How to Mistake-Proof Your Resume

How to Mistake-Proof Your Resume

When you send your resume and cover letter to prospective employers, mistakes and typos could ruin your chances at an interview. You know what you meant to say, so a quick scan isn’t going to reveal the mistakes that will stick out to recruiters and hiring managers. Use these tips to make sure your resume and cover letter don’t contain embarrassing errors.

Always Use Spell and Grammar Check

Most word processing programs automatically check for spelling and grammar, but they don’t make corrections for you. Go back through your document and review where your program marked errors. Word underlines mistakes with a squiggly red line and Google Docs uses solid red.

Grammarly has a free online grammar and spell checker that catches some errors word processing programs don’t. If you’re not creating your document online, you can upload it for a thorough error scan.

Don’t Edit Tired

If you just spent hours creating your resume, take a break. Come back when you’re rested, you’ll be glad you did.

Print for Proofing

You’ll be better able to spot errors on a paper copy than on a screen. Once you print your resume, use your finger to underline one word at a time as you read. The first time through, look at spelling, grammar and punctuation without editing for meaning and data accuracy. Clearly mark changes with a contrasting color pen so you can add them to your electronic copy later. Then read through again for information consistency.

Check for Common Errors

Spell check won’t catch a word used incorrectly. Make sure the subject and verb of every sentence agree with one another. Only place commas where the reader would naturally pause. Use an apostrophe with “its” only when you mean “it is.” Be careful with the commonly confused “affect” and “effect.” You “accept” offers, not “except” them. Most employees work with a manager, not a manger.

Read out Loud

This proofreading trick will catch errors you don’t notice any other way. Read your resume one word at a time at a pace similar to what you would use when speaking. If something doesn’t sound right, stop and fix it, then read it again.

Verify Hyperlinks

If the electronic copy of your resume contains links to articles you’ve written, online reviews from customers or other materials, click them to make sure they go where you intend. You could have typed URLs incorrectly, or pages might have been moved.

Ask for Help

See if a professional acquaintance or mentor will proofread your resume for you. A fresh set of eyes can make all the difference.

For more resume writing tips, see our dynamic library of useful resources. Our blog also offers help with writing a cover letter, preparing for an interview and having a successful first day on the job.

How to Improve Your People Skills At Work

How to Improve Your People Skills At Work

A huge part of how you feel about your job involves the people you work with. Positive work relationships will make you look forward to doing what you do. When the workplace contains undercurrents of tension and dissatisfaction, everyone suffers.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to work on building positive, effective relationships with co-workers and administrators. You may not be able to be friends with everyone but there are always steps you can take to strengthen the work relationships you have while forging new ones.

Evaluate and Improve Soft Skills

Building better relationships doesn’t start with your co-workers and managers. It begins inside when you take an objective look at your soft skills.

Hard skills are the ones you trained for. They’re things like your certifications, degrees, second languages and the number of words per minute you type. Soft skills are harder to measure. Here are a few examples:

  • Leadership
  • Problem solving ability
  • Strong work ethic
  • Strategic thinking
  • Competitiveness
  • Calmness under pressure
  • Compassionate listening

You may not have put them on your resume, but they’re crucial to building strong work relationships. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and look for ways to improve.

Steps for Better Communication Skills

No matter where you are on the communication skills spectrum, there’s room for improvement. You have the power to build better relationships when you make your goals specific and measurable.

Speak positively about your co-workers and administrators. It’s not kissing up, it’s being encouraging. Look for three ways to provide positive feedback every work day. Set a reminder on your phone to note whether you met your goal before you go home.

Ask questions. If you know your co-worker has a skill you’re curious about, give them a chance to share how they learned it. When working as a team, pause and ask other members what they think, and listen to what they say.

Express appreciation. Thank at least one person every day for something they do. Be on the lookout for little things that might normally go unnoticed. When presenting teamwork, let others hear you be appreciative for their individual contributions. Share credit when things go right, but when they don’t, avoid the temptation to place blame.

Avoid gossip like the plague. Office politics kill relationships. If you have a problem with someone, speak to them in private. If the situation doesn’t involve you, don’t add fuel to the fire by passing on information.

Improving work relationships takes consistent effort, but it’s worth it. When you make an intentional effort to pour good into the lives of those around you, it creates a ripple effect that will spread throughout your entire organization.

5 Email Etiquette Rules Every Employee Should Know

You may send and receive electronic communication all day long, but are you using email correctly? With some types of messaging it’s okay to be informal, but if it involves work email, there are rules you don’t want to break. Before you hit “send” one more time, make sure you’re protecting your professional image.

Use These With Caution

Think carefully before you use some email buttons and classifications. Use these options sparingly:

  • Reply All – Before you send an email, ask yourself if it needs to go to everyone on the list. There could be disastrous consequences if you mean to send a sarcastic comment to your friend and it actually goes to everyone at the office. If your communication doesn’t concern everyone, don’t use “reply all.”
  • Read Receipts – If you request to be notified when co-workers, employees, customers and clients open your email, it feels intrusive. When your information is time-sensitive or you’re concerned about whether or not it reaches its destination, ask the recipient in the email to let you know once they receive it.
  • CC vs. BCC – If you’re sending an email to a group, often it’s better to send a blind carbon copy (BCC) rather than a carbon copy (CC) where everyone’s email address is displayed.
  • Forward – If it doesn’t have to do with work, don’t use this button.

Write Good Subject Lines

If you could summarize your email in a few words, what would you say? Your email subject line should be clear and direct. Examples include, “Staff Meeting At 2 p.m. Today,” or “Question About Atkins Project.”

A well-written subject line makes it more likely people will open your email. Subject lines aren’t the place to be vague or make obscure references. Remember, the whole point of office email is to streamline communication.

Use a Professional Email Address and Signature Block

It’s best to always use your company email address. If you’re self-employed or for some reason have to send an email from your personal account, make sure your email address reflects professionalism.

Include an automated signature that attaches to every email. It should contain three or four lines of text that tell who you are and how else people can get in touch. It might also include your photo or company logo. Avoid hard-to-read fonts or lengthy statements. Simple and direct is always best.

Use Professional Salutations

Avoid informal greetings like “Hey,” or “What’s up?” Instead, use “Dear Mr. Smith,” “Hello Mrs. Francis,” or “Hi Jonathan.”

Don’t shorten the recipient’s name unless you know that’s what they prefer. For example, don’t address Steven as Steve unless he invited you to do so.

Proofread Carefully

Read through your email at least once silently and once out loud before you send it. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and to make sure your tone is what you intend. Be careful with humor, since that doesn’t always come across electronically.

Only use one punctuation mark at the end of sentences, and in most cases, that punctuation shouldn’t be an exclamation mark. Multiple exclamation marks make you sound angry!!! Plus, can you see how using several question marks make you seem impatient to receive an answer????

Remember if you send it, others can forward it. Show your best self on email to protect your professional image and your career future.

Employment and Wages – Good News for 2019

Employment and Wages – Good News for 2019

On any news network, you find phrases like, “border crisis,” “violence surge,” “government shutdown,” and “trade war.” It’s alarming, and after a while it becomes discouraging. Brelsford Personnel notes some good news backed by hard data. Employment opportunities are better than they’ve been in years, and wages are firming and increasing. If you’re looking for a new job or a better position, this may be the most encouraging environment in a while for conducting your search.

Unexpected Gains

Analysts didn’t expect things to be going as well as they are. Before the new year, experts predicted employment would drop. The economic forecast was flashing warnings. The United States and China have been trading tariffs that raise the cost of goods. The stock market suffered its worst yearly losses in ten years, and interest rates were heading up.

However, employment exceeded expectations. According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, employers in the United States continued adding jobs at a robust rate. In 2018, wages posted their biggest gains in a decade. That is good news, along with the Fed’s announcement they’d be patient about further interest rate hikes, which caused stock prices to surge.

It’s all consumer-based. Unemployment is at its lowest in 50 years, nationally at 3.9 percent. In Smith County, the numbers are even better, with unemployment at 3.7 percent. People are working. They’re making money, and they’re spending it.

What That Means For You

Employers say it’s hard to find the right employees. When they do find them, their goal is to keep them. In 2018 the national average for hourly earnings went up 3.2 percent.

In East Texas we have a very healthy job market and qualified candidates are in high demand. When asked how local employers are working to keep employees, Brelsford Personnel’s Gates Brelsford offered an insider’s view. “Our sense is because there is a shortage of quality employees,” he said, “that creates more demand and therefore pushes up wage rates, because companies have to pay more to get good people.”

“Employers are looking for someone who has at least two things,” he continued. “The first is a very close match in their skillset for that hiring authority. The second is a cultural fit or professional demeanor, and what that is that depends on the company.”

The bottom line is, now is a good time to look for a job. The economy is very healthy as far as hiring goes, so it’s a great time to find the position you’ve been hoping for. It might even come with a wage increase.

Currently, the Brelsford Personnel job board includes openings for a wide range of positions. They might have already posted your next graphics design job, legal assistant position or bookkeeping job. Brelsford specializes in administrative office support, accounting and financial services, human resources and more.

Look through our online job postings to see what’s available today. Also, like and follow The Brelsford Facebook page to see new job openings as they become available.

Sources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-december-nonfarm-payrolls-grew-by-312-000-jobless-rate-rose-to-3-9-11546609016

Stick to That Resolution, We Can Help

Stick to That Resolution, We Can Help

Year after year East Texans set New Year’s resolutions, but those resolutions quickly fall by the wayside. The most common ones involve eating better and exercising more. This year a survey by Inc.com found 16 percent of Americans are also pledging to find new employment. Brelsford Personnel offers tips on how to keep some of the most common resolutions, whether they involve nutrition, physical activity or a complete career change.

Simple Tricks for Eating Healthy at Work

Once you get to work, your food options are limited to what you brought with you and what you can pick up on your lunch break. Nutrition is an all day, every day thing. Keep yourself on track with these tips:

  • Meal prep – Spend time on Saturday or Sunday to cook and package food you’ll actually want to eat. Try a one pot meal, healthy soup, quinoa salad or something else you can munch over the course of a few days. If you don’t cook, find healthy, prepared protein, raw veggies and whole grains at the grocery store. Pack meals in individual portions so you can grab and go.
  • Snack prep – You’ll be better able to resist the doughnuts in the break room if you have healthy snacks in your desk. Pack fruit, snack bags of nuts, low-fat yogurt etc.
  • Have a backup plan – If you forget your lunch or don’t have time to prepare, decide now what you’ll pick up that won’t derail your diet. Try a salad from Jason’s Deli or an “enlightened” entrée from BJ’s. If you only have time for fast food, a chili from Wendy’s only has 170 calories.

Work Exercise Hacks

It’s always a good idea to park farther away and take the stairs, but there are other ways to squeeze in physical activity, even if you have a desk job. Set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour and every time it goes off, try one of the following for 60 seconds:

  • Stretching
  • Jogging in place
  • Air squats
  • Imaginary jump rope

If you’re stuck in your chair, strengthen your core by raising one leg at a time until it touches the underside of your desk, then repeating with the other. Also, Amazon sells an elliptical trainer that fits under your desk for easy, on-the-job cardio.

New Year, New Job

If you were among the 16 percent of Americans who resolved to find a new position, now is the time to take your first steps in that direction.

Check out the open jobs on the Brelsford Personnel website at https://www.brelsfordpersonnel.com/ . Click on “Positions” and scroll down to review the open jobs. If there are any you wish to be considered for, you may apply online by filling out an employment profile under our “Candidates” tab. We review all incoming resumes and retain them even when there’s not an immediate fit.

While you’re there, you may also want to visit our “Resources” page, where you’ll find resume writing advice, dress code guidelines, interview tips and other tools that might help you in your job search.

Holiday Stress – What Causes It, How to Reduce It

Holiday Stress – What Causes It, How to Reduce It

This month the holiday season cranks into high gear, and not everyone is feeling merry and bright. Many East Texans feel financial stress, loneliness, relationship issues and fatigue. Often it feels like work pressure seems to intensify.

If you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of holiday stress and find ways to release some of that pressure.

List Workplace Stress Causes

It’s easy to get so busy putting out fires you don’t stop and think what’s causing them or how they’re affecting you. Take a few minutes on your daily commute to make a mental list of what’s creating your feeling of stress. Are you facing deadlines on any of the following?

  • End-of-year reporting
  • Conducting or receiving performance evaluations
  • Participating in company holiday celebrations – choosing a Secret Santa gift, figuring out what to wear, arranging your food contribution etc.
  • Planning for and working Black Friday and other holiday sales
  • Training and managing seasonal staff
  • Working extra hours when others take off for holiday vacation or shopping
  • Handling your most demanding workload during holiday-shortened weeks

When you start making your list, you’re probably going to recognize you feel overwhelmed because you face a formidable mountain of demands. If you haven’t been bubbling over with holiday cheer, that’s okay. Give yourself a break.

You may also be facing personal challenges. The holidays highlight strained family relationships and intensify grief over lost loved ones. All the extra shopping, entertaining and travel can strain any individual’s budget. Sometimes it helps just to acknowledge what you’re dealing with.

Be There For Others

Being kind to others will help lighten your own mood. Be on the lookout for people who need an extra word of encouragement.

If your co-worker is going through a difficult divorce or you remember your employee lost a parent last year, be available if they need someone to talk to. When people go out of their way to make the season joyful for others, be generous with your gratitude.

How Managers Can Reduce Holiday Stress

If you’re in charge of your team, you are integral to the emotional climate in your workplace. You can help struggling staff cope with holiday stress in several ways.

Encourage healthy habits. Highlight employee fitness programs at the end of the year as much as you do at the beginning. If you’re planning food for corporate events or picking up breakfast for the group, provide healthy choices.

Accept “no.” Be understanding if employees choose not to participate in workplace holiday activities.

Include employees in decisions. Find out how they want to celebrate the holidays. Instead of a party, would they rather organize a toy drive or participate in a charity 5k?

Allow breaks when needed. Consider making one of your holiday gifts to staff a half day to do whatever they need to take care of themselves.

A little thoughtfulness and sensitivity goes a long way. It may be what eliminates just enough of the pressure to turn a stressful holiday into a merry one.

Sources:

http://www.clearrock.com/5-ways-managers-can-reduce-holiday-stress-in-the-workplace/

https://www.inc.com/marissa-levin/the-dark-side-of-holiday-season-how-leaders-can-help-employees-cope-with-holiday-stress.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

East Texas Volunteer Opportunities for Employee Groups

East Texas Volunteer Opportunities for Employee Groups

Want more engaged employees this holiday season? A 2017 Deloitte Volunteerism survey found company-sponsored volunteering boosts morale, contributes to a more pleasant work environment and improves brand perception. Volunteering is good for everyone, and the holidays are the perfect time to give back. These East Texas nonprofits have volunteer opportunities for your work team.

PATH Community Homes

Just from August through December of last year, Tyler’s People Attempting to Help (PATH) served 6,924 East Texas households with 18,584 members. They provided housing for 45 families and utilities for 435 families. They also helped with school supplies, prescription medication, eye exams, dental services and so much more.

Volunteers make that huge impact possible. In that same time period, 584 volunteers donated 21,729 hours of service to people in need. This holiday season, they need you.

Greg Grubb, PATH’s Executive Director says the organization needs help with the repair, upkeep and renovation of East Texas rental homes. Of the 52 homes PATH owns, 38 are more than 70 years old. “Each time a tenant family moves out, we make the repairs and upgrades needed to provide a safe, decent and affordable home for the next family,” he says. “It’s a perfect team-building opportunity that really helps a family of our neighbors!”

Don’t be intimidated if not everyone in your group is a skilled construction worker. PATH’s Facilities Manager customizes projects to the number of people in each group and the tasks they’re comfortable doing. Both inside and outside work is available.

Contact PATH by filling out the volunteer form on their website.

The East Texas Food Bank

It may seem like there’s food everywhere this time of year, but that’s not true for all East Texas families. The East Texas Food Bank website says one in five East Texas adults are hungry today. The organization’s mission is to fight hunger and feed hope in 26 East Texas counties. They accept food and money donations and use them for programs like these:

  • The BackPack Program – Needy school children receive a backpack full of food so they don’t go hungry over the weekend when they don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch.

 

  • Summer Food – Over the summer those children still need food. This program provides nutritious meals at community locations.

 

  • Senior Boxes – Qualifying seniors receive a monthly nutritious box so they don’t have to decide between heating their home and buying groceries.

All those programs require volunteers. When your group signs up to work at East Texas Food Bank, you might repackage bulk items into individual servings, load backpacks or help with office administrative duties. Their website provides contact information for volunteering as a group.

Habitat for Humanity

This organization helps needy families realize the dream of homeownership. They build new homes and sell them to qualifying families at cost with zero interest mortgages. One of the ways they raise money to do so is through Tyler’s ReStore.

ReStore accepts donations of furniture, appliances and home improvement products and sells them to the general public. Homeowners and businesses donate materials when they remodel and ReStore displays them at their retail location on Front Street.

Retail Director Danny Saenz says, “We like to stage our furniture so it looks like a furniture store, and we also have shelves of merchandise volunteers help display. Ladies do things like put matching end tables with couches to make it look good. For guys, we just need muscle. It helps to have extra bodies to lift doors and windows in our warehouse area.”

Whether your employees prefer to help with heavy lifting or they excel at decorating and design, ReStore has volunteer opportunities available. Find out more on the Habitat for Humanity of Smith County website.

Sources:
https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2407011.jsp https://www.easttexasfoodbank.org/join-the-fight/donate-time/ https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/group-opportunities
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/about-deloitte/us-2017-deloitte-volunteerism-survey.pdf

Still No Job? 3 Tips for Keeping Your Chin Up

Still No Job 3 Tips for Keeping Your Chin Up

The longer a job search drags on, the harder it can get. Bills pile up. That voice of anxiety that was once just a whisper becomes a steady stream of chatter. While it’s tempting to curl up in a ball and have a pity party, that won’t solve the problem. Being proactive can help you stay positive.

Be A Professional Job Hunter

Uncertainty can be devastating to the mind and emotions. If you stay up late because you don’t have anywhere you have to be, you’ll sleep late and feel lethargic. If your job search is sporadic you could end up on an emotional roller coaster, swinging wildly between hope, disappointment and boredom.

Taking charge of your situation begins in the mind. Quit thinking of yourself as a person without a job. Instead, treat your daily job hunt like an actual job.

Plan your day and stick to that plan. Set an alarm and establish a routine. Get dressed in the clothes you would wear going to work. Then spend your time on tasks that will get you closer to your goal.

Research how to make your resume the best it can be. Learn how to write a cover letter that makes employers want to read your resume. Sign up for online training to improve or add skills. Until you find a job, be excellent at looking for one.

Volunteer

When you’re working full time you don’t have much free time on your hands. Use this chance to offer your skills to organizations or people who need them and can’t afford to pay for them or need volunteer help. Volunteering will help you stay positive, and it might help you find a job.

Volunteering connects you with people in your community. You sign up to make a difference and meet others who want to do the same. You’ll find yourself with stronger community ties and a larger social network, which is valuable.

Volunteering provides mental and physical benefits. Being out of work is stressful. A long, drawn-out job search creates feelings of anxiety and sometimes depression. Helping others improves your physical and psychological well-being. A Harvard Health article suggests volunteering could lower blood pressure and provide other health benefits.

Volunteering hones marketable skills. Many opportunities come with training that looks great on your resume. Volunteering will also help you keep current skills sharp while between jobs. Add community and volunteer work to your resume.

Find Help

When you’re looking for a job in the Tyler or Longview area, contact an East Texas staffing firm. At Brelsford Personnel we have decades of experience helping job seekers find the right fit and we have opportunities that aren’t posted anywhere else. We know the Tyler labor market, and for job seekers our services are free. See what jobs we currently have available or submit your resume today.

Should You Take a Temp Job When You Need a Career?

Should You Take a Temp Job When You Need a Career

Holiday hiring is starting, and some East Texans are wondering if they should take a short-term gig or hold out for something more permanent. Temp positions might last only a short time and sometimes can go longer. They also may be like an extended job interview that results in a career.

If you’re offered a short-term position should you take it? Everyone’s situation is different, so we encourage job-seekers to weigh the benefits against the risks.

A Temp Job Means Income

With a temp job, you don’t have the long-term security that comes with a permanent role. You may not be eligible for benefits or vacation time. However, you know for a set time frame what you can count on earning.

When deciding whether to accept a temp job or wait for another potential employer to call, temping pays the immediate bills.

Short-Term Can be a Good Thing

You’ve heard it said that people don’t quit their job, they quit the boss. Last year CBS News reported 51 percent of America’s workers feel disengaged because of their job responsibilities or their supervisor. Hopefully your temporary job will be a positive experience but if it isn’t, you’re not stuck.

You’ll Add Experience to Your Resume

When you have a long gap between jobs, it can look bad. A temporary position fills that gap. (Put it on your resume and indicate that it was temporary.) If you’re a college student or recent graduate, sometimes short-term employment gives you the experience you need to find something more permanent.

You Have the Opportunity to Shine

To have the best chance at making a temp job permanent, treat it like a long-term commitment. Learn as much as you can about the company and your responsibilities. Build relationships with co-workers. Show up early every day dressed for success.

One of the benefits of temping is the ability to gain experience and expose yourself to a variety of personality types and processes. Soak up as much information as you can. Whether your position leads to something more permanent or not, your new skills make you more valuable.

Be on the lookout for ways you can make an impact. If a supervisor asks you to take something on that isn’t one of your assigned tasks, show a willingness to contribute.

If you found your temporary position through Brelsford Personnel or another employment agency, we have a strong relationship with the East Texas company you’re working for. Let us know if you’re interested in a full-time position and if one is available, we can inquire on your behalf.

Autonomy – What It Really Is and How to Encourage It

Autonomy What It Really Is and How to Encourage ItAutonomy sounds great to employees and employers alike, but is it really achievable? Bosses think if they could just turn projects over and employees would do what’s needed that would be the next best thing to heaven. Workers feel like they could get so much more done if their boss would quit micromanaging.

Part of the problem is that both sides don’t always understand what autonomy really is. That makes it hard to achieve. Let’s start with defining the goal and then explore ways to reach it.

What Autonomy Is and Isn’t

Autonomy is the ability to make choices that help you perform at your best. Here are some of the areas where employees might have the freedom to choose:

  • Project types
  • Flexibility in timing and work location
  • Work pacing
  • Preferred client or industry focus

Autonomy isn’t employees doing whatever they want and making all the decisions. It doesn’t mean any of these things:

  • Employees can show up and leave whenever they want
  • Individuals can work in isolation without seeking approval or clarification from management
  • Employees have to figure out what to do without input from the boss
  • Every staff member has the same amount of freedom

A University of Birmingham study indicated people who had flexible schedules and work pacing had higher job satisfaction. Happy employees are more engaged, innovative and productive. An autonomous workplace is better for everyone.

4 Ways to Encourage Workplace Autonomy

People want to direct their own lives. It’s possible to create autonomy at your business without sacrificing leadership. Here’s how.

Hire for autonomy. Not everyone can handle the choices you want to offer. Look for people who have faced challenges and persevered. Ask interview questions that encourage them to explain how they deal with hardship or frustration. When you call their references, ask questions to explore how they act when no one is looking.

Make expectations crystal-clear. Some businesses have safety concerns, governmental regulations or compliance issues that are never up for discussion. Others would lose business if employees didn’t behave or dress in line with company values. Identify the non-negotiables and make them part of onboarding and regular training. In areas where you offer choices, set boundaries and hold employees accountable.

Allow employees to earn their choices. You don’t have to give everyone the same amount of freedom. You probably already know the person who always gets work done on time and the one who almost never makes a deadline. The first employee literally can’t stand to be late. The idea causes him or her physical pain. That employee would be successful with a flexible schedule. They’ve earned it with their consistent excellence.

Instill a feeling of ownership. Ask for employee feedback on company goals, projects and processes. Recognize staff individually and specifically for how their contribution caused improvement or profit.

Find Employees You Can Trust

At Brelsford Personnel we’re committed to excellence when it comes to employee screening and selection. During our interview process we find trustworthy candidates for your professional, administrative and temporary staffing needs. We perform background checks and in-depth reference checks and verify skills as part of our candidate assessment. Get in touch to find the employees who meet your business needs.