Archive for the ‘Proactive Steps’ Category

  • Mind the Gap – in Your Resumé That Is, Not the London Underground

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    “Mind,” as in pay attention! Be proactive. Reclaim that territory – don’t avoid it like a failed relationship. Every point, or lack thereof, in your resumé is connected and has a purpose. A jazz musician would describe it as the music played between the notes.

    Take time to think. Don’t just jump from one job to the next. Reflect on what has worked for you and what has not. A blog I have mentioned before, Zen Habits, has boiled this reflection and action process down to Four Laws of Simplicity that you can use on your resumé, any area of your life and, in fact, your life as a whole:

    1. Collect everything in one place.
    2. Choose the essential.
    3. Eliminate the rest.
    4. Organize the remaining stuff neatly and nicely.

    Your experience and your thinking are assets. It’s your story. Share those assets with your future employer, after all you were not just sitting home eating bon bons. Truth be said, maybe you were powering up with chocolate, but the enlightenment at the end of the munch is what counts. If you’ve filled the “gap” testing new opportunities, launching entrepreneurial start-ups, acquiring more formal education, learning new skills, working in the trenches, building your network or mentoring others, tell those stories and highlight the ways in which that “gap” experience makes you an even more credible candidate for the job. Any employer worth his or her salt should be thrilled to learn you’re not going to flip out prematurely or abandon ship because you did not take the time to get your act together before stepping into a new environment.

    Pay attention to the gaps, capture the music between the notes and remember: the London Underground only looks like a labyrinth to those without a map!

  • Entrepreneurial Boomers

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    The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College is doing some innovative projects – research, workshops and publications – on older workers.

    This month it published Fact Sheet #26 which provides a fascinating snapshot of entrepreneurship and the older worker.

    It cited, for example, a 2009 analysis of data from the Kauffman Foundation on Entrepreneurship in which individuals aged 55-64 “experienced the largest increase in entrepreneurial activity from 2007-2008 (0.31% to 0.36%), making it the age group with the highest entrepreneurial activity rate.”

    And for those of you who might be thinking that the current economic environment, layoffs and the dismal lack of job opportunites forced this entrepreneurial activity, another 2009 survey from the Kauffman Foundation, generated these results: “80.3% of respondents stated that inability to find traditional employment was not at all a factor in starting their own businesses. Only 4.5% said this was an important factor.”

    We’d love to hear some of your entrepreneurial thoughts – a new business, a new way of doing business, entrepreneurial ideas for your interview with the company where you’d like to work???

  • Job Interview Prep

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    When the wind chill here in Maine plummets well below zero and caresses your face like an exfoliant during your early morning constitutional on the beach, it’s time to focus on the interior: a warm fire, in-house blossoms, coffee and a little research on the Web.

    Economies and cultures may differ but job-seeking and anxiety-inducing interviews know no boundaries.

    Interview Prep is basically the same – no matter the job or the continent in which you live. Here, African Writer and Editor, Temitayo Olofinlua, offers sound advice:

    “So your CV made a real good impression, and you were called for an interview? Congratulations! Now you have to scale the next hurdle-the interview. (To be honest I hate interviews. They are just not real. All they succeed in doing is this: they put you on the spot and assail you with questions that make you stare, stammer or ramble away in the desperate hope that it all makes sense). Preparation is key while getting ready for an interview.

    Before the Interview

    This starts right after the (invitation) email, phone call or text message. It’s polite to say thank you and confirm if you’d be available for the interview. It’s a ‘little act’ that goes a long way to demonstrate courtesy.

    The invitation should show the date, time and location of the interview but it’s not sufficient to get you there on time. It’s advisable to take a trip to the interview venue a day before just to get a good idea of the location and distance.

    We all understand how traffic emerges from nowhere; you should give a generous time allowance for this. Remember lateness increases your stress levels which can affect your performance. There is no harm in getting to the venue 30 minutes earlier. Punctuality is the soul of a business; show that and you may be on the road to a successful interview.

    Pack a file. Yes, it’s such a shame when you realise that you have to go back home because you forgot your NYSC certificate. So pack the required essentials-the certificates, invitation letter, awards, stationery and a jotter. It is also important to have photocopies at hand. Most companies are going paperless but there are still a couple of them who would ask you for the certificates. Packing a file ahead of time gives you the opportunity to focus on other things like what you should wear.

    What you will wear will generally depend on the company you are applying to. However the safest route seems to be the corporate – a suit or a fitted shirt, pants/skirts. The important key here is neatness, no scruffiness allowed. All collars should stay where they belong; same with the underwear. Please no blings, flashy earrings or jeans; unless it’s an interview for a deejay position. Dress appropriately; it sure makes a good first impression.

    Knowledge is power. The applicant needs a firm knowledge of the organisation and the way s/he can contribute to the success of the organisation. Visit the company’s website, read up as much as you can. If you can get the company’s annual report(s) – companies quoted on the stock exchange will have this in circulation – by all means do. Know the company’s mission, vision, history and management.

    And very importantly, what exactly the company does. This shows that you are passionate about the company. It also saves you some embarrassing moments during the interview. You don’t want to look blank when asked to talk about company products.

    During your research about the company, it is important to bear in mind questions to ask your interviewer(s).

    It is also important for you to literally ‘embody’ your CV, i.e. be the person that your CV says you are. And continually seek ways in which your past experience can make your potential job more realisable. Why would anyone sound unsure or hesitant when asked what year they graduated from high school, or university. Or at what age they graduated?

    The ‘Interview’ Before the Interview

    Read through your application and try as much as you can to answer questions like why do you need the job? What skills are related to the job that you seek? What position are you applying for and how do you hope to execute the job? You should be physically and psychologically prepared so have a positive attitude.

    So you think you are ready? Brush up on your knowledge of current affairs. Then, attempt some play-acting-let someone act as an interviewer posing likely questions to you. This gives you an idea of what to expect; it also helps you relax and sometimes laugh at your failure at some questions. As such you are better prepared to address knotty questions. Throughout the preparation it is important to stay calm. Interviews can be as long as a day (a series) or merely a few minutes, but it’s advisable to eat, and to visit the toilet before you step out for the day. The Boys Scout slogan ‘Be Prepared!” means a great deal more when it comes to interviews.”

  • Barbells and Brains

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    If, like Leonardo, you wish to develop a dazzling “working resumé” (see SSW’s 1/26/10 post) it behooves you to keep in top form – mentally and physically.

    This snippet, Exercise: In Women, Training for a Sharper Mind by Roni Caryn Rabin from the NY Times, heralds a new study from Canada which has demonstrated that “Older women who did an hour or two of strength [not just toning] training exercises each week had improved cognitive function a year later, scoring higher on tests of the brain processes responsible for planning and executing tasks.”

    Exciting news, but for those men and women not yet ready to heft the barbells, hope thrives in this fascinating and equally energizing article by Jane E. Brody, Healthy Aging, With Nary a Supplement.

    Brody notes, “The desire to achieve a healthy old age is laudable indeed, and will be even more so in the future. According to a projection of the century-long rise in life expectancy published in The Lancet in October, 2009, more than half the children born since 2000 in wealthy countries can expect to celebrate their 100th birthday. If so many of us are destined to become centenarians, it is all the more important to be able to enjoy those years unencumbered by chronic disease and disability. There is no virtue in simply living long; the goal should be to live long and well.”

    “Americans have yet to learn,” she continues, “what Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recognized in 400 B.C. ‘All parts of the body which have a function if used in moderation and exercised in labors in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed and age more slowly; but if unused and left idle they become liable to disease, defective in growth and age quickly.’ ”

    She concludes, “It’s time to stop making excuses and make regular physical activity an integral part of your life, like eating, sleeping and brushing your teeth.”

    Soooo, put an extra dollop on your toothbrush, walk twice around your accustomed one-circle block, maybe begin to carry a baseball (Leonardo preferred a chisel) in each hand. Before you know it you, too, will be reaching for the barbells, nudging those neurons and enhancing your brain’s capacity.

  • Information: Snacks Are Not Enough

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    As you prepare for your next venture in life, your next job, you need to focus. Focus and prioritize all the info nuggets you uncover in your job-seeking research. With the profuse amount of diverse information available today, you need to concentrate on that which helps you clarify who you want to be, facilitates doing the work you want to do and helps you articulate these goals to yourself and others.

    There are lots of us who thrive on learning new, and often, arcane bits of lore to enrich our lives. But, as with life, not all snacks are equal.

    Sharon Hayes in her post for Year of a Lifetime: Make 2010 Your Best Year Ever has a fascinating critique of the ways in which today’s proliferation of and easy access to  information has turned us into snackers. “We have become addicted to information… We skim and get the general idea of information rather than absorbing and understanding it….  It is a really vicious cycle for many people: we don’t filter the information we take in to determine what is important or isn’t, we scan rather than read those things that could impact us, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what we discover, we don’t take action on what we learn and then we feel the need to share this snackage with others.”

    Job-seeking research is essential but it should not be tackled superficially or allowed to become an avoidance technique. Deal with the real work necessary to find the job you desire, and then you can snack with delicious abandon.

  • The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now!

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    “Take 5 minutes to protect your privacy.”

    In this article Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb provides a step-by-step procedure to address a critical matter – your privacy.  It’s not complicated and it is extremely important that you tackle this matter post-haste.

    “While you may think these sorts of items aren’t worth your time now, the next time you lose out on a job because the HR manager viewed your questionable Facebook photos or saw something inappropriate a friend posted on your wall, you may have second thoughts. But why wait until something bad happens before you address the issue?”

  • The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work

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    The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work, a free booklet created by Ellen Freudenheim for Civic Ventures, contains many valuable nuggets of information. Contents include: “What Works for You?” and “Think Outside Your Fishbowl.”

    Ellen Freudenheim is the author of Looking Forward: An Optimist’s Guide to Retirement.

    A lifestyle guide for boomers, Looking Forward has been recommended by The Wall Street Journal and ranks among the best-selling retirement books. Freudenheim is also a guest columnist for Retirement Weekly, a service of MarketWatch from DOWJONES, and a frequent guest on national television and radio news programs. She has also written six other books, including Healthspeak, a dictionary of 2,000 health care terms.

    Civic Ventures is is a think tank and incubator, generating ideas and inventing programs, including The Purpose Prize, to help society achieve the greatest return on experience.

    Grab your flippers and jump in!

  • 24 Free iPhone Apps for Job Hunting

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    Doriano “Paisano” Carta, blogging for the WebWorkerDaily, has identified 24 unique free iPhone apps that can help you with your job search and preparation for interviews.

    The apps cover a wide variety of diverse careers, helpful tips from recruiters and a broad geographic scope –  from finding a global position to SnagaJob which uses your iPhone’s GPS to locate jobs within a five mile radius of where you’re standing. It also uses zipcode searches to locate positions beyond the length of your arm.

  • College Alums? You Can Go Back to the Well

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    This NY Times article, You Can Go Back Again, describes the ways in which your old college career office has begun opening its doors – and resources – to those who graduated years ago and are seeking career changes and new jobs.

    Take advantage of these opportunities – many are free. It’s not just the information and skills training. Just as important is the network because, as the article notes, this is not pure altruism on the part of your alma mater. The college has a vested interest in the success of this outreach. The career office provides a way for them to stay in contact with graduates, and successful alumni may be more likely to help others find jobs, or even contribute money to the school’s endowment. So it’s a win-win for everyone – the best possible scenario!

  • Time To Translate and Repurpose Your Skills for the 21st-Century Marketplace

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    This might seem a daunting task, but help is on the way at the O*Net Resource Center. This free online tool is worth the weight of its extensive database in gold.

    The O*NET program is the nation’s primary source of occupational information. Central to the project is the O*NET database, containing information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. The database, which is available to the public at no cost, is continually updated by surveying a broad range of workers from each occupation. Information from this database forms the heart of O*NET OnLine, an interactive application for exploring and searching occupations. The database also provides the basis for their Career Exploration Tools, a set of valuable assessment instruments for workers looking to find or change careers.

    About those “descriptors:” Every occupation requires a different mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and is performed using a variety of activities and tasks. These distinguishing characteristics of an occupation are described by the O*NET Content Model, which defines the key features of an occupation as a standardized, measurable set of variables called descriptors.

    The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is being developed under the sponsorship of the US Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA) through a grant to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

    Bookmark this site!

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