The Subject of Employment Gaps

by AppleOne 18. September 2014

One of the harshest realities of today’s competitive job market is that gaps in employment can lead to negative misconceptions by some employers and recruiters.

In this blog, we’re going to do our best to include a couple quick strategies for addressing longer gaps in your resume– and next week’s blog will focus on how to present yourself if you’re currently unemployed.

What is considered a “gap”

There’s no exact science for determining whether or not a gap in your employment needs to be addressed on your resume in some way. Certainly gaps between jobs of a few months are to be expected, but when those gaps extend towards the year-plus mark, perhaps consider addressing them strategically.

The reasons for the gaps are immaterial – and private to you. Whether you were raising your family, battling an illness, traveling the world or trying to find work, we carefully considering how you share your personal reasons for having employment gaps. While it’s against the law for employers to discriminate based on your familial, personal and health history, that doesn not mean it never happens. This is your career -- protect your future strategically. Click here to learn more about addressing medical absences carefully.

Step 1: Resume Formatting

  • Year-Style Formatting

One common solution is switching your resume’s entries from months + years to just years. A gap in employment from February 2002 to November 2002 is easily covered when it appears that you held Job A from 1999 to 2002 and Job B from 2002 to 2005.

  • Functional resume formatting

For more drastic gaps in employment, moving the focus away from employment chronology may be the solution. A functional resume is a resume that is formatted to highlight job skills and experience, rather than places of employment one after another. While disliked by some employers (because of this bit of sight of hand), a functional resume can be the best way to present your case if you have great usefulness but have been out of the workforce for a long time.

Example Functional Resume

Step 2: Share upfront when it is relevant

However, if your employment gap involves career-related volunteering or using skills pertinent to the job you’re trying to get, discussion of that type of resume gap can benefit you.   

Do not discount the value of personal and professional non-paid activities.  If the personality traits, skills used, or accomplishments achieved are transferrable at all, the employer may be even more keen to hire you.

Unrelated Work

What if you were gainfully employed during most of your work history, but had long periods – multiple years, of work unrelated to the job that you’re currently seeking?

What if you were pursuing charitable work or a personal hobby?

Experts are of two minds about it – some recruiters prefer you list only work experience directly related to the position at hand. This keeps resumes short and easy to understand.

But when the activities can demonstrate transferrable contributions and you have “gaps”, then this may be a strategic time to include these periods.

Sure, being a roofer has little to do with managing a sales team, but there are leadership, budgetary, time management and communication skills present in almost every job, so it’s up to you to make this connection in the mind of the employer.

AppleOne recommends doing this by focusing on MSAs – your made-saved-achieved accolades from every job.

Instead of simply listing the when and the where of your work experience, show WHY it matters.

 

Step 3: Answer A Question-With A Question Technique

Hopefully, with a resume that focuses on your strengths and highlights your MSAs, your resume gaps will not come up. But be ready in an interview if they do.

Whatever the reason for your gap in employment, be confident and optimistic as you share it. Perfect a 30-second elevator speech highlighting your volunteering mission, successful recovery, return to school or foray into entrepreneurship. Don’t apologize, don’t dwell, and be sure to bring it back around to why you’re a great fit for the current job you’re interviewing for.

†KEY TECHNIQUE:  Explain the gap with a smile and change the subject immediately back to the interview by asking a question.  What question is not the point, but rather, asking a question redirects the focus of the interviewer.  For example:

“Well, my time away from traditional work has brought future positions even more value to me as you can see, so I understand this position needs someone to hit the ground running, what is the most immediate challenge I would be able to focus on and solve in the first few months?”

The job market is a complex and difficult place right now, and while these techniques are far from a guarantee that you'll land an offer, they give you tools to address resume gaps and boost your peace of mind, which in the end is may be the most important thing. Embodying confidence, trustworthiness and responsibility in your words and body language is the best gift you can give yourself as a job seeker.

Helping Disadvantaged Women Dress for Success

by AppleOne 16. September 2014

We all know that for those looking for work, job interviews is the make or break point. Every day, countless women who are willing and able to work find themselves at a disadvantage – because they lack the confidence and even the professional attire to put their best foot forward. Dress for Success (DFS) is a non-profit organization founded to address this all-too-common challenge.

AppleOne recently partnered with DFS to support their goal: to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. The AppleOne Performance Team (APT) spearheaded an internal ACT-1/AppleOne clothing drive in the Las Vegas market. Thanks to the generous support of many of ACT-1/AppleOne Las Vegas Corporate and Branch employees, hundreds of gently used clothing items and work-appropriate accessories were collected and on their way to women who will hopefully soon be working towards financial independence.

 

 Posing proudly with their bounty of donated clothing prior to delivery to the Dress for Success organization are AppleOne Performance Team members Shari Pratt, April Ballard and Evelyn Farias.

 

 

Photographed at the Dress for Success boutique are (L-R) DFS Southern Nevada Executive Director Paula Lawrence, DFS Mentoring Program Coordinator Eileen Jones, former Dress for Success client/current Image Consultant Volunteer and AppleOne Temporary employee Sherylina Armstrong, AppleOne Las Vegas Southwest office’s Judy Garb and Tarmara Woodard, and APT Director Yvette DeZalia.

More about Dress for Success: DFS helps transition women toward self-sufficiency by mentoring and preparing them so they are confident and at their best during job interviews, and also provides each woman with one suit to wear to the interview. Women who successfully land a job are then given a second suit and up to a week's worth of business-appropriate attire. For more information or to find a Dress for Success Chapter in your market, visit www.dressforsuccess.org.

 

Take the Guesswork Out of Following Up After an Interview

by AppleOne 22. August 2014

Hiring managers agree -- a prompt, enthusiastic thank-you after the interview is a great way to show interest, stand out and communicate your gratitude for being considered. But what's the best way to do it?

Two Steps Closer to the Offer

Step One: At AppleOne, we encourage our candidates to bring a brief prewritten thank-you card to the in person interview and drop it off right after the interview has concluded. This demonstrates forethought and a little extra courtesy in this instant-gratification world.

Step Two: However, this technique cannot stand alone as your follow up.   It will help you stand out immediately, but a traditional follow up should be delivered as well.    

Whether you follow up with a posted letter or an email, it is the contents that counts. If you are emailing, be direct, not overlong and enthusiastically express your interest in the position. 

Example:

After discussing this opportunity and what you need to have accomplished, I am confident that I would do an excellent job.  I am very impressed with you and your company, for example _____.  I work hard every day, I am loyal and take pride in continually improving.  You described that you needed someone that could ______, and I am able to excel in those areas because of my abilities and successes in _____.  I would like to be a contributing employee at your company and I hope you will offer me this job.

Sincerely,

Name
Email Address
Street Address
Phone Number

When to send?

The short answer is ASAP. Drop your note off, your letter into the mail or click send on your email on the same day, while you are still fresh in the minds of the interviewers.

"Recovery Mode"

Some interview pros advocate using the thank-you note as an opportunity to address mistakes you may have made in person. Here's what Monster's career experts have to say:

Perhaps you feel that you didn't make the best impression in the interview. The follow-up is your chance to recover.

"Tell them you're going to provide them with additional resources," McKee says. If you can send documentation of your abilities -- or even get references to send notes on your behalf -- do so.

But if your reason for thinking you blew the interview is something minor, like spilling your coffee, ignore it.

What if you get no response for a week or more?

Forbes Magazine recommends periodic check-ins. Don't pester or be rude, (obviously), but sometimes, the process can get bogged down and a helpful reminder can shuffle you to the top of the pile. From the Daily Muse via Forbes:

Now, this is not about harassment: “Did I get the job?” “Do you have a job for me?” “Did you make a decision?” Not at all. It’s about offering something of value to your contact. And in doing so, you will also (by default) remind her that you’re still out there.

This could mean forwarding an article that you think she’ll find interesting, or congratulating her if you notice she’s been promoted or earned some sort of recognition. Maybe thanking her for a bit of advice that you employed. Keep it simple and brief, and don’t ask for anything back. If that person hears from you and has an update? She’ll absolutely be in touch. Try:

“Hi Sue, We spoke last month about the product manager position at XYZ Industries. In our conversation, you highlighted some emerging trends in food packaging. I noticed this attached article about the same topic and thought of you. No response necessary. I hope you find the information useful!”

Nothing elaborate, and once a month is probably about right if you don’t get much response. But you can be assured that Sue will remember you, and in a good way if you’re helpful and non-pesky in the follow-up.

Make a Connection for the Future

Finally, remember to leverage even unsuccessful interviews as job connections. Reach out on LinkedIn, stay in touch and find out the contact information of others through your interviewer, and grow your network. The answer may be "no" today, but there may be other positions in the organization, or other organizations to which the interviewer can recommend you that will result in a "yes!" next week or next month.

How to create an irrefutable match to the job opening

by AppleOne 12. August 2014

 

Almost every career-seeker blog will advise you to research a company before your interview. But what exactly should you research to stand out, and how?

Research aspects of the company, department, boss and position that will enable you to match yourself as an irrefutable fit.  Don’t leave them wondering if they connected the dots.  For each key aspect you determine about the company, consider how what you have done or know-how to do will help them.  Be as precise and detailed as you can.  The best way to create a match is to document the points and bring them with you as a written document to the interview.  Employers will appreciate hearing you walk through these points verbally as you answer their interview questions.

Research tools

  • Google: read articles/info about what they do, news items about recent developments
  • Company Website/Blog: study mission statement, company info, a blog if they have one
  • LinkedIn: learn about company culture, biz style, notable leaders in organization
  • Facebook/Twitter: company culture, consumer engagement, “voice”

 

Example: a candidate is applying for a marketing position with a cosmetics company. The job description reads:

Fortune 500 Cosmetics Company Seeks Creative Marketing Manager

We’re looking for someone who believes in beauty inside and out. BeautyVision is a 25-year veteran in the cosmetics industry and we’re expanding our product line to include a line of bath products, fragrances and shave supplies to fit the lifestyle of the modern professional male. We need someone to help us grow – you’ll be managing PR and advertising budgets, spearheading brand campaigns and launching an entirely new website.

You’re an experienced marketing project manager with 3-5 years under your belt in the consumer products space. Familiarity with cosmetics industry is a huge plus. Self-starter, ability to multitask across several complex marketing spaces is essential. B.A. required.

Your internet research findings:

  • 1200 employees nationwide
  •  Product: salon-quality cosmetics to consumers
  • Mission: “We believe everyone has a right to feel great about themselves without a big cost.”
  • LinkedIn photos and the company blog: employees look business casual.
  • News: company has recently begun making personal products for men as well as women.

Connect the dots: Make the Match! 

In the interview, the candidate is able to make concrete connections between the company’s business needs and wants, and their matching contribution.  Create 2-3 success stories as a way to put the matching points into action.  Stories are easier to remember, so when time has passed, you will be the person they remember the best.  Make the match – connect the dots. 

Great Job and Good Luck in Your New Career, Michael!

by AppleOne 5. August 2014

Congratulations to AppleOne associate, Michael Chau (seated, far right in photo), for completing his assignment with the City of Orange's Human Resources team! "Michael did such a great job that when he gave notice, they took him out to lunch to wish him well in his new job!" says his recruiter, AppleOne Orange Assistant Branch Manager Angela Camacho. We at AppleOne are so grateful to have the opportunity to bring exceptional people and truly wonderful employers together, every single day!

 

 

Be Worth Paying For

by AppleOne 22. July 2014
Just saying you want the job isn't enough; prove you're worth hiring by tracking your MSAs with an Achievement Journal.
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Show (don’t simply tell) an employer why they should hire you

Job seekers always ask us, “Why don’t my job applications and interviewing skills attract recruiters’ interest?” One of the most frequent answers we give is this: the employer wants to know how you can solve a business need, not read a list of skills and tasks.

A tangible and vivid story

A job applicant is in the sales business and the product you’re selling is your own value as an employee. Imagine the applicant-employer relationship like the one between a car buyer and a salesperson of an automobile. 

Here’s the typical applicant strategy: “Please give this car a chance! It’s a team player, a hard worker and really deserves to be your car!”

Versus a strategy based on tangible details: “Consumer Reports gave it an A+ for safety and fuel economy. It gets over 40 miles per gallon, so it will start saving you money the minute you drive it off the lot. And owners of this model spend an average of 30% less on maintenance over five years than owners of competing models in its class, so you know it’s absolutely reliable.”

The difference is the method you’re using to describe your abilities in action.  Tell the story. Give real-world examples like the following: 

  • Instead of saying you know how to use Excel, say that your most recent spreadsheet analysis of Q3 sales numbers allowed you to identify a crucial performance gap and then develop a training plan to address it, achieving an 18% increase in revenue.

  • Instead of saying you “are a team player,” explain how you implemented a project-tracking program that allowed your team to achieve its goals three weeks ahead of time, saving your company $8,000. 

  • Instead of just saying you’re a great salesperson, describe how you met and exceeded your company’s Gold Level sales goals four years running, and won salesperson of the year in 2013.

 

Prove it!

You get the picture. Just saying you can do the job isn’t enough – you need to prove it.  If you have 10 seconds to get an employer’s attention, the first thing they should read about you is your top selling point.  Forms of proof you should save and reference in the hiring process are:

  • Thank-you cards
  • Emails with “kudos”
  • Awards and accolades
  • Performance reports
  • Any ranking reports
  • Positive annual reviews
  • Selections of completed high-quality projects or works

 

At AppleOne, we call these bona fides “MSAs,” which stands for “Made/Saved/Achieved.” Your MSAs are your miles per gallon, top safety rating and mechanical reliability – the hard data that recruiters use to evaluate you against competing applicants. 

Start an Achievement Journal habit

We recommend creating an Achievement Journal. Whether you are currently working (passive job seeker) or are an active job seeker – this is something you should start doing at your job today.

It’s a file of every “win” you earn at work. Got a nice email or thank-you note about a project well done? Put it in the file. Did you help refine a process, like fulfilling online orders quicker, by implementing a system? Jot down how you did it and the hard stats about how much time and money your improvement is saving. 

Update your resume at least twice each year.  The best time to document a vivid story is in the moment.

How do I get started? 

Well, it’s time to go back through your email history and work portfolio and build out an Achievement Journal based on your prior accolades. Dig through old emails and performance reviews for standout material. Reach out to old employers and request letters of recommendation, or request endorsements on career sites like LinkedIn. 

Remember, employers are shopping for the best car, and they’re more likely to believe the positive reviews of impartial third parties (your prior supervisors and coworkers) than they are your own words, since you’re the one selling the car.

Every job has different performance metrics and achievements, and not everyone is a standout superstar every quarter of every year. But by careful data collection and maintenance of work relationships, you can build out your Achievement Journal deeply enough that you’ll be at a distinct advantage over applicants whose entire sales pitch to hiring managers is, “Hire me, I deserve the job!”

 

Today's Featured Career Post is from wonderful West Palm Beach, Florida!

by AppleOne 20. July 2014

 

Do you enjoy working on a team of top Accounting professionals that are all a part of making the company successful? We are currently recruiting for a leading South Florida builder that offers career growth and a work culture that is bar none.  Relocation assistance will be considered for the right candidate who will help build their dream team.

The Staff Accountant will oversee all processes and help support the Accounting Department in this beautiful Palm Beach office with access to central downtown shopping, great restaurants and walking distance to the beautiful inter-coastal waterway. You will record all daily escrow deposits, monitor daily fraud exceptions, oversee payables, invoices and expense reports.  You will also assist in all financial report preparation, and reconcile the general ledger. You will work directly with top Executives in the organization and be able to be a key part in the company's growth phase.

This position requires a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting or related field and at least two years of related experience. Naturally, you'll have excellent Excel, Word and Outlook skills. This company truly believes in promoting from within so if you're ready to take your career to the next level, click here to apply.

Demystifying Salary Negotiation

by AppleOne 16. July 2014

 Salary negotiations are uncomfortable. With the inside tips below, you can learn how to navigate the conversation with confidence and improve your results.

We walk confidently into meetings every day to demonstrate our value on behalf of our employers. But for some reason, doing the same on behalf of ourselves sends many of us running for the hills. Negotiating for compensation that reflects your market value and experience need not be the dreaded task many consider it to be.

Rely on Data

Better access to data improves the quality of salary negotiations by making it possible to start on common ground. The new salary negotiation is starting to look more like this:

  • Agree on a benchmark job.
  • Agree on your proficiency and performance level.
  • Agree on the market value of the job.
  • Agree on where your salary should fall.
  • Agree on what performance is necessary for future salary increases.

The good news is, when it comes to statistical salary data, there are several resources on the web including Salary.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, many employers have found salary data on these sites to be inflated, so you may need to adjust some of your expectations or be prepared to provide additional justification to hit the top of a salary range derived from online salary surveys alone.

When to Negotiate

When you are considering a job offer on your own, employers expect you to counter-offer and often structure their offer with that in mind. Thank them for their offer. Express clearly that you want to work for them. Lay out the reasons you feel the position should pay more than what was offered. Then, you can confidently make a counter offer.

For example: “Thank you for the opportunity. Everybody I have met here and all of my research have convinced me this is the place I want to work. I am looking forward to getting started. I’ve been checking salary sites and talking to some of my peers in similar positions, and given the average base salary for the position and my five years of experience designing Excel pivot tables, which you said are so important to you, I was expecting an offer in the $65,000 to $70,000 range.”   

When you are working through a third-party agent such as a recruiter, your agent is already doing all of this on your behalf. Trying to renegotiate after a negotiation has been completed, frequently jeopardizes the offer. So make sure your agent understands your salary goals at the outset rather than trying to renegotiate after an offer is made.

Similarly, when you are on the job, do not wait for your review meeting to broach the topic of a raise. Your manager may have already worked with senior leaders to determine raises, and it may be too late at that point for a negotiation. Instead, start laying the groundwork for the raise you want in advance of a review meeting. 

Gain your manager’s support by equipping him or her with your achievements — those things you did that made or saved the employer money or improved a process. Your manager can use this evidence when working to get the raise you want approved in advance of your review. Do not forget that you can also negotiate for other compensation such as the chance to work on prime assignments, special parking spaces, flexible scheduling or other perks if a more generous raise is truly out of reach. 

When Not To Negotiate

Sometimes, the time is not right for negotiation. Often, an employer will start the conversation by saying they’ve put their best foot forward and made the best offer they can. In an “all-in” situation, there really isn’t any room for negotiation and if the offer is outside of your range, there likely is not budget to offer more. 

Other times, an employer will lead with an offer that is completely fair and within your desired salary range and to haggle might leave a bad taste in your future employer’s mouth. Ultimately, feeling the situation out is up to you, but you want to weigh the reward of seeking higher compensation against the risk of possibly contaminating what might already be a great job with a fair offering by asking for more.

Enjoy the Discussion Fearlessly

You should be excited to negotiate. If someone is extending an offer to you, or if you are a current and valued employee, that means your skills are in demand. They want you! Thinking of yourself as a valuable commodity is the first step towards getting your worth.

Don’t Assume Everyone Else is a Great Negotiator

Statistics vary, but a 2011 Salary.com survey found 18 percent of people never negotiate or make a counter-offer when taking a new position. Many more leave thousands on the table because they weren’t prepared. Just the fact that you are reading this and looking for more information probably puts you ahead of most of your co-workers.

“Desired Salary” Disclosure

Desired salary is one of the most common questions asked when people talk about negotiation. It often comes up early in the interview for a new position as companies try to screen out candidates through an online form or an initial interview. While there are several ways to evade the question, the best answer is to not be in this position at all. Up to 80% of jobs are found through networking, so it is much more advantageous to try and steer your resume to a hiring manager through a connection versus battling thousands of candidates applying online.

But often, this phase of the discussion is unavoidable. If you’re asked to disclose verbally, you can broaden it by saying “I’m glad you asked, but my desired salary will depend on the nature and full scope of the position and its responsibilities, so I’d like to learn more about the job before I respond.” That way, your future employer knows that you value your abilities and their needs and will give them a fair estimation of where the two meet.

If however, the disclosure is part of a job application or a form, such a disclosure early in the process may be unavoidable. In those cases, putting an honest range in place is the right thing to do, with your low number being the low end of what you consider fair, and the high number being the high end of what you reasonably believe your labor is worth.

Fair Pay

Can getting a giant raise from $50,000 to $75,000 ever be a bad thing? It can be if your coworkers are all making $90,000 and other opportunities in your field are offering six figures.

In most cases, you should judge your salary goals against your current worth in the marketplace, not what you’ve made in the past or what others around you are making.

It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Your entire body language — from how you sit and stand to how you speak — will determine how you are perceived. In her book "Knowing Your Value," author Mika Brzezinski talks about self-sabotaging language that kills your chances for effective negotiation before you even start. Don’t walk into your boss' office to request a raise and start out with phrases such as "I don’t know if you’ll consider this, but..." or "I don’t know if there’s room for this in the budget, but..."

Sources:

https://cau.experience.com/alumnus/article?channel_id=managingyourmoney&source_page=additional_articles&article_id=article_1126286325866

http://www.salary.com/10-salary-negotiation-myths/

 

Skill Shortage Means Many Jobs Go Unfilled

by AppleOne 14. July 2014

 

 

 

 

About 33% of 848 small-business owners and chief executives said they had unfilled job openings in June because they couldn't identify qualified applicants, up from 31% of 811 owners nearly two years ago, according to surveys by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International, a San Diego peer advisory group for executives. During this period, owners' confidence in the economy increased. 

While skilled professionals are always in high demand, falling unemployment rates (6.1% in June) combined with increasing confidence in the economy are making it harder and harder to find the right people. A total 43% of surveyed business owners report that an inability to fill open positions is slowing the growth of their businesses.

Click through for full article content.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewing Etiquette and Best Interview Practices

by AppleOne 30. June 2014

Ok, you landed the interview - but where do you go from here?  How do you make sure you rock the interview and land the job?

Check out this infographic is brought to you by the Rasmussen College - Career Services team.  The infographic covers what to do before, during and after an interview and includes some great best practices.

Pre-interview checklist:

  • Do your research
  • Organize your resume and other materials to take to interview
  • Turn off your cell phone
  • Give yourself plenty of time

 

Interview checklist:

  1. Give a firm handshake
  2. Don't dominate the conversation
  3. Pay attention to your posture
  4. Smile
  5. Be polite
  6. Wait until the end of the interview to discuss money
  7. Do not chew gum or eat candy
  8. Use the interviewers name

 

Check out the rest of the advice below:

Rasmussen College