Increasing your skills can help build a more impactful resume
Job seekers looking for positions in different companies or
different industries, should evaluate how new skills may assist in creating a competitive advantage. Each industry will
have certain requirements for general skills, but what can you do to increase your chances of being selected for an interview
because of your specific skills?
- Computer/technological skills - Can you use a
Mac and PC? Would it help to expand your abilities with a certain program or software to move to a different
position or industry? Improving current computer skills or learning new technological ones can be viewed by employers
as a good sign that you are interested in continuing your professional development.
- Language skills
- Job seekers who don't have conversational skills in languages beyond English, such as Spanish, that
are useful for the workplace, should consider developing them. Communities are becoming more and more diverse
and employers value bilingual capabilities, even if the job description doesn't call for them. Consider options
available at the local library or free apps on your phone for a low-cost start to get language skills.
skills - Depending on your field, this may or may not be as important. The ability to speak confidently
in a group, whether it is a formal presentation or not, may assist your development into positions of greater responsibility
in managing larger projects or teams of people. Organizations such as Toastmasters® are great places to
not only gain speaking skills, but also to increase your confidence and network across various industries.
Social media can be a valuable tool in career transition
Anyone in the job search process should consider if they are
maximizing the use of social media in the process. Sites that are tailored to your industry, networking sites, and informational
sites can all be valuable in providing helpful tips and guidance on potential positions in companies. Facebook®®
is a good source for some basic information on the current ‘hot topics' a company is focused on and viewing the company's
page before an interview can assist in giving you insight into what is important for their organization currently. If
you aren't maximizing LinkedIn®® as a resource, here are some things to put on your to do list:
- Update your profile information to be current with volunteer work or paid work experience you
- Request recommendations from previous supervisors and colleagues that can attest to the skills you need
to make the transition - communication, organization, technical skills - whatever is most relevant to the industry or company
you are pursuing.
- Check out the new ‘jobs' function on the system - look on the right hand side to find positions
that the search engine has found to match your past experience.
- Follow and join groups that are aligned with your
transition, either by company name or by industry.
- In preparation for an interview, search for the company, department,
and interviewer to formulate meaningful questions to ask at the end of the phone or face-to-face interview.
Volunteering could help you transition to your next career
Volunteering and giving back to the community are ways people
who are transitioning between jobs or industries can maintain skills and develop new ones. For people who are not currently
working in full-time positions, being able to contribute time and valuable talents not only help the organization they are
given to, but also keep the person actively involved in the community.
There are many locations that can use the skills
that job search candidates may have mastered in the workplace. Look for organizations with a focus in an area that is
of interest to you. If you are passionate about helping animals, then check out local animal shelters or rescue foundations
- perhaps you have skills in construction that could be used to help improve the shelter's facility, or if you are skilled
in accountancy or finance you could assist in managing or developing budgets for projects.
Some parents may be using
transition time to help out at their children's summer camp or school. Parent Teacher Organizations, lunchtime or playground
monitoring, even library assistance are usually volunteer positions that can always use extra manpower. Some school
districts will be looking for volunteers in tutoring after school hours - this is a great opportunity to use academic skills
and also gain valuable teaching and mentoring skills.
Transitioning workers should try to use volunteering opportunities
to build their skills and continue adding relevant content to their resume about the qualifications they can bring to the
employer. Your future employer will appreciate your commitment to ongoing professional development and your creativity
in helping the community too.
Four things to do for your career development now that you've graduated
Congratulations! You've graduated from a post-secondary educational
experience and are ready to start your first full-time job on your career path. Now you can forget about your resume
and interviewing and focus on your day-to-day activities, right? Before you get too comfortable, there are a few career
development steps to do now that will make it easier to maintain as you move through your first few post-graduation years.
- Update your resume now. Take time to add your new job to your latest version
using the job description. When you are ready to try and get a promotion or move to another company, you can avoid having
to dig this up under pressure.
- Change your social media profile information. Evaluate your LinkedIn®
profile and update your graduation date, organizations you were involved in, and add your new job. Join professional organization
groups in your industry. Put aside some time at the end of the first few months to add co-workers to your network.
Research internal groups you can get involved in. These could include special interest groups, training and
development groups, and/or volunteer groups. When you are onboarding with a company, it's a great time to ask questions about
ways you can get involved and network with peers beyond the day-to-day work projects.
- Practice your technological
and/or language skills. If you were hired in part due to your ability to effectively use certain technical programs
or use language skills in the workplace, now is the time to brush up your skills. Even though you may be using these on the
job, taking some time outside of work to become even stronger at them will make you even more valuable to your new employer.
Tips to pick a job search engine that fits
The internet has allowed the job search process to become simpler
in some ways and more complex in others. Job seekers have a myriad of options for search engines providing content on
open positions and companies looking for talent. Does it matter which website someone uses to find a position?
The answer is individualized by several factors. Use the questions below to help tailor which websites will be most
effective for you.
- Are you looking to relocate for a position? Larger,
established companies such as Monster® and Career Builder® may be better places to look for companies who may compensate
for a relocation. Smaller organizations may not be able to afford the cost to use these national sites.
there a website that specializes in the area or industry you are pursuing? For example, The Ladders® has sites
within their site that breakdown positions into sales, management, marketing etc. Using one of their sub-sites may help minimize
the amount of time needed to search.
- Do you belong to a professional association that has a job board?
National or regional associations could provide a resource by listing local positions on their websites.
The key is to pick a couple of websites and be consistent in using them. By setting the timeframe for search to ‘3
days' and then checking on Sundays and Thursdays will ensure that you won't miss any new opportunities. Allocate a certain
amount of time each of those days to search and stick to it - don't get stuck searching all day because you didn't research
what websites can provide you the most value with companies specific to the industry.
Take steps now for a career transition
Preparing to make a career transition can be an overwhelming
task that is easier with focus and taking steps to be ready for an opportunity at any time. As the summer approaches,
stores are getting ready for seasonal clothing changes. Getting an appropriate interview suit is just one key step to
being ready for interviews in advance.
- Research companies in the field you want to transition
to for common skills that they list in postings for positions. If you need to build more proficiency in those areas,
consider taking a class or workshop, or find ways to use the skills in volunteer or organization experiences.
Update your resume to reflect key results you have achieved that fit objectives for some positions you will
post for in the industry.
- Identify common questions you expect to receive in a phone
screen interview and prepare some examples to show your skills in different areas. Plan to attend upcoming career fairs
with employers in the industry you are transitioning to.
- Plan time each week to search for
job opportunities through search engines, networking sites such as LinkedIn, and news media.
By preparing for interviews
in advance, you can spend time researching the company and position and practicing for interviews once you submit for positions
Professional organizations can help in your career development
Each city has a number of professional associations that can
help job seekers leverage their skills and develop new ones. Whether a candidate is looking to transition into a new
department in a current company or to move from one industry to another, professional associations provide support in different
Building a network
When choosing a professional association, it's important
to consider how closely aligned the group is to your specialty in the industry you are in or transitioning to. Some
organizations may have formed to provide social support or political agendas instead of networking and professional development.
Each candidate should select based on the goals you want to achieve at that point.
Developing new skills
Transitioning into a new department or industry may require learning new skills and a professional
association could be a great place to find a source for training outside the workplace and in the industry. The association
itself may also be able to provide opportunities to develop skills such as leadership, teamwork, or organization. Look
for ways to participate on committees or boards for some of these positions.
Check out different options for professional
associations through search engines and career based websites to determine which organizations can provide the most value
for your situation in the career search process.
Develop strategies for attending career fairs
Developing a strategy for attending a career fair can help job
seekers feel confident before, during, and after the event. Whether the fair is being held in a large venue like a convention
center or arena or in a more intimate setting like a single ballroom in a hotel, there are some similar strategies to maximize
your time and impact to prospective employers.
- Dress for the interview. Career
fairs are one to five minute interviews, so it is appropriate to wear a suit as you would for a formal interview. It is always
better to be more than less formally dressed, regardless of the industry you are interested in working for.
a list of skills you have to provide employers. The list should be a reference for you to evaluate if a job would
be a possible fit - use it when checking what positions will be recruited for at the career fair. Have notes about the employers'
jobs and how your skills are aligned to their needs.
- Be ready to answer questions about everything on your
resume. With a limited amount of time to meet with candidates, it's important to be prepared for any of the topics
that could come up from content on your resume to maximize your conversations with recruiters. Tailor each resume to content
focused on the specific role you are interested in.
- Create an introduction that tells the employer what is
in it for them to keep talking to you. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘one minute sell'. Give the recruiter
a brief reason why you are interested in the company and what skills you have that are relevant along with a couple of results
you have achieved in positions previously using those skills. This tells the person that you have done the research to understand
how you can provide value to their team.
Evaluate your methods on how to recruit Millennials
Millennials will make up 75% of all US workers by 2025 and they will
be managing a Gen-Z workforce. So what can your organization do today to make sure you are utilizing the most effective
recruitment methods to attract and retain talent in these demographics? No matter what role you
have in the recruitment process, it's important to understand how your recruiting is interpreted by the youngest generation
- They want to know about job opportunities - always. Unlike
their predecessors, these generations are open to hearing about new career moves consistently. Thirty percent of millennials
in a 2016 LinkedIn® survey said they see themselves working for their current employer for less than one year. So the
companies that are communicating with high quality talent on a consistent basis will be most likely to get them on the team.
- Communicate with them in their comfort zone. Don't throw out every old school method, but be adaptable.
Request creative content in the candidates' cover letters such as the answer to a question that shows something about their
personality. Prepare to use texting and web chats too - these are the newest ways to catch and keep the attention of these
- Be open about your culture and mission. Include discussion of the company's culture
and values in your recruiting presentations and materials. Explaining the industry's potential growth and the corporate approach
for social responsibility will help candidates determine alignment with their personal goals and values.
them a clear path for their short-term future. Having a clear career path to share with candidates and continue to
share with new employees is an important component of successfully recruiting and retaining Millennials. Be ready to share
how they fit into the company now and how management and HR will help them move forward in the future.
Jobs report is promising but not for all industries
Job seekers should definitely be encouraged by the latest statistics
about employment. There are, however, some industries that have not seen positive hiring trends in the past few months.
Traditional retail stores have been downsizing in staff rather than increasing personnel. This is due in large part
to the increase in online purchasing both on direct websites and third party ones such as Amazon®. So, if you are
in the retail sector and want to start planning a move, what are the key steps to make a transition?
Identify industries that need your skills. Think outside the box on this. Retail staff have a myriad of soft
skills including communication, organization, problem-solving etc. Jobs in healthcare, public service, education, and general
business all need people with those skills in various departments. Figure out which companies are hiring in your market and
search for jobs with your skills in the keywords.
- Update your documentation electronically and online.
Obviously a current resume and cover letter are must haves, but you should make sure that they are tailored to the companies
you want to potentially work for. Don't forget to make your online presence (LinkedIn®) current also with any training,
certifications, or job responsibilities you have taken on in the past 6 months.
- Let your network know you
are looking for a change. It's surprising how often job seekers forget that their friends and relatives and past
co-workers and supervisors are a great resource. If you left your last job on good terms, and it's not in the retail sector,
reach out to those people also - they may have something that is perfect for you to transition to.
Manage the path to your next promotion
A recent issue of SHRM magazine noted a Glassdoor survey which asked
managers what they want to see from their employees in order to promote them. Regardless of your industry or level in
your organization, the list of seven tactics not only make sense, but if you commit to doing some of these things on a daily
basis, your manager will definitely take notice when it's time to move someone up the ladder.
Develop a can-do attitude. Perception of your teammates and supervisor on your willingness to try new things
or work on varied projects is important. Think about the people you most want to be around - they are pleasant to be around
because even when there is an obstacle, they try to find solutions and options. Your positive attitude about your responsibilities
and results you provide to the job can impact the overall enthusiasm and culture of the team.
- Lend a helping
hand to other employees. You don't need to be the Director of Training or a formal mentor to help teammates be successful.
Identify what skills you have that someone else needs to gain, or experiences that you have had in your role that you can
share with somebody in your department. Ask your manager if there is someone who needs assistance too - you may take some
training activities off their plate.
- Keep a kudos file. This is a great best practice for every
business professional. Emails, presentations, communication with customers/clients, recognition from your supervisor and others,
internal projects - all of these are important documents to save. The way this helps your supervisor is when he/she is looking
for details about why you should receive the promotion - you will have the data to help them document your abilities and successes
for your future manager.
Leverage mentoring for your next career step
Depending on the stage you are at in your career, you may have already
had an opportunity to mentor or be mentored. A prominent MBA program on the West Coast defines mentoring as "Mentoring
is a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to foster the
personal and professional growth of someone else" but mentoring is also an internal company method to maximize your network.
Whether you are interested in managing people in your next role (or more people than you currently manage), desire an opportunity
to move between departments or divisions, or enjoy helping others learn skills that you have mastered, mentoring can be the
vehicle that helps achieve your goal and moves you closer to the next step in your career.
Find someone to
mentor you - informally or formally. The best mentors have had strong role models so if you have had a mentor,
consider how they benefited your development. If you haven't had a mentor yet, identify who would be a good candidate.
Your direct supervisor may not be the best choice, so look for someone who is going to meet your objectives. Evaluate
the person's appropriateness with these criteria:
- Within your own department - do they
have skills that you would need to improve, increase, or learn to move into the next role you want to have in the company?
Outside the department - is the company open to cross-departmental training, transfers, and promotions?
- In external
organizations - women's groups, softball team, community outreach groups are all sources to consider, but be sure that you
are selecting based on the person's overall ability to provide you support and development, not just be a buddy to you.
Offer to mentor someone - informally or formally. Having a discussion with your supervisor
about your interest is paramount to successful mentoring. The reality is that it may take time during your work hours
and you will need their support to be effective as a mentor.
- Within your own department
- ask for opportunities to support the team with your strengths. Your manager may be able to assist you in formally establishing
a plan that coordinates your goal with a developmental plan for another member of the team.
- Outside the department
- this can be very relevant for companies that are merging departments and need cross-training. In smaller organizations this
can also be helpful for on-boarding new employees on the policies and strategies of the company overall.
the time you will commit to both your supervisor and the person you are planning to mentor - setting the expectations with
everyone involved will create an open environment to have a win-win result for both you and the person you are mentoring.
Networking best practices for your current career
Whether you have just started a new career this year or are working
toward a job shift, it's important to consider how you will be managing your network during the transition. Your network
is a constantly changing entity that should be evaluated as you move throughout your career. So, if you change companies,
move into new departments or learn new skills to change industries completely, how should you examine your network?
Here are some things to consider:
1. What social media platforms do you use
Facebook® is great for certain networking, but not necessarily for business or professional
networking. Evaluate what social media platforms your industry uses to communicate professional development opportunities,
professional organization meetings, and continuing education sessions. Make sure that you are connected with those groups/organizations
on the right internet based systems so you can maximize your development.
is in your current network?
As you transition from an academic experience or a current role into a new one,
it's important to see who is in your current network and determine how they will potentially influence your future network.
Don't eliminate people from your social network, but be forward thinking on who you can connect with who is a Connection at
the 2nd or 3rd level and be strategic about how an introduction to those people could build your career
3. How can you best network with people in your new department/company/industry?
If there is an internal company committee that you can be part of - join it. If you can cross-train or shadow someone
in another department, do that. If there are special interest committees that you can join, check them out.
Three things you can do this week for your manager
Obviously every industry and department and job function has their
own specific ways that they can provide value to their direct supervisor. But - here are a few ways to consider making
yourself more valuable to the overall function of the team or finding ways to improve processes and ways the team works together.
- Find a way to help a co-worker be more confident. Notice this didn't
mention making your co-worker more efficient or productive - although those could be the results of your support to them.
This support is a little deeper way for someone to bring out their strengths and share them in the organization. Strong teams
are built on utilizing everyone's strengths to grow.
- Commit to continuing your skill development. You
know PowerPoint but if a slide needs to be modified you need to ask Sally for help. You can put numbers into the internal
expense database but you ask Jim to check your figures. Communicate with your manager that you are going to take a training
class, ask for help from a co-worker, or go externally for training to be a more competent member of the team in whatever
area you decide to build upon your current skills.
- Identify a way to make the boss' job easier. This
isn't referring to offer to get him his specialty coffee in the morning, pick up his dry cleaning, or walk his dog. Think
about relevance to the job - are there activities, reporting, meetings that your boss doesn't really need to be involved in
where you can be his ‘eyes and ears' and report back? Consider participating in committee meetings or company volunteering/community
give back projects where you can contribute in a positive way and are also able to add input to your boss on how to manage
those activities more effectively in the future.
Video interview skills you need to know
With companies maximizing their budgets in this economy,
some job seekers may find themselves being asked to conduct a video interview. This format allows the company to keep
HR personnel and hiring managers in the office and still have a personal experience of seeing the candidate answer questions.
Here are some best practices to this newer form of interviewing:
Dress for the interview. Wear a suit or equally appropriate interview attire for your industry
and the position you are applying for and be as professional as you would if you were meeting them in person. Having a video
interview is a convenience to the interviewer and is not a convenience to you as the candidate. The reality is that you need
to still dress for the occasion as if you were going to the corporate headquarters.
yourself in a room with a neutral background. Some candidates will conduct a Skype® or WebEx® or GoToMeeting®
interview with their kitchen or bedroom in the background. This could be distracting to the interviewer. Try to find a blank
wall that will keep the person focused on what you are saying.
- Practice with a friend
to make sure that you have functionality with your webcam and the system the employer is using. Don't wait until
10 minutes before the interview to download WebEx® or GoToMeeting® or whatever system they use. Ask what program they
are using and download it in advance.
- Check your volume and get a separate microphone
if you need to. Some people know that they talk quietly and the interview process is not the time to be the soft
spoken person, especially via computer. Detachable microphones are very affordable and can make the most soft spoken person
sound confident and interview appropriate.
- Practice your speaking level with a friend.
Get online with someone you trust to be candid with you and practice your tone and level of speech. This person can
also help you determine if there are any other bad habits you may have such as wandering eye contact, overuse of your hands,
or unnecessary words like ‘um' and ‘you know'.
- Practice answers to commonly
asked questions. Have any supporting documents prepared and in front of you as a reference as well. Candidates that
can share information during the interview and then offer to send it to the interviewer will have an advantage during the
Valuable administrative skills could put you ahead of the competition
metropolitan area has workforce departments at the city and county level who collect and analyze labor market information
on a monthly and/or quarterly basis. This data is very important for the job seeker to review.
Not only can you see the current jobs and industries most in demand in your geography, but you can also determine certain
skills and certifications that employers are looking for most. Soft skills are always crucial, but depending
on your field, your administrative skills and abilities may give you a strategic advantage in the hiring candidate pool.
Here are some areas of note in the latest labor market information from December:
Microsoft Office – it doesn’t matter if you are a ‘Mac’ or a ‘PC’
person, Office programs are a must have skill for most jobs. Take a look at current job listings you want
to apply for to determine if you need to refresh on certain programs or if you can leverage your skills as a strength in the
– Your skills in this area could range from knowledge of using online programs such as Google Calendar to more ‘old
school’ methods like managing a hard copy schedule for several teammates on a certain project. Having
the ability to examine the needs of a team or project and determine the appropriate manpower timing allocation can be an important
skill depending on your field.
Budgeting – Obviously, there are some jobs that require high levels of expertise in this area
(finance, accounting, etc.). Other positions may not have this as a primary function, but could be a ‘value
added skill’ from the employer’s perspective. Even in entry-level sales positions, there may
be a need to budget for expenses, account development, or promotional materials.
Job hunting homework for the holidays
No matter what holiday(s) you may or may not be celebrating over the
next 2 weeks, odds are you will have some time off of work to prepare for the New Year and a possible job change. Even
if you aren't planning to look for a new job, the holidays are a great time to do some professional development activities
to stay ready to take advantage of any opportunities that may fall in your lap.
your resume. If you haven't updated your resume in the past 90 days - now is the time. Add any end of year results
you had, projects you completed, and committees you were participating in. Delete anything that isn't active (certifications,
licenses, etc) anymore or isn't relevant to your current role or the type of job you may be searching for next.
up your social media. Don't make things up, but take the information from your updated resume and be sure to reflect
that in your LinkedIn® profile. If you have a more current professional picture for your social media, upload that too.
Dust off your interviewing materials. Check out your interview attire and take a trip to the dry cleaners
if you need to. Get that padfolio out and jot down some basic questions to practice writing answers to with your updated resume.
Print out information about key activities you have done in the past three months at work and in volunteering experiences.
Taking the time over the holidays for these steps will make it much less stressful when that perfect internal
position or external opportunity comes your way in 2017!
Phoenix job seekers should consider growing sectors
Transitioning from one career to another should involve research and
evaluation of what job sectors have the greatest needs and growth in the near future. In Phoenix, healthcare continues
to be a healthy and growing sector for employees. This is such an important industry to Phoenix that more than 150 leaders
in business, education, and the community have created a forum to have ongoing discussions about the workforce needs of healthcare.
Even though dynamics have changed in corporations - Scottsdale Healthcare and John C. Lincoln are now Honor Health - the needs
for talent haven't changed. If healthcare is an industry you would consider, here is some information to help you make
- Soft skills are crucial. No matter what position you want
to secure in healthcare, you need to have strong communication, problem-solving, and organization skills. Healthcare professions
require flexibility and adaptability too, so be prepared to talk about your experience in these areas.
the licensure or training you need. Phoenix is known as ‘post-secondary training heaven'. Drive down Dunlap
Road near I-17 - there are educational institutions that have healthcare programs from medical assistants, to dental assistants,
to radiological technicians. And, if you are balancing education with a full-time career, there are many online options until
you get into the externship part of your program.
- Market your willingness to continue professional growth.
Transitioning into a new career, depending on your timing, your past training experience could appear like a lack
of willingness to continue learning in your next career. Once you enter the interview process, it's important to explain your
desire to expand your skills in your next position and throughout your new career path. Healthcare is a constantly changing
industry, so the candidates who are willing to consistently learn in their jobs will be the most successful in the long term.
Jump starting your job for the new school year
School-aged parents are either in the process of entering the second
month of school. If you do or don't have school aged children, you may be considering a possible jump into the job search
candidate pool. Regardless of your situation, it is a great time to evaluate how you can make the most of the remaining
months of the year in your current work situation. If you want to make a change, check in for the next four months on
how to make the greatest impact, but if you don't, here are some ways to maximize your job's value to you and your current
- What didn't you learn last year? School kids need to get a
‘refresher' on the skills that they needed to learn last year. Are you evaluating the skills that you may need to brush
up on or learn based on changes to your department's goals and objectives? Take an objective look at how you can provide value
to the team by learning something valuable and sharing it with the team.
- What did you do during the summer
to add value to your job? Maybe you volunteered somewhere and strengthened your leadership, organization, or problem-solving
skills. Perhaps your summer involved a vacation where you found a situation similar to work where you can offer productivity,
efficiency or revenue generating ideas. Now is the time to share them.
- Have you established a plan in the
next year to develop your skills? Look at the timeline your company has for formal performance evaluations and then
determine how you can maximize your experiences between those times. Don't forget that you can always ask for a ‘'midterm
evaluation" if you have strategically planned to learn new skills or get crucial experiences or training.
The employees who are consistently planning their career steps and consistently learning and expanding professional
experiences will be the most successful. Taking the time to plan, strategize, and then execute will help Phoenicians
to achieve their short and long term career goals.
Leverage your afternoons into your next career move
The temperatures are starting to move into ‘Fall' - triple
digit temperatures are a thing of the past and children are back in school. It may be budgeting season, planning season,
hiring season, or ‘wait and see' season for your current employer. This is a perfect time to re-evaluate your
current role and determine how you want to develop your skills professionally in this position or move into a different job
opportunity with another company. If you feel like you can't move forward in your current job, there are steps you can
take to assist in moving into a company that will leverage your skills and allow you to continue your professional and personal
- When did you last ask how you can help the team? Employers
want to know that you are willing to assist your teammates, help your manager, and collaborate cross-departmentally. If you
were able to do any (or all) of those things over the summer - it's time to update your resume before you enter the job search
- Are your technical skills ready for a ‘move'? Depending on your industry, technical
skills may be a moving target that you need to be aware of and ready to take classes or training in order to stay relevant.
Review job descriptions of positions you are interested in and pay special attention to technical skills that are at the top
of the list of qualifications/skills for the job.
- Have you asked to learn something new lately? Before
you jump into the job search process, determine if there are skills that you can learn in your current role with your company.
Managing your career and professional development is something that you need to not only own, but control. If you know that
the next step in your career path requires certain training, shadowing, mentoring, certification, licensure, then you need
to establish a timeline of how you will make that happen.