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Job Seeker Blog

The 15-minute daily habit that will change your career

Austin Kleon, best-selling author of Show Your Work, tells us how to create a “daily dispatch” that, over time, adds up to something profound.

Growing up in rural Circleville, Ohio, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Austin Kleon couldn’t have known how the social networks of the future would enable him to easily connect to the writers and artists who were his heroes at the time.

But the artist, recent SXSW keynote speaker, and author of Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, was still eager for ways to interact with those worlds. At 13, he wrote to punk collage artist Winston Smith, who responded with a 14-page letter, the first exchange in years of correspondence. Last year, Smith was doing an open studio in San Francisco, and the two met in person--this time as peers.

“The best thing about putting your work out in the world is that sometimes you get lucky and get to meet your heroes,” says Kleon. “You start out as an apprentice, and you might not become a master, but you enter that world.”

The punk scene of which Smith was a part has influenced Kleon’s work in other ways. The concepts in Show Your Work!, he says, were influenced by Kleon’s study of the DIY and punk rock scenes--people creating ‘zines for their favorite bands and printing off copies at the local Kinkos.

“The technology is really important, and we all have tools that turn us into media producers now,” he says. “But what’s more important is attitude and spirit, that attitude of jumping into the world you want to join and making your own thing.”

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

9 resume mistakes that might cost you a job

Some may be obvious, like watching out for typos and misspelled words, but others - like cookie-cutter copies or file names - might be more sneaky mistakes you’re making when looking for a job.

While good old paper may seem passe in the digital age, LinkedIn hasn’t completely replaced the old-fashioned resume.

“Resumes are the heartbeat of a career search,” says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, a career and workplace adviser at Glassdoor. “If done well, your resume will tell your story and sell you.”

And that hasn’t changed with the rise of high-tech options. “Even as technology has advanced and changed the way job seekers find open positions, the resume remains an integral part of the hiring process,” adds Matt Tarpey, a career adviser with CareerBuilder.

Then again, a less-than-stellar resume can also work against you. To keep that from happening, we asked Barrett-Poindexter, Tarpey, and Maele Hargett, an executive recruiter with Ascendo Resources, to highlight the most egregious resume mistakes they see over and over--and explain how you can avoid these missteps.

1. MAKING GRAMMATICAL ERRORS AND TYPOS
There’s no room for sloppiness. According to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 58% of employers identified resumes with typos as one of the top mistakes that led them to automatically dismiss a candidate.

“In this day and age, there really is no excuse for a number of grammatical errors,” says executive recruiter Hargett. Common errors she sees include misuse of words (“your/you’re” and “lose/loose”), words spelled incorrectly ("business" and “finance,” if you can believe it), and overuse of punctuation (namely, commas).

“Don’t solely rely on spell check,” she says. “It’s helpful to get a second set of eyes on your résumé after you’ve reviewed it yourself.” She suggests reaching out to a trusted mentor or colleague in a similar industry, or if you’re a student, using the resources at your college career center or local library.

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, New York

The hidden qualities and tiny tricks that make someone an influential leader

Find your balance

Experts say you only have a few seconds to make a first impression. What exactly happens in those few seconds that determine whether someone likes or respects you?

It turns out, when others are sizing you up, they’re measuring your “strength” and “warmth,” characteristics, according to communication strategists Matt Kohut and John Neffinger in their book Compelling People, which is currently being taught at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools.

Strength is your capacity to make things happen with skills and willingness while warmth is the sense that you share the same feelings, interests, and view of the world as the person you’re speaking to.

“The discovery of strength and warmth that John and I had came from our early clients,” says Kohut. “They were either very accomplished and smart people to the point that they seem only interested in themselves and come off very cold and unfeeling. Or they were the nicest people in the world, but they were falling all over themselves apologizing and we feel like they won’t be able to deliver when the shops are down.”

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

How Music Affects Your Productivity

Music has a way of expressing that which cannot be put into words.

It is for this reason (and many more) that music is regarded as one of the triumphs of human creativity--but does music itself help one to create?

This is an important question to examine, because music has increasingly become apart of the modern-day work session.

The soldiers of yore may have faced insurmountable odds to the sound of trumpets, but we desk jockeys are typically left to fend off our piling inboxes with nothing more than iTunes.

With so much of our work now being done at computers, music has become an important way to “optimize the boring.”

Though it may be a fine way to avoid habituation, the question remains: does music actually make you more productive? More focused? More creative? Or is all that a placebo?

People like me need to know. For nearly all of my work sessions, I have music playing in the background. I once wrote 10,529 words on customer loyalty (how exciting) listening to nothing other than the SimCity 2000 soundtrack--and yes, more on that later.

Am I actively sabotaging myself, or is music spurring me to do better work?

Let’s take a look at the research.

MUSIC MAY HELP MAKE REPETITIVE TASKS EASIER
When evaluating music’s effectiveness in increasing productive output, one element to consider how “immersive” the task at hand is.

This refers to the variability and creative demand of the task--writing a brand new essay from scratch is synthesis work that demands a lot of creativity; answering your emails is mundane work that does not.

When the task is clearly defined and is repetitive in nature, the research seems to suggest that music is definitely useful.

A series of experiments has investigated the relationship between the playing of background music during the performance of repetitive work and efficiency in performing such a task. The results give strong support to the contention that economic benefits can accure from the use of music in industry.

More modern studies would argue that it perhaps isn’t the background noise of the music itself, but rather the improved mood that your favorite music creates that is the source of this bump in productivity.

Music with a dissonant tone was found to have no impact to productivity, while music in the major mode had different results: “Subjects hearing BGM (background music) achieved greater productivity when BGM was in the major mode.”

The effects music can have in relation to repetitive tasks were further explored in this study, which showcased how assembly line workers displayed signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music.

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

Creating Job Satisfaction

Find a job you like and you add five days to every week.
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

For many of us, the idea of having a job that is truly satisfying – the kind where work doesn’t feel like work anymore – is pure fantasy. Sure, professional athletes, ski patrollers, and golf pros may have found a way of doing what they love and getting paid for it. But is there actually anyone out there who dreams of sitting at a desk and processing paper, or watching products fly by them on conveyor belts, or working to solve other people’s problems?

Career dreams are one thing; practical reality is often another. When they happily coincide, seize the opportunity and enjoy it! Luckily, when they do not, it’s good to know that it is possible to get job satisfaction from a practical choice of career. Job satisfaction doesn’t have to mean pursuing the ultra-glamorous or making money from your hobby. You can work at job satisfaction, and find it in the most unexpected places…

The heart of job satisfaction is in your attitude and expectations; it’s more about how you approach your job than the actual duties you perform. Whether you work on the farm, a production line, in the corner office or on the basketball court, the secret is to understand the key ingredients of your unique recipe for job satisfaction.

Identify your Satisfaction Triggers

There are three basic approaches to work: is it a job, a career, or a passion? Depending on which type of work you are in right now, the things that give you satisfaction will vary.

If you work at a JOB, the compensation aspects of the position will probably hold more appeal than anything else, and have the greatest impact on whether you stay or go.
If you work at a CAREER, you are looking for promotions and career development opportunities. Your overall satisfaction is typically linked with your status, power, or position.
If you work at a PASSION, the work itself is the factor that determines your satisfaction, regardless of money, prestige, or control.
Inevitably, these are generalizations, and you will probably find that you get satisfaction from more than one approach to work. Being aware of the type of work you are doing, and the things you need for job satisfaction, will help you to identify and adjust your satisfaction expectations accordingly.

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

Becoming Well-Liked at Work

Improve yourself and improve your career

IJoe Clueless (a real person whose name I’ve changed to protect the guilty) is smart, handsome, and hardworking. Yet he’s been let go many times from corporate jobs and now, at 45, is a substitute teacher.

Joe needed all these lessons. Perhaps even you could use one or two:
LESSON 1. Joe was unduly negative: “That idea will never work.” or “This company isn’t going anywhere.” Even if you’re right, you pay a big likeability price for each complaint. So, when tempted to be negative, assess whether the benefit is worth the likely liability: Is this person open to criticism? Have you criticized him too often in the past? How likely is it she’ll change her mind?

You also improve your risk/reward ratio if you criticize only when you can propose (tactfully) a likely acceptable solution. Otherwise, you’re just seen as a whiner.

LESSON 2. Joe assumed that his obvious intelligence justified a know-it-all style. Even if your statements are brilliant, that style unnecessarily demeans everyone else. And who knows, even you might occasionally be wrong. So, make assertions in a way that allows for the possibility you’re incorrect, for example, “I think (insert your statement.) What do you think?”

Rule of thumb: If your argument is rejected, take no more than one more stab at it. If that doesn’t work, drop it. Pursuing it further is more likely to brand you as stubborn than to change minds.

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

Eight Keys to Making the Most of Your Job

Be effective where you are

You think landing a great job is important? Even more important is whether you make the most of it. These rules show you how:

-- Don’t let the cement dry. My daughter got a job in the White House. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was to answer letters to Socks, the Clintons’ cat. I told her: “Right now, your feet are in wet cement. Unless you get pulled out now, you’ll probably be stuck there. Tell your boss, ‘I’m willing to pay my dues but I believe I could contribute more. I’m a pretty good writer and researcher,” In two weeks, my daughter was writing Hillary’s daily briefing. Moral: Don’t like your first job description? Tactfully ask for a change.

-- Be Time-Effective. Jiminy Cricket sat on Pinocchio’s shoulder, ever whispering advice in the long-nosed marionette’s ear. The most productive employees also have a little voice on their shoulder ever whispering in their ear, ‘Is this the most time-effective way?” Not, “Is this the fastest?” Not, “Is this the highest-quality?” But “Is this the most time-effective way?”

-- Get credit. Get credit for your good work. Have a great idea? Don’t just tell your boss. Bring it up at a meeting. Have you created a draft work product you’re proud of? Consider sending it to respected colleagues for feedback…and to show them that you’re hot stuff. At evaluation time, ask, “I’ve kept a list of some work efforts I feel good about. Would you like to see it?”

-- Get the truth and get it fast. Garrison Keillor, host of A Prairie Home Companion, speaks of the imaginary Lake Wobegon, where everyone is above average. In real life, also, most people think of themselves as above average, which is why most terminated employees are shocked. So, from Day One, ask for candid feedback, not just you’re your boss but from respected coworkers, customers, etc. And when you get that feedback, don’t necessarily change, but truly consider it.

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

Is It OK to Talk Politics in a Job Interview?

Steer clear of charged topics to avoid this deadly third rail of your job search.

In our democracy, voting is something of a sacred right that should never be taken for granted. But that doesn’t mean that as a job seeker your political views can be expressed anywhere and everywhere.

“From a job-searching perspective, unless you’re going after a job that’s affiliated with a particular party, why would you bring that up?” said Tammy Gooler Loeb, a career and executive coach in the Boston area. “You don’t know how other people feel.”

A lot of times, a view you have as a voter could be a deal breaker for the person on the other side of the desk. If that person is a hiring manager and you’re in the middle of a big job interview, politics could be the deadly third rail of your job search.

It might seem strange that a conviction you hold so dear — whether it’s about the war in Iraq or Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest attempt to make New York City healthier — can actually be so offensive to someone else, but experts say that job seekers shouldn’t take that risk, especially on a job interview where you’re being scrutinized on everything you say.

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

Do You Interview Like a Pro?

Strategies to help you put your best foot forward and seal the deal.

I often hear how nerve-wracking and uncomfortable it is to go to an interview, but, I promise, it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re going to look at three strategies to re-frame and prepare for an interview that will seal the deal and get you that job offer.

More often than not, job seekers go into interviews with the totally wrong objectives. They seem to think that the goal is to sell themselves and to make themselves look great. They are afraid to show any weaknesses and are so uptight that they don’t showcase their personality.

Many find the questions that are asked in interviews unnerving and the idea of asking questions even more intimidating.

So we are going to break it down and cover the keys to successful interviewing one at a time.

In fact, we’re going to cover three main ideas:

How to re-frame an interview in a way that makes you feel empowered and confident
The how (and why) of introducing candor and authenticity into your interview
The whole gamut of questions — why they are so important, what you should ask when and why they frame your entire conversation

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

What to Do if a Company Asks for Your Facebook Password in a Job Interview

How to protect your privacy in a job search

Imagine you’ve been on the job market for about six months. You are paying your mortgage on your credit cards at this point. Your unemployment benefits are about to run out and your job prospects remain dismal, no matter what you seem to do.

Finally, you land a killer opportunity, pass the phone screen and show up to an interview with a hiring manager. Just as you think you’re about to close the deal, she spins her computer screen around and asks you to login to your Facebook account.

What do you do?

This is common enough that it now has a name: Shoulder Surfing. According to Lori Andrews, a law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law specializing in Internet privacy, this practice is “coercion if you need a job”. Not to mention the violation in Facebook’s privacy policy, albeit unenforceable.

Facebook’s official statement is that shoulder surfing “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends” and “potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

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posted in: Blogging, EmployerNews, News

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