12. February 2007 | Show Originial

I am sure all of you are well aware of the devastation to the Gulf Coast caused by hurricane Katrina. Thousands upon thousands of people are homeless, hundreds are missing, and many are dead. It is during a time such as this that we as Americans should pull together to help our fellow citizens piece their lives back together. To that end, I encourage you to donate whatever you can to any local agency currently taking donations for the hurricane victims. If you are unable to find an organization in your area to donate to, the Red Cross is taking donations on their website and has set up a hot-line to take contributions over the phone: 1-800-435-7669.

MSNBC.com lists the following organizations that are currently accepting donations for flood victims:

  • Salvation Army
  • Catholic Charities
  • Episcopal Relief & Development
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief
  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
  • Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has asked that today be a day of prayer for the citizens and officials currently dealing with the hurricane aftermath. Remember: every little bit helps. Our thoughts and prayers are with them today and in the days to come.


UPDATE: More Organizations Taking Donations for Hurricane Katrina Victims (some need volunteers as well):

  • BlackAmericaWeb.com
  • Operation Blessing
  • America's Second Harvest
  • Christian Disaster Response
  • Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief
  • United Reform for Judaism
  • Noah's Wish
  • PETA's Animal Emergency Fund

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

We are proud to announce that we have nominated for Recruiting.com's 2005 Best Blog Awards under the category of "Best Job Seeker Blog." We are very excited about the nomination, and we would like to thank Recruiting.com for the acknowledgement of our hard work.

If you have enjoyed reading our writings about jobseeking (and life in general), please vote for us!

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Your desk, donned with office supplies, papers, pictures of your family and DISGUSTING GERMS! A study conducted by the University of Arizona found that the typical desk has the capability of carrying 10 times more germs than the average toilet seat. Do I have your attention now? Read on.

With cold and flu season upon us, those who work in an office need to be particularly careful. Not only your desk but also your keyboard, mouse and telephone all support millions of bacteria. The University of Arizona found that there are, on average, 25,127 germs per square inch of your office telephone receiver. Desktops were found to have approximately 21,000 germs per square inch. Some other unlikely areas to think about are coffee pot handles, printer and fax machine buttons, elevator buttons and candy dishes, especially in jars that people have to reach into.

Microbiologist Dr. Chuck Gerba, in his study of a Manhattan Publishing Company, found some other interesting points to consider. The person with a desk that is generally free of clutter still had a filthy surface and keyboard. The most cluttered desk, he found, had the least amount of viruses and bacteria. Desks that generated a lot of activity, where the most people visited, had the greatest amount of germs. Dr. Gerba also found that the levels of viruses and bacteria increase as the day goes on, peaking after lunch. This is a good fact for those of us who eat lunch at our desks.

You may be wondering what kinds of germs are lurking around your office and why they could make you sick. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that cause sicknesses such as strep throught. Illnesses caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. Viruses, however, cause colds and flu. These illnesses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Dr. Gerba tells us that 80% of the infections that we get are through the environment. Viruses transmitted by coughing and sneezing can live on surfaces for up to three days. Dr. Gerba also found coliform among the office bacteria. He tells us that this bacteria is transmitted to office surfaces when people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. I won't go into detail on that one!

So, now that I have you really disgusted, here is some good news. There are ways to significantly reduce these germs. To give yourself a better chance of avoiding getting sick this season, use a little hygiene management.

  • Regularly clean your workspace. Antibacterial wipes can reduce bacteria by 99%. Use them on your desk, telephone receiver, keyboard, and mouse.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and hot water for 18 to 20 seconds.
  • Get rid of the office candy dishes all together!

My personal recommendation, buy some sanitizing wipes during your lunch break today and keep them in your desk. They are a convenient way to keep your workspace clean on a daily basis.

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Do you feel a steady decline in your attention span during the late morning hours? Are you unable to stay concentrated on your work? Do you feel tired after you just had a good nights sleep? The problem may be what you ate, or didn't eat for breakfast.

Think about it. You eat dinner probably between five and seven in the evening. You may have a snack a few hours after that. Either way, you probably go about 12 hours from that time until you eat again. In fact, the time frame between dinner and breakfast is the longest span of any three meals of the day. By the time you wake up in the morning, your body is actually in fasting mode. I read an article that taught me just why this happens. While we sleep, our bodies need fuel to keep our hearts beating, our nerves transmitting, our cells dividing and much more. Most of that fuel comes from glucose that is stored in the blood, liver and muscles. After the body uses up all of the glucose, it begins to break down fatty acids in order to produce energy. The problem is, without carbohydrates, fatty acids are only partially oxidized. This causes blood sugar levels to drop resulting in fatigue, poor concentration, and lethargy. By eating breakfast, you break the fast. Get it? Break - Fast.

That being said, I have to make a confession. This morning...all I had for breakfast was a cup of coffee with four hazelnut creamers. Now, keep in mind, I had that after I did all the research for this topic. My mornings are so busy and habits are hard to change!

Besides time constraints and bad habit, another reason why people skip breakfast is because they think it will help them to lose weight. Research shows, however, that people who eat breakfast have a better chance of losing weight and keeping it off.  When you skip a meal, the body slows down your metabolism. This causes the body to slow down and burn less fat. In addition, the meal you eat after the skipped meal will be converted almost entirely to fat and then stored. This is a defense mechanism that the body uses to keep you from starving. So, if you skip breakfast, almost all of your lunch will be converted to fat. This doesn't sound like a good weight loss strategy to me!

Now that you know the negative effects of skipping breakfast, here are some of the benefits of eating a healthy meal in the morning.

  • You will have more efficient problem solving skills,
  • Improved memory,
  • Increased verbal fluency,
  • Improved attention span,
  • And a better attitude.

Having a clear head and healthy body will help you to improve your productivity at work and make it easier for you to get through the day. So, follow my lead and hit the grocery store after work!

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Anyone out there feel like I do? I can't seem to find time to go to the gym! There just aren't enough hours in the day. Ever wish that you could be two places at once? Well, thanks to Dr. James Levine, Obesity Researcher for the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, that problem may soon be solved.

The idea for this future office came from Dr Levine's study of what he calls NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Basically, these are the calories people burn while doing everyday activities such as standing, walking and fidgeting. These studies lead to a total remodeling of the mayo clinic office where Dr. Levine does his research.

In a recent article on careerjournal.com, Dr. Levine explains his invention of a treadmill workstation. He has basically combined a computer, desk and treadmill into a single unit. Not yet available to the public, these treadmill workstations are said to be half the cost of a standard cubicle. This would mean they would retail for about $1000 each. Dr. Levine created this invention because, "it is fun and creates a positive atmosphere." He says that people who want to sit can pull up a large stool, however, this office environment is intended to send the message that standing upright and walking is the norm. When asked if this type of workstation may be viewed as a form of peer pressure, Dr. Levine answered saying "It is better than the peer pressure to bring doughnuts to work. Peer pressure that's helps a person become healthier and happier is not bad."

I know what you are thinking. First of all, how am I going to be able to check my email, answer the phone, concentrate and work on my computer? Secondly, who wants to be at work when they are all sweaty from being on a treadmill all day? Dr. Levine says that while walking at a one mph pace, he is able to work as he usually does. This pace is slow enough that you avoid breaking a sweat but fast enough to burn an average of 100 calories per hour.

In addition to these treadmill workstations, Dr. Levine's office of the future also has walls made out of magnetic marker boards so people can stand up while working on projects and a track in the conference room for employees to walk around during meetings. According to Levine, the makeover of his research area of the Mayo Clinic only cost about $5.50 per sq. ft.

Do you think this is something your company would go for? If they did agree to this ultimate office makeover, would you want it?

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Have you ever been passed up for a job that you really wanted? You were excited when you were called in for an interview, you thought it went well, and you left feeling pretty confident. You wait and wait for the call and then...they tell you that you didn't get the job. At this point, most people probably just move on with their job hunt and forget about the one they got rejected for. Many people get frustrated after going through the application and interview process only to be rejected. However, you don't have to take "no" for an answer.

If your dream employer turns you down, send them a rejection follow-up letter.  This will keep your name in their head just in case:

  • The person they hired instead of you doesn't work out.
  • A second position opens up.
  • A totally different position opens up that the employer feels you would be qualified for.

Here are some things to include in this letter:

  • Thank the company for considering you for the position. Think of this as similar to a thank-you note that you would send after being interviewed.
  • In the next paragraph, discuss your positive impressions of the company during the application process. Reiterate your interest in the company. Re-enforce your qualifications in terms of how suitable you would be for the company and how hiring you would benefit them.
  • Next, you may want to ask them to keep you updated should any other positions open up and mention that you may reapply to the company again at a later date.
  • Lastly, if your resume has changed, send an updated version with the follow-up letter.

Of course, writing this letter does not guarantee that the employer will reconsider hiring you. What it does guarantee is that you will show that you are professional and that you have a true interest in the company.

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

We are proud to report on the growing partnership between www.EmploymentGuide.com and the Associated Cities Network. The Associated Cities sites provide search engines for jobs, dining, entertainment, real estate and weather for each city. www.EmploymentGuide.com is the content provider for 34 city sites in the Associated City Network.

Our partnering cities include Albuquerque, Alexandria, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Hilton Head, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Myrtle Beach, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, Richmond, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Savannah, Seattle, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and Washington D.C.

This partnership continues to benefit the Associated Cities Network and it's users by allowing them to search www.EmploymentGuide.com for jobs without leaving the city's website. Employers from these associated cities who post jobs on www.EmploymentGuide.com are also benefiting from this partnership. The added traffic allows employers to have a bigger selection of employees to choose from.

Associated Cities and www.EmploymentGuide.com also have four pending partnering cities and look forward to a long and beneficial professional relationship.

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

If you are like me, you turn into a motor mouth when you get nervous. As a child, anything from having to get a shot at the doctor's office to standing in line for a scary ride at an amusement park could get my mouth going a mile a minute. If you have the gift of gab, be careful during job interviews. It could cost you the job.

According to a recent survey, talking too much is one of the most common mistakes that job candidates make during an interview. Deborah Walker, in her article about interview bloopers, tells us some of the things an interviewer may assume when encountering an over-talker. She says that taking too long to answer a direct question can lead an interviewer to think that you don't know the answer or can't seem to get to the point. If you are a nervous-talker, the interviewer may think that you may not be telling the truth or that you may be exaggerating. This situation could lead the interviewer to wonder about your skills and also whether a nervous person would be a good fit for the company's work environment.

Being a big talker could also indicate that you aren't a very good listener. During an interview, you should also be able to listen thoroughly to what the interviewer has to say and talk or answer the question when appropriate. When you do give your answer, stay on topic and get to the point.

A good way to ensure that the chatterbox in you doesn't come out during an interview is to be prepared.  Research the company as well as the job that you are interviewing for. After you have done this, you should be able to choose specific things about your education and experience that relate to the position you are applying for. It is also a good idea to practice before an interview. It is important to be prepared without sounding rehearsed. The practice will make you more comfortable and confident. You can also bring examples of work you have done. In the case that you can't think of a way to answer a question, you may be able to refer to your work and get your mind back on track. Just knowing that you have these examples handy may make you feel more confident and less worried that you might forget something.

Once prepared, there are also things you can do during the interview to move it along smoothly. Try to start the interview in a relaxed state. Know that you are prepared and ready to answer any questions they might have. Listen carefully to the questions you are asked. Be sure to present yourself in a positive manner, avoiding the impression that you are nervous. Another way to hold the interviewer's attention is to ask questions at the end of your responses. This will help keep the interviewer engaged in two-way communication with you during the interview.

Talking too much may make the interviewer want to get rid of you as soon as possible, even if you are right for the job. So, chatterboxes, be prepared, relax, listen and engage. Remember those four things to have a successful interview!

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Want to jumpstart your career?  Break into a field that you may think is unattainable?  Many have found a springboard to their success.... Reality Television.

Reality television has gained tremendous popularity in the past few years.  For some of us these shows may be annoying, for others addicting (I admit it I have watched every season of the Real World and can't stop), and for others the chance of a lifetime to jumpstart their career!

It all started with "The Real World:  Season One" the show where seven strangers were picked to live in house and have their lives taped.  This show featured Eric Nies an active twenty something that had an opinion on everything.  After the show ended Eric did not fade away back into the life he had before "The Real World" Eric became the star of MTV's "The Grind" where he introduced dance videos for all of us to enjoy.  "The Grind" was such a success that Eric even released a work out video collection also titled "The Grind" to help the MTV generation get into shape.

Eric is just the beginning.

With the growing number of reality shows, you can jumpstart your career, no matter what you are looking to do.  Looking for a career in fashion design?  Project Runway is the perfect place to start.  Want to be a top model?  Tyra Banks and her reality TV hit America's Next Top Model is a path paved for success in the modeling industry.  People with a passion for cooking you have some options, you could join the Bravo TV hit Top Chef, Food Network's, The Next Food Network Star or network televisions drama filled Hells Kitchen.  I cannot even keep up with the number of ways reality television can help you can make it into the music industry. You can be anything from P .Diddy's protégé on Making the Band, a rock star on a show appropriately titled Rock Star or an Idol on American Idol.  Want to work for a bizarre boss in a corporate environment?  You can take part in Donald Trumps, The Apprentice, or work for Virgin Record mogul Richard Branson by competing on his Rebel Billionaire.

Even the shows that are not focused on starting someone's career have still worked wonders for many ex-reality TV stars. 

Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson let cameras into their homes to document their new marriage and look what it did for their careers.  Jessica Simpson had a platinum selling album and had the opportunity to star in the movie, Dukes of Hazzard.  Nick Lachey, a previous member of 98 degrees, re-ignited his career with the popularity of the show. He just released his debut solo album.

Bob Guinney used The Bachelor as a way to promote his CD.  Kristin Cavalerri, one of the members of the Laguna Beach cast, is now on every red carpet and has even been asked to host celebrity events. The show launched her into the Hollywood spotlight just as she dreamed.  Ty Pennington, a carpenter that started his career on TLC's Trading Spaces, is now the author of a line of "do it yourself" books and the star of Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition.

If you do not like the idea of using reality TV as a way to jumpstart your career here are some tips for the more ordinary career minded people:

  1. Expand your network - networking with people that are already in the career field you are looking to get into is a great way to have your name on people's mind as positions may become available.  Your network can also be useful as contacts and references for you.
  1. Start a Blog - Blogging is gaining more and more popularity daily.  Take some time and blog about what you want to do and how you plan on doing it.  You never know who will be reading it, maybe the boss of your dreams.
  1. Revamp your Resume - Ensure that your resume reflects the career path you are trying to go down.  Review your objective and make sure to highlight skills you have demonstrated in your pervious work experience that could be useful in your jumpstart.
  1. Ask for more responsibility - Asking your current employer for more responsibility will show them that you are ready for a move or a change. As you prove you can handle more responsibility you will be first on their mind as new positions open up.
  1. Announce your plans - make your current employer aware of your plans.
  1. Continue your Education - If that means going back to school to get a degree or taking a one-day seminar about the field you are trying to excel in.  The more knowledge you have the better.

So for those of you who aren't willing to eat insects or who aren't getting calls back on your reality TV audition tapes; maybe the use of some of these more traditional techniques will jumpstart your career.  Who knows, using the traditional methods of jumpstarting your career could be the next big reality TV hit and you could be the star!

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Working in the recruitment advertising business for the last few years, and certainly having some experience interviewing prior to that, I've read numerous articles, blogs and emails concerning the dos and don'ts on the interview process. In researching some ideas for this blog and revisiting this information, you have to wonder...really? I mean come on, isn't it fair to say that some of the advice that we are reminded of is, well, elementary and common sense?

As with any aspect of an occupation - whether it be babysitting to flying a stealth to singing in a vaudeville play in Disney World - there a several elements and fundamentals to being successful (whatever we deem as a success, anyway). There's the time and effort we put into the daily grind, and the reminder to not only work hard, but smart. There's working with others and establishing credibility within your division, company and competition. But always, always, as one of my old bosses used to say, 'knowing your business'. A pretty broad and simple statement, but so true nonethe-less. The key is getting there...the first step? The Interview.

Yes, the Interview. The time when, if all goes well, can be the beginning of a new endeavor. Or the end before it even starts. Anytime I'm perusing the Internet and come across one of those 'Top Eight Interview Tips To Land Your Dream Job!' (you know the kind I mean), I become intrigued if only to find out something new. But typically the top few are: Be on Time, Dress for Success, Bring Plenty of Resumes, etc. Believe me, I am in no way trying to take away any validity of those articles, but maybe for a long time I was giving too much credit to the interviewee. The last couple of years, however, I've come to the conclusion why those lists remain ever so popular - now that I've been privy to the other side of the interview process.

Working since I was 15, and having a lot of friends and colleagues that interview folks on a consistent basis, I've heard some real stories. There was the young lady that showed up 30 minutes late. To make things even more interesting she was wearing jeans and hiking boots (apparently she was on her way to a field concert). There was the gentleman, who did well during the initial interview, but taking him on a tour of the building during the second, told me there were 'Some really hot chicks that work here.' I understand that we can accidentally say or do things we regret...but whoa. Then there was the other young man who asked me to "wrap up the interview since he was late meeting his buddies for drinks". Or when, if I ask if there are any questions, I prefer not to be asked out on a date. Or what my religious and political beliefs are. And do me a favor, I certainly don't enjoy listening to anyone speaking badly of their boss when I inquire about their most recent job experience.

The list of "what not do" is long...and if you need reminders (or stories to make you laugh), just read the many articles out there on interview etiquette. I think that the folks that continue to write them, probably base their writings more on the negative experiences and incorporate those findings in an opposite light. While I've tried to keep the aforementioned a bit 'airy', never underestimate the importance of the interview process - be prepared, dress for the part, ask the proper questions, follow-up. When you begin any quest in life, if important enough, put forth the effort and time and consideration to make it worthwhile. If you want land that job (whether it be your dream, or even somewhat dream-like), be ready - ensure success with that interview. Because really, you never get another chance to make a first impression.

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression!

Sounds a little cliché, doesn't it?  But it's so true.  Think about it: most often your instincts guide your first judgment of a person upon meeting them.  It is hard to counter those instincts after the impression has been made.

Unfortunately, living in the age of technology, we are often making a first impression on employers without even realizing it.  It seems to be taken for granted that we still maintain a degree of privacy with the exchange of information over the internet.  However, it is becoming increasingly common for an employer's first impression to be made before even meeting a candidate.  Factors we may not even consider can impact an employer's first impression (read about how employers use the internet to formulate an opinion of candidates).

First and foremost, your email address says a lot about you.  It should be included in your resume when applying for job and is often a method for employers to first initiate contact.  Put yourself in an employer's shoes:  would you really be chomping at the bit to contact a candidate with an email address containing "sexy," "hot," "crazy" or other risqué words?  Not likely.  For an employer, what a person will include in a resume or application for employment says a lot about their judgment.  Check out this article about what your e-mail address says to employers.

Most recruiters recommend that you use a simple format of first and last name or even just your last name as your e-mail address to keep things simple.  There are a number of free email services that you can use to create an account to dedicate to your jobsearch efforts.  It will also help you to stay organized if you keep all employment related correspondences under this email address.

Would you go into a job interview and tell the interviewer about your excessive weekend drinking?  Would you share with them the intimate details of your life outside of work?  That is what a lot of candidates are doing when they display that kind of information on social networking websites. Another way that employers are starting to look at candidates is by checking out commonly used social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace.  Sure, you're sharing the details of your weekend and pictures and news in your life with friends on these websites.  But be wary, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to check out these websites to see what personal information candidates are displaying (read this article about how employers are using these websites).  Think that setting your profile as private will keep you safe?  Think again. Some employers can access even those pages that are set to private (read more about how). 

It is best with the all of the resources that employers have at their fingertips to research candidates to exercise caution in the information you choose to make public.  Following these simple tips should keep you safe from information overload:

·         Your email address should reflect you as a professional, not as an individual.

·         Make sure any information you make public is not incriminating.

·         Ensure that all information that is made public demonstrates your strong sense of judgment.

·         Have some juicy news or gossip?  Just pick up the phone and call your friends to let them know about it.

Making sure that the first impression you make is a good one might just help you get the interview.

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

You've probably heard the saying that all you need to get a job is another job…or at least a significant amount of work experience.  So, what do you do if your resume isn't busting at the seams with all that desirable experience?

            That's where I come in.

            I have been working for several weeks as an intern with The Employment Guide® and now I get the chance to take a minute and recount exactly what it is I've been doing all this time—and what I've gained from my experience.  To be perfectly clear, this wasn't one of those "Hey, you!  Get me some coffee and fax this to the New York office on your way to the file room" type of position.  I really got the chance to get my feet wet and figure out whether or not I'd made the right decision four years ago when I decided to earn my marketing degree.  All in all, here's what I've gained from my internship—and what you might be able to obtain from one of your own.

            The most obvious: experience.  I've realized that I'm right where I should be, in terms of a career path.  If it hadn't worked out that way, I would get out while I still could.  I've been given the opportunity to apply everything I've learned and see how it actually applies to the "real world".  All those theories and information actually came in handy.  Go figure.

            Identifying strengths and weaknesses.  That seems pretty obvious, but you can never really tell ahead of time.  Who knew I actually like to write?  Once I got away from all the term papers and realized this stuff can actually be useful, it has become a whole new ballgame.

            Networking opportunities.  If you put in your best effort and work hard, people will be more willing to help you in the future.  It also never hurts to do things with a smile.  Personally, I'm not a morning person, which made my 8:00 a.m. workdays all the more…enjoyable.  But at least I could count on a laugh or a smile before getting to work everyday.  The interaction with co-workers and supervisors helps build relationships and could come in handy one of these days, not to mention making the workplace a much more enjoyable place.

            A slightly less obvious benefit?  It's an interview.  Scratch the itchy business suit and plastered-on smile.  By working as an intern, you're on a prolonged interview, in which the employer can analyze your performance and evaluate your likelihood of future success.  You as the employee, on the other hand, can decide if this is a company you can see yourself working for in the future.  Beneficial to all?  I think so.

            And last, but certainly not least: self-confidence.  I've learned a lot about myself over the past several weeks and my work competency and realized that I've made the right decisions so far when it comes to a career path.

            I'm off to start my Master's in the fall and my stint with the marketing department at The Employment Guide has helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to keep in mind that every opportunity counts.

            So, did I make the most of my internship?  I'd like to think so.

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Does a year seem like a long time to you? Well I guarantee you one year doesn't feel like a long time for those of us impacted by Hurricane Katrina. I left my New Orleans office on a Friday afternoon thinking the storm would pass by our fine city once again. I woke up early the next Saturday morning to find out it was likely going be that worst disaster scenario we had all heard so much about. As a transplant to New Orleans, I started hearing those stories about the "Big One" when I relocated there in 1999. The threat never stopped us from living life to the fullest and the locals sort of enjoyed scaring me with the details of what could happen if that big one ever played out. In fact, for some odd reason the story and the local attitude may have dulled some sense of awareness to our vulnerabilities instead of heightening them. I have to admit while I lived there, I chose to ride out every storm that came our way. Katrina was my third Hurricane. I won't ever ride out another one though, that's all changed for me.

When you go through something like a Katrina, you change. Even my cat Dixie Chick changed. Dixie Chick is a feral barn cat, born on a friend's property just outside Baton Rouge in Gonzales, Louisiana. She is the Manx breed. That's the breed with no tail. I repeatedly told my friends I did not want another cat, even a novel one with no tail, so they immediately brought her to meet me and I got taken in. She was not warm and loving though, like my other cats. She was aloof for over five years. After Katrina, when we hauled her through the first seven post storm days and as many states to get her to safety, she was so darn grateful, she changed her tune. One year later she is still in kitty love overdrive.

Change is inevitable after an event of that magnitude. New Orleans is still changing today and many of the local New Orleans staff I had the pleasure to work with is still living and working there to make sure it's a positive change taking place for their city. You can visit their local webpage to consider the many job opportunities available which will allow you to participate in the great evolution taking place. You can truly become a part of the spirit of New Orleans.  Trust me; the great city's spirit is something even Katrina couldn't wash away.

As for me, I accepted an offer to start over in our Jacksonville Beach, Florida office. I know what you're thinking - they get hurricanes here too. I take the evacuations seriously though, and can't stress enough the importance of having valuables, important papers and your keepsakes ready to go with you on very short notice. You are bound to have trouble thinking clearly when a Category Five is breathing down your back. So if you are in a hurricane zone, start your emergency supply kit today and plan ahead to save yourself many regrets later. Although I had tremendous property loss, I managed to get along more comfortably and with more personal items than many others did by being prepared for the worst. Whatever you bring, don't forget the baby wipes! They were a lifesaver for me and the others I shared them with. And remember when you chose to stay behind, and if you make it through unharmed, you are going to find yourself in the position of being among the first responders. If you aren't up for that kind of responsibility, please evacuate.

Some anniversaries are harder to celebrate than others, but this week I will celebrate along with the loving Dixie Chick those rebuilding efforts still taking place in the gulf coast and the unwavering spirit of New Orleans. There are currently many safe and fun places you can visit in New Orleans. Your visit would help them in so many ways. Finally after a long year, it is time again to sing out "Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

One of the biggest components of marketing is brand awareness, a goal I try to meet everyday as a member of The Employment Guide's marketing team. Sure branding is a term we have all heard, but what does it mean exactly besides a method of identification for cattle? Branding is not a thing but a concept, which makes it an almost incredibly difficult to describe. But the really cool thing about it is that it can be in the form of almost anything used to make a brand stronger.

Branding can range from the most subtle forms, including print ads, television commercials and radio spots, to the most obvious - digital billboards at the crux of Times Square in New York City and corporations like Disney and Carnival Cruise Lines owning entire islands. Some of the most brilliant branding campaigns are the simplest. Chick-fil-A billboards on the side of the road that tout 3-D cows conspiring to save their own hide by promoting the death of chickens, as well as the Target bull's eye that has turned an everyday object into its own icon. And anybody who has ever driven down I-95 headed south can tell you the South of the Border billboards are entirely more intriguing than the actual stop.

We all pick up on company branding without even realizing it, as if it's imprinted on our brains. How many times you have asked for a Kleenex versus a tissue, Band-aid vs. bandage or Coke versus any other flavor of soda? All branding successes.

These days it sometimes takes a stretch to get products noticed, and some companies are going to the extreme. Burger King found one of the most perverse methods in my opinion with the subservient chicken, a garter belt clad guy in a chicken suit seemingly answering any online wish. Or how about the folks getting corporate or designer brand tattoos either for payoff or by choice? Is that insanity or extreme brand loyalty? Either way, I know I have job security as marketing professional, as the need for branding and the creative methods of achieving awareness will clearly be around for awhile!

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Have you ever really stopped to think about what this means?  I would wager that phrase holds a different meaning for everyone; but to me it represents a state of mind.   Every morning I intend to look the best that I can just so I feel good from the inside out. This gives me the self-confidence I need to represent both The Employment Guide and myself. The way you dress conveys a clear message about your intentions. It's all about first impressions; rarely do we get a second chance to impress. As unfair as it may seem, we are often judged on what we are wearing. Too often people look at what you are wearing before they listen to what you have to say, so be sure to catch their attention the right way. Make sure you're the center of attention -not what you choose to wear. 

Many of us work inside an office and rarely see our clients face-to-face. In that case, you might think it doesn't matter what you look like. I disagree. What you are physically wearing is only a small part of what your daily outfit represents. It symbolizes how you feel about yourself, your job and your industry. When you look and feel great you will be more confident. This will give you the edge over your competition. It's important to remember we are each different, from different parts of the country and have been raised with different cultural traits and standards. What is considered acceptable in one environment may not be in another. Casual dress is often interpreted different regionally. Be aware of what is considered appropriate in your work setting.

While writing my blog I tried Googling "dress for success" just to see what I would find and get the brainstorming brewing. Sure I found several websites that focus on the basics of what everyone should know, but I was surprised to see there are a number of organizations that provide individuals with clothing that they can wear to work. One incredible organization, aptly titled "Dress for Success" http://www.dressforsuccess.org/, stood out from the rest. They focus on helping women who fall upon hard times and need assistance obtaining and retaining positions. Their mission is to help women in need get back on their feet though counseling, job training, and after finding a position, the clothes they need to begin their new careers and successes!

I challenge each of you to start every day in your best-dressed outfit, and I guarantee you will feel your best. Be ready to impress with the knowledge you have, and the confidence you have earned. Remember you are your own best marketing effort!  Market yourself by putting your best-dressed foot forward. Additionally take a moment to Google the phrase "dress for success" and see what you find. It's interesting to see all the nonprofit organizations out there that take donations. What may be at the back of your closet from yesterday might be someone's treasure today. 

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

I have been fortunate enough to have worked with some outstanding people in my career. Accordingly, I've made a sincere effort to learn something from each person, in effort to become a better person myself. It is surprising what you can learn from others and more surprising what adopting this mindset, seeing others as a resource, will do in enhancing  your relationship with others. The process keeps you focusing on the positive, uplifting side of human nature. I remember my first employer and a valuable lesson he taught me.

I was a "cub" sales rep, fresh out of college, likely sporting a dab of Clearasil, selling construction equipment for my first mentor, a self made businessman. Construction sales, especially sales that involved job site service, is a tough business. Construction labors are not known for their social etiquette or diplomacy. In fact, a sport is made of "busting others chops". In time, I would succeed in this environment and become a top performer but not till I was  pinned (metaphorically)  against the ropes and received a few well placed body blows. Returning to the office one afternoon, beat, my mentor sensing  my discouragement offered these words.

"Stevie boy", I can still hear the words and smell the cigar smoke, "first thing in the morning, look yourself in the mirror and say  . . . hooray for me, for it will likely be the only time you hear that all day long." Truer words were never spoken and better advice was never given for behind those comments lay the fact that believing in one's self is paramount to ones success.

Job seekers should remember, perhaps chant, "hooray for me", and discipline themselves in the effort to maintaining a high energy level and feelings of self assuredness. Looking for a job can be like calling on a job site, each day job seekers will interact with people who have nothing better to do than limit your progress or "bust your chops". Never let others drag you down. Stand proud and tall, confident in the knowledge that you're a winner with talent and skills that employers need. Believing in yourself is a perquisite to success. "Hooray for you!"

12. February 2007 | Show Originial

Dress for success, and smile. Prepare yourself by learning as much as you can about the company and job prior to the interview. Your knowledge is very important and speaks well for you. Include a cover letter with your resume, and I cannot stress enough – proof read your written correspondence. Highlight your resume with work experience, education and participation with special projects, leadership roles and volunteer programs.

Show your interest by asking good questions; there is nothing wrong with asking, “Please explain”. Every company has their own lingo, if you do not ask you will leave without knowing. Learn the culture, and understand how someone like you will fit in. And by all means, practice good posture, and speak clearly.

Lastly – get a good night’s rest and remember professional image, your desire to work, and skills will determine your future.

06. February 2007 | Show Originial

Imagine this:

You're sitting in your cube one day, happily typing away on the latest project you've been assigned, when all of the sudden, out of the blue, someone pegs you in the head with a water bottle. You were minding your own business, doing what you do best: work. And some weirdo has the nerve to interrupt your workflow by cracking you in the skull with some Evian! So what do you do? Well, you could do like 50 Cent did at a Springfield, MA concert last spring and dive into the neighboring cube, inciting a mini office brawl. Difference between you and 50: his celeb status probably kept him out of jail and no doubt boosted CD sales; your average-Joe status will probably leave you jobless and calling your mom to bail you out.

There's always someone at our job we don't like; maybe it's the sleazy older gentleman that hits on every female traipsing through the workplace, perhaps it's the over-zealous brown-noser that never fails to steal the limelight, maybe it's the long winded co-worker who always comes by your desk to chat about stuff you could really care less about. The fact of the matter is, as human beings, it's only natural that some of us will get along and some of us, well, won't. The key to dealing with troublesome co-workers is professionalism and tact. It's unlikely that you'll experience a 50 Cent -like incident of being smacked with a bottle of water, but this day and age, you never know. Point is, any situation can be handled professionally, either by being assertive enough to take up your issue with the troublesome co-worker in a tasteful, mature fashion, or reporting your grievances to someone higher in command. And if you're the one irking people at your job, consider working at home, because the rest of us don't need the drama.

06. February 2007 | Show Originial

Summer is right around the corner. With the impending glee of warmer days and endless sunshine, people are switching their wardrobes over from winter wear to sleeveless summer sets, opting for less covering to stand the heat. But where do you draw the line between professional, tasteful summer wear and just, well, tacky?

Many companies have strict dress codes that their employees must adhere to, some going as far as to require that women wear skirts that fall below the knee, shirts that cover the shoulders, and closed-toed shoes. Men are often  required to don the usual shirt and tie combo. Those of us with a little more leeway in wardrobe selection sometimes face a dilemma when setting out clothes for work: do you wear too much or not enough clothing to the workplace?

Billboard_1 You could certainly opt for the Wendy Heath approach and challenge the dress code guidelines, daring to bare your shoulders or skip the tie. It's probably safe to say that you would follow in Heath's footsteps of being "let go" should it behoove you to be so drastic. In the event that you do choose to challenge the Human Resources gods on their rules of appropriate office attire, make sure you have a back up plan like Heath did, lest you be destined to sport your fly gear at home indefinitely.

06. February 2007 | Show Originial

Jacksongallery030205 You'd think it would be a dream job to work for Michael Jackson;   you'd have access to the Never Land Ranch, probably get paid more per hour than most people make in a week, and get to meet all of his celebrity friends firsthand. But it seems that working for Jacko has it's downfalls, like being asked to testify against your employer in his child molestation case.

06. February 2007 | Show Originial

I recently attended a conference in Texas geared toward Career Counselors who help college students find jobs. There were many guest speakers that I thought were both informational and inspiring—one woman presented a “stress workshop” in which we organized into groups of four or five. She gave us a small stuffed football to pass around the group and every few minutes would introduce a new item. We were struggling to toss four items between us, trying to establish a rhythm so we wouldn’t keep dropping them. Initially we were passing faster and faster and dropping one or two or all of the items at every pass. Then, after discussing our troubles, we slowed down and tried passing on a beat. That seemed to work for a bit, until someone fumbled. At last we were given a reprieve and our workshop mentor explained that our items represented all the tasks we have going on in our lives. When we have one or two, we can manage just fine and don’t drop the ball. But as soon as we have more than what fits into our already busy schedule, we start dropping things, getting confused, frustrated and STRESSED.

She went on to discuss the book, " Who Moved My Cheese ?" by Spencer Johnson, MD, (easily found at www.whomovedmycheese.com) and how each of us handles stress differently. Some thrive on it, living for and performing well under the pressure we heap on ourselves. There are others who handle stress during the day and collapse when we get home; still others who don’t deal with it at all and get lost in the maze of everyday tasks. I started reading some helpful hints for de-stressing when I got back from this conference because I realized how full of stress my life really is. I lived for a short time in Britain and while there, I met some amazing people. They drummed their philosophy into me—Work to LIVE, not the other way around. I have never forgotten the relaxed, carefree lifestyle my European friends had—they all worked, but also had plenty of free time and took a holiday whenever possible. So, when I started contemplating stress and how to get rid of it in my life, I searched “Work to live” in Google.

Joe Robinson, www.worktolive.info/index.cfm , was the first result. I started reading thru his pages of information and felt very familiar with his message … it was the theme of life in Britain. Take vacation. Don’t live to work, work to live. There is a big difference and it is all too often turned around in Americans because we have been taught we have to work hard to get ahead. Working too hard causes stress, health problems, and depression—these are facts, everybody knows it, so why do we put this pressure on ourselves?

My job is stressful—or should I say, if I let it be. I often arrive early and leave a little late because there is so much to do, but rarely do I leave at the end of a day with all of my tasks accomplished. www.EmploymentGuide.com is a growing entity with many people working to make it successful. I am one of many and while my contribution is important, the company and our product will not fail if I don’t stay at work to answer every last email, answer every phone call and fix every problem that comes my way. After all, life is about more than just the company and work … I work to live, not live to work!

06. February 2007 | Show Originial

I recently attended a great Job Fair hosted by The Employment Guide at Raleigh, NC, and wanted to share some tips with job seekers out there who are thinking about attending a job fair. First of all, you have no idea how much those employers want to have a chance to talk with you! You might not understand this but they literally fight over job seekers and don’t want to miss a chance to meet you. I know many of you are intimidated by the employers with their fancy booths and business suits but after all, they are there to talk to you and hire you. So here are some tips that can help you make the best out of your next job fair.

Research, Research, Research!

Check out your local newspapers, employment websites and employment publications to find out about upcoming job fairs in your area. Job fair advertisements and announcements usually include a list of participating companies. Learn a thing or two about the companies that you are interested in as it’s a great tool to start a conversation with the representatives at the company booths and makes it easier to get an interview in the spot.

Dress Professionally

Do I need to say more on this subject?! Unfortunately you will be judged by what you wear before you have the chance to charm the employers with your intelligence and wits. The employers will be more likely talk to you and take you more seriously if you dress professionally and it’s always safer to be more formal than too casual.

Of Course You Can Cheat!

There are tens and hundreds of companies out there and you are not going to know every one of them. This is where you can cheat a little. You can create a little cheat sheet or cheat card with some information about the companies that are participating. Read them before you approach each booth so that you can impress them with your knowledge about the company. Also, you might already have a certain position or company in mind, but do not overlook or ignore other companies that are participating. You never know what you’ll get and could end up loving.

Prepare Your Speech

Do not wait until the company representatives come and talk to you. Also, don’t approach their booth by checking out their brochures (even if you’ve never heard of them before!) and collecting their promotional pens. You need to approach them with a firm handshake and start conversation. The company representative will normally ask you, “what position are you looking for?” or “what are you interested in?” This is when you fire away your 30 second pitch you’ve been practicing. Tell them about your education background or work experience and what you would like to do next. Now, do not stop there! Ask a question right back by saying, “what position are you looking for and what are you looking for in a candidate?” Feel free to drop bits of information you learned about their company so that they know you’ve done your research. This will give you a great advantage over someone that just wandered up to the booth.

Have Fun!

Yes, you are at a job fair and you are serious about getting a job and so are those companies who are participating. But have fun! You can take your time, network and get to know the recruiter. By doing so, you will leave an impression that you are easy to get along with and they will be more likely to remember you.

Leave Lasting Impression

When you are ready to leave the booth, thank the company representative for his or her time and ask if you could leave your resume with them. Make sure you collect the business card from them so that you can contact them later to follow up. Tell them you are looking forward to hearing back from them.

Drop Your Resume with the Hosting Organization

Hosting organizations sometimes collect all the resumes from job seekers that attended and send them to all the companies that participated as well as the companies that were not able to participate due to schedule conflicts.

Thank You Note or E-mail

Drop a thank you email or note to the companies that you have talked to, especially to those that you are interested in working for. Follow up with a phone call if possible.

Now that you know everything there is to know about job fairs, find out when is the next job fair near you (visit www.employmentguide.com and click job fairs) and go get ‘em! Remember, the employers are waiting to talk to YOU!

06. February 2007 | Show Originial

This is a classic line from the greatest show ever on TV.  I am, of course, referring to Seinfeld.  This is a line by George Costanza outlining his approach at honesty that eventually leads to an epiphany where he decides to completely ignore every urge toward common sense and good judgment.  Now, the following article is not about Seinfeld nor honesty nor ignoring common sense.  This article isn't even necessarily about being unemployed and living with your parents.  This article is simply about realizing you are going nowhere in life.  Waking up and realizing you are stuck doing something you don't want to be doing.  Either you are unemployed and live with your parents or you are working in a dead end job or you have been doing the same thing for 15 years and have no idea how to do anything else.  Well, take a deep breath and relax because there is a way out.  There is a way to get out of this rut you call life and get back on your feet.

Let me tell you a quick story about where I was when I had my epiphany.  I was working as a bartender in a bar in Jacksonville Beach.  I had been in the service industry for several years and had no intention of getting out.  Well, I had no way to get out because I had no idea how to.  Why did I want to get out of the service industry, you ask?  I was making great money, I had lots of friends, and I was great at my job, so why leave??  Well, as many of you know there is a lifestyle that can go along with the industry that can be…. well….. out of control.  I was out until 4 o'clock in the morning almost every night and I spent every penny that I ever made on having fun.  I fell victim to the most common curse of the industry… I spent everything I made.  Day in, day out, month in, month out, year in, year out, I never saved a dime and I was doing some potentially long term damage to my liver in the process.  Okay, where am I going with this?

Well, one day a friend of mine came into the bar as he was celebrating a promotion with his boss and his boss's boss.  I bought them a round of drinks and had a conversation with one of the bosses.  Long story short, they said they would need a replacement for my friend and offered me an interview.  WOW, a way in. I had the opportunity to get out of the business, but how, I didn't do anything, I had no skills.  All I did was buy a round of drinks.  Did they think that I had experience?  No.  Did they think that I had a degree?  No.  They simply thought I had a good personality and THAT is what employers are looking for.  We are so scared of our lack of experience that we don't understand there are wonderful opportunities out there for people like us.

I now have worked my way into a management position and have had to take my plunge into recruiting and hiring.  I now know that while experience and a college degree are nice, that is NOT my top criteria when I hire.  I am looking for personality.  I want a self-motivated, witty, positive, enthusiastic, well…. Me.  I want to hire ME.  I will trade 10 years of experience and an MBA for creativity, coachability, and honesty.

Open your eyes; there are so many opportunities out there.  Do some research, find out what you want to do, put together a resume and get out there.  You are what most employers are looking for; you just need to show them!

05. February 2007 | Show Originial

Groundskeeper Willie: Ach Wendel. Tis a mighty puddle of puke.

Wendel: I'm sorry.

Groundskeeper Willie: That's all right lad. You reminded me of why I got into this work in the first place.

Most of us have been enamored with the silly antics of The Simpsons. We all get a good chuckle and can relate to the blue-collar comedy. Some of us might reflect upon the conversation between Groundskeeper Willie and Wendel and have fond memories of why we chose the job we are in right now. However, I would bet money that some of us would begin to question why we have the job we have now. If you're questioning your position, your company or whether you work with a bunch of monkeys day in and day out, then you need to read on.

So, you're unhappy at work. What do you do now?

First, make a list of all the reasons you chose your current job. Have your priorities changed? Have you outgrown your job? Were promises made that were not kept? Maybe it just wasn't what you thought it was going to be. Maybe it was a bridge job until you could find that perfect job. Whatever the reasons, they are all valid. But stop and think if there is a possibility that some of the circumstances of your dissatisfaction can be changed. Have a conversation with your supervisor to determine if there is a possibility to adjust your work environment. Maybe you could transfer into a different department or maybe you need to plot a career path for advancement in your current company. Think things through before you decide to resign. One of the hot buttons for employers is the number of jobs you have held in the past three to five years. You do not want to be seen as a "job hopper." If moving on is the best choice, then plan your move.

How do you move on?

Identify what you like to do, what you do well and what you don't like to do. This will help you reduce time looking at job postings or applying to jobs that do not fit your requirements or skills set. Take into account how far you are willing to travel for a new position on a daily basis. It is great to get a $100 a week raise for accepting a new position but if you're spending an extra hour of drive time daily and an extra $40 in gas weekly, is that a good trade off? If you don't like working second shift, how long will you be happy working that shift before you start looking for a new job, regardless of the pay scale? Some sacrifices are truly insignificant but don't compromise on issues that will affect your health, your safety or your family commitments.

Once you have narrowed your job interests, it's time to put that attention getting resume together. There are many resume services out there but you can do it yourself with a little help from your friendly computer. Most computer software has templates for different types of resumes to include resumes for recent college grads that might focus on their college accomplishments, GPA or extra curricular activities to someone making a job transition, which will focus on experience and accomplishments. Take a tour of Microsoft Office in the templates section to see examples of resumes so you can find one that best suits your experience.

Where do you send your resume?

There are numerous job search engines you can utilize. You can spend hours a day searching websites and responding to recruiters looking at your resume. You must determine how much time you are willing to put into your search. If you are still employed while searching, your time is limited based on your work schedule since your supervisor might frown upon surfing the net at your current job while looking for a new job. So take advantage of posting your resume on websites that will give you the best exposure for the type of position you're searching for now. Obviously, you want to post your resume on www.employmentguide.com so that employers will seek you for your experience and qualifications. Employers search databases daily to find the most qualified candidates based on key words in your resume. If you're great at sales, make sure you include that in your resume. Give supporting bullet points of how you increased your sales from one sales period to another. If you have certifications and/or licenses that are important for the position you're applying make sure to list those certifications and licenses that you currently possess, particularly if the job posting states those as a requirement of the job. Your resume is the first impression most employers will get of you. You've always heard, "Dress for success," and the same applies to your resume. Make it neat, punctual and well organized. See our website for more job seeker tips.

Now, the real fun begins.

You've put yourself out there and now you have to start making good decisions about interviewing, job proposals, acceptance terms and many more factors. The Employment Guide website has great information on how to investigate an industry, compare companies, etc. Make sure you do some investigation on the company before you do a phone interview or in person interview. Take the initiative so that you can make a strong and knowledgeable presentation during your interview. You are the final factor in your success. Good luck and good job-hunting.

As Homer would say,

"On your marks, get set, D'oh!"

Don't get stumbled at the finish line! Plan your next job transition.

05. February 2007 | Show Originial

Be Open

I recently heard Mr. Alex Baker of AIG-Baker (a shopping center property company) speak at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and was amazed at the magnitude of the building projects that were all in progress at the same time. Surely they had a need for more employees and that was something The Employment Guide could help them find? I went to their website and looked under the Career Center tab, and what I found there was really interesting. They say that from time to time they advertise for specific positions but they are always looking for talented people. Talented people, people that have something to offer, people with integrity, passion, drive. It's important to be open to available opportunities that have a promise of a future, not in "the job" or in "the position" but in the company.

Be Ready

You know what you are really good at and what you really enjoy doing. You also know that you have to pay the bills that show up daily and of course the unexpected bills that seemingly show up just before your vacation, or better yet, just after you return from vacation. You have to be ready both in your skill set and in your checkbook. When the right opportunity comes along you may have to take a hit in the pocketbook for a few weeks or ever months until you get things rolling. It would be sad that you couldn't take advantage of your career opportunity because you couldn't go two weeks without a paycheck. Be ready to take advantage the opportunity once it is available.

Be Available

Being in employment advertising I have people call me daily asking me who is hiring? What big companies are moving into town? Do you know the HR Director at XYZ Corp., and can I get their email address? You need to let people know that you are interested in exploring options that may be available. Most people will help you if they know that you are looking. Get connected with the movers and shakers. You are probably more connected than you know. You may not know the bank president or the CEO of that up-and-coming technology company, but I bet that you know someone that does know them or someone within the company that will help you. You should take every opportunity to meet people, when you do, find out if there is an opportunity for you to help them. You don't have to go to a formal event to network. You can network at school, church or standing in line at White Castle. Take every opportunity to be available.

And While We're Open, Ready, and Available: Sharp Saw, Clear Path

The days of working 25-35 years with a company are pretty much a thing of the past. Many resources say that the average person graduating will work for eight or more companies before retiring. Growing up in the '70s, we were taught get a good education and get a job with a big company that has a good pension plan and you will be set. What is a pension plan? See Webster's for explanation or speak to anyone over 40 that worked for the latest company that went belly up. I know that the thought of a pension plan sounds silly to anyone under 40 but that was something that was very important when looking for a job year's ago. As technology progresses at a breathtaking speed, there are very few jobs or careers even that have any secure future. Sure doctors, lawyers, and dentists will always be around and that is a very good thing. The fact is those professionals are constantly taking courses to keep abreast of the latest and greatest technology. As Stephen R. Covey (author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People") says, "you must sharpen your saw daily." Take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new. With a sharp saw, your career path should be easier to navigate.

02. February 2007 | Show Originial

Now that it's 2007, many of you are looking for a new job, career change, or both. Identifying this step is an important first step but not the most important, as there are a series of steps that have to be implemented in order to make career related changes successful. I did say "career," as even if you have a job that you do not plan to keep it should still be a stepping stone in an overall plan concerning your future.

So where do you start: the classifieds, websites, writing a resume, talking to a professional, or all of the above? I suggest that you start with yourself and take some time to look at the person in the mirror. Ask yourself who you are and what you want to accomplish. Where you want to be this time next year, in three years, and five or more. Now more than ever, the landscape that job seekers and employers find themselves is one that is changes almost daily. Competition from other job seekers means that individuals must always be developing new skill sets and honing the ones that they already have in order to have an edge. In addition, you must always be networking with people that can be in a position and willing the help in your quest to either secure employment or make a transition in employment or career. For employers it is much the same - in a tightening labor market they are not only vying for physical bodies but the best possible talent available, taking into account an almost infinite number of variables.

Back to that person in the mirror: What is important to you? Do you need a job where a high compensation or good one is the number one factor? Are you looking for something more rewarding or something with a fixed schedule so you can spend time with your family? When you know what it is you want then you are in a much better place to do two things: begin your search and look at what skills you have to bring to the table. Once you know what is most important to you, you will be in a much better position to search for opportunities that will help you meet those needs. Have you ever gone through this process and found out that the job was not for you? Now ask yourself was this due to the employer's misrepresentation of the job duties, or because you took something that was not the best fit? Many times it is the latter that is the reason. You should be screening opportunities just as employers screen candidates. Do not waste your time and do not waste an employers; in the end neither of you will be happy.

So how do you make the decision whether or not an opportunity is right for you? Do you remember those "skill sets" I mentioned earlier? Take a note pad and write out bullets statements of those you can do. These are skills gained from work experience, formal training and self study. Now take another sheet of paper, on the same pad, and write down the things that important to you and what you want to accomplish. You would be surprised with what you could come up with if you gave yourself an uninterrupted hour. I have a coworker that takes a trip every year, and while paying the mortgage and the bills are important, I know that one of the most important things to this individual is the ability that their income provides them to be able to travel to some part of the world yearly. I am sure that they also make additional sacrifices to make their dreams possible. Another friend loves working with the state assisting others, and while income is a plus, it is ultimately secondary to the personal sense of accomplish that they receive from their career. I also have a friend that loves the high compensation that they get from their job and the ability to afford nice things. Although they do not love their job, it is a means to an end and they leave work at work.

I am hoping that you are beginning to see your skills and what is important to you, and can now look for common ground between the two. When you are aware of these two areas, you will be in a good position to search from potential opportunities that will allow you to use the skills that you have to meet the goals that are important to you. Now I could go on and on but this is as good a place as any to stop. Think about where you have come from, where you are, and where you want to be. Use what you have in your arsenal to make the changes in your career, and be willing to see it through. Hopefully this proved to be helpful to you if you are reading and if nothing else, provided you with some food for thought.

Happy New Year!