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Career Corner
The Interview Question Everyone Dreads
Monday, January 30, 2012

The silent pause in the room is hard enough to bear as you attempt to conceal the bead of sweat making its slow and steady way down your temple. The interviewer takes a longer look at your resume than you'd like--but she is and there's nothing you can do short of a diversion to stop her. Scanning the page she shows no reaction whatsoever. She's got her game face on alright and she's not about to let you read through it. She lifts her head up; here it comes. You're bracing yourself as she opens her mouth to utter the words: "So what made you leave your last job?"

Boom. There it is and now the spotlight is on you to make the next move in this torture chamber of an office. It's a simple question but you feel as if you're under a federal investigation. But did you really forget? She's already seen your resume! That's why you're in the interview in the first place. So relax, let some oxygen into your lungs, you'll need it to answer her question.

Many people get so nervous when it comes to explaining themselves, but the truth is there's nothing really to sweat about lest it was for some hanus reason then yeah, some extra deodorant might be in order. But for everyone else, the interviewer is partly testing you to see how well you can handle being confronted with the question as well as the answer you provide her.

Whatever reason you give her will be good enough as long as you back it up with conviction. You don't necessarily have to justify your reasons for leaving or being let go but let her know that you could still find a light at the end of the tunnel. This information isn't mandatory in an interview, but the interviewer wants to get to know you and part of you is your past and background. Surprisingly, she might be able to relate to your experience but flubbing your chance to make a real connection can give her the wrong impression.

Remember these pointers the next time you find yourself in this position and you'll save yourself from using your dressy clothes as sweat rags:

Honesty Is the Best Policy. The last thing you want to do while under pressure is to dig yourself a deeper hole. If things don't work out, you don't want to come out of there jobless and your dignity damaged. Avoid coming of as sketchy; even if you were fired from your last job own up to it. Things like that can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons. But stay positive and don't point fingers. Talk about what you learned and got out of your experience there. Keep the focus off your flaws without going around them. Just try to couple the cons with as more pros.

Cool, Calm, Collected. And Confident! Don't cower under the shadow of a question. Topple it with an even better statement. Whether you saw it coming or not, a part of you knew that it was going to come up, but whether it becomes an issue is all in how you handle it. Be prepared with an answer and know what you're going to say. Keep it short and sweet so you can address it and move on. Don't let the question control you; take command and show maturity. Make it known that you're two steps ahead of the game and are not afraid of confronting your past.

Add Fuel for the Future. Don't dwell on the past. It's there and it's there to stay but you don't have to stay there with it. Think about the good times and look forward to making many more. Tell the employer how your insight from that experience will help you in your future pursuits and that you're up for taking on this exciting new opportunity. If you show the employer that you can turn a negative into a positive it will prove to them that you are resilient and don't let an unfortunate circumstance get you down.

You've probably heard of the saying, "You're only as strong as your weakest link." Well, employers know that and in order for them to succeed, they have to have the strongest people behind them. Don't be one of the weaklings left out just because you felt dejected from a previous employer. So it didn't work out--learn from it, move on, and be better than ever. Show employers that you're ready to start fresh; that you're ready for a clean slate. Dragging baggage with you will only weigh you down. Leave the wrongs at the door, your interview is a chance to do things right!

5 Ways to Help Get Through Being Laid Off
Thursday, January 26, 2012

1) Stay calm and take a long deep breath. This may be hard, understandably, as being laid off in a tough economy is up there on the list of bad news a person can receive. But remember that it wasn't your fault, being laid off and being fired is different. You have more of a chance of finding a new job since losing your last one was out of your control.

2) You're now self-employed. You get to be your own boss in your new job of finding your next opportunity. Take it seriously and don't use this time for an extended vacation. Carry over the momentum from your last job into finding the next. Join networking groups, create a social media presence and utilize all and any resource you can that can connect you to employers and job opportunities.

3) Work with an outplacement firm or recruiter. These are valuable resources for getting help with your resume, networking, and sharpening your interviewing skills. Some people may be uncomfortable with having to sell themselves to employers so these are great places to practice these skills and make sure you're ready to get back on the market.

4) Be in control of your finances. Find someone to help you, like an independent planner, that has expertise in working with people in this this transitional period. Planning out your financial future will help you stay out of getting to money trouble. The future is unpredictable so you want to be prepared for whatever happens. Plan for the worst so even if you do find a job shortly after, you'll still have a handle on your finances.

5) Stay positive. This is probably the most important thing to do. The attitude you have during this time will directly affect the outcome of your situation. People can read through your feelings and even if you're trying to mask your negativity, they can pick up on that as well. Maintaining an optimistic outlook on your future will lead to proactive choices and get you to where you want to be. Keep in mind that you can't have ups without downs, so even though things are looking low now, remember that they are bound to pick up.

Asking for Help Through Email
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Asking for help is hard enough as it is, and it can be even tougher to do when putting it into text. The problem that many people face is that they want to be clear enough in what they're asking for but end up complicating the question further by not simply stating it. A clear enough question needs no explanation.
Whether you've already had to or not, there will be a time in your career that you'll seek the assistance from someone with more knowledge or experience. Asking for help can seem like a lot of trouble, but it can actually keep you out of it.

But before you start firing off a slough of emails to people, you need to have a good approach if you want to receive good advice. Keep your questions focused without as opposed to vague questions like, "Any thoughts?" Yeah, they probably have plenty of thoughts, how many pages would you like them in?
Narrow what you want to know in just one, simple question. If you turn it into a quiz, they're more than likely to put it off. The quicker someone is able to get through your email, the quicker they'll be able to respond to it. Also, with a more specific question they can see that you reached out to them for a reason and have put thought into it.

Know What to Ask and You Shall Receive

When you're unsure about something, you might have a million questions running through your mind. Picking out just one and ruling out the others helps you identify what your problem really is and even help you solve some of the other side questions you had about it.

Have a rule about the length of your emails, no more than one to two paragraphs. You're more than likely to bore them or they won't know where to start in answering your question. Think your issue through and figure out what you're unable to solve yourself as opposed to seeking all the answers from others (which tends to put all the work on them).
You'll be able to close in on the real problem and solve any of the surrounding ones yourself making you more capable of accomplishing your task that you may have initially thought. People will be more willing to help you when you have a clear and well-thought out question for them to address. Before you know it, people will be turning to you for help.

4 Easily Accessible Careers
Thursday, January 19, 2012

The holiday season is over and done until the next which has many job hunters back on the prowl. Many people have been out of work for a while now, and with so many places to apply in so little time they are wondering where to even begin the search. Even as the economy maintains its gradual recovery out of the recession, there are still some sectors that will fall behind in their comeback.
Sectors like the housing, banking and investment markets are seeing little growth and leave many job categories struggling to create new opportunities for job seekers. On the other side of this, many niche jobs have been adding workers to their payrolls and are expected to continue this positive incline. Take a look at some of the top careers that you can enter from the ground up along with the required skills to get things started.

HOME CARE SERVICES
The aging population across the country has sparked a job creation to assess the rising needs of health and in-home care services for the elderly. The duties included in these jobs are cleaning, preparing meals, and transportation services. Private local businesses will be hiring, and many national franchise companies will offer a full suite of services from a coporate level. The skills needed to work in the industry fall lower in priorities to having a clean background and the genuine desire to help others.

NURSES AND NURSING ASSISTANTS
Talks about the health care needs of the aging baby boomer generation have been in the air for so long many are already tired of hearing about the topic. But the reason it's so talked about reflects just how relevant it is to the job market. Some health professions that may not be able to forecast how the Obama healthcare legislation will play a role in the supply and demand, but a new wave of nurses will most likely be needed despite what happens.

Nurses make an annually pay ranging from $77,000 to $100,00, according to salary.com. Nursing school can takes years to get through but nursing assistants can ear accreditation within months. Those with limited means and resources can take that route in saving time and money to learn new skills as a viable to alternative to the higher-paying registered or licensed nurse.

Home healthcare arrangements and nursing homes will be wanting to put these workers on their payroll and some may offer hiring bonuses and appealing benefits packages. Wages for nursing assistants have a wide range and usually reach a high of $30,000 a year.

SALES
Even though the recession eliminated many middle management positions nationwide, the sales team at most companies are generally feelling more pressure to do better. Sales people are very crucial to a company as they are the ones bringing in the money. As such, companies are more willing to compensate these positions well. Those who are highly driven and have a desire to deliver, sales positions are very suitable in making big bucks for these efforts.

Sales job requirements vary among companies and so do the categories of degrees. But with an eagerness to learn and a the ability to prove it also counts and can even make it for other lacking areas in some cases. Sales apply to most if not all companies so wages are extremely varied for these jobs.

LABORERS
These may not be the most attractive or glamorous jobs but the demand is there for those willing to put in 10-hour days and literally get their hands dirty. Construction and manufacturing jobs are still getting by and at this point giving anyone a shot who doesn't mind working hard to make a modest living. With the housing market in the dismal state that its in, the focus had shifted away from home construction. But plenty of markets are seeing steady growth in some areas of the country.

Places that deal with chemicals, specialized parts and plastics are looking for some helping hands. This is one of those industries where the saying, "No pain, no gain," can apply. The crazier your work schedule, the bigger pay off you can expect.

Steady jobs this year may not be the ones that we dream of, but they will put food on the table. Preparation for these jobs will help you get to the top of the resume stack and workers can find themselves with a reliable, honest paycheck.

Job Seeking With a Disability
Monday, January 16, 2012

Unemployment is non-discriminatory, but the same can't always be said about employers despite employment regulations. Discrimination is nearly impossible to prove, but is an offense that can be made clear as day.
People with physical and mental disabilities face much tougher challenges than the average job seeker because they have even more to prove to the employer. Aside from just keeping up with the competition, they need to get the interviewer or recruiter get past the fact that they have an added disadvantage.

Being in this type of position can make the person feel that they face these challenges alone, but they aren't. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. has 26.5 million workers age 16 and over that have disabilities. These job seekers make up a significant portion of the workforce, yet their unique job-search experiences are often overlooked.

The Major Hurdles
In every job search, the seeker has the task of proving their skills and talents to employers and those with disabilities
have to step their games up to sway the employer. The main misconception among employers is that make them apprehensive about hiring people with disabilities is that the person will be incompetent. While this is a concern when hiring any employee, it's especially prevalent when interviewing individuals with physical disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act legally protects job seekers from being discriminated againsted for real or perceived disabilities, but that doesn't stop it from happening. Job seekers may hinder their own job searches without even knowing it by giving out more information than needed right off the bat.

A job seeker could be raising their own red flags by putting too much emphasis on their disability or inadequately providing reasons for being absent because of it. This shifts the focus of the job search on disability rather than ability.

Job seekers should not be discouraged from talking about it openly as it can change the potential employer's behavior when suprised by the fact. Mentioning it before the interview can make things more comfortable between the candidate and the interviewer.

There are different appraoches that job applicants can take when discussing their disabilities, from humor to simply being up front about it. Whatever is best for the applicant is better as long as it doesn't put the the interviewer in an awkward position.

In order for there to be true equality between employers and disabled job seekers is that there needs to be a change in the attitude about candidates with disabilities. Employers should not be concerned with whether the candidate's disability will interfere with the person's performance. They need to overcome their preconceived notions of workers with disabilities as it can take away from their professional objectivity. It's their job to be educated on both the disabilty and the nature of working with someone with a disability.

Disabled individuals also have resources that can help them better their odds among the competition. A recommended course of action is to seek assistance from a job placement or supported employment porgram that can help them navigate the world of work. These agencies can also help job seekers find employers and provide the employer with the educational resources they wouldn't have otherwise.

The agency staff spends time explaining that the individual may need additonal training to learn the job duties, which is also taken care of by the agency staff. They are fairly successful in advocating to the employer to give the individual an opportunity.

Making Equal Employment Opportunities Equal
The main change, however, lies more with the job seeker. When job seekers with disabilities give in to negative messages telling them that they aren't good enough, they won't be able to get past it. Self-esteem and confidence plays a big role in the candidate's ability to market him or herself.

Confident job seekers, disabled or not, reassure employers that they have a strong contender and make them feel more comfortable in offering them a job. Also, those job seekers won't be as hesitant to apply to positions that they feel they are qualified for. In the end, the goal is to have workplaces where employers aren't hesitant to hire someone because of disability.

The workplace is continuously diversifing itself and along with those changes are the assumptions that some employers have about individuals with disabilities.
Employers rule out candidates based on a variety of factors from typos to not being up to dress standards.

Job seekers with disabilities should not feel that they are out of any employer's league otherwise employers will start to get that message. Instead, acting like the job is suited for you will cast away doubts that the employer has. Successfully landing a job has to do with planning, preparation, confidence, and sharing strengths and achievements with employers.

Tips to Get to Round 2 of the Interview
Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting through an interview can feel like such a relief. Not only does it take many candidates a lot of trying and searching just to get a call back, but also preparing to seal the deal once you're in. Doing things right the first time is extremely critical in getting the job because it's determines whether you've peaked or lost the potential employer's initial interest.


For those lucky enough to the a call back after an interview, that often means that there's more to come. The reward, at this point, is so near yet just out of reach. Here are some tips on to how to reel in the job offer or second interview once you've gotten a bite:


1) Ask them what reasons they would not hire you for. Even though the interview may be coming to a close, make sure you don't lose any momentum. At the end of the conversation, ask them if there is anything about your background that might be of concern. This question gives them a chance to clear up some doubts you may be having.


2) Ask for homework. Let them take you for a test drive by doing some trial assignments. Show them your capabilities and that you'll be able to perform if hired. See if there are any job-related task you can do while they are still in the interviewing process as it will also help them not to rule you out so quickly. Plus, if you show them right off the bat that you're already willing to work before being hired, you may be saving them some time in doing any more interview. If you do well, you'll likely be getting paid to do it soon enough.


3) Play off the interviewer's manner. Just because you're in an interview trying to make the best impression you don't have to turn into a robot. Imagine you're having a casual conversation with a stranger in any other setting. The interviewer wants to get to know you, not your nerves, so try not to act like you're under interrogation. See how they're acting and mimic their attitude. Pace yourself on their speed.


4) Relax, but don't sit back. You want to lean in and sit slightly forward to show them that you're attentively listening; that it's not just going in one ear and out the other. Slouching and leaning back sends the message that you're unconcerned. When comes to competition for a position, every once of obvious interest matters.


5) Use props. An interview can be treated almost like a show and tell. Even if not required, don't hestitate to bring a portfolio or some example of accomplishments that illustrate your best work. Interviewers like to see that the candidate has put some thought and extra effort into it. Or, if you see something impressive done by a competitor, bring that in and critique it. You'll prove to the interviewer you know what you're doing and how you think. Sometimes a prop can even calm jittery nerves.

10 of the Most Stressful Jobs
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The holidays are over and it's the beginning of a new year. As refreshing as that sounds, this time of year is actually the most stressful for many as business get right back into things--full speed ahead.


To help you feel better about how stressful your own job may be, job-hunting site CareerCast.com released its annual list of the 10 most stressful jobs out there. Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. workers feel tense and strained in their positions, according to the American Psychological Association.


Since CareerCast could only list the top 10, they used a system to narrow down their list using 11 different job stress factors like "amount of travel," "deadlines," "physical demands," and if the employee risks his or her own life--probably the most stressful factor of them all.

And who could argue? That's why CareerCast placed enlisted soldiers at the number one spot with a stress score of 84.61 out of 100. And to add to that, an enlisted solider makes an average income of $35,580.

The report claims that, "there are a variety of duties and enlisted soldier may perform as part of of his or her job. From serving food in the mess hall to fighting a battle on the front line, to avoiding land mines along the path to a village, the duties a soldier carries out have very different levels of responsiblity."

Let's take a look at what other jobs might be causing a hair-pulling epidemic...

1) Enlisted Solider

2) Firefighers (60.26). Firefighters are pretty much the citizen soldiers. Having to face burning buildings and putting their own lives in danger to save others will definitely take a toll on stress levels. Ironically, as stressful as it is, it also made the top 10 list of the most satisfying jobs which goes to show that saving lives an be just as rewarding as it is risky.

3) Airline pilots (59.58). Flying an airliner may seem like a lot of fun, but try imagining the duty of having to keep passengers safe while getting them to their destinations on time on your shoulders.

4) Military general. As a military general, it's up to you to make "the life-or-death decisions" for the troops. As nerve-racking as that is, they do get substantially compensated for their efforts with the average income of $196,300.


5) Police Officer (53.63). Cops endure having to take on dangerous situations on a daily basis. Perhaps not the most appealing job description.

6) Event coordinator (49.85). Doesn't sound life-threatening? Well, it isn't, but that doesn't mean it isn't just as stressful. They don't call them bridezillas for nothing.

7) Public relations executive (47.56). Hate having to do damage control? Who doesn't? Public relations execs have to worry about cleaning up the the biggest publicized messes out there. Talk about an expensive cleaning crew.

8) Corporate executive (47.1). "You're not the boss of me!"--Actually, you are; everyone's boss for that matter.

9) Photojournalist (47.09). Wonder how you're able to look at those hard-hitting, emotion-grabbing photos? Someone had to take them, and it definitely took more than a click of a button.

10) Taxi driver (46.25). Taxi drivers have to deal with being in a car with rounds of strangers making them a major target for crime, not to mention that they're bound to encounter some unpleasant passengers.

It's Raining Men In the Job Market
Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The job market gender scale is tipping toward the male side as they are now making up two-thirds of the private-sector jobs being created. With the economy still pulling itself out of the mud of the recession it has flipped the long-standing trend of the U.S. coming close to having a female dominated workforce in the process.

Economists are pointing out the important factor that that men have increased their presence in the retail industry which is typically female-oriented. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, close to 1.28 million men took on jobs in the 12 months ending in November while women gained 600,000.

These men are spreading out into other industries previously lacking in male workers such as service and good-producing. Interestingly, not much of a dent has been made to the labor industries, like construction, which are primarily male-dominated.

The one sector that men did not show an increase in was government jobs where women add jobs while men lost them during the study period. In healthcare, education, and professional and business services men were filling open positions at a faster rate than women.

Even though this study shows that men are making their way back up the recession ladder over women, their group was hit harder by the recession effects. Men lost 71% of of the 7.5 million jobs that disappeared from June through December 2009. Retailers have added 216,000 men as opposed to just 9,000 women and manufacturers have added 250,000 men while cutting 33,000 women.

Another reason speculated for the increase is the inevitable expiration date of unemployment benefits causing men to take whatever job options they can get. Despite the hiring spurt, there are stil 4.5 times more unemployed people than U.S. job openings, according to economist Ryan Sweet of Moody's Analytics.

Women, however, are not just dropping out of the workforce and into oblivion. In fact, the presence of young women has moved its dominance into classrooms. What we're seeing now is that while young women are taking the economic doldrums as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, their counterparts are seizing their chances of taking whatever jobs they can get. This offset isn't expected to last for long, though. Later generations of women may use this to their advantage over men whose careers options are curretly stifled.

To this day women are still making substantially less than men (roughly .77 cents to the male dollar) and as a result many feel that they need more education in order to compete. According to the Labor Department, within the two and a half years the recession has been making its recovery men in the 16-24 age group have gained 178,000 jobs while women in the same group actually lost 255,000 positions. Faced with a dismal outlook for job prospects 412,000 women have been discouraged from finding work at all.

Some studies suggest that women are choosier than men about which jobs they'll take. With the ratio of pay already lower than men, women are more unwilling to work when wages are even less. Government data on how Americans spend their time shows that they are also more reluctant to work night or weekend shifts due to more family responsibilities. Many of the more preferred jobs have become harder to obtain and men are showing to be more willing to take what's available while women continue their job search elsewhere.

Many of the occupations expected to have the most growth have traditionally been filled by women like home health aides and dental hygienists. This issue, however, isn't about men not being able to take these positions but them wanting to. The mainstream attitude nowadays is that girls are more encouraged do anything and go into any career whereas their male counterparts are still held to certain career expectations.

Jobs in the male-dominated manufacturing and manual labor industries remain in their decline being that when youthful strength wears out so does maintaining those jobs. The economy in its current state leaves many manufacturing workers without pensions to keep them going when their bodies give out.

It's no surprise that with the economy not fully out of the woods yet women are amping up their education. But the question on many people's minds is why aren't men following suit? Well, the answer is nearly a given. Since the economy is in such poor shape, education costs--and loans--are no more appealing. So what does all of this mean?

Right now men are getting jobs that used to be more women-dominated due to fewer women competing for those positions. As such, more women are taking to the classrooms as an alternative to the bleak opportunities and inadequate pay. What this also tells us that later on is that more of these better educated and trained women will fare as tough contenders in future economic climates as men take their chances in the present to get by.

Career Advice From the Pros
Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Job advice can come from anyone, anywhere. At PR NEWS' People Awards, award-winning Public Relations professionals were asked, "What was the best career advice you received?" Here were some of their answers:
  • Client's don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care
  • Going above and beyond is what gets you attention
  • Never stop learning
  • People may not remember you for what you do but rather for how you make them feel
  • It is always best to be a first-rate version of yourself than a second-rate version of someone else
What was the best career advice given to you?
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