Thursday, January 31, 2013

Job Search Etiquette

Next month on we are focusing on Job Searching!

So lets start things off with an excellent interview all about job search etiquette posted on today:

Job Search Etiquette: A Q&A With Anna Post

“Etiquette, remember, is merely a collection of forms by which all personal contacts in life are made smooth.” So wrote Emily Post, the goddess of manners, in the first edition of her eponymous etiquette tome, published in 1922.

Much has changed since Ms. Post penned those words, which appeared in a chapter titled “Etiquette in Business and Politics” (written for gentlemen, mind you). So where can today’s job seeking Gen Y professional learn to mind their P’s and Q’s?

Enter Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and the co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, in addition to a handful of contemporary etiquette guides. Since joining the Emily Post Institute in 2006, Anna has conducted business etiquette seminars around the country and can tell you a thing or two about gracefully landing your dream job (or, well, any job).

Must you cover your colorful tattoos during interviews? How fast should you send out those thank-you notes? When should you start talking salary? We asked Anna Post our most pressing job search etiquette questions and got her answers—so the rest of your professional life can be made, well, smooth.

You have a job, but you’re looking to leave. Should you be upfront with your current boss about your plans to move on?

Not necessarily— not until you have something really concrete to tell them. This is to protect the position that you do have. People can get interested in a job and it comes to nothing.

But you absolutely must once you’ve accepted an offer. Some people choose to tell when they have received an offer, some even choose to inform that they are looking for other positions—often this has to do with the relationship with your boss and your reason for leaving. This one is going to depend on that relationship, but when you can tell someone, it’s generally appreciated so that they can prepare and plan.

What’s an acceptable reason for why you need to leave the office for an interview? What about the “doctor’s appointment” excuse?

To not split too many hairs, I would say a “personal appointment.” Rather than saying you’re at the doctor when you’re really not—which is a tiny white lie—I think it’s better to say that you have a personal appointment.

You’ve already accepted one job offer when you receive another (even better) offer from another company. Can you politely back out of the first job without burning that bridge?

Not necessarily, without burning a bridge. You can be graceful about it, but no matter how graceful you are, they may be disappointed and frustrated with you. At the end of the day, you need to do for yourself what you need to do. If a better job comes along and that’s what you need to take, then that’s what you need to do. But you need to be upfront and apologize for the inconvenience as soon as you’ve made your decision.

The more calm and upfront and understanding of the inconvenience you are, the better chance you won’t burn a bridge. But there is no way not to inconvenience the company that made the first job offer at this point.

Let’s talk dress code. Is there really harm in showing your tattoos or piercings? My friend has a tattoo on her wrist and her mother insists she has to keep it covered on interviews.

It’s really going to depend on the office and the industry. It’s worth asking HR in advance if you’re really worried about it, especially if it’s a tattoo that, while hidden for an interview, might be visible on the job. That’s the kind of thing that I think is important to check out and to find out what’s acceptable in that culture and what’s not.

A lot of people say, “Well, I’m not going to cover my tattoos, that’s me and if they don’t like me, fine.” The result is if you really want that job, you might not get it. The applicant needs to think about what they really want and be aware of what they’re willing to compromise on. The office environment is what it is and you’re the one entering into it, so you need to be respectful of that environment and know what those expectations are.

Should you take notes during an interview or is that rude?

It’s not a note-taking situation unless there is something you’re promising to follow up on and you want to write it down for later. The assumption is you’ve prepared and know what the company is about. Generally speaking, I would say no. That said, I’m sure there is an extenuating circumstance where that would make sense, but I wouldn’t pull out a pen and paper as a matter of course.

Which is preferred: a follow-up email or a handwritten note? And at what point should these be sent out?

I wouldn’t send out an email while the door is still closing behind you. I would wait a half hour—at minimum, 15 or 20 minutes. I’d probably send it a half hour or an hour later, and I also probably wouldn’t send one from my iPhone. I’d wait until I got back to my computer.

That’s not to say it’s wrong, I just wouldn’t want it to seem like it’s just something on the fly. I’d want it to seem like something that I’m serious about and committing to and focused on, instead of something sent while I’m walking down the street, which is what “Sent from my iPhone” implies.

As for the handwritten, I would put it in the mail within 24 hours. You can always do both and send an email and say, “I just dropped a note in the mail to you, but I wanted to thank you anyway for the opportunity… ”—and that kind of covers your duplication issue.

Do you have any tips for handling an interview over lunch? Is there anything you should avoid ordering? Should you reach for the check at the end?

Typically the interviewer pays for the lunch. As for what to order, I wouldn’t order anything outside the general price range and I wouldn’t order any courses that the interviewer didn’t order. And I would not order alcohol unless the interviewer did—but even then, I don’t think I would.

Salary is always a tricky subject. When is it appropriate to bring it up?

This isn’t the first thing you talk about. It doesn’t mean that it might not come up. Were you to feel that the interview was ending and you hadn’t spoken about it, I might ask a question instead and say, “Would this be an appropriate time to discuss compensation?” if you really felt it needed to come up or you were surprised it hadn’t. And they may say, “We’ll talk about this at the next interview.” Rather than asking, “What is the salary?” when they aren’t moving to that topic, I would ask about the subject rather than the salary.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beginners Guide to Couponing

Reposted from
Love them or hate them. Take them or leave them. The truth still stands—using coupons can save you a lot of money … if you know how to use them correctly.
Let’s face it: No one wants to spend hours clipping coupons just to save a couple of bucks.

But if it’s done right, couponing shouldn’t take more than an hour a week of your time–and it could save you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year.
At least that’s what couponing looks like for Andrea Deckard, author of She saved $6,500 in her first year of couponing—and she’s willing to share her secrets with you.

What’s the Best Way to Start?

Deckard points out that printable coupon sites, like CouponNetwork, are particularly convenient for grocery coupons, along with newspapers. “I encourage people to subscribe to the newspaper,” she says, “because if you purchase one in-store, you may not receive the same coupons, and a weekly subscription tends to be cheaper than subscribing to just the Sunday edition.” For online shopping, she likes, which constantly updates coupon offers for hundreds of retailers.
Andrea also advises looking at your spending over the past three months. Set a small goal to reduce your expenses by 10 to 20% in three months, and aim to spend no more than one hour searching for coupons each week. “In the beginning, it could take a little longer to scope out where the good deals are for your favorite stores,” she says, “but setting a goal for one hour, once you figure that out, is realistic.”

After three months, challenge yourself to spend 10% less, and continue to set small challenges for yourself in this way until you reach your desired savings. According to Deckard, focused efforts could realistically save 50 to 75% on your grocery bill. “Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to others,” she adds. “Your family’s situation is unique, and your goals will likely be different. Make only small changes that you can stick with for the long haul.”

5 Fool-Proof Tips for Successful Couponing

Before acting on the below five steps, start with Andrea’s rule for beginners: If a store doesn’t have a minimum of five sale items that you need, don’t bother going. You’ll waste both time and gas money if you’re driving around to different stores for just one or two items.

1. Get Organized
Whether you clip and sort coupons in a binder or file them all by store into separate folders, experiment with different methods that will help you save time both when searching at home (“Hey, I already have a coupon for mustard!”) and when you’re in the store.

2. Focus on One Store–to Start
If you purchase most of your cleaning supplies at Target, for example, begin your coupon search there. You’ll be less overwhelmed this way, and you’ll gain confidence as you start to see how much you’re saving on the things that your family needs. When you feel you’ve conquered one store, you can branch out to other places that you frequent.

3. Clip Based on Need
Figure out what exactly you’ll be shopping for and base your coupon search on those items only. So if you’re heading to Shop Rite for three dinners that you plan to make, focus your coupon search for items on your “to buy” list, and ignore everything else.

4. Stockpile to Save Even More
Once you’ve gotten the hang of general couponing for a purpose, you can start stockpiling purchases for your favorite non-perishable items, like rice, pasta and coffee. To do this, keep a running list of the items that are in constant rotation in your house, and update the inventory each week so you’ll always know what’s running low. This way, when you come across that 15% coupon savings on pasta sauce, you’ll know if you need to use it or not. Not only will you be stocked up on things that you’ll actually use, but you’ll also have gotten it all for a great price.

5. Learn the Drugstore Rules
Shopping at stores like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid can take more time to master, since they each have their own reward system. So read all the fine print on their coupons, and when you do find a store that you believe offers the best rewards, do the majority of your shopping there to get the most savings. (And check out our comparison of online drugstores for even more saving advice.)



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who's Got Your Back?

Is life throwing you a curve? Perhaps your husband of 15 years suddenly wants a divorce, although you thought things were going pretty well. Maybe you were surprised by a lay-off and now struggle to get a job, even though you are a great candidate and deserve the positions you apply for. Maybe you are facing a serious illness or trying to mend a broken relationship with a child or loved one. These are not uncommon issues, but none of them are easy.

When I have a client come to me with issues like these, I always ask, “Who’s got your back?” Regardless of the client’s gender, age or status, this question always causes my client to stop and think. The answer I hear most often is “no one.”

Not many years ago I went through one of the toughest periods of my life. Having survived cancer twice, and overcoming several other personal and emotional setbacks, I was truly doing my best to be a good person, do what is right and work hard; but I just wasn’t happy and couldn’t get out of a deep rut of depression and sadness. What made it worse was not having anyone to confide in. Counseling hadn’t worked in the past. I didn’t want to burden my friends. And I certainly wasn’t going to talk to my parents. I felt totally and utterly alone – not physically, but emotionally. I call this acute loneliness.

You experience acute loneliness when, although you are surrounded by others, you feel as if you are facing life’s challenges and problems alone. Acute loneliness made my problems feel bigger than they really were and made me feel as if my problems were unique and that I had to figure them out all by myself. Both my thoughts and my emotions were distorted because I had no one to help me calibrate my feelings and help me unload the baggage I was carrying.

Likewise, when my clients answered that “no one” had their backs, they, too, were suffering from acute loneliness.

Are you like my clients? Do you feel as if no one has your back? If so, here are a few things you can do to reduce your feelings of acute loneliness and start to create supportive relationships so that someone has your back:

1.       Write it out: Journaling is quite therapeutic and can help you make sense of what you are feeling. This can take on many formats, such as writing a letter you do not send, or jotting down feelings, thoughts and emotions, or writing a story.

2.       Make a list of people that you might be able to talk to. Start out by listing the people that come to mind without deciding who you are going to talk to. Once the list is made, rank the people on your list in terms of emotional safety, with the safest person at the top.

3.       Take a risk: We all feel vulnerable sharing our problems with someone. One way to overcome feeling vulnerable is to pick a topic or a single issue to discuss with someone we trust instead of dumping all your problems at one sitting. As the safety grows, you can share more.

4.       Know that people want to listen and help: Remember that people on your list who can offer you some level of emotional safety most likely want to help and are willing to listen.

5.       Set some ground rules: When you do decide to confide in someone, I highly suggest that you set some ground rules. If you only want them to listen and not give advice, let them know that up front. If you just want to vent, say so.

6.       Seek professional help: If your list does not yield someone you can trust or feel safe with, then it may be appropriate to seek help from a counselor or life coach. Many employers provide anonymous services for counseling. If counseling isn’t your thing, seek a coach or mentor that will listen and provide objective feedback and wise perspectives.

7.       Grow your support network: Happy and optimistic people share something in common – they have a strong support group of people they can turn to. Try being a friend and confidant to someone as a way to grow your own network of friends.

8.       Use social media with caution: While you don’t want to post your problems on Facebook, you can reach out to people in your network and ask for help or support. You would be surprised at how many people care for you and are willing to help.

9.       Forgive: I know this is hard, but one powerful way to stop feeling acute loneliness is to forgive those who have offended you. This is a great way to rebuild relationships and create safety.

10.   Exercise: Believe it or not, taking a walk or performing strenuous exercise will help you feel better about yourself and will help put your problems into perspective.

You don’t need to feel alone or assume you will burden others by opening up about your challenges. As for my clients who initially feel that no one has their back, we are always able to find someone who can offer support. Whatever you are going through, don’t go through it alone.

Kirk Wilkinson is the Founder and President of The Happiness Factor, a best-selling author, two-time cancer survivor, speaker and life coach. The Happiness and Factor and the Fresh Start for Women Foundation have partnered to bring you a powerful and uplifting on-line coaching program.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why You Should Exercise At Work

Reposted from
It’s the fourth time you’ve ditched your lunch buddies this week, opting instead to brown bag it at your desk. You wave goodbye with a PB&J in your left hand and keep typing—no time for chatter when an avalanche of email awaits.

Hours later, you realize you haven’t moved a major muscle group since morning, finishing another nine-hour day with your posterior glued into the same seated position.

If this sounds like you—well, that’s not good. You might not think much of it, especially if you devote most nights to steamy sessions on the Stairmaster. But could your “work now, exercise later” lifestyle put you at a higher risk for health problems? At least one major study points to yes.

Hazardous to Your Health

Researchers, who published their work in the European Heart Journal earlier this year, found that sitting for extended periods of time is linked with an increase in several health risks: higher levels of artery-blocking triglycerides and the heart disease predictor C-reactive protein, lower levels of the “good” cholesterol HDL, and a larger waist—and this is despite the fact that study participants also spent time sweating in moderate to vigorous exercise.

Previous research has coined this the “Active Couch Potato Phenomenon:” the Employee of the Year who rides or runs to work or catches an hour at the gym but is otherwise chained to a desk by day and to the couch watching Millionaire Matchmaker marathons by night.

So what are we to do, when most of us spend nearly all of our waking hours at a computer?

Move It

Don’t throw in the (gym) towel just yet. Dr. Genevieve Healy, a research fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia, who led the study, offers good news. “Our research showed that even small changes, which could be as little as standing up for one minute, might help to lower this health risk,” she explains. And your boss shouldn’t complain, because it doesn’t need to interfere with your work: “It is likely that regular breaks in prolonged sitting time could be readily incorporated into the working environment without any detrimental impact on productivity,” she adds.

Healy advises office-bound types to adopt the mantra “stand up, move more, more often” and try baby steps like these to incorporate movement into the workday (unfortunately, we’re pretty sure that the mad dash for the last Krispy Kreme in the break room doesn’t count):

  • Stand up to take phone calls. Rather than kicking your feet up on your desk for the conference call, stand up while you chatter. Better yet, do a couple of stretches.
  • Walk to see a colleague. Next time you pick up the phone or start to fire off an email, take a stroll down the hallway instead.
  • Have “standing” meetings. Remove the chairs so that everyone has to be on their feet (this will probably keep meeting time to a minimum, too!) Won’t fly in your office? Encourage regular breaks for people to stand up during long meetings.
  • Do your business on a different floor. Any time you need to use the restroom or a vending machine, take the stairs to the level above or below you.
  • Move things away. Rearrange supplies such as trash bins and printers so they’re off of your desk and in another location—that you have to walk to.

Sitting Pretty: A Thing of The Past?

As research grows in the field of “inactivity physiology,” expect your workplace to start making changes, too. Some new buildings are designed with slower elevators and attractive staircases to encourage employees to walk. And, researchers and physicians have created walkstations with a low speed treadmill instead of a chair, allowing cubicle-dwellers to walk their way to heart health and a slimmer silhouette whilst simultaneously sealing the deal. (Though, with prices nearing $5,000, it might take your boss some convincing.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

So You're In Your Thirties: You Don't Have to Worry About Menopause Yet, Right? Wrong!

We’ve all heard that there is a peak age for ovulation; a time when your body is ripe with baby-making magic, and there are eggs as far as the sperm can swim! Well, too bad that age is about 18, and by the time we’re actually ready to have babies, your egg count has gone down. Way down...

Contrary to what you may be thinking right now, this post is not meant to freak you out, or make you fall into a series of depression-induced, Ben and Jerry’s-related brain freezes. Nope. This information is GOOD to know. Women in their thirties are not thinking about menopause yet, even though perimenopause (the 6-10 years before menopause) can begin as early as 35 years old. Come to mama. I’m here to help.

Perimenopause is the stage of your life that is, unfortunately, home to most of the symptoms we associate with menopause. Menopause is simply defined by the absence of your period for 12 consecutive months. Period. Perimenopause precedes this.

Rapid egg decline (this is what I like to call it) goes like this: fertility is highest between the ages of 18-22. Once you reach 30 years old, it begins to decline. At 35, it has gone down sharply. By the time you reach 40 years old, only about 40% of women are able to conceive without medical intervention.
1 Why is this? Because by the time you reach 40, your body is gearing up for perimenopause, if it isn’t already there. Hormones are changing, and your reproductive system has begun spring cleaning. This is why many women over the age of 40 choose to adopt their babies.

So, how do you know if you’re in perimenopause? What are some symptoms that you can expect from being in this stage of your life? Brace yourself: the answers aren’t all that pretty...

  • memory lapses (sticky notes aplenty) overly sensitive uncontrollable crying unusually depressed or withdrawn overall sense that I’m not OK tense (like a rubber band ready to snap) overwhelmed anxious irritable bursts of anger violent low sex drive

  • oddly dry skin headaches/migraines
  • exhausted hair loss PMS-like bloating sore or ballooning breasts increased chin whiskers deepening voice pimples galore hot flashes or flushes night drenches sleepless nights heart palpitations weight gain (shrinking pants) stiffness, aches, and pains bladder issues vaginal infections excessive vaginal discharge breakthrough vaginal bleeding dry vagina (sex hurts) harder to reach orgasm
  • On the plus side of things, women rarely experience all of these symptoms. (Thank you, Mother Nature!) Some women glide right through perimenopause without even realizing they’re in it. Just know that if you feel like you’re going crazy, you begin to experience weird issues that make you scour the web, late at night, searching for solutions, and you’re between the ages of 35-45, then you’re probably experiencing perimenopause to some extent, and this is normal. Your friends may not admit it, but they’re probably going through it too. The best advice I can give you in these early stages of transition, is to gather your girlfriends (otherwise known as The Sisterhood), and talk. Help yourself and them out by facilitating some perimenopause communication. You’ll all be glad you did.

What’s that? You’re so happy to have found this awesome information that you feel the need to jump up and down and cheer for all to hear? Why not host a menopause party! They’re all the rage- and rage is indeed part of perimenopause…

Want to know more about the perimenopause and menopause (PM&M) experience?
Pick up a copy of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, the first book on menopause of its kind.

Remember: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

If you’re confused, chances are your friends are, too.

Ellen Dolgen is a Health and Wellness Advocate, Menopause Awareness Expert, Author, Speaker, and health blogger. 


Ellen is the author of Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness -- a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause that's filled with crucial information, helpful guides, and hilarious and heartfelt stories. Known for her humor, compassion, and sassy personality, Ellen has appeared on numerous television and radio broadcasts, including: the Rachael Ray Show, The Doctors, Oprah Radio, Playboy Radio, “Tell Me More" on NPR, Doctor Radio, and dozens of other regional and national media outlets. Ellen is a frequent guest on the popular radio show, "Broadminded," on Sirius XM Radio (Stars XM 107) and is a regular contributor on Huff/Post 50 along with blogging for many leading women’s health sites. Ellen has dedicated herself to women’s wellness through a wide breadth of activities ranging from being a founding board member of the UCSD Student Wellness Center, working with pharmaceutical companies in helping them to effectively address women’s health needs, serving on hospital advisory boards, and advocating for cardiovascular health.

Ellen’s motto is: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

For more from Ellen Dolgen:

Visit her at and subscribe to her Menopause Mondays newsletter. 

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

5 Tips to Revitalize Your Job Search

Written by Joyce Abbot

Hunting, searching, pounding the pavement, and putting out feelers.  Whether you have been laid off or are just searching for a better opportunity, an employment search means having to sell yourself right at the time when you are feeling stuck, low, and craving change.  It can be disheartening, but it doesn’t have to be.  Whatever your motivation to job search, this is the time to revitalize your life, both professionally, and personally.

Each of these tips will keep you energized, updated, connected and motivated during this time when it is so easy to get into a rut and discourage yourself.

Volunteer Your Time – “What time?” you say.  Even volunteering once or twice a month can open doors.  You have skills and experience that can benefit your community.  Whether you donate that time to a non profit, school, or other community organization, you will be getting just as much back in the way of professional contacts, recommendations, and job leads.  You can even use the opportunity to develop skills and gain experience that you don’t yet have; experience that will get you your next job.  Volunteering is also an excellent way to get your foot in the door in a field that you want to try out, or build your skills in.  No matter what you are interested in doing, there is always an organization willing to give you the opportunity.  Advertising, writing, graphic design, teaching, public relations, caregiving….the opportunities are endless.  Try going to to find an organization waiting to partner with you in your next skill building venture!

Get Involved in Some Professional Organizations – If you already have a membership to a professional organization, now is the time to get more involved.  These organizations are there to provide you with networking opportunities, publications to keep you up to date on your industry, and leadership experience.  Get involved in organizing the next conference, or run for a leadership position.  Not ready for that?  Log on to their website and get involved in the online community, posting your own questions and answering others.  You’ll learn more about the job climate in your industry and maybe even make a name for yourself for when you are interested in taking your involvement to the next level.  Don’t have the money to pay dues?  While some organizations have reduced and student rates, you don’t have to pay dues to log onto their website or to get involved in their discussions via LinkedIn.  Staying active in professional organizations shows employers that you care about your work and are at the top of your game.  Check out this exhaustive list of organizations at

Get Social – You are not alone!  There are others in your community who, like you, are looking to move up and grow professionally.  Frequent some meet up groups in your area. This is a casual, friendly environment in which to learn the inside scoop on your local job market.  You’ll meet contacts; stay aware of who is hiring for what, and who is vacating their position, and what it’s like in other workplaces.  If your professional organizations don’t host local meetups, you can find them on or

Showcase Yourself Online – Google yourself.  Go ahead, do it right now.  What is the first hit for your online presence?  Is it your Facebook?  Not great.  How about your LinkedIn? That’s getting better.  Or is it your professional website/blog? Awesome!  Try starting a blog recording your body of work, and discussing the latest trends in your field.  Show potential employers that you are actively seeking to share in a dialogue about your field, and showcase your enthusiasm and expertise while you’re at it!  There are plenty of free blogging and web hosting platforms, try or .  If professional blogging is new to you, try reading blogs with similar topics, and get a feel for the online community.  And start here for some dos and don’ts: .

Take a Chance on Something New – So you’re busy now making a name for yourself in your professional community.  You’re an up and comer, a mover and shaker.  It’s a lot of work!  Remember that using all these ways to sell yourself, is a job in and of itself.  And if you forget the rest of your life, you’ll burn out.  Try something completely unrelated to what you have been doing.  You could teach yourself a new skill, explore something just for fun.  You might find a fun meet up while you’re looking for a professional one.  You might choose to volunteer somewhere fun.  You can teach yourself anything from carpentry to crafting with YouTube.  Don’t forget, you’re a vibrant person, not “Employ-me-bot 5000”.   You might discover a hidden talent or passion.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Ways Your Resume is Like a Marriage Proposal

Engagement rings are not one size fits all. Your job search strategy shouldn’t be generic either - especially your resume.

When my husband proposed marriage, if the ring he chose didn’t fit, I would have answered “no.” Occupational hazard. Allow me to explain.

As a Human Resources professional, I’m trained to think like hiring managers do. In this case, I’d think if my husband-to-be can’t figure out my ring size, how much effort will he put forth in the marriage?

Here are 5 steps to customize your resume like a marriage proposal

Step 1. Become a detective

Did my husband-to-be sneak into my jewelry drawer and get my ring size? Snooping, err...research, is the key to selecting the right words for your resume.

Research your employer-to-be. Search beyond the “About Us” page on their website. Use sources like Linkedin and Twitter to get clues about your target company, their employees, and even competitors.

Learn as much as you can before you show, in writing, why you’re the best fit.

Step 2. Get help from your best friend

Having the official job description is like having your best friend help select your engagement ring. Both increase the odds you’ll get what you’re hoping for.

Use the job description to match the employer’s vocabulary. Is the job title “Client Services Representative?” Refer to people as clients instead of customers. Voila! Do you have Client Services experience? Of course you do! I bet you’ve used communication skills to resolve conflicts! Make your background relevant.

Focus on the skills and experience that the job description states is desirable.

Step 3. Prove you’re the one and only

Every word on your resume serves the purpose of separating you from the pack. 

Highlight career achievements, such as promotions or awards. Tell a compelling story that resonates with your target employer.

Avoid the phrase “Responsible for...” The tasks that follow are typically implied. Did you save money, make money, or improve something that created value? Did you do your job more efficiently or effectively than someone else? What was the result to the company? Describe what, where, when, why, and/or how. Be specific.

Provide quantifiable evidence about why you are the “the one.”

Step 4. Presentation counts

Not everyone has the budget to purchase an engagement ring for a Kardashian. Work with what you’ve got.

You can’t change your employment history because it is just that: history. However, you can reframe, reword, and reposition your past. Approximately 80% of your resume should match the job description in an obvious way.

What’s included in your resume is just as important as what’s not. Eliminate irrelevant information. Keep it clear and concise. Marry your employment history to your employers’ present needs.

Select the perfect format to accentuate your strengths. Reserve the most visual space for the most important message. Use white space and line breaks generously to make key information easy to find.

Show creativity and effort when you design the resume for your one and only employer.

Step 5. Make it special

Would you shout from a rooftop “Will you marry me?” to nobody in particular?

Yes, I suggest customizing your resume for plan B. Yes, one version per employer. No need to panic. Swapping out terminology and rearranging key phrases may be sufficient. If plan B is completely different than plan A, consider starting your resume for another employer from scratch.

Ensure that each version of your resume is a perfect fit for the recipient. How? Review steps 1 through 4.

Convince your target employer that you’re a match made in heaven. Use a strategically customized resume to get a “yes” to your employment.

Dani (Lerner) Mattisinko is addicted to helping women turn job search stress into success. Her experience in staffing, sales, and social media spans more than 15 years. Dani currently serves as a volunteer career coach and workshop facilitator at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation in Phoenix, AZ.

Connect with Dani:

Twitter @danimattisinko




How to Get More Involved in Your Community

Look around you…then ask yourself, ‘Who needs my help today?’ That could very likely be step one in getting involved in your community. Really!

Keep in mind that many organizations and non-profits rely solely on donations and volunteers to survive. You may not think that you alone can make a difference, but think again!

It’s easy to immerse ourselves in our own little world, and our own problems and concerns. We need to be mindful of our families and their wellbeing. But, look around and see who might need some assistance in your community. By giving of oneself with our talents and time, it’s amazing what you can accomplish, and how you can help others. By determining where your interests or talents lie, you could be a valuable asset as a volunteer!

Some people get involved in their community because they have children. For example, they may coach their son or daughter’s soccer team. Yet others find themselves getting involved in a cause, perhaps borne from an interest, or even an illness or accident of a loved one or themselves…still others develop a passion they may have wanted to pursue, and in doing so, they may be helping others.

You may want to exercise your creativity through the arts, non-profit organizations, or even a synagogue, church, or temple.  Several worthy organizations that I have had personal experience with are my church and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. I serve on the Courtesy team at my church, and also participate (as an actor) in the monthly Family Experience, or FX Live presentation. Places of worship often rely heavily on the contributions of the time and talent of members.  I have met some amazing people there, and feel that in some small way I am making a difference. Getting involved in missions trips, or contributing financially so that others may take the trip are easy ways to get involved.  I have also served as a class facilitator at a women’s organization, and have helped outfit women in career clothing in preparation for an interview or a new job. These rewarding experiences have allowed me to not only meet important and influential people, but to assist those who I am there to serve.

Perhaps you have always had a keen interest in politics. Why not volunteer for your party or candidate’s campaign? In a similar way, giving of your time or resources to a civic cause can be more far reaching than you may think.

Most people think that helping out at a shelter or food bank during the holidays is a great way to get involved, and while it certainly is, do keep in mind that help is needed 365 days per year. You could organize a group of friends to volunteer on a bi-monthly basis, or hand out water bottles during the summer at the local food bank. Habitat for Humanity always accepts assistance, whether you’re a semi-professional painter, or have never even used a hammer. There are always ways to get involved!

If you have an interest in acting or serving behind the scenes, perhaps getting involved in your local community theatre is an option. I have a friend that volunteers as an usher at one of the theatres in our town, and the caveat is that it allows him to see all the plays!

Do you enjoy pets, but are unable to have one? Consider donating your time at a pet shelter. Organizations such as ‘Home Fur Good’ will train volunteers to act as dog handlers and adoption counselors. Shelters need people to walk dogs and clean pets’ quarters.

Visiting a retirement community or the ward of a children’s hospital is a great way to spend your time. One look at a grateful child will melt your heart, and make you realize how important a few moments of your time is to them. Reading to elderly patients in a group home may bring joy to the residents. You might also consider serving as a volunteer at your local hospital at the information desk or gift shop.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters is another important and worthy organization, as is the Boys and Girls Club. There are many diverse opportunities within those organizations that serve children.

Most cities host large events, and will advertise for help and train volunteers, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people who share your passions.

Finally, there are those who are unable to physically serve others, but who give of their financial resources. I know a very dear woman who cannot idly watch the children in third world countries drink polluted ‘drinking’ water that animals are bathing in simultaneously. She gives from her heart, has been instrumental in the building of several water wells, and in turn, is getting involved in a global effort.

So, you see, getting involved is much more than donating a few spare hours on a Saturday—you may be changing lives unaware.
Diane McLelland has been called a ‘fashionista’ from a young age, acquiring her love of a fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business, she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials, and magazine layouts in the Phoenix area, and worked as a flight attendant for over 15 years. Diane considers herself to be a personal shopper as she shops for family and friends whenever possible. She has written for a travel publication and numerous newsletters and currently works as a Career Services Advisor, assisting students find viable work in their chosen fields. She has two grown sons, and along with dog Cooper and ‘his’ two cats, resides in the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix AZ.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Benefits of Negative Thinking

No doubt you have heard how dangerous negative thinking is. Negative thinking has been blamed for all kinds of illnesses, like depression, anxiety, cancer and diabetes. Bad thoughts are also responsible for many ruined relationships and cases of drug abuse. But if negative thinking is so bad, why do we all practice it? Why are we all so good at it?

Of the approximately 60,000 thoughts we have each day, how many would you consider negative? If you are like most people, negative thinking has become so commonplace in our minds that we hardly notice it.

One advantage of thinking in ‘worst case scenarios,’ such as expecting to fail, to be betrayed, or to be let down, is that you have a built-in emotional insurance policy. I hear many people say, “When I expect the worst, then I won’t be disappointed when things go wrong.”

Another advantage is that you increase your odds of being right. Let’s face it -- it is much easier to predict the worst than it is to predict the best, so chances are you will be correct!

Thinking negatively has another advantage. It gives us the best excuse for not trying or for not working hard at something. Positive outcomes are usually the result of effort and hopeful thinking; if we don’t want to put forth the effort, saying things like, “Why should I try? I am just going to fail anyway,” become a great excuse.

Another form of negative thinking is hoping that good things will not happen to others we know. This keeps you from having to congratulate others on their successes or the good things that happen to them that don’t happen for you. This form of negative thinking is a veiled form of self-comparison. Because we feel bad about ourselves or jealous when good things happen to others and not to us, it is easier to just hope that the good things don’t happen to them.
If these benefits appeal to you, then go on thinking negative thoughts and hoping for the worst. If you would rather rise above the negativity and learn to create positive emotions that can lead to happiness, here are ten suggestions to help you do just that:

1.       Focus on shades of grey: Life is rarely all this or all that. Life is rarely all negative or all positive, all right or all wrong. Start to think in shades of grey by acknowledging that your experiences most often have a positive aspect, even though there are negative aspects.

2.       Spread honey, not lard: If something bad happens, don’t over-generalize it and let it spread to other areas of your life. If you fail a test, it doesn’t mean you are dumb or that you are a complete failure; it means you need to try harder at that one thing.

3.       Setbacks are temporary: Just because you are feeling down, depressed or anxious remember that it will pass. Don’t let one setback make you think your life is in ruins. 

4.       Stick with the facts: We all have to deal with unknowns, such as why someone has not called us back, or why we didn’t get credit for something we did, or why we didn’t get a job or a promotion. Don’t let not knowing turn into self-blame and self-indictment. Just stick with the facts.

5.       Give yourself more credit: Too often we make excuses for good things that happen by saying things like, “It was just luck,” or “They only did that because they had to.” Stop taking the blame and give yourself more credit for the good that happens in your life.

6.       Accept what is: We often feel negativity in the form of what we should have done, could have done, or could do. When you are stuck in the ‘should haves,’ you are thinking outside of what really is. Stick with what is, not what should have been, and it can reduce your negative emotions.

7.       Consider best-case scenario: Most worst-case scenarios are not 100% certain. That leaves room for a best-case scenario. Balance every worst case scenario with a best case scenario. It may not always happen, but neither one is 100% certain. Give the best-case scenario a chance.

8.       Be grateful: It is easy to look around and see what you don’t have. It is just as easy to look around and see all that you do have. Focusing on what you do have helps you counter the feeling that life is not fair and will cancel out negative thinking.

9.       Give it away: Believe it or not, when you feel down, depressed or that life has just thrown you a curve, one way to get over it quickly is to do something nice for someone. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive; the smallest and more personal things are often most appreciated and sure to give your feelings a positive lift.

10.   Trust in the law of averages: If you are experiencing some hard luck, take confidence in the fact that your luck will change. With a positive attitude you will start to see better possibilities and more positive outcomes.


Kirk Wilkinson is the Founder and President of The Happiness Factor, a best-selling author, two-time cancer survivor, speaker and life coach. The Happiness and Factor and the Fresh Start Women 's Foundation have partnered to bring you a powerful and uplifting on-line coaching program. Click here to learn more.