3 Ways the Internet Can Improve Your Career

Today, young professionals can advance their careers better than ever before thanks to the Web. Professionals with HughesNet Internet plans, cable Internet, or any other type of Web connection have access to an online landscape that’s ripe with opportunities for improvement and advancement. The digital age has ushered in a new era where business opportunities aren’t just conducted on the phone or at the office.

If you’re aspiring to get better in your career or in your role as an entrepreneur, take advantage of these 3 major affordances of today’s Internet:

Professional Development
Getting better at your job or learning more about your industry doesn’t have to end with workplace training sessions, tutorials or guides and manuals. With the Internet, you can become an expert in your field without having to leave your couch, and without having to spend a dime. Numerous online resources offer courses in business strategy, technology, design, coding, finance and countless other subject areas related to what your professional specialty.

Check out sites like Udemy.com, Coursera.org, w3schools.com and Udacity.com for free resources that can help you become better in your role. Not only will you be able to apply your knowledge to your job and improve your work, but your team leader will probably notice, too.

Personal Branding
In today’s professional landscape, it’s important that you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other people who do what you do. It could mean the difference in you getting that next big promotion or position at a prominent firm. Social media and blogging offer opportunities to engage in personal branding and to establish your presence online and become recognized as a leading authority and expert in your field. It takes time and considerable effort, but you’ll find that your own brand equity makes you a more valuable part of the workforce.

Networking
Last but not least, the Web 2.0 landscape offers more networking opportunities than were available 15 years ago. Not only do personal branding, social media and blogging play a prominent role in how professionals reach and interact with one another, but large-scale professional networking sites like LinkedIn offer legitimate opportunities to connect with others in your field. If you’re not using the Internet for networking purposes, start today so you can take advantage of all possible opportunities.
How will you go about online professional development, personal branding and network in the future?

Maximize your LinkedIn account

LinkedIn is a critical resource for networking in today’s world. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer looking for more exposure or someone looking for a new job, it’s important to have a complete LinkedIn profile and to put your best face forward. This is a critical part of your personal branding, and it’s also a great way for prospective employers or prospective customers to find you.

This article has 10 common mistakes and very helpful tips for managing your LinkedIn account.

1. Not Displaying Your Personal Photo
It all really comes down to having social media credibility or not. There are too many fake profiles on LinkedIn, so you want to show that you are real. If you have taken the time to complete your LinkedIn profile, why wouldn’t you display your photo? It just raises too many potential questions. And company logos or photos of pets obviously have no value here

2. LinkedIn Profile Headline is Not Branded Enough
See that space underneath your name? That is your “Professional” or Profile Headline. It will appear in search results next to your name, as well as next to any questions you ask or answer. It is, in essence, your elevator speech in a few words. Are you just putting your title and company name here? Don’t! This is the place where you need to appeal to anyone who finds you in a search result to reach out and look at your profile. Your Profile Headline is the single most important piece of real estate on your LinkedIn Profile, and you need to brand it as such. This really ties into personal branding as a job applicant.

Read the entire article and update your LinkedIn page today. Also, check out more LinkedIn tips from this blog.

Temporary Staffing Agencies on a Roll

Temp Agency

There are many reasons to sign up with a temp agency. You might need supplemental income, you might work while you look for job, or maybe you want to get your foot in the door at a top company. Whatever your reason for signing with a temp agency, you can count on plenty of assignments to choose from once you become a member of the temp talent pool.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, many temp agencies report that business has been on the rise since around September of 2010 and according to the American Staffing Association, the number of temporary workers jumped 25%, to an average of 2.6 million a day, in the third quarter of 2010 compared with the same period a year earlier. One Torrance, CA staffing agency owner even stated that sales on the temporary-employment side of her business, which accounts for about 70% of her revenue, were up 8% in 2010 compared with the year before. So why all the interest in temporary workers?

Agencies that provide temporary staffing are benefiting from the fact that companies are feeling more optimistic about their short-term prospects but not confident enough to add permanent workers.

“The new reality is people have been much more resistant to bringing on permanent employees than they have been in the past because of the uncertainty of where the economy is going,” said Michael Neidle, president of Optimal Management, a San Mateo, Calif., consulting firm for small- and medium-size staffing companies.

Neidle estimated that temporary workers would make up 4% of the workforce within three years, from a low of 1.65% before the recession.

If you’re looking for an agency, visit Net-Temps.com to locate temporary staffing agencies in your area. Many staffing agencies can also help you find permanent employment.

Liberal Arts Degrees: Choosing a College and Career

Vassar College

A liberal arts degree is such a versatile degree, that it can prepare you for dozens of distinct careers from archaeologist to legislative researcher to United Nations staff. It may be difficult to believe, but this unique degree is nothing new and it has never really been considered an “experimental” or “alternative” degree. Liberal arts study has been around since ancient Greek and Roman times, but liberal arts colleges didn’t begin to multiply in North America until the early 1800s. In medieval European Universities, liberal arts covered seven subject areas including arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, grammar, logic, music, and rhetoric.

Today, there are more than 200 liberal arts colleges across the United States. These liberal arts degree programs promote the study of history, languages, literature, mathematics, philosophy, and science—subjects that form the basis of a general or “liberal” education. Many institutions describe the liberal arts curriculum as the study of three main branches of knowledge including: the social sciences, humanities (literature, language, philosophy, the fine arts, and history), and the physical and biological sciences. In addition to studying the three main branches of knowledge, liberal arts colleges allow students to focus on a particular major. Typical liberal arts majors include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • History
  • Languages (French, German, Russian, Spanish)
  • Liberal Studies
  • Literature or other Humanities
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology

While the liberal arts curriculum is basically the same at all liberal arts colleges, these unique colleges come in all shapes and sizes. Liberal arts colleges may be secular, religiously affiliated, gender-specific, public or private, urban, rural, residential, independent or part of a larger college or university.

Job Interview

Graduates with a liberal arts degree are an attractive option for employers mainly employers feel that liberal arts graduates have developed the skills necessary to deal with today’s evolving career world. Employers also see a liberal arts graduate as an individual that has demonstrated the ability to learn and become successful in today’s working world. Liberal arts graduates have proven that they have the ability to uncover problems, find solutions, and implement them.

Although liberal arts degrees have benefits on a personal, community, and career level, this type of degree also has benefits on a financial level. Liberal arts graduates entering professional fields can expect starting salaries ranging from $38,620 (anthropologists and archaeologists) up to $80,560 (political scientists). Earnings increase significantly with  master of liberal arts degree (MLA).

If you are interested in obtaining a liberal arts degree, you should start by contacting one of the top schools for liberal arts. The following colleges ranked high on U.S. News & World Report’s National Liberal Arts Rankings for 2011.

For more information about the top liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States, visit U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2011 at http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/liberal-arts-rankings.

Jobs for Liberal Arts Graduates

  • Account executive trainee
  • Administrative assistant
  • Affirmative action officer
  • Anthropologist
  • Archeologist
  • Benefits manager
  • Caseworker
  • Caseworker
  • Choreographer
  • City manager
  • College recruiting specialist
  • Compensation manager
  • Compliance officer
  • Congressional relations officer
  • Congressional staff member
  • Consul
  • Copywriter
  • Cultural affairs officer
  • Customer relations officer
  • Customs agent
  • Customs inspector
  • Dancer
  • Economic development coordinator
  • Employee relations officer
  • Employment interviewer
  • Exporter
  • Foreign language teacher
  • Foreign service
  • Fund raising/development
  • Geographer
  • Historian
  • Immigration agent
  • Importer
  • Intelligence officer
  • Interpreter/translator
  • Investigator
  • Job analyst
  • Labor relations manager
  • Labor relations researcher
  • Legislative analyst
  • Legislative assistant (federal, state & local)
  • Legislative researcher
  • Lobbyist
  • Media buyer
  • Organizational development specialist
  • Personnel generalist recruiter
  • Politician
  • Press relations officer
  • Producer
  • Program analyst
  • Program information officer
  • Promoter
  • Public affairs officer
  • Public relations officer
  • Publicity assistant
  • Recruiter
  • Research assistant
  • Researcher
  • Researcher
  • Sales promoter
  • Sociologist
  • Speechwriter   
  • Stage manager
  • Training & education supervisor
  • Training specialist
  • Travel agent
  • United Nations staff

80 Percent of Jobs Openings Unlisted?

Monster_Job Board_Image By Michelle Burton 

Could it be true? Is searching for a position on job board a complete waste of time? According to an article posted on the WSJ website, landing a job posted on a job board just might be a crapshoot. Minneapolis-based CollegeRecruiter.com founder Steven Rothberg says more than 80 percent of job openings are actually unlisted. This means job hunters have to be savvy searchers with excellent networking and researching skills to score an unlisted job.

Because 80 percent of employers “will try to promote from within or rely on employee referrals,” there are several things job seekers must if they want a shot at an unlisted job:

Look for signs: Keep up with what’s going on in your industry. Read trade journals, follow analyst commentary and monitor the stock market for indicators showing which companies are growing, restructuring or contracting out services.

Compile a list of companies that you’d like to work for and research relevant positions within those organizations.

Only apply to jobs that closely fit your skills and experience, says Susan Strayer, a career coach in Washington. “If you want to become that wildcard choice, a 30% match isn’t going to cut it. You need to be as close to 100% as possible.”

It’s people, not paper: Tap your personal network of colleagues, friends and family to find those inside connections that can forward your résumé to decision makers. Join professional trade organizations and attend trade shows, conferences, and seminars.

 Make it easy to find you: Promote your availability by posting your résumé on networking websites like LinkedIn.com and on specific industry websites like ClearanceJobs.com or edjoin.org, a website for educators. Emphasize unique skills on your résumé since companies will search online databases when they have specialized needs.

 Follow up with employers since first hiring picks don’t always work out. The same job may get reposted six months down the line. You want to be available to that employer before they post the new job.

Online Job Databases: Do They Really Deliver?

Find a Job_Computer

When searching for a position using an online job database, job hunters can quickly and easily submit a resume with just one click. While online job databases have made it easier for applicants to submit resumes, the only confirmation you will receive after submitting it is an auto generated “thank you for applying” message. Chances are, you will never really know if your application made it to the right person, if at all.

“I’ve heard stories of hiring managers [meeting applicants after the fact] and saying ‘You’re perfect! How come I never got your resume?’” said Liz Lynch, career expert and author of “Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).

According to Lynch, online applicants may feel like they’re at the mercy of the database, but there are steps they can take to increase their odds of being noticed. The best option is to find a friend, acquaintance or even a friend of a friend who works at the company and can physically walk your resume to human resources (HR) department.

If you do not have a connection to the company you are applying with, there are tactics you can use to help increase your chances of making it through the databases’ prescreening process. Databases prescreen applicants based on keywords, so you should always customize your application and resume. Forget cutting and pasting. You should incorporate keywords into your application and resume that match what the position is looking for. For example,

“If your resume lists ‘social networking’ under your skills but the job posting says ‘social media’, change it.”

If you change even a few words, this could increase the chances of your application reaching a real, live person.

There are other ways to make your web search work for you. Consider using every online tool you possibly can, such as LinkedIn and Google Alerts. Make sure your LinkedIn profile or others are up-to-date, professional, and set up to receive emails. With Google alerts, you should choose several companies you are interested in working for and stay current with what’s happening within the company and which jobs are available. If you hear of an opening, apply right away. If you hear that the company plans to hire, don’t hesitate—submit your resume. And remember, it’s perfectly ok to send a follow-up letter in a week or so after clicking “submit.” This small gesture just might attract a significant amount of positive attention to your resume.

Get your LinkedIn profile

If you’re serious about finding a job in any professional career, you have to be on LinkedIn. Also, if you have a job but might be interested in a new job, the advice is the same.

Hopefully you’ve already heard this from others and you already have a profile. In that case do research on how to beef it up and get more prospective employers to find it.

If you haven’t heard this, or you’ve just been lazy about getting going, then get on there now and put up a profile!

Here’s some interesting information from a recent Fortune article on how LinkedIn will fire up your career.

If you need a job, or just want a better one, here’s a number that will give you hope: 50,000. That’s how many people the giant consulting firm Accenture plans to hire this year. Yes, actual jobs, with pay. It’s looking for telecom consultants, finance experts, software specialists, and many more. You could be one of them — but will Accenture find you?

To pick these hires the old-fashioned way, the firm would rely on headhunters, employee referrals, and job boards. But the game has changed. To get the attention of John Campagnino, Accenture’s head of global recruiting, you’d better be on the web.

To put a sharper point on it: If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, you’re nowhere. Partly motivated by the cheaper, faster recruiting he can do online, Campagnino plans to make as many as 40% of his hires in the next few years through social media. Says he: “This is the future of recruiting for our company.”

Facebook is for fun. Tweets have a short shelf life. If you’re serious about managing your career, the only social site that really matters is LinkedIn. In today’s job market an invitation to “join my professional network” has become more obligatory — and more useful — than swapping business cards and churning out résumés.

Companies explain that LinkedIn is more effective at finding qualified candidates, but it’s also more cost effective as well since employers don’t have to pay a recruiter.

Now it’s time to get started!

The View From A Career Counselor

Here’s an interesting email from a career counselor posted by Andrew Sullivan on his blog. The key piece of advice seems to be that you have to go outside the normal channels if you want to be successful on your job search. Sending resumes to job boards only gets you so far.

I feel for the guy, but he should break the rules more often. Having been unemployed myself for months, I understand the frustration. But having worked in career counseling for a few years, I know how to look for a job. Most people don’t, and would do better if they did.

Don’t waste too much time with job boards unless you are someone with a very specific technical skill looking for a job that requires that skill. Do contact employers directly and consistently, and contact them before they have job openings. The old nostrum that “if a job is posted, it’s been filled” is generally true.

The reality is that 80% of jobs are filled via personal connections and relationships. It really is like high school; people hire people they know and like. Think of everyone you know, even your worthless brother in law, as a potential connection to a job, either directly or indirectly. Your resume should be the last thing an employer sees, because the first thing they should see is you in person.

The writer goes on to give 5 useful tips of how to approach a job search. Check them out.

Andrew then posts responses from other readers. This one caught our attention.

The career counselor nails it. I’ve been looking for a job for about two months now and have come to the conclusion that Human Resources is, without question, the most useless, bureaucratic, least efficient department in ANY organization. HR has, ironically, perfected the extrication of any sort of human contact imaginable when applying for a job – no names, no contact info, no phone numbers, no nothing. I even went to one job fair where an HR rep for a company refused to accept a resume I was trying to hand her. “We only take resumes online for jobs posted,” she said.

You can’t just go through the motions. Get out there and bypass HR whenever possible. Keep networking – relationships matters!

Digital nomads and the coffee shop office

The recent article in the Washington Post is quite fascinating, particularly for someone like myself who started a virtual business ten years ago with home computers and an organizational meeting at Panera’s.

Frank Gruber’s workstation at AOL in Dulles could be in any cubicle farm from here to Bangalore — push-pin board for reminders, computer on Formica desk, stifling fluorescent lighting. It’s so drab there’s nothing more to say about it, which is why the odds of finding Gruber there are slim.

Instead, Gruber often works at Tryst in Adams Morgan, at Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, at a Starbucks, in hotel lobbies, at the Library of Congress, on the Bolt Bus to New York or, as he did last week, beside the rooftop pool of the Hilton on Embassy Row. Gruber and Web entrepreneur Jen Consalvo turned up late one morning, opened their Mac laptops, connected to WiFi and began working. A few feet away, the pool’s water shimmered like hand-blown glass.

“I like the breeze,” Consalvo said, working all the while.

Gruber and Consalvo are digital nomads. They work — clad in shorts, T-shirts and sandals — wherever they find a wireless Web connection to reach their colleagues via instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and occasionally by voice on their iPhones or Skype. As digital nomads, experts say, they represent a natural evolution in teleworking. The Internet let millions of wired people work from home; now, with widespread WiFi, many have cut the wires and left home (or the dreary office) to work where they please — and especially around other people, even total strangers.

For nomads, the benefits are both primitive and practical.

Primitive: Tom Folkes, an artificial intelligence programmer, worked last week at the Java Shack in Arlington County because he’s “an extrovert working on introvert tasks. If I’m working at home by myself, I am really hating life. I need people.” He has a coffee shop rotation. “I spread my business around.”

Practical: Marilyn Moysey, an Ezenia employee who sells virtual collaboration software, often works at Panera Bread near her home in Alexandria even though she has an office in the “boondocks.” Why? “Because there is no hope for the road system around here,” she said. Asked where her co-workers were, Moysey said, “I don’t know, because it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Nomad life is already evolving. Nomads who want the feel of working with officemates have begun co-working in public places or at the homes of strangers. They work laptop-by-laptop in living rooms and coffee shops, exchanging both idle chitchat and business advice with people who all work for different companies. The gatherings are called jellies, after a bowl of jelly beans the creators were eating when they came up with the name.

All of this makes sense, including the last part regarding co-working with others. The freedom of working from home, or from any spot you select for that matter, is very rewarding. It’s liberating to break free from the arbitrary work schedule imposed on you by your employer. On the other hand, you learn quickly that some level of self-discipline is critical.

Depending on your personality, however, one can begin to miss the daily interactions with other people. particularly friends at the office. So it’s not too surprising to hear how some decide to congregate and work side-by-side.

This brings up another topic critical for many who decide to work from home when starting a new business. Networking is critical to success, but it can also be important simply from a lifestyle and job satisfaction point of view. Many of us need to get out there, and sometimes it’s too easy to spend day after day at home. It’s not a recipe for success.

Finally, if any of this intrigues you, please check out the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. I’ll have much more to say about this in later posts, but Tim is a pioneer in lifestyle management. Check it out if you want to break away from your daily routine of going into an office.

Get travel information at Sundance Vacation.

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