Weekly business rail, with job-search tips, BBB tips on college scholarships, and more.
Tip of the Week
As many Americans continue to search for employment, everyone is looking for ways to make the most of every interview opportunity. Of course, a good resume will reflect your technical training and experience. However, there is more to your overall qualifications than that. Your soft skills are an important part of the whole package.
Two professionals at Brown Mackie College, Boise offer advice to help you make a more comprehensive case as an optimal candidate for the position you seek - a case that includes your soft skills.
Barbara J. Schafer, director of Career Services, and Carilyn Penrod, Human Resources coordinator, work daily helping students and graduates to be ready to enter today's workforce or preparing them to enhance their current professions.
"The workplace remains highly competitive in terms of finding a job," says Schafer. This is evidenced by the current unemployment rate. A U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics press release reports a slight drop in the national unemployment rate, dipping to 8.2 percent in March 2012. While the number of new jobs created was fewer than the job gains in recent months, the sectors showing growth include hospitality, health care and financial services.
No matter what field interests you, it is beneficial to include your soft skills in your pitch. "Before you can market your soft skills, you must know what they are. Soft skills are personality traits; the things that make you who you are," says Schafer. "You seldom learn soft skills in trade school or college. They are life skills that you develop through your experiences."
"Confidence and a positive attitude are important soft skills that many employers value as much as technical ability," says Penrod. Examples of other soft skills include a strong work ethic, flexibility, time management skills, good communication skills and working well in a team environment. You may already have some of these characteristics listed on your resume without realizing that you are marketing your soft skills.
"The main items I look for in interviewee, apart from hard skills, are self-confidence, eye contact and a firm handshake," says Penrod. These soft skills, combined with integrity, appropriate dress and good grammar, can be collectively defined as professionalism. "Listening skills matter, too. Is the candidate paying attention to what I'm saying? Is the candidate providing thoughtful responses?" All of these attributes combine to create an element of trust between employer and applicant.
Listing your soft skills on a resume is a good way to introduce them to a prospective employer. However, you will need to prove you actually have them by providing examples of how each manifests in your work. "If you say you have good communication skills, you must be able to explain this well in an interview," Schafer says. "Failure to do so will convince the employer that you really don't have good communication skills. This holds true with any skill, hard or soft. Know yourself and address it confidently with the employer."
Millions of people depend on grants and scholarships to pay for college. Navigating the process of applying for financial aid can be confusing, and some companies claim they can help but only end up charging unnecessary fees. The Better Business Bureau recommends listening for the following red flags when receiving a sales pitch from a financial-aid finder:
- "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back." In reality no one can guarantee they will get you a grant or scholarship. The refund guarantee offers usually have many conditions or strings attached making it is almost impossible for consumers to get their money back.
- "You cannot get this information anywhere else." Scholarship information is widely available in libraries, financial aid offices and very conveniently on the internet.
- "You have been selected by a national foundation to receive a scholarship." If you have not entered a competition sponsored by the foundation, this claim is highly unlikely.
- "May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship?" This is never a requirement for a legitimate scholarship offer.
- "The scholarship will cost some money." Legitimate scholarship offers never require payment of any kind.
For more information on finding financial aid for school, visit www.fafsa.gov or www.bbb.org.
Here are the most powerful celebrities in the world, according to Forbes:
1. Jennifer Lopez
2. Oprah Winfrey
3. Justin Bieber
5. Lady Gaga
Number to Know
14: Percent that sales were up at Lowe’s in the first quarter, according to the home-improvement company.
Microsoft is joining the social-networking game: The company recently announced it is launching So.cl. Find it at http://www.so.cl.
GateHouse News Service