After interviews, job seekers typically send nondescript, cookie-cutter thank-you notes: “It was a pleasure meeting you and I appreciate the time you spent speaking with me. I know I can add significant value to your team,” but, these letters are often disregarded and turn out to be a waste of time. Related: The Best Interview Follow Up Checklist To ensure your letters stand out from the competition, it is important to rethink how you approach them. Understand the purpose of your thank-you letters is to get you another meeting and to further sell yourself into that position, which can easily be accomplished if you incorporate a new spin on the thank-you letters of ol’. Here are three ways to turn bland and ineffective thank you letters into offer-winning sales documents:

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What can be done, if anything, to shorten your job search? Getting expert career advice at the onset of a job search is critical, and can shorten the duration of unemployment in the long run. Related: How To Land A Job Faster A career or job search coach can be your ally in a myriad of ways. Here are four:

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Zig Ziglar—author and nationally renowned motivational speaker—has been known to say, “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” As a huge Zig fan, I couldn’t agree more. But, advocating giving-as-a-form-of-getting is not a new perspective, nor is it a relatively novel concept; in fact, it is just plain good karma - you do enough good things in this world, and the world is bound to listen. Related: Top 10 Job Search Trends Of 2014 Generosity, on the other hand, has a bit of a different definition. Generosity means giving freely of yourself—your knowledge, expertise, time, or money—without expecting anything in return. Mastering generosity in the job search and truly expecting nothing in return is a challenge, particularly because the job search process is all about YOU in the first place, isn’t it? No. A successful job search certainly is not. In Keith Ferazzi’s bestselling book, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, Keith announces, "the time of the Networking Jerk is over” and stresses we must “remember the number one key to success is generosity. Give your talents, give your contacts, and give your hard work to make others successful without keeping score.”

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Earlier this week, I received an e-mail from an acquaintance of mine, asking me (and about 75 others also copied on the e-mail) for help in his job search. Recently laid off, he had the right idea; to reach out to his network to seek help, asking his former colleagues, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who would listen if they had any contacts that could benefit from a smart guy like himself. First, he inquired if anyone had any contacts at DC-based PR firms (given that his first priority was to work in a PR agency); next, he asked if they had any contacts at any companies that hired PR professionals in any capacity anywhere on the East Coast (as the e-mail wore on, he became a bit more anxious and did not want to rule out a move).

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I’m a bit nostalgic and inspired today after picking up a copy of, Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body... and Life in General and I’ll tell you why. This new teen self-esteem book by my childhood friend Elizabeth Berkley—with whom I shared a backyard and the role of Snoopy in the seventh grade play You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown—is an exercise in reinvention. Elizabeth, who many of us knew and loved as Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell fame (yes, I admit, I watched and loved it!) has reinvented herself as a self-help guru, after taking a sordid, and unexpected turn as the lap-dancing cult favorite Showgirls lead back in the mid-90’s. Many had written her off but, as Elizabeth told Entertainment Weekly recently, the best advice she personally received was “never give up on herself.” It made me think about how her advice and encore career as an undeniable inspiration to teens, could translate to job seekers. Here are my thoughts:

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For most of us, the first and only time we ever take career assessments is in high school or college. But, if you are unfulfilled in your current job, unsure of your motivated values and talents, looking for confirmation on a possible career passion, or in search of ways in which you could make money using your natural skills, taking a self-assessment—even 5, 10 or 20 years out of college—just makes sense! While many valuable career “tests” costs money, there are several that require only your time and focus to generate results that—depending on the test—can help you clarify your values, skills, or even specific job titles that may be a good fit for your next career!

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