Add Social Networking to Your Job Searching Portfolio

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Social networking (using social media to interact and share information) isn't just about finding posted jobs…it is about building relationships. Your job search requires you to do more than just apply for jobs online. Learning how to use social networking sites will help your long-term strategy — by creating new relationships to open doors now and in the future. Add Social Networking To Your Job Search Mix. LinkedIn, X (Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, Threads (social networking tools) help you create new connections and solidify old connections. Any of these can lead to referrals to jobs. These tools do not replace anything! They are vehicles to help you find connections, build new relationships and convey your message to a broader audience (faster, cheaper and more effectively). There Are Many Ways to Search For A Job. You can search for a job using your favorite job board or site. This is probably where you spend most of your time and energy. But you can also:... Read more

Make your answers excel with our VA interview primer

By VA Careers | vacareers.va.gov

A job interview can be a tremendous source of anxiety, even for experienced professionals. No matter how qualified you are, the interview is your make-or-break moment when it comes to getting a job, and with it comes the worry that you might say the wrong thing. We understand. We've been there, and we want to help you feel confident when you meet our team, so we're going to break down what you can expect from the VA interview process. We can't guarantee it will land you the job, but it should help you be better equipped to engage during your interview. Performance-based interview (PBI). Let's get this out of the way right up front: a VA interview isn't going to be like a typical interview. While our team may ask you to tell them about yourself, or even pull out one of your least favorite interview questions, the majority of your interview is going to focus on practical experiences. At VA, we use a performance-based interview (PBI) process. With these kinds of questions, we're... Read more

"Why Do You Want To Work From Home?" Tips & Samples

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"Why do you want to work from home" is a question you'll inevitably get asked if you want a remote position. Many applicants will consider this to be one of the key points of the job, and employers want to know why it appeals to you. This guide will teach you how to prepare an excellent answer that makes a great impression. The Reason Interviewers Ask This Question. Remote work has become more common around the world, with many companies realizing the benefits it provides. While some organizations still prefer the office, many offer hybrid work arrangements or fully remote opportunities. Of course, certain risks exist with allowing employees to work remotely. Interview questions like this aim to help hiring managers avoid those pitfalls while ensuring the people they grant this freedom can meet the company's needs. Work-from-home opportunities are highly sought after. They offer workers a more flexible work arrangement. Unfortunately, some job-seekers see them as an opportuni...... Read more

Veterans exposed to toxins and other hazards during service now eligible for VA health care

By Hans Petersen | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2024, Reprinted with permission

In one of the largest-ever expansions of Veteran health care, all Veterans exposed to toxins and other hazards during military service — at home or abroad — are now eligible for VA health care. At the direction of President Biden, VA is expanding health care eligibility to millions of Veterans, including all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other combat zone after 9/11, years earlier than called for by the PACT Act. These Veterans will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. Additionally, Veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty in the United States will also be eligible to enroll. This expansion of VA health care eliminates the phased-in approach called for by the PACT Act, meaning that millions of Veterans are becoming eligible for VA health care up to eight years earlier than written into law.... Read more

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Add Social Networking to Your Job Searching Portfolio

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Social networking (using social media to interact and share information) isn't just about finding posted jobs…it is about building relationships.

Your job search requires you to do more than just apply for jobs online.

Learning how to use social networking sites will help your long-term strategy — by creating new relationships to open doors now and in the future.

Add Social Networking To Your Job Search Mix

LinkedIn, X (Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, Threads (social networking tools) help you create new connections and solidify old connections. Any of these can lead to referrals to jobs.

These tools do not replace anything! They are vehicles to help you find connections, build new relationships and convey your message to a broader audience (faster, cheaper and more effectively).

There Are Many Ways to Search For A Job

You can search for a job using your favorite job board or site. This is probably where you spend most of your time and energy. But you can also:

  • visit a company's career page
  • talk to recruiters
  • and network

What if you invested just a fraction of the time you spent searching job boards with networking activities?

You can and without leaving the comfort of your home.

You Don't Have Time?

So, if I asked you how many hours you spent last week engaged in job search activities, what would your answer be? And if I then asked you how you spent that time, what would you say?

Let me suggest you track your time and activities: how you are spending your time in your job search.

Dedicate Time To Social Networking

Here's an example.

Let's say you spend 10 hours a week searching and applying to jobs online.

Invest 2 of those hours and do this instead.

Log into LinkedIn and use it for just 25 minutes a day. (Focus on LinkedIn first.) If you want, you could allocate time to doing all these activities on X (Twitter), Facebook, Instagram or Threads.

Here's how to invest those 25 valuable minutes:

  • Skim your LinkedIn home feed to see what's being shared
  • Comment on interesting articles related to your industry or type of job you are looking for
  • Re-share articles that relate to your career (but always write something to explain why you are sharing the article)
  • View your notifications for birthdays or work anniversaries and send those connections a message on LinkedIn
  • Find new companies of interest to follow
  • Track down insiders who might be able to refer you for a job you are interested in
  • Look for people you know but haven't connected with yet.

Want more ideas for LinkedIn status updates? Check out this post 25 Inspiring Ideas for What To Post On LinkedIn.

How Do Companies Fill Most Openings?

A large percentage of new hires come from referrals. If you don't believe me, I encourage you to talk to anyone you know and ask them how their company found their most recent hire. Chances are, the candidate they hired was referred by someone.

This is why building relationships is so important to your job search activities and why I suggest you spend more time than you have been.

Your Job Search Activities

The basic job-searching activities haven't changed. However, incorporating the power of social networks into your backpack of resources is worth considering because employers are using social networks to find candidates and promote job opportunities.

Pursuing Job Postings

Job boards like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkUp, Dice, etc. are still being used by employers. Minimize the time you spend scouring the job boards by creating alerts.

Add the social fix:

When you find a job posted on a job board, go to the employer's website, check out their careers or job opportunity page and see what is there.

Then, see if they have a Facebook, X (Twitter) or LinkedIn button. Follow them on all those platforms.

See what they are posting about themselves, find and follow people who work there, hopefully, in the department or area you are seeking employment.

Building Connections

Now comes the fun part! Don't just send a stranger an invite to connect on LinkedIn. They don't know you…yet.

  • Add a thoughtful comment to their posts if they are active on any platform.
  • Reshare some of their posts with genuine praise or additional thoughts (be sure to tag their account)
  • Respond to their discussion within the LinkedIn groups they belong to
    • FYI: If you share a group with someone and they haven't changed the default security settings, you can send them an email through LinkedIn.
  • Learn about the company culture on Facebook, Instagram or Threads and comment on the company posts.
Recruiters Have Jobs to Fill

Find and follow recruiters posting jobs you are interested in. Follow them on LinkedIn, X (Twitter) or elsewhere. Then follow the same engagement suggestions from above. This helps you stay on the recruiter's radar.

Your Actions

Invest just 25 minutes a day to find, follow and engage with companies and their employees on different social networking sites to uncover jobs, learn, and build relationships.

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Make your answers excel with our VA interview primer

By VA Careers | vacareers.va.gov

A job interview can be a tremendous source of anxiety, even for experienced professionals. No matter how qualified you are, the interview is your make-or-break moment when it comes to getting a job, and with it comes the worry that you might say the wrong thing.

We understand. We've been there, and we want to help you feel confident when you meet our team, so we're going to break down what you can expect from the VA interview process. We can't guarantee it will land you the job, but it should help you be better equipped to engage during your interview.

Performance-based interview (PBI)

Let's get this out of the way right up front: a VA interview isn't going to be like a typical interview. While our team may ask you to tell them about yourself, or even pull out one of your least favorite interview questions, the majority of your interview is going to focus on practical experiences.

At VA, we use a performance-based interview (PBI) process. With these kinds of questions, we're going to ask you to describe what you have done in a specific but broadly applicable situation. We'll present a scenario and ask you to tell us what you did in that instance.

For example, we may ask you about explaining something to a patient, or how you dealt with conflicting priorities. We may ask you how you addressed a disagreement with a coworker, or how you stepped up and took charge of a situation.

All of these questions are PBI questions. Rather than asking you to discuss a hypothetical situation, we want you to pull your answer from a particular moment in your career that best illustrates how you succeeded in that situation.

We don't want to know what you would do, but what you have done.

Practice for PAR

To make the best impression in a PBI, you want to offer in-depth, complete responses that offer insight into not only your accomplishments or your shortcomings but how you achieved your successes and responded to your failures.

If there's anything to emphasize above, it's "complete." Think of answering the question like telling your interviewer a short story: you want to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Otherwise, your answer won't make sense.

To get that complete answer, let's introduce another acronym to the mix: PAR. PAR is a device to help you focus your response to a performance-based interview question. It stands for:

  • Problem
  • Action
  • Results

Using the PAR acronym as a reminder, present your answers by explaining the "problem" you encountered, the "action" you took, and the "results" you experienced.

Using the PAR method to craft your answers not only presents the most pertinent information to your interviewer, but it can also stop you from going off on a tangent or losing your place in the story because you're nervous (and let's face it, most of us are nervous during an interview).

If you can get your answers "up to PAR," you're on your way to a successful interview.

Honesty is the best policy

When approaching your interview, PAR responses will help you structure your answers and present your best self to your interviewer. You'll be able to tell your story in a clear, concise way that speaks volumes about who you are as a candidate and why you're the best person for the job.

As you answer your questions, don't be modest. This is your interview, and you have earned the chance to brag about your skills and accomplishments. However, remember to be honest in your responses, too.

Don't embellish answers, even if you think your honest answer might make you look bad. In addition to showcasing your successes, PBI questions can also be a great way to share what you've learned from a mistake, and no interviewer will fault you for your honesty if you can show growth from the experience.

Work at VA

Practice some PBI questions in preparation for your next VA interview and you'll be that much closer to a spot on our team.

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"Why Do You Want To Work From Home?" Tips & Samples

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"Why do you want to work from home" is a question you'll inevitably get asked if you want a remote position. Many applicants will consider this to be one of the key points of the job, and employers want to know why it appeals to you.

This guide will teach you how to prepare an excellent answer that makes a great impression.

The Reason Interviewers Ask This Question

Remote work has become more common around the world, with many companies realizing the benefits it provides. While some organizations still prefer the office, many offer hybrid work arrangements or fully remote opportunities.

Of course, certain risks exist with allowing employees to work remotely. Interview questions like this aim to help hiring managers avoid those pitfalls while ensuring the people they grant this freedom can meet the company's needs.

Work-from-home opportunities are highly sought after. They offer workers a more flexible work arrangement. Unfortunately, some job-seekers see them as an opportunity to slack off while still getting a paycheck. Hiring managers want to avoid those types of candidates at all costs.

"Why do you want to work from home?" is a question that helps to unveil your true motivations. It can also highlight your potential for success in an otherwise unorthodox work environment. Working from home is not for everyone, and employers often use questions like this to gauge the possibility of success if given the opportunity.

It's an important question, and you can expect it to come up during your interview if there's any remote work involved.

How to Answer "Why Do You Want to Work from Home?"

Your answer to this question will have a massive impact on your chances of moving forward in the hiring process. While other queries are important, hiring managers pay close attention to how you answer this one because it directly impacts the company and your potential for success in this particular role.

Here are a few tips on developing an answer that leaves the right impression on employers.

Explain the Positive Impact It Will Have on Your Work & the Company

One of the best ways to respond to this question is to lead with the positive impact working remotely can bring. Don't focus on the benefits you have to gain alone. It's important to highlight the perks for the company, too.

Take some time to truly consider why you want to work remotely. Avoid the obvious cliches like being able to work in your pajamas or avoid lengthy commute times. Instead, focus on how this opportunity could directly impact your success and your employer's bottom dollar.

You can discuss how working from home will maximize productivity and help you produce your best work. For example, many people have an easier time concentrating on their work in an environment they have complete control over. You might mention that you could work more efficiently in your home office versus a shared corporate office.

Hone in on realistic impacts. In addition to more productivity, you can touch on how the opportunity creates room for better time optimization and fewer workplace distractions.

Then, discuss the positive impacts remote work could have for your employer. Some examples include lower overhead costs, better accessibility outside commute times, greater workplace satisfaction for employees like you and more.

Lead with those positive impacts. You want to convince hiring managers that your motivations are work-focused and that this opportunity will benefit you and the company. Highlight how it's a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Connect Your Answer to Your Goals & Motivations

Another way to formulate an impressive response is to show how working from home aligns with your career goals.

This approach can be tricky. You don't want to focus too heavily on personal goals and motivations. It's OK to bring those up (we'll get to that later), but when discussing why you're the right person to get this remote job, you must prioritize career-related goals and motivations.

For example, your goal could be to gain more autonomy in approaching your work. Perhaps you're a self-starter and actively work to improve your time management skills. You can easily connect the dots to working from home to show that this opportunity is right for you.

Reflect on what you want to achieve in your career and consider how remote work fits into those larger ambitions.

Don't Be Afraid to Share the Personal Benefits Remote Work Will Have

Many job-seekers hesitate to bring up the personal benefits of working from home. However, it's unrealistic to avoid them entirely. Hiring managers and corporate leaders understand that people want more freedom in their careers and how they work. They know that getting the opportunity to work remotely is a huge goal for many people.

Don't be shy about discussing some personal benefits that working from home would provide you. For example, you might have someone you need to care for at home, and a work-from-home job helps you achieve the balance you need.

Whatever the case, you can talk about it. Hiring managers are human, and they know that everyone has their non-career-related reasons for wanting to work from home.

That said, don't let personal benefits overshine how this opportunity would benefit the company. Always lead with a company-first approach to this response. Talk about how remote work positively impacts the company before you get into any personal preferences.

If possible, consider marrying the two. For instance, you can mention that working from home will make it easier to focus on your physical and mental well-being. That would lead to fewer sick days and better results for the organization.

Always discuss company benefits first, but don't be afraid to talk about how a work-from-home arrangement can improve your life.

Practice Your Answer

Our last tip is an easy one: Practice!

Coming up with reasons why you want to work remotely is something that requires a bit of thought. It's a complex question that unveils a lot about your potential in the role. Failing to give it the ample thought and consideration it deserves could result in your delivering a less-than-stellar response.

Consider your reasons for pursuing this opportunity and develop a response well before your interview. You don't need to write a script you'll read verbatim. Doing so could make your answer sound robotic and inauthentic.

Instead, know what points you want to bring up and what you want to say. Practice delivering your response and try to get some feedback from others. The more comfortable you feel answering this question, the more confident you'll sound during your interview.

What You Should Avoid Including in Your Answer

Now that you know how to create a good response, let's discuss some things you must avoid. This question holds more weight than you might realize. Saying the wrong thing could instantly ruin your chances of getting a job offer, so you must take time to get things right.

Don't Focus Exclusively on Yourself

We've already touched on the importance of focusing more on the company's benefits from you working from home, but it bears repeating! If your answer revolves solely around yourself and your personal benefits, it sends the wrong message.

Wanting to work from home should be mutually beneficial to both you and the company. It's fine to talk about some personal perks, but you should find ways to connect them to your employer. Doing so shows you understand that working from home is more than a great kickback.

Don't Say Anything That Implies Laziness

Never say anything that implies you're simply too lazy to go into the office! It's surprisingly easy to make this mistake. For example, you might mention that you hate getting dressed or waking up early to make your commute. Laziness is never something you want to bring up in a job interview.

Instead, focus on how working from home will make you a better employee.

Don't Bad-Mouth Office Culture

Many people want to work from home to get away from the office. There are likely things you don't like about office culture, but you shouldn't bring them up in your answer. Avoid talking negatively about any office cliches, your company's culture or the environment. Also, steer clear of mentioning anything about hating managerial oversight.

Companies still value work culture and the office environment. If you bad-mouth any of that, they might think you're an awful fit for the organization.

Don't Imply That You'll Struggle

Finally, don't say anything that implies that this is an attempted fix for issues you're having in your current role. For example, don't mention that you find working with others challenging and want to work from home because it's the perfect way to escape that.

You're still trying to land a job! Highlighting negatives about your performance or potential could cause doubt to creep into the mind of a hiring manager.

Sample Answers

There are many great ways to answer "Why do you want to work from home?" Your response should be unique to your situation, experiences and the company you're applying to work for. But we have several examples to guide you in the right direction.

Sample 1

Our first is a knockout response from a candidate hoping to work from home as a marketing professional. Their job involves considerable creative input, and they use that fact to explain their reasoning for wanting to work remotely.

"The top reason I want to work from home is to unlock more creative potential for my projects. More flexibility in where I work would allow me to prepare for the day on my own terms. I believe that will enable me to be more creative while maximizing my productivity.

Currently, I spend nearly two hours getting ready and commuting to work. That's time I could spend developing more ideas. Working from home gives me full control over my time and environment, enabling me to deliver results more effectively."

Sample 2

Our second example is from a job-seeker who hopes to use the time they save working from home on professional development. It's a good response because it focuses on benefits that directly impact the company.

"I want to work from home because it would allow me to spend less time commuting and more time improving my skills as a data scientist. While I'm already proficient in Python and data analysis, I hope to learn more about data automation. Automation can significantly boost productivity for the company, and I expect to use the time I save working from home to learn how to build those systems.

I'm eager to use my time more wisely while working in an environment with fewer distractions."

Sample 3

Our last example focuses more on what the company has to gain. The job-seeker discusses how the organization can save money while providing more benefits to employees.

"Working from home is a mutually beneficial approach, and there are many reasons why I want to pursue this opportunity. In our industry, most of our work can be done more effectively out of the office. I'm successfully using messaging systems that keep the team well-connected, and this allows us to spend less time commuting and more time being available to our clients.

Working from home would save me money while reducing overhead costs for the company. Ultimately, I believe that the arrangement would help me be more effective at delivering results while achieving a better work-life balance. Not only would that benefit me, but the company would also have much to gain from more employee autonomy and productivity."

Conclusion

Answering "Why do you want to work from home" is all about finding benefits for you and your employer. When it becomes clear that you're in it for the right reasons (instead of wanting an opportunity to slack off), you'll have a great chance of landing the job.

So take your time, practice your answer, and impress your interviewer!

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Veterans exposed to toxins and other hazards during service now eligible for VA health care

By Hans Petersen | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2024, Reprinted with permission

In one of the largest-ever expansions of Veteran health care, all Veterans exposed to toxins and other hazards during military service — at home or abroad — are now eligible for VA health care.

At the direction of President Biden, VA is expanding health care eligibility to millions of Veterans, including all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other combat zone after 9/11, years earlier than called for by the PACT Act. These Veterans will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits.

Additionally, Veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty in the United States will also be eligible to enroll.

This expansion of VA health care eliminates the phased-in approach called for by the PACT Act, meaning that millions of Veterans are becoming eligible for VA health care up to eight years earlier than written into law.

VA encourages all eligible Veterans to visit the Pact Act website or VA.gov/PACT, or call 1-800-MYVA411 to learn more and apply for VA health care, beginning March 5. Since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on Aug. 10, 2022, more than 500,000 Veterans have enrolled in VA health care.

"Once you're in, you have access for life."

"If you're a Veteran who may have been exposed to toxins or hazards while serving our country, at home or abroad, we want you to come to us for the health care you deserve," said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. "VA is proven to be the best, most affordable health care in America for Veterans. And once you're in, you have access for life. So don't wait, enroll today."

"Beginning today, we're making millions of Veterans eligible for VA health care years earlier than called for by the PACT Act," said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal. "With this expansion, VA can care for all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror or any other combat zone after 9/11. We can also care for Veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty here at home while working with chemicals, pesticides, lead, asbestos, certain paints, nuclear weapons, x-rays and more. We want to bring all of these Veterans to VA for the care they've earned and deserve."

Enroll directly in VA care without applying for VA benefits

In addition to expanding access to VA care, this decision makes it quicker and easier for millions of Veterans to enroll. Many Veterans believe they must apply to receive VA disability compensation benefits to become eligible for VA health care, but this isn't correct.

With this expansion and other authorities, millions of eligible Veterans can enroll directly in VA care without any need to first apply for VA benefits.

This is a critical step forward because Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care are proven to have better health outcomes than non-enrolled Veterans, and VA hospitals have dramatically outperformed non-VA hospitals in overall quality ratings and patient satisfaction ratings.

And VA health care is often more affordable than non-VA health care for Veterans.

How to apply for VA health care

Veterans can apply for VA health care:

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