3 Things That New Construction Businesses Get Wrong Pinterest - #career #careeradvice

People often say that the construction industry is one of the safest options for people that want to start a business of their own. It’s true that there is always going to be demand for construction companies. You can make good money once you’ve got a base group of loyal customers, but a lot of people underestimate just how hard it is. Starting a construction industry can be a great idea but only if you get it right.

It costs a lot of money to get started in construction. You have to invest so much before you can even start taking on jobs and seeing any kind of a return on that investment. A lot of construction companies fail before they even get to that point because they get some fundamental things completely wrong. If you’re thinking about starting your own construction company, make sure that you avoid these common mistakes.

Not Getting Insurance

The startup costs are so high for construction companies. You need to find a way to manage that properly if you’re going to survive long enough to start making a profit. But there are some things that you can’t cut corners with, especially your insurance. It’s important that you have liability insurance to cover you if anything goes wrong. Liability insurance will pay out if you make a mistake and accidentally damage a customers property. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to cover the cost of that damage yourself and that will probably sink the business entirely.

Liability insurance is also important if somebody is injured during the job. There is a high chance that somebody will try to make a compensation claim against you and the payouts for those cases can be incredibly high. If you’ve got liability insurance, that will cover the settlement. If you don’t have insurance though, you’re going to have to pay for it yourself and, chances are, you won’t have that money. Insurance is an extra cost but it’s a necessary one so don’t try to cut corners.

Spending Too Much On Equipment

It’s important that you do good quality work because word of mouth is a powerful thing. That means you need to invest money in good quality tools and machinery. However, if you go overboard, your costs will spiral out of control. If you need to buy any heavy machinery, you should always look for plant machinery finance options rather than paying for it all upfront. That way, you can spread the cost out and start paying it back once you’re bringing more money in.

A lot of companies struggle because they try to buy all of their tools at the beginning. There are a lot of basic tools that you’ll need for most jobs. The more specific tools that you only use for certain jobs should be bought on a use by use basis. If you take on a job that requires specific tools, you can fund them with the deposit that you get from the customer. By doing it that way, you can build up your equipment over time when you can afford it, rather than spending all of your money right at the beginning.

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Expanding Too Quickly

Most construction companies will start out with fairly small scale residential work and then eventually graduate on to larger projects. That business growth is important if you’re going to succeed in the long term, but you’ve got to make sure that you do it at the right time. One of the biggest mistakes that construction companies make is trying to expand too quickly. They finish a few jobs and start making a bit of money. They decide that they’re going to expand their operation and start taking on much bigger projects. The overheads for those projects are so much larger. They end up putting all of their money into new equipment and material costs. In some cases, it might work out if you get enough jobs to sustain those increased overheads. But more often than not, it doesn’t happen that way and they can’t earn back the money that they’ve spent.

If you want to expand, you should start putting money aside from every job. Wait until you can comfortably afford to take on those large projects without putting yourself in financial difficulty. You should also look for investment to help you cover some of those increased overheads.

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Things new construction businesses get wrong

A reader asks us for advice in a hard choice: Should she take a part-time job offer, or wait to see if she gets a full-time offer from somewhere else. 

Dear HR,

I have been looking for a job for months! I just applied for a fulltime job at a local elementary school that has amazing benefits, and I’m hoping to hear from them soon. I’ve been networking with the other office workers, and while it’s not a sure thing, it’s definitely more promising than anything else I’ve tried.

Today I was offered a part-time job answering phones in a customer service center for a local company. Do you think I should take it? I really want the Full-time job at the school, and I worry that if I take this part-time job and I get the school job, it will look bad to my new employer to quit so soon. Do you think I should just wait to hear back from the full-time job? I need advice!!

Thank you,

Freaking Out

Dear Freaking Out,

I see your frustration. After a long job search, you may start to lose hope of finding the job you really want. It’s important to keep hope, but realistically, you have bills to pay.

Don’t Count Your Chickens Before they Hatch

When you tell me about the full-time job, you describe how great the job is, how great the benefits are, and that you’ve done a bit of networking with other people who work there. None of this guarantees you the job. None of this even guarantees you an interview.

The truth is, state jobs get more applicants than they can reasonably consider properly. Your application is in a stack with 50 or more other applications. If you’ve been looking for a job for awhile, your application materials and approach to job searching probably need a little work. No judgment, but it’s just a fact of life that most job seekers hit a point where they’re just plain tired of filling out applications, so they stop customizing their resumes and cover letters for each job. So, employers don’t contact them because it’s not obvious that they’re the right person for the job. It’s a slippery slope that feeds the “I suck” monster in your head.

[bctt tweet=”If employers don’t contact you, it’s because your application materials don’t make it obvious that you’re the right person for the job. It’s a slippery slope that feeds the “I suck” monster in your head. #resume #rejection #careeradvice” username=”perfectlyemploy”]

Pay Your Bills with the Part-Time Job

Unless you’re independently wealthy, your bills are probably piling up during your job search. You need cash. You also need opportunities to network and regain your money-making confidence. A part-time job can help with all of those things.

If the part-time job is absolutely awful, then quit. Employers know that not every job is for every person. It’s not as big of a deal as you think.

Part-Time Jobs Can be Fantastic

Taking a part-time job has many advantages. Sure, you might not receive full-time benefits like healthcare plans and 401Ks, but part-time jobs rarely expect you to have full-time loyalty to them, so you can start a side hustleto make up the monetary difference. Plus, some part-time jobs pay a little more than entry-level full-time jobs simply because they don’t offer benefit packages.

Investopedia.com lists other benefits of taking a part-time job, like reduced transportation costs and reduced stress. They also mention networking opportunities—an essential part of building any career.

If You Get the Full-Time Job Offer, Act Classy

You should still pursue finding a Full-time job that makes you happy, even if you take the part-time job. If the school job calls you for an interview, put on your pearls and your heels and rock it. If they offer you the job, do your happy dance.

When you put in your resignation for the part-time job, ask your boss for a private meeting and start the conversation with, “I hope you will be happy for me, but I’ve been offered a full-time job that suits my skill set completely.” Explain to your boss that you appreciate the opportunity he or she has given you. You never know—he might offer you an even better Full-time position.

Regardless, leave with class. Be grateful. Be graceful. Follow your coworkers on LinkedIN. Every contact is a good contact when you’re job hunting.

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Best of Luck,


We will makeover your resume for just $49!

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Part-time jobs can be beneficial in the right circumstances. Find out how!


Dear HR,

I applied for a job two months ago at a local department store. They never called me or anything, so I don’t know if they hired someone else or if they’re still looking. Should I apply again?

Dear Reader,

In short, yes, you should apply again, but we need to talk about the art of “following up.” You see, putting in a job application is the bare minimum you can do to get a job. A job application tells an employer, “here’s a warm body that may fill the position.” Is that the message you want to send?

The Application Process from a Manager’s POV

Think about it: The department store probably gets at least 3-5 applications per day, if they’re a mid-size, local store. If they’re still using paper applications (some local stores still do), that means your application goes into a nice pile, and when the hiring manager thinks about it, she peruses through the pile to find a couple people with retail experience that she will call for an interview. If the first two people in the pile have the experience, she has no reason to look further into the pile, so your chances of getting the interview have more to do with luck that your application is near the top of the pile than your fantastic, qualified skill set.

If the department store uses an online application process, the application software could be keyword mining—looking through applications for specific keywords that the employer has designated to find the perfect applicant. If the software is simply listing applicants in a nice list or spreadsheet, you’re back to hoping for luck that your application is near the top of the list.

Who is the Person with the Power to Hire You?

As you can probably see, just turning in an application isn’t enough. You have to follow up with your potential employer.

In the case of your department store, the art of the follow-up means figuring out who the person with the power to hire you is, and making a personal connection with that person or a person that has influence with that person.

How to Follow Up for a Retail Job

We have a client named Dora who works in a similar industry as the one for which you are applying. We helped Dora makeover her resume recently, and she landed a job within a couple weeks of that resume makeover. Like the job application, the resume is only part of Dora’s overall job search strategy.

Dora starts by researching places she wants to work in her area. Her list includes department stores, clothing stores, and craft stores. She knows that most places have online applications, so she goes to the company websites and applies for open positions.

It’s what Dora does next that lands her interviews—she follows up with hiring managers within a few days of her application. She takes her fancy resume, printed on nice, glossy paper, and she visits the store in person. She chooses a time she knows business is slow, like mid-morning on a weekday. She asks to speak with the manager, shakes his or her hand, explains that she recently applied online for a position, and that she’d love to talk more about it.

She hands the manager her resume, and tells him how much she loves the store, and that she has 30 years of experience working in retail. That’s all. She keeps it short and sweet, buys a soda or other impulse buy at the counter, and leaves. She smiles, she’s friendly, and of course, she’s dressed appropriately.

Dora lands an interview almost every time. She shows managers that she’s more than just a warm body. She makes a personal connection and makes extra effort to make sure the manager knows she wants the job and is highly qualified.

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Your Next Steps: Apply Again, and Follow Up

So, yes, you should apply again for the department store job, but this time, make sure you follow up with the hiring manager within a few days of filling out your application. Have your resume ready to hand the manager, shake his or her hand, and tell him you want the job and you’re highly qualified. You’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll land the job!

Here’s a quick checklist of what to do:

  • Apply for the Job
  • Visit the store in 1-3 days. Go during a slow time, like mid-morning on a weekday. Dress as if you are going to an interview.
  • Ask to speak with the manager.
  • Smile, shake the manager’s hand, and introduce yourself.
  • Tell the manager you applied for the job online, and wanted to follow up with him.
  • Hand the manager your resume, and point out why you are highly qualified.
  • Thank the manager for her time.
  • Buy a soda, candy bar, or other cheap impulse purchase on your way out. Smile and be friendly with your potential coworkers while you do.

Best of Luck (not that you’ll need it),

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Dear HR,

I’ve made the decision to quit my job. I don’t have another job offer lined up, but I’m confident that I have enough savings to live on for a few months until I find a new job.

I’m ready to turn in my resignation letter, but I don’t know what to write. My boss is a jerk and my coworkers are vipers. I won’t miss any of them. The whole company is horrible. It’s a toxic work environment, and I’m happy to leave.

What should I write in my resignation letter? I know it’s bad to burn my bridges, but I really hate these people!

Thank you,

Tired of It


My boss is a jerk and my coworkers are vipers.

Dear Tired of It,


We are sorry to hear that you’re working in a hostile environment. It’s fantastic that you have enough savings to leave your vile workplace, and we applaud your efforts!

It’s tricky to write a professional-sounding resignation letter that reflects your best self when all you really want to do is tell your boss to take this job and shove it. However, you have to leave on a high note. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the right thing for your career, too.

Related: 5 Things to Do when Your Boss Hates You

You see, you never know who is going to be in the position to help you land your dream job. The incompetent coworker in the cubicle next door could go on to a job somewhere fantastic and may be able to make an introduction or recommendation for you that lands you a job. Future employers will be calling your now-hostile boss for recommendations, and you want him to say good things about you. If you write the “shove it” recommendation letter that your fingers are longing to type, you are hurting your career more than your boss and coworkers.

So, be a mature adult and delay your instant gratification of telling your boss to get bent in favor of your vision of your future career far away from your current workplace in the inner circle of Dante’s Inferno. It stinks now, but you’ll thank us later.

Instead, write a short-but-sweet letter that says “see ya” in a polite, professional manner. Here’s what to write:

Email or Paper Letter?

In most cases, you should write an old school, paper letter in your favorite word processing software (Word, Google Docs, Pages). There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. For example, if you work from home, and never physically interact with your boss, an email is probably fine. If you work for a tech company, an email is likely expected.

If you work in an office where your boss is two cubicles down from you, a physical letter is more appropriate. If you work in healthcare, for the government, or at a university, go with a paper letter. If you work for a small, family-owned business, definitely choose a paper letter.

The most professional way to handle your resignation is to call your boss and let him or her know you’re resigning before you submit your letter. You could also set a meeting with your boss, let him know you’re resigning and hand him the letter there. Either way, it’s important to remember that your boss is human, and will respect your courage in confronting your resignation rather than simply hiding behind your letter. It’s a tough conversation, but if you can gather the bravery to have it, you should.

Address Your Resignation Letter to Your Boss and HR

If you work for a small business, your workplace may not have a full-fledged HR department, but if you work somewhere that does, your resignation letter should be addressed to both your boss and the head of HR.

When an employee leaves, there are many off-boarding tasks that need to happen. You may be eligible for continued health benefits through COBRA. HR may want you to complete an exit interview. Your boss needs to know where you are on all of your projects. You have to turn in keys. Your emails have to be forwarded to a coworker or your boss. IT will disable your computer access. Most of these tasks occur or at least originate with HR.

If sending a resignation email, your boss’ address belongs on the “to” line, and HR’s address belongs on the CC line. Your subject line should be something like “Resignation, Effective (date goes here).”

If sending a paper letter, you will need to make two copies: One for your boss, and another for HR. In both cases, your letter should start with a greeting like: “Dear Mr. Boss, and All It Concerns,” or, if you know the HR representative well, you can use a greeting like, “Dear Mr. Boss and Ms. HR Rep.” Of course, be sure to use their real names and not “Mr. Boss.”

Express Your Sadness that You’re Leaving

Even though you aren’t sad to start your new life away from this horrible company, you are probably disappointed that the job didn’t work out to be better than it was. The first sentence of your resignation letter should tell your boss that you’re leaving, and it’s regrettable. Here’s a few examples:

It is with a heavy heart that I submit my resignation for my position as marketing coordinator.

Sadly, I am resigning my position as desk jockey, effective March 5, 2019.

Unfortunately, I have decided to resign my position as dog trainer here at Canines ‘R Us.

Tell Your Boss When your Last Day will Be

In our second first-sentence example above, you’ll notice that we added the effective date of the resignation. You can either add this date to your first sentence, or add it just after.

Two-weeks’ notice is customary, but some management positions require a bit more. Your employee manual will tell you, or you can ask your HR representative.

Clearly state your last day. Try something like, “My last day will be August 5, 2018,” or “Please consider this my two-week’s notice, which makes my last day August 15, 2018.”

End with Gratitude

Even if you absolutely hate the place you’re leaving and everyone in it, grit your teeth and say “thank you for the opportunity.” Gratitude is good for the soul, and it’s good for your professional reputation, too. Sure, everyone remembers the guy who flipped off his boss and lit his trash can on fire on his last day, but no one hires that guy later. Don’t be that guy.

Here are a few examples you can copy/paste into your resignation letter that show gratitude, but don’t lie about the dismal nature of the workplace:

Thank you for the opportunity to work with you the past two years. I have learned a lot, and I believe this experience will aid me throughout my career.

I appreciate the opportunity to work and learn at this company, and I am grateful for the experience I’ve earned here.

Example Resignation Letter

Dear Mr. Warner and All it Concerns,

Sadly, I am resigning my position as Head Sales Associate. Please consider this my two-weeks’ notice, which makes my last working day April 25, 2018.

I appreciate the opportunities you’ve given me at Bulldozers Inc., and I am grateful for the experience I’ve gained here.

Thank you,

Grace Smith

  Related Posts that May Help You:

Final Notes on Resignations

Be sure to gather your references before your last day. Add your coworkers (at least the not-so-vile ones) to your LinkedIN account, and send a “nice knowing you” email on your last day with your contact information. You never know who might be the key to find your next great job.

Best of Luck,


P.S. If you’re struggling with your career, try looking looking here for inspiration: 100 Best Personal Growth Books


Dear HR,

I hate going to job interviews. I always freeze when the interviewer asks me a question that I haven’t prepared for, then I feel like a dork for the rest of the interview. What do I do if I don’t know the answer to a question? Is there a way to keep from freezing during a job interview?

Thank you,

Awkward Interviewee


What do I do if I don’t know the answer to a question?

Dear Awkward Interviewee,

We’ve all been there; you stay up all night studying interview questions and how you’ll answer them, only to have the person conducting the interview not ask a single question you’ve studied. Instead, they start asking weird, curveball questions no one could have predicted.

Employers think they’re cleverly weeding out people who can’t think on their feet, but instead, they’re freaking out the people who can actually do the job. A lot of interviewees fall into an abyss of awkward self-loathing and completely bomb the interview. There’s a better way to handle it.

Breathe and Smile

First, take a breath and put on your best smile. Keep eye contact with the interviewer. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Do all of this consciously.

The idea is to remain composed and to not let the interviewer know you’re stressed. Remember, this is just a conversation. People ask weird questions in conversations all the time. It’s just another weird question. You can handle it. Keep your cool.

Restate the Question in Your Own Words if You’re Stumped

If you aren’t sure if you understood the question, start by saying something like, “I think you’re asking me…” or “Just to make sure I’m answering your question correctly, I think you’re wanting to hear about…” This method gives the interviewer a chance to clarify the question. It also gives you time to construct your answer.

Repeat the Question as Part of your Answer

Have you ever watched how Miss America candidates answer interview questions on stage? If not, watch thevideo from the 2016 interview segment.

A beauty contestant starts her answer to the question by restating the question as a statement and then leading into her answer. The first contestant is asked “if you could put a woman alongside Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill, who would you choose?” the contestant thanks the interviewer for the question, and then begins her answer with, “the person that I would put on the ten dollar bill is…”

She starts her answer this way for a couple of reasons. First, it shows the interviewer that she was listening and ensures she’s answering the right questions. Second, it gives her a few extra seconds to think about her answer.

You have to have an answer by the end of the statement, though. There’s a trick Miss America knows about that, too: Your actual answer doesn’t matter as much as your poise and confidence do.

Beauty contestants are asked far dumber questions than most job interviewers will dream of asking. Seriously, watch how they handle those dumb questions. Pay attention to which contestants win. Their answers may not be the best, but they always look calm and collected as they answer the question.

Come up with an Answer—any Answer

I was once asked by an interviewer during a panel interview to tell him a story about a boy, a dog, and a ball. Without missing a beat, I told a story about how there was a boy named John who was the most special boy you will ever know because he was from outer space and carried his home planet with him everywhere, even though everyone thought it was just a ball.

In another interview, I was asked to tell a story with my hands. All I could think of was the nursery rhyme, “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and here’s all the people.” So, I smiled and rocked through it. Believe it or not, I worked for that employer for five years.

The point is, the delivery of your answer is more important than your actual answer. Stop stressing about what you’re going to say and work on saying something.

How to Prepare for Unexpected Interview Questions

Just like you study for “real” questions like “where do you see yourself in five years?” and “why should we hire you?” you can study for unexpected questions, too. In fact, practicing for this kind of question will help you improve your answers to the “real” questions.

Start by asking your friends to help you. Have them come up with the most outlandish interview questions they can think of, and then sit at your dinner table and have them ask you the questions. Practice breathing, smiling, and making eye contact as you answer the questions. Practice until it becomes second nature to you.

We’ve recently found a game that’s helping us and our students prepare for wild interview questions. The game is called Fun Employed. To play, each person is given a set of qualifications, and they have to use their qualifications to convince an employer they’re the right person for the job. Of course, the jobs and the qualifications are both unorthodox, meaning you have to learn to work with what you have, no matter how disconnected that is.

Another way to practice is to take an improv class at your local community college. Improv games and exercises help you learn to think quickly without worrying about what other people think. They’re invaluable practice for interviews and presentations, too.

It’s About Survival

Go into the interview knowing that you can handle whatever they throw at you. No matter what they ask, remain composed. Breathe. Smile. Have an Answer. Be as specific as you can in your answers, even if you think they sound wrong. Sell it with confidence. You’ve got this!

Best of luck,


weird interview questions


Dear HR,

I’m a college student about to graduate and enter the workforce for the first time. I’ve worked a couple jobs around campus, and I did a summer marketing internship at a beach club, but I have no other experience at all.

I’m applying for sales jobs, mostly, but I’d really like to work as a broker or trader. Money is my passion, and I majored in finance.

Who should I ask to be my references? How do I go about asking them? Should I get reference letters too, or just contact information?

Thank you,

Big Money Dreams


Who should I ask to be my references? How do I go about asking them?

Dear Big Money Dreams,

Congratulations on finishing college and joining us in the “real world!” Finding your first real job can be tough, and you’re doing the right thing to think about it before you graduate rather than after.

Have you met with your college’s career center yet? They probably have a list of companies who are hiring new graduates. Talk to your professors, too. They know people in your industry and may be able to make introductions for you. Add your professors to your LinkedIN network, too.

Make sure you have a good support group of fellow graduates. Big companies often hire for many positions at the same time, so you can share leads within your support group and find a job faster. Create a Facebook group for this purpose, and then invite people to it. They’d be fools to turn down this kind of invite!

Now, with that bit of advice out of the way, let’s talk about your references. You should be gathering as many as you can because you are going to be applying to several different kinds of jobs, and like resumes, references should be targeted to the job for which you are applying. Here’s a list of who and how to ask:

Ask Your Previous Managers for References

The best people to write references for you are the managers of your on-campus jobs and internships. Employers usually want to hear from at least one person who has managed you so they can ask questions about your attendance, how well you treat customers, and how you handle difficult situations. They also like to ask whether or not your previous manager would hire you again if they had the chance.

To ask a previous manager for a reference, start with an email. If you haven’t seen them in awhile, start by telling them how much you enjoyed working with them and when. Ask how they are, and tell them that you’re about to graduate and you’re applying to jobs. Then ask if they would mind acting as a reference for you. The email might look something like this:

Hi John!

How are you doing? I really enjoyed working with you last summer during the marketing internship. I learned more in the three months I spent with you at the beach club than I did the first two years of college! It was an amazing experience, and I’m recommending it to incoming freshmen.

As you may remember, I am graduating in a couple of months and I am starting to apply for jobs in the finance industry. Would you mind acting as a reference for me? It would be a big help, and I would truly appreciate it.

Thank you,

Your Name

In most cases, you don’t need previous managers to write formal recommendation letters for you unless you decide to work in education or a similar industry. Do gather their email address, phone number, and information about where they work now, though. Keep in touch with them as you know employers will be checking your references so they are prepared and watching for the phone call, email, or survey.

Most every employer will want to talk to at least one person who has managed you, so be prepared to include them on most every job application.

Ask Your Professors for References

Remember when we talked about how your professors have contacts in the industry that might help you find a job? They make great references, too. Even better, they write a lot of references, so they won’t mind at all when you ask them.

When it comes to professors, ask them about it in person. Go to their office during office hours and have a candid conversation about the kind of jobs you are seeking. Ask them to make recommendations on places you should apply or people you should meet. Then, ask them if they would mind acting as a reference, and in this case, ask them to write you a reference letter. If you decide to go on to an MBA (from a very good college, or it’s not worth the money) in a couple of years, you will need reference letters from former professors.

Ask Peers for References (the Right Way)

Remember how we talked about the fact that you need a good support group of your fellow graduates so you can chase job leads together? You will have one person in that group land a job first. Once that person is in, he or she becomes your reference. Many big companies offer referral bonuses when an employee recommends someone and they are hired. So, it’s a mutualistic relationship—you get a job, and the other person gets $500-2000 as a bonus for referring you.

Use your support group, LinkedIN, Facebook Messenger, or email to ask for this kind of reference. Go to the company’s website and see the positions for which they’re hiring, and let your peer know you’re interested. After they refer you, use their contact information as one of their references. They should be cool with it since they’re referring you.

Seriously, if you don’t start a graduate support group right now, you are cheating yourself out of one of the most valuable networks you could possibly have.

Don’t Ask Your Mom for a Reference

This should go without saying, but don’t use family as references, especially your mom. Most places won’t even accept this sort of reference, and your application will end up in the trash bin. Don’t ruin your chances because you’re too lazy to ask the right people to act as references.

You Have a Network. You’ve Got This. 

Now you have a good pool of people who can act as references for you. You have previous managers (I count at least three from your letter), professors (20 or so in most degree programs), and peers (50+). Go out there and network your way to a fantastic job!

Best of Luck,




Dear HR,

I was just laid off and I need a job fast! What is the best way to spend my time in my job search? I know you say I should tailor my resume and cover letter for each job I apply for, but that takes a lot of time. If I just have one resume and cover letter, I can send it out to at least 25 places every day. At most, I can only apply for five jobs per day with a custom resume for each job.

Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for? Explain to me why sending out a large quantity of resumes won’t work.

Thank you,

Confused about Resumes


Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for?

Dear Confused about Resumes,

First, we are sorry to hear that you’ve been laid off! We know that is a scary thing to face, and we applaud your tenacity to find a job quickly. Unfortunately, sending out dozens of generic resumes everyday isn’t going to shorten your search. In fact, it might lengthen it.

Do you remember the Friends episode where Rachel sends out hundreds of resumes, all with a major typo on them? Well, that episode is more than 20 years old, and even then, it’s not how Rachel landed her first job in the fashion industry. It’s the act of a desperate person who doesn’t know how to job-hunt and is just hoping for a miracle.

Recruiters can smell desperation. Would you hire a desperate person? In most industries, probably not. Recruiters are looking for competent employees who actually want to work for their companies. They are looking for the person who is going to bring value. If you send them a generic resume and cover letter, what message are you sending? The message they will see is that you didn’t care enough to take the time to craft your materials to their job description.

Even worse, if your resume and cover letter doesn’t fit their job description, how does the recruiter know that you are the right candidate for the job? If you don’t customize your keywords and skill list for the job, your materials might not fit the job description. Even if you know you can do the job, remember that the recruiter or potential employer doesn’t know you.

So, your question is about what will work faster to find a job: quantity or quality. The answer is, undeniably, quality. There are a couple short cuts you can take to speed up your search, though.

Create a resume for each kind of job you want to do

If you are like most job searchers, there’s a few jobs you think you could do reasonably well. The wise thing to do is to create a resume for each kind of job that reflects the keywords employers are looking for in that industry. That way, when you need to customize a resume for a specific employer’s advertisement, all you have to do is take your pre-created resume that most closely fits the advertisement’s criteria and make minor changes to wording to reflect the words used in the ad. This step should save you at least an hour on each job application, but you do have to do a bit of work up front to create a few different resumes.

Keep a text-only resume so you can copy/paste information in job applications quickly

One of our favorite time-saving methods is to have a basic, text-only resume saved in NotePad or TextEditor. You can easily copy/paste information from your previous jobs into each job application, which saves a ton of time.

Keep a log of your answers to job application questions

Job applications usually ask you questions at the end that require a typed response. Before you submit your response, copy/paste the question and your answer in a Word file. Then, next time you have an application with the same question, you can clean up your answer to fit the employer’s job advertisement. Time saved!

Tap Your Network

The absolute best way to find a job quickly is through your network. You should have a solid LinkedIN profile, and you should set the recruiter alert to show you’re looking for a job. You should also email colleagues and let them know you’re looking for a job so they can keep an eye out for jobs that are right for you. You never know—someone might have the power to hire you on the spot. Your network is your most valuable job-hunting asset.

Best of Luck,




Dear HR,

I am a 30-year old mother of three who is looking to return to work in a couple of years when my kids are all old enough to go to school. In the mean time, I thought I might take some online college classes and get a degree.

Some of the other moms I’ve talked to are taking classes at an online-only college from out west. I did some Googling, and the college doesn’t have great reviews. But, when I talk to the other moms, they say the classes are very easy, and they will be able to finish their degrees in just a few months.

Do employers care where I get my degree? Will I be able to find a job with a degree from a school with a questionable reputation?

Thank you,

Skeptical, but Hopeful


Do employers care where I get my degree?

Dear Skeptical, but Hopeful,

Congratulations on taking the first steps towards crafting your dream career! While your kids are small is a great time to get a degree. Having a degree will definitely help you when you return to the workforce—especially if you find online internships where you can gain experience while you pursue your degree.

Your question is a good one, and one we see a lot. There are a great many for-profit universities out there who target mothers and working individuals for their degree programs. Their sales pitch is fantastic. They tell you that you can earn your degree in just a few months by committing just a few hours a week to homework. Do you have college credits already? Great! They transfer them right over, with few questions asked. It’s almost too good to be true! That’s because it IS too good to be true.

Accreditation Means a lot to Colleges and Employers

For-profit universities offering this spiel usually have what’s called national accreditation. That sounds awesome, right? It’s not. National accreditation boards are not as rigorous as regional accreditation boards, and thus credits earned at a nationally accredited university will not transfer to a regionally accredited university or even to another nationally accredited university. So, if you start a program with one of these universities, you are stuck with that university to finish your degree no matter what. Just FYI, all state universities are regionally accredited, as are community colleges and most good non-profit private colleges.

Once you’ve earned that degree from that for-profit, nationally accredited university, you will find that your job prospects are limited. Many employers will not recognize the degree, and yes, reputation matters. Employers do look at how other students from that college are doing in the workforce, and if they aren’t doing so well with that “easy A” degree, they will assume that you won’t either. So then you have another problem: You need a better degree.

Now, remember how we talked about accreditation and how national=bad, and regional=good? If you take your degree from that for-profit, nationally accredited university and apply for a higher degree (say, an MBA or Master of Arts) at a local, regionally accredited university, you will not be admitted. That’s right—you have to have enough regionally accredited college credits to meet the minimum admission requirements.

Do the Math on the Online, For-Profit University

Does that easy online degree sound bad enough yet? How about this: The for-profit colleges are 2-3x’s more expensive than traditional colleges and universities, and their students graduate with more debt. Even more, students who graduate from for-profit universities are more likely to default on their student loans than those who graduate from regionally accredited non-profit universities.

How to Earn a Legit Degree while your Kids are Small

Don’t let this discourage you, though. You can still earn an online degree while your kids are toddlers. Local community colleges and your state universities offer online degree programs from AA, BA, and BS programs. Many universities offer graduate programs, too. So, use Google Maps to find your local colleges and start looking at their websites. Call advisors at a couple of those colleges and talk to them about what it will take to register for their programs. Likely, all you need are your high school transcripts. You may need to take a placement test, but there are study guides, so don’t panic.

In the long run, you will spend less money and earn a degree that employers respect. You will probably meet many other people with whom you can network and find a job when you’re ready. It’s a win-win all the way around. Seriously, call your local colleges and universities right now, before a well-meaning friend refers you to their university and some slimy for-profit degree salesman (I mean, “advisor”) starts calling you.

Best wishes,