3 Tech Hacks for the Job Search

Technology can definitely make the job search more complicated. . .but occasionally, technology is there to bail you out as well. Here are 3 tech-based quick fixes we recently discovered that we think you’ll find useful in your job search:

Situation 1: You need to update your PDF resume

We sometimes see patrons who need to update or revise their resume but it is in PDF format. Many computers (including library computers) do not have the software necessary to edit PDF files. What can you do?

Sometimes that resume was originally in another format such as Microsoft Word and was exported as a PDF file. If you can track down the original file and open that in Microsoft Word and update or revise it with no problem. However, if all you have is the PDF, try this:

Solutions:

  • Convert it using Word. Newer editions of MS Word (2013 and beyond) are able to open a PDF and convert it to Word format. This is the most effective and hassle-free option. Here is a step-by-step guide from Microsoft. However it will not work with a scan. This works best with files that were created in Word and exported as PDFs. If the resume was originally created as a PDF, some of the formatting (such as font size and style) will be lost, but you can restore or modify that in Word.
  • Use ILovePDF.com. This website converts PDFs to Word documents and produced excellent results when we tested it. It even does a great job converting fancy resumes formatted with tables. However it will not work with a scan.
  • Use Google Drive to convert it. Obviously this one only works if you have a Google account. Upload the PDF to your Drive and open the file as a Google Doc. Then, in the menu bar, go to File -> Download as -> Microsoft Word (docx). Again this technique does not work with scans.
  • If your resume is a scan, none of the above options will work very well. If that is the case, we have another blog post that explains what you can do.

Situation 2: Your employer sent you a packet of forms to fill out, but they are in PDF format

In the last few months we have worked with several patrons who found a new job, and their (new) employer needed them to complete several forms that are in PDF format. Some PDF forms are designed to be filled out electronically but this is uncommon. As in (1) above most computers (including library computers) do not have the software to edit PDF files and so completing these forms is inconvenient. Usually people must (a) print the forms, (b) fill them out by hand, (c) scan them, and (d) email them back to the employer. There is however a simpler way:

Solution:

You can type in PDF files electronically using the website Kami at www.kamiapp.com. To use Kami you need an account but a basic account is free. The way Kami works is, you do not fill in the PDF form electronically so much as you create text boxes and type over those spaces in the form where you need to add information. It is very much like using a typewriter to complete a form except you are using a website on a computer.

Situation 3: You want to make sure your resume uses key words that match the job description

An important part of putting together an effective resume is using keywords that line up with a job description. That potential employer is looking for someone who has certain specific skills, and they use something called Automated Tracking Software (ATS) to look for those skills and keywords in resumes they receive. The bad news is, if your resume doesn’t contain the right keywords, it could be rejected by the ATS before it gets seen by a person. The good news is, there are websites that scan your resume and let you know how well your resume lines up with a job description. Try these websites to help you beat the ATS:

solutions:

  • Skillsyncer at www.skillsyncer.com. You can try it for free and can use it for free once per week. You can also subscribe for a monthly or quarterly fee, and this allows you to use it as much as you like, and you receive more thorough feedback. Upload your resume, search the web for a job that interests you, paste the job listings description into the Skillsyncer platform. Your resume receives feedback within seconds. Your match report includes a Job Match Score, Keyword Analysis, and Common Resume Checks for you to review.
  • Jobscan at www.jobscan.co. It is more expensive than Skillsyncer although the feedback and recommendations you receive (include cover letter templates) are more extensive.

Written by Richard Wright

What We Learned by Completing Hundreds of Online Job Applications, Part 2

For Part 1 of this two-part article, please click here.

Here in the Career Center, one of the services we offer is one-on-one assistance with filling out job applications on the computer. Over the years we’ve helped hundreds of people apply for jobs online, and more recently we’ve filmed step-by-step walkthroughs for many common applications. During the course of all this, we noticed certain common threads: confusing features that kept coming up on applications, tricky questions, common mistakes, etc. We decided to create a guide to assist jobseekers with this process. Here then, is the accumulation of our wisdom (Part 2):

Tricky Application Questions

  • Be cautious about auto-filling the application. Some applications will let you use your resume or social media accounts to create a profile and fill in the application. But there are good and bad shortcuts here. Using your resume or LinkedIn profile can be a great shortcut – as long as you double-check that the application auto-filled correctly. But do not use any other social media account, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, to fill in the application. It’s an unprofessional look (and an invasion of your privacy).
  • Some questions are optional. For many applications, mandatory questions — those you must answer — are marked with a red asterisk or something similar. If a question doesn’t have a red asterisk, you can skip it.
  • There are certain questions you want to skip if possible. If you can, skip any questions that ask about your salary history or requirements – that’s something best discussed once they offer you the job. Also, skip any questions that might make you look bad, like “Why did you leave this job?”
  • If you have to tell them your salary requirements, prepare first. You don’t want to price yourself out of the running, but don’t undervalue yourself either. Do research to find out how much this position usually pays. Check glassdoor.com, salary.com, payscale.com, and/or the US Department of Labor.
  • If you have to tell them why you left a job, choose your words carefully. Negative-sounding answers (“I got fired,” “The management sucked,” “Too stressful,” etc.) will make you look bad. Some answers will indicate that you’re not a good fit for the new job — for example, don’t say “Left for more money” if the new job pays the same. Instead, try to give a neutral answer such as “Seeking career progression” or “Changing careers” or “Looking for a better fit for my skills.”
  • If they ask, “May we contact this employer?”, you should probably say yes unless it’s your current job. It’s completely understandable if you don’t want your current boss to know that you’re looking for a new job, so you can say no. But if you don’t want the new company to contact your previous employers, they’re going to wonder what you’re hiding.
  • “Are you eligible to work in the US?” The answer to this question is always yes if you were born in the US, if you have become a US citizen, or if you have a green card. If not, you may want to talk to an immigration professional to make sure of your status.
  • “Have you ever been fired?” You have to answer this question honestly. But if they give you a chance to explain, do so. Tell the story in a way that explains your extenuating circumstances, what you learned from the situation, etc.

Troubleshooting

  • Expect it to take some time. There’s a lot more to an application than just your work history. Usually there’s a section asking for demographic information and Work Opportunity Tax Credit eligibility. There may be online skills tests or personality assessments. Don’t be in a hurry; this is important stuff. Take the time to do it right.
  • If you can, use a computer. Many applications won’t work right on phones or tablets. And some applications won’t work in certain browsers, so if it doesn’t work in Edge, try Chrome or Firefox.
  • The library can help! If you don’t have a computer or the right browser at home, go use the computers at the library. It’s free, and the staff can help you.

Please contact us at 225-231-3733 if you have any further questions about job applications.

Written by Lynnette Lee

What We Learned by Completing Hundreds of Online Job Applications, Part 1

Here in the Career Center, one of the services we offer is one-on-one assistance with filling out job applications on the computer. Over the years we’ve helped hundreds of people apply for jobs online, and more recently we’ve filmed step-by-step walkthroughs for many common applications. During the course of all this, we noticed certain common threads: confusing features that kept coming up on applications, tricky questions, common mistakes, etc. We decided to create a guide to assist jobseekers with this process. Here then, is the accumulation of our wisdom (Part 1):

Organization

  • Know your employment history, including dates. If the work history you provide is incomplete or incorrect, that will be a major strike against you. If you’re uncertain of your starting or ending dates, find out before you start applying — call the company or your state employment office.
  • Keep track of things with a Job Search Notebook. This will contain all the information you need to complete applications, such as your work history, references, supervisors’ contact info, etc. It will also contain the list of what jobs you’ve applied for where and when, your usernames and passwords, and the other details you’ll need to keep straight. It can be a physical notebook, or a computerized database such as MS Excel or Google Sheets.
  • Have all documents saved on a USB drive or in the cloud. Scan any documents you may need, such as transcripts, certifications, letters of recommendation, etc., and upload them onto a USB drive. Save your resumes and cover letters on this device as well. Alternately, you can upload all of these documents onto Google Drive, MS OneDrive, iCloud, etc.

Resume

  • Every jobseeker should have a resume. Some applications cannot be completed without a resume. Others will use your resume to auto-fill the application so that you don’t have to do everything manually. Take the extra time and effort to make a resume first, and it will save you time and effort down the road.
  • Keep your resume in both PDF and Word format. The MS Word version is for you, so that you can make changes to the document and update it as needed. The Adobe PDF version, which is much harder to make changes to, is the one that you will upload to job applications.
  • Keep the formatting pretty simple. Try to avoid using tables, text boxes, and graphics. They may make your resume look beautiful, but the online application may have trouble reading them, which means your application may not be completed properly.

Creating/Accessing Account

  • You need a functioning email address. Email is the primary method by which employers will contact you, so make sure yours is easily accessible. Make sure you know your password and can check your email anywhere, not just on your phone. (What if the phone breaks?) Do not use someone else’s email address.
  • You have to create a new account for every single company. The application will start by asking you to sign in, which can be confusing – because until you’ve registered with this company, you can’t sign in. If this is your first time applying for that company, look for something that says “Create Account,” “New User,”, etc.
  • Keep track of your login information. Different applications have different security requirements, so you may end up with lots of user ids and passwords. If you don’t remember which password you used for which application, you can’t sign back in, which means you can’t apply for more jobs with that company. So every time you create an account, write it down in your Job Search Notebook, or on your phone’s Notes section.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Written by Lynnette Lee

What You Should Know about Online Job Applications, Part II

More and more employers are moving their application process entirely online, so it’s important that you know the basics of filling out online applications. While every job application is a little different, there are a few things that are basically the same across most of them. In this thrilling conclusion to the blog series, we’ll discuss which documents to include with your online application, and the assessments you’ll have to take.

If you missed Part I, you can read it here.

1 Documents to include

Most online applications will allow you to upload supporting documents with your application. We recommend including at least a Resumé, though a Cover letter, and a list of References are also helpful, especially if the employer asks for them.

1.1 Resumé

A resumé is a short overview of your professional history and qualifications. Employers use resumés to quickly filter through candidates to narrow down the applicant pool. Since a resumé is so short, and so important, it should be your top priority. If you can only work on one of these documents, work on your resumé.

1.1.1 Structure

Your resumé needs three main sections: a header with your name and contact information, an education section, and an experience section. In addition, you might want to include other sections for job-relevant certifications, skills, extracurriculars, classes, or volunteer work. You can also check out our YouTube videos Creating a Winning Resumé or Creating Your First Resumé for more information.

1.1.2 Formatting

Your resume should be typeset in an easy-to-read font – think Times New Roman, Cousine, or Helvetica – at a standard size, like 10, 11, or 12 pt. The margins should be comfortable, around 1 inch from each side. While it is your resumé, so you can format it how you like, it’s also a representation of your personality, style, and qualifications. We suggest you make it easy to read.

Some resumé templates online or in resumé builders have colors, backgrounds, images, or fancy formatting. Our resumé templates don’t include any of those, but again, it’s your personal choice. Make sure the formatting fits the job you’re applying for, however – you wouldn’t want to apply to a bank with a four-color resumé in Comic Sans, for example.

1.1.3 Further reading

1.2 Cover letter

A cover letter is almost as important to include as a resumé. A cover letter is your opportunity to explain why you’re applying for this job, with this company, and why they should want to hire you. It’s an act of salesmanship, so you should take the time to write a fresh one with each new application.

Cover letters become more important the higher-paying or more-specialized the job is. While it might not be super important to write a full cover letter for a minimum-wage or entry-level position, it’s vitally important to write one for any job with a salary.

For more information on cover letter writing, including tips on what to write, and how to format it, see our blog posts Structuring and Formatting a Cover Letter and When and Why Do I Need a Cover Letter?, as well as our YouTube videos Introduction to Cover Letters and Cover Letters 2.0.

1.3 References

References are professional contacts that can speak to your efficacy as an employee. Many employers will contact references in the late stages of the hiring process, when they’ve narrowed the list of applicants down to two or three. Because of this, you shouldn’t include your references with your resumé, but as a separate document that you might even send later.

Make sure to ask your references before you write them down, and let them know when you’re using them. Include their name, business phone number and email address, and their relationship to you.

For more information, see our YouTube video Reference Ready.

2 Assessment

It’s important to remember that every aspect of an online application serves a screening purpose: employers use the data they glean about you to determine whether they’ll bring you along to the next round of hiring, and possibly to a job. Skills and Personality Assessments are an important tool for employers to narrow their hiring pool, so it’s important to take them seriously.

2.1 Personality Assessments

Employers use personality assessments to see if you’d be a good fit to the culture of their company, or if you’ll tend to act according to their policies in various situations. They’ll ask questions relating to interactions with troublesome customers or coworkers, and various others designed to determine whether you’re honest, hardworking, open to criticism, a team player, and self-sufficient. They’ll ask the same question with different wordings multiple times, to see if you’re paying attention or just clicking buttons.

Make sure to read through each question fully, and consider your answer before marking it. Some personality assessments let you go back and change answers, and some don’t – so be prepared.

2.2 Skills Assessments

A good number of employers, especially those looking for entry-level positions, use skills assessments to screen for applicants who can do the basic requirements of the job. As an example, Wal-Mart’s assessment has you make change for a customer using the fewest number of coins. Others include logic puzzles, scheduling problems, and computer skills.

When working through a skills assessment, make sure to read each question fully, and consider your answer. However, be wary of taking too long – many skills assessments are also timed. Good luck!

3 Conclusion

Part II concludes our series on What You Should Know about Online Job Applications. We at the Career Center wish you the best of luck on your job search! If you have any other questions or ideas for another blog post, feel free to contact us by email or phone: (225) 231-3733.

We also have a number of Online Application walkthroughs on our YouTube channel, and we’re adding more all the time.

Written by Case Duckworth

What You Should Know About Online Job Applications: Part I

More and more employers are moving their application process entirely online, so it’s important that you know the basics of filling out online applications. While every job application is a little different, there are a few things that are basically the same across most of them. In this blog series, we’ll discuss some of those similarities.

Before you start

Before you start on your online job search, you need some information handy to make applying easier. We recommend keeping a job search notebook, where you can jot down information like what jobs you’ve already applied for and whether you’ve heard back from them; usernames, emails, and passwords for various job search and application websites; and lists of your professional experience, as well as possible references and their contact information.

Passwords

One of the first things a new job application will ask you to do is create an account. I like to think of passwords as a sort of “magic key” to websites that you can make yourself. They’re much easier to copy than a regular key though – and in fact, they can even be guessed! Here at the Career Center, we encourage patrons to think of a password that’s easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Ideally, you’ll have a separate password for each website you use, and that includes job search websites, too. You can write down your passwords, along with other information about each website, in your job search notebook.

If you want to know more about good passwords and how to make them, watch our video on the subject.

Legal mumbo jumbo

Almost all employment portals have a legal disclaimer or Terms of Service page that you need to agree to continue. We always recommend reading, or at least skimming, through the Terms of Service, and making sure you agree with how they’ll use your information, before continuing.

However, the fact of the matter is that you won’t be able to apply for the position without indicating that you agree to their terms (usually there’s a check box you can click) and clicking Continue. So read through the Terms, think about it, and make your own decision.

Required fields

This is generally-applicable advice for almost any web forms you fill out, not just online applications. Some web form fields are required, meaning they must be filled out to continue in the form. Most application forms we’ve come across have marked those with an asterisk, like this: *. Much of the time, that asterisk is red, as well. However, these are conventions, and some websites might indicate required elements differently! Be on the look out for instructions that let you know how the employer has marked required fields, and make sure to answer those. Otherwise, the application won’t let you continue.

If a field isn’t required, you don’t have to fill it out – and in fact, for some fields it’s better not to. These include questions like these:

  • What do you expect to be paid for this position?
  • What were you paid in your previous position?
  • May we contact your current employer? (See below for more information on this question and the next one.)
  • Why did you leave a previous position?

Personal questions

Demographic information

Demographic information includes data like your age, sex, and ethnicity. It is illegal to discriminate against these parts of your identity, and in many cases, for the actual employers to even see the data before making a hiring decision. Most of the time, when employers ask you for demographic information, it’s actually a third party they hire to compile that information for later analysis, or more recently, to apply for a federal tax break. You should never be required to input demographic data in a job application form.

Legal authorization to work in the U.S.

While companies can get in trouble for discriminating based on demographic information such as ethnicity, they can also get in trouble for employing someone without the authorization to work in the United States – so while this question may seem personal, they need to ask it. However, it can be confusing to know for sure if you are authorized to work in the U.S. Here are a few tips.

  • If you were born in the United States, you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. You can answer Yes.
  • If you were not born in the United States, but you are a permanent resident – that is, you have a green card – you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. You can answer Yes.
  • If neither of the above are true: you should (hopefully) know about your immigration or naturalization status.

Previous employers

Companies love to ask about your previous employers and whether they can contact them. Unless you were fired for gross misbehavior from a previous job, it’s fine to put the employers’ number down here. Usually, prospective employers are routed to HR, where they’re only told that you did work there and your dates of employment.

Reason for leaving

Especially with your most recent employer, you might get asked about why you left. If you can leave this blank, we recommend it. Otherwise, try to think of the most neutral- or positive-sounding, while still being honest, version of why you left the company. An answer like, “I wanted more money,” is not a good answer, no matter how true it is. Try an answer more along the lines of, “A better opportunity presented itself.”

Criminal record

If you have a criminal record, it can be especially hard to get a job. Check out our video Special Resumé Rules for Ex-Offenders for some resumé tips.

Social Media

Make any social media your employer may see as private as you can, or keep your feed as professional as possible. Imagine your boss (or prospective boss) is standing behind you and can see the posts you make and reply to. While it’s a breach of privacy, in our opinion, for employers to comb through applicants’ social media, they do and they’re completely allowed to. Plan accordingly. For more detailed information on this topic, check out our video Social Media Etiquette for the Job Search.


Make sure to keep an eye out for Part II of this series, where we’ll discuss which documents you should attach to online applications, as well as the dreaded Assessments!

Written by Case Duckworth

Email and Telephone Etiquette for Jobseekers

Ahh, technology. It can make communication so much faster, easier, and more convenient. But if used improperly, it can also give the wrong impression. It’s important for all professionals, especially those currently on the job hunt, to make sure they’re using technology to present a positive image of themselves. Recently, we posted an article about Social Media Etiquette for Jobseekers. Today, we follow that up with the dos and don’ts of email and telephone etiquette.

be easy to get in touch with

If you make it too difficult for hiring managers to get ahold of you, they’re going to move to the next name on their list. Follow these tips:

  • Ensure that your email and voicemail are both in working order, and that your mailboxes are not full. You would hate for a hiring manager’s message to bounce back and be unable to reach you.
  • Make sure that your name is featured in both your email address and your voicemail message. That way, the hiring manager will be assured that they’re reached the right person.
  • Check your email and voicemails at least 3 times a week while you’re job hunting. Respond to messages promptly. Otherwise, you may miss opportunities for interviews.

Choose your email address carefully

Your email address is one of the first pieces of information a hiring manager will see about you. Make sure it gives a good first impression. If your email address does not meet the qualifications below, you can create a new email account which you use only for job searching.

  • The best email addresses for the job search are simple – they include your name and not much else. Examples: ahamilton14@gmail.com; elisabeth.schuyler@outlook.com; aaronb48@yahoo.com.
  • Do not use an email address that could be seen as suggestive or offensive, such as hotmama@gmail.com or thuglife420@yahoo.com.
  • Avoid using an email address that highlights your personal interests, unless those interests are relevant to the job. For example, ilovecats@outlook.com might work if applying to a cat shelter, but not really for anything else.
  • Make things easy on the hiring manager – avoid email addresses that are difficult to type (such as i7c4a9r5u2s3@live.com).
  • Don’t confuse the hiring manager by giving an email address with someone else’s name on it.
  • Beware of age discrimination: it can be dangerous to use the year of your birth in your email address (such as johnqpublic1970@cox.net). Also, be aware that certain older email domains, including aol.com, hotmail.com, and bellsouth.net, are seen as old-fashioned by some hiring managers.

write like a professional

  • Treat every email you send to a hiring manager as if it’s being graded by your strictest English teacher. Use perfect spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. If this is not your strength, you may want to get someone to proofread your message before you send it.
  • Use language which is more formal than casual. Steer clear of abbreviations such as “u r” for “you are.” Do not use slang, emojis, multiple exclamation points, etc.
  • Start with a formal greeting – such as “Dear Mr. Jefferson” – and end with a closing and signature – for example, “Thank you for your time, James Madison”.
  • The first email you send to a hiring manager counts as your cover letter. It needs to include all the information a cover letter normally contains, such as what job you’re applying for, details of why you’d be a great fit for the job and why you’re excited about it, and where you are in the application process.
  • Double-check before you hit “send” – did you remember to attach your resume?

sound like a professional

  • Make sure your outgoing voicemail message is appropriate. If your message is more funny than serious – or if you have an impersonal, machine-generated message – change it.
  • Tone of voice is crucial when you’re having a phone conversation with a hiring manager. Smile and sound enthusiastic. Also, they won’t hire you if they can’t understand you, so make sure that you speak slowly and clearly.
  • Be careful to use proper grammar, avoiding slang or casual expressions.
  • If they call at a bad time – when you’re someplace noisy or distracting – let it go to voicemail and call them back later.
  • If you have a phone interview scheduled, set aside a quiet place with good reception. (You can call 225-231-3733 to book our conference room for a phone interview.) Have your resume and notes in front of you – a phone interview is like an open-book test.

If you have any more questions about email or telephone etiquette for jobseekers, don’t hesitate to call us at 225-231-3733.

Written by Lynnette Lee

How to Research a Potential Employer for Cultural Fit

It’s a common, and very frustrating, situation. You scored the new job, it fits your skills and experience perfectly, and you are excited to start. But then, after a few weeks or months, total frustration. What happened? You and your new company have no cultural fit.

Let’s look into the concept of company culture, what it is, why it is important, and how you can research it before you start a new job.

What is Company culture?

Company culture is made up of the values, norms, beliefs, habits, language, and underlying assumptions of an organization. Every organization has a company culture. Sometimes it is carefully crafted and curated, and sometimes it developed more organically. These building blocks have immediate influence on atmosphere and work environment and on work practices. Work practices include:

  • Hierarchy
  • Dress code
  • Decision making style
  • Performance management and promotions
  • Compensation
  • Flexible hours/home office
  • Time off for community service or company-sponsored volunteering

why does it matter so much?

Now it is easily apparent why it is so important that there is a good cultural fit between the employee and their organization. If you like flat hierarchies but your company operates with a top down approach, you will not be productive. If you believe in pay for performance but you work for an employer that gives the same percentage raise to everybody regardless of performance, you will be frustrated. If you hate suit-and-tie but have to wear it every day, you will not feel at ease. The good news is, it is absolutely possible to research some of these determinants of company culture before you accept a new job.

Start with yourself

Before you start researching companies you are interested in, take a step back and start with yourself. In order to assess fit, you first need to be aware of your own priorities. You need to figure out which of the components of company culture listed above are most important to you. Is pay for performance more important than flexible hours or home office? Do dress code and community service trump pay and job content? These values will change over time and depend on the stage of life you are in. But you have to be aware of what is most important or non-negotiable for you.

Researching company culture

Now that you know what is important to you, you can start your research.

  1. Start with the company website. Check out the “our team” or “who we are” sections. Take a look at how the team is presented. Just picture and title? Or picture, title and some more background information? How are people dressed? Does the site only feature matter-of-fact content? Or do you see pictures from company parties or company volunteer days? What kind of information is displayed on the recruiting site?
  2. Check and follow the organization’s social media feeds.
  3. Check the LinkedIn profiles of people who work at your desired organization.
  4. Search online reviews, for example on www.glassdoor.com.
  5. Look for articles in professional, business, and industry publications.
  6. Listen to business podcasts where company leaders and/or founders are interviewed.
  7. Finally, talk to people who work at your desired employer and ask them about company culture.

All, or even just some, of the steps above will give you some insight into the company culture of a potential employer. And if you previously established your own list of priorities, you will be able to easily compare and contrast to see if an organization might be a fit.

We wish you much success in your job search! If you’d like any help with your job search or career development, the Career Center is here to help. Contact us at 225-231-3733 or at www.careercenterbr.com or check out our YouTube channel at careercenterbr.com/youtube.

Written by Anne Nowak

Social Media Etiquette for Job-Seekers

Most of us regularly use social media of some sort, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or LinkedIn. We use these platforms to maintain our connections with friends, keep up with news and local events, and express our ideas and emotions. Yet there’s a hidden danger for jobseekers – your social media image could be making you look unprofessional and sabotaging your employment chances.

employers check social media. . .

Employers want to get as much information as possible before hiring someone, so that they can feel confident they’re making the right choice. Thus, many employers make it a practice to look up candidates online. If they don’t like what they see, they may reject the candidate.

. . .so you should too.

Google yourself, and look yourself up on every social media platform that you use. Use a computer that is not logged into your profile (such as a computer at the library), so that you see what an outsider will see when they look you up online. Make note of what is visible, in terms of your accounts, photos, posts, and comments. Approach it as if you were reading about a stranger – what kind of image do you project? Do you seem like a good potential employee (hard-working, reliable, caring, etc.)? Or do you seem unprofessional, bitter, or high-maintenance?

avoid these common mistakes:

  • Inappropriate or risqué pictures, such as images that include alcohol, drugs, people under the influence, scantily-clad people, or high-risk behavior. Anything that makes you look like the life of the party is probably a bad idea – hiring managers don’t want to hire the life of the party; they want to hire responsible professionals.
  • Unprofessional or negative posts. Social media is so public that it’s not a safe place to vent about your struggles. For examples, see these real tweets that have cost people job opportunities: “I hate my boss. Take this job and shove it.” “Unemployment isn’t so bad. It will be hard going back to work.” “Sexual harassment rules are so dumb.” “Oh please, everybody lies on their resume.”
  • Controversial topics, such as politics or religion, can be risky. Keep in mind, hiring managers may have different beliefs from you. If that’s true – and you’re very vocal online about your beliefs – the hiring manager may decide they don’t want to work with someone they won’t get along with. We are not saying you CAN’T express your beliefs – if it’s very important to you, you may decide that it’s worth the risk. But be aware that your self-expression may be negatively impacting your job search.

how do i fix my online image?

  • Un-tag yourself from unflattering photos.
  • Delete irresponsible tweets/posts.
  • Tighten your privacy settings so that strangers cannot see most of your information.
  • Some people even use a false name for personal accounts, so that no one except their contacts can see any of their information.
  • Caveat: Even with those precautions, be careful what you post. If someone takes a screenshot of something you post, that can be public and permanent.

what if i have no social media presence at all?

You may decide that the best way to keep a clean image is to avoid the temptation of social media entirely. That may or may not be a good idea, depending on your situation.

  • For a job in which you will never need to know how to use social media (such as nurse, truck driver, or prep cook), it’s probably fine to have no online presence.
  • For a job that requires you to be tech-savvy (such as IT professional, graphic designer, or librarian), it will look weird to employers if you don’t seem to have any knowledge of or experience with social media technology.
  • For a job that involves sales, promotion, or community outreach (such as marketing specialist or fundraising director), you need to showcase your comfort with using social media to reach people.
  • If you’re in the corporate world, you need to have a LinkedIn account, or you will not be taken seriously. Your LinkedIn account should focus entirely on your professional life, not your personal life.
  • When used correctly, social media can help your job search. Both LinkedIn and Facebook have job search functions built in. Additionally, all social media platforms can be used for networking, which can lead you to job openings you’d never know about otherwise. Also, social media can be a great place to build your personal brand and make yourself look attractive to employers.

If you have further questions about this topic, or if you’d like our help improving your social media image, give us a call at 225-231-3733.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Book Review: The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide

Do you find you struggle to land a job because you’re introverted? If so, you may benefit from the book The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide, which you may place on hold through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

“even wallflowers can blossom”: thoughts on introversion

In her Introduction, Author Jane Finkle immediately states that introversion and extroversion are not etched in stone, but mere moving preferences–ideal “situational” comfort zones.  Finkle declaratively confides she is an introvert, yet touts the fine balance between extroversion and introversion equally.  She characterizes her older brother’s extroversion as demanding of Mom’s “attention with nonstop chatter” yet speaking “freely to any stranger in his path.”

She continues that balancing act:  “My grandmother’s entrepreneurial spirit was supported by my quiet immigrant grandfather, who was content staying behind the scenes.  And my socially timid father chronically complained of upcoming social gatherings, though in the end he thoroughly enjoyed such events despite his reticent nature.”

Jane Finkle’s long familial line of introversion includes her own willingness to listen to stories and come up “with ways to solve their problems” then “helping them rewrite a chapter in their lives that would lead to a happy ending” which led her “to a career in counseling.”  As a result, she toots the proverbial “introvert’s” horn saying “listeners by design, introverts prefer to take in all pertinent information before speaking, but then often surprise their audience by making relevant, thoughtful contributions.”

The elephant in the room, according to Jane Finkle, is that “In America, we live in a culture that favors extroversion” which leads to many introverts questioning “their personal value and ability to compete in the face of market changes.”  In contrast, introversion does not impede success.  Although “Asian cultures and some African cultures identified more closely with introversion” related to “tradition, conservatism, and compliance…Asian Americans are the best educated, earn the highest incomes, and constitute the fastest growing racial group in the United States.”

Introverts may feel invisible like a wallflower, but Finkle notes that “even wallflowers can blossom!”  Author Jane Finkle encourages introverts to assess themselves to discover their values and put their strengths on display.  She ultimately prods all readers to strive for “rewarding” work where “your daily tasks and work environment are aligned with your career values.”

How introverts can succeed in the job search

In Chapter 3, Finkle encourages introverts to tell results-oriented stories using the résumé, even if they are uncomfortable blowing their own horn.  Listing achievements and personal brand using short-and-sweet descriptions along with keywords are résumé writing trends, she continues, and of course we can help you at our Career Center.  We have downloadable templates here to trigger your résumé’s starting line which the author defines as “focusing on your industry/field and target audience.”  She then dives into achievements which makes me think of specific goals met that enhanced your organization’s effectiveness.  For example, did you compose new manuals to maintain consistent training, or develop a website or brochure, or simplify Frequently Asked Questions?  These are essential to making any organization function better and if you are a change agent, then toot that horn, because these accomplishments should not go unnoticed.

Chapter 4’s Promote Yourself in Real Time delves into examples, such as creating blogs like this one or updating your LinkedIn page to make it more current?  Jane Finkle demonstrates that social media “is a perfect marketing tool for introverts” since it allows “exposure to support your professional development while respecting your need for adequate privacy.”

Talk to Strangers, as Chapter 5 encourages, might seem audacious at first, but in reality stepping out of your comfort zone might be the best thing ever.  I remember first presenting at a local conference after the organizer stated quite frankly that she was always looking for an opportunity to state her thoughts, even though she was polite and thoughtful and did not come off as pushy.  Now I am not saying you must go out and present at the next convention, but as Jane Finkle states, “use your inquisitive nature” to “consider what truly matters to you and what you want to say” and “form solid relationships”.

Eventually you will get The Interview (see Chapter 6), Navigate a Job Offer (Chapter 7), Onboard (8), then finally Survive and Thrive (9) by setting short-term goals then achieving them using your talents and interests to solve problems, commit to learning, and meet experts and leaders, which, in my opinion​, you were already doing from the beginning.  She aptly closes:  “Embrace your introversion as a familiar friend, and challenge its nature now and again by periodic bold moves.  In time these won’t seem so bold at all, just another variation of your theme.”

Written by Andre de la Fuente

Our Top 5 Work-from-Home Job Boards and Websites

Working from home is the name of the game at the moment. But often, looking for remote jobs leaves job seekers open to scams and shady leads. So, let’s look at our favorite websites to find safe and legitimate work-from-home/remote opportunities and resources.

As with job searching in general, your most efficient way to find a remote job is through networking. Since in remote roles there naturally has to be a higher trust level between employer and employee, hiring someone that comes recommended makes even more sense for an employer than in a traditional office-based role.

Now let’s look at our top 5 websites that specialize in listing remote or work-from-home opportunities. Links to all these sites are available on our website, and you can find more detailed info on our YouTube channel in our work from home playlist.

Our top 5 are:

  1. Our number 1 website has the funky name Rat Race Rebellion.  It is one of the oldest websites dedicated to finding safe remote jobs and still one of the best. It gives you a good overview of all different kinds of remote jobs available, from high level specialist and manager roles to taking surveys, mystery shopping and everything in between. Since all content is free and you don’t need to sign up or create a profile, the website features a lot of ads. If you stay clear of those and keep to the actual content, this website will be of great use.
  2. Next in our top 5 is Remote Planet. Remote Planet is an entire community for people who want to lead a location-independent or digital-nomad lifestyle. While it features job boards and links to many companies who mainly work remotely, it also contains lots of information on tax issues and other special topics relating to a remote lifestyle. One of its prime assets is that it provides links to a lot of small remotely working companies that might be hard to find otherwise.
  3. Our #3 pick is Flex Jobs, probably the most well known flexible-work job board, as it has had a lot of national media exposure. Two words of caution about Flex Jobs. It does not only feature remote opportunities but has a lot of part-time and project-based jobs that are actually tied to a specific location. And, it charges you a fee to access contact information for the specific job opportunities. So, before you pay, make sure that they have jobs that are a good fit for you. Check out our Flex Jobs video on our YouTube channel to see how you research their open jobs before you pay.
  4. Next on the list is Power to Fly.  Like Remote Planet, this is much more than just a job board. It is an online community with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, led by women and mainly created for women. Power to Fly features lots of openings at Fortune 100 companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, or Dow Jones. It is a general job board, and you will have to use the term “remote” in the location field to find the work-at-home roles. Besides listing jobs and linking to companies’ job openings, it also features virtual events such as live chats, webinars about career and job search related topics, panel discussions, and virtual job fairs.
  5. Last but not least there is good old Indeed.  Most of you will be familiar with Indeed as a “regular” job board. But if you type “remote” into the “where” field, you will find a lot of remote leads. Read the job postings carefully though, as a number of them will want you to live at a certain location although the job itself is remote or it is only partly remote.

If you have any questions or would like help with your remote job search, the Career Center is here to help. Contact us at 225-231-3733 or at www.careercenterbr.com.

Written by Anne Nowak