Tired of looking for a job? Tips to help you keep on keeping on

Recently, I interviewed with Laid Off Lounge to provide their audience with some insight on how to stay focused and maintain a positive attitude during a job search. I have posted the interview here for our audience as well. Enjoy!

Tired of looking for a job? Tips to help you keep on keeping on

Have you sent out hundreds of resumes, spent hours researching a company or position, worked hard on a cover letter and never heard a word in return? Searching for a job gets old, fast. It can be discouraging and even depressing. Could there be a better way?

Recently Laid Off Lounge (LOL) sat down with Deanne Arnath, President and CEO of Career Wizards Inc, and an expert in career search strategies. We asked her about how to keep going in a job search that feels like it’s going nowhere.

LOL: What can people do to stay encouraged during a long job search?

Deanne: Many who are unemployed are used to a certain level of success, and are embarrassed to ask for help. Network with your family and friends. Make a list of people you know and call or write them and ask for help. If you don’t ask for help, you won’t get it. People can offer you encouragement and advice that will help you keep moving forward. Stay motivated. Make a job search to do list. People fall into looking for a job day and night and get discouraged. Complete your list and reward yourself for getting things done.

LOL: For those unemployed for a year or more, what is the first piece of advice you would offer?

Deanne: Don’t let yourself go. Taking care of your appearance helps you stay motivated and maintain a positive attitude about your search. Get yourself ready like you are going to work every day. Exercise. Exercise is a good stress reliever that will help you feel energized.

LOL: What does your business do differently to help people who are stuck in a frustrating job search?

Deanne: There are a lot of outplacement services that do not provide the tools job seekers need. Whomever you work with, it’s important that they actually care. We think that if you are not successful, we are not successful. Hire a service that you feel will offer you the type of support and guidance you need throughout the job search process. Focus on seeking out professionals that will help you put your best foot forward and make you more marketable to potential employers.

LOL: What should you do to help fill a long gap of unemployment in your resume?

Deanne: Unfortunately, there is hiring discrimination against the unemployed. The longer you are unemployed, the worse it is. Recruiters prefer those who are already employed. If you’ve been out of work for a while, keep your skill sets sharp. Get certifications in your field, add new software skills further your education, stay active in professional organizations, offer yourself as a business consultant, or start a small business. Do things that will add value for an employer.

LOL: What do you think of internet job searching?

Deanne: Internet resources are impersonal and vast; they can be a big black hole. Using just the Internet maybe the fastest way to get discouraged in your job search. Instead, get out and talk with people face-to-face. Walk in your resume in person. A smile and a handshake can be invaluable. Call to follow-up on your resume and get it out of the stack. As a bonus, getting out of the house and making contact with people will make you feel better.

LOL: What are the best resources available for long-haul job seekers?

Deanne: Unemployment lifeline is a great site. It links the unemployed to resources in their community. Your local state workforce center is important. Workforce centers offer free courses, information on community college programs, financial aid, workshops, and short-term training. Employing a professional resume writer and career coach can put you back on the right track to finding gainful employment.

LOL: What would you say to those who are out of work and out of patience with it all?

Deanne: Consider visiting a job seeker forum, or get together with friends or family and talk it out. It’s great to talk with those who can relate. Job seekers need to know they are not alone. If you’re used to success, it’s especially important to have others to uplift and be uplifted by.

Laid Off Lounge is all about creating community and finding solutions that work. Together, we’re building a think tank full of practical advice, insider tips and outside-the-box real-life stories from innovative entrepreneurs.

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Career Exploration for a Rewarding Career

If you are a recent or soon to be high school or college graduate, you are probably scratching your head wondering what to do next.  If you are a high school graduate, you may be interested in exploring different majors so that you can decide, which college, university, or vocational school is right for you.  If you are a college graduate, you may be interested in exploring the many different types of jobs that are available to you now that you have earned your degree.

Making the right decision about your education or job choice is the first step toward a rewarding career.  You can save yourself years of unhappiness by taking the time to research the different types of careers that are available to you, the economic outlook for those careers, the salary that you can expect to earn, and the advancement potential you can anticipate.

With tens of millions of jobs to choose from, planning your career can be a long and difficult road without the proper tools to research your career and education options.  As a high school graduate, if you make the wrong choice about your major you could spend years earning a degree only to discover it was not the right career path for you.  As a college graduate, if you make the wrong choice about your career you could spend years feeling trapped in a job because it was not the right career trajectory for you.

As an experienced career coach and resume writer, I have clients of all ages and career levels contact me to help them navigate their job search.  Unbelievably, approximately 50% of these clients do not have a clear-cut job target, nor do they know that there are resources to assist them in making this very important decision.  As a result, I provide my clients with the tools and resources they need to identify their career objective before we begin mapping out a strategy to help them get there.

With graduation time creeping around again, I wanted to share a few online resources with you to help you find the career that might suit you best.  The Big Book of Jobs published by VGM Career Books and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics says, “The key to a successful career search is to balance what you can do and what you want to do versus what employers expect in specific career fields.  One way that most of us reconcile this dilemma is by first conducting an extensive self-assessment and then researching careers that match your personal profile”.  I could not have said it better myself.  Below are a few of the free self-assessment resources that are available online.

  1. The O*NET Computerized Interest Profiler is a vocational interest assessment instrument administered online that fosters career awareness and provides a window to the world of work via the 800+ occupations within O*NET Online.
  2. The O*NET Work Importance Locator is a self-assessment career exploration tool that allows people to identify occupations that they may find satisfying based on the similarity between their work values and the characteristics of the occupations.
  3. The O*NET Ability Profiler is a career exploration tool that helps clients plan their work lives.  Individuals can use the results to identify areas for which they might want to receive more training and education as well as identify occupations that fit their strengths.

Once you have completed a comprehensive self-assessment, you can begin researching careers that match your personal profile.  Below are a few career exploration tools that are available online.

  1. InsideJobs is a free online resource dedicated to career exploration.  There are thousands of job descriptions to help people identify what they want to do in their career.  The job descriptions are fun to read and include salary ranges and work environment information as well as information on education and training needed to enter a specific job field.  Users can also explore common career trajectories for a variety of job fields.  The interactive media components of the website allow users to watch informational videos with real people sharing their personal experience about their career choice.
  2. O*NET Online is an interactive application for career exploration and job analysis.  The O*NET database contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors, which is available to the public at no cost, and is continually updated by surveying a broad range of workers from each occupation.

Even with the multitude of career exploration tools available, you may still find it difficult to make a career decision.  As you peruse job descriptions that match your personal profile, make a list of the likes and dislikes of the jobs you have eliminated as well as a list of the likes and dislikes of the jobs that are still in contention.

For the positions that are still in contention, make notes about what makes these types of jobs attractive to you, such as skill sets, opportunity for advancement and salary ranges.  Think about other types of careers that share these same features and refine your research efforts to focus solely on these career fields until you reach a decision.

If you are still undecided about your career choice, consider setting-up informational interviews with professionals in your fields of interest to learn more about what the jobs entail and what you might  expect should you decide on a career in one of those fields.

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7 Unusual Virtual Jobs at Home

At one time you had to be a graphic designer, a consultant or a freelance copywriter if you wanted to ditch your cubicle and make money in your pajamas. But jobs using your computer from home have brought virtual jobs at home to nearly every business sector. If you’re ready to trade your morning car-commute for a quick stroll over to your den, consider these unusual, valid, at-home jobs.

Concierge – Ask for restaurant recommendations or directions at the Santa Clara Hyatt in California (or a growing number of other fine hotels), and you’ll be directed to a flat screen mounted on the wall. Virtual concierges use video conferencing technology to ask hotel guests about their interests and provide them with sightseeing tips, says Kate Lister, co-author of “Undress For Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money At Home.”

Catering manager – You might think it’d be impossible to work in food service remotely, but FlexJobs recently had a job listing from a national bagel chain for a telecommuting junior catering manager, reports FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton Fell. The work involves coordinating banquet orders via phone and computer software, then traveling to job sites to oversee the actual events, with no office or commercial-kitchen time needed.

Online instructor – The rise of online classes and universities has meant a boom in teaching jobs you can do from home, says Fell. Recent FlexJobs listings have included an adjunct professor of opticianry and an instructor for a world religions course. If you’ve been teaching but want to skip the classroom-management problems and faculty-lunchroom drama, stay home and email your students about their online lessons. It is one of the best legitimate, at-home part-time jobs available.

Nonprofit executive director – To attract the best talent, a growing number of nonprofits are hiring executive directors and letting them work wherever they are, says Fell. If you have a management background and a passion for a cause, you may be able to combine them into a job that lets you do good – while also doing the laundry.

“Some are virtual organizations anyway,” she says. “Nonprofits like the lower overhead costs.”

Patient champion/patient advocate – Home-Based Business for Dummies authors Paul and Sarah Edwards noticed the emergence of this home-based job. Patient champions help ill people navigate the complexities of the healthcare system – calling doctors, obtaining copies of medical records, and accompanying patients on doctor visits. Often relatives don’t live close, Paul Edwards notes, so they’ll pay someone to make sure grandma is receiving appropriate care and understanding doctors’ instructions.

“It’s a great service,” he says, “and there’s a great need.”

Virtual juror – If you’re a person with strong opinions, you might make some quick cash serving as an independent juror. Virtual jurors help lawyers evaluate the strengths of their case before they take it to court. Some companies promise up to $60 a case – not bad for an hour’s work at your computer. Major players in this space include Virtual Juror (www.virtualjuror.com) and Online Verdict (www.onlineverdict.com).

Golf instructor – Are you an experienced golf instructor who’s tired of slogging around the course? Virtual instructors review video from golfers and then email or phone in tips on improving their swing. Fell’s seen this one pop up on FlexJobs.

Virtual nurse – Registered nurses tired of working 12-hour shifts standing on their feet are taking advantage of booming opportunities in virtual nursing, says Undress for Success’s Lister.  In triage jobs at home, nurses staff phone lines and take calls from people with health emergencies, helping them evaluate whether they need an immediate trip to the ER. Lister knows one insurer that offered a nurse-staffed chat line for pregnant mothers, helping them resolve minor issues without resorting to more-costly doctor visits.

“It saves the medical system a lot of money,” she notes, “to contract with organizations that offer nursing support by phone.”

By Carol Tice

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Ways to Earn Extra Cash While Job Hunting

So, you’re looking for a job. You’re not alone, and right now it’s safe to bet that it’ll take a little longer than usual before you score the permanent job position you want. What are some ways to earn extra cash in the meantime, pay the bills and maybe have a little fun to boot?

Before you start a part-time job, make sure that you know what you’re looking for in terms of permanent work so that your side odd jobs don’t create a conflict. Balance is the key, and if you are doing side jobs to make money, make sure they help your future career path.

Restaurant and food service work. Whether you’re serving up chilled martinis or burgers and fries, waiting tables is often considered one of the best ways to earn extra cash – and there’s a reason for that: the industry offers some of the most flexible part-time jobs, and with tips you can earn well over minimum wage. Most shifts don’t conflict heavily with regular office hours, which is helpful for making business contacts and attending interviews during the day. Job prospects are considered excellent due to the high employee turnover that is characteristic of this industry – but don’t forget that competition can be stiff at upscale establishments where the tips are the highest. Waiter/waitress median hourly wage = $14.50 (including tips)

Retail jobs. If food service isn’t for you and you just need a side job that makes money to fuel your job search engine, then working in retail could fit the bill. Employment growth for these jobs usually reflects the expansion and contraction of the economy, so right now, it might be a little harder than usual to land a position. Despite that, retail job opportunities are still considered good because of the high level of turnover in this sector. Furthermore, warehouse, clubs and super centers are supposed to have excellent prospects as their popularity is strong with bargain-hunting consumers. Sales clerk/cashier median hourly wage = $8.16

Temp agency work. Companies are wary about hiring directly at the moment, creating many temporary job opportunities. “Employers are looking for flexibility,” says Eric Buntin, of Randstad US, a staffing company. However, they are still looking for plenty of entry to mid-level temp positions that, with a little patience on your part, may turn into a full-time job. “It’s important to be flexible, but be clear with the agency about your long-term and short-term plans, so they can help you meet your goals,” advises Buntin. “Some contracts could be just for a week, then become one month and eventually lead to a hire.” Salaries vary widely depending on the industry and your experience level, but the potential is there to earn quite well while you’re waiting for a permanent offer. Entry level temp work (healthcare) median hourly wage = $8.00; Experienced contractor hourly wage = $35.00**

Recreation workers. Sharing your knowledge of creative arts or sports and recreation can be a fun way to earn extra cash, and this job sector offers an unusually large percentage of part-time and seasonal employment, leading group outings or activities. Work environments range from community centers to summer camps. This is considered a tough field if you want to get into it full-time, but for part-time, job openings are good, stemming from the large number of people who leave the field each year. Recreation worker median hourly wage = $15.03

Test prep instructors and tutors. Opportunities in educational support are growing, many of which are part-time job positions, usually scheduled during evenings or weekends. If you’ve done well on standardized tests and have a passion for helping others succeed, you can earn $100/hour teaching GMAT prep courses. If test prep doesn’t sound like a fit, students from elementary school through college are often in need of tutoring or extra help with homework assignments as well. Test prep instructor wage = $100/hour*; Tutor = $13.40

Need more flexibility? Find odd jobs for fast cash near your home.

If you’re looking for more casual ways to earn extra cash, you can get a long way by using a little creativity, according to Robin Ryan, Seattle-based career coach and author. In her years of coaching people toward the right position, she’s seen many innovative and entrepreneurial spirits earn extra cash with side odd jobs they develop themselves, from mowing neighbors’ lawns after finishing their own, to planning birthday parties for their children’s classmates.

“One woman was cooking dinner for her family one night and thought to herself, why not offer to cook for other families in the neighborhood,” Ryan recalled. She ended up having a number of families willing to pay for meals a couple of times a week. For just a little extra prep time in the evenings, this turned a side odd job into extra cash.

“Also, if you have clothes that don’t fit anymore, furniture, or that terrible gift that your aunt gave you for Christmas – sell it!” Ryan advises. Sites like Craigslist or Ebay are easy ways to earn extra cash, or you can rally a few neighbors to have a larger garage sale to increase your inventory and your earnings to few hundred dollars in an afternoon.

Whichever route you choose, part-time work is important. “A serious job search takes about 20 hours per week,” according to Ryan, “any more than that is just spinning your wheels – job searching is slow. Fill the rest of your time with something that produces results. Psychologically, this helps a lot.”

Claiming Unemployment and taxes:

If you’re collecting unemployment, you may be wondering how a side job will affect your claim. Legally, you must report all earnings, which will then be subtracted from your unemployment check until you exceed the amount of your benefit. Sometimes it is just a partial deduction from you benefit, so it’s best to check with your state’s unemployment office for full details on how to report your earnings.

Regarding taxes on self-employment or odd jobs, you usually don’t have to report earnings of $400 or less. The IRS gives complete information in publication 501 about federal filing requirements.

By Siri Anderson

Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-09
Salary data from PayScale.com unless otherwise noted.
*Salary quote from Veritas Prep.
**Salary quotes from Randstad US.

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Resume Death by Objective Statement

My Resume Coach

One of the reasons job seekers dislike writing resumes is because they dread writing an objective statement.  Job seekers worry that the statement will be too specific or too broad.   So, what do most job seekers write as an objective statement? Most sound just like this: “Seeking a challenging position that will utilize my skills and abilities and give me the experience I need for a future career.”   Frankly, this type of statement is a waste of precious resume real estate.

My advice, delete that meaningless objective statement.  Objective statements focus on what the job seeker wants.  The job search by its very nature is about marketing your services to a company in need of someone with your specific skills and abilities.  The first thing to do when you create your personal marketing campaign is to determine your unique value proposition.  Once you have identified your value proposition, the next step is to create a complete marketing portfolio with your value proposition as the continual message.  This is what creates your personal brand.

Your resume is a snapshot of your personal brand that communicates what you have to offer to prospective employers.  Have you ever seen a marketing document that focuses on what the seller wants?  Absolutely not!  Effective marketing focuses on what the buyer needs and wants.  The employer is the buyer that has outlined their needs for a certain position.  Every word on a resume must promote the value that a potential employee can bring to the position and employer.

Objective statements have no place on a resume because they don’t market the features and benefits of hiring you, the candidate.  A buyer-focused resume opens with a profile statement that summarizes the value you bring to an organization.  Instead of an objective statement, write a profile of your skills or a summary of your qualifications.  Profile or summary statements communicate the value or solution you bring to the equation.  They’re employer-focused statements designed to grab the attention of hiring managers.

Employers want to know what types of positions you are seeking, and a well-written skills profile will promote the value you bring to the employer while at the same time communicating exactly what position or career path you are seeking.  For example, a well-written skills profile might read “Financial professional with nine years of experience in valuations, financial modeling and analysis.”

The next time you start to write an objective statement, stop and write an introduction to your resume that is something that the employer wants to read.  Ask yourself, what does the employer need from an ideal job candidate?  Do not let a traditional and meaningless objective statement kill your resume.

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