How to Thrive Even if You’re Stuck in a Dead End Job

When work starts to feel like a hamster wheel day after day, it can lead to burnout. Maybe you’ve worked to the highest position possible within your organization and your company doesn’t offer any more opportunities for growth. Or, maybe you applied for a promotion and failed.

When there’s nowhere to go and no change in sight, the future stretches ahead of you endless and bleak. However, most people can’t afford to go home and stay there while they figure out what to do next.

That’s where we come in. Brelsford Personnel helps East Texans find jobs they love. While you’re waiting, here are ways to breathe fresh energy into every day while you work toward a better future.

Step Back

You may not be able to quit, but take a break to invest in yourself and your future. Carve out some time on a weekend or take a day off for reflection and research.

When you don’t like your job, you can develop tunnel vision. All you can see is what’s holding you back. Maybe you feel like your boss and co-workers are always stifling your creativity or the nature of your work is too mind-numbing. You feel strangled because you have to have the benefits or the income to support your family. The more you focus on the problem, the bigger it looms.

Intentionally step back and start looking for the solution. You know you hate where you are, but where would you like to be? What’s your ideal job? What skills do you already possess and which ones do you still need to get it? Set attainable goals and start researching the steps that would get you there.

Learn

There’s always a demand for highly skilled employees. If you’re not qualified for the job you want right now, do something about it. Take advantage of training your employer offers. If you hear about a workshop or seminar that would add to your skillset and it’s not on your manager’s radar, ask to attend.

You might need to go back and finish high school, attend a trade school, pick up an associates or bachelor’s degree or get your MBA. It all takes time and effort, but you become of more worth to employers. Plus, you’ll feel hopeful instead of stagnant.

Slide Laterally

If you can’t move up, can you trade places? There might be another position within your organization that has different responsibilities and requirements. Even if you have the same pay, you’ll learn new things and have a fresh daily routine.

Get Moving

Literally move more. Set a timer and do something to get your blood pumping every hour. Jog in place behind your desk. Go for a brisk walk around the parking lot. Find a way to work in physical activity and both your brain and body will feel invigorated.

Apply Somewhere Else

Brelsford Personnel has been successfully placing qualified candidates with top Texas employers since 1988. View our current openings and if you find one that looks like a good fit, register with us today.

Job Search Differences Men vs. Women

Job Search Differences Men vs. Women

Men and women don’t approach the job search in the same way. As East Texas employers and employees seek to eliminate gender inequality, it’s important to recognize the thought processes that go into job application. There are things both genders can learn from each other.

Biggest Job Search Gender Difference

Previously we had the chance to interview former Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass for an upcoming Tyler Executive Women’s Network event. She pointed out how women tend to think they’re not qualified enough or that they need more skills to apply for a position.

They typically look at the list of job requirements and if they can’t check off every one of them, they think it would be a waste of time to apply. When women don’t apply, they say it’s for reasons like the following:

  • I didn’t think they would hire me because I didn’t have all the skills on the list. I didn’t want to waste my time and energy.
  • I felt like submitting my application would waste the hiring team’s time. It would be inconsiderate since they had already made it clear what they were looking for.
  • I didn’t want to put myself out there when it seemed I might fail.
  • I thought there were probably more qualified people out there. I didn’t think I could perform the job as well as they might be able to.

A Hewlett Packard internal report also found in Harvard Business Review says men apply for a position when they meet 60 percent of the requirements, where women only apply if they meet them all. It’s an eye-opener when women realize there are likely people applying who are less qualified.

Rules vs. Guidelines

Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big: Finding Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message surveyed more than 1,000 professionals of both genders to compare their thought processes during a job search. She found women thought not applying for a job when they didn’t fit all the requirements was playing by the rules. Men are less likely to view the qualifications as rules at all.

If men had more than half of the required qualifications, they felt they could “sell” their ability to do the rest. Women listen to an inner voice that tells them they’re not good enough while men are less likely to hear that message.

Who is Right?

It’s important to note that when employers post job descriptions, it’s not only a wish list. They don’t just think it would be nice to find someone with most of the skills, but much of the job description will be actual requirements.

We’re not saying apply for positions you don’t have the skills for and hope to fake your way through the hiring process. That creates problems for both the employer and employee. Women are right to take job descriptions seriously.

However, if a job looks like a good fit, don’t hesitate to submit your resume for fear someone else might be better than you. Your skills and personality could be exactly what that employer is looking for. Men are right to approach a job with confidence if they know they have the skills.

Other Gender Differences

A Fairygodboss study found men and women use different resources in their job search. Men were more likely to use social media and LinkedIn. Women were more inclined to consult friends and family or job review sites.

Men and women have different motivation for seeking new employment in the first place. Men say they apply for a new job because they want more money or a promotion. Women are more likely to move because they have personal life changes and want more work/life balance or are looking for a position that’s more meaningful and challenging.

Brelsford Personnel has decades of experience placing both men and women with some of the best employers in the area. We have one-on-one conversations with applicants to fully understand their qualifications and career goals. For employers, we don’t suggest a candidate until they meet the majority of the qualifications – tangible and intangible. Find out the Brelsford difference when you get in touch today.

What to Do When Your Mind Goes Blank During an Interview

What to Do When Your Mind Goes Blank During an Interview

It’s probably the experience interviewees fear most. The recruiter or manager asks a question, you open your mouth and take a breath to answer, and suddenly your brain has nothing but white noise.

You wonder if that rushing noise in your ears is the sound of all your positive expectations going down the drain. For many, the degree of their feelings of panic seems directly proportionate to how badly they hoped things would go well.

The Best Prevention

The best way to keep it from happening is to prepare ahead of time. Research the company interviewing you so you have a good idea not just of their products or services, but also their values and culture. Read common interview questions for positions like what you’re applying for and practice your responses.

However, the brain is unpredictable. Let’s talk about what you can do if you walk in prepared and still find yourself fumbling for words.

Take a Deep Breath

A brief silence isn’t going to ruin your chances of getting the job. Take a deep breath and focus just a second on releasing the tension you’re holding.

If it makes you more comfortable, say something to the interviewer like, “Oh, that’s a great question. Let me think about it for just a minute.” Often releasing some of the pressure and providing a response will help you relax enough you can think clearly again.

Clarify

Ask the interviewer to repeat the question. Sometimes he or she will phrase things differently so you better understand what they’re asking. Another option is to repeat back what they said and ask if you’re following their train of thought. Both choices give you precious seconds to think and possibly additional clues.

Check Your Notes

The information might be right in front of you on your resume or notes, so don’t be afraid to use it. Be honest and show you can keep a positive attitude. Say something like, “My mind just went blank, let me have a second to double check.”

Use What You Know

If you give yourself a break to relax, you’re sure you understand the question and you still don’t know the answer, draw from what you know about the job description, the company and your skills. Give the best response you can. If you can relate your answer to your key skills and how they transfer to the job you’re applying for, that’s better than panicked silence. If you still aren’t sure, ask to come back to the question later.

Find additional information on preparing for your interview in our article on interview tips and on our resources page. For your next employment opportunity, see our online job postings.

Legal Assistant Jobs – Skills That Get You Hired

Legal Assistant Jobs – Skills That Get You Hired

Brelsford Personnel has well-established Tyler-based law firm clients that occasionally have openings for legal assistants. Legal assistants, also sometimes called legal secretaries or paralegals do more than just answer the phone and type. Every employer we work with has unique needs and requirements, but there are some skills all legal assistant jobs require.

Education Requirements

It’s preferred that candidates applying for legal assistant jobs have a paralegal certificate or associate’s degree in paralegal. A bachelor’s degree in another area alongside a paralegal certification is also useful. In rare situations, East Texas lawyers may hire college graduates who don’t have the necessary certification and provide on the job training.

Technology Skills

A legal assistant is like a lawyer’s right hand. The attorney relies heavily on him or her to perform computer-based tasks like composing and typing documents, keeping time for billing, updating calendars and transcribing recorded information. Applicants for legal assistant jobs should be proficient in word processing applications, spreadsheets and presentation software. Attorneys may require additional technology skills or legal specifications depending on their practice and specialization.

Attention to Detail

In legal, every detail matters and attorneys depend on their legal assistants to get those details right. Strong legal assistants don’t get bogged down when documentation piles up or flustered when the stakes are high. They proofread every character like it’s critical, because it often is. They don’t let the little things slide even when they’re tired because it could cost their firm a client.

People Skills

Many legal assistant jobs require you to work for more than one attorney at a time. You should be able to adapt cheerfully to different personalities and requirements, juggling assignments and priorities.

You’ll interact with clients, attorneys, other legal assistants, court personnel and more. Whether you communicate in person, by phone, through email or on a video conference, you should be able to remain friendly and professional.

Research Skills

Legal secretary educational programs prepare you to create legal documents like subpoenas, legal memos, discovery documents and briefs. You should already have a basic knowledge of court filing rules and legal terminology. However, every case is different, and your firm will frequently need you to dig for information. Attorneys hire professionals with strong fact-finding and legal research skills.

Brelsford Personnel typically has legal assistant openings in the East Texas area. View available positions online and apply from within each job posting.

How to Resign Without Burning Bridges

How to Resign Without Burning Bridges

If you’ve found a new job, congratulations! It’s exciting to think of the opportunities ahead, but first, you have to wrap things up with your current employer. There’s no getting around the fact that resigning is uncomfortable. Even if you’re positive you’ll never be back, you want to leave on good terms. Let’s look at the basics on how to resign from a job.

Frequently Asked Resignation Questions

How soon do I need to turn in my resignation notice?

Two weeks’ notice is standard for most positions.

Can I tell my boss I’m quitting in a text message?

No. You’ll need to write a professional resignation letter and have an in-person conversation. If you can’t meet with them in person, make a phone call.

Who do I need to tell first?

When you resign, talk to your direct manager before you let co-workers know you’re leaving.

Can my company stop me from resigning?

If you’re bound by a contract of employment, there may be stipulations for how and when you can quit. Otherwise, your boss may hate to see you go, but he or she can’t refuse your resignation.

What if I’m quitting because I’m fed up with my job?

Keep things positive during your resignation. You want to leave on good terms, so avoid complaining or bragging about your new job.

Resignation Letter Basics

Don’t just drop off a resignation letter, talk to your employer first in person or over the phone. If they ask for a formal letter, recognize it will go in your employment file, so you want to keep things professional.

A formal resignation letter should be brief, polite and to the point. Start with a friendly opening like, “Dear Ms. Smith,” or “Dear Bob,” depending on how you normally address your manager. Then, clearly state your intent to resign.

Give your employer a reasonable amount of time to hire your replacement. Let them know in your letter when will be your last day of employment. You don’t have to share your reason for leaving, but in some situations it helps. For example, if you’ve decided not to return from maternity leave or your spouse got a job offer out of state. Letting your boss know takes some of the sting out of your resignation. It’s also acceptable to say you’re resigning for personal reasons.

Let your employer know you’re willing to help out if necessary. You might be able to help train a new hire or transition some of your duties to a co-worker within your department.

Finally, express gratitude. Whether you liked your old job or not, focus on the positive. Thank your employer for the experience, the opportunities and the knowledge you gained from working at his or her company. Use a friendly closing like “Sincerely,” or “Respectfully.”

If you’re looking for new opportunities, experience Brelsford Personnel’s fresh approach. Browse the positions we have available online, then get in touch.

What Tech Skills Will Get Me a Better Job?

What Tech Skills Will Get Me a Better Job?

Most people are comfortable using a smartphone and computer for personal use, but some may lack the technical skills employers are looking for. Computer skills are prized by employers in a range of sectors. Add these skills to get hired and prepare yourself for professional success.

Word Processing Skills

Word processing is a basic skill required for most professional level positions. The most common applications include Microsoft Word and Google Docs. It’s a good idea to know how to find your way around in both. Here are a few of the skills most employers expect you to be able to perform:

  • Open the word processing program and access a previously saved document
  • Use “Undo” and “Redo” editing functions
  • Cut and paste from another document
  • Show and hide toolbars
  • Adjust page margins, line spacing and page orientation
  • Change font, size, color and style
  • Insert symbols, images and tables
  • Save documents to a desired location
  • Share documents via email or other online collaboration portals

Spreadsheet Skills

Companies often store vital information using spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. They allow you to organize, calculate, graph and analyze data. Familiarize yourself with how to identify cell references, enter and delete data, modify column width and format information. You should also know how to use basic formulas to make calculations easier.

Email

This is one of the staples of workplace communication. It’s how you’ll receive information about what’s going on with your company. Email is also how you’ll communicate with supervisors, co-workers and clients. Employees should know how to access, compose, format and send an email. It’s also a good idea to know the rules of email etiquette.

Touch Typing

Not all jobs require you to be lightning-fast, but you should be able to type without looking at the keyboard. You’re more efficient when you don’t have to hunt and peck. Plus, you make fewer errors when you can keep your eyes on the screen, not the keyboard.

If you don’t have this basic skill, don’t despair. Online resources like typingclub.com and keyhero.com offer free evaluations and typing exercises you can use to help improve your skills. While you’re at it, familiarize yourself with basic keyboard shortcuts for easier copying, pasting, printing and window switching.

Presentation Software Skills

If your position involves presenting your ideas within the company or to clients and customers, you’ll need a basic knowledge of common presentation software. PowerPoint and Keynote are two of the most commonly used.

For digital presentations, you’ll need to know how to create and edit a new, blank presentation, open a recent presentation, access what you’ve created from other places on your computer or network, add and edit slides and run your presentation once it’s started.

Willingness to Learn

This doesn’t just relate to computers. Technology is constantly changing. As employers update to stay competitive, you’ll likely be required to learn new computer skills. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to work with new programs, but keep an open mind.

At Brelsford Personnel, we’re always looking for East Texans with a solid skill base and a positive attitude. Browse our online job postings to look for your new job today.

Character References – Who to Ask and How to Ask Them

Character References – Who to Ask and How to Ask Them

Employers ask prospective employees for a personal reference or character reference to find out more about their personality, character and people skills. References are often required as part of the job application process. Here’s help deciding who to ask for character references and how to approach them.

Who to Ask for Character References

Character references should come from people who know you well. They should have known you personally for at least a year and be able to speak about your top qualities. Instead of putting too much pressure on yourself to identify the perfect resources right away, relax and jot down some names. Brainstorm potential candidates from the following examples:

  • Co-workers or former employers
  • Clients or customers
  • College professors or academic advisors
  • Family friends
  • Neighbors or personal acquaintances
  • People who have volunteered with you
  • High school or college sports coaches

Avoid collecting character references from your spouse or other family members. Employers will consider them biased.

When you narrow down your list of potential candidates, try to create a diverse group. Don’t request all your references from within one organization or friend group. A co-worker might be able to give insight on your work ethic, while people who volunteer with you can attest to your character.

How to Ask for A Reference

The people on your list are ones you hold in high esteem, so asking them for a reference can be intimidating. Your relationship with the person will dictate the best way to ask. It may be best to contact college professors or clients through a letter or email so they have time to think about your request. Let them know whether you’re asking for a reference letter or if prospective employers will contact them directly.

It might feel more natural to ask for references from family friends and personal acquaintances over the phone or when you see them in person.

Be tactful when you make your request. Ask if they feel comfortable providing a reference for your job hunt. You can also ask if they have time in their schedule to write a reference letter or provide a reference over the phone.

Give the person plenty of time to respond. Make it easier to write the letter or respond to inquiries by letting them know what job you’re applying for and what skills that position requires.

Be Sure to Follow Up

After someone provides you with a character reference, follow up with a thank you note. Sit down and create a handwritten message that tells them how much you appreciate them taking the time to help you in your employment search.

For resume writing tips, dress code guidelines, interview tips and other information, see Brelsford Personnel’s online resources. Or view our online job postings today.

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.