Posts Tagged advice

13 Ways to Instantly Impress LinkedIn Connections

Remember when you first joined LinkedIn?

Perhaps you initially received an invitation to connect from a business associate… Or, perhaps you heard about the professional networking site and joined on your own… Either way, you most likely noticed a series of changes within the past 11 years of LinkedIn’s existence.

There have been numerous tips shared about how to complete your profile, add a photo, share status updates, participate in groups and of course expand your network. Now that you’ve successfully done all of that, you are probably ready to take the next step and really impress all of your connections with your professionalism, understanding of unwritten etiquette expectations, not to mention your ability to identify and share relevant information with other site members.

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So here is a list of the most up-to-date recommendations to do just that:

1)     Post riddles and jokes

2)      Post puzzles

3)      Post word jumbles and math quizzes

4)      Post lion pictures or cartoons

5)      Post same the thought, blog link or ad in several groups simultaneously

6)      Post mindless slogans such as: “hire for character, train for skill”

7)      Post IQ tests accompanied by “only 10% get this right”

8)      Post endlessly repeated cliché inspirational quotes

9)      Post eye charts

10)   Post content that would be superfluous even on Facebook

11)   Post irrelevant, off-topic content or comments in groups or discussions

12)   Post images or other content for the purpose of gathering sympathy “likes”

13)   Post any approving comments and/or sharing any of the above to further perpetuate such activity

Impressive, right? 

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20 questions for your job search

The following are some of the most common “tips” or topics seen in the job search advice arena. Which do you believe are true or false and why?

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True or False Statements:

1)      No one will hire you if any of your Facebook photos contain alcohol

2)      Since it’s practically required to have your photo on LinkedIn, you should also include one on your resume

3)      Hiring companies always prefer candidates that have a blog

4)      You will differentiate yourself by submitting a video resume

5)      Cover letters are never read and won’t do you any good

6)      Handwritten post-interview thank-you notes help you become a top candidate

7)      Being active on social media proves you have advanced technology skills

8)      Your “digital footprint” (ultra stupid term) is more valuable than your resume

9)      If you have inconsistent work history, you must use a functional resume

10)   Hiring managers will be impressed with your infographic resume

11)   You need to build and maintain a consistent brand across all of your social media profiles

12)   You should share industry articles with hiring managers after your interviews

13)   If you don’t get a response after applying online you should call the company to speak with the hiring manager

14)   Candidate with highest Klout score should always be top choice

15)   If you get laid off, you should put “looking for new XYZ position” on your LinkedIn headline

16)   Job seekers 40+ years old never get interviewed because hiring companies discriminate

17)   You should do a lot of research before your interview so you can tell the company how you will fix their problems

18)   Contacting a lot of recruiters will help you get hired faster

19)   It makes sense to apply for jobs when you meet 50% of listed criteria

20)   Always circumvent HR because they never want anyone qualified to get hired

Answers:

1)      False – though there’s no need to leave your privacy settings wide-open if you fear your happy hour happenings might be mis-judged

2)      False – keep your resume focused on your career qualifications unless your appearance is pertinent to the type of work you do (modeling, acting)

3)      False – most people involved in hiring aren’t spending their spare time scouring the Internet to find new blogs – caveat: unless blogging is what you are employed to do

4)      False – don’t expect people to click the link, wait for the video to load/play and then watch your show – caveat: unless visual presentation/public speaking matters in your occupation

5)      False – not everyone cares about cover letters, but unless you know your recipient’s preference best of take advantage of the opportunity to communicate additional information

6)      False – while not entirely unheard of, whether typed or handwritten thank-you notes rarely influence opinions enough to make a difference in being added to the short list

7)      False – considering you are amidst billions of other people on the planet also active on social media, don’t expect special attention

8)      False – it might be concerning if there is no sign of you whatsoever online, but the vast majority of employers still rely heavily on traditional resumes to evaluate prospective hires

9)      False – if your employment history is in such a state that a functional resume seems necessary, you most likely need to apply for jobs where a resume isn’t required at all

10)   False – unless you are pursuing work where your graphic creativity is pertinent, at best a hiring manager might think your document is cute

11)   False – whether personal or professional, all you really need to keep in mind is: what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet

12)   False – aside from sending something that was requested, don’t add any uninvited extra mail (spam) to anyone’s inbox

13)   False – be patient and keep in mind most companies have a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” screening process and your extra eager attitude might get you noticed for the wrong reasons

14)   False – with limited exceptions, your Klout, Kred, EA, follower count or any other measurement score might be interesting, but rarely connected to hiring decisions

15)   False – your LinkedIn headline space should be maximized to express what others – your target audience – need to know about you professionally

16)   False – some claims of discrimination are valid, yet practically all employers desire the most qualified person for the position to be hired regardless of demographic attributes

17)   False – you should research available information in order to be prepared and informed, though it might be presumptuous to suggest you know how to fix internal problems

18)   False – companies hire based on qualifications, recruiters may facilitate portions of the process, but their loyalty is to the company/client not candidates

19)   False – at a minimum, you should strive to meet at least 90% of the required experience and background criteria being sought

20)   False – it is in HR’s interest to serve the company’s interest in attracting and selecting the best qualified person for each open position

Many of these topics or statements may produce an “it depends” reaction and the example answers are not intended to be a full explanation of every possible situation where certain actions may or may not make sense.

What do you agree or disagree with on the above list?  

Article by Kelly Blokdijk – As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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Follow this advice to knock yourself out of consideration for a job

While a best-selling author with a history of 35 years in career management is clearly not an easy target for critique, I feel I must call out the obvious negative reaction this blog’s advice could bring if followed. From what I gather, the intent of this information is to aid experienced job applicants  in addressing presumed ageist perceptions or alleged age-bias in interviews.

However, it appears to be coming from a very misguided and perhaps out-of-touch with a real life recruiting and selection mentality of our modern, global, diversity-centered world of work. Have a look: http://blog.knockemdead.com/2013/01/age-discriminationhow-to-fight-age-bias.html

Of course any and all of us will readily acknowledge the unfortunate existence of biased and exclusionary hiring practices that still persist despite the dominance of a more evolved population in the workforce. Aside from isolated anecdotal incidents, most of can only speculate and guess about the extent to which discriminatory decision making is taking place on any scale.

I personally find focus on assumptive accusations of this happening to be overblown and exaggerated. The reason I say that is I believe (and have plenty of objective external evidence to support) that most companies strive to attract and retain top talent regardless of any demographic factors related to discrimination that get publicized by the media and perpetuated by the general public.

As I read through these recommendations, I recoiled in horror at how obnoxious a candidate would sound if they actually expressed the sentiments suggested here. The first thing that stands out is the setting for these recommendations is at the end of a face-to-face interview. Or, if you read to the end of the article, the author recommends interspersing these golden gems throughout the interview conversation.

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An initial problem I see with this is approach is: why after passing through a resume review, initial phone screen or other preliminary candidate evaluation and eventually making it to the in-person interview phase with a hiring manager, would the candidate assume the company or its representatives has any intention of discriminating against said candidate? Talk about having a chip on your shoulder!

The next problem that stands out is the unfortunate choice of vocabulary the candidate is advised to use to point out their age, seasoning, years of experience and other non job-related characteristics. If the goal is to emphasize one’s exceptional qualifications, relevant achievements and drive for successful job performance, why in the world is the author suggesting the candidate call attention to anything distracting or detracting from that message?

Under no circumstances can I imagine it being well-received for a candidate to announce: “I just turned ___ (years old).”  When I saw this it made me think of a toddler holding up the number of fingers equivalent to their age, not a business person I would want to hire – for ANY job!

A remark along the lines of: “That gives me ___ years experience in the profession and ___ years experience doing exactly what needs to be done in the job”  is more likely to come off as condescending and arrogant than confident and accomplished.

If you tell me you have ___ years experience tying your shoes does that make you more qualified than anyone that has 1, 2, 5, 20 fewer years doing the same? No. It just makes you sound pompous, clueless and set in your ways of doing whatever task for however long – most likely the same exact way for that entire duration of time without any examples of incentive to keep improving.

Moving along after a few additional reinforcements of the above, the candidate is told to say: “hire another thirty-something and you know that she will constantly be haggling for promotions and possibly your job, and will probably be gone in four years… even if I retired at 65 you’d still have me ___ times as long as someone younger.” The extreme wrongness of this entire concept shouldn’t need any further explanation or interpretation.  Holy inappropriate comment, Batman!

It continues full speed downhill from that atrocious abomination with: “Experience has given me the maturity and understanding to know that when I do my job well, I make my boss’s job easier. Most younger candidates don’t know this…” Curious, at what point does one arrive at this mature, experienced conclusive understanding? Sixteen, 23, 38, 57…?

Finally, let’s drag out a few more wisdom filled clichés, shall we?: “I will bring balance to the team, if all your customers/clients are in their twenties, most will be reassured by my maturity, plus I naturally resonate with older customers because of the experience and maturity I offer.” Apparently, maturity is the magic mojo for all customer needs! Who knew?

Whether I was interviewing this person as a recruiter, HR person, hiring manager or innocent bystander, I can assure you I would be anything but reassured or feeling resonated with after hearing any proclamations of this sort. Not only would person fail at impressing me as a candidate, they would succeed at insulting and offending every possible category of coworker or customer they may encounter.

For someone to take the tactic of positioning him/herself as superior to other candidates by reinforcing the age-based depictions they claim to be avoiding is pathetic and frankly could be construed as that person harboring their own discriminatory attitudes. Not a good strategy and not a way to influence a hiring decision in your favor.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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Forget fancy, focus on the fundamentals in your job search

If you’ve ever conducted a job search, no doubt you’ve encountered plenty of information that looked or sounded super slick. There’s a ton of advice on the topic and each day more and more experts pop up to share their version of the latest and greatest way to find a job. It all sounds fantastic, fun and fancy until you realize much of it is just a bunch of fluff.

When interacting with job seekers, I almost always spot the ones who have a tendency to go to extremes. On one side, you have the people who meander their way around, never really giving their job search their full attention or taking it as seriously as they say they do. At the other end of the spectrum are the people who latch on to every single piece of advice as if doing so will magically produce multiple dream job offers. Unfortunately, neither type of job seeker really makes the right kind of progress.

Even if you are an exceptional performer in your field, that doesn’t mean you are an expert in preparing an effective campaign related to pursuing a new opportunity. Sometimes, it makes sense to outsource things beyond your ability to someone with more specialized knowledge. It’s far less painful to seek legitimate help than to embarrass yourself through trial and error or getting caught up in habits that hurt your image.

The people who do “get it” usually skip the shiny shenanigans and buckle down for the old-fashioned basics. Here are few job search concepts that I try to help people keep in mind regardless of their career level.

Tip 1: Take the process seriously and allocate proper time, effort, energy and financial resource investments accordingly

There are no short-cuts, nor should you short-change yourself by expecting something for nothing. Getting the basics right from the start will make the job search process much more tolerable and productive. For example, despite countless catchy articles proclaiming the “death of the resume” they are still the most widely accepted and expected tool to convey information to prospective employers. Having a relevant, concisely written, error-free, achievement-focused resume is crucial to communicate one’s professional credibility and credentials.

Tip 2: Research, assess and understand your target audience and adapt your strategy, approach and customized communications (online, on paper & in person) to create the best possible impression

The most obvious sign of a person who naively follows rudimentary job search advice is that their resume, LinkedIn profile, business bio or verbal introduction looks, reads and sounds like everyone else’s. Stale, cliché phrases and repetitive, redundant vocabulary is evident from the first syllable and generously deposited throughout their career marketing communications, making the recipient feel as if they’ve seen the same message over and over. That’s because they probably have already viewed plenty of professional positioning statements describing a results-oriented, team-player with a successful track-record of expertise as a seasoned professional with 17+ years experience as an experienced, expert superstar professional. Trust me, unless you are trying to convey blah, bland and boring, your content needs to compelling and pertinent to get and keep someone’s attention.

Tip 3: Scrutinize each and every available source of information, search technique and piece of advice to ensure it makes sense for your unique situation versus following generic practices that might cause more harm than good

When I have more in depth conversations with people, they often share with me what they’ve been doing, what ideas they’ve tried and what they think is or isn’t working. Right away, it is evident when someone has been steered down the wrong path for their specific needs. They often react to my guidance and clarification with “wow, I hadn’t thought of that” or “that is a great idea and it makes perfect sense” or “thanks for letting me know how that might work against me, I won’t let that happen again.”

If you or someone you know is struggling in your job search, think about whether making some changes might help. Many job search service providers offer no cost, no pressure, no obligation initial consultations to prospective clients and those researching various support options. Put those external resources to use and learn how to decode the right blend of intelligent job search methodology for your unique circumstances.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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If you want a healthy job search, don’t keep consuming Chicken McNuggets

Salty, crispy and decadent – that’s what this quick, inexpensive mystery-meat-treat is about…

We all crave instant gratification once in while and grabbing fast food is the perfect example of how we satisfy that impulse. McGrub in moderation is fine and dandy and of course mighty tasty! But just like any other guilty pleasure, you get what you pay for and you may not feel so nourished or fulfilled later.

Conducting constant research on all aspects of the employment market is something that I’ve engaged in for quite a few years – well before working in HR or having any direct involvement with talent acquisition. Part of this ongoing research entails — amongst myriad other activities — attending workshops and presentations and reading material prepared by staffing industry experts, analysts and assorted specialists dealing with related subject-matter. One constant over the years has been the abundance of information and the continuous evolution of how things are done when it comes to matching jobs with job seekers.

Even in the pre-Internet world there was no shortage of content, it just perhaps was not as easily and quickly accessible as it is now. As with anything, this category contains a blend ranging between brilliant and ridiculous ideas, advice and opinions. Due diligence and in-depth awareness is always critical to distinguish high quality data from the rest. Being clued in to subtle nuances, having common sense and general business acumen is always crucial to cull what works from what doesn’t.

While there are countless ways that we all have been impacted by the prolonged economic downturn, a few unfortunate trends have emerged causing undue complications. A particularly concerning phenomenon is the ease in which a number of individuals have taken it upon themselves to slap on a self-appointed status of career expert.

Many of these people are simply regular folks from any number of occupations such as software engineer, project manager, sales person or web designer; who within the past couple of years wound up amongst the swarms of unemployed. For some reason, quite a few of them have decided to label and market themselves as career experts and have taken their show on the road.

In some cases, these people are preying on the uninformed job seekers in need of direction. Sure, there are some who have benevolent intentions, but despite their well-meaning efforts, they have inevitably regurgitated and spread outdated, ineffective and just plain absurd advice to the very people who need a diet of solid guidance and career nourishment rather than the junk food equivalent.

Before this aptly named great recession, those who built credibility in the career or job search advice arena did so through concerted efforts to “actually know what they were talking about.” As one wise person described, “they would be seen as professionals whose insights, opinions and advice were based on years of applicable experience.”

These days due to so many overnight reinventions to executive coach, career coach, job market / job search strategist, LinkedIn trainer, social media guru, branding specialist, resume expert, etc., the average person struggles to decipher the difference between those offering legitimate value and those selling false hope.

The collective voice of the self-proclaimed experts has gotten much louder and they’ve been given a bigger stage to spread their message. Personally, I’ve been disgusted and embarrassed on a number of occasions over the disturbingly bad advice and blanket generalizations these people are putting forth as valid expertise.

Proving how incredibly out of touch they are with contemporary, competitive job search strategies and construction of customized career marketing / branding materials, some of them go as far as recycling and repackaging the stale, generic content prepared by the unemployment office.

Thinking it was only me observing this taking place, I’ve inquired with a few credible, respected “in-the-know” people to confirm what I was finding. One of them shared the following comment, “I have always seen them as opportunists that lack clarity, intelligence and integrity.” That sums things up quite well!

Just to emphasize what this might look like in action. Here are few greasy Chicken McNuggets I identified from multiple recent workshops facilitated by such “experts” as well as personal conversations with professional level job seekers in the community.

Call employers to follow-up even if the posting says: “no calls, please”

Tell people what you do in a slick catch phrase, tag line or slogan in your elevator pitch

Start blogging and do it often

Apply multiple times to the same job: online, fax, mail, email, etc. – that way the employer is sure to know your name

Invite everyone you meet at networking events to have coffee so you can build relationships

Have a Twitter account

Make sure you have an “objective” statement on your resume

Ask people “how you can help them” when you meet them at networking events

Make and post a video resume

Mail special brochures / pamphlets to hiring managers – so they pick up the phone and offer you a job

Don’t bother with a cover letter – just submit or send your resume

Answer questions on LinkedIn (Q&A) so you can get a star for best answer

Feel free to use the resume templates that come with your word processing software

Inform people of business problems you have solved when introducing yourself

It is fine to name your hobbies and interests on your resume

Create a personal website

List on your resume activities while a “stay-at-home-mom” or during other gaps

Leave a degree – in progress off of your resume

Order some biz cards with a logo to build your brand

Taken out of context it may not be obvious why any of the above could possibly be considered inappropriate courses of action. That is exactly the point…

You can get some decent sounding cooking tips from the person frying up Chicken McNuggets or you can treat yourself to a delicious and nutritious menu of gourmet cuisine tailored to maintain the proper and productive dietary balance in your job search.

Article authored by Kelly Blokdijk, Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks – “Creating a Voice for Talent” TalentTalks partners with job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling professional branding materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative and customized human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts job market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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Does your resume advertise dysfunction or logic?

Due to the over-abundance of readily available information, job seekers have been led to believe that resume preparation is a streamlined and straightforward process. To some it may very well be as basic as washing their own car. They simply grab a sponge, fill the bucket and start washing. Others may find taking on a do-it-yourself resume building project incredibly aggravating and stressful. Yet, they persist anyway – often based on various pieces of advice picked up from the Internet and random experts.

Probably at least once per week I read or hear someone advising job seekers to prepare a functional resume versus using the traditional chronological format. Usually this suggestion is provided when someone says they aren’t making any progress on their job search. Most times the person recommending a different resume design approach is well-meaning, but likely unaware of the scope of the job seeker’s unique situation or the nuances associated with preparing contemporary career marketing materials.

One of the most common reasons a person might choose to use a functional resume is due to real or perceived problem areas in their career path. It could be anything from a history of divergent professions, long gaps between positions, multiple short-term roles, career change to an unrelated field or re-entry to the workforce following a long absence. While each of these issues poses a challenge, a functional resume may or may not be the ideal way to address it.

Functional resumes usually omit dates, even titles, and group together sets of skills that the job seeker has collected over the course of their career. A main drawback of a functional resume is that it automatically advertises that the person is consciously electing to point out a certain level of dysfunction. The primary difference between a chronologic resume and a functional format is the logical placement of dates and titles associated with each position held. On the chronologic resume, employment history is listed in reverse chronological order showing movement or progression from one role to the next, along with corresponding achievements.

Typically, recruiters, hiring managers, human resource staff and others involved with the screening and selection process expect clear and concise portrayals of information relevant to their immediate needs. The problem with functional resumes is that they attempt to mask the employment experience facts required to assess whether that candidate is a fit. Instead they place extensive focus on assorted skills that come off as scattered and unrelated, making the job seeker appear unfocused and thus unqualified.

Opinions vary greatly on all aspects of job searching. Resumes belong to one area that has no shortage of diverse viewpoints. Industry reports and studies have shown that the vast majority of hiring authorities despise functional resumes. Need more proof? Here is a recent summary of this sentiment from Fistful of Talent: http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2010/01/in-memoriam-obituary-of-the-dys-functional-resume.html

As a person who has written plenty of resumes and reviewed even more over the years, I do not write nor recommend functional versions. There are many creative and effective methods to deal with less than ideal situations in one’s job history. Rather than agonizing over what works and what doesn’t in today’s ultra competitive employment market, job seekers might be better served by getting professional help with their resume and other career related correspondence. After all, you only get one chance to make a positive first impression.

TalentTalks partners with job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling professional branding materials to create a lasting positive impression.
TalentTalks | Creating a Voice for Talent | http://www.talenttalks.com

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TMI, advice, opinions & other confusion for job seekers

TMI, advice, opinions & other confusion for job seekers was
originally posted on FastCompany by Kelly Blokdijk on May 15, 2009

These days, there may seem to be a shortage of jobs, but absolutely no shortage of information on how to get one! Recently, I’ve noticed an influx of experts touting all sorts of solutions for job seekers. Various sources of advice label themselves with clever and mysterious sounding titles such as maven, guru, evangelist, and so on…

What stands out is how abundant and contradictory all of their information has become. The phrase “TMI” comes to mind for when you cringe while hearing something unnecessary, inappropriate and uncomfortable. Likewise, the saying “opinions are like _____, everyone has one and they all stink!” also seems fitting to describe this phenomenon. For example, many articles, blogs, websites and newsletters cover tips for using job boards, how many pages a resume should be, having a supplemental version of a resume, using social media networking etc.

Here are a few selected points I’ve gathered to illustrate the conundrum facing job seekers:

Using online job boards is one of the most effective ways to get a job
Don’t bother with job boards – no one gets hired that way any more

Post your resume as many places as possible for maximum exposure with recruiters
Control where you post your resume, don’t post to the main job boards

Job seekers must identify and work with recruiters for their industry
Recruiters can’t be trusted and only serve their clients, not job seekers

Professionals should have a 1-2 page resume
With significant experience or expertise, 3-4 pages is the appropriate resume length

Keep your resume to one page maximum
Everyone should have a supplemental version of their resume for networking

If your resume is effective, you don’t need an extra piece of paper for special events
Most people get jobs through networking
More people get jobs through traditional methods than though networking

Creating an “elevator pitch” is essential for job seekers
Job seekers should stop using elevator pitches and start using “solution” speeches

If you are not using twitter, you are missing out
Twitter is a waste of time

Your facebook page will only hurt you in your job seekers
Facebook can be a great way to share information about your job search

LinkedIn is the best professional networking tool and should be used by all job seekers
The jury is still out on whether LinkedIn is a valuable connector for job seekers and employers

There is so much free information out there that job seekers are able to prepare their job search themselves
Job seekers should seek professional expertise to ensure an effective job search

Obviously, these samples have been paraphrased and taken out of context, but they are actual representations of available information. So, what does it all mean? Which version of the opinion does one believe?

Well, my take on this is: it depends… Sure that is a weak answer, but really truth can be found in most of the above statements. Each person is unique and has circumstances that might make one idea effective today, while a month from now the opposite would be a better option.

Bottom line, my suggestion is that job seekers keep informed about the rapidly changing job market and make decisions based on what works for them. If results aren’t coming quick enough it might make sense to invest in a new strategy and continue to refine it until the right blend is in place.

TalentTalks helps individuals and groups optimize their talent. Our talent coaching consists of personalized support, professional branding, techniques and strategies to help job seekers stand out from the competition and maximize their return on investment.

As a job seeker in these competitive times, can you afford not to invest in your talent? Remember, most job search expenses are tax deductible. Contact your financial advisor, CPA or the IRS for more information.

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