Outplacement Services: What Works, What Doesn’t?

Recently, we worked with a client laid-off from a Fortune 500 company after more than 12 years of service. Fortunately, her company provided her with a nice severance package, which included a combination of severance pay and brick and mortar outplacement services.

When she contacted us for a professional resume package and LinkedIn networking profile, I asked her about her personal experience with the outplacement company that her company hired to help her with her job search. She explained that she while she liked the continuing education that the service offered; she was disappointed that professional resume writing and LinkedIn optimization services weren’t a part of the package.

After working with her on her resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn, we matched her with a career coach who provided her with valuable tips on how to tap into the hidden job market and network her way to a new job. The customer told us that in the end, she felt that the professional resume writing and career coaching services she received from Career Wizards were more valuable to her than traditional outplacement services because we provided her with the tools she needed to succeed in her job search.

From 2008 to 2011, Career Wizards partnered with an outplacement firm to provide their Fortune clients’ displaced employees with a full arsenal of professionally prepared job search tools such as customized resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, networking tools, and more. Over a 4-year period, our team of certified professional resume writers wrote thousands of career documents for displaced employees across all job functions and industries. These experiences provided us with significant insight into the frustration of these displaced employees as well as how much they really needed these services to help them land a new job in today’s competitive landscape.

An article in the Wall Street Journal titled Outplacement Firms Struggle to Do Job, raised the questions, why are outplacement providers still providing standardized services that workers say offer little value, and why are companies still paying thousands of dollars per employee for broiler plate services? Good question, why are companies still paying an arm and a leg to outplacement firms struggling to get job seekers back to work? So below are a few tips for companies planning layoffs.

If your company is planning a workforce reduction, make sure the outplacement service provider you select is prepared to deliver tangible services that add-value to your displaced employees’ search by opening doors to opportunities that help them accelerate their time to reemployment. In turn, you will protect your company’s employer brand while reducing tax liabilities, potential legal ramifications, and employee severance costs.

At Career Wizards, each customer receives individualized attention and job search services tailored to meet their unique needs. We simply strip away all the fluff of traditional outplacement services and deliver the key ingredients we know displaced employees value most. After all, displaced employees laid-off through no fault of their own deserve a fair chance of landing a new job in this tough economy.

Once more, we’ve made it easier and more that affordable than ever for our client companies to provide outplacement services for their employees. Just give us a call and we’ll tell you how.

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Preparing for Layoffs

The economy’s rapid descent took many by surprise. Now that we’re in the midst of one of the most severe economic downturns, here’s something that is not a surprise: layoffs. As consumers continue holding their money close, demand for products and services has fallen. Between sluggish demand and the inability to obtain credit, businesses have no choice but to cut back on production. Layoffs are inevitable across just about all industries. Because layoffs are not a surprise, it’s smart to brace yourself and prepare now.

First, head to your state’s unemployment Web site and learn about unemployment benefits. Would you be eligible to collect unemployment if your company were to lay you off? How much money can you expect to receive? For how long? This information will help you understand your financial options in the event of a layoff. When calculating your monthly unemployment benefits, don’t forget to account for federal and state income taxes as these benefits are taxable as regular income.

Next, dust off your resume and start updating it now. After a layoff, you will be back in the job market. The better prepared you are now, the sooner you can jump in later. Since you haven’t yet been laid off, you have time to learn how to write an effective resume. Check out books at the library and carefully craft your resume.

Start exploring the job market on your own time. What types of jobs are available in your field? Are your skills transferrable to other fields? What type of training might you take now to improve your chances of landing a good job after you’re laid off? Consider taking a career assessment as you explore your options.

Invest in interview attire so that once you’re in the job market, you’ll have the appropriate clothing ready to go. Buying your interview clothes now while you’re employed takes the stress out of doing so after you’ve been laid off. Plus, you’ll be ready to hit the streets soon thereafter because you have already polished your resume and purchased your interview clothes.

As you prepare for layoffs, don’t assume that you are sure to receive a pink slip and don’t give up on the company. Instead, make yourself valuable! Show up early, stay late, take on additional assignments, make your boss look good, and strive to excel at everything you do. In short, you must shine! When you have free time, avoid the temptation to look at job listings online and instead ask your boss for additional work or brainstorm ideas for improving productivity. The more valuable you become, the less likely a pink slip will have your name on it.

Despite your best efforts, you may still be laid off. If so, you’ve prepared for a layoff. You already know if you’re eligible for unemployment; you have polished your resume; you have explored the job market; and you are ready to begin the next phase of your career.

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Resume tips for making your education stand out

Congratulations!  You’ve graduated college and you’re off on your next adventure of finding a new job in your chosen career field.  Mom and dad told you that if you went to college and earned a degree you would find a job, be happy in your career, and earn a good living.  You did the smart thing by following their advice and now you are expecting to reap the rewards of your efforts with the help of a great resume.

The truth is that once upon a time, a degree under the Education section at the top of a resume was all that was required to enter a chosen field and build a career for oneself, but the economy has changed and the job market has too―it’s more competitive than ever before.

While I don’t want to be a killjoy and dash your hopes of landing a great job, I do want to help you gain the proper perspective as you begin writing your new resume. Our country is in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  The cold hard truth is that there may be hundreds of candidates vying for the same job as you, and some of these candidates may be experienced professionals applying for entry-level positions because they are so desperate to find a job.

Okay, so enough of the doom and gloom, now that you know what you’re up against, it’s time to learn how to beat out the competition and win interviews.  Yes, that’s right; I said    win interviews, because that’s what you’re going to have to do, win!  It is important to remember that hiring managers are interested in identifying candidates that have the skills and abilities to do the job, and do it well.  True, the degree is an important part of the equation, but that in and of itself, will not win you job interviews.

To win interviews the Education section of your resume is going to have to tell a story about your college career.  If you want to make your education stand out in your resume you have to pull out all the ammunition in your education arsenal.  Whatever you do, don’t short cut this very important step on your resume.  Take your time and do it right so that employers can see that you have the skills and abilities to do the job.

Tip 1: If you are a recent college graduate, list the month and year you graduated in brackets beside the school name and location.  If you have not yet graduated list the month and year of anticipated graduation.

Tip 2: List your degree emphasis or minor if it relates to the position you’re applying for, e.g., Minor: Finance, if you are applying for a job in the financial sector.

Tip 3:  If you excelled in college with an above average GPA of 3.1 or greater than include this information in brackets beside your degree type.  This demonstrates your ability to learn and excel.

Tip 4:  If you graduated with honors, say so.  If you made Dean’s List say so.  Listing your accomplishments In school shows that you know how to set goals and achieve them.  Remember that in the minds of hiring managers; past achievements are a predictor of your future successes.

Tip 5: Review your transcripts and see how your coursework stacks up against the job announcement.  Once you have identified commonalities, create a subsection of your Education section titled Relevant Coursework. This list will show that you are well prepared for the job while making your resume keyword searchable in applicant tracking systems.

Tip 6:  Think back to specific projects that you completed while in college.  It doesn’t matter whether they were group projects or individual projects as long as they relate to experience you gained in your college career and are relevant to your job target.  List three projects and briefly outline the project scope and outcome.  This demonstrates your ability to apply what you’ve learned in the real world.

Tip 7: Think about extra-curricular activities you participated in while you were in school.  Were you part of any academic professional associations?  Part of a winning sports team?  Did you serve on any special committees?  If so, be sure to list these activities on your resume and briefly describe your personal contributions.

Tip 8: Did you participate in an exchange program?  If so, what country?  What did you study there?  How long did you live abroad?  Did you learn a foreign language?  This type of experience is valuable in today’s global business environment, so list it in your resume.

Tip 9: Were you selected by your professor as a research assistant?  Did you complete an internship or externship?  If so, list these in the Professional Experience section of your resume.  Include the name of the school and/or organization, dates you were in the role, your title, your responsibilities, and what you accomplished.

Tip 10: If you worked full-time while in school and do not have an extensive college career story, consider adding a statement to your resume that speaks to your work ethic.  A simple sentence is all you need, such as: Worked full-time to pay for 100% of college tuition and living expenses.  Consider what this statement tells hiring managers about your personal character.

If you’re reading this article while you are in school, it is not too late to build your college career story.  Jump in with both feet and accomplish as much as you possibly can while you are still in school.  After all, it is accomplishments that will make your education stand out and win you interviews for that highly coveted dream job.  As always, best wishes in your career endeavors.

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Can LinkedIn take the place of my resume?

LinkedIn is a great place to be found by recruiters who are seeking passive candidates, but it doesn’t replace the all-important resume. A resume should be a one to two page fact-based, historical document that reflects an individual’s skills, experience, accomplishments, and education. Hiring managers’ use resumes as a tool to identify candidates that are a match for the job(s) they are working to fill. If they like what they see, they will then Google the candidate to learn more about them.

The LinkedIn profile is a great professional networking tool that should be a part of every job seeker’s job search arsenal. However, because LinkedIn is a social networking site for business professionals, it should include “social” elements about you that allow others to relate to you in a variety of ways. These elements include a personal photo, summary, interests, hobbies, causes, etc. It is these very LinkedIn elements that are a big no! No! on a resume.

While both resumes and LinkedIn profiles have a legitimate function as job search tools, it is understood that the two tools should not mirror one another. Eventually a hiring manager will see both job search tools, so it’s important to make sure that each one portrays you in a positive light. Take advantage of the various sections and features in LinkedIn that you didn’t use in your resume. These may include work-related projects, work samples, presentations, volunteer work, videos, and URLs, to name a few.

Remember that you only have one opportunity to make a great first impression with a hiring manager. If you are at a loss as to how to market yourself to potential employers, contact a certified professional resume writer and career coach for job search assistance. It just might be the most important investment you will ever make.

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LinkedIn: A Powerful Networking Platform for Job Seekers

Creating a strong social media presence is one of the most powerful things you can do for your career. Whether you are currently looking for a new position or interested in maintaining old connections, social media can breathe new life into your career.

Most people now know the importance of keeping negative information off their Facebook profiles, but fewer take advantage of professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to create a strong, positive social media presence.

LinkedIn is a popular social media site used by millions of people for professional networking. The site is simple to use — you set up a profile, list your skills and experience, and connect with other users.
Your list of connections represents your professional network. These may be former coworkers, leaders in your industry, or friends of friends. Creating online connections with people in your network makes it easier to stay in touch. These individuals become important throughout your career, whether you are starting a new job search, seeking expert opinions, or looking for collaborators on a new project.

Although LinkedIn is easy to use, maximizing your social media potential takes skill and effort. Novice LinkedIn users often just regurgitate their resume into an online format. Recruiters often use keyword searches to find individuals with specific skills or experiences. For optimal results, you must carefully design your online resume to be search friendly.

A LinkedIn profile service can transform your social media presence by ensuring that the information you present online is accurate, professional, and beneficial to your career.

These services can also help you connect to your school alumni networks, professional organizations, and other industry-specific groups. Even if you are satisfied with your current position, maintaining ties with your colleagues and facilitating new contacts allows your professional network to thrive. This safety net will come in handy if you find yourself unemployed or unfulfilled and ready to jumpstart your job search.

Creating a strong social media presence is one of the most powerful things you can do for your career. Whether you are currently looking for a new position or interested in maintaining old connections, social media can breathe new life into your career.

Most people now know the importance of keeping negative information off their Facebook profiles, but fewer take advantage of professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to create a strong, positive social media presence. LinkedIn is a popular social media site used by millions of people for professional networking. The site is simple to use — you set up a profile, list your skills and experience, and connect with other users.

Your list of connections represents your professional network. These may be former coworkers, leaders in your industry, or friends of friends. Creating online connections with people in your network makes it easier to stay in touch. These individuals become important throughout your career, whether you are starting a new job search, seeking expert opinions, or looking for collaborators on a new project.

Although LinkedIn is easy to use, maximizing your social media potential takes skill and effort. Novice LinkedIn users often just regurgitate their resume into an online format. Recruiters often use keyword searches to find individuals with specific skills or experiences. For optimal results, you must carefully design your online resume to be search friendly.

A LinkedIn profile service can transform your social media presence by ensuring that the information you present online is accurate, professional, and beneficial to your career.  These services can also help you connect to your school alumni networks, professional organizations, and other industry-specific groups. Even if you are satisfied with your current position, maintaining ties with your colleagues and facilitating new contacts allows your professional network to thrive. This safety net will come in handy if you find yourself unemployed or unfulfilled and ready to jump start your job search.

Posted in Business Networking, Career Change, Career Eploration, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Networking, Resumes, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment