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Articles of Interest to Job Hunters




Whether you want to keep your present job, move ahead through promotion or move to another employers, the ability to make your moves without alienating others can be a challenge. Sometimes it seems as if there's a very thin line between being assertive and being aggressive. When that line is crossed, situations at home as well as at work become very unpleasant. It even rears its ugly head in traffic; we've all heard of road rage. How do you stand up for your own rights (assertiveness) without treading on the rights of others (aggressiveness)? Here are a few basic rules to help you deal with difficult people and situations. First, express openly and honestly how you feel and what you believe but do it in a way that is NON-BLAMING AND NON-THREATENING. Use expressions like " I feel as if I didn't explain it as well as I should have" rather than" You failed to do it right." Stronger words and blaming don't help. Next, be aware of the non-verbal clues you give. A scowl on your face, arms folded across your chest and an unpleasant tone of voice give the message that you're ready for a fight. Body language and facial expressions can tell a lot about what people are feeling. Non-verbal clues can alert your colleagues that you don't intend to listen to anything they have to say. Stay tuned in to their body language too. Avoid using generalizations like always and never. Those words make individuals scramble to defend themselves with times "it didn't happen". People on the defensive often act aggressively in the attempt to justify their behavior. Much better to think in terms of "Sometimes I feel as if " instead of "You always make me so mad." Don't use stronger words to build your case. Finally, be patient with yourself and others. Really listen to what people are saying and what their body language is telling you. Assertiveness comes from positive and honest communication that says, " I respect your rights as well as mine." Start practicing with easy situations. You will be better prepared to derail an explosive situation.
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Career Change or Not

The RLS Career Center helps hundreds of people successfully change careers each year. Taking your skills to a new field is a great move for people whose industry is shrinking or who find that they are unhappy in their current job. But reinventing or repackaging may not be the right strategy for everyone Suppose you conclude that you need to change your field-you are not feeling challenged and you are no longer excited about your industry. On the other hand, you don't want to take a step backwards and you recognize that you may not have the experience to compete in a new field. You may be a good candidate for a career change, but you can see that it won't be easy. But for every successful reinvention, there are several failures. By the time you have spent several weeks looking at other fields and researching the job market you may want to move back to your comfort zone-and this is the decision that most people take. Before you set out on the path of reinvention, ask yourself a few questions: What's prompting you to change fields or industries? Is it something you want to escape from, or is it a wish to do something else that you really want to do? Can you imagine yourself in a new field? What values are guiding you? Is it compensation, status, lifestyle, family, or something else altogether? Among competing values, what is most important to you? Defining what's key will help you focus your search. Career reinvention isn't for everyone, and it's certainly not a simple solution to a stalled job search. As an alternative many job seekers are making sound lateral moves, such as seeking a different role in their present industry or field. They have found new employment with a vendor, professional or trade association, government agency, industry consultant, or ad agency. They're keeping their careers on track and finding work that's more rewarding and challenging. Always keep in mind that most people, in the end, will find similar jobs in their present industry or function. Just the same, thinking outside the box can be a helpful exercise.
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Career Paths

The working world continues to change rapidly, affecting all of us who are, or want to be, working. These changes challenge us to anticipate their effects on our careers. It is important to see change as natural and healthy. The process of career development allows you to assess where you are in your work life, use the insights you gain to decide where you want to be, acquire the new skills you may need and make the other changes needed to achieve your goals. Rather than a one-time activity, this assessment process can help you make decisions at any point in your career, especially when you see important factors changing around you. If is helpful to visualize your career as a path with side paths, forks in the road and alternative routes that you choose as you proceed. Your career may develop interesting directions that you could never have imagined even a few years ago. Changes in the market place, new technology and your own chance experience, such as a new hobby, can influence you decisions. A change in career direction does not necessarily mean a new employer, or even a new job. When you are alert to ways that you can better perform your job, you can demonstrate to your employer that change is appropriate. Companies value employees who can make changes, adapt to new situations and processes and can foresee the need to change. By being dedicated to continuous learning and regularly assessing your own interests, values and skills, you will be one of those most valuable employees. Change is not easy, whether it is within a given job or workplace or entails an entirely new position. Anticipating change is hard work requiring considerable focused effort. There are plenty of resources for these tasks. Formal assessments of skills, values and interests are available through career professionals, college career centers and on the web. There are many books on the subject of re-careering and identifying your own skills. Personalized consulting and coaching is also widely available. For specific citations and referrals, you may visit RLS Career Center's website or contact us by mail or email. By planning ahead and fine-tuning your skills in observing trends and opportunities, you can make the natural and inevitable changes in your career easier and more satisfying.
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Communicating Your Value in the Workplace

Communications are key to success in the workplace, both in being able to do an outstanding job and in being recognized for the value you bring to the company. Here are some tips for people who may underestimate their value and not feel comfortable communicating with management about their needs. These characteristics are often shared by women and minorities in the workplace. Be Direct: Speak up about your needs. No one will be reading your mind to figure out what you need. Be clear if you need more information or clarification about assignments. Ask Questions: Don't be afraid to ask questions, even if it means asking several to be sure of the information. You cannot do something well if you don't understand what is expected of you. If your manager is not available you can ask your peers or team members. If you don't like to ask questions in a meeting, follow up afterwards. It is a good idea to check in with your manager-"I'd like to make sure that what you want is�." --so that you know you are on the right track. Be careful about overloading: Of course some managers may expect you to do more than is humanly possible, but most don't know when they have assigned too much work and prefer work well done to something slipshod. Ask your manager to help you prioritize when you see that you can't do everything on your plate. Participate in meetings: Work conversations are about doing a task well, on time and on budget. Pay attention to those who are articulate, confident speakers. Notice how they present challenges without being threatening and how they respond to criticism. Speaking up shows that you have given thoughtful consideration to a work issue. Learn to accept praise and criticism: Acknowledge praise by saying "Thank you, that is very generous of you." Smile. Share the attention by giving credit to your team. Not everyone has the same talents-recognize your own and accept them. Humility has its place, but don't underestimate your own value. When you are criticized, remember that it is not personal. The workplace is looking for improvement-this is your way to learn. Everyone makes mistakes, but don't dwell on yours. Figure out what went wrong and how to improve and then move on.
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Corporate Communications Careers

A. There are many career paths in corporate communications where businesses are looking for just the kinds of skills that those with advanced degrees in the humanities are likely to have: the ability to communicate ideas effectively, to summarize information quickly and to think creatively.
You will find that corporations have huge needs for communication both internal to the company and external to a variety of audiences. Typical products include marketing pieces, research reports, business proposals, presentations, media releases, employee notifications and many others.
You will need to adapt to business forms of management, levels of independence and the business language and mind set. Many humanities-trained people can find themselves in positions requiring budget management, supervision or team leadership, project management and computer skills. These are areas where experience and training can be acquired on the job.

There are four major categories of business writing that companies need:
-Marketing communications involve brochures, direct mail, radio spots, print advertising, and proposals. The ability to write well is at a premium in this area.
-Public relations and corporate communications are closely related to marketing and usually include producing annual reports, news releases, shareholder communications and public information releases. Verbal communications and the ability summarize and organize material is especially important here.
-Technical writing includes producing instruction manuals, package inserts, scripts for instructional videos, trade journal articles, research reports, and technical advertising. Usually the technical knowledge is provided by an expert, but some technical information and a willingness to learn new areas are important for technical writers. Work here can also includes providing training.
-Internal communications are most often required in large companies that need to address their employees in many departments and locations. The work includes internal memoranda, employee manuals, company policies and procedures and employee newsletters.

All these areas require critical thinking, writing and research. Being able to learn independently and good computer skills will help you make the transition to business and to succeed in this area. For more guidance and stories about those who have succeeded, visit Humanities at Work at www.woodrow.org. Go to the Career Resource Center section of the web site.
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Cover Letters

Q. How important is a cover letter to go with a resume? If my resume is really great, what would a cover letter do?

A. RLS asked a group of employers the same question. About half said they read cover letters and the other half did not. Some of the readers reported they read the letter before the resume, and the others said they read them after, sometimes to see if the letter clarified a question, others read only they were considering interviewing. Since your chances are 50/50, it is much safer to go with a great cover letter. Don't send a throw-away "here it is" note. Do develop three or four paragraphs that can address issues that a resume cannot. If a reading of your resume raises any questions-a time gap in employment, several lateral moves, less experience than required by the job description-you can explain your situation. The cover letter is a great place to display your passion for the field, demonstrate your interest in the company based on your research and to match your skills to the job requirement. A short summary of your qualifications is appropriate. It is not a good idea to try to be humorous. You can never know the sense of humor the reader might have, so its best to treat the job as the serious matter it is. There should be no grammatical errors or misspellings. Have someone else proofread for you and remember that spell check doesn't guarantee that all words are the ones you thought you typed. Avoid cliches. Use your own words to express your feelings and intentions. A group of standard phrases will not lift you above the crowd-sincerity will. Simple and straightforward are best. Don't use a lot of big words and overdone writing. You want to sound like the person you really are. Nobody wants to hire someone who is likely to go around pontificating. This letter is about what you can do for the employer, not about how impressive you are. Don't make grandiose claims and don't tell them that they will be impressed when they meet you. Stick to the facts and how your skills meet their expectations.
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Cover Letters - Ten Tips

Whether it's email or regular mail, your cover letter is the first thing about you an employer sees and it often influences whether a busy hiring manager reads your resume or puts it in the "no" pile. Here are some tips on making a good impression where it counts.
1. The letter is about how you meet the employer's needs. Focus on your skills and how they match the job description. Avoid starting sentences with "I" to be sure that you are not telling your life story.
2. Use a strong opening: "Your need for a highly skilled inside sales person is an excellent match for my proven track record as the top ranked producer on my sales team."
3. Make the match of skills clear: "Your ad notes that you need excellent communication skills; My five years of preparing executive level reports and making presentations to clients will meet your needs."
4. Be concise, but don't sell yourself short. You will need at least three paragraphs, but keep it less than a page. You want to make your best sales points, but resume reviewers are pressed for time and don't want to read a long document.
5. Don't repeat the wording in your resume. You want the resume to have its own impact, so reword the highlights, or consider giving a narrative example of your skills, such as how you overcame a major obstacle.
6. Refer specifically to how you learned about the opening and the job title. The resume reviewer may be recruiting for more than one position.
7. If you are using the same letter for several similar openings, be sure each one is properly customized. Double check the names and addresses and be sure the job title is correct. No one will be impressed to be addressed by the wrong name.
8. Be proactive in your follow up. Tell them you will contact them in a few days, as well as giving them instructions on how they can reach you.
9. Thank them for their time and consideration. Politeness is essential in every step of the job search process and especially so in the cover letter.
10. Proofread carefully, correct all mistakes and if you are using regular mail, don't forget to sign the letter.
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Finding a Job

There is an old saying among career counselors: finding a job is a full time job. Job hunters in today's difficult market need to remember and act on that old advice. The job hunt is more complicated than ever, with more resources than ever. Especially with all the sources for job leads, research and advice on the Internet, it is easy to get overwhelmed and to spend time unproductively in the job search. You can avoid most of these pitfalls by thinking of your search like a job. Most people get up, go to work, spend the day on the job, break for lunch and come home at the end of the day. This kind of discipline can help you apply your time management and organizational skills to your job search. If you need to lock up your Game Boy-do it. If you find your self reading magazines and rearranging your stamp collection, set aside specific, non-work times for those activities. Find yourself a space to be your "office", whether you have a spare room or a corner of your kitchen, keeping your files organized and in the same place-preferably near the phone and computer. To avoid procrastinating, set reasonable goals for each week: the number of networking contacts, the research on specific companies, the research on types of occupations you are considering. Make a list of the tasks for each goal and then set priorities. Don't forget about networking. Getting out to talk to other people will help you feel like you are working. You will be getting information from them about whether a particular type of job is suited to your skills and personality, or about specific job leads or companies who are hiring or who else they know who can help you. You will be gathering ideas and energy for the next steps in your search. If you get a wonderful and exciting lead, don't forget to continue to do the basic research looking for other leads. It is much better to be following several leads at the same time so that if one peters out there are still others to work on. You should also take time out. Eat regular meals, exercise, have a social life. If your search is a long one, take a vacation. When you land your job, you want to be ready to start with energy.
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First Jobs

For you college seniors who are really getting serious about finding a job after graduation (do lots of your friends already have offers?), consider the disgruntled publishing assistant, who claims she accepted her first job mostly out of desperation. A decent salary, tolerable work environs, a phone extension-what more can you really expect, being just out of college? Believe it or not, in the grand scheme of things, your first job hardly matters. In the world we live in, people don't graduate to go work for the same company until they retire. A career is not the same thing as a job-it's the sum total of your life's experiences, a work in progress that's never quite complete but gains depth and meaning over time. If you've been working a less-than-impressive job for a few years after graduation, you'll still have plenty of time to find or create your dream job. In the meantime, you never know what doors your first job will open for you. Pursue what interests you today (or just what is convenient for the time being), and pretty soon you'll be faced with a dozen more options than you had before. Often the best way to get to the top is by starting from the bottom. Don't spend six months waiting to hear back from a prospective employer at a record label. Get an administrative job, work part time at a record store, and if you can afford to, get a part-time internship in the industry to make connections. Accepting your less-than-ideal job may turn out to be a way to expand your interests and find out what you're good at. Even if you're not in love with your first job, try to think of it as a learning experience. Learning what you don't like is as important as learning what you like. Dream jobs are rarely advertised. Many happily working people didn't know their jobs existed before they stumbled upon them. The Zen masters of the job search know that opportunities often lurk where you least suspect them. Talk to people whose careers you admire and, chances are, you'll find that they didn't go directly from A to B to get where they are. Put yourself in the maze and explore your options.
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Hiring On at a Laying-Off Company

In these days of slow economic growth it is hard to ignore job opportunities from any firm, but what if the business is one that has been laying off? There are many companies in central New York that have downsized considerably and yet are hiring for open positions. Should anyone take a job at one of these outfits? The Wall Street Journal Online suggests that research on the company can help you make this decision. You should consider the following: � Is the company basically solid? Are they in a growing business, do they have a good reputation. Do some networking and ask some people who work there, read any published reports and talk to their competitors. If you have an interview, ask directly. � If there will be further cuts are they part of an overall plan or just the next step in a downward slide? What areas will be affected? If they are laying off and hiring selectively they may be getting rid of high priced employees in exchange for less expensive new entrants. It can be good to be a low priced newcomer in an area where further layoffs are not planned. � Does the company have a next step planned if the layoffs don't work? If that plan is to sell the company, it is probably not a good sign. � How the company views your skills is important. If they see you as having essential talents in an area they expect to grow, then they are likely to want to keep you. � Will they have enough senior management left? New employees need mentoring and the company needs to keep enough of its corporate memory to bounce back from its problems. Laying off too many company veterans is dangerous. You will need to look at the answers to these questions in light of your own tolerance for risk. How important job security is to you can depend on your personality, age, whether you are married and have dependents, your expectations for your standard of living and your prior employment experience. If you are young and single, a good opportunity may seem like a reasonable risk. If you are about to start your children in college, it may not. Either way, you do not need to guess in making your decision.
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Q. I am a college student and I am thinking about a summer internship. What should I be doing now to find one?

A. Good work! Internships are great ways to find out what you like (or don't like) to do and can make you more attractive to employers because of the work experience you will have. Before you look for an internship, here are some questions you should consider:
-What are your career interests: sales, finance, public relations? What would you like to try on for size?
-What do you hope to gain from your experience: new skills, networking connections, access to a permanent job? These are reasonable expectations-which are the most important?
-What kind of organization interests you: small non-profit, educational institution, small company, large company?
-Where do you want to be: near home, near school, near friends, or away from all of those things?
-Do you need to earn money or can you work for the experience?
-Do you need college credit?
Don't skimp on these questions. They will not only help you choose, they will limit the amount of looking you will need to do. Next, prepare and polish your job search skills. Work on writing a good cover letter that explains your interests and a resume designed to show the skills that you bring to the internship. Then polish up your interviewing skills. This is exactly like looking for a job. Now you are ready to begin the search. Here are some resources that may help you:
-Go to your school's Career Services Office. They are likely to have internship listings and may have staff who specialize in matching students with internship sites. Don't forget directories of internships, published annually.
-Network. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a specific type of internship; include your family, your friends, your family's friends, your professors, past employers, alumni, etc.
-Check out Company Websites. If you have already identified a specific set of companies where you would like to intern, you should consider going straight to the source by visiting the career section of each company's website.
-Look for Internship Websites. There are a few general internship websites, a good one is www.quintcareers.com/grad_internships.html.
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Q. It has been a while since I went through a job interview-what can I expect?

A. Interviews are very important to the company that is hiring. It is in the interview that the hiring manager tries to predict a candidate's success in the job, both in the area of skills and in fitting into the corporate culture. In these days of reduced hiring and corporate belt tightening, managers cannot afford to make the expensive mistake of hiring someone who fails in either area. There has always been a wide variety of interviewing practices and they do change over time. New techniques are developed and tested and if they work, their use becomes widespread. In the last few years "behavioral interviewing" became popular because it was inexpensive to implement and seemed to be moderately successful. Behavioral questions ask the candidate to tell the interviewer how he or she would behave in a hypothetical situation. "If an angry customer presented you with the following situation, how would you handle it?" The interviewer might also ask, "Tell me about a time when you handled a difficult situation with a customer." The latest practice kicks it up a notch. "Situational" interviewing requires the candidate to role-play the new job in a very real setting. The interviewer might play the part of the angry customer on the phone and the candidate will be expected to respond. Other mangers observe how the situation plays out. In the angry customer scenario they will be looking for the candidate to not show anger, to talk the customer down or diffuse the anger. They will want to see how quickly the candidate absorbs the information presented by the customer. This technique tests your natural responses and predicts how you will behave. There is really no way to prepare other than to know it might happen. Although this method can be expensive, especially if the company pays a consultant to devise and administer the situation, it is quite effective. According to BusinessWeek, the scenario test accurately predicts success 54% of the time, compared to 7% for a regular interview and 44% for extensive personality and skills assessments. Those personality tests are also frequently used. Again there is no way to prepare for them-being honest and avoiding trying to influence the results are the best strategies.
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Interview Preparation

Interviews are of course nerve-wracking, but they can also be satisfying if you look at them as a chance to talk about some of your favorite subjects-yourself and the things you do best. The purpose of a job interview is to convince the interviewers that you are the solution they have been seeking. So, first you have to know what they are looking for. You find this information by reading the job posting and if possible, getting a job description from the employer. You can also get standard job descriptions on line. Use the job description to list the skills and attributes the employer wants-read between the lines. Do they want a team player or a take charge type; is there a mess to clean up or are things going well and growth is in order? Then determine your strengths and how they match the employer's needs. Start with a list of the work experiences that have most motivated you and identify the motivating factors. Do you respond with energy to challenges, does finishing a project on time and on budget give you a thrill? Do you feel especially rewarded when you can solve problems by thinking outside the box, or by solving a complex problem? Is making a customer happy a motivator for you? As you work on your list, you will notice that there are patterns of experiences and motivators. Refine your list to three to five personal work related motivators. These strengths then become the theme of your interview. Prepare several examples for each strength that explain your motivation and illustrate experiences you have had, how well you performed and what you learned. When you know what motivates you, gives you energy and excites you about your work, then you can tell the interviewer how you will meet his needs. Answers to the standard questions "tell me about yourself" and "why should we hire you" are then a part of the theme, so that the interviewer will remember and still be impressed with your strengths after the interview. Check out Monster.com's Interview Center with "virtual interviews" for a variety of jobs. You can learn from the candidates' answers and work on your own responses. This kind of preparation is key to a great interview.
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Interview Preparation 2

Here are some tips from Vault.com on preparing for that all-important appearance.
� According to polls, most job candidates spend less than an hour preparing for their interviews. Unprepared interview subjects often give poor interviews. They come in with no agenda. They don't know why they want the job, anything about the unique strengths of the company, or why they'd be a good match.
� By preparing for the interview you'll be doing yourself a favor: more time spent in preparation means less anxiety on the day of the interview.
� Good preparation shows the interviewer that you care enough about the position, the company, and the industry to research its current status and future.
� Being prepared suggests that once you're hired your preparation for meetings and assignments will be equally as sound.
� Preparation provides more opportunities for you and the interviewer to have a meaningful conversation in which you can find common ground.

Review your resume carefully before the interview. Its contents are probably all the interviewer knows about you, so it's important that you be totally familiar with what you've written.
Check the dates of past jobs for any gaps you might be asked to explain. Consider doing some role playing: try stepping outside yourself to look at your resume hypercritically, as an employer looking to hire you would. Image questions you'd ask yourself and reasons for not hiring yourself. Then you can develop an effective plan for exceeding these expectations face to face.
Because so many workplaces rely on computers, it's a good idea to review before the interview exactly which programs you know. If you have experience with any of the programs the company uses, you can make an immediate positive impact on the organization.
Ask yourself how you really feel about this job. The interview is as much a forum for you to find out if the company and the job fit your needs as it is for the company to discover whether or not you're right for them. What do you want from a job? What are you good at doing? What do people compliment you on?

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Interviewing by Phone

Tips for a Telephone Interview

Telephone interviews are popular with human resource managers because they save time by allowing them to screen a large number of candidates in a relatively short period of time. You won't be hired based on a phone interview, but if a company does call, it is essential that you be prepared to do well so they will call you back for an in-person meeting.
You can be ready with a list of all companies that have your resume with notes on questions you may have, the type of job openings you know they have and reasons you want to work for them. You may be called and expected to interview immediately or you may be able to set up an appointment. Don't put them off-remember they are in a hurry!
Be prepared to answer questions about your resume and to give a brief summation of your skills. Here are some tips to help you make it to the "real" interview:
� Listen carefully so that you can respond appropriately. Make sure there are no distractions and that the room is quiet.
� Speak clearly and if you are a fast talker, slow down. You can ask a friend to practice with you.
� Smile and relax. The interviewer will hear your mood in your voice.
� Be honest, just as you would be in a face-to-face situation. If you don't have a skill, admit it. They may be willing to train you or they may have another position that your skills match. Above all, you never know when you may encounter this person again and you want your reputation to be unblemished.
� Ask questions both to show your interest in and knowledge of the company and to help you determine if you are still interested in the job.
� Let your positive reactions show.
� If you have already committed to another job, let the caller know immediately. Again, you want to reserve your reputation.
� Thank the interviewer at the end-use her name, which you have cleverly remembered to write down at the beginning of the call.
� Right after the call, make notes on what was discussed, so that you are ready when they call you back.
� Be sure you have enough information to send a thank you note.
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Interviewing No-No's

Interviews are stressful enough without making things worse by violating the basic rules. You can improve your chances of success by avoiding some typical mistakes. In your interview, DO NOT:
-Arrive poorly dressed and unkempt
-Fail to look the interviewer in the eye
-Mumble, use poor grammar, or be unable to express yourself
-Announce that you are only looking for a short-term job
-Show no interest or enthusiasm in the company and its position
-Ask no questions about the job
-Express intolerance of other people
-Demonstrate no knowledge of the company and its products or services
-Display an overbearing or aggressive manner
-Seem ill at ease and lacking in confidence
-Be evasive about answering the hard questions
-Deliver a limp handshake
-Be sloppy in filling out the employment application forms
-Make it clear that you are only shopping around
-Demonstrate that you are unable to take constructive criticism
-Fail to thank the interviewer for his/her time.

You may want to ask a friend for an objective opinion on whether you might been seen making any of these mistakes. Role-playing and practice can really help in your presentation of yourself.

-Here are some real-life interviewing horror stories (thanks to the Career Advancement Management Report) from human resource professionals reporting on a job seeker who:
-Wiped his runny nose on his hand� and then extended that hand for a handshake
-Used his palm pilot to check stocks and email friends during the interview
-Chewed sunflower seeds throughout the interview, dropping the shells on the floor
-Had her grandmother call the recruiter to recommend her for the job and explain how much she (the job seeker) wanted the position
-Wanted to know when he could speak to someone "who really matters"
-Tried to bribe the recruiter with basketball tickets
-Wore boxer shorts, a torn T-shirt and combat boots, didn't bother bathing and didn't know with whom he was interviewing
-Expressed more interest in inviting the recruiter to a party than in actually answering the interview questions

Common sense and politeness are the most important guides to avoiding these very basic no-no's. Remember that an interview is a situation that requires consideration and respect on both sides as you make your way through an inherently difficult task.
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Job Fairs

Q. I have never been to a job fair. What do I do when I am there?

A. Job fairs are where employers come to find employees. They are very good places to network, learn more about particular employers and to find jobs. Each employer generally has a booth and materials promoting their workplace and products or services. Many employers conduct job interviews on the spot, some set up interviews for a later date, and most collect applications and resumes to go into their screening process. Before you get to a job fair there are a number of things you should do to prepare. Bring a courtesy or "job fair" resume so you can leave it with people who ask. Don't expect a call for an interview on the basis of this resume, but gather what information you need to create a targeted one for the job you want. Try to find job descriptions from the companies that will be there so that you can tailor some resumes to the job. Most job fairs advertise the employers, and most employers post openings on their websites. Have all information you need for an employment application so that you can easily complete that process at the job fair. Practice a brief (one minute) advertisement of yourself-what you are looking for, the skills you bring to the job, why you want to work for their company, why they should hire you. On the day of the fair, take your business cards, paper and pen to make notes on your conversations, and a really great attitude about yourself and the people you are going to meet. Dress as if you are going to work or a little better. First impressions are so important and the people you will meet are the gatekeepers, if not the decision-makers in the hiring process. At the job fair, be respectful of the amount of time you spend with each company, collect business cards from them and ask about the next step in the process. You want to know if you can contact them in the next few weeks, what other information they need from you, when you can expect to hear from them. Ask for a job description if you will need to send them a resume. Your follow up after the job fair should be very swift. Send your resumes and your thank you letters (to everyone you met) ) in within 24 to 48 hours. Follow the directions the employers gave you about submitting information and contacting them.
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Job Loss

Losing a job is tough, whether you are part of a group downsized because of business trends or an individual whose performance did not mesh with management's ideas. Most people find they react to this situation emotionally-anger, depression, denial, apathy and more anger. This time immediately after being let go is not a good time to be presenting yourself to the job market. You need support and reassurance. You need to regain your footing so that you can present your situation in the best light. So, take care of yourself. Do things you enjoy doing, don't overeat or drink too much. Confide in your closest supporters, but when you are angry, don't spread your anger around. Try to realize that there is no longer any shame in losing your job. Nearly all work is short term and you must be prepared for change, whether you want to or not. Right now the average job is about three to four years! When you are ready, meaning when you are able to think positively about your next steps, start making your plan. Identify what you want to do next, especially the specific job function, the work culture you are looking for, geographic location, size of the organization and the other factors that are important to you. Maybe you want to consult or start your own business. If you need outside help at this stage, get it. Research your target. Learn about the occupation, the industry and the requirements for admission to the workforce. Look at specific employers and job descriptions. Do a draft resume-don't send it out to anyone yet! Then prepare your self-marketing plan. Your stance must be positive about both your past and your future. You want everyone to know about your success and the skills you have to contribute to a new employer. Start networking and presenting yourself to contacts as available and interested in who else might be able to help you. Ask about the market, job requirements and possible openings, but don't ask them to hire you. Be flexible-you will learn a lot and your target and your strategy may change during your job search. Create daily routines to support your hard work. Don't forget to take time off.
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Job Search Preparation

Q. I will graduate from college next year and I know that finding a job will be tough. How can I increase my chances of success?

A. You are right that the job market is very competitive in most fields right now, and it may be that it will be just as tough a year from now. You are on the right track to be starting early. In order to present yourself to prospective employers in a way that gets their attention, you must look as much as possible like what they think they are seeking. You need to understand the employers' needs so that you can explain to them how you will address those needs. You want to describe your value to them and have an employment objective that matches the position they are filling. Getting this right means researching the company and its culture. If possible you should get a job description from the company so you can match your resume and your presentation to their very words. You can find job description on many sites on the Internet. Your college career center can help you develop a one-minute "commercial" about yourself and your value to the company. Practice this with a friend and in front of the mirror until you are very comfortable talking about yourself in a clear and forthright manner. Make sure your resume is specifically targeted to the available job. It is always a good idea to role-play the interview so that you can feel prepared for the most likely questions and the ones you dread being asked. If you can meet with someone from the industry or someone who has held a similar job, you can fine tune your understanding of the employer's needs. In order to generate job leads, tap into all your resources and contacts. Get them all working for you. Don't be shy about telling them what you have learned in researching your field and ask their advice. You aren't necessarily asking them for a job, but for contacts of theirs who might help you. Bosses from summer jobs, family, friends, people you have worked with, professors, your college's alumni network, even fellow students can help.
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Job Search Strategies

So you are looking for a job, have a good resume that you can tailor to specific job descriptions and you are finding postings on the Internet and in the newspaper. What can you do to increase the chances that your resume will get to the company manager who is making the hiring decision?

First, write a cover letter that details how you meet the requirements for the job. Get their attention by clearly demonstrating that your skills match their needs. If you can find the name of a real person, rather than an anonymous email address (hiring @ company x.com) send the resume and cover letter directly to them.
Then, follow up. Call to confirm the receipt of your resume. You probably won't get a return call, but you will have made your point. Keep calling until you catch the HR recruiter or the manager at his/her desk (don't leave messages or become a pest). Be persistent and get them to review your resume, even if they do it while you are on the phone. Recruiters get so many resumes for each posting that there is no way they can adequately review each one. Your persistence can make you stand out over someone who just waits for the phone call--you may very well get the interview.
Networking is the most effective way to find a job. Spread the message that you are looking; let everyone you meet or know what you are looking for. Practice your one-minute advertisement so you can tell folks in the line at the grocery store or at a barbecue. Through networking you can do company research--find out which company is hiring and who is making the decision. Remember there are no more than 6 degrees of separation between any two people!
If you make a good contact with a company that is not hiring, or does not want to interview you for its opening, ask for an informational interview. You will learn more about the company and they will learn more about you. Then they are more likely to think of you when they are ready to hire--maybe even before they advertise.

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Listening Skills

Good listening skills can be a key element in a successful job search and a terrific career. While most people are not good listeners, those who are find it easier to manage people well and impress interviewers, bosses and co-workers with their interest and dedication. Poor listening causes communications problems that can result in important mistakes both in your job search and in your workplace. Here are some tips on becoming a good listener:

� Interrupting and finishing a speaker's sentences demonstrate that you are not listening. Deliberately try to inhibit your temptation to interrupt. Make sure the speaker has finished conveying the message before you speak.
� By your actions, show the speaker you are genuinely interested and want to listen. If you aren't sure of the whole message, ask the speaker to repeat or clarify it. Constantly evaluate your own understanding of the message.
� Take time to listen. Don't rationalize that you're too busy to listen. Instead, set aside whatever you're doing. This will reassure the speaker that he doesn't have to talk faster or abbreviate the message. It will also help you to concentrate on what's being said.
� You'll act like a good listener if you're alert, look the speaker in the eye and lean forward. Radiate interest by nodding your head or raising your eyebrows, and offer encouragement with comments and questions.
� Because you can think faster than anyone can talk, it is easy to get distracted. Use your thinking speed to advantage by analyzing what the speaker's saying as he talks. Mentally sum up what's been said. Weigh the evidence by considering whether the facts are accurate and the viewpoints are objective, or whether the speaker is only trying to prove a point.
� Focus on the message instead of the speaker's accent or style of speaking, speech impediment or disorganized thought pattern. Ask yourself: "What is he or she saying that I need to know?"
� Notice the attitudes, needs and motives behind the words. Remember that the speaker's words may not always contain the entire message. The changing tones and volume of the speaker's voice may have meaning. So may facial expressions, gestures and body movements. Being alert to nonverbal cues increases your total comprehension of the message.

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One of the most important strategies for finding a job is to network with people you know. This way you can get the word out that you are available, and provide information about your skills. What do you do if you are an introvert? Most people are either extroverts or introverts. Extroverts get energy from being with others and they focus their own energy on others. Introverts, on the other hand, have an internal focus and derive their energy from solitary activities. Introverts are not necessarily shy or afraid to talk to people, they just prefer to be by themselves more of the time. So, since most jobs are filled through personal contact and introverts prefer to reduce the amount of contact they have with people, networking is hard work for introverts. Here are some ways that introverts can make networking work for them. List the skills and attributes you have to offer to a new employer. Prepare a one or two minute explanation of those attributes and practice saying it. Then begin your networking. Make a list of people you know: family, friends, teachers, doctors, business people, political and civic leaders, former co-workers, real estate agents-you get the idea. Group these people into three categories. Decision makers are those who make hiring decisions or have clout. Influencers are the ones who know the decision makers. Everyone else on your list is a supporter. Next divide these categories into those who are introverts and those who are extroverts. Make phone calls to the extroverts first. You are not asking for a job, you are asking to meet with them to brainstorm about leads-other people to talk to. In your meeting you want them to commit to contacting others to meet with you. The extroverts will probably jump at the chance to talk with you and will be the quickest to contact others. Send the introverts letters or email. They will respond more slowly. Talking with your contacts requires some "small talk" in order to build the relationship so that they will act on your behalf. You can prepare yourself by visualizing the conversation. Most important is to bring the discussion around to your job search and the skills and experience you have to offer.
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Networking Every Day

Networking doesn't come easily to everyone. If you are finding it hard to talk to people naturally about your job search and skills, you may find these tips useful. Networking can be a regular and natural part of your day, generating more information and leads for you to use in your search. Telephone calls. You talk on the phone everyday, whether to family and friends, service providers or in gathering information. Regard each conversation as an opportunity to network. Spend a little time to establish that relationship. You will be surprised at how much you can learn. Snail Mail. Reading the mail that crosses your desk is a great way to get information. It becomes networking when you see opportunities and act on them. Read that newsletter-does that retirement suggest a job opening? Follow up! Are there activities you might attend to network with more people? Read to find out. Email. Email is a great way to stay in touch with people. See this as productive time; ask about up coming plans and changes. The Internet. The Internet links you with tons of information and millions of organizations. Researching on the web is a low-risk way of checking out the competition and learning more about a particular field or a prospective employer. Chat Rooms and Message Boards. There are lots of places for job seekers to gather and many are organized by the field of business. Being anonymous makes chatting easy-or you can just read others' offerings. Lots of job seekers find support and useful information from others who are looking. Professional Associations. Join or begin attending a professional group. Working on projects with others is a great way to get to know people who are likely to have information and leads you need. Some organizations specifically set aside time for networking. Social Events Don't forget that you are allowed to have fun while you are networking. Go to all the social events you can. Brush up on those relationships and let them know you are looking for a job. Ask them who they know and can they introduce you. A relaxed setting is very conducive to sharing information. Don't forget about taking courses in your field, political activities and religious activities. All are good places for networking to your advantage.
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Older Workers

Good news for older workers-you are coming back into style! In the dotcom era young workers were hot and companies placed a premium on youth and energy over experience. Two trends have begun to bring about changes. When the dotcom bubble burst, companies' outlook and culture changed. They began to remember the workers who didn't play foosball, and who have the depth of experience to bring to bear on all kinds of problems. The second trend is the recognition that, in spite of recent layoffs and a flat economy, there is a long term labor shortage. Hiring versatile experienced people makes sense when companies are running lean. With fewer workers than jobs once the economy improves, older workers are in demand. It is still, however, important to address the perceived (and sometimes real) disadvantages of age in the workplace. Here are some tips:

-Prove that you can adapt to change. Cite examples of how you have been flexible in a fluid or changing situation; how you have seen a coming trend and prepared for it.
-Keep your skills current. Explain how you are a continuous learner and give examples of your professional development activities.
-Demonstrate that you are technologically savvy. Know how to operate today's business machines and be able to detail your computer skills.
-Make sure your resume doesn't shout your age. A functional resume presents your skills in related clusters and does not emphasize years of work history and job titles.
-Review your wardrobe. Of course you should dress in keeping with your age, but be sure that you are also in line with the times.

You should also emphasize your successes. Be prepared with stories of how you have used skills that will transfer to the job that interests you. If you haven't networked in a while, get busy. Make a list of contacts and let them know you are looking. Give them a 2-minute version of your skills and what you are looking for. Ask them for other leads. Above all, decide what your passion is. Employers want people who want the job they have to offer. If you have a passion for the work, let it show! If you are having trouble, find a career counselor who can help you sort through today's job search environment.
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Personality Types and Career Conflicts

It is not hard to notice that certain types of jobs attract certain personalities. Accountants and engineers like precision and detail and tend to be concrete thinkers, while artists and poets are "other worldly" and tend to be abstract thinkers. In choosing a career, it is a good idea to try to match your personal preferences to the basic requirements of the field. Doing research on a career path that interests you is essential. Suppose you have always been intrigued by the work that court reporters do. Their transcription of legal proceedings requires training in the use of stenotype equipment that uses symbols to represent combinations of sounds, words and phrases. The work requires great accuracy and attention to detail because the verbatim transcripts are court records. People who thrive on detail work and find satisfaction in using a repetitive technique are often "introverts". They need time to themselves in order to feel energized and ready to work. However, your research would show that as self-employed independent contractors, most court stenographers need to sell their services to lawyers, government agencies and governing bodies. Introverts are not naturally comfortable with selling--so there is a built-in conflict in court reporting as a career for someone who has the typical preferences of a detail-loving introvert.

Massage therapists or acupuncturists also have a built-in conflict. They use their intuitive skills to focus on their clients' needs--reducing or removing pain and increasing their feelings of wellness. Those who are intuitive tend not to be interested in detailed record keeping. Yet, many personal service workers are independent business people who need to track appointments, keep client records and deal with many detailed business issues. You can resolve some of these career conflict problems by finding someone with complementary preferences to be your partner or assistant. A massage therapist might hire a part time office manager. Or find a way to work for someone else. Some court stenographers work directly for specific large courts, and their skills can also be used by television networks for closed captioning for the deaf. If you have done your research and recognized a conflict with your own personality and preferences, you may make the decision to pursue a different career--thereby saving yourself from making a mistaken career move.
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Pre-employment Testing

More and more companies are turning to pre-employment testing to increase the chances of a good fit with a new hire. The hiring and training process is a lengthy and expensive one for companies. To help determine whether a candidate's approach to work and personality are in line with the job requirements and the corporate culture, about 40% of Fortune 500 companies are administering personality tests.

All personality tests have two things in common: there is no way to prepare in advance and there are no right or wrong answers. The questions (sometimes irrelevant or odd) are designed to measure personal preferences and approach to the world.
Most assessments classify personalities into types. The HR director or hiring manager can then decide what types of characteristics he or she is looking for to fill a particular position. For example--sales people are generally outgoing and not reserved about talking to people they don't already know. When properly used, these characteristics are guides for interview questions, not determinates for hiring.

Two of the most respected assessments that are available on-line are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Kiersey Temperament Sorter. The MBTI is found at www.knowyourtype.com where you can take the test on-line for a fee. The Kiersey is found at www.advisorteam.com. The test and summary results are free. Detailed results are provided for a fee on a secure part of the site.
The best strategy for the job seeker is to be yourself and answer the questions honestly and quickly. Trying to second-guess the company will only result in inconsistencies and confusion. Here are some samples:

Are you prone to:
� Exploring the possible
� Nailing things down

Do you prize in yourself:
� A strong hold on reality
� Vivid imagination

Do you tend to:
� Say right out what is on your mind
� Keep your ears open.

The results of these assessments can be very helpful to anyone looking for the type of work for which they are best suited. In-person explanation of the results is the best way to understand the implications and put them into action. The RLS Career Center provides testing using a number of these instruments. If you are interested in more information, please call RLS at (315) 446-0500.

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Working with a recruiter, or "head hunter", is one way to help your job search in these difficult economic times. Recruiters work for companies that are trying to fill their openings, and are generally paid a fee based upon the position's salary. A recruiter can increase your changes of finding a job because he has access to the decision makers who are actually hiring. Recruiters specialize in particular types of positions, such as accounting, computer programming or sales. Be sure to choose one whose specialization matches your career plans. Here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness of your job search with a recruiter. Remember that the recruiter is working for the companies, not for you. You still need to sell the advantages of hiring you, so help the recruiter by knowing your skills and how to match them to the needs of the company. Good recruiters will give you helpful advice on dress, the job description, the company culture and other ways to make a good impression. Follow that advice. If you embarrass the recruiter, you will only reduce his effectiveness. Don't be like the fellow who, although he was advised to wear a suit and wingtip shoes for an interview in the entertainment field, showed up in a flowered shirt and sandals. He was not hired. Consult with the recruiter on distributing your resume. Don't send it out widely on the Internet or to the recruiter's clients on your own. Make sure it has no mistakes and that you are well presented. Don't send "presents" with your resume. Hiring managers do not decide they are interested in a candidate because of candy or a stuffed animal. In fact, such attention-getting devices usually backfire. Don't keep secrets from the recruiter. Don't refuse to let him know your salary requirements or why you want to leave your present employer. The recruiter wants to make the match and will not divulge improper or harmful information to the company. If the recruiter lets you know about an opening, be honest about your interest in the position before he sends your name to the company. Withdrawing your name later makes him look unprofessional. Think through the kind of position and company interest you and where you want your career to go before you sign up with a recruiter.
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It is not unusual for job seekers to give a lot of thought to their resume, the ticket to the job interview, and to the interview itself, without giving much thought to the references they will be asked to provide. The more important the job is the more carefully your references and background will be checked.
Do you really know what kind of report your references will give? If you have been through the whole process and finally are not offered the job it could easily be because your references have given you a poor recommendation or are not able to address the needs of your prospective employer.
Here are some common responses to a request for a reference: Our company policy prohibits us saying anything; All we are able to do is verify dates of employment and title; Are you certain he gave my name as a reference?; We miss him very much; Oh, whatever happened to him?

Here are a few tips on improving your chances for relevant and positive references:
1. Make a list of all your prospective references. Select people who have seen you in action. Remember that whether you list them or not your past employers may be contacted.
2. Contact your list. Meet with references personally or call them to let them know that you are job hunting and would like to use them as a reference. Show them your current resume, describe the position you are applying for and the qualities the company is seeking.
3. Confirm your personal information. Refresh their memory regarding the position you held, go over your past responsibilities, and remind them of solid results you gave the company. Go over what they are going to say about you, if you can do that comfortably.
4. Be prepared ahead of time. It pays to take the time early in your job search to identify and prepare your references.
5. Communicate with your references. When a specific offer is on the horizon let your references know the company, and that you will be using them as a reference.
6. Follow up. When you get your new position, make sure to call your references and advise them of your new position. Thank them for their help. Offer to return the favor. Keep them posted about your career in case you need them in the future.
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Resumes for Career Changers

Q. I have decided I want to change my job to a different field. How do I write a resume, since my experience is mostly in my present field?

A. You need to focus on your skills and on presenting your skills and accomplishments to your prospective employer in a compelling way. Here are some steps that can help you.

Research job descriptions and profiles for the jobs in your new field that interest you. Among the places on the web to find job profiles are jobprofiles.org and the Occupational Outlook Handbook at the Bureau of Labor Statistics site. From these descriptions, identify the skills and attributes needed for these jobs. Examples of skills include: communication skills, proficiency in specified software, a desire to please customers, and team leadership.

Then identify your own skills. Take your time and think through what you do best and what you enjoy doing. Ask people who know you well about your attributes. Using those that match the jobs you selected, write a Summary of Qualifications. Work on the language to make a list of bullet points. Use the terminology from your new field. You want the reader of your resume to immediately recognize that you are a match for the job. The summary will be the first third of your resume.

The rest of your resume should describe your accomplishments to illustrate your skills. For career changers a functional resume is usually the clearest. For each skill mentioned in the summary, list more specific skills and accomplishments from any of your experience--job, volunteer or other. Following this more in-depth listing, list your employers and job titles, followed by your education.

If you have held a job that is very relevant to your targeted job, you may want to present a chronological resume. The order of your jobs may be based on relevance or may be chronological, but you must put your most relevant experience first. Under each position list your accomplishments and specific skills to illustrate those listed in the summary.

When you are changing fields it is important to sell your skills not the job titles you have had. Your experience does not have to be recent. So present your qualifications, not your history and remember that your resume should be the job description with your name on it.

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Salary Negotiations

Salary negotiations are tough whether you are negotiating with your boss or interviewing for a new job. Many people avoid them entirely-leaving the decision up to the employer. Finding a way to be fairly compensated and maintaining or establishing a good relationship with the boss takes preparation, self-knowledge and a real investment of time.
Salary negotiations have an important power dynamic. Generally the employer holds most of the cards-that is, the decision to hire and the salary level are determined by the employer. Several factors can move power in the direction of the candidate. If you have unique skills that are in high demand, then you are in a better position to succeed in the negotiations.
Do the research to assess how in demand your skills may be. Nurses and other medical personnel are in short supply, and in most job markets they can expect to have the upper hand. Generally the higher the level of skill you have the more equal the power relationship between the employer and employee.
If you need a job badly, you will need to assess your own interests and decide if you are willing to turn down an offer that does not meet your wishes. There are compensation objectives that you should consider ahead of time: health and other benefits, profit sharing, bonuses, vacation and sick leave policy. The job itself, the level of responsibility, where it fits in your career plans will also enter into your analysis.
When you have done your research and decided on your needs, prepare your case. You will need to be persuasive, not coercive. Don't make threats, but demonstrate that you know what others in similar positions make and what the needs of the industry are. Be sure you have a Plan B. Knowing your next step in case you don't take the job or get the raise will give you the confidence to make your case well.
If your assessment reveals that you are not in a strong position, consider your options. Will you be more valuable with more training or education? Are your skills transferable to another field where prospects are better?
The time you invest in preparing for salary negotiations will put you in a strong position for making good decisions.
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Skills Assessment

Employers think about hiring a set of skills when they develop a job description and begin to fill a position. Being able to describe your own skills is a critical part of grabbing the attention of a busy hiring manager. If you bury your skills in a series of descriptions of the jobs you have held, your resume is likely to end up in the "do not consider" pile.
Naming the skills you have is especially important if you are changing careers or fields. Many skills are transferable from one field to another (if you can market filters you can market professional services). Recognizing your own skills and personal attributes can be tricky and challenging. Here are some suggestions that may help you along.
Think about a personal achievement-what skills or personal attributes were involved? Name a role that makes you happy-which skills are involved in that role? Think of the different aspects of your current job or volunteer work and identify the skills involved. Listen to your family and friends-what are the qualities they appreciate in you and how do they translate to the work place?
Here is a list of skills that are currently in demand: budget management, supervision of others, public relations, coping with deadline pressure, ability to negotiate, speaking, writing, organizing, interviewing and teaching.
You also can look at job descriptions, especially for jobs that interest you. Catalogue the skills and personal attributes they are seeking. Check this list against the skills you have identified as your own. You may need to revise and add some new ones to your own list.
Once you have your list of skills you should prepare a summary. This summary will have three uses: to provide the lead section of your resume, for you to present yourself briefly and thoroughly to those who might refer you to job openings, and to introduce yourself at a job interview.
Once you have the list and the summary you can continue to develop your resume by providing specific examples of how you have used your skills. Your achievements should serve as back up to your skills presentation and will make up the remainder of your resume.
If you find this process difficult, you should get help from a professional career counselor.
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Starting a Business

Starting a new business is at least as hard as getting a new job-and probably harder! Small businesses are great-they employ more of the workforce than large employers and they let you be your own boss. On the downside a very large percentage of new businesses fail.
There are two main reasons for failure in start up businesses-lack of capital and lack of understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur. The two problems are closely related. Being an entrepreneur not only means hard work and long hours. A small businessperson needs to not only have the great idea, but market it, finance it, produce it, sell it, and be the bookkeeper, lawyer and everyone else's boss.
Fortunately, there is excellent help available. Appleseed Trust (424-9485, ext. 223), a non-profit organization, specializes in training beginning and very small businesses in all these areas. They offer classes at two levels. The beginning business class runs for 8 weeks in the evening and will give you the basics on setting up the business. The cost is $25 and you must submit an application and be accepted by the program. The advanced course is for those who have a current business or have completed the first class. It is computer-based and focuses on producing a business plan. It also runs 8 weeks in the evening.
The Small Business Development Center at OCC (498-6070) is a free service of individual business counseling that provides start up assistance and business plan development as well as problem-solving in accounting and finance, marketing and advertising, and organizational planning. They can even help you identify and apply for funding from a variety of sources.
SCORE, a service of the US Small Business Administration (471-9393), is the oldest of these programs. SCORE uses volunteers who are retired and working business professionals to counsel and mentor new entrepreneurs. They offer both on-site and email counseling. To visit their website and access a list of counselors in your area of need, go to www.score.org.
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Stress Reduction After Job Loss

Among the most stressful situations for human beings is losing a job. It is right up there with the death of a spouse! Looking for a job and making a change to a new job also add to life's stresses. Even if you are not changing your job, there are a lot of stressful situations that arise at work. This stress can interfere with your ability to be effective in your job search. All these forms of stress are external, arising from situations outside of ourselves. Even though we have little control over our external stressors, we can influence how we respond to them and we can adjust our internal outlook to reduce stress. Here are 3 ways to reduce stress that require no equipment, have little or no cost and are available to everyone.
- Reduce or eliminate the use of caffeine. The caffeine in colas, coffee and tea and chocolate are stimulants that produce stress. Dr. David Posen recommends trying this experiment: gradually reduce your caffeine intake (by one drink per day) to avoid developing headaches. Stay off caffeine for 3 weeks. Then assess how you are feeling. Most people feel more relaxed, less jittery, sleep better and have more energy.
- Get regular exercise. Stress is an involuntary response to perceived danger. It produces energy so the body can "fight or flee" that danger. Since flight and battle are not appropriate responses to modern stress, there is no place for that energy to go. Regular exercise is an ongoing way to use the stress energy. Many doctors recommend exercising moderately at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Choose activities that you like to do: walking, swimming, biking, jogging, anything that gets you moving and raises your heart rate.
- Get enough sleep. There is an increasing recognition that many of us don't get enough sleep. People who are tired do not deal well with stress and may begin a vicious cycle of insomnia and stress. Dr. Posen recommends going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual and monitoring how you feel for a week. If you are not waking refreshed, having good energy during the day and waking naturally (before the alarm) then try going to bed another 30 minutes earlier. Daytime power naps of no more than 20 minutes may also help.
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Telephone Interviewing Tips

Telephone interviews are popular with human resource managers because they save time by allowing them to screen a large number of candidates in a relatively short period of time. You won't be hired based on a phone interview, but if a company does call, it is essential that you be prepared to do well so they will call you back for an in-person meeting.
You can be ready with a list of all companies that have your resume with notes on questions you may have, the type of job openings you know they have and reasons you want to work for them. You may be called and expected to interview immediately or you may be able to set up an appointment. Don't put them off-remember they are in a hurry!
Be prepared to answer questions about your resume and to give a brief summation of your skills. Here are some tips to help you make it to the "real" interview:
    � Listen carefully so that you can respond appropriately. Make sure there are no distractions and that the room is quiet.
    � Speak clearly and if you are a fast talker, slow down. You can ask a friend to practice with you.
    � Smile and relax. The interviewer will hear your mood in your voice.
    � Be honest, just as you would be in a face-to-face situation. If you don't have a skill, admit it. They may be willing to train you or they may have another position that your skills match. Above all, you never know when you may encounter this person again and you want your reputation to be unblemished.
    � Ask questions both to show your interest in and knowledge of the company and to help you determine if you are still interested in the job.
    � Let your positive reactions show.
    � If you have already committed to another job, let the caller know immediately. Again, you want to preserve your reputation.
    � Thank the interviewer at the end-use her name, which you have cleverly remembered to write down at the beginning of the call.
    � Right after the call, make notes on what was discussed, so that you are ready when they call you back.
    � Be sure you have enough information to send a thank you note.
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Why Get an Education

Whether you are considering leaving high school, questioning whether you should go to college or deciding whether to take specific training related to your job, the question deserves careful thought. Here are some positive reasons for continuing your education:
- Learning is fun, challenging and makes you feel great. It is personally rewarding. The more you practice learning, the more you can learn.
- Knowledge of new things opens new doors. You can discover new interests that can lead to more learning, awareness of employment opportunities and a fuller life.
- Learning can help you meet new people who can be good leads for jobs and can turn into life long friends.
- Learning keeps you in touch with changes in the world and in your field. It can help you spot trends, make important life changes and do your job better.

Learning is also worth a lot of money. In New York State, in the year 2000, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that high school graduates, on average, made $10,000 more a year than those without a high school diploma. A bachelor's degree will earn you, on average, $20,000 more than a high school diploma. The average annual salary in New York state for someone with a master's degree is $55,000, $5,000 more than for someone with a bachelor's. Now for the biggest payoff: the average salary for a person with a professional degree, say law, or a Ph.D. is $86,000, or $31,000 more each year. At every level, it clearly pays to keep on learning.
Central New York is wealthy in education resources. We have public schools and agencies, for-profit schools and institutes and non-profit educational institutions. Most provide classes in the evening or on schedules compatible with working. Through the web there are distance learning courses that originate from all over the world.
You can find out more at your local library or you can visit RLS for listings and assistance. Here are the phone numbers for a few of the many local institutions: OCM BOCES, 453-4455; Onondaga Community College, 498-2622; Bryant & Stratton, 472-6603; ITT Technical Institute, 461-8000; LeMoyne College, 445-4100; Syracuse University, 443-1870; Empire State College, 472-5730; and Columbia College, 455-0690.
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Working From Home

If you have been daydreaming about being your own boss and working from home, here are some things to think about before you take that huge step.

� Don't rush into it. Prepare and be ready before you quit your day job. Even if you are out of work, have been looking for a job and are discouraged with what is out there, doing your thinking and research first can prevent costly mistakes.
� Be sure of your skills. Are you ready to present yourself to customers with no one mediating or checking your work? Whether you are planning to freelance in writing, marketing and communications, psychotherapy or IT, your clients will be the only judges of your work.
� Be comfortable being on your own. Will you miss the colleagues in the office? There will be no one to chat with down the hall. Joining a professional group is a good way to find new colleagues and to network at the same time.
� Be ready to wear all the hats. Not only will you need excellent skills in your field, but you will also be the record keeper, secretary, financial manager and marketing director. Lack of these skills has sunk many a home business.
� How is your motivation? Will you be easily distracted or have a hard time working everyday when you can be catching Simpsons reruns?
� If you are employed, moonlight before you quit. Build up a financial cushion, contacts, and prospective and current clients. Develop a pricing structure and marketing plan.
� If you don't enjoy promoting yourself, think twice. You must be ready to network, advertise, call on people you don't know and mention your services to everyone you meet.
� Preparation and planning will increase your chances of being able to pick and choose the jobs your want to take. What good is freedom if you end up doing work you hate?
� Set high standards for yourself and your work. You will need the respect of your family and friends as well as your customers. Set limits on when both can call you--keep your private and professional life separate enough so that you can be good at both. Many at home workers report that this balance can be hard to achieve.
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