. What kind of advice do they offer?
- Check out their their career blogs for longevity and current information.
- Look at how someone is connected on the internet.
- Use links from a trusted source.  For example check out the list of BullsEye Faves.
- Find information relevant to your career niche or needs.  
- Look closely at what qualifies them to be a career professional. Be careful of the certifications. They are everywhere and sometimes not worth the paper they are printed on!

Read How to Identify Free Good Career Advice on the Internet

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Land a Job on the Top 10 List of Hard to Fill Jobs with a Vo-Tech Degree

Have you seen this list of the Top 10 Hardest to Fill Jobs in the U.S.?  It might surprise you that many of the jobs on the list requires vocational training or an Associates Degree that you can complete in eighteen to twenty-four months.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, becoming a Machinist requires vocational training, on-the-job training or an Associates degree.

The Top 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill in 2011 were identified in the annual Manpower Talent survey as:
  • Skilled Trades
  • Sales Representatives
  • Engineers
  • Drivers
  • Accounting and Finance staff
  • Information technology staff
  • Management and executives
  • Teachers
  • Secretaries and administrative assistants
  • Machinist and machine operators
Many of these positions from Skilled Trades to Machinists and Machine Operators require an Associates degree which you can get from a good Vocational training or career training program in twenty four months or less.   

Read How to Land One of the Jobs on the Top 10 Hardest U.S. Jobs to Fill to get six additional tips on how to get one of these jobs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Types of Tech Jobs President Obama Wants says there are three kinds of tech jobs that President Obama wants to fill.  These are tech jobs in Science and BioTech, Software Engineers, Professional, Scientific & Tech Services and Engineers.

In the most recent state of the union address, you probably heard the President speak about these millions of jobs globally that Americans can't fill.  Why?  Our workforce just doesn't have all the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills our industries need.  

We can change that.  Check out the article from Payscale.

Friday, January 27, 2012

5 Job Search Skills for New Vo-Tech Grads

Many Vo-Tech programs do a really phenomenal job of preparing students in the classroom for their new jobs after vocational training program.  Although many Vo-Tech schools also provide career and job search assistance, many Vo-Tech grads really don't master the job search skills they need to sell themselves.  A successful job search strategy for new Vo-Tech grads should focus on these 5 job search skills if they want to launch a successful career.  

Job search skill # 1 for new Vo-Tech grads - Be honest with yourself
Without the ability to honestly evaluate your values, interests, skills and abilities the job search for a new Vo-Tech graduate might be very frustrating.  Just as you evaluated your interests to find the right Vo-Tech program or career training program, you also have to evaluate your likes and dislikes to find the right job.

Job search skill # 2 for new Vo-Tech grads - Networking skills
With Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts, some Vo-Tech students think they have all the skills they need to network.  However, Vo-Tech grads should know they have to get up from behind the computer as well to network with people who can help them find jobs.

Job search skill # 3 for new Vo-Tech grads - Writing skills
Unfortunately some Vo-Tech programs do not stress writing skills and some Vo-Tech graduates don't have the necessary writing skills to succeed in a job search.  Vo-Tech new grads should get help from career advisers with resume writing, cover letters and thank you letters.  Sample Vocational Resumes

Job search skill # 4 for new Vo-Tech grads - Job interviewing skills
Vo-Tech grads can rely on career advisers to help them get job interviews.  However, during the job interview it is the responsibility of the Vo-Tech grad to land the job.  Ask for help with mock interviews on campus.  Check out the Interview FAQs here for students and grads in Vo-Tech programs.

Job search skill # 5 for new Vo-Tech grads - How to evaluate a job offer
Vo-tech grads should know how to evaluate a job offer.  Many Vo-Tech grads who do well in school can have multiple job offers from different employers.  Evaluating a job offer includes looking at career benefits such as training and professional advancement.  There are non-career benefits to consider as well such as schedule and commute.

More articles for Vocational Training (Vo-Tech) grads:
How to Show Vocational Training on Resume and Cover Letter
Top 10 Resume FAQs for Vocational Students

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

12 Things Skilled Hourly Jobseekers Need to Know about a Company

I was working with a skilled hourly jobseeker whose  job ends in March.  The supermarket chain where this jobseeker worked for eight years has been sold to a competitor and his location is one of the three to be closed by the new owners.  I encouraged him to get started on a new job search right away, especially with a completely new chain of supermarkets, opening this spring a few miles away.

In conversation with this skilled hourly jobseeker, I asked what he knew about the new chain that was coming to town.  He knew their name and where two other locations had opened up.  That was about it.

Here are a few of the things we discussed that skilled hourly jobseekers really need to research about the company in preparation for a job interview. He seemed surprised at first, but understood how this information could help him in a job interview.  Lack of company research is a challenge for skilled hourly jobseekers.  Many times they don't know the research is important or how to do it.  The company website is a place to start.

1. How big or small is the company?
2. Are there unions in place at the company and how will that affect your employment?
3. How might employees get promoted?
4. Will you get the opportunity to gain new skills?
5. Are there other locations?
6. Try to get a sense of why the company successful?
7. What kind of reputation does the company have in the industry?
8. Are there seasonal influences on the job?
9. What are the career growth paths within the company?
10. Are uniforms required and will they be provided?
11. What kind of safety record does the company have?
12. Any complaints out there on the internet about the company.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Pay Raise; What Else Could You Ask For?

Let's face it, many of us see our annual pay raise as a way to feel some amount of value in the workplace. It reaffirms one's place in the company and it is something many people look forward to even more than they do the company picnic or Christmas party.

Hewitt Associates research shows that average raises in 2010 were only 2.7%.  Although still lower than the prior average of 3%, the 2010 rate was higher than the average 1.8% in 2009.   

If you are one of those workers who might get a lower than expected or get no annual pay raise this year, it is time to explore your options. What else can you ask your employers for in lieu of a pay raise this year?

Consider asking about Titles, Time or Transfers.


What about a change in title? Would that make you feel rewarded? Would that make you feel better about not getting a pay raise? Remember - part of your mission in your current work is to always be preparing for your next opportunity. Could a change in your job title have an impact on your future career? Would a more contemporary job title mean something to you?

Would some extra time off do the trick for you? For many people this could be it. Except of course for those workers who can't get to choose when they use the time off. There are those workers who think that if the company can't afford to give a pay raise, things must be really bad. That said, the last thing they want to do is be away from the office. You know - out of sight out of mind? Think about asking for time off in lieu of a pay raise this year.

So you can't get a pay raise, don't want a new job title or can't get any time off - could you get a transfer into another position offering a higher base salary? Many people forget the option to transfer into other roles at work. After all this may be the only way for you to get a salary increase you want or need this year.

Look around for abandoned assignments if others have been laid off. Ask about picking up some of these assignments for a bump in salary. After all you will be saving the company money long term.

What would you consider in lieu of a raise?

Friday, January 20, 2012

What is your Body Saying to You?

My friend Marianna, owner of Change of Heart Stress Solutions, had a painful experience the other day when the doctor had to put her hip back into it's socket.  Yikes....

In sharing her experiences, Marianna (Auntie Stress, as we know her), found a way to use the experience to speak to us again about how to handle stress.  Marianna speaks to habits we form as a result of stress. Marianna says, "When I work with clients. When under stress, breathing becomes shallow. Repeat this often enough and this becomes the normal way to breathe. Instead of breathing using the diaphragm, they are using the muscles of the neck and chest. If you have tight shoulders and neck muscles, check how you are breathing."

Here are questions she challenges us to ask ourselves as we examine how our bodies might be reacting to stress:
  1. What is your body saying that you are unable to say? How?
  2. Are there some habits that you wish to develop that you have not yet repeated often enough?
  3. Which unwanted habits need re-framing? Do you have strategies in place to fill the void of the unwanted habit?
Read the full article by Marianna - Your Body Speaks

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trick Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Recruiters and hiring managers will ask some pretty straightforward questions in the job interview.  The reasons behind some of the questions might be pretty clear.  Sometimes though recruiters will ask some questions that job seekers might consider to be trick questions.  However, answering these trick job interview questions, might reveal more than the job seeker planned to share.

Here are just three of the so-called trick questions recruiters ask and some tips to answer them.  (Read full article 3 Trick Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them)

1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Translation  - How long do you plan to stay with our company? This job interview question is designed to see what your intentions could be.  Before answering, consider what the answer might say about your long term commitment to the job or the company.

2. What kind of work environment is best for you?
Possible translations for this trick interview question could be. "Will you fit in here?" or "Did you do any research on the work environment?"
Good answers will show a match between what the job seeker considers a productive environment and what is typical for that company or industry. This is a good opportunity to share an example like the one in this article about

3. How do you handle criticism at work?
Possible translations for this trick interview question - Has your work been criticized? What quality work should we expect? Are you a team player?
Try answering this question without stepping into a minefield.

As you practice answers to these kinds of question, think about not only the words you are saying, but also about what your body language might be indicating.

More about Job Interview Preparation
Market Transferable Skills in the Job Interview
How to Answer Uncomfortable Interview Questions

Monday, January 16, 2012

Planning an Alternative Spring Break Experience

I developed this list of websites for my other site (TheHBCUCareerCenter) to help college students research alternative spring break options.  For those college students who want to spend less time partying and more time volunteering, an alternative spring break experience is the way to go.

College students should know that alternative spring break experiences can be found in local community, a nearby city or could include travel abroad.  These resources will help students and families do the necessary research to plan a meaningful alternative spring break experience.

Spring Break and Study Abroad Articles

Employers Value Candidates Who Study Abroad
11 Resources for Planning an Alternative Spring Break Experience

Monday, January 9, 2012

Careers that Help you Keep New Years Resolutions

The Salary Reporter at put together a very clever list of occupations for anyone considering a career change this year.  If your new years resolution includes losing weight, changing career or staying healthy, but you are afraid that you might not make it.  Maybe if your start a relationship with one of these professionals, you might be able to stay on track and meet your new years goals.

My favorites in the list?
-Personal Trainers - Annual salary $45,600
-Personal Chefs - Annual salary $42,800

Check out the full list of possible coaches to help you keep your new years resolution.

Afraid You’ll Fail? Meet Your New Year’s Resolution Support Staff