Building Up Your Work Experience

February 27th, 2015

Your “work experience” section can be the most important part of your resume, and in some cases, it may be the only section that your potential employers actually read before they make the decision to call you in for an in-person interview (or not). If your list of previous positions perfectly aligns with your employer’s needs and you’ve never missed a beat, held a single bad job, or spent a single minute among the unemployed, you’ll be fine… But since this doesn’t apply to very many people, most of us can take a few steps to make this section more effective. Try the moves below.

Find an Alignment

If the parallel between the responsibilities you held and the accomplishments you acquired in your last position align with the needs of your prospective employers, make this clear. And if they don’t align perfectly, find a line between the two and use your words to illustrate this line clearly. Use the keywords that appear in the job post and make the distinction clear.

Stay Busy

During the time between your last position and your next one, make sure you stay active and involved in the larger world. Take on leadership responsibilities in your community. Participate in any organization that interests you, from your homeowners association to your PTA to a local club, sports team or charitable society. Volunteer to help a local non-profit organization. Join an open source community and contribute something meaningful.

Keep Learning

Don’t let your skills stagnate while you’re waiting to get back on the bicycle. And while you’re at it, don’t just run to stand still; keep actively learning new skills and exposing yourself to new information and new facets of your industry. You can do this by conducting research online and contributing actively to various thought communities. But even better, get away from your screen. Sign up for a class, find a mentor, read actual books, subscribe to professional journals, and consider membership in a new professional society or group with regular meetings.

Stay in Circulation

Keep exposing yourself to new people and new opportunities. Travel if you can afford the time and cost. Attend conferences and networking events. If you can, work to publish papers and give presentations, even without the support and sponsorship of a formal employer.

For more on how to stay busy, connected, and growing whether you have a job or not, consult the job search experts at PSU.

Three Small Moves That Will Help You Become a Better Leader

August 29th, 2014

Are you looking for strategies that will help you become a better leader and build loyalty, motivation, and retention among your staff? Add these three moves to your management plan.

 Stop trying to “be a better leader”.

Like most personal strengths that generate value for other people, “leadership” isn’t really about you. Ask yourself: Which would you rather have, a blue leadership ribbon that you can hang on the wall? Or a happy, well-oiled, enthusiastic team, a team that successfully raises their sales numbers (or improves their patient outcomes, cleans the warehouse in record time, overcomes a conflict, paints a mural, completes a merger, or lands a grant)? The success of your leadership depends on what you do, not on what you are. Turn your attention outward toward your team and focus on your shared goals. Stop worrying about yourself and how well you’re scoring in a contest that exists only in your head.

Want the right things.

Imagine a little league coach ushering a team of six-year-olds toward a regional championship. If the coach is a responsible, intelligent person, then what is he really trying to accomplish? Does he actually care about a plastic trophy that could easily be bought at a store? Nope. Does he care about the glory that the trophy will bring him, or the impact this trophy will have on his resume? Nope. Does he even care about winning? No. His goal is much more complex than that; it involves providing twenty children with a valuable life experience, a fun memory, and some important lessons about the world and how it works. In other words, his goal is not the stated goal, and his reward is not the actual reward…it’s something else. The same applies to you. Know what you’re fighting for and why.

Lead from behind.

To get respect, give respect. And do your part first. Don’t march out in front of your team before you’ve earned the right to their obedience and loyalty. Instead, provide them with an example. Roll up your sleeves and take on the ugliest, most difficult tasks. Come in earlier and stay later than they do. Get behind the slowest runner and give that weak link your full attention. Find out what your team needs and provide it without waiting to be asked. Be a servant, a supporter, a guide, a resource, and a role model. Do all of these things before you start barking orders.

For more simple moves and practical tips that can help you lead your team across the finish line, contact the management and staffing experts at PSU.


Cover Letter Essentials: Four Ways to Stand Out

August 15th, 2014

What sets a good cover letter apart from a great one? And what sets a strong candidate apart from average middle-of-the-road applicant who holds the minimum requirements for the position, but not much else? Here are four cover letter moves that can set you apart from the crowd.

1. Set the right tone from the beginning.

Instead of launching your letter with a long, wordy, or apologetic preamble, just get the point. State the title of the job you’d like to apply for and how you found out about it, for example: “I’d like to apply for the marketing manager position posted on” Avoid openings like: “I’m so sorry to waste your time and I know you must be very busy, but if it wouldn’t trouble you too much, maybe you could consider me for the position of….etc, etc”.

2. Explain why you want this job.

In order to do this, you’ll have to provide a bit of your personal and professional background. Don’t talk about your family, marital, age, handicapped, race, or religious status, but feel free to share how you got into this business and what inspires your passion for this type of work. You can also explain what you’re looking for during the next step of your career and (so far) haven’t found.

3. Explain why you’re a perfect fit.

Visit the company website before you write your letter so you know how to tack this challenge. Explain what you know about this organization and its needs, and then tell your reader how you’re perfectly poised to meet those needs. If your skill sets, background, interests and ambitions all align with the company’s mission and goals, this is your moment to shine a spotlight on this alignment and draw it into focus.

4. Wrap it up.

Bring your letter to a polite conclusion and explain exactly what you’d like your readers to do next. Phrase your request in the form of an invitation. For example: “I believe I have the skills and experience necessary to thrive in this position and help your company reach its growth targets in the year ahead, and I’d welcome an opportunity to further explain my qualifications in person. I invite you to review my enclosed resume and contact me at your convenience. Thank you for your interest.”

At all times, keep your cover letter clear, concise, relevant and short. For more information, contact the Charlotte job search and employment experts at PSU.

Five Things Job Seekers Want Most: Are These Part of Your Offer?

February 21st, 2014

When you post your open positions and send your team of recruiters out into the world, you do everything you can to attract the best and brightest talent to your workplace. But do you really know what your talented candidates want most? And are you sure you’re including these items in your offers and making them a daily aspect of your workplace culture?

1. Money

Despite what the motivational posters tell us, it’s not morally essential to love your job so much that you’d do it for free. This is an insidious notion that harms both employers and employees when it’s taken too literally. Most people enjoy what they do to some extent, but that’s not why they do it. They do it in order to be paid, and if you can’t compensate them adequately for their time and sacrifices- not just their unit-per-hour productivity—you’ll eventually lose them. Research the marketplace and present new employees with a fair wage and standard insurance benefits. Hiring costs and high turnover are more expensive than simply offering your employees what they deserve.

2. Respect

The best way to earn respect is to give respect. It’s a simple old chestnut, but it’s often overlooked and ignored by frustrated employers who don’t understand why they can’t hold onto talented workers. Let your employees know that their efforts are vital to the success of the enterprise. Even when they do the bare minimum, thank them and show your appreciation. And when they excel, provide meaningful rewards.

3. Resources

Nothing frustrates and alienates employees more than the absence of the tools they need to do their jobs well. Affordable and accessible parking, functional copy machines, properly trained managers, and reliable software are all part of this package.

4. Open Communication

Of course you aren’t a mind reader. And when your employees need something, you can’t always be expected to provide it without being asked. The same hold true in reverse. So maintain an open door policy and make sure your managers have the all the skill and training they need regarding written and verbal communication.

5. A Clear Path to Success

Set clear goals for your employees, provide them with clear and actionable instructions, and when the time comes, do everything you can to help them take their careers to the next level. If you invest in them, they’ll invest in you.

For more on how to build your workplace reputation, attract the best employees, and hold onto them once they’re onboard, reach out to the NC staffing experts at PSU.

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