10 Things To Do While You’re Unemployed

Okay. You are unemployed. You have put together a resume and you have taken a big step in the right direction by going to BarryStaff’s web site. But the job search might take a while. So what should you be doing?

Employers and CareerBuilder experts recommended a variety of activities you should engage in to build, expand, and strengthen your skills during a period of unemployment, in order to increase your marketability. This article from FORBES has some great ideas. And don’t just look at BarryStaff’s web site. Give us a call and get that resume into our recruiters’ hands.

From Forbes.com

If you’re unemployed and worried that employers will turn you down for taking on unimpressive work during the recession or for the large employment gaps on your résumé—you needn’t panic. A new survey just released by the careers website CareerBuilder.com reveals that the vast majority of employers are sympathetic to such circumstances.

The nationwide survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive, on behalf of CareerBuilder, among 3,023 hiring managers and human resource professionals between November 9 and December 5, 2011. Not only does it offer unemployed job seekers some hope, but it also provides tips to help them land a new position.
“More than 40% of unemployed job seekers have been out of work for six months or longer,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “There’s a sense that such a long gap on a résumé negatively affects a candidate’s chances, but the survey shows that is not true. That’s very positive news for this group of job seekers. If you fill the gaps with activities and experience that illustrate how you are still developing your skill sets, the overwhelming majority of employers will look past your unemployment and focus on what you can bring to their team.”

Eighty-five percent of those surveyed employed reported that they are more understanding of employment gaps post-recession. Ninety-four percent said they wouldn’t have a lower opinion of a candidate who took on a position during the recession that was at a lower level than the one he or she had held previously.
But this doesn’t mean you can sit around and wait for a sympathetic employer to offer you work. “The worry is that employers may think job seekers are losing some of their skills because they haven’t been utilizing them. By volunteering, taking temporary work, or signing up for a class that develops your professional tool kit, you show employers that you’ve made the most of your time and will be ready on day one,” Haefner says.

Take a temporary or contract assignment.

Seventy-nine percent would recommend doing this. Why? “The key is to get people to see your work and to see what you’re capable of doing,” says Andy Teach, the author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time. “If you do a great job, even if it’s for a temporary job, whoever hired you is more likely to recommend you for a permanent position.”

Take a class.

Sixty-one percent of the hiring managers surveyed recommended taking a class during a period of unemployment. “You never stop learning in your career, so the more technical competence you have, the better,” Teach says. “When you take a class in your field, you are also showing that you are serious about your work and that you take initiative.” Another advantage to taking a class: It’s a great networking opportunity.


Sixty percent of the hiring managers said volunteer work makes you more marketable. “When you volunteer for something, you are telling potential employers something about you as a person,” Teach says. It shows that you are passionate about something and care about helping others—and it demonstrates that money isn’t the most important thing to you, he adds. “When companies are hiring, they are looking not only for people who can get the job done but also for people with character and integrity.”

Start Your Own Business

Twenty-eight percent suggested doing this—but starting a business can be pricy and time consuming. If you have the means to do it, it’s a great résumé booster and a wonderful marketing tool.

“The beauty of having your own business is that you can work part-time or full-time depending on whether or not you are able to land a job working for someone else,” Teach says. “You are also going to learn skills that are transferrable if you do end up working for someone else again.”

Start a professional blog

Eleven percent of the surveyed employers said a professional blog can be a good way to market yourself to employers. Why? You get people to see you as an expert in your field. “You are also conveying your passion, gaining knowledge, and separating yourself from others,” Teach says. “Potential employers will see you as having taken the initiative during your job search to blog about something you truly care about: your career.”

Follow stories on hot industries and job functions.

CareerBuilder experts say information technology, engineering, health care, sales, and customer service are among the top areas for hiring nationwide, according to CareerBuilder’s job listings. Follow the news and job openings in these fields.

Use the time to come up with ideas.

Whether it’s an idea for a marketing campaign, new revenue stream, cost savings, etc., the candidates who show up at an interview with ideas demonstrate that they are passionate, knowledgeable, and excited about the opportunity. These job seekers always stand out from the crowd, CareerBuilder experts say.

Make connections.

A résumé handed to the hiring manager directly from someone within the company is more likely to get noticed, CareerBuilder experts say. Build and expand your network of contacts through social media and professional organizations. Let friends, family and professional contacts know that you’re looking for a job, and ask for their help in finding connections to the organizations you’re interested in.

Follow up.

According to CareerBuilder, two thirds of workers reported that they don’t follow up with the employer after submitting their résumé for consideration. It’s important to take that extra step to let the employer know you’re interested, and make sure you always send a thank you after an interview. Handwritten notes will set you apart from the pool of candidates, but e-mails are acceptable, too.

Use key words.

As long as you’re actively pursuing a job, you’ll likely be spending a significant amount of time editing and sending out your résumé. Remember to use key words. Why? CareerBuilder experts said most employers use electronic scanning devices to screen and rank candidates. You’ll want to tailor your résumé for each position you apply for, and include specific words from the job posting. Do this and your résumé will come up higher in employer searches.

“These types of activities tell the employer that the job seeker is serious about their career development and made the most of their time off,” Haefner says. “The key for the job seeker is to make the connection between how their volunteer work, blog, class, or temporary position prepares them for the next job. If they can successfully do that, their employment gaps won’t be an issue.”

Know Any Good Workers?

Most of our customers know that we at BarryStaff are pretty good about finding the best available people for the job openings at their companies. Our files go back for years and our database has information on thousands of people. But while it’s true that we know a lot of good workers, we are always looking for more good people. If you also know good employees we want to encourage you to have them call us.

Some of our best candidates are the ones who are referred by people we know. If you say they are good employee material then they come to us with one good reference already. So if you know of somebody looking for a job or unhappy in their current position, please have them get in touch with us. Remember that our specialties are:

LIGHT INDUSTRIAL: Pickers, Packers, Parts Inspectors, Shipping, Receiving, Assembly Line, QC Inspections, etc.

MANUFACTURING: Machinists and Operators, Quality Control, Production Supervisors, Welders, Electricians, Maintenance Technicians, and Skilled Craftsmen

OFFICE SUPPORT: Administrative Assistants, Receptionists, Customer Service, Inside Sales, Financial/Accounting, Data Entry, and General Clerical

TECHNICAL: Engineers (mechanical, Electrical, Industrial, Chemical) CAD Designers, Drafters, Electronic and Electrical Technicians, etc

If you have friends or family with experience in any of these areas, please have them give us a call.

ON THE HUMOROUS SIDE we thought you might enjoy these “Resume Bloopers.
· “I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0. computer and spreadsheet progroms.”
· Reason for leaving last job: Maturity Leave
· “Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.”
· “Let’s meet so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”
· “I was working for my mom until she decided to move.”
· “You will want me to be the Head Honcho in no time.”
· Marital Status: Single. Unmarried. Unengaged, Uninvolved. No Commitments
· “Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs ad job-hopping. I have never quit a job.
· “Finished 8th in a class of 10”
· “I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”

6 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Workplace stress is not inevitable. Here are some simple techniques to lower your own levels.

Stress sucks.  According to the American Psychological Association, stress can result in headache, muscle tension, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, lack of focus, irritability, depression, eating problems, addiction … and social withdrawal. Yow!

Fortunately, stress isn’t inevitable, even in today’s hyper-connected, highly competitive world.  Here are six techniques that I’ve picked up over the years and now use on a daily basis. 

1. Create an Oasis

In the past, people worked 9 to 5; in today’s business environments, there’s pressure to work (or at least be available) 24/7. Needless to say, that pressure generates oodles of stress.

An absurdly easy way to get reduce that stress is to shut down your computer and your cell–not just while you sleep, but also an hour before and after you sleep.

This takes discipline, because you’re probably in habit of checking email, texts and so forth. This also takes self-confidence, because you must believe that you need to be at the constant beck and call of your boss, colleagues and customers. Do it anyway. 

2. Find the ‘Sweet Spots’

Having a overlong to-do list can a huge source of stress, because it feels like you can never get them those tasks completed. Here’s a thought: Why bother?

Instead, categorize each task by difficulty (e.g. easy, medium, hard) and then by potential impact (e.g. large, medium, small).  You’ll probably find there are about 10 tasks that are both easy and will have a large impact. Hit those “sweet spots” first.

In most cases, you’ll achieve 80 percent of your goals by only doing 20 percent of the work.  And that takes the pressure off, thereby reducing stress. As a bonus stress-reliever, ignore those tasks that are hard and won’t have much of an impact anyway. 

3. Renegotiate Your Workload

Unreasonable expectations of what you’re capable of accomplishing are a huge source of stress–regardless of whether those expectations come from yourself, from your boss, or from your customers.

The cure for this kind of stress is a dose of reality. Look at how much time you’ve got to spend, assess the amount of work that needs to be done, and, based on that, be realistic about what’s actually going to get done. If you’re expected to accomplish A,B,C and D, and there’s only time to achieve three of the four, decide–or force your boss to decide–which three will actually get done and which one will not. 

4. Turn Off the News

 The news media, like every other form of entertainment, makes money by producing strong emotions in its audience.  Outside business news, those emotions are almost exclusively negative: anger, fear, anxiety, dread, and frustration.

While those manufactured emotions do provide momentary distraction from work stress, they do it by adding more stress. Watching or listening to the news in order “to relax” is like having a beer to dull the pain of a hangover; it only makes things worse in the long run.

So whenever there’s a news story that starts to make you angry or upset, change the channel–unless it’s 100% relevant to your life–or click to another page. 

5. Disconnect from the Uncontrollable

There are always events that you simply can’t control: the economy, traffic, politics, other people’s emotions, customer decisions, and so forth.

While it can be useful to observe and predict such events (in order to know how to react to them), once you’ve decided how you’ll deal with them, it’s stressful (and, frankly, a little nutso) to continue to focus on them.

Worrying about stuff you can’t control isn’t going to make an iota of difference either in the short or the long run. It’s wasted energy and extra stress you don’t need. Change what can change and shrug off what you can’t. 

6. Avoid Stressed People

You may not realize it, but your physiology is programmed to mirror the physiology of the people around you. (This is a neurological phenomenon resulting from the”mirror neurons” in your brain.) In other words, you can “catch” stress from other people.

So although it may not be possible to avoid stressed people all the time, you should try, as far as possible, to limit your contact with such people–at least until you’ve conquered your own stress. At that point, the opposite effect kicks in, because the calmness you will have achieved is also contagious–provided you’ve made it into a strong enough habit.

Be Careful with Use of Background Checks

Running background checks on prospective employees is a good thing. Right? Here at BarryStaff we routinely run background checks on candidates submitted to our client companies. But if the information isn’t being used correctly and candidates are being rejected for reasons unrelated to their ability to do the job, these things can backfire. Check out this article by an Employment Attorney from “Front Page News.”

Be Wary of Running Background Checks
Employment attorney Heather Brock from FPN (Front Page News)

Running criminal background checks on future employees is smart business. However, be aware of federal regulations governing such checks before you jump into the pool. They may come back to bite you later.

Consider the case brought against a major restaurant chain when its employee sexually assaulted a 3-year-old customer on property. Prior crimes would have been revealed if the employer had conducted a simple background check. This step would have prevented the hire and the terrible attack and litigation that followed.

But the risk associated with running background checks is on the rise. Last summer the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began examining the effect of using criminal background checks on job applicants and current employees. As background to the EEOC’s examination, consider what happened to the bottling arm of Pepsi Beverages Co., which had a long-standing policy of conducting background checks on all applicants.

In 2006, that policy came to the attention of the EEOC, which investigated whether the policy discriminated against minorities. Pepsi claimed that its policy did not discriminate. But the EEOC investigation found otherwise. It said that between 2006 and 2010, more than 300 African-American job applicants were wrongfully denied employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In January, Pepsi Beverages agreed to pay a hefty $3.13 million fine to resolve the resulting race discrimination lawsuit.

What gives? Pepsi Beverages had refused to hire applicants if the checks revealed arrests, even if those arrests had not led to convictions. It also denied employment to people who had been convicted of only minor offenses. The EEOC says using arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if doing so disproportionately impacts certain racial or ethnic groups, which it did in that case.

In 1987, the EEOC issued guidance on pre-employment selection guidelines. Since that time, smart employers have been using the following considerations to guide decision-making in response to information revealed by background checks:
· The nature and gravity of the offense
· The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence
· The job-relatedness or relevance of the offense.

The EEOC is soon expected to provide additional guidance on whether the use of criminal background checks has a disparate impact on certain groups, and whether an employer will have to offer empirical evidence to substantiate the business necessity for the use of such information (how using the checks increases employee safety or productivity). Given the direction the EEOC is taking, employers who want to assess whether their background check policies are fair might consider conducting a privileged policy review with their attorney.
For now, employers should not abandon criminal background checks altogether. Just as employers may face sanctions if they do improper or unfair background checks, they can have serious potential liability for failing to run them. What is revealed by a criminal background check often provides crucial information that allows employers to make the best hires.

Consider the manager applicant who has prior convictions for stealing. Next, please! Further, negligent hiring and negligent retention lawsuits can be expensive to defend.
The EEOC has stated its desire to remove barriers to employment for applicants with criminal backgrounds. That is a worthy goal, in the abstract. But, businesses must protect the safety of their employees, customers and property. That’s just good business. So, the debate about workplace fairness versus workplace safety continues.