How to Tell if You are Qualified for a Position

There are a lot of job seekers out there who apply for every job posting they find interesting, whether or not they think they are truly qualified. Avoid wasting your time applying for jobs you aren’t qualified for, so that you can spend more time working on applications for positions you could realistically acquire. Learn how to tell whether or not you are qualified for a job by reading the following advice.

First, most job postings include a specific job title. If you are looking to apply for a position as an Executive Assistant, but you do not have that title listed anywhere on your resume, you most likely will not be considered as a qualified candidate. The first thing hiring managers look for on a resume is relevant experience in a similar role.

Next, most job postings include a required number of years of experience. If the job description is asking for candidates with seven to ten years of experience and you only have two years, then the position is probably not a great fit for you.

Job postings often list a required amount of education, as well. If they say a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is necessary, then it is not worth your time to apply if you do not have the required degree. The same goes for specific certifications or clearances.

Another qualification to keep an eye out would be required software skills or experience. If a job posting says that all applicants must have experience writing HTML code or working with QuickBooks software, then you should not apply unless you can demonstrate to a potential employer that you have worked with that software in the past.

Needless to say, these are not hard and fast rules – there are always exceptions for special circumstances. There are also definitely gray areas where postings do not specifically list the necessary qualifications. Simply use your best judgment to decipher whether or not you are truly qualified for each posting as you read it.

Why it’s Important to Highlight Your Soft Skills in an Interview

According to an article in the latest edition of the American Staffing Association’s bi-monthly magazine, Staffing Success, most employers believe that a candidate’s soft skills are just as important as their hard skills. Soft skills are defined as “less tangible traits associated with one’s personality, such as a positive attitude,” and hard skills are “abilities that are learned to perform a specific job function and can be measured, such as operating a computer program.”

The article also cites a survey completed by CareerBuilder of more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resources professionals. The survey found the top ten most desirable soft skills that companies say they look for when hiring. We’ve included the list below:

  • Strong work ethic – 73%
  • Dependability – 73%
  • Positive attitude – 72%
  • Self-motivated – 66%
  • Team-oriented – 60%
  • Organization – 57%
  • Works well under pressure – 57%
  • Effective communicator – 56%
  • Flexibility – 51%
  • Confidence – 46%

 

Increase Your Chances of Being Hired in 5 Minutes or Less

As we’ve mentioned previously, searching for work can be a full-time job in itself. Although, there are also some easy changes you can make in less than five minutes that can greatly increase your chances of finding employment. We have shared a few examples below:

  • Update your email address: The email address listed on your resume should be professional, not personal. For example, john.doe@gmail.com is much more professional than johnnyd1422@gmail.com.
  • Update your voicemail greeting: Again, you should aim to have a professional voicemail greeting attached to the number provided on your resume. Instead of, “Hey it’s me, leave me a message,” you should use, “You’ve reached the cell phone of John Doe, please leave me a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
  • Read your resume out loud: Reading your resume out loud can allow you to hear minor wording errors or notice spelling mistakes that you might have missed while reading it on your computer. The eye is apt to scan over any mistakes and correct them automatically in your head as you read, but your ear can’t be fooled as easily.
  • Get a haircut: Looking professional and polished in an interview can be the key to receiving a job offer. Always be prepared for an interview and maintain a professional appearance by getting your hair cut regularly.
  • Set your alarm: If you are a recent college graduate or a young professional looking for their first full-time job, you are probably not used to a regular nine to five schedule. If you keep your sleep schedule regulated while you are unemployed you will have a much easier time transitioning into full-time work. Also, that age-old saying about the early bird catching the worm applies to job searching, too!

5 Common Resume Mistakes

Having a great resume is key to being successful in your job search. Your resume is typically the first impression an employer has of you, so it’s important that it properly represents you. To help, we’ve listed five of the most common mistakes job hunters make on their resumes.

  1. Too much personal information:
    1. Employers are going to hire you based on your work experience, not on your favorite hobbies. Your resume should not have a “Personal Interests” category. In a job interview, if your interviewer mentions his love of volleyball, then that would be an appropriate time to mention you share the same interest.
    2. It’s not necessary to mention your marital status or children on your resume. Again, a potential employer is only interested in your professional background.
  2. Spelling and grammar mistakes:
    1. The easiest way to get your resume rejected is to submit it with uncorrected spelling and grammatical errors. A potential employer will see a resume with a lot of mistakes and assume you are careless or sloppy in your work.
    2. Make sure to edit your resume several times before submitting it to a company. It also helps to have someone else read it over, a new set of eyes are more likely to pick up on any small mistakes.
  3. Length:
    1. While it’s important that your resume is not excessively long, you should not exclude relevant work experience just to fit everything on one page. You don’t want a potential employer to discount you because you left off relevant experience.
    2. At the same time, you don’t need to include every position you’ve had since the beginning of your career. Some of your past jobs might not be relevant to the current position you are applying for. Feel free to leave off the coffee bar you worked at through grad school if you have more relevant experience to include.
    3. You also want to avoid having too short of a resume. If you are a recent college grad and have only worked at one or two positions, try to expand upon your responsibilities to lengthen your work history. Also, you can include extracurricular activities you participated in if the experience you gained from them seems relevant to your career.
  4. Too busy:
    1. Don’t use a ton of fonts and creative detail on your resume. Keep it simple, so that an employer’s eye can easily follow your work history down the page. There is no need to go crazy with bold and italicized fonts in different colors.
    2. Avoid using borders and underlines to separate sections on your resume. As long as you have everything labeled appropriately, an employer will be able to understand it.
  5. Missing critical information:
    1. Make sure the header of your resume includes your full name, address, phone number and email address. If an employer doesn’t have your full contact information, they won’t be able to reach you to set up an interview or offer you a job.
    2. List the month and year you started and finished each position on your resume. Job seekers avoid adding dates to their work history for various reasons, but this is a huge mistake! It makes employers feel that you are hiding something.
    3. List the appropriate job title for each of your positions. New employers will most likely get employment verifications on your work history, so it’s important you have all the correct information. If there is a discrepancy with your job title or dates of employment, your new employer will be suspicious.

Keep these five easily avoidable mistakes on hand next time you update your resume and you’ll be sure to land a great job in no time!

Selling Yourself

It is a well-known fact that people are usually quick to judge. Unfortunately, this does not exclude hiring managers and potential employers. It is important to make a great first impression, whether on the phone or in person. This includes what you say, what you wear, and how you present yourself overall. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

  • Look good: Personal appearance plays a key role in making a great first impression on a potential employer.
    • Always dress appropriately for interviews – this means business professional unless your interviewer has instructed you otherwise.
    • Keep it simple – don’t wear a ton of jewelry or anything else that could distract your interviewer from what you’re saying.
    • Avoid wearing perfume or cologne – your interviewer may be allergic.
    • Groom properly – perfection is in the details! Be sure to brush your teeth or pop a mint prior to an interview, and keep your fingernails neat, clean and trim.
  • Sound good: Having a summary of your background prepared is a great way to impress hiring managers both in an interview and on the phone.
    • Your interviewer will most likely have a copy of your resume in front of him or her, so they don’t need you to go over every position and responsibility in detail.
    • A great interview trick is the “60 Second Sell” (created by best-selling author Robin Ryan). Memorize a summary of your background and qualifications that you can present (in under 60 seconds) to a potential employer. Things to include would be your education, your skills, and any specific qualifications you have that make you a great fit for the position.
    • When hiring manager’s say “Tell me about yourself,” they don’t want you to ramble on for 15 minutes. With the” 60 Second Sell”, you will be able to highlight your best qualities and sell yourself in only a minute!
  • Feel good: Smile, even if you don’t feel like it!
    • Show potential employers that you are confident YOU would be the best choice for the position.
    • Even if you’re feeling nervous, it is important to walk into an interview with your head held high. Feigning confidence can even help you feel more confident, and you’ll forget you were ever nervous in the first place!
    • On the other hand, don’t be overconfident! No one wants to hire a big ego.

 

Remember: first impressions are lasting, especially in a slow job market! Employers can afford to be picky, so it is important you present them with the best version of you!

The Do’s & Don’ts of Requesting Time Off

DO:

  • Give your employer plenty of notice before taking time off.
  • Try to plan your vacations, trips, etc. around your supervisor’s and coworkers’ schedules to avoid taking time off at the same time as the rest of the office.
  • Put your time off request in writing – a verbal request could easily be forgotten.
  • Try to schedule any doctor’s appointments, etc. during your lunch break, so that you don’t need to miss work.
  • Save your sick days for when you are actually sick – you never know when/if you will need them.

DON’T:

  • Request a lot of time off after just starting a new position.
  • Request time off at the last minute – for example, you shouldn’t wait until Friday to ask for that Monday off.
  • Assume you are guaranteed time off around holidays – always be sure to ask your employer about the holiday schedule and request time off if needed.
  • Use all of your paid time off at once – try to avoid missing a large amount of work at one time by spreading out your time off throughout the year.

How to Help Your Children Find a Job

If you’re a parent, you probably understand that there’s a fine line between helping your children do something and doing it for them. While you want to do anything you can to help them achieve their goals, you also want them to learn how to be independent and how to work for what they want. Whether your high school student is looking for a summer job or your recent college grad is applying for his/her first full-time position, read our tips below to learn how you can help your child land a job without finding one for them.

  1. Introduce them to your networking contacts: One of the easiest ways you can help your children find work is by sharing your professional network with them. Is your son/daughter looking for a job in finance? Give them the email address for your friend from college who owns their own accounting firm.
    • DO: Introduce your son/daughter to your networking contact via email, etc.
    • DON’T: Set up a lunch between you, your friend, and your child. Instead, let your son/daughter do all of the leg work; all you need to do is make the first introduction.
  2. Help them edit their resume: Depending on the age of your children, they might be creating their very first resume, so they’ll probably need some help.
    • DO: Share your resume with them for formatting purposes and help them edit their final product.
    • DON’T: Write it for them! Instead, give them a basic template to use and allow them to create the content.
  3. Search job postings for viable opportunities: Share any relevant job postings you find with your son/daughter, but don’t force them to apply if they aren’t interested.
    • DO: Search online job boards and email your child a list of viable opportunities.
    • DON’T: Apply for them! You also shouldn’t make calls to potential employers on behalf of your son/daughter.
  4. Practice interviewing: Again, depending on the age of your children, they might be going on their very first job interviews, so they will probably need some help in this area.
    • DO: Set up a mock interview with them and allow them to practice answering relevant interview questions.
    • DON’T: Go on the interview with them! While you can help them prepare for an interview, you don’t need to hold their hand through the entire process.
  5. Be supportive: As any professional knows, searching for work is rarely easy, so it’s important to be supportive and encourage your children throughout the duration of their job search.
    • DO: Encourage them to get back on the horse and try again if they do poorly in a job interview or miss out on a coveted job offer.
    • DON’T: Scold or blame them if they do mess up. Instead, help them improve for their next round of job interviews.

What to Do if You Didn’t Land that Summer Internship

In your younger years, summer vacation was just that – a vacation. But now, as young adults, high school and college students alike use their summers to gain valuable work experience in the real world through internships. As summer quickly approaches, your chances of landing that summer internship grow smaller and smaller. If you have lost hope of finding one this year, don’t worry, there are other ways for you to gain that valuable work experience over your summer break.

One great way to earn some money while also gaining professional experience is to register with staffing agencies to find some temporary work for the summer. Temp jobs allow you to work for competitive hourly wages in professional office environments. Staffing agencies hire college students who have not completed their degrees and place them in administrative, clerical, and junior-level temp opportunities, even if they do not have much office experience.

Another option you have to gain valuable work experience is to volunteer with an organization in your field. While they may not be able to hire you on as a paid intern, plenty of companies will gladly welcome the free help in exchange for helping you gain more work experience. This is not a good option for students looking to gain some money over the summer, but if you’re financially stable and not strapped for cash, this could be the right choice for you.

Lastly, consider signing up for some summer courses at your school or a local university close to home (if that’s were you’ll be). The additional credits could go towards advancing your degree, helping you graduate early, or even lead to you picking up a minor degree or certification relevant to your desired field.

If you weren’t able to land a summer internship this year, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to spend your free time that could help you gain valuable knowledge and experience, which will surely benefit you post-graduation!

How to Take Initiative

Taking initiative is a crucial skill for any employee who wants to succeed in the workplace. As a temporary employee, taking initiative could help land you a permanent job offer, and as a permanent employee, it could lead to a raise or a promotion. Learn how to find opportunities to take initiative in our advice below.

  1. Offer Assistance:
    1. When you have downtime in between projects, you should seek extra opportunities to help out around the office.
    2. Offer to assist your supervisor or coworkers if you see them struggling to meet a deadline or finish a project.
    3. When it comes time to hand out bonuses or offer promotions, your boss will remember the times where you stepped up to the plate to offer assistance.
  2. Seek Improvement:
    1. A proactive employee constantly seeks ways to improve processes around the office.
    2. Always keep your eyes peeled for ways to make office procedures more efficient and effective, and then share your suggestions with your supervisor.
    3. For example, if you think you have a great way to boost your company’s online presence, come up with a pitch for your boss and present it to them.
  3. Solve Problems:
    1. Take the initiative to solve problems when they arise whenever possible. A quick problem solver is a great asset for any manager.
    2. Being a great problem solver will take stress off of your boss and they will surely appreciate you for that.
    3. Although, if there is ever a problem that you believe you are unauthorized to take care of, you should definitely seek assistance before trying to solve things yourself and stepping on any toes.
  4. Ask for More Responsibilities:
    1. If you feel you have mastered your current responsibilities and have extra time to take on more work each day, you should let your boss know.
    2. Rather than sitting around waiting for your boss to give you more work, you should go to them and let them know you can handle more.
    3. Ask your boss if there are any tasks that you could take off their hands and manage yourself. Seeking additional responsibilities will show that you are ready for a promotion, and also possibly deserve a raise.
  5. Work Hard:
    1. Taking initiative doesn’t just mean seeking extra work outside of your set responsibilities. It also applies to exceeding expectations for those responsibilities.
    2. Try to plan ahead in order to turn in your work ahead of deadlines or prepare in advance for projects that haven’t started yet.
    3. Taking initiative is not just turning your work in on time, but turning it in early. Similarly, taking initiative is not just getting the job done, but doing it well.

You should aim to exceed all of your supervisor’s expectations for your work, and go above and beyond the call of duty whenever possible. Frequently taking initiative is the surest way to succeed and grow as a professional.

What to Do if You Didn’t Land that Summer Internship

In your younger years, summer vacation was just that – a vacation. But now, as young adults, high school and college students alike use their summers to gain valuable work experience in the real world through internships. As summer quickly approaches, your chances of landing that summer internship grow smaller and smaller. If you have lost hope of finding one this year, don’t worry, there are other ways for you to gain that valuable work experience over your summer break.

One great way to earn some money while also gaining professional experience is to register with staffing agencies to find some temporary work for the summer. Temp jobs allow you to work for competitive hourly wages in professional office environments. Staffing agencies hire college students who have not completed their degrees and place them in administrative, clerical, and junior-level temp opportunities, even if they do not have much office experience.

Another option you have to gain valuable work experience is to volunteer with an organization in your field. While they may not be able to hire you on as a paid intern, plenty of companies will gladly welcome the free help in exchange for helping you gain more work experience. This is not a good option for students looking to gain some money over the summer, but if you’re financially stable and not strapped for cash, this could be the right choice for you.

Lastly, consider signing up for some summer courses at your school or a local university close to home (if that’s were you’ll be). The additional credits could go towards advancing your degree, helping you graduate early, or even lead to you picking up a minor degree or certification relevant to your desired field.

If you weren’t able to land a summer internship this year, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to spend your free time that could help you gain valuable knowledge and experience, which will surely benefit you post-graduation!