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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Get the job!

There are so many cover letter samples out there; most of them really well organized and ideal to use. But the main question I receive is how to personalize the letter. I really enjoy finding skills and the perfect wording to personalize a cover letter for job seekers – yes BRAGGING!

I created a cover letter sample by using an actual job posting I recently found in the Kansas City area. I hope this helps answer some questions you may have, but as always please reach out to me if you have any questions at all. Have some additional tips? Please share them!

I still have a couple free career packages to give away. What is that about you ask? Please see my other post titled Free advice.

 

2017 Sample job posting and cover letter PDF

 

 

 

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Free advice!! Career, resume, and more

It was so much fun getting to know a few of you and providing this free opportunity! I want to extend my offer to another four (4) individuals that would like to receive FREE job hunting assistance with the free career package (during the month of May). More information below from my last post offering this!

As you may know, I’ve just added an exciting package deal to my list of services. I am still offering free basic resume edits! And now I’d like to provide four (4) people job hunting assistance by providing a FREE career package to each of them! Why? Because I want you to succeed and I find it fun, simple as that!

What does this mean exactly? I’d like to provide some basic edits to your current resume, discuss what type of job you are searching for and help you find a few possible options you can apply for! Let’s work together and find your next career, whether you are looking for a long or short term position.

Interested? Send me an email at successencourager@gmail.com with:

  • Why you would like to be provided this free service
  • The type of job you are looking for
  • Your current resume
  • A brief description of your past job experience
  • Up to three locations you would like to work in (city, state, etc)
  • Please note – I can only offer this to people located and searching in the United States (my skills are limited to knowledge of US job searches for now, but that may expand in the future!)

I will provide this service to four people for FREE! If you choose to purchase services in the future or share my blog with others, then wonderful, but if not, I will still enjoy this opportunity to provide my professional services! Questions? Just ask!

If you or anyone you know may be interested in any other services please see the price list or contact me and I’m always happy to answer general career questions free of charge! (Limited time only offer!)

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Find your next career – Free advice

Are you thinking of a job change, needing to find your first job or looking to change careers? Would you like FREE career consulting? Then please read on!

A career doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment. Your next job search could end up with a career you keep until you retire or it could be a step toward your next career choice! Each employment opportunity is a chance to gain experience.

Even if you leave an office job, working primarily indoors to  begin an outdoor landscaping career, you have skills that transfer. Maybe you gained advanced customer service skills at your past job(s) or can assist with scheduling, or maybe you discovered time management skills to help you create a more efficient process to complete your new projects!

Some of my previous posts focus on resumes, discovering your strengths and weaknesses, practicing interview questions and more, so please check those out. Even with all of that information it can still be difficult to change careers or find a job in a competitive market. You may decide to start your own business, but if you need or want to find work immediately or gain more experience, I’d like to help!

I’ve just added an exciting package deal to my list of services. I am still offering free basic resume edits! And now I’d like to provide four (4) people job hunting assistance by providing a FREE career package to each of them (thru April 30th)! Why? Because I want you to succeed and I find it fun, simple as that!

What does this mean exactly? I’d like to provide some basic edits to your current resume, discuss what type of job you are searching for and help you find a few possible options you can apply for! Let’s work together and find your next career, whether you are looking for a long or short term position.

Interested? Send me an email at successencourager@gmail.com with:

  • Why you would like to be provided this free service
  • The type of job you are looking for
  • Your current resume
  • A brief description of your past job experience
  • Up to three locations you would like to work in (city, state, etc)
  • Please note – I can only offer this to people located and searching in the United States (my skills are limited to knowledge of US job searches for now, but that may expand in the future!)

I will provide this service to four people for FREE! If you choose to purchase services in the future or share my blog with others, then wonderful, but if not, I will still enjoy this opportunity to provide my professional services! Questions? Just ask!

If you or anyone you know may be interested in any other services please see the price list or contact me and I’m always happy to answer general career questions free of charge!

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Business Idea Prompt (BIP) – Event fun!

Today’s BIPs Event Entertainer, requires little start-up costs, is flexible, can be full or part time, and does not require extensive skills or experience to succeed. Most skills needed can be easily learned through practice or may already be known by most.

Please see the Business Idea page for detailed information about my Business Idea Prompt (BIP) posts! Also, if this not your area of interest please explore the other BIP posts including ‘garage sale’ professional, house call canning and teaching your talent!

I hope you enjoy this BIP and you are inspired to explore your own possibilities!

Business Idea Prompt (BIP) – Event Entertainer (get paid to have fun!)

Details Details – There is a growing demand for entertainment at children’s parties, family gatherings, and other events. Party planning can be costly and time consuming to start up, but focusing on entertaining alone, can be a very profitable business and fun.

The demand for finding ways to entertain children and adults during gatherings is growing more than ever before! Such fun entertaining opportunities include caricatures drawings, clowns, balloon art making, dressing up as a super hero or princess, etc. I spoke with a woman that is a professional face painter and balloon artist (she has attended years of training and conferences, etc.), she said people ask her if she knows anyone that can draw caricatures for parties or other unique entertainment options.I’m going to focus on two options here, but as you can tell there are many possibilities to fit many different skill types. The common skills required for most of these opportunities are enjoy being around people, outgoing and friendly personality and evening and weekend schedules, as that is when most events occur.

The two main focuses today are caricature drawings (cartoon type drawings of people and animals) and nail art.If you’re thinking you are not an artist and caricature drawing isn’t possible, keep in mind this could be expanded (with some additional costs) to picture taking and on-site printing business; using fun photo graphic programs to add backgrounds, color enhancement, etc.

If you do have drawing skills caricature drawings can be performed for any age group, any event type and even include corporate events.

What is nail art? This is a bit more limited in marketing as caricature drawings, but not much! I overheard two mothers talking about nail art parties they were planning for their daughters. I had never heard of this, but it is a growing business and in high demand! Nail ‘artists’ charge around $15 to $20 per person, with a 10 person minimum to paint designs on fingernails (sounds fun to me!). This can easily expand from girl’s birthday parties to ladies night out and adult birthday or other celebration events and even mobile pedicures.

Experience/Skill Needed – For caricatures – drawing ability; turning photos or real life into fun cartoon caricatures. I’ve seen prices range from $20 to $40 for basic one person drawings; couples and groups cost more. If you choose onsite printing of fun photos then some photography and computer skills are required. If you are not an expert at nail art, there are many online tutorial videos that can teach you the trendy designs, tips, etc.

All opportunities require some creativity and to be personable, have fun with guests! Enjoy children (most likely a lot of customers will be parents for children’s parties). Transportation to travel to and from events. Determine payment method; cash, credit card options, checks, etc. To relieve some monetary burden from parents, guests could be charged individually if it was a larger event.

Marketing – Advertise with party planners, professional clowns, face painters, balloon artists; make connections with anyone who is typically paid to go to a party or event! Even corporate events pay for this type of fun so send business cards and flyers to select corporations. For caricatures purchase quality drawing paper, pencils, pens, etc. Put your contact on each portrait via a label or handwritten contact info on back. Keep in mind people may want to frame the work so making them 5×7 or 8×10 and easily frameable will be a plus. Providing a clear protective sheet to carry them home in shows professionalism and an opportunity to share a business card in the bag for future possibilities!  For nail art, materials needed include nail polish, design kits and supplies, polish remover, stickers, etc. For all business show your work via web sites, social media, even on your business card. Create a web page with photos of your work, price range, contact information and customer reviews (as you get them). Even free sites and a unique business email are great resources to help your business grow professionally.

Additional advertising ideas include – Posting signs in your own yard in the surrounding neighborhood(s) with your talent, phone number and web site. For a reasonable price you can place sale ads in local papers or online and encourage all customers to contact you for future events and share your info with their friends (offer a discount or incentive) and let parents know if you offer adult parties; ladies night out, baby showers, weddings, family reunions, etc. Leave business cards and flyers at libraries, post offices and on other community boards. Include your website on the cards and flyers and place a magnet decal on your vehicle with contact information. Wear shirts and/or hats with website or other helpful advertising information. Be open to taking requests from customers; themed parties, etc.

Research – The only research that may be needed is to find an average price for services and to see how many competitors are out there. Read reviews of other entertainment services to see what is working and what is not and focus on creating a customer friendly business.

Even if this is not your type of business, it sure sounds fun and in demand as well. If you aren’t interested in this topic, please read over it and brainstorm your own skills and interests. Ask yourself would someone pay money for this skill? Then turn that thought into action!

I know this was a long post, but thank you for reading and please share any tips or questions you have!

As with any business please check local and state guidelines to see what licenses, name registering, and other requirements may be needed before starting your business.

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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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How to gain work experience

I’ve been asked to share some options to gain experience and skills if you don’t have a lot of work history or educational degree seeking. If you are new to the work force, in between jobs, changing careers or simply looking for a job for whatever reason, gaining more experience is always a positive step!

My first option to share is volunteering. Volunteering allows you to learn new skills, explore different job types, make connections, add to your reference list – volunteer leaders/directors, etc. make great references! Volunteering can help you find the job you want in and out of the non-profit world. A lot of business owners, directors, bosses, managers, etc. volunteer their time and it can be a great way to make connections for future work opportunities.

There are many volunteer opportunities for practically every type of skill level, time availability and personality. You can volunteer hands on or even without leaving your home! Volunteer opportunities include; writing, organizing spaces or files, donation outreach, computer programming/web design, teaching, spending time with the elderly or those in care centers or hospitals, cleaning, developing mailing lists and/or mailings, research, event planning and setup, deliveries and personal drivers, fundraisers, thrift store or gift shop clerk, court appointed advocate, hospice care, handyman/woman, art projects coordination, animal care, project sewers, music lessons or playing, knitters, personal shopper, and so many more opportunities!

If you have more time and passion about a particular organization you can also look into being a board or committee member.

I volunteered for a non profit that was close to my heart for over five years, when the coordinator retired, they called me to offer me the job. I was shocked and excited. I accepted the offer and had almost three years in that position! During that time I made some great contacts and learned skills and gained experience that has helped me with obtain my current position.

You can search particular organizations for their volunteer opportunities or use such sites as volunteermatch.org to find your perfect match!

Another option is starting your own business and gain experience with the skills you already have; lawn-mowing, cleaning, administrative/office, handyman/woman, sewing, tutoring, travel guide, computer repair, freelance writer or web designer, cook, baker, or any other skill you enjoy. Advertise throughout your neighborhood, post your skills on social media, make business cards and leave them at libraries, laundromats, put a sign in your own yard and/or ask friends if you can advertise on their property, etc. Don’t let the thought overwhelm you. Most business can be started slowly with word of mouth advertising and/or free posts, etc. Depending on the business you may already have all of the tools / supplies you need or purchase at a low cost/investment. And each customer becomes a possible reference, repeat customer, and marketer for your business! Freelance work opportunities have allowed me to gain some valuable professional and personal work experience!

Online courses, community education classes, workshops, conference, etc. are also worth exploring. Some offer low cost or even free computer course, refresher classes, web design, accounting, etc. Some public libraries and public education institutes offer free basic courses. I have taken free online courses in the past to refresh some skills I had not used at a current position, but required at a new position I was applying for.

The experience you gain is resume worthy!

Do you have any other tips? Please share them!

Questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading!!!