Ok, so... January is almost over and you are struggling with continuing to get in shape and pay off the holiday credit. (You're in good company! I'm right there with you!) Have you taken a few moments to figure out how to make yourself a better candidate for a new job opportunity in 2014?

Whether or not you are currently employed, take a moment to think about self improvement. What did you do in 2013 in order to make yourself more valuable to the company you work for, your manager, or your future employer?

Many people expect that they have the right to be promoted/hired while doing nothing out of the ordinary. Those individuals getting promoted are doing quite a bit out of the ordinary of their everyday job. Some ideas may be:

-Take a class in your field. Better, enroll towards a higher level degree than what you currently have! In my years of recruiting, I have never heard someone being passed over on a promotion for having too much education. It's never too late, and there are many online courses to assist older students with families and careers in completing collegiate degrees.

-Start a blog. Get intricately familiar with your subject of choice! Your writing and communication skills are sure to improve! Talk to them. Maybe even help them too! You can start a local networking event if you know enough people from various industries.

-Get involved in your community. Becoming a more well-rounded person makes you a better employee.

-Most importantly, make sure your attendance is impeccable! Nobody likes a pilot who cancels at 3 am before a flight! Stay until the job gets done. Put in 100%, consistently, every day.

Let's set the bar higher for 2014! No more mediocrity. Let's show the world how it's done and all get promoted!!!
 
 
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Many of you may be wondering: what’s the deal with Sulley, the job search bulldog? Let me explain his back story, as well as why he is so relevant to job searching. His expertise and will resonate with many, and he already seems to be developing quite the fan club, wiggling his way into the hearts of many, as he did with our family.

We had recently lost my beloved pug, Cheechee, who I adopted at 5. He was 13, kicked cancer twice, and passed away of a variety of health complications, coupled with old age. Our house seemed very quiet without the old guy around, even though we have a few other animals. So, we began looking online to see who was available for adoption, and even started looking at breeders.

My heart was set on another pug (of course), and my husband wanted another bulldog to keep our elderly bully company. So, we looked and looked… and out of the blue found an ad for “This Dog” at Animal Control. They could have branded him better, making up any name as many shelters do, and chose not to. The photo was blurry and sad. The brief summary had explained that he was picked up as a stray, and gave no information about his personality or health condition.

Off we endeavor, on an hour journey, to meet this nameless English Bulldog. When we get to Animal Control, we find a sweet, loving bully, in quarantine for multiple health issues. His ears have terrible red wounds, the fur on his back is balding, he has an eye infection, and is on 2 antibiotics! This poor dog was wandering the streets, but was licking my husband and son through the jail cell, while I was on a line to prequalify to adopt him.

The guys fell in love right away, and I didn’t want another puppy, so he seemed like a good compromise. I agreed, and we were told that if nobody claimed him in 3 days, he was ours. I was cautiously excited, and ran down there again when I got the call that he was ready to come home. This mangy bulldog nearly bowled me over, never mind hugging my son. He was so happy to have owners again and couldn’t stop hugging us.      

We bought him a new collar with a bow tie on it and he was very proud, prancing in circles. When we brought him to the lobby, he hugged every single person there! (The lady in white slacks was the only one not pleased to formally meet him.) He jumped in the car, demanded pets, and kissed me the entire hour home! My son was cracking up, and by the time we got home, I was head over heels in love with this fat, farting dog!

Since he has been a member of the family, we found out he knows “sit” and “paw”. We feel terrible for the family who clearly lost this beautiful dog. After quite a bit of ointments, eye drops, and other medicines, his fur has grown in beautifully, and he is show dog quality! All for $20 and a lifetime commitment to the little guy. He is eternally grateful, and gives hugs and kisses all day. We affectionately call Sulley our shadow, since he follows us everywhere!

How many times has a manager looked over a resume because it was missing a minute detail, instead of seeing the incredible potential a candidate has, if “groomed” a little? How many candidates have passed on sending a resume because they didn’t have one little detail in the job description?

We have a lot to learn from Sulley, the bulldog with the worst presentation at the pound, but with the best attitude out there! Sulley will be sharing tips on Get Hired and Beyond’s facebook page regularly at www.facebook.com/gethiredandbeyond. He may even help me guest blog from time to time.

The moral of the story: there’s a home for every dog and a dog for every home! Don’t get down if you haven’t found the right next career move for yourself. It’s out there! Don’t think of yourself as the dog no one wants because then you really won’t find a home!!!

 
 
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Today, I took on the undertaking of all undertakings! I decided to peel the wallpaper from our half bath. Now, allow me to explain that this is not only the smallest room in my home, but one of the smallest rooms I had ever seen. Until I got started... 

Now, everyone knows about the heaping plate of spaghetti which you can eat for hours and not make a dent in? That was my 4 wall inferno! To explain further, I am not someone who enjoys manual labor. I am not reveling in an almost finished product. (I lost all feeling in my dominant hand and needed to stop.) Understand that, at 5'3", I was not doing well at getting the wallpaper saturated close to the ceiling. In fact, where I left off were the uppermost corners. I took a couple of risky moves all around: risking my manicure (I'm girly!), stepping on what I didn't realize was a very wet vanity, and just being on a ladder in general is not typically a safe bet with me being more klutzy than most.

So...where are we going here? Today, I appreciated what painters do (and why they charge so much) more than I ever thought possible! Having pulled out mature plants from my yard, laid 20 or more bags of mulch, and now, scraped (most of) a room of wallpaper, I have an increased respect for those working physically hard to make a living. It's tough! I could have called my painter. But I figured I'd save some money and put in some sweat equity. I also did not realize that, while it's not the toughest job, it's the opposite of fun! 

Additionally, when I hear people who tell me they can/will do "anything" for a job, I realize that first, they are coming off as exceptionally desperate, and secondly, while I technically could peel wallpaper, there is no way on this side of hell that I plan on doing that a second time over! Ever! If we ever look at a new house, it will be wallpaper free prior to move-in. I could, but I won't, and that's something that unemployed people must be aware of!

And in case you are wondering, HGTV is very misleading. It takes more than 30 minutes to renovate the walls in a microscopic bathroom!

 
 
I can be a lot of things to a lot of people. I have been a career coach, therapist for high level candidates who have been laid off after 15+ years in their C-level roles, and I have written hundreds of thousands of resumes in my career. However, what I cannot do is tell you what you want to do when you grow up. My mind reading skills are really poor (I have not won the lotto yet!)

I can guide you towards specific goals based on your interests and strengths. I can share suggestions on ways to get on a career path and keep the wheels turning so you can get better opportunities in the future. However, I am incapable of telling you what to do, what you will love, and what you will hate. I wish I were able to do such a thing.

As a child, you may have wanted to be a doctor, astronaut, or fire fighter. Perhaps, a ballerina or a trapeze artist. One day, you realized the schooling was too expensive or too long. Or that (in my case), I was never going to be a professional dancer because of my propensity to walk into walls!

In my career, nobody says: "I went to school to be a recruiter" or "I wanted to be a recruiter since I was a kid." Recruiting is a role that people fall into.

The advice I can give you is to know your interests, strengths, and limitations. Be honest with yourself! If you don't want to complete 10 years of postgraduate education, becoming a doctor is not going to be for you! That doesn't mean there are no jobs in the medical field waiting for you today. With proper guidance and an honest assessment of your passion, you can quickly be on the road to a successful career journey!
 
 
Yes, my friends, this is a "Master of the Obvious" post that too many people are missing. I hope it can help, and as always, I'm going to be a little blunt. If you are a CFO and applying to an Accounts Payable position, I am not going to call you for my next CFO position. Why? Because you are not proving to me that you are able to read.

You are not what I am looking for in this role. Recruiter translation: thanks for wasting my time, but I would like to find someone pretty close to the job I posted. If you are interested in contacting your recruiter, call, send an email, text, even smoke signal. But look at what the job description is! Being overqualified is just as inappropriate as under qualified. You are going to be bored. You won't be challenged. And short of a nonexistent candidate pool, you are not going to be hired for the position for which you applied.

What can you do? Take the time to apply to jobs appropriate for your skill set. Network! (Yes, I am sure you heard that from me once or twice.) And most importantly, read, really read the job description!

 
 
Some people love their jobs. They love every single day of what they do. They never have any complaints, and come in cheerful and…wait! That’s not reality!!!

No matter what you do, and no matter how much you are getting paid, work is still WORK! That is why they pay you to be there. I would like to think that at some point in each of our lives, there will be a job which you have nothing but love and affection for every single time you walk in the door, but that is not reality. Reality dictates that there will be good, bad, and many in-between days. If it was that much fun to go to work, it would be called a vacation, and you would be paying someone to be there, rather than the other way around.

Case in point: we had a honeymoon at an all inclusive, incredible resort. My husband and I would return there without hesitation (except that it’s really REALLY expensive). Why? Because every single person who we met working at the resort went above and beyond expectations. They made our vacation incredible. Unfortunately, it was not a vacation for them, but another day of hard work. So, even in paradise, there are people being paid to help others enjoy their stay.

I have heard people say that they would be happy at work if they had more money. With more money comes more responsibility, thereby increasing stress and decreasing time with your family. No matter where you sit on the food chain, work is still work. It may not be self-actualizing, it may not even be fun, but that’s why you are paid to go.

 
 
The difference between Disney World being the “Happiest Place on Earth” vs. just another day relates to whether the person spending time there is spending money or making money. (Granted, I wish every company would learn how to provide the level of customer service which Disney offers, but that is another article for another time.)

Every job, whether it is your dream job or something you do until you can find a better job has at least one great thing about it. Each job, as well, has negative aspects too! If it was the most fun you could have, they would not be paying to you to be doing a job; you would be paying admission. In knowing that, you want to identify in the interview and selection process exactly what the environment is like, from corporate culture to quirks and nuances. You want to make sure you are able to live with the worst aspects of the job, because if you can tolerate those, every other part seems fine.

It’s always easy to find the upside to an employment situation (ie: I can feed my family. No foreclosure this month, etc.) As my friend shared with me, and as we all experience regularly, the upside is not what we live on a day to day basis.

A great question to ask an employer is: “I am thinking about working here. Talk me out of it.” Another great idea is to ask the employer what they like most and least about working for the company. You may get a cheesy and canned answer, or someone may be upfront and honest about the challenges. Also, you may want to ask why the last person left as well as what the largest challenges are in the role for which the employer is interviewing you.

Find out the good, the bad, and the ugly! That way you can decide best if the company and role are suitable for your needs, and will allow you to make the right choice.

 
 
1.     Don’t ignore the importance of a cover letter. It is the introduction to your resume and highlights why a manager should read your resume.

2.     Don’t come up with a generic cover letter to send to all of your job applications

3.     Do take the time to research the company and highlight what you have done in the past that would make you a good fit for the organization.

4.     Do share your qualifications with examples and success stories. Paint a picture of why you are a good candidate. Tie it back to the research you have done.

5.     Don’t forget to include your contact information and an invitation for the manager to reach out to you.

6.     Don’t forget to check for issues with spelling and grammar!

7.     Do research the recipient’s name using www.linkedin.com or calling the organization.

8.     Don’t address it to “sir or madam” unless you have exhausted all options, including internet research to learn the person’s name!

9.     Do read the job description thoroughly and explain why you are the right fit for the position.

10.  Don’t forget to change the name of the company on each cover letter!

 
 
I met a young soon-to-be college graduate through a referral as a recruiter. I was assisting a close friend by giving this entry level gentleman some advice. He was about to complete an internship at the company for which my friend works, and was referred to me to share with him some tips and tricks at how to break into a great opportunity.


This intern came into my office looking groomed enough to be a future CEO, CFO, or COO. He was well spoken, polished, professional, and confident. He had prepared a list of questions to be answered, and had taken the time to research my credentials as a recruiter as well as the organization with which he was interviewing. The gentleman had a firm, dry handshake, a can-do attitude, and a smile. The fact that he was wearing a crisp suit/tie/shirt did not go unnoticed. He dressed better than many people who work at the corporate level, especially in South Florida, where it is notoriously hot and humid outside.

His preparation for the interview, ability to converse both as a person and about his field of study, and the attitude of being able to make things happen if given the chance, without coming across as cocky or arrogant, makes me wonder why others are not taking a page from his book! I knew when meeting him that he would go far in whatever area he chose to pursue in business.

 

Fast forward 5 years: the same gentleman and I remain in touch. He recently reached out to me to assist him in hiring his own employees! He remains in contact with the network he made while interning, and goes to lunch with his colleagues when he returns to town. He is incredibly well liked, and has been very successful both in industry and in starting his own business.

As an entry level employee, this young superstar never acted with an expectation of more than he was capable of. He never came across as entitled. He simply showcased his capabilities, and leveraged his network as a professional who was beginning his career.

Congratulations on your success (you know who you are) and you are an exemplary example of starting your career the right way!