Your mission statement

When I find myself struggling with which goal to focus on, how to start a particular task, or if I’m just unsure about my current or distant future/focus I review my mission statement. Sometimes that review is enough to put me back on track while other times I edit it a bit to connect with how I have evolved or adapted. The core of a mission statement stays the same though – since it is based on personal core values and authenticity.

A personal mission statement not only helps create and accomplish goals, it is a reminder to focus on the future you want in a brief summary. Your personal mission statement describes what success personally means to you. It summarizes where you want to be in the future, encompasses your values, and help you set goals. Everyone’s statement should be unique to them.

Each statement is based on personal unique core values & goals, but also aligns with career & professional growth. Your statement helps you bridge your personal & professional development.

You can create such a statement through a few questions and self-discovery. This process will help you prioritize the most important goals. Once you have a personal mission statement you can define your goal list.

You can create a personal mission statement by asking yourself: (try to answer the questions with the first thought(s) that come to mind, this shouldn’t be stressful. If you aren’t sure how to answer one or it doesn’t connect with you, skip it…you don’t have to answer them all!).

  • What is important to me? This question can be answered with a list of personal core values or a summary.
  • What do I want to accomplish? Create a brief outline or short list of goals.
  • What skills and experience do I currently have? How do these current skills tie into my goals & core values?
  • What skills do I need to learn to accomplish my future goals?
  • What makes me unique? What competencies/personal traits help me succeed at my goals?
  • Do my goals include assistance and/or knowledge from others? How can I connect with those team members?

Once you have answers to a few or all of the questions above you can start to piece together a statement by combining the words that mean the most to you and create your unique personal mission statement.

After a lot of drafts, I came up with my own personal mission statement:

To encourage others to set goals & succeed, share my professional and personal knowledge while being creative through my passion for writing.

Other mission statement examples:

  • “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” – Oprah Winfrey’s personal statement
  • “To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.” – Sir Richard Branson’s personal statement
  • “Making the best possible ice cream, in the nicest possible way.” Ben & Jerry’s mission statement

A personal mission statement can help you create or revamp your resume or career search, focus on education/training path, and/or discover and set realistic unique goals for your health, creativity, relationships, & other areas of your personal and professional life. When setting goals ask yourself how that particular goal is connected to your mission statement.

What is your personal mission statement? What goal(s) do you want to focus on and accomplish?

Thank you so much for reading my latest post. Please let me know if you have any specific career-related or goal-setting questions or if you would like me to review your resume for free.

Please comment below with questions or email me at successencourager@gmail.com !

Please stay safe, practice self-care, and focus on what you can control today. I hope this mission statement exercise helps you focus on your unique goals!

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Unique job search tips

I’m often asked about unique job search tips – ways to search for jobs other than the most popular job search sites. Whether someone is feeling overwhelmed by all of the options on popular sites, not feeling like their skills are being recognized with so many other applicants applying for the same job via the same search site, or they are looking for a way to find new open positions rather than scanning through a handful of search sites that have the same job postings.

My first suggestion is always to search for specific company sites. Find companies within your location or decide you want to focus on remote options and search the sites of companies you are interested in working for. Several companies only post job openings on their own site instead of using other searchable forums so you have a fresh group of opportunities to search and typically larger companies post new jobs almost daily so keep checking back for new postings (several openings are listed at the bottom of this post).

Other unique tips I suggest – check career openings for companies you see commercials for while watching your favorite TV series and check out your favorite magazine publisher for job opportunities. Any company that has a commercial most likely hires employees and large publishers usually have several magazines they produce and need a variety of employees to do that. And just like larger companies, they typically only post job opportunities on their web site so you will have another fresh group of jobs to search.

Some publishers or companies you see commercials for have openings in several states and/or remote opportunities and they post new jobs often. There are a lot of opportunities available when you expand your job focus and search. Research companies that have products or services you enjoy and search their web site for career opportunities. Typically, a product site or publisher will have a career or employment tab at the bottom of their site or they have that option under the menu tab and the About Us section.

When you treat a job search like a job you increase your chances of finding the best match.

  • I highly recommend dedicating time daily to research the most popular job search sites, but also make time to research specific companies you are interested in working for.
  • Explore creative options that might be available through the products and services you enjoy.
  • Spend time updating your resume for each position you apply for, making sure your skills and those in the job description match.
  • Create a unique cover letter for each opening as well. Mention something specific about the company you are applying for in the cover letter – it can be a core value you connect with or congratulating them on a recent accomplishment. This will let the hiring manager/committee know you are familiar with the company and invested time to learn about them. Also, include at one accomplishment that ties in with the requirement(s) of the prospective job.

Typically, two to four hours a day are needed to dedicate to job search this includes the actual search, resume updating, cover letter creation, application process (might be separate from submitting a resume and cover letter), and track who you have applied with, what position, date, submission process, and any other specific notes so you can easily refer to them when called for an interview.

Put in the dedicated time and it will pay off – typically, the more time you put into a job search, the better chance you have at finding a job you truly want with a company you are interested in working for. Putting hours into a job search gives you more choice and control. You have skills and competencies that you should be proud of and a company should be excited about working with you.

Below, are a few companies that sell products and have commercials on prime time (or late night) TV and magazine publishers with current job opportunities in several states including some remote and work from home options. I have checked the sites personally and although I do not have any affiliation with them, I’ve checked each site to ensure they are hiring (as of today all of them have openings) and to confirm the career section and application process, which is noted by each site/link.

Good luck in your career search. Please contact me if you have a specific career, resume, cover letter or other job-related questions. Also, I am currently reviewing resumes for free and providing suggestions via email. If you would like me to review your resume please email me at successencourager@gmail.com .

Inogen.com – Scroll to the bottom of the web page and click on careers. You can search by location and/or job title. Hiring for Brooklyn, OH, Goleta, CA and Richardson, TX. Opportunities include Billing manager, Buyer/Planner, and Operations Supervisor in TX and Accounts Payable Specialist and Senior Staff Accountant in CA and Quality Assurance Specialist in OH and several other openings.

Careers.firstam.com – First American. Can search by location, keyword, or department. Hiring in several states for many positions. Current openings include – Executive Assistant in Santa Ana, CA, Receptionist openings in Katy, TX, Oroville, CA, Yukon, OK, and Orlando, FL, Seasonal Office Assistant in Flint, MI and in Brighton, MI, Authorization Representative in Phoenix and Escrow Assistant in Salem, OR and several other openings.

Independence.edu – Independence University. All positions are remote. Click on the ‘more’ button/tab, then About Us, About UI, and scroll down to job openings button and click it..scroll to another job openings button and click on it. Currently, there are 90 openings. Admission Consultant (sales), Web Design Tutor, Career Services Advisor, Admissions Assistant, Administrative Assistant, and several Adjunct Instructor positions.

Activstyle.com – Click menu, About, and scroll down to the bottom and Career Opportunities and click the list of current jobs. There are several locations and about 15 current job openings. Some positions include Outbound Call Center Rep in Reno, NV, Call Center Team Lead in Fresno, CA, Medical Call Center Rep in Minneapolis, MN and Medical Document Associate in Minneapolis, MN.

Jobs.cvshealth.com – CVS Pharmacy. Scroll about halfway and click on the search and apply red button. Several locations hiring including work from home opportunities.

meredith.com/careers – Meredith Corporation, publishes several magazines including Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, Food and Wine, Health, Wood and more. Currently, there are 245 openings in several states. Current openings include Account Executive in Nashville, TN, Sales Assistant in Los Angeles, Administrative Assistant in Des Moines, IA, Account Director in Chicago, SEO Content Strategist in NY and Production Designer in Shelburne, VT.

cricketmedia.com – Children’s magazine publisher (several magazines for different age groups). If you are interested in submitting a story for one of their publications you can click on submission guidelines. For other openings click on About and then Careers. Currently, one position open for a remote opportunity – US Based ESL/EFL teacher/tutor. Must have a Bachelor’s degree and experience as an ESL/EFL teacher.

Thank you for reading and following! Please contact me if you have a specific career, resume, cover letter or other job-related questions. Also, I am currently reviewing resumes for free and providing suggestions via email. If you would like me to review your resume please email me at successencourager@gmail.com .

Best to you on your job search journey! Thank you again for reading.

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Career support

The past week has provided several opportunities for me to talk with professionals about job searches, resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and other career topics. I have been asked specific career-related questions and to review a variety of resumes. Each interaction has been appreciated and I have valued the conversations shared with so many. Several people are concerned with their job stability and updating their resume to have ready if needed while others are already searching for a new job and currently unemployed.

During these uncertain days, I am focused on what support I can offer (what is within my control) and one thing I can offer is my professional experience and review resumes for free. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing professionals and organizations over the past 25 years. I have been a part of several hiring committees, volunteer selection committees and have one on one interviewing, hiring, and conflict resolution experience and I have written about numerous career-focused topics. I actively research career trends and I want to share that knowledge with others in the hopes to alleviate some stress and offer my professional career support during this unprecedented time.

I have talked with people who were strangers until our recent interaction and I have had past co-workers reach out to ask advice. Even though each conversation has been unique and topics have ranged from limited experience concerns and resume content to how to condense three decades of experience onto a resume, there have been similarities too. The most common thread has been wanting to be prepared…prepared to submit the most professional resume and/or job application and answer interview questions confidently.

I have posted some tips on LinkedIn highlighting some of my past career-related blog posts and FAQ page, but I wanted to highlight some of the recent questions that have been asked a few times recently. I hope this answers some questions for others, but please reach out to me if you have a specific career or resume question.

Q: How can I prepare a professional resume and have a successful interview?

A: Being prepared, whether it’s writing a professional resume or cover letter or interviewing, comes down to being confident about your experience and skills. This confidence can be built by acknowledging your past accomplishments and what you bring to a new job. I always suggest reviewing your resume and matching your skills with the requirements of the job post. Updating your resume for each job and/or title you apply for confirms why you are applying for that specific job – you’re qualified and you’re interested. When you can clearly explain why you are the ideal candidate for the job you can confidently be prepared to answer most or all interview questions.

Q: How can I create a resume if I have little or no work experience?

A: Recent high school and college graduates ask this a lot, but so do those that have been out of the workforce for years. Depending on your situation school clubs, activities, sports, volunteering, or project-based experience such as lawn care, babysitting, etc. provide skills that are important in the professional workplace. Creating a resume that is focused on workplace skills you have learned through activities and highlighting your personal attributes will provide a perspective employer information about how you could fit into the position and/or company. If you volunteered to help process a mass-mailing project to new and current donors for a fundraising event you learned several skills; following directions, computer skills for mass mailings, organizational and deadline skills, etc. If you mowed lawns you have customer service skills, budget (billing and money handling) skills, possibly marketing skills. If you coordinated events for your community you most likely developed communication skills, teamwork skills, planning and problem-solving, and more. Focus on skills you are comfortable with and have developed through a variety of opportunities to help an employer see your potential and work-ethic skills.

Q: Do I have to include all of my past work history?

A: Typically, you will include work history for the past 10 years and/or what is relevant experience to your current career choice and job search. Focus on skills that you are comfortable with and have experience with that relate to the current position you are applying for. Please see my post on finding your resume balance for a complete answer and suggestions.

Q: What is ATS and why is it important to my resume format?

A: ATS is a software – Applicant Tracking System. The software is used by several job sites and employers to scan submitted resumes and applications for keywords from the posted job description. It’s important to confirm that your skills match the job posting and incorporate those keywords into your resume or application so the software will pick up on them when it scans your submission. When formatting your resume, you can include a brief job description under each position/company (highlighting an accomplishment) and create a list of skills used during that employment at the description end. You can also separate your skills in a new section of your resume and combine all of your skills from past employers into one list. The important thing is to use the keyword/terminology that matches your skills with the required ones in the job post.

Thank you so much for reading my latest post. Please let me know if you have any specific career-related questions or if you would like me to review your resume for free. Please comment below with questions or email me at successencourager@gmail.com !

Please stay safe, practice self-care, and focus on what you can control today.

 

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Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Making your life experience pay off

Recently, I have worked with some amazing job seekers by providing them with a free career counseling session, resume edits and cover letters. One question that came up a few times was how to handle career gaps.

I want to thank each of the job seekers for opportunity to travel their career seeking journey with them. It’s been such a pleasure working with them that I would like to offer two more FREE  sessions during the month of June! What’s that about? Click here to check out the details.

OK, so how to deal with career gaps? First, define the reason. Basically there are two types of career gaps:

  • Intentional gap? Did you intentionally take time off work to care for a loved one, start a business, go to school, illness, travel, volunteering, etc.?
  • Unintentional gap? Laid off, company went out of business, could not find a job after school, could not find employment in your field, etc.?

Either gap can seem positive or negative at the time. But even the unintentional lay off or other job loss can have a positive outcome; provide time to add to your skill list or provide time to mentally focus, etc. The important thing is to focus on that positivity for your own well being and when talking to potential employers.

Next explain why. Both types of gaps offer explanations that employers are open to hearing about. Why? is the big question, but can be easily answered and even provide additional experience that the employer may be looking for. For example if you had a child and wanted to take a few years off that is not only understandable, but you also gained certain skills such as time management. And possibly additional experience by joining parenting groups (PTA, coaching, managing a charity drive, etc.), taking some classes during your time off, focusing on advancing your current skills, etc.

Maybe you took time off to start your own business or help someone else start one. There are skills learned with any business start up. Even if the business was not as successful as you had hoped or you found out you didn’t like the hours or type of work, you still have valuable skills to add to your resume. Examples of skills depending on the type of business could include;  budgeting, inventory, scheduling employees, customer service, hiring, meeting deadlines, organizational skills, computer programs, writing, labor skills, and more.

Unintentional gap examples include being laid off or unable to find work in your field. Both are self explanatory and more common than you may think, but you can discuss HOW you handled this time off, how you turned a possible negative time into a positive situation. Did you learn new skills, enhance your current ones, etc.? Did you volunteer, take any classes, teach yourself a valuable skill, find a mentor, realize the career change you wanted, etc.?

A brief statement on your resume with the career goal you have now is an excellent way to highlight your gap. The cover letter will allow you to go into more detail and turn the gap into a positive opportunity to discuss your skills and experiences. Explaining the positive impact the gap had on you will help the employer focus on your skills, positive attitude and how your experiences will fit into the position you are applying for.

Whatever the reason a career gap can be presented as a valuable experience by highlighting your current skills and experiences while explaining your gap in a positive manner. Remember, the main focus of any interview is to discuss how you are the best fit for the current position you are applying for!

Questions about career gaps or other career topics? Please do not hesitate to reach out to me!

Thank you so much for reading! Please share any tips or questions you  may have below or email me at successencourager@gmail.com

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To be trustworthy or not to be trustworthy

Of course it’s important to be trustworthy. BUT don’t use that term on a resume.

There are many personality traits we all value and obviously have, but you must choose your words wisely when writing your resume. Including the obvious can actually hinder your chances of a thorough review of your resume. Especially, more recently with numerous resumes being received for open positions employers can be more and more selective when handpicking their top choices. One way they narrow down the count is by ignoring ‘the obvious’. You have a short window (usually just a quick scan by the employer, of your resume in 30 seconds or less) to stand out and find yourself on the interview call list.

Don’t use that limited time frame with obvious generic words, instead define why you are unique…brag about actual accomplishments, be specific…use examples of how you are trustworthy (show don’t tell), instead of telling a prospective employer you are.  Let your resume reflect your actions…your accomplishments…by sharing results. For example instead of ‘team-player’ you could write a short blurb about how you led a team and solved a problem, finished a project before the due date, coordinated a committee, etc.

Below are a few words and phrases to avoid on your resume:

  • Go-to person
  • Results driven
  • Team player
  • Hard worker
  • Strategic thinker
  • Dynamic
  • Self-motivated
  • Self-starter
  • Detail-oriented
  • Highly qualified
  • Trustworthy
  • Results focused
  • Energetic
  • Think outside of the box
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successful
  • People Person
  • Familiar with
  • Reliable
  • Problem Solver

Keywords/phrases to include on your resume:

  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Completed
  • Developed
  • Analyzed
  • Justified
  • Counseled
  • Facilitated
  • Implemented
  • Trained
  • Mentored
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Resolved
  • Volunteered
  • Increased/Decreased
  • Negotiated
  • Generated
  • Revenue/Profits
  • Under budget

Do you have any tips, past experience, keywords to use or avoid? Please share them!

Questions? Please ask them!!!

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Finding your resume balance

Too much or too little…finding that perfect balance for your resume.

It’s sometimes tough to balance necessary information with multiple jobs on a resume. You don’t want to lie or hide anything, but you don’t want to focus on irrelevant experience and skills when you have relevant material to cover that relates to the position you are applying for. So how do you find that balance?

I have discussed this with other hiring managers and employers. The answer is not a short one, but I hope to clarify a few general ‘rules’ in this post.

During positions I held that gave me an opportunity to be on a hiring committee or volunteer selection committee I focused on how applicants matched their skills and experience with the duties listed for the position. Confirming they actually read the entire post and identified their related skills. As a writer of open position duties, I tried to be specific, yet open to related skills; writing such statements as ‘office experience or equivalent education/training’, etc.

The committees typically focused on seeing a personality showing through on a written, typo-free, well-organized resume while scanning for keywords in the applicant’s employment history that matched the open position. We focused on achievement while paying close attention to those that stated an accomplishment in the highlight of each position they held. Showing professionalism, even if their employment history was short or listed more than one job in a year. We asked ourselves if that position helped them gain experience, did they accomplish a goal or solve an issue and did they word it in a way that confirmed they were ready to make a commitment with our company. We would form questions we wanted to ask the applicant quickly, which was always a good sign.

Someone once wrote they had coordinated a team to focus on outreach to donors that had contributed funds more than five years ago (but nothing since then). This was an interesting and confident statement. As the committee read that, we wanted to know the details, how did they reach out to them, what was the anticipated goal, did they achieve it, etc. We needed to meet this person!

With most employers giving a resume just 20 to 30 seconds review, you want to highlight your skills and experience most relevant to the position you are applying for. Most managers say they understand not putting jobs that lasted less than six months onto a resume, unless it’s extremely relevant. If the short-term employment provided an opportunity for you to solve a problem, learn a new process or skill, etc. then include it.

Remember, any employment lapse needs to be explained either in your cover letter or during the interview process. If you leave off a few short term jobs, you should be prepared to answer why. Were they unrelated to the job you’re applying for? Were you not given the tools to learn the job properly and you decided to find a better one? Were they more than ten to 15 years ago?

Most of us have had jobs unrelated to current career choice or focus. Right out of high school I cleaned houses and offices for living. Although, I did not gain any writing or specific professional assistant/office experience, I did gain customer service and a stronger work ethic. So I incorporated those skills onto my resume for my early career job search. As time went on and as I gained more work relevant experience I left that position off my resume.

I’ve also had gaps in employment history. I was laid off from a job and it took me over six months to find a new one. Another time I had a stressful position I eventually quit after almost three years for a different job at a different company and that company decided to not fill the position after all…it took me almost five months to find another job. During the first gap I helped my husband grow a contracting business. I processed invoices, did some advertising, and helped answer phones, etc. That was relevant experience and I have included that as an explanation.

The second employment gap I was actually grateful for not feeling stressed to find ‘just any job’. My husband’s business was going ‘well’ (better than it had been) and I focused on a few small freelance projects and we got through the months with some budget cuts and without extreme debt or stress. I used that time to focus on writing, I volunteered, wrote some business blog posts, and spent time with my mother who was dealing with health issues. Once I started seriously applying for positions, I looked at my resume and knew a gap of several months might not look the greatest to potential employers. I reviewed how my time had been spent and actually realized the freelance opportunities and volunteering provided new skills that I included in my cover letter. Caring for my mother and scheduling appointments, filling out insurance forms, etc. also taught me additional skills.

Remember applying for a job is a ‘project’. Review the job and your experience/skills carefully to best match yourself with the right job. You want to be happy at what you do and succeed by meeting the goals of the position/company. I keep at least two forms of my resume updated; one business focused and one writing focused. Over the 25 plus years I have been working I have gained experience in both fields and include the skills that best match the position.

Key points when job searching and developing your employment history section:

  • Keep the resume content honest and relevant
  • Research the position requirements, skills needed and company; focusing your resume and cover letter content to highlight your experience and why you are the best match for the position!
  • If you have several positions lasting less than six months review them and highlight the most relevant and be prepared to discuss gaps in your cover letter and/or the interview
  • Review all of your experience and job titles (positions) before applying. Focus on what skills overlap with requirements (customer service skills can expand into several requirements/titles including receptionist, assistant, sales, public transport, almost any job where you will deal with the public or even other employees.)
  • Complete a self-evaluation; what type of job are you looking for, what benefits do you want/need, can you further your education or begin a degree while working (do they have tuition assistance, support, etc.), acknowledge some ‘deal breakers’ (yes, you can be picky and require certain request and decline other requests), etc.
  • Focus on applicable positions that will help you accomplish long term goals while matching some skills and experience; not all positions have to be viewed as permanent…they can lead to long-term career goals
  • Utilize your cover letter as your opportunity to confirm why you are the ideal candidate and highlight accomishments from previous positions that relate to the job you are applying for

Finally, if you have had contract or employment through temporary services It’s best to list the services and highlight the positions that are relevant (yes that word again!). And remember education, training, workshops, certificate completions, etc. are worthwhile topics to include as training and experience.

Questions or want to share your personal experience tips? Comment below or email me at successencourager@gmail.com. Thank you so much for reading!