Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Free Job Search Makeover Ideas

Here is an interesting article. Follow the link for the original article that suggests the following three makeovers.


No surprise, attitude is everything. Are you depressed, burnt out, angry? Any negative attitude will sink your efforts.


Your resume is your key to getting the interview. Any flaws will slam the door shut and stop you before you can get started.


Networking is key, but it has to be effective, it has to develop leads and contacts with hiring managers.

So make your jobsearch over for the new year. Read the whole article here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter 2009 Schedule Available

The new Employment Connections Workshop schedule is available.

Click on the hyperlink "Employment Connection Quarterly Calendar"

For Winter 2009 click here.

For the full information on navigating Employment Connections Online click here.


Everybody needs a resume. This is a very important document in your jobsearch.

"The purpose of the resume is to get an interview."

Sounds simple, but remember this. These days resumes are expected to look professional and should be tailored to the job opportunity. Your resume will be your first impression, and that means it is very important. When the hiring manager reads it what will it say to him? I need a job, any job or you need me because I meet all your needs? Big difference between generic and tailored resume results.

There are two main ways you can do your resume, in resume specific software or in a word processor. The downtown office has Winway software installed in the Resource Center for your use once you've registered at any county Employment Connections office. I'm not sure if any other offices have it installed, let me know. The downtown office also offers a hands on course to help you use this software.

The advantage of Resume Software is that it is focused on this task, it gives you hints and it allows you to make major theme changes easily. This software's strength is in its resume features, it is not a very good word processor. Keep that in mind, if you use it, take advantage of the resume hints and samples. When you are done, you will likely want to export it. Export it to Rich Text (.rtf), open it in word and then save as to .doc (Word 97-2003) format.

When you edit in MS Word, be sure to use the appropriate features. There are long term benefits to having an intermediate level of word. I have heard that the intermediate course expects a minimum wpm typing. This is making the assumption that you are using it as an office assistant, these skills have wide spread applicability, push to take the course even if you don't intend to be a typist because it will help you build more efficient documents.

Specifically, don't use spaces and tabs to position things, use paragraph and font styles. You can control the indent, hanging indent, space before and after the paragraph. Use enter to make a new paragraph and shift enter to make a new line in the same paragraph. Click the P to show the hidden tab, space, new line, and paragraph marks so that your content is formatted consistently. Use widow control (keep lines together, keep with next) rather than arbitrary enter keys.

Why go through this much trouble? Because your best bet is to tailor your resume to each opportunity by taking a superset resume, deleting extraneous info and arranging the skills to meet the opportunity. And that means lots of updating. The more effecient the document structure, the less time it will take to tailor it.

There's another reason, you might be sending this word file to the employer. They won't need to ask you about your computer skills, by displaying the hidden formatting and looking at style use you will have told them plenty about your computer skills. This is another reason to send a PDF version, see more here.

The moral of the story:
"Use the features of the best tool to accomplish your goals."

Status: First Draft

Ohio Means Jobs

OMJ Under the Covers

Our local unemployment office (Employment Connections) uses a site called Ohio Means Jobs (OMJ). This post will dig into it a little. This site uses two main partners - Monster and Indeed. See the previous post about how these two partners in OMJ fit into your overall jobsearch.

OMJ Monster

When you register with OMJ, you will be registered to Monster.com. You can enter up to 5 resumes and select which one you want to have visible to prospective employers.

OMJ Indeed

The OMJ advanced search uses the public Indeed service. If you have a fairly simple search, this may suffice, but with a little extra work you can get better results. Rather than use OMJs advanced search, you should register for your own Indeed account so that your searches and found jobs can be remembered.

The bottom menu lists two more Indeed features - Job Trends and Salaries. A third feature Forums is not listed. This allows a wide range of JobSeeker info to be exchanged. The forum is organized in the following major categories - Company, Job, City, General.

OMJ Menu

The menu is a little cluttered. There is a top menu (Employer, Job Seeker, Events, Featured Links, The State of Perfect Balance), described in the following paragraphs and a bottom menu that duplicates the top menu with a few additions. The page is split into two halves - Employers and Job Seekers, then there are the four choices under Job Seekers (right half) - Post a Resume, Maintain Resume, Advanced Job Search, Register.

The first time you should select Register and so you can register to Monster. Post a Resume describes Monster, then goes to the Login Page, you might as well goto Maintain which takes you right to the Monster login page. The Advanced Job Search menu option takes you to the public Indeed Search.

So of all these Jobseeker (right half) menu options, use Maintain Resume to update your resume with Monster and just goto Indeed and login to get the most from it.

OMJ Job Seeker

This top menu item takes you to a page describing the two partners (Indeed and Monster) and showing just the Jobseeker links found on the Featured Links page. On the left side (top) you will find employer (front page left side) links and on the bottom you will find the jobseeker (front page right side) links of which Maintain Resume
is the most useful.

OMJ Events

This top menu item lists events throughout the state, so many may not be applicable. I've noticed that many events aren't listed here either, so you will still find important events listed at the Employment Connection Office or the Maple Hts (Career Center Section upstairs) library branch.

OMJ Featured Links

This top menu item takes you to a page that has three groups of links for Employers, Job Seekers, and Workforce Professionals (people who help others find jobs).

Find the nearest "one stop" directs you to the Employment Connections page. "One stop" is what the Unemployment Office used to be called, but you will still find this old term in use on some web pages. Several links take you to Labor Market Information (LMI) pages. Resumes and Cover Letters takes you to the Riley Guide web site, there are other job advice pages you may want to look at too.

Two other major organizations - Job and Family Services (JFS) and Workforce Development contain info for jobseekers. The Ohio Workforce Info page takes you to another group of links maintained by JFS.

OMJ State of Perfect Balance

This top menu item takes you to a page aimed at attracting employers to the state of Ohio.

OMJ Bottom Menu

As I mentioned above, there is a bottom menu that mostly repeats the top menu. There are two notable additions pointing to Indeed.

One item is Job Trends pointing to an Indeed page that features a particular job trend with a menu of past job trends listed in a right sidebar.

Another item is Salaries that takes you to an Indeed page with a Salary Search box asking for the job and location. There is also a right sidebar menu of sample salaries.

In summary

The first and last top menu links are directed at employers, the middle three top menu items (jobseeker, events, and featured links) are of interest to jobseekers.

Of all the right half jobseeker choices, only Maintain Resume is useful.

Oh what a tangled web they have woven... See the Companion Jobseeker Group Pages section and posts that are tagged with EmpConn for advice on how to navigate jobseeker web pages.

Status: Second Draft - Last updated 01/01/08 11 PM

Online Job Search

There are several major categories of job search resources on the web. By understanding these categories you can fully explore the resources that are available. Sometimes a web site may fit into more than one category.

Targeted Company Search

The best opportunity for the earliest lead is going directly to a target company. This is more work, but it yields the best leads. You can find the best target companies by noticing hiring trends in a local search engine.

Local Search

These sites focus on the local market, they are likely to have a higher "real" job content rather than recruiters trolling for resumes with bait and switch job lures.

In our area these two are the best:
CareerBoard - http://cleveland.careerboard.com/
Newspaper - http://www.cleveland.com/jobs/

Resume Posting

These sites allow you to post your resume where it can be seen by a large audience. Monster and CareerBuilder are two of the best known resume posting services. The advantage is an employer may find you for an opportunity you may never have known about. The disadvantage is control of your job search shifts away from you. You also loose the option of customizing your resume for a specific opportunity. Your generic resume may be reviewed and rejected by a perspective employer where a targeted resume may have survived the cut. Some of the local search engines may offer resume posting.

These resume posting services also contain a job searching advice section.

Integrated Search

There are super search engines that search many other job databases and return the combined results. Some Resume software (Winway and ResumeMaker) offer this kind of search. One of the best available on the Web is INDEED - http://indeed.com/ .


Some web sites offer very useful career advice. Some of these are:

About - http://jobsearch.about.com/
Career Voyage - http://careervoyages.gov/
Employment Spot - http://www.employmentspot.com/
Riley Guide - http://www.rileyguide.com/
Wetfeet - http://www.wetfeet.com/
What Color is your Parachute - http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/

Check out the Companion JebSeek Group Files section for over 100 pages of job search advice from one of the sites above.

So in summary, understand these various categories and seek out resources that are the best in each category to offer you the most in your search.

Status: Second Draft - Last updated 12/31/08 2:45 am

Sunday, December 7, 2008

File Viewers

Many people know you should have the Adobe Reader to read PDF files. Maybe it was pre-installed on your PC. If it is old you can visit that web site to get a new version.

One of the difficult transitional issues is MS Office 2003 vs 2007. If you have an older version of MS Office you may not be able to read files created in the newer version. This is why I recommend that you save files in the previous MS Office 97-2003 format. But you don't necessarily have control of what file format you receive. And if you receive a 2007 file from a perspective employer it may be embarrassing to tell them you can't read it (not even at the resource centers).

If you have MS Office XP or 2003 you can update your product to be able to understand the 2007 formats by following the directions here. A less intrusive solution is to install the MS Office viewers - Word, Excel, Powerpoint.

These viewers are very large and can not be efficiently downloaded over dialup. If you don't have a high speed link then goto a resource center or library, download these to a flash drive and then install them on your home PC.

Another thing you may want to do is a search on each viewer to see if their are functional or security updates for any of them. You can do this search from the top of the pages I have linked above. The very top search box is for the web, use the second search box under the heading "Download Center" after the "Search All Downloads" box. Click on release date to sort, new security fixes won't be high on the default popularity post.

Side note: I got this post idea from a page at the Ohio LMI site, but before I posted it, I saw that two of the links were backlevel to 2003, so I looked up the newer file viewers.


The Adobe Portable Document is a widespread standard that ensures the recipient will see the file the same way you did. PDF is standard format that is device independent. It allows you to send files that everyone can read and that can’t be edited. The full Adobe product is comprehensive and expensive. An alternative is to use a PDF Print Driver to produce PDF documents.

One such product can be obtained at no charge from http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp

Download CUTEPDF Writer and Converter. Install the Converter first then CUTEPDF. You will now have a new driver and may choose it to create a PDF file. You will see a Save As dialog box to specify the name of the PDF file.

If you have the newest MS Office 2007 you can click Save as, then "Find Add-Ins for other File Formats" from any MS Office program. An Office Help menu will open and it will contain a link to the download page. The Microsoft Genuine Office validation will be invoked to ensure you have a properly licensed product on the PC you are downloading too. This requires that you use Internet Explorer and Allow an ActiveX to be installed. After your license is validated you will be returned to the download page and can download and install. Installing this update once applies to all Office products. You can then Save As in PDF or Microsoft's XPS format (competition to PDF). PDF is much more widely available than XPS.

The advantage of the PDF Print Driver is that it works with any product.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Computer Skills

Today, computer skills are needed for nearly every job. Not having basic computer skills is like not having a high school diploma. Luckily, there are many ways to obtain these skills at little or no cost. The trouble is many people who use a computer may have poor habits that are not up to workplace expectations.

There are so many stereotypes, don't be one of them. If you are a young video gamer, that doesn't make you computer competent. You may be an expert in your field or have many pre-PC methods for dealing with things, that doesn't mean you can avoid using PCs properly. Certain segments of Lawyers seem particularly prone to this, but when it takes 5 times longer to produce an unmaintainable document or when spreadsheets contain errors, an outside observer can see this is a serious business problem. Just because someone is an older worker doesn't mean they can't learn PC skills, nor should they think they can slide to retirement without needing them.


Everyone should be comfortable with the basics, USB connection, small flash (thumb) drives, mouse use, windows menus and shortcuts, cut and paste, task switching, etc. Take the time to actually learn these skills.


The Internet is a critical and very helpful skill. The Internet isn't just for surfing, its a powerful research and communication tool. Understanding how to do advanced searches, understanding major resources to go to first rather than a general search, and knowing about online networking (LinkedIn), publishing (Blogs), and forums (Groups) at a minimum will help you get the most from this tool.

The Internet is a very dynamic structure and new functions and techniques are introduced at an astounding pace. That means you have to keep learning and exploring it so you aren't using yesterday's methods.

If you are a long time Internet Explorer user, tabbed browsing may be unfamiliar. Get used to this feature.

Use the right tool

Do you swat flies with a baseball bat, drive screws with a hammer? No? Stupid? Then why do people use Excel for to produce tables of text? Or try to use Excel as a relational database (RDB)? Sometimes you have to bend the tool a bit, but knowing several tools and fully how to use them, helps you pick the best one and achieve the best results.


Mastery of word processing is helpful as you create customized correspondence for your job search. But don't confuse word processing with a typewriter, it is much more.

Take the time to learn to use Word effectively. The outline feature (remember writing papers for high school) helps you organize thoughts, work on segments of the document, and restructure the document as needed. In order to use this feature, simply use the HEADING n styles and then you can view your document in Outline format. You can select how deep the levels are displayed.

Know how to find, use, and make your own templates and styles. Think about your document in advance, a little pre-planning can produce a much better document in less time. The big payoff is a more maintainable document.

When you format a paragraph, you can define a style based on it. Why is this better than the format painter? Well if you change your mind or need to adjust something, you just redefine the style and all the paragraphs of that style adopt the new format.

When positioning text, don't use the tab, space, and enter keys endlessly, use the options on the format paragraph to indent, hanging indent (for the lines other than the first), and the skip before and after. Use the P icon to show the control characters so you can see behind the scenes.


As you want to consider job offers, bills, budgeting, a spreadsheet is well suited for this task. Excel can also be used as a simple flat database for tracking issues related to your job search.

Just because you are using a spreadsheet doesn't ensure correct answers. If you tell Excel to do something wrong, it will !

Use formulas, don't calculate things outside of the spreadsheet. Hidden columns and calculations are OK, they can help ensure that the data and calculations are correct. Important variables should be in named cells, sheets should have meaningful names.

Learn and use auditing techniques. Data validation, cell protection, tracing precedents, =IF checking, cross totals, conditional formating and charts. There are many functions that are useful. You should become familiar with what's available.

Do you have several possibilities? Then setup control variables and use the Scenario Manager Add-In Tool to name, define, and select various scenarios rather than duplicating sheets and introducing errors and inconsistency.

Advanced Excel

Depending on your job field, advanced excel features may be useful. One of the advanced features are the flat database features (V & H Lookup, D Functions). If you are using these functions you should learn relational database functionality so that you can understand Excel's limitations and when another tool should be used. See Database paragraph below.

Another powerful and complex feature is the pivot table for summarizing and drilling down to detail of large data tables.

Become familiar with latest usage techniques such as management dashboard reporting.


People often use Excel as a simple flat, tabular database. But real database technology is much more powerful. Sometimes this is called relational database (RDB) technology. The idea is that rather than a single row as a record, a database is made up of record segments that are connected by a key or ID. Why does that matter? In a "flat" database of rows the record segments can only have a 1 to 1 relation and all the info has to be in a row. In a RDB, the record segments are not confined to a 1 to 1 relationship, they can have a 1 to many, and the info does not have to be repeated for every row.

An Example -- Consider keeping track of orders. You have customers, who place orders, which consist of individual products or services. What would you put in the record or row, the entire order? If you did you'd repeat company info for each order and you'd have an unknown number of columns for multiple items on the order.

In a RDB, there would be four separate records linked together. Each customer would have a customer number (key, index, ID) that would contain info about the customer (name, address, contact...). Each order would have an Order Number, a customer number, and info about the entire order (shipping address, order date, fulfillment status). Each product ordered would link to the order number, shipping status (date, shipped/back ordered). The last record type would contain a product number and the product details like a description, price, quantity on hand.

Some of the major power of RDBs is the ability to write complex queries that feed report templates that produce just the info you want in the format you want it in. So what do you want to know? How many customers ordered a certain product? Which customers haven't ordered anything in a while? How often do customers order and which customers are over due to order? What products are most/least popular? Trying to do this in Excel would be impossible.

Microsoft's personal product is called Access and it is rather expensive. An alternative is to use OpenOffice's BASE component at no cost. Microsoft's business product is called SQL Server (Structured Query Language). A free business product alternative would be MySQL.

Status: Second Draft - Last Updated 12/07/08 2:40 AM

Alternatives to Microsoft

I personally don’t like Microsoft software and often look to Open Source or other authors for lower priced, better quality solutions.


Microsoft has finally made Office more affordable so that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can be obtained for less than $150 (for personal use). These are the industry standards and are recommended if affordable.

If you are using the latest Office 2007, be aware that many companies have not converted to it, so you may want to save files in the previous Office 97-2003 format. If you are using the more popular Office XP or 2003, you can look at Microsoft's web site to find viewers to allow you to read the latest 2007 files.

However OpenOffice is a free alternative that not only proves to be fairly compatible, it also includes an Access like database (which would be very expensive on its own). OpenOffice V2 is compatible with Office for XP while the newly available V3 is compatible to the latest Office 2007.

Install OpenOffice in Microsoft compatibility mode so files can be exchanged with Microsoft users. One notable option missing in the OpenOffice V2 word processor is the Outline feature which is very useful for building larger documents and reports. There are also minor differences in functions available in the spreadsheet.


Microsoft Outlook Express is the most frequently used email but has its short comings and security flaws. Eudora is the major competitor to MS Outlook and is a great alternative. To get the best spam reduction with Baysian Filters you will need the paid version of Eudora. The next best alternative is Mozilla Thunderbird at no cost.


Until recently MS Internet Explorer was very behind its competitors. Mozilla Firefox has strong security and a wide variety of enhancements. Opera is another very worthy IE alternative and has a unique email client built in.

NotePad ++

Microsoft’s NotePad application is primitive, this simple free notepad replacement has improved features, including tabbed files, remembering open tabs on next invocation, code highlighting, enhanced Search, and advanced TextFX.

Goto http://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net/uk/site.htm

Introduction to LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an online service to assist in networking. I would very much appreciate any and all feedback, suggestions, corrections or questions you may have.


The following introduction was taken from here:

Relationships Matter - Your professional relationships are key to your professional success. Our mission is to help you be more effective in your daily work and open doors to opportunities using the professional relationships you already have. This isn’t networking—it’s what networking should be.

Forget exchanging business cards with acquaintances that don’t know your work, or trying to renew professional ties when you need a favor.

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an online network of more than 25 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries.

When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments. Your profile helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to thousands of qualified professionals.

Through your network you can:
  • Find potential clients, service providers, subject experts, and partners who come recommended
  • Be found for business opportunities
  • Search for great jobs
  • Discover inside connections that can help you land jobs and close deals
  • Post and distribute job listings
  • Find high-quality passive candidates
  • Get introduced to other professionals through the people you know
LinkedIn is free to join. We also offer paid accounts that give you more tools for finding and reaching the right people, whether or not they are in your network.


You provide information to LinkedIn and you get a URL that you can provide to others that is a like an electronic business card. You can print this URL on your business card, put it in your email signature and others can find you on LinkedIn in a variety of ways.

There are two major views of your information, the public view, seen by everyone, and the full view seen by people you consider your connections. Information includes your name, title, location (metropolitan area), your job experience, education, skills, and interests and email. How much detail is provided and which of these items is on your public profile is controlled by you.

LinkedIn users can invite each other to be a connection and the invited person is sent an email and needs to approve the connection.

Learn more about LinkedIn here:

Setup Tips

Personal Info – provide your name, title, zip code, and primary email.

Public Display – while filling out your profile you can go to another page and specify how much into will be on your public profile.

Custom URL – By default your profile is a numeric ID, you can select something more memorable like your name so it makes more sense. Click here to learn more.

Email Addresses – you can provide a primary email that LinkedIn uses, but you are also asked for alternate emails. The purpose of alternate emails is that if people include their email address books in LinkedIn, then you will be found by them and they can invite you as a connection.

Work History – Work history is similar to your resume. There is also a summary view of this that doesn’t include dates.

Education – Education history is similar to your resume. There is also a summary view of this that doesn’t include dates.

Status – You can provide a status that your connections will see, such as “looking for work”. This status only stays for 5 days, so you need to update it again if you want it to continue.

Skills – You can specify a work summary and keyword skills.

Web Sites – you can specify several web sites that may be of interest to viewers of your (public or full) profile. You will need to exercise caution in selecting a web sites to list as potential employers may see them.

A LinkedIn Button can be added to your websites to allow your readers to quickly access your profile.

Usage Tips

Start with connecting to your closest work acquaintances’ and as you explore it further you can increase your connections and find new connections.

Find Colleagues & Classmates by using their search tools. As new people register with LinkedIn you will be notified that there are more possible connections. You review their search results and select which people you want to invite as a connection.

Search for People – You can search for people specifically that may not be part of your work or education history.

Join Groups – look for professional groups that are within LinkedIn to find new connections and discussions.

Search Jobs by function (IT) or industry segment (government) and you can limit them geographically.

Search Companies and find interesting things, people in a company that are part of your extended connections, new hires to that company, demographic breakdown, even where people in that company came from or went to, so you can find another important company you were not aware of.

Introduce yourself to a new person through a mutual connection.

INMAIL – is a paid service that allows you to send email to someone who is not part of your connections.


This is an useful way to extend your networking beyond simply collecting business cards. The power of this tool allows you to extend your network in ways that are not possible any other way.

New Feature

I have added a Google Group in order to provide file storage, web pages and general discussion.

The group is located at: http://groups.google.com/group/j4j-jobseek

The files section is here: http://groups.google.com/group/j4j-jobseek/files
I have uploaded a JobTip1.doc file which is over 100 pages of well written articles I obtained from the Web, categorized, and built into an outlined word document. For easiest use, download and view in MS Word in outline mode where you can navigate the various categories and read the articles of most interest.

As I have time, I will upload other files of interest. I plan to build a few web pages under the Google Group to more easily navigate local (NE Ohio) and general (any location) information.

NOTE:  Was tagged BlogAnn, Links, Tips

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Making business cards

Earlier I mentioned carrying several business cards for various purposes. Now here is how to make then.

Office 2003

  • Click Tools on top menu then Letters and Mailings then Envelopes & Labels
  • Click on the Labels top tab then click on the label in the lower right corner to select a 2.5 x 3.5 business card (8377), then click OK.
  • Type the content of your business card into the Address box
  • Click the New Document button on the right side

Office 2007

  • Click Mailings on the top menu to activate that ribbon
  • Click Labels on the far left of the Ribbon
  • Click on the label in the lower right to select a 2.5 x 3.5 business card (8377), click OK.
  • Type the content of your business card into the Address box
  • Click the New Document button on the bottom

Final Touches

  • Always print on plain paper and look through it with label stock behind it to verify that labels line up and don't overflow
  • Match the label paper stock to the printer (inkjet or laser)
  • Load the label paper stock into printer
  • Card stock could be used as an alternative but then you'd need to cut the cards evenly

Status: First Draft - last updated 01/08/09