Looking for Guest Bloggers!

I’d love to have other Foreign Service spouses write about their experiences looking for work overseas, lessons learned, getting back into the workforce in DC after being overseas for awhile, and especially folks who have taken advantage of the “extra” employment opportunities – such as Manpower, Professional Associates program, distance learning services from FSI, that sort of thing. (And if you have additional ideas for me to take under consideration I’d love that too!)

Besides being published on my blog, I’ll be advertising them through my Facebook business page, twitter, LinkedIn, etc. And I’ll announce the dates when each article is being published, so the guest writers can share the link with their friends as well.

Thanks all! And feel free to pass this along to anyone whom you think might be interested.

Price Change Effective July 1st, 2009

As of July 1st, 2009, all introductory rates listed on my website (here), will disappear. After that time, only regular rates will be in effect.

So, if you want to lock in the lower, introductory prices now, NOW is the time to contact me! Email me at JulieMendez@jsmcareercoaching.com and let’s set up a time to chat and get you started on your path to a successful and fulfilling career!

Remember, you need to act now to take advantage of the discounted introductory rates!

Top Dollar for Workers With Security Clearances

I just learned about a new job search website for folks with security clearances! This will be fabulous for Foreign Service spouses who are returning back to the DC area (and of course, the rest of the US as well).

According to their website, ClearanceJobs.com “matches job seekers that hold active or current Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Energy security clearances to hiring employers and recruiters looking for skilled cleared candidates.”

And here is a very interesting article – how workers with security clearances make more money than those without! (Makes that boring Security Escort position at the Embassy a whole lot more intereting, doesn’t it?)

Washington, D.C. and Virginia Paying Top Dollar for Workers with Security Clearances
by ClearanceJobs.com – May 26, 2009

Despite the deepest recession in generations, workers holding security clearances are enjoying an average pay increase of nearly two percent to $73,961, finds ClearanceJobs.com, the leading online career management resource for professionals with active government security clearance. In its annual survey, ClearanceJobs finds that employees in Washington, D.C. and Virginia received a three percent increase and the highest annual compensation in the “cleared worker” category, with average salaries of $82,874 and $80,135, respectively.

“The turbulent economy has put a governor on the growth rate of salaries for security cleared workers,” said Evan Lesser, founder & Director of ClearanceJobs. “However, there is no shortage of security-cleared career opportunities both in and outside the D.C. corridor. Considering both number of current job openings and the local cost of living, there isn’t a bad market anywhere in the country for security clearance jobs.”

Top 10 Average Cleared Salaries by Geography:

2009-08 2008-07
1. Washington, DC $82,874 $80,380
2. Virginia $80,135 $78,043
3. Colorado $74,000 $74,448
4. Maryland $73,471 $72,844
5. California $73,636 $70,874
6. Arizona $68,000 $67,020
7. Florida $65,962 $66,128
8. Texas $64,207 $60,252
9. Georgia $61,022 $59,150
10. North Carolina $58,506 $54,788

Additional findings include:

  • Salaries for cleared workers in Afghanistan surged by seven percent to $106,321, while salaries of their counterparts in Iraq increased slightly to $106,839. The closing of the pay gap between the two war zones echoes the elevation of the United States’ focus in Afghanistan. In fact, the number of job postings on ClearanceJobs with work located in Afghanistan surged 170 percent over the past year, while openings in Iraq grew 58 percent over the same time frame.
  • The salary gap between government employees ($62,615) and government contractors ($83,212) widened in 2009 with contractors earning roughly $20,000 more than civil servants. • Average salaries for management-level positions topped six-figures for the first time at $101,720, joining the executive level ($130,293) in that highly soughtafter compensation club. By comparison, an entry-level security cleared professional with less than two years of experience earned on average $45,811.
  • Despite an average salary gain that was a third of the increase security cleared professionals received in 2008, 70 percent of respondents noted they are satisfied with their current job, an increase from 67 percent satisfaction last year.Source: The data for the ClearanceJobs Salary Survey was collected from more than 5,000 security-cleared professionals registered on ClearanceJobs.com between February 21, 2008 and April 26, 2009.

What’s the Deal With The Ladders?

All over “resume writer” land, the talk is about “The Ladders.” Whether it’s legit, the scam or non-scam of it, etc.

I will say I have not had any personal experience with this company, myself. But I’d like to share with all of you a few links from several sources that I respect.

Jibber Jobber – The Ladders Scam

Ask the Headhunter – The New Career-Industry Racket

I’d love to hear from any of you that have had experiences with the Ladders.

Top DC Employers for 2009

Here it is folks. If you are currently in the DC area, or transferring back there soon. The Top DC Area Employers for 2009.

While I’m not surprised to see low-level jobs such as McDonald’s and Walmart high on the list (probably because of high turnover and more folks looking for cheap deals nowadays), I’m thrilled to see employers such as Northup Grunman and Raython in the top 10 as well. Of course, defense contractor-type companies never go out of style in DC.

Another great feature of this list? Just click on the name to learn more about the organization you’re interested in. A great way to begin your research as you apply for positions. Plus, you can drilldown the list by public, private, nonprofit, legal, and more.

How to Maximize Your Use of LinkedIn

Finally, I’ve come across the best and most simple breakdown of how and why to use LinkedIn.In this “A Visual Guide to LinkedIn for Job Hunters,” there is a drill-down map of the various ways to use LinkedIn to expand your networking opportunities and look for a job. I’ve never seen an explanation of LinkedIn quite so simple and easy to follow.

As most (if not all, haha) of my clients know, I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn, and the opportunities that arise from there. If you are in a job search situation nowadays, not being a part of social/professional networking sites such as LinkedIn can actually be detrimental to your career search. So, if you haven’t signed up, do so now. If you aren’t active on the site, I strongly encourage you to log on now and get active. (And yes, I take my own advice: here is my own LinkedIn profile.  I’m happy to connect with all of my readers and clients.)

In addition, Applicant.com‘s blog seems informative and chock-full of interesting articles of information. Thanks Applicant, for the great road map to LinkedIn!

“Hire Me!”

I really enjoyed this article, “What Says to Employers, ‘Hire Me!‘” Finally, an article about job search that says something new and interesting, and one step deeper than the generic article.

A couple of quotes that I want to pass along and make sure you see:

  • The resume needs to stand out above all the rest, without being unprofessional.
  • Make it easy on the eyes. “Envision a hiring manager looking at a resume like a driver going by a billboard. Try to make it absorbable at high speeds.”
  • It’s never one-size-fits-all. “Don’t try to sell what you are selling; sell what the employer is buying. Make sure your resume fits the position and the organization where you are seeking employment,” George says. “Hiring managers look at skill set, education, experience and where you got that experience. They want to make sure you are going to be able to do the job and fit into the corporate culture.”
  • Apply at companies that aren’t seeking candidates. “Read the business pages to find out what businesses are growing,” says Laura George, author of “Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting.” “Send such companies a resume and a letter explaining what you can bring to the organization.”
  • Keep your responses job-related. Many job seekers start off the interview on the wrong note when they respond to the statement, “Tell me about yourself,” Palmer says. “Job seekers give a personal response instead of a professional response. Your response will say, ‘Hire me,’ if you tailor your responses to the position you are applying for. Review that job announcement the night before the interview and write out some bullet points for yourself to speak to the employer’s needs.”

I hope you all enjoy the article!

Online Networking Opportunities – The Conversation Prism

Are you networking enough? Do you even know what opportunities are out there for you to connect to others online? To help you, Brian Solis has created something called The Conversation Prism:

They use this image to represent all Social Media sites, and are constantly improving it, as new products emerge. (I know the picture above is not possible to read. To download your own copy or perhaps buy a poster version, click here.)
I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about media and networking sites, but even I’ve found some great new resources to check out.
And if you read further in the post in his blog (click here), you’ll notice that he’s mapped out his own social networking (social map). I highly applaud this as a fantastic exercise, and encourage all of you to do the same. Look for are on the prism where your “map” might be lacking, and investigate some of the options to increase your social networking visibility.
Thanks Brian, for such a great resource!

Boost Your Resume With Certifications

If you’re looking for some great ways to add some real beef to your resume, getting certifications in your skill set is a great way to do it.

I wanted to share with you all about a company I’ve been following for a while: Brainbench.com. Brainbench is an interesting organization because their list of certification seems so extensive. Not only can you get certified in C+, but check out the certification in “English Language Comprehension” or “Interpersonal Communications.” It’s my belief that if there is a skill set out there, they seem to have a certification test for it.

All this to say, that is there is a specific job that has specific needs, how much more juicy is it to say “Certified Sales Professional” instead of just bland “Sales Professional?” Plus, they constantly are offering free tests, so at the very least you can sign up for their newsletter.

Of course there are other companies and organizations that have certification programs. First, check through any associations that you might belong to — for example, I am currently working on achieving resume writer certification through the National Resume Writer’s Association. And of course, there are specific software programs that offer certifications as well (such as Microsoft). I am a firm believer in taking advantage of all options.

Now, these suckers aren’t free, so choose your tests wisely. In today’s economy, do your homework to find the most respected and legit courses out there.

Julie Mendez

Special Deal in Honor of Administrative Professionals Week!

In honor of Administrative Professionals Week, I am offering a special deal! Book any of my services before April 22nd, and receive an extra 10% off! (Find out more about my services here.) This is in addition to any other discounts you might be eligible for if you are a military or Foreign Service spouse.

Seriously, this is a great deal that you shouldn’t let pass you by! And remember, I always offer a free 1/2 hour consultation.

Email me at JulieMendez@jsmcareercoaching.com for more information!

Julie Mendez