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5 Signs You're In a Dead-End Job
Friday, August 16, 2013

A dead end job might actually be worse than not having one at all. Why? Because at a dead-end job you're pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place. Leave the security of a stable income or stay knowing you're not going anywhere anytime soon.

Waiting for an opportunity to come along could mean waiting forever. If the following signs apply to you, it may be time to consider your next move.

1) No opportunities for promotion 
Depending on the company, the circumstances may not allow for promotions. This is something that should be recognized early on. It's important to consider things like is the organization expanding and if there is mobility in the organization. If you've noticed that some employees are getting promoted except for you, the problem may not be that it's a dead-end job, rather not the right job match for you.

2) You're unmotivated to get a promotion
You might not realize that the fact that you're not getting promoted is because you don't really want it, though you might have been expecting it. Promotions are not inevitable. In order to earn it, you have to want it first. This may stem from the fact that you don't like your job and don't want to solidify your position there. A promotion is a commitment that will prolong your employment there, and perhaps you know it, thus keeping you planted right where you are.

3) No raises were given in recent years
In some companies, even if they aren't moving people up, they could still be doing well enough to afford putting more into the pockets of their current employees. That may not be enough, but that's ultimately your decision. This is something that not a lot of people would complain about even if their job was dull.

Jobs aren't easy to come by, that's true. But a career is very much an important facet of your life as anything else. Just like you wouldn't keep bad friends around, you shouldn't be hanging on to jobs that you aren't enthusiastic about. Job are where people spend a majority of their lives, there's no point in holding yourself back when there are other places out there to get you moving forward.

Establishing Your Brand In Any Industry
Monday, May 06, 2013

Personal branding isn't something that marketing professionals made up nor is it exclusive to any certain industry. Whether you're a chef, a technician, teacher, or doctor,  you have a brand. A brand is basically how you're perceived by those you would consider your clients and colleagues. It's how others view you in respect to your career.

Even if you work for a major company, you don't have to take on the company's corporate brand as your own. In fact, a personal brand of your own will help you stand out when it can be easy to become invisible within a big company. A known personal brand is a great advantage for your professional pursuits. The more people know of you and your speciality that sets you apart, you'll gain more recognition throughout the industry.

Consumers in general tend to favor big name brands because they are more familiar with them than the lesser known, but usually as equally as good, brands. This is the same with people who have become household names. Building a personal brand tends to be a lengthy process because it can't just be thrown together. A brand is like a career itself. It has to have a foundation to build on and events to exhibit that brand to reinforce it.

Here are some other insights and advice for creating the brand known as YOU:

A personal brand has to be definitive and consistent. The key to branding success is that it's reinforced and instantly recognized. For an office employee, it may be a charismatic charm and signature gesture. For a business owner, it may be a unique service that they offer. In this job market, everyone is essentially a free agent so you have to act as your own publicist and manager.

Branch out. If you have a wide range of experience, then by all means make each useful to your job hunt. It's very common for people to have had a career in one thing, and use their experience from that career to thrive in another related one. Many farmers, for example, are also chefs. With years of experience of harvesting the crops and ingredients, they have a deep understanding for how the products should best be used culinarily. Find your other hidden talents and don't be afraid to market them.

Make the link with LinkedIn. You can try on a variety of different hats while experimenting with your personal brand creation, but where it can become a problem is when it isn't consistent with who you are across the board. How you represent yourself online should be the same way that you represent yourself in person. If you're applying to a job as a sales manager and a merchandiser, you don't have to have a separate LinkedIn profile but make sure that all the information on it is relevant to any job you apply to. Your resume may highlight certain parts of your background to cater to the specific position. Keep in mind that you want to create a lasting image of yourself, so avoid constantly shape-shifting because people aren't going to remember a single ones of those personas.

Where the Most Common Jobs in America Are Today
Monday, April 01, 2013

In the United States workforce today, there are over 4 million people, working as retail salespeople according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This 4.3 million figure is equivalent to the population of the state of Kentucky. 

The graphs below show the numbers of the largest and smallest occupations in the U.S. as of last year: (click to view larger)

Some other interesting facts from this study is that the most common government job at the federal level is postal service workers. At the state level, it's correctional officers and jailers. As a job seeker, this is informational gold. Now it's time to get searching!

How to Reflect Your Military Experience In Your Resume
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our troops provide an invaluable service to our country and in return the country does all it can to provide the support they need. If you're an unemployed veteran then you know that the moral support of all the yellow ribbons in the world can't make up for the financial support necessary for you and your family to live comfortably. 

Job seeking for the average worker is enough of a challenge. For veterans having to navigate the unfamiliar territory of the job market, it requires an entirely different skill set than the one their used to using. The transition alone from military to civilian life isn't easy, let alone the transition from being employed to unemployed.

Getting back into the workforce shouldn't be another obstacle you have to overcome considering all you've already had to endure. Here are some tips to help make it easier for you blend your military experience into your job search:

Resume writing is a constant work in progress. Job searching continues to change in order to stay current, so what may be common practice one moment may have evolved into another version shortly after. Resume scanners are widely used by recruiters and hiring mangers to speed up the hiring process. That being the case, your resume has to incorporate the main keywords from the job description and be complemented by your own qualifications and competencies. Your words should focus on the accomplishments and qualities that make you stand out from other job seekers and other veterans. 

Summary of Qualifications
This is pretty much what it sounds like: your qualifications in a nutshell. In a paragraph, sum up your high-level skills an provide an introduction for what you have to offer. This somewhat serves as your resume's pitch, although your cover letter should do the same with more of your personality included. Use this as an opportunity for you to present the military skills you have that are transferable to the position you're applying for. Military skills aren't just valuable on the field, so be sure to show potential employers that what you know and can do will benefit them in ways they may not have thought of before.

Consider and analyze specific moments in your military career that demanded putting your transferable skills to the test. It's important to cater your language to the job applied for that directly ties in to your experiences in the military to give the hiring manager an idea of your abilities in a completely different environment. Include words such as: strategy implementation, leadership and decision making, team building, project management, etc. Add specific figures and examples to clearly outline the results your contributions produced.

A Word on Combat
Combat experience leaves a major impression on veterans that is hard to put aside. When it comes to resume writing, you want to be careful of including vivid details that others may have a hard time swallowing. Resumes are strictly for selling yourself as the ideal candidate for the job which usually don't need recounts of war and violence. Hiring managers realize that veterans may carry these aspects of war with them but will expect them to be able to leave it out of the workplace. The adjustment back into civilian life understandably takes time and employers want to be obliging to that need. For every small step you take, most will be willing to give your career a boost.

How Your Choice of Resume References Can Ruin Your Chances
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When we see champions like Lance Armstrong lose it all with allegations (and subsequent confession) of cheating, it reminds us that no one is immune to the effects of wanting success. People will do just about anything to come out on top.

Job searching is very much a high-pressure competition where competitors can succumb to the temptation of taking dishonest measures. We've all heard that it's all about who you know and for some who don't, they try to fake it to make it.

It's easy to assume that as long as everything else on your resume checks out that there would be no reason to question a minute detail which in reality be more decorative than accurate. When providing any kind of information to the employer, always assume that it's going to be verified.

A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 30 percent of the 2,500 hiring managers surveyed regularly discover misleading or false references. For whatever reason, some applicants believe that the hiring manager won't think twice if one out of the three references provided doesn't work out.

The fact of the matter is, unless they can be 100 percent sure that what they've seen from the start is what they're getting, hiring managers aren't going to take the risk of finding out later. Taking on a new hire is an investment that they don't take lightly. In fact, hiring managers will often check the references before setting up an interview.

The most common reason why applicants might stretch the truth about a reference on their resume is the title that person holds. They think that someone who holds more influence in the company as a whole will make a bigger impression on the hiring manager. This can actually arouse the hiring manager's interest in verifying this reference. References should always be people that your worked closely with, preferably a mix of peers and superiors. Anyone else and you may be compromising your professional credibility.

Make sure that, unless you know without a doubt that the person will speak highly of you, to get the green light from those that you include on that list. It's not uncommon for some candidates to include the name of a person they have never met and be caught in an awkward situation when the hiring manager puts in a phone call. On the other side of that, avoid listing people, such as friends and family,who cannot vouch for you as a colleague.

The kind of resume that usually makes the biggest impression on a hiring manager is one that doesn't have to try. It just does. Attempting to pull of an impressive reference list that isn't honest is career sabotage. The recipe to a winning resume doesn't require fancy references, just one key ingredient: truth.

Electronic Etiquette: The Proper Ways to Use Your Gadgets & Devices At Work
Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The use of personal technology is unavoidable as it continues to trail blaze in the mobile direction. People carrying out multiple devices on them is become increasingly common, and because of of the widespread use of these personal devices in public spaces, it's necessary for places like movie theaters and libraries to put signs up instructing people to turn the sound off on their cell phones. Imagine how disturbing it would be if everyone had their phones going off throughout a movie or while you're trying to read. These kinds of distractions disrupt workplace productivity and put you on someone's wrong side. 

Since offices don't put up signs advising you of proper electronic etiquette, they probably assume that you're already aware of the unwritten etiquette rules. Here are some of the basics you should have down in the office or anywhere for that matter:

1) Convey messages using one method.
One message needs only one way to get across. You can easily overdo it by sending an email followed by a voicemail regarding the same issue. This is very annoying for the recipient because it will seem excessive. You can make it known that the matter is urgent without having to contact them several times in several ways. Give them a chance to reply before making a second attempt.

2) Using speakerphone openly around others.
Out of common consideration for your co-workers you don't want to conduct a call or listen to a voicemail out loud which might disturb them. You also want to respect the privacy of the person on the other line. Even in a closed room, speakerphone noise can still reach beyond those walls. person otherwise.

3) Checking your cellphone during meetings.
Your full attention is especially important during a meeting as the point of meetings are to provide you with information essential to the job. Looking at your phone will give the impression that you're bored and not engaged with what's going on. If you're expecting an important call, be sure to make that known before or at the beginning of the meeting so that people don't think you're being rude.

4) Making calls that are noisy on your end.
Calling someone when you're in a noisy place will make it tough for the person on the other end to hear you. The person you call is going to wonder why you called them in such distracting circumstances. No one wants to receive a phone call where the caller is just going to put them on hold or when both have to constantly repeat themselves. Choose a time when you'll be able to devote your undivided attention in a quiet space.

5) Using "reply all" unnecessarily.
As a rule of thumb, you should address your emails to those whom your message concerns. If in an email chain, and you want to tell someone "thanks" then make sure you only reply to that one person. Others won't appreciate mail in their inbox that is not intended for them.

6) Have a clean email signature.
Your email signature should not include any religious or political message as it will have potential to ruffle some feathers. A neutral demeanor at work will keep you from getting on people's bad sides and not add to the obstacles in your career.

7) Keeping your work and personal email separate.
Sending the occasional personal email from your work email is fine but using that as your primary email is not a good idea. Personal use of your work email on a regular basis will cause problems later on down the road. Better to keep all personal matters, especially emails, separate from anything work related.

How to Make Extra Income On the Side
Friday, December 14, 2012

Many people prepare for some type of disaster, whatever it may be, likely or not, just to have an added sense of security to their lives.

While some may have their homes retrofitted in the case of a powerful earthquake, others go to further lengths like those you may have seen on Doomsday Preppers.

These are the typical events that we think about when we hear the word "disaster," but another kind that can hit people just as hard often isn't prepared for. What would you do if your finances were in jeopardy?

A financial disaster can happen out of the blue just like many others. One suggestion for establishing a safety net for this scenario is by having a second source income to fall back on. The idea of a second job or side project may seem like too much for one person to manage on top of everyday responsibilities. But with a little creativity anything is possible, just look at the preppers.

You've probably heard of people flipping houses to make a profit but you'll want to be cautious about getting into any high risk projects that may put you in a worse situation than you were to begin with. A good place to start is what you enjoy doing and what you're good at. Think about making money off of something you might already do as a hobby. For example, perhaps the entrepreneur in you always wanted to start an online business but never got around to it. Now may be a good time to start.

Job searches are hard enough without any back ups but having a second source of income can relieve some of that stress. Remember that these secondary sources can be anything you want them to be. Have some fun with them by recruiting friends and family to participate. Always ask for help before making any decisions

Creating anything sustainable takes time so expect it to be a slow and steady process. It will likely take up any free time you have, a normal sacrifice for anyone starting a business or working on other projects. However, it's the reward of knowing that something you worked hard for will help secure your and your family's future.

Whether it be a natural or financial disaster, the best way to avoid feeling the severe effects of it is to stay two steps ahead. Plan for the future and prepare yourself for any worst-case scenario.

5 Ways Online Networking Can Go Wrong
Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Now that the digital age has allowed us to connect to anyone anywhere at anytime, networking has become a necessary practice in every job hunt. It's one of the most powerful tools for landing a job when done well. When it isn't, networking can not only be ineffective but also have adverse effects on your job search efforts.

LinkedIn is one of the easiest and most basic forms of online networking, but you should never rely on just one resource to get you to your goal. Since it can be done through a variety of ways, the people you want to reach might be accessed more easily on some networks more than others.

A successful job search is usually the result of good networking skills. In fact, most of your job searching efforts should be dedicated to reaching out to industry professionals. With so much time and effort intended for networking, you don't want it all to be for nought. To help keep your efforts from amounting to a waste of time, here are some things that you should avoid doing:

1) Asking for a job.
Networking for a job does not equate to inquiring about job opportunities. The aspect of building relationships with people is meant to lead to job opportunities. While you might be eager to get quick results, these relationships are meant to benefit all parties therefore the process takes time. Instead of focusing on finding job prospects, try to gear the subject matter toward learning from and helping others in their pursuits. By showing your value as a connection others will be obliging with what they have to offer as well.

2) Using a generic approach.
Asking for some guidance or assistance from people you don't know well is not the easiest task to carry out. Naturally, you'll want to sound formal and professional without sounding like a robot, again, not easy to do. A big problem with reaching out to strangers more or less is that you can end up becoming another blank face to them. Show your personality when you talk to them. Give them a sense of who you are and what you're hoping to achieve with their help. Generic soudning communication is a thing of that past. Standing out requires showing individuality.

3) Only reaching out to those you think have the most influence.
If you're in an entry-level position and you think that reaching out to the head of the company is going to help get you in, you'll be doing this for a long time. Depending on the size of the company, this could work, however, you shouldn't limit yourself to who you reach out to based solely on their title or status. Mid-level professionals can offer just as much help in your situation. They can sometimes be thought of as a sort of liaison between those at the lower end of the company and those higher up.

4) Not using LinkedIn properly.
If you've exhausted all your direct connections (1st), don't neglect using the "introduction" feature.  This will allow you to branch out to your 2nd and 3rd degree connections. It's simply a request for your shared connection to forward your desire to get acquainted with that 2nd or 3rd connection. LinkedIn should not be thought of as a free-for-all to contact whomever you want. Be strategic in how you choose the people to make connections with and you'll have better chances for successful introductions.

5) Asking for too much too soon.
When contacting someone for the first time, it's understandable that you want to paint them a full picture of who you are.This can lead you to bombard them with a lengthy email full of questions and information, which doesn't make it easy for them to help you--so they probably won't. In case you haven't noticed, communication is getting downsized. Instead of thinking in terms of paragraphs and sentences we're now down to character limits. Keep the lines of communication fluid by being brief and succint in your messages; one topic at a time.