15 Best Companies for Freelancers in 2017

These 15 companies are topping the charts with the most opportunities to have the flexibility freelancing offers.

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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 

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How to Write a Resume Computers Will Notice

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Growing up, your parents may have told you getting a job was simple. You may have heard that asking to speak to the manager of a local business and giving them a firm handshake was what would be required. That may have been true at one time. But these days? You have to face background checks and drug tests. Applications and other materials have to be polished and primed. And if you don’t know how to write a resume that will get past automation software, don’t expect many calls for interviews.

In today’s job market, your resume needs to be tailored. But not just tailored to match the job description. Your resume needs to be tailored specifically to beat filters. That begs the question: How to write a resume that shows you’re the perfect fit and also beats the computers? It’s tricky, but it can be done. First, you’ll need to take a lesson from Sun Tzu, the philosopher, general, and strategist behind The Art of War. That lesson? Know your enemy. Or, in this case, research and get an idea of what you’re up against. To beat the computer, you need to know what it’s looking for.

Beat the Computers

The objective of screening software (or applicant tracking systems, ATS) is to weed people out. Essentially, it acts as the first barrier to separate the wheat from the chaff — or, the qualified from the unqualified. It’s designed to save on costs and act as an artificial intelligence. Instead of paying a human to sort resumes by hand, companies use an ATS at the initial stage to quickly and efficiently winnow the candidate pool.

Given that the average human recruiter only looks at a resume for six seconds, it’s hard to say whether your odds improve with an actual person calling the shots.

So, your goal is to hurdle that initial barrier. To do so, you need to know what the computer is looking for.

If you’ve spent any amount of time writing or working with computers before, you know that a few things are key. First, brevity and simplicity. If you were going to search Google, for example, you’d do so with as few words as possible. You’re looking for hits on keywords or phrases to get the best results. The same is true with an ATS.

You’ll also want to keep things relatively simple. It’s a computer you’re trying to impress. That computer breaks everything down to 1s and 0s, which is about as simple as it gets. Also, aim for density. You want the text to be brief, simple, and packed with relevant information.

Using that as a starting point, you can piece things together.

How to Write a Resume: A Primer

Formatting

Formatting means the basic layout of your resume. Again, because you’re trying to exploit a machine’s weaknesses, you need to make it easy for the machine to read. When it comes to formatting, that means keeping things conservative and simple. Do away with objective statements or professional summaries — they’re only muddying the waters.

Aim for a straightforward resume, in the traditional style. That should include your personal information at the top, your relevant work experience and history, education, and your relevant skills.

Keywords

Keywords are incredibly important. The ATS is looking for certain words and phrases in your text, so make sure they’re there. Use basic SEO principles, and make sure that you’re using the job description as a guide. If the job description mentions teamwork and communication skills, then you need to mention your teamwork and communication skills. Tailor your writing to match what the employer has laid out. Don’t lie, of course, but do your best.

Don’t go overboard with keywords, however. If your resume is unreadable because it’s stuffed with keywords and phrases, the system will know it’s being cheated.

Watch for Mistakes

Finally, make sure your finished document is mistake-free. Use spellcheckers and tools like Grammarly.com to point out any glaring problems. This is when you actually get to use the computers for your own benefit. If your resume is filled with grammar and spelling mistakes, the ATS is probably going to get jammed up. It’s not going to recognize misspelled words, and think you’re spouting nonsense. And just like a human screener, it’ll probably send your resume to the recycle bin.

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.

[Editor’s note: Many employers look at a version of your credit report as part of the application process, so it’s a good idea to know what’s in them and to dispute any errors that may be weighing you down. You can see your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.]

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Here’s A Quick Way to Find Out if You’re Getting Paid Enough

Candid picture of a business team collaborating. Filtered serie with light flares and cool tones.

“Am I earning what I deserve?” It’s the question every worker has asked herself at least once. How do you know you’re being paid fairly given your experience and what your peers are earning? You could ask around the office, but even in 2016, salary discussions are still a taboo topic around the water cooler.

Jobs marketplace Glassdoor.com has developed a new tool to help employees estimate their own job market value. The “Know Your Worth” tool is intended to help you cut through the fog, and get a pretty decent estimate of your true earning potential.

“[Know Your Worth] is all about empowering people to do their research and really know what their market value is,” Scott Dobroski, a spokesperson for Glassdoor, told MagnifyMoney. Dobroski said Glassdoor hopes the release of the tool will encourage employers to be more transparent with their employees about how their pay is determined.

How It Works

The “Know Your Worth” tool is free to use. The tool ask for five pieces of information: your title, employer, salary, location, and years of work experience. The tool then uses an algorithm to tell you the median base salary you could earn in your location — and, most important, whether you’re overpaid or underpaid and by how much.

The market value estimates are not perfect, and everyone will not be able to get a result from the tool, Glassdoor admits. The company relies on millions of pieces of data collected from Glassdoor users over the years, as well as its own proprietary research of supply and demand for jobs in a range of fields.

know-your-worth-desktop-example

Who the Tool Is Best For

The tool has its limitations. So far, the Mill Valley, Calif.-based company says it has enough data to deliver results to roughly 55% to 60% of the U.S. workforce. However, the tool will “learn” more as more Glassdoor users continue to submit their salary and job information.

“An employee should not see [their results] and just go and ask for more money,” Dobroski said.

MagnifyMoney asked about a dozen workers in various cities across the U.S. to test-drive the beta version of the tool. The majority of workers, each of whom requested to remain anonymous, were able to get estimates successfully. Two workers were told the tool could not offer them a market value yet — one, a 23-year-old landscaper based in Atlanta, Ga., and the other, a 31-year-old hospital scheduling specialist in Onalaska, Wis.

One person who used the tool, a project supervisor working in New York, N.Y., said he was surprised by his results. Based on his market value, the Glassdoor tool informed him he was underpaid by 3.3%.
“I thought I was overpaid,” said the worker. Another worker, an entry-level sales representative in Buckhead, Ga., said he was surprised by his results as well. The tool alerted him that he was underpaid by 7.2%. He balked.

“I know what my peers make because we all graduated with the same degrees and went into sales with different companies,” said the worker, 24. “My base [salary] is the highest among the people I know.”
People with more straightforward and common job titles in more densely populated cities might have an easier time getting accurate results.

“I would definitely use this tool before my next interview,” said Jazmine Calhoun, a 24-year-old freelance writer based in Atlanta. “It was an effective tool for the millennial just starting to enter the workforce without knowledge of their true value.”

As the tool gathers new data, it will update your market value on a weekly basis. Your market value is also plotted on a 12-month chart. Logically, it should go up as time goes on and you gain more job experience, but shifts in supply and demand for your given field could also alter your market value.
You can also compare your “worth” to the median pay that others receive for doing similar work in your area.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

It’s free

Who doesn’t like free things? To top that, no cost makes the tool a good fit for a cash-strapped individual looking for a simple way to get a rough estimate of their market value.

You can use the tool to weigh potential job offers

One of the tricky parts about salary negotiations is knowing how much or how little to ask for. If you have multiple offers, you might be able to use the Glassdoor tool to find out if one job’s offer is on par with what people in your field and at your experience level are currently earning. If it’s way low, you might want to ask for more or at least do more research.

You can apply directly to better-paying jobs
The results page presents you with the salaries and links to apply for jobs with similar titles in your location, or for jobs that might be a common next move for those in your field. That could be helpful if you’re thinking of making a career shift soon.

A 21-year-old assistant media planner at an advertising agency in New York discovered she was underpaid by 24%, but wasn’t surprised. “I was warned of my company’s low salary rates, but I was striving to get my foot in the industry door,” she said.

Cons:

Missing about 40%-45% of occupations
As we mentioned, at this time the tool can only give an estimated market value for about 55% to 60% of the U.S. workforce. If the tool can’t give you your market value, try using Glassdoor’s salary explorer instead. This tool lets you play with a variety of pay factors and other types of jobs in the market.

Doesn’t factor in compensations or other benefits
All of the other things that go into a person’s pay such as bonus compensations or benefits aren’t considered in the calculation, so the base pay may not be reflective of the total compensation a worker gets. Perhaps you are underpaid on your base salary, but you are given generous benefits like a 401(k) match, 100% employer-paid health care, or several months’ paid maternity and paternity leave. Those benefits have true monetary value that can add to your base salary.

Glassdoor says as the learning algorithm gets smarter it plans to add variables like benefits to the model.

No cost of living comparison
There’s a feature on the bottom of the results page that lets you tinker with your inputs to see what you would be paid if you lived in another city, or had more job experience, etc. It gives you a base pay estimate, but doesn’t reflect the city’s cost of living to give an idea of whether or not your lifestyle would change if you moved. For now, you can use PayScale’s Cost of Living Calculator to get around that.

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Final Verdict

The tool is a great starting point for those who are looking to negotiate their pay or who are on the job hunt currently. But it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider before you decide to ask for more pay or switch jobs. Ask colleagues or mentors for guidance about how much you should expect to earn. Also, ask your employer or human resources department for information about how raises and promotions typically work, ideally before you take the job. Some employers have more structured salary guidelines than others.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not knowing that you are underpaid is enough motivation to ask for a raise or switch jobs. A lot of the time, that decision could depend on whether or not you like your job, as it did for a 22-year-old project manager working in Santa Monica, Calif. The tool said he was underpaid by 20%, but it wasn’t enough to scare him off. The company has been struggling financially, but he’s happy enough with his current job to stick around.

“I feel like I haven’t learned everything from this job just yet,” he said. “I have a lot to learn from all of the people that are above me in [management] positions that are like mine before I move on to the next thing.”

The post Here’s A Quick Way to Find Out if You’re Getting Paid Enough appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Looking for Work? Here’s The Wrong Way to Get Your Job Application Noticed

job-application-and-interview-mistakes

In a hyper-competitive job market, some people looking for work will do whatever it takes to stand out. There was the student who designed a Lego set in an attempt to land an ad agency internship. A graphic designer slapped his resume on a four-pack of home-brewed beer. And more than one desperate job seeker has donned a sandwich board in an attempt to find work.

These job hunting stunts might capture the media’s attention, but do they actually lead to job offers? In some cases, yes. Brennan Gleason, the man behind the “résum-ale,” as he dubbed it, quickly landed a job as a creative director for a digital marketing agency with the help of his one-of-a-kind C.V. But quirky job-hunting approaches don’t always yield quick results. It took Dan Conway, aka the Extreme Job Hunter, a year to find work, despite engaging in stunts like auctioning himself off on eBay and sending pizza to potential employers.

Outlandish job search techniques are more common, and may be more effective, when the applicant is in a creative field like marketing and design, perhaps because they’re a way for people to show off their skills to potential employers. Leah Bowman, the student behind the Lego resume, told Careertopia that, “For most companies, this type of application might even cross the line to inappropriate. For advertising agencies, however, I felt that showing my creativity and personality would be an asset.” But even designers and marketing pros should proceed with caution; one quarter of executives in this field surveyed by The Creative Group said gimmicky resumes were unprofessional.

Still, job hunters in all fields are under pressure to get noticed by hiring managers, who are often inundated with resumes for every job posted. The competition can inspire some desperate moves. While the instinct to make yourself stand out isn’t a bad one, some applicants take it too far, engaging in bizarre behavior than can torpedo their chances of getting the job.

“Candidates are realizing that an extraordinary cover letter and resume with strong references aren’t enough, that if you really want the gig, you have to stand out from the competition,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said. “Unfortunately, what many aren’t realizing is that the catch is making sure you do that in a professional, respectful way.”

The Creative Job Application Gone Wrong

Overzealous job seekers don’t always realize there’s a fine line between the charmingly creative job application strategy and the wildly inappropriate. Hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder shared stories of candidates who took an out-of-the-box approach to getting noticed, including:

  • The job seeker who bought a first-class upgrade in order to sit next to the hiring manager on a transatlantic flight.
  • A candidate who showed up for an interview wearing a Halloween costume.
  • The person who tried to bribe the hiring manager by sending him money.
  • An applicant who wore a tie emblazoned with the name of the company where he was interviewing.
  • The dressed-to-impress job seeker who wore a three-piece suit and arrived to his interview in a white limousine (the company dress code was casual and the job paid a middle wage).
  • The candidate who had his priest call the hiring manager to ask that the applicant get the job.

What is it about looking for work that inspires people to act in a way that seems designed to turn off hiring managers? Alison Green, an HR expert, blames the “charlatans of the job search advice world, telling people they need to ‘stand out’ and be ‘memorable.’” Candidates who want to rise above the pack might decide it’s a good idea to mail a cake and a framed picture of themselves to a hiring manager (as one candidate did to a reader of Green’s Ask a Manager blog), but such brazen moves can backfire.

“I was so incredibly creeped out by this gesture … I was afraid to eat the cake and couldn’t look at him and didn’t even call him for an interview,” the receiver of this unique “gift” recounted.

Those looking for work would do better to focus on substance rather than sizzle when trying to impress a would-be employer, say most career experts. A strong resume that outlines past accomplishments and clearly shows how your past experience relates to the position you want is a must, according to CareerBuilder. (And remember, only Elle Woods can get away with a scented resume on pink paper.) A robust social media presence that shows you’re an expert in your field can be an advantage when an employers searches for you after receiving your resume.

During the face-to-face portion of the hiring process, steer clear of common interview mistakes and take the time to ask a few questions of your own, since this shows you’re interested in the job. Finally, don’t forget to send a thank you note. Many applicants overlook this basic gesture, even though 59% of hiring managers say a thank you note or email after an interview can boost a person’s chances of being receiving a job offer. And if you’re tempted to send a potential employer a shoe to “get your foot in the door,” remember this: Though gimmicky tactics might get a hiring manager’s attention, it’s ultimately your skills and experience that will land you the job.

[Editor’s note: Employers often check your credit reports before finalizing the hiring process. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep track of what’s happening with your credit. You certainly wouldn’t want errors on your reports to keep you from getting your dream job. You can get your free annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can check your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, at Credit.com.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

 

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This Trick Can Help You Deal With a Tough Job Search

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Being unemployed is a drag. Tales of “funemployment” aside, life after a job loss – especially one that comes without any warning – is often rough both financially and emotionally. In the days after you’re let go, you’re likely busy updating your resume, adding contacts on LinkedIn, and sending out cover letters. But after an initial spurt of activity, you may get frustrated if your job search efforts don’t seem to be yielding results.

After a few weeks of unemployment, your resolution to meet up with your old co-workers for coffee turns into a commitment to keeping up with the Kardashians. Your goal of applying for two or three jobs per day suddenly seems too ambitious — now you’re barely applying to two or three jobs per week. And you can’t remember the last time you put on real pants (no, pajamas don’t count) and left the house.

Welcome to the job search doldrums. The longer you’re out of work, the harder it is to stay positive and keep your motivation up. The unemployed are more likely to report being treated for depression than people with full-time jobs, a 2013 Gallup survey found, with the rate of depression increasing the longer someone has been out of a job. Those who’d been unemployed for half a year or more also reported being less happy and were more likely to be socially isolated than people who had jobs or hadn’t been out of work for months.

It’s not clear whether unemployment triggers depression or other psychological problems, or if “unhappy or less positive job seekers are less likely to be able to get jobs in the first place,” according to Gallup. In either case, job seekers who are struggling to keep their spirits up need a way to turn things around. Now, researchers at Ohio State University have pinpointed specific skills that might help depressed job seekers find work.

Unemployed people who used skills taught as part of cognitive behavioral (CB) therapy for depression were more likely to find a new job, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Depression Can Hamper a Job Search

“Searching for a job is difficult in any circumstance, but it may be even more difficult for people who are depressed,” Daniel Strunk, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State and a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “But we found that there are specific skills that can help not only manage the symptoms of depression but also make it more likely that a person will receive a job offer.”

Seventy-five unemployed people participated in the study. Each took two surveys, three months apart, completing a variety of questionnaires designed to measure symptoms of depression and other psychological variables, like brooding and a “negative cognitive style.” They were also asked how often they used cognitive behavioral skills, like rethinking negative thoughts or breaking up overwhelming tasks into smaller chunks.

The more a person relied on cognitive behavioral skills, the greater the likelihood of their depressive symptoms improving in the months between the two surveys. The unemployed people who used CB skills were also more likely to have received a job offer in the intervening months than those who didn’t draw on those coping techniques.

“The people who got jobs in our study were more likely to be putting into practice the skills that we try to teach people in cognitive therapy,” Strunk said. The study didn’t ask whether people had learned their coping skills in therapy or not, but Strunk said most of them likely came by those skills without additional help or guidance.

“Some people just naturally catch themselves when they have negative thoughts and refocus on the positive and use other CB skills,” he said. “These are the people who were more likely to find a job.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you how to overcome negative thinking so you can respond more effectively to life’s challenges and stressors. While it’s frequently part of the treatment for conditions like PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression, the techniques practiced during CBT can “help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

In the case of the unemployed, relying on CB skills may make it easier to deal with common job search frustrations like hearing, “Thanks, but no thanks,” from a prospective employer. “Rejection is so much a part of the process of job seeking. Using cognitive behavioral skills are an important way one can deal with that,” Strunk said.

The researchers want to conduct more research into the link between CB skills, depression, and job search behaviors. For now, the study results suggest that job seekers, especially those who are depressed, may benefit from either drawing on their natural coping skills or working with a therapist who can help them learn new strategies to manage the stress of being unemployed and find a new job.

“Using cognitive behavioral skills, people can overcome some of the negative thinking that may be holding them back and making it less likely to succeed in their job search,” Strunk said.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re concerned about how your credit is being impacted while you’re unemployed, you can check your free credit reports once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you’d like to monitor your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card provides you with an easy to understand breakdown of the information in your credit report using letter grades, along with two free credit scores that are updated monthly.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

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The Resume Booster That Only 30% of People Use

Polishing your resume and LinkedIn profile may be part of what you do when searching for a new job. But if you are only covering your professional and educational experience in these snapshots of your work history, you may be missing out.

At least that’s what a new survey found. The Deloitte Impact Survey, released on Thursday, found 82% of those who influence hiring decisions said they are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience — but only one in three resumes in the United States cite volunteer work.

The survey polled more than 2,500 respondents in 13 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., targeting those who are currently employed and either have hiring influence or are directly in charge of hiring. A large majority of respondents (92%) felt volunteering expands a candidate’s skill sets while 86% said putting volunteer time on a resume ultimately makes a candidate more competitive.

“Despite volunteering’s well-documented benefits in the workplace … the survey results seem to indicate that there may be a disconnect between employees and businesses about volunteering’s role in the workplace,” Doug Marshall, director of corporate citizenship at Deloitte Services LP, said in a press release.

Preparing for a Job Search

If you’re searching for a job and don’t list your volunteer work on your resume, you may want to consider doing so. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report, as some employers check a version as part of their application process. (You can get your annual credit reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.)

Though employers don’t check credit scores, it’s a good idea to monitor those, too. A sudden change, such as a drastic drop in your scores, could signal a problem like identity theft. You can view two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Looking For a New Job

searching-for-jobs

Whether you’re preparing for life after college, recovering from a job loss or just feel ready to try something new, it never hurts to brush up on your job-search skills. Here are a few mistakes you could be making without even knowing it.

1. Not Knowing What You Want 

Too often, people don’t put enough thought into a whether job is the right fit for them, Samantha Zupan, spokesperson for Glassdoor.com, a job search and recruiting site, said. “They don’t take that moment of pause to go, ‘I need this much in terms of compensation, these benefits and this kind of environment,'” she said.

Beyond that, it’s key to know what you’re looking for in terms of the role and professional challenges. If you don’t, you may find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation.

2. Not Doing Your Homework

Some people walk into interviews without taking the time to bone up on the company beforehand, Zupan said. “Not only should you look for jobs but research the company culture, leadership, CEO and what they could likely earn,” she said. After all, you’re there to decide if the company is right for you, too.

3. Not Tailoring Your Message

“People don’t tailor their approach to each employer,” Zupan says, because they’re desperate to get a call or email back. “But that extra time you take for employers you really want to go after” is what will set you apart and make you a more viable candidate. Ask yourself, “does my resume highlight experience this employer is looking for?” If not, look for ways to play up your passion and skills.

4. Not Following Up

“If you got a call or email and didn’t follow up, that’s definitely a mistake in the job search,” Zupan said. “Even if you end up not going with that company, you may end up at the company down the road, or that recruiter could go to another company.” So whether you’re interested or not, be sure to let them know. And remember, you should always respond within one business day. Any longer than that, and you risk looking disinterested and like you lack general email etiquette.

5. Appearing Unprofessional

Whether you’re applying for the C-Suite or an assistant job, it’s best to keep things professional. “You should always be thinking about your public profiles and make sure they reflect who you are and what you are, because that’s what employees will be looking at,” Zupan said. Do a proper sweep of your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and voicemail, and sanitize them accordingly.

Remember, with more employers checking credit scores than ever, it pays to know where you stand. You can view your two free credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

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You’re More Likely to Land Your Dream Job If You Do This One Simple Thing

job_interview

A new survey has shed light on a major inefficiency in the way most people look for a job: Getting referrals.

It turns out that 71% of hiring managers say employee referrals are their best source for finding job candidates, but only 7% of job seekers say asking for referrals is part of their strategy for getting a new job.

The survey, conducted by Beyond.com, a career content and job site, and Future Workplace, a research firm, also found that “passive” job seekers, or those who are employed but open to new opportunities, have a better chance of being hired over “active” job seekers, or those who are unemployed and searching for work.

Hiring managers really like passive job seekers according to the survey, with 80% of HR professionals saying they become the most effective employees. (The survey is based on a national sample of 4,347 job seekers, as well as 129 human resource professionals.)

So what does all of this mean for you if you’re interested in finding a new position?

“A strong application coupled with quality referrals will provide job seekers with an advantage in the hiring process,” Rich Milgram, CEO of Beyond.com said in a statement. “You should constantly be exploring new ways to nurture and expand your referral network, and it may be easier than you think. For example, attend industry conferences and events, grab lunch with a former colleague or make new connections on social platforms — a few simple actions may help you land your dream job.”

Some of those actions, based on highlights from the survey, include.

1. If You’re Still in School, Review Your Major

Fourteen percent of seekers surveyed were liberal arts majors, yet only 2% of companies are actively recruiting those majors. And while 30% of companies are actively recruiting engineering and computer information systems majors, just 15% of job seekers are studying in those fields. About a third of job seekers would, or have, changed their college major for better job prospects.

2. Focus on Cultural Fit Over GPA

While job seekers (23%) and employers (24%) agreed that internship experience carries the most weight for students when seeking jobs, employers don’t view GPA as carrying a lot of weight (6%) as much as job seekers (12%). Companies put more emphasis on cultural fit (24%) than job seekers do (15%) when recruiting.

3. Be Flexible 

Effective communication skills are at the top of the skills list for both employers and employees. After communication skills, employers look for employees with the ability to adapt to change and make sense of ambiguity, followed by being results driven and goal-oriented. After communication skills, employees report leadership ability, in-person collaboration and teamwork skills as their subsequent strengths.

4. Don’t Worry About These Weaknesses

The top three weaknesses reported by employees were virtual collaboration and teamwork skills (48%), technical skills (46%), and being culturally aware and inclusive (43%). HR professionals reported virtual collaboration and teamwork skills (43%), and being culturally aware and inclusive (also 43%) as the second and third least-important skills when hiring.

5. Look Outside. It’s Easier 

Job seekers are optimistic about the job market and may perceive it as easier to seek a new job outside their company than to make a lateral move. More than 40% of job seekers reported that it was difficult or very difficult to make a lateral move at their most recent organization, while less than one quarter of respondents reported being not optimistic about the broader job market.

Remember, a lot of prospective employers will want to check your credit before completing the hiring process. As such, it’s important to monitor what’s on your credit report. You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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Want a Better Job? Make Better Facebook Friends

Why Facebook Shouldn't Let The World See Your Teens' Pictures

The strength of your relationships on Facebook could be important when it comes to your ability to find a job, a recent study published in the Journal of Labor Economics suggests, though the relationship is somewhat nuanced.

The study, published in January, looked at whether “strong” or “weak” personal ties on Facebook were the most useful when it comes to finding a job. Researchers used photo tags and walls posts to measure tie strength, or how close the relationships actually were.

So, the better friends you are with someone in real life, the more likely they are to help you out in your job search.

Here’s where the data from this Journal of Labor Economics study gets tricky. Researchers noted that a person’s Facebook network is not an exact representation of their real life network, and that a large amount of unobservable contact takes place outside of Facebook. However, despite these shortcomings, Facebook interaction is a good predictor of real-world tie strength. And while good friends are powerful, the “weaker” friends can be as well.

“When looking at the collective power of weak ties, we find weak ties matter most,” researchers said. “But, when we look individually at all a person’s social connections, we find that a single strong tie is more influential than a single weak tie.”

How does that work?

The study concluded that there are actually very few strong ties on Facebook, but when they exist, they are “associated with a higher probability of job help.”

“Weak ties are important in aggregate because they are numerous,” researchers reported, “while single strong ties are scarce but associated with a higher probability of job help.”

Researchers suggested there’s an easy way to take advantage of this when looking for your next job.

“A person is more likely to work with a weaker tie because weaker ties collectively make up most of a person’s social network,” researchers said. “But, strengthening an existing tie should increase the probability that you will work with that specific friend.”

If you are looking for a better job, it can be helpful to keep an eye on your credit reports as they may end up being part of your evaluation during the hiring process. It’s a hotly contested subject, but employers are allowed to check your credit reports before they hire you. You can get started by checking out your free credit report summary every month on Credit.com. And you can get copies of your credit reports for free once a year from each of the major credit reporting agencies.

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