Careers, Jobs & Employment Information
Seven Tips to a Job-Winning Interview
These days, interviews don't come easily. When you get The Call, make the most of your time -- and go for it!
10 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Job Fairs
Many job seekers tend to overlook job fairs. They can be crowded, busy, competitive and confusing events. But they offer you the opportunity to contact many potential employers all within one place, and they can help you land a job.
Hot Business Trends for 2004? And Beyond: Maybe One Will Turn Into a Creative Business Idea for You
I always look forward to the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine. That?s the issue that features the publisher?s annual pick of hot businesses, markets, and trends for smart entrepreneurs ? or those who aspire to be.
Some of the high tech businesses cited like mobile gaming or online learning tend to require six and seven figure start up costs. This can seem daunting (although not impossible) for the person just venturing into self-employment. So I?ve decided to focus on the markets, trends, and businesses that speak to someone operating on a somewhat more limited budget. Let?s start with hot markets:
HOT MARKET: Middle-Aged Women
Since I?ve recently entered my last year in my 40s, I thought it only appropriate to start with this group (although like most boomers, I still have a hard time thinking of myself as anything close to ?middle aged?). Not surprisingly, products and services for women in their 40s and 50s that center around anti-aging and menopause are hot. The magazine cites such promising areas as counseling, exercise spas, yoga, smoking cessation programs? any product or service that helps women stay healthy and feel good about themselves ? both inside and out.
The reference to smoking cessation got me thinking? Residential treatment facilities for other forms of substance abuse are common- place, but I?ve personally never seen a retreat, spa, or other residential-type place specifically aimed at people who need help quitting smoking, and who would benefit from doing so outside their home environment. I?m picturing morning walks, meditation, massage, support groups, good food, and of course, lots and lots of punching bags!
HOT MARKET: Toddlers/Tweens/Teens
According to market research firm Packaged Facts, last year 5 to 14 year olds spent $10 billion on food and beverages. Other favorite product areas for kids are sports, fashion, music, and technology.
And apparently home décor and remodeling isn?t just for adults anymore (who knew?). Stores like IKEA and Pottery Barn are starting to selling home furnishing products aimed at teens.
With baby boomers having more discretionary income with which to spoil their grandchildren, babies and toddlers have also become hot markets. Online start-up ELittle Luxuries offers designer baby furniture and more than 600 other upscale baby items. (http://www.eLittleLuxuries.com)
HOT MARKET: Overweight People
After reading how much kids spend on food and beverages, it?s no surprise that 15% of children and teens are overweight. But we adults have them beat. A whopping 64% of Americans are considered obese or overweight. Businesses that offer products and services to help people slim down and develop more healthy habits are the most obvious. But entrepreneurs willing to think outside the ?solve the problem? box by looking for ways to make overweight people?s lives easier verses trying to fix them, will also do well.
HOT MARKET: Metrosexuals
With the enormous appeal of stylish soccer super star David Beckham and shows like Bravo?s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy where gay men help straight men with fashion, grooming, home décor, and social skills, a growing number of heterosexual men are allowing themselves to tap into their fashionable side.
One enterprising guy who jumped into the metrosexual market early has seen phenomenal growth. With $20,000 and a dream, Tom Granese launched Regiments, an online store that sells high-end grooming products for men. Less than two years later, Tom opened his first storefront in Dallas with a projected $210,000 in first year in-store sales.
HOT MARKET: Hispanics
The Hispanic market is certainly nothing new ? in fact it?s made Entrepreneur?s list for many years now. The magazine cites opportunities in anything from food and entertainment, to financial services and Web services.
Now let?s look at two of Entrepreneur?s picks for hot trends in 2004?
HOT TREND: Outdoor Living Spaces
Into gardening or design? According to Joanne Kostecky of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, and president of her own garden design company, the concept of outdoor living rooms that is so popular in the south and some urban areas is beginning to reach the rest of the country. The fact that more consumers are investing in courtyards and elaborate gardens means the gardening and outdoor design businesses are bound to grow!
HOT TREND: Fast-Casual Food
Health and taste conscious consumers on the go are turning to fast- casual restaurants and chains. In my own small town of Northampton, two of the more popular joints are benefiting from the fast-casual boom. One serves upscale burritos (my favorite is the Thai burritos) and the other is a hip soup, salad, and sandwich joint that opened in a greatly remodeled former Taco Bell restaurant.
Idea: Back in my old softball days I always wished someone would cater to all those hungry players and fans by starting a high quality food wagon.
Other Hot Trends? Boating and water sports, the hunger for low- carb foods (a trend being taken seriously by restaurants, grocery stores, and food manufacturers), oils and sauces, and multiculturalism which includes the gay and lesbian markets.
Hot markets and hot trends lead to hot businesses. Here are some of Entrepreneur?s picks?
HOT BUSINESS: Children?s Enrichment Programs
With so many parents in the workforce, more kids than ever before are engaged in extracurricular and after school activities. If you like the idea of working with kids, you can opt to open a physical location like a gym, dance or art studio, or camp, take your program into the schools, or provide private lessons.
If you think opening your own place is financially out of reach, think again. While $12,000 is no small sum of money, it?s a lot less than a lot of people might expect they?d need to shell out to start their own dance studio. But that?s how much former dance student turned instructor Archer Alstaettter dug up in cash and credit cards to found Dance Emotion in Irvine, California. That was five years ago. Today Archer?s studio has 500 clients and expects 600-plus to be enrolled by spring. You go Archer!
HOT BUSINESS: Home Improvement
Remodeling, refurbishing, and redecorating are all the rage. There are some 30 cable shows on home improvement alone. And home improvement isn?t all about décor. Worth noting are businesses that help home owners maximize the space they have as well as those making homes more accessible to an aging population. (To read about a unique, highly successful, and legitimate home business opportunity that matches home owners with reputable home repair contractors go to http://www.ChangingCourse.com/hrnsuccess.htm)
HOT BUSINESS: Yoga & Pilates
According to Entrepreneur, companies are bending over backwards to cater to the growing market of people practicing yoga. Clothes, mats, DVDs, music, and classes aimed at seniors, pregnant women and children as young as three are just a few products and services aimed at this growing market.
And with a reported 47 million Americans taking Pilates, a work out that builds abdominal muscles, opportunities abound for gym owners and instructors alike. If you like the idea of teaching Pilates, studio owner Maria Leone recommends starting out by keeping overhead low. She suggests renting space for one-on-one sessions from a small gym or chiropractic office. Fees for a typical Pilates session range from $50 to $70 an hour. Meditate on that!
HOT BUSINESS: Upscale Pet Services
According to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association, Americans spent an estimated $31 billion on pets in 2003. A few of the luxury services cited include pet hotels complete with heated floors, limousine rides, day cruises, and personal shoppers. And apparently the spa trend has extended to the pet world with exfoliating treatments, aromatherapy, liposuction (I kid you not), and chiropractic services.
HOT BUSINESS: Outsourcing
Outsourcing is one of those good new-bad news things. If your job is being eliminated because it?s cheaper for your company to outsource functions like HR, accounting, and network security, then outsourcing is a bad thing. Outsourcing is particularly hot in IT ? and when it comes to outsourcing jobs overseas, it?s also controversial. The good news for freelancers is the federal government plans to open 850,000 jobs to outsourcing, with $85 billion in federal IT contracts to be awarded over the next three years
Other Hot Businesses: Spas, organic foods, online matchmaking, senior care, wireless, tech security, and voiceover IP (VoIP).
If you believe as I do that it?s better to be the boss, than to have one, why not make 2004 the year you start putting your entrepreneurial plans into action? You don?t have to quit your job or mortgage your home to get the ball rolling. You might resolve to do some research, start putting together a business plan, take a course on marketing, glass blowing, woodworking, web design, or whatever sparks your fancy, get certified to teach yoga, buy a book on how to launch a successful on-line business, start a Barbara Sher style Success Team? or just order a subscription to Entrepreneur.
If you don?t already subscribe to Entrepreneur you can do so at http://www.Entrepreneur.com. The site also features a ton of free resources for anyone who already is ? or dreams of ? working for themselves. For other free resources for people who want to start their own businesses visit http://www.ChangingCourse.com/newbiz.htm
Okay, but what if you don?t see a trend, market, or business here that speaks to you? Then find the one that does! I had a client who is crazy for horses and photography. It took me all of 30 seconds on Google.com to find a group called the Equine Photographers Network.
In addition to their conference this February in Florida, the group offers a free public online discussion group with over 700 members who range from top-of-their-field working pros to amateur photographers to magazine editors and writers to horse owners, all interested in improving their equine photography skill and knowledge. Learn all about the Equine Photographers Network at http://www.EquinePhotographers.net.
The way to find the ?hottest? business idea for you is to get in touch with the passion that burns the brightest in your heart. Then make 2004 the year resolve to you take those first bold steps on behalf of your dream!
10 Steps to Escape the Job World and Create the Life You Really Want
1. GET THE POINT ? OF LIFE, THAT IS. How many of us will look back in our old age and wish we'd gone to more meetings or put in more overtime. The point? Despite pressure to "play it safe" by sticking with your day job ("...but dear, you have a good job, you want to be HAPPY too?") you have every right to follow your entrepreneurial dreams. With the realization that life is for living comes the understanding that it is up to you ? and you alone ? to create the kind of life you really want.
2. GET THE RIGHT PICTURE. Be honest. How much time do you spend bitching about your lousy boss, hellish commute and on and on? As satisfying as a good gripe session is, you're wasting precious energy on the wrong picture. Five minutes a day spent visualizing your ideal work-life and fashioning a plan to get you there will move you far closer to your goal than 30 minutes of complaining about what you don't want. Bottom line: You won't see yourself doing it until you can see yourself doing it.
3. GET CLUED INTO YOUR PASSION. The most successful entrepreneurs love what they do. Haven't quite figured out where your passion lies? Start paying attention to situations or things that grab and keep your attention. Focus less on your skills (what you CAN do) or your resume (what you HAVE done) and instead, try to tune into what it is you really LOVE and WANT to do. What types of things did you love to do as a child? What kinds of characteristics or talents do people compliment you on? What kind of work or lifestyles do you envy? If you don't yet have the knowledge or skills to turn your heart work into a business venture, make it your business to fill the gaps.
4. GET A GRIP ON "IT." In her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers says IT is what scares you ? and ultimately, what's holding you back from going after your dream. Perhaps your fear centers on money, or that you're not "smart enough," or that you'll fall flat on your face. Let's face it ? shaking up your life is scary. Yet, "Unless you walk out into the unknown," says Tom Peters, "the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low." So go ahead and indulge in your worst-case fantasy. Then get busy figuring out what steps you can take to prevent it from happening.
5. GET REAL. You've seen the easy money pitches: "Earn $1,000 a week stuffing envelopes in the comfort of your own home." Sounds great, right? Now, snap out of it! Launching your own business takes time and effort. You should also expect a drop in income ? at least in the beginning. Now is the time to revisit the ideal life you outlined in Step 2 and ask yourself, "How much do I really want my ideal life? What am I willing to do or give up to get it?" If you are serious about living life on your own terms, the sacrifice will be worth it.
6. GET INFORMED. Change always seems scarier when you have either inadequate, or worse, inaccurate information. Go to the library. Join associations. Talk to people who have started similar businesses. Take classes. Read trade publications. Subscribe to ezines. The more informed you are, the less "risky" the risks become.
7. GET READY. A goal has been described as a dream with a deadline. Take out a calendar. Even if you haven't nailed down all the details, you should still go ahead and set a target date for when you want your "new life" to begin. Besides being a great source of motivation, knowing how much time you have between now and "D-ream day" lets you create a realistic plan for hitting it.
8. GET SUPPORT. Enthusiasm is contagious, but so is pessimism. Avoid the nay Sayers and try to seek out others who share your passion for living life on your own terms. Consider meeting weekly with other aspiring entrepreneurs to generate ideas, share information and help each other stay on track.
9. GET GOING. To keep from being overwhelmed ? yet still make headway ? break your larger goal down into more manageable steps. Then, no matter how hectic thing get, pledge to take at least one action a day. Even the smallest actions ? jotting down a new idea, reading a single page, or making one phone call ? start to add up. And, once you actually get the ball rolling, it's hard to stop!
10. GET GRATITUDE. At the same time you're setting your sights on achieving your future goal, be mindful of how much abundance you have in your life RIGHT NOW! Changing course is a journey. Count your blessings and enjoy the ride. When you think about it, it's all we really have.
Stacking The Deck In Your Favor
Many people do not bother to look at their own magnificence and without that view it is not likely that we will recognize the need for strategies to maximize our strengths. When we buy an outfit for a special affair, we automatically try to coordinate each piece so that they enhance one another and amplify our sense of ?looking good? from head to toe. A man will make sure his socks and tie are in sync while a woman will adorn herself with color coordinated makeup, jewelry, nail color, etc. But when it comes to our gifts and talents, we get extremely casual or sloppy and so we stack skills on top that don?t bring out our best and sometimes we are so off kilter, our skills are actually a tacky appendage that detracts from our gifts and talents.
Your Goals Must Be Within Your Reach
Defining Success Your Way!
In my career advising practice, I often find that my clients are not clear about what success means for them. Our society defines success primarily around three elements: power, money and fame. Many of you reading this may be saying, ?wait a minute ?those elements are not the most important things to me.? Success is often intangible. It?s certainly unique to each person. Have you considered how you will know when you are successful?
What Turns Potential Employers ON; What Turns Them OFF?
According to an annual survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, these are the most important qualities that employers are looking for in a job candidate, in priority order:
(1) Communication skills;
(3) Teamwork skills;
(4) Interpersonal skills;
(5) A strong work ethic.
Be sure to highlight those skills in your resume, during your interview, and in your thank-you letter.
That same survey discovered the number-one thing that can turn potential employers off -- a job candidate's appearance! Specifically, they cited unusual hair color or style, body piercings, tattoos, and unusual clothing as things that most often gave a bad first impression.
What you think is "cool" may be the "hot" ticket to the reject list! So keep your need to express yourself under wraps during the interview, and you'll have a better shot at getting the job.
Six Factors That Can Cost You the Interview/Job
Most job seekers know that an unprofessional appearance will count against them at an interview. Here are six MORE factors that can help you remain in the unemployment line:
(1) Being unprepared for the interview. Prepare, plan, and practice! In today's tough job market, you MUST do everything you can to give yourself an edge... preparation is the key.
(2) Not being able to communicate clearly and effectively. This is important during the interview and on the job. Being nervous can really mess up your communication skills, so being well prepared and practicing what you're going to say are always your best bet.
(3) Being aggressive, arrogant, or acting in a superior way. No one wants to hire or work with people who think they're better than everyone else. Be careful with your attitude, even if you think you're surrounded by incompetent fools. Being confident is good. Being an arrogant jerk is bad.
(4) Making excuses for failings. Your teacher never bought "The dog ate my homework!" and your boss isn't going to buy "The finance department gave me the wrong figures!" In the grown-up world, you have to take responsibility for what you are responsible for! You'll never earn respect by blaming others when things go wrong.
(5) Saying unfavorable things about previous employers. Even if you left a job because the boss was an egomaniac who took credit for all of your hard work, verbally abused you in front of others, and poisoned the plant on your desk, don't say anything bad about him/her during an interview. When asked "Why did you leave your last job?" say something like "My manager and I both agreed that my advancement opportunities were limited there and obtaining another position was the best option for me and my career goals."
(6) Having a poor/limp handshake. Why do people think you'll be a lousy employee if you have a lousy handshake? That's not really logical, is it? Doesn't matter. It just turns people off and gives them a bad impression of you. So make your handshake firm and confident but not bone-crushing. (It's not a competition to see who winces first!)
If you DON'T want to be unemployed, don't let any of those traits apply to you!
Job Interviews & the Magic of Music
Can music help you with your next job interview? It just might! Here's how.
First, it can help you during your research, preparation and practice. While it doesn't appear to work for everyone, some studies suggest that having classical music playing softly in the background as you study can boost your recall. Try it as you're reading over your prepared answers for probable interview questions.
Second, music can help you relax, put you in an positive mood, and help dispel nervousness. Think of a song you really enjoy, one that makes you feel great, and listen to it as you're driving to your interview.
A possible song you might consider is "All Star" by Smash Mouth. It's got a great, upbeat tempo, and some of the lyrics could be interpreted as advice for getting ahead:
"You'll never know if you don't go, you'll never shine if you don't glow... Hey now, you're an All Star, get your game on, go play; Hey now, you're a Rock Star, get the show on, get paid.... All that glitters is gold, Only shooting stars break the mold." Crank that up, listen to those words, and say to yourself, "I AM a shooting star, I'm going to SHINE, break the mold, and GET PAID!"
I guarantee you'll be in a confident, upbeat mood as you arrive for your interview, and that will give you a MAJOR edge over the competiton!
When and How to Say I Just Cant Do It!
We naturally hesitate to tell our boss when we can't do something or are feeling overwhelmed in our job. Bosses don't want to hear that, right? Well, it depends.
In many situations, your boss is so busy that he/she doesn't keep track of how much work you're doing. When your boss gives you a new project, he's not thinking about all the other projects you're already working on.
And here's the kicker -- unless you speak up and tell your boss that you can't handle the workload he's giving you, he'll assume everything is fine.
This can have bad consequences for you AND your boss. You know what will happen. Eventually things will start falling through the cracks or you'll rush through tasks and start making mistakes.
You can only do so much in a day, and deadlines will be missed. While you're stressing out, work that your boss needs you to do is NOT being done.
When this happens, your boss will not appreciate your excuse: "But I had too much to do, I was overloaded with work!" Saying that AFTER the fact will be much worse than telling your boss up front -- before mistakes occur or deadlines are missed -- that you're having trouble with your workload.
It is your responsibility to tell your boss when you are overwhelmed, and there's nothing wrong with doing this.
Of course, you don't want to tell your boss, "I can't do that; I'm too busy." But you can say, "I'll be happy to take that on, but I need your help with prioritizing the other projects you've already given me. Which jobs can I put on hold or delegate to someone else while I work on this new one?"
That's way better than keeping your mouth shut, trying to do too much, and failing miserably.
Hey, You Cant Ask Me That! (How to Respond to Inappropriate Job Interview Questions)
I received the following questions from a visitor to my website recently: "How should I respond to inappropriate questions such as: (1) Do you have a stable home life? (2) Tell me about your personal situation. Are these inappropriate questions? It has been so long since I interviewed for a job, your suggestions about the most helpful responses would be appreciated!"
Those are, indeed, inappropriate questions that should NOT be asked at an interview.
Various federal, state, and local laws regulate the questions a prospective employer can ask you. An employer's questions ? on the job application, in the interview, or during the testing process ? must be related to the job for which you are applying.
That does not mean, however, that you will never be asked inappropriate questions. Some companies have poor HR support, some interviewers are untrained and unaware of inappropriate or illegal questions, and some even ask them knowing they should not.
You won't have much chance of getting the job if you respond to such questions by saying, "Hey, that's an inappropriate question. You can't ask me that!"
So you have a few options. First, you can answer the question. Even if it's inappropriate to ask, there's nothing that says you can't answer it. If you choose to do so, realize that you are giving information that is not job-related. You could harm your chances by giving the "wrong" answer.
Or you could respond with something like, "How would my answer to that question directly relate to my ability to perform in this position?" If you keep your tone non-confrontational, courteous and upbeat, they may realize they've goofed by asking such a question without getting upset at you for pointing out their mistake. Depending on how they respond, you may feel more comfortable answering.
The best strategy, I believe, is to figure out and address their TRUE CONCERN. When they ask something like, "Do you have a stable personal life?" they may be trying to protect themselves from a bad situation that they've had to deal with in the past (former employee whose personal problems interfered with his/her ability to do the job). So what they really want to know is, will YOU be a reliable employee who can be counted upon to show up and do your job effectively, regardless of any personal problems you may have.
So without directly answering their question, try to address their underlying concern. In this instance you might say, "My career is very important to me. I'm fully committed to performing at my highest level at all times, and don't allow any kind of distractions to interfere with that. I'll deliver the results you're looking for."
If you're not sure what their true concern is, ask something like "Could you please rephrase or elaborate on your question? I want to make sure I address your concern."
Please realize that many interviewers are untrained and therefore unaware that a question they might ask to break the ice -- such as "Do you have any kids?" -- is inappropriate. Yes, this question may be an attempt to determine if you have child-care issues that could interfere with your job... but it's MORE likely that the interviewer is innocently trying to find something he/she has in common with you.
In the end, it's basically a judgment call on your part. If you feel the interviewer has no legitimate reason to ask an inappropriate question, and you do not want to answer it, say "I'm sorry, but I don't see how that has any relevance to my ability to do this job." You might run the risk of losing the job, but if your gut instinct is telling you there's something amiss, you wouldn't want to work for that person anyway.
Here's a list of some questions -- the wrong way, and the right way, to obtain legitimate information:
Inappropriate: Are you a U.S. citizen?OK: Are you authorized to work in the United States?
Inappropriate: How old are you?OK: Are you over the age of 18?
Inappropriate: What's your marital status? Do you have children?OK: Would you be able and willing to work overtime as necessary?
Inappropriate: How much do you weigh? Do you have any disabilities?OK: Are you able to perform the physical duties required in this job, with or without reasonable accommodations?
Inappropriate: Have you ever been arrested? OK: Have you ever been convicted of _____? (The crime should be reasonably related to the performance of the job in question.)
Loving What You Do
Man is a social animal and survival is his major need. There are needs that he needs be fulfill. The needs can be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. A common thread that connects all the above need is a means to sustain physically. He can barter his skills to sustain himself.
Creating a Feng Shui Power Office: 6 Easy Tips to More Successful Surroundings
More and more people are looking to gain an edge in their working environments. One method that business people are increasingly turning to is feng shui. Feng shui promises that by arranging your office environment correctly, it is possible to create a better energy in your office, and that energy can promote further opportunity and advancement.
Spiritual Practices Offer Peace and Acceptance
Facing career transitions and daily life challenges can leave us feeling lonely, stressed and anxious. How do we manage to deal with the financial and emotional stress of having a home, a car, work (or no work), kids and a spouse in this too-busy world?
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The Perfect Fit: Women & Franchising
An interesting combination of factors at this time in history may be the reason so many women are turning to franchising to fulfill their entrepreneurial desires. Women's increased financial power, better education, and corporate experience, combined with their desire for more autonomy and desire to connect with others who share their values make franchising a great fit for many women.
Do You Work to Live or Live to Work?
Let's be realistic here - hands up all of you who bounce out of bed every single morning, raring to get to work and enjoying yourself every minute of the day?