Build A Proactive Job Search Strategy

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

You need a job search strategy that includes more than scouring the job boards. Build your plan and take action towards a proactive job search. So you've finally mastered your pitch and your resume is done. Now it's time to do the really hard work of putting all the pieces together and developing your job search strategy. But not just any job search strategy, a proactive job search. Your proactive job search strategy has lots of moving parts. You may even feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do. But with some planning and keeping your eye on the end result (getting conversations with people who can potentially hire you), you'll be... Read More

VA recruitment video shines light on Veterans Crisis Line responders

By a VA Careers | VA.gov - ©2020 All Rights Reserved

Any one of us can have a setback in life and find ourselves in an emotional crisis. Veterans may experience these issues more intensely due to military service history. The first responders at the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) are there to help. They provide confidential counseling so Veterans and active duty personnel are never alone in managing a crisis. Last year, the VA Careers recruitment marketing team took our cameras to the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System to film these and other VA employees in action. The resulting video series highlights the many possibilities of a VA career, including serving as a VCL responder.... Read More

VA to suspend some GI Bill enrollments, holding back more than $200 million from 'deceptive' universities

By Steve Beynon, Stars and Stripes | Stars and Stripes - Reprinted with permission ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it plans to terminate some GI Bill enrollments and withhold more than $200 million in payouts to certain universities for deceptive recruiting practices that target veterans and service members. VA officials notified the University of Phoenix, Colorado Technical University, American InterContinental University, Bellevue University and Temple University that the agency intends to suspend approvals of new enrollments. The move comes after officials found "sufficient evidence" that each school used... Read More

Tell Me About Yourself

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

Possibly one of the most difficult questions to answer is "Tell Me About Yourself?" But if I asked your co-worker to tell me about you, they could easily rattle off several things. During a job interview, you'll need to overcome the stage-fright associated with answering the "tell me about yourself" question. Making the best first impression is important. Hiring managers have said they make a decision about a candidate within the first few seconds of a job interview. And an article in Forbes reports "[a] study by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found 60% of interviewers know within the first 15 minutes if the candidate they're interviewing is suitable for the role."... Read More

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Build A Proactive Job Search Strategy

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

You need a job search strategy that includes more than scouring the job boards. Build your plan and take action towards a proactive job search.

A Proactive Job Search Strategy

So you've finally mastered your pitch and your resume is done.

Now it's time to do the really hard work of putting all the pieces together and developing your job search strategy. But not just any job search strategy, a proactive job search.

Your proactive job search strategy has lots of moving parts. You may even feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do. But with some planning and keeping your eye on the end result (getting conversations with people who can potentially hire you), you'll be able to work your plan.

Only A Small Number of New Hires Comes Through Job Boards

Hiring managers prefer to hire people who are referred to them.

Your chances of writing a resume that makes it through the ATS are slim. Plus there's a lot of competition. However, your odds of getting a conversation with HR or a hiring manager are quite good if you are referred. This is often referred to as the "hidden job market." It's not really hidden. The job opening exist, they just haven't been publicized.

Being an early candidate gives you the advantage.

3 Lists You Absolutely Must Have

In order for your plan to work, there are three lists you must make (and update).

  1. 25 STAR stories
  2. 50 companies that could potentially hire you
  3. 100 people you know well

Your STAR stories will be used when you have conversations with people, when you have job interviews and are embedded on your resume. Identifying these stories ensures that you know your strengths and the value you offer.

Your list of 50 companies will change. It's a starting point. As you learn more about these companies, some will be deleted from your list and new companies will appear. Consider these companies as potential leads.

You know more than 100 people, but start with those you know well. And yes, you really need to record this list somewhere — Word, Excel, notepad or whatever.

Work Your Contacts

Your list of 100 contacts is a mix of people you know and who know you.

Begin with the safest, easiest conversations first. This will build your confidence.

  1. Reach out to 5 contacts every day to touch base.

    Update them on your search and ask what they know about some of your target companies.

    DO NOT send a mass email to your contacts. That's impersonal and will not generate results!

  2. Add new referral names to your list

    Ask this simple question at the end of each conversation with your contacts and your list will continue to grow!

    "Who else would you recommend I speak with?"

Work Your Target Company List

Your target company list is just a list of companies that seem interesting or meet some of your criteria as a place you may want to work.

  1. Invest time researching the company on LinkedIn.

    Identify your first and second degree connections who work there.

    Keep a list of all your first and second level connections inside target companies so you can contact them.

    These are people you will reach out to and ask questions. An informational meeting with insiders helps you understand the company better and whether you would be interested in working there.

    Company insiders can serve as referrals if there are openings inside your target companies.

    Reach out to insiders early and often. You want them to remember you when they learn about an opening.

  2. Follow each target company on LinkedIn.

  3. Set alerts on the corporate career page.

    Go to the career page for each target company and set alerts for jobs you are interested in.

  4. Follow the company on social media.

    Follow the active company accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, especially those related to career news.

  5. Watch for news about any of your target companies

    Monitor the news about your targets so you can share on social media and mention when you reach out to insiders.

Attend Networking Events

Always be on the lookout for networking events, conferences, industry presentations or any event where people from your target companies or desired industry will be meeting.

Ask past colleagues what events they are attending or recommend you attend. These colleagues work in your industry so they may know of events or happenings.

Also be on the lookout for events where employees from your target companies will be presenting or attending.

Check Local and National Professional Associations

Professional associations host professional development events, information sessions, and networking events. These events may be in person or virtual. Associations also often have private or semi-private job listings just for their members.

Not only will you meet people from your industry, but you will also be upping your industry knowledge.

Check the member directory to see if people from your target companies belong to professional associations you are interested in. You can also check the LinkedIn profiles of employees at target companies to see which associations or groups they belong to and use those organizations as a way to build relationships with employees you want to meet.

Reconnect With Your College/University

No matter when you graduated, check your school's alumni resources. They may offer networking events, a job board or have other services for alumni.

There's a special bond you share with each and every alumni from your school. Don't underestimate that connection.

Also pay attention to alumni who may work in target companies. It doesn't matter what year they graduated/attended, you still share the school experience.

Connect with Local Job Clubs

In almost every city around the country, you'll find job clubs. These are networking groups specifically designed for job seekers.

Many who find themselves unemployed don't know about job clubs until they start asking around. These groups offer you a way to connect with other job seekers and help one another through rough times. They often have guest speakers.

Investigate Staffing Agencies and Contract Houses

If you are staying in the same field/industry/occupation, then third party recruiters may be a viable option.

Staffing agencies or contract houses do not find you a job. They work for their clients. Their primary mission is to find qualified candidates for jobs companies have asked them to fill. Therefore, if you have the exact experience and skills they are looking for, they may be interested in you.

Just make sure you are using every source to uncover hidden job opportunities!

Schedule Your Time

If you aren't used to working unsupervised, then you may find the lack of structure and accountability challenging.

Having a system to manage your time will help greatly! Try the suggestions in Structure Your Week During Job Search

Proactive Means You're In Control

Rather than the feeling you are chasing jobs, a proactive job search gives you a sense of power and control.

With each conversation you have, you are creating awareness of your skills and talents so that the right opportunities find you! Or at least you learn about them before they are posted on any job board.

Be Findable

It's extremely important that when someone, anyone, uses a search engine like Google to look you up, that you show up! And not just your name and address, but your LinkedIn profile, positive mentions in the news, awards, recognition...just the good stuff! Learn more about being findable here: 15 Ways to Own Digital Terrain

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VA recruitment video shines light on Veterans Crisis Line responders

By a VA Careers | VA.gov - ©2020 All Rights Reserved

Any one of us can have a setback in life and find ourselves in an emotional crisis. Veterans may experience these issues more intensely due to military service history. The first responders at the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) are there to help. They provide confidential counseling so Veterans and active duty personnel are never alone in managing a crisis.

Last year, the VA Careers recruitment marketing team took our cameras to the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System to film these and other VA employees in action. The resulting video series highlights the many possibilities of a VA career, including serving as a VCL responder.

Since 2007, VCL counselors have deployed evidence-based practices to help more than 3 million Veterans and their family members through difficult and crisis situations.

"The typical responder has a mental health background," Dr. Dennis M. Gaines, VCL supervisor, says in the video. These staff members understand mental health issues and can draw on different practices and procedures to respond appropriately to those who contact VCL, he says.

Choose VA for the benefits

Topeka has openings for VCL responders. These positions are like other VA mental health careers in benefiting from knowledge shared by the VA National Center for PTSD. Choosing a VA career in mental health also lets you:

  • Work anywhere in the United States and territories with one active license.
  • Receive from 13 to 26 days of paid time off per year, 13 sick days annually with no limit on accumulation and 10 paid federal holidays.
  • Join a federal health insurance plan that comes with premium-support group health insurance, including dental, vision and long-term care, that may become effective on the first full pay period after you start.
  • Gain access to retirement benefits including Social Security, a pension and 401(k)-type plan with matching contributions of up to 5% and take these benefits with you if you leave federal service.

Choose VA today

Be there for Veterans experiencing emotional issues and their loved ones. Choose a VA career in mental health today.

Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with VA. Many of them are Veterans themselves. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255 or chat online.

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VA to suspend some GI Bill enrollments, holding back more than $200 million from 'deceptive' universities

By Steve Beynon, Stars and Stripes | Stars and Stripes - Reprinted with permission ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it plans to terminate some GI Bill enrollments and withhold more than $200 million in payouts to certain universities for deceptive recruiting practices that target veterans and service members.

VA officials notified the University of Phoenix, Colorado Technical University, American InterContinental University, Bellevue University and Temple University that the agency intends to suspend approvals of new enrollments. The move comes after officials found "sufficient evidence" that each school used "erroneous, deceptive, or misleading" enrollment and advertising practices to recruit veteran students, according to a letter that the department sent out to veteran advocacy groups and congressional lawmakers.

"Our aim in taking this action is to protect veterans and their dependents' GI Bill benefits and comply with the law," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. "The department is committed to helping beneficiaries avoid any negative consequences that may result."

The VA would not comment on the specifics for stripping each school of their GI Bill eligibility. Yet some for-profit schools have a long track record of conning service members and veterans. In December, the Federal Trade Commission slapped a $50 million fine on the University of Phoenix and ordered it to forgo $141 million in student debt collection. Investigators said the school ran an advertising campaign targeting veterans featuring Microsoft, Twitter and Adobe, falsely implying the university worked with those companies to give students opportunities to work with them.

Andrea Smiley, vice president of the University of Phoenix, said the school maintains its position that it did nothing wrong.

"The university admitted no wrongdoing in choosing to settle with the FTC and continues to believe we acted appropriately," she said in a statement.

The VA said suspending the GI Bill benefits will not impact current students who maintain continuous enrollment at these schools. The VA said the universities have 60 days to take "corrective action" or all new students will be denied benefits, which would be a significant financial blow to most of the schools.

The decision to blacklist deceptive universities could have serious financial consequences for each school. No school receives more GI Bill money than the University of Phoenix with 22,780 GI Bill recipients enrolled in 2018, from which the school took in $150,565,041 in revenue, according to the most recent VA data.

In the same year, Colorado Technical University enrolled 5,535 GI Bill students, which generated $45,559,236 in revenue. American InterContinental University's GI Bill enrollment was 2,025 and its GI Bill revenue was $14,712,534. Bellevue has 1,595 enrollees, which amounted to $7,359,984.

The potential expulsion of the schools from their GI Bill eligibility comes after years of advocates sounding the alarm over some for-profit schools seeking to deceive veterans for their federal benefits. Last year, three dozen veteran organizations implored Wilkie to crack down on universities who have deceptive recruiting.

"We're grateful VA intends to suspend enrollment of new GI Bill students at these institutions. This sends a powerful message, one we've been advocating for VA to exercise since 2012, that the federal government and taxpayers will no longer tolerate schools that seek to defraud veterans and other military-connected students out of their hard-earned federal education benefits," said Carrie Wofford, president at Veterans Education Success. "Today's decision by VA is more than justified based on the years of mounting evidence against University of Phoenix and Colorado Tech for maliciously defrauding veterans."

The universities that the VA are boycotting are mostly for-profit schools, which have been accused by lawmakers and advocates for years of practicing in shady business practices to target veterans, largely because of the so-called "90/10 loophole." The 90/10 rule requires that for a for-profit school to be eligible to receive federal student assistance, it must find at least 10% of its revenue from sources other than federal aid. The idea being legitimate for-profit schools should be able to recruit students willing to pay out of their own pockets and taxpayers wouldn't be propping up failing schools. However, the GI Bill does not count towards this federal aid limit, despite those dollars coming from federal funding.

Temple University, which has 986 GI Bill students and garners $12,174,441 in revenue, had only three formal complaints from veterans, compared to the University of Phoenix, which has more than 500. VA officials would not comment on the specific reasoning behind any of the schools being stripped of their GI Bill eligibility.

However, in December, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a settlement with Temple regarding false reporting by its Fox Business School to rankings publications to garner a No. 1 ranking for its online MBA program. The AG's office said Temple's false reporting was done "intentionally and knowingly." The settlement included $250,000 in new scholarships for students.

beynon.steven@stripes.com
Twitter: @StevenBeynon

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Tell Me About Yourself

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

Possibly one of the most difficult questions to answer is "Tell Me About Yourself?" But if I asked your co-worker to tell me about you, they could easily rattle off several things.

During a job interview, you'll need to overcome the stage-fright associated with answering the "tell me about yourself" question.

Making the best first impression is important. Hiring managers have said they make a decision about a candidate within the first few seconds of a job interview. And an article in Forbes reports "[a] study by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found 60% of interviewers know within the first 15 minutes if the candidate they're interviewing is suitable for the role."

When networking, you'll also be asked "tell me about yourself" or a similar question, but the answer you use in those circumstances is a bit different. There's not a specific job driving the conversation. To learn how to answer this question while networking, check out Using the Right Pitch at the Right Time.

Why Is This Question Asked?

Recruiters and hiring managers usually ask this question as an icebreaker. Keep in mind, they may not have had a chance to review your resume before you walked in so asking this question also helps them remember which candidate you are.

What Do They Want To Hear?

The answer to this question should help the interviewer understand why you are qualified and interested in the role and their company.

What they don't want to hear is a long story about your career, nor personal information about your family.

They want to know why you are sitting in that chair discussing the job opportunity they have available.

How Long Should It Be?

You have 60 seconds max!

Your answer is just an overview of the most important and relevant information the interviewer needs to know right up front.

You have the rest of the job interview to explain in greater detail the specifics. You'll use STAR stories to answer questions.

Preparing Your Answer

So let's look at how to confidently and concisely answer the question "tell me about yourself" by explaining who you are in less than a minute.

#1 Create Your Script/Key Points

First, create a script or list of bullet points of what you want to cover in 60 seconds or less.

You do this by:

  • Thoroughly reviewing the job description, looking for keywords, skills, and knowledge requested.
  • Referencing the research you've done so you can explain why you are interested in the company/role.

In the olden days, five years ago, my recommendation on how to answer this question was to complete these 4 key phrases:

I am a...(insert your profession, occupation here)
With expertise in ...(2-3 key skills sets you possess)
My background includes...(list industry experience)
My unique qualities are...(2-3 memorable qualities)

But this needs to be refined a bit for 2020.

The market is competitive which means you have to take the extra time and effort to research the company, it's people and the role to truly understand what the company is looking for and what they need.

This is the advanced recommendation:

I am known for ...(types of problems you solve)
With expertise in ...(1-2 problems you have solved over your career)
My background includes...(specify industries, company cultures, and/or community experience)
One of the things I am most proud of is...(site an example something you were proud to accomplish)
Based on what I know about this opportunity, I believe...

But there's another formula I've seen used. This is particularly helpful if you are changing careers or making a major shift in your career.

What your presently doing that relates to the opportunity
How your past qualifies you for the role
Why your interested in this opportunity/company

#2 Practice Out Loud

Once you've outlined what you want to say, practice using it. Say it outloud.

You want your answer to flow and the only way that can happen is if you practice saying it.

You don't want to sound like you're reading from a script. So avoid using lots of technical terms or acronyms.

Also avoid using words used on your resume, but seldom spoken or sound trite. For example:

  • results-driven
  • solid history of...
  • proven leader/results/etc.
  • track record of...
#3 Let Your Passion Show

Speak with enthusiasm. Let the best version of you come across to the interviewer. Put energy into every word, make eye contact and for goodness sake, smile!

Yes, you are probably nervous, but if you know exactly what you're going to say to kick off the interview, that's one less thing to worry about.

The key is make it your own and know it completely. That is best done by practicing! If you have a webcam, you can record it and analyze it.

#4 Don't Dwell On The Irrelevant Past

If you are switching careers do not start your answer by stating what you used to do first. That confuses the interviewer. Focus on the skills that are relevant to the job first. And then you can explain how your background relates to your new career goals. If it doesn't then explain your motivation for making the switch.

Always include information that is relevant and important to the interviewer. Your answer isn't about explaining your work history.

Sample Answers

I've been working in project management roles for over seven years. Most recently I worked as a senior Project Manager for a tech company managing the launch of a new product and oversaw five project managers. I used Agile as well as my PMI certification to manage this project and now that the product has launched, I'm looking to bring my project management experience into fintech, which is why I'm so interested talking to you about this opportunity.

I've been recognized for my analytical skills and ability to interpret data into actionable information. I recently completed my MBA which gave me the opportunity to hone these skills and develop data visualization skills. My experience in consumer packaging and customer service help me understand the customer's needs and I use that knowledge to formulate new products and ideas. I saw XYZ company listed as a top innovator in the consumer goods space and I'm excited to learn more about this opportunty and how my experience will fit.

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