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5 Tips For Returning To The Workforce

Thinking about returning to the workforce? Whether you took some time off to see the world, care for a family member, or raise your kids, you're probably feeling a little rusty at the whole job search thing.

You might also have a few questions: Where do I start? How can I make myself relevant again? How do I deal with my resume gaps?

Not to worry. You're not the only one in this situation.

People have to leave and return to the workforce every day. Life happens! If you want to get back to work as soon as possible though, you need to build a strong job search strategy. Otherwise, you will have a hard time marketing yourself to employers.

Here are some tips from Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, that you can use to get back on the job after being MIA for several years.

1. Reevaluate Your Career Goals

It's important to be crystal clear on your job goals before you jump into your job search. It will save you a ton of time, energy, and frustration if you have a target to work toward. If you just try to "wing it," you'll have a hard time marketing yourself to employers. Moreover, it will be hard to nail down an opportunity that's truly satisfying for you.

"Before you launch into your job search," says Augustine, "do a little soul-searching and clarify your job goals. You may find that a corporate job may no longer hold its appeal or that you're extremely passionate about your recent volunteer work and would like to pursue a career in that area instead."

2. Take An Inventory Of Your Skills

"Remember, just because you haven't received a paycheck in a while doesn't mean you haven't gained skills worth bragging about," says Augustine. Think about what you bring to the table. What skills do you have to offer? What are you good at? What have you done in the past?

Think about your skills and make a list. This will help you get a sense of where you stand in terms of qualifications. Plus, it will help you brand/market yourself more effectively.

3. Brush Up On Your Skills (And Learn New Ones!)

After you've taken an inventory of your skills and clearly understand what you have to offer, it's time to look at areas where you could improve. "Invest in your career by seeking opportunities to bolster the skill sets your target employers care most about," says Augustine. "This is also a great way to brush up on skills you haven't had to use in a while or familiarize yourself with a new technology that's now commonplace in your industry."

Look at the industry and job postings to get an idea of where you need to upskill in order to be a qualified candidate. If you've been out of the workforce for a few years, it's likely there are a few areas you need to upskill in. Are there any new technologies you should learn? Are there any new skills you need? Identify weak areas of your personal brand so you can strengthen them and stand out to employers.

4. Invest In Your Network

When you've been out of the game for a while, it's crucial to have people on your team who are willing to help you out. You need people in your corner who know what you can do and can advocate for you. Having those third-party testimonials or recommendations can really reinforce your potential to employers. This is especially important when you have resume gaps or have been out of a job for a long time.

"Make a concerted effort to reconnect with former colleagues, clients, vendors, and alumni from your alma mater who work in your industry," says Augustine. And don't just focus on your professional connections to help you out. Your family and friends can also be great resources for you, according to Augustine.

"Don't discount your personal connections during the job hunt," says Augustine. "Whether you're cheering in the stands at your son's baseball game or leading your daughter's Girl Scout troop, family activities are networking goldmines. Use these opportunities to get to get to know the other parents. You'll be amazed at who you could meet at your child's dance recital or karate lesson."

5. Stay Up To Date On Your Industry

As someone who's coming back into his or her field after being out for a while, it's very important that you brush up on industry news and trends. You don't want to appear clueless during interviews because you didn't hear about that super important thing that affected the company to which you're applying.

Augustine suggests subscribing to relevant online publications and setting up Google News Alerts on the major players in your field and other industry terms. That way, you can get automatic updates on the news and trends in your industry.

Returning to the workforce can be scary and stressful. Make your life a little easier by building a plan of attack that will get you back on the bike as soon as possible.

Need more help with your job search?

Become a member to learn how to land a job and UNLEASH your true potential to get what you want from work!

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 1 day 14 hours ago

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Navigating The 2024 Maze: A Guide For Small & Mid-Size Growth Companies

The past 18 months have painted a picture of economic ambiguity, with predictions ranging from smooth landings to potential recessions. Geopolitical tensions add further complexity, making future outcomes elusive. While perfect foresight remains out of reach, proactive risk management can equip mid-size growth companies to navigate these uncertainties and achieve resilient growth.

Challenges And Opportunities In A Tightening Credit Landscape

Regional banks, traditionally a financing mainstay for mid-size companies, are facing constraints, leading to tighter credit and higher borrowing costs. This necessitates exploring alternative financing solutions like private credit, even though they may differ from traditional bank loans in terms of structure and cost. Equity financing, while dilutive, might become a last resort. Asset-backed lending offers possibilities for asset-intensive companies, but collateral risks require careful consideration.

Top-Line Growth In A High-Interest World

As interest rates rise, companies must prioritize debt reduction and focus on value creation for both customers and shareholders. A comprehensive understanding of the value chain within each business unit is crucial, enabling informed capital allocation and ROI maximization. Operational efficiencies alone won't suffice. A C-suite equipped to understand and leverage the "value equation" is essential for driving growth through strategic investments, sales, and capital deployment.

Supply Chain Resilience In A Geopolitically Charged World

The current geopolitical climate poses challenges, but proactive mitigation strategies can lessen their impact. While predicting specific outcomes remains impossible, companies can identify and address supply chain vulnerabilities through comprehensive assessments and diversification strategies. This includes diversifying sourcing locations, suppliers, and production facilities. Additionally, contingency planning, buffer stocks, and contractual flexibility offer further safeguards in this complex global landscape.

Technology Innovation In A Capital-Constrained Environment

​Justifying IT investments in a cost-sensitive environment demands clear demonstrations of cost savings and business value. For mid-size companies, this challenge becomes even more crucial. Trade-offs between IT security, infrastructure upgrades, and other needs are likely to arise. Identifying and prioritizing critical IT needs that directly support growth is essential. Continuous tracking and communication of the value delivered by IT investments are key to securing future funding.

Building A Thriving Culture In A Hybrid Workforce

The post-pandemic era has redefined the traditional office environment, presenting challenges for company culture and talent acquisition/retention. Creating or maintaining a strong culture while embracing hybrid work arrangements is paramount. Aligning values and fostering engagement when staff are physically dispersed requires open communication and hard conversations about roles, compensation, and expectations. While small and mid-size companies can operate remotely, sustained growth often necessitates fostering a strong in-person element as well.

Adapting To A New Interest Rate Regime

As the U.S. economy recalibrates to a 3.5% to 4% interest rate environment, mid-size growth companies reliant on regional bank financing must adapt. Exploring alternative financing solutions, stabilizing supply chains, building a strong culture, retaining talent, and driving innovation are crucial for navigating this new reality and achieving sustainable growth.

Below are examples of consulting interventions to address these challenges:

  • Scenario Planning: Facilitate scenario planning exercises to help clients anticipate and prepare for diverse economic outcomes.
  • Financial Modeling: Develop robust financial models that account for varying interest rate environments and financing constraints.
  • Operational Efficiency Assessments: Identify and implement operational improvements to enhance cash flow and reduce reliance on external financing.
  • Supply Chain Mapping & Risk Management: Conduct comprehensive supply chain assessments and develop mitigation strategies for potential disruptions.
  • Talent Acquisition & Retention Strategies: Design and implement talent acquisition and retention programs tailored to the hybrid work environment.
  • IT Investment Optimization: Guide clients in prioritizing and justifying IT investments that deliver demonstrable value and support growth objectives.

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 3 days 13 hours ago

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This Simple Trick Will Help You Quantify ANYTHING On Your Resume

As a candidate or an employee, you need to justify the cost of your employment. How can you demonstrate your value? The answer is to quantify, quantify, quantify! You need to be able to prove you can get the job done better and faster than the candidates.

Having trouble quantifying? This simple trick will help you quantify ANYTHING on your resume...

If you want to find and keep a great job, you MUST remember this simple equation:

Numbers = Results = Value

Employers won't invest in you if they don't think you can get the results they need. So, you need to do your best to demonstrate your value through numbers.

Here's an example. Out of the following two candidates, who looks more impressive?

  • Candidate #1: Fundraised for breast cancer research.
  • Candidate #2: Increased fundraising contributions for breast cancer research by 25% since 2014, raising a total of $15,000 in 2015.

Even though they both do the same thing, Candidate #2 looks much more impressive because they're quantifying their results and showcasing their value.

How To Quantify ANYTHING On Your Resume

Whether you're searching for a job or trying to climb the ladder at your company, this simple trick will help you achieve your goal: Write out a list of your career accomplishments. Then, fill in the blanks. Ask how many, how much, how long, and how often?

Instead of saying: Wrote articles for local newspaper.

Say something like: Wrote 8 articles per week for Big Town Sentinel, which covers 5 towns and has 8,000+ daily readers.

Remember: Numbers = Results = Value. It's your job to prove your value to the employer by flaunting your accomplishments. If you follow this equation when writing your resume, you'll stand out as a qualified and accomplished candidate who will certainly be a valuable employee to the company.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 3 days 16 hours ago

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4 Red Flags Employers Watch For On Cover Letters

Before getting into what should or shouldn't be in your cover letter, let's just get out of the way that a cover letter is a must. Why? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

The cover letter gives you the chance to express that you're a professional and that you have the skills, expertise, and passion the employer is seeking in an ideal job candidate. When you don't send a cover letter with your resume, it can be interpreted as you're not that serious about the job—that it's not even worth your time and effort to include a greeting that will put your information in context to the employer's needs.

Writing a cover letter is particularly important if your resume raises red flags when reviewed on its own. Things like a lengthy period of unemployment, smaller job gaps, or no specialized training for a job that requires it needs some explaining to alleviate concern.

So, here's what you need to be watchful of in your cover letter so that it works effectively with your resume.

1. You Didn't Customize Your Cover Letter

Like the resume, your cover letter needs to be customized and speak directly to the employer's needs. It shouldn't simply say, "I'm interested in the job, and here's my resume for review." If you're going to do that, then it's the same as not sending a cover letter at all.

The best way to customize your cover letter is to go all in and write a disruptive cover. Speak of your knowledge in the business, what you know about that employer, why you're passionate about their mission, products, or services, and how your experience and skills can help the employer reach their goals. Provide highlights from your resume and how you can apply what you learned in past positions to the job you're looking to land at their organization.

Basically, if the employer can feel your excitement through the cover letter, and is impressed by the story you tell, you'll be one of the first job candidates they contact to learn more.

2. You Left Important Questions Unanswered

There are some things on your resume that may raise a red flag, and if they go unexplained, the hiring manager will not take a chance on you. They'll just move on to the next candidate.

Consider things like periods of unemployment, lack of degree or certification, frequent job changes, or a change in career direction that may require more information. The point is not to over-explain, but to touch on the subject in short to offer a reason that will alleviate potential concerns. For example, you may have taken a year off from work to care for a newborn or sick parent. Tell that story in your disruptive cover letter.

Also, your disruptive cover letter should begin to answer some of the questions the employer will want to find out for sure if you come in for a job interview. Some of those questions include:

  • Can you save or make the company money?
  • Are you passionate about what we do?
  • Will you stay with the company long enough for us to see a return on investment from hiring you as an employee?
  • Do you want to grow as a professional at the company?
The sooner you can answer these questions for the employer, the easier it will be for you to move on in the hiring process. And it all starts with a great cover letter. 3. You Didn't Proofread

Your cover letter is a reflection of your professionalism. If it's filled with misspellings or poor grammar, the employer will be left to believe you are careless—a direct reflection of how you may perform on the job.

Let's be honest: If you really care about getting the job you're applying for, you'll proofread your cover letter and resume multiple times. If you don't seem inclined to proofread all of your career materials before sending in your application, the job probably isn't the right one for you.

Nevertheless, make sure you proofread your cover letter. When in doubt, have a trusted friend look it over too!

4. You Didn't Follow Directions

Many employers will leave specific directions in the job posting for applicants to follow. It can be as simple as including XYZ in the subject line when your email message is serving as the cover letter, including your salary requirement, or providing an answer to a question.

Since many employers get more applicants than they need, any applicant who fails to follow directions is an automatic strikeout.

While writing your cover letter, follow any directions the employer has on the job posting. The same goes for when you send it out. Even if your cover letter is amazing, not following the directions can hurt your chances of landing an interview!

Your cover letter is the best opportunity for you to stand out to employers early on in the hiring process, so take the time to write one that is polished and speaks directly to the employer's needs. Whatever you do, avoid the red flags above!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 3 days 16 hours ago

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What Your Interview Body Language Reveals About You

Poor body language can derail an interview regardless of how confident and well-spoken you are. Body language is as much a part of your communication style as what you say verbally—it's really about how you say it. Impressions are made within seconds of reviewing body language.

Consider the first step to entering an interview—the handshake. While it may take less than 10 seconds to complete a handshake, in that time, the interviewer has already developed an impression of your character based on eye contact and the firmness of your shake. A weak handshake and lack of eye contact can leave the impression you are timid and insecure. A sincere and firm handshake with eye contact expresses professionalism and confidence. An overpowering handshake with a fixed gaze may come across as overconfident and arrogant. So, be cautious with your next handshake and start the interview off with a positive impression.

In an interview, body language is present from head to toe. Consider the following...


Whether you are sitting or standing, your posture projects a level of confidence and engagement in the conversation. When one slumps, it implies to the interviewer a lack of confidence and interest. Sitting stiff as a rock implies nervousness and it creates an uncomfortable situation for building rapport. Sitting at the tip of the chair implies you don't want to be there. Lying back on the chair with your ankle on top of your other knee may appear unprofessional and too relaxed. In general, crossing your arms and legs may be interpreted as building a barrier.

To project professionalism, confidence, and engagement, consider sitting on the chair with your lower back touching or close to the back panel while leaning 10 degrees forward. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap or on the table, and your feet grounded on the floor. When standing, avoid crossing your arms or placing them in your pockets. The point is to project a balanced posture that is not limp or overly stiff.

Eye Contact

Eye contact allows you and the interviewer to connect beyond words alone. However, there is a fine balance between good eye contact and when eye contact becomes a weird gaze or stare that can make the other person feel uncomfortable. When you stare without having breaks in between, a casual conversation can come across as a lecture.

Whether you are listening or speaking, maintain eye contact with your interviewer for a couple of seconds at a time (no more than 7 to 10 seconds) and then glance away before returning eye contact again. If you are looking down to take notes, look up occasionally, especially when it appears a special point is being made or when you are asked a question.


Speed, tone, and pitch combined make an impression. Talking too fast can be hard to understand and appear as nervousness. When your tone projects apology or defense, you can come across as unconfident and insecure. When you don't make changes between your tone and pitch, you can sound monotone, making it more difficult for the other person to stay engaged.

Learn to take control of your voice. If you are nervous, it can come across in your pitch, so take a breath to help you relax before speaking. Be conscious of your tone and pitch to offer variation and to help emphasize certain points.


Some people have a tendency to bobble their heads as a gesture of agreement, but when you nod in excess during a conversation, it becomes a distraction and can be interpreted as though you are agreeing on everything for the sake of wanting to please. You can lose credibility in such instances.

To avoid appearing like a bobblehead, nod occasionally to show you are still engaged and have control over how you nod. You can also tilt your head slightly to the side as though you are trying to listen more carefully as another way to show you are engaged.


There are people who do certain things out of habit, such as flaring their arms while talking, twirling their hair, playing with a pen in hand, rocking back and forth on a chair, and shaking or thumping their feet. Many of these actions occur unconsciously; however, these are distractions to the person you are speaking to and may be perceived as signs you are bored or have trouble focusing. Some people also touch their nose or face frequently when they are nervous. An interviewer may perceive this as a sign you are not being totally honest.

Be conscious of what you do with your hands, legs, and feet and that will help you take control of your movements. Be aware of your own body language and also read your interviewer's body language to give you hints about how they are responding to you.

The interview may start very formal, but as you both become acquainted with one another, the mood may relax and you may adapt your body language to reflect what you sense from the interviewer. There is no absolute rule around body language, but it would be wise to avoid any chance of being misinterpreted.

You can properly prepare your body language before heading into an interview by watching yourself in the mirror act out how you introduce yourself and speak. Another helpful way is to have a friend or colleague interview you and record the entire session. Review how you present yourself and become aware of problem areas to adjust before your interview.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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 4 days 17 hours ago

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5 Traits Of People Who Are Respected At Work (And Get The Most Career Opportunities)

I had a sad career coaching call with an extremely successful woman recently. When she told me her career story, which I have all my clients do, her story was riddled with a highway of situations where she was taken advantage of, where she wasn't given the respect that she deserved.

As a career coach, I have each person tell me their career story because I can always tell, based on the story, where your sticking points and roadblocks are. And for this woman, it clearly was getting herself into situations where they wouldn't respect her. She was almost in tears while telling me this, but she was still so professional, and then she said, "What is it going to take, JT? What is it going to take for me to get into one of these environments and not be taken advantage of?"

I didn't want to give her a pat answer, so I said I was going to sleep on it and then come back and tell her the traits I see in people who are respected at work and, therefore, get the best career opportunities. I want to share those five traits with you because I think it's important that everyone hear them.

1. They See Themselves As A Business-Of-One.

The first trait I see in people who are respected at work is they always see themselves as a business-of-one. They don't work for a company. They work with them. They partner with them. Therefore, right out of the gate, there's mutual respect. Then, if they start disrespecting you, you can have a conversation and tell them that they're either going to get this right or you're going to go find a new partner because you're not going to be treated that way. You're not going to allow yourself to be treated that way. It's about setting boundaries and addressing the disrespect before it gets out of hand. Respected employees are able to communicate these boundaries without being harsh.

2. They Aren't Complainers; They're Curious.

The second trait is they aren't complainers; they're curious. Nobody likes to work with complainers. The people who are respected at work don't walk in and dump a problem on a manager's desk. Instead, when they see a problem, they meet with people and they get curious. They ask questions. They try to understand. In fact, one of their favorite phrases to use is "help me understand." They ask clarifying questions to get to the source of the problem so that hopefully the people they're talking to can realize the problem, but if not, it gives them permission to then point it out and have a conversation.

3. They Ask Questions Instead Of Bossing People Around.

The third trait is they get really good at "ask, don't tell." They don't boss everyone around. They don't tell everyone what to do. They know how to ask questions so that things become other people's ideas and they get permission to then share their points of view, their ideas, and their perspectives. It's how they get buy-in. It's how they get consensus. And, again, it's how they gain and keep people's respect.

4. They Talk About Their Results, Not Their Character.

The fourth trait is they talk about their results. They don't talk about their character. You know that you have to be your biggest self-advocate in the workplace, and you're hired to save or make money. You're hired to solve problems and alleviate pain, so when you're talking about the results that you were able to get, when you're talking about what's actually valued, not that you were a great team player, etc., you'll stand out and be respected for the value that you create on the job. You're going to have to find strategic ways to talk about your results without bragging or sounding like a narcissist to make sure that people understand the quantifiable impact that you've had on the company, and the people who are respected at work do this well.

5. They Never Initially Disagree With Someone.

Lastly, the people who are respected at work never initially disagree with someone. This might be a hot take, but whenever they clearly disagree with someone, they don't say "I disagree." That's not how they lead the conversation. What they do instead is they find a commonality with the person, something they can agree on, and then they talk about that. These people know how to disarm somebody by talking about what they agree upon first before they discuss where they have differences or disagreements.

I'm sure there are more traits you could add to this list, but when I really looked at the people who are the most respected at work, who are incredibly successful and seem to get all the opportunities they want, they're doing these five things consistently in their careers. They have these five traits. And it's having an incredible impact on their brand.

If you're struggling with getting respect at work, I can help. Sign up for a Work It DAILY membership today (FREE for 7 days!).

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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 5 days 15 hours ago

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10 Ways Employees Can Be More Proactive At Work

Proactivity, as defined by organizational behavior, is “anticipatory, change-oriented, and self-initiated behavior in situations, rather than just reacting." When a person is proactive, they are acting in advance of a future event. Proactive employees typically don't need to be asked to do something, and will usually require less-detailed instructions.

Proactive behavior is applicable to either one's own role or to "extra role" responsibilities. Within one's own role, for example, a person may find a more efficient way to complete one or more of their responsibilities. Extra role responsibilities (i.e., those tasks outside of your stated job description) speak to an employee's organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). The proactive employee would, for example, initiate an offer to help their co-workers before they are asked to assist by either their colleagues or their manager.

The steps you can take to become more proactive at work apply to both your formal role and your part of the scope of the OCB within your team, your department, and your overall organization.

There are variations on the theme; however, the following behaviors are a common foundation for proactivity within all of the theories.

Organize | Take Stock | Be Positive

Proactivity requires that you be organized. That includes your mindset, your space, and, of course, your schedule! Organizing your time helps you approach tasks more efficiently and allows you to be more open to opportunities. This scheduling needs to include "downtime" for those activities that keep your life in balance.

A positive attitude is right up there on any list. Approaching tasks from a positive perspective encourages you to look for the best in every situation. It helps you become the employee who is "ready, willing, and able," who can always be counted on. A team player who is reliable and available will become the go-to person, the problem solver.

Take stock of your current responsibilities:

  • What are your tasks?
  • What are the priorities?
  • What can be consolidated, eliminated, or shortened?
  • What can you do to stay ahead of less urgent tasks?
  • How do you solve problems?
  • Can you prevent problems by planning ahead and developing alternative processes in anticipation?
  • What are the things you still need to know?
  • Can you automate any of your tasks to make them more effective and less time-consuming?
Communicate | Connect | Network

Find a role model by observing the leaders in your company. When possible, spend time with them to gain insight into their behaviors. Try out their techniques. Some will work for you, others will not. You'll need to fine-tune what you acquire so that you are able to build your own repertoire.

Let others know that you want to be more involved. You'll need to create your own opportunities. Don't wait to be asked—present your ideas to your management team.

Goals | Persistence | Excellence

Set goals for yourself. Write them down. List everything that you want to accomplish. Set deadlines. Once you have the end in mind, you can achieve your desired outcome. A series of small goals leading up to the completion of a large goal keeps tasks from becoming insurmountable.

Stay the course on how you want to accomplish your goals. This may require overcoming your fears and rising above obstacles or setbacks. You'll need to step outside of your comfort zone and become increasingly resilient.

Strive for excellence from start to finish. Commit yourself to always presenting your best work—your completed project with no loose ends. Be passionate about what you do. Give it your all. No matter what role you are assigned, you will be more effective when you put your full energy and effort into it.

Celebrate! | Be Flexible!

Celebrate your successes, big and small, as you move along your path to becoming more proactive!

Be flexible! You can't plan for every outcome, so being able to react to the unexpected is an important trait for the proactive person. It is about the awareness of the existence of choices, regardless of the situation or the context.

A proactive employee is often an indispensable employee. By exhibiting these 10 behaviors, you'll be known as the go-to person at work, a valuable business-of-one the company doesn't want to lose.

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4 Things Interviewers Rate You On

You want to demonstrate you have the experience and skills for the job. But what makes one candidate more favorable than the other when they both have the same type of experience and skills?

When this is the case, it often comes down to a job seeker's performance during the interview.

As a job seeker, it's important to understand what other areas interviewers consider when reviewing each candidate as a total package. Here are four areas interviewers rate you on...


Employers want a job candidate with a "can-do" attitude and who has a strong desire to work for the company. Make sure that comes through in your communication, from your cover letter, phone interview, and in-person interview to the thank-you note.

Throughout the entire process, you want to make it known that you remain highly interested in the position. When you are meeting in person, you can also use your body language to help demonstrate engagement and interest.

Communication Skills

A top trait that employers seek for every position is strong communication skills. Your ability to articulate what experience and skills you have to offer and how they can contribute to your future employer's success has to come through if you want to impress the interviewer.

People hire people they like so your job in the interview is to turn it into a conversation and be prepared to ask questions during the process. Keep in mind that a key part of communicating effectively has to do with intonation and body language. When your voice exhibits excitement and you're leaning forward and making eye contact, that is stressing to the interviewer you're communicating something of importance.

Technical Skills

The first thing an employer will do is determine if you have the requisite skills and experience for the position. Make sure you have studied the job posting, researched people at the company on LinkedIn, and know what they are looking for and how you can contribute.

When answering interview questions, use the "Experience + Learn = Grow" model to give examples of your key skill sets in action. This includes outlining a professional experience related to the question, talking about what you learned from the experience, and how you grew from it professionally.

Overall Fit For The Position

You need to demonstrate that you are a "good fit" for their organization. This is measured in two ways: your skill and competencies and your demeanor and personality. Once you have shown that your technical skills are there, they want to see if people will want to work with you. Don't be afraid to let some of your personality come out.

The interviewer wants to see your sense of humor, confidence level, and whether you come across as honest or fake. The right combination of all those qualities will inform the interviewer if you're the right fit for the job, and also for the company's culture.

So, while you prepare for your interview to demonstrate you have what it takes to do the job, don't forget to impress the interviewer with these other factors that will differentiate you from the other job candidates who may have similar experience and skills. The more prepared you are for the job interview, the more confident you will be, and the more likely you'll make a great impression on the hiring manager.

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Are You FUNGIBLE? (Hint: You Don't Want To Be In Today's Labor Market)

In 2008, I read Bloomberg Businessweek's article entitled “Management by the Numbers” in which they review how IBM has been building mathematical models of its own employees with an aim to improve productivity and automate management. I’ll let you read it and draw your own conclusions, but I realized that this article still rings true today.

After reading this article so many years ago, I learned a new workplace term that they’re using over at IBM. "Fungible" is a word used to describe workers who are “virtually indistinguishable from others” in terms of the value of their contributions in the workplace.

You see, IBM’s study is enabling them to identify top performers from average ones, with the latter being fungible—and I would assume that translates into expendable as well. In a time where layoffs continue to make the headlines, I guarantee management teams all over the country are getting in rooms and saying, “Who’s fungible on the payroll right now?”

Okay, so they are most likely not using the term—but they are having that discussion, I assure you.

How To Be Indispensable (Not Fungible)

Employees must get on the ball and start doing two things if they want to keep their jobs:

  1. Produce quantifiable results that tie to the financial success of the company
  2. Market their success to those who determine if they are fungible

So if you’ve been on autopilot when it comes to assessing your professional strengths, building your career identity, and marketing your personal brand (if you are unfamiliar with the career development terms I just used, suffice to say you’ve been on autopilot), then I encourage you to get started.

It takes a lot more to get and keep a good job these days, and there’s a whole new way to manage your career. If you need help learning how to be indispensable in your career so you don't end up fungible, sign up for a Work It DAILY membership today. Getting the career help you need has never been easier.

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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5 Questions To Ask Your Employer If You Get Laid Off

When you get laid off, many questions go through your head. You may ask yourself, "Why me? How will I tell my family? What will I do now?"

Layoffs happen to almost everyone. If you haven't been laid off before, consider yourself lucky. Whether you saw the layoff coming or were completely blindsided by it, there are a handful of things you should know before you begin to looking for your next job.

Here are five questions you need to ask your employer if you get laid off:

1. When Will I Receive My Last Paycheck & How Will I Get It?

Money will probably be one of the first things on your mind when you get laid off. You'll want to ask your employer when and how you will get your last paycheck. They need to give this to you immediately or within your next pay cycle.

Some employers may try to stop direct deposit, so you need to make sure they have your current address if they are mailing you the check instead.

2. Will I Get Paid For Any Outstanding Vacation Or Personal Time?

Chances are you'll have outstanding vacation or personal time if you get laid off suddenly. Should you be getting compensated for that?

Your employee handbook should outline the exact policy and procedure for this type of situation, but you should also ask your employer in the event they are not paying this but are legally supposed to. That way, you can point out the extra pay you are due per your contract.

3. How Long Will My Medical Benefits Last & When Will I Be Eligible For COBRA?

Health insurance coverage is another big question when you get laid off. You'll need to ask your employer how long your medical benefits will last, and how long you have before you'll have to pay the COBRA premiums, which are much more expensive.

Your employer should give you someone to contact about this as well.

4. Am I Eligible For Rehire If There Is A Position Available In The Future?

This is the most important question to ask when you get laid off. If they say you aren't eligible for rehire, it means they aren't listing you as a laid-off employee. Instead, they're listing you as fired, which could impact your ability to collect unemployment.

Trust us—this happens to people and they don't find out until their unemployment claim gets rejected.

5. Will I Receive Outplacement Services To Help Me With My Job Search?

Outplacement services help people find new jobs after they get laid off. Most higher-level managers and executives get career coaching services when they get laid off. Meanwhile, the average professional doesn't usually know to ask for these services.

Studies show that people who get outplacement get hired 2.5 times faster than those who don't. If the company says they aren't offering outplacement, ask if they would be willing to reimburse you for a subscription to an outplacement service like Work It DAILY.

The career coaching Work It DAILY offers is virtual and costs a fraction of traditional outplacement. If you get laid off, you should push for outplacement because it also helps your employer avoid discrimination lawsuits.

Ask if anyone in the company is getting outplacement. If so, then you should get the same.

Getting laid off is never easy. If it happens to you, make sure to ask your employer these five questions so you can prepare yourself for the job search ahead.

Think a Work It DAILY subscription would help you after a layoff? Sign up for our 7-day free trial today.

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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What Should & Shouldn't Be On Your LinkedIn Profile

A well-optimized LinkedIn profile is a necessity in today's job search. But what is acceptable to put on your LinkedIn profile and what is best left off it?

The biggest mistake job seekers make when creating and updating their LinkedIn profiles is not adding enough of the "right" information. But there are still a few things that don't belong on your profile, which will hurt your chances of standing out to recruiters and building your professional network.

First, let's discuss what shouldn't be on your LinkedIn profile before we talk about what should.

What Shouldn't Be On Your LinkedIn Profile

"Actively Seeking Opportunities"

Never, and we mean never, put "actively seeking opportunities" in your LinkedIn headline or anywhere on your LinkedIn profile. Your headline should include keywords that display your hard skills and expertise (and your current position, if applicable)—that's it. If this phrase appears in your LinkedIn headline, not only does it look desperate, but you're losing valuable real estate to optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords that help you get found by recruiters and hiring managers.

An Unprofessional (or Unfriendly) Profile Picture

Your LinkedIn profile needs a photo. Not having a photo at all is mistake number one. But mistake number two is having an unprofessional or unfriendly profile picture. The photo you choose to include on your LinkedIn profile should be one where you look professional and approachable. Others will be more willing to reach out and connect with you if you do.

Outdated Skills & Technologies

Recruiters will be more likely to skip your profile if the skills and technologies you have listed are no longer relevant or in demand in your industry. It doesn't matter your age; being relevant is all about how you market yourself. You are a business-of-one. Your reputation and success as a business-of-one are dependent on how relevant you're able to stay in the job market. So, don't include those outdated skills and technologies on your LinkedIn profile. Instead, focus on developing new skills and learning new technologies every day. After all, if you want to win, you've got to work it daily.

Politics & Religion

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but just in case you were wondering, no, politics and religion do not belong on your LinkedIn profile. Do you really gain anything by including them? No. Could including them negatively impact your job search or career? Yes. The solution? Keep those topics for a social media site that's not geared toward professional networking.

What Should Be On Your LinkedIn Profile

Lots of Keywords (Skills, Skills, and More Skills)

As mentioned above, your LinkedIn profile should include as many keywords (hard skills) as possible. You should put them in your LinkedIn headline, add them in the "Skills & Endorsements" section, and list them in the "About" section underneath your summary.

A Short but Informative "About" Section

You don't want to write a novel here. Just a short paragraph, ideally your personal branding statement. No one is going to read a summary of your entire career. So, keep it concise. Don't write in the third person, either. After your summary, remember to list your hard skills!

Quantifiable Accomplishments

Another big mistake professionals make on their LinkedIn profiles is not quantifying their work experience, skills, and accomplishments. Numbers stand out to recruiters and hiring managers and make it easier for them to understand your efficiency and effectiveness in a certain role. Back up your statements with quantifiable information and see how much better your profile looks.


Not having any skills endorsed on your LinkedIn profile isn't terrible, but you should definitely ask some of your colleagues to endorse your most valuable skills because that will only help your reputation as a professional. You can endorse a couple of theirs, and they can endorse a couple of yours—that way everybody wins.

It's not always easy deciding what you should and shouldn't include on your LinkedIn profile. We hope this list helps you update your LinkedIn profile in the future, especially if you'll be conducting a job search or making a career change.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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3 Things You Should Do When You Get A Bad Performance Review

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that talks about the fact that people can expect harsher performance reviews going forward, and I have to agree with them. Therefore, I want to tell you three things that you should do if you get a bad performance review to help you protect your career.

1. Don't Take It Personally

When you get a negative performance review or you get a performance review with a lot of constructive feedback after getting great, positive performance reviews in the past, it might be due to shifts in the market.

I always tell my clients that problems trickle down in the workplace. Many companies are tightening their belts right now. They're changing strategies and trying to figure out what's going on, and so those problems become headaches to the leadership team and they're not just going to take the brunt of that themselves; they're going to push it down to the people that they're paying to help solve those problems and alleviate that pain.

Consequently, more people are going to be told that what they've been doing in the past isn't good enough anymore. Their company needs more from them. That's the trickle-down effect. Now, I want you to have the right frame of mind around this. Don't take it personally. This is business, and your "customer" that owns the business, that employs you, is telling you they've got changes and they need you to support them in those changes. So, try to stay objective when you get a bad performance review out of nowhere.

2. See How Your Boss Is Treating Other People

The second thing that I want you to do is see how your boss is treating other people. If you got a bad performance review but other people aren't getting that same feedback, if you're not hearing that other people got negative performance reviews, then I need you to be really careful because this could be the company starting to single you out for a restructure, layoff, or firing.

These types of situations are happening more and more now. What was good enough before is not good enough anymore. So, take a look around. Is everyone getting the same feedback? Or do you feel like you're being singled out? Because if you are, there's a good chance that your job might be at risk and I don't want you finding that out later. I want you to be more proactive, which leads to my last tip...

3. Get Your Job Search Tools Ready

The moment you see a shift in how others are treating you after a bad performance review, you need to increase your networking efforts and get your job search tools ready. Any good business knows that if they start to see a customer who's not satisfied or who's acting like they're not satisfied, you do what you can to make that customer happy again, but you also remember that customers have life cycles and this may be the end of the life cycle.

You don't want to be left without a customer. You don't want to be left without an income for your business-of-one. So, it's important that you update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Get ready to do informational interviews and start networking with people who work at companies you might want to work at. Just get that ball rolling. You never know—a great opportunity might come along and this might be the push that you need to make that change. But you want to be prepared. You don't want to start looking for work when you suddenly don't have a job, and for a lot of people, that's what's happening right now. I want you to protect yourself from that.

So, to recap...

  1. Change your frame of mind. Don't take it personally. Understand that problems trickle down.
  2. See how your boss is treating other people. Is this you being singled out as a performance problem? Or is everybody getting this feedback, and what can you do to fix it?
  3. Protect yourself. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Increase your networking. Do some passive job searching. Whatever it takes to protect your business-of-one so it always has an income.

I hope this information helps if you suddenly get a bad performance review at work. Remember these tips, and you'll protect your career.

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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18 Easy Conversation Starters For Networking Events

One of the hardest things about networking events is just getting a conversation going with someone—without being awkward about it. Approaching someone new can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. So, what are some natural and easy ways to break the ice?

Here are some tips and tricks for starting a conversation at a networking event.

Go Fishing At The Food Table

While waiting in line for food, start chatting up the person next to you. This is a great opportunity to get a conversation started because you already have something in common: the food. Everyone is thinking about the same thing. What am I going to try? What looks good? So instead of just standing there in silence, start a conversation.

Here are a few conversation starters for this situation:

  • "Oh man, everything looks so good. I'm not sure what to get! What are you thinking?"
  • "Yummy, they have ____! Have you ever tried it?"
  • "Hmm, I'm not quite sure what that dish you know?"
Who knows, you might leave the buffet with a better plate of food and a new contact! That's a win-win in our book.Find A Loner

If you see someone standing alone in the corner, clutching his or her drink, and looking miserable, don't be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself. Typically, these people need a little help getting the conversation going.

Here are some icebreakers:

  • "Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it's a little quieter?"
  • "Wow, there are a ton of people here! The food must be good, huh?"
If someone is standing alone, he or she is probably feeling uncomfortable or unconfident. If you initiate the conversation, it could make them feel more relaxed and willing to connect.Compliment Them

Everyone loves compliments, especially when they are feeling insecure (and many people do feel that way when attending networking events). If you're struggling to start a conversation with someone, find something to compliment.

Here are some ideas:

  • "Yum, that drink looks good. What is it?"
  • "Cute shoes! Where did you get them?"
Talk About Sports

People love talking about sports. If you're a sports person, use it to your advantage!

See someone wearing a Red Sox cap? Say something like, "Red Sox fan, huh? Did you catch the game yesterday?" Overhear a group of people talking about last night's game? Express your interest in the conversation by saying something like, "Are you talking about ____?" and then chime in.

Just Say Hello

Sometimes the easiest way to meet someone is to offer a handshake and say, "Hi, I'm Peter."

Simply introducing yourself with a smile and a dash of confidence can work wonders.

Keeping The Conversation Going

We know what you're thinking. Yes, yes, that's all well and good, but how can I keep the conversation going after the initial question? It's easy! Talk about something else you have in common—the event itself!

Here are some ideas:

  • "I'm Gina, by the way, nice to meet you..."
    • "So, is this your first time at one of these events?"
    • "So, how did you hear about this event?"
    • "What a great place for an event, huh? Have you ever been here before?"

After that, try learning more about them. Questions can include:

  • "Are you from the area?"
  • "What line of work are you in or trying to get into?"

Next step: get them talking. Remember, people generally like to talk about themselves. So once they tell you what they do, ask questions about it. Here are a few:

  • "That's very interesting..."
BONUS: Your Exit Strategy

It's that time: Your drink is dry and you're ready to move on. When the conversation starts to wind down, don't try to force more. Remember, you're there to mix and mingle. Don't chain yourself to one person all night.

If you'd like to exit a conversation, try one of these lines:

  • "Alright, I'm going to get some food now that the line has died down a bit. It was great meeting you!"
  • "Have you met Lisa? She works in your industry as well. I'm sure you both will have plenty to talk about. I've got to say hello to someone, but I'll be back."
  • "Well, I think it's time for me to head out. I would love to talk with you again, though! May I have your card/contact information?"

Remember these conversation starters (and enders) during your next networking event to get the most out of your time there. Happy networking!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date and was inspired by the author's personal experiences and the advice of Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room.

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Are You Committing Unemployment Insurance Fraud By Accident?

Unemployment insurance fraud takes place when an individual conceals or misrepresents some information to get or increase unemployment insurance payments.

Most often, unemployment insurance frauds imply making a false statement about one's work and earnings. Sometimes the cases can also include work refusals, unreported travel, check forgeries, identity theft, inability to work, incarceration, perjury, non-availability for work, incorrect claims for dependent allowance, etc.

Here's everything you need to know about unemployment insurance fraud.

Types Of Unemployment Insurance Fraud
  • Failing to report your employment. This includes cash jobs, commission, self-employment, 1099, or temporary.
  • Making a false statement or misrepresenting information to increase or receive benefits (e.g., not reporting school attendance when receiving benefits).
  • Not reporting your work refusals.
  • Fabricating job searches or not conducting a solid work search.
  • Not reporting a work separation.
  • Using another individual's identity (social security number and/or name) to work and file for insurance payments.
  • Failing to report being incapable and not available to work (e.g., sick or injured, abroad, etc.) and receiving benefits.
  • Not reporting other types of reimbursement (e.g., workers' compensation payments).
  • Helping somebody file a fraudulent insurance claim.
What Happens If You Commit Unemployment Insurance Fraud?

If you commit unemployment insurance fraud intentionally or accidentally (not knowing the regulations, etc.), you have to pay back all the benefits that you received plus a penalty (50% of that sum).

In most cases, a person is going to be disqualified from getting unemployment benefits in the future (minimum 6 weeks for every week of receiving benefits). There can also be imprisonment and fines included depending on the sum of the received fraudulent benefits.

Unemployment fraud punishment may differ between U.S. states. The Department of Unemployment Insurance in Arizona, for example, has different periods of disqualification from collecting unemployment insurance benefits than in Colorado. You should check your state's law to get the full picture.

Repaying Overpayments

There can also be overpayments, which you must pay back. Some of the typical cases of overpayments include:

  • You report some information wrongly when you file for benefits, and that information is corrected after.
  • The Unemployment Insurance Program processes your claim erroneously.
  • Your income was wrongly reported by your employer.
There can be a repayment plan organized for you if you cannot repay the whole sum at once.How Can Unemployment Insurance Fraud Be Detected?

There are a lot of ways in which unemployment insurance fraud is identified. Here are some of them:

  • Public tips by internet, mail, or phone
  • New employer's hire reports
  • Cross-matches with some government records
  • Quality control audits
  • Claim center referrals
  • Other investigative efforts
These days, unemployment insurance fraud seldom goes unpunished. We hope this article has informed you about unemployment insurance fraud and helps you avoid any potential mistakes while you're unemployed.Need more help with your career?

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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10 Ways To Condense Your Resume Without Losing Value

In a culture dominated by short posts, videos, and other content on social media, we all face enormous pressure to communicate ever more briefly. When it comes to resumes, recent trends have lowered preferred lengths to two to three pages. If your resume is long, how can you possibly condense it without losing value?

As a certified and award-winning resume writer, I face this dilemma on a daily basis. Most resumes contain a lot of "fat" in the form of run-on sentences, unwieldy skill descriptions, lackluster branding, and unnecessary details. By trimming these problem areas, your resume can become a lean, mean, brand communication machine.

But isn't it better to include more content so you can weave in more keywords throughout your resume? No, actually.

When it comes to resume writing, less is generally more. Here's why:

  • Recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers are, like most of us, overworked and inundated with information overload. Crisp, lean sentences filled with the right details will stand out more in a sea of candidates.
  • Too many keywords in a document can actually be a negative thing because it may make it appear that you are stuffing your document for the sole purpose of ranking high in resume searches. The database systems, or applicant tracking systems (ATS), that recruiters, companies, and job boards use to store and analyze incoming resumes are sophisticated enough to identify which documents have the right range of keywords specified in applicant searches—enough to meet their needs but not too much to raise eyebrows. In other words, keyword density is important, but too many keywords is a red flag.
  • Important details stand out more when there is less text, especially if those details have been whittled and shaped wisely. Clogging up your resume with unnecessary information and vague details impairs its ability to communicate your brand in the four to six seconds it is screened by humans.

Let's take a look at a few length targets to give you an idea of where your resume is out of balance. While there are few hard and fast resume rules, these are general guidelines that most highly experienced and credentialed writers and career coaches follow.

Resume & Content Length Guidelines

Resume Length

Most recruiters expect resumes to be two to three pages in length, with a strong preference for two pages in North America. While this varies from recruiter to recruiter, most like to see two-page resumes for job seekers with up to 10-15 years of experience. For those with considerably more experience, a three-page resume may be necessary to capture and present all relevant details.

One-Page Resume Rule

The one-page-only resume rule is still common, though. Those with limited experience may find that length most appropriate for their needs.

Career Summaries

Career summary statements have shortened since the 2008 recession and now trend at three to six lines of text. In mid-career, mid-management, and executive resumes, it is often appropriate to add branding content to this section of the resume, though generally such material is best restricted to up to the first half of the document's first page. Work It DAILY recommends ditching the career summary entirely and focusing on a headline instead—a short summary of the problem you solve that highlights your personal brand.

Core Competencies

Core competency sections are best limited to six to eight skills. At Work It DAILY, we call this the "Experience Summary," which is a list of any skills and requirements you possess that are needed for a certain job and are relevant to the position you're applying for.

Bullets per Role

Too many bulleted statements in a resume overwhelm your reader. Limit bullets to five per role if possible, but don't list fewer than three, either.

Bullet Length

Ideally, bullets should be limited to two lines of space. If additional critical details must be included, consider separating content into different bullets.

Amount of Work History to Include

Recruiters typically are most interested in the last 10-15 years of your experience, so this is the amount of experience you will want to profile on your resume. Older relevant experience can be briefly summarized in your "Additional Experience" section at the end of your resume. In most cases, any irrelevant work experience can be safely eliminated altogether. The usual exception is recent college grads and young professionals just starting out their careers who already have limited work experience to quantify and show off.

Resume Shortening Strategies

1. Say More with Less

Cut out words that aren't needed and delete words that are repeated. When you're fighting a two-line bullet length, every word counts.

2. Leverage Action Verbs

While all verbs convey action of some sort, some contain more energy and action than others. It may be accurate to say you wrote the company's five-year plan, for example, but it's more powerful to say that you strategized, authored, and executed the company's first-ever five-year plan.

3. Eliminate Passive Language

Passive language on a resume masks the true role you played in the task you're describing. The sentence, "I was exposed to different cultures, people, and challenges" is weaker than "Gained cross-functional and cross-cultural exposure to 5 ethnicities in 12 countries," for example.

4. Be Specific

Avoid vague descriptors and phrases such as "a variety of," "many," "others," and "successfully." Replace them with specific details that add value and meaning to the text.

5. Use Numbers Whenever Possible

Numbers talk, so it's imperative to use them in resumes to quantify key achievements and context information. Don't tell your reader that you exceeded sales targets. Show them how much you surpassed goals year over year. Every bullet point under your "Work History" section should contain at least one number. If you only follow one tip in this article, this should be the one.

6. Reformat

Many old-style resumes and built-in MS Word templates don't use the most effective format to get a hiring manager's attention. In your resume, make sure you're using a clean, 11-18 pt. font (Arial, Calibri). Also, don't shrink your margins to fit more text on a page. This will sacrifice white space and make your resume harder to read. Finally, place your titles and employer names on one line if you held only one role with the company, and eradicate widows and orphans (stray paragraph lines and single words on a line by themselves).

7. Categorize

Some content can be categorized or sub-categorized to convey information in more powerful ways. Subdividing a long series of bullets, say, into three to four categories that emphasize the cross-functionality of your skill set will not only make your achievements easier to read but will also showcase your multi-function brand while adding industry-specific keywords to the resume.

8. Contextualize

Give your readers the right quality and type of detail to help them understand the full scope of your impact. For instance, if you turned around an operation, that's a critical accomplishment to include. However, including before and after context details will automatically strengthen the presentation. How much money was the business losing per month or year before your tenure? How much profit or revenue was it generating by the time you left?

9. Focus on Results

In real estate, it's location, location, location that is critical; in resumes, it's achievements, achievements, achievements. Numerically quantified statements communicate volumes of information in fewer words while conveying your accomplishment in specific, measurable terms. Here's a sentence from a client's original resume: "Managed multimillion-dollar business and IT initiatives from inception to implementation to increase productivity, reduce operational cost, and improve service quality by collaborating with IT staff, C-level executives, business users, and external healthcare service providers." Here's a revamp that shortens the sentence from 35 to 25 words while adding content to dramatically improve its results' focus: "Ramped productivity 15%, cut operational costs $7M, and strengthened service quality 14%, leading $25M to $50M cross-functional business and IT initiatives from inception to rollout." Notice that the original bullet spanned three lines while the revamp needs just two.

10. Ditch Extraneous Details

Choose carefully which details you include and how you do so. For example, in the original client sentence included in the prior bullet, you'll find a list of folks this person collaborated with in his position. The results he achieved are more central to his brand so I substituted the word "cross-functional" to cover my client's list of four groups that required 11 words to describe. A distinction that underlines many of the above points is to recognize the difference between resume content that is important versus that which is critical to include.

There simply isn't room for all of your skills and entire work history on a resume, so sooner or later you have to choose which important details are must-haves. By following the 10 tips above, you'll know exactly what to include and omit so you can successfully condense your resume without losing value.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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Top 3 Reasons Why People Want To Change Careers (And Tips For How To Make The Transition)

There are many reasons why people want to change careers. But can you guess the top three reasons why a professional might consider a career change today? What is the driving force behind making such a big life decision?

A recent FlexJobs survey announced the common reasons why people are changing careers. Here are the top three, and tips for how to successfully make a career change.

Why People Want To Change Careers

Based on the FlexJobs survey mentioned above, these are the top three reasons for wanting to change careers:

  • Better work-life balance (56%)
  • Higher pay (50%)
  • More meaningful or fulfilling career (49%)
Better Work-Life Balance vs. Higher Pay: What Would You Choose?

If you want to make a career change, you're probably doing so for at least one of the top three reasons listed above. What's most surprising about this survey is that the top reason professionals are changing careers is because they want a better work-life balance, beating out the desire for higher pay by 6%.

Another interesting finding is that two out of the top three reasons why people want to change careers aren't based on money or benefits or any other career advancement factors. They are based on personal growth and fulfillment.

Even though we are often told throughout our lives that money can't buy happiness, it seems as though more and more people are taking this advice to heart and are realizing that a higher salary would not make them happier; having the time and space to do what they truly love and focus on what really matters would.

Think about it. If you wake up in the morning feeling miserable and dreading work, it's most likely because you do not have anything in your life that excites you—nothing that sparks joy or gives your life meaning or purpose. When you think about the day ahead, you're not looking forward to anything. How do you solve this problem? Well, if you change careers, you could achieve a better work-life balance, which would give you time to pursue hobbies and interests outside of work. You could also find a job that excites you, working for a company with a mission you're passionate about, where the work has a purpose and it feels fulfilling. Does a higher salary have more value than that? Most career changers say no.

So, why are you (or why would you be) motivated to change careers? For better work-life balance? Or for higher pay? If you had to pick one, which sounds more appealing?

5 Tips For Successfully Changing Careers

It's important to have a strategy in place when you decide to change careers. Making a career change isn't easy, but there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of success. Here are five tips for successfully changing careers:

1. Inventory your skills

What are your transferable skills? What other skills do you have that are in demand in your target career and industry? Write them down, and make sure to include them on your LinkedIn profile.

2. Create a bucket list of companies that you want to work for

Are you passionate about a company's product or service? Do you connect with an organization's mission or values? What companies would you love to work for? Write those down too. This is your interview bucket list, and it is essential for all job seekers, not just career changers.

3. Make new connections

It's true. In your job search, it's all about who you know. If you want to successfully change careers, you'll have to step up your networking efforts. Connect with people at your dream companies from your interview bucket list and start a conversation with them on LinkedIn. Then, be sure to consistently offer value to your professional network. You never know who will contact you with a job opportunity.

4. Update your resume

Write a targeted resume with your ideal career in mind. Focus on your transferable skills and quantifying your work experience. Also, be sure to customize your resume for each position that you apply for. An optimized resume is invaluable, especially for career changers.

5. Be ready to tell your story

The most important tool in your job search as a career changer is a disruptive cover letter, which will allow you to tell your story and stand out to employers. Storytelling is incredibly powerful. In order to successfully change careers, you need to connect with the companies you're applying to and the people who work at those companies—and the best, most effective way to do this is by telling a compelling story.

As a professional, you've probably thought about changing careers at some point in your life, either seriously or just out of curiosity. Nowadays, most people are making the change because they want a better work-life balance. If this sounds like you, follow the five tips above to get started on your career change today. A better career (and life) awaits!

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Why Great Leaders Need These 3 Personal Leadership Skills

Personal leadership is taking responsibility for all aspects of your life and leading it in the direction that is best for you. In order to be successful in leading at work, having strong personal leadership skills is critical.

When you are able to take responsibility for your own life decisions, you are better able to have a positive and inspiring impact on others. You are also able to be a role model for others in the leadership arena.

There are three factors that impact strong personal leadership skills...

A Good Mindset

Mindset is defined as "a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations."

Having a positive attitude and perspective about personal leadership and making decisions that are in your best interest is your first step toward strong personal leadership skills. Having positive beliefs and expectations about what will result when you make choices is part of having a positive mindset about personal leadership.

Having the right attitude about developing your personal leadership skills is a great first step on the path to success. Then, you can transfer that success to your leadership skills at work.

Energy Management

The next important area is your energy. How are you managing your energy? Are you taking time to renew yourself? This all supports you in being able to make the best decisions.

This again translates into your leadership skills at work. Managing your energy in all areas of your life enables you to give your best—both personally and professionally—and to be at your best when you are both at home and at work.

Strong Support System

The third important area of personal leadership is your support system. Having strong personal leadership skills means you have a network of people to support you through making choices that are in your best interest.

These people are your sounding boards, your trusted colleagues, your family and friends, and really anyone who you define as part of your inner circle of confidants. These are the people who you know and trust. They are the ones with whom you can share ideas and seek guidance.

This again translates to your being a strong leader at work. We all know the importance of having a strong network in our careers. When people advocate for us, listen to us, and help us, we repay the favor. Strong personal leadership skills require the same type of network.

Strong personal leadership is about being the best leader in your personal life in addition to your professional life. Having strong personal leadership skills also makes you an outstanding role model for those you lead at work and demonstrates vital skills they can incorporate into their own lives.

Development Tip: How are your personal leadership skills? Do you have the right mindset about leading your own life? Are you managing your energy well and do you have a support system behind you? Take some time to think about whether or not you are leading your own life as well as you are leading your work life.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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5 Old Resume Writing Tips To Ignore Right Now

In this digital age, the rules for resume writing have changed. While much about the resume may appear to be the same, there are things that you as the job seeker need to do differently today.

Some old resume writing tips may have been effective as recently as a few years ago, but if you want your resume to get into the right hands and help you get through the doors of your target employer, ignore these old resume writing tips below.

1. Keep The Resume To One Page

While it's still true that no hiring manager will want to go through pages and pages of your resume, trying to keep your resume down to one page is less critical than the content you have to present. If you have information that is worthy of inclusion in the resume—information that's relevant to the position—then there's no real harm done if your resume ends up being two pages long.

The fact is many employers today also run resumes through the applicant tracking system (ATS) before they even get into human hands, so your first mission is to get your resume past the ATS. In order to do that, it needs to include the right keywords that are often listed or mentioned in the job description. It needs to be optimized for the specific position that you're applying for.

2. Fudge Details

Now more than ever, your resume needs to accurately reflect your employment history. Employers aren't just looking at the resume you send in. They are doing research online—looking at your LinkedIn profile to compare information. They will question if what is reflected in your resume is not reflected elsewhere, so don't try to present information that is far from the truth because there's a good chance you won't be able to fool anybody.

Also, don't try to fluff your resume. It's never a good idea.

3. Stuff Your Resume With Keywords

Keywords remain critical to how well your resume is received by the ATS and the human reviewer, but it's not about having a set of keyword tags at the end of your resume or hiding them by changing the font color to white so it blends with the background.

You're writing a resume that will ultimately be reviewed and read by a human, so use the appropriate keywords in context with the rest of your content on the resume.

4. Include Basic Technical Skills

Technical skills are desired in practically every profession, but in the past where you'd highlight your knowledge of MS Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so on, it's no longer relevant.

The technical skills you need to talk about on your resume today have to directly relate to the function of the job. Also, it's not about just listing that you know it. You have to help the employer understand how you put the skill to use and what results you gained from it to effectively deliver the message that your technical expertise with it will benefit the employer and allow you to succeed on the job.

How can you do this? By quantifying your accomplishments.

5. One Resume Does It All

Maybe you were able to get by sending out the same resume over and over again to every employer in the past, but if you want to compete today, you're going to need a resume customized to the employer's specific needs.

Just like the objective statement may have worked in the past where you tell the employer what you're looking for, today's resumes need to inform employers of what you have to offer to them.

So, customize your resume for each position that you apply for. It may take more work upfront, but your strategic efforts will pay off in the long run.

Change is all part of the path to greater success. Understand that what may have worked with resumes in the past will not necessarily work now. It's time to kick out the old resume writing tips that no longer work and revamp your resume with the techniques that do work today!

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6 Ways To Celebrate Valentine’s Day At Work

While cupid's arrow shouldn't be aimed anywhere near the workplace, there is a fun and appropriate way to celebrate this holiday of love. Here are some great ideas to spread love, cheer, and perhaps some dessert in the office this Valentine's Day.

Some view this holiday as cringe-worthy, but there are a lot of positive ways to celebrate Valentine's Day that not only inspire your fellow co-workers but also do good in the community. Don't miss out on this opportunity to show your co-workers how much you appreciate them, and to lift spirits in the workplace, increase positivity, and foster a caring environment in the office.

Bring The Food, They Will Come

Food is the fastest way to anyone's heart and there is no better way to become the office hero than to bring in some tasty treats. Why not share the love by bringing in a special breakfast or planning a potluck dessert social hour?

Look for heart-shaped bagels or pastries. Think pink and sprinkle in some candy hearts. Keep it healthy and bring in a fruit bouquet.

Bringing everyone together in the break room will give an opportunity to share a moment together, take a pause from work, and enjoy some tasty food. It is a delicious way to promote appreciation and increase morale in the workplace.

Spread The Love

This holiday is a perfect opportunity to lead by example and do something really positive. One way is to fundraise for an office charitable donation. There are so many wonderful organizations that accept office donations. Pick your top choices and let your co-workers weigh in on where the funds should go.

Take it a step further and organize a volunteer day. Get a group of co-workers together and volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen. Plant flowers and clean up a local park. It will not only encourage teamwork but will also have a positive impact on the local community.

Gratitude Valentines

The act of gratitude in the workplace has many positives. From higher levels of job satisfaction and less stress to fewer sick days, the simple act of gratitude can work wonders.

Create an office whiteboard of positive messages. Allow employees to write secret messages of gratitude and display them in a highly visible spot such as the kitchen or lobby. Giving people the opportunity to show their appreciation improves employee engagement and is sure to make a lasting impression.

Random Acts of Kindness

During the month of February, we recognize the National Random Acts of Kindness Day. What better way to celebrate than to organize a random acts of kindness challenge in the office? It is scientifically proven that kindness has a positive effect on our health. It can reduce blood pressure, lower levels of physical pain, and decrease stress and depression.

Inspire your co-workers by organizing daily kindness challenges. Have a sign-up sheet for employees to commit to a daily act of kindness in the office. You will soon find that kindness is contagious and creates a stellar office culture.

Thank-You Notes

Most only think about thank-you notes after an interview or receiving a gift, but the thank-you note is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. Research shows that the recipient of a thank-you note is happier and more engaged.

Use this holiday as a chance to distribute thank-you notes throughout the office and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Through our constant communication through email and social media, the power of the written word is a lost art form. Taking the time to put a few personable thoughts of thanks down on paper is an effective way to show your appreciation and spread happiness and cheer.

Heart Healthy

February is American Heart Month. Valentine's Day is a perfect opportunity to throw a heart-healthy event. Bring in healthy foods and share informative tips on heart health. Perhaps even bring in an expert from the American Heart Association to lead a discussion on heart health.

Do you work in a competitive office? You could organize an office activity that will get the blood pumping such as a softball or kickball game. This is an excellent opportunity to put a focus on health and well-being in the workplace and institute habits in the office that promote good heart health.

There are lots of ways to celebrate Valentine's Day at work—you just have to get creative! Have some office fun this February by trying out the ideas above.

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Why Companies Fire People To Save Money

There are a lot of companies that will choose to fire employees instead of laying them off. Let's walk through the instances when this happens so you can better prepare yourself.

Placing The Blame On You

Lots of companies right now are deciding to make significant cuts. They aren't making their numbers. They're not feeling financially secure. Whatever the reason may be, the biggest expense is people, so the fastest way to save money is to cut staff.

Now, most companies will be transparent about this and admit that it's a layoff. They didn't perform well. They need to make changes. They're laying you off through no fault of your own. It stinks, but nobody's blaming you. However, there are companies out there that will say that it's a firing instead.

When companies fire employees instead of laying them off, they're saying it's not their fault. It's not their fault you're suddenly underperforming and, therefore, they're going to fire you. How ironic is it that you were getting great performance reviews, everything was going fine, and then all of a sudden you're having a performance issue?

What normally happens is the company has figured out that they can get somebody to do your job for a lot cheaper. There are a whole bunch of people in the job market who will do your job at a lower pay. But if the company lays you off in order to save money, there are laws around discrimination that you could cite and then file a charge of discrimination against them.

Some companies want to avoid any risk of this, so instead they suddenly decide you're not performing and they document that and gather the paperwork to be able to prove that you're not performing (you're the problem) so they can fire you. This is how they avoid lawsuits. And when they fire you, they can replace you and hire somebody for less money.

You can never take your eye off the ball as long as you are working. If you're making a wage that you want to keep making, you need to watch your market conditions because if you're not growing, you're dying in your career.

Way too many people get into kind of an autopilot situation where they're not really growing and evolving with the market. And it's not just about amassing more skills. It's about strategically understanding the direction your career needs to go in so you stay relevant and in demand. You can have all the skills and experience in the world, but if you don't know how to package that up and market it correctly to employers, you're not going to differentiate yourself in the market and stay competitive.

Please be on the lookout for this situation in your career. The moment your company realizes they can have someone do your job for less money, you're going to become a performance issue. It's easier to fire you than it is to lay you off. Remember that, and make sure you know your unique value add (UVA).

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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