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Express works with you to help you find that next career. We offer access to our extensive client network, third-party salary negotiation, complete confidentiality, one-on-one consultations, résumé review and assistance, as well as interview enhancement tips.

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Friday
Dec192014

OVERCOMING A TOUGH JOB SEARCH

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More than six years after the Great Recession, there are many people still struggling to find work and provide for their family. Last month’s U.S. jobs report shows that 2.8 million people have been unemployed for more than six months.

Maybe you’re a part of the group that has struggled to find work for a long time, or perhaps you’ve been on the job search for less time, but haven’t had any leads or positive news on the prospects of work. This is undoubtedly a tough time, but it’s important to remember a few things during your difficult job search.

1. This won’t last forever.

It may seem like you’ll never find work and that there is little reason for hope. Don’t fall into that trap! One of the worst things that can happen to your job search is thinking negatively or being surrounded by people who are discouraging.

Take proactive steps to eliminate any talk or thoughts in your life that aren’t positive and always looking to the future. Remember that every no is getting you closer to a yes. With every application, networking connection made, and interview, you have something to learn and a way to improve.

2. Your identity isn’t found in a job.

This is a hard lesson to learn, but too often we let our jobs become how we identify our value or self-worth. Unfortunately, if you place your value in something that you can lose – like a job, a car, or a home – you’ll experience a very tough identity crisis when any of those are taken out of your life without your say.

The famous phrase, “Work to live, don’t live to work,” couldn’t be more true. When you find that next job, remember that this job, just like the last one, is not the determination of your value as a person. Friends and family, your community, or faith, are what provide value in your life.

So while you may not be working right now, when you do get that next job, work hard and learn as much as you can about the job and company. But don’t make the mistake of tying your identity to the work you do for 40 hours out of the 168 you have each week.

3. Don’t try to do this alone.

Think about the last job you had. Did you know someone who worked at the company? Maybe you had a friend who reviewed your resume before you submitted it to check for typos. Or, did you meet someone who knew about the job while you were at your friend’s birthday party?

If any of those are similar to your last experience while looking for work, why do you think it will be any different now? Finding a job is a full-time job itself, and very few people work by themselves. Let your already established network of friends and family help you connect with your next job opportunity. And if you haven’t worked with one already, reach out to a staffing company and let them use their network of business connections to help you find work.

4. A part-time or temporary job could be your entry into a full-time career.

Don’t be so quick to put down the idea of working a temporary job. Often, small businesses hire people on a temporary basis to see if they will be a good fit for the team before adding them on permanently.

The next time you see a listing for a part-time job in a field you are interested in, strongly consider applying and being ready to show you’re dependable and excited to learn new skills.

How do you remain positive during a tough job search? Share your tips in the comment section below.

Monday
Dec152014

JUMP START YOUR NEXT JOB INTERVIEW WITH THESE TOP FIVE QUESTIONS

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You’ve landed the job interview, but you have mixed emotions. You’re both excited that you made the cut and anxious about how to answer the interviewer’s questions.

While it’s normal to feel this way before an interview, being well prepared and confident in providing answers that position you as the best person for the job will help you get it. One way to appear confident and well prepared is by making sure you know how to answer those important questions.

While interviewers ask questions geared to specific positions, most also ask several general questions at nearly every interview. This means you can actually prepare for these questions early, and with some tweaking, tailor them to your current job interview. These broad questions help companies learn a little more about you, determine if you are a fit for their culture, and see if you are qualified for the job.

Tell me about yourself.

This is your elevator speech. Usually the first question, it is intended to break the ice. Provide a brief recap here of your work experience and any applicable education and make sure to highlight the experience that specifically pertains to the position. Wrap up by mentioning what you like to do outside of work. Be careful not to give too long of an answer and use up all your interview time with this one question. Three to four minutes is a good amount of time, so rehearse this one with a stopwatch.

What is your greatest strength?

This is one of the easier questions. Determine two or three of your strongest skills and draft some responses. During the interview, reply with the skill most appropriate for the job’s qualifications. Wrap up your answer with how that strength has helped you succeed in the past and how it will help you effectively perform this job.

What is your greatest weakness?

This usually follows “What is your greatest strength?” and can be harder to answer. There are a couple ways to answer this. Try turning a negative into a positive. For example, you might get frustrated when team members try to outshine each other and jeopardize an entire project. Explain how you work to improve upon this trait and what this has taught you about yourself. Another option is to answer by mentioning a skill that is not essential to the job. Again, follow up with what you’ve learned and how you have tried to improve. It’s important that employers know you are open to continually improving your job skills.

Why are you the right person for the job?

If “Tell me about yourself” was your elevator speech, then this one is more likely a sales presentation. Look over your resume and find the two or three skills or attributes that make you a perfect fit for the job at hand and compose an answer that directly links these attributes to the job requirements. Convince the interviewer that you have the right skills, that you would be a great fit for the company culture, and that you can succeed in the job.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?

Draft one or more responses for the accomplishments you are most proud of and, again, link them to the job’s requirements. If you can provide evidence of how your employer benefited from your accomplishments, it could be your ace in the hole.

Hopefully you’re feeling a little more confident about those looming interview questions. Now it’s time to get to work and start preparing for your next interview. Good luck!

Is there a different question you are often asked during job interviews? Tell us what it is and how you answer in the comment section below.

Wednesday
Dec032014

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE – BUT YOUR JOB SEARCH DOESN’T HAVE TO BE

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Winter officially kicks off in late December, but it’s already getting cold outside. With a chill in the air, this could be the perfect time to heat up your job search techniques and defrost your career.

Don’t let your job search take a vacation just because everyone else might be requesting time off for trips and holidays. And, don’t succumb to the temptation to take a holiday from looking for that perfect job.

For the serious job seeker, Christmastime and snow days mean business as usual. Despite the cold weather, recruiters and companies continue to work on a typical business schedule, and so should you. We know it’s hard to be motivated when egg nog and cozy fireplaces tempt us with the lure of warmth and relaxation, so here are five tips that will help heat up your job search and put you ahead of your vacationing competition.

1. Don’t let the holidays sabotage your momentum.
While winter is traditionally a time for vacations and spending time with family, it’s also a valuable time to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers. The competition for the same job position lessens as others take time off, so you have a real chance to stand out from the competition by maintaining a steady effort during the holidays and winter slumps.

Keep searching the job boards and don’t stop networking. The end of the year is also a time when positions open up for the next year, so you may find great job leads by maintaining your job search momentum.

2. Stay connected.
The holiday season means visits from family and long school breaks. But, that doesn’t mean you need to turn off your email or mobile device the entire time.

Even if you are away from home or welcoming visitors, your mobile device should be on just in case you receive a call from that important potential employer. Make time each day to check your email for responses to applications and return important calls the day you receive them. Family should respect your need to be professional and motivated about finding that perfect job. Of course, there’s a fine line to walk when it comes to cell phone etiquette. Checking your email during holiday dinner may not be appropriate and is likely unnecessary since most recruiters and hiring managers aren’t checking theirs on holidays either.

3. Update your resume and social media profiles.
If you’re stuck at home thanks to snow, ice, or extreme cold, use the downtime to spruce up your online footprint and your resume. Remove old information on your resume and look up industry keywords that highlight your skills. These keywords are vital in today’s job search world as many applications are scanned electronically.

Winter break is also a great time to assess your skill sets and sign up for workshops or trainings to build any skills that you lack. You can also use the holiday time to clean up any old or embarrassing social media entries, renew conversations about job hunting, network, and remind people that you are still eager to work.

4. Network at the holiday events.
Attend as many community and industry events as you can during the winter months so you can network and spread the news about your job search. Because many winter and holiday events are casual, you have a better chance to approach the decision-makers you normally wouldn’t have access to.

Use social events to build a network of like-minded professionals who can send job openings your way or introduce you to others who are hiring. Don’t forget to be on your best behavior at these social events, though. Don’t overindulge or act inappropriately. Winter social events can be great opportunities for contacts, but you can also ruin your reputation if you’re not careful.

5. Don’t discount seasonal work.
Sure, you want a full-time position. But, many companies need extra help around the holidays and winter months. By accepting temporary positions, you get your foot in the door and open opportunities for future work. Working while others are on vacation also shows you are a motivated and eager employee.

Use temporary or seasonal positions to boost your skills, pump up your resume, and make important contacts who can help you with your career down the road.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Shorter, colder days can lead to the winter blues and it’s an easy temptation to nest and shut yourself in at home. While it’s important to maintain your job search techniques, it’s also vital to eat healthy and get some kind of exercise. Taking care of your health during these cold winter months gives you the energy and focus you need to find that perfect job.

How do you boost your job search when the weather turns chilly? Share your tips in the comment section below.

Tuesday
Nov252014

STATE OF THE JOB SEEKER TODAY

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Unless you earned a degree in economics, the news reports on how the job market is shaping up can be confusing and frustrating. But if you’re on the hunt for a job, it’s important to understand the current issues surrounding unemployment, hiring, and pay. Here’s a little help looking at the big picture and what it means to you.

Unemployment Situation
According to a recent article in Forbes magazine that took an in-depth look into the unemployment numbers from last month, there has been some slight improvement.  The “official October jobless rate fell to 5.8%,” and even the so-called “real unemployment rate,” which includes part-time workers who want to be full-time and people who are too discouraged to look, “fell sharply in October to 11.5% from 11.8% in September.”

Both of those rates are better than this time last year, which is a good sign for job seekers. However, Forbes also reports that almost 4 million non-retired Americans have given up on finding a job and nearly a third of job seekers who have been looking for jobs over the previous month are going on at least six months of joblessness.

Hiring Outlook
“Employers added an estimated 214,000 jobs in October,” according to the same Forbesarticle. New jobs are always a good sign for job seekers. CareerBuilder’s Fourth Quarter Forecast echoes more good news, as it shows that more than 25% of employers want to hire permanent, full-time workers before the end of the year. And, 43% of retailers and 26% of employers overall plan to hire seasonal staff, which means now is the time to land a seasonal job so you can finish out the year employed. That is especially true considering this other piece of good news from CareerBuilder – almost 50% of companies who hire seasonal workers want to eventually transition some of their seasonal workers into more permanent roles after the holidays.

Pay Rate
Across the board, it looks like the average pay rate is going to remain about the same, which means you’re not likely going to see a pay raise or a pay cut anytime soon. CareerBuilder found that, in regard to seasonal workers, 27% of employers will pay more than last year, while 13% will pay less. This mimics what Forbes has to say about October’s average earnings. There was a miniscule increase of 0.1% in average pay from September to October, with only a 2% increase over the entire year. So, as the worker, it’s up to you to decide if you want to see the glass as half empty or half full.

Overall, the numbers and reports seem to paint a decent picture for people on the job hunt. Companies are hiring, and, while you might not land the full-time position you were hoping for just yet, the holiday season has provided plenty of opportunities to boost your resume and add more money to your bank account. And that’s always a good thing.

What’s your job hunt experience been like lately? Do you think it’s getting easier or more difficult to find a job? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Friday
Nov212014

6 WAYS TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR RESUME

Your resume is a key tool when it comes to your job search. It forms a potential employer’s first impression about you, usually within the span of just a few seconds. So, what’s the best way to create a positive, lasting impression that will land you the job? Here are six ways to supercharge your resume!

1.  Include skills summary.
Employers see a ton of resumes, so do something to help yours stand out from the rest. Include a brief summary of your top skills. This is your introduction to a potential employer. It doesn’t need to be anything long, but three to four sentences would be a great way to help them identify that you have the skills they’re looking for right off the bat.

2. Keep it focused and relevant.
Your resume shouldn’t be more than two pages long. You want to give an interviewer enough information about your work background and skills to schedule a job interview with you, not force them to read a novel. List the top projects you’ve worked on, share any awards and training you’ve received, and always remember to focus on the results. Also, employers want to know how you’re going above and beyond by volunteering in the community, so be sure to include some examples.

3. Include key words from the job description. 
In reviewing the job description, what specific skills do you have that match what the company wants? Include those skills on your resume. Use some of the key words in the job description. This will help the employer see at a glance how you fit their needs. It also shows that you took time to review their job and you know what’s expected of the position.

4. Include power words. 
There are certain words you can use in your resume that will also attract more positive attention. Employers are looking for individuals who exemplify a strong work ethic, a great attitude, and excellent communication skills. Incorporate words like leadership, professional, experience, reliable, and motivated. See a complete list of power words that will get you noticed.

5. Keep it simple. 
A resume should be simple and clean. Start with a font that is readable. You can also use bold words, shading, and bullets to draw attention to key areas of your resume, but do so in moderation. For example, you can bold your name, address, and contact information at the top of the page or bold different headline sections. Use bullets if you want to make some information more organized, such as your work experience section. These are small ways to update your resume and make it stand out, without being overwhelming. But, be cautious about using graphics and logos on a resume, especially if submitting online because some databases can’t process graphics and your information might not get accepted. It’s better to save those items for your portfolio.

6. Keep it updated.
Be sure to always keep your resume updated. Start with your most current experience and chronologically organize from there. Ensure all dates are accurate, proofread for any typos, and check to ensure all of your contact info is correct.

How do you help your resume stand out from the rest? Share your tips in the comments section below!