Life’s most persistent and urgent question: What are you doing for others?

The title of this post comes from a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, spoken to an audience in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1957, and often repeated throughout his life’s work. Dr. King is widely remembered for leading a radical, nonviolent civil-rights movement that rippled across the world. Today we commemorate his life in the same way he lived it, by giving back to others.

Volunteering in our community is an obvious way to give back, but there are also substantial benefits for job seekers. Service opportunities can be an additional way to increase your network, keep your skills fresh and maybe even learn a few new things. It can also be a creative strategy to address any gaps in the work experience listed on your resume. Volunteer experience may or may not impress a hiring manager, but it certainly won’t hurt. Here’s what some of our team has to say about our favorite organizations and what keeps us motivated:

Following the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be helpful to refocus our attention on building community and helping those around us. Today, and every day, we’re thankful for the legacy of Dr. King and for those of you who continue to contribute to our vibrant community.

Share your favorite organizations or service opportunities in the comments section. How do you choose to #giveback?

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Email Etiquette: 8 tips for job seekers

Happy Holidays from all of us at Peak Performers! We hope you enjoy a restful and fulfilling season with friends and family.

Don’t take too much time off from your job search, though. According to some career consultants, the holiday season might actually be the best time of the year to get your resume out there. With more people taking time off to relax, you could find yourself facing less competition. To help get you started, we’ve compiled some of our best email etiquette advice, so you can tackle the job hunt with confidence while sipping on your favorite holiday beverage.

  • Practice proper email etiquette. In general, your messages should include full sentences, short paragraphs and detailed information on who you are and the purpose of your correspondence. Avoid all caps, acronyms or slang, emoticons, and unprofessional signatures. Keep the message as concise and to the point as possible. This might all seem obvious, but you’d be surprised.
  • Be overly polite. Keep in mind that email communication can be easily misread, and it’s best to err on the side of formality. Many people try too hard to stand out from the crowd and end up coming across as unprofessional or condescending. It is possible to be both professional and personable.
  • Utilize the subject line effectively. The subject line is one of the most important components of any email message. Make it easy on the reader by clearly and directly reflecting the contents of the message (Jane Smith: Accountant Position is better than Hi!). 
  • Audit your online presence. It’s a good idea to update your LinkedIn profile before you get too far into your job search. For better or for worse, many recruiting software programs automatically identify your social media accounts and add them to your candidate profile. It’s never too late to delete your old Myspace account.
  • Use a professional email address. We recommend an email address that matches the name on your resume. Many companies also use Gmail as their email server, which means you should also make sure you have a professional-looking photo attached to your account.
  • Follow the application instructions. When submitting your application in response to a job posting, remember to read the job description thoroughly prior to jumping in and making a mistake. This can be hard to do, especially when you find that perfect job opportunity. Reading the instructions can save you time, and failing to follow directions is an easy way for decision makers to exclude your resume from consideration.
  • Pause and proofread before sending. Slow down, take a deep breath, read everything, and then read it again. If you’re still unsure about the wording or tone of your message, have someone else take a look at it. Have you ever wanted to un-send a message just after you’ve sent it? Now you can with Gmail’s Undo Send option.
  • Schedule your messages to be sent laterMost studies show that Tuesdays mornings are the optimal time to send emails based on message opening and response rates. Boomerang for Gmail is a simple extension that allows users to write a message and schedule it to be sent at a later time.

So before you send out a slew of networking emails at midnight, you might want to at least update your LinkedIn photo. Don’t end up on a list like this one.