In today’s competitive job market, it’s important to stay one step ahead of the crowd. While the tried and true methods of cold calling and sending cover letters still work, technology has made the process much more interesting.


We now have access to personal websites, social media, and the ability to interview from anywhere in the world. Further, an increasing number of employers are using big data analytics to streamline hiring processes. In order to thrive in this new job market, you need to be on the cutting edge. If you leverage tech advancements, you stand a great chance of finding that dream job. Utilize these technologies and best practices when searching for your new position:

Search for Jobs From Anywhere

The wonderful thing about technology is that it not only allows us to apply to jobs on the go but to interview on the road as well. There are several apps that job seekers should download to their mobile devices that can help streamline application and interview processes. For instance, many companies are jumping on the tech bandwagon and are opting to have phone and video chats with candidates.


Some of the more popular video chat apps include Skype and GoToMeeting, which allow you to use the camera installed in your device to have the interview seamlessly. It is a good idea to download these apps now so you are prepared for that last-minute interview. There are other job search sites that you should look into as well. These include Glassdoor, which can help you find jobs based on salary and company size, and LinkUp, which searches only verified job listings that are located on company websites.


In this technology-fueled world, the internet is a tool you simply cannot be without, especially when you are job searching. However, if you find out about a new job or a sudden interview and you don’t have access to the internet, you could always use your cell phone as a mobile hotspot. Doing so is as easy as activating the hotspot and then connecting your laptop or other mobile device. That way, you are not stuck with shoddy public Wi-Fi.

Proper Social Media Etiquette Can Help

These days, 90% of job seekers under 30 have a social media profile, and many businesses have one as well. You can take advantage of these companies with a thoughtful online presence.


Before you even start contacting businesses, you need to ensure that your social media profiles are clean and friendly. Employers these days will do everything they can to make sure they get the right candidate, so you can bet they’ll search through your profiles. For that reason, do not post any photos that you wouldn’t want your mother to see.


Many people opt to use LinkedIn, which should only be used as a way of applying to jobs and attracting hiring managers. When you use LinkedIn, take the time to add all necessary details, including where you have worked and the skills you learned or utilized while working there. Choose a professional photo where you are dressed for the type of position for which you are applying — typically a suit or collared shirt. Finally, list your finest professional achievements as employers are often looking for the top talent.


As far as the other social media profiles, post in such a way that companies will take notice and want to further engage with you. If you are going to use Twitter, then keep current with posts and tweet meaningful messages that are connected to your chosen profession. This is the place to tweet about accomplishments and thoughtful opinions on current news in your field. On Facebook, make it a habit of “liking” the companies that you are interested in working for and feel free to post the fact that you are looking for a job along with your qualifications.

Incorporate Technology Into Your Resume

One significant advancement on the side of the job providers are applicant tracking systems that categorize job seekers and use bots to sort out the individuals that they don’t believe are suitable for the position.


The trick is to format your resume properly so you can get through that first round and into the hands of the hiring manager. If you’re unsure where to start, a quality resume writing service can craft a resume for you that truly showcases your abilities. Tweak your resume to set yourself apart from the pack:


  • Start by using proper spelling; misspellings look unprofessional, and bots may not understand what you are trying to say.
  • Some also recommend that you skip the career objective section at the start of your resume. Instead, start it off with a bullet point list of your experience and best career achievements.
  • If you are applying for a job for which you have previous relevant experience, consider adding infographics and charts that can further illustrate the skills that you bring to the table.
  • Further, consider utilizing technology to showcase your abilities. Instead of simply writing out some qualifications in text, add hyperlinks that will lead potential employers to your online portfolio or even a personal website that showcases your abilities.


Creating a website is easier than ever before, and it can be made for free from places like Wix and SquareSpace. Many of these websites give you templates that are easy to modify with important information about who you are, your previous experience and accomplishments, and any work samples that show off your talents. Feel free to add a little personality to the website with professional videos and some photos of you practicing your craft.


Technology will only continue to evolve as time goes on, so it is a good idea to adapt your job search now so you are ready for the jobs of tomorrow. Start utilizing these tech tips and stay ahead of the pack.

My name is Michelle McLeod, and this is a story about empowerment and building a business.

After retiring early and taking a buyout from General Motors due to company down-sizing, I was looking to supplement my income with something where I can work when and where I want.

That is how I discovered Network Marketing, I wanted to start my own business and be my own boss. Most important to me was that after working for that giant company for all those years I wanted to do something that I love doing. Make sure you read that I LOVE WHAT I DO!!

Well I found a way to do both, I discovered the Business model for me was one that allowed me to create my own company while at the same time spreading the message of empowerment and self-worth to other women at the same time. Before I share my Business with you, I want to tell you more about the struggle.

Life happens and setbacks occur, from relationships to work to family…. life happens and it happened to me.

I had to do a business reboot due to life and this company not only encouraged that but was there to help me succeed.

Talking about empowerment and being made to feel good about yourself.  One of my greatest triumphs in this company was earning a signature necklace THE MICHELLE named after myself, a top honor in our company I was one of 10 out of 70,000 that earned this honor. Now our company has more than 320,000 people earning money and empowering each other and those around them. Nothing would make me feel better than mentoring someone else from my Team to achieve that same honor!

Can you really be your own boss (BYOB) the answer is a resounding yes!

What an amazing effect slinging bling has had on my life! I have hundreds of team members now that I can call friends as well as business partners! We empower each other daily and weekly, and I’ve created a training program to continue to empower more Women to succeed on their own.

I can give you ten quick reasons why this could be for you too:

Do you need a new career?

Do you want to be your own boss (BYOB)?

Do you want to work your own hours?

Do you love Jewelry?

Do you want to have fun at work ?
Do you like looking great on a budget ?
Do you know a good thing when you see it ?
Do you a no catalog, no order taking, free web site for all company ?
Do you want all of that from a $5 product that everyone has and loves?

If you answered YES to any of the questions above than THIS IS FOR YOU!

I not only love what I do, I love the product, I love the Company too. Six years ago I found the right company PAPARAZZI ACCESSORIES. This is a $5 jewelry company, there are so many ways to make a great income, it is just such an exciting opportunity and I looked at so many of them.

All Paparazzi Accessories are Lead and Nickel free, gorgeous and did I say 5$?  In this economy if you want to be competitive you have to be affordable. At my very first showing/event I had guests three deep and I left with my pockets filled. I knew then that this business was for me and I could teach others how to feel empowered and good about themselves too. The look on a customer’s face when I say 5$ is priceless and my necklaces come with earrings at that same price point.

You have the opportunity with this business to create the environment that YOU choose! You have the option of daily sales to earn cash, set up an online store, build your own team of consultants and earn a residual income on all your team consultant revenues too. The point is that there are so many ways to create your own profitable business with Paparazzi.

If you are interested in learning how to create and successfully run your own Jewelry contact me I would be happy to talk to and invite you one of my team’s weekly on line meetings. Ask me about the special “Free Jewelry in July” offer too!

Michelle McLeod
Producer, Paparazzi Jewelry

Employee benefits packages used to be standard and simple. Something like a coffee bar in the break room or a fridge filled with snacks were supposed to keep an employee happy at work. Unfortunately, that’s the problem.


While there isn’t anything wrong with these office parks, they often serve an alternate purpose: Keeping employees in the office longer so they can get more work done. Schedule inflexibility is a big problem. It can create unmotivated, unhappy employees who might start looking elsewhere for a job that better understands their needs.


So, what can you do to attract new talent while keeping the star employees you already have on board?

What Are the Benefits of Happy Employees?

First, it’s important to understand why keeping your employees happy and satisfied is necessary for the success of your business. The more your employees feel valued, the more likely they are to be engaged in the work they’re doing. Encouraging them to sit in the office all day can leave them feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and ultimately “stuck” in a routine they’re unhappy with.


When you present a benefits package that gives your employees the things they really value, they’ll be more engaged, more likely to be productive, and more likely to want the same things you want: growth and success for your business.


Happy employees not only tend to put in more effort with their work, but they also motivate others to do the same. As a result, you have greater employee retention.

The Risks of Work-Related Stress

Just as there are many positives to having a great benefits plan, there are also many risks when it comes to a stressful work environment. Essentially, if your employees don’t feel valued as a whole, the stress from the office environment can lead to health problems. These problems can include everything from minor headaches and muscle tension to more serious mental health problems like anxiety and depression.


The causes of stress at work include things like a lack of job security, a heavy workload, etc. But, one major stress factor is having to balance work life with a personal life. This is often a result of companies who don’t fully understand or aren’t fully appreciating that their employees have a life outside the office.


Employers spend about $300 billion each year on employee healthcare costs and missed work days as a result of stress in the office. That’s a lot of missed opportunities for work to get done. Obviously, productivity stands still when your employees are sick or need a mental health day. So, not only will a stressful environment affect the work being produced, but it will also end up costing your business a lot of money over time.

What Perks Do Employees Really Want?

The best thing you can do for your company is to start looking at your employees as whole people — not just “workers.” This includes creating a competitive employee benefits package that combines traditional benefits with extra perks that make your employees excited to work for you.


Some of the more traditional benefits include things like a health insurance plan, paid time off, and a 401(k) savings plan. But, the new standards of employee perks go far beyond these typical benefits. Some things to consider to attract new employees and retain your current ones include:


  • Remote work options
  • Gym memberships/onsite fitness facility
  • Shorter work weeks
  • Mental health services
  • Paid maternity/paternity leave
  • Tuition reimbursement


You can always survey your employees to find out what their needs really are. Understanding that your employees have a life outside of the office will make it easier to develop a benefits package that fits everyone’s needs.

Building a Better Work Environment

While snacks, drinks, and foosball tables in the office are nice, they aren’t going to cut it when it comes to attracting new employees. These perks have become far too common. The reason they’re being included in offices have shifted from appreciating employees to keeping them in the office longer.


If you want to build a better work environment, reduce stress, and attract new talent (while keeping your current employees motivated), think about what people like to do outside of work.


From there, you can create a perks package that fits your employees as a whole. As a result, you might be surprised to see how much productivity increases. Again, happy employees are often far more willing to push for your company’s success. Give them the best benefits package possible. They’ll be motivated to return the favor with their work

Workplace diversity has become a heated topic and a top priority for human resource departments. Today, companies are starting to realize that in order to truly attract top talent and run a business that appeals to the greatest amount of people, they need to be proactive about having a diverse talent acquisition plan. Some of them go the extra mile by posting openings on minority specific job boards.

But there are other simple things that any company can do to make sure they appeal to a wider talent pool and eliminate any unconscious biases during their hiring process. By taking intentional action on this front, companies can make sure they have a variety of perspectives contributing to their products — from women to minorities to veterans–and be more successful for it.

What companies can do to hire diversely

Blind Screening

Everyone makes unconscious judgments — often based on something as simple as a name on a resume. And this type of bias is so common that it’s quantifiable. In an age of great technological advancements and ever-increasing digital job applications and resumes, it is possible to filter categories such as name, college, etc. to remove potentially identifiable information about a candidate. This allows for hiring teams to review resumes without bias and the most qualified applicants can then be interviewed.

Having A Diverse Talent-Acquisition Team

Having a variety of people conducting screenings and interviews for a company helps establish checks and balances — as well as showing candidates that they’ll be welcomed and comfortable.

Using Inclusive Language in Job Descriptions

Diverse candidates, and particularly women, often inadvertently removed them from a talent pool before they even apply, due to job ads that include gender-biased wording. For instance, the words “dominate” and “competitive” are masculine-coded words. Other fields, such as teaching, experience the flip side by using feminine-coded words like “supportive”. To avoid this pitfall, focus job postings on company values and criteria that are important to job performance.

Emphasize Value-Based Hiring

Having well-defined company values and emphasizing them during all stages of the hiring process allows companies to create a team where everyone truly cares about the work they’re doing. Value-based hiring means, defining and committing to a set of organizational values and making job descriptions, interview questions, and employee evaluations reflect those values. Humans are inherently drawn to companies and positions where they feel they are valued. This philosophy helps draw out not only the most talented candidates, but also promotes employee retention.

Seek Out Candidates Where They Are

Companies who want to take their diversity search to the next level should think about posting jobs on sites specifically designed to appeal to non-traditional candidates. This requires going beyond posting vacancies on the standard Monster, Indeed and Job Service job boards. For instance, Equality Magazines oversee job boards on Hispanic Today, Black Perspective, Women in Business and Veterans Enterprise.

At the end of the day, diverse hiring comes down to one thing: intention. Companies must recognize the need to change their hiring practices. It is human nature to avoid change, however, in order to attract and build a more diverse work environment, traditional hiring strategies must be reconsidered and changed to attract candidates from non-traditional backgrounds.


Technology is transforming the way we communicate within the workplace by creating clear and honest lines of communication at work. The effects of such technologies have led to increased productivity of employees and, as a result, is beneficial to companies and employers alike.


Employees who are nearing retirement age have been forced to adopt new technologies as companies move away from an emphasis on face-to-face communication. Face-to-face interaction has become increasingly rare in the workplace and in conducting business in our global economy. Conference calls, email, social media, and other online communication tools have made remote work more feasible than ever.


As millennials make up the largest population of workers, these technologies are making more of a presence in the workplace-communication styles than previously experienced. Their generation is more comfortable and familiar with them than previous generations, sometimes creating a gap between older generations and younger ones.

Major Trends in Workplace Communication

Communication in the workplace was considerably streamlined with the introduction of email. It aided in simply saving the time of scheduling meetings, physically seeking out colleagues who are not at their desks at opportune times, or being required to be present at a meeting that doesn’t call for your input.


The benefits of email are numerous and obvious to those who were of working age when it was introduced to the workplace. The millennial generation will never know the frustrations of long, drawn out, company-wide meetings. Instead of waiting for a chance to speak at a table of numerous other people, you can “reply all” to sender and add your input to be read at all participants leisure.


Not only did email create new communication highways between colleagues and business partners, but with their customer base as well. It’s become a powerful marketing tool, and many businesses now use email to target specific audiences and grow their customer base.


The perks of email and other forms of electronic messaging is that they are instantaneous. Documents can be submitted and signed for approval at any time of day and are no longer tied to business hours. Additionally, business is more easily conducted globally without time zones becoming an issue. It’s allowed for a whole new level of flexibility in business that wasn’t previously available.

The Evolution of Communication

Following the implementation of email, tech-savvy innovators recognized the ready market of instant messaging. Nearly all email accounts now offer a direct messaging app within their software.


For example, Google offers Google Hangouts, which provides real-time messaging between you and your co-workers. Within Google Hangouts, you can share your screen for information exchanges and presentations, and you can also video chat if you are in need of face-to-face time with a client or employee.


Messaging applications, such as Slack, are being implemented into the common workplace. The software can be accessed on your desktop, as well as your smartphone. The app provides a platform for messaging the company as a whole in group chats or private messages between select people and groups. You can tag one another to make sure that your messages are received by individuals and creates a space for engagement for remote employees. You can also attach files and photos for quick referencing during conversation.


An added benefit to using communication technology is enabling you to communicate with customers without having to host a call center. By implementing a LiveChat option on your website, you can answer their questions without delay and foster a beneficial relationship from the first point of contact.

Communication Challenges

One of the downfalls of being so easily connected and contacted is being tied to your mobile phone. Luckily, most apps and software offer a silencing tool to mute notifications on your weekends or while on vacation. The hazard of the free flow of information is feeling the need to respond as messages filter in. Setting business hours for yourself will enable you to enjoy your time outside of your preset office hours to foster a healthy work-life balance.


The use of social media is also currently prevalent in business. It is wise to keep in mind that you are easily found on social media and you should adjust your privacy settings so that your employer is not able to access your private pages. You can be responsible for the things that you post but not for others’ actions on your social media profiles. To protect yourself, it is best to keep your personal social media private and separate from people you work with.


Another challenge of electronic communication is the loss of the human element that allows us to interpret nonverbal messages written words often fail to relay. Messages that are ambiguous or vague can be left open for interpretation, causing communication breakdowns and the potential for mistakes. Contradictorily, messages that are too direct or blunt can feel harsh or intimidating.


Due to our current messaging systems’ instant nature, there is not always an effective delay in responses when feeling emotional or upset. This can have negative impacts on our communication in the workplace. Be aware of your emotional state when responding in a messaging app or via email to ensure that your message is not construed.


Communication technology has revolutionized the workplace and made it easier than ever to relay information and improve productivity. Just make sure everyone in the company is taking the time to make sure that they are using these communication tools to best convey messages and information effectively. With so many options available to us to improve communication in the workplace, it is to our advantage to utilize it enable us to succeed.

There are a few ways to diversify your workforce. Starting from the hiring process, spanning through to your core values, check out our four tips for embracing diversity in your business.

Be open minded when hiring

Ensure you keep an open mind when hiring. As mentioned above, you risk shutting yourself off from some great candidates if your search is too narrow. Instead, be willing to meet with people you might not have previously considered. You could even set tasks during your recruitment process to see which potential recruits are most creative. Remember to keep an open mind – you might find your perfect hire!

Cultivate an open and honest culture

Create a culture where staff are always encouraged to be themselves. It’s likely that everyone has a more professional persona when they’re at work, but it’s important that no one feel repressed or like they must hide. Depending on the nature of your business, you might even allow casual dress, giving staff another opportunity to express themselves and show off who they really are.

Organize team-building exercises

A great way to make sure you’re getting the most from your workforce is to ensure that staff are working as a team. Team building exercises can be a useful tool for employees to get to know one another and encourage them to celebrate their differences and work better together. These can be fun social activities or perhaps even team brainstorms where everyone can bounce ideas off one another.

Share ideas

No matter what role they play in the business, it’s always great to hear when someone has a new idea. Create a culture of sharing, where employees are encouraged to come forward with any ideas they may have, and where everyone works together as a team to make these ideas a reality. As previously mentioned, diversity will lead to higher levels of creative thinking.

Overall, there are several benefits for embracing diversity in your business. From the get-go make it a part of your values and culture, encouraging employees to be themselves, share their ideas and support one another. This will not only help you to attract and recruit, but also retain an innovative and diverse workforce.

By Steven Starks, Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix


Throughout the course of a career, working professionals may experience brief or extended gaps of unemployment between positions. While hiring managers understand that these gaps can be caused by a variety of reasons – such as illness, family situations, travel or the inability to find a new job – they can be viewed as red flags. It may be inferred that applicants do not possess the proper work experience or that they were unable to maintain consistency in their careers.


As a senior career counselor at University of Phoenix, students and alumni often ask me how to deal with employment gaps on their résumés when going through the application process. There are ways to work around unemployment periods that still prove to hiring managers that you were focused on your career growth, even when unemployed. I often share two key components of overcoming employment gaps that may help effectively explain these situations: filling the gap and explaining it during an interview.


If you have unemployment gaps on your résumé or are anticipating a future gap, the first plan of action is to fill them with experience-generating activities that will further your career. One thing to consider when looking for an activity to fill a gap on your résumé is to pick something that will align with your past education and professional experience and also speak to the future trajectory of your career. At the same time, you do not want to get involved in something that will take up so much time that will leave you unable to effectively search for a long-term position.


There are a number of activities to consider. The most important of which, I believe, is education. You should never stop learning and gaps provide an opportunity to return to school or learn something new. Volunteering can also serve as a viable filler. There are countless worthwhile organizations that are in need of volunteers for professional functions.


Freelance consulting is another option if you have a skill set that can be applied on a freelance basis. Even if you only have one client and work part-time, it should be enough to fill a gap. As an added benefit, freelance consulting usually offers the flexibility you need to go on interviews and attend networking meetings.


Consider also reaching out to temporary agencies for work. It is often best if you can secure this type of position with an employer that you would consider as a long-term career option. If you are successful, it will give you the inside track on what departments to pursue, how to apply and which individuals you need to speak with to make long-term employment a possibility.


If you happen to be out of a job for just a few months, you might eliminate months from the résumé altogether and instead include just your years of employment in various positions. Obviously, this will work more effectively if you were employed for a full year or more. This strategy will detract attention from any time gap because it will not be as evident on your résumé. However, if you are required to fill out an online application with a chronological history of your previous employers, you would want to include the months on the application, as in many cases those are mandatory fields.


While filling unemployment gaps displays your dedication to sharpening your skills and gaining necessary experience, hiring managers will still often ask you to explain why gaps occurred in the first place. During the interview process, job seekers must come prepared to explain the employment history on their résumés. If you left the workforce to raise children, care for a family member, engage in self-care activities or pursue additional education, you should not be afraid to share this. However, it is essential to inform the employer that the situation was resolved and to emphasize (with enthusiasm) that you are ready to get back to work.


Explaining unemployment gaps can be more difficult when it was the result of a layoff or termination. If you were laid off or fired, honesty is essential, despite the temptation to stretch the truth. If a layoff occurred because a company closed or a position was eliminated, most interviewing managers will understand that reality. However, if you were terminated, honesty is still the best policy, but you want to avoid speaking poorly of your previous organization or volunteering too much information. You can keep it simple by stating, “It was not a good fit” and sharing what you personally learned and could have done better. This will allow you to demonstrate your commitment to being the best employee you can be.


After you have dealt with the reasons for leaving your last job, bring the conversation around to what you have been doing in the interim. Whether it is continuing your education, volunteer work, unpaid work, freelance work, or internships, each opportunity can be spun into a great story about the forward progression of your career. Furthermore, these types of career experiences can be included in the “Professional Experience” section of your résumé. Remember that these experiences “count”, even if they were unpaid.


Above all else, remember that unemployment gaps can be essential to a happy, healthy career and can, at times, lead to better opportunities. Often times, these are necessities – like raising a child or taking a mental health break – or are aspects of your career journey, like returning to school to learn a new skill. Regardless of why an unemployment gap occurred, the important part is to be prepared to make the most of it by using the time to improve your life and career.


About Steven Starks:

Steven Starks is a Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix. He has been with the University for 11 years, also serving as a career coach for five years and a senior academic counselor. Starks is a National Certified Counselor and a featured career coach with Previously, he worked in the mental health industry providing individual and group therapy for clients struggling with severe mental illness, abuse, and trauma. Starks holds a Master’s in Psychology from University of Phoenix and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Walden University.



By Steven Starks, Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix


Jobseekers beware. If you are not up-to-date on industry trends, you may hurt your prospects during the job hunt.

With new disruptive technologies emerging and customer wants and needs constantly shifting, industry trends are in a constant state of flux. Keeping up to date with your industry will help you demonstrate relevant expertise on your resume and cover letter, during an interview, and in your networking interactions.

If you are currently employed, seeking other opportunities or considering starting a business, follow these six tips to help you stay in the know.

  1. Set up Google alerts and search keywords related to your target industry

On a weekly basis, take at least an hour to do a Google search on your industry to stay abreast of recent news and changes. You can also conduct a search with Google Blogs to see what other professionals are saying about your field or review Google Trends to track what’s “hot” around specific topics.

Many of us use Google Alerts to set up custom keyword searches that are updated daily and sent to our designated email addresses. Make sure to update your keywords regularly and include the names of top players in your field, organizations, industries, and trade shows.

  1. Join alumni associations and professional organizations

Participate in alumni social events offered by your alma mater’s local chapter, attend industry panels, and take advantage of career resources. Similarly, professional associations offer a wealth of industry information, as well as many opportunities for networking and professional growth. Many professional associations maintain industry-specific listservs – an application that distributes messages to subscribers on an electronic mailing list – and online forums around certain topics. If you’re a member of one or more professional associations, check your member newsletter or the association’s publications on how to join their listservs.

  1. Conduct informational interviews

An informational interview — in which you interview someone who works in a career or for a company that interests you — is one of the best resources for industry-specific business information. Prepare a list of interview questions for working professionals that you admire pertaining to new trends, developments, problems or challenges, key players and more. Always ask them for referrals to other professionals. Offer them any assistance you can in return, and be sure to send a thank-you card or email expressing gratitude for sharing their knowledge and expertise.

  1. Find mentors

Mentors can share in-depth industry knowledge and insights. They can also help with your networking efforts by introducing you to others in the field and can provide general career advice. Be sure to look into your alma mater’s mentoring program or take advantage of your company’s mentoring program if it offers one. Professional colleagues and retirees can also serve as great mentors.

  1. Attend industry conferences and read trade magazines

Industry conferences and trade shows provide an effective way to meet many people in your target industry at one time. These are an excellent place to learn about the latest industry trends, as well as the projected future of your industry or field.

Another useful tool is industry-related magazines. These provide information on the latest news, innovations, and trends in the field. Online subscription-based resources provide in-depth analysis of specific companies and industries.

  1. Tweet your way to information

Do you use Twitter? If not, you should start. Twitter contains enormous amounts of information and is a great tool to stay up-to-date. The best way to search Twitter for industry-specific tweets is via hashtags, which is the “#” sign followed by a keyword — for example, “#projectmanagement” or “#nursingjobs.” You can follow the Twitter feeds of well-known industry leaders to get insight on trends and future projections.

About Steven Starks:

Steven Starks is a Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix. He has been with the University for 11 years, also serving as a career coach for five years and a senior academic counselor. Starks is a National Certified Counselor and a featured career coach with Previously, he worked in the mental health industry providing individual and group therapy for clients struggling with severe mental illness, abuse, and trauma. Starks holds a Master’s in Psychology from University of Phoenix and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Walden University.



By Steven Starks, Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix



Between online job boards and mobile apps, applying for jobs can be done with the click of a button. But a simplified and streamlined application process could mean a higher likelihood that quality resumes are missed if they do not include the correct search terms.


Today’s employers can receive up to 250 resumes for a single job opening.[1] To help handle the influx of applications and automate the review process, many companies have turned to applicant tracking systems (ATS) – human resources software designed to filter resumes. In fact, nearly all (98 percent) Fortune 500 companies, along with a number of small and mid-sized companies, utilize ATS software, according to Jobscan.[2]


While ATS software can help employers automate the recruiting process, it has a number of drawbacks for applicants. Often times, a dedicated ATS is programmed to search for certain keywords or skills and may weed out resumes without them. For larger companies, more applicants could mean that resumes are never seen by a hiring manager or recruiter until the top few are selected by the ATS.


As a senior career counselor at University of Phoenix, part of my job is to help provide resources to educate people on the various ways to position themselves for success on the job hunt. Job seekers who want their resume to get through an ATS should consider following these five tips.


  1. Meet qualification requirements


Whether computer software or a human being handles resume reviews, there are no tricks that can overcome a lack of experience. No matter how well a resume is written or what keywords it contains, applicants will not be a competitive candidate for a position if they ultimately do not possess the skills and experience required for the position. Even if the resume passes through the initial ATS vetting process, it will likely be discarded when read by a hiring manager.


As a rule of thumb, candidates should only apply for a job if their knowledge, skills, and abilities match at least 75 percent of the qualifications required for the position. If a position offers on-the-job training, this may not apply. However, ultimately, qualified individuals have the highest likelihood of landing the job and will be better suited to discuss the position in the interview and handle the responsibilities on day one.


  1. Incorporate keywords


Keywords are hard skills and industry-specific jargon that directly relate to the desired position. For example, job descriptions for accountant positions may include keywords and phrases such as “Sarbanes-Oxley” (SOX), “financial statements” and “general ledger.” Often times, ATS software may be programmed to look for these keywords in resumes or hiring managers may filter applications for them.


Without these keywords, a resume could be lost among the masses. To ensure that proper keywords are incorporated, review the job description, job posting and the roles and responsibilities of professionals in similar roles. A successful candidate’s resume will not only contain this language, but also demonstrates specific evidence of the context in which such knowledge and skills have been applied in previous positions or through curriculum.


  1. Eliminate or minimize irrelevant information


Much like the importance of using keywords in a resume and ensuring qualifications meet those expected of the candidate, removing irrelevant information is just as important. The rule of thumb is to keep resumes to one page in length if you have 10 years of work history or less, but two pages is fine as long as the information is relevant and supportive of your career goal. Including all work experience (especially any that is not relevant to the position) can bog it down and add unnecessary length. This information does not directly reflect your qualifications for the position and thus should be removed.


Elaborate on directly relevant experiences that support your current career objective and emphasize transferable skills when lacking direct experience. For example, three years as a barista in college may not seem to apply to a role in marketing, but the communications, customer service and time management skills learned demonstrate applicable professional skills.


  1. Keep the format simple


Simple resumes are king when applying for companies using ATS software. People have long been told to create unique resumes that stand out in the stack of identical templated sheets of paper. But unlike humans, computers do not look for resumes with a glossy sheen or colored text. Even heavily formatted resumes that contain such things as images, charts and text boxes are likely to be discarded.


To keep resume formats as simple as possible, there are a few guidelines to follow. When creating your resume, always use a Microsoft Word File (.doc, .docx). PDF documents might be misread by an ATS. Avoid using multiple columns or headers and footers. These can cause scanning issues. Lastly, include headings for every section and use common titles (e.g., Summary, Experience, Education) to help the ATS recognize to which section information belongs.


  1. Place dates last


Resume format is more important than just creating a simple, clean document. The traditional format may be simple and boring, but it works – stick to it. Employers look for and expect a certain layout and flow of a resume, similar to how a script is expected to be written in a proper format. ATS is programmed to review resumes in a similar fashion, so it is best to keep a traditional layout.


The experience section of the resume is one of the most important when it comes to formatting, particularly when writing dates. Dates should always come after company information. Below is the preferred format for the experience section:


Company Name – City, State        Date Range

Position Title


Following these guidelines are a good first step in preparing for potential interviews and may increase the likelihood of landing a job. While not every company will use an ATS software, it is smart to format a version of a resume in this manner, especially when applying online. The key to acing an interview is being prepared and meeting the expected qualifications.


About Steven Starks:

Steven Starks is a Senior Career Counselor at University of Phoenix. He has been with the University for 11 years, also serving as a career coach for five years and a senior academic counselor. Starks is a National Certified Counselor and a featured career coach with Previously, he worked in the mental health industry providing individual and group therapy for clients struggling with severe mental illness, abuse, and trauma. Starks holds a Master’s in Psychology from University of Phoenix and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Walden University.



Music has a way of guiding our emotions. The feeling and theme of a song can guide our feelings down one path or another and allow them to get comfortable there. For musicians, the goal in songwriting and playing is to create music that gets listeners to feel the emotions that went into making the music. The emotional elements of music are powerful, and in that power is possibility. Harnessing those possibilities into help for others is what music therapy is all about.


Music therapy is about manipulating how music affects a person into something innately positive for a variety of different types of patients. Becoming a music therapist involves schooling to teach a wide variety of elements within the profession. However, for musicians who want to give back, there are also ways to provide a type of therapy with your music simply by playing it.

How Music Therapy Works

Music therapy is beneficial for mental health, communication, neurology, pain, physical therapy, etc. Whether a patient is playing music or listening to it, music therapy works by tapping into a patient’s emotions, biology, and brain function. Music has such a positive effect on the brain that it’s used to calm shelter animals and soothe babies born prematurely. Music is universal, so it’s a therapy that is versatile. Music therapy works in the same way that music can affect a normal person listening to a song on the radio, or a musician playing a song on the piano, but in a strategic and deliberate way for each patient and their needs.

Who is Music Therapy For

Music therapy has been used for mental health patients struggling with PTSD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and many other mental health conditions. It’s also used for cancer patients, children with developmental disabilities, those undergoing physical therapy, or patients living with Alzheimer’s. Music therapy can be used in terms of playing it, listening to it, learning it, or in conjunction with other types of therapy. Human behavior has a lot to do with family relationships and and social patterns, and music therapy can have a hand in helping patients from a social-behavioral standpoint as well. Generally speaking, music therapy is for anyone, but where you work as a music therapist will have a lot to do with the type of patients you’ll treat.

How to Become a Music Therapist

Becoming a music therapist begins with a passion for music and music theory. Knowing how to play a variety of different instruments and styles will be paramount in therapy and schooling. You’ll also have to have a passion for helping others through your love of music. A music therapist needs to have attended a university and graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher taking classes in music, human development, and psychology, among others. An internship is also required to gain some experience, and pass an equivalency program. After that, you’ll take a certification exam. After passing it, you are eligible to find employment as a music therapist. Utilize the growing community of musicians and healthcare professionals you’ll find in schooling to help you find a place of employment or internship you’ll love.

Where to Work as a Music Therapist

Where you’ll work as a music therapist will depend on the type of therapy you’re looking to do, and the type of patients you’re interested in. In a hospital setting, you may work with patients recovering from injury, those being treated for cancer, or patients who are terminal. In a psychiatric setting, you may be working with patients with mental health struggles, cognitive delays, or behavioral problems. In a school setting, you may work with children with developmental or physical delays. In a rehab facility, you will work with recovering addicts who may also have a mental health diagnosis or significant stress related to recovery. In a senior care facility, you may work with patients who have memory loss or physical ailments. Self-expression is so important, and music therapists often help patients do that through music.  

Helping Others as a Musician

There are ways to help others with music therapy as a musician without becoming a licensed music therapist. Though your efforts can’t be utilized as a treatment for others, you can still use your passion as a musician by volunteering in your community. You might offer to play at a retirement center, for sick children, or for patients in a mental health facility. Though you can’t offer treatment, you can still make patients smile and feel happy through your musical talent. Medical insurance only covers certain services, and mental health and counseling are often not under this umbrella. Thus, music therapy is typically uncovered as well. It’s a nationwide problem, so resources like community centers or volunteer musicians to address those needs are so important.


Closing your eyes and listening to a song that speaks to you has a way of taking you to a different place. Music can help a patient to get to that place and find peace. Playing music can encourage motor skills, neurological function, and problem solving. Understanding music helps to communicate and connect with others. Writing music is an outlet for emotion, as is listening to it. Music therapy is a viable career option for musicians who are passionate about music and its capabilities in psychology. Even if you’re just volunteering instead of choosing a music therapy career track, you’re still offering a service that’s been proven to be helpful for so many people in need.