Monthly Archives: November 2012

What Credentials on Microsoft Word Skills can you offer?

What evidence of your Microsoft Word skills could you offer in response to job interview questions?

“Pretty good, I guess” isn’t very precise, but without advance preparation, a mumbled vague response is the best you have.

You don’t even know exactly what advanced skill levels are for this particular interviewer and you don’t want to reveal your ignorance by asking. You don’t know exactly what they need you to be able to do. Very often, the interviewer doesn’t really know either! So they wait to see what you say and write that down and go on to the next question.

You are justifiably proud of your accomplishments and references and university degree. But wouldn’t it be beneficial to state very precisely what things you can do with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint  Access, Publisher and Outlook?

What if you could say “I have all the Intermediate skills for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook and basic skills for Access and Publisher. I have already sent you a PDF file that lists my Microsoft Office software skills in detail, along with a series of documents and projects that together are my “credential”. Continue reading

Prospective employers want you to communicate your qualifications clearly

If you submit 10, 20 or more job applications every week without response, you are not alone and it’s your job to figure out why.

Are you treating the job search as a numbers game, like telemarketing? If I just send more applications, sooner or later it is inevitable that I will rise to the top of the pile. Or do you believe those who say “nobody gets hired from online job postings”. If that was true, how long would employers continue to accept online submissions? Not very long.

magnifying glass

Communicate Your Skills Clearly

Not every opening that is posted online is filled from online applicants but some are. If you aren’t among the winning pllicants, it may have something to do with how you are applying, but you may be perplexed as to what to change.

Do you understand the hiring process from the perspective of an employer that receives thousands of applications? Often its a junior staff member who reduces the pile to a manageable number. It’s easier than you think. Just discard applications that don’t mention the key words related to the required qualifications. Then calls are made to conduct an initial screening interview or to schedule an interview. So what if that prospective employer called the top 20 applicants but your phone didn’t ring? And what if that happened 50 times every week? Continue reading

Microsoft Word 2010 Basic Skills Checklist for Job Seekers

I have been delighted by the response to an earlier post Job interview questions on Microsoft Office skills, which I wrote when I discovered that very little material is available to help job seekers communicate their Microsoft Office skills.

It is not at all unusual for job postings to include the following item in the qualifications section.

Because it wasn’t easy to find a simple list of what skills would be included in “Advanced Skills”, I decided to step in to make a contribution. In that post I addressed the need for a simple checklist of skills with Microsoft Word, and other Office software at the basic, intermediate and advanced level. The response to that post has been remarkable. Today I am further addressing that need by releasing the first in a series of checklists in the resources section of this site. Please feel free to pass any of these checklists along to anyone who can benefit from this tool.

Word 2010 capture for blog

The full Microsoft Word 2010 Basic Skills Checklist is available in the resources tab above or by clicking on the hyperlink. Also available are the Microsoft Outlook 2010 Basic Skills Checklist and the Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 Basic Skills Checklist.

Enjoy and let me know if it is helpful!

Are you popping buttons on God’s vest?

When you do the most what you do the best, you pop the buttons on the vest of God

Max Lucado

Max Lucado is clear. There is something that you could be doing that would make God very proud. Presumably if you were already doing what that was you would know clearly. No doubt you have met other people who seem to know that they are doing what makes God proudest of them. And if you don’t feel that way too, you may very well wonder where you took a wrong turn. And you may suppose that it is too late for you to get back on track.

I can relate. When you are a minister’s son, you meet lots of folks who knew what they were “called to do” in their teens. They became nurses and ministers, teachers and doctors. They headed off to university and the rest is history. They couldn’t imagine doing anything else and everyone agrees that they are doing the thing that fits them perfectly. Continue reading

6 Job interview questions a blogger should welcome

We all dread certain job interview questions, but with a good answer ready you can actually look forward to any question.

Successfully launching a blog is not easy and just the fact that you have a blog that is in any way career related gives you a conversation starter and icebreaker. But your blog can provide much more than that. Here are a few questions that you can respond to by drawing from your blogging experiences:

Provide an example of your problem solving skills:

If you have successfully launched a blog and sustained it for a significant amount of time, you have solved many problems. So every time you solve a significant problem, write down a short description. Note the nature of the problem and the implications it has for your blog’s availability or effectiveness. Describe exactly your problem solving process. what you did to solve the problem (e.g. use Google, phone a friend etc.). Specify clearly the outcome of the action you took and what you learned if anything. Tell the whole story in less than 60 seconds if possible in a way that is easy to understand. Continue reading

Try Social Media Cross-training for new skills

A couple of days ago I provided a few examples of lessons I have learned through my experience posting photographs on Flickr. After buying my first digital SLR I was looking for a venue to share my photos and to learn about photography. Flickr has provided exactly that. But you don’t draw attention to your photos without learning a few things. Like finding others who find the same things interesting. Here are a few more things I have learned, all of which translate to blogging!

  •  I began photographing sunrises for one simple reason. I can take some nice photos right out the window of my 15th floor condo as the photo at right demonstrates. I found that there are other Flickr members who enjoy these photos (and don’t bore of them too quickly) by joining Flickr groups particularly focused on sunrises and sunsets. I also learned from participating in those groups exactly what other people respond to most strongly. I can recognize other photographers whose photos are clearly superior to mine and ask them to critique my work. Ditto for blogs. Continue reading

Social media cross-training: let Flickr make you a better blogger!

Social media cross-training could give your blogging skills the boost they need. Posting your photos on Flickr can teach you essential social media skills and strategies more quickly than blogging!

The usual advice is this: focus your attention and energy on one specific strategy and refuse to be distracted. Great advice much of the time, but not necessarily when it comes to blogs and other social media. Concurrent social media pursuits can actually be beneficial.

You create traffic in one by spending time in another. Your Pinterest presence sends blog visitors. Facebook activity pumps Twitter traffic. As you probably already know, this is not just wise, it is essential.

But are you aware of the learning benefits? Lessons learned in one social media site apply elsewhere. The skills and habits you need to thrive on Flickr readily translate to the challenge of growing your blog. And those essential lessons that I find hardest to learn with establishing my blog came more intuitively to me on Flickr. Continue reading

5 simple career blog strategies for a first-time blogger

Launching a new blog it may seem like an intimidating project but it doesn’t need to be.

In my last post, I listed 12 benefits of a career-related blog. They are just a start.

If you aren’t sure how to get started on a blog to boost your career out of its rut, there is lots of help available. Start here with a great post and podcast from Michael Hyatt.

What subject matter you could write about might be a mystery for you.

6 ways to find blogging topics: Continue reading

Consider blogging your way out of a career rut

Establishing a blog related to your career can cure a lot of ills. Feeling stuck in a rut is just one. It has never been easier and the benefits have never been clearer.

12 benefits from a career-related blog:

  1. Blogging  gives you, not your employer or anyone else, total control over the heart of career management, your personal brand.
  2. Here’s your chance to broadcast the experience and wisdom you have accumulated in your professional career. You can answer those questions that no one ever asks or provide the advice to a newcomer that you wish someone would tell them. Continue reading

Support Your Inner Careerist

“Nobody ever warns us about behavioural drift” .. Dr. Joshua C. Klapow

Every September I made the same vow. “This year will be different. I’ll be the ideal student, starting assignments the day they are assigned, ask for extra problems in Math, outlining “The Tempest” for English and practicing my Latin vocabulary. Long before Cal Newport wrote his first book for students, I had it all clear in my mind. If I acted on those plans, my high school career would have been stellar. But like many others with good intentions, I drifted and that fall ended pretty much the same way as the previous year did with a mix of Bs and Cs. Usually by early October I had abandoned the dream. It wasn’t until I was a university student that I learned the habits that deliver a consistently high GPA and ultimately earned an MBA.

For a label that describes my high-school pattern, I turn to Dr. Joshua C. Klapow, author of “Living SMART: Five Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever” Apparently, I was experiencing “behavioural drift, going back to my old patterns despite a genuine desire to make a substantial change”. Continue reading