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Surviving Sudden Unemployment In Today’s Ever-Changing Job Market

Through no fault of your own, you find yourself suddenly out of a job during the Pandemic. Now what?

Continue reading “Surviving Sudden Unemployment In Today’s Ever-Changing Job Market”
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The Myth of the One-Page Résumé

Although many articles are stating that your résumé must be one-page, there is no established “rule” that a résumé should be only one page. There are many instances when a multi-page résumé is not only appropriate, but employers expect a resume to be submitted.

Length is not the only consideration for a résumé’s effectiveness. The one-page résumé myth persists. Misinformed job seekers believe that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals won’t read a résumé that is longer than one page. However, that’s not true.

While recent research shows that a résumé will be read for only seconds when first screened, the first review is only to determine if it is a match for the position. If the job seeker is considered a serious candidate, the screener will reread the résumé.

Job seekers who believe an HR professional won’t read a two-page résumé should stop and consider the résumé screening process. The résumé screener’s boss is asking him or her to come up with four or five people to bring in for an interview. If a candidate with 5-10 years of experience tries to condense that to fit an artificial one-page limitation, they’re asking an HR person to decide about them based on what amounts to a few paragraphs.

Given a choice between a well-written two-page résumé or a cluttered one-page résumé which omits notable accomplishments in the interest of saving space, the HR professional is likely to choose the longer résumé.

If you submit a two-page résumé and the person reading it decides you’re not a match for the job, he or she will stop reading. But if you do seem to fit the job requirements, that person will want to know even more about you. A well-organized two-page résumé can make it easier for the screener to do his or her job by allowing him or her to quickly determine if you’re a good match for the position.

So why does the one-page myth persist? Some recruiters are vocal about their desire for a one-page résumé. However, not all recruiters share this preference. Some recruiters who say they will only read one-page résumés. However, recruiters are responsible for placing fewer than 25% of candidates in new jobs, and not all recruiters subscribe to the one-page limit. If a recruiter requests a shorter résumé, you can always provide a one-page version to him or her.

When surveyed about résumé length, the majority of hiring managers and HR professionals express a preference for résumés that are one page OR two pages — the consensus is “as long as needed to convey the applicant’s qualifications.”

College professors also share some of the blame for perpetuating the one-page résumé myth. Some professors — who have no connection to the employment world — believe “their way” is the right way to do things. They provide a template to their students and require advisees to use that format, even if the person is a non-traditional student who has an extensive work history or career path that sets them apart from other job candidates with similar educational backgrounds.

It would be unusual for most 21-year-old students to need two pages to describe their education and work history. Still, it’s not unrealistic to expect that an accomplished graduate might have internships, projects, activities, and honors that would make it necessary to exceed the one-page length.

If in doubt about the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach, ask any professor to see his or her résumé. Chances are, it will be at least two pages long to include consulting work and works published, in addition to classroom teaching experience. But professors call their résumé “curriculum vitae,” so they don’t have to follow the one-page résumé limit.

Résumés submitted online are also less likely to be affected by the one-page résumé myth. That’s because the one-page format is unique to the printed page. Résumés uploaded to company websites aren’t affected by page limits. Approximately 30 percent of résumés are stored electronically and never printed out, so the screener never knows it’s more than a one-page document.

Length does matter. Your résumé should be as long as it needs to be to tell the reader exactly what he or she needs to know to call you in for an interview and not one word more.

Here are some guidelines for deciding résumé length:

  • If your résumé spills over onto a second page for only a few lines, it’s worth editing the text or adjusting the font, margins, and line spacing to fit it onto one page.
  • Don’t bury essential information on the second page. If the first page doesn’t hook the reader, he or she isn’t even going to make it to the second page.
  • Don’t be afraid to go beyond two pages if your experience warrants it. Senior executives often require three- or four-page résumés, as do computer programmers and many professionals (physicians, lawyers, professors).
  • Traditional college students and those with five years or less of experience should be able to fit their résumés onto one page. Most everyone else, however, can (and should) use one page OR two.
  • Make sure that everything you include — regardless of length — is relevant to your job target and what the hiring manager will want to know about you!
AKNOWLEDGMENT: BARW
PICTURE SOURCE: ADOBE STOCK

Seven Basic Elements to Writing a Résumé

Writing a new résumé or refreshing an old one? Here are seven basic elements every résumé should include.

Identification

Your name, city, state, zip (physical address is not required), telephone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile address (if applicable).

Short Summary

Three to five sentences describing your most outstanding qualifications. (A short bulleted list can follow)

Education

Describe your education only if it is your most qualifying experience. Indicate degrees earned if graduated; otherwise, list major subjects studied. If education is your only support for your career goal, give it more space than other categories listed. Be specific about any work-related education and include relevant notable achievements.

Experience

Describe work experiences that support your career target. Decide which style of résumé (chronological, functional, combined, or targeted) best represents your qualifications. Give “top billing” to those experiences that are most valuable to your targeted job. Include examples of successful performance and results produced whenever possible.

Dates of Employment

Use specific dates if there are no large gaps, and some résumés will only include years worked, not month and day.

Personal and Other Facts

Keep this brief and applicable to the position desired. Present only positive information, which can include professional or civic activities, special honors, interests and attitudes that you will bring to your work.

References

Never list names or addresses of references or state that, “References will be furnished upon request.”

Three Secrets to Having an Excellent Online Interview

Interviewing is the act of performing and articulating precise details during the interview process that set you apart and land you the job!

Have a positive virtual interview and get the job.

The secret to a successful interview begins with just three easy steps:

1) Comprehensively researching the company before the interview;

2) Preparing for the interview by taking part in one or more mock interviews comprised of questions you might be asked during the interview;

And finally:

3) Developing answers to the questions asked articulates why you should be the interviewer’s candidate of preference.

The preliminary step in laying the groundwork for the exceptional job interview is to research and find everything you can on the business. Carefully examine the job description to determine what are the company is looking for in an employee. Do you meet or exceed their requirements? Begin to compose notes and review them often. Well prepared notes will also equip you for a pre-screening phone interview if there is one.

You can never do too much research regarding the position, duties, place in the company’s culture, and, most importantly, its role in achieving its mission. To that end, ensure you know and fully understand its mission statement because it is probably one of the most critical items in learning a company’s culture. Is the company numbers-driven? Or, are they customer fulfillment driven?

Familiarizing yourself with the company’s culture might also include checking to see if they display a diversity statement. A company that visibly presents a diversity statement respectfully maintains that they do not discriminate against job candidates during the employment process and fully embrace a diversely rich workforce.

Preparing to take part in one or more “mock” interviews makes the online interview experience as practicable as possible. Dress and equip yourself as though you are going to a “real in-person” interview, including bringing your up-to-date portfolio information and multiple copies of your updated resume. Ensure that your “pseudo” interviewer asks you at least 20 of the most common behavioral interview questions.

If possible, have someone record your practice interview so that you can review and hear how you perform, look, and sound. Do you give the impression of being composed, or do you look ill at ease? If you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious, start the simulated interview over and try smiling (yes, a fleeting smile can help alleviate anxiety).

You will soon become aware that the more you practice, the less distraught you will be for the actual interview. Fine-tune your vocal tones as you answer the mock interviewer’s questions. Rehearse and ascertain how to modulate your voice to emphasize and enthusiasm on important information you want to express to the employer in the course of the interview, and endeavor to speak in a lower, measured intonation in other portions of the interview.

Once the interviewer has ended their part of the interview and asked if you have any questions for them, have several well-developed questions to pose to them regarding the job or the company – but don’t fail to remember that salary and benefits is a segment of a subsequent future interview and is not broached in the “initial interview” unless brought up by the employer. Finally, end every interview with a genuine smile.

You will accomplish an exceptional online interview!

FIVE KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL JOB SEARCH DURING A PANDEMIC

These tips will help you as you conduct your job search:

Focus on Your Strengths

Companies hire employees who can solve problems for them. Salespeople create revenue. Accountants ensure compliance with regulations and provide financial data used in decision-making. Customer service staff help answer questions, keeping customers happy. Beyond what you do for a company, what is the impact that you have on the organization?

It’s even more essential to highlight accomplishments on your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and career documents in a competitive job market. 

Shift your skills, if necessary, to a new field. Assess your work history and identify older skills and experience you can leverage. Seek out opportunities for additional training and learning.

Be Clear on What You Need

The more specific you can be about the opportunity you’re seeking, the more likely you will find it. Take some time to define what you’re looking for in your next job. Are you looking for a position that allows you to work remotely? Do you have a specific schedule you need — for example, because your children are engaging in remote schooling? Having a list of criteria like this can help you identify whether a position will be a good fit — or not.

Look For Companies That are Hiring or In Need

Be aware of which industries are holding steady or growing during the pandemic, and which ones are struggling. Focus on essential companies that are not affected by government shutdowns. Create a target list of companies. Researching your prospective employer is even more critical — be aware of changes affecting the company due to the pandemic. Set up Google Alerts to get informed about news affecting your ideal employers. Follow your target companies on LinkedIn. Subscribe to the company’s emails, blogs, and social media channels.

Nurture Your Network

Networking is even more critical for a job search during times of high unemployment. Meeting face-to-face or for coffee may not be an option right now, but you can connect virtually. Stay in touch through social media, phone calls, Zoom or FaceTime, email, text, and LinkedIn messages.

Adapt to the New Needs of the Job Search

Prepare for an online job interview. Set up a specific space for the interview. Make sure it’s someplace quiet with no distractions. Conduct a practice session with a friend on Zoom. When it’s time for the actual interview, dress like you’re going to an in-person interview (head to toe!).

Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from the interviewer right away. Be patient. The hiring process will likely take even longer than expected. That’s true even if the company initially seemed in a hurry to hire. Do follow up, but don’t be a pest. Ask how the person is doing, and if there’s anything they need from you to move the process along.

How to Find Contract Jobs During the Pandemic

One out of every eight employers utilizes temporary or contract employees. Around  17 million to 41 million people work as consultants, freelancers, contract workers, temporary employees, seasonal or on-call workers, and interns. About 15 million of those are  “full-time independents,” working more than 15 hours a week.

Contract jobs are available during the Pandemic

Almost half of U.S. adults — 47.8 percent — report either currently working or having worked as an independent worker at some time during their career. Over the next five years, this number may increase to 53 percent of the workforce.

Independent work — particularly contract work — is attractive to individuals looking to return to the workforce while or after caring for children or aging parents and those looking to transition from full-time employment into semi-retirement. It’s also increasingly an option for those who are starting their careers.

The statistics support this: Millennials — born between 1980 and 2000 — made up 38 percent of the full-time independent workforce in 2019, according to MBO Partners’ “State of Independence” report. Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, encompass 33 percent.

Temporary and contract workers are an essential part of the workforce. Contract workers offer companies flexibility in staffing and help fill in gaps (especially in growing companies), address seasonal needs, or leave permanent employees, sabbatical, or vacation.

Contract and temporary opportunities are particularly attractive to jobseekers during recessions and economic downturns. The interview-to-hire process is often shorter for the jobseeker, meaning you can be back to work more quickly. Even companies that have enacted a hiring freeze may still be taking on temporary or contract employees because this money often comes from a different budget than traditional salaries.

Eighty percent of full-time independent workers are independent by choice. More than half say they will not go back to a traditional job. Also, 53 percent of full-time independent workers report they feel “more secure” working independently. This may be a reflection that even traditional employment has no guarantees of stability.

And a growing number of contract positions are for remote work, removing geographic proximity from the requirements for working these positions.

What Is Contract Work?

Temporary positions — or contract work opportunities — are an alternative to full-time, permanent work. Contract and temporary work can also be a side hustle to supplement your income. In 2019, 15 million people had a side hustle, increasing more than 40 percent since 2016.

Contract workers may be self-employed or maybe working through an agency. Self-employed workers are responsible for their taxes, insurance, and benefits, while agencies often employ contract workers as W-2 employees (handling the billing, paperwork, and taxes for the contract employee).

There is sometimes a perception that contract work is only for low-paying, lower-skill jobs. However, there are contract opportunities available for almost any field and industry and a wide variety of positions, including C-suite roles. Contract work opportunities are common in creative service professions and information technology, financial services, and healthcare industries.

Among full-time independent workers, the average income is $68,300, according to MBO Partners, this is higher than the median family household income in the United States ($59,039). About 20 percent of full-time independent workers earn more than $100,000 a year. In 2019, 40 percent of independent workers had a 4-year college degree or higher, including 17 percent who hold advanced degrees.

Employers may title positions as “contract” or “temporary,” — but they’re not the same. Contract positions are for a specified period. Temporary jobs, on the other hand, may not have a defined period. Temporary workers may be directly employed by an employer or may be employees of a temporary agency. Contract workers, unless hired through an agency or consulting firm, are independent contractors. This means you are responsible for your taxes, insurance, and benefits. In essence, you are self-employed, and the company you’re working for is your client.

A critical distinction between permanent and contractor or temporary positions has to do with the Internal Revenue Service. IRS regulations dictate that the employer cannot have as much control over how a contract worker does their job as it would with a permanent employee. While the position requirements don’t change if it’s permanent or temporary, the employer can’t define how a contract worker works.

Because it’s easier to find a job when you have a job, accepting a contract position makes you more attractive to prospective employers. Besides, contract work opportunities can often lead to a full-time, permanent position, especially if the opportunity is a “temp-to-hire” position. This arrangement allows a company to see if the individual has the skills, education, and personality for the job before committing to a permanent position.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Contract Work

As with any position, there are advantages and disadvantages to contract work opportunities.

Some advantages:

  • Contract work allows a job seeker to gain experience in a new field or industry without committing to full-time employment.
  • Compensation may be at a higher hourly rate than paid to an employee to compensate for lack of job security and benefits.
  • In most cases, contract workers are eligible for unemployment benefits when a contract ends, providing a bridge to benefits for individuals who were fired from a previous role.
  • Contract work may turn into a full-time, permanent job offer in the future.

Some disadvantages:

  • Contract work often offers no employment benefits (although limited benefits are sometimes available, especially if working through an agency or Employer of Record).
  • Contract opportunities are perceived to be less stable than permanent jobs.
  • Because of the risk of being accused of “misclassifying” contractors as employees by the IRS, contract workers may not participate in employee functions.

Where to Find Contract Work Opportunities

You can find contract work opportunities in many of the same ways as traditional job opportunities: networking, online job boards, and direct contact with prospective employers.

Online

When searching for contract opportunities online, look to the traditional large job boards such as Indeed.com, SimplyHired.com, CareerBuilder.com, Glassdoor.com, and Monster.com. Use search filters to identify contract and temporary roles (not all job boards offer “contract” or “temporary” as search filters, but many do).

Also consider specialized marketplaces, like FlexJobs.com, Outsourcely, WorkingNomads.co, or industry-specific job sites like Mediabistro, ProBlogger.com, Dribble.com, or Authentic Jobs (for creative and media opportunities) or Dice.com or Stack Overflow (for technology positions).

You can also find online job boards, specifically for remote opportunities.

These include:

Remote|OK

Remotive

Hubstaff Talent

Skip The Drive

Virtual Vocations

Jobspresso

We Work Remotely

Some of these sites require a subscription to access job opportunities and offer benefits, such as access to education and training.

Not familiar with marketplaces in your target industry? Search for “contract work” + your industry or “freelance jobs” + your industry and see what comes up. For example, a search for “contract work” + public relations yielded several online sites, including RemotePRJobs.com (a subscription site) and PeoplePerHour.com.

There are also online marketplaces to match freelancers with opportunities. These include sites like Guru.com, Freelancer.com, and Upwork.com. Some of the gigs posted are extremely short-term (a one-time project, or a one-week project), while others are contract opportunities lasting three months, six months, or longer.

Social Media

Search LinkedIn for contract work opportunities. One of the search criteria is “Job Type,” and both contract and temporary positions are available in the search. (If applicable, choose the “Remote” search criteria to expand beyond your current geographic area.) You can also check out Company Pages on LinkedIn and see what other companies LinkedIn recommends you connect with or follow.

Word of mouth is one of the top ways to secure contract work. Staying connected with previous co-workers and supervisors on social media ensures you are top-of-mind when a contract opportunity comes about. If you are unemployed, be sure to let your network know you are open to contract work opportunities.

Direct Contact

Another source of contract opportunities is previous employers, which is especially relevant if your former employer eliminated your position due to an economic downturn. Your previous employer may be interested in hiring you as a contract employee. The funding for this work may be available from a different budget line item. While you may not be able to get as many hours as you would as a full-time employee, you already know the job, which makes this option attractive to your previous employer. And you’ll be in a position to be re-hired full-time in the future if the economic situation changes.

Consulting Companies/Agencies

There are many agencies and consulting firms that help connect contract workers with employers. Some of these specialize in particular industries, while others serve a wide variety of independent workers.

Business management firms for contract workers, such as MBO Partners, can help facilitate a match between a contract worker and an employer and help handle billing and paperwork related to contract employment. Some even offer the opportunity to participate in benefit programs, such as health insurance and retirement plans, and offer liability insurance.

Some possible sources include:

MBO Partners

Creative Circle

Toptal

Field Nation

WorkMarket

Other firms act as the “Employer Of Record” (EOR) for companies, handling the administrative, compliance, and financial logistics for employing contract workers.

Some of these firms include:

FoxHire

SafeGuard Global

Airswift

Lano

Essential Considerations for Contract Workers

As a contract worker, there are some things you may not have had to consider previously but now need to address.

Scope of Work Agreement (SWA)

One of the most critical documents for contract workers is a Scope of Work Agreement (SWA). This written agreement outlines the details of the arrangement between the contract worker and the employer. The agreement should state that the arrangement is one between an independent contractor and the contracting company. The contract should also specify — in writing — what the specific responsibilities and deliverables are, including deadlines. The SWA may also outline the particular timeframe for the contract arrangement. It should also detail the amounts and timing of payments, including when payments are due, and what happens if payments you don’t make the payments. Finally, it should clarify ownership of the work you are going to do.  Does the contract worker or the hiring company own the work? Both parties should sign and retain copies of the SWA.

Insurance

Suppose the contract worker functions as a self-employed individual, and there are several types of insurance. In addition to health insurance, the contract worker may need to show proof of liability coverage. If possible, the contract worker should obtain short-term and long-term disability coverage. However, that may be difficult to secure and costly, depending on the type of work.

For health insurance, consider procuring health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace at https://www.healthcare.gov. If you have recently lost your insurance coverage from a traditional employer, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period outside of the annual open enrollment dates. Also, consider short-term health insurance plans, which provide more limited coverage but at a lower cost. These plans are available for up to 12 months and can be renewable for up to 36 months, depending on the state of residence).

Liability policies may be available through your regular insurance agent or specialized agencies, such as Hiscox. Also, some Employers of Record agencies offer liability insurance coverage.

Benefits

One of the disadvantages of contract work is a lack of benefits — particularly retirement and health insurance. In the same way that you should secure your health insurance, you should fund your retirement plan. One option is to open a Roth IRA, an individual retirement account that allows you to set aside money for your retirement that can be withdrawn tax-free, provided certain conditions are satisfied. The money invested within the Roth IRA grows tax-free. Contributions can be made at any age, as long as the account holder has earned income.

You do have to meet income requirements to contribute to a Roth IRA. In 2020, the income limit for singles is $139,000; for married couples, the limit is $206,000. The amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA also changes periodically. In 2020, the contribution limit is $6,000 a year for individuals up to age 50; those 50 and older can contribute $7,000. Almost all brokerage firms, banks, and investment companies offer a Roth IRA. Consult a financial advisor for specific information.

Taxes

One of the most significant differences between permanent employment and contract employment is taxes. If you get employed through a staffing agency or Employer of Record, that organization may assist with tax compliance. If you are self-employed, you are responsible for withholding and submitting your taxes, including quarterly estimated taxes. You should consult with a qualified tax advisor to ensure you are setting aside and remitting the correct amounts to both the state and the federal government.

The Future of Contract Work

Contract work will continue to grow in the coming years, especially as remote work opportunities become more available. Technology increases the opportunities to perform job responsibilities and find contract opportunities and handle the billing and paperwork associated with working independently.

Contract work is especially appealing to skilled professionals, aging baby boomers looking for more control over their time in their pre-retirement years, and millennials, who like the flexibility of contract work.

Employers also find a contract work arrangement to be beneficial, giving them access to skilled workers who want more control over their time and income. Because contract workers can be classified as-needed, it gives employers the flexibility to respond to changing economic situations.

The future of work is likely to be more fluid. Instead of a series of long-term, permanent positions, workers may find themselves shifting between independent labor and traditional employment. Some industries, such as the film industry, have provided a team- and project-oriented work model for many years. Research suggests this is likely to become more common in other sectors, such as information technology, healthcare, and government services.

So whether you’re considering contract work as a bridge between permanent positions or a new way of working, you’re part of a trend in the workforce.

How to Prepare for A Positive Virtual Job Interview

In order to stand out in a virtual interview try thinking both inside and outside of the standard interview norms for an in-person interview.

Be prepared and confident

A positive job interview can be characterized as performing and articulating your specific talents during the interview process that sets you apart and lands you the job!

The secret to a successful interview begins with these three steps:

  • Comprehensively research the company before the meeting.

The preliminary step in laying the groundwork to the job interview is to research and find everything you can on the business where you applied. Carefully examine the job description and determine what the employer is looking for in an employee. Do you meet or exceed their requirements? Begin to compose good notes and review them often. Well prepared notes will also equip you for a pre-screening phone interview if there is one.

You can never do too much research regarding the position, duties, its place in the company’s culture, and, most importantly – its role in achieving the company’s mission. To that end, ensure you know and fully understand the company’s mission statement because it is probably one of the most critical items in learning a company’s culture. Is the company numbers-driven? Or, are they customer fulfillment driven? Familiarizing yourself with the company’s culture might also include checking to see if they display a diversity statement. A company that visibly presents a diversity statement is one that does not discriminate against job candidates during the employment process.

  • Prepare for the interview by taking part in one or more mock interviews.

When preparing to take part in one or more “mock” interviews, make the interview experience as practicable as possible. Dress and equip yourself as though you are going to a “real in-person” meeting, including bringing your up-to-date portfolio information and multiple copies of your updated resume. Ensure that your “pseudo” interviewer asks you at least 20 of the most common behavioral interview questions. If possible, have someone record your practice interview so that you can review and hear how you perform, look, and sound. Do you give the impression of being composed, or do you look ill at ease? If you feel you appear uncomfortable or self-conscious, start the simulated interview over and try smiling (yes, a fleeting smile can help alleviate anxiety).

And finally:

  • Develop answers to the questions asked, which clearly articulate why you should be the interviewer’s candidate of preference.

You will soon become aware that the more you practice, the less distraught you will be for the actual interview. Fine-tune your vocal tones as you answer the mock interviewer’s questions. Rehearse and ascertain how to modulate your voice to place emphasis and enthusiasm on noteworthy information you want to express to the employer. Learn to speak in a lower, measured intonation in other portions of the interview. Once the interviewer has ended their part of the conversation and asked if you have any questions for them, have several well-developed questions ready regarding the job or the company. But, remember that salary and benefits are a segment of a subsequent future interview and should not be broached in the “initial interview” unless brought up by the employer.

Finally, end every interview with a Thank you to your interviewer(s) and always with a genuine smile.

A great virtual job interview accomplished!

Picture Source: Adobe Stock

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