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Posted March 23, 2009 by

What Counts in a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is a commonplace aspect of conducting any job search. When you apply for a job, even if the prospective employer does not ask you for one, it’s good to send one as a way to give them a little more insight into who you are and what you’re capable of.
But despite the fact that people write them everyday, many still are unclear about the more important aspects to keep in mind. So to help you out, let’s look more specifically at what counts in a cover letter.
Good Use of Grammar
There’s not much that stands out more in a cover letter than how it has been written. Yet, you’d be amazed by the number of individuals who send theirs out without having edited it – big mistake.
Remember, when sending a cover letter, writing is the only way to get your point across. This means this mode of communication needs to be perfect. Improper grammar usage or misspelled words can say a lot about how efficient an employee you are likely to be – at least in their eyes. So unfortunately, you may be an excellent employee who won’t even be required to rely on written communication when working, but because of your cover letter being poorly written, you may not be called in for an interview.
Avoiding Fluff, Cliches, and Generalities
It’s a well-known fact that prospective employers don’t have much time on their hands when reviewing cover letters. So it can be irritating when they’re trying to read through yours to get a good sense of your skills as well as desire to work for them, and all they get in return is ” … and like my grandmother always says, you can’t make anything of yourself unless you be yourself …”
In other words, while it’s nice to know that you listen to your grandmother’s words of wisdom, it really doesn’t have a place in your cover letter. And neither does showing how many big words you know or being too vague about why you’re applying for the job. Your best bet when writing about yourself is to be specific about what skills you bring to the table (mention an example or two if possible). This way the employer doesn’t have to dig through a bunch of fluff just to figure out why they should hire you.
Being Honest and Clear in Your Intentions
One aspect of writing that any prospective employer can respect is being honest and clear about the contributions you hope to make at their company. This means there is no room for template answers. Your cover letter should be tailored to their company, and honestly speak as to why you’re applying and how you want to make a difference. Of course, doing so will require research on your part. But if you really want to be considered for the position then this is a step you should not overlook.
Writing your cover letter can be easy if you keep in mind what really counts. So dive in and write yours with care. Making a real effort to speak directly, clearly and honestly to a prospective employer will work wonders in getting you the call back you’re hoping for.
About the Author:
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Need a resume service? Compare the top companies in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.

Posted March 06, 2009 by

Remaining Financially Stable While Pursuing Your Dream

Aren’t we all envious of those people who are not only able to figure what their dream career is, but have the guts to actually pursue it? If all people were able to do the same, the world would be a happier place.
But it’s not always easy being a dreamer. Because while these people may be pursuing their passion, it’s often hard to do it without compromising a reasonable income. If you find yourself in this predicament, here are some tips to help you stay afloat financially while taking strides to pursue your dream …
Find a Part-Time or Temp Gig
One of the easiest ways to bring in some extra cash while pursuing your dream career is taking on part-time or temporary work. With a part-time job, you work fewer hours, which leaves you with more time to take on your own projects. And with a temp gig, while you may have to work full-time, you can accept or reject jobs at your leisure based on pay and the length of the project, which offers a different type of flexibility.
Another job that some consider when needing flexible income is substitute teaching. Much like temping, you get to decide when you work. And the money isn’t bad. For most districts, you can make anywhere from $75 to $120 a day. The only catch is that you usually need the equivalent of two years of college under your belt to qualify.
Try Working from Home
In the age where the Internet rules supreme – and companies are trying to cut back on their overhead – it is easier than ever to find a legitimate work-from-home job. So for many who are trying to pursue an income-lacking passion, working from home in customer service, data entry, or even freelance writing gives them the opportunity to bring in income and allows for great flexibility.
If this is a route you’re thinking of taking, it’s a good idea to make sure that the company you’re looking to work for is legitimate. Check online scam reports, ask tons of questions about the business’ reputation, and don’t be shy about asking for professional references. The more effort you make to find out the legitimacy of the company, the more likely you are to actually receive an income from home – and that’s kind of the point, right?
Take On a Lesser Version of Your Dream Job
There is nothing wrong with starting from the bottom to make your way to the top – the same goes for pursuing your dream. For instance, if your passion is wildlife photography, but you’re having a hard time selling your pictures to major magazines, you may want to take a more standard photography job that will give you practice, credibility, and a little income. You can still try to sell your photos on the side until you get your big break, but at least you won’t be starving while you wait.
Pursuing your dream can bring with it many challenges. But by bringing in additional income, you can alleviate stress, which often helps to improve creativity. Anything you can do to help foster what truly makes you happy in life is a great reward within itself.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Do you need a resume service? Compare the top ones in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.

Posted February 27, 2009 by

Should You Accept a Low-Paying Job Offer or Stick with Unemployment Benefits?

So you’ve recently been let go from your company and are receiving unemployment benefits when an amazing thing happens – you get a job offer. But it’s not the offer you were hoping for. While it will definitely pay the bills, it will result in you taking less than 50-percent of what you were making.
What do you do? Is it best to take the low-paying job or continue taking the unemployment benefits? This is definitely not a decision that comes with a textbook answer. However, you may benefit from some basic tips to help guide your decision.
Get a Good Grasp of Your Field
While holding out is not a bad idea for a while, it’s not the best idea to do so blindly. Meaning, if you’re applying for jobs and simply collecting unemployment benefits without knowing what’s going on with your field, you may be setting yourself up for a financial and career disaster.
Think about it; there is a reason that your job let its employees go. Business probably was not good. This means, depending on your field, suffering business may be widespread. Therefore, it is important that you spend time studying what’s going on in your field so that you don’t waste unnecessary time pursuing dead-end opportunities. Check to see if the companies you’re applying with are planning to layoff workers anytime soon. You could even take this paid time off to educate yourself in new fields. It may have been a blessing in disguise that propels you toward a passion you’ve always wanted to nurture.
You Were Given Unemployment Benefits for a Reason
One thing that you should keep in mind when deciding whether to take the lower-paying position is that you were given unemployment benefits for a reason. Not only are they meant to help keep you afloat as you look for new employment, but they were established to make sure that those who are recently unemployed don’t feel that they have to accept anything that’s offered to them.
While you are required to actively seek employment while receiving benefits, there is no rule that says you have to take anything you’re offered. So if you feel that you can go a while longer on the benefits you’re receiving then continuing your search for a position that is roughly comparable to the job you previously held in both salary and benefits isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Choose Wisely – And According to Your Family’s Needs
As mentioned previously, choosing the right path in this type of situation is not easy. Depending on your family’s financial needs in the short and long term, your decision can vary greatly. So take time to sit down with your family and weigh your options collectively, to ensure everyone is considered in this challenging decision.
The decision to accept a lower-paying position can be devastating when you consider the years of hard work you may have put into another job. It can be a major blow to the ego and wallet. So make sure that your decision to accept or deny is an informed one to ensure you and your family can benefit for years to come.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. If you’re in need of a resume service, compare the top ones in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com

Posted February 16, 2009 by

Waiting for Job Opportunities – How to Keep Yourself Occupied

With over 500,000 people losing their jobs in the month of November 2008, and over 10 million unemployed in the United States to date, the thought of acquiring a job can almost seem hopeless. But it’s not. Companies are still hiring, jobs are still available, and you can have one – as long as you don’t give up.
But what do you do in the meantime to keep yourself occupied? If you’re not busy while waiting to hear back from prospective employers, you can easily fall into a state of hopelessness – not good. So if you feel yourself getting down about your job search, here are a few strategies to keep you moving …
Don’t Stop Searching
This may sound obvious, but while you’re waiting to hear back from a prospective employer, don’t stop searching for work. This means treating your job search like a full-time job. It may be tempting to say to yourself, “I’ve already submitted my resume to 12 companies. I’ve done enough.” But unless those 12 companies are currently calling you for an interview, you have more work to do.
Luckily, job searches are easier than ever with search tools all over the Internet that provide customizable job-seeking functions. So if you have the Internet at home, your job for now will be to prop yourself in front of the computer and search all day. The more seeking you do, the more opportunities will open up to you.
Market Yourself
Marketing is a strategy that many job seekers don’t consider as a part of their job search strategy – but it works. You may be accustomed to posting your resume on websites like Monster and CareerBuilder, which are both great for marketing. But unless you know certain keywords to strategically place throughout your document, it may be difficult for prospective employers to find you.
This is why it’s good to not only learn proper resume-posting procedures, but also try marketing yourself through websites like Craigslist, as well as signing up for accounts with sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. On Craigslist, you can post a free ad in your city’s “services” section to market the same skills you post on your resume (look at other ads in this section for structuring ideas). And on LinkedIn and Facebook, you can create profiles to list your skills and link up with prospective employers. All of these options can work well to get your name and skills out there. They can not only help you score a temporary or part-time gig to keep money flowing until you get the full-time job offer, they might lead you to the full-time opportunity you’re looking for.
Maintain the Right Attitude
If you become discouraged due to a lack of responses, or begin to feel down that you’re unemployed, it can negatively affect your job search. Just remember, anything can change at a moment’s notice, so stay positive and keep searching. And whatever you do, don’t mentally absorb all of the bad news you hear about the job market. Remember, it does not have to apply to you.
Keeping yourself busy while looking for a job can definitely be a job within itself. But by searching daily, marketing yourself and keeping the right attitude, you will get that anticipated callback in no time.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Need a resume writing service? Compare the top ones in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.

Posted February 11, 2009 by

Strategies for Older Workers to Market Themselves

Just because you may be entering retirement age does not mean that you are too old to work if you still want (or need) to. In fact, many companies are looking to the Baby Boomer generation and beyond to fill in roles that require years of experience.
So if you’re looking to come out of retirement, or simply want to switch jobs and are at an age that some might consider older, don’t put yourself out of the game. Instead, take on a few of these strategies to help you market yourself so that you can obtain the same great opportunities as your younger counterparts.
Remember, You’re Experienced
Everyone knows that as an older worker, you’re coming to the table with years of experience that someone out of college could only dream of. But your level of experience goes way beyond just years of responsibility. You also have life experience.
You may have been through difficult periods in your life where your primary goal was to keep a roof over your family’s heads and food on the table. So now that a recession is upon us, to you, this is old news – been there, done that. When marketing yourself to a prospective employer, it helps to note the level of work and life experience you hold. Employers can appreciate an emotionally stable mind in the midst of times that can leave fragile souls weaker than ever before.
You’re Confident and Self-Sufficient
Unlike a younger counterpart who may just be starting out in the work world and is feeling a bit overwhelmed and under-confident, you have been in the midst of new challenges multiple times throughout your life. You know how to adapt quickly to a new environment, don’t need constant feedback and reassurance that you’re a good worker, and aren’t too intimidated to reach out to people you don’t know to ask for help or begin projects. You understand that when the job needs to get done, it needs to get done – and you don’t let fears get in the way of doing just that. You’ve seen too much to have inhibitions at this stage in your life – definitely a great asset to market to any prospective employer.
Learning and Being a Team Player is No Problem
One concern of employers looking at older candidates is whether that candidate will be easy to train and work with, or stuck in his or her ways. It is important to assure any prospective employer that you are incredibly flexible, love to learn new things and enjoy working with others. You can use examples in your resume, cover letter, and interview of new technologies you’ve used and how you were successful in group environments in the past. You want to make sure the employer understands you will not be difficult as you may be stereotyped to be. Instead, you are the exact opposite and look forward to making a substantial difference in their company.
Applying for a new job in your later years can be as easy as it was when you were young if you market yourself well. So don’t be intimidated. Instead, take control and show them what they’d be missing if they didn’t hire you.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Need a resume service? Compare the top ones in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.

Posted January 30, 2009 by

Don’t Be Side-Swiped by a Buyout

With various sectors of our economy falling apart left and right, many businesses are closing, or cutting back at the very least. As a result, thousands of employees each month are being let go.
Some of the businesses that have been around longer are handling the need to let employees go by asking them to take a voluntary buyout package, which usually involves a hefty compensation package. Depending on the person, this could be good or bad. If you have been, or are about to be, offered a voluntary buyout package, take some time to learn the pros and cons. This way, you won’t feel side-swiped by the request.
Are They Offering Enough Money?
Not that you’re setting out to be greedy, but they are asking you to leave the company, right? This means you need to make sure that you and your family will be well taken care of until you can find another job. Some companies offer employees two week’s pay for each year of service. For some, this adds up quite nicely. But does it measure up to the amount you could receive if you just stuck around and retired (that is, if your job will last that long)?
If you really think that leaving might be the best option, but you’re not sure if you like the buyout amount they’re offering, you may want to inquire about additional money owed. This might include making sure that you have money equivalents for unused vacation and sick days thrown into the package. Depending on what you have leftover, this could beef up your package quite nicely.
Will You Lose Your Seniority?
Another question to ask yourself when contemplating whether to take the buyout package is will you lose your seniority? Some companies will offer a large sum to employees they would like to buyout. But the downside to that is that when the employee tries to acquire another job, they will have to start at ground zero. For someone who has put in over 25 years at one establishment, this prospect can be very disheartening. This is especially true when taking into consideration that your job downsizing may mean the rest of the industry may be doing the very same thing. You want to make sure that the money you receive will be worth losing your seniority at best, and eliminating your prospect of a new job at worst.

Is It Worth Sticking Around?

Finally, before you turn down a buyout package flat, think about whether it’s worth sticking around. If the company is going out of business soon, and stock prices are falling, you may want to snatch the amount they offer before you lose your chance at such a high amount in the future. Determining the fate of the company will take some research on your part. But it will be well worth it to gather the insight you’ll need to make the best decision for your financial well-being.
Before you agree to accept any type of voluntary buyout package, you will want to consult with an attorney. An attorney can help you decide whether leaving is worth it. And also show whether the numbers that the company is offering (which may seem impressive) are really enough.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Need a resume writing service? Compare the top ones in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.

Posted January 24, 2009 by

Returning to a Previous Employer

Every once in a while, you may do something you said you would not do: return to an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, dive in the deep end of a swimming pool, or maybe eat frog legs. But for some, doing something they said they would not do falls into the realm of returning to an employer after leaving many years ago.
If you’ve thought about returning to a former employer, it’s definitely not the end of the world. In fact, it could be the beginning of a new one. So if you’re serious about boomeranging back to a former employer, here are some tips to consider before doing so…
Remember the Contributions You Made
The thought of returning to a company that you once worked for can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. On one end, you may be excited about the prospect of returning to an environment that was once very familiar to you. But on the other end, maybe thinking about what employees and managers thought about you leaving the company in the first place. You may also be thinking about how the environment you once knew so well may have changed since you left.
A good way to feel more comfortable about the pursuit of your return is by thinking of the contributions you made while there. If you left the company in good standing then it is likely that the company will be more than willing to welcome a knowledgeable and reliable employee back with open arms – even if you’re now coming into a different position. They will likely have more faith in your abilities than a stranger’s, which actually puts you in a better position than most others up for the same position. So if you’re a little nervous, remind yourself of these contributions to help build your confidence.
Sell Your Knowledge of the Company’s Culture
Another area of comfort that you can carry with you when looking to return to a previous employer is knowledge of the company’s culture, mission, and what it values. This is a big deal since every company can be vastly different – and it takes time to get comfortable in a new one. Because you already understand how the company works, and what is expected of all employees, you have a better shot of sliding past your competition.
As for selling this point to the company, you can do it both in your cover letter and interview. If you are facing a recruiter who has entered the company since you’ve left, selling your knowledge will be especially important. Think about it; unless you were a dynamo, the recruiter will not likely be familiar with what you contributed. But that’s okay; this is where you can explain that catching up will be like riding a bike. Essentially, all you’ll need to do is learn new skills and begin to apply them.
Returning to a former employer can definitely bring with it great rewards. If you decide to return, take it as a positive experience. By rekindling old friendships and building new ones, you can make the return a great experience for everyone involved.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Compare the top resume services in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.

Posted January 23, 2009 by

Great Transitional Career Options

Sometimes it may feel that your time in your current career has just about run its course. It may seem that you’ve contributed all that you can and are now looking for new ways to make contributions to society; ways that involve you using different aspects of your creativity. If this is the case then it may be time to change careers.
But there are some careers that are easier to transition into than others. So if you’re looking for a change, but don’t quite have an idea of what the change should be, take a look these career options.
Jobs Resistant to Offshoring
While your career transition should have more to do with you wanting to make new and exciting contributions in another realm, and less to do with money, in the wake of a suffering economy, you should always remain financially realistic. There are some jobs (i.e. auto industry positions) that are simply not stable at this point. However, there are some that are more resistant to bankruptcy or offshoring. In your search to find a new career path that cultivates your interests, it doesn’t hurt to browse careers like these.
Some jobs that fit into this category include genetic counselor, mediator, curriculum/training specialist, and user experience specialist. The same goes for ghostwriters. Any business that wants brochures, newsletters, TV or radio ads, or websites and would like their material written by someone needs a ghostwriter. If you have a passion for writing, that someone could be you.
Non-College Careers
There are many non-college careers that are now being considered great transitional careers. Why? Well, for starters, many of the professional jobs are being sent overseas for offshoring, leaving not much for recent college grads. Also, Baby Boomers who have recently suffered huge blows from the economy – many even losing most of their retirement in the financial/401k crisis – have had to return to old jobs or find new ones. As a result, many blue-collar jobs are now in demand. A few that may spark your interest include firefighting and plumbing, as well as becoming a hairstylist, locksmith, and biomedical equipment technician.
Healthcare
If your desire to contribute to society falls into the realm of making unhealthy people healthy again, then you might want to consider switching over to healthcare. Because there are many more aging Baby Boomers, as well as a larger number of immigrants needing healthcare, there is more of a requirement for help. This is especially true in the areas of patient advocacy, health informatics, and wellness coaching. So if making a difference in this way is ideal, you may want to consider traveling this route.
Of course, this is only an introduction to the possibilities transitioning into a new career can bring. You will definitely want to conduct more research, not just on what options will make the most sense financially, but also emotionally. But after creating a list of ideas that truly interest you, you may find that these or other easy-to-transition-into careers fall in line with your agenda. So continue to study what’s out there, choose wisely, and carefully transition your way into the new career of your dreams.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. If you’re in need of a resume writer, compare the top ones in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com

Posted January 18, 2009 by

Developing Your Career from the Ground Up

If you’re just graduating from college, or deciding to enter the workforce after spending your adult years involved in other projects, then you have the benefit many others don’t: building your career from the ground up.
For some, this prospect may sound scary – especially if they’re in the midst of a career that has been rocky all along the way. But if you take your time to plan your prospective career – as well as alternatives – before you get started, you should be able to make rather smooth transitions along the way until you reach your ultimate goal. Let’s look at how you can get this done …
Decide What You Like
One of the most important ways to obtain fulfillment in your career is by first deciding what it is that you like. Many people have no idea what they would like to do with their lives, and this is totally understandable. Some people have always obediently followed the decisions of their parents. Others may have been forced to choose a path in college after too many years being “undecided.” Luckily, no matter the predicament, it is never too late to choose.
The easiest way to decide what you like is by creating a list of the things you love to do for no money at all. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a list, you can complete personality tests like the Ansir Self-Perception test, through which you will answer questions to help you determine your strengths. It will also offer careers you may be best suited to take on.
Choose Your Career(s)
Once you’ve created a list – or completed a personality test – your next step is to see what careers fall in line with your passions. For instance, you may absolutely love math and find that being an accountant, bookkeeper, or even math teacher may fall in line with what you love. Or you may love animals and find that you may be able to work in the veterinary world, on a farm, or even as a zookeeper. If your college degree is not compatible with your passion, that’s okay. It will just be your job to determine what steps you’ll need to take to make your dream a reality.
Create Your Plan – Get Where You Want to Be
Once you have determined more than one option for your career path, your next step can be to look more thoroughly at each one then create a plan that determines how far you want to get on each path (Director of Public Relations, Vice President of Sales, etc.). Next you would look at potential routes you can take to achieve your goal, including the number of years you would invest in each position along the way. You can research the strongest employment opportunities and history of economical strengths with each option. And of course, make room for flexibility in the event that you become dissatisfied with your career or want to make plans around your family.
Developing your career from the ground up can require a lot of soul searching. But it’s a great way to find yourself – and your career. So don’t be afraid to tackle this task. You’ll find that your career success will likely be much easier to obtain with a plan in place.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Compare the top resume services in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.

Posted January 09, 2009 by

How to Manage Salary Negotiations

Whether you’re looking for a new job or trying to make financial gains at the one you’re at, you may find that at some point you’ll need to make a salary negotiation. But how can you do it if you never have before?
It’s not as difficult as you may think. In fact, in many ways it can be similar to any other business transaction. So if you’ve been thinking that it’s time to get a raise, or ask for a specific salary with a new job, take a look at some ways to get it done.
Approaching the Employer
Probably one of the most challenging prospects of negotiating your salary is deciding how to approach an employer. It can feel very intimidating to tell a company how much you want them to pay you. But this task is easier if you keep in mind that you’re simply expressing your desire to be paid based on your skills and ability to perform.
So when is the right time to make the approach? If you’re in the process of accepting a new position, then the right time is when you reach that point in the conversation. However, if you’re looking to ask for a raise with your current employer, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve explored the reasons that you feel it’s time to increase your pay (years employed, responsibilities fulfilled, etc.). When you’re ready to approach your boss you can simply ask for a meeting to discuss your salary. Then openly and honestly discuss the reason you feel it’s time to increase your pay.

How Much to Ask For

The amount you should ask for will vary widely based on your field and the position you’re in/seeking. This means it will be important for you to conduct some research to determine how much individuals with your level of education/experience in the position you’re in/seeking are typically paid.
Also, the city you live in can make a difference. For instance, someone living in New York City might expect to make much more working as a Human Resources Recruiter than someone living in Nashville, Tennessee. There are a number of books and websites that can help you get an idea of what you might want to ask for within the parameters of your specific circumstances. So be sure to conduct your research to make sure you’re not asking for too much or too little.
What Else You Need to Know
If you find that the salary you hoped for is not agreed upon, you don’t have to give up hope. There are other factors like healthcare benefits, additional vacation days and bonuses that you may be able to adjust to create a financial equivalent. But if you are surprised with an offer that equals or surpasses what you planned to ask for, don’t be afraid to still negotiate. You may find that you may be able to sweeten the pot even more.
Engaging in salary negotiations can seem like a fierce battle, but they typically are not. If you go in with an idea of what you want to make and the reasons why, you will most likely come out making more than you thought you would.
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Compare the top resume services in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com.