Thursday, January 31, 2013

Where the tech jobs are: in the 'clouds'

The sky is the limit for cloud computing as it continues to drive job growth - garnering interest from Main Street, Wall Street, corporations and governments. A 2012 Microsoft-commissioned report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicated that spending on cloud services will generate nearly 14 million jobs worldwide by 2015.

In the past decade, cloud computing pioneers such as Amazon, Salesforce, Google and Apple-have developed comprehensive cloud services, platforms and applications. Now, traditional businesses of all kinds - even those that don't operate in the technology space - are incorporating cloud services more frequently, laying the groundwork for cloud-related career paths that are rich with opportunity and growth.

In fact, a related study from the Sand Hill Group suggests that cloud computing - driven by the 21st century surge in mobile computing, social networking and big data - may generate more job growth in the coming years than the Internet itself did during the 1990s.

Cloud computing provides the means through which technology-based services - from computing power and infrastructure to applications, processes and collaboration - can be immediately accessed by users through the Internet, or the "cloud." This instant access can result in greater flexibility, reduced environmental impact, lowered costs and tightened security for businesses.

Due to heightened demand for these benefits, business intelligence company WANTED Analytics reports more than 12,000 cloud-related jobs - from software engineers and software developers to cloud architects and security specialists - were advertised online in April 2012. That represents an increase of 50 percent from the previous year and more than 275 percent since April 2010.

As the nature of information technology continues to evolve, requiring its workforce to obtain cloud-based knowledge, understanding and technical skills, some higher education providers have launched degree programs that align with cloud-related fields.

DeVry University, for example, offers bachelor's degree programs in computer information systems and network and communications management, as well as a master's degree program in network and communications management. Each program provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to implement software solutions for major corporations, not-for-profit organizations and government agencies that can also be used in cloud-related applications.

"As cloud providers grow the scale of their service offerings, and more businesses embrace and capitalize on them, there will be increasing demand for professionals who possess cloud computing skills," says Thomas Bieser, a solution architect for HP and graduate of DeVry University's bachelor's degree program in computer information systems.

Hiring managers seeking to fill cloud computing and related positions desire candidates with problem solving skills, an eye for security concerns and good communication skills for working with professional teams or clients. Job seekers with these attributes and an applicable educational background may find career success in cloud computing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Considering self-employment? Career fields with double-digit growth

Americans were born to make lemonade. If you have any doubt about the resiliency of U.S. workers, consider the many reports that indicate millions of Americans are turning life's lemon of layoffs into an opportunity to work for themselves. With unemployment rates still high, many people are looking to self-employment to create stable, rewarding careers for themselves.

Self-employment offers many advantages, including more flexible work schedules, less job uncertainty and the satisfaction of working for yourself. If you're considering a career change to self-employment and want to start your own business, insurance may be the field for you. It's one of four fields, including child care, accounting and financial planning, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts will see double-digit growth in the next few years.

Opportunities in the insurance industry for sales agents will grow 22 percent between now and 2020, according to the BLS's Occupational Outlook Handbook. Agents help clients understand their insurance needs and choose policies that best fit those needs and protect the things that are most important: homes, automobiles, businesses and above all else, lives.

The insurance field offers quick entry, even for those with only a high school diploma, and profitability can be even more accessible for those who pursue professional training. Companies like Farmers Insurance, which is expanding into eastern states from its base in California, offer self-employment opportunities for those who wish to run their own agencies. Farmers provides training and can even assist with start-up financing at attractive terms. Along with all the benefits of self-employment, including a more flexible work schedule and the potential to work at home, agents who align themselves with an established company like Farmers can enjoy the benefit of working with a well-recognized brand.

While it may be difficult to predict what the country's overall unemployment rate will be, there is still plenty of good news for career changers looking for fields that offer growth potential. Choosing a career in insurance, financial planning or another industry that anticipates double-digit growth in the next decade can help many career-changers achieve their dream of becoming successful entrepreneurs and help them make lemonade out of life's lemons.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is hard... but you have to do it: Most Effective Resumes

The most effective résumés when applying for federal jobs are those that clearly articulate how an applicant’s skills and experiences align to the selection criteria defined by the job opportunity announcement (JOA). Applicants should always tailor their résumé to the job opportunity to which they are applying. Consider these additional tips in ensuring you’ve created and are using the most effective résumé.

Pay Attention to Keywords
Whether you're writing your first résumé or updating an existing one, stop and think about which keywords you need to add based on the Knowledges, Skills, and Abilities required for the position. You could be the most qualified person for the position, but you could be lost in a sea of applicants without the right keywords.

A Single Keyword Communicates Multiple Skills and Qualifications
When a recruiter reads the keyword "analyst," he or she might assume you have experience in collecting data, evaluating effectiveness, and researching and developing new processes. Just one keyword can have tremendous power and deliver a huge message.

Study Job Opportunity Announcements (JOAs)
This is the best way to determine important keywords. Review several JOAs, similar to your ideal position – even those in other geographic areas. You’re looking to find skills, experience, education and other credentials important in that occupation. Focus on the "requirements," "skills" or "qualifications" sections of job ads, and look for “buzzwords” and desirable credentials for your ideal job.

Be Concise Recruiters often receive dozens or even hundreds of applications for certain positions. The first step involves quickly skimming through submissions and eliminating candidates who clearly are not qualified. Look at your résumé and ask:
Can a hiring manager see my main credentials within 10 to 15 seconds?
Does critical information jump off the page?
Do I effectively sell myself on the top quarter of the first page?

The Sales Pitch
It is crucial that your résumé effectively sells your credentials. Key selling points need to be prominently displayed at the top of the first page of the résumé and directly address each question asked in the KSA section. For example, if an advanced degree is an important qualification, it shouldn't be buried at the end of a résumé.

Use an Editor's Eye
A résumé doesn’t have to contain every detail of your work experience. So be judicious. If your college days are far behind you, does it really matter that you pledged a fraternity or delivered pizza? The editing step will be difficult if you are holding on to your past for emotional reasons.

Use Numbers to Highlight Your Accomplishments If you were a recruiter looking at a résumé, which of the following entries would impress you more?
Wrote news releases.
Wrote 25 news releases in a three-week period under daily deadlines.

Clearly the second statement carries more weight, because it uses numbers to quantify the writer's accomplishment. It provides context that helps the reader understand the degree of difficulty involved in the task. Numbers are powerful résumé tools that will help your accomplishments draw the attention they deserve from prospective employers. With just a little thought, you can find effective ways to quantify your successes on your résumé.

Think Money
All organizations are concerned about money. So think about and articulate ways you've saved money, earned money, or managed money in your internships, part-time jobs and extracurricular activities. A few possibilities may include:
Identified, researched and recommended a new Internet Service Provider, cutting the company's online costs by 15 percent.
Wrote prospect letter that has brought in more than $25,000 in donations to date.
Managed a student organization budget of more than $7,000.

Think Time
"Time is money." Organizations are constantly looking for ways to save time, perform work more efficiently, and meet internal and external deadlines. So, whatever you can do on your résumé to show that you can save time, make time or manage time will grab the recruiter’s immediate attention. Here are some time-oriented examplese:
Assisted with twice-monthly payroll activities, ensuring employees were paid as expected and on time.
Attended high school basketball games, interviewed players and coaches afterward, and composed 750-word articles by an 11 p.m. deadline.
Suggested procedures that decreased average order-processing time from 10 minutes to five minutes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Six ways to use social media in your job search

Resume? Check. Cover letter? Check. Now you're ready to begin that job search, right? Wrong. There may be some very important things you're forgetting about that could dramatically enhance your job search.

Nowadays, job searches involve much more than simply submitting hundreds of resumes and cover letters. "Today's job search requires a strategy that uses social media as well as traditional vehicles," says Wendy Wagner, career services director for The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

According to a 2012 Jobvite survey, 92 percent of U.S. companies use social networks to find talent, with LinkedIn the most popular. "Make sure you have a social media strategy to augment traditional methods such as face-to-face networking and informational interviews," says Lyndsay Cooper, career services director for The Art Institute of Tennessee-Nashville, -a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta.

Wagner and Cooper offer the following tips to give yourself an edge in your job search.

-* Brand consistency. Make sure your profile is professional and reflects the job you're looking for across all social media platforms. Ensure your privacy settings are secure (especially on Facebook). On LinkedIn, make sure your profile is complete including skills and recommendations. On Twitter, link to your website, blog or online resume. And don't forget Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Foursquare.

-* Know your audience. Your audience in Facebook is different from your audience in Twitter or LinkedIn. Make sure your updates reflect that. On LinkedIn, share articles and blogs on industry-related topics. On Facebook, post more personal (but not too detailed) updates to remind your friends that you're in the job market.

-* Be proactive. Use social media to connect with recruiters, employers and employees of companies you'd like to work for. Join - and participate in - organizations, groups and blogs in your industry or alumni groups. Become an industry expert or thought leader.

-* Research. Use social media to create your target list of companies, then research those companies and their employees. Use hashtags on Twitter to find jobs. For example, if you are interested in fashion, search #fashionjobs.- Sites like Technorati or Twellow let you search people's bios and the URLs in their bios; you can easily find, follow and engage key employees of those companies so they get to know you before you approach them for a job. Prepare for a job interview by using social media to research the interviewer and find common topics to break the ice.

-* Network online. Expand your network and engage others with similar interests by posting, sharing/forwarding, tweeting and retweeting relevant articles and blogs. This raises your online profile, and encourages others to do the same for you. Twitter works well for this.

-* Know your online profile. Google yourself and make sure what you see is what you want it to be. Go to so you can see your "klout" score, which reports how influential and engaged you are across platforms. Another great site is, a Twitter directory organized by shared interests or categories. Users can add themselves to the categories that best fit their interests.

Today, employers use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media to identify, recruit and check out new employees. The Internet has helped level the job search playing field by offering access to resources that enable you to identify and prepare for career opportunities. But it's also offered employers access to more talented job candidates. A smart social media strategy can help you stand out and land the job you seek

For more information about The Art Institutes, visit

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Job Reference Check

Reference checking is a common and familiar hiring practice. Minimally, a reference check involves a conversation—usually a phone conversation— between a potential employer and someone who knows the job applicant. A properly conducted reference check is not an informal, gossipy exchange of unsubstantiated opinions about a job applicant. Seven characteristics set reference checking apart from casual conversation and make it a valid and useful component of the hiring process.

1. Job-related. The focus of a reference checking discussion is on an applicant’s ability to perform the job.

2. Based on observation of work. The information provided by a reference must be based on experience observing or working with a job applicant.

3. Focused on specifics. The discussion must be focused on particular job-related information common to all job applicants to ensure fairness. Skillful probing and comparing of information ensures that the process produces more than a superficial evaluation.

4. Feasible and efficient. Because reference checking is focused, it can be conducted quickly. It provides a reasonable return for the small amount of time needed to do it well.

5. Assessments of the applicant. The information obtained from reference checking may be used to determine whether an applicant will be offered a job. Reference checking procedures therefore are assessments subject to employment regulations, such as the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, and they must conform to accepted professional measurement practice.

6. Legally defensible. It is necessary for reference checks to meet high professional standards, and reference checkers can meet these standards within the constraints of the law.

7. Part of the hiring process. The purpose of the reference check is to inform a decision about hiring. The results need to complement other assessments used in that process.

Here's a typical Reference Check Form

Applicant Name:

Date Called:

Person Conducting Reference Check:

Reference name:

Reference’s organization:

Dates of Employment:

Position(s) Held:

Salary History:

Reason for Leaving:

1. Please describe the type of work for which the candidate was responsible.

2. How would you describe the applicant's relationships with coworkers, subordinates (if applicable), and with superiors?

3. How is the applicant’s work disposition? Please elaborate.

4. How would you describe the quantity and quality of output generated by the former employee?

5. How would you describe his/her attendance and reliability as it relates to the position he/she had with you?

6. What were his/her strengths on the job?

7. What were his/her weaknesses on the job?

8. What is your overall assessment of the candidate?

9. Would you recommend him/her for this position? Why or why not?

10. Would you rehire this individual? Why or why not?

11. Can you recommend one or two other sources that I should seek references from for this candidate?

12. Other comments?