Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Pink Slip

November 16, 2011

One of the top ten ways to avoid a pink slipContributed by Korina Rossi, Top 10 Guru

Being hired for your first job is one of the great milestones of life, but for most young workers it breeds an unsettling question: could you also be fired?

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Top 10 States and Cities for New Education Graduates

September 14, 2011

Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Top 10 Guru

Graduation is approaching, and you’re ready to look for that first teaching job. But the news is filled with stories of cutbacks and layoffs. And you’re wondering if you’ll ever find a teaching job.

Relax. Even amid the dark economic news, there are some bright spots for new teachers. Here are our top ten cities and states for new education graduates looking for that first teaching job.

10. Maryland

Best states for new education graduates
With an average starting salary for new teachers of over $42,000, Maryland isn’t the highest paying state for new teachers, but it is one of the most generous when it comes to perks.

State law mandates equal pay across all districts, so teachers in inner city schools won’t suffer in comparison to colleagues in posh suburbs. And districts will foot the bill for higher education for current teachers, and then pay them a higher salary once the degree is earned.

9. North Dakota

Best states for new education graduates

Although the cold winters and relative isolation might not put North Dakota on most people’s list of places they always wanted to live, for new education graduates North Dakota belongs in the top ten. The refreshing lack of doom and gloom in education funding, plus a notable absence of layoff plans pushes this frigid state above more climate-friendly locales.

8. Pennsylvania

Best states for new education graduates
With an average teacher salary of just over $60,000 per year, plus a teacher student ratio of under 13, Pennsylvania is a good choice for new teachers.

The decentralized school systems (there may be several in one county) mean there can be big difference in teaching style and compensation, however. Some of the best opportunities may be in smaller rural areas where the low cost of living makes the salary even more attractive, and layoffs are less common.

7. Phoenix, Arizona

Best states for new education graduates

As one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Phoenix is expected to have more than its share of new teacher positions as well. Local support for education, a relatively livable climate and an exciting urban environment make this city a great choice for new education graduates.

Check out the districts before applying, however. Like Pennsylvania, Phoenix keeps school districts very local so the city has several within its boundaries.

6. Austin, Texas

Best states for new education graduates

Austin is a tech-savvy, growing city with a young demographic, and that means the demand for new teachers will remain high. While many parts of Texas are experiencing cutbacks in education funding, the Austin area has fared better, with more money for both salaries and for school programs. The city is a mecca for young adults, as well, with a booming social and music scene, making it an attractive choice for new college grads.

The nearby Round Rock school district offers exceptional arts programs, so new teachers in music, theatre and the visual arts may find a good starting place there.

5. Washington

Best states for new education graduates

The State of Washington, and especially the cities of Seattle and Spokane, have earned their place among the top ten locations for teachers. A combination of generous per-student spending and local populations that put a high value on schools means educators have the resources they need to teach effectively.

The abundance of outdoor activities, the arts and music make this a natural for young teachers looking for a lifestyle as well as a job.

4. Wyoming

Best states for new education graduates
With an average starting salary of more than $40,000 per year and a cost of living well below the national average, Wyoming is a great choice for new teachers who prefer mountain tops and hiking trails over art galleries and nightclubs.

The state also boasts low student-teacher ratios, a plus for new educators hoping to connect with their students. Applicants should do their research before applying, however. Unlike Maryland and several other states, salaries are not set statewide, so starting pay could be more or less than the average.

3. Illinois

Best states for new education graduates

When the average starting salary for a teacher is over $10,000 more than the average starting salary for other college grads in the state, you have a winner for new teachers.

Not only do new education graduates hired in Illinois average over $58,000 in first year salary, the cost of living allows that money to go far further than in better-paid but more expensive places like New York and Massachusetts.

If you’re a new grad or an education major considering Special Education, the state also offers full tuition waivers for up to four years for some colleges and universities in the state for teachers interested in meeting the need in those high-demand programs..

2. Providence, Rhode Island

Best states for new education graduates

Ocean access, beautiful New England settings and a school district that spends an amazing $15,000 per student all combine to make this one of the top two locations for new teachers. Student teacher ratios are under 10, and student performance remains among the highest in the country.

1. Alaska

Best states for new education graduates

The number one spot for new education graduates goes to Alaska. Class sizes are small, and local support for education is exceptionally high.

Yes, the cost of living is high. But Alaska’s even higher salaries, combined with new teacher sign-on bonuses in many specialties make this state far more affordable than many in the lower 48.

Top 10 Change of Career Cover Letter Tips

August 31, 2011

Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Top 10 Guru

It doesn’t matter whether you’re changing careers because of downsizing or an urge to explore new options in your life. Either way, you will need to apply for that first job in your new field.

And when you do, you’ll need to tie your old life and skills to your new direction. That’s where a change of career resume and cover letter comes into play. And since the cover letter is probably the first thing a prospective employer will read, you need to make sure it’s right.

So here are the top 10 career change cover letter tips to make your first impression the very best it can be.

10. Keep personal info to a minimum

Yes, you may really need that new job to pay family bills, but that information doesn’t belong in your cover letter, especially when you’re already trying to start a whole new career. Ditto for political views, social stances and religious affiliations. Unless it’s part of the job, keep it out of the letter.

9. Do your homework

Before you write a single line in that all important change of career cover letter, make sure you have researched the company and the position thoroughly. Then taylor your cover letter to that company. Boiler-plate cover letters seldom open doors, and that’s especially true when it comes to career changes. If you fall asleep on the job with this one, your cover letter (and your resume) will give it away.

8. Don’t complain

Bad-mouthing ex-employers is a sure fire way to get your cover letter passed over. No matter how you feel about your old employer, boss or coworkers, that information never belongs in your cover letter (or your resume or your interview!)

7. Avoid name-dropping

Maybe you do know the mayor. Or your parents were friends with a local celebrity. Unless your work with that person is directly connected to the job you’re applying for, save the name-dropping for parties with your college buddies.

6. Express a willingness to start from scratch and work hard

If you’ve been in a high level position, a new employer may be hesitant to take you on at a lower level. Your cover letter is a great place to let them know that you’re excited about the new learning opportunity, and willing to start from step one if needed. And mean it!

5. Point out new education

If you’ve taken a seminar, class or even a degree to prepare for your new career, be sure to mention it in your change of career cover letter. If it’s just listed in your resume, it could be overlooked.

4. Tie old jobs to your new skill set

Even if your new career and your experience are in completely different fields, odds are there are some overlaps in skill sets. Briefly point out in your cover letter how your experience will transfer to the new position. You can expand on the idea in your resume, but the seed will have been planted.

3. Emphasize your strengths

Avoid phrases like “years ago”, or “I could probably learn…” Choose words that express an upbeat assessment of your experience and prospects. Point out your strengths in a few words.

Underselling yourself isn’t modesty…it’s expressions of uncertainty and that could keep you out of the running for an interview.

2. Be positive

Make sure your confidence comes across in your letter. While you don’t want to appear arrogant, you do need to express your certainty that this new career is exactly right for your skills and abilities. Take your time, and make sure you get it right.

1. Address the letter to a person, not a position

Never address your change of career cover letter to a position. Always, always, always find a specific person to whom you can send it. Sure it’s more difficult. But with all the hurdles involved in starting a new career, addressing your carefully crafted letter and resume to “Dear Personnel Manager” will probably close the very door you are working so hard to open.

Top 10 Best Job Search Sites

April 13, 2011

A list of the top ten job search sitesContributed by Marnely Rodriguez, Top 10 Guru

Searching for a job in this economy can at times be daunting and stressful. Make sure to choose the right job search site for you and keep yourself organized.

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Top 10 Job Seeker Mistakes

March 25, 2011

A list of the top ten job seeker mistakesContributed by Missy Nolan, Top 10 Guru

Are you ready for a new job? Whether you’re switching careers or joining the working world for the first time, there are several things you should definitely avoid doing during your job hunt.

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