Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hired! Going to church to get a job

Confronted with a tough job market, Michael Butler reached out to his community and received multiple job offers.

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- In today's tough economy, many people are praying for a job offer. When Michel Butler headed to church, he ended up with multiple offers.

One year ago, Butler, 42, was a consultant in the home-building industry in Texas with aspirations of building his own spec homes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. But six months later, he was an unemployed husband and father of three with no job prospects to speak of.

"The market here really hit the skids in late June, early July, and I knew it was time to consider something outside the industry," Butler said.

First, Butler joined a free career workshop at a local church, which was open to the public. They met every Saturday evening and covered everything from networking to resume writing and interview skills.
"I think that church organization was really a feather in my cap," he said. "It helped me focus on my next steps and also gave me refreshers in interviewing and resume writing," he said.

Then, Butler plugged back into some old networks, including college friends and former employers.
One friend introduced Butler to a local business coach who put him in touch with a few hiring managers and by October he had two interviews in two different industries.

Prudential offered him a job as a financial service agent. They would pay for the training but Butler's income would be largely based on commission. Although that wasn't ideal, he accepted right away.
Then came another offer, this time for a marketing position with a six figure salary. "I couldn't pass it up," Butler said, so he quit Prudential shortly after starting and went to work as relationship manager at Spear One in Dallas.

Aside from the bigger salary and better job security, "the best part about my new position is that it is fun," Butler said, which is the last thing he imagined he'd be having after his last career crumbled.

Getting off the couch
Our panel of career coaches agree that Butler was wise to tap into local organizations that could help him brush up on his job search skills and expose him to other job seekers sharing their experiences.

"Church groups are a good way to use existing community connections to expand your network of people," according to Career and Business Consultant Kathy Robinson. But the danger is that "you could be getting 20-year-old resume advice," she warned. "As long as the members are keeping themselves current on job search techniques it's actually a fabulous resource."

He was also smart to dig into his networks, said Ford Myers author of the upcoming book, "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring."

"The wrong thing to do is sit at home in your pajamas and apply to jobs online," he said, "it's isolating and depressing."

Read The Rest Of The Article For More Advice

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Savvy Networker Eight Little-Known Tricks for the Job Hunt

You're up to date on the latest job-search ideas, right? You're responding to posted job ads. You're crafting smart and incisive cover letters to accompany your resume on its travels. You're networking like crazy. What else can you do?
You may be leaving a few essential job-search stones unturned. Here are eight less-well-known ways to get the word out and jump on job-search opportunities:

Add a signature line to your outgoing e-mail messages. This reminds your friends and contacts that you're on a job search. Much as they love you, it's easy for our friends to forget our day-to-day priorities, including a job search that feels like a life-or-death proposition to you. Add a signature line to your e-mail messages that reminds your friends what you're after.

Include your LinkedIn profile URL in that signature. You can customize your LinkedIn profile's URL (as soon as you set up a free LinkedIn profile) to something that sounds logical, like Add this to the signature line I recommended a moment ago. Might as well make it easy for people to check out your credentials.

Use Twitter to keep your fans in the loop. A daily (or even more frequent) "tweet" from you keeps your cronies and well-wishers abreast of your latest job-search happenings. If you tweet to say "Got an interview at Apple tomorrow morning," then your friends with friends at Apple can jump into the scene and help you out with a side-door connection or referral.

Make your Facebook page work for you — not against you. Smart job-seekers fill their Facebook pages with useful and relevant information about what they've accomplished and where their strengths lie. Using Facebook effectively in a job search requires more than just taking down the party-animal photos. Prospective employers are bound to see your online persona, so you may as well make it one that moves the ball forward for you.

Add a quote to your resume. Got a favorite quote (in writing) from a boss who praised your work? Add it to your resume in place of the tedious "References available on request." Everyone knows your references are available. Tell us (in twenty words or fewer) what one of those people actually said about you — the more specific the kudos, the better.

Get a Moo card. Job-search business cards are great tools, because they're easy to pass to a conversational partner at a networking event (no one wants to take your resume in a setting like that). Moo mini-cards are cooler than regular business cards, because they're small and attention-grabbing. If your field is creative, techie, or you just want to stand out a little, order your mini-Moo cards online at

Put a voice on your job-search profile. Too shy to appear on camera? Add an audio file to your LinkedIn, Facebook or other social-networking profile to help job-search targets and influencers get a feel for who you are and how you think. Buy a headset for a few bucks and download Audacity for free to make high-quality audio files. You can even send your podcasts to iTunes and build a following.

Rewrite your resume so it sounds human. As a career expert, the biggest job-search stumbling block I see is a boilerplate-laden resume that sounds like every other resume I see. Yank the boilerplate out of your resume and give it a human voice, replacing "results-oriented professional" with "I'm happiest solving thorny technical problems that slow down product development" or whatever (human) statement describes you.

A job search doesn't leave room for error these days. Details can make all the difference — better put every tool to work for you now and put your job search behind you sooner.

Liz Ryan is a 25-year HR veteran, former Fortune 500 VP and an internationally recognized expert on careers and the new millennium workplace. Contact Liz at or join the Ask Liz Ryan online community at www.asklizryan/group.

Make Sure Your Facebook Profile Doesn't Lose You A Job

Do you use Facebook? I do too -- and so do a heck of a lot of other people. Including my mom, and my former boss.

Employers are increasingly using Facebook (and other social networking sites) to check up on potential and current employees. People have been disciplined at work, have missed out on job positions, or have even been dismissed due to comments they've left on Facebook and similar sites.

In the credit crunch times, you can't afford to have anything working against you. Here's how to make sure your Facebook profile isn't visible to your boss - and how to clean it up if necessary...

Step 1: Check Your Privacy Settings
Do you know who might be reading your Facebook profile? Are you really certain that it's only limited to those people who you've accepted a Friend request from? Log into your account, click the "Settings" button on the top left: then look at the "Networks" tab:
Like me, you might well be in two or more networks - probably a school one(mine's Cambridge University) and a regional one (mine's London - so pretty huge). Have a quick glance at the numbers of people in those networks: 44 thousand at Cambridge and three MILLION in London.

Hang on a minute ... "My Networks and Friends"? Well, I've got three hundred or so friends on Facebook -- but my networks cover three and a half million people: all of whom are either graduates of the same university (so high on my list of potential networking contacts), or people who live in London (where, if I was looking for another full-time job, I'd be seeking employment).

As you can imagine, giving potential bosses (and your past professors - people who might write you a reference) access to your entire profile could be a no-no. I don't actually use Facebook a lot and the few obligatory drunken photos of me aren't particularly risque, so I'm not too bothered who can see my information. But if you pack your profile with rude quotes, if your status update regularly includes how drunk/stoned/lazy you are, and if the photos of you are ones you'd never want to be posted on the office noticeboard ... you might want to limit all of the information in your profile to friends only.

Why Should I Bother?
When an employer decides to check you out on Facebook prior to interviewing you, they won't be able to see your profile, photos of you, and so on. The first impression they get of you will be a professional one from the interview. Leaving your Facebook profile open to them is a bit like inviting them to come and nose around your home (when it's at its most untidy, with your stack of dodgy magazines left lying around...)

And if you doubt that employers do make these checks, here's food for thought from an article on "Facebook Can Ruin Your Life" from the Independent (a UK newspaper) - emphasis mine:

At Cambridge, at least one don has admitted "discreetly" scanning applicants' pages – a practice now widespread in job recruitment. A survey released by Viadeo said that 62 per cent of British employers now check the Facebook, MySpace or Bebo pages of some applicants, and that a quarter had rejected candidates as a result. Reasons given by employers included concerns about "excess alcohol abuse", ethics and job "disrespect". 

Do you want to risk missing out on your dream job because of your Facebook profile?

Step 2: Cleaning Up Your Profile
You might not want to limit access to your profile to only your friends, if you use Facebook for a lot of networking. Or, you might have a lot of "friends" who've added you because they read your blog, or because they knew you in kindergarten: you never know when one of these friends might be a useful ally, a potential employer or mentor.

And although your profile might not contain anything too dreadful (such as admissions of just how you ended up leaving your previous job), things which seem perfectly innocuous could still cause employers to decide to pass on you. The recruitment site offers ten top turn-offs for employers who are performing discreet background checks using Facebook and similar sites:

  Top ten turn-offs for employers on social networking websites

  1. References to drug abuse
  2. Extremist / intolerant views, including racism, sexism
  3. Criminal activity
  4. Evidence of excessive alcohol consumption
  5. Inappropriate pictures, including nudity
  6. Foul language
  7. Links to unsuitable websites
  8. Lewd jokes
  9. Silly email addresses
  10. Membership of pointless / silly groups

And from the New Zealand Herald:

  Interestingly, employers were not just concerned about alcohol or drug use, or inappropriate photos. They also used the information posted to identify those with poor communication skills, and inaccurately stated qualifications. Bad mouthing of former employers and colleagues was also identified as a concern in a large number of cases.

  So it's worth cleaning up your profile to get rid of anything that's not contributing to the impression you want to give to employers, business colleagues and other contacts - anything which undermines or contradicts your personal brand.

I'm going to focus on two key areas that could be letting you down: "Your Info" and "Your Photos".

Your Info

Click on "Profile" in the top bar, then on "Info":

Have a good read through what's listed there. You might want to update old information (I'm awful at doing this...) You may need to self-censor some of your "favorite music" or "favorite movies", if you have somewhat extreme tastes in either. Think about who might read your profile here: if you're going for a job with a right-wing political or charity body, a long list of slasher/horror movies and death metal music might not go down too well, but it could be just the thing if you're trying to land a job with a design agency that prides itself on "alternative" styles and creating shocking, engaging concepts.

Some quick tips that might help you are:

  * Get rid of any silly, profane or potentially bigoted (racist/sexist/etc) group memberships

  * Try to list some favorite books, not just films and music. Employers will be impressed if you look well-read.

  * Make your Quotations ones which are funny/profound, not all lewd jokes that your friends made after a few drinks..

  * Check for typos and spelling mistakes: these might seem unimportant to you, but they could be sending a negative impression to potential employers

Your Photos

Click onto the "Photos" tab. This will show everything which someone's tagged with your name. It's worth going through every single one, and untagging it if it's not something you want to be associated with! Again, use your own judgement here: an unflattering shot might be a disaster if you're trying to become a supermodel, but could be an actual asset if you're aiming for a career in stand-up comedy...

Click on the thumbnail to view a photo full-size, and click the "Remove tag" link next to your name (at the bottom, under the photo) to remove the tag - meaning snoopers can't find that photo of you:

For most of us, photos to look out for are:

  * Photos where you look drunk/stoned/comatose (even if you were "just caught at a bad angle, honest")

  * Photos containing a number of "unsuitable" looking friends

  * Photos where someone's put a really dodgy caption about you (sadly, employers may decide against you based not only on your profile, but on what your friends seem to be like).

  * Any photos containing evidence of illegal or semi-illegal activity - especially if your employer or school could penalise you for it

Why Should I Bother?

Current employers (or your university/school) may check up on your Facebook profile. The Independent article mentioned the unfortunate case of:

  Kevin Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank, who told his employers he had a family emergency, but whose Facebook page revealed he had, in reality, been cavorting in drag at a Hallowe'en party.

Photographic evidence can also be used to catch student culprits:

  Oxford University proctors disciplined students after pictures of them dousing each other in shaving foam, flour and silly string in post-exam revelry were found on their Facebook pages. 

Step 3: Keeping Your Profile Clean
Once you've limited access to your profile and cleaned it up, you need to keep it safe for work. In my last full time job, my boss was "friends" with a number of my co-workers: this calls for considerable caution! If you have parents who are paying your tuition fees, you might want to make sure your Facebook account gives the impression that you're making the most of their money (rather than partying constantly...)

Some good points to pause for thought are:

  * When setting your status. Do you really want to declare that "John thinks work SUCKS" or that "Jane is thinking of throwing a sickie?" Even something a bit less obvious, like moaning about a difficult client, could rebound badly on you.

  * When uploading photos. Is it really something you want your office colleagues to see? Or your mum?

  * When commenting on other people's photos, wall, etc. Think about what your words might convey to someone who wasn't in on the joke or the conversation. Would you look bigoted, illiterate or plain nasty?

It's also unwise to use Facebook while at work - your actions are time-stamped, so if your boss sees that you've been updating your account at 11am when you should've been hard at work, s/he's unlikely to be impressed.

Why Should I Bother?

Thoughtless use of Facebook has led to people losing their jobs in the past (though this is usually due to admission of some serious wrong-doing, such as theft from the company). Even if you don't get sacked, you might have to face up to consequences.

I'll leave you with the cautionary tale of Kyle Doyle, a call center worker who pulled a sickie ... and bragged about it on Facebook:

  Kyle Doyle, a 21-year-old resolutions expert for telecommunications firm AAPT, bragged about his day off on the social networking site while telling his employer he was away for "medical reasons".

But he was found out when his boss spotted this Facebook profile update on the day in question, August 21: "Kyle Doyle is not going to work, f*** it I'm still trashed. SICKIE WOO!"

So ... head on over to Facebook, and check out the employer-friendliness of your profile. Let us know what you decide to change (or whether you look squeaky-clean already) -- but don't say anything too incriminating in the comments. Remember, bosses read Dumb Little Man too...

[Ali Hale] Written on 2/24/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university. Photo Credit: facebook

Original Article - 

Darn Good Reasons Why You Should Or Should Not Hire A Professional Resume Service

Well, if you live in Michigan, or anywhere else in our country, let’s face it. The economy stinks. People are getting laid off and companies are closing down or outsourcing to other countries practically on a daily basis. So, what good would hiring a professional resume service do for you? EVERYTHING.

It’s understandable to be cautious about hiring a resume writer, especially online where you can’t visually shake a hand or see an office full of certificates, awards, books, or anything else that might prove credibility. Here are a few reasons you SHOULD hire a professional resume writer:

1- PROFESSIONALISM - A professional resume writer knows what he/she is doing. I’ve had clients tell me over and over that having it professionally written got them the job. They had sent in the old one previously and at my urging, resent the new one and got the job!

Make sure whomever you hire is CERTIFIED. If you are unsure whether or not your writer is certified, go to and type in their name. If they are certified, it will come up as such. A certified writer has gone through extensive training and was tested on it, ensuring their work meets the standards of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. If you are going to spend the money, you want the best.

2- BRANDING/PR - A professional resume writer acts as your personal cheerleader, your brander, your public relations firm. You want someone who knows how to present your qualifications in your best light. They will gather the relevant information (career goals, experience, training, etc.) to create a professional image for you. Something you will be proud to hand out to a hiring manager.

3-GHOSTWRITERS- A professional resume writer knows how to craft content that gets people interested. They create a resume that sounds and feels like YOU. A professional resume writer constantly updates their skills and abilities by keeping up with the latest in career news, and attending webinars, teleseminars and conferences.

4- FORMAT - How bored are you when you see a resume that is bullet after bullet of a position description? Would you call that person back? Neither will the hiring person. Professional resume writers are TRAINED in creating unique documents with appealing fonts, borders and styling that is all YOU.

5- RESOURCE CENTER - Your professional resume writer is a career one-stop-shop! Chances are they have a wide range of resources to offer during your job search. Many are also Certified Career Coaches and remain well informed of career events and other services helpful to their clients. Many times employers will contact resume writers for suitable candidates.

Reasons NOT TO HIRE a professional resume writer:

1- They offer you a resume package for $19.95. Most likely this company is a printing or secretarial service that will rewrite everything you gave them, or dump your info into a pre-written template.

2- They tell you they are certified, but you check on the PARW site and they are not. WRONG. Turn around and go back. They are misrepresenting the truth and God knows what they will do with your money.

3- They offer a 30-day guarantee if you don’t get an interview. I know this is a touchy one, because many of my colleagues do it, but here is my beef with that: with each client, I put my heart and soul into the resume. I am already writing a resume that I think will knock the socks off any reader. So how can I possibly offer a rewrite on that? I already wrote a killer resume and I stand behind it. I would rather sit down with the client and go over what they have been doing for job search because I guarantee that is where the problems lie.

So, to sum it up, it’s important to find a solid and reputable resume service. Check for memberships to professional career organizations with writers that are certified.

A professionally written resume is a good investment and is worth it’s weight in gold, not to mention it will get you noticed immediately.

Erin Kennedy is a Certified Professional & Executive Resume Writer & Career Consultant, and President of Professional Resume Services. She is a Nationally Published Writer & Contributor in 8 best selling career books. Erin has achieved the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award nomination in 2007 and 2008.

To get more career-related information and resume writing tips, visit Professional Resume Services at or check out her blog at: proreswriters.blogspot.

Creative. Powerful. Proven.

Erin is a member of: Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW), Career Directors International (CDI), Association of Online Resume and Career Professionals (AORCP), Career Professionals Group, and Women for Hire. Want to know more about Erin Kennedy, CPRW? Read her LinkedIn profile at:

Original Article -

How to Get Your Resume Noticed

Tory Johnson Women for Hire photoTory Johnson of Women for Hire is one of the country's foremost career experts. She recently wrote an article for Yahoo! in which she listed 12 great ways to get your resume noticed by prospective employers:

  1. Find job postings on job boards such as and corporate employment web sites and print out the postings of interest to you.
  2. Highlight the keywords and industry language used to describe the requirements and responsibilities.
  3. Compare those words and phrases to the language that appears in your current resume.
  4. Add the most relevant keywords to your resume. Remember that applicant tracking systems -- the software employers use to house and search for resumes which have been submitted to them -- will search for keyword matches so the more matches, the more likely a recruiter will actually look at your resume.
  5. Once your resume reflects a strong match, submit it online.
  6. If the system requests a cover letter, write a short one that expresses why you're a strong match and why you'd like to join the organization. Make sure it is customized to the organization and the opportunity to which you're applying.
  7. Never submit a generic, one-size-fits-all resume or cover letter.
  8. Find an internal referral to make a personal introduction using sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Note that when you apply to jobs on we automatically show you the people that you may know within the organization through our partnership with LinkedIn. Also get active in industry associations to establish those connections and re-connect with your friends from school and people you know through your family and "regular" friends.
  9. Follow-up with a call or email to the recruiter responsible for filling the position. Make sure they received your resume but, more importantly, give them your pre-rehearsed 30 second elevator pitch.
  10. Get your resume into the hands of a decisionmaker. If you don't know who that is, find out by calling the company and asking the operator to put you through. If that doesn't work, do a Web search on the term "recruiter" or "HR director" along with the name of your employer of choice. The results may reveal the name you're trying to find. LinkedIn is another resource to find the correct name.
  11. Stay top of mind. Every recruiter is different so be prepared to work with each differently.
  12. If the employer doesn't tell you when to follow-up then ask, "what's the best way to keep in touch?"
Original Article -

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm On LinkedIn Now What

A Great Book For Getting Up To Speed With Linkedin

Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Career Coach

With unemployment at a 16-year high of 7.6 percent and job opportunities very scarce, what job seeker wouldn't want to hire a career coach -- someone who can help him quickly land a job in this bear market?

Career coaches and the clients who use them say coaches can give job seekers a competitive edge in a number of ways: They can help job seekers develop unique personal brands that will differentiate them in a crowded market. They can help job seekers mine the "hidden job market" for unadvertised positions. They can also help job seekers articulate their strengths and passions in professional communications (e.g., résumés, cover letters, "elevator pitches" and mock job interviews) that will grab hiring managers' attention.

Because recession-weary job seekers are looking for all of the above assistance, career coaching services are experiencing a surge in demand, says Kim Batson, a certified career management and leadership coach who works with IT leaders.

"As soon as the economy started tanking last September, the [coaching] industry experienced a couple of weeks of quiet, but then the floodgates opened in November, December and January," says Batson. "Because a lot of people have either been laid off or they want to prepare themselves in case something happens, we are seeing an uptick [in demand]."

But hiring a career coach isn't right for everyone. For one thing, career coaching services tend to be pricey. They can range from US$125 to $500 per hour or from $375 to $3,000 per package, according to Laura DeCarlo, president of Career Directors International. So if you're unemployed and money is tight, you have to carefully consider whether spending money on a coach is worthwhile.

What's more, the service is not a quick fix. "This is not a situation where the coach waves a magic wand and gives you magic insights and everything is all better," says Curt Rosengren, a career coach in Seattle who specializes in matching people with professions. "If what you're really trying to do is buy a solution, the solution comes from the work you do."

Here are eight signs that may indicate you're ready to hire a career coach and three signs that indicate you're not. In addition, here are eight ways to find a coach who's right for you and five tips for making the most of your coaching sessions.

8 Signs You're Ready for a Career Coach

1. You're bored or frustrated with your job, but you don't know what else to do for work.

2. You're looking for a new job and sending out résumés, but your job search efforts are not bearing any fruit: You're not getting calls in response to your résumé; you're not being asked in for job interviews; you're not receiving offers.

3. You need help crafting a résumé or cover letters, and help presenting yourself in job interviews.

4. You're not moving up the career ladder, despite your hard work.

5. You need help differentiating yourself from other job seekers.

6. You need someone to hold you accountable for achieving your career goals.

7. You're willing to explore new ideas and to look inside yourself for answers.

8. You want to be successful, and you want to accelerate achieving your career goals.

Open Minds Required Alec Smith, 42, began looking for a career coach in December 2008 because he wants to become a CIO. He currently works as an IT consultant, implementing ERP, CRM, EDI and job-costing solutions mainly for the distribution industry. Smith says he recognizes that a career coach has expertise-specifically in résumé writing-that he lacks but needs to move into a CIO position.

Smith realizes that not everyone is as open-minded about hiring a career coach. When he told some colleagues that he had hired a coach, he says they couldn't understand why. "Write your résumé and move on," he says his colleagues told him.

It's not uncommon for IT professionals like Smith's coworkers to be skeptical of career coaching. Kim Batson, whose coaching practice and methodology is geared toward left-brained, analytical IT professionals, says many of them perceive career coaching as too "touchy feely."

Smith thinks his friends, who are also IT consultants, were dubious of his decision to use a career coach for résumé writing help because implementing big, complicated enterprise systems makes them feel they can do anything.

Rosengren, a career coach in Seattle, adds that hiring a career coach is hard for people who subscribe to the idea "that we're all supposed to have it figured out on our own."

"If you are closed-minded about hiring a career coach, you may not be ready to move on," says Smith. "You may not be motivated enough, or maybe you're gun-shy, or you don't feel confident enough."

Hiring a career coach, Smith says, shows a commitment to one's personal and professional development. "When someone hires a coach, they're investing in their careers 100 percent," he says. "They want to excel and [they realize] quite honestly, they can't do it by themselves."

3 Signs You May Not Be Ready for a Career Coach

1. You think a career coach possesses all the answers and will find a job for you (as opposed to helping you find a job.)

2. You're not willing to do the work involved, which can include self-assessments, self-examination and networking.

3. You're a control-freak or have trouble opening up to others.

How to Find a Career Coach Who's Right For You

1. Ask people in your network for referrals.

2. If you're seeking a coach with specific industry or functional expertise, look for ads or referrals on industry websites and magazines. Alec Smith, an IT consultant who wants to become a CIO, found a coach,

3. Check out websites for career coaching professional organizations, such as the Professionals Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Career Directors International or the Career Coach Academy.

4. Read career coach's blogs, if they have them, to see if you connect with the coach's tone and the topics they write about, recommends Rosengren, the coach in Seattle.

5. Make sure whomever you choose understands the idiosyncrasies of today's world of work, says Deb Dib, a certified executive career coach who specializes in personal branding and job search services.

"They should know the skills and accomplishments companies value these days. You need somebody who's completely current in how to find work right now," she says. "With so many people out of work, career coaches have to change their processes a bit so we can help people get up and running quickly, because they don't have time to waste."

6. Choose a coach whose certifications and credentials address the help you need and the goals you want to achieve, says Batson, the coach who works with CIOs. For example, if you want to create or sharpen a personal brand, find a coach who holds a personal branding credential.

7. Ask the coach for a consultation to get a sense of his or her style.

8. Ask the coach for references.

7 Questions to Ask a Coach, Before You Hire One

Career coaches advise potential clients to ask the following seven questions during a consultation, before you decide to hire a coach, to make sure the client and the coach are a good fit.

1. How long have you been coaching? You want to make sure you're working with someone who has experience.

2. Are you credentialed? What are your credentials? Credentials show a coach has kept up with his or her own professional development, says Batson.

3. What is your area of expertise? If you're looking specifically for help interviewing, for example, you want to find a coach who specializes in that area, say Batson and Dib.

4. What kinds of clients work best with you? Is there a level or type of personality that most of your clients share?

5. What is your approach to coaching? Does it appeal more to left-brained or right-brained people? Deb Dib says some coaches use very structured methodologies while others do not.

6. What is the time commitment? Job search, salary negotiation and interviewing services typically require about five sessions, says Career Directors International's DeCarlo.

7. What are your results? What results have your clients had? How long did it take them to achieve those results? What should I expect for results?

8. What kind of return can I expect on my investment in your services? This question will help job seekers evaluate whether they can afford not to work with the coach, says Batson. She says job seekers should ask coaches this question if the ROI is not evident from the coach's pitch.

How to Make the Most of Your Coaching Sessions

1. Get over your concerns about what other people might think.
Philip Bryant, 35, a programmer who began working with a career coach last fall through his MBA program at Rice University, notes that there can be a stigma associated with the people who hire career coaches--that they're somehow deficient. The awareness of that stigma can hold back professionals who might be interested in hiring a coach, says Bryant.

"The biggest thing is clearing your mind and quashing any sort of fear or hesitation or concern about what this coach is going to think of you, or about what other people are going to think about you for going to a coach," he says. "Get rid of all that junk because it's not helpful."

2. Don't overestimate what a career coach can do for you.
If you approach a coach expecting that the coach will connect you with a VP job in four easy steps, you may be disappointed. Career coaches are quick to point out that they can't perform miracles.

Some coaches will be able to do more than others depending on their specialization, flexibility in working with clients and their coaching methodology. That's why Batson says it's important for job seekers to ask coaches about their client results and the ROI the job seeker can expect from the coach's services.

3. Do your homework.
A career coach will almost always give a client something to do or think about for the next session. For example, the coach could ask you to take a personality test, to reflect on your best and worst work experiences, or to network in your spare time. It's in your best interest to put time into this work, say career coaches and their clients.

Alec Smith, an IT consultant who hired a coach to help him move into a CIO role, says he spent between 20 and 40 hours working on a self-assessment that his coach asked him to do, and that the exercise was worth every minute because it was so eye-opening for him. (He says his coach told him it would take about four hours.)

"If you expect this person to work magic with minimal involvement on your part, you're wasting your time and that person's time," says Smith. You're also wasting your money.

Bryant, the MBA student, echoes Smith's comments: "You're wasting valuable coaching time if you and your coach discuss a strategy for you to network with someone over coffee, and by your next coaching session you haven't done it. That's not useful. Your coach isn't going to beat you up, but he will hold you accountable."

If you don't follow through on what you discussed that you'd do with your coach, Bryant adds that you'll end up spending time talking about why something like networking, that seemed so important in the last session, suddenly seems unimportant, when you could better use that time discussing strategies you're comfortable with.

4. Be honest.
For coaching to be effective, clients have to be honest with themselves and with their coaches. "You're not going to get where you want to go as quickly as you want unless you're honest and clear-minded with your coach," says Bryant.

Both coach and client also have to be open to feedback and constructive criticism.

Deb Dib, the executive coach who specializes in personal branding, says good coaches will not shy from asking their clients direct, probing questions, and clients need to be prepared to answer them. By the same token, Dib recommends that clients tell their coaches not just about their personal and professional preferences but also about what is and isn't working in the coaching process.

"If you're not comfortable with a recommendation your coach is making, tell your coach," says Dib.

5. Eliminate distractions.
Coach Batson says that 90 percent of all career coaching is done over the telephone. To focuses on her clients while she's on the phone with them, she clears her desk, shuts down her e-mail and turns off her BlackBerry. She recommends that her clients do the same.

"To maximize the effectiveness of coaching over the phone you need to get rid of distractions," she says. "You don't want to be in a busy office or at home with children or dogs running around. You want to be some place quiet."

5 Tips To Protect Your Online Reputation

Post by Kim Komando with USA Today's CyberSpeak:

As millions seek new jobs to replace positions lost in the recession, keep in mind that the Internet gives employers unprecedented access to information about you.

Employers aren't content with facts gleaned from public records. They're also using the Internet to assess your character. That means they're searching your name on Google.

They're visiting social-networking sites and reading blog posts. Unflattering comments and photos can put you out of the running for a job. So, you will want to clean up your online reputation before job hunting. For direct links to the sites mentioned, go to

Search for yourself

Your first step is to assess your online reputation. Start by doing a Google search of your name and its variations.

Do other searches that include your profession, previous employers and locations. You may be surprised what turns up.

You should also search networking sites. Pipl, Wink and PeekYou will allow you to search multiple sites quickly.

You will want to make two lists from your searches. On one list, place links to sites with unflattering information. On the other list, place links to flattering information.

Remove the negative

Maybe you posted some of the unflattering images or comments. In that case, remove them immediately. Err on the side of caution and remove anything that is potentially offensive.

Next, contact the owners of sites that cast you in a negative light. Send a polite e-mail message requesting that negative information be removed.

State your case clearly. If a post is erroneous, provide proof of its inaccuracy. It doesn't hurt to mention that you're job searching.

Things are more complicated with unflattering photos and truthful information. You will need to appeal to the writer's sense of decency. Keep your requests pleasant and polite, and you may be successful.

Promote the positive

Some sites will honor your requests. Other sites may not. So, you may need to mitigate negative posts with positive ones.

I recommend that you start a blog highlighting your professional skills. Write posts on your field to show off your professional knowledge. List your full name at the bottom of your posts. Include links to the positive comments you found. And be sure to list your accomplishments in your bio.

These postings should push the negative postings from Google's top search results. You can also use your blog to speak indirectly to potential employers.

For example, say you share a name with a porn star. You don't want potential employers to confuse the two of you. So, create a post listing people who share your name. It's a good way to eliminate confusion.

Don't forget networking sites

Networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are the biggest threat to your job search. Clean up any networking profiles you have.

If you don't have networking profiles, create them. Then link to them on your blog. Employers will be able to find your profiles easily. Make sure these profiles are squeaky clean.

Why create the profiles? They can eliminate confusion. An employer won't confuse you with that other Mary Johnson with a raunchy profile.

Create a profile on LinkedIn. Use it to showcase your professional accomplishments. You can also network with others who can help with your job search.

Professionals can help

Companies like ReputationDefender and Reputation Hawk specialize in improving online reputations. These services can be costly. In some cases, you'll pay thousands of dollars. Others charge $30 or so for each post they remove.

These services are handy if you have money but no time. You can do most of this yourself, though.

Cleaning up your reputation can take months. So, start now - whether you're job hunting or not.


Tim Esse

Stress management - 11 tips to help you sail through your job search

Money woes. A sense of rejection. Questions and pressure from family and friends. An uncertain future. If you've recently lost your job, you know this dismal laundry list all too well. And while being forced into unemployment is never easy, the fact that it's happened in the middle of a terrible recession rife with lay-offs really amps up the stress. That's why it's crucial to take care of your mental health—and if you do the right stress-busting exercises, you'll also improve your odds of finding a job.

There are few experiences in modern life more stressful than losing a job, even if the job wasn't a very good one. It's all too easy to convince yourself that you'll never find another one. And besides being a terribly depressing mindset, it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I've seen it all before: People who stay upbeat, approach their search with a sense of balance, and work diligently and consistently every day will find a job when they are using the right job-search techniques. Attitude counts for a lot more than you might think.

Here are a few suggestions from The Five O'Clock Club that will help you push through your job hunt stress and hear "You're hired!" in no time.

Realize it's okay to be "between jobs." When you have a job it's easy to tell the world what you do: "I'm a divisional controller at Roland Chemicals," "I'm an administrator at St. Matthew's Hospital," or "I'm a marketing manager at Southworth Paper." But when you don't have a job, "So what do you do?" becomes a dreaded question. We resort to a euphemism, "I'm between jobs." Ironically, many folks don't really believe they're between jobs—even though it is absolutely the truth.

You must learn to ignore the inner voice that in your darkest moments says, "I'll never get a good job again." When you tell people, "I'm between jobs," you assume they believe you. Believe it yourself. Even if you've just been turned down for three jobs, remind yourself that you got three interviews and you can get three more.

Stay in touch with colleagues and friends from your former workplace. Of course people don't stop being friends with people they used to work with. But when you're unemployed, that daily camaraderie is gone. "Let's get together for drinks one of these days" is now the reality instead of seeing Mark or Helen at the next desk every day—and sharing news of daily life as well as of the work to be done. One of the most painful aspects of not getting up and going to work every day is missing people who were fun to be around.

That's why it's so important that you stay in touch with your work friends. Number one, if you lost your job as the result of a layoff, they are probably stressed and worried about keeping their own job; or if they got laid off too, they're as worried about finding a new one as you are. In either case they may need a friend like you to talk to. Also, having worked with you, they'll be able to provide you with some positive reinforcement on your down days and remind you of your past achievements.

Treat your job search like a job. After many years of catching the 7:35 train or driving the morning commute and putting in eight- or ten-hour days, the lack of that routine can be disorienting. As much as we wish we could sleep late more often, as much as we welcome three- or four-day holiday weekends, our lives are structured around work schedules, whether it's nine-to-five or some other shift. When people are robbed of such routines, they can feel that they've been cut loose.

The best way to overcome the shell shock of losing your daily routine is to create a new one. If you've been laid off, treat your job search as your new job. After all, between the résumé updating, scanning want ads, and networking, there's plenty to be done. Providing yourself with the day-to-day structure you're so familiar with will help you keep your sanity and get going in your job search more quickly.

Exercise regularly and keep a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical exercise and a healthy diet help to reduce tension and stress. If your former routine involved going to the gym and you can still afford it, keep going. Or if you've given up your gym membership, a half-hour walk every day will do the trick on a budget. Keep an eye on what you're eating as well. If you're depressed, it's probably easier to order takeout or go for fast food instead of cooking, but this is not the time to neglect good nutrition.

Healthy foods give you energy and keep you well. And you'll need both to be successful in the job market. And of course, if you consistently eat the wrong things, you'll gain weight—which is not only depressing but also prevents you from looking your best in your interview suit.

Despite the worries, take time to enjoy the change of pace. Being freed from the nine-to-five grind means you finally have time to slow down and take stock of what you really want to achieve in your life. Many people have been charging ahead so intensely, so relentlessly, for so many years and putting up with demands and environments that drag them down that they haven't noticed they've strayed off course. Unemployment can be a time to think about your life and plot course corrections. Some of the questions you'll want to consider as you plan your job search are as follows:

  • What matters to me the most?
  • What do I want to do differently?
  • What hasn't worked for me in the past?
  • What was my own role (if any) in my job loss? What can I do better the next time?
  • How am I taking care of myself?

Serious deliberation of these questions can be liberating and energizing. And they can help you focus your job search so that you don't waste any time looking in industries or at companies where you know you won't be happy or appreciated. Who knows? You may even come to see losing your job as a gift—one that spurs you on to change your life for the better.

Stay away from negative news and naysayers. Even in good economic times, you don't have to go far to find negative news about the world situation. During a recession, it's in your face 24/7. If you're in the job market and are having trouble keeping up your own morale, stay away from the news, especially headlines about massive layoffs and the high unemployment rate.

In the same vein, stay away from the naysayers, whether they be friends, family, or otherwise, who only reinforce the negative news available to you in your paper and on TV. Their negativity will only get you down. You know you're facing an uphill battle. You don't need the news or those around you constantly reminding you of it. Your ability to stay positive will be a huge factor in maintaining your mental well-being during your job hunt.

If you need to vent, vent! If you're angry, frustrated, feeling betrayed—whatever—find people to talk to about what has happened. But remember, there's only so much your family wants to hear, so it's best you find a support group where you can discuss your problems with people who are feeling the same pains you are.

"Getting it all out" does have healing power, and there is nothing especially heroic or brave about trying to go it alone. It will take only a little snooping on the Internet or in your local newspapers to find support groups at churches and synagogues, libraries and community centers. You'll find people who will listen, and whose stories will help you feel less isolated.

Look at your unemployment as a business problem. When you had bad days at work, you analyzed whatever problem was plaguing you, marshaled resources and people, and came up with solutions. In the wake of job loss, your emotions—your hurt or anger—may be blocking this kind of response. But a great way to overcome that is to think of getting hired again as a business problem—you've rarely been stumped before, why now? Set your objective: To find a satisfying job that pays the bills. And develop your business strategy for achieving it. Track down the people who are in a position to hire you, position yourself appropriately, offer proposals to meet their needs, and turn interviews into offers. Remember, attitude alone won't get you there, but if you make sure you are using the right job-search techniques, after a while your unemployment business problem will be solved.

Celebrate short-term successes. When you get up in the morning, don't grumble to yourself, "I'm looking for a job again today." Rather, set up some achievable goals for the day so that you end it with a sense of accomplishment. Write five more targeted letters. Identify ten more companies to contact. Make ten follow-up phone calls. Set up one or two networking meetings. Just being able to cross these goals off your list at the end of the day is a good feeling. And, of course, they often lead to something even better.

Some of the activities will pay off—you land a meeting, you get suggestions on good companies and people to contact. These are the short-term successes that feed good morale. And after you've had a few of them, you'll quickly find that you wake up one morning saying, "I start my new job today!"

Keep on top of your game. So you don't go to the office from nine to five like you used to. That's no excuse to let your skills and knowledge slip. There's no better time than a job search to make sure you stay current and sharp. Use some of your time to catch up on reading journals and attending meetings of your professional associations. This might also be a good time to volunteer for an association committee in your industry or to help a friend in his/her business.

You might consider using the time to take a continuing ed. course, one that you could never find the time for when you were employed. That can be a great selling point when you're interviewing. Temping or consulting may also help you stay current, and of course, the cash it brings in can help you stay calm and focused. It's also a great networking opportunity, and if you are successful wherever you end up, you may be offered a permanent paying position.

Have fun. You might be laughing at that suggestion. But in the same way that you get burnt out on your job after working non-stop for a month or two, you can get burnt out on your job search—so make yourself walk away from it from time to time.
You need to stay fresh, so take a break from your job hunt to have three hours of fun a week. Laughter is good therapy. When you're unemployed you have more flexibility in booking your fun time. So don't hesitate to go to your favorite museum on a Wednesday morning or watch an afternoon ball game.

If you stay positive and make "I will persevere!" your motto, you will land a great job, sooner or later. You are employable and this time of transition is exactly that—a transition. Besides, living in a place of hope just feels better than living in a place of despair. Always choose hope. You'll get to where you want to go just as fast, and the journey will be far more rewarding.

About the Book:

The Good Person Guidebook: Transforming Your Personal Life (Five O'Clock Books, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-944054-16-1, $14.95) is available at Amazon

Top 10 Online Job Search Tips

Top 10 Online Job Search Tips

While the popularity of online job boards puts millions of jobs at one's fingertips, it has also made the job applicant pool that much bigger. For this reason, national job search sites and the Internet as a whole have gotten a bad rap from some industry professionals as an ineffective job seeker tool; on the contrary, the Internet actually can be a great resource for job seekers -- they just need to know how to use it.

When it comes to a fruitful online job search, successful job seekers follow these 10 guidelines.

1. If you build it, they can come.
Instead of simply posting your résumé on a Web site, take it one step further and design an easily-navigable Web site or online portfolio where recruiters can view your body of work, read about your goals and obtain contact information.

2. Check yourself to make sure you haven't wrecked yourself.
Google yourself to see what comes up -- and what potential employers will see if they do the same. If you don't like what you find, it's time to do damage control.

3. Narrow your options.
Many job boards offer filters to help users refine their search results more quickly. You should have the option to narrow your job search by region, industry and duration, and, oftentimes, you can narrow it even more by keywords, company names, experience needed and salary.

4. Go directly to the source.
Instead of just applying for the posted job opening, one of the best strategies to finding a job is to first figure out where you want to work, target that company or industry and then contact the hiring manager. Also, many employers' career pages invite visitors to fill out candidate profiles, describing their background, jobs of interest, salary requirements and other preferences.

5. Find your niche with industry Web sites.
Refine your search even more by visiting your industry's national or regional Web site, where you can find jobs in your field that might not appear on a national job board. More and more employers are advertising jobs on these sites in hopes of getting a bigger pool of qualified applicants.

6. Try online recruiters.
Recruiters will help match you with jobs that meet your specific skills and needs. Not sure where to start? Sites such as,, and provide links to online headhunters for job seekers.

7. Utilize video résumés.
Video résumés are just one more way to stand out to employers. Intended as supplements to -- not replacements for -- traditional résumés, video résumés allow job seekers to showcase a little bit of their personalities and highlight one or two points of interest on their résumés.

8. Run queries.
You run searches on everything else, from your high school sweetheart to low-fat recipes, so why not jobs? Enter a query that describes the exact kind of job you're seeking and you may find more resources you wouldn't find otherwise (but be prepared to do some sorting).

9. Utilize job alerts.
Most job boards have features that allow you to sign up to receive e-mail alerts about newly available jobs that match your chosen criteria. Or go a step further and arrange an RSS (really simple syndication) feed from one of these job sites to appear on your customized Internet homepage or your PC's news-reader software.

10. Get connected.
How many times have you been told that it's not what you know, but who you know? Thanks to the emergence of professional networking sites like, job seekers no longer have to rely on the old standby of exchanging business cards with strangers. These sites are composed of millions of industry professionals and allow you to connect with people you know and the people they know and so forth. (A word of caution: When you sign up for online social networking sites, you are in a public domain. Unless you are able to put a filter on some of your information, nothing is private, and it can be difficult to erase once it is posted.)

Original Article -

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Cover Letter Is Not Expendable

A Cover Letter Is Not Expendable

Published: February 14, 2009

Q. You are getting ready to apply for a job electronically, and your résumé is ready to go. Do you need to prepare a cover letter? Are they necessary in this day and age?

Chris Reed

A. Cover letters are still necessary, and in a competitive market they can give you a serious edge if they are written and presented effectively.

Cover letters are a graceful way to introduce yourself, to convey your personality and to impress a hiring manager with your experience and your writing skills, said Katy Piotrowski, an author of career books and a career counselor based in Fort Collins, Colo. You can also tailor them to a specific company in ways that you cannot with a résumé.

Ms. Piotrowski recently had a job opening at her small company, Career Solutions Group, and she was dismayed when about a quarter of the 200 applicants did not send cover letters. Most were within five years of graduating from college, she said, reflecting a more informal mind-set among younger people.

Q. How should your cover letter be organized, how long should it be, and what should it say?

A. First, do your best to find the decision maker’s name, and use it in the salutation. If you are applying to a blind ad, say “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To the Hiring Manager.” Ms. Piotrowski said she received cover letters that had no salutation at all or began with “Hey there” — not a strong start. If you want to be on the safe side, use a colon after the salutation, although some people now feel it is permissible to use a comma in an e-mail message.

Your cover letter should be short — generally no longer than three or four paragraphs, said Debra Wheatman, a career expert at Vault, a jobs Web site.

In your first paragraph, explain why you are writing — it may be that you are answering an ad, that you were referred to the company through networking, or that you learned that the company is expanding, said Wendy S. Enelow, author of “Cover Letter Magic” and a professional résumé writer in Virginia.

In the middle paragraphs, explain why you are a good candidate, and show that you are knowledgeable about the company. Then convey a clear story about your career, and highlight specific past achievements. This can either be done as a narrative or in bullet points, Ms. Enelow said.

You can also highlight qualities you possess that may not fit the confines of a résumé, Ms. Wheatman said.

She once worked in human resources at Martha Stewart Living, and recalls reviewing applications for a chef in a test kitchen. One woman had a career in manufacturing, but her cover letter described how she had grown up in a family that was passionate about cooking and where she had frequently made meals from scratch. The woman got the job despite her peripheral work experience.

Finish your letter by indicating that you will follow up in the near future (and make good on that promise). Sign off with a “Sincerely,” “Cordially,” “Thank you for your consideration” or similar closer, followed by your name and, if you like, your e-mail address.

Q. Where should your cover letter appear, in an e-mail or in an attachment?

A. You can include your letter in the actual text of your e-mail message or place it above your résumé in an attachment. If you put it in a separate attachment from your résumé, you run the risk that a harried hiring manager will not click on it at all. If you place it in the text of your e-mail message, it should generally be shorter than if you use an attachment, Ms. Enelow said.

Then, if you really want to make an impression, make a hard copy of your cover letter and résumé and send it to the hiring manager by regular mail. Attach a handwritten note that says, “Second submission; I’m very interested,” Ms. Piotrowski said. “I’ve had clients double their rate of interviews simply from doing that,” she said.

Ms. Enelow calls this “double-hitting,” and says she has seen it work remarkably well. She said a senior-level client of hers got an interview and was hired because the hard copy of his cover letter and résumé reached the company president, whereas his electronic application was rejected by someone in human resources because it did not meet certain rigid criteria.

Q. What are some common mistakes in cover letters?

A. A cover letter with typos, misspellings and poor sentence structure may take you out of the running for a job. If you cannot afford to pay someone to review your cover letter and résumé, enlist a friend or a family member with good language skills to do it instead.

Another misguided thing people do is to make the cover letter all about them: “I did this, I’m looking for, I want to ... I, I, I.” Structure your letter so that it stresses the company and what you can do to help it reach its goals, Ms. Piotrowski and others said.

Another danger is including too much information — for example, very specific salary or geographic requirements, Ms. Enelow said. It is also unwise to point out that you do not meet all the criteria in the job description, she said. You can deal with that later, if you get an interview.

Hiring managers are looking for ways to exclude you as they narrow down their applications, she said. Do not give them that ammunition.


Original Article -

Thursday, February 19, 2009

101 Best Twitter Feeds for Job Hunters

Loyal Green Gigs readers know I have been on a mission to get them tweeting and to use it to their job hunting advantage. Well here you go folks, if my encouragement wasn't enough to get you to grab a Twitter account, then here are 101 other reasons to tweet (well maybe 100, I added Green Gigs as #101!). I have compiled a list of my favorite job tweeters - some tweet job listings, some are industry specific, some offer career advice, a few are recruiters, some are direct company listings, and others re-tweet or link to relevant articles for job hunters. There are hundreds (if not more!) of other great job tweeters out there, but I looked at the quality of the tweets over the blog or website they represent. The list is numbered, but not in any order of preference (after #1!).

Feel free to add your favorite job tweeters in the comments and see you in Twitterland!

21) indeed
31) linkup
33) jobnob
47) PRjobs

52 - 101 and Original Article

Tim Esse

Eight strategies for an effective and satisfying job search

How do you remain optimistic after a layoff. We talked to the experts and distilled what they had to say into eight power tips that will keep you upbeat, greatly enhance your odds of finding a job -- and help you enjoy the process.
Eight strategies for an effective and satisfying job s...

Being laid off can be a traumatic experience – for some as devastating as a divorce, or even the death of a loved one.

Fears of being unable to financially support your family, anxieties about prospects of being re-hired – even doubts about your self worth can have a very unhealthy effect on body and mind.

On the flip side, maintaining a positive attitude after losing a job can be crucial to one's mental – and physical – health.

It definitely improves your odds of finding a job – and career counselors are unanimous about that.

Upbeat folk, who are able to deal with stress well, are more successful in their job search and appear more appealing to employers, says Dave Opton, CEO and founder of ExecuNet Inc.

Norwalk, CT-based ExecuNet provides executive career management services – bringing C-level executives and recruiters together.

While remaining sanguine and stress-free isn't easy, Opton and other experts we spoke to offer proven stress-busting strategies laid off knowledge workers can pursue to stay on top of the job hunting game.

Here are eight.

1. Get perspective – and don't feel bad about feeling bad

The first thing people should understand is feeling badly about losing a job isn't unusual, said Opton.

It helps put the layoff in perspective when you remind yourself that this is but a minor aspect of your overall career experience.

This realization, he said, should help you find healthy ways to deal with your concerns, while staying optimistic about your skills and capabilities.

People should also understand the layoff has nothing to do with them, personally.

Layoffs are happening because of an ugly global economic situation, not your own skills or performance, Opton noted. "So don't be discouraged. Remember the skills that made you successful in your previous job can be brought to a new opportunity."

2. Create a plan

After being laid off, many people have a tendency to over-react, the ExecuNet CEO said. He cautions against that.

Rather than look for a job immediately, he said, it helps to sit down, assess your finances, and create a plan for moving forward.

It's a view echoed by Robert Bacal, CEO of Bacal and Associate, an Ottawa-based career advice firm.

In fact, he says, knowledge workers should have a handle on their financial situation at all times. "You never want to be in the position where you're laid off and can't feed family."

If you do lose a job, he said, "sit down, do an honest appraisal of your finances, and make decisions based on that knowledge."

If you have a nice cushion, he says it may even be a good idea to take a few weeks off and try to relax. But don't spend time at the beach if you're going to be stressed out the whole time, he said. Only do it if helps you calm your career worries.

2/18/2009 5:00:00 AM By: Michelle MacLeod

Original Article -

The Job Market is Tough - Does Your Cover Letter Stand Out?

Knock Knock. “Who’s there?” “A unique amazing cover letter” “That’s a rarity - come on in”

Your cover letter knocks on the door of the hiring company. When that door is opened does your cover letter get asked to “come in” or is the door slammed shut?

If you want your cover letter to be noticed, it must sell your skills, achievements and it must be clear and direct, positive and professional. Here’s how…

Connect your cover letter to your resume by mentioning a particular skill or achievement the hiring manager can relate to.

For example, suppose you are applying for a job as a regional manager of a IT Sales company. You are experienced in training sales people and retaining them. The turnover of staff is low and staff morale is high - all under your leadership, thus affecting the bottom line in a positive, profitable way.

So how are you going to mention this experience in the cover letter?

Like this:

I’ve been the IT Sales regional manager for “company x” for the past four years and during that time I successfully trained and mentored six new salespeople who have remained with me the entire time. In a recent company staff survey all 15 of my staff specifically stated that team spirit and the department morale is high.

If you were the hiring manager wouldn’t you want to study the resume in a bit more detail - maybe even interview this individual? I certainly would. He sounds like someone who knows how to train and retain sales people which increases staff morale and revenue for the company.

A cover letter that spells out your successes and achievements in this way will make the hiring manager read the resume - that’s the job of the cover letter. And it will trigger the hiring manager’s brain to think “yes, this is an individual I’d like to interview”.

Try it - it only takes a few extra minutes to complete and could make the difference between the door opening wide for you to enter or the door being slammed in your face.

Original Article -

Volunteer your way into a new job

he current recession has turned almost all of us into career counselors for our family, friends, and even the person sitting next to us on the train as we go to work. Those of us who are employed, and those of us in the employment industry, are particularly sought after as those who are less fortunate than us justifiably see us as being important points of contact in their search for a new job.

One of the most common questions that I’m getting asked these days from college students searching for internships and recent graduates hunting for entry-level jobs is how to get an internship or entry-level job if they don’t have any experience and they’re hearing from every employer that they don’t have enough experience. The answer: volunteer.

That’s right, volunteering some of your time to a favorite non-profit or even a small business is a great way to find a new job. How? Well, let’s say that you’re an accounting major who has not yet completed a good accounting-related internship. Volunteer to do the books or taxes for one or more non-profits or small businesses. You’ll find plenty of eager takers especially now with money being so tight for so many. In addition to getting the great experience that employers so crave, you’ll also be in a great position to meet more of those employers.

When you volunteer for non-profits, be sure to network with the members of the committees and boards as the people who serve on those groups tend to be movers and shakers in the community. Many will be businesses owners, executives or managers and will either be interested in hiring you to work for their organizations or will likely know vendors, clients, or even competitors who could benefit from your skills.

I recognize that most unemployed people do not have the funds to volunteer all the time. They need to spend most of their time searching for work. But virtually all who are unemployed can spend 30 to 40 hours per week searching for a job by networking, pounding the pavement, and applying to advertised jobs and spend an additional four to eight hours per week volunteering.

And if you volunteer your time in a thoughtful manner by networking with members of the committees and boards, you’ll almost certainly find that great new job a lot faster than those who just sit at home all day applying to jobs which are advertised on-line.

Original Article -

Stimulus Makes Cobra Coverage a Better Bet


Congress has just given a big assist to millions of jobless Americans facing a tough decision: Do they reach into their wallet to continue health insurance coverage with their old employer or not?

As part of the economic-stimulus package signed into law this week, the federal government will provide a nine-month subsidy covering 65% of the Cobra premium for people who qualify. Eligible workers who originally opted not to take Cobra but who now want the subsidized version have 60 days after they receive notice from their employers to sign up, says Richard G. Schwartz, a benefits lawyer in New York.

Fewer than one in 10 eligible workers recently opted for continuing insurance coverage in 2007 under Cobra, the federal law that allows many workers to continue group health insurance when they leave a job. The big reason: Cobra is expensive. Under the law, workers must pay the entire premium -- plus a 2% administrative fee -- even though employers typically picked up the lion's share of the cost. The average cost of Cobra coverage for a family is $13,000 a year -- big money for someone who is unemployed.
Uncoiling Cobra

The stimulus package makes it easier to afford extended health coverage after losing a job:

* The law provides a federal subsidy for 65% of the premium for nine months for workers who qualify.
* subsidy applies to workers who lose their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009.
* Workers who may have pre-existing conditions must maintain coverage to protect insurability.

The new legislation might help people like Chuck Fleming, 41 years old, of Aurora, Colo. His job in the legal department of Janus Capital Group Inc., a Denver-based financial-services company, was eliminated in October. He decided not to take Cobra because of the $450 monthly expense.

"My beef with Cobra is that it is the same gold-plated plan that my employer offered, when I would settle for copper or tin," he says. Instead, he bought a catastrophic health plan, which covers only major hospitalizations, for $100 a month.

"I am single with no health issues or anything like that, so for me it just wasn't cost-effective," he says, adding that he expects eventually to get employer-paid coverage when he finds another job.

The new subsidy applies to workers involuntarily terminated between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, and phases out for individuals with an adjusted gross income of $125,000, and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly. It should make it easier for people to protect themselves not only from ruinous medical bills, but also from the inability to get new insurance due to a pre-existing medical condition.

That's because an often-overlooked federal law -- the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 -- generally limits the ability of group health plans to exclude someone because of a pre-existing medical condition. But it only applies if you have been continuously covered by a health insurer with a break of no more than 63 days.
Portability Rights

That's where Cobra comes in. "People often unknowingly invalidate their federal portability rights by not taking Cobra or inadvertently exceeding the 63 days," says Janet Trautwein, chief executive of the National Association of Health Underwriters, a trade group of health-insurance brokers and agents in Arlington, Va.

As part of the stimulus law, lawmakers also enacted a provision allowing laid-off workers to switch to cheaper health-care plans in Cobra, if their employers offer them, without having to wait for an open-enrollment period. That might also help some people who chose the more-expensive health-care plans offered by their employers when they had their jobs.

The unemployment rate jumped to 7.6% in January, up 2.7 percentage points from a year earlier. Cobra, however, generally doesn't help workers in companies with fewer than 20 workers, or those who have lost their insurance because their companies were liquidated or whose jobs never offered it, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many states extend state Cobra benefits to groups of fewer than 20 workers.

Employers may not be happy with the expansion of the Cobra program, as some fear it will raise administrative and other costs. "The new law will impose very large costs on employers," says John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, an independent think tank in Dallas. "It will make it more expensive for employers to provide health insurance. And, for those who do, it will make it more expensive to hire new workers."

For some people, especially the young and healthy, another option is to take out an individual health policy. Insurers such as Aetna Inc. have been promoting individual plans as Cobra alternatives in many states. Health-insurance experts advise people who lose their jobs to apply immediately for individual health insurance, because it can take weeks to have an application approved or denied when medical underwriting is involved. They can then choose whether to use Cobra or opt for individual insurance or a public program within the allowed time limit.

Yet for employees who already have been diagnosed or treated for a serious or chronic illness, or who are pregnant, Cobra may be the only reasonable option. They may find it impossible to get an individual health-insurance policy, unless they live in a handful of states such as New York or New Jersey that require insurers to issue policies regardless of health or risk status, or in the more than 30 states with high-risk pools. Even then, individual policies may be prohibitively expensive.

Phyllis Miller, 61 years old, a resident of Johnstown, Pa., who had been employed as a billing-office manager for a chiropractor, was diagnosed with colon cancer just before losing her employer health coverage in 2007. She said her insurer tried to cancel her coverage, until she reminded them of her legal right to continue under a state program, similar to Cobra, for small employers. The insurer then offered her a so-called conversion plan, though at a much higher cost than she had been paying under her employer-subsidized plan -- and with no prescription drug coverage.

"It's better than nothing," says Ms. Miller, who notes that one full chemotherapy treatment costs more than $13,000.

A Web site that lays out many private and public insurance programs is available at, a project of the Foundation for Health Coverage Education, a nonprofit group funded by health insurers and foundations, and at the industry-funded Individual health-plans can be compared at sites like, an online insurance broker licensed in 50 states.
Desperate Measures

Some workers have resorted to desperate measures to keep their Cobra coverage. Clare Tobin, 64, of Chicago, left a stressful job with health benefits to take a less-demanding one at a property manager that didn't offer health insurance. Her husband couldn't obtain individual insurance because of his diabetes, she says. At first, they maintained Cobra under her former employer, a nonprofit community organization, paying $850 per month. But Cobra normally lasts only 18 months, and as expiration approached, the Tobins were stuck.

Ms. Tobin read through the Cobra language and realized if she experienced a life-changing event, such as an adoption, divorce, disability or the death of a spouse, her husband would be eligible to continue Cobra coverage for another 18 months. "So I felt if that is what it takes, we should get divorced," she says. She and her husband obtained a quickie divorce and narrowly made the deadline. She says they felt having health insurance was more important than staying married.

Brian Tobin stayed on Cobra until he was three months shy of his 65th birthday. After that, he went on Medicare. Ms. Tobin says she has since obtained individual health insurance for herself, under a high-deductible Blue Cross plan with a $2,500 deductible for which she pays $360 monthly.

"Realistically, you have to do what is in your best interest, and your health is basic," she says.

Write to M.P. McQueen at

Original Article -

Your Personal Brand is Equal to Your Google Results

February 19th, 2009 in Management

People you know or have never met yet are googl’ing you. Let’s face it, you’re even google’ing yourself! At the end of 2007, the Pew Internet Research Team found that 47% of people search for information about themselves online (Self-Googling), which was more than double 5 years ago. It’s a pretty safe bet that percentage has climbed to over 50 or 60% by this year.

Some people might can it ego-surfing, but it’s actually a good practice to see what results come up for your name. Your teachers, friends, family, boyfriends and girlfriends and coworkers are Google’ing you either for fun or because they want to learn more about you. Hiring managers want to see if you have a clean record in Google, which is your permanent record because every move you make (yes even a blog comment) is stored there forever. Before I went on a second date once, the girl Google’ed me. If she hadn’t liked what she saw, the second date wouldn’t have happened. Try doing it right now and see what you get.

There is no hiding from Google!

Google keeps track of just about everything you do on the internet. It patrols and captures your online behavior, such as when you post on your blog, tweet using Twitter, join social networks, comment on other blogs, write articles for online news

sources and more. Aside from the content you create and distribute over the internet, other people are talking about you, which means that Google has a complete picture (almost like an autobiography) of your life. In the digital age, Google is your resume, your permanent record and a journal of your life. Your children and children’s children will be able to find out everything about you when they grow older. “Mom, look what I just found out about Dad in Google.” Your personal brand can’t hide from Google. There is one major exception to this though.

Common names

If your name is common, such as Mike Smith, then it will be very hard to own your Google results. There are over 54 million results for “Mike Smith” in Google. You won’t be able to compete with the athletes and musicians on the first few pages. If your life goal is to rank in the top ten results, that may be achievable, if you either become very famous or work extremely hard at building content each and every day for your entire life. At the age of sixty you might find out that Google changed their algorithm and you’ll lose all that hard work. The point being is that you’ll have to differentiate your name in order to rank high. I typically recommend you use your middle name or a nickname in this case. The worst case scenario is that you change your name completely ;).

Celebrity names

Celebrities are very fortunate because they get mass media attention, which means traditional media sources (NY Times, ABC News) write articles about them. These sources rank extremely high in Google. We’re talking Google PageRank’s of eight and higher! Your blog posts about these celebrities will never end up on the top twenty results for their name unless you are Perez Hilton. If your name is the same as a celebrities, you are in big trouble. Try searching for Christina Aquilera (21 million results), Britney Spears (88 million), Lil Wayne (40 million) and other major celebrities. Personally, I don’t have any friends with these names, but even with C-level celebrities, you don’t stand a chance. If you are stuck with a celebrity name, I suggest that you build your brand around an area of your expertise or interest and connect it to your brand name.

Unique names

While growing up, you might have been made fun of people of your unique name because it was “different.” Although you were ostracized and made fun of, right now you get to laugh at everyone else! With a distinct name, you are able to easily manipulate the results for your name on search engines. When you go to your high school reunion and see your friends, you’ll get the last laugh because you can be visible and control perceptions, while they simply cannot. When you Google your name, whether you have results that reflect your brand, you’ll see how hard it will be to rank high for it or not. Depending on the competition, it may take you a few days or a few months. Over time, if you work very hard, you’ll own the top ten results for your name.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what you can do to gain control over your Google results and let your personal brand shine through.

Original Article -

Tim Esse