Tech Talk: Learning Express Job and Career Accelerator

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library recently acquired a new resource to assist jobseekers: the Job and Career Accelerator service of the Learning Express database.

How to Access It:

The Learning Express database is free to anyone with an East Baton Rouge Parish Library card. Go to the library website, then click on The Digital Library. Choose to search the “A-Z List”, then find “Learning Express 3.0” which takes you to the Learning Express database. Now click on “Job and Career Accelerator”.

How it’s organized:

There are six sections to this resource.

Find a Career Match: These assessments can be a good career planning tool for people who don’t know where to start. The Interest Matcher asks you about how much – or how little – you are interested in doing certain types of tasks.  The Skills Assessment is similar, except it asks about what skills you already have.  Each assessment will, based on your answers, provide you with a list of professions and types of work which match your interests or skills.

Explore Occupations: This tool provides detailed information about 1000 different careers.  There are several different options for how to search and narrow down results. For each job title, the database gives information on job description, average salary, projected demand, education needed, skills preferred, and more.

Search for Jobs and Internships: This takes you directly to job postings and internship opportunities on Indeed.

Tools to Get Hired: This section provides samples of job search-related documents, including resumes, cover letters, networking letters, and post-interview thank-you notes. There is also a how-to-interview tutorial and a resume-building tool.

Career Library: This section has in-depth guides on how to start a career in several common fields, including healthcare, teaching, paralegal, police, and culinary arts. There are also specialized guides for how to change careers and how to use social networking in the job search.

School and Scholarship Finder: The Scholarship Finder helps you search among 24,000 different scholarships to find scholarships for which you might qualify. The School Finder helps you locate a school that meets your educational goals and needs. It includes a Quick Match tool that helps you find schools that might be a good match for you.

What do we like most about this resource?

One-stop shop: This database brings together a lot of resources for different aspects of job searching and career planning under one roof. You can take an assessment, choose a career, write a resume, apply for jobs, and find a school, all under one roof. That can be very convenient.

Good information: There are lots of tools here to help you become a savvy jobseeker. For instance, the sample letters in the Tools to Get Hired section are helpful examples. And the guides in the Career Library are extremely informative, if there is a guide for your chosen career.

Resume Keywords: This was our absolute favorite part of the database. The Resume Builder contains a list of Job-Specific Keywords which you can use to plug into your resume. For example, if you look for “Accountant”, a long list of keywords and skills related to accounting and finance will come up. You can then choose some of those keywords to fill out the “Skills” section of your resume. This is a great way to make sure your resume bursts with the key skills that will grab a hiring manager’s attention.

What do we dislike most about this resource?

Derivative: This database has very little in it which is original. The job postings come from Indeed. The career information comes from ONET. And the general structure of the resources comes from Career Cruising, another career database which we’ve discussed extensively.

Resume Builder: We know, we seem to be contradicting ourselves. We said that we loved the Keywords section of the Resume Builder. And that’s true. But we found the rest of the Resume Builder inflexible and hard to use. It uses a one-size-fits-all formula for the resume template, making it difficult to tailor a resume to suit your specific skills and audience. We much prefer referring our patrons to our own resume templates, which are 100% customizable.

Written by Richard Wright and Lynnette Lee

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 6

This is the sixth post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

6th deadly sin: going it alone

You read our blog posts about the first five deadly sins of job searching, and have all your ducks in a row. Your resume and social media presence are top notch, and you are well prepared for job interviews. You are staging a great search. . .and yet, after a few weeks, no success. You are starting to doubt yourself. Are there any jobs out there? Are you good enough? Yes, you are! But job searching takes time and patience. The higher your desired position and salary the longer your search will take. The longer the search takes the more demoralizing and discouraging it can become. Don’t commit the 6th deadly sin of job search and try to go it alone!

The best antidote to the job search blues is community

Not feeling needed anymore is one of the prime stressors after job loss. Build a support system that shows you are not alone in this and that makes you feel needed and appreciated. What constitutes a support system will look different for everybody depending on their individual needs. Support systems are often drawn from:

Family – If you have a supportive family that listens and encourages you, perfect! If they make you feel needed, even better. Unfortunately family members often, mostly unknowingly, add to stress with well intentioned but unfounded advice and pressure.

Religious/Spiritual groups – If you have a religious or spiritual home you can fall back on, this can be invaluable. Being involved and helping others can make you feel better about your own situation.

Sports teams/hobby groups – Physical activity is very important for emotional wellbeing. Again, helping others by coaching or leading groups will make you feel better as well!

Job Search Support Groups – Jobs search support groups or job clubs are groups of job seekers that meet on a regular basis and bring job seekers from different backgrounds together for mutual support, networking, accountability and job search tips. Research shows that job club participants on average find employment faster than seekers who go it alone. They also report better wellbeing due to being able to help other group members with networking leads or other advice. You can find these groups in most larger cities and they are often sponsored and run by churches and community organizations. Here at the Career Center we are big believers in this concept and have facilitated weekly job club meetings for years.

If you are a job seeker in a professional career and are interested in joining our job club, you can find more information here or give the Career Center a call at 225-231-3733.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

Different Types of Job Fairs

April and May are job fair season in South Louisiana. There are a number of job fairs to choose from each week. But, job searcher beware, not all job fairs are created equal. If you don’t do your research ahead of time you might well waste your time and return frustrated. Different job fairs work for different job searchers. Here is an overview of the different kinds of job fairs and who will benefit most:

College Career Fairs

These job fairs are organized by colleges mainly for their students and alumni, but sometimes they are open to the general public as well. Colleges put on general job fairs, which include a wide selection of employers and professions. Before you go and attend a general job fair, find out which employers will be present and if they are interesting to you! In addition to the general job fairs, colleges often organize fairs specific to certain professions: e.g. health care careers, engineering, media, or skilled trades. These are preferable to the general fairs since you know each employer present has an interest in hiring candidates from your field.

In general the employers present at college career fairs are mainly interested in entry-level and recent graduate candidates. Though alumni are usually invited as well, there will be fewer opportunities for mid-career candidates. However, talking to a live human recruiter or hiring manager is always preferable to just applying online. So the chance to talk to hiring managers directly, learn information about the company and making connections might make it worthwhile for mid-career professionals to attend.

General Public Job Fairs

These are often organized by local non-profit organizations, media outlets or workforce centers. They are unfocused and represent a wide variety of employers and fields. Often the majority of employers present at these general fairs are from companies or fields with high turnover jobs who need new employees frequently. These occupations are often found at the lower paying level of the world of work. If you need a job fast and are not picky, these job fairs might work for you. If you are an experienced professional, do your research and find out beforehand which employers will be present to see if it is worth your while to attend.

A drawback that college and general job fairs have in common is that some of the companies present are not really actively hiring. Sometimes they attend more for the public relations value. They want to be seen as thriving companies that are attractive to potential employees. Yes, they will still take your resume at the job fair but it will not lead to anything.

Single Employer Job Fairs

These are the best job fairs. As the name suggests, this is a job fair for/with just one employer who is normally looking to fill a number of different positions. These are the best job fairs because the companies conducting them are in need and actively looking for people. They are usually very organized and ready to interview and process applicants on the spot. This means that there is very little time between the job fair and starting a new position. Single employer job fairs are conducted by companies in all fields, from high tech and IT, to warehouse, healthcare and hospitality.

The career center can help!

The best way to find out about any kind of job fair in your area is social media. Follow any company you are interested in on social media. They will normally announce their job fair participation on their different accounts. Also follow your school’s career center social media as well as your local workforce or unemployment center, Dept. of Labor and public library. For the Greater Baton Rouge area the Career Center at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is your one stop shop. We post all upcoming job fairs on our social media, we frequently host them, and we help you prepare for an impeccable job fair performance with our Job Fair Success seminars, like this one.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 4

This is the fourth post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

4th deadly sin: an unmanaged and unmonitored social media presence

If you followed the advice of our blog posts about the first three deadly sins of job searching,  you now know what you want and what you can contribute, you have a networking strategy in place, and you have a well-written resume. Great, well done! You are ready to get the word out to your network and to recruiters that you are on the market. Yet despite good qualifications, you get no leads or interviews.

Have you monitored your social media presence lately?
Is your social media presence holding you back? You want to be on social media while job searching! Social media platforms can be of tremendous help in finding a job. But your presence can also cost you the job if not managed carefully. The vast majority of recruiters and/or hiring manager will check you out on the internet!

LinkedIn: If you are in a professional career, you need a LinkedIn profile. The profile needs to be complete, including a professional picture. All LinkedIn content needs to be professional; this is not the place for your vacation pics or party exploits. For more information on LinkedIn see our previous post.
Facebook: If you use Facebook exclusively for private non-professional content, make sure to lock it down and set your privacy settings to the most restrictive settings possible. Don’t let anybody tag you in pictures; don’t let anybody post anything to your timeline. Delete old profile pics. Don’t post incriminating pictures, and be careful about what you post or articles you share or like. Beware of public groups. Despite all these potential negatives, Facebook can be a good networking tool.
Twitter: Twitter is inherently public. So adjust your strategy while job searching. If you follow any divisive or questionable groups or organizations, drop them while you are on the search. Also refrain from commenting on, posting, or retweeting such content. Do not share or retweet incriminating pictures of any kind. Do use Twitter to follow, comment on, engage in and retweet content that is highly relevant to the job you are looking for.
Instagram: Again, beware of the pictures you post, what you like and comment on. Do use Instagram to post pictures, follow, and engage in content and organizations that support your job search and show your interest in the subject matter.

Personal Branding
Ideally you want to use all your social media accounts for a branding campaign. You know what kind of job you are looking for and you know the kinds of organizations you’d most like to work with. Now you can utilize social media to learn as much as possible about these organizations and engage with them. Follow their social media presence, engage with and comment on their posts, post relevant content on your own feeds, and use targeted hashtags. If you do this well, maybe your next job will find you.

If you need assistance in creating LinkedIn profiles or learning about social media for the job search, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Job Searching with Facebook

If you’re a savvy job-seeker, you already know that social media is a crucial job search tool – for establishing your personal brand, expanding your network, and discovering the hidden job market. But what you may not know is, there is a new tool you can add to your social media job search toolkit. Facebook has recently launched Facebook Jobs, an app which allows you to find and apply for jobs directly through Facebook.

How to use facebook jobs

Once you log into your personal Facebook page, the Jobs tool is visible on the left sidebar under “Explore.”

Click on the Jobs tab and you will see:

  • the Location that determines which job openings are shown
  • a list of Job-Type boxes so you can narrow down the search by Full-Time, Part-Time, Internship, and so on
  • a list of Industry boxes so you can narrow down what types of jobs interest you
  • a Search jobs field if you would like to search for jobs with certain key terms

Depending on what search terms you use, you will see “posts” for job openings in your Location area, Industry, and Job Type. If you see a position that interests you have the option to click on Apply Now – but you might not want to.

One Major caveat

The Facebook Jobs tool has one great advantage, which is that it makes it very easy and convenient for you to look for a variety of jobs at once. Much like aggregate job posting sites such as Indeed, it’s a time-saving one-stop shop for job searchers. But once you find a job you’d like to apply for, we recommend that you do not actually apply for the job through Facebook itself (unless that is the only option). We strongly recommend that you go to the company’s official website and apply there instead.

We have two major reasons for this recommendation. First, many people see Facebook as a place of play, not a place of business. Submitting your application that way may cause you to be taken less seriously, especially if the application links directly to your personal Facebook page – which is probably much less polished and professional-looking than your resume or LinkedIn profile. Second, there is always a risk that you will be sharing your information with a suspicious source. There are a lot of scam artists who lure in victims with fake job offers, and Facebook may not be able to thoroughly vet them all. Thus, the company’s official website is the safer bet.

Applying for a job through facebook

Again, we recommend that you don’t do this, and use the company’s official website instead. However, sometimes that’s not an option. If the job can only be applied for on Facebook (and you’re certain that it’s legitimate),  click “Apply Now” on the job posting. This opens up a rudimentary job application form where you can provide contact information, education, and experience. There is also an option to be notified by that organization about other job openings.

Advertising a job through facebook

If you run a small business with a corporate Facebook page, you can use the Facebook Jobs tool to advertise your job openings. This may be a good way to expand your pool of applicants, because far more people will see your openings here than on your company website. Once you log into your corporate page, there is a button for Publish a job post.

That opens a form on which the organization can post the open position with places to add information about Job Title, Location, Salary, Job Type, Details, Additional Questions, and a Photo if desired (such as a business or company logo).

Overall impression

Whether the Facebook Jobs tool is useful to you will depend on your needs and circumstances. If you have highly specialized skills, or if you are only interested in a handful of companies, this tool may not help you find what you’re looking for. If, however, you’re not completely sure what you want or where to find it, this tool can be a great way to look at a large variety of local job listings with a minimum of fuss. We saw lots of openings for retail, food service, caregiver, and labor positions, but there’s a little of everything and a few off-the-wall postings you’d have trouble finding elsewhere. In general, we think it’s a good tool to help both companies and job-seekers.

Written by Richard Wright and Lynnette Lee

New Resource: Job Search Quiz

Test your Career know-how with our Job Search Quiz

The Career Center recently added a new resource to its website: a job search quiz. This 20-question, true-false quiz will test your knowledge of general job search techniques, interviewing, resume-writing, and networking.

The quiz’s most helpful feature: after your test is scored, you will be provided with detailed explanations for each question. These explanations will help you become a savvier job-seeker and increase your likelihood of success landing a great job.

You may take the quiz here or on the Job Search page of our website. As always, if you would like further assistance with any aspect of your job search, contact the Career Center at 225-231-3733.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Work@Home 101: How to Find Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities

If you’ve missed our seminar “Work @ Home 101”, here are the key takeaways:

No commute, no dress code, no office politics, and more flexibility. That’s what attracts most people to look into working from home. Thanks to technological advances, work-at-home opportunities are more plentiful than ever before. But how to find the best opportunities? How do you beware of scams? And is working from home really as good as it seems?

While the before mentioned advantages are real, there are distinct disadvantages to working from home as well. Do you have the self-discipline not to give in to the distractions of being at home, such as surfing the web, doing housework, reading a book, or talking to friends? Are you okay with no person-to- person interaction all day? Many jobs feature interaction through chat, phone, or video call, but it’s still not the same as being around others in person. There are also no clear limitations between being “at work” and “at home”.

However, if you have determined that working from home suits your lifestyle, the next step is to figure out, which opportunities are the best fit for you.

Independent contractor or employee?

Both kinds of employment are available virtually and both have their pros and cons. Being an employee usually means that you only work for that specific employer, have regular hours, and receive benefits such as paid time off and, ideally, health and retirement benefits. In most cases, the employer will furnish equipment like laptop and/or telephone.

As an independent contractor, you provide services to an organization but are not their employee. As such, you are not eligible for benefits and mostly have to furnish your own equipment. But you can also set your own hours and only work when you want to. This set-up provides ultimate flexibility and you can work for several organizations at the same time. The majority of work at home opportunities will fall into this category!

Where to find legitimate work-at-home jobs?

There is a one-stop-shop for virtual job postings. Your first go-to website should be Rat Race Rebellion. It’s not the most user-friendly site, but in turn it is free. Rat Race Rebellion provides the most comprehensive list of links to legitimate work-at-home opportunities of all kinds: employee and independent contractor, large and small companies, from healthcare to education to call centers, it covers every industry.

Another legitimate website is Flexjobs. Flexjobs’ mission is to provide flexible work opportunities, not just virtual ones. Therefore, a lot of their jobs are actually not work-from-home, so you have to dig through their listings to find the virtual opportunities. You can browse the listings for free, but in order to get company name and contact information you have to join flexjobs, which charges you a monthly fee! Therefore, browse the listings first in order to determine if it is worth for you to join.

Last but not least there are online market places such as Upwork and Workmarket. Upwork is literally an online marketplace where anybody can post projects that they need to hire somebody with a specific expertise for. Project posters are often individuals, small companies, or start-ups. On the flip side, contractors can sign up and advertise their services. Projects cover a wide range of fields: creative, legal, translations, software and web design, proofreading, accounting, etc. You can browse the jobs without registration. But in order to bid on/apply for the projects, you need to register and create a profile. Unless you have a rare expertise or skill, it takes some time before you can make decent money on Upwork. You need to build a good reputation project by project. Once your reputation is established, you can demand more money. It is pure supply and demand. Upwork can be great for people wanting to break into a new field or who want to build a portfolio of projects. It is also a good resume filler for people who are unemployed and want to avoid long gaps in their work history.

Workmarket is also an online marketplace, but the projects posted are usually by larger employers. You can’t just browse jobs on the site —  you have to register before you can proceed. Since the jobs are by larger employers who have an urgent short-term need, the pay is usually good. Both Upwork and Workmarket only provide contract work, not employment.

If you want to move ahead with getting an online job but don’t know how to proceed, the Career Center can help. Give us a call at 225-231-3733 and we will help you discover options and tackle applications.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 3

This is the third post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

3rd deadly sin: Resume Blunders

Regardless of what job you are looking for, you now need a resume. No big deal you think, there are plenty of templates available on the internet and if those don’t work out I’ll hire a resume writer. Let’s see what could go wrong:

1st blunderone resume fits all. No, it usually doesn’t. Ideally you want to adjust your resume to each job you are applying for. Most times, it just needs little tweaks and not major rewrites.  If you are applying through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), each resume needs to contain as many of the keywords in the job description as possible to make it through the ATS. Those keywords will differ from job to job.

2nd blunder – an unfocused resume. You have done a lot of good work in your life and you want every potential employer to see all you can do. That’s understandable, but you don’t want to drown the reader in irrelevant information. Be strategic about what you include in your resume. You want to stress those parts of your experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for and minimize the experience that is not relevant. You also don’t want to go back too far in time. Normally going back about 15 years is customary. Resume space is at a premium; use it wisely. The reader will only spend a few seconds skimming it. Those few seconds need to be enough to convey that you have what they are looking for.

3rd blunder – no accomplishments. Everybody has accomplishments! Many job searchers don’t recognize their accomplishments and see it as “well, that’s just part of my job”. Don’t sell yourself short! Talk to colleagues and friends (or resume writers and career coaches) and let them help you identify what you do well. Then include those accomplishments in your resume.

4th blunder – not proofreading your resume. You have created a top notch resume, focused and filled with relevant accomplishments and keywords. You have read it a thousand times, so it must be okay, right? Too often it’s not. After working on a document for a while, you are not able to recognize the little typos and mistakes. Give your resume to a friend to proofread!!! Grammatical mistakes and typos will usually get you screened out right away. Recruiters will interpret it as carelessness.

5th blunder – not vetting a professional resume writer. Resume writing is hard, so you decide to hire a professional resume writer. There are a lot of excellent resume writers out there. There are even more poor ones! We have seen our share of poorly written resumes that job seekers have paid good money for! Anybody can call themselves a resume writer, so do your research. As with most things, word of mouth is best. Ask friends if they have been successful with a resume written by a specific resume writer. Also, check the resume-writer’s credentials. There are a number of certifications that resume writers can attain. Some of the best are:

  • MRW – Master Resume Writer: only very experienced resume writers get this credential.
  • ACRW – Academy Certified Resume Writer: this credential is given after a comprehensive certification class, exam and document submission for review.
  • CPRW – Certified Professional Resume Writer: resume writers have to pass a test and submit a resume for review.

Resume writing includes substantial communication between the writer and the job seeker. If your resume writer does not ask you many questions, or only asks you to complete a standard written form and then doesn’t talk to you again, beware.

You can learn more details about resumes in our previous blog posts on the topic. If you need assistance in creating a resume, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help (we actually have two Certified Professional Resume Writers on staff). More information on resumes and a number of templates can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 2

This is the second post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the entire series here.

2nd deadly sin: An unfocused search: “I just want a job, any job”

You’ve been job searching unsuccessfully for a while and are getting desperate. When talking to your contacts, you tell them you just need a job, any job, because any income is better than no income. Great, your friend Joe tells you about a lead he has for you. His friend Jane owns a janitorial company and they need an evening supervisor. Joe tells Jane about you and facilitates a meeting. Perfect! But wait –  you don’t want to work in janitorial services, that is not your field, and you don’t want to work nights. You have no interest in this job, which is what you tell Joe. What just happened? Joe lost face with Jane and you burned a bridge with Joe. Both are unlikely to help you in your search again. After all, you told Joe “any job” would be fine.

Most people are happy to help. But you want to make it easy for them to help you effectively. When you talk to people about looking for a new job, let them know what kind of position you are looking for and what you can contribute to your future employer. It could sound something like this: “I’m an experienced HR Generalist with special expertise in employee relations and recruiting. I help companies avoid legal proceedings by proactively addressing possible legal compliance issues. I also enjoy recruiting and sourcing the best possible candidates for my company. Ideally I would like to work in an industrial setting here in the area, like a chemical plant or industrial construction company. I have experience recruiting skilled craft professionals and could make an immediate contribution”. Now Joe would know not to ask Jane for a job for you. Instead he would concentrate on his contacts in the chemical and industrial construction industries, as well as in Human Resources, and facilitate meetings with them.

Therefore, before you start your job search, you need to be clear about:

  • Your skills, strengths, and values
  • What kind of position you are looking for
  • How you will help a future employer and what you will contribute
  • What kind of work environment you would enjoy most

Now that you are clear about all of the above, you can start a targeted job search, identify the sources that are most likely to yield the best leads, and strategically contact your network.

If you need help assessing your skills and values, or devising an efficient job search or networking strategy, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help. More information on networking and informational interviewing can be found at The Muse.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 1

This is the first post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

1st deadly sin: Your job search strategy consists of only searching online and newspaper ads

You find yourself out of a job and turn to what has worked for you in the past. After all, the last time you looked for a job, you grabbed the Sunday paper, found an ad in your field, sent a resume, went on the interview, and got the job. The problem is, that strategy stopped being efficient years ago. While you still find job ads in the Sunday newspaper, they have mostly migrated online. The online version of your local paper will still have job ads. Add to that a large number of online job boards, such as Indeed, Ziprecruiter, and Craigslist, plus local and niche job boards. That should give you plenty of jobs to choose from…..so you think.

While you will find plenty of positions advertised on the internet, what’s your actual chance of landing a job this way? Many sources say: around 5%.

Here are some of the reasons why your chances of success applying for jobs online are so low:

  • Only around 20% of all open positions are advertised online. The other 80% of open positions are filled through referrals and networking! So, if your entire job search consists of applying online, you are competing for only 20% of available jobs.
  • For non-technical positions it is not at all unusual for 200 or 300 people to apply. That’s a lot of competition.
  • Your application is received by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), the software the company uses to manage their recruiting function. The software often screens your resume and application before a human eye will see it. It uses keyword matches. If your resume does not contain the right keywords, you’re sorted out and your application will never be seen by a human.
  • If a human recruiter screens your resume, they will look at it for only a few seconds due to the large number of applicants. They will not read your documents word for word!
  • Due to the keyword-matching mechanism, the only applicants who will make it through are those who have the exact experience and skills described in the ad. If you are a career changer or want to change industries, you are very unlikely to make it through.

It is still possible to find a job through online ads. Just use it as one of several approaches to job search, not your only one! Devote much more time to networking and informational interviewing in order to open up the 80% of open positions that constitute the hidden job market and are never advertised.

If you need help devising an efficient job search or networking strategy, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733; we can help. More information on networking and informational interviewing can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak