The latest stats say that the unemployment rate went down last month. But what does that number really say? It does not account for people who aren’t collecting unemployment, those who have taken part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time professional work, or those that have pushed off entering the job market by staying in school.

Here’s a great little video from Mint.com that I found via Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck. I highly recommend reading this blog post which goes into some greater detail about the difference between being unemployed and underemployed and how the underemployed are not included in the peachy statistical analyses.

December 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Tips for a Successful Phone Interview

It’s getting harder than ever to get your foot in the door. Often times, employers and recruiters use phone interviews as their first line of defense to weed out unqualified candidates.

I recommend reading this article from Talent Zoo, which includes lots of helpful tips on how to improve your chances getting past the gatekeeper so you can score an in-person interview.

Some of my favorites are:

  • Do your research about the company AND THE INTERVIEWER ahead of time
  • Write out your answers to common interview questions, as well as your top selling points you want to make sure you get across to the interviewer no matter want
  • Draft up a list of questions and make sure you ask at least a few during the call if given the opportunity

November 24, 2009 at 5:51 pm 1 comment

Benefits Beyond Salary

A recurring theme amongst the people I talk to that are fielding job offers (in this awful economy) is trying to understand what a good offer is.

Most people consider the salary offer as the job offer. But it is more than that. You need to consider the entire benefits package: insurance, retirement, commission and bonuses, potential for growth, and “intangible” benefits like the working environment, job location, etc.

I suggest reading this article from Talent Zoo about 5 Financial Secrets to Know When You Look for A Job by Ted Jenkin. He discusses many of these additional benefits and poses some questions for you to consider when you get the long awaited offer.

October 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Identifying, qualifying and quantifying your achievements

The first thing I ask people to do when they want to update their resume, is to give me a description of their work history and achievements.

For most everyone, it’s pretty easy for them to tell me the dates and places where they have worked, past job titles and companies. But it’s that achievements part that is hard for them to come up with.

Use this list to figure out what you’ve accomplished. Once you have the list, try to weave accomplishments in with your job responsibilities and duties.

Actions: Did you…

  1. open new accounts?
  2. create an infrastructure for any function(s)?
  3. design and/or implement standard operating procedures?
  4. develop the professional capabilities of people who were then promoted to positions of greater accountability and/or who outperformed peers?
  5. add new products?
  6. develop or strengthen vendor partnerships?
  7. launch a new brand?
  8. develop a training program?
  9. initiate and/or manage a major project?
  10. renegotiate contracts?
  11. reengineer business processes?
  12. restructure organizations?
  13. write or redesign job descriptions?
  14. reach new audiences?
  15. grow subscribers or membership base?
  16. improve the accuracy of sales forecasts?
  17. start a new division?
  18. grow your referral base?
  19. begin sourcing or production in a new region or country?
  20. start outsourcing tasks?
  21. expand your presence to a new geographic territory?
  22. establish quality standards?
  23. start evaluating vendor performance?
  24. write an employee or vendor manual?
  25. design forms or templates?
  26. introduce and/or direct programs that resulted in achievement of certain industry standards?
  27. expand or consolidate your vendor base?
  28. accelerate product development?
  29. implement new technology-based solutions or lead technology integrations?
  30. win support from internal or external groups?
  31. create a reference library or archives of key information?
  32. improve inventory accuracy?
  33. decrease order-to-delivery lead times or speed-to-market times?
  34. design and/or institute order tracking or call tracking systems?
  35. start a safety program?
  36. automate a process previously performed manually?
  37. eliminate unnecessary or redundant processes?
  38. design a business continuity plan?
  39. get rid of unprofitable product lines or customer accounts?
  40. align services with customer requirements?

Results: As a result of these actions, did you…

  • increase sales/profits?
  • reduce costs?
  • grow market share?
  • increase service levels?
  • achieve better quality or consistency?
  • improve safety and/or reduce risk?
  • boost productivity?
  • lower employee turnover?
  • improve company’s reputation?
  • position the company for future growth?

This list is adapted from a WiseBread blog post.

September 25, 2009 at 9:16 pm 1 comment

Job advice Twitter style

Just came across a great little article on The Simple Dollar. The author asked for job advice in 10 words or less.

Here are my favorites:


  • Reputation is everything.
  • Your work is not just about what you know, it’s about who you know.
  • It’s not how many resumes you send out, it’s how many hands you shake.
  • Get to know everyone and tell them what you want.
  • Trust your gut, and find a mentor.


  • Watch what you say, compose yourself and be overwhelming honest.
  • Make eye contact with everyone, and smile.
  • Be nice to everyone, even if you have to fake it.
  • Dress for success.
  • If you work in an office: DO NOT wear t-shirts, faded, ripped jeans or flipflops.

Work Smart

  • No matter what you do, be prepared to work. Hard.
  • Treat every day like it’s your first day at work.
  • Don’t do anything you’d be ashamed to tell mom about.
  • Show enthusiasm for learning because no career is stagnant.
  • Diversify income, never rely on one source that could disappear.
  • You may be underpaid now, but someday you’ll be overpaid.
  • Stop whining and do your freaking job.
  • If it feels wrong it probably is – move on.

Do you have any nuggets of wisdom to share?

July 27, 2009 at 8:50 pm 1 comment

Canned phrases that (may) ruin your resume

A well-written cover letter and executive summary can set your resume apart from other applicants.

But when do key words and catches phrases become too much?

Liz Ryan, a blogger for The Savvy Networker, made this list of the 10 most over-used phrases that make resumes sound cliche and robotic:

  • Results-oriented professional
  • Cross-functional teams
  • More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience
  • Superior (or excellent) communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Met or exceeded expectations
  • Proven track record of success
  • Works well with all levels of staff
  • Team player
  • Bottom-line orientation

I get what she’s saying, but I think there’s a reason that theses phrases are used time and time again: employers are looking for candidates that have a strong work ethic, work well with others, can communicate well and deliver results. And when hiring managers are averaging 30 seconds per resume, seeing these words are a quick way to qualify (or disqualify) candidates.

What do you think? Should you spice things up and communicate your strengths in a unique way, or stick with the tried and true?

Read the original article on The Savvy Networker: http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-experts-10_boilerplate_phrases_that_kill_resumes-97

July 27, 2009 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment

Top Job Search Faux Pas from NPR

* Not having an updated profile, with recommendations, on sites like LinkedIn or similar sites relating to your line of work
* Having a husband-and-wife e-mail address
* Having an AOL address. Some executives say those are very outdated.
* Not doing extensive research about the company, its culture and the position you’re applying for
* Not filing your resume digitally, even if you bring paper backups
* “Cold” e-mailing executives with whom you’ve never made a prior connection, either online or in person
* Asking an executive you’re hoping will hire you to be your “friend” on Facebook

Read the entire article here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105483848

June 17, 2009 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

Tips for successful informational interviews

Just read a great article at http://www.careerealism.com/7-secrets-to-successful-informational-interviews/ that offers some really great suggestions on how to have a successful informational interview.

Even though a company may not have a job opening, you can still get in the door by requesting an informational interview. This will give you the opportunity to get face time, make a new contact or two and be one step ahead of the rest of the candidates should a job opening arise. It’s important to stay top of mind in case something opens up.

May 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm 1 comment

Important things you need to have on your resume

Sure it’s important to include your name, contact information, work history, education and key responsibilities.

The biggest mistake people make is leaving out their key differentiators.

What do employers really want to know about you? They want to know that you produce results.

  • What problems have you solved?
  • Did you serve as a project or team leader? Mentor to others?
  • Have you helped the company save money, improve efficiency or increase productivity?

And it doesn’t stop here. Anywhere that you can, you need to quantify and quality your achievements:

  • How many dollars did you save the company by your efforts?
  • How much in additional business did you bring in?
  • What was the percentage increase you brought about in productivity, safety, efficiency…?

In a tight job market, and as a young person just starting out in general, it’s important to include these extras to make you stand out in a sea of typical resumes and typical candidates.

April 8, 2009 at 2:52 pm 3 comments

Updating your resume after your first job

Making the transition from “recent graduate” to full-fledged “business professional” can be tough. The resume you have when you first get out of school may not have a lot of relevant job experience. Sure that part time job got you through school, but most employers aren’t really interested in your summer as a wedding caterer or camp counselor by the time you hit 25.

That being said, while you’re busy growing up and become a professional, your resume also needs to grow up. Here’s how you do it:

  1. If you haven’t already, get rid of anything highschool related. No one cares what your GPA was junior year or that you were captain of the math team. If you went to a prestigious high school (like many people in St. Louis), think about getting active in the alumni association and putting that in a Community Involvement section.
  2. Unless you had a very important leadership or employment role, you can probably remove most of your club or social involvement from college too. If you were a part of a Greek organization that may help for networking, get involved in the alumni association and put that in your Community Involvement section too.
  3. Move your education information down underneath your work experience. Now that you have job experience, that’s a lot more important that your liberal arts degree that everyone else has, too.
  4. Add an executive summary displaying your key skills and traits as well as your specific objectives for career development. Let’s face it, after graduation your objective literally translated to “please give me a job, any job.” Now that you’ve been out in the real world for a couple years, it’s important to know where you want to go next and what you’ll bring to your next employer.

To demonstrate the before and after of a resume makeover after a first job, check out Chris Mann’s new resume and his first resume out of school.

Still not sure how to make your resume mature with your career? E-mail me.

March 25, 2009 at 4:33 pm 2 comments

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