How to Stay Prepared in Case of a Recession

How to Stay Prepared in Case of a Recession

When the Great Recession hit, we spent a lot of time helping job seekers secure their futures during uncertain times. We saw first-hand how workers and families in the Twin Cities were hit hard by the sudden loss of jobs and the need to find new work quickly.

Fortunately, the last few years have seen a good economy, especially in Minnesota. Still, it’s important to remember the lessons we learned last time. Here are some of the things that you can do now to stay prepared in case of another recession.

Grow your savings

The first thing you want to have in place in case of a sudden layoff is a strong emergency fund. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of unemployment is 9.3 weeks.

Financial experts suggest having three to six months’ worth of income in your savings. This should help you cover your mortgage/rent, food, utilities, and debt while you search for a new job. The money needs to be liquid, or easily accessible in a bank and not tied up in an investment like a house.

Be prepared for a job search

Most people use the saying “brush up your resume” when they hear about coming layoffs. But it’s a good practice to always keep your resume up to date.

Have a place where you’re tracking important work achievements so that you’re ready to add them to your resume when the time comes. Add new responsibilities or update your job title on LinkedIn as they happen. The last thing you want to do after a layoff is to try to remember what you were doing two years ago.

Keep your friends close

Networking is an important way to find new job opportunities and to receive recommendations. However, working on your network isn’t an activity that’s done only when you need a job. You’ll need to create genuine connections while you’re employed too.

Set a reminder to regularly connect with people in your network. Add coworkers, former coworkers, and classmates on LinkedIn. Send emails to people you haven’t heard from in a while to ask how they’re doing.

Develop new skills

Is there a skill that would make you a stronger candidate if you had to re-enter the job market? Perhaps you would have more opportunities if you had another certification or were fluent in another language.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, start working on that skill now while you have the support and income of your current job. You may even be able to get your current employer to help cover any costs.

Research staffing agencies

During the stress of a layoff, don’t get frazzled by trying to find new job opportunities and sending out applications to individual employers. Remove some of that stress by having a staffing agency on hand that you can turn to for help.

If you find yourself facing an unexpected job hunt, Award Staffing is here to help. Call us or visit one of our Twin Cities locations to learn more about how we can help you find your future.

3 Ways Job Seekers Can Create Their Own Luck

3 Ways Job Seekers Can Create Their Own Luck

We hear from a lot of job seekers that it seems as though dream jobs just fall into other people’s laps. A recruiter reaches out at the right time for an amazing opportunity, or someone’s uncle has connections at an awesome company. Some of our job seekers feel like it was simple luck that helped them find their previous job as well.

Here’s what we’ve learned helping thousands of “lucky” people find their future: it wasn’t just luck. In order to accept a killer new job opportunity, you need to be prepared first. Hard work won’t bring you a well-connected uncle or magically open a role, but you can make sure you’re in the best position possible for the next opportunity.

Here are three ways that you can generate some luck for your job search.

Put yourself in the right place at the right time

This isn’t about being in the right place physically, but the right place mentally and emotionally. If you have a vision of what you want your next job to be, you need to get yourself to a place where you will be an ideal candidate. Take an online class or volunteer after work to build skills you may be lacking. Tackle anything in your personal life that may make it difficult to relocate or start new hours. Once you’ve put yourself in a better position to accept a new job, the perfect opportunity will arrive seemingly out of nowhere.

While you’re creating your own luck, you also need to demonstrate that you’re ready for new opportunities. Sharing your information with a staffing agency can make it even easier for “luck” to find you.

Find the magic words

Standing outside of your dream employer’s building yelling, “Open sesame!” definitely won’t get you a job. Instead, you need to find the words that will help you get past the tougher barrier: the hiring manager. Read the job posting closely and use words from the posting in your resume and cover letter to demonstrate how you’re a good fit for the job. Look at the language the company uses on their website. Present yourself in a way that makes it easy for the recruiter or hiring manager to see how you’re a good fit.

The other magic words you need to use are the ones your mother taught you: ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Good old-fashioned manners are becoming a lost art. Whomever you speak to during the process will appreciate a kind, polite candidate.

Create your own good luck charm or magical ritual

Rituals are important for helping you feel comfortable before a job interview. On interview day, perform your usual morning routine, allowing plenty of time to eat and prepare for the day. If you have a lucky tie or a lucky bracelet, be sure to wear it to help you feel more confident. Develop a mantra to help you through the job-seeking process, such as, “I’m ready to share my value.” Repeat it to yourself whenever you feel nervous.

Award Staffing is eager to help you find your luck and more importantly, your future. Call us or visit one of our branches today.

Why a Job in the Skilled Trades May Be Right for You

Why a Job in the Skilled Trades May Be Right for You

One thing we hear a lot from the companies we work with is that they need skilled laborers to fill their open jobs. We love helping skilled laborers find their future at these companies, but we also love encouraging our job seekers to develop their own skills to meet demand.

Perhaps no one ever asked you whether you’d be interested in going to school to learn a trade. Maybe no one in your family worked in a trade. Or maybe you feel you don’t fit the image of a typical tradesman – or tradeswoman.

Whatever the case, it’s always a good time to learn a skilled trade. Whether you’re deciding what to do once school is over or you’re looking to make a career change, these reasons might convince you to consider a job in the skilled trades.

Skilled labor is in demand

Minnesota is currently experiencing a skilled labor shortage. Companies are eager to pay for the specialized knowledge that comes with learning a trade. If you complete an apprenticeship and/or a trade program, you’ll be in a good spot to receive one of these great jobs. Being in high demand will put you in control of working where you want.

Skilled laborers receive good benefits

Because skilled workers are in such high demand, you are more likely to receive a competitive salary and benefits. The longer you work, the more valuable you’ll be to your company. In the Twin Cities, an entry-level construction worker can earn at least $16 an hour, while an experienced electrician could earn $38 an hour.

You can get paid to learn

Unlike a four-year college program, you can actually get paid while you learn a trade. If you’re in an apprenticeship, your employer will pay you for the time you spend working. Most of your education will be on-the-job training, with some time spent in the classroom. Because your employer is investing in your education, they’ll likely have a job waiting for you once you complete the program.

Technology is creating exciting new opportunities

Technology and automation sound scary, but they aren’t threats to your job. Instead, technology is changing the way that skilled workers perform their jobs. Skilled workers apply their knowledge to help operate and manage equipment and systems. Technology and robotics are also making the workplace safer. While strength was once a requirement for performing most labor tasks, many workers can apply for skilled trade jobs and not have to worry about heavy lifting.

Skilled laborers love their jobs

Skilled laborers often report high job satisfaction. Two out of every three workers report loving their jobs. In addition to great benefits and job stability, skilled laborers regularly experience new opportunities. While the work can be challenging physically and mentally, tradespeople report that they enjoy the challenge. They also appreciate working as a team to solve a problem.

Are you looking for skilled industrial jobs in Minneapolis? Award Staffing is here to help you find your future. Browse our current job opportunities.

5 Books to Prepare You for Your Job Search

5 Books to Prepare You for Your Job Search

At Award Staffing, we’re always reading up on the latest information to help our job seekers perform their best. We’re thrilled when job seekers ask us for resources that they can use to help them in their job search.

Below is a list of some of our favorite books that we’re currently reading – plus some a few books we’ve been recommending for years.

1. “What Color is Your Parachute? 2019: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers” by Richard N. Bolles

Every career center and list of books for job seekers includes this classic work. Author Richard N. Bolles helps you determine what color your parachute is – or rather what type of person you are – and which types of careers and work environments would be best for you. Whether you’re a new graduate or are making a mid-career change, this book contains practical tips to help you determine and then get your dream job.

2. “Knock ‘em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide” by Martin Yate, CPC

Martin Yate’s Knock ‘em Dead series has helped millions of people find new jobs. For more than 30 years the advice in this book has helped readers develop their resumes, network and crush it at job interviews. The latest edition, updated in 2017, includes new ways to help with your job search, such as using social media.

3. “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy

If you’ve wanted to know how to improve your body language during an interview, you may have seen Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about “power poses.” Cuddy talks about how sitting or standing a certain way can help you to both have more confidence and to appear more confident. In her book “Presence,” she talks more about how you can approach challenges like a job interview with excitement instead of anxiety.

4. “Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service” by The Disney Institute

The Disney brand is known for going above and beyond to give their customers a magical experience. The Disney Institute has put the knowledge from their business training programs into this book to help others learn more about providing excellent service. If you’re looking for a career in hospitality or customer service, Disney is an excellent model for how to treat every interaction.

5. “Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

One of the best ways to grow your career is through your network. The most successful people know how to build relationships that they can use to get ahead in business and in life. The book includes tips on how to connect with people both in-person and online to help you grow your network.

If you’re looking to boost your knowledge about your industry, the job search process or even yourself, consider buying or checking out one of these books from the local library.

Want more reading suggestions? We’re happy to share! Give us a call or visit us at one of our Award Staffing locations in the Twin Cities.

How to Answer Questions About Your Salary History

How to Answer Questions About Your Salary History

When interviewing for jobs, employers want to know a lot about you. We’ve heard employers ask all kinds of questions, ranging from standard things related to the job to more creative questions like, “If you had a theme song, what would it be?” But there’s one question that always throws candidates for a loop: “What was your previous salary?”

In some cities and states, this question is illegal. Many places are adopting laws to ban employers from asking about salary on applications and during interviews. The argument is that this helps employees earn fairer wages; if they were underpaid in their last job, they may be underpaid in this job.

Minnesota has a history of progressive laws that tend to benefit workers; however, it is still legal for employers to ask about your salary history. The next time you hear this question, here are a few responses you can have lined up.

“I’m glad you mentioned salary. I’d love to talk about the expectations for this role.”

Redirect the conversation away from your salary history towards your expectations for this job. Be prepared to mention your education, experience, training and any certifications. Do some research ahead of time to see what others in similar roles earn.

“This is my first role, but I’m eager to share what I bring to this position.”

If you’re fresh out of school or don’t have much salary history to provide, be honest. Use your (lack of) experience to redirect the conversation to what you can offer and how you’ll use the skills you have in this position.

“My salary range is between $40,000 and $50,000.”

If you don’t feel comfortable saying a number but want to answer the question, provide a range of what you’d expect for this position. This is particularly helpful when the question is on a job application in a required field. Providing a range helps the interviewer better understand your expectations without limiting your options.

“My salary history is personal and confidential. I’m happy to discuss how I’m qualified for this job.”

If the interviewer insists that you provide a direct response, you can say no. However, you may want to reconsider if you truly want to work somewhere so pushy. Ultimately, you want to make it clear that what’s more important is your value to the company, and not what your prior employer once paid you. Your previous salary may have been based on an entirely different role, a different cost of living or a different industry and should not impact your new salary.

Job applications and interviews are stressful enough without worrying about how you might be limiting your own opportunities with this question. Employers are learning that this question is not best practices and may soon be illegal. Still, it’s best to be prepared for any question so that you can nail your interview.

Ready to take this advice to the real world? Award Staffing has you covered. Check out our latest job opportunities.

Bad Advice Job Seekers Should Stop Taking

Bad Advice Job Seekers Should Stop Taking

When you’re looking for employment, everyone close to you will weigh in on the best way to do it. Our job seekers have told us all kinds of advice they’ve heard from well-meaning people about networking, resumes, interviews and more. Your friends, family, and colleagues are all trying to help, but there are certainly some recommendations that you are better off avoiding.

Here are some of the advice we wish our job seekers would stop taking – and what we’ve found works instead.

“Networking is ineffective and fake – avoid it.”

Networking is a difficult and uncomfortable process for many people. It can be awkward talking about yourself, especially when you are trying to market your skills and your experience. Some people dismiss this as being “fake.” However, this could not be further from the truth. You are presenting yourself as a potential asset to a company or a future colleague. When you sit down at a networking meeting, flexible icebreakers such as, “I’d love to hear about your professional journey, would you mind taking me through it?” can ease the pressure and open the conversation.

“Add buzzwords/more skills/more info on your resume.”

Your resume will catch a recruiter’s eye and give them a broad picture of your background, skills and experience. However, it’s just a small bit of the process. Endlessly tinkering with your resume can leave you feeling disconnected from the process. Your job search should encompass more than staring at your resume and looking for holes. Strategizing, reading job postings, networking, keeping up on trade news and keeping tabs on LinkedIn are just a few of the other tasks to which you should be devoting time.

“End your cover letter with follow-up time.”

A lack of feedback on applications can be frustrating. However, ending a cover letter with, “I will call you next week,” is not the way to break out of this rut. Rather than showing initiative and spark, it can make hiring managers think that you are entitled and inconsiderate of their process. Recruiters are professionals, and they know who is and is not a good fit for roles. Badgering them with unwarranted follow-ups is not the right way to get on their radar.

“Stick to your training/education.”

This is one of the most destructive pieces of advice that acquaintances can give. Just because you studied HVAC doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go for that customer support position. Your career is just that: yours. What you were originally interested in is not a blueprint for the rest of your career. Your skills and interests will evolve, and you should always feel empowered to pursue a route that is right for you at that time.

Avoiding bad advice is a key part of any job search. When you trust yourself, you will be far more likely to wind up in a career path that is agreeable and fulfilling.

Looking for some helpful career advice? We can help you at Award Staffing! Visit one of our upcoming hiring events so that you can find your future.

5 Benefits to Look for in a Job (Besides Salary)

5 Benefits to Look for in a Job (Besides Salary)

Every job has its benefits and its problems. Some are long on pay and hours, while others are short on both. When looking for a job, money shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. We have many clients who can offer solid pay, but where they really shine is in their benefits. Striking a balance between salary and benefits can make all the difference in finding the right job for you.

Scheduling flexibility

Nowadays, many jobs can be performed remotely. Workers in some industries like customer service are finding that working from home for a few days a week or full-time increases their job satisfaction. This benefits employers, who have happier and more productive workers. Be sure to ask at the interview about how adaptable your hours and schedule can be.

Tuition reimbursement

Many employers are finding that if they want to keep an experienced workforce in the long-term, this can mean helping them further their education. Tuition reimbursement for professional development, higher education or trade schools is one way that they are recruiting top talent. This benefits everyone: workers are improving their skills and their long-term prospects while companies are keeping employees happy and more likely to stay.

Commuting and/or housing support

In areas where housing is spread out and inconvenient for workers, some companies are able to offer assistance with commuting or housing. This might come in the form of additional compensation to account for a higher cost of living, or it might be as easy as giving you the option to buy your public transit pass with pre-tax pay. If a prospective job would inconvenience you from a commuting standpoint, it’s worth asking if similar assistance is available.

Additional vacation time

If you’re finding that the proposed pay for a job is not quite what you were hoping for, there is a hidden benefit that many people don’t consider: more vacation days. By proposing additional days off, you are creating a better work-life balance for yourself without costing the company more on the balance sheet. With many organizations putting a premium on employee satisfaction, this can be a great way to negotiate for a job that fulfills all of your needs.

Daycare reimbursement

Childcare is a massive cost for families, and it can instantly take a large bite out of any budget. Some of the largest organizations have created their own daycare centers to respond to this, but smaller companies might have arrangements with local providers for reduced costs. If you have children or are planning to start a family, it is worth asking about assistance with this large expense.

Many people get caught up in the dollars and cents of a job offer, but there are other ways to make a job rewarding for you. Remember to ask about all possible benefits when negotiating any job offer.

Are you looking for a new opportunity with better benefits? Browse our job opportunities at Award Staffing to find your future.

Getting Back into Job Hunting When It's Been A While

Getting Back into Job Hunting When It’s Been A While

Job and career changes can happen for any number of reasons. Whether it be a geographic move, a change in interests or turnover in leadership at your current position, people change roles and career paths all the time. However, if you leave a job that you’ve been in for a number of years it can be overwhelming to find yourself back on the job market.

We’ve helped plenty of workers make job and career changes successfully. Here are some of the ways we advise our job seekers to find their next dream job.

Start strategizing

Job hunting needs to be an organized task that gives you a clear path to success. One way to start is by forming a list of your ideal employers. This helps you prioritize your interests and your search. Speaking to anyone you know at these places is more effective than sending applications online. You will be more likely to get your resume in front of the right person via a networking connection than an online application, so be strategic about where you look and who you know.

Mine your network and use technology

Now is not the time to be embarrassed about getting back in touch with old colleagues, friends, and family. You need to reestablish connections and reactivate your network. Job seekers are often pleasantly surprised at the willingness of others, even people they haven’t spoken to in a while, to help someone meet the right person or apply to the right position.

You especially want to make contacts at your desired employers to learn more about organizational culture, job responsibilities and other folks you should be meeting. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, you should start one immediately. Networking in this era is done in large part on social media and it can be a powerful tool when used properly.

Informational interviews benefit all

Informational interviews seem daunting but are well worth your while. A lot of these can be done via cold calls, which many people find intimidating. If you can overcome this reluctance to connect with someone at a desirable company, you will almost certainly be pleased with the results.

Use the opportunity to ask questions about the company’s culture, challenges, expectations, and other traits. Most importantly, you must resist the temptation to sell yourself at these meetings. You are there to learn about the company and if you oversell yourself it can be off-putting to your contact. Your contact is also there to learn, and they will quickly think of any roles that could be a fit for you if your skills are applicable. There is no need to be too upfront about describing your value.

People who have been off the market for some time can have a hard time getting back into “job hunting mode,” but this doesn’t need to be the case. If you are strategic and willing to put yourself out there, you can quickly land your next dream job.

Let Award Staffing help you with this transition time in your life. Browse our job opportunities today so that you can find your future.

The Skills Section of Your Resume

Most resumes follow the same basic formula. In some order, you list your education, your professional experiences and your contact information. You probably tweak it for the different types of jobs that you’re applying to, but the overall structure stays the same.

One section that we advise all job seekers to include on their resume is a skills section. Many job seekers already have this on their resume, but if you don’t, you should add one immediately. A lot of people think that since they don’t have easily summarized skills like a professional certification, then they don’t have skills worth mentioning. This is not true – there is an infinite number of skills that candidates can present to make themselves more attractive to hiring managers. We know how talented our job seekers are, and we want you to show employers just how awesome you are!

Types of skills

There are two types of skills that can be useful on your resume – hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills tend to be the most obvious examples. These are the actual skills that are required for performing a job. For example, hard skills for construction workers might include knowledge of zoning laws, trade licenses or computer skills. These are skills that are necessary to perform a given job.

Soft skills are personality traits that help determine your professional approach. Knowing your soft skills helps hiring managers to figure out what type of roles is best for you. These skills can include how you communicate, whether you work best independently or in groups, how creatively you solve a problem or that you’re a superior time manager. You may not think of them as skills, but these traits are vital to performing a job well.

What are your skills?

Job seekers should spend time thinking of the hard and soft skills that they bring to the table, as both types should be on a resume. It may also prove helpful to talk to friends, colleagues, and family about what they think of your skills. Are you a creative problem-solver, but don’t think of yourself that way? A close friend would be able to help you realize what makes you unique and attractive to hiring managers.

What should the skills section on my resume look like?

Attractive formatting of a resume is important to keep in mind. Hiring managers want clarity, readability and thorough information. For example, you may want to select an even number of skills and display them in two symmetrical columns of equal length.

Additionally, be selective with the skills you choose to list. A long list will make a recruiter’s eyes glaze over and will make your actual strengths stand out less. Aim to list 10 to 12 skills. This will show enough experience to make you a desirable candidate.

The job market is always competitive. You need to find ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Adding skills to your resume is a great way to do so. You can convey to hiring managers how you are more than meets the eye, and that you are the right fit for their job opening.

Are you looking for the perfect job of applying your skills? Browse our job opportunities to discover the best way to use your skills.

Dressing for a Job Interview in Minnesota Winter

For Minnesota employers, first impressions are critical for landing the job. While your clothes shouldn’t be the most important thing, we always advise job seekers to look their best. Whether you’re heading to an interview or attending one of our hiring events, you want to dress to impress.

Minnesota winters can make it hard to feel like your most professional self. Between your giant coat, your Vikings stocking cap, and your salt-covered boots, it can be hard to dress practically and professionally in below-freezing temps. Here are our tundra-tested tips for looking professional while staying warm.

Choose a sharp coat

While we all want to be judged by our resumes, it’s a reality that the first thing your employer will notice is what you wore to the interview. You’re likely familiar with the awkward dance of removing your coat and getting settled before sitting with your interviewer, so your coat will be a focal point. If you can, invest in a professional and classic jacket like a wool peacoat. If a puffer jacket is more your style, choose a neutral color. Even though you know you’ll remove it immediately, always wear a coat in good condition with no holes, stains or tears.

Invest in professional winter shoes, or bring back-ups

We advise interviewees to either wear professional boots or arrive a bit early and change into dress shoes. If you frequently attend professional events or have occasion to dress up, investing in a classic, sturdy winter boot will keep you safe and looking smart. Another option is to bring your dress shoes in a bag – a briefcase or bookbag, not your gym bag – and change before you enter the office. Don’t carry your stinky boots into your interview!

Wear layers to keep cool

We know all too well that interviews can be sweat-inducing events. It may be freezing outside, but the heat in your interview room is blasting and your nerves are cranking up your body temperature. If this sounds familiar, wear a blazer or cardigan that you can remove if you get warm. Have an interview-appropriate shirt or blouse underneath so you aren’t comfortable. If you’re worried about overheating, don’t wear your thickest wool sweater and socks. You’ll give your best interview if you’re comfortable.

Arrive fashionably early

It’s always important to arrive early for an interview, but if you’re worried about the weather wreaking havoc on your professional outfit, add 10 more minutes. Head to a coffee shop or the building’s bathroom so you can warm up, remove the snow from your hair or reapply makeup if needed. Taking a minute to check your appearance in the mirror can give you the confidence boost you need to crush your interview, instead of worrying whether you look like the Abominable Snowman.

Winters aren’t the best part about living in the Twin Cities, but we know how to survive them. Don’t let a little snow ruin your next big opportunity.

Speaking of job interviews, have you checked out our job opportunities lately? We have plenty of openings where you can apply these tips for winter job interviews.