The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Better Job This Year

You've decided it's time to get a better job — now here's how you do it.

This is the year you’re going to make more money — or take on a leadership role at work, apply for your dream job or even try a completely new career path. Whatever it is, you know you want something in your professional life to change.

Understandably, you might be overwhelmed by the prospect of making your work dreams a reality. These job-hunting tips from the pros should make it more manageable.

If You’re Just Starting to Look for a New Job (or Thinking About It)

Evaluate What’s Truly Important to You
Yes, the amount on your paycheck is important. After all, you need to pay your bills. But what else do you want from your next gig — a shorter commute? A place you can advance? Flexible schedule? Whatever it is, make the added elements of your next job part of your search to help increase the odds you’ll be happier wherever you land.

Look at Companies, Not Just Jobs
Instead of only focusing on job listings that are already posted, expand your search to find companies you think you’d enjoy working at. They may not have anything right away, but taking the step toward talking with a hiring manager about what you think you’d bring to the table may provide opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“Make a list of the items that you like and wish were part of your current culture and compare it to future opportunities,” said Tony Gulley, managing partner of Executive Casting, a recruiting firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Culture is the foundation of satisfaction and a cornerstone for employee retention, so you should not overlook this.”

Find a Mentor & Heed Their Advice
If there is someone in your field (or in your place of work) whose career, motivation, abilities or other traits you wish to emulate, tell them so and ask if they would be willing to help you become better at what you do. Don’t be shy about asking for this help. It’s not a one-way street, and the mentor as much as the mentee benefits from the relationship. Mentoring can help a seasoned professional become more cognizant of things they may do as a rote response to business situations. This will position you to advance in your current workplace or seek a better job elsewhere.

Pick Up New Skills
Eyeing a job in sales but deathly afraid of speaking in public? Perhaps it’s time to brush up on your skills. A little training or an after-work class can help you beef up your resume where you need it most.

Revamp Your Resume …
Are you still using that resume you crafted in college? Sure, you’ve updated it along the way, but maybe it’s time to consider either starting from scratch or getting rid of some of the details on there that are taking up prime real estate. Ask yourself if those early jobs are really reflective of your skillset or where you want to go in your career. If not, clear them off and make room for other more important details.

Remember, a lot of companies and recruiting firms use software to scan resumes, so prepare yours for a digital review. Dawn D. Boyer, a Virginia-based resume writer and career consultant, stressed the importance of composing digital resumes in word-processing documents with simple, easy-to-read formats that include keywords related to the type of work you’re looking for.

… And Make Sure You Proofread It
There are enough challenges to getting a new job, so don’t stand in your own way by sending application materials with errors.

“It’s shocking how many resumes cross my desk with incorrect grammar, improper punctuation, and multiple misspellings,” said Susan McNeill, a recruiter for Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, an education company in Delaware. “A sloppily written resume is an immediate red flag.”

Network, Network, Network
Sometimes the best way to find the next step is by talking to someone who’s been there. Reach out to your alumni network, tap friends or send cold emails to start conversations.

“Cold call companies and express your interest in hearing about any future openings in your line of work” said Jana Tulloch, a human resources professional at software education company DevelopIntelligence in Boulder, Colorado. “Often there are vacancies on the horizon that just haven’t been posted, and you could be the early bird who gets the worm.”

If You’re Actively Looking

Get Uncomfortable
Growth doesn’t happen by sitting still. You don’t improve your skills or opportunities by not stretching a bit, so volunteer to take on duties and projects that you might not feel completely qualified for. The same holds true when applying for jobs, especially if you’re a woman. Men are far more likely than women to apply for positions for which they might not meet every criteria.

Find a Recruiting Agency
There are plenty of services out there that help companies fill positions with qualified candidates, and the companies using these services tend to be larger employers with better benefits and salaries (they also pay the recruiters, not you, so don’t think you have to pony up any cash). You can reach out to these companies directly to make sure they know you exist, but it’s also wise to make sure you’re easy to find on the internet. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and your resume is linked to it. Also, making your profile searchable on job sites like Monster.com and TheLadders.com can be helpful.

Check Your Credit
Some employers will pull a version of your credit report as part of their hiring process, and you’ll want to keep errors or unknown missteps from hurting your prospects. You can get your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com. Got bad credit? Here’s what to do if an employer wants to check out your credit report.

Prepare to Be Googled
According to a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, 59% of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates while 60% are also looking up applicants on social media — and, yes, what they find could cause you to lose out on a position. What could cost you, specifically? Survey says provocative or inappropriate photographs and videos, discriminatory comments, badmouthing of former employers or fellow employees, and poor communication skills. What can help? Background information that supports your job qualifications, a professional image, a wide range of interests and (you guessed it) good communication skills.

Find Out What You’re Worth
Use sites like Glassdoor to find out what other people at your level in your field make. That information can help you in the job search and negotiation process.

If You’re Going On Interviews

Review Your References
You want references that can speak to your work ethic and accomplishments firsthand, not necessarily the person in your orbit with the flashiest job title. If you’re thinking of adding someone new, be sure to clear it with them first. If you’re satisfied with your current advocates, double-check that their contact information is current. They can’t stump for you if the prospective employer can’t actually get in touch with them. Plus, the hiring manager might count a wrong number against you.

Don’t Forget Interview Prep
“Don’t show up empty-handed,” Boyer, the career consultant, said. “Your carry-in list should be a paper copy of your resume, a paper copy of your list of recommendations if they ask for them, and a typed list of questions to ask the future employer.” She also recommended bringing pre-written thank-you notes so you can drop it in the mail immediately upon leaving the building.

Ask For Feedback When You Get Rejected
Use the job-application process as a learning tool. If you don’t get an interview — or if you do and they choose another candidate — ask the recruiter or hiring manager why they didn’t select you and what you could do to improve your chances for getting a position like the one you applied for.

Keep an Open Mind
While it’s helpful to have a checklist in mind, having too many requirements may hold you back. Keep an open mind so you give each opportunity the consideration it deserves.

Image: Geber86 

The post The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Better Job This Year appeared first on Credit.com.

Didn’t Get the Job? 3 Things You Can Do to Change the Interviewer’s Mind

There are some steps you can take that could either change the interviewer’s mind or lead to another opportunity. Here are three things you can do.

After months of searching for jobs, your dream company called you in for an interview. Your resume was flawless, you wore your best interview attire, and you confidently headed to Dreamy Company to meet the hiring team. Things went well. The interviewers laughed. You successfully answered every tough question, and you even got to meet your future co-workers. Things couldn’t have gone better.

After one week, you finally hear back from the hiring manager. This is it; it’s the email you’ve been waiting for. As you click open the message, your heart sinks. Much to your dismay, the first sentence starts with, “We regret to inform you …” and that’s when you know you didn’t get the job.

But all is not lost. There are some steps you can take that could either change the interviewer’s mind or lead to another opportunity. Here are three things you can do.

1. Ask for Feedback

How you respond to rejection is everything. You may be tempted to ignore the rejection email and move on with your job search. Or you may surrender to the temptation to give the hiring manager a piece of your mind. However, if you still want to work for the employer, respond kindly with a request for feedback. Rather than expressing your disappointment or getting angry, put your pride aside, try to sincerely gain an understanding of what went wrong and learn how you may be able to improve. Start by thanking the interviewer for their time and reaffirming your desire to work for the company. Then ask if there is any way you can improve your candidacy for similar positions in the future.

Career expert and former recruiter Jaime Petkanics said responding to a rejection email and asking for feedback can be a smart way to leave the door open. You never know when a position you’d be a great fit for will become available. Your positive attitude will leave a good impression and keep you top of mind.

“I’ve turned down plenty of people in my career as a recruiter because the job fit wasn’t quite right – even when the company fit is very much there,” according to Petkanics. “I have gone back to many of them at future dates to talk about new roles that were a better fit and in lots of cases have hired them. In case that is an option, you want to keep that relationship intact. It’s also a great idea to express that you’d still like to be considered for future roles if something comes up.”

2. Ask for a Chance to Join a Training Program or Apply for an Internship

Another way you can get your foot in the door at your dream company is to show that you’re willing to learn. A positive attitude is another trait hiring managers seek. A whopping 73% of managers in a CareerBuilder survey said this soft skill was also very important when it came to identifying a good company match. Some companies host training programs for entry-level employees and career changers looking to break into a particular field. Show how positive and motivated you are by asking if the company has a training program. If they do, ask how you can be part of it. If a training program does not exist at the company, inquire about an internship (if you can afford to take a pay cut). If you’re determined to become their employee, now is the time to be flexible and a little creative. You never know, your determination may just change the hiring manager’s mind.

3. Follow Up on a Question You Didn’t Answer Well

If you haven’t heard back from that dream company yet, you want to prepare for future options, or you know they haven’t filled the position yet (despite sending a rejection letter your way), there’s something else you can try. If you know you completely flubbed an answer to an important interview question, there are no rules against sending a follow-up email with a better answer. This is your chance to give yourself a do-over before the hiring manager makes a decision.

Following up and taking another stab at the question shows not only that you are serious about the job but also that you are the type of person who doesn’t give up easily. Motivation is a personality trait many employers are looking for when it comes time to hire new employees. Roughly 66% of employers in the CareerBuilder survey said motivation is an essential soft skill. So just by following up to revise your question, you’ve shown a positive trait that might turn things around in your favor.

[Editor’s Note: It’s important to remember that many organizations review a version of your credit report as part of the application process. To help you be informed of where your credit currently stands, you can take a look at a snapshot of your credit report for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.

Image: SIphotography

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6 Ways to Get Paid What You’re Worth

secure-the-best-salary

Although your net worth isn’t a factor in credit scoring, it does influence your ability to purchase necessities, pay bills and keep your accounts current.

For some professionals, the topic of salary can be more uncomfortable than the interview itself. A Salary.com survey revealed that 18% of job candidates don’t negotiate annual compensation at all, sacrificing the potential for greater earnings and career satisfaction. While there are limits to every job offer, there are a few strategies that could help you in the negotiation process.

1. Improve Your Resume

Learning what skills employers in your industry are looking for is one of the first steps toward earning higher pay. Review open positions online and create a list of common requirements. Research desirable credentials and think about highlighting the skills you have that meet these requirements. You might even consider earning a higher degree or certification to solidify your skills.

2. Avoid Specific Salary Requirements

Do your best to resist the urge to list a specific figure requirement on an application unless pressed. If you must, you might want to write “competitive” or “negotiable” to keep the conversation open. Disclosing your salary history can also lead to fewer bargaining options. In fact, earlier this year, Massachusetts passed state legislation prohibiting employers from considering past salaries in their hiring practices. It’s a good idea to discuss your workplace merits and skills before discussing money.

3. Consider Your Local Market Value

Location is a vital component of earning potential. According to Glassdoor.com, the average salary for a senior-level mechanical engineer in Chicago is $85,601, while the same position in Seattle yields $134,127. Consider cost of living and your own market value during the negotiation process. Your research will help you set realistic expectations.

4. Prepare a Counter-Offer

It’s a good idea to assess your worth and have an amount in mind that you can use for a counter-offer if you don’t like the first offer a company gives you. Make sure you consider base salary, benefits, signing bonuses, vacation time and other perks. It’s a good idea to make the counter-offer higher than what you’d settle for to give you negotiation room. Mutual flexibility is key here.

5. Share Your Ideas

An effective way to demonstrate value is to come prepared with ideas to help productivity. Research the company’s work and create a list of tasks you would like to complete if hired for the role. Early initiative shows enthusiasm and creativity, two qualities worth consideration during salary discussions.

6. Avoid Limiting Your Job Search

Salary negotiation is easier with a little competition. Pursue multiple job openings with the hope of securing more than one offer. It may be helpful to use competing salaries as leverage to land the position you prefer.

Preparing in Every Way

Many employers look at a version of your credit reports as part of the application process. It may not have a direct impact on your salary, but it’s still a good idea to know where your credit stands so you go into every interview as prepared as possible (which will likely only boost your value to your potential employer). You can see where your credit currently stands by taking a look at a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Image: &#169 AdamGregor

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Here’s What Kind of Jobs America Is Adding

jobs-america-is-adding

If you’re job seeking, the odds may be in your favor: U.S. employers added a projected 151,000 non-farm jobs from July to August, according to the jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. And certain industries are seeing more of a boom than others. 

“It’s more important than ever for job seekers to invest in their personal brands if they want to stand out in this competitive job market,” said Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert at TopResume, a resume critiquing and job search firm. “However, for those seeking employment in the food services, health care and financial services industries, there is a bit of good news: jobs in all three of these sectors continue to see an upward trend.”

Where the Jobs Are 

As Augustine mentioned, food services, health care and financial services industries are seeing increases in jobs, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting an increase of available jobs in each of these areas — the food services and drinking places industry added 34,000 jobs; health care added 14,400 jobs, many of which (12,900) were in ambulatory health care services; and the finance and insurance industry had an increase of 14,400 jobs.

Beyond that, some top categories of hiring included individual and family social services adding 16,600 jobs and retail, which gained 15,100 jobs. Local government hires accounted for most of the government jobs with 24,000 hires (11,700 of them were in education.) 

Preparing for a New Job

If you’re in the market for a new job, whether in one of the industries that saw an increase in positions recently or not, there is a lot to do to prepare. You may want to brush up on your interview skills and update your resume, but something you may not have thought about is checking your credit. Many employers look at a version of your credit report as part of the application process, so it’s a good idea to see where your credit stands ahead of time. You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and see a free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

Image: Jodi Jacobson

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3 Jobs That Can Be Harder to Get With Bad Credit

jobs-harder-to-get-with-bad-credit

Are you in search of greener pastures or simply feel ready for a new career challenge? If so, it doesn’t hurt to have good credit, as some employers pull a version of applicants’ credit reports during the application process as part of a background investigation. For jobs that require federal government security clearance or access to government facilities, for example, pulling a credit report is a must. And when that credit report gets pulled, it had better be spotless (learn how to make sense of your report here), lest you lose out on the job due to your poor credit history.

Here’s a look at some jobs that require solid credit in order to get your foot in the door.

1. Security Clearance Jobs

Military personnel, IT professionals … a lot of jobs require government security clearance, and if you’re applying for one, a credit report check is generally going to happen. Though your overall credit or FICO score is not relevant to an adjudicator for a background investigator, Marko Hakamaa, contributor to security clearance career networking site ClearanceJobs.com said via email, “your history of being financially responsible and paying as agreed upon legal and just debts” is important. The reason: “This is a reflection of a person’s honesty and trustworthiness,” he said.

If that’s not enough reason to work on building your credit, Stephanie Benson, general manager of ClearanceJobs.com, added that “regular credit reports will also be pulled for current clearance holders as a part of the continuous monitoring process.” So if you’ve let your credit slide, now’s the time to get things in order.

2. Financial Broker

Your good credit history is more than a ticket to lower mortgage rates and travel rewards credit cards. It can also help you score a career in the high-stakes world of finance. That’s according to the Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which requires prospective applicants to be vetted. FINRA was unavailable for direct comment, but a notice issued in March 2015 says:

“FINRA Rule 3110(e) requires that each member firm ascertain by investigation the good character, business reputation, qualifications and experience of an applicant before the firm applies to register that applicant with FINRA and before making a representation to that effect on the application for registration.”

Information disclosed on the organization’s Form U4 is used to help determine whether an applicant should be disqualified or may present “a regulatory risk for the firm and customers,” FINRA adds. “Firms also may wish to consider private background checks, credit reports and reference letters for this purpose.”

3. Mortgage Officer 

Though Joe Parsons, senior loan officer at PFS Financing in Dublin, California, has never heard of anyone being denied a license solely because of their credit, he does “think regulators are looking for evidence of fraudulent activity that might show up on a credit report as judgments,” he said via email. So, yes, mortgage loan officers are licensed today under the National Mortgage Licensing System and part of that process involves a criminal background check and credit report, Parsons said.

The Keys to Great Credit  

When applying for the jobs we’ve listed above, you’ll want your credit to look as polished and professional as your resume. So how do you do it? By paying attention to how your spending habits impact your credit — you can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com — and understanding what it takes to build solid credit. Here’s a quick look at what goes into your credit report.

Payment History: Also known as your payment performance, your payment history is worth 35% of the points in your credit score and refers to the record you’ve established of paying bills on time. If lenders report that you’ve missed a few bills to the credit reporting agencies, you can guarantee that information will go onto your credit report — and ding your score.

Amount of Debt: Credit utilization — that is, the amount of credit you’re using compared to your total available revolving credit limits — accounts for almost 30% of the points in your credit score. So if your debt is closing in on that credit limit, or worse still, exceeds it, your credit may be in trouble. Remember, the lower your ratio, the higher your score. Other debt, such as open or installment debt, can also negatively impact your credit if you aren’t managing it responsibly or it’s excessive.

Types of Accounts: From student loans to credit cards, it’s helpful to have a healthy group of accounts (also known as a “credit mix”) in your credit report. In fact, whether or not you have a variety of accounts can affect nearly 10% of the points in your credit score.

History of Searching for Credit: Worth 10% of the points in your credit score, this section of your credit report assesses your history of inquiries, or what happens anytime someone pulls your credit report. When you apply for a loan or pre-qualify for a mortgage, for instance, an inquiry posts to your credit. If you go shopping for credit a lot, you’ll likely be considered a high risk to lenders.

Age of Accounts: Some people like to say age is nothing more than a number. But in the world of credit, it refers to the age of the information in your credit history, and it matters a lot. Worth 15% of the points in your credit history, the older your history, the better your score.

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