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February 28, 2011

You Can Do It: Finding Transferable Skills

Applying for a job requires that you take a look at your background, your work experience, and your education, and think about how they've prepared you for your target position. And this is especially important when you're switching careers--or when you're applying for a one-of-a-kind job, for which there isn't really an obvious career path.

Career switchers can look back at their experience (remembering that not all experience is gained in paid positions), and see how it matches up to the target job. For instance, if you're a finance person moving into event planning, perhaps your experience planning local PTA meetings is relevant. (For more tips on career switching, read "Jump-Start Your Career Change.")

Then there are those one-of-a-kind opportunities. A great example is the role VP of Pop Culture for popchips and Ashton Kutcher. It's an incredibly cool job! And there are only a couple of days left to apply. But you may be thinking to yourself, "I don't have any experience as a VP of Pop Culture." That's where you have to get creative. Look at your background, and see what's applicable.

Have you ever:

* worked on a school newspaper?
* gotten 1,000,000 people to like something on Facebook?
* won a talent show?
* been a Trivial Pursuit champion?
* sold more Girl Scout cookies than anyone in your state?

Do you:

* read 20 pop-culture, fashion, and celebrity blogs daily?
* have a Twitter following that rivals @aplusk?
* speak in #hashtags?
* make friends in every grocery-store line you're in?
* love snacking?

These are all qualities and skills that will help you in your quest to become the next VP of Pop Culture. Apply today (or just check out the competitors and vote for your favorite)!

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Posted by Charles Purdy on February 28, 2011 at 05:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

February 25, 2011

The Monster 5 for Friday--Careers Edition--February 25

This weekend brings us the spectacle of the 83rd Academy Awards--where actors, directors, musicians, editors, makeup artists, cinematographers, and all those other movie-industry types get rewarded for doing their jobs exceptionally well.  

Most of us never get these levels of applause for our work--but we can dream! And we can take a lesson from the way people behave when they accept their Oscars: the best speeches show us how to best accept the praise we get in our workaday life: say thank you, share credit liberally, stay humble, and be brief--don't hog the spotlight.

Here's another lesson we can take from Hollywood folks: Even while actors, directors, producers, and crew are working on one project, they're thinking about what's next: the next film, the next screenplay, or the next pilot. And we'd all do well to keep in mind that a job search doesn’t end once you find a job. It's ongoing: the most favorable time for networking, polishing a resume, and maintaining professional relationships (and so on) is while you have a job. Devote a little bit of time each week. If your career meets an unexpected plot twist, you'll be better able to make your way to a happy ending.  

Take a look at five of our favorite career-advice articles from this week:

5. We all know these job-interview basics: show up on time, bring a copy of your resume, make sure your breath is fresh, and so on. Time to take it to the next level. Read "Job Interview? 9 Great Tips to Get You to Round 2." 

4. A great career doesn't just happen--it requires planning and forethought. Are you ready? Read "6 Career Decisions You'll Have to Make." 

3. Speaking of Hollywood--how would you like to work with Ashton Kutcher, as his VP of Pop Culture? OK, even if the job isn't right for you, this article has tips on how to shine in any job application. Read "Job-Search Tips That Really Pop." 

2. What's even harder than making a great first impression? Undoing the damage of a bad one. Read "Seven Networking No-Nos." 

1. This week, one of our followers on Twitter asked for help preparing the questions he wanted to ask before a job interview--and we advised him to read "Nine Good Questions to Ask at a Job Interview."

Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message.

Posted by Charles Purdy on February 25, 2011 at 08:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 24, 2011

Your Next Move

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new online tool for job seekers: My Next Move. The tool is aimed at "providing job seekers with information on more than 900 occupations, as well as local job openings and training opportunities in a simple, user-friendly format."

The tool looks like something that will be especially useful for students, young adults, and other first-time workers as they explore potential careers based on their interests. The new tool complements the department's mySkills myFuture site, which is designed to help people with previous work experience match their existing skills to new occupations.  

"This administration is committed to expanding opportunities for all Americans. That includes ensuring all workers--those with years of experience and those just entering the workforce--have the information they need to make informed career decisions and get good jobs," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "By leveraging technology in a user-friendly tool, My Next Move will help those seeking career guidance learn more about work opportunities in fields that are of interest to them and that are likely to have job openings today and well into the future."

The new website allows users to search for jobs by occupation, by industry and using the "O*NET Interest Profiler," which matches an individual's interests with suitable occupations by asking 60 questions. 

Users can also search for jobs in three categories: careers with a "bright outlook" in growing industries, jobs that are part of the "green" economy and occupations that have a Registered Apprenticeship program.

For job seekers unsure about that steps to take in their career, these could be very helpful mapping tools. Using the information gleaned here, it is then very easy to narrow your job search at Monster.com. For tips on using keywords in your search for the perfect job posting, see "Making the Most of Monster's Job-Search Tools."

Good luck and happy hunting!


Posted by Charles Purdy on February 24, 2011 at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 23, 2011

What Is Google Saying About You?

There was a bit of interesting news last week from Google--it seems that the search engine is going even more social (building on changes it made in 2009):

According to the company, "... social search results will now be mixed throughout your results based on their relevance (in the past they only appeared at the bottom). This means you'll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they've shared or created."

(Read the complete post on the Official Google Blog.) 

This is interesting news for any job seeker who has an online presence--that is, almost all seekers (even those who aren't looking for a new job now but might someday). With these changes, a professional contact you're connected to on LinkedIn (or an acquaintance you interact with on Twitter) is likelier to come across your shared or blogged content in his or her searches.

Say a recruiter in your network is planning a trip to Paris and searches Google for Paris restaurants. If you've written a blog post on that topic, your post could be a top result.

According to the New York Times' Bits blog, "Google will also let you know if a friend of yours has shared a particular link on the Web. This is a big change, because before, Google would only highlight material that acquaintances actually created." (Read the complete Bits post.)

This is good news for people who are trying to establish and maintain a strong personal brand online. If you produce and share a lot of great content, it's likelier to have a wider audience. (Read "What Is a Personal Brand, and How Do I Get One" for tips on broadening your online footprint.) 

It also means that the line between "personal" and "professional" on the Web continues to blur for all of us. Once we put something on line, in any fashion, there's really no telling who will see it--we have to assume that it may pop onto the screen of a future hiring manager or recruiter.

What do you think about this change to the way Google works? How are you establishing or revamping your online persona? Let us know in the Comments section.


Posted by Charles Purdy on February 23, 2011 at 09:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 22, 2011

Some Top Mistakes of Job Seekers

When it comes to your career, taking a long view is often wiser than working for short-term rewards, according to Ken Sundheim, a career coach and the founder and president of KAS Placement, a New York-based sales and marketing staffing agency. 

We asked Sundheim for more of tips on how to manage your career--here's what he had to say:

The $5,000 Sprint
Sundheim says that the career mistake he most often sees people make is taking a job for a little bit more money--and no other reason. He says that true rewards (financial and otherwise) come from being passionate about your job and your career.

"When someone takes a new position for the extra few thousand, they feel fresh and excited," he says. "But that new energy lasts only for so long. A career is a marathon, not a sprint. When candidates take jobs for a small salary increase, they burn out--often, they become so burnt out that they then welcome hearing about opportunities that pay less, because they need to pursue their interests."

Sundheim thinks the career-success-happiness formula is simple: "If you like what you do, you'll work harder, learn, and--in the long run--are likelier to earn a healthy salary."

Blind Salary Requests
When negotiating a salary, candidates often don't know what to base their target salary on.

According to Sundheim, candidates need to know that the job market is simple economics. "It comes down to supply and demand," he says. "We never know what we are worth until people make offers to us."

"All job seekers--and all people--tend to put a higher worth on themselves than others do. Therefore, job candidates should be very careful when stating a salary request," he adds.

(For more advice, see Monster's collection of salary-negotiation tips.)

The Resume That Isn't Tailored to Online Job Boards
Most people read computer screens in a way that's different from the way they read the printed page. Sundheim suggests that job seekers keep some Web-display tactics in mind when they design a resume.

"Simple tricks include not putting any lines in your resume," he says, adding that lines serve as a subliminal stop sign for people who are reading something on a screen.

"Moreover," he says, "only 30 percent of readers scroll down to the second page of a multiple-page document. So it's imperative that you have compelling wording, right off the bat. Candidates should get their most important information on the top half of their resume."

(For more formatting tips, see "Resumes for a Digital Age.")

Failure to Grow and Learn
Sundheim says, "I've relied on constant reading and ceaselessly teaching myself relevant information to help me further my career. When speaking to the job seekers I work with, I often explain different theories--on persuasion, negotiation, and other topics. They seem to be engaged and usually ask, 'How do you know this stuff?' And I tell them, 'From reading books.'"

He says that he sees many candidates making the mistake of not bothering to learn good interviewing skills: "If a candidate can’t take it upon himself or herself to at least learn about interviewing techniques, it suggests to the interviewer that that person might not take the initiative to learn much else."

The "It's All About Who You Know" Myth
"Nobody is ever going to hand you a job unless you can actively do something for their company," explains Sundheim. "When I was younger, I always thought that sons and daughters of wealthy individuals got to work at their parents' firms and would have a pretty easy life."

But while this may be true in some cases, Sundheim says candidates can all too easily give up trying because they feel that they don't know the right people.

He adds, "When you look at the most successful people, like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Jack Welch, they tend to be self-made. Nobody is ever going to hand anything to you. Contrary to popular belief, it just does not work that way. Regardless of industry, you must have the mentality that you are the only one who is going to make something of yourself, no matter where you come from."

(Share your top job-search mistakes in the Comments section.)


Posted by Charles Purdy on February 22, 2011 at 02:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

Job-Search Tips That Really Pop

One of the many cool jobs on Monster.com right now is a role as VP of Pop Culture—for Ashton kutcher_president of pop culture Ashton Kutcher and popchips. Paying $50,000 for a one-year term, the job entails official pop-culture duties such as mingling "with pop stars and fashionistas" and getting "snapped by the pop-arazzi," and it provides benefits such as "all-expenses paid travel to top pop culture events around the U.S." As you can probably imagine, this job is going to have some fierce competition. Here's how you can position yourself to rise to the top of this—or any—field of candidates:

Do your research: This job requires an understanding of pop culture, yes—but this is also a spokesperson job, so it will require a deep knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the popchips brand. Successful candidates will likely have to demonstrate that.

Offer value: It's also a job application where you'll definitely want to show off your personality. But as with any job you apply for, there’s more to success than just showing them how wonderful you are. You have to clearly demonstrate how your wonderful qualities will benefit the employer. In this case, for instance, demonstrating  your knowledge of pop culture is only half the battle—successful candidates will probably also have to show how they can use that knowledge in ways that make popchips part of the story.

Check your image: Like many jobs these days, this one requires Web smarts. And nothing says "Web stupid" like a bunch of embarrassing stuff about you online. No one is going to hire a VP of Pop Culture who has been tweeting or posting a lot of foul language, talk or pictures of illegal substances, and so on. Make sure your online presence is appropriate for all audiences.

Sell your experience: This is a unique sort of job, so you might not have a lot of relevant experience. But that’s OK—and it happens to a lot of job candidates. What you have to do is think of your history and your major achievements (at school, at work, during volunteer efforts, and even in your social and family life), and explain how they might be applicable. You may have never mingled with pop stars, but perhaps you sold more Girl Scout Cookies than anyone in your state, or worked at your college radio station. Be prepared to talk about how your past experience makes you perfect for the job.

Apply (and get more info in a video from Ashton) now! To keep up with who's in the running, check out popchips on Facebook, and follow popchips and Monster on Twitter--use the hashtag #popVP to join the conversation.

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Posted by Charles Purdy on February 22, 2011 at 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

February 15, 2011

Get Back on Track with Your Job Search

As 2010 came to a close, we predicted that 2011 would be "The Year of the Job." And in many ways that prediction is turning out to be true: the economy continues to improve (albeit slowly) as the unemployment rate shrinks.

But at the beginning of February 2011, Monster.com polled site users, asking, "So far, have you stuck to the career-related New Year's resolutions you made at the beginning of 2011?" And of the people who had made resolutions, only 42% said they'd kept their resolutions. Of the rest, 30% said they'd slipped at least a bit, and a whopping 28% said they hadn't kept their career-related resolutions at all.

Also interesting to note: in this February poll, 32% said that they hadn't made job-related resolutions. But when we asked site visitors in December, only 22% said they didn't plan to make such resolutions.

Clearly, there has been a little bit of backsliding--but, hey, that's only human. If you've fallen behind on (or abandoned) your job- or career-related resolutions, here are some tips:

1. Resolutions are not just for New Year's. You can resolve to change your work situation or to make career advancements at any time. If you've "failed" to stick to your New Year's resolution of, for instance, digitizing your massive collection of business cards, make it a Presidents Day or Arbor Day resolution instead.

2. Celebrate small steps. A career isn't built in a day. Say your resolution is to find a new job--well, there are lots of steps to finding a new job: revising your resume, reaching out to contacts, applying for jobs, working on your portfolio, and so on. Make sure you recognize, and pat yourself on the back for, the smaller achievements that will lead to achieving your resolution.

3. Set recurring resolutions. When it comes to advancing your career, some of us need to make resolutions into a routine. If you know you need to build your online presence, resolve to blog once a week. If you know you need to build your profile at work, resolve to speak to someone new every week (for instance, a great way to get noticed by higher-ups is to compliment a peer to his or her boss, via email).

Sometimes, inviting a colleague to lunch will do a lot more for your career than eating another sandwich at your desk, with one hand on your keyboard.

4. Look past the obvious. Resolutions like "Get a promotion" are great, but they're vague and thus easy to put aside. Try to think of specific ways to achieve career advancement. What if the answer to your career problems is "Become an expert on _____" or "Meet someone who _____"? If your goal is to get promoted, is there a way you can show leadership that's outside of your job duties--for instance, by spearheading your office's recycling program or organizing a volunteer event?

If you've lost site of your 2011 career resolutions, the fault might not be yours--the problem might be that you need better resolutions.


Posted by Charles Purdy on February 15, 2011 at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2011

Welcome HotJobs Users!

If you're looking for a job, Monster.com should be your mission-control center.

First, I was a HotJobs user. Then, I joined the HotJobs team--as the company's senior editor. We worked hard to make HotJobs a site that helped job seekers and employers connect and form lasting relationships (or even temporary ones, if that was what they were into).

Last August, HotJobs became part of Monster.com, and since then, we've been hard at work on integrating our products--working to ensure the best possible experience for job seekers and our customers.

For me as a former HotJobs employee, saying good-bye to HotJobs is slightly bittersweet--and change can be difficult. But this is such a good thing for everyone, especially job seekers. Monster.com has gone from being a simple online "job board" to being a global provider of a full array of job seeking, career-management, recruitment, and talent-management products and services. In short, Monster is changing the way people think about work, and helping them actively improve their lives.

I'm proud to be a part of the company.

What does this mean for job seekers on HotJobs?
For just a couple of days more, HotJobs and Monster will continue to operate as separate sites. The transition period is coming to and end, and after February 12, Monster.com will be a single platform. If you're a HotJobs user, it's easy to transfer your HotJobs account. If you have questions, we have answers. And don't miss this simple tutorial: "Making the Most of Monster.com's Job-Search Tools."

Thanks, and welcome to Monster.com!

Posted by Charles Purdy on February 10, 2011 at 06:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Combat Stress in the Workplace

For many of us, "stressed out" is the new normal. Even though the country's employment situation is slowly improving, 9% unemployment means many people are actively looking for a job--and those of us who are employed are facing a heavier workload (not to mention our other daily obligations, to family, friends, philanthropic organizations, and so on).

So who couldn't use some tips on improving your attitude and accomplishing more in less time?

Check out these tips and more, in this special Monster.com feature: "Upgrade Your Life."



Posted by Charles Purdy on February 10, 2011 at 05:39 PM in Career Development , Job Search | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

How Monster Is Defining the Mobile Job Search

Monster's iPhone app--which has long put your job search in the palm of your hand--is now available (free) as the first-of-its-kind job-search iPad app.

Monster is continuing its innovative efforts to connect job seekers with employers in a mobile, always-on way. Similar to the Monster iPhone app, the iPad application was developed to complement the user experience on the Monster.com website. It is fully integrated with a user's Monster account, giving mobile access to stored resumes, cover letters, apply histories, and so on--creating a seamless job-search experience. Job seekers are able to leverage their account information via the Monster for iPad application to.

To learn more about Monster's continuing efforts in the mobile space, check out this great interview with Vasu Nagalingam, Monster.com's senior product director and resident expert on all things mobile: "Talent on the Go: Developing a Strategy for Mobile."

Posted by Charles Purdy on February 10, 2011 at 05:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)