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