Monthly Archives: November 2016

This Reasons to Get a Side Gig Now

If you have a full-time job right now, congratulations. The economy is certainly better than it was a few years ago. But now is the time to get a side gig as well.

“The main reason is because there is so little job security today,” says Kimberly Palmer, author of “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life.”

“If you were to suddenly lose your job, then you have something to fall back on,” Palmer says.

Even with the economy in better shape than a few years ago, there are still major firings. U.S. companies announced mass layoffs totaling nearly 527,000 last year, according to a report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which tracks the data.

That of course, doesn’t include small-scale staff reductions and outright dismissals.

Palmer cautions that it makes sense to find out the company policy on side gigs. Sometimes technology firms can be very strict. With other industries it can vary considerably. Some firms don’t mind and others have what Palmer calls a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

There is some good news, Palmer says. “A lot of employers are beginning to accept the idea,” she says.

Try these 12 tips – one for every month of the year – to help you get on track in 2017 and get ready for the best retirement possible.

Here are other reasons to consider getting a side job.

Earn extra money. For millennials, having a side gig is now something quite normal, she says. “Everyone can benefit from even a few hundred extra dollars a month,” Palmer says. “I got into it when I first became a mom – that’s when I first launched my Etsy (ticker:ETSY) shop.”

She creates money planners to help people prepare for the financial costs for major life events, such as having a baby or saving for college.

It’s easy. “It’s so easy to get a side gig now there are so many platforms and ways to get side gigs,” says Diane Mulcahy, author of “The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want.”

 For instance, at the simplest level there are sites like and where you can offer your services. In addition, there are places like LinkedIn Profinder (LNKD), which are easy to use.

Risk is reduced. “Along the same lines of portfolio diversification it reduces risk,” Mulcahy says. “Even if you are working a full-time job it makes sense to multiple sources of income, either earned or passive.”

You wouldn’t invest all your money in a single stock because the risks of doing so are huge. Instead, savvy investors set up a diversified portfolio of different stocks and some bonds. The idea is the same with having a side gig, or even two or three – the different streams of income may fluctuate but overall it may end up being less risky than a single source.

Build more skills. “Side gigs are important even if they don’t generate income, they potentially add skills or add to your network,” Mulcahy says. “Whether paid or unpaid you get value from both.”

Both skills and networking are elements of human capital. More skills and a larger more robust network both make you more valuable when looking for new gigs.

So even if it doesn’t bring in any more dollars, doing pro bono work for a charity might make sense because you’ll meet more like-minded people.

Take a trial run. Budding entrepreneurs can use a side gig to put a toe into the water without risking everything.

“If you thought ‘I always wanted to work with startups and do their books,’ then having a side gig allows you to gather information on how much demand is there for such a service,” Mulcahy says. “It can help you make a decision on how much the market is willing to pay for the product or service that you have to sell.”

Keep your dream alive. “What I’m seeing with college graduates is that so many aren’t graduating into their dream jobs. So why not keep the dream alive?” says Susan Beacham, co-author of “Official Money Guide for College Students.”

She references her daughter who graduated with a degree in creative writing and then went to work selling industrial paint. “It isn’t necessarily what she thought of when she graduated,” Beacham says. Meanwhile, the daughter keeps her dream alive by blogging about living a “gluten-free lifestyle.”

Refresh your mind. Sometimes just knowing that you have a side gig can help give you the energy you need to do your day job, Beacham says.

That side gig shooting photos for a blog, or making knickknacks for Etsy may end up bringing a spark into your life that energizes you at your full-time job.

How To Beat the Odds and Get Hired

So you want to learn how to beat the odds in job searching. First, you need to understand which job opportunities are worth your time and energy. Then you’ll want to know when and how to put in a little extra effort.

Let’s assume you’ve already mastered using the keywords that are magic to a recruiter’s eyes and ears. What else can you do to land an offer? What if you knew which types of companies received fewer applications or were more likely to grant interviews? Would knowing these things help change your job-search strategy? Would knowing any of this information make you more successful in landing an interview? Job search is a numbers game. The more you understand, the better you’ll be at winning!

Lucky for you, Jobvite, a leading recruiting platform, analyzed the statistics from their database of 14 million job applications and 64 million job seekers in 2016 to compile information to help you compete.

Know where the competition is. If you want to work at a cool tech firm, you’re not alone. On average, there are 51 applicants competing per job within technology companies, according to Jobvite. Technology, media, education and consumer internet are among the most competitive industries, attracting the most applicants. It’s worth investigating companies in industries with less competition to see if the types of jobs you are interested in are available. Companies within insurance, energy, health care, retail and financial institutions saw less competition for jobs. If you were to pursue a job within an insurance or energy company, you would only be competing against 20 or fewer candidates, on average.

You won’t always get an interview. Some companies are more selective than others. Just because you apply for a job, doesn’t mean you’ll win an interview. Using Jobvite’s analysis, careers in insurance, leisure and hospitality, and financial institutions appear to be easier to secure interviews with. Fifteen to almost 20 percent of applicants in these industries are granted an interview. However, it is quite difficult to land an interview with companies in media, manufacturing, consumer internet and technology. Ten percent or less of applicants receive an interview in those fields, according to Jobvite’s survey. If you must pursue a job within one of the ultra-competitive industries, you must take the time to adjust your resume

Beat the odds by getting referred. The best way to get yourself in front of the hiring manager is to use a referral. “Referred applicants are five times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board,” reports Jobvite. It may feel more productive to apply for jobs online, however, it is not more effective. Before you apply, always search your network for someone who works at the company.

How many interviews can you expect? Depending on the level of the job, you can expect an average of three to five interviews, reports Jobvite. It may seem like a lot to go through, but there’s a lot on the line. An organization will invest time and money getting you acclimated to their operations. They want to make sure you can do the job and fit in. What you need to keep in mind is that this vetting process works both ways. You should prepare to ask questions that evaluate work culture and management style. You also will have ample opportunity to assess the office and ask to meet colleagues and potential co-workers. These are significant factors that will impact your satisfaction with the job.

Expect the process to take almost a month. From the time you apply to the day you get an offer takes an average of 28 days, based on Jobvite’s analysis. It can take even longer based on the seniority of the role. With so many candidates to choose from, employers are putting candidates through more interviews, which takes more time. Keep this in mind and don’t expect miracles. There is little you can do to expedite the process. If you are unemployed, it’s imperative that you always have multiple irons in the fire. Never stop pursuing other jobs until you have an offer in hand.

Not all interviews translate into offers. Just because you had an interview, it doesn’t mean you’ll receive an offer. However, there are some things you can do to knock the socks off your interviewer. Know everything you can about the company, its products and services and get insights from people who have worked at the company before you interview. Be prepared to explain why you want to work for the company and know which of your skills and experiences translate into benefits for the employer.

If you’ve resolved similar issues at your last job, you should explain how those experiences would benefit your prospective new company. You must also craft relevant answers to some of the most popular interview questions. This means knowing how to answer “Tell me about yourself,” “Why do you want to work here?” and providing specific examples of your successes. You’ll also want to know how to address what you learned from your past failures and why you left your past jobs. If filling a job with a capable person was easy, this process wouldn’t take quite so long. The reality is, employers are looking for a candidate who is a solid overall fit, will come up to speed quickly and immediately contribute to the company’s goals.

Need To Do when Your Job Search After Hearing ‘We’ll Get Back to You’

As if a job search wasn’t already frustrating enough, we often get absolutely no response to many job applications. If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, you may be told, “We’ll get back to you.” Then you begin to wonder: How long do I have to wait to hear back? Is it OK if I follow up and when is it appropriate to do so?

Whether you’ve received no response or been told that you’ll hear back, there are some creative, non-intrusive ways to tackle the uncertainty.

Reach out. If you’ve applied for a job and you do not have any direct or indirect contacts at the company through your networks, including on LinkedIn, it’s time to dig deeper. Ideally, you should do this before you apply for a job to address your cover letter to a real person. But if you’ve already applied, check out the company’s website. Can you find a page with leadership or staff and determine who might be the head of the department where you’ve applied? If not, is senior human resources staff listed?

You may be able to determine their email address as you research, but if you can’t, try contacting them through LinkedIn. In your note, don’t just ask for the status of your application. You should tell them you are following up on your application to learn the status, and briefly – in one or two sentences – summarize why you are a good match against the job requirements. Attach your resume. Ask if they have a colleague with whom you can get in touch to find out more about your pending application.

Play the waiting game. Whether you’ve had an interview or not, you may have been told, “We’ll get back to you.” This may sound like an easy dismissal, but it isn’t necessarily. They may be waiting for a hiring manager to review all of the resumes or come back from a vacation to do so. There are a lot of variables at play that you know nothing about. Look at the bright side in this scenario: you have a contact, unlike in the example above. If you are just waiting to hear if you’ll be asked for an interview, sit tight for a week. Then get back in touch with the person. Emphasize that you are a good match against the job requirements and ask – politely – when you should expect to hear more about the status of your application.

At an interview, make sure you ask when you should expect to hear something. Hopefully the employer will give you a time frame and stick to it. But again, many unforeseen variables can be at play and it may be an inaccurate estimate. If you don’t hear back within the given amount of time, or if you’re only told, “We’ll get back to you,” how long should you wait to contact them?

Practice professional persistence. You need to have some degree of patience in this situation. Emailing and then calling immediately to find out if someone got your email is not a respectable approach, and neither is asking for a “read receipt” confirmation because let’s be honest: most people find those annoying. You should wait four to five days to follow up if you’ve been told that they’ll get in touch with you. Email the person. If you don’t hear back, follow up with a phone call two days later. If you decide to leave a message and don’t hear back, don’t push your luck. Wait to be contacted. If you decide not to leave a message, call again the next day. At that point, you might want to leave a brief message and then hope for the best.

Last but not least, if you’ve applied to a company and followed up directly asking if they’ve received your application and haven’t heard back, it is probably a dead lead. These are not worth your time. Do you want to work for people who are not getting back to you with a “yes” or “no” answer despite your best efforts? Your answer should be a resounding “no!” But make sure that you’ve done your homework and followed up before you give up because there could be other reasons you haven’t heard back that have nothing to do with you.

Win the Hiring

Since the election, a host of employers have announced major hiring plans. Amazon pledged to hire an impressive total of 100,000 workers over the next 18 months. Wal-Mart said it plans to create 10,000 retail and 24,000 construction jobs. The Japanese telecom conglomerate SoftBank promised to make investments in the U.S. that will result in 50,000 jobs over the next four years. Several major companies including IBM, GM, Ford and Lockheed Martin have announced substantial hiring plans as well.

With the country at a low 4.8 percent unemployment rate right now, the scramble is on forquality talent. Employers will be doing as much as they can to identify well-qualified hires and retain these people once they’re in the door.

For you, this means that employers will be recruiting aggressively and using new tools and technologies to research job candidates and determine whether they’re good fits in terms of both skills and workplace culture. In such a tight job market, it also means employers will be working hard to limit turnover and keep key employees happy.

Here are three ways you can get ahead of the hiring surge and position yourself for success.

Job References Will Loom Large – Get Ready Now

At SkillSurvey, we’ve learned through scientific research that when employers take a more strategic and technological approach to reference-checking, they typically see a 35 percent reduction in first-year turnover. (First-year turnover, in other words, is when people leave the company within their first year of working there.)

This is a really big deal for employers. To understand why, let’s look at an example. Assume company X averages a fairly typical 10 percent annual workforce turnover rate. If it’s hiring 100,000 people, that’s about 10,000 people it can expect to leave within a year. But if company X uses better job reference information, it can cut that figure down by 3,500 employees. That translates into millions of dollars in savings plus a happier and more stable workforce.

What does this mean for you?

It means that because reference checking has significantly advanced in automation, analytics and value, companies will be asking more frequently than ever before for reference information.

When applying for jobs, have your references ready and make sure they’re prepared. You should have several of them to call upon – not just two or three. That way, you can spread the love around when you’re in the running for several potential jobs at the same time.

Your references should know what position you’re applying for – and you should have a good sense of what they’re planning to say about you. This kind of upfront preparation can go a long way.

Make a Point of Talking About How You’ve Helped Others

Employers are increasingly putting a premium on collaboration at work. The value of the team only really comes across when individuals are pulling together in the same direction. In today’s workplace, you will almost definitely be asked to work in teams, often switching among various teams – maybe even several times throughout a typical day.

So, throughout the interview and hiring process, don’t make the mistake of solely talking about yourself and your accomplishments. While these points are important, you should sprinkle in plenty of examples of how you helped your teams perform more effectively. Employers will be listening.

You Can Afford to Be More Selective

It’s a seller’s market for job seekers right now – in contrast with even just a few years ago when we were still emerging from the Great Recession. Don’t be afraid to take your time,ask questions and do your homework.

The recruiting and interviewing process can go both ways. You are checking out your potential employer just as much as they’re assessing you. Delivering a positive experience for job candidates throughout the hiring process – even for those who are not ultimately hired – is something that employers are devoting more energy and resources to than ever before.

If a prospective employer doesn’t seem to care about your hiring experience – beware. And keep in mind that in today’s frothy job market, another good opportunity may not be far off.