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!!!
 
 
Picture
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!

Picture
 
 
Due to some recent unexpected and tragic circumstances, I had to take a bit of time off of writing here. However, I am back! And today, I am going to share with you why you need to stop complaining and stop making excuses about being unemployed and underemployed.

Life is going on all around you. People ARE getting jobs every day. How? They network. They apply. They do not complain to people who they meet about how bad the market is, but sell themselves as assets to a hiring company! Therein lies the difference between the career unemployed and someone who is on the verge of the next great opportunity!

The difference between success and failure is the level of activity and effort you provide to your search. Nobody is currently sitting in their executive office wondering when your resume will work its way across your desk. You are your own priority and no one else’s! Take accountability for and control of your search! Take responsibility and ownership, because no one, not even your recruiters, care as much about your livelihood as you do. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it is a fact!

Yes, I am angry right now. I am depressed and frustrated! But I am still working, still providing, still doing what I need to do to ensure my family is fed and that there is a roof over our heads. Do the same!!! Work some magic. Apply to 2 more jobs than you really feel like. Get dressed professionally and head to a job fair or networking event.

Or don’t. But when you don’t, the only person to blame is you!

 
 
"I haven't filled out the application."
"I don't have time to go interview right now"
"Unemployment pays more than a job will."
"No one is hiring."
"I can't get a job without furthering my education."
"I have to pick up my kids."
"Daycare is expensive."
"Gas is expensive."

Life is expensive! It's less expensive when you have a consistent income. Call someone today where you may want to work. Go to a community or networking event. Apply online or in person. Get hired because you did something for yourself today!
 
 
“It’s not in my job description!”

Yes it is, my friend! And it should be in your career plan too. That little line that states “Other duties as required” or “Other duties as requested” shows that whatever the boss-man or boss-lady asks is within your scope. (By the way, please do not add this line to your resume, as it adds no value at all.)

But, there should be a bigger and more exciting reason for you to want to embrace special projects, and that is to boost your resume and your knowledge!

Your resume and interview are not just about your job description, but also should encompass the many positive contributions you have made to your employer. Some of those would be the above and beyond type projects which allow you the opportunity to utilize additional knowledge of other areas of a company. For instance, if you are in information technology, but assisted on an implementation to increase marketing visibility, the project broadens your scope of knowledge, thereby making you a more appealing candidate to a hiring organization.

Think about it: do you really want to pass on the “other duties” that an employer will like? That includes your own employer, who may promote you when the project succeeds!

 

 
 
When I walk into a store or restaurant, it is very obvious to me, as a patron, in under 15 seconds if the person assisting me is collecting a paycheck or happy to be in their role. It sometimes takes even less time than that.

How are some ways I can tell? The first is eye contact, followed by a smile. Someone who truly wants to provide excellent customer service shows that he/she is happy to assist you. Acknowledging the client/customer/patron and offering assistance in a timely fashion goes a long way towards customer satisfaction, even if that involves saying: “I will be with you in just a moment.” I understand if you are busy seating other customers or helping them with a product. I am not nearly as pleasant when you excuse yourself to continue gossiping to your colleague. If I am not acknowledged within 60 seconds in a restaurant which is supposed to have someone seat you, I get up and leave. If no one is interested in earning money that I am willing to tip with, I have someone else nearby who would be happy with my tip!

Be courteous! Go the extra mile. Your customers will thank (and tip) you!

 
 
Everyone has it. Some people thrive on it. But no employers get excited about it.

It is personal drama! Understandably, life happens. Relatives die. Kids get sick. Cars break down. People use their paid time off in a variety of ways, and life keeps happening, even when we are busy making other plans. What I can tell you is this: if you are a drama magnet, you will not endear  yourself to your boss. 

If you are chronically missing work, sleeping in, and making excuses, you are not going to get promoted. Similarly, if you are a chronic gossip, you won't be making a whole lot of friends.  

Leave the drama to the performing arts and get your job done at work. You may even get a raise!
 
 
Excuses I hear regularly about not doing a committed, 40-hour a week job search:

1.     I am babysitting/watching my kid. (OK, kids are expensive and they need to eat. Find a job!)

2.     The economy is really bad and no one is hiring. (I get people hired every day! They aren’t waiting for YOU to send a resume, but there are companies hiring every day. In fact, the economy picked up.)

3.     I will make more on unemployment after they take out taxes and I pay gas, childcare, etc. (Does unemployment promote you? Do you get benefits? Are you meeting people on your couch to take your career to the next level?)

4.     I haven’t worked in a year or more. (Take a temp job. Get back in the game somehow.)

5.     I am only working part time. (Network with people you know! Ask for more hours!)

6.     I don’t have time. (No, you don’t make time. I work full time, hold down a house, have a child and a husband, and am starting up a company from scratch. You’re lazy! AND LAZY DOESN’T GET HIRED!)

 
 
I understand that you have been out of a job for a while. You are a great candidate and you need to work before the bank takes over your home and there is no food on your table. I am about to give you a rough awakening: while I am caring and compassionate about your personal plight, the company you are hiring with does not care! The hiring manager is not interested in the fact that your objective on your resume says: “I need/want more money” or “I need a job today”. They care about WHAT YOU CAN BRING TO THEM! That’s it. Bottom line.

In many seminars, I have heard how no companies are hiring, how they don’t hire a certain level/age/profession of person. Take a good look, a really brutal look, at how you are presenting. See if you are focused on your contributions and ethics, or whether you are coasting along, sending resumes out and pounding some pavement, expecting someone to give you a chance.

Stop expecting! Change your attitude! Make your entire focus about the other person and his/her needs and wants in an employee. Ask the interviewer what he/she is looking for in a candidate. Outline examples of what you have provided to other companies in detail. Did customers request you as a waitress? Did you improve feedback surveys by a certain percent in customer service? Were you promoted once or a few times due to your exceptional work ethic?

That is what your future employer wants to know. They don’t want to hear about the negative situations with your old boss or in your personal life! The company has been in existence and did not stop because you are available/laid off/recently graduated. They are not waiting for you!

Stop expecting a job, and start working towards providing positive and tangible reasons why you would be the best candidate! And you will get hired for your expertise!

 
 
I recently fielded a question from a gentleman who worked in a Union job in New York and moved to Florida, to a right to work state. He asked me: “If a company isn’t willing to pay me overtime, why should I work more than an 8 hour week?”

My response was simple. In a room filled with 200 unemployed candidates, I explained that if he was not interested in working overtime, there were 199 additional people in this room who would take the job from him! There was thunderous applause from the others. All of them agreed!

In today’s economic situation, where there are many underemployed and unemployed candidates, there is no longer an option to work for a set time. There are now blurred lines between job descriptions, and you are both expected and required to be a positive contributor to the additional duties that need to be completed.

The work force has changed. There is no more 9-5. Work is being taken from 2 or 3 people and given to one employee. Be the best you are able to be! Get the work done without complaint! Be the flexible and motivated employee that you need to be. If not, 199 or more people WILL be interested in your spot!