Finding the job you LOVE

A note from our founder and CEO:

For many of us, growing up is a time of exploring ideas and our relationship to life – to others around us and the universe in which we live.  It’s a big and complex universe with an enormous number of choices to be made.  Many of us spend the first 25+ plus years of life just figuring out which choices will aid our survival the most (and which ones are most harmful).

Most schools emphasize getting to college as soon as High School is done and that often means entering the full time workforce at the age of 22, 23 or later.  And it can be a big parental (and personal) disappointment when you discover that you actually dislike the kind of work for which you have been trained – at enormous cost.  And if you graduate with debt the shock and disappointment can be personally devastating.

How can you know what you love to do, until you do it?

So finding the job, the work you love, is a bit tricky.  It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem.  How can you know what you love to do, until you do it?  You may find that even the greatest job at the best company in the world can send you into your pillow crying if your boss is mean.  Or you may find the menial tasks of your chosen profession drive you to a boredom not experienced since Middle school.

The days of going to work for one employer in one city, in one trade or profession are gone.  The odds are very good that you will not work any one place for 30 years.  

Job sampling, and temporary work, in today’s “gig” economy is the most beneficial way for you to find out:

  • Where you want to work
  • What kind of work you really enjoy
  • How your skills can be best deployed to help an employer
  • How and where you get the most personal job satisfaction.  

Work is no longer just about the paycheck

For the first decade of working, I had no idea what kinds of jobs I loved, so I sampled multiple jobs, employers, and job types.  From highly technical and precise map making, to highly imprecise and social sales jobs. 

Prior to creating Peak Performers, I had jobs in…

  • A car wash, making dirty cars clean (until the next time it rained)
  • Mapping possible hydroelectric dam locations
  • Selling Persian, Turkish and other exotic rugs and expensive carpets
  • Selling electronic stereo equipment and home electronics
  • Mapping the back side of the moon
  • Analyzing the right level of staffing for large plywood manufacturing plants
  • Grinding steel plates in a machine shop (that lasted one day)
  • Selling insurance and annuity products to elderly people
  • Helping people with disabilities develop work skills
  • Helping minority and women owned small businesses get government contracts
  • Helping low income and minority workers get re-trained and placed into new careers
  • Helping older workers get trained to change occupations and helping minority youth access the workforce 

I finally settled on helping people with disabilities develop work skills as my ideal type of work.  That was after having 15 jobs!  Some lasting years and some only months.  

To give another example: our family dentist began his post-university career as an electrical engineer.  He is a highly social person who likes talking to patients.  Electrical engineering was not a good fit, to say the least.

No one really knows what they LOVE to do until they have done some various things.

No one really knows what they LOVE to do until they have done some various things.  Employers are no longer expecting you to give them your whole life and they are no longer guaranteeing you a lifetime job.  That’s a good thing for people seeking a well-balanced, happy and prosperous life because you don’t want to commit for the next 30 years either.

So, looking at the reality of today’s job market, all jobs are, in effect, temporary.  And you as a candidate can make the best of this opportunity to look around and sample different jobs, in different sectors for different employers until you find the job you LOVE.  

The whole box of chocolates might look inviting, but there will be one in the box that’s better than all the others.  It’s up to you to find it.

-Charlie Graham, founder and CEO of Peak Performers

Master your elevator pitch

Elevator Pitch: your 30 second audition

An elevator pitch is a 30 second (or less) speech meant to pique the interest of a prospective employer.  30 seconds is not a lot of time but can be a great way to grab someone’s attention to learn more about you. Here are tips to have a killer elevator pitch:

  • Clarify your job target. Describe your field and the type of job you’re pursuing.  The best job applicants know what they’re applying for and tailor their pitch to the position.
  • Tailor the pitch to them, not you. It is important to remember that the people listening to your speech will be listening for “what’s in it for me,” so be sure to focus your message on their needs. Use benefit-focused terminology so that an interviewer can see you have the experience and skills to make an immediate positive impact on the business.
  • Put it on paper. Write down everything you would like a prospective employer to know about your skills, accomplishments, and work experiences that are relevant to your target position. Next, remove extraneous details that detract from your core message. Continue to edit until you have just a few key bullet points or sentences. The goal is to interest the listener in learning more, not to tell your whole life story. A good rule of thumb is that a person can say about 150 words in one minute so try to keep your pitch to 75 words or less.
  • Format it. A good pitch should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for?
  • Read your pitch out loud. The best editing you can do is to hear how it sounds out loud.
  • Practice, practice, practice (then solicit feedback). Rehearse your pitch in front of a mirror or use the recording capabilities of your mobile device, so you can see and hear how you sound. Continue to fine tune your pitch until it no longer sounds rehearsed. When you are satisfied with your pitch, try it out on a few friends and ask for honest and constructive feedback.
  • Nail it with confidence. The best-worded elevator pitch in the world will fall flat unless it is conveyed well. When you give the speech, look the person in the eye, smile and deliver your message with a confident, upbeat tone.

Looking to get your foot into the elevator door?  Peak Performers offers a wide variety of temporary staffing opportunities.  Whether you’re an experienced professional looking to shift into a new role or a new job seeker seeking to start your career, temporary positions can be a great way to get started.

6 Tips for Resume Writing

Your resume gets you the interview . . .  you get the job!

Resume writing can be a long process with lots of conflicting advice.  As a recruiter for Peak, I’d like to share some of our recommendations and then also share tips from other top websites. One thing that recruiters and hiring authorities agree on is that the purpose of your resume is to provide a snapshot of your experience and skills with an emphasis on how they relate to the job you want.

  1. Tailor your resume. This can be hard, especially if you are submitting your resume to a lot of different places. Making your resume specific to the job really does help it jump out to recruiters.  Are you applying for an Administrative job?  You need to say explicitly how you’ve worked in similar roles before or had experiences in different roles that exposed you to similar environments.  Your resume should include relevant experience like answering the phone, responding to customer questions, generating reports, coordinating schedules, etc.  Are you applying for a technical role?  Be detailed about the kind of technologies you know and experience you’ve had.
  2. How long should it be? This varies. On the Information Technology side of things, I look at a lot of highly technical candidates. An IT professional’s resume should reflect the technologies they’ve worked with and the environment—it’s not uncommon for me to see 5-10 page IT resumes. On the Office Professional side of our business, resumes are being reviewed for less technical roles and successful applicants will focus on experiences but also keep it briefer, around two pages in length.  Regardless, I recommend that job seekers build multiple versions of their resumes of varying length and details to submit depending on the job and the organization.
  3. Make it readable but not ostentatious. Remember tip #1? Tailor your resume.  We work with state agencies and many are more conservative in the kinds of resumes they’re looking for.  They’re screening for experience and hard skills first and will get to know you during the interview.  On the other hand, if you’re applying to work for an ad agency, your tailored resume should probably be flashy.  Know your audience and write to that audience.
  4. Don’t date your experience or credentials. It can be tempting to go all the way back in your work history, especially if you’re a late career job seeker. However, conventional wisdom holds that you do not need to date experience in your resume that is older than ten years. If you possess relevant but dated experience, include it in an ‘other relevant experience’ section omitting dates. Note: also remove graduation/completion dates from schools/training that you have attended.
  5. Avoid unnecessary personalizing details. We recommend not disclosing anything in the resume that is overly identifying in a personal, non-job relevant way.  No photos of you, your spouse/partner, your kids, your pets.  Avoid mentioning your political affiliation, your religion, your heritage, your favorite ice cream flavor…just ask yourself if it’s necessary for the hiring manager to see this side of me on paper?
  6. Read it out loud. Ready to hit the submit button?  Take an extra ten minutes to read your resume out loud.  You are your own best editor and reading your resume aloud will help you catch awkward phrasing, extra words, and sometimes even misspellings.

Was this helpful?  You can read our other two articles on resume writing (Professional email address resume tips) and (What’s in a name? resume advice).  Ready to send us your tailored, pitch-perfect resume?  You can do so online.

Don’t just take our word for it.  Many recruiters have different opinions on this subject.  Here are some tips from Monster and here’s what Glassdoor has to say.

November: Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes Awareness

This month is Diabetes awareness month.  Diabetes is estimated by the CDC to affect 12.2% of adults (More info) and yet it’s also estimated that 23.8% who have it are undiagnosed.  This represents a huge portion of the US population affected by this invisible disability.

What is it?

Diabetes is a metabolic condition where normal blood sugar levels are not being properly regulated by insulin.

Diabetes is broken down into type 1 and 2.  Type 1 is caused by the pancreas’ inability to produce enough insulin—the cause of this condition is unknown and often appears early in people.  Type 2, by contrast, is where cells fail to respond to insulin properly—this is typically referred to as “adult-onset mellitus.”

As you can see from the video, the cause for type 2 diabetes is up for debate.  While conventional wisdom attributes its cause to overeating and not enough exercise, many prominent researchers in the field are suggesting a misunderstanding of the causes and proposing radical new dietary solutions.

Diabetes in the workplace

As noted in the video, discrimination has been reported in workplaces and many suffering from the disease are reluctant to come forward.  However, diabetes can normally be managed in the workplace and seldom affects job function.

The American Diabetes Association recommends several “reasonable accommodations.”  First, individuals that need to take breaks to check insulin levels be allowed to do so.  Second, individuals suffering from neuropathy as a result of diabetes may request, depending on the needs of the job, a chair or stool to sit on while performing their job function. (More info)

Let’s work through this:

Do you know someone suffering from diabetes?  Here at Peak we offer hiring preference to individuals suffering from disabilities, including diabetes.  Submit your resume online to be considered for job opportunities.

After the Injury: famous figures and the rest of their story

After the Injury: The Rest of the Story

Last week we talked about the different types of spinal cord injuries in our effort to align with the national Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.  This week, we wanted to focus on famous people with spinal cord injuries and what they did after their injury.  Enjoy!

Christopher Reeve

Perhaps most famous for his role in the 1978 version of Superman as Clark Kent, Christopher had a long list of famous titles he appeared in.  Somewhere In Time, Street Smart, The Remains of the Day, and The Bostonians represent some of his iconic screen appearances.

Christopher was paralyzed in a horse riding accident.

After the injury:

Following his injury, Christopher used his influence and charisma to raise awareness about Spinal Cord Injuries and to promote Stem Cell Research.  He also continued to direct, appear in television shows, and even wrote a bestselling autobiography. (Learn more…)

Curtis Mayfield 

Curtis Mayfied was an R&B Artist and social activist.  He became famous for his songs “People Get Ready,” “Pusherman,” “Superfly,” as well as his work with the Impressions.  Mayfield’s song “Keep on Pushing” was at one point banned from several radio stations during in the civil rights era when it became the song of choice for Freedom Riders.

 Curtis became paralyzed after a light on the stage fell on him during a live performance.

After the injury:

Despite his injury, Mayfield continued recording.  His last album, New World Order, was sung line by line while he lay on his back.  This album would go on to receive multiple grammy nominations, including Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. (Visit his site)

Chuck Close

A photographer and artist, Chuck Close is perhaps best known for his extremely large and detailed portraits of people.  His work is described sometimes as “photorealism” and “hyperrealism” and are mesmerizing when observed close-up.

Chuck suffered a spinal artery collapse that left him paralyzed.

After the injury:

Chuck Close continues to make art to this day! He continues to paint and has recently focused on making prints and woven tapestries. His wall-sized tapestries of people typically involve over 17,000 individual threads and many different colors woven together. (Watch the artist work)

Jill Boothe

A competitive downhill skier, Jill Boothe was a favorite for the 1956 Winter Olympics.  She was also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

 She suffered a skiing injury during the 1955 Snow Cup event.

After the injury:

Jill, a media darling, was featured in two movies about her life, The Other Side of the Mountain (Parts 1 and 2), and later went on to have an impact on her community as a a special education teacher.  She would also go on to become an accomplished landscape painter as well. (Learn more about Jill)

Are you close to someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury?  We want to help with the rest of the story.  Submit your resume online.

 

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Peak Spotlight: Spinal Cord Injury Awareness

Peak Spotlight: Spinal Cord Injury Awareness

Life Altering, Not Life Defining

Like Jack in the video, many adults come by their disability later in life.  It could be the result of an accident (like in Jack’s case), genetics, or the byproduct of a another illness or condition.  What really resonates to us at Peak about Jack’s story is the sort of fearlessness that he expresses and the desire to find his next big thing.  He may not be able to windsurf any more but he can find another passion, another outlet for his drive and figure out his unique way to change the world.

 

This September we wanted to focus on spinal chord injury (SCI) awareness.  Did you know that 12,500 new cases are reported each year? Fortunately, SCI does not usually affect cognitive function; however, you may need certain accommodations at work to help you on your new path.

Types of Spinal Cord Injury

There are two types of SCIs, complete and incomplete.  Range of motion and mobility will often vary significantly under both categories.

SCIs are typically categorized as follows: Anterior Cord Syndrome (damages to motor and sensory passageways), Central Cord Syndrome (damages to the central cord that carries signals to the brain), and Brown Sequard Syndrome (damage to one side of the spinal cord).

They may also be called: Tetraplegia (loss of control of all limbs), Paraplegia (loss of lower half of limbs), and Triplegia (loss of movement in one arm and both legs, typically caused by an incomplete SCI).

Back to Work

SCIs seldom affect the mind but it can still sometimes be difficult to find work.  Fortunately, the rise of office professional and IT roles (such as the ones we staff) and work from home opportunities make it increasingly realistic to find a career after a life altering SCI.  

Do you have a question about getting a job with an SCI?  Do you know someone who’s looking for work?  You can reach us here at Peak via email or call us at 512-453-8833

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Starting a resume from scratch

Whether you’re newly to the workforce, newly seeking a job, or simply unhappy with the results you’re getting with your existing resume, have you thought about starting your resume from scratch? It may seem intimidating, but the good news is that there are many, many websites out there that are great resources. And your new resume may provide the boost your job search needs.

It’s easy to find articles about improving and optimizing your resume–but what about a site that actually creates your resume for you? I call these the “plug and play” options. Welcome to my master list!

Personally, my favorite in terms of user experience and final product is The Ladders. The Ladders takes it a step further and helps you with the actual content of your resume. You can also upload an existing resume, have The Ladders instantly assess it, and follow its guided process for improving key areas.

Have you considered starting your resume over from scratch?

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Join us for a job fair!

Join us for an in-house job fair next week! Wednesday, May 25 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Peak Performers office (4616 Triangle Avenue, Suite 405).

This opportunity is perfect if you:

  • Have been thinking about registering with us
  • Know someone you want to refer over
  • Registered with us in the past and want to re-activate your application


This is your chance to get in the door FAST. We’ll be conducting the application process from start to finish, so come prepared for an interview and with your resume in hand. We’ll see you there!

RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/work-with-the-state-job-fair-tickets-25577276322

When was the last time you thought about your posture?

“Be a swan, Minerva, be a swan,” says wicked stepmother Bernadette Peters in my favorite version of Cinderella. Posture training may have gone out the window for most of us, but when’s the last time you thought about your posture?

Here are some of our best tips and tricks for ensuring you’re poised for success at work.

10-Signs-Your-Desk-Sucks-760x570

Regardless of whether you have model posture, it’s never a good idea to spend prolonged periods sitting in the same position. The US Department of Labor has some ideas for how to change your position throughout the day:

Make small adjustments to your chair or backrest.

Stretch your fingers, hands, arms, and torso.

Stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically.

In our office, we try to stay aware of our hydration throughout the day. Standing up to grab some water is a great posture reset!

Posture–good or bad–can affect you in ways you might not have even thought of. Digestion? Check. Breathing? Double check. Even things like self confidence can be perceived through posture:

If you feel sad, look in the mirror. You have likely taken on the form of poor posture and look the part. Somewhere in between these two extremes is a natural, relaxed position of good posture where you appear confident and give a positive impression to others. Correcting your posture when you feel sad can actually improve your disposition.

So I’ll ask again: When was the last time you thought about your posture? There’s no time quite like the present. 😉

How have you modified your computer workstation to improve your posture?

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References upon request

References available upon request.

To write or not to write this line?

I have a better question: how much space is this taking up? At least two lines. One line of spacing, and one line of text.

But what does this statement tell me about you as a candidate? Nothing. All it really tells me is that you know at least two living people, and presumably if I call these people, they will say nice things about you.

If you’re ending your resume with this statement, you’re at least on the right track. In this day and Internet age, whatever you do, you should not be putting your references on your resume. Why? Because your goal, as a job seeker, is to share your resume as far and wide afield as you can. You’re probably sending it to multiple hiring managers per day.

The problem is that if you release your references’ contact information every time you send out your resume (never mind whose hands it might land in after you send it out), you are abusing your references. Moreover, you want to control when, by whom, and for what job your references are being contacted. They’re a lot more likely to give a glowing reference (or return a voicemail message altogether) if they’re only being contacted by a select number of hiring managers.

Peak’s foolproof steps for the reference process:

  1. Leave any reference section/statement off of your resume.
  2. When you get contacted by a hiring manager or fill out an application, provide your full reference information. Generally speaking, plan on providing phones and/or email addresses for three references.
  3. Especially if you haven’t touched base with your references lately, get in touch with them as quickly as possible.
  4. Tell your reference they might be getting a call, and provide them with some info about the job you’ve applied for. It helps if your references are up to date on what’s generally going on in your life, including what direction you want your career to go in. Why are you applying for this job?
  5. Thank your reference–repeatedly. Fundamentally, they are doing you a favor. They’ll likely say positive things about you when they speak to the hiring manager, but you want to make sure their comments stay sincerely positive.

But this is old news to me. I know I should treat my references like gold.

Great! But are you still including “References available upon request” on your resume? (Or, as I saw recently on a resume, “Excellent references available upon request.”)

If that’s the case…you’re wasting valuable real estate! Tell me more about your skills and experience instead. These are things I can’t assume when I read your resume.

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Post-interview: Now what?

You walk out of your interview feeling great. You were nicely dressed, well-spoken, and answered every question spot-on.

What do you do now?

The answer is extremely simple: the next day, send a brief email to the person who interviewed you. If it’s a high-level job, a physical card in the mail would be even better. Whether it’s an email or a physical note, here’s what it should cover:

  • Thank you for meeting with me
  • I enjoyed learning x, y, and z about your company
  • I am excited about this role
  • Thank you again for your time
  • I look forward to hearing from you soon

That’s it. See? It’s almost ridiculously simple.

So what’s the point of it? It reinforces your name in the interviewer’s mind. It shows that you care about this job. It shows that you’ll go an extra step in communications.

The only way we’ve seen this backfire is when a follow-up email turns into a case of TMI. We’ve known applicants who interview well, score well on our software tests…and then they go home, send us an email–usually late at night–and completely ruin that good impression.

Unemployment is a stressful situation. We understand that stress can transform people in ways they could never have imagined. When you over-share your personal life with a potential employer, though, you cross a line. That line is called Professionalism. Once you cross it, it can be very hard to return to the other side. It’s even harder because now the interviewer really knows your name…because, of course, you followed up.

So when you do a post-interview follow up, make sure you’re still following the interview rules. Be articulate. Convey professionalism. It might not even hurt to be nicely dressed. Just please, no pictures! ????

Flu season is upon us

The flu season is here with a vengeance! The flu season peaks this month and can run through April.

A single flu-infected coworker can have a domino effect in the workplace. Please be considerate of others and how you could effect the entire office and everyone you come into contact with when you have the flu. The illness you pass along to your co-worker may be then passed along to your coworker’s family.

Some helpful tips:

  • Disinfect surfaces such as keyboards, desks, phones, and doors–the flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face, which provides a direct path for germs on your hands to get to your nose and mouth.
  • Use hand sanitizer, especially after shaking hands or blowing your nose

Peak policy reminder:

If you have the flu or other contagious virus, please provide both the Client Supervisor at the job site and Peak Performers with a doctor’s note clearing you to return to work. 

If you are unable to attend your assignment or if you will be late arriving to your assignment on any day, it is your responsibility to call both the client supervisor and your supervisor at Peak Performers before your workday begins.

We appreciate your help in maintaining a safe, healthy work environment! Stay well. 🙂

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