Author Archives: MyJobHelper

How to Use Job References Effectively

Posted: May 30, 2017 at 9:00 am

For many years job seekers were advised to write “References available upon request” or “References attached” at the end of their resume. These days, however, it is customary not to supply or offer references with your resume unless they are specifically requested on a job application or by the hiring manager.

Here are eight ways you can you can avoid common mistakes many applicants make with job references.

1. Choose professionals.  Never use a friend, roommate or relative as a reference. Employers are looking for professional references from a supervisor or business colleague at company where you worked. Your references should be in a position to speak to you accomplishments, skills and abilities. Choose professional colleagues with whom your are friendly, but not too friendly.

2. Use accurate information. A job candidate who misspells a name, makes a typo in an email address, gives out the wrong phone number, or cites an obsolete job title appears to employers as an employee who will make mistakes on the job. Check your work and have a friend proofread it for accuracy.

3. Get permission. Always get permission from former bosses and colleagues to use them as references. A request by email will suffice but it’s much better to contact your references in person or even face-to-face. Favorable references will be happy to help. Beware of lukewarm enthusiasm that can come across to an employer as a negative.

4. Protect your confidentiality. If you are using someone you work for or with as a reference, request their confidentiality so that word does not get put that you are looking for a job. If you don’t fully trust them, don’t even ask.

5. Neutralize negative references. Employers may request a reference from a previous job where you do not expect a positive response. In that case, alert the interviewer in advance, and explain why why you will not receive a glowing review.

6. Don’t overestimate the value of letters of reference. Letters prepared in advance may help to get your application considered but when it comes to making a hiring decision, employers are going to want to talk to your references over the phone.

7. Send your resume to your references in advance. They will probably not remember all the details of your employment; your resume will serve as a helpful crib sheet.

8. Tell your references about each of the jobs they may be contacted about. This will help them to give more relevant comments.  Don’t wear out your references. Use them for 3 to 5 jobs maximum to avoid your becoming a nuisance.

Job Interview Tips for Shy People

Posted: May 15, 2017 at 9:00 am

Job interviews are especially stressful for shy people. However, if you are shy, you need not despair. There are many techniques you can use to prepare for interviews, increase your confidence and get the job you deserve.

It helps to keep in mind that a job interview is not a personal or social encounter. It’s a business meeting in which you are presenting your accomplishments and your skills. Interviewees are, in effect, playing a role just like an actor does. Actors appear spontaneous when they perform their roles only because they have practiced and practiced extensively.

Most actors will tell you that they are always nervous when they go on stage. It’s natural for actors and job seekers to feel nervous. Don’t worry about it. It’s how calm you look, not how calm you feel, that matters. Focus on preparing for your interview by using these tips, and you will come across as confident and self-assured no matter how many butterflies you have fluttering in your stomach.

Before the Day of the Interview

  • Do plenty of research: Search the internet to learn as much as you can about the company, its key personnel, and the person you will be meeting with.
  • Figure out your route: Plan exactly how you are going to get to your interview and how long it might take, including traffic. Allow time for traffic jams and unexpected delays. Check for alerts of delays due to construction.
  • Dress for success: Don’t wait until the day of the interview to decide what to wear. Pick out you clothes three or four days in advance. If you haven’t worn something recently, try it on to make sure it still fits. Check for stains and tears.
  • Practice your small talk: If you are not good at improvising casual conversation, prepare some lines you can use in advance and practice them with friends or relatives. Practice maintaining direct eye contact.
  • Confirm: Call the day before the interview to confirm your appointment including the time, location and the person you are supposed to meet with.
  • Bring some props: Create a portfolio and bring it in a three ring binder, even if you are not a graphic artist or designer. For example, if you are a retail buyer, show photographs or ads of your most successful product. Visual props are a natural aid to conversation.
  • Bring your resume: Bring two copies of your resume, one for you and one for the interviewer. Don’t count on the interviewer to have a resume you sent in advance.
  • Think of good questions: Based on your research, ask questions that show you are informed and interested.

Day of the Interview

  • Make a list: Make a list of everything you need to do on the day of the interview so you won’t worry about having forgotten something.
  • Leave early: You never know when you’re going to hit heavy traffic or other delays. Leave yourself plenty of time so you don’t get stressed out.
  • Arrive early: It’s perfectly OK to arrive 15 or 20 minutes early.
  • While you’re waiting: Once you arrive, give yourself time to relax. Don’t work on your laptop. It’s OK to read your email on your phone, but don’t type, or make calls. Turn off your phone’s ringer until after the interview.  And don’t make phone calls.

During the Interview

  • Eye contact: Remember to make direct eye contact just like you did when you practiced your small talk.
  • Posture: Maintain good posture and occasionally lean slightly forward to show that you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Smile: It may feel artificial to smile when you’re nervous, but a “phony” smile is better than no smile at all. It will make your interviewer feel more comfortable which will, in turn, make you feel less nervous and shy. Let your lands rest on your lap. This will help you feel calm and look confident.

With a little preparation, no matter how nervous you may feel, you can project competence and competence and ace your interview.

Enhance Your Resume with Inexpensive Online Courses

Posted: May 1, 2017 at 9:00 am

Online courses can make your resume sparkle with names from famous universities like Harvard, Yale and MIT. Even liberal arts courses which have no direct relevance to your job create the halo effect that comes from putting the name of an iconic university.

Most courses are free, but to really impress employers, you’ll need to earn and pay for a certificate from showing that you passed your tests and turned in your homework. Most certificates cost less than $100. And almost all schools let you take their course for free without a certificate.

Here is a sampling of what is available online from prestigious universities.

Harvard University: The Opioid Crisis in America

  • Learn about the opioid epidemic in the United States, including information about treatment and recovery from opioid addiction.
  • Verified certificate charge: $99. In Session.

The University of Chicago: Critical Issues in Urban Education

  • This course explores a set of critical issues in the education and educational reform space, with a focus on aspects of the field that have sparked controversy and polarized views.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Starts May 8, 2017.

Yale University: Introduction to Negotiation

  • In this course, you will have several opportunities to negotiate with other students using case studies based on common situations in business and in life.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Started April 24, 2017.

Columbia University: Marketing Analytics

  • Develop quantitative models that leverage business data to forecast sales and support important marketing decisions.
  • Verified certificate charge: $375. Starts September 11, 2017.

University of Pennsylvania: Viral Marketing and Content

  • Successful strategies for you to use to create virality so that your campaigns become more shareable on social media and elsewhere.
  • Verified certificate charge: $95. Starts May 8, 2017.

MIT: Entrepreneurship 101: Who is Your Customer?

  • Turn your idea into a business, as you learn the essential skills needed to effectively identify and target customers.
  • Verified certificate charge: $300. Starts May 2, 2017.

Stanford University: Child Nutrition and Cooking

  • This course examines contemporary child nutrition and the impact of the individual decisions made by each family.
  • Verified certificate charge: $39. Starts May 8, 2017.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: What’s Your Big Idea?

  • From solving the world’s biggest problems to creating a commercial success, this course will give you a toolbox to vet your ideas and test them in the real world.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Starts May 8, 2017.

Duke University: Behavioral Finance

  • This course is intended for anyone who has taken at least one course in economics either in high school or in college, and is interested in how our innate biases affect our financial decision-making.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Starts May 8, 2017.

For thousand more online courses from over 100 universities and educational intuitions check out edX and Coursera.

Why Entry Level Jobs are So Important

Posted: April 17, 2017 at 9:00 am

When job seekers talk about entry level jobs they often have different things in mind, depending on who is doing the talking and what their situation is. But whatever your situation, you should consider that there’s more to an entry level job than simply getting hired at the highest salary with the shortest commute.

Whether you are graduating from school and getting your first job or are reentering the work force after several years abscence, it’s normal to worry most about getting hired and at the highest salary, often without giving thought to their long term career. The problem is that what you take as your first job will a big factor in determining what your career options will be in the future.

When you are ready to leave your first job, employers will want to know about your experience. It stands to reason that you are likely to get paid the most to do the kind of work you did in your first job. And so on with subsequent jobs, until one day you wake up and realize you have chosen a career without actually being aware you were doing it!

You may be happy with career you have wandered into. But if you are unhappy with your job, it’s time to think about the kind of work you would like to do for the rest of your life. Once you have researched your options and have decided on a new career, the problem becomes how to get a job in that new career when your experience is based on your first few jobs in an area you have now chosen not to work in.

At this point, you are ready to change gears and seek an “entry level” job in the new career you have chosen. One good thing is that now, because you are no longer new to the workforce, you actually do have experience (your soft skills) that should transfer to any situation. You can cite examples from the jobs you have already had of your initiative, teamwork, reliability and other traits that would be valued in almost any kind of work.

One you have decided what you want that new career to be, there are three important factors to consider in targeting and accepting your first job in that career.

Company reputation: When your are breaking into a new career, which company you work for, is often more important than the specifics of what you do. Ideally you want to work for a company that everyone in the industry knows and admires. If you want to break into transportation, for example, you might choose FedEx or UPS over a local trucking company. Employers feel more comfortable with candidates who have worked with a brand name company in their industry. The mere fact that you held a position at the company for more than a year gives you added credibility and prestige.

Job description: When you are starting out in a new industry the opportunity to learn can be more important than how much you make. Look for a position that is in an area critical to your company’s success so that you will have a better chance to do meaningful work. Since FedEx is in the transportation business, for example, you will be closer to the center of the action working in logistics or dispatching rather than working as an accountant.

Company size: After two or three years in your new job, unless you get a good promotion and raise, you will probably be looking to move to another company to get a better job. The best way to find out about these jobs is by networking. And the best way to build your network is by working in a larger company where you can meet more people who will also move on to new employers and be able to tell you about job openings before they are advertised. That’s the real advantage of working for a larger company. On the other hand, the disadvantage of working for a larger company is that the job you do will tend to be more specialized and may not offer the broad experience in working with all the specialties that make a company successful.

At some point in your career, it may pay off to work at a smaller company where you can be less specialized and get broader experience that will gain you entry into a wider variety on jobs in the industry you have chosen when it comes time to move on.

Job title: Do not be overly concerned whether the position you are looking at is for assistant, associate, coordinator and so on. Your job title matters somewhat, but the kind of work you do is more important than the job title.

Salary: This is the tough part. As we mentioned, employers tend to pay more based on experience in past jobs. So when you are moving into a new career, you won’t have prior experience in that career yet. Don’t be surprised if the price of taking a position that’s good for your career in years to come requires you to accept less pay than if you had stuck with your original career.

If you are willing to make a few tradeoffs to take a job that builds a good foundation for your new career, you can typically expect to more than make up the money you gave up to work at a lower salary early on.

Is a Robot Coming to Take My Job?

Posted: April 3, 2017 at 9:00 am

Researchers at Oxford University estimate that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades. And a leading consulting firm estimates that while only 5 percent of occupations can be fully automated, 60 percent of jobs could soon be doing 30 percent more of the work, resulting in a net loss of 45 percent of the work in the United States.

With forecasts like these, it’s no wonder that job loss has become a major political issue and an intense concern for job seekers.

Don’t get caught by surprise. Here are ten occupations already being affected by job loss to robots:

Factory workers. Machines have been making inroads for decades. Eventually 90 percent of what welders, cutters, solderers and brazers do could be automated.

Cashiers. Self-checkout stations have already appeared in many of the major retail chains. Additionally, sales lost to online stores are cutting even further cut into the need for cashiers.

Pharmacists: Machines have been used by pharmacists to count pills for quite a few years. Now hospitals are starting to use automatons to dispense prescriptions and do it more accurately. How long will it be before you get your prescriptions from a vending machine at your local pharmacy?

Stockroom workers. Amazon is setting the pace for warehouse automation with their fleet of little bright orange robots on wheels. Using robots workers can scan three times as many items and walk twenty fewer miles a day.

Paralegals. Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is perfectly suited to doing much of the “boilerplate” that constitutes the drudgery of legal work. Robots can research concepts and cases as well as draft standard contracts and write simple briefs.

Journalists. Top reporters and writers will always be in demand, but for more mundane assignments like writing business news or sports recaps, software has been developed that can transform raw data into intelligible reports and narratives.

Receptionists and phone operators. Do humans even answer the phone any more? Interactive voice technology has decimated jobs for phone operators and receptionists. Sophisticate programs can now take orders for merchandise and resolve customer service issues as well.

Bank tellers. ATM machines, which have been used for decades, are being automated to take over even more tasks ordinarily performed by tellers. What’s more, customers can now use their to deposit checks and and get sophisticated financial services without ever going to the bank.

Doctors. Not even doctors are safe from the robotic invasion. Automated systems can now deliver anesthesia for simple procedures like colonoscopies at a fraction of the cost for hiring a trained anesthesiologist. Machines have been developed to read X-rays and CT scans. And robotic surgery has been in use for almost ten years.

Financial analysts. When it comes to crunching numbers, let’s face it, computers can run circles around mere mortals any day of the week. Now, with more sophisticated software, robots can analyze financial data and spot trends more accurately than the average analyst.

Is anyone safe from having losing their job to a robot? The fact is that the coming robot revolution will affect everyone directly or indirectly. The only way to cushion the blow is to stay up on the latest trends and expand your networks of contacts so that you will be ready to to make a move if your job is threatened.

Six interview blunders you want to avoid

Posted: March 20, 2017 at 9:00 am

It’s hard for job candidates to get honest feedback about how well they do on job interviews. Here are six frequently mentioned complaints recruiters and hiring managers have voiced over the years about the ways job seekers behave in their interviews.

1. Arriving late. Recruiters and hiring managers are tightly booked with appointments. When you arrive late for an interview, you upset their schedule and put them in a bad mood. No matter how valid your excuse is, it hard for them not to resent your tardiness. Give yourself extra time to get to your interview. No one ever lost out on a job by being early.

2. Not being prepared. It’s almost impossible for an interviewer to understand a candidate’s experience without a resume in hand to use as a guide. You may have sent in a resume in advance of your interview, but if the interviewer does not have it handy, you are the one who will suffer for it. Always bring extra resumes to your interviews, along with samples of your work, if relevant. Also bring pen and paper to take notes to show you are prepared.

3. Not knowing anything about the company. Hiring managers and recruiters expect you to thoroughly research the internet for information about their company. If the company produces a product pr a service, try it out if possible. If you want the company to show interest in you, you need to show interest in the company. Otherwise you will project indifference when you really want to do is to project enthusiasm.

4. Not asking questions. Interviewers are not happy when you make them do all the work to keep the conversation going. Use your research about the company to ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your interest in the job.

5. Lying. Unless you are a professional con artist, don’t think you can get away with lying. Experienced interviewers can easily recognize when you try to make up facts or give vague response because you don’t know the answer to a question. Lying is the most unforgivable sin you can commit in an interview. On the other hand, you won’t get extra points for sharing negative information about your work history unless it’s in answer to a direct question.

6. Being rude. It’s easy to be rude unintentionally. No matter how casual the interviewer may be, they expect you to be on your best behavior and demonstrate your good manners, and that includes dressing appropriately. Don’t try to be witty or tell jokes: what you think is funny your interviewer may find offensive.

Avoid these six interview blunders and you will increase your chances of getting the job.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?

Posted: March 6, 2017 at 9:00 am

Although most job seekers don’t think about the difference between hard and soft skills,  hiring managers think about it all the time.

Hard skills include computer skills like Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint; bookkeeping and accounting; software development; foreign languages; mathematics and statistics; project management; and data analysis, just to name a few.

As you can see, hard skills are about knowing how to do something and having had experience in doing it. It’s not difficult to determine if an applicant has hard skills. Employers can verify your hard skills by giving you a test or by asking for credentials like an advanced degree, a certificate or a license.

Hard skills tend to be easily transferable from one company to another. The rules of Microsoft Excel or Google Analytics are the same no matter where you work. You can learn them in school, from online courses or from books. Hard skills look great on a resume because they match up well with many job descriptions.

The problem is that when new technologies are introduced, hard skills based on older technologies become obsolete. Anyone who has been in the workforce for more than ten years has witnessed this first hand.

That’s why soft skills are so important.

Examples of soft skills are problem solving; communication and teamwork skills; patience; resilience, persistence, perseverance; mentoring; and leadership.

Soft skills are about handling situations rather than specific tasks. They are often called career skills because they involve the ability to adapt to change, for example the ability to work well with people from very different corporate cultures. Working in an international company requires the soft skill of working with people from many different cultures.

Employers look for both hard and soft skills. And once the minimum job requirements have been met by a candidate, soft skills are more likely to determine who gets hired.

Job seekers tend to overemphasize hard skills, so make sure you you don’t overlook your soft skills. Include them in your resume; mention them in your interviews; and you’ll improve your chances of getting hired.

For a comprehensive list of soft skills, go to Lei Han’s website here.

What you should know about recruiters

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 9:00 am

Common Job Hunting Mistakes
If you are a highly skilled worker, or an experienced manager or executive, you may be contacted by a recruiter. It’s a great feeling to have someone interested in hiring you initiate contact. It’s good to be the pursued rather than the pursuer for a change.

The first thing you need to know is that there are two kinds of recruiters, internal and external.

Internal in-house recruiters are on the staff of the company that is hiring. They search for candidates from among both people who already working inside company as well as people outside the company.

External recruiters typically work for independent agencies retained by a company to fill a job. They look for candidates outside the company to fill open positions. The hiring company pays the recruiter a fee, often quite substantial, when a candidate from the recruiter is hired. These recruiters are often called headhunters.

Many of the jobs you find on sites like MyJobHelper.com have been placed by headhunters. In fact, it is not unusual for the same opening to be listed on a job site by both a recruiter and the hiring company.

For positions that are hard to fill, or where the demand for qualified candidates exceeds the supply, recruiters expand their efforts beyond job listings. They “source” candidates by searching Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and specialty sites on the internet. They also look for people who are currently employed but may be willing to leave their current company for a better position or more money.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you work with a recruiter.

  • You cannot hire a recruiter. Recruiters work for employers, not job seekers.
  • Recruiters are compensated by employers. This means that they prioritize the employer’s interests ahead of the candidate’s interests.
  • Recruiters are not career counselors. Ordinarily they cannot afford to spend a lot of time giving you career advice.
  • However, if you are a good candidate, a recruiter will want to make a good impression on you so that you will consider future openings from other companies who have hired the recruiter.
  • Recruiters do not decide who gets hired. They present the best candidates to the company and the hiring manager decides.
  • If you don’t get hired for the job, you should still try to to make a good impression so that recruiters will contact you first when suitable positions open up in the future.

Keep these tips in mind to increase your chances of landing a great job.

Rule Number One in Salary Negotiations

Posted: February 6, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Never be the first person to mention a salary amount. This is rule number one in salary negotiations. Only discuss salary after the employer makes an initial offer.

Almost career experts agree on this point.

You put yourself at a disadvantage when you tell an employer how much you are looking for or how much you’ll take. If you are filling out an application form that asks how much money you want, you should leave that part of the application blank.

Why it works

Most employers have already determined a fairly narrow salary range for what a job is worth. And most job seekers underestimate how much they are worth. Or they erroneously think that if they ask for less than they think the job is worth, they have a better chance of getting the job.

But that’s not how employers think. They first determine whether the candidate can actually do the job. It is always to the employer’s advantage to hire the best candidate over the second best candidate who may accept a few thousand dollars a year less, as long as the best candidate will accept a salary within the employer’s predetermined range.

Why it matters

If the employer wants to hire you, and you ask for a salary that is below the employer’s range, they will happily give you what you ask for. You need to consider that most annual raises and salary increases due to promotions are offered as a percentage of the employee’s current salary. By asking for too little, you may lock yourself into being underpaid for the rest of your career at that company.

What to say

Here are some recommended answers to give employers who ask how much compensation you will accept without first making you an offer.

  • I am much more interested in the kind of work I will be doing at your company than I am in the initial offer. Note that by referring to the “initial offer” you are acknowledging that you understand that this is a negotiation.
  • Could you tell me more about the job requirements and expectations so I can get a better idea of how much the job is worth? This switches the focus from how much you are worth to how much the job is worth.
  • I would like to be paid at the top range of what your company pays people in comparable positions. This is another great “stalling technique.”

Asking for more

If you politely continue to avoid naming a number, an employer who wants to hire you is eventually going to have to go first and make you an offer. This is the initial offer, probably near the middle or the bottom of the employer’s salary range. Unless the employer informs you to the contrary. It is not the final offer. The employer actually expects you to ask for more.

Ask for more and in addition to having a new job you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you negotiated the best possible deal for yourself.

What is an Informational Interview?

Posted: January 23, 2017 at 9:00 am

What’s the difference between an informational interview and a job interview?

According to Wikipedia an informational interview

is a meeting in which a potential job seeker seeks advice on their career, the industry, and the corporate culture of a potential future workplace; while an employed professional learns about the job seeker and judges their professional potential and fit to the corporate culture, so building their candidate pool for future hires.

In other words, an informational interview is essentially a preliminary job interview. The ultimate objective is for the job seeker to get a job and for the company to hire an employee.  Continue reading