Monday, March 31, 2008

Distance Learning Courses - Are They for You?

Changing careers or jobs often require you to upgrade your skills, or, in the event of a complete career change, learn new skills. But, how can you take classes and continue to support yourself at the same time? That's where distance learning courses come in.

What is distance learning? Simply put, distance learning is any formal educational process in which the teaching occurs when the student and teacher are not in the same place. Distance learning courses can be delivered over the internet, television, or through videoconferences with live class sessions. Though many of these long-distance courses provide no direct connection between teacher and student, many of them, particularly at the local community college and university, supplement the distance courses with periodic, in-person get-togethers. In other cases there are often connections by phone, e-mail, videotapes and lab equipment mailed to your home.

Distance learning course programs were originally created with the working adult in mind, but have since become a favorite of students of all ages looking to complete their post-secondary education, gain certifications, or learn new skills to change careers or move ahead in their fields. Because these programs are more flexible in how they can be completed, it is often financially easier. Also, not having to travel to and from campus can result in some gas savings as well.

These types of programs offer Bachelor, Master, and even PhD degrees, but also include various diploma and certification programs.

Are Distance Learning Courses for You?

There are numerous things to take into consideration before you sign up for that first distance learning class.

..: You Need Good Self-Discipline

It's hard enough sometimes showing up to a face-to-face class. With distance-learning courses, you have to maintain the discipline to log into your class regularly, complete assignments on time, and contact the right person if you run into trouble. Not all students have the necessary self-discipline.

..: There's No Connection with Fellow Students

Is that a problem? Well, for some people it can be. Sometimes being around other students can help your motivation, and give you other people to learn from. Also, distance learning doesn't allow for networking. Your fellow students can be your future entry to jobs. Many times people get hired based on recommendations with someone they went to school with. You can help offset this lack of networking by joining online networking communities or local organizations geared to your chosen career field.

..: Make Sure Your Computer is Up-To-Date

Most distance courses are taught online. You do need to make sure that your computer is up-to-date, as well as your internet connection. No dial-ups here. Dial-up is just too slow to properly connect with some courses. And, if your computer is old, with low RAM and a small hard-drive, a high-speed internet connection will be useless.

Of course, you don't even have to complete the course on your computer at home. Coffee houses, airports, and even fast food restaurants have created their own hotspots, realizing that their customers want to work while on the go.

If you think distance learning classes might be an option for you, you may want to go to our website at http://www.trainingfordifferentcareer.com and check out some of the careers and skills you can learn online. You can also get more information on distance learning classes by checking out our page on At-Home Career Training

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Salary Negotiation Tips

Have a job interview coming up? Thought about how you're going to handle any salary questions?

That's right, as if the interview process were not daunting enough, you also have to know how to properly negotiate your salary. The key to successful salary negotiation is to not aim too far above or below the interviewer’s potential salary range. How do you do this? Well, the answer is to let the employer broach the salary subject.

Don't Give a Dollar Amount, Even if They Ask!

The employer must give the initial number! Knowledge is power - and you should use it to your advantage. Some employers will try to trick you into accepting an offer far less than what they were offering in the first place – but don’t fall into this trap. So what do you say? Tell them you're open to negotiation.

But, What if They're Pushy?

In the event that they try to lock you into a deal without making a formal offer, you simply decline the request to discuss salary until they make you an offer in writing. This will put the ball firmly back in their court. You may also want to quickly follow that with a statement that you’d like to learn more about their organization and how you can best make a contribution to it.

This will appeal to most interviewers, as they will have the impression that salary is a secondary concern and you are more than willing to join their team.

I Mean, Really, Really Pushy!

If the interviewer is very pushy, you may need to resort to the ‘level playing field’ tactic. You can remind the potential employer that leaving the organization you are with will mean that you expect to be compensated accordingly. At this point, you may need to disclose what you were, or are, making.

When it comes to salary negotiation, remember that verbal offer means nothing. You need a firm number and you need it in writing.

I found this YouTube video on how to handle this very question of salary in an interview. It's fairly short.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Privacy Policy

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Create a Positive Attitude - it Might Help Your Career

If you create a positive attitude, your positive attitude will permeate your resume, cover letter, and the interviewing process.

Okay, yes that may seem hokey. But, enough can't be said about creating a positive attitude while searching for a new job or career, even if you have to fake it for awhile.

Wait, faking a positive attitude? How's that going to help? Actually, it can help alot. For example, did you know that studies have found that Botox injections can actually help with depression? Is it something in the Botox? No, it's because Botox forces a smile. The conclusion is that even forcing a smile "fools" your brain into believing it's happy. That's right. Smiling, even when you don't mean it, can eventually help you become happier.

Even talking when smiling will make your voice sound cheerier. Again, even when you're not really happy. That's why phone workers are often advised to also smile when they greet potential customers on the phone. They create a positive attitude to help make you feel positive.

Again, what does this have to do with your career? Well, for starters, smile when you go in for your job interview. Don't let a defeatist attitude ruin your prospects. And, before you go to bed at night either write down or repeat some positive affirmations. Who knows, maybe the "laws of attraction" people have it right. Maybe expecting bad results can help bring bad results, while expecting positive results can help bring positive results.

Yes, yes, the above can be viewed as extremely simplistic. But, what have you go to lose? Really, a positive attitude won't hurt. And, it just might help. Even if you have to fake it for awhile.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Career Tip of the Day - Thank You Letter

The best way to let a prospective employer know you appreciate being granted an interview AND are very interested in employment is to follow up with a thank you letter.

Although simple to do, a thank you letter is very important in the job-search process. A thank-you letter after your interview serves two purposes.

1) A thank-you letter shows that you respect the interviewing process, as well as respect the authority of the interviewer. The thank-you letter tells the interviewer that you aren't some cocky individual who just assumes you got the job, but, rather, that you realize there are others competing for the position and that you will go the extra step to set yourself apart from the competition.

2) A thank-you letter also brings you back into the interviewer's focus. Studies show that people tend to remember the first and the last of something, whether it be a speaker, a list of choices, or, in an interviewer's case, the first or last job candidate. It's called the law of primacy and recency, where the first and the last get remembered more. So, if you're a job candidate who interviewed somewhere in the middle of a string of interviews, you may not stand out as much. Of course, you hope your resume will still help you stand out, and that the interviewer reviews all candidates equally. But, again, you personally may not stand out as much if your interview was stuck somewhere in the middle. A thank-you letter will help bring you back into the interviewer's mind.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Should You Start Your Own Business?

Some of you out there looking for a new job or a change in careers might be wondering if you should start your own business. While working for yourself may seem appealing, there are things you need to considering before taking such a leap.

Starting your own business takes a commitment unlike a regular job. Sure most people are serious about their jobs and are committed to them. But your own business takes a realization that you may have to work harder to get your own business off the ground, at least in the first year or two. You also have to realize that, depending on the business you've chosen, you may may not see profitability for at least a couple years.

When you begin thinking about working for yourself, you need to do a self-assessment about the time, energy and money you are willing to put into the business. For example, if you want to work for yourself to give yourself more freedom or more time for fun or family, starting a restaurant would probably not be for you. Most people who own restaurants spend alot of time working in those restaurants, and find they have very little time for outside activities.

If you choose a business which requires a lot of community networking and you're a person who is awkward in social situations, you may want to choose something which is more solitary, like an internet business. (Yes, owning an internet business may mean you will have to do some social networking online, it's nothing like speaking at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, or cold-calling local businesses to introduce yourself and your new business).

If you have an idea of the type of business you want to start, it's a good idea to take a look at the competition you'll be facing in your community. The level of competition can help determine whether your business will be a success or not. If you find there's absolutely no competition for the business you've chosen, that is, nobody has a business like the one you've

imagined, you might want to ask yourself why that is. Is there a demand for your type of business? If your business is a new concept, make sure you can frame your marketing to help create the need for your business in people's minds.

If you really want to own your own business, but aren't really sure what kind of business you'd like to start, it's good to look at successful businesses that others have started to get some ideas. One site you may like for unique ideas is http://uncommonbusiness.blogspot.com/. You may also want to consider a franchise business. Some franchises can be very profitable as you're buying into a company with name recognition and an established business model. You can read more about buying a franchise at: Why Buy a Franchise.

Just about all business ventures require some startup cash, although some require more than others. If you currently do not have the financial means needed to start your own small business, you may be able to seek financial assistance. Many financial lenders, including banks and credit unions, may be willing to give you financial backing to get your small business up and running. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is also a place to check out when seeking a business loan.

You will need to show the lender in question that your small business is one that can make a profit, or at least enough money to pay back the business loan. The best way to do this is to create a professional business plan for yourself; one that you can show to all loan officers that you end up meeting. On our site about selling on eBay, we have a page on how to write a business plan to meet the requirements of the SBA, so you might want to check out that page as well: SBA Business Plan. It's written for eBay businesses, but applies to all small businesses.

The above-mentioned factors are just a few of the many that you will want to take into consideration, when trying to determine if you should start your own small business. The decision as to whether or not you want to startup a business is yours to make, but it is a decision that shouldn’t be made on a whim. You are advised to discuss your possible business venture with your family and possibly even with a financial planner.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What are Green Collar Jobs?

What are green collar jobs? No, not cleaning up after a St. Patrick's Day Parade. And, no, not something Leprechuans do.

Green collar Jobs are those job created by companies and organizations to improve the environment, whether it be manufacturing wind turbines or installing solar panels. There's no denying it. Global warming is upon us, and a new crop of jobs are being created to combat it.

These types of jobs include:

Jobs related to biodiesel
Public transit jobs
Hauling away materials for reuse
Hazardous materials cleanup
Installation of solar panels
Landscaping to cut down on water use
Recycling
Manufacturing products from recycled materials
Home weatherization
Construction on green buildings
Home remodeling with green materials

And on and on and on. It's been estimated that by 2030, nearly a half-million new jobs could be created in the wind industry alone.

What does that mean for you? Plenty. Many of these jobs are going to replace the blue collar jobs which have been outsourced to other countries. Good news for blue collar workers. Also, there are many franchises being offered in green industries. Good news for entrepreneurs. And, there's always room for new green industries to be introduced. Again, good news for entrepreneurs.

If you feel you wish to get in on the "green boom," it's time to check out the educational opportunities that exist to help retrain you for some green industries. Your local community college is a good place to start. Many people find that skills they currently possess can transfer over to green collar jobs.

Where's a good place to find a green collar job? You may be surprised to find that your local or state government's a good place to look. Many environmental-related jobs can be found within agriculture, public and environmental health, and transportation.

The federal government is also a good place to look. I checked out the Bureau of Land Management website and found they currently have demand in:

Wildland Fire
Law Enforcement
Petroleum Engineering
Outdoor Recreation
Natural Resources

You can find many of their current openings, as well as other federal jobs, by going to jobsearch.usajobs.gov

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Common Job Interview Questions

Knowing some of the traditional job interview questions that you’ll be asked can help to prepare you that little bit. So, just what are some of the more common job interview questions?

1) What are your strengths and weaknesses

2) What are your long term goals

3) Where do you want to be in ten years

4) How do you handle stress on the job

5) Tell us a little about yourself

Keep in mind when the interviewer asks "tell us a little about yourself," it isn't a request for your entire life story. Try to keep your response geared toward your professional life, with a couple outside interests you may have to show you are a well-rounded individual. You may want to leave out personal aspects of your life, such as you're going through a rough patch with your spouse or partner, but you're trying to work things out. An interviewing doesn't want to hear those things.

Before going to your next job interview, work with a friend to “role play” a Q & A session. This way you will be able to work out the pre-interview jitters and come up with some great answers you can use in the actual interview.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Daily Job Tip - Interviewing Advice

What NOT to mention in a job interview!

One of the most important tips when preparing for an upcoming job interview, is what NOT to say. There are some topics that need to be discussed during a job interview, but there are others that should be left out of the conversation.

1. Your personal life

Yes, it may be tempting to discuss your personal life. But, you're there for a job. Keep your personal and professional lives separate.

2. Bad experiences at past jobs

For starters, this information may be deemed as gossip. It also signals the employer that you may talk this way about their company in negative ways once you leave them. Better take the high road and avoid any topics that have to deal with poor experiences at your previous places of employment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hot Careers in the Next 10 Years

Attention all you people looking for the next hot career to pursue, those hot careers which will still be booming in the next 10 years. Think data miner and simulation developer.

In business, data mining is the use of statistics to predict or explain customer behavior. Using statistics software, a data miner provides companies with data on what to sell and to whom. According to the Daystar Wheaton Group, a leading Chicago-area database marketing service company, data miners will continue to be in demand, and, if you choose that career path you will have no shortage of jobs to choose from. Someone looking to enter the field of data mining needs to study computer science and mathematics, with an emphasis in statistics and scientific computing.

A simulation developer develops programs that can educate, entertain, or train individuals. You may also know simulation developers by other names: computer game programmer, animation programmer, etc. What started out as entertainment, though, has quickly spread to other industries, such as education, corporations and even the military using simulated games for training purposes. And, the field is expected to continue as more and more industries come on board to utilize simulated programs. A person considering this career needs to focus their studies on game design and software programming. And, educational opportunities abound, with courses taught at traditional colleges and universities, as well as career colleges and universities such as DeVry University, which has programs designed specifically for game and simulation programming.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Job Fair in Phoenix in March

We found a job fair in the Phoenix area to alert you about. Here are the particulars:

What: 2008 Career Expo

When: Wednesday, March 26, 2008; 10AM to 3PM

Where: Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix

There will be over 200 employers at this job fair, including:

Arizona Public Service
Arizona Carpenters Apprenticeship
Arizona Dept. of Transportation
AT&T
Bank of America
Best Buy
Checker Auto
Clear Channel Radio
Cox
DeVry University
Dept. of Juvenile Corrections
EAst Valley Tribune
Farmers Insurance
Fry's
Kelly Services
IKEA
Merry Maids
Manpower
Oxynate
Phoenix Police
Safeway
Shamrock Foods
US Airways
Wells Fargo Bank
Xeriom Technology Services

and tons more!

Remember, when going to a Job Fair or Expo, be sure to dress professionally and bring an updated resume. You're there to impress, and nothing impresses more than being prepared and professional. Stretch yourself a little and start chatting with the prospective employers. Don't just go, grab some job applications and make a hasty retreat. This is billed as one of the largest job fairs in Phoenix for 2008, so if you're looking for a new job or career change, don't miss it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Daily Career Tip - Work at Home Jobs

Do a thorough background check on any “work-from-home” opportunity before giving any of your personal information – this will help protect you from identity thieves (and thieves in general) who want to steal your information or hire “work-for-free” employees.

While working from home certainly seems appealing, many of the work-at-home opportunities out there are scams, often requiring you to reveal personal information, or charging you money for work-at-home information you can find free anywhere on the internet.

Are there legitimate work-from-home opportunities? Of course there are. There are companies out there that will pay you to blog for them, or companies which allow telecommuting. But, when they promise an incredible amount of money for a few hours of work a week, you know it's time to look elsewhere. Legitimate companies are pretty up front how much they will pay you to work from home. Hint: you're not going to get rich from it.

Having said all that, if you have an expertise in something, it is possible make a decent side living, or, in some cases, a full-time living, working at home. For example, about.com pays experts to become guides on a whole range of subjects and get paid for it. If it's a popular topic, you can make a decent living. But, you really have to be an expert on something, and be able to write about it. You can check out which topics are available and the qualifications at beaguide.about.com

Friday, March 14, 2008

Making a Career Change - things to consider

Changing career paths entirely can seem daunting. However, every year, the number of adults in the workforce who have changed careers — multiple times, even — rises dramatically. Did you know that the average worker will change careers three times over the course of his or her life? And, in the future, that number may grow even more.

There are a number of reasons you might think about changing your career. Besides just being unhappy in your current career, you may just be unable to advance further in your current career, especially without a great deal more education. Your interests and abilities may have developed beyond the point where a specific field is able to hold your attention.

If you have decided on a complete change of career path, your next step must be deciding on your new career. The easiest way to do so is often to simply list jobs you have an interest in and begin eliminating them. You might be able to eliminate particular jobs by considering the experience and education necessary (and whether you wish to spend the time required to acquire both), by considering the opportunities available in that field or by looking at your long-term goals. Lastly, you might consider seeking out opportunities to try out a given field, perhaps on a temporary or volunteer basis, to see if you actually enjoy the work.

No matter what field you decide to explore, you need to honestly take an inventory of the skills you have that will help you in a new position, as well as researching the skills you will need to acquire. That's where you really need to be honest with yourself. If your current skills don't pass muster, you're going to do something about that: go back to school; take a temp job which will help you acquire more skills; etc. You will need to create a new resume, pitching yourself to employers hiring for your new career path, and you may need to prepare yourself to work in a position with less responsibility than your last, at least in the short term. The bottom line is, changing careers can be a great deal of work.

Many individuals question whether changing careers is a viable option — whether it is worth it. It is an individual choice, but for those workers who are willing to put the necessary work into the process, it can be well worthwhile.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Career Tip of the Day - Temp Jobs

Working a temporary job can be a great way to get experience in your chosen field while opening up the opportunity to be hired permanently.

I really can't stress enough how a temp job can increase your chances of finding work in a new career. Many employers want to try out someone before hiring them, and, if you perform well, you will be their first choice for a new hire.

The key is, of course, if you perform well. It's absolutely important that you treat your temp job as if it were your permanent job. I've been at numerous companies where the temps strolled in a few minutes after the start time, left early, or took numerous days off. That won't get you anywhere but in a new temp job. If you act as if you are a permanent employee, people will start seeing you as a permanent employee.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Take Charge of your Own Career

Welcome to Career Change Advice, brought to you by the creators of Training For a New Career We hope to provide you with career advice, including interviewing tips, job fair information, resume tips, and other information about your career.

Our first post is titled "Take Charge of your Own Career" because, if you are looking for a promotion to further your career, it is not the boss who will do it for you but you, yourself.

You need to be able to take charge of your own career. Well, how do you do that?

Work Smarter

To make your career a successful one, you’ll need to work smarter, not harder. Before you enter any career, do research to find out whether or not that industry is growing. Choose a career that suits your skills and gives you room for growth and advancement.

Accept Change

Always be open to change and take the initiative to acquire new skills. Try to be the first person to accept change – that way, you show your employer that you are flexible and adaptable. Technology changes every day, and you must be able to handle it.

Accept Challenges

You will be able to produce good results only if you are interested in challenges. Along with being the first person to accept change, also be the first person to ask for more work. Ask for challenging work.

Help Yourself

Make no mistake about it – employers reward people that take the initiative.

Do not be dependent on others. It is better to make mistakes initially than to be dependent on others for help every time. Constant dependency will only hamper your productivity. You have to create your own opportunities.

Be A Team Player

Always take part in work-related meetings and try to give suggestions that will help resolve problems. Develop leadership qualities, and extend your help to coworkers whenever possible.

If you want your career to progress, you have to take charge of it.