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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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Monday
Nov102014

JOB POSTS DECODED

Decoding job postings is the very first step in the process of finding a job, and if job seekers don’t understand what employers are looking for, their job searches may be doomed. Unless you’re very familiar with the specific company or HR lingo, it’s easy to feel confused and unsure if you should apply for the job.

Fortunately, most employers use a limited vocabulary in their position descriptions. So, as long as job seekers understand the meaning behind a handful of phrases, they can decipher what employers are trying to communicate. We’ve decoded nine popular phrases to help maximize your job search efforts.

Part Time
If a position is described as part time or PT, then it technically means it’s less than the normal 40 hours a week. According to the U.S. government’s description, a part-time job is one that requires between zero and 30 hours per week. However, many companies consider 10-20 hours part time.

Full Time
On the other hand, full time (FT) is usually considered 40 or more hours of work a week. The government has deemed anything over 30 hours as full time, though. Also, usually full-time positions come with more benefits, such as health and dental insurance, retirement, and paid time off.

Flex-schedule
Flex-schedule or flex-time refers to the ability to work a less than traditional schedule. For instance, instead of working Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., you might be able to work three 12-hour days or four 10-hour days. It can also indicate that the employer allows its employees to set their own schedules.

Tele-commuting
If you’re interested in working from home, this is one of the key words you should look for in a job posting. Tele-commuting is the ability for an employee to complete their work from home, usually by phone or computer.

Self-motivated
Employers who list self-motivated in job postings want individuals who can complete tasks and projects on their own without much direction or pressure from others. Business leaders don’t want to constantly tell employees what they need to do or what comes next, so many employers look for this quality.

People Skills
Almost every job requires employees to interact with other people, whether co-workers, customers, or suppliers. So, the term “people skills” just means you need to have the ability to effectively communicate and get along with others.

Preferred
Job postings usually list some things that are required and some that are preferred. For instance, the job description might say a high school degree is required, but some college is preferred. This shouldn’t cause you to automatically give up on that position. If something is listed as “preferred” it just means it’s something the employer would like to see, not something they must have.

Goal-oriented
Goal-oriented is sometimes another way of saying self-motivated. Someone who is goal-oriented usually wants to have specific goals and is driven to accomplish those goals, often with limited instruction or supervision. This can also mean that a business is looking for someone who’s willing to put in as much time and effort as necessary for a goal to be met.

Team Player
Some jobs are more individually-focused and some require a group effort. If a position will involve interacting with several other employees in order to accomplish tasks on a regular basis, then an employer needs a worker who can get along with everyone and work within a team.

Understanding what employers are really looking for is the first step to landing the job you want. And the good news is that, once you’ve decoded a job posting, you don’t necessarily have to match up to the description 100%. A Forbes article actually recommends that you should “consider applying if you come close to meeting about 70% of the employer’s stated specifications and salary range” because “while the employer wants the person who gets hired to have all (or most) of the skills, experience and background listed, they’re also looking for candidates who’ll be a strong fit with their organizations.” By learning to decipher job postings and apply this 70% rule, you can minimize wasted time and ensure your efforts are going to jobs that are good fits and possibilities.

Have you struggled with deciphering a job posting? What other words or phrases are confusing to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thursday
Oct302014

3 Quick Tips to Help Boost Your Memory and Retain Important Information

From employee and business contact names to speaking points for your next big presentation, if you’re like many leaders, there’s probably a lot of activities vying for valuable real estate in your brain. So, here are some ways to help boost your memory and retain important information.

Stop cramming
According to Miller’s Law, the average number of objects we can hold in our working memory is seven – give or take two. Beyond that, performance on memory tasks tends to fall off. So, while it may have gotten you through a few college exams, cramming in as much information at the last minute isn’t the best way to create long-term retention.

Instead, you’re better off learning new information slowly and more intentionally. For example, if you’re preparing for a big presentation, set up regular study times in advance and try to replicate the actual environment you will present in as close as possible. The regular repetition in actual conditions will more thoroughly imprint the content in your memory. And because you’re not struggling to simply recall crammed information, your presentation will flow naturally, and you’ll be perceived as more knowledgeable about the topic.

Cut back on the multitasking
If you believe you are a champion-level multitasker, statistics show you actually probably aren’t. Studies have revealed that only about 2% of people are able to effectively multitask, the rest of us are just fooling ourselves. Multitasking creates interruptions to our brains’ moment-to-moment processing of information. So, if you’re trying to retain information from a phone call while at the same time checking email and responding to text messages, and you’re not part of that 2%, there will likely be some gaps in your memory about the call.

In order to allow information to really sink in and stick, it’s important to be in the moment. When you’re on a conference call or in a meeting, make it a point to push other stimuli aside and really focus on the task at hand. You’ll be better equipped to add to the discussion, because you won’t be constantly trying to catch up and fill in the gaps. It also shows respect to the person leading the conversation.

Employ mnemonic devices
Mnemonic devices are one of the most tried and true methods for retaining information. Basically, a mnemonic device is a tool or learning technique that helps you better organize, retain, and recall information from memory.

A few common examples of mnemonic devices include:

  • Acronyms – If you work in the business world, you’re probably already very familiar with acronyms. For example, ROY G BIV is a popular acronym to help remember the colors of a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
  • Rhymes – Think about all the nursery rhymes that are forever imprinted in your brain. You couldn’t forget them if you tried, right? Putting information into rhyming sequences or short poems is a great way to help recall it later. An example most people have recited since grade school is, “i before e except after c, or when sounding like a in neighbor and weigh.”
  • Chunking – With this technique, you’re basically condensing a large block of information into more easily memorable “chunks.” This method works especially well with numbers. One common example is phone numbers. Instead of remembering seven individual numbers like 5-5-5-6-3-2-7, it’s much easier to remember the three numbers that have been grouped together like 555-63-27.

How do you commit information to memory? What are some other techniques you have tried and how did they work? What are some times your memory failed you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Wednesday
Oct222014

INTERVIEW SHOWDOWN: YOU VS. THE COMPETITION

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After a while, all the different interview tips can begin to run together and even feel stale. Dress to impress– done. Do your research – check. Be prepared – got it. It can seem like every job seeker out there is following the exact same advice, and you begin to question if it’s even possible to stand out from your competition during job interviews.

The truth is, though, many candidates don’t follow commonsense advice, and actually doing what is recommended will put you at the top of the group. But, how can you go from the top 10 to the number one choice? The answer is to give potential employers what they’re seeking. An article from Forbes specifically pinpointed five things every employer wants to hear, so check out these statements and how you can incorporate them into an interview.

“I am a loyal employee.”
Talented employees don’t present much value to employers if they lack loyalty, so hiring managers look for candidates who have a history of allegiance and appear to want to stick with a job for a long period of time. That means you should never be negative about past employers in an interview or in your resume. Instead, focus on the opportunities they provided to you and what you learned. Also, make sure you express excitement about this new job opportunity and how you would like to stay with the company long term.

“I will complete the job/assignment you give me with excellence.”
Hiring managers usually don’t have any problem narrowing down candidates to the top few that could adequately complete the responsibilities of the position. What they really want to find though, is the candidate who will go beyond adequate and actually excel at the job. To show you’re willing and able to complete assignments with excellence, communicate in detail some examples of how you’ve done this in previous positions. And, if you really have prepared for the interview and done your research, you should be familiar enough with the new job’s responsibilities to give an example of how you could apply a new idea to one of the tasks to improve the process or results.

“I am open to learning, adapting, adjusting, and to receiving feedback on how I can improve.”
The ability to adapt is a top commodity in today’s workplace, and employers want to hire people who are able to adjust to the company’s, customers’, and industry’s changing needs. During the interview, highlight the wide variety of your experiences, skills, and interests, and how you could apply them to this new position. Also, give examples of how you’ve sought to learn a new skill on your own, used feedback constructively to change how you approached a project, and adapted your plan when a project didn’t go as expected.

“You will never have to tell me what to do twice.”
The workplace is a busy place, and managers normally don’t have time to continually tell employees what they need to do. They need workers who can listen the first time they have tasks explained to them and then can go do their jobs with confidence and dependability. And, while this is a little more difficult to show during an interview, it is still something that you should at least mention. One good way to get this idea across is to discuss a situation where you took on responsibility and completed a task with minimal supervision. Carefully listening to the interviewer and not making them repeat themselves is another way to prove that you’re up for the job.

“I am easy to correct and instruct.”
While this one really goes along with the previous two statements, the fact that three of the things employers want to hear have to do with listening, following instructions, and receiving feedback is a major sign that you need to incorporate these issues into what you share during your interview. Employers understand that workers, especially new hires, won’t know exactly what to do and will make mistakes – they are most concerned with how you’ll handle the learning process. So, again, highlighting how you’ve learned new skills and the process that was involved is very important for setting you apart.

At the end of the day, an employer wants to find the best candidate for the job. Use this to your advantage by giving the hiring manager a full picture of what you have to offer. By communicating to the employer that you have what they’re looking for, you’ll shoot ahead of your competition and to the top of the hiring list.

Are there other things you’ve discovered potential employers really want to hear? Share an example of how you’ve communicated your value during an interview in the comments section below.

Monday
Oct202014

INSTANT MAKEOVER: LOOK MORE PROFESSIONAL IN MINUTES

 

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Looking your best in job interviews is an essential part of showing potential employers that you’re professional and serious about the opportunity. The same goes for maintaining a level of professionalism and success in the workplace. And, doing so doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, there are a number of things you can do right now to make your professional image look even more professional. Here are nine tips for an instant professional make-over.

Embrace the power of a neck tie
Gentlemen, if you’re heading to a job interview, don’t forget to throw on a nice tie. Wearing a tie instantly shows professionalism and lets the interviewer know you’re taking this opportunity seriously. If you aren’t sure how to tie a tie, don’t worry! Check out these how-to tips and you’ll be an expert in no time.

Polish your shoes
It’s amazing how a freshly-polished pair of nice shoes can pull together an interview outfit. Though it’s a step often missed, polishing your shoes is an important part of looking professional in interviews or at work. If you don’t have the extra time or money to have your shoes shined professionally, invest in some inexpensive polish and get to work yourself. GQ has some tips for do-it-yourself shoe polishing to help you step up your interview game.

Make sure you’re well-groomed
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to look your best during interviews or while on the job. This includes your overall personal hygiene, too. You can dress well, prepare for the interview, and speak professionally, but neglecting personal hygiene can instantly ruin the image you want to project. If you have an interview scheduled, make sure you’re ready by showering, fixing your hair, and maintaining a clean-shaven appearance.

Dress to impress
Whether at work or in a job interview, the way you dress says a lot about you. If you’re going to an interview, what you wear can make or break your chances of landing the job. Before you head out of the house, make sure you’re dressed in clean, unwrinkled clothes. Take your interview outfit to the dry cleaners a few days before if you need to, and be sure to use a lint roller if you have animals that shed in your home. To help you understand what to wear to an interview, research the company’s culture before you arrive.

Invest in comfortable shoes
With any job, chances are you’ll spend a good deal of time on your feet. So, invest in a pair of comfortable, work-appropriate shoes to get you through the day. If your shoes are old, worn, and damaged, you could not only be hurting your image, but also your feet and posture.

Practice your speech
Speaking in front of others can be nerve-racking, which may lead you to use words like “um,” or “uh” far more frequently than interviewers would like to hear. To help you eliminate such words and gain better control over your speech, try speaking into a recording device and playing it back. When you listen to the recording, take notes on your natural speaking habits and try to adjust. Do this as much as you need to until you’ve gained better control and confidence over your speech.

Be positive, respectful, and reliable
Being professional isn’t just about how you look or speak. The way you behave can also play a big role in how you appear to interviewers, managers, or co-workers. Especially in interviews, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and be respectful. Be courteous to everyone you meet during an interview, from the person at the front desk to the interviewer. And, focus on being reliable from the start. Show up on time and perform any job-related interview assignments requested of you afterwards. At work, showing up on time, working diligently, and completing projects with accuracy and efficiency can help boost your professional image instantly.

Stay organized
If you have a workspace at your job, it’s important to keep it neat. Professionalism doesn’t look like a messy, disorganized desk, but rather a tidy, clean space conducive to learning and working. When you clean your desk, don’t forget about your computer. Keeping your desktop clean and organized can show a level of professionalism that is sometimes overlooked.

Make your private life private again
Social media is beneficial for many reasons, including helping you in your job search. But, your online presence can also cost you the interview or the job. It’s important to keep your social media profiles clean and professional in case an interviewer, manager, or co-worker finds them. To take greater control of your personal life, be sure to adjust your social media privacy settings and maintain a professional look on all of your accounts. Need help? Check out these tips for detoxing your social media.

How do you make sure you look as professional as possible on the job or in interviews? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Wednesday
Oct152014

ARE YOU A JOB SEARCH ZOMBIE? BRING YOUR JOB SEARCH BACK TO LIFE

jobsearch_zombie_web

The fifth season debut of The Walking Dead has everyone talking, showing that the popularity of all things zombie is not going away anytime soon. And with Halloween right around the corner, the undead will be a popular choice for anyone dressing up for a costume party or a night of trick or treating.

Here are three job search lessons you can learn from the undead, and three reasons you want your efforts to find work to be full of life and anything other than zombie-like.

What Zombies Can Teach You

1. Move in packs
While zombies can be managed fairly easily one on one, when they arrive in large groups, they can use their numbers to have a greater impact. And when you utilize your network of friends and family, you’ll start to see a big difference in the life of your job search.

2. Never be satisfied
The undead just can’t seem to get enough, and neither should you. If you recently found a great job you’d like to apply for, t’s now time to put in the hard work of researching the company and developing your resume and cover letter to fit the specifics of the job description.

Maybe you just wrapped up a solid job interview and are ready to get back home and sit lifelessly on the couch. Resist the urge to zone out, and start writing your thank you note to those who you interviewed you. It will likely put you one step ahead of your competition.

3. No pain, no gain
How many times have we seen survivors of the zombie apocalypse make the mistake of attacking a zombie somewhere other than their brain? It’s well-known rule that a body-blow does nothing but slow down “walkers.”

Treat your job search the same way. Getting a “no” is bound to happen, and you’ll likely get several of them before you finally get a job offer. Don’t let the disappointment of not getting a job kill your job search. Susan P. Joyce of the Work Coach Café blog believes that a job rejection can be a move in the right direction. “Try to think of every rejection as bringing you one step closer to that better job that is waiting for you, just around the corner.”

Lessons for Keeping Your Search Alive

1. Zombies don’t require vital systems to survive
The undead are exactly that: dead. Other than the desire to feed on those lucky enough to be alive, they don’t have brain activity or a beating heart. Your search will take every part of you to be successful. When you put your knowledge, talent, and connections to work, you’ll have a great chance at finding your next job.

2. They have limited mobility
In most zombie apocalypse stories, the undead move very slowly and with a limp. If your most recent job search efforts sound anything like that, it’s time to change up what you’re doing.

Check out one of these five great job preparation interview apps available on most smart phones, or begin volunteering with a local charity and you’ll start to see your job search move much faster.

3. The undead don’t think critically
How many zombies have you seen walking around checking their Facebook or LinkedIn to see what‘s going on with their friends? Zero would be our guess. Put your healthy and functioning brain to work and think about the ways you can use technology to your advantage during your job search.

Avoid being a mindless, wandering job search zombie and use some job search tools you may not have thought about yet.

What else can the characteristics of zombies teach us about a job search? Let us know in the comments section below.