To What Degree Does a Higher Degree Matter in Your Job Search?

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Most job descriptions include a requirements section, and in them you are likely to find a minimum education requirement. We have heard a lot of talk post recession about the war for talent. Many college graduates went back to school because they felt there wasn’t room for them in the job market. However reports show that a “four-year college degree provided protection in the labor market for recent college graduates.” So, which is it? Does having a higher degree matter in your job search?

CareerBuilder recently surveyed 2,700 U.S. hiring managers and HR managers to learn more about their views on how education level affects their hiring. “What we found was a strong preference for college-educated workers,” they reported. That’s good news for college grads.

Nearly 1 in 5 (18 percent) employers have increased their educational requirements over the past five years. The survey results are interesting, especially considering the college enrollment rate reached the lowest point in a decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While less people are pursuing college degrees, why are employers increasing the educational requirements? Is this increase because the employers can be more selective because there are too many highly qualified candidates? Or because more educated employees directly correlates with the bottom line?

Turns out, HR and hiring managers say employees with college degrees have a greater impact. The chart below shows how employees impact their company’s performance.

So to answer the question, higher degrees do matter.


Importance of Personal Branding in Your Job Search

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By Career Transition Coach Andrea Abernethy

In this highly competitive job market, a well written resumé is just one tool necessary to market ourselves into a great new job. As important is the development of a personal brand.

What’s that? Think about Coke, Kellogg’s Cereals, American Express or any successful company. All these brands convey a message that helps to define them. And that’s what you need to become memorable and perhaps more importantly, to stand out among the other candidates for that job you’re chasing.

A personal brand can develop from our own mission statement. It can serve as a tagline that tells the interviewer or employer what makes us different, why we are special and desirable, and why we are the best choice over other applicants with similar backgrounds and experience. Just like Coke conveys an energy pick-up and Kellogg’s says cereal, so our brand must convey who we are and how we benefit a prospective employer.

Now use your brand to market yourself.

When developing our personal brand we should be thinking about what we want to achieve in a new job and think about what companies and positions we will be targeting. In our marketing story we should also be communicating our values and strengths and our short and long term goals. We should include words that characterize our personalities and are memorable to the employer. Communicate what makes us stand out and what sets us apart from the other applicants being interviewed for the same position.

Our brand should also include information about our skills, abilities, education, and professional experiences. Our passion and personality should show through in our statement. The personal brand may also include adjectives or descriptions of how we are perceived by friends and acquaintances and how coworkers would describe us.

So how about an example? “Early in my public relations career, I created a brand for myself (unknowingly then) based on my ability to tell stories through the news media and to build positive relationships with the press,” explains Ed Weirauch, one of our Barton Career Transition Coaches. “Without realizing it at that time, I had created a brand for myself: the media guy or the press pitcher.”

When working as a Career Coach at Barton Career Advisors we ask our coaching clients to work on developing their story or three minute “mission statement”. The client can practice and perfect their Personal Brand with us before going to the interview so they feel more confident and well versed in their unique selling proposition to “wow” the employer into looking no further for qualified applicants. The client will sell themselves so the employer will decide that the most desirable and valuable applicant is sitting right in front of them.

For many people, personal brands and selling yourself can be a foreign concept or even one that makes us uncomfortable… “me, a sell-out?” That’s not quite our point. In this post-recession economy, you MUST be able to sell (as in ‘market’ or ‘put out there’) yourself so you’ll get the job you want. And key to this is your ability to develop your brand.

So complete this analogy: Coke is refreshing as Kellogg’s is a good breakfast as I am…

Finish that thought and you’ll have your personal brand.

Image courtesy of

Should Job Seekers Be Worried About the Pre-Employment Background Check?

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You’ve spent weeks scanning online job boards, asking friends and family about possible employment opportunities, and making contacts with all manner of professionals in your industry. You’ve gone through your resumé a dozen times with a fine-toothed comb and determined that it is subjectively and objectively perfect. You’ve landed half a dozen first-round interviews, made it to the second round on half of them, and found a job that is perfect for you at a company you respect. You are just a few steps away from scoring the employment you’ve been dreaming about and working toward for years. There’s just one thing left standing in your way: the pre-employment background check.

If you’ve applied for a job this decade, chances are that you’ve signed a consent form agreeing to let your prospective employers dig into your background. Depending on who you are, you may view this background check as a gross invasion of privacy, a routine safeguard that employers put in place to protect themselves from unsavory people, or anything in between. However, now is not the time to ponder the ethical questions of a bunch of people you don’t know very well analyzing every facet of your life, from criminal history to credit records, academic past to driving record. Background checks are the norm in the employment circuit, and if you want to get a job, you are going to have to bite the bullet and sign the consent form.

However, now is the time to ask yourself a handful of other questions – namely, “Am I ready for my dream job employer to start looking through my background?” and, “Am I ready for the pre-employment background check?” Those questions are more complicated than many applicants realize at first, and involve more considerations than any criminal offenses you may think you have on your own record. While most of us think of background checks as a device to root out felons and sex offenders from applicant pools, different screening methods can actually involve the perusal of a much broader range of information than just hard core criminal convictions. To answer the above questions, you should be worried about these checks if you haven’t done the following:

Made Sure the Information is Correct:
You may think your background is squeaky clean, but countless applicants have for the right or wrong reason lost out on dream job opportunities due to an unforeseen – and potentially incorrect – piece of information on their background check. Whether it’s a wrecked credit report due to an identity theft case you didn’t know about or a common name that pulls up the record of another person who shares your name, background checks can paint a bad portrait of you through no actual fault of your own.

If you are going to be on the employment trail for a while, it’s worthwhile to run a criminal background check on yourself. See what your criminal record looks like in the eyes of employers. Find out if there is anything wrong with your credit report. Double-check your driving record. If you do these things, you will be able to determine ahead of time if there are errors in your background check report and clean them up before employers start raising eyebrows.

Been Completely Honest on Your Application: Okay, you don’t have to reveal every aspect of your personal life to your employer from the word go. Financial woes are a largely personal subject, and some states have banned the box that allows forces you to otherwise reveal criminal history on a job application. However, employers will also look into your academic and professional history, so don’t lie about your former job titles or responsibilities, and don’t pretend you went to an Ivy League institution if you didn’t. Such instances of resume dishonesty are easy to find and will make a prospective employer wonder about what else you’ve lied about.

About the Author
Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

World Cup: Who Wears the Yellow Arm Band?

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Almost half of the entire planet is watching the World Cup. Perhaps not where you live, but here in the Mid-Atlantic it’s all we have. Hockey and basketball are over. Our baseball team stinks. And football has not started just yet. The sentiment of local sports radio personalities is that the World Cup is boring. Soccer does not score enough. This is cross country running with a ball! In fact, the radio folks seem restricted in their ability to talk about it, even if they are one of the few DJ’s that will embrace the sport and the Cup.

ID-10056952Well, not in my house. And frankly the public sentiment is changing. Today kids play the game and parents socialize on saturday mornings on the sidelines and at tournaments. Soccer is becoming a lifestyle here in the states. Now I will get off my soap box!

As a leadership coach, entrepreneurial leader of a company, and a high school soccer coach, I tend to see the world of soccer through a different lens that comes from an adoration for the sport and the study of what makes a leader in any life situation. What has fascinated me most is what it takes to be Captain. In soccer, this is signified by the yellow arm band. My curiosity lies within the question of if the traits of a leader are the same on the pitch as they are in the board room. What do you think? My sense is that you can insert the President, the VP or a Manager in any of these situations if they represent good leadership behavior.

What it takes to wear a yellow arm band:

  • You have to have players that will follow you. Every leader must have followers. Leaders can’t send a message or create a vision if no one believes in it. No one can be Captain without buy-in from the players!
  • A Captain is vocal in both big and small ways. A captain knows all aspects of the game. And they put their teammates in the right place while on the field. They communicate constantly. They direct and put players in the right position. The team listens and respects the chatter. This mental direction is so critical in the game. The smallest mental lapses in spacing, positioning, and decision making on and off the ball create most of the goal scoring opportunities for your opponent.
  • A Captain can put the game on their back as they say. No matter what is required. Shut down the other team’s best player. Make the critical play or pass. Even the score—go ahead and make a goal.
  • The captain must lead the team 24/7 on and off the field. Winning and being competitive is not contained in a 90 minute game. The season begins the day the last one ends. Being a leader is learning more about the game, playing it, getting in better physical condition in the off season, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Captains do everything with intention. Every meeting, every Friday night game or spaghetti team dinner is with a purpose. Closeness in a team off the field relates to trust and understanding of your teammates on the pitch.
  • The captain respects the entire team and knows that all have value. However, the captain also understands and respects individual roles and contribution levels.
  • A captain knows the team values and communicates with them. All action, word recognition, and discipline stems from living the values or helping teammates do it better.

Interesting to note, leadership behavior is just as hard to notice in a soccer game as it is in the game of business. You really have to look for it because it is effortless for good Captains and good leaders.

Field of Dreams Reunion

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Each year, the Outside-In® Companies have an annual theme to help communicate openly about the priorities of the business with everyone on the team. Coming off of a very ‘heady’ theme last year with the Outside-In® Happiness Project, this year we decided to reel it back in. For us, 2014 is the year of Field of Dreams, inspired by the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner.

“This year’s theme is about playing the game, building something great, and having something that all “3 Customers” can easily identify with,” said our President Chris Burkhard when asked about the annual theme. “Not everyone is a sports person but baseball is America’s game and people get it. Whether you watch the Major Leagues, played the game yourself, use the “3 strikes” mentality, eat peanuts & cracker jacks or have kids in a t-ball league, everyone relates to baseball.”

This year is also a special one for the movie itself, as it marks the 25th anniversary of Field of Dreams’ release. Kevin Costner joined other cast members and fans at the site of filming in Dyersville, Iowa for a 3-day 25th anniversary celebration festival this past Father’s Day weekend. This iconic film is held in the hearts of many, especially those that related to the father-son themes prominent in the movie. Costner, who attended the celebration with his family, told Bob Costas of the Today Show, “Field of Dreams” remains deeply meaningful to him. “I get a chance to bring my three little kids here. It’s really good full circle for me that this movie lives so long.”

We’ve brought new life to the movie by using the story, its themes, and baseball to support our company’s communication in the first half of this year. So cheers to you Field of Dreams – for inspiring so many, including us over the last 25 years!

“If you build it, he will come…” Right?

Create a Culture Holiday!

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How do you reinforce and teach the right organizational behaviors to your employee base? Leaders want their company to have a culture that reflects the values they put in place, but how can you do this from a practical day to day perspective?

Generally, we want to tell stories around our values. We want to reward and recognize values-based behaviors. And then we want to keep repeating and reinforcing. Not so hard in theory, but it can be difficult in a practical sense.

At the Outside-In® Companies, we have established a values holiday calendar. We have quite a few values, so every three to four weeks we celebrate one of our unique values for the day. Employees partner up and work on a value to find a way to bring the values to life. The value gets reinforced at our morning huddle. Legacy stories might be shared. A module of learning might be created. Handouts and visuals placed on desks or in prominent places to reinforce the message. The key is the simple routine and consistency. The challenge is to keep it fresh and changing.  And to make the story and symbolism meaningful.

When you encourage employees to take on a value they must become learners in order to act as teachers. Allowing all to be innovative and unique in how they communicate it is simply part of our culture. This reinforces taking risks and being knowledge-based workers.

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 1.39.32 PMSpeaking of risk taking and holidays. Check out the $9 dollar bill with my face on it. This was the handout on for the Risk Takers values holiday. I always say make $9 dollar mistakes. Involve others when its goes to $99 or perhaps $99,999 or up. Once you bring the values to life in a meaningful way the rest will fall into place as employees live and breathe your culture. Humor. Education. Recognition. Rewards. Repeat.