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Choosing and asking for a reference

You have got a good cover letter and resume and you now have an interview, but what are you going to do if they ask for a reference? You need to have your references ready, and aware that you are using them as references. Selecting the right people to provide a reference for you, and then asking them to be a reference, can be a daunting task. These individuals can make or break your job prospects, so you need to put as much thought into finding and asking them as you do the rest of your job-hunting process.

The first thing is to make a list of potential references who can speak about your work skills, past performance or character. Family members might give you a glowing reference, but potential employers are looking for professional references. Your list of potential references should include prior supervisors, co-workers or even clients. Next, you should think about your relationship with each of the people on your list. How long have you known them, how familiar are they with the work you have done in the past, how long has it been since you worked with them? What specific skill or character trait can they speak about if you ask them to be a reference? Also, you will want to think about what exactly the reference will say. You will want someone articulate enough to be able to explain what work you did for/with them and how well you did it. A note to remember, you do not have to select your prior boss. You can ask anyone you worked with who had the opportunity to see how you worked. After answering these questions, narrow down your reference list to three or four names.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Re-Entering the Workforce, Preparing for an Interview, Resume, Hiring, Interviewing, References

How to deal with a gap in employment?

It happens for any number of reasons and many people have it, but how exactly should you deal with a gap in employment? The first thing to remember is: be honest. Do not try to disguise the gap or lie about what you were doing when you were not working. Companies are scrupulous about checking references. The last thing you want to do is risk a potential job or start a new job with a lie. Lying on your resume, application, or as part of the hiring process is often a reason for dismissal at many companies.

You do not have to identify on your resume what you were doing during a gap in employment. Caring for a family member, relocating and trying to find a job in new city, taking time off to travel, or attempting to start your own business are all legitimate personal reasons to have a gap. Even though they do not need to be identified on your resume, you should be prepared to address them during an interview. You do not need to provide a bunch of personal details. Explain the situation, but do not include more than the basic facts. Then you need to explain how the situation is no longer a factor. Finally, you should reassure them of your interest and that you are ready to return to the workforce. Use the explanation as an opportunity to move the conversation to why you are particularly interested in the position and what you have to offer.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Volunteering, Re-Entering the Workforce, Gaining Experience, Changing Jobs, Interviewing

Soft Skills Can Make or Break You

Soft skills are defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. So how are these skills going to help you land a job or even a promotion? Let's find out!

Creativity.  Collaboration.  Adaptability.

These are just three of the soft skills employers are looking for and showing you have them could be the difference between whether get the job or not. LinkedIn Learning created a list of the top soft skills employers find most valuable. Rounding out the top five are persuasion and time management.

Creativity

When you think of ‘creative’ people usually artists, musicians or authors come to mind. But you can be creative in business as well. Think about how most people can be taught how to do a job. A creative person, however, looks at how to do the job better, perhaps in a way that has not been tried yet. A good example is the number of apps that are available to do so many things. For example, it took a creative person to say, what if we made an app so it would be easier for people to track what they eat? Seeing a need and figuring out a better way to meet the need is creativity at its best. Stefan Mumaw, author of six books on creativity, says creativity can be learned, just like any other skill. So if you are looking for ways to increase your creativity, you can try Mumaw’s Creativity Bootcamp training session.  Or you can just begin to think about innovative and better ways to do the same things you have been doing, challenging your mind to find a more “creative” solution.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Re-Entering the Workforce, Preparing for an Interview, Gaining Experience, Resume, Changing Jobs, Being a Great Employee, Training, Interviewing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Salary Negotiation

Many people are uncomfortable with negotiating for a salary. Regardless of the reason, there will come a time when you feel the need to negotiate a salary and these tips should help you navigate the process and come to an agreement with an employer.

First, you need to do your research.

There are numerous websites, like Salary.com, Payscale, Glassdoor, which can give you the high, median and low wages for the position you’re considering. They will also narrow down the wage scale to your geographic area. You can then compare your skills and experience and see where your salary ought to be in order to be competitive in your market.

You can also check the Bureau of Labor Statistics for industry-specific wage information.

Next, you should calculate the minimum amount you’re willing to accept.

Remember, this is just a guideline to help you narrow down your options, as salary is not the only consideration when deciding whether or not to accept a position.  Knowing your bottom line will allow you to remove yourself from consideration if you can reasonably calculate that the job offer will not be close to meeting your needs.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Preparing for an Interview, Changing Jobs, Being a Great Employee, Interviewing

What to talk about at your next networking event

Networking events are great ways to learn about new opportunities, make important connections and grow professionally.

But for many people, they’re intimidating – primarily because you don’t know what to say, or how to start a conversation, especially if you don’t know anyone else in the room.

Remember, the goal is for both of you to talk about yourselves and get to know each other. And if you ask the standard “what do you do” question, you’ll get a canned response. So here are some ideas from ProStaff, Top Resume and Business Insider that can help you creatively break the ice.

General

There are some general questions that will serve you well at a networking – or any – event, and they’re easy to remember:

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Topics: Preparing for an Interview, Interviewing, Networking

OhioMeansJobs – Both online and locally

Did you know that the State of Ohio has a comprehensive job portal called OhioMeansJobs? It is a great place for resources that you should be taking advantage of! Each county in the state also has a local physical center where individuals can use various services. Whether online or in the local offices, you can search for jobs, find information about in-demand careers, partake in training and career planning and even search for schools and scholarships for your training. In Wood County, the OhioMeansJobs Center is part of Job and Family Services in Bowling Green.  In Lucas County, it’s called Work Ready Lucas County (formerly The Source) and it’s in downtown Toledo. If you need to find a specific center, you can use this map. Two of the best services that the centers provide are job training assistance, and resume and interview assistance. Let's discuss how these can help!

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Preparing for an Interview, Resume, Training, Interviewing

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