Dealing with “The Gap”

While most of us will work until about our mid-60s, not all of us will work all the time until then: most of us probably will have a gap in our work history either due to illness (ours or a family member’s), raising children, being laid off/quitting outright, or even taking a sabbatical.

Known as “The Gap,” this “hole” in your work history often isn’t looked at kindly by employers. And you can’t just cross your fingers and toes and hope a hiring manager won’t notice it. Instead, you absolutely must have a good reason for it and, most importantly, be able to explain it in a professional manner. Even better: if you can couch the gap in way that is beneficial to an employer, all the better.

jobs in Long Beach

Here’s how to deal with “The Gap.”

  • Above all, tell the truth.

You may think saying you decided to take time away from working so that you could take care of your ill mother (which really is what you ended up doing) is far better than saying you were laid off, but it’s not: a hiring manager can simply contact your last employer to verify dates and it’s easy for her to find you were part of a reduction-in-force or even were fired.

Instead, tell the truth; you were laid off (and then decided to help your sick mother). Or you were fired for cause (and make sure you own up to your mistake). You took time off to raise children. You were ill. You decided to take a year off to travel the world. (Lucky duck!)

  • Talk about the skills you learned while gone/how you kept your skills up.

Many employers are nervous about work history gaps because they think you’ve gone stale or that you’re not up on the “latest and greatest.” So aim while you are not working to take a class or two (online works), work as a freelancer or take on some part-time work or temporary assignments and make sure your skills are current.

  • Explanations for different scenarios.

If you were fired, talk about your responsibility in your firing (it’s never all the unreasonable boss’s fault: we all have some culpability when fired). Reiterate how you’re a changed person and actually better for the lessons learned.

If you took that year-long trip around the world, discuss how it helped you be more compassionate to people different from you, you learned a new language, you started a part-time business online, etc. In other words, show how your travels provided you with new insights, lessons learned and even skills.

  • Repeating because it’s important: keep your skills up-to-date.

We understand how difficult this could be if your time away from work is because you or a family member is ill. But if you’re staying home to raise children for a few years, if you take some time off to try something new and/or travel, keeping those skills/knowledge base up to snuff shouldn’t be that difficult: classes abound online and off and temporary staffing services such as Helpmates can help you find part-time/temporary work while allowing you to keep your skills sharp (and even learn new ones).

Take a look at our current temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities and follow instructions on the job listing if one or more appeal to you.

Can I Wear a T-shirt to a Job Interview?

Our first thought when hearing this question is “Heck, no!’ But then we realized: the workplace is much more casual today than even five years ago. Many people wear t-shirts on the job, so it’s an understandable question: why couldn’t you wear one on a job interview?

Buena Park Job Interview

Well, today, you probably could, if you’re a woman and the shirt is made of a dressier weight fabric such as silk or a fine knit and you wear a work-appropriate jacket or blazer over it. Or if you’re applying for a job in a warehouse/distribution center. And then the t-shirt must be very clean and free of graphics.

We provide those ifs and caveats and suggested jackets to wear because it is important to dress well for a job interview. Why? Because dressing (more) professionally (than you normally do) shows that you take the entire process seriously. Work is a serious business: an employer is going to hire you to solve his company’s problems and he wants to know if you take that task seriously. Dressing professionally signals that you understand this.

That doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit and tie (if male) or a skirt suit (if a woman). It does mean you should dress well for an interview and that definition will vary depending on the company’s day-to-day dress code as well as the role for which you’re applying.

If you don’t know what the company’s dress code, it’s perfectly OK to ask the recruiter or hiring manager.  (You can do so when asked to come in for an interview: ask if the company’s dress code is professional, business casual or casual.)

Below are different interview outfits to wear for your interview depending on the dress code.

Men

Professional: A suit and tie. If you don’t have a suit, a pair of nice slacks and a blazer (such as khaki slacks and a navy blue blazer). Shirt should be collared and long sleeved. Shoes should be dress shoes.

Business casual: You don’t need to wear a suit, but you should wear nice slacks, a collared long-sleeve shirt and a blazer. Take a tie along and if you see men wearing ties, duck into the men’s room before your interview and put it on. Save the polo-like shirt for when you start working there. Shoes don’t need to be dress shoes, but they shouldn’t be sneakers and they should be clean and/or polished.

Casual: If you’re going to be working in an office, you really can’t go wrong with a blazer. You can wear a nice polo under the blazer with nice chinos/khakis. You can wear a short sleeve shirt, but long-sleeved is better. You can ditch the tie. No sneakers.

If you’re interviewing for a warehouse/distribution/labor position, chinos/khakis and a polo or collared short-sleeve shirt are appropriate. Work boots, so long as they are clean, are fine. Jeans, so long as they are absolutely clean and not faded, ripped, or excessively baggy/loose also are fine.

Women

Professional: a skirt- or pant suit is appropriate. No prints.  Darker colors (navy, black, grey) are best. Blouse should be solid or have small stripes. No florals. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Stud earrings are best; if you wear dangling earrings, they should be short. One bracelet at the most (if you wear a watch, skip the bracelet). Necklace should be single strand and not too long.

Pantyhose no longer are required but polished heels (no more than three inches high) or professional-style flats are fine. Keep perfume to a minimum (none is best).

Business casual: A more casual-style skirt- or pant suit is fine, as are slacks and a short-sleeved blouse, knit sweater (this is where you can wear that refined t-shirt) under a blazer or jacket. A simple dress also is appropriate and it’s a good idea to wear a jacket or cardigan sweater over it (jacket/blazer is best). The dress should be a solid print; slender stripes are OK but stay away from bold prints/florals. The dress should not be one you would wear to a party or for a night on the town. Keep the stilettos at home. No jeans.

No sneakers with the slacks. Keep jewelry and perfume to a minimum (none still is best).

Casual: khakis/chinos and a short-sleeved blouse/nice sweater/knit t-shirt is OK. If wearing a sleeveless sweater, wear a cardigan over it. A skirt and blouse is fine but it shouldn’t be a denim skirt/going out skirt and shouldn’t be too short.

If you’ll be working in a warehouse, etc. jeans are appropriate, so long as they are exceptionally clean, not faded, ripped or torn and not excessively baggy or tight. A polo-like is best; if wearing a t-shirt, stay away from graphic tees. It should be clean and not ripped. Clean work boots or clean sneakers are fine.

Are you looking for work in the Orange County/Los Angeles region? Helpmates needs you! We have many temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities waiting to be filled! Take a look at them and if you find a few that appeal to you, contact us or follow instructions on the job description.

All I Want for Christmas is a Great 2018

Chances are good that you want your career/job situation to be the greatest it can be. With Christmas and the season of giving gifts upon us, it’s understandable if you’re hoping that this coming year will give you all you hope for and desire.

better career in 2018

And it can, so long as you realize you are the one who will deliver that gift. In other words, effort and some sacrifice on your part are what will help you obtain the career goals you dream of.

Happily, you really need only two things to make your job situation/career great this coming year.

So write a “Dear Santa” letter to yourself and ask yourself for these things:

  1. I will give myself the gift of additional training/education.

No one wanting to build a career – or stay employed – should think he or she can sit around and do the same old, same old every year and not feel the consequences at some point.

Additional training/education/certification always is going to be critical to success in the job market of tomorrow. Technology is changing such that artificial intelligence more than likely will (disrupt the employment prospects of millions now-employees in the next few years.

(Just some of the careers/jobs that could be affected: dermatologists, lawyers, sports journalists, financial reporters, retail clerks, border patrol agents, middle managers, pharmacy technicians, program software, and  more.)

Bottom line? The next time your boss asks if you want to go to a seminar on such and such, say yes (and then ask if you also can get certified in it).

  1. I will give myself the present of learning how to be a better “political” animal in the workplace.

Office politics exists. The most successful among us learn how to make their way through it with grace and skill because those who rise to the top are able to:

  • Be friendly – but not too much so – with everyone.
  • Stand up to bullies without becoming a bully themselves.
  • Take bad news stoically.
  • Give bad news with kindness yet firmness.
  • Know when to take a stand and know when to stand back.

Some people appear to easily navigate the politics of the workplace. Others struggle. But all of us can learn how to improve our own skills dealing with it.

Success truly comes easier if you can promote yourself and your “causes” fairly with your boss, clients and co-workers. Learning the “art” of office politics can be a terrific gift you give yourself this coming year.

Would another great Christmas gift to yourself be a new job? If you’re looking for work in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, take a look at Helpmates’ current job openings.

Looking for Work During the Holidays: Why it Works

It’s the holidays! Time for great food; enjoying the red, green, yellow, blue, and white lights; listening to noels as well as goofy old-fashioned holiday songs (which still make you a tad weepy in a good way because they remind you of your grandmother); watching children’s faces light up with delight at special holiday decorations; getting together with friends and loved ones; shopping for gifts for those you love (and even those you’re not that keen on).

So who could possibly have time for job hunting?

holiday job search los angeles

You do!

At the least, you should make the time for job hunting because as busy as you are getting ready for the holidays, as much as you may not want to look for work (it’s not nearly as much fun anticipating the hunt for a job as it is the hunt for the perfect gift), looking for work during the holidays is a terrific idea because (drum roll): employers still have holes in their employee rosters! What’s more, here in December 2017, it’s still a candidate’s market and employers pretty much are desperate to find good people.

Yes, employers may distracted by the holidays as you are and hiring decisions may be put on hold later in the month as many people take vacation and some businesses close for a few days. But if you keep your full-court press on your SoCal job search at this time you’ll keep that momentum going in your search (a job hunt thrives on momentum).

Take a look below for X reasons why looking for work during the holidays…..works!

  1. Not everyone can stay focused on the job search, so you’ll have less competition.

We understand all too well how distracting the month of December can be. And not everyone can compartmentalize their different priorities – certainly not as well as you can! And because you can focus on the search, you can snag an interview from someone who’s distracted by holiday events and to-do lists.

Yes, you may find that hiring managers are a bit slower to get back to you. You also may find that when you are hired your new manager may say you won’t be starting until after the New Year. (But that’s OK, because instead of being “unemployed,” you’ll be “on vacation” and you can truly enjoy the holidays!)

  1. Can you say “Networking opportunities galore!”?

Take advantage of the many holiday gatherings and parties held at this time of year to – discreetly – connect with people who could possibly help you in your search. Not sure how to network at holiday gatherings? This article has several good tips.

  1. Many companies have “use it or lose it” budget policies.

Many department/hiring managers are given department funding that requires them to use all of the funds budgeted to them each year or else the money not used won’t show up in their budgets next year. (“After all,” their manager may reason, “they didn’t use it this year, so they don’t need it next year.”)

So hiring managers may be eager to fill an open position before the year ends and you may find yourself being called in for interviews and getting an offer faster than you might have anticipated.

  1. Many holiday positions can turn into permanent work.

Seasonal jobs often do turn into full-time work even after the holiday season ends. Savvy department managers know they would be foolish to let great workers go and so you well could be pleasantly surprised to be offered the chance to continue working after January 1.

So there’s one more reason to look into seasonal/holiday work if your “real” job hasn’t yet panned out.

  1. Temporary assignments also often become full-time opportunities.

Working with a staffing service such as Helpmates during the holiday season – or any time of the year – can help you bring in some cash while you look for work.

Yet many of our associates take on a temporary assignment and later are hired by our client company as their own employee. This happens regularly throughout the year and during the holidays.

So if you’re looking for your next opportunity, take a look at our current openings and, if one or more look interesting, follow the directions for applying.

Happy Holidays!

How to Decline a Job Offer (So That They Won’t Hate You)

Let’s say you’ve been offered a job but it’s lacking.   In something.  The pay isn’t enough. It’s too far to commute. (“91 freeway westbound in the morning? Are you KIDDING me!?”) Your ex-boyfriend just announced on InstaStories that he got a job there. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that the job isn’t what you thought it would be and so you’ve decided to turn it down.

But in order to get a job offer, one usually must say right out loud while shaking a hiring manager’s hand goodbye: “Thank you for this interview(s). I think I’d be a great addition to your team and I hope you will offer me the job.” Or you said as much on the phone. Or probably in your thank you letter after your interviews.

So. Turning down the job after you baldly and repeatedly said you wanted it? This is embarrassing.

No, it’s not.

People decline job offers all the time. What’s more, job offers get rescinded all the time. So, minor embarrassment aside, it’s perfectly normal to say no thank you after an offer’s been extended.

Los Angeles jobs

But. You never know: you may want to work at this company someday in the future. So be careful how you the job down: you want to do so with grace, professionally and in a way that makes the hiring manager think well of you.

Take a look below for how to do this.

  1. Don’t not show up on your first day.

Sure, you’re nervous about saying no. You also may be worried that you might be making a mistake by turning it down and so you postpone making a decision until the day you’re supposed to start. And so you don’t show up. And you don’t answer texts or calls or emails from your (could have been) new boss.

Instead, be a professional and as soon as you’re certain the job’s not for you, let the hiring manager know, preferably no later than a week before your start date. (Even better, turn it down before you even set a start date!)The absolute latest you can tell someone you’re not coming in: the day before your first day and even that is cutting it way too close.

Not showing up just shows extreme immaturity and massive inconsideration. Man- or woman-up and tell the hiring manager with days to spare.

  1. It’s best to call the hiring manager. Second best is an e-mail. Never text.

Yes, it could be a hard call to make. But the hiring manager deserves this courtesy. And you’re a professional: you definitely can do this.

Whether you call or email, follow these guidelines:

  • Thank the hiring manager for the offer. Tell her how much you appreciate her consideration of your skills and background.
  • Give a brief reason why you’re not accepting the offer/changed your mind. You don’t have to go into great detail: you’ve accepted a position at another company. After much thought, you’ve decided to stay put. You and your spouse discussed and the longer commute will just cut too much into critical family time, etc. You don’t even have to give a reason, you can just say “As wonderful as this opportunity is, unfortunately I am going to decline.” (If you say this in a phone conversation, understand the hiring manager probably ask for a reason. Have a good one handy. Again, you don’t have to go into details.)
  1. Offer a solution.

You’re not going to say “give me 20 percent more than you offered and I’m your gal!” Instead what we mean by a solution is to say you have several connections in your network who may be great for the position and you offer to talk to them about it and send their information to the hiring manager

You see, by turning the offer down, you’ve created a huge problem for your hiring manager: he has work to be done that no one’s going to do and he to go through the interview process all over again! By offering a solution you show that you understand you’ve created a problem and you want to help fix it.

This shows empathy and professionalism.

  1. Say you want to stay in touch.

The world of work is small one. Particularly within industries. There may come a time when you will want to work for this company. Or you may see the hiring manager at conferences, seminars and other professional events. If you aren’t yet connected on LinkedIn, say you will send a connection request soon (and then do so that day). Even a simple “Thank you for your time and offer and I hope we meet again,” will be enough.

Say yes to your next job offer by contacting Helpmates. We have many great job and career opportunities in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Good luck with your job search!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Recruiter

We’re recruiters and we love it! For all its many ups and downs, it’s a career that helps candidates find work and our clients find great employees. Our hearts just go zing! when we help someone find a new position. After all, without work, we can’t support our families, we can’t realize our dreams, we can’t help our children become all they can be.

Los Angeles recruiters

So we fully understand that “a job” really is more than that: work can give us meaning and provide us the opportunity to work at something greater than ourselves. It also can provide community as well as income.

So in a very important way, jobs are our lives in the sense that without work, we can’t truly live. And that’s why we think working as a recruiter is one of the greatest careers out there because our work has a massive impact on individual lives.

(In fact, the American Staffing Association [the trade association of the staffing industry; Helpmates is a member], has a whole section on the benefits of recruiting/staffing as a career: Staffing as a Career – A Whole Opportunity Awaits. If you’ve ever wanted to sit on our side of the desk, we hope you check it out.)

Not All Bright Lights and Glamor

Still, working as a recruiter in the staffing industry is intense. Our days are extremely busy day. As in incredibly, astonishingly, exceedingly, unbelievably, absurdly busy.  On any given day we could:

  • Need to find 20 people to head to work at a distribution center. Tomorrow. Oh, and the client called us about it at 4 p.m.
  • Need to fill 10 administrative assignments this week. We only have eight great admin professionals available, so we need to interview several more so that we can fill our clients’ needs.
  • Three temporary associates called in sick at the last minute, and we need to replace them ASAP.
  • We have two great accounting professionals coming in for an interview with us before we send them out on a terrific permanent job interview.

And that’s all while fielding lots of phone calls and dozens upon dozens of e-mails from our clients and candidates.

What to Look for in a Recruiter/Staffing Service

Looking for work is stressful enough; don’t make it harder by working with a service that makes your job search more nerve-wracking than it need be.

When looking at different staffing firms, look for:

  • A firm in which most of its recruiters are Certified Staffing Professionals (CSPs). CSPs are certified by the ASA and the designation shows that the recruiter has the expertise and commitment to adhere to the highest standards of professionalism. The exam is comprehensive and takes considerable study before a recruiter can pass. It’s a true mark of distinction and all of our recruiters here at Helpmates are required to take the exam and pass it!
  • A commitment to treating all candidates with the utmost respect and understanding. This actually can be rated. Inavero’s Best of Staffing surveys asks both staffing service clients and candidates to rate their staffing service and then Inavero tallies results and provides its Best of Staffing award in the two categories. Only two percent of staffing firms in the U.S. and Canada win these awards and Helpmates has been placed on the “Best of Staffing” list for eight straight years. Winning the candidate (called “talent” by Inavero) satisfaction award is a sign that our candidates feel we treat them with the respect and consideration they are due.
  • Look for a service with recruiters who have stayed with the company for at least three years. The staffing and human resources industries are well known for their internal employee turnover rates. So when you find a service with recruiters with several years’ tenure, you’ve found a firm that treats its internal employees right – a very good sign for you! Here at Helpmates, our average recruiter tenure is 5.1 years and our turnover is less than half of the staffing industry’s rate.

How to Get the Best Out of Us

If you’re looking for work and contact one of our offices, we want to make sure you have the best experience possible, so we want you to know this:

We truly want to help you find work. Really. Honest. Truth!

But we do have constraints and the biggest one is this: our primary job isn’t to find people work; it’s to find our clients the best workers.

Remember, our work on your behalf costs you nothing. If our main purpose was to find you work, we’d have to charge you for it. We need to make a profit: Helpmates is a business, after all.

So our clients pay for our work and therefore our top priority is to find them the best candidate for a position. Yet right up there with that priority (as in, thisclose) is finding you work.

However, unless you have the skills and background our clients need, we won’t be able to place you. You could be the nicest, the hardest working, the most devoted person in the world, but if you don’t have the skills or experience our clients need, we may not be able to find a position for you.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t help you.

What does that mean? If you have flexibility and are willing to take positions for which you may be overqualified; if you understand our client-stipulated constraints; if you understand that even temporary assignments are real work, should be treated as such (yes, put your time with us on your resume) and can lead to more permanent work; if you’re open to learning new skills (such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) on your own time, without pay (we provide the software so that you may do this at home); we will work very hard to help you.

After all, if you do the above, you’re showing initiative and you’re showing a great work ethic. In other words, to paraphrase Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, you’re helping us help you and so don’t be surprised if we go out of our way to help you as much as we can!

In the meantime, take a look at our current temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities at some of Orange and Los Angeles counties’ best employers. If one appeals to you, follow the instructions on the listing or contact us! We look forward to helping you find a great position.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Job Seekers

Your resume is perfectly polished and proofread. Your cover letter gives a solid introduction while highlighting your strengths. You’ve practice for your job interview and are ready to go.

You’re not done yet.May 2

All of these elements are essential to a successful job search, so you are most definitely doing the right things. But, there is one important aspect of your job search you might be neglecting: Your social media presence.   

By now, you realize that social media offers more than a great place to share pictures and news with your family and friends. It’s also a powerful tool for networking and searching for jobs. But just as social media offers excellent opportunities for you to enhance your job search, it also presents an excellent opportunity for recruiters to learn more about YOU.

So what are they learning?

The information recruiters find on your social media profiles could help you land (or not land) an interview or even help you get the job. The only way to ensure it helps your job search instead of hinders it is to follow some best practices. Consider these quick top 10 social media tips for job seekers your “cheat sheet” to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward:

  1. Check your privacy settings. Social media sites like Facebook will almost always be about family and friends first, but that doesn’t mean recruiters aren’t researching you there. The best way to keep your personal life personal is to constantly check and update your privacy settings – especially on Facebook, where privacy settings can sometimes change frequently. They’re also not a “set it and forget it” -type element. Since Facebook is updating their policies frequently, you may be leaving personal posts and images open to the public after an update. A good rule of thumb is to check them about once a month.
  2. Be consistent. You may have forgotten about that old Twitter account, but you can bet recruiters are finding it when they search online for your name. If your image and bio are outdated on one profile, it could give recruiters the wrong impression. Ensure your profiles tell a complete, consistent story.
  3. Use a great photo. Your profile photos don’t have to be stuffy head shots (even on professional sites like LinkedIn), but they should present you in a personable, professional light. Avoid pictures with family or friends (especially the “cropped out” friend who is half visible), and keeping #2 in mind, try to use the same picture on all your social profiles.
  4. Complete your profiles. This is especially important on LinkedIn. If there’s a section for information about you – complete it! The more complete your profile, the better the impression you’ll make on recruiters. Added bonus: Profiles with more information tend to perform better in searches, so recruiters may end up finding and calling you about a job because they found you on LinkedIn!
  5. Show some balance. Online recommendations or endorsements can add real value, but be sure to focus on quality rather than quantity. Most recruiters would rather see a handful of thoughtful LinkedIn recommendations over a dozen “5-star reviews” without any details.
  6. Post content. A good-looking, complete profile is one thing, but to really make a good impression online, try to share relevant content. When your privacy settings permit (often on Twitter and LinkedIn, not Facebook), share articles from well-known and respected publications (Inc., Entrepreneur and Success are a good place to start) to show recruiters that you not only understand social media, but are active there. More importantly, you’ll also demonstrate some business savvy and will actually provide value for not only recruiters, but all of your connections.
  7. Stay positive. Recruiters can review your social media profiles at any time during the hiring process – it can often be your only chance at a first impression! Avoid positing negative content to ensure you’re making a strong impression and are presenting yourself as someone a recruiter would want to talk to during an interview. This also includes discussing past employers – it is never appropriate to post or speak negatively about any past colleagues or employers. Always stay positive on social media (and during job interviews).
  8. Get connected. Once you’ve set up strong social media profiles (or have updated your current profiles), be sure to build your connections. This is especially powerful on LinkedIn (and sometimes on Twitter). It is perfectly acceptable to send a request to connect to recruiters on LinkedIn.
  9. Be personal.  While connecting with recruiters is a valuable tool in your social media arsenal, there’s one thing to keep in mind: Standing out means getting personal. Specifically, be sure to include a personal note with your request to connect (not the standard invitation text auto populated by LinkedIn). Most people do not take this extra step, so you’ll not only make a great impression, you’ll really stand out.
  10. Ask for feedback. The best way to know how a recruiter views your social media profiles is to ask one! Our recruiters can help you assess and improve your resume, cover letter and your social media profiles to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Building a social media presence that helps your job search isn’t difficult, but you’ll have to follow through on these steps to maximize your efforts. Here at Helpmates, we help job seekers from across Southern California to find their next job or take their careers to the next level. Search our current job openings or contact a recruiter today to learn more.

Back to School? Continued Education and Its Impact on Your Career.

Education equals career success. That’s what we’ve been taught for years, right? But what kind of education makes the biggest impact? And does it really make an impact at all?

Employers love education.

Without a doubt, education is something that employers look for on a resume. Generally, degrees and education can help you earn a higher salary. Education also demonstrates a commitment to growth and learning that impresses hiring managers. With a variety of online and in-person education opportunities available today, the time has never been better to invest in continued education.

But, continued education can make a bigger impact on certain careers and industries than others.  Here’s a breakdown of some important areas for professional education, and how they can impact your career:HM1

  • Customer service professionals. You’d be hard-pressed to find an employer that isn’t impressed by any continued education, certificates or degrees in the areas of leadership and management. As an employee, investing in courses or degree programs that focus on management and leadership demonstrates to employers that you plan on moving up in the company and taking on more responsibility. It also can demonstrate some stability, and give the impression that you’re looking for a long-term career partner, and not just a stop along the way. In the literal sense, you’ll gain critical information in these types of programs that can help you not only ascend the corporate ladder, but truly succeed and thrive as a leader within your organization.
  • Administrative professionals. While there are technical and soft skills that are essential for any administrative professional to succeed, advanced certification opportunities can also help you stand out from the competition and demonstrate competency in your area of expertise. IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) offers a certification program that encompasses all areas of an office environment. An advanced certification in organizational management takes that certification a step further as well. Providing a range of education and study materials and culminating in an exam, completing these certifications is an investment in your career that demonstrates a genuine commitment to your profession.
  • Accounting/finance professionals. Few industries are evolving and changing as often as accounting and finance. Quality continued education opportunities adhere to strict standards while providing insights and information into evolving tax law, business ethics, specialized knowledge, personal development and more. From seminars and webinars to online and in-person courses, a range of organizations offer certifications and continued education opportunities for accounting/finance professionals. Especially in this industry, it’s important to research the credentials and background of your education provider for accounting/finance education. Credentialed individuals and organizations with the right experience and qualifications are essential to provide you with relevant, correct information and a quality learning experience.
  • Changing Careers. When you’re looking for a new career, education and certifications can provide the qualifications and knowledge you need to make a successful transition. Employers who see education and certifications for a career shift are also more likely to feel that you are serious about your new career path, and have wholly committed to being successful. Finally education and certification programs often provide opportunities for internships and volunteer opportunities that can give you hands on experience in your new career field, adding even more benefit and value to prospective employers.

Making an investment in your education can absolutely make a big impact on your career. The right career partner is also critical. Helpmates is hiring for a range of positions with top employers across Southern California. Search our open jobs now or contact your local Helpmates office to get started.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles

Job Interview Tips: How to Discuss an Awful Job Experience

While every past position hasn’t necessarily been a dream job, chances are you’ve had a bad experience or two in your employment history. From bad bosses to policies that don’t make sense, you probably have quite a few stories…but how you handle those experiences during a job interview could be essential to determining whether or not you land the job.Juneblog2

Careful handling of past job experiences is key.

Interviewers will expect you to come prepared to discuss past employers and positions, so careful preparation and handling of any bad experiences can make the difference between starting your new job and submitting another resume. Here are five tips to help you get through the discussion with flying colors:

  1. Be honest. It can be awfully tempting to gloss over a bad work experience in an attempt to impress interviewers, but this tactic can blow up in your face – and cause more damage than a tactful answer in the first place. Chances are your recruiter will speak with someone at your previous job and understand that it wasn’t the best situation. Be ahead of the game by sharing honest feedback on your previous experience.
  2. But not too honest. An overview of past experiences – good or bad – can help give interviewers a well-rounded look into your background and how you’ve handled challenging situations. But while honesty is important, be sure to avoid giving too much information during a job interview. A high-level explanation of the challenges in a previous workplace, and how you overcame them, is more than enough to paint an accurate picture for recruiters. Going into more detail can open up additional questions that are uncomfortable and lead to unnecessary details.
  3. Avoid negativity. While honesty is important, tact and class are especially critical. Never (ever!) speak negatively about an individual in your previous workplace (or about an employer in general). While you can mention that you didn’t “have the strongest relationship” with a specific colleague, refrain from getting into blame or personal attacks during a job interview. Sometimes coworkers or bosses and employees don’t get along. It happens to many people, and if you speak about it with honesty while staying professional, you will make a much stronger impression.
  4. Find something positive. While you may not have had the best experience at a previous employer, chances are there was something positive you gained from the experience. Maybe they provided you with opportunities to grow your skill set. Or perhaps their flexible work arrangements helped create a better environment. Tying in something positive about the employer – despite your overall negative experience – demonstrates your willingness to learn and stay objective in difficult situations.
  5. Talk about your other jobs. Once you’ve given a high-level, honest overview of your experience and the positives you gleaned from it, move on. Put the emphasis more on your positive experiences and how they’ve prepared you for the specific career opportunity discussed in your interview. If you focus too much attention on the negative experience, it could end up being the most memorable part of your interview (for the wrong reasons). Instead, get to the details and move on to help tell your story and show why you’re the best fit for the job.

Want to avoid more bad job experiences? Helpmates is hiring professionals like you for jobs across Southern California. Search our job board or contact your nearest Helpmates office to learn more.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/stockimages

Keep Your Job Search Focused This Summer

Summer is an exciting time for many of us – nice weather, vacations, family gatherings, outdoor activities and more. But while the season brings with it many fun activities, those activities could be considered distractions when it comes to your job search. HM_JuneBlog1

Finding a job during the summer requires focus

If you’re looking for a job, it can be easy to get distracted by summer activities and lose sight of your end goal. But while hiring generally slows down in the summer, it also ramps up quite a bit in the fall – the effort you put forth now can help set you up for success in the long term. The good news is that you don’t have to give up on fun entirely during the summer season – these tips can help you stay focused (while giving you some room for fun, too):

  • Schedule your day. Even if you can only devote a few hours each day toward your job search this summer, stay committed to those several hours. Schedule out your days and identify key goals and tasks you’ll accomplish each day. Something as simple as breaking things down into steps can mean the difference between landing a new job and starting over again in the fall.
  • Keep networking. With better weather comes better networking event locations – take advantage! Various networking groups will hold outdoor and other events during the summer, offering a fun way to enjoy the summer while moving your job search forward as well.
  • Stay professional. Summer temperatures are hotter, but resist the urge to wear casual summer clothes to networking or other professional events. Stay professional when you’re meeting with potential employers, recruiters or at networking events.
  • Remember it’s summer. Your schedule isn’t the only one that’s jam-packed this summer – chances are that hiring managers have summer vacations, family gatherings and other events too. Keep this in mind and be patient if you don’t hear back from employers in the most time efficient manner. Stay focused, follow up and be patient – it will pay off in the end.
  • Consider volunteering. Many nonprofit organizations hold fundraisers and other events to take advantage of the good moods and spirit of giving that come along with the great summer weather. Spending a few hours each week helping these organizations is not only a great thing to do for your community, but a great way to expand your network and build your skill set.

Looking for jobs in Southern California this summer? 

Helpmates is hiring! We match professionals like you with great jobs in Southern California. Search our currently available jobs or contact your nearest Helpmates office to get started.

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