Amid last week's disappointing news reports of slowed hiring and people dropping out of the labor force altogether, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also released info in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) that indicates people are quitting their jobs and picking up work in a freelance capacity. This has been discussed in numerous other studies, including this recent one from Intuit that made headlines for claiming that by 2020, 40% of Americans will be freelancers. This report also pointed out 19 other demographic, economic, social, and technology trends to watch over the coming decade, including interesting comments on the reduced costs associated with starting a small business, how seniors are "unretired", and the rise of niche markets.
Happy new year! January is a great time to start a job search - there's a lot of movement in the job market with new openings coming up more frequently as employees leave their jobs after getting their bonuses and vacation time replenished... Employers are also more comfortable firing / letting workers go after the holidays are over. As business owners and senior management make plans for the coming year, they also determine appropriate staffing levels and hiring needs.
The first step in any successful job search is to determine your own objectives and figure out what you have to offer an employer. You'll need to have a solid resume ready to go - but that doesn't mean you won't also need to make edits as you send it out to different employers.
Do be sure to keep track of where you're sending your resume and start practicing your pitch. Try honing your interview skills by practicing with a friend or in front of a webcam. And don't forget to send thank you notes and follow up on your interviews!
I had a great time delivering a full day of mini-workshops for job seekers at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) annual convention here in Philadelphia this past weekend! I met with lots of very passionate and dedicated language teachers and administrators who were excited to learn some new job search techniques, resume and CV tips, and interview strategies. There's nothing quite like being in a giant building full of people who are enthusiastic about their careers!
With an attendance of about 7,000, and more than 600 educational sessions, the Philadelphia Convention Center was buzzing with activity (plus the streets outside were packed in preparation for the marathon). In the exhibit hall, there were over 250 booths set up by language companies, universities and schools, non-profits, and other organizations there to spread awareness and hand out free pens.
ACTFL brought me on board to host sessions on The Resume and the CV, How to Conduct an Effective and Efficient Job Search, and Interviewing - each workshop wound up standing room only. In between workshops, I met with convention attendees one-on-one and in small groups to discuss their resumes and personal questions. I was really impressed with the diversity of the convention attendees - so many languages, interesting programs and courses people developed, varied educational backgrounds, and ideas. If you were at the convention, drop me a line and let me know how it was for you!
I'm quoted in the Career Advice section of the December 2012 / January 2013 issue of Working Mother magazine with some tips on how to find a new job while you're still employed. The overall theme is to keep it quiet until you're actually ready to give your notice - and specific tips include making sure you don't set off any flags by suddenly coming to your consistently casual workplace in a power suit, minimizing the amount of time you're mysteriously out of the office, being careful to avoid telling your coworkers about your plans to leave, and holding back on broadcasting job search updates on social media.
This is a great article appearing on cbsnews.com - "Stop Spamming People With Your Resume" offers a really useful breakdown for a prospective job seeker on why her approach is so, so wrong, and what she ought to be doing instead. There's nothing wrong with sending out unsolicited resumes - it just needs to be done the right way!
I was recently quoted in Jaime Heidel's article for Career-Intelligence.com on effective (and ineffective) cover letters. I often work with job seekers who feel they don't need to send a cover letter along with a resume submission - thinking it's unimportant can be a big mistake! A cover letter shows the employer that you are really applying for this specific job at hand, and not just spamming your resume to any opening you can find. A good cover letter is tailored to the opportunity and creates a consistent presentation in line with the statements your resume makes. You may want to consider hiring someone to assist you with creating a master version of your cover letter and then it can be easier to modify it as different jobs come along.
I'm really looking forward to this year's American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) convention, which will be held at the Philadelphia Convention Center November 16 - 18. I'll be hosting a full day of mini-workshops and one-on-one Q & A on Saturday, November 17th. We'll talk about resume writing, job searching, interviewing, and more, with a focus on challenges and opportunities unique to teaching languages. It shaping up to be an exciting event! If you're interested in registering or finding out more you can check out the ACTFL website.
1. Make it clear what you're offering the employer. A recruiter or HR person shouldn't have to read more than the first line to know exactly what type of job you would do at their company.
2. Don't overwhelm the reader with all your skills. Keep the resume focused and tailored for the job at hand. If you're applying for a customer service job, don't emphasize your accounting skills.
3. Define your niche. If you have a specialization to offer, you may be able to edge out your competition.
4. Play it straight. Including political affiliations, information about your personal life, hobbies, pictures, quotations, and other non-essentials is more likely to work against you than for you.
5. Keep it short. It doesn't need to be less than one page if you genuinely have more than one page worth of relevant content. If you have less than 10 years of work experience, one page should suffice (notable exceptions are for jobs in academia, science & research, and highly technical fields).
Real talk - if you've been unemployed for months and months and months, it's time to start looking outside of yourself for some guidance and some brutally honest insight as to why you cannot find a job. Here are 10 things you can actually do right now to start seeing some action.
1) Sometimes it's just a simple oversight - I can't even count how many times someone has complained to me about not getting calls for interviews only to find that their phone number on their resume is incorrect. Another killer: typos on your resume. Everyone believes they have thoroughly checked their resume for mistakes, but if you don't know the difference between "there" and "their" and "they're" - you're not going to know you're doing it wrong. Seek out the "obvious" flaws.
2) But it could also be the case that you're not up to date on the technological skills required to compete - taking a class or joining a group to improve your skillset can be key, and can also help build your own confidence.
3) Read. Even if you're not much of a reader. If you're really not into reading, get audiobooks. I recommend a few books here if you don't know where to start. Visit your local library or spend some time in your local bookstore.
4) Talking to family and friends often does not yield much of a result because a person's inner circle generally sees the best in you, and also can't understand why you're having such a hard time. The people who love you also just don't want to hurt you, and may hold back out of concern for your ego. Talk to someone objective - a single session with a career coach can go a long way and help jumpstart a stalled job search.
5) Clean yourself up. Do you know someone who doesn't seem to know that he has bad B.O. or disgustingly yellow teeth? Seriously - give yourself a mini-makeover. Change your habits, try new hygiene products (switch your deodorant, get some white strips!), invest in a new outfit (even if it's a new used outfit from a thrift store), iron all of your clothes even if you think you look fine. At the very least, you'll feel like you look polished and professional.
6) Switch up your resume - if you can't afford a professional resume writer, ask a friend for some help. Offer to cook your friend dinner or look over her resume in exchange.
7) Stay busy. I can't over-emphasize how important this is. Strategic volunteering can be your best friend. It can help fill gaps on your resume and expand your network.
8) Speaking of expanding your network - expand your network. Build your LinkedIn. Reach out to former coworkers and classmates. Conduct informational interviews.
9) Stay positive. I know it sounds cheesy (and almost impossible if you've been out of work for a long time), but nobody wants to hire Debbie Downer and nobody wants to hear about what a hard life you have. Employers hire people who they feel will contribute to the workplace - in terms of work ethic, skills and knowledge, AND attitude.
10) Consider changing your objective (and I don't mean the "objective" on your resume - I mean your actual objective). First, let's just say that your objective cannot simply be "to get a job". That's what every job seeker wants. Maybe it's time to reevaluate the types of jobs you're targeting. Are you shooting too high and applying for jobs that you're not qualified to do? Are you selling yourself short and applying for jobs you are way overqualified to do (more on this later)? Are you looking for a job in a dying industry? Sometimes you need to make a career change because jobs are changing.