Cultivate Your Career: Plant Seeds that Will Allow a Garden of Opportunities to Grow

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Spring is here, and in addition to planting your garden, it’s time to grow your career. It takes preparation and consistent care to get a bountiful harvest, and the same can be said about nourishing a flourishing career. What you do today will help you get the job you want tomorrow. Here is a four step plan watch your career goals blossom.

Layout Your Garden 

A successful garden is one that is properly designed and prepped. Doing the same for your career goals will allow you to define a career path that is easy to follow. Identify the steps you need to take to get to your ultimate goals, and lay out a plan as to how you are going to achieve them.  Your garden will grow with some simple planning, and so will your career.

Plant, and Water, Your Seeds 

Seeds don’t grow overnight; it takes time and some dedicated watering to help them sprout. While you may have a basic professional network in place on LinkedIn, putting some time into growing and cultivating it to your specific needs will pay dividends. Reach out to new people in your target industry, and look for those who have positions in your target companies. The more time you put into your network, the better results it will yield when it is time for harvest.

Prune Dead or Dying Branches

If a particular career path isn’t bearing fruit any longer, then it may be time to start cultivating some new shoots so you can stop pouring your valuable energy and time into a path that won’t take you where you need to go. Even if your current career path is bearing some meager fruit, you may still be better off looking for opportunities with the potential for larger or more desirable harvests down the line.

Harvest at the Right Time 

All the prep and care you’ve put into the garden will yield a wonderful bounty of fruits and vegetables when it is time to harvest, just as all the hard work you put into your network will pay dividends when it is time for a new job. Communicate with your network and outline what you are looking for. At the very least they will be able to direct you to job openings that may not be public yet, and they may even be able to get you into interviews before the job ad even goes public.

Want To Find Your Dream Job? Here Are Three Questions You Must Ask Yourself

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What’s your idea of a “dream job?” If you have that itch to try something new, it’s a question worth pondering before launching a job search.  Because your wants and needs evolve, what you considered your ultimate career goals may have changed over time. One of the best ways to pin down what you really want from your job is to ask yourself the following questions:

“What Do I Love About My Current/Past Jobs and What Would I Change?”

There is no doubt that while you love certain parts of your job, there are other aspects that you would change. When thinking about your dream job, break down both the positives and negatives of your job to get at what you actually like and dislike about it. This is especially important when it comes to things you would like to change, as it can show you hidden aspects of the job you may actually like. For example, you may dread working with other departments on a certain project because of an overall lack of communication between management. This means that you may actually love the idea of collaboration as long as there is full communication.

“What Would You Do If You Weren’t Being Paid?”

If money wasn’t a factor, what would you do with your life? Would you travel, read, volunteer, or spend most of your time building things in your garage? Of course, money is going to be a factor in any career decisions, but thinking about what you would like to do without salary concerns is a window into what you actually want to do. Consider jobs that involve these items that you love doing. If you love helping people, look for a job where you can make an impact.

“What Am I Good At?”

Leave your humbleness at the door for a second and consider the tasks that allow you to shine. Consider the types of duties that people specifically earmark for you at work, and the types of skills that your friends and family members turn to you for. Things you do exceptionally well tend to be the areas where you get the most satisfaction, meaning that they are a window into what will drive you in a new job.

AppleOne’s Internship Program Focuses on Experience for the Real World

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AppleOne is excited to announce the launch of its official Internship program which will give students the opportunity to learn skills that are relevant to not only staffing, but to any future career. Opportunities are now open for the Southern California region, with plans to roll out nationwide for future classes. Apply today at www.appleone.com/Students/Internships/Default.aspx.

In the spirit of putting your best foot forward for your internship, here are three ways to make a great first impression at internship interviews:

Dress to Impress

Don’t let your clothing do the talking for you during an interview; make sure your interviewer remembers what you said, not what you wore. Dressing professionally and conservatively, always works for an interview. While a company may have a “casual” dress code for employees and interns alike, this should not apply to interviews. You can find additional guidance on what to wear to your interview at http://appleone.com/Career_Seekers/nhp/.

Know What You Want Out of the Internship

Companies with internships want to know that the time they invest in you will be truly meaningful and helpful to you. During your interview, convey what you are looking to get out of the position. Highlight specific points from the internship description, and talk about what you hope to learn by the end of your time there. In addition, mention coursework or other campus activities you took part in to highlight qualifications that will allow you to immediately make an impact in the position.

Leave a Thank-You Note with the Receptionist Before You Leave

Thank-you notes may seem old-fashioned, but they really work. While there may be circumstances such as phone interviews or off-site interviews where you may have to send the card via mail, you can make a big impact by leaving a card with the receptionist as you’re leaving the interview. Have the card written before you go to the meeting so the hiring manager can see it ASAP, but be sure to leave a little room to reference something from your interview to better personalize it.

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Battle the Bot: How to get Your Resume Read by a Real Human Being

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Did you know that nearly 75% of resumes are never seen by human eyes? An increasing number of companies are adding an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) each year, as it can sort through hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes in the time it takes a hiring manager to get through a handful. The good news is that it’s fairly easy to get through the system and have your resume seen by an actual human being, as long as you follow these four tips:

Include Relevant Keywords Throughout Your Resume

An ATS will scan the entirety of your resume and check to make sure you included specific keywords from the Job Ad. These keywords can include everything from required skills and experience, to specific job titles and certifications. It’s worth noting that modern ATS also pay attention to how each keyword is used in the flow of the resume (and cover letter), so if a keyword seems out of place it may be rejected. Each keyword should belong where it is written, so sprinkling them randomly throughout your resume will send out a red flag.

Stick to Traditional Font and Layout Choices

While new fonts and layouts are being added all the times, the classics work the best when it comes to your resume getting through the system. Fonts like Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Trebuchet, and Verdana in 10 to 12-point size are all ATS-friendly, as are traditional resume layouts that come standard on most word processing programs. A quick note on bullet points: avoid using special characters or accents on bullets. Most tracking systems have a problem reading them, and they may introduce line breaks or coding that will confuse it.

Avoid Graphs and Tables

While adding charts, graphs, or tables to your resume may seem like a way to add clarity to your resume, Applicant Tracking Systems are not good at reading them. In fact, they tend to read them as stray words or symbols, which can cause the system to automatically reject it. Stick with “standard” resume designs with simple formatting to ensure it is machine readable.

Avoid Slang and Overly Uncommon Abbreviation

Applicant Tracking Systems aren’t very good at recognizing slang, so resist the urge to use acronyms you used around the office for a task and instead try and use a description that can be easily understood. This is especially true if you are referring to a keyword used in the Job Ad itself. If you are highlighting a skill, use the words that were used in the ad, and if in doubt, go with the actual name of the item you are highlighting, such as using “Microsoft Word” instead of just putting “Word.” In addition, avoid uncommon abbreviations, and if something is commonly abbreviated list both the full word and the abbreviation. For instance: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Don’t Keep This Secret from Your Boss!

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Being up-front with your boss about your career plans can pay dividends. Unless your plan involves moving on to another employer in the near future, it’s worth letting your manager know your goals. Here are three ways that it might pay off:

It Helps Your Boss Assign Projects that Can Help You Progress

Giving your boss an idea of where you want to take your career can help influence the type of work they give you. You may be included in projects that can help you gain skills and experience that you wouldn’t otherwise get. This may involve working with other departments, which can help you network as well.

It Helps Your Boss Identify Job Openings That Match Your Goals

When a company identifies an employee that excels in their job, they want to keep them around. By letting your boss know your long-term plans, they can keep an eye out for openings in the company that match your career path. This puts you in line for promotions and beneficial lateral moves.

It Helps Your Boss Know How to Keep You Happy

Managers want to keep their employees happy, but they may not always be able to meet a specific goal such as a large raise or a particular promotion. However, when you share all of your goals for salary growth or career development, it can open up additional ways that your boss can keep you happy and motivated. If they can’t make a promotion happen right now, maybe they can get you a bonus, or if money is tight, maybe they can advance you into a role that will position you for the growth you want.

The One Tool Every Job Seeker Needs in their Arsenal

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Looking for a tool that will add a new dimension to your job search? Partnering with a (free) employment service, like AppleOne, will enhance your job search and provide you with the personalized assistance that every job seeker needs. Here are the three most important ways that an employment service will help you:

Develop a Better Understanding of What Local Employers Are Seeking

The “X-factor” that can you get a job at one employer may be a turnoff to another one. Knowing what specific companies are looking for in your area will help you get you the job you are targeting. AppleOne Hiring Advisors track local and national employment trends. Because they work with specific employers, they can give you valuable insights into how best to present yourself for a particular job.

Stronger Resumes and Cover Letters

The average hiring manager takes only eight seconds to look over your resume to decide whether to call you in for an interview. That is if you can get past the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that they use to cut down the initial job pool. An employment service knows what employers are looking for in cover letters and resumes, and they can help you craft something that will get past the computers and catch the manager’s eye.

Access to Jobs That Aren’t Posted on Job Boards

Did you know that up to 85% of all available jobs are never posted on online job boards? Because of the costs associated with hiring and advertising, many of these jobs are actually never even available to the public, as companies look to sources like AppleOne to handle the hiring for them. This means an employment service can help you apply for jobs you would have not found otherwise. These are jobs that aren’t looking for a pool of applicants, but only the ones they want to either interview or hire on the spot.

Feeling Stuck? Four Great Ways to Reinvigorate Your Job Search

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If your job search isn’t producing results, it may be time to rethink your approach. These four adjustments can help you change your strategy.

Reevaluate What You “Need” in a Job

Do you have a long list of “must haves” you are looking for from your next employer? It’s good to know what you’re targeting, but there is no perfect job. The key is understanding where you can compromise. Reevaluating your priorities will help you expand the types of jobs you are applying to. You may have several items that are “must haves” when it comes to location, salary, and culture, but there may be other items that you will be willing to reconsider if an otherwise great opportunity presents itself.

Consider Getting Additional Training and Schooling to Gain New Skills

Do you keep seeing a certain skill listed in jobs to which you would like to apply? Instead of hoping to get a job despite not having that skill, seek out some additional training or schooling to learn it. Community colleges and specialty schools have flexible class schedules, meaning that you can take classes at nights or on weekends. In addition, you may be able to get some certifications through online courses. Even if you feel confident that you can land a job without a particular skill, it’s always better to have skills that will give you a leg up in your field.

Volunteer in the Community

There is no better way to reinvigorate you soul, and your job search, then to volunteer. Not only do you feel good helping the community, but it also allows you to learn new skills and network in an action setting. While there are goals to reach every day, job searches can sometimes feel like they don’t give you tangible results. Volunteering allows you to take on projects that have a beginning and an end, which can feel good after a long day of sending out resumes.

Change Your Focus

Have you been trying to make a radical career shift? Employers look at what you’ve done as an indication of what you can do. Changing that is possible, but it is also extremely challenging. Rather than focusing on a complete break from your past experience, you may need to map out a few lateral moves or bridge positions that can make your transition more logical to potential employers.