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The Polar Bear Cub – Life Skills For Graduates

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 15, 2016 in Career Path, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

Polar BearThe hope of many college seniors is to quickly land a post-grad entry level position with their first choice company, doing what they majored in, with a competitive salary, and opportunities for professional development. The reality is quite different for many hopefuls.

A polar bear mother spends a few months of the year in a den with her newborn cubs. When the cubs are larger and stronger, they are able to leave the den and walk around. The cubs are glued to their mother’s side for the next few months playfully imitating her hunting habits in preparation for later life. For life after college, many graduation seniors are woefully unprepared as they leave the protective den of their alma mater.

Carolyn Thompson of Merito Group, and author of Resumazing – Ten Easy Steps to a Perfect Resume, touched on some of the more significant challenges that the 2016 class of graduating college students face when they begin to look for job opportunities in her interview with David Rawles, host of Career Solutions Radio.

You can listen to the interview here.

One of the most underused resources on a college campus, Carolyn points out, is the career center. Many students don’t even know where it is and once you graduate, its resources will no longer be available to you. The career center can help you figure out your value proposition and connect you with employers hiring for the skills you have. They also have information on employers that recruit on campus most frequently. While you are still near the den, utilize the resources available for you.

The worst thing that many students realize at graduation is that they did not get any work experience at all and have nothing on their resume. “Any job is better than no job.” Carolyn says. You are developing a history of reliability and dependability by having a regular responsibility outside of school. You can also volunteer or take an unpaid internship to get experience and references. For instance, if you are working in a bar as an accounting major, the bar is still a business that has to do bookkeeping and taxes. Volunteer doing small tasks for them if you are having trouble finding a job in your major or field. Take a lesson from the polar bear cubs and get the experience you need before graduation without the stress of needing the skills to survive.

For all of you graduating seniors in the Metro DC area, APPLY HERE.

To help prepare in the next couple of months before graduation while you are still warm in the den (besides a visit to your career center), spruce up your resume with these tips from Carolyn:

  • Make sure your contact information on your resume is accurate. Typos in your email and cell phone number are very common mistakes.
  • Include at least your zip code in your contact information. Locality can play an important role in certain positions and your resume might not come up in searches.
  • Add a description of the companies you worked for (i.e. public or private, number of employees, revenue – whatever is relevant to the industry).
  • Bullet point your accomplishments outside of your job description so they stand out and set you apart – what you made, saved, or achieved in the role. All polar bears are white to blend in with the snow, but here you need to standout!
  • Write your skills together on your resume so they are easily found and can be reviewed quickly. (Technical skills, licenses, etc.)
  • Make sure the skills you include are relevant to the job you are applying for. Saying you have your real estate license takes up space if you don’t need it for the job.

(Editor’s tip – if you worked through a temp agency, remember to note that on your resume so your employer can check your background more efficiently)

For those young entrepreneurs out there: Carolyn tells a story of a young person who ran his own lawn care business in college. LISTEN HERE to find out how she rewrote his resume to help him land a position as a financial analyst after graduation.

One thing to note for your job search, Carolyn mentions, is that small to mid-size companies have more flexibility in a single position to allow you to learn and do more.  A lot of grads are attracted by marque name companies, but they might not get to do much in the role in such a large organization.

In the interview, David Rawles asks Carolyn about what she thinks is the biggest myth that many students may be thinking as they enter the workforce. Carolyn replies that some people think their first job dictates their future, but this is not the case. If you don’t land your dream job right away, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen later. Many people don’t get the job they thought they wanted and even those who do get their first choice may realize that it’s not for them and change. There is more than one ice floe in the arctic!

For more information about Career Solutions Radio with David Rawles click here.

-Lindsay Sellner, editor

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The Bird’s Nest – Building Your Professional Bio

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 22, 2014 in Self Improvement

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Tips to write an effective, professional bio.Nest2

As a talent acquisition and search services firm, we have the frequent opportunity and pleasure to neaten and expand resumes and professional profiles. This helps our clients to better see the experience of a candidate and also helps our candidates land the perfect job. You can find many articles in this blog about tips to write the perfect resume.

This week I had the occasion to help one of my longtime friends write their professional bio. Unlike a resume, cover letter, or profile, a bio should highlight your current company, your immediate related professional background, and also include a bit of your personality in a few short paragraphs. Your alma mater, interests, major projects, and accomplishments should be a couple of sentences and, if applicable, media mentions or notable clients can be included. Incorporate as many numbers as you can and mention if you are involved in any outside activities and member organizations.

All of these points are the “eggs” that need a home outside of your resume. The nest of your professional bio can be used on company websites, requests for proposals, and many other areas. Your nest can only hold a few eggs at a time, so as your career changes and grows, be sure to swap out your accomplishments. It is good to update your bio once a year along with your resume so you aren’t scrambling for it at the last minute.

Below is an example:

 

BEFORE

Harry Miles is the Field Operations Director for Interior Design Company Inc. He has over 25 years of healthcare planning, activation, and patient move planning experience.  He has developed proprietary tools to accurately budget and plan complete facility activations.  Most recently he planned a 300,000 sf in patient facility located in Guam: equipment delivery and installation, activation, training, transition planning, patient move planning and relocation of reuse all completed forty five days. The project was a huge success and finished on time and within budget.  In his career he has planned and executed over 200 projects with an emphasis on patient care and staff safety, budget and schedule.  He has a great deal of experience organizing, training and motivating people toward a common goal.

 

AFTER

Harry Miles, PMP, is the Director Field Operations for Interior Design Company Inc.

Harry attended the University of Notre Dame on a full football scholarship where he played as a linebacker for 4 years while he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Harry brings 20+ years of healthcare operations, logistics and planning experience to his role at Interior Design Company Inc. This boutique Alaskan and Native American Minority Business Enterprise is equally adept at meeting the needs of clients in the contiguous 48 states and all US Territories.

He recently delivered a 300,000 sf inpatient facility project located in Guam on schedule – 45 days from receipt of equipment.  This comprehensive, complex start to finish project included design, equipment procurement, delivery, installation, activation, training, transition planning, patient move planning and relocation.

He has a great deal of experience organizing, training and motivating people toward a common goal.  He has developed proprietary budgeting and scheduling tools that have uniquely allowed him to successfully execute over 200 projects with an emphasis on patient care and staff safety both domestically and internationally.

Harry and his family live in the Washington, DC area. He grew up in South Bend, IN and is an expert in University of Notre Dame sports trivia.  He was a high school State Champion in Tennis, speaks Zulu, the bush language of South Africa, and has a unique passion for large scale implementation and delivery projects.

For more information on Harry and Interior Design Company Inc. services visit his website or email him at Harry’s_email@email.com

———–

If you need help reworking or creating your professional bio, email Lindsay at lindsay@meritogroup.com with your resume and to inquire about pricing.

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The Mating Call – How & Why Business Professionals Should Get Creative with Their CV/Resumes

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 3, 2014 in Job Search

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MatesThe animal kingdom has come up with countless unique ways to hide or flee from predators. But sometimes they want to get noticed! For instance, when your resume looks like every other resume in the herd, it makes it a little hard to stand out to potential employers. Some animals turn to a mating call as a way to attract attention.

If you have been looking for a job with poor results for a longer than the absolute necessary period of time, you may want to get creative with your CV/Resume. Sometimes it isn’t the content of your resume that is causing you to be passed up by potential employers; it could be the layout of the CV/Resume that is hurting you. With high unemployment ratings there are large piles of CV/Resumes on the desks of human resource departments across the country and most of them look the same. By getting a bit creative with your CV/Resume your credentials may get the attention that they deserve.

Like everything in life, moderation is important. You don’t want to be overly creative and be labeled in such a way that you never get a worthy job in your industry, but a little charm and personality could go a long way. Especially, as this article on Randstad Financial & Professional shows, when the economy continues to recover and there are more applicants than open positions in many professions.

  • Make a creative header: the bulk of your CV/Resume should be neat and legible but there is room for creativity in the header of your resume. Try playing with eye appealing fonts, varying sized typeface, and subtle colours in order to grab a reader’s attention and keep them from moving your CV/Resume from one pile to another without a second glance. (Editor’s note: Make sure your creative font won’t be mangled by another word processor when the recruiter opens the resume. PDFs will lock in your creativity, but certain applicant tracking systems may not be able to parse your information correctly if it is not a word document with common fonts.)
  • Separate sections with colours and shading: When separating the sections of your CV/Resume, like your prior experience, skillsets, and education, try creating shaded text boxes to emphasis each separation. This will also keep the reader’s attention and move their eyes further down the page.
  • Create a border: Add a thin, delicate border to your CV/Resume. A sleek border surrounding your resume will help it stand out against the numerous plain, white pages of the other resumes. Make sure to pick something that will catch someone’s eye but not distract from the content of your CV/Resume.
  • Put it online: Some of the best CV/Resumes around are not on a sheet of paper. They’re online. And when you compare them side-by-side with the standard CV/Resume, there is really no comparison. Because they’re online, you can animate them, add video and other interactive elements that can tell your story. Need some inspiration? Check out this lot.
  • Promote it: We live in a socially connected world. You are already sharing funny pictures of cats and interesting articles you find online, so why not share and promote your CV/Resume too? Perhaps it would look out of place on Facebook, but not so on LinkedIn. You could even use Pinterest or Dribbble if your CV/Resume was visually creative.

By adding a little style to your CV/Resume you can get more attention, showcase your personality, or prove to potential employers that you’re not afraid of going above and beyond on a task. It is important to show a bit of restraint when being creative; you don’t want a potential employer to label you immature, unprofessional, or incapable of the job at hand.

No matter how creative you decide to get with your CV/Resume, it is important to remember that the content needs to be well-written, professional, and relevant. Even if you create an outstanding visual resume, if it is written sloppily and in an unprofessional manner, you may still be passed up for the position. Make sure the content of your resume is the priority; all of the creative aspects can be done after you create a well-written copy.

And when you land the interview, don’t forget to finish your “mating ritual” on a strong note! The Mating Ritual – Job Dating (Simple Rules For Interviewers and Interviewees). Even if you don’t make the cut, you can still bounce back.

This guest post was contributed by Victoria. If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

 

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The Squirrel – Bargain Hunting in the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 21, 2012 in Career Path, Executive Coaching

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Squirrel2As the holiday shopping rush starts, it has dawned on many that the New Year is now just a few short weeks away. It’s that time of the year to grab a moment and simply take stock of what you’ve done well this year, what you want to improve upon for next year, and set goals. Most importantly, it’s resume update time!

Many people don’t take the time to update their resumes annually which creates a monumental chore when you suddenly need it (job change, promotion, bio, etc.). As we all rush through the malls and stores on Black Friday trying to get in the bulk of our Holiday shopping, think about another way you will be able to save during this season. Instead of wracking your memory for accomplishments from the previous 5 or ten years and taking days or weeks to pull your polished resume together when it is needed, make updating your resume a part of your holiday list. It is so much easier to keep things in perspective and keep track of what you have contributed year over year if you have an annually designated time to update. This year’s accomplishments might not be as significant as next year’s but it can become more difficult to remember details of projects as your work evolves. Making note of these things every year will save you time and worry. Time is money, so save yourself both by being prepared.

Just as squirrels collect and store nuts so they’ll have food to last through winter, you can stockpile your accomplishments in your resume every winter. TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME is a convenient source for you to download from Amazon.com with real life examples of how to organize your resume in order to find the PERFECT JOB.  A good job description with your specific accomplishments listed under each role showing what you have made, saved or achieved will give future readers of your document a great picture of not only what you have done but what you can do for them if they hired you.  Use numbers, specifics, percentages, etc. to quantify your contributions. Definitely note any special awards or accolades you may have received.

Try answering these questions:

  • What change occurred in my company this year and how was I involved in that?
  • How has my department and/or role evolved this year?
  • What were the major projects I worked on and how did they affect the division/ company’s performance?

Year end is also time to make sure you have completed your necessary CPE (continuing professional education). If you have earned licenses, keep your continuing education current so you aren’t scrambling to find classes that will meet your needs at the last minute.

The squirrels who have gathered the most nuts will be prepared for any kind of winter, so follow their example and you won’t have to go nuts to catch up!

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The Stars – Helpful Apps For Your Job Search

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 24, 2012 in Job Search

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With the economy the way it is at present, job searching is getting tougher all the time. As jobs are fewer, competition becomes stronger and you need all the help and advice you can get. Well, there are ways of job searching without having to leave your own home and at times to suit you. One way of doing so is by using apps. Climb the highest tree for the best reception and settle down to view these app stars to help you navigate to a great career.

  • Job Compass: This app can tell you what jobs are available within a specific radius and is an ideal way of keeping tabs on any jobs that happen to become available close to where you want to look. This app is perfect if you live in a remote area where jobs aren’t exactly flowing or you aren’t able to commute very far. Another great thing about this app is you can use it when on vacation or traveling; perhaps you like a certain place you visited and like the idea of settling down and getting a job there? A quick check of this app will give you a better idea as to whether it’s viable or not!
  • LinkedIn: Now having well over 175 million users, having this great networking tool at your fingertips is a great way to meet people in your field or at the companies where you want to be. Already have a job? Then this app is great for staying ahead when more suitable positions become available in your industry. By connecting with people within your preferred profession, you have a better chance of finding the job to suit you. You can put your entire resume up there and people can read it at leisure and contact you should something come up.
  • Resume Tips: This app does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s essentially a guide to completing your resume professionally to the best standard so that it stands out from the crowd when you apply for positions. It gives advice on formatting your resume, as well as targeting it towards individual jobs that you are applying for. Thinking of posting your resume on a job site or sending it to a possible employer? Then this app will help get it looking great before going any further. (editor’s note: For more resume tips, check out Ten Easy Steps to A Perfect Resume.)
  • Monster Job Search: This already famous online job hunting site now has an app for both iOS and Android. You can do everything from save your resume on the site to look for jobs around where you live and within a certain radius of where you live. You can be notified as soon as a position comes available and there is a function that helps you edit cover letters.

 

As the twinkling stars helped to guide many on the right path, these glowing apps are all great additions to your job search. Utilizing these apps may give you a far greater chance of finding the right job, before someone else snaps it up.

This guest post was contributed by Kerry Butters. Kerry contributes this article on behalf of Broadband Genie.

For more job search tips, check out Ten Steps to Finding the Perfect Job.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Trees – Differentiation In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 23, 2012 in Job Search

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What sets one tree apart from another?  In the jungle, these woody plants are a mass of trunks and foliage. They grow at a pace and the larger tress can live hundreds or even thousands of years. What makes each tree unique?

Trees have different origins, sizes, and can serve different functions.  Some trees are edible and grow components that serve as food to the animals in the jungle. Some grow higher than others providing the upper canopy to the ones below that need shelter to survive. Others shed their foliage and provide ground cover allowing other seeds to take root and grow.

As job seekers, consider yourselves as trees in the jungle.  Very similar to each other in the broad sense, but very different in your unique features. No two trees are the same, but how can you set yourself apart and illustrate to potential employers what skills and experience you bring to the table to perform the necessary functions of the jobs you are interviewing for?

Accomplishments.

Recruiters see hundreds of resumes each week where job seekers have painstakingly detailed their duties to the nth degree, but the content is devoid of accomplishments.  The resume ends up detailing the job duties alone, which is something anyone in that position should be able to perform competently and will not set you apart from any other individual who has held the same position. A job description or a description of your day to day activities will not allow potential employers to envision how you will excel in your future company. That is where your accomplishments come in. Accomplishments are what you have made, saved, or achieved in your previous roles that ultimately benefitted the department or company.

Accomplishments are only significant to the environment/situation where they occurred and are thus unique to you.  Make use of bullet points within your experience to set your accomplishments apart from your duties. Use numbers to create objectivity: percentages, dollar amounts or other relative units of measure to show the breadth of impact the accomplishment had on the organization where it occurred.

You are as unique as any tree in the jungle, but you have to showcase your own special features through detailing your accomplishments within your resume.

For more resume tips, pick up a copy of Ten Easy Steps to A Perfect Resume.

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The Hunters – 5 Resume Killers to Avoid

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Mar 28, 2012 in Job Search

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Resumes are your first impression when applying for a job and first impressions mean everything. In order to land that interview, be careful with what you produce for your resume. Here are 5 common resume killers that are stalking you even now.

Generic wording: Your resume is your chance to speak and tell your possible future employer about your background and your capabilities before actually having the opportunity to meet with them. Therefore, it is very important that your words are clear and precise. Job descriptions and duties, objectives and hobbies should stand out, do not use generic wording, and use memorable words. Example of a bad objective: ‘My objective is to find a career and a company that I can grow with and excel in.’ the reason why this is bad because it says nothing about yourself and what you actually want. This objective statement is generic and boring. Think outside of the box and off the beaten path to evade this predator.

Job History: There are three things that can turn away an employer faster than you think: Lack of job experience, gaps between employment, and too much short term employment. If you have any of these things be prepared to explain, that is if the employer even considers your resume. These three no no’s are warning flags for employers. They will worry about your commitment to their company if they see lots of short term jobs. Avoid these three things before they spring their trap.

Misspellings, Grammar and Punctuation: It is very important that you review your resume several times. Once you have completed your resume, look it over and then pass it on to others to help you. Having an extra pair of eyes review your resume can help catch any errors. There are also very inexpensive resume services online where professionals can look over your resume and help you. (Editor’s note: There are also free resume workshops available through libraries, churches, community centers, and even some recruiting companies may do them from time to time. Attend as many as possible to receive feedback.) Clever tricks this jungle hunter uses can include words that are spelled correctly but are misused, typos in names, and inconsistencies in your style.

Contact Information: Believe it or not this is a very big problem in resume writing. Many people do two things, have inappropriate email addresses or forget to update their contact information with the correct phone number. To dodge this killer, first things first, we are in an age now where it is not necessary to put your address on your resume, (Editor’s note: an address may help you advertise that you are local to a certain area and tells recruiters to consider you for local positions.) a phone number and email address will work just fine. Secondly, make sure your email address is professional, candybabe713@email.com is not okay. If you have a common name and have trouble finding a handle that has not been used, try different variations of your name. Last, call the number you have printed on your resume, just to double check. You will kick yourself later if you found out you switched a number and missed a call from an employer.

Visually Unpleasing: You have the right idea when you want to stand out, but there is such a thing as doing too much and this hunter likes the super flashy. Avoid graphics, designs and colors. Keep it simple and professional. Also be careful with your line spacing and margins. Use bold and underline with dividing the sections of your resume up. You want it to be easy to read and not a burden to dive into. (Editor’s note: Also make sure your resume is not a pdf. These will show up as blank when parsed by several kinds of software that help companies gather resumes from popular job search sites.)

Now you know the things you should avoid during your resume writing. Don’t forget to have an extra pair of eyes review before you start sending it out and you should be safe. Resume write in groups to catch those hunters! Good luck in your job hunt!

This guest post is contributed by Kate Croston. Kate is a freelance writer and holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing  internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to:  katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.

If you need help with your resume, grab a copy of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME from Amazon. It will really make the process a lot easier for you.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Fire Aftermath – Emerging From the Ashes of Getting Fired

Posted by admin on Feb 14, 2011 in Interviewing Skills, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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Wildfires are unexpected and devastating to the forest but recovery is never impossible. Twice in the past week two people I know very well were fired from their jobs. In both cases, they were told it was for cause and due to performance, or lack thereof. However, neither person was on a “work plan” or hadn’t been given any sort of formal warning. Both are now left nursing unexpectedly shattered egos and holding a bag of bills to be paid.

For them, and for the other readers out there who were recently fired, I thought I would jot a few pointers on how to take some of the burn out of getting fired:

1 ) Give yourself a day to grieve. Let’s face it, this is a shock and you’re mad about it. It’s not fair and you were treated poorly. Once your day of grieving is over, it’s over, and you are moving forward. You and only you can take charge of your destiny. It’s easy to get sucked into negativity so make a conscious effort to not wallow in your misery. Focusing on what you liked about your work and what you are looking for in your new job is a great way to overlook the negative aspects of what just happened.

2 ) Ask yourself what you could have done differently. You have all heard me say this a million times, but the root of all conflict is unmet expectations. What expectation of your former employer were you not meeting? And be honest! There are two sides to every story and if you were fired for cause there is something you did (or didn’t do) that didn’t meet their expectations. Figure out what you could have done differently so that you don’t make the same mistake twice. But don’t beat yourself up about it. Just recognize that might be an area of personal growth and work on it so the same situation doesn’t happen again.

3 ) Get your resume together and show that you are available for work immediately. As unemployment continues to drop, contract and temporary opportunities are on the rise so make sure people know you can start a project or full time job right away. If you need help with your resume, grab a copy of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME from Amazon. It will really make the process a lot easier for you.

4 ) Find someone to be a reference for you from your previous job. A lot of people get fired and find out it was a blessing in disguise since they end up moving on to much better positions. The best reference is always a former supervisor and when you’re asked to leave, a former supervisor who has also left is a great person to use as a reference. You can also reach out selectively to people with whom you had good working relationships and ask if they are willing to serve as a personal reference. Many companies have a firm “no reference” policy if you can’t identify an ally who is willing to verify your talents, skills, and employment in your list of former co-workers. How about a vendor you worked with or supplier that you serviced?

5 ) Post your resume on line and make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with a status update stating you are looking for work. When you are working with recruiters, it’s important that you don’t displace your personal pressure onto them to perform miracles for you. Maintaining a positive story with as little drama mixed in will make your recruiters work harder for you in the long run. They don’t want to hear another sob story so focus on your strengths and what you want to do so they can really help you out.

6 ) Make a list of companies that you are interested in working for that hire people with your skill sets. A little Googling goes a long way here. Search skill sets, certifications, and industry experience in addition to job titles. This will open up a whole new list of companies you wouldn’t have discovered if you only search for job titles. This and other tips are discussed in TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB.

7 ) Start networking. Go through the companies on your list. Know your two sentence description of who you are and what you are looking for so you can let anyone who will listen or read know what your abilities are. 80% of jobs are obtained through networking so get out of your comfort zone and meet people. LinkedIn is an amazing tool that you can reach out to people through. Ask politely for selected professional referrals. Don’t connect with people you are about to interview with or have just interviewed with – that can be uncomfortable for them. Still look them up and see what you might have in common with them so you can discuss it when you meet.

8 ) Prepare for your interview by practicing your answer to why you left your last job first. No one wants to come out and say, “I was fired.” How about, “Unfortunately, my role had evolved and my former employers’ needs changed from when I started so my skill sets were no longer a match. I was sad to leave but I’m glad that it opened a door for me to be able to meet with you today about new opportunities.” It’s imperative that you turn the negative situation into a positive step into the future. It’s ok to admit you have things you are working on to improve and the self realization in and of itself is a step in the right direction.

9 ) Set a schedule to keep yourself busy. Don’t change your routine drastically because you lost your job. Just replace those hours you would have been working with your job search. Keep up your gym schedule, kids schedule, etc. as much as your finances will allow. Use every opportunity you can to network with people asking professionally for referrals.

Listen, many of us have been in this position, so know that you’re not alone. Apply for unemployment and create an executable job search strategy. I know you feel you’ve been treated unfairly but think twice (or three times…) before considering legal action against your former employer. Most states are at will and the only person who gains from suing your old employer is your attorney. Unless you have the financial ability to front 50K in legal fees, just move on because the employee rarely wins.

And one last thing…what goes around comes around. The people that let you go will likely get let go themselves someday and probably be unemployed a lot longer than you now that you’ve laid the groundwork for your success!

Check out these links for more useful tips:

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/salary/a/fired.htm
http://www.wikihow.com/Get-a-Job-After-You’ve-Been-Fired

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