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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How does someone doing their job turn into a hero? Does something of pure evil have to occur in order to make an everyday job into a heroic situation?

I am convinced that 9/11/2011 started out as a normal day for the NYPD and NYFD employees who kissed their spouses goodbye and went off to work. Nobody could have foreseen what that day would bring! These were not people preparing to be heroes, just people headed to a day on the job! Many did not know they would not return home. 

There are heroes everywhere. The teacher who helps an underachieving student work up to grade level. The therapist who reaches out a hand to a troubled teen and prevents a potential suicide. The founder of a no-kill animal shelter who gives a dog or cat a new lease on life. The friend who is there to listen.

Look for the heroes. Thank someone. Be a hero to someone who needs you. The best way to remember is through action. Let those who landed the plane in the field in Arlington and hijacked the vehicle from the hijackers inspire you to do something good for others. In that way, we can spread love and hope, and keep the evil at bay!

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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 have a background and don’t want it to get in the way of my new job.”
“I never completed my degree and many opportunities in my field expect it.”
“I have gaps in my employment history”.

All of these are real scenarios. If there are significant criminal issues in your background (and sometimes credit when you are working in the financial/banking areas), it is best to disclose the nature of what occurred and have a forthright conversation with your potential employer regarding the severity of the issue. I have seen companies hire candidates with felonies and misdemeanors because it has been a while since the crime, because they felt the person was a good fit, or because the person explained the situation in a compelling way. (Note: “I didn’t do it” is not an explanation that a company wants to hear or will respect.

Additionally, corporations get tax breaks for hiring previously convicted felons. Conduct a web search on which companies have more flexible background policies. But, be realistic! If you were convicted of embezzlement, I do not think anyone will hire you as CFO. If you have a sex offense in your background, don’t apply to be a camp counselor! Be realistic about your limitations. Don’t get into more trouble.

Also, in disclosing the information, do not say: “I’m an ex-con”. Perhaps a softer approach would be to share that “there are some issues in my background, and I was wondering if this will affect my ability to be hired.”

If you have not completed a degree, be honest! Mind you, it may be a great time to complete the education that has been lingering over your head. Whatever you do, do not lie on your resume or application! I had to terminate someone from a pending temp to hire job who was perfect because she lied about having a Bachelor degree. It broke my heart, because the company loved her and thought she was a perfect fit. Unfortunately, they did not even require a degree for the position!!!

Be aware of gaps in your employment history and be ready to proactively and positively explain them in a phone screen or interview. If there is a long gap, be aware that it will come up and be prepared as to your response. In fact, a cover letter may be a great place to account for the gaps in a proactive, professional manner.

People are getting hired every day! Be honest and you will too!