The Résumé: Your Ticket to an Interview
Imagine you have a friend who wants to set you up with their friend on a date. Naturally, before meeting them for coffee, you want to know a bit more about this mystery person.
“What are they like?” you ask your friend.
Your friend begins to describe their personality, hobbies, physical characteristics, and background. To your pleasant surprise, it seems you might have a few things in common. Like you, they love pickleball, sunset walks on the beach, sushi, dogs, old movies, and surfing. Oh, and they have a quirky sense of humor. At this, you are sold. You picture yourself eating California rolls and watching The Office together, discussing rescue dogs and the best surfing spots.
“I’m game,” you tell your friend. “Set me up!”
A resume is much like this – an introduction to someone who is unfamiliar with the employer. The resume is a window into your professional life, a chance for employers to catch a glimpse of your accomplishments and abilities. In short, a resume is a chance for you to sell yourself. It is your presentation to the world, your way of saying, “This is who I am and this is why you should hire me!” To an employers who has never met you, you are merely a name on a piece of paper. A well-written resume is a ticket in the door, a chance at an interview that could lead to an employment offer. This is why it is so crucial to create a flawless resume as you enter the career world.
Understandably, many college students often find resume writing especially challenging. They may feel that their part-time job experience is not relevant to their desired field or that they are inadequate against the competition. But the good news is, a carefully crafted resume is not difficult to compose!
So just where did the idea of a resume come from? The word resume comes from the French language; it means “to summarize the past.” Some claim that Leonardo De Vinci should be credited for creating the very first resume. In 1482, De Vinci wrote the Duke of Milan, explaining his qualifications. In his letter, he was able to carefully address the Duke’s most pressing needs, which at the time were military advantages and fame. An excerpt from the letter reads:
“Most Illustrious Lord, having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use, I shall endeavor, without prejudice to anyone else, to explain myself to your Excellency…”
This might bring a chuckle, as it’s hard to imagine addressing any future employer as “Most Illustrious Lord.” But De Vinci was not alone in his endeavors. Many others followed suit, penning introduction letters to solidify their credibility.
The notion of a resume continued to morph over time. In the 1940s, resumes sounded more like personal ads, as they included education, qualifications and details that would be considered illegal for hiring a candidate today, such as religion, height, weight, marital status, and age. By the 1950s, resumes were an expected document for employment seekers, and all were typed on a manual typewriter by a woman. In the 1980s, Microsoft Word came along, as did personal computers, changing the working landscape forever. The revolution of the Internet and social media soon followed, allowing people to post resumes online. Today, REZCORE.com, a leading online resume help blog, states that roughly 100 million resumes are sent each year.
According to Dr. John Sullivan, an internationally known thought-leader from the Silicon Valley, most recruiters spend just sixseconds looking at each resume. Yikes! That’s just measly seconds to WOW your future employer and make a lasting impression!
So just what makes a great resume? Here are a few dos and don’ts.
To begin, DO be honest. A staggering amount of people falsify information on their resume. In August 2014, Careerbuilder.com reported that 58 percent of employers have caught a lie on a candidate’s resume. Most commonly, people embellish their skill set or responsibilities, while dates of employment are often fudged as well. Others don’t accurately spill the beans about their job title or academic degree. This is regrettable, unethical, and foolish. In a day where employers can quickly research potential candidates online, false information can quickly be discovered. Honesty is always the best policy!
DO share your volunteer and internship experience. This is especially important for students who may feel they don’t have enough professional work experience. Employers know a recent graduate might not have spent much time in their desired field of work, but listing your internship and volunteer experience will go a long way when it comes to impressing people. This shows you are proactive, involved in your community and willing to work hard.
DO include a cover letter whenever possible. Unless a company specifically indicates they do not want a cover letter, it is best to submit one. According to one survey, 86 percent of executives considered cover letters valuable. A cover letter goes above and beyond the resume, telling the employer why you find the job position attractive and why you want to work for that specific company. A great cover letter, according to experts, should be brief (no more than one page) and concise. Use this opportunity to identify yourself, share anything you might have in common with the hiring manager, exhibit your passion and sell your qualifications. Don’t be afraid to highlight any soft skills you have, such as willingness to work long hours or eagerness to learn new things. Above all, be human, and be yourself. If a bit of humor feels appropriate, don’t shy away from tossing that in too.
DON’T use cliché buzz words if possible. CareerBuilder.com released the results of a survey in which it asked more than 2,000 hiring managers and Human Resource professionals about their biggest resume word pet peeves. Among the words they listed as never wanting to see again? Go-getter, results-driven, team player, hard worker, detail-oriented and strategic thinker. Simply put, these word are overused. Employers prefer punchier words showing action. Get creative and think outside the box!
DO triple check your resume for typos and errors. This should go without saying, but many employers can attest to receiving resumes with multiple errors, including misspelling the company’s name or even the candidate’s own name! Nothing will make you look unqualified and uneducated like a few typos.
DON’T speak in first person about yourself. Focus on action instead. For example, instead of saying “I built a company from the ground” simply say “Built a company from the ground.”
DON’T include a photo. As one expert said, “You are looking for a job, not a date.”
DO seek out help. Check with your local college or university. Many educational facilities provide resume services online or in person. A college’s Career Center is a great place to start. Many of these services are free and can be useful. Check out sample resumes online. LinkedIn is a great place to start, as most professionals post their resumes on this site.
DO try to limit your resume to one page. Remember that magic “six second” rule? Anything longer than a page could be an immediate turn off to an employer. Stick to the facts and say what you need to say well. If you’re unsure of what font to use, sticking to Times New Roman font-size 12 is always a safe bet.
Resume writing can feel daunting, but with the right tools and tricks, a well-written resume can make you stand out from the rest and help land you the job of your dreams!
To learn more about writing a smash-hit resume, order your copy of College to Career today!
So let’s get started today!
The Evolution of Social Media
It’s an average day for Average Joe. He wakes up, powers up his iPhone and checks his Facebook account. After scrolling through some posts, he updates his status. “Just getting ready for class,” he writes. “Hope the day rolls by fast!” He then checks his Instagram, commenting on his brother’s photo collage and his girlfriend’s latest cat photos. After scarfing down a bagel, he posts a picture of his own. “No gourmet meal here,” he captions the picture before heading out to class.
In English class, Joe’s professor discusses the upcoming Academy Awards show. The professor assigns the class to pick a movie that is up for an award, watch it and then write a review. Joe goes home and takes to Twitter, trying to find out which movie has gotten the most acclaim. He at last settles on a flick. After watching the movie, he updates his Facebook status again. “Better than I thought it would be,” he writes. “Hope it nabs an award.”
It’s dinner time, and Joe’s girlfriend is coming over. He’s not much of a cook, so he jumps on Pinterest to see what’s cooking. After searching up a few meals, he settles on a tasty looking Greek dish. He hopes to impress his girlfriend, who doesn’t know he has a Pinterest account. After dinner, Joe finishes his homework and hops on LinkedIn before heading to bed. He’s not very active on the site, but his professor says it’s a great way to find a job, so he’s been poking around. He updates his resume, checks out some profiles and reads a couple blogs. Before shutting down his phone, he checks his Instagram once more. He is pleased to see his Greek dish of homemade hummus and falafel has made it to his girlfriend’s account; the photo already has 62 likes. Joe drifts happily off to sleep.
Does Average Joe sound a bit like you?
Just two decades ago, students wrote notes and stuffed them into locker doors at school. When news broke, they picked up the old family phone and made a call. Families connected with relatives through the mail, penning letters on fancy stationery. When folks looked for a job, they scoured the local newspaper, delivered an application in person and waited anxiously by the telephone for good news. And when friends and family wanted to share photos, they took their 35 mm film to the drug store, printed them and popped them in the mail. But times have changed since then — just a bit!
These days, it seems almost impossible to imagine a world without social media. Whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn, most high school and college students have been influenced by these tools in some way or another. Social media, without a doubt, has become a powerful part of our lives. With just a few clicks of a phone or computer mouse, we can send photos, post updates and share major events with those we love. Social media, and the wide world of technology, have changed our lives for good. Like it or not, there is no going back.
Wikipedia defines the classification of social media as many different forms: magazines, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, ranting and social bookmarking. Technologies include blogging, picture sharing, vlogs, wall posting, music sharing, crowd sourcing and voice over IP, just to name a few. New applications, websites and software are constantly evolving and showing up on the scene. The world faces an ever-dynamic system of new startups, upgrades, changes and enhancements, making programs more sophisticated than ever. Just as Apple continues to upgrade and redefine the iPhone every couple years, social media sites constantly seek improvement too. It is an ever-evolving world, and it can be hard to keep up. With technology advancing by the day, things will only move forward, not back.
Today, over half the world now uses some form of social media, with 60 percent of people on various sites. 4.80 billion people around the world use various platforms, with 150 million new users coming online within the past year. The average person, like Average Joe, spends nearly 2.5 hours on social media per day.
So just how did social media begin? And who had dibs on it first?
You’ve probably never heard of it, but in March 2002, a site called Friendstr was launched by a Canadian computer programmer named Jonathan Abrams. It grew to several hundred users within a few weeks and then to over 3 million users by early 2003, becoming the world’s first social media platform that engaged the mainstream. LinkedIn came along a year later, officially making its debut in May of 2003. While this went on to become a great networking tool for professionals, it was a little site called MySpace that really paved the way for social connection online. Launched by a guy named Tom Anderson (yes, that guy in the iconic white T-shirt, who became your first MySpace “friend”!) in August 2003, MySpace revolutionized the online community, particularly in the music sector. People could search for long-lost friends and lovers and reconnect. Initially, it spread like wildfire. In July 2005, MySpace was acquired by News Corporation for $580 million, and in June 2006, it surpassed Yahoo and Google to become the most visited website in the United States. At its peak in April 2008, Myspace and Facebook reached 115 million monthly visitors, but Myspace could not keep up with its newly emerged competitor. Launched by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook soon bumped MySpace out of its number one spot.
From there, the social media revolution continued. Reddit came next, followed by YouTube. Twitter was launched by Jack Dorsey in March 2006, followed by Pinterest in 2010. Instagram made its debut that same year. Today, the younger generation prefers Instagram to Facebook when it comes to sharing photos and news. As one teen so kindly informed her mother: “Mom, Facebook is now for old folks.” But with nearly 3 billion people around the world still using the site, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Like Average Joe, your life has likely been impacted by social media in some way. Beyond sharing cat photos, cooking ideas and vacation highlights, it can also be a great way to network and launch your career. To learn more about the evolution of social media, order your copy of College to Career today!
For more on your voice, check out College to Career today!
Mission, Vision and Values: Your Voice
As a college student or recent graduate, you’re probably giving your future career a great deal of thought. And I’m guessing you’re interested in a career you want to enjoy. You’ll want to like what do you do because you’re going to do it a lot! According to statistics from the research firm Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the average American works 1,788 hours per year. Over 40 years, that could add up to over 71,000 hours! Take a moment to let that staggering number sink in. You may spend more time working than sleeping, eating or participating in your favorite recreational activities throughout your life!
While you want to enjoy what you do, I’m also guessing you want to enjoy the company you work for, as you might be there for a very long time. Longevity for employees is now increasing. Recent statistics show that employees stay at their jobs an average of 4.6 years. This is why it’s so important to know exactly what you want to do before you start doing it. Beginning a career in a field you love and sticking with it will make all the difference in your future. But in order to enjoy a career you love, you need something vitally important: your voice.
No, I’m not referring to the popular singing show on TV. I’m referring to a combination of your personal mission, vision and values. All successful companies must have a voice. A voice shapes the culture of an organization and serves as a guide to employees and management. Organizations with a well thought-out voice have direction, purpose and achievement in the workplace. These organizations know where they want to be (the big picture) and do the appropriate things (the details) to get there. Every step of the way, their employees enthusiastically project that voice to customers, vendors and their local communities. Without a voice, high-powered organizations will find it impossible to align their goals and objectives to create success.
So just what does a personal mission, vision and values statement entail? Let’s dig in a bit.
A mission statement for a company is a concise, meaningful sentence or two that represents the purpose of the organization. Mission statements are often action-based, explaining how the company’s objectives serve both employees and customers. Here are a few examples:
LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
Nike: “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
A personal mission statement is similar. It defines who you are as a person and identifies your purpose, whether that’s on the job or simply in life. It explains where you see yourself in the future, how you plan to pursue that purpose and why it matters so much to you. Like an organizational mission statement, it should be clear and concise – a soundbite or quick elevator pitch, if you will. Here is a sample personal mission statement:
“To use my writing skills to inspire and educate others around the world to make a change.”
An organizational vision differs a bit from a mission statement. A vision statement is a company’s “one day” statement, or the goal a company strives to embody or see in its consumers. A company’s vision statement is essentially the world the company envisions for the future, while the mission statement defines the strategy for reaching that vision. Here’s an example:
Tesla: “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”
Lastly, an organizational value statement defines what is important to a company and its employees and discusses the company’s most essential values. Here is an example:
“We believe food has the power to change the world. We do it by being real.”
Similarly, a personal value statement defines what values are most important to YOU. Here is an example:
“To be a respectable employee, friend and member of the community and make a positive impact on others by being honest, fair and reliable.”
These three important aspects—your mission, vision and values – all create your voice. In essence, you are sharing with the world WHO you are, WHAT you believe and WHERE you want to go. No two people share the exact same voice. Your voice is unique only to YOU. By fine tuning this voice, you will impress future employers when they see you know who you are and what you want. If this sounds intimidating, fret not. Begin by grabbing a piece of scratch paper and writing out your thoughts. You might begin by scribbling a few adjectives that describe you best. Then think about what you value most. Is it integrity? Reliability? Honesty? Lastly, what is it you really want, and how do you plan to get there? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out. You are young, and sometimes plans change. But by perfecting your unique voice, you will set yourself apart from the rest.
Once you come up with your mission, vision and values statement, start reciting it to your friends and loved ones. Say it with confidence and a smile. By the time you land an interview at your desired company, you’ll have it down pat!
By being clear about who you are, what you believe and where you want to go, you’ll be sure to stay on track and pursue the career of your dreams!
For more on your voice, check out College to Career today!
LinkedIn: Connect for Success
When I began my career in the early 90s, social media did not exist. Professionals stayed connected over the telephone. When we needed to reach someone, we used a Rolodex, a handy flip device on our desk that included all our contacts’ phone numbers. Computers and technology were still evolving, and Excel spreadsheets and other tracking software did not exist. Land-line phones and snail mail were our primary means of communication. And if we needed to look for a job? We picked up this old fashioned thing called a newspaper and turned to classified ads. Ha! Boy, how times have changed.
When LinkedIn first came into the spotlight, I shied away. I felt I was too old for social media; best to leave these modes of communication to the younger generations. But then I read a few books that changed my mind. As I began thinking about launching my own business, I quickly realized that if I was going to be successful and help companies all over the United States, I needed to expand my knowledge of social media. And LinkedIn was a big part of that puzzle. So I embraced it and jumped on, creating a profile. I started using the site on a regular basis, implementing a solid strategy. Soon, recognition of my profile began to grow. One year after launching my business and just two years after implementing my strategy, I received an email note from LinkedIn: “You have one of the top 1 percent most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012.” I was thrilled! Perhaps, as the saying goes, an old dog can learn new tricks after all!
Here are a few staggering statistics about LinkedIn, the top site for connecting with other professionals.
*As of 2015, there were just 347 million users on LinkedIn. Today, that number has soared to 930 million.
*Every second, two or more new LinkedIn members join the site.
*187 million people visit the site each month.
*LinkedIn currently reaches 200 countries and territories.
*The site is available in 20 different languages.
*25 million LinkedIn profiles are viewed every day.
*39 million students and recent grads are on LinkedIn.
Are you one of those 39 million?
Recent studies show that one of the top reasons students and recent college grads do not set up a LinkedIn profile is because they do not feel they have enough real life experience to boast about. As one reluctant student lamented, “I haven’t even had one professional job. Who would possibly be interested in my profile?”
Believe it or not, a lot of people! Whether you’re still in college, just graduated or already getting your feet wet in the working world, it’s never too late to join LinkedIn. If you have yet to create a profile, fear not. It’s simple, takes only a bit of time to set up and can be life changing. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re new to the platform.
- When creating your LinkedIn profile, make sure to include an appropriate photo. Don’t have a fancy head shot? No worries. Perhaps a good friend or a budding photographer can take some photos for you. Select a nice outfit, comb your hair, and don’t forget to smile! A definite no-no? That photo of you in a bikini on a beach in Hawaii, or a candid shot of you drinking a beer on a boat. Keep it professional, please!
- Volunteer experience counts! Twenty percent of managers have hired someone based on their volunteer experience. So if you’re afraid those two weeks you spent volunteering at a summer science camp are not relevant, think again. Potential employers like to see you’re involved in your community and other places outside the classroom. Volunteer experience can be a great way to beef up your resume if you don’t have a lot of paid work experience.
- Don’t skip the additional profile sections. Here, you’ll have a chance to highlight any honors you received as a student, as well as your GPA.
- Take your time with the summary statement. This is your chance to shine! Don’t be afraid to boast about your skills, your accomplishments, and your goals.
- Create an informative but punchy headline. Think of this as your personal mission statement. Who are you, what do you represent, and what do you have to offer? The more succinctly you can say this, the better.
- Use the Keywords and Recommendations section. Key words are especially helpful for boosting your profile. If someone’s looking for, say, a proofreader or software engineer, they can simply type in those key words and narrow down the search. Recommendations are helpful too. Ask a friend, teacher or former employer to write one for you. And if they do, be courteous and take the time to write one for them too.
- Build your Network. LinkedIn can feel a bit intimidating when you first join, but you’ll soon find it’s nothing but a network of friendly faces. Not sure where to start? Sift through your contacts and people you might know, or do a search to see if any of your teachers or colleagues have joined the site. Aim to connect with 50 people. Before you know it, your network will soon grow.
- Stay active on the site. Most people under 30 use social media on a daily basis – Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook. Treat LinkedIn the same way. Check in every day if possible and engage. Post interesting articles and comment on other people’s posts too. You never know what might catch someone’s eye!
Still unsure if LinkedIn is for you? Check out College to Career and learn how to leverage this amazing site for your ultimate career success!
So let’s get started today!
Last year, the earth’s population reached over 8 billion people. Yet of those 8 billion people, no two are exactly alike. Each person is uniquely and wonderfully made, with a unique set of fingerprints. Here are a few impressive facts about the human body that just might blow you away:
*The human brain can read up to 1,000 words per minute
*In 30 minutes, the human body gives off enough heat to bring a gallon of water to a boil
*The focusing muscles in the human eye move around 100,000 times a day. To give your leg muscles the same workout, you’d need to walk 50 miles.
*The human body produces 25 million new cells every second and sheds 40 pounds of skin in a lifetime.
As you can see, we are amazingly complex creatures, inside and out. That’s why it’s so important to understand what makes us so unique. One critical factor of our uniqueness is the Intelligence Quotient, otherwise known as IQ. IQ is defined as the measurement of intelligence as it relates to standardized testing. Within IQ, we will include aptitude and ability. Personality is defined as the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. Self- awareness is the level of understanding someone has of both IQ and personality. It is one’s ability that helps them see how IQ and personality intertwine to create unique opportunities. When IQ, personality and self-awareness interconnect, individual passions take shape.
Let’s explore this a bit more.
As a high school or college student, you’re likely aware of the most notable IQ test, the Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT. Research has shown a strong correlation between scores received on the SAT and IQ. There is a plethora of other IQ tests administered throughout school districts in the United States as well. The most commonly used individual IQ test series is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale. IQ tests themselves are constructed of theoretical questions that designers have developed to create a benchmark system for all who take the test. These tests may include the following categories:
While taking an IQ test is highly recommended, there are other available aptitude tests as well. One popular test is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Used by the Armed Services, it consists of a battery of aptitude tests and has helped many potential recruits navigate their way.
While IQ scores only define one part of the whole person, the scores do show us something about our lifestyle, ability and cognitive skills. IQ scores have been shown to be associated with such factors as morbidity and mortality, parental social status and even biological parental IQ. IQ scores are used as predictors of educational achievement, special needs, job performance and income. According to one scholar, people with below-average IQ are 88 more times likely to drop out of high school, seven times more likely to be jailed and five times more likely as adults to live in poverty. In general, those with a higher IQ tend to be more successful, creative, independent, and happy.
So just what factors contribute to an individual’s IQ? The jury is still out on how much genetics come into play, but many researchers say individual genes largely contribute to one’s IQ. Diet and nutrition are said to play a factor as well. Research shows that children who ate unhealthy meals and were low in proper vitamins and minerals before the age of 3 had a lower IQ. Interestingly, music is said to have a significant effect on one’s IQ. A 2004 study showed that 6-year-old children who received musical training had an average increase of 7 IQ points. So those piano lessons Mom dragged you to as a child might have come in handy after all!
Didn’t take piano lessons as a kid? No worries. Listening to classical music has been reported to increase IQ as well, specifically spatial ability. In 1994, two men named Frances Rauscher and Gordon Shaw reported that college students who listened to just 10 minutes of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos showed an increase in 8 to 9 IQ points. The phenomenon was dubbed the “Mozart Effect.” So if EDM or country music is your jam, consider throwing a little classical music on your Spotify as well!
On average, someone’s IQ falls between 85 and 115. A few famous folks, however, have exceeded that number with their impressive IQs. You might recognize some of the names: Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Stephen Hawking and Marilyn Vos Savant, whose popular column “Ask Marilyn” was featured in Parade magazine for years. But not every famous, powerful or successful person has had a high IQ. It’s been said that President Abraham Lincoln had an IQ of just 105, and John F. Kennedy’s IQ stood at just 117. Muhammed Ali, the great fighter, is said to have had an IQ of 78. Interestingly, having a high IQ often requires a greater number of intellectual challenges. Years ago, a police department turned away a recruit for having an IQ above 145, as they feared he might become bored of the job. The policy was later challenged as discriminatory; however, it was upheld in court.
Understanding your IQ is imperative to creating a successful life. By determining your IQ, you will embrace your scholastic potential and have greater success in your endeavors. To learn more about IQ tests and see which ones might be right for you, purchase College to Career today.
So let’s get started today!
Understanding Soft Skills in the Workplace
“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” – Clarence Thomas
When Joey graduated with a business degree from a top-rated California university, he assumed his future was secure. He had a 4.3 GPA, scored high on every exam and wowed his professors with his written work. He was the first to raise his hand in class and always the last to leave. He spent ample time at the library, reading every book he could get his hands on. An eager student, he found himself even more eager to secure a high-paying job right out of college. But to his dismay, he had trouble landing an interview. Despite his stellar resume, the phone did not ring. Frustrated and discouraged, Joey spruced up his resume, hoping that might do the trick. At last, he landed a couple interviews. But upon talking with his potential employers, he felt out of his league. Their pointed questions blindsided him.
“Would you consider yourself a team player?”
“How well do you work under pressure? What would you do if a deadline arose and you were not fully prepared?”
“Are you generally flexible, able to adapt to any situation or curve ball thrown your way?”
Joey stumbled over the questions, doing the best he could. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and he felt his heart racing. He’d held a fast food job in high school but hadn’t set foot in the workplace since. He’d kept meaning to volunteer or get involved in extra-curricular clubs at school, but he’d been too busy holed up in the library studying. He’d assumed his outstanding GPA would make him a standout, but maybe he’d been wrong.
As it turns out, Joey is not alone. He is one of millions of college students who find themselves struggling to land jobs, or even an interview, after college graduation, despite their good grades. On paper, they look great, but the grades are not always enough. The missing factor in many cases?
Many students may be unfamiliar with the term soft skills. Generally speaking, soft skills are often associated with one’s “EQ” or Emotional Intelligence Quotient. This includes the way people interact with others as human beings through their personality traits. These traits could include social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, management skills or leadership skills. Soft skills contrast to hard skills, which are generally easily quantifiable and measurable. Some hard skills could include software knowledge, technical skills or basic plumbing skills.
The idea of soft skills might seem like a fresh concept, but it is at least as old as ancient Greece. When Plato wrote about education in his work, The Republic, he contended that a universal curriculum requires a balance of education in physical education, the arts, math, science, character and moral judgment. He also backed the idea of learning outside the classroom, saying, “By maintaining a sound system of education and upbringing, you produce citizens of good character.”
Traditional institutions once dispensed this sort of training. However, families and religious institutions have weakened over time. Today, training in soft skills is more needed than ever. The need to develop healthy, socially appropriate and mature responses to workplace stress and interpersonal reactions has become increasingly evident to business owners, executives and human resources personnel in recent years. Yet according to a Gallup poll, while a whopping 92 percent of college educators feel their students are prepared for the workplace, only 11 percent of employers feel they actually are. And 42 percent of those employers believe soft skills make up the biggest skills gap.
If this all sounds like discouraging news to you, fear not. You probably have more soft skills under your belt than you realize. Those Little League games you coached? The babysitting or dog-walking job you picked up to earn some extra cash? None of it was in vain. The important thing is to recognize the soft skills you gained along the way and to highlight them on your resume and in your interview.
So just what sort of skills do managers desire? According to a recent Career Builder survey, here are the top ten:
Strong Work Ethic – Are you efficient with your time?
Dependable – Will you show up on time and do what you say you’ll do?
Positive Attitude – Will you complain or portray yourself as a victim, or will you make the best of things?
Self-Motivated—Can you problem solve on your own?
Team Oriented – Will you adopt a “my way or the highway” attitude or will you partner with others to be part of a productive team?
Organized – Will you plan your time well? Can you handle multiple challenging situations at once?
Works Well Under Pressure – Can you meet deadlines? Do you have a sense of urgency? Can you handle uncertainty, tension and stress?
An Effective Communicator – Are you clear with your information and directions?
Flexible – Can you adjust to new situations and change course when needed?
Confident – Do you trust yourself to make decisions, or do you hesitate?
A strong GPA and resume is great, but soft skills will really make you stand out from the rest!
To learn more, purchase your copy of College to Career today.
So let’s get started today!
Begin Your Masterpiece
Years ago, after presenting at a week-long business conference, I struck up a conversation with the hotel clerk. She reminded me of my daughter – young, vibrant, and cheerful, with a welcoming smile. She introduced herself as Ashley.
“How long have you worked here?” I asked her. “Are you taking college classes?”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, I graduate in a few weeks,” she replied.
“What is your major? And what do you plan to do after graduation?” I asked next.
Ashley’s smile faded a bit. “I’m majoring in Psychology, and quite frankly, I have no idea what I’m going to do. No one has told me what I could do with this degree. All I wanted was to get the degree behind me.”
I was saddened by Ashley’s answer, but not terribly surprised. I’d heard the same words uttered many times over the years. Four (or more!) years of hard work, late-night studying and football games would all come to an end as students proudly flipped their tassel to the other side. But beyond that big day, very few had a solid plan. After spending thousands of dollars on an education, they would tragically enter the workforce with only a hope and a prayer.
And a whole lot of debt.
When Ashley told me the name of the university she attended, my heart sank. I knew it was prestigious and expensive. By graduation, she would have spent at least $100,000 for an education. Yet she felt clueless as to where to go next.
Recent statistics show that a four-year private school college education will cost students roughly $130,000. For in-state students completing a four-year education at a public college, that number drops to roughly $40,000. Students who spend two years at a community college and then two years at a private college will look at spending roughly $75,000 on tuition. Statistics also show the average student debt for a four-year bachelor’s degree hovering at nearly $35,000. A whopping 64 percent of students with a four-year college degree will walk away with some sort of student debt. And the average debt for a four-year private school education? Nearly $60,000. For perspective, that’s 12,000 Starbucks grande lattes, 6,000 Chipotle burritos and 4,000 movie tickets.
Like Ashley, you might find yourself near the end of your college career, buried in papers, exams and projects. With graduation day just around the corner, your excitement might be overshadowed by concerns over your looming future. Will you be able to afford to pay off your student loans? More importantly, will you be able to find a job that supports your lifestyle and allows you to pay off those loans? Things feel uncertain, unpredictable. The stakes feel high. You don’t want to let your parents down, yourself down. Moreso, you don’t want that hard-earned, pricey college degree to go to waste.
That’s where we come in.
College to Career was created just for you. We know the anxiety, the mounting pressure you face each day as you work so hard to succeed. That’s why we’ve provided all the tools you need to take those next steps. This life-changing book will discuss key strategies and concepts, including:
*Navigating social media
*Creating an outstanding LinkedIn profile
*Developing key accomplishments for your resume
*Finding meaningful internships
*Networking with influential professionals who are able to help you find the right career after you graduate
Believe it or not, each of these are easy to attain and paramount to your success. Employment opportunities will start pouring in when you are connected to 50-100 professionals prior to graduation. With the right tools at your fingertips, you’ll have a sweeping advantage over your peers at the end of your college career. Equally important, you’ll have peace of mind, knowing your hard-earned degree won’t be going to waste.
I’m not sure what Ashley is up to today. I’ll never forget that perky smile-turned-frown as she lamented about her impending post-college plans. I wish I’d had more time to chat with her and assure her about her future. I wish I could have offered her what I offer you today – the tools to turn your college degree into success.
If you’d like to journey with me, I’d be happy to be your guide, navigating you through this next step of your life. Without a proper navigational guide on a road trip, one might find themselves lost, frustrated, out of gas and at the end of an unfamiliar dead-end dirt road. But with the right navigational tools, one will end up on the right path. And that’s just what I want for you.
So let’s get started today!
Many people think about them, but very few actually have them. Personal Visions and Goals. Personal Visions are important to have. If you have one and focus on it often, you will ultimately steer your life toward obtaining it.
Think of your vision as your compass, your GPS, or — my personal favorite — a lighthouse at the beach, to lead you through the storms and past the rocky ocean waves you’ll encounter as you make your way toward your final destination.
In developing your vision, ask yourself:
What do I want?
It may sound like a simple enough question, but it’s one of the toughest to answer.
So, ask yourself again.
What do I really, really, truly want for myself?
If I could have the kind of life that would make my heart sing, what would it look like?
At this point, your heart may be beating a bit faster. Can you really have that kind of life?
Yes, I believe you can. I’ve done it and I’ve helped a lot of clients lead passionate and fulfilling lives. It starts by defining what that life could look like.
Now, let’s talk goals. You must establish personal goals in order to get to where you want to go, as outlined in your Vision. As an example, here are some parts of my vision and related goals this year:
- Start a business that will grow itself, ultimately turning it into a non-profit;
- Manage time more effectively to end my work day by 6PM in order to spend more time with my wife;
- Finish and publish another book;
- Expand my prayer life by surrounding myself with prayer experts;
- Spend quality time with my wife by planning two weekends away with each other;
- Attend at least one in-person seminar or conference to further hone my skills or personal growth;
- Do a five-night backpacking trip;
- Grow my social media presence by 20 percent;
Give yourself permission to dream about your ideal life, even if you spend just five to ten minutes a day, and consider the following:
- What really is my relationship with God? Have I put my full trust in Him?
- If I could have more of something in my life, what would it be?
- What should I eliminate from my life for good?
- Which relationships do I need to nurture, or which ones should I release?
- What is my relationship to money?
- My secret passion or dream is…
- What am I most afraid of?
- What habits should I quit?
- What can I do to bring more joy into my daily life?
- What am I grateful for?
These questions are just a starting point, so take into account all major aspects of your life – friends and family (immediate and extended), church friends, charity work and, of course, fun and recreation. Also, examine thoughts centering on your daily career, activities, spending habits, your personal wellness and fitness, spirituality, and, of course, your spouse.
Got Vision? We would love to know if you have walked through this process before. What was the outcome? Be a difference maker today and inspire a reader by leaving us comments. Have a great week.
The Covid-19 pandemic caught many people off-guard, and has proven to be a hard time for nearly all of us in one form or another. Employers who were forced to close due to the lockdown and cannot afford to maintain staffing have laid off employees. Yet, opportunities have arisen to those with an eye to adapting. Many organizations, sensing a future that involves an expansion of telecommuting and the use of independent contractors, have begun hiring remote workers for routine tasks.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs that can be performed offsite and at a distance are more readily available today.
If you are looking for places to start your job search, particularly with nonprofit and for-profit religious organizations that strive to maintain Christian ethics in the workplace, these resources should help.
Job Shepherd was created to meet the demand by Christian employers, including ministries, camps, churches, colleges, and Christian for-profit companies in their search for qualified job candidates.
Christian Remote Jobs
If you are looking for a job that is Christian influenced, these religious organizations offer Christian employment opportunities that can be fulfilled safely from home.
Concordia, a nonprofit institution established by the Lutheran church, is one of the best providers of faith-based jobs, and are currently seeking remote faculty to teach their college courses online. Find Concordia’s job opportunities here.
Grand Canyon University
Want to work in a faith-based institution that weaves a Christian perspective through their curriculum? Then Grand Canyon University is an ideal choice. In light of the current global pandemic, the university is hiring both part-time and full-time adjunct faculty to teach online courses.
Northwest Christian University
Northwest Christian University is hiring faculty for a variety of subjects. All faculty positions are remote and selected persons will teach from offsite locations via online lectures.
Ohio Christian University
Ohio Christian University is also hiring remote-based faculty to teach a variety of subjects online.
Companies that match employers to remote employees and independent contractors
This company was created as a work-from-home company, and hires bookkeepers, executive assistants and web specialists. The vision of Belay is to “glorify God by rendering solutions that equip clients with the confidence to climb higher.” Check out Belay’s jobs here.
Christian Job Fair
This is a Christian-owned, privately held company that helps you find work that requires a degree, but also work you can do without any specific degree or skills. Virtual positions were on the rise before the pandemic, and in the current situation, the need has grown exponentially.
Christian Job Fair allows job seekers access to thousands of Christian ministry jobs, and positions with religious nonprofit ministries. Christian organizations and churches are provided with an easy and inexpensive way to hire for their Christian jobs, ministry jobs, and church openings. Christian employers can interview through chat, Skype, Zoom, email and phone. Website
Christian and Other Job Boards
In addition to the companies listed above, Christian job boards can also be of great help. For example, ChristianJobs.com is a job board that connects believers in the workplace. Here you can find jobs that exclusively promote Christian ethics in the workplace. They now feature a Work from Home category for any qualified candidates.
This is a paid membership job board which promotes flexible and remote work, and they feature a specific section for Christian job seekers. They vet every job posting to avoid scams. Connect with FlexJobs here.
Hire My Mom
This website connects moms who are seeking work-from-home jobs with professionals. Its founder, Lesley Pyle, is a lover of Jesus and has strong faith in humanity. Visit Hire My Mom here.
Indeed pulls the results from all major job board sites, including faith-based jobs, saving you considerable time and effort when searching for your next job.
Jobs In Christian Higher Education
The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
ABHE is made of approximately 200 postsecondary institutions specializing in biblical ministry formation and professional leadership education. Visit ABHE’s Job Board.
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
CCCU is a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world. With campuses across the globe, including more than 150 in the U.S. and Canada and more than 30 in another 18 countries, CCCU institutions are accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. See CCCU’s Job Board here.
Association of Business Administrators of Christian Colleges (ABACC)
The mission of ABACC is to improve the standard of business management in schools of Christian Higher Education by providing professional development, networking and mutual support to their business leadership. Find ABACC’s Job Board here.
Christian University Jobs (CUJ)
CUJ provides access to career opportunities in more than 275 Christian universities, Bible colleges, seminaries, and vocational and theological schools in the US and Canada. Source CUJ’s Job Board here.
In this Fox Business article, get tips and leads on identifying secular companies that are now seeking to hire remote workers, including Aetna, Adobe and Dell.
These are changing times for all of us. We pray that these resources will jumpstart your job search.
The past weeks have been unprecedented—truly historic—regarding the global human resources implications due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing COVID-19 disease. Typically, we address our articles to leadership professionals in the workplace. However, in light of the current situation, this article is for anyone, at any level of an organization, who has found themselves thrust, without warning, into working remotely.
Many such employees have contacted us, having been told by equally unprepared leadership, “It’s not safe to come into the office. Just do what you normally do, but do it from home.”
Organizations, some of our clients among them, have abruptly shifted into panic mode. You may be reading this article having found yourself also suddenly having to work from home instead of from your customary office or workplace.
Understandably, many organizations were caught unawares, and are not equipped to handle the logistics of managing people remotely. Regardless, organizations still need to operate, to serve their customers and remain solvent.
While it has caught nearly everyone, indeed the country, off guard, it is of utmost importance that you, as an employee who draws wages from your employer, come to grips with the fact that you must remain impactful if you and the organization is to survive. When organizations succeed, they can pay their employees who, in turn, can support their families and the communities in which they live.
So, let’s review some areas that will help make you successful while working remotely. These features are proven to work, and have been used successfully by individuals who were assigned remote work, not out of crisis but more often the result of being geographically distant from coworkers.
5 Pointers to Help You Succeed as a Remote Employee
- Establish workspace boundaries – Ensure a good working environment, a dedicated space to do your work. Can you shut the door against distractions when you need to work and otherwise maintain a good work–life balance?
- Ensure your ability to concentrate – Will children, friends, or other personal obligations regularly interrupt you?
- Stay organized – Can you make a schedule and stick to it? Will you create checklists to keep you on track?
- Promote and maintain productivity – Have you been provided expectations and goals? Can you obtain help quickly if you hit an obstacle?
- Maintain your focus and fitness – Can you take short, regular breaks throughout the day to stay fresh and avoid fatigue or burnout?
What single safeguard makes telecommuting most effective? A job description!
There’s no question that it’s preferable to have done the groundwork and crafted a solid job description for yourself before telecommuting. When employees find themselves thrust into working remotely, without the necessary preparations, trouble often lies ahead.
A job description is not only important from an employee empowerment standpoint; it’s a strategic necessity. Both your and your organization’s productivity and growth can be stymied when skills and competencies are unknown or undefined variables. Be detailed and specific about the requirements placed on you, and make sure they are part of your job description.
Finally, if you are concerned about your longevity with your employer, help create a process to make it hard for them to dismiss you. As a human resources expert, I almost always find employee terminations or separations from organizations are the result of the employee being viewed as not contributing to the organization. But that’s not always the employee’s fault. Many times this is management’s fault, because they failed to furnish key guidance or measurable metrics designed to enable employees to perform successfully.
If your organization has failed in this area, make it a point to do it yourself. Develop key measurements and a daily schedule that you can share with your leadership that validates why they need you.
In our next article, we explore the above five tips further: workspace boundaries, the ability to concentrate, self-organization, productivity, and focus and fitness, in order to better help you to succeed as a remote employee. With the right approach, it can be done.
Mark Griffin is founder and chief consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 25 years of HR experience.
Are you or your organization struggling to navigate these tumultuous times? Contact us by e-mail here.
Learn more about Mark’s journey in HR by watching this short video. And follow him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.