Monday, December 7, 2009

Community, What's That?

In both the real and virtual world, communities are created and joined everyday. Communities grant its members a sense of belonging, a strengthened identity, and allows them to meet and connect with people with common interests. These relationships often grow and evolve into lasting friendships that continue even if one leaves that community. Community is extremely important. It brings people together. Currently, however, there is a shortage of real community. While Facebook is an idealized and hyper-used online community, chances are most of your friends on Facebook won't watch your pet while you're out of town, be your best man or maid of honor at your wedding, and most of them will not try their best to help you get a job. The type of communities that are currently being built are weak and do not provide the same support that communities in the past have. This is certainly not a suggestion that real life communities are better than virtual one, in fact, real life communities can maintain the same amount of superficiality that some virtual communities do. What is being suggested is that it is the members of communities that are the ones who prevent the strengthening of relationships in communities.

Is it better to have 200 acquaintances or 5 friends you can count on? When it comes to getting a job, sometimes it is all about WHO YOU KNOW not WHAT YOU CAN DO. And perhaps in that case, one of those 200 acquaintances will be able to help you out. But really, will someone actually help you? Do they care about you or do they need to focus on themselves? We live in a society of the "me" not the "we".

Food for thought: If we immersed ourselves in real communities that build on strong relationships, finding and getting a job would be much simpler. Community members would look out for one another, help each other when we need it, and no one would "be in it alone." Building this kind of community is exceedingly difficult, however, because "community building" has now become as easy as clicking a button. Just because you join a community does not mean you are actually in a community.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Okay, the big day has finally arrived! Hopefully you have followed all of our advice on what to do to prepare for your interview. You arrived 15 minutes early, well groomed, you have studied up on the company and you have gone over questions in your head... Now what?

Lets go over my 7 Commandments of Interviewing... Why 7, and not 10, you ask? Because is it that simple! you do not even need to know 10 rules for it!

1) Greet Prospective with a Handshake.
You want to appear confident and friendly starting with the first few seconds (when most impressions are formed). So, when you see the employer, do not be hesitant to go stand up and greet them with a sincere smile and a good handshake.

2) Make Eye Contact.
Again, confidence is KEY! when answering questions, look the interviewer(s) straight in the eye. Looking up, down, or around the room will give the impression that you are insecure, shy, uncomfortable, or making up answers.

3) Listen Carefully
Listening skills are important in any position. This includes everything from top level CEO positions, all the way down to the basement janitor. Everyone in any given organization needs to have great listening skills, and this is your first (and possibly your only) chance to prove yourself. You do not want to find yourself answering a question you think you heard.

4) Be Direct
If you do not know an answer, do not make up an answer. If you know an answer, be straightforward and to the point. Do not beat around the bush. Employers are smart. they will know when you are trying to cover up for your lack of knowledge, so don't even try.

5) Be Positive
You should never say anything negative in an interview. When asked about prior jobs (and trust me, you will be), you should have well thought out reasons why you left. Avoid sounding overly needy, disgruntled, picky, selfish, or pessimistic at any cost!

6) Ask Questions
At the end of almost every interview I have been in, I am asked, "Do you have any questions for us?" Even if it is a small question that you really don't care about, ask it! Asking questions shows that you care, and an employer wants an employee who cares about their job and workplace.

7) Thank Them
When the interview is over, thank your future employer. Leave with a confident smile, a handshake, and your head held high. Most of what is remembered of an interaction is in the beginning and the end, so be sure and leave them smiling.

And that is it!

Now, you get home, and you are wondering what comes next. Right?

Well... I'll tell you!

Write a thank you note the same day of the interview, and mail it no later than the following morning.

A thank you letter should be a very brief final statement. This may be your chance to tie up any loose ends or emphasize any key points from the interview, but remember to keep it simple and to the point. Here are some great links that can basically write the letter for you:

If you do not hear back from the employer in a few days, do not be afraid to call/stop by. Many times, this will be how you set yourself apart from others. Following up in person shows that you are driven and that you really want this job. For me personally, the way that I got my current job was by following up several times with my employer. Every time i would call back to "check in" they would set up another interview, and eventually, I was on board!

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this blog, I hope you found it informative! Now get off the computer and go get yourself a job!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Preparing yourself before the interview

Congratulations, you have your foot in the door. In this economy, this is a clear sign that you are qualified for the job you are looking for and they like what they see so far. Now it's time to seal the deal. I'm going to talk to you about what preparations you need to make before setting foot in the office for an interview. There are several steps that need to be taken in order to ensure you are presenting yourself in the best light possible.

1. Do research on the company you are interviewing with and the position you are interviewing for - Go on the company's website and learn about the place you want to work. They may ask you if you know anything about them once you are in the interview chair and if you can give them a few important details, your stock will rise. If you can get information about the job you are applying for as well, that will only make you look stronger. Another good idea is going on Google or Bing and referencing stories about the company you want to work for, or if they are a subsidiary of a larger company, the parent company as well.

2. Dressing for the interview - This can be tricky. Time was, they said a man should always wear a suit and tie and a woman should wear a jacket and skirt or a dress. Now there are people who say that you should dress for the job you are looking for, that it's OK to dress business casual for certain interviews. I believe that it's always better to overdress for an interview than under dress, you can always remove your jacket, but you can't go to your car and put one on if you don't come in with one. What is more important is that your clothes should always be clean and ironed. Neatness counts, which leads to......

3. Grooming for the interview: You need to pay attention to appearance from head to toe. Here are a few guidelines:

- Make sure your hair is clean and cut. Have it cut a day or two before the interview, that way you won't get any loose hairs on your jacket.

- Your shoes should be polished and clean. No open toed shoes or sandals.

- Make sure your fingernails are clean and cut. You will shake hands with everyone you meet and they will see your hands, dirty fingernails are a bad sign.

- Minimal perfume or cologne. You don't want to overpower them. On the other hand, make sure you don't have body odor.

- Clean breath and teeth. But don't eat mints or chew gum in the interview.

- Keep jewelry to a minimum.

- Cover all tattoos and remove all body piercings except for earrings in the ear for the ladies. You want to be a blank slate, you want them to remember you for your great interview, not for being the guy with a skull on your forearm or the girl with the eyebrow ring.

4. Come to the interview at least 15 minutes early. Being there a little bit early says your are conscientious. Showing up an hour early says you are needy. Showing up late says you don't care. Plot your route ahead of time. If you are there 15 minutes early, you can fill out any paperwork they ask you to do and have it done in time for the interview.

5. Practice responses to possible questions. There are many websites out there that have possible questions that you may be asked when at an interview. But when it comes to it, there are three different types of questions that you are going to be asked:

Can you do the job? - Do you have the skills and experience to handle the position? Examples include:
What aspects of your education and/or work experience do you see will help you in this position?
Tell us about a time when you were up against a tight deadline and how you succeeded.

Do you want the job? -
Why do you want to work for us?
What about the job/the company interests you?

Are you a good fit for the job or company?
What skills do you bring to the job?
What weaknesses do you bring?
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Describe a situation where you worked with a team. How did you interact with them? Were you successful?

Think about the answers to these questions before you go in. If you can, practice with someone else and get their feedback on your responses.

If you follow these guidelines, you will show up at your interview confident and ready to go.

Cover Letter and Resume Tips

Cover Letter Tips:

1. Personal Information: You should have your name, address, phone number, and email on the top of the page centered and easy to read

2. Find the director or the individuals name who will be reviewing your information. For example, if you are applying for a teaching position you would address it to Mr. Cliff Hong.

3. Below the director or interviewers name you will list the position you are applying for and the address of the place of employment.

4. A cover letter should never be more than three paragraphs and should fit on one page. If sending it through an email there should be no scrolling and all your information should fit on the screen. Remember a cover letter is all about selling your self!

5. The Paragraphs Themselves: Use descriptive Language Ovoid Generalizations

Paragraph one - This where you introduce yourself and state your strongest skill. Also this is where you ask to be considered for the job.

Paragraph Two - Here you focus on your skills and achievements and if the job asks for a particular skill address it with your ability to accomplish their need.

Paragraph Three - State how interested you are about the job. Tell a little bit about yourself. Most importantly tell them that you will be contacting them in the future for and interview.

6. Finally have your name at the bottom typed and when printed on high quality paper sign it with your signature. Also proof read and have others review your cover letter because mistakes reflect who you are, so show them the best side of yourself.

Resume Tips:

1. Personal Information: Is the same as the cover letter, but is put on the top right of the page with your name to the left. It is important to have your information on every page because it makes it easy for the employer to contact you.

2. The Resume is not where you talk about yourself, but a place to highlight you abilities on one page and no more.

3. A resume can be broken down into five main parts.

Part One - This is your objective, meaning what position you will be filling.

Part Two - Is your education. For example, where you have been and what you have graduated with.

Part Three - This is where you briefly list your skills.

Part Four - Work Experience. Any one over fifteen should have some kind of experience from highschool, sports, clubs, taking care of kids, volunteer work and more.

Part Five - This is where you can list some of your interest if there is still room. I like this part but not many people do this anymore. Remember it is important to tailor your resume to the job you are trying to get.

4. As always proof read proof read and proof read again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

5 Great Ways to Look for a Job

1) Go to a career fair. Attending career fairs is a great because you can directly approach a great number of employers in a day. You can send out resumes to hiring staffs, instead of having to complete applications one by one. Hiring managers also attend these fairs, so you could personally meet the one responsible for hiring you. If you are still in school, you may be able to go to career fairs sponsored by your school - contact your career center and it may be able to help locate jobs for both current students and graduates.

2) Look for job websites online. Many employers are posting employment opportunities on-line – check out our “top job search engine links” for resources. If you already have a company in mind, most companies provide online job applications or contact information on their websites.

3) Network! Tell your friends and family that you are looking for a job. They may know of some openings at their workplaces, or know someone who is looking to hire an employee with your skills.

4) Go to your city's Human Resources office. Most cities have human resources offices that can help you find employment within city government or at local companies. Be sure to make use of their resources which are for people looking for jobs like you. Another city source can be local city colleges, there are a variety of positions, good pay, and often benefits.

5) Remember the printing press is still in use. The Internet makes it easier to contact employers, but you also have other resources such as newspapers and magazines. Look for jobs the traditional way, perusing classified ads printed in the newspapers. There are career magazines that post ads from employers looking to hire.

These are just a few suggestions for your job search, if you have any more please comment!

No job? Don't feel stuck, you have options!

What are we getting ourselves into? Whether you are a college graduate about to enter the workforce, looking to change careers, need a new job after a layoff, or already have a stable job, you are going to face hardships. Anyone who glides through the employment process without any struggles is either a liar or very lucky. For the rest of us, however, we need not be as pessimistic as we have been in the past. We are all quite aware of the high and rising unemployment rate and the factoids that are thrown at us daily only aid in the constant frustration and pessimism we have been facing. Instead, I would like to offer you some more optimistic options as to how you can make the best of this dreaded situation we have found ourselves in.


Thousands of citizens have found themselves out of the jobs and unsure of what to do next. Many of these people have taken the initiative to go back to school. Some are going back to finish degrees they never completed, some to get a degree they never pursued, and some are going back to attain an even higher degree to make themselves more competitive in the job market. One benefit of the poor job economy is that people are working to better themselves to become better employees. While the quantity of employees is not going to increase, the quality certainly will. One option that you may want to consider before looking for a job is to consider going back to school. It is a great transitionary move that allows time for the job market to hopefully improve while you work to make yourself a more desirable candidate for the job of your choice once your degree is completed.


Another opportunity that may arise for you is the ability to move into a career field that you actually have a passion for. In the past, you may have found yourself in a career that paid the bills but drove you crazy. Or perhaps you suffered from indifference. Instead of feeling forced to grab whatever job may come your way, you should consider this an ideal time to really figure out what you like and how you can make that your job. This is the time to find out how to make yourself happy with the new career you choose.

OPTION III: BE YOUR OWN BOSS (You wont lay yourself off)

Perhaps in the discovery of your self you may decide that owning your own business is what would make you the happiest. You want to be your own boss. Many employees are taking this route and are receiving nothing but negative feedback. It is true that it is difficult to launch and maintain a successful, independently owned business during the US’s economic struggle. And it is true that many small businesses have had to shut down. Yet, if small business owners can avoid the short term hurdles that seem to be plaguing many in the same situation, the long term benefits can be exponential, if you follow a five to ten year plan. You must be warned that starting your own business now is no simple task and should be not be a decision you make lightly. At the same time, however, do not be discouraged by all of the horror stories. If starting your own business interests you and you have an innovative idea, you should have the encouragement to pursue it.


For most of us, we need a solution to the problem of unemployment immediately. Not having an income in not an option. If you are one of these people, you should consider a temporary or part-time job that will finance you until you find a more permanent job. Many people in this position are taking jobs they are over qualified for like retail jobs, or doing some part-time teaching if they have their credentials. A warning for those who take this route: you may or almost certainly will have to downsize your budget and living situation during this period. You simply will not be making the sort of money you are used to and the lifestyle you have may be difficult to maintain. If you can make these temporary changes, you will find yourself with more time to find a more permanent job that really suits you and would make you happy. Making yourself available for offers to come to you is in a flexible timeframe is another ideal way to get your dream job. And a part-time or temporary job will provide you with the means to allow yourself the time to let that happen.


Finally, the most realistic stance on how to decide what job you want: you want the job that is available. Some people will just not be able to go through with the gamble of finding a job they like. It may not work out in the end or may not pay enough money. The unemployed realist will look at the economy and job market and ask him or herself “what job field is seeking employment that I can attain?” And when people ask themselves this question they are often led into the medical field to jobs that do not require medical school, such as nurses, pharmacists, and dental assistants. These positions pay well and are in high demand. If you do not want your new job to suit you, perhaps you will mold yourself to fit the job.

The easy part is done- you decided that you need to find a job. The more difficult decision is which route you are going to choose to get a job. Do not be fooled into thinking that you do not have choices when it comes to finding a job. Listed above are some of the options you have and that others have used to make the best out of the situation. There are no guarantees. No path promises you will get what you want in the end. No path is better than the other either. Try to figure out what you want and what you are willing to do to get there. This may be the most difficult part of the job seeking process. You must cater your decision to fit you, no one else. What works for one person may not work for you. Now, let the self reflection begin and you will be on your way to finding a new job!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Welcome to our site

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 12 months, you know that California is going through its worst period of unemployment in the last seventy years (12.5% according to the San Francisco Chronicle on 11/20/09). I,myself was laid off five times in a span of two years before I decided to go back to school and finish my degree. Now that I am graduating and about to enter the job market again, I am going to have to use all of the tricks and lessons that I developed over the last 20 years in the business world to find employment. And I, along with my cohorts, want to pass our collective knowledge on to you to find your own job. Think about it, I got laid off five times, but that means I was able to immediately find a job four times in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

By creating this blog, we are looking to give you sensible advice that will help you on your job search. Now, more than ever, you need to go that extra mile in order to make an impression with the people who are hiring and make them want to hire you. We're not saying that you are immediately going to get a job if you follow our rules, but your chances should improve exponentially.

Starting soon, we are going to give you advice on where to look for a job, how to compose a resume and cover letter, what to do before your interview, including how to dress and how to research the company you are interviewing with, how to act during your interview and following up with them after you meet.

We welcome all feedback and hope that you not only ask questions, but fell free to post any advice that you may have to offer as well. We hope to establish a community that will be there for each other as a network and also to be each others biggest fans as we all seek employment and financial security.

So let's get started and let's get to work.......