How to learn new skills for a new career!

How to Learn New Skills for a New Career

Starting a new career can be a long process, filled with doubt and setbacks. One of the best ways to ease this process is to be a great candidate for the new job. By being attractive to prospective employers, each step, from applications to interviews, will go much smoother. How can this be accomplished? The simplest way is to have a relevant skill set.

This is easier said than done, though. Here are two ways to learn new skills to ensure your resume stands out from the rest.

Personal Projects

One of the best ways to become better at a skill, whatever it may be, is to use it. In the world of web design, this means designing websites. In programming, it means making software that showcases talent. There are numerous examples.

Creating personal projects has two major benefits. First,  you are becoming better at the skill because you are using it. Secondly, you begin to build a portfolio that can be used as a reference to prove your expertise.

A great portfolio filled with projects can be a surefire way to stand out among other candidates. A portfolio can take many forms depending on the subject. A web designer may have several published websites, or an artist may keep all their work on a physical medium. Regardless, a portfolio that an employer can reference to prove that you have the know-how is priceless and can ease the uncertainty of hiring someone new to the field.

The other obvious advantage of creating personal projects is practice. Not only are you building a portfolio for reference, but you are simply practicing the skill. With more practice, you become better. A well-practiced candidate is hard to find, and many employers will gladly take the opportunity should one arrive.

Online learning

The internet has allowed new freedom in learning. Gone are the days of being restricted to a classroom to learn a new skill or subject.

One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to be taught it. Almost any subject can be found online, with most resources being free. From programming on YouTube to incident command on the FEMA training website, there is almost certainly a chance to learn about a skill online.

Massive Online Open Courses, commonly known as MOOCs, are becoming extremely popular. Prestigious universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Harvard publish some of their popular coursework online, in their entirety. Completing these courses will not earn you a degree in the subject, but the knowledge given is golden.

There are other avenues if you want to pursue online learning. Hundreds of companies offer online courses and materials, the most common being YouTube. Personally, I earned all my IT certifications with free, online training through YouTube, along with a search engine for the learning objectives I needed to go more in-depth on.

Personal Projects and Online Learning are two of the best ways to start a new career. By learning about the career and its intricacies, and building a portfolio that proves your talent, you’ll be hired in no time!

Resume Tips and Tricks Part 1.

Creating a resume is a decisive step in a job search. Before impressing employers during an interview, resumes give a professional snapshot that allows employers to select the best candidates for a position by providing a concise work history and skill list.

A resume that reflects your skills is crucial. Here are a few ways to make sure yours sticks out among the competition.

Tailoring For the Specific Job

Every job opening is unique. Each company has different requirements and is looking for specific requirements for their job opening. One of the best ways to make your resume stand out from the pack is to accommodate those specific requirements in the resume for that job.

Many job seekers take a single resume and send it to every job. By taking this path, even a qualified candidate may be at a disadvantage, as the needs stated in the job posting may not be highlighted, or even added, to the contents of a resume.

Simply making minor adjustments to the contents of a resume based on verbiage in the job posting raises the chances of being selected to move forward in the hiring process. Especially as the hiring process for companies begins using technology more, using keywords from the job posting can not only help with looking more appealing to human eyes but will also help with being more appealing to increasingly popular automated resume scanners

Use Appropriate Formatting

There is not a standard format for resumes. Creative resumes are becoming more popular, and a skilled designer can be very creative. However, there are common best practices that can help secure an interview.

No matter how you choose to format your resume it needs to remain the same throughout the entire document. The margins on each page, the heading, font sizes, the space in between sections, and every detail needs to match from start to finish.

Stick with a simpler font. Readability is more important than neat styling!

Less is more, most hiring manager do not have the time to read through a five page resume of hundreds of applicants. A resume should not be more than two pages long. For most people, one page is enough. For those with more career experience underneath their belt, two pages may be needed to showcase their entire professional summary.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Of course, any mistake on a submitted resume will be glaring to any employer that is reading it.

Be sure to proofread the resume for all spelling mistakes. Take this time to eliminate passive language and use more “action” verbs.

Include all relevant information and make sure it is up to date. Email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses can all change – it can be very easy to forget to update these. Also, leave out your age and gender off of a resume. Companies are looking at your relevant skills.


Photographs are becoming common to put on your resume as well. I would shy away from this, it allows people to judge you off of your appearance and not off of your work. Some people feel it gives a personal touch to the document.

Get the Interview!

These are just a few tips on creating a good resume. There are entire websites and communities dedicated to the art of writing resumes, so rest assured that any question that you could have on a resume can be answered with a few keystrokes.

Now that you have a few tips, update your resume and apply a few things mentioned. A few simple changes and added keywords and you may finally get that interview!

How to Be a GREAT Employee – Soft Skills

A common mistake among people swapping or beginning careers, or even trying to climb higher on the ladder at their current job, is focusing solely on “hard” skills. These are often certifications, degrees, or anything that shows proof of having relevant knowledge and capabilities. When first stepping into a new world, hard skills are naturally where a candidate wants to concentrate. Fixating too hard on hard skills instead of soft skills can be detrimental, as soft skills are just as important as having the ability to do a new job.

What are some soft skills that will give a candidate a leg up in the hiring or promotion process? Here are three of the most important.

Communication

With the variety of jobs available today communication is a common factor across all disciplines. Sharing ideas, problems, solutions, and anything else is foundational and can make or break a candidate.

This includes being a good listener, too. Not only is it essential to effectively form communication in a way others can understand, but being able to distill and understand ideas from coworkers, especially early on in a new career, is paramount for employers looking to hire or promote.

Luckily, this soft skill is transferable from practically every aspect of life. It’s so common in day-to-day activities that communication is notably absent from the frequently highlighted skills of candidates. Simply bringing up any background or training that involves communication can make an impact on job aspects or promotions.

Adaptability

The ability to acclimate to a fluid working environment is becoming more important than ever. As businesses adapt to a fast-paced world, so too do the individual positions in those companies need to change shape.

Simply being willing to embrace change and thrive in it can put candidates leaps and bounds ahead of their peers. Luckily, this soft skill comes with experience. Putting in the time and keeping an open mind will allow you to flow like the water when it comes to company changes.

Technological Ability

Although this is teetering between a soft skill and a hard skill, computers are in practically every business in the modern world. Knowing how to navigate common programs and operating systems is a must-have for most positions in the job market.

A candidate for a promotion or a new job, showing proficiency above and beyond the needed skill level for software used by a company looks great on a CV or resume. With the infinite wealth of knowledge of search engines, time, and dedication, learning to be just a little more efficient with computers can give that step up above the competition.

Show Yourself Off

In most cases, people have a wealth of soft skills in their toolbox.

There are countless soft skills that companies need for open positions, and all it requires to be set apart from the pack is to make sure that those in charge of hiring or promoting know that you have them. Be sure to let them know!

1 simple way to have better work-life balance

Having better work-life balance is the dream of many professionals. I find it hard to maintain balance in a remote world. When I first started working remotely I thought that I would have a better balance between work and my personal life. For the simple fact that I  was at home and around my family more. In fact, for myself at least, that was the complete opposite.

In a normal brick and mortar job, once I clocked out my personal life took precedence over my work. If I received an email, it would wait until the next business day. When I started working remotely I would be searching the internet in the evening and see an email pop up. Instead of ignoring it until the next day, I would answer it.There were several nights I was working at 11pm. It was all because my work was at home with me, I didn’t get to leave it in an office 30minutes away. If my family was traveling I worked while we were on vacation, essentially I was able to do the majority of my work from my phone. 

One day I was exhausted and worn out, I started almost wishing for a brick and mortar job. I thought back to why I was able to have a better balance in a brick and mortar job, and it hit me that I had better boundaries. When I was at work I was present and attentive to my job, and likewise when I was at home I was attentive to my family. It was not benefiting my family that I was not enforcing those boundaries any longer. 

Working remotely generally allows for a more flexible schedule that can help with work-life balance. Instead of taking sick time for a doctor’s appointment you can work in the evening. You’re able to go to your children’s school activities or stay at home with them when they are sick. A flexible schedule is hard to find in any other job environment. Even this flexibility has to have boundaries.

Boundaries are healthy to set up in your personal relationships and in our professional relationships. They allow you to know what the expectations are and how you are allowing yourself to be treated. My work was not forcing me to work around the clock. I set the precedent that I would answer emails and solve problems until 11pm. I had to make the conscious effort to set better boundaries for myself and hold myself to them.

Setting up healthy and consistent boundaries is a simple way to help your work-life balance. If I am honest it was not easy to set them up. It was very difficult to be consistent and not fall back into old habits. It is important to remember that we deserve to strive for a better balance between our work and our families. Our families need us to be present in their lives.

Salary Transparency

Why is salary transparency better for everyone? 

It is crazy to me that this question is still having to be talked about. Honestly, I feel hiding the salary is an old school way of hiring employees. When I look for a job the first thing, I look at is the salary. To me the reason is simple. I don’t want to waste my time filling out the job application if the salary is below what I am looking for. It takes valuable time applying for a job that cannot pay what I need for my family. I have stopped applying for jobs that do not post the salary on the job description. In my opinion it goes beyond just a waste of time, it tells me a lot about their company culture and work environment. 

The same is true for employers. Who wants to go through the hassle of reviewing resumes, setting up interviews, offering someone the job for them to turn down the job offer due to the salary? That is wasted time for your company and the applicant. Since they turned down the job offer you have to restart the interview process all over. It cost the company valuable time and money. It can all be avoided with posting the salary. 

Salary transparency also shows that a company respects and values their employees. The company is not hiding the salary from their current employees, and you as an applicant can negotiate your salary. Companies that do not post salaries often do not want their current employees to know how much they are willing to pay for a new hire. Oftentimes that shows the company is not paying current employees the going market rate, or hasn’t provided raises to keep up with competitive salaries. It also denies the applicant a chance to negotiate their salary. For me it boils down to respect for you as a future employee. If the company is not being transparent with you now, why would they be in the future?  

Some people reading this might think that money isn’t everything. I would agree with those people. There is no amount of money that is worth a crappy work environment. If employees are treated well and fairly, they are more likely to stay in a job where the pay is not competitive. I have stayed at jobs where I was underpaid, because the work environment was amazing, and I genuinely loved what I was doing. How are applicants supposed to know that you are offering a healthy work environment if your company is not providing one tiny but important detail? 

Actions are louder than words, if you want to show applicants that you have a good and healthy work environment, then post the salary on the job description. It will save your company time and money. If you are looking for a job, think about what type of work environment you want and how will you find it? I personally stopped applying for jobs that do not show the salary. I’m not sure that is the answer, but it is a starting point. 

Hiring for Skill or Character?

Hiring new employees costs a company an average of $4,000 an employee. Hiring the right people will save your company money, as well as employee retention.  A question that comes up is do you hire for Character or for skill? 

Let’s first look at both. Character is the mental or moral qualities that each person possesses. These qualities can be taught through upbringing or through life experiences, in special circumstances like the military. Skill on the other hand is the technical ability to do your job function. 

Out of curiosity I sent out a survey poll to the WordPress community while I was employeed by PostStatus for the GetHired newsletter. The survey asked companies what skills they looked for in a new employee. The majority of the answers we received back were not technical skills, they were soft skills. Most companies were looking for individuals who were coachable, dependable, honest, and the list goes on and on.  Character traits were the most sought-after skills in the responses we received. What we found out after inquiring, each company has different processes and procedures that they teach their employees to do. What they could not teach were the character traits. Most of the WordPress companies needed someone coachable that was willing to learn the right technical skills. 

There is a quote I came across some time ago that says,

Hire Character, Train Skill

Peter Schutz

The author of this quote, Peter Schutz, talks about how specific skills, knowledge, and understanding are teachable and easily learned by people. While an applicant’s demeanor, personality, compliance, ambition, and overall character are not in a company’s realm of training. 

I have thought about this quote a lot over the last few months. I think the author has a relatively good point. While you do need to hire some basic level of skills, you can teach the rest. Most companies have their own way of doing things anyway. Generally speaking, there is some form of onboarding process for every organization that teaches new employees about the company and how to do their job effectively for them. I have never heard of character training being a part of an onboarding process. 

In the digital remote work environments that most of WordPress is in. Character is an amazing quality to look for in a new hire. If a person is coachable and dependable, you can train them with the skills they need to know. If you hire a person who is not coachable, they will never progress past the basic knowledge that they possess. 

Talent got you in the door, but Character will keep you in the room

Why should you hire Veterans?

There are several reasons why you should hire United States Military Veterans. It cost the United States government on average $65,000 to train 1 soldier. These men and women have had a lot of time and money invested in them before they even darken your doorstep for an interview. 

A lot of soldiers have never had to write a resume or walk into an interview before. When they are looking for their next career path, they do not have the experience with interviews or writing resumes that their peers do, and this can put them at a disadvantage during the hiring process. However, that does not mean these Service members are behind their peers. In fact, it is the complete opposite. What these men and women might lack in corporate experience they make up for in character and skills that can equate over to corporate experience. 

Here are 10-character traits that should help you hire Military Veterans:

  1. Work Ethic- When Service members first enter the armed forces, they are taught that hard work and determination to accomplish their goals is a primary skill. Most Service members are very task oriented. If you tell them what they need to do in a sequence it will be completed in that sequence and in the order, you tell them. Some if not most of these resilient workers have been working in stressful situations, making them well-prepared for their next career path in the civilian job. 
  1. Diversity and inclusion – They have been working side by side with people of different backgrounds, religions, skin colors, gender, nationalities, geographic regions, economic status, mental and physical capacities. They have the sensitivity to work with people that are different from themselves and be inclusive. This is a great skill to possess in WordPress. Where people are from all over the world and need to be included.
  1. Teamwork- Military members are well trained to work in teams and as individuals. They know and understand that genuine teamwork grows out of responsibility to your colleagues. Service members have a communal mindset that works well with other colleagues for the good of the company. 
  1. Leadership- The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction and delegation. Military members are specifically trained to lead teams of individuals into stressful situations. They are also taught chain of command, to be a good leader you must be a good follower. Iron Sharpens Iron and military members know how to bring out the best in themselves as well as their teammates.  
  1. Efficient performance under pressure: Military personnel are trained to perform well under pressure, and work on tight schedules with limited resources. 
  1. Respect for procedures: Service members understand the value of accountability. They know how policies and procedures enable an organization to exist.
  1. Accelerated learning curve: They have the proven ability to adapt and learn to new skills and situations. In addition, they are entering into a new career path with identifiable and transferable skills that are proven in real life situations. 
  1. Integrity: These men and women understand how to complete an “Honest day’s work’. Prospective employers can take advantage of their proven track record of integrity, that often includes security clearances. Their integrity translates into qualities of trustworthiness and sincerity. 
  1. Triumph over adversity: Service members have had to deal positively with typical issues of personal maturity. They have frequently triumphed over adversity, have proven their mettle in critical situations that demand endurance and flexibility. They have also overcome personal obstacles through strength and determination. 
  1. Accountability– Military members have a high level of personal accountability and can encourage others to be more efficient and dedicated. In their previous careers as soldiers making mistakes can have disastrous consequences, they are committed to taking responsibility for their actions. They strive for excellence and take their assignments seriously. 

I hope you found your reason “Why”. These men and women have trained hard for their careers as soldiers. Now they are looking for their next adventure and we want you to be a part of it. Contact us if you would like to partner with us to hire our trained professionals. 

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