Work Life

A Brooklyn Public Library blog for workers, entrepreneurs and freelancers.

Things That Should Not Be on Your Resume

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Your resume should be customized each time you apply for a job, to emphasize the specific skills and experience and strengths that make you a strong match for that job’s requirements. Information that is unrelated to the position should be minimal, so the reader can easily find the relevant info. Here are some other things that should not be on your resume, whatever position you are applying for at the moment:

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•     Street address: For your location, city and state are sufficient. •     An unprofessional…

Red Flags - Part 2: From the Applicant's Point of View

Ellen, Business & Career Center

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Just as there are things that employers will regard as red flags in applicants, there are things that applicants should look out for during the job search. Here are some common ones:  -          A job description that is very brief and vague may mean that the employer is not clear on what they are looking for with this position. How will they be evaluating applicants? And how will applicants know…

Red Flags - Part 1: From the Employer's Point of View

Ellen, Business & Career Center

This is Part 1 of a two-part series; Part 2 will be "Red Flags from the Applicant's Point of View".

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Lying in any way. Employers want to hire people they can trust. This trust starts with your resume and cover letter, which represent you and therefore must be written by you. Plagiarism is dishonest, and as the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, it is a bad way to try to start an employer-employee relationship. And dishonesty can absolutely get you fired. Being high maintenance/entitled…

Unrealistic Expectations During the Job Search

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Job searching can be challenging, even when unemployment is low(er), and at times can be discouraging. Having unrealistic expectations can make things even more difficult, unnecessarily. The more you understand about the hiring process, the more realistic your expectations will be, and the less frustrated you will feel. 

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Some common unrealistic expectations:  You will get a response from the employer each time you apply for a position.  Sometimes you’ll get an auto reply, but often you will hear…

Discussion of "Out of Office" by guest writer Valerie Livingston


This month’s post is by guest writer Valerie Livingston, a Business Librarian in the Business & Career Center – a discussion of questions on changing workplace norms raised by the book “Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home”, especially as they pertain to librarians.  By now the notion of remote work has become so commonplace and absorbed into the culture that it seems almost quaint to label it as such. And yet, for many of us “working remotely” remains a goal and conduit for more of that precious resource: time and grander vista or even…

Into the Details: Salary Negotiation

Ellen, Business & Career Center

[This post has been updated]

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Many job seekers feel less than confident when negotiating salary, and may fear that they could lose out on an opportunity or end up with less money than they could have had, if they don’t do it correctly. In this post we’ll discuss what you need to know, how to prepare, and some things to avoid, when discussing salary with a potential employer. Some employers will include a minimum salary or salary range with their job postings; many do not. (In NY State, there…

Into the Details: References

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Employers can ask for references with your resume and cover letter, during an interview, or after an interview. But exactly what are they looking for when they request your references? In this post we’ll discuss do’s and don’t’s, tips for cultivating references, and how to be prepared when you are asked for them.

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You should hold on to your list of references until they are requested; have them ready, but don’t offer them proactively. Employers will usually ask for three references. Some will ask…

Into the Details: Lean Staffing

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Many employees have experienced understaffing at their workplaces, especially recently, a situation exacerbated by COVID. They may not realize, though, that the circumstances they find themselves working in are not necessarily incidental or accidental. In this post we’ll discuss “lean staffing”, what the experience of this practice is like for employees, and what you can do as a job seeker to avoid it.

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Lean staffing, simply put, is intentional, severe understaffing. This is often …

Into the Details: Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) 

Ellen, Business & Career Center

When job seekers are writing or editing their resumes and cover letters, they are not always thinking about what happens to their application documents once they are submitted. In this post, we’ll talk about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs), which are often the first hurdle to get past in the job search process.

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What is an ATS? Why do employers use them? The ATS is software that scans the text of your resume (and/or cover letter), for certain pieces of information (including keywords), to determine how…

Resource Spotlight: Career Cruising’s Matchmaker Feature for Choosing a Career

Ellen, Business & Career Center

In addition to many other career and job search resources and services, the Business & Career Center has online resources you can access 24/7 for free with your library card. Career Cruising is one of these; an interactive database available in Spanish and English, for people who are choosing a career, changing careers, and/or choosing a school. It also has information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities. In this post we’ll take a look at Matchmaker, their survey for those deciding on a career.  In the B&CC we regularly assist patrons who are switching careers,…

Interview with the Entrepreneur: Jaden Ordonez and Leo Liu of Everbooks

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Soon after the start of the pandemic, Brooklyn Tech High School students Leo Liu and Jaden Ordonez founded Everbooks, a site providing free student-written and -illustrated books for young children. In this interview we discuss their early days, what they've learned along the way, and their passion to continue and expand their work.  Ellen Mehling: How did Everbooks start?   Jaden Ordonez and Leo Liu: Everbooks has been in existence since the start of the pandemic last year. With social distancing becoming more enforced throughout the months, its…

Interview with the Entrepreneur, In Depth: Jamila McGill of Brooklyn Tea - Part 2

Ellen, Business & Career Center

In Part 2 of this two-part interview, I continue the conversation with Jamila McGill, who co-founded, along with Alfonso “Ali” Wright, Bed-Stuy’s Brooklyn Tea, which won $10,000 in Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! Business Plan Competition in 2018. Ellen Mehling: What was the most difficult thing that happened this past year, with the business?  Jamila McGill: The most difficult thing… that's so hard to nail.  I'll name this. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service, and having not [yet] had …

Interview with the Entrepreneur, In Depth: Jamila McGill of Brooklyn Tea - Part 1

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Image: Brooklyn Tea
Jamila McGill and Alfonso “Ali” Wright opened Brooklyn Tea in Bed-Stuy in 2019, not long after winning $10,000 in Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! Business Plan Competition.  In Part 1 of this two-part interview, I talk with Jamila - while we were both drinking tea, of course - about how their business has fared during the pandemic, and… about Shonda Rhimes and Beyoncé too(!) Ellen Mehling: It is now more than one year since everything shut down for all of us. How have you been this past year?…

Into the Details: Virtual Interviews

Ellen, Business & Career Center

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It remains to be seen when and if face-to-face job interviews resume as the norm, or whether virtual interviews become employers’ first choice even after the pandemic ends. In some ways interview prep is the same whether the interview is virtual or in-person, and in other ways it is, of course, very different when you are not meeting your interviewer(s) in person. These things haven’t changed: · Do some research on the employer, so you can answer their questions and demonstrate what you know…

Musings: Introverts, extroverts, WFH, and returning to the office

Ellen, Business & Career Center

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A conversation with a colleague got me thinking about how the pandemic, and specifically how quarantine/working from home (WFH) has been a very different experience for those who are extroverted and those who are introverted. And as WFH is a different experience for different folks, returning to the office will be felt differently too. Note: all the people quoted here have self-identified as extroverts (how DO you spell that word?) or introverts. The quotes without links are people I know…

Dishonesty During the Job Search - Part 2

Ellen, Business & Career Center

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In Part 1 of this two-part post, we talked about some ways in which job seekers lie during the job search. Here we discuss what is likely to happen if you are dishonest when job hunting.  Getting caught and consequences Employers don’t want employees who are dishonest; they are a liability. Employers will assume that job applicants are on their best behavior during the job search, and if that includes lying or other deceptive behavior, they can only expect more of the same from the applicant if they…

Dishonesty During the Job Search - Part 1

Ellen, Business & Career Center

This is Part 1 of a two-part post, where we discuss some of the ways people lie and misrepresent themselves while looking for work.  

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The continuing Hilaria-Baldwin-pretending-to-be-Spanish scandal, which is both entertaining and disturbing, got me thinking about dishonesty in the job search. Presenting yourself as something you’re not, or as having knowledge and skills you don't actually have, in order to find employment, make money, and/or promote yourself, can be very tempting. This is especially…

Jumping to Where the Jobs Are


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This post is by guest writer Mark Daly, who is a Job Information Resource Librarian in the Business & Career Center, and recently gave a presentation on "Where the Jobs Are" for our patrons. “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.  “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”  -- The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway The rapid outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the United States this spring forced equally rapid changes in how many of us earn our living. Ways of working…

Into the Details: The Resume Summary

Ellen, Business & Career Center

This is the first of a series, “Into the Details”, where we discuss a specific aspect of freelancing, job hunting, entrepreneurship, or other work-related topic. For this post we’ll be covering do’s and don’ts and tips for writing the Summary section of your resume. Summary vs. Objective Resumes used to begin, right after the applicant’s name and contact info, with a brief Objective statement, which either gave the reader information they already knew (“Seeking a position as a [title]”) or were so general that they offered no useful information at all (“Seeking a position where I may…

Cover Letters: Beyond the Basics

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Cover Letter Writing: Beyond the Basics “Is a cover letter really necessary?” “If I am sending the resume, why do I have to send a cover letter too?  Doesn't the resume have all the information the employer needs?” “Do employers actually read cover letters?” “What is a cover letter for, anyway?” Cover letter writing can be mysterious and confusing, and job seekers are often unclear on what would make a cover letter “excellent” as opposed to just “OK”. First, you want to keep in mind the purpose of the cover letter (along with the resume, as they are usually submitted together): to…

Interview with the Entrepreneur: Yong Yan (Crystal) Liang and Cynthia Lei of OpportuniTeens

Ellen, Business & Career Center

In our latest in the “Interview with the Entrepreneur” series we are speaking with Yong Yan (Crystal) Liang and Cynthia Lei, seniors at Staten Island Technical High School, who founded OpportuniTeens, a for-teens-by-teens database of internships, volunteering events and other programs compiled by high school students in the United States. It focuses on several career fields such as STEM, Healthcare, and Civil Services.  When did you start OpportuniTeens? The idea of OpportuniTeens was created in December 2019 on a trip to Upstate New York.  What made you decide to start the site…

Interview with the Entrepreneur: Jon and Lisa Suneesa of ONE NYC Shop

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Our second series is “Interview with the Entrepreneur”, in which we talk with small business owners about what it is like to run (and/or start!) a business during a pandemic. Jon and Lisa Suneesa are owners of ONE NYC Shop, which specializes in well-fitting and highly comfortable reusable face masks, and canvas tote bags. Lisa is the interviewee. When did you start ONE NYC Shop? We started ONE NYC shop at the end of April, during the peak of the pandemic. Our first sales were in person in May and our website was launched by the end of June. What made you decide to start this business…

Interview with the Freelancer: Larry Fitzmaurice

Ellen, Business & Career Center

Welcome to the first post of the Work Life blog! We are looking foward to covering work-related topics including job hunting, workplace situations and advice, workers' rights, entrepreneurship and especially, freelancing. We're starting with an interview with a freelancer; the first of a series documenting diverse experiences of freelancing in and around NYC in the time of COVID and beyond. Larry Fitzmaurice is a writer and editor from New Jersey who currently resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his wife, who works as a children's librarian for the Brooklyn Public…