Monthly Archives: August 2014

Changing Careers: When To Quit Your Current Job And Start a Job Search

Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:27 am

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Making the decision to change careers will likely have a very real impact on both your current and future earning ability. It’s important to do some serious soul searching – and research – so it’s clear that you’re making an informed decision about the future. If you are ready to make the leap, then here are three great tips to guide you on your new career path.

Don’t quit your current job until you have the next job offer. Research potential places of employment in your area to ascertain if there are job openings. Are recruiters ready and willing to meet with you? If not, find out why. determine if you need to learn any new skill sets to be eligible for a paying job. Consider volunteering to gain experience if necessary.

Find a mentor in the industry of your choice. It’s true that much of your experience may be applicable to your new career goals. However, there’s no question that you’re still wading into mostly uncharted waters. Somebody with an established career in the field you’re pursuing is in a position to provide advice and guidance that is priceless. Get out there, find a mentor that you click with, and ingratiate yourself quickly.

Network, network, network. When you’re beginning anew, you’ll need to seed and grow new industry contacts. That might very well involve seeking out industry gatherings and conferences. However, you should also take a second look at your existing network. It’s possible your friends and families can be helpful in cultivating leads, references and introductions.

Ready to make your new career a reality  now? Start your search on MyJobHelper.com.  No time like the present!

How to Explain Why You Left Your Last Job at an Interview

Posted: August 25, 2014 at 9:04 pm

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One common question job applicants receive during a job interview is, “Why did you leave your last job?” It’s important to have a ready response to this question that doesn’t make you look desperate or with egg on your face.

Keep in mind that the hiring manager will judge your employment prospects based on this answer. In some cases, the decision to hire you will be based on this answer alone, so give it some thought beforehand. The reasons people leave employment with a company include:

  • They were fired
  • They quit
  • The company closed or went out of business
  • Employee was laid off

It’s important to have a response to the question lined up for each of these reasons.

What To Say If You Were Fired

First, be honest. If you were fired, say so. Chances are, the hiring manager is going to find out anyway. The last thing you want them to think about you is that you are dishonest. Most companies will not hire someone who knowingly lied them.

If you were fired under negative circumstances, because you did something wrong, then frame it as a learning experience. Make sure your answer is:

  • Brief and concise. A couple of sentences is enough.
  • Honest.
  • Explain what you learned from the experience and how you will conduct your affairs going forward.
  • Practice using a detached tone of voice so you don’t sound bitter or angry.

If you were fired due to a misunderstanding or a false accusation, the same principles apply. Be honest without casting aspersions on former employees, your boss, or the company. Explain what you learned from the situation in just a couple of sentences.

What To Say If You Quit Your Job

There are lots of reasons for quitting a job, some of them positive and some of them not so positive. If you quit to seek better opportunities or because you wanted more responsibilities, those are positive reasons for quitting a job. Potential employers are excited to hear those reasons. On the other hand, if you quit because you didn’t like your boss or you felt the environment was hostile, then you need to frame your response to this question in more positive language.

Your interviewer doesn’t know you. While she has likely been in similar circumstances, if you tell her your boss was a micromanager, then she will wonder if you are an employee who needs more than your fair share of supervision. Plus, badmouthing a former employer will plant in the mind of your interviewer the idea that you’ll do the same to him when you leave his company.

For these reasons, you want to stay positive, be brief, and explain that you are seeking new challenges, or answer the question with tact and diplomacy because that’s what the interviewer is looking for—your ability to be appropriate in business situations.

How To Explain Layoffs, Going Out Of Business, And Other Economic Situations

Everyone has lost a job due to a closing, an economic downturn, or other unavoidable circumstance. This is not the time to air your frustrations. Just as before, keep your answers short, positive, and free of negative or frustrated talk that will make you look unprofessional. Say something like, “The company went out of business, and that’s okay because now I can search for a more challenging position to advance my career in the right direction.”

3 Steps to Take If Your Boss Asks You to Resign

Posted: August 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm

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Being called into your boss’s and hearing the words, “We’d like you to resign.” would understandably make anyone want to respond with tears, anger, or perhaps even defensive threats. Instead, follow these three steps to turn the situation around more positively.

Step 1: Lock Your Emotions

The first step is to focus on the situation not your feelings. There are usually two main reasons an employee is asked to resign. Most common is that job performance has not been up to par. Rather than become defensive, become accountable. Acknowledge any areas of weakness. Share ways you attempted to improve. Express that you value your job and ask if there is any way you might redeem yourself in your current or another role, maybe even in a part-time capacity.

The other reason you may be asked to resign is because of an economic downturn or adjustment to the organization’s structure. Similar to the above approach, ask some questions about this. Express your concerns for the well-being of the organization and yourself. Then offer some ideas about how you might fit in with the reconfiguration.

The overall goal of this first step is to de-escalate the situation and redirect it to something more advantageous.

Step 2: Weigh Resigning vs. Being Fired

Most of us would agree that a boss may ask you to resign to make it easier on the employer. If you willingly surrender your job, the boss and company may owe you nothing. You chose to leave. The reverse may also be true: The boss or new company configuration may have become so uncomfortable for you that cutting your loss with a resignation may be a good move. Before agreeing to resign, however, do ask some questions. Find out if you will receive any benefits, such as severance pay. Getting a reference letter may also be helpful. Typically, a resignation will not allow you to file for unemployment benefits; however, being fired will. This difference should be kept in mind, too.

On the other hand, if you truly feel the job or your reputation is worth fighting for, refusing to resign may be the better option. If this is the case, expect the boss’s response to escalate. You may even be fired. Continue to keep your emotions in check. In any job, you should always know your rights and other company policies.

Step 3: Identify the Potential Opportunity

Remember that employment is a type of relationship between you and your employer. Just as in our personal lives, professional relationships can go astray. Ending the employment relationship as professionally as possible provides closure and an opportunity to move on in a positive direction. Job search expert Alison Doyle provided some good advice for writing a resignation that may help you make the transition to a new job or career.

Often the end of one job opens the door to a new opportunity if you follow the three steps described in this post and look positively toward your career future.

How to File for Unemployment After Being Let Go from Your Job

Posted: August 15, 2014 at 8:20 pm

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Feeling panicked after losing your job is an understatement. The stress caused by this situation makes it difficult to know what to do next. If this happens to you, you can file for unemployment in three easy steps. Just remember the three C’s: Collect, Complete, and Check.

Step 1: Collect

In order to file for unemployment, you will need some documentation for your identity and situation. Focus on gathering these needed documents.   Find a copy of your driver’s license, social security card, and one other form of identity. This may be something like a utility bill in your name for your home address or maybe even your picture I.D. card from your former place of employment.

Next, get a copy of your most recent check stub or your most recent W-2, and any other documentation related to the job termination. If you have a recent resume or list of past employers, you may find having that available helpful as well.

Gathering these documents first will help you quickly move through the application process.

Step 2: Complete

The next step is to take those documents and a copy of each either to a state unemployment insurance office or better yet, to the nearest computer. Most states have offices online, so you may only need to sign into the Internet from home to file your claim.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides a user-friendly list of workforce sites where you can file for unemployment. Simply type in your zip code or click on your state to find the closest location or unemployment application site. Beneath each state, you’ll see a link that says, “Apply for Unemployment Benefits in [State].” Then you should see a link that states: “File a Claim.” This is where you begin your application.

Once the claim link opens, the application is fairly quick. You will be asked some questions to help document your situation and what type of assistance you may be able to obtain. The documents you gathered in the first step will help you complete this form efficiently. Be aware that it may take up to two weeks for benefits to begin. Most states also use a debit card, placing a certain amount on it for your use each week.

Step 3: Check

The final step is to check what you need to do to maintain unemployment compensation. For example, the DOL expects those receiving benefits to look for a job, so you will want to establish a means of recordkeeping that shows you are meeting these requirements. Also, see what other benefits may be available to you (e.g., free job training or money for tuition).

Filing for unemployment is a quick process that can help alleviate the anxiety over losing a job. You’ll be fine. Just remember the three steps: Collect, Complete, and Check.

 

The Difference between the Unemployment and U-6 Unemployment Rate

Posted: August 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

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Many of us find ourselves a bit confused about the spin put on important issues in the media. One of the areas that hits closest to home is the “unemployment rate” which is sometimes referred to more specifically as the “U-6 Unemployment rate.” Is there a difference between the two terms, and if so, how might that difference affect us?

Simply put: There is a difference. ‘Unemployment’ is a general term commonly understood to refer to those individuals who do not have jobs for whatever reason. In a time of economic downturns, bursting mortgage and student debt bubbles, and other related financial issues, we should all be better aware of the real differences in terminology, especially how our livelihoods may be affected.

As Unemploymentdata.com editor Tim McMahon recently explained, determining unemployment rates and types falls into six main categories:

  1. U-1 = the percentage of workers who have been unemployed for more than 15 weeks.
  2. U-2 = the percentage of workers who lost regular jobs or completed temporary work assignments.
  3. U-3 = the percentage of workers without jobs who have been actively looking during the last four weeks.
  4. U-4 = the sum of U3 and the percent of workers who have given up looking for work.
  5. U-5 = the sum of U4 and the percent of workers who are ready and able to work, but not finding continued employment.
  6. U-6 = the sum of U5 and the percent of part-time workers who cannot find full-time employment. (3 July, 2014)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers the U-3 rate the “unemployment rate,” but others argue that the U-6 rate should be the official percentage. The difference for us comes largely down to whether or not those who are underemployed and/or working part-time jobs to survive are (U-6) or are not (U-3) “unemployed” and able to obtain benefits.

Portal Seven provides an interactive table for viewers to see the difference in percentages between the official unemployment (U3) rate, the U6 rate, and the other categories since the year 2000. Historically, the U6 rate runs 2-3% higher than the official U3 unemployment rate. Although this may not sound like a significant percentage difference, in June of 2014, 275,000 additional part-time workers were added to the 7.5 million already included under the U-6 category (BLS, 3 July, 2014).

If we were part of that group, we would no longer be considered unemployed (and perhaps benefits eligible) under the U-3 category. The media is already spinning the decreased unemployment (U3) rate as economic improvement. Because those 275,000 workers found part-time and/or temporary jobs in June of 2014, they are no longer considered unemployed (U-3). Officially, the “unemployment rate” (U-3) went down. However, for those who regard U-6 as a more accurate measurement, the unemployment rate went up, negatively impacting more of us. The difference between the terms ‘unemployment’ and the ‘U-6 unemployment’ rates can have a significant impact on our financial well being.

Tips for Sending a Follow-Up Email after Sending a Resume

Posted: August 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm

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Some potential employers are good at following up with job candidates and some aren’t. It’s inevitable that you will send out a resume and a cover letter then hear crickets, maybe not on every job application, but at least on some. So how do you follow-up with these potential employers by e-mail without blowing your chance at getting the job?

The answer is it depends on the situation.

If the job ad you responded to listed a deadline or a target date for deciding on the winning candidate, then you’ll want to follow-up immediately following that date if you haven’t heard back from the hiring manager. The reason is, they may be close to a decision and will make that decision soon, so that is a good time to put your name in front of them again. But how you do it makes a big difference.

What you don’t want to do is resend your resume. This implies that you think the hiring manager is irresponsible or disorganized. Instead, send a simple e-mail that is positive in nature and that doesn’t make you sound desperate. Your e-mail should be short, simple, and make it easy for the hiring manager to respond. Start your e-mail this way:

Dear (name of hiring manager),

Remember me? I sent you my resume for the __________ position on (date). I’m writing to see what else I might need to do to make your hiring decision easier. Will you be contacting candidates directly or do I need to take any further necessary steps? If you need additional information about me or my background, I’ll be happy to provide it promptly upon request.

If you are expected to visit the company’s facilities before a hiring decision is made, state your available times for such a visit and let the hiring manager know you are eager to meet them and see their facilities. Bring the e-mail to a graceful close and provide your contact information at the bottom of the e-mail for convenience sake.

What If There Was No Application Deadline?

If there was no deadline or target date for the hiring decision, then wait a couple of weeks before following up.

Following up by e-mail is extremely important. If you follow-up by snail mail, the company could hire someone before your letter arrives and you have wasted the two or three valuable days it takes your letter to move through the postal service. Besides, most hiring managers prefer to receive follow-up letters by e-mail, so work within those preferences.

One mistake many job applicants make with follow-up letters is not doing it. Sending a follow-up e-mail shows that you are determined, and employers like that. Don’t underestimate the positive impact a simple follow-up e-mail can make in the hiring process. It isn’t necessarily the most qualified person who gets the job. Hiring managers look for a total package that includes communication skills, personality, professionalism, and tenacity. Your follow-up e-mail is a good opportunity to demonstrate those qualities.

 

The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make On Your Resume

Posted: August 2, 2014 at 10:26 pm

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Writing an effective resume is an art. Not everyone can do it, and most people would benefit by hiring an expert. Here are the top 5 biggest mistakes most people make when preparing their resumes.

  1. Including too many typos, misspellings, and grammatical mistakes – Let’s face it. Not everyone is a writer. If you struggle with spelling and grammar, then you should hire a professional. Potential employers will judge your ability to pay attention to detail based on your resume. A single typo could disqualify you for the job.
  1. Providing too much or not enough information – The common myth that you should keep your resume to one page is wrong. Your resume should be long enough to include all of your relevant experience, but no more.
  1. Including an objective (or a poorly written one) – Many resume experts now believe objective statements aren’t necessary. Executive summaries are more professional. If you do use an objective statement, make sure it is relevant to the job you are seeking.
  1. It isn’t focused on your accomplishments – This mistake is played out in a number of ways. Many people write previous position descriptions that do not showcase their accomplishments. If they do, then they aren’t quantified. Present your past accomplishments in quantifiable terms, such as “increased sales by 50% over a 4-year period,” as opposed to “improved the sales ratio of the company.” Another way resume writers go wrong is by listing their job duties instead of their accomplishments. Make your resume specific and tell potential employers how you benefited previous managers.
  1. Absence of keywords – You’d better plan on posting your resume online, and if you do that, then it needs to include relevant keywords. Hiring managers will search for potential job candidates by keywords associated with the position for which they are hiring. Your resume should target those keywords.

How to Ensure Your Resume Does Not Include These Mistakes

If you expect to be called in for an interview on your next job search, make sure you present a professional and clean resume that highlights your career accomplishments. Don’t leave anything that is relevant to the position you are seeking off the resume. That includes hobbies and volunteer positions—if those experiences are relevant to the position.

If you insist on writing your own resume, have a friend or associate look it over and note any typos or ways it can be improved upon. Ask someone you respect to judge your resume as a potential employer would.

Your resume is the ticket to your next job interview. Make sure it is as near perfect as it can be. If you can’t get it there on your own, hire a professional. At the very least, you should hire a professional to edit your resume after you have written it to ensure it meets these quality guidelines.