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How To Job Search While Currently Employed

How To Job Search While Currently Employed

As the economy recovers, employees are leaving their current positions in droves. Throughout the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, many clung to less-than-ideal jobs for the sake of stability. Now, they are ready to take the next step in their career! If you find yourself in this position, you may be wondering how to do this successfully in a market that is still full of unknowns. Don’t worry; we’re breaking down all our best tips to job search while currently employed so you can land that next position. 

Be Respectful of Your Current Employer 

One of the most important things to keep in mind as you search for a new job is to be respectful to your current position. Don’t spend time at work looking for new jobs or working on your application materials. When the time comes for interviews, try to schedule before or after work if you can. If that’s not possible, be sure to block that time off on your calendar as an appointment. There is no need to disclose more information, but you do need to be transparent about your time away. 

Worker Smarter, Not Harder 

As you job search while still fulfilling your current position’s duties, your time will be limited. This is why it is essential to work smarter, not harder! First, sign up for job alerts that match your expertise on sites like IndeedLinkedIn, and Johnson Service Group. Then, spend a few evenings or a weekend getting your job materials updated. You will still need to customize your resume and cover letter for each position, but having good solid templates will save you a lot of time in the long run. 

Know Your Must-Haves 

Time is of the essence during a job search, which is why you must utilize it to your advantage. You don’t want to waste your time pursuing jobs that won’t be the right fit. So, before you jump into a job search while currently employed, make a list of your must-haves. These should be non-negotiable items that you will not sacrifice in your next position. Think of things like remote work options, flexible schedules, matching 401k, and opportunities for advancement. It’s nice to distinguish these from the “nice-to-have” perks that you’re willing to forfeit.

It’s part of your career journey

Despite what societal expectations may say, it is okay to search for a new job while you’re employed. In fact, it’s an essential part of designing your career to be exactly the way you want it. However, these guidelines will help you do it the right way! If you’re interested in more job search and interview tips, take the time to explore our candidate resources.

How to Format Your Professional References

How to Format Your Professional References

If you are one of the many employed job seekers looking for greener pastures, it’s time to formulate a list of references. Your list must comprise of professional references that can eloquently speak to your credentials and qualifications for the job. It’s crucial to have this document prepared, so you don’t have to scramble to gather your contacts when a hiring manager requests them. If you are getting ready to create or review your professional references, here is why hiring managers ask for them and some tips on how to format them correctly.

Why do employers request professional references?

A hiring manager will ask you to provide a list of references at some point in the job application process. Typically, it’s towards the end of the hiring process, but some companies may ask for your references as you fill out your application. They want to hear from your peers, colleagues, or former managers to gauge how well you can perform the essential job duties. Also, your references serve as a guide to see how well you fit as a team player and co-worker. Your resume can provide insight into your capabilities, but your contacts can shed light on you as an employee.

What to include on your professional reference list

When submitting your professional references, we always recommend having them in a separate document. Listing your references on your resume can be distracting from all of your excellent qualifications and skillsets, and they take up valuable space.

When preparing your list of references, here is what you should include:

  • Include your name and contact details at the top of the page
  • Have three to four references (or however many the employer specifies)
  • Each reference should include their full name, job title, the company’s name and address, and their contact details
  • A brief sentence or two on your professional relationship

Professional reference example

Here is an example of how to properly format your professional references:

Jane Doe

Recruiting Manager

ABC Company

Chicago, IL 65432

(123) 456-7891 | jdoe@abccompany.com

Jane was my recruiting supervisor with my previous employer.

Now, all you have to do is repeat this process for your other references, and you will be in good shape!

Always ask for permission

Before you ever submit your list of references, you must ask each of them for permission. Most people would be happy to provide a recommendation for you to move onto another opportunity. However, the last thing you want to do is catch one of your references off guard. Even if they have given their permission in the past, it’s crucial to ask them before submitting again. Giving them a heads up will help each of your references be on the lookout for a phone call or an email to provide a recommendation. Plus, reaching out to each one allows you to double-check that you still have their current contact details to ensure there are no hiccups when your prospective employer begins to reach out to them.

Selecting the right references

Choosing the proper references for the job is just as important as formatting your list. Unfortunately, you cannot submit the same list over and over again. Just like your resume, you must tailor your references for the job at hand. You want to select people that will bolster your candidacy by elaborating on your skill sets, relevant projects, and qualifications. You never want to choose a colleague or former boss that cannot attest to your skills that are relevant to this job opportunity.

Need more job search advice?

So, here are a few easy tips to effectively format your professional references. If you are looking for more job search or interviewing advice, look at our candidate resources! We have an extensive collection of valuable tips, tricks, and guides to help you successfully navigate through your job search. Good luck, and happy hunting!

The Great Resignation: How to Resign from A Job

The Great Resignation: How to Resign from A Job

The last 18 months have been a whirlwind, to say the least. The labor market was red hot in the first two months of 2020 before the pandemic brought the market to a screeching halt. However, as the economy continues the recover, the labor market is heating back up. The result of this is what some are calling the “Great Resignation” – a flood of employed job seekers leaving their current positions to pursue new opportunities. If you are one of the 42% of employed job seekers looking to take your talents elsewhere, here’s how to resign from a job.

Always speak with your supervisor first

If you accepted a new job opportunity, signed the offer letter, and have a start date arranged, the next step is to speak with your supervisor. Never send in a resignation letter without having a one-on-one conversation with your boss. Spilling the beans about your plans to resign can be challenging, but the professional thing to do is tell your boss before proceeding further in the process. Do your best to provide at least two weeks’ notice, if possible. Giving adequate notice will help your current employer prepare for your departure and allow for a smoother transition.

Write your resignation letter

Once your boss is aware of your plans to depart, the next step is crafting an official resignation letter. In most mid-to-large-sized companies, it may be required to submit a formal resignation, but if it isn’t, you should submit one regardless. In your letter, provide the following details:

  • Full name
  • Your job title
  • The location where you work
  • Address your letter to your boss
  • The last day of your current job

These are the essentials that are required when it’s time to resign from a job. Keep your letter in a formal business format, and if you are emailing it, always write it in a Word (or similar) document.

Keep your reasons brief

In your letter or conversation with your supervisor, it is okay to explain why you are moving on. However, keep your reasons short and sweet, especially if they are negative. You can simply state you accepted another opportunity or offer more details to help the company improve in the future. But if your reasons for leaving are negative, it’s best to keep those to yourself.

Always be positive

When you are resigning from a position, it’s critical to remain positive and professional. Down the road, you may need a recommendation from your current employer. If you burn all your bridges on your way out, you may also burn your chances of securing a much-needed recommendation later on in your career.

Also, try and make the most of your last days with your employer. It can be easy to coast to your last day and do the bare minimum, but this will likely be strenuous for your employer. Ask your manager what you can do to make this transition easier for all parties. Offer to help train the new employee, tie up loose ends that you were working on, or note the things that would be helpful for the rest of the team to know. However you can help, this will help you end things positively and leave a good impression on your now-former employer.

How to Land A New Job This Summer

How to Land A New Job This Summer

Those spring showers are starting to fade, and the warm summer days are fast approaching. But green grass and sunshine are not the only things on the horizon. It seems we are finally over the hill from the pandemic; employers are ramping up production as they finally return to somewhat normal. As a result, you may be evaluating your career options and looking for a new opportunity. If you are looking to take advantage of this scorching hot market, here is how to land a new job this summer.

Are you ready to return to the office?

With summer approaching, many employers are beginning to plan their return to the office. Some companies are returning on a hybrid remote/onsite work schedule, while others will be 100% in the office. Returning to the office is exciting for many workers but making others feel anxious. If you are feeling uneasy about returning to the office, here is a brief guide on how to prepare mentally. However, if working from the office is no longer suitable for your needs and lifestyle, remote opportunities are booming this summer.

Remote work may be permanent for you

As some employers are bringing their employees back to the office, others are embracing this new working environment. In May 2021, paid job postings skyrocketed 457% as of May 2021, according to LinkedIn Workforce Insights. Some industries are leading the pack of this work-from-home revolution. At the very top is the media and communications industry, which currently accounts for 26.8% of all paid job listings on LinkedIn. Software and IT services closely follow with 21.8% and wellness & fitness coming in third with 18.6%.

Overall, remote job postings account for 9.7% of total paid job listings, significantly up from under 2% last year. Therefore, if you are looking to land a new job this summer, you must explore remote opportunities.

Don’t drag your feet

There is still a lot of uncertainty out there in the post-pandemic workforce, but one thing that is for sure is the labor market is competitive. Employers are hiring again, and some are even struggling to find candidates. So, when a hiring manager finds a qualified, talented candidate, they move quickly. If hiring managers are making hiring decisions rapidly, job seekers have to, as well. If you find a job opportunity that interests you, you cannot hesitate. You may be the most talented candidate in the pool, but if you don’t apply right away, it may be too late for your candidacy. Employers need candidates now, and if they find a good one, they make an offer. So, if you are serious about finding a new job this summer, you must act fast.

Partner with a recruiter

Things are moving lightning fast in this labor market, and if you want to gain a competitive edge, why not work with a recruiter? Professional recruiting firms can help propel your summer job search to the next level. Our recruiters at JSG have exclusive opportunities you won’t find posted on any job board. If you want to find a new job this summer, reach out to us today, and let’s work together.

Is Job-Hopping Making A Return?

Is Job-Hopping Making A Return?

With summer quickly approaching, employers are beginning to ramp up their hiring efforts. Last month, the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs with a reported unemployment rate of 6.1%. As the virus continues to get further in the rearview mirror, employed job seekers are gaining more confidence in their job prospects. As a result, job-hopping is back, and this is how you can jump on board.

How confident are job seekers with job-hopping?

Over the last year and a half, there has been a lot of uncertainty. Millions of people were without work, while those lucky to hold onto their jobs shared an uneasy feeling. Thus, most Americans were “sheltering in job.” In other words, their focus was on holding a position with a steady paycheck and stability to get through these challenging times. However, with things finally returning to normal, workers are gaining confidence in exploring other opportunities.

According to LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index, 48% of full-time employed job seekers feel more confident in increasing their income. Additionally, with optimism regarding the increased availability of jobs, there is a renewed faith in job-hopping to accelerate one’s career. The survey reveals that 42% of employed job seekers are more confident with taking their careers to the next level. With the economy opening back up, this trend will continue to accelerate through the rest of the year. So, with more Americans confident with their job prospects, how can you find a new opportunity in this competitive market?

Finding a remote job

Some people are chomping at the bits to get back to the office. Others have found that working from home is more accommodating for their lifestyles, families, and job happiness. The result is job seekers searching for new remote opportunities. Since this may be your first time searching for a remote job, you may be scratching your head and wondering where to start. Lucky for you, we have a brief guide on how to secure a remote job after the pandemic. From updating your resume to hacking the job boards, we cover it all so you can focus on finding a new remote job.

Working with a professional recruiter

If you are actively searching for a job but still employed, you probably don’t have the energy and time you would ideally like to invest in your job hunt. After a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is scour the job boards and read through dozens of job descriptions. If this sounds like your current situation, it might be a good fit to partner with a recruiter. Professional recruiting firms take much of the leg work out of the job search by presenting you with opportunities that match your career goals and experience. If you are currently looking at job-hopping to advance your career but need some assistance, JSG is here to help.

Our recruiting team is here to help you find your next career opportunity. So, if you are searching for a new position, reach out to us today! We have exciting opportunities across North America with employers in dire need of top talent like you. Let’s work together to make this career advancement a reality.

How to Secure A Remote Job After the Pandemic

How to Secure A Remote Job After the Pandemic

The last 15+ months have drastically impacted us all. From social distancing to working remotely, the pandemic has had a lasting effect. As we (finally) return to somewhat normal with the economy opening back up, many people are starting to transition back to the office. However, with all the changes in our lives, working on-site may no longer work for some of us. If you are on the hunt for a job that better accommodates you and your family’s needs, here is how you can secure a remote job.

Use the right job search keywords

Lucky for job seekers, there are more remote job opportunities than ever before. According to FlexJobs, remote jobs have grown 44% over the last five years, and Covid-19 has only exacerbated this evolution. So, securing a remote job post-pandemic will not be challenging if you are using the correct job search terms. When searching for jobs on your go-to job board, using the right keywords will yield the best results.

Search phrases like “work from home,” “remote work,” “online,” and “telecommute,” along with your desired job title. For example, if you are looking for a customer service position, you can search “Remote Customer Service Representative.” Using the right search terms will filter out positions that are not remote to provide an overall better job search experience.

Also, you can select filters on specific job boards to only show remote jobs. LinkedIn, for example, has a filter labeled “remote” to weed out other job types.

Showcase your work from home skills

Once you have your job search down, the next step to securing a remote job is to showcase your work from home skills. Before you submit your application, you must tweak your resume to reflect your remote skills and experience. Employers will be looking for candidates with particular skill sets valuable for remote positions, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, teamwork software like Slack, and other technologies. If you have experience using these platforms, make sure you have them listed on your resume. Listing these in-demand skills on your resume will help you get through an ATS and land on a hiring manager’s desk.

Utilize remote job sites

When searching for a job, it can be overwhelming to select the right job board for you. There are dozens of mainstream job boards and hundreds of specialty, niche job sites to choose from. Lucky for you, there are a handful of excellent job boards that are entirely dedicated to sharing remote job opportunities. Some of the best out there are FlexJobsWe Work RemotelyVirtual Vocations, and Remote.co. These job sites only share remote positions and are trusted by some of the biggest brands out there. If you are serious about securing a remote job, utilize one of these.

Have you checked out our job board?

So, these are just a few simple ways to secure a remote job post-pandemic. If you are still looking for a new opportunity, take a moment to review our job board. At JSG, we have hundreds of jobs across North America with clients looking for talented job seekers like you. We have both on-site and remote opportunities, so be sure to check them out!

How to Secure A Remote Internship

How to Secure A Remote Internship

Having an internship is an excellent opportunity for students or recent grads to gain valuable experience, earn real-world knowledge of their industry, and bolster their network. However, in today’s market, landing a traditional in-person internship position may be difficult. Thankfully, with 20% of internship postings mentioning remote work as of March 2021, there is still hope for students and new grads to obtain an intern role. Here are four tips to secure a remote internship in today’s competitive market.

Leverage your school’s career services

Whether you are finishing this school year in person or remotely, your university or school offers resources to help you secure a remote internship. Most schools have a career center to provide job search advice, resume workshops, and share relevant job openings/ internship opportunities. With remote internships gaining popularity, it’s even easier to find one via your school’s career services. Any employer can add their internship opportunity to the job listings and request the school to promote it. Plus, the professionals working for the school’s career services can help you tweak your resume and help you prepare answers to common interview questions.

Utilize your professional network

Did you know that 70% of job seekers find a new role through networking? Connecting with other professionals at your target employers or other professionals in your industry is a great way to secure a remote internship. Networking has never been so easy with everything going virtual. You may not see any career fairs for a while but connecting with others online is just as effective. Go on LinkedIn and connect with your friends, family, parent’s co-workers, other students, and alumni. Also, it’s essential to let all your new connections know you are looking for an internship. Make posts asking for feedback, leads, or other advice to help find one. Plus, make sure you let your LinkedIn network know you are open to work by activating this valuable feature.

Additionally, join groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites designed to join job seekers and employers. These groups are an excellent means of expanding your network and possibly finding an internship.

Hacking the job boards

If you are looking for a remote internship, you regularly review job boards in search of new positions. However, are you optimizing your search to make the most of your time and energy? Most of the leading job sites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Google, have advanced filters to sort job postings by internships and even remote opportunities.

For example, Indeed has a job board completely dedicated to remote internship opportunities. Also, while searching for an internship on LinkedIn, you can sort postings by job type, and there is a check box for internships to help you refine your job search. Regardless of what site you are using, it’s essential to use appropriate keywords. Use words like “remote” and “internship” in your search terms to ensure the search results match what you are looking for.

Avoid internship resume mistakes

Last but certainly not least, you must craft a resume worthy of a remote internship opportunity. Creating a resume specifically for an internship is different than for a traditional job. As a student or recent grad, you likely have little industry-specific experience. Thus, you want to demonstrate your knowledge by adding courses related to the position, any certifications you have earned, and showcase your personality. To grab the attention of hiring managers, you need to show your interest in the position. But before you can do that, you need to tailor your resume to beat an ATS. If you aren’t taking the time to tweak your resume for each internship opportunity, a hiring manager will never see your application.

Need more job search advice?

These are four simple things you can do to secure a remote internship in this tight labor market. If you are looking for more job-search advice or resume resources, take a look at our candidate resources! We have hundreds of helpful guides to help you receive that much-anticipated job offer!

Four Resume Formatting Mistakes to Avoid

Four Resume Formatting Mistakes to Avoid

The job market is competitive, and if you are serious about landing a new opportunity, you cannot afford any mistakes. You probably have invested hours tweaking your resume to make it perfect. After all, the best candidates understand that you have to tailor your resume for each position. So, if you want to beat the ATS and get your resume on the hiring manager’s desk, here are four simple resume formatting mistakes to avoid.

Putting your contact details in the header of a document

One of the biggest resume formatting mistakes you can make is not displaying your contact details correctly. Many job seekers make the fatal error of putting their name and contact details in the document’s header. When you put anything in the header of a Word document, it grays out the text and makes it difficult to read. Also, when viewing the resume as an attachment preview in Outlook, the header gets cut off. So, if you are putting your contact information in the header, it is not readily visible for hiring managers. Your name, phone number, and email must be prevalent right off the bat if you want to stand a chance in this market.

Not using a simple format

Another resume formatting mistake that is too common is messy formatting. Complicated formatting can be anything from inconsistent uses of fonts and sizes, colors of your text, and even utilizing different types of bullet points. Although not earth-shattering, these mistakes can draw unnecessary attention away from all of your skill sets and accomplishments.

When you are formatting your resume, it’s best to keep it simple. Use legible fonts, black text, and basic bullet points. Additionally, don’t try to incorporate tables or other weird formatting because an Application Tracking Systems (ATS) may not be able to process it. ATS scans your resume to identify certain skill sets, accomplishments, and keywords hiring managers look for in a candidates’ resume. However, complicated formatting can be challenging for these systems to process. If an ATS cannot read your resume, it’s almost a guarantee it won’t end up in the hiring manager’s hands.

Utilizing visual resume templates

There are thousands of different resume templates available to download for free. Some of them are excellent foundations for a great resume. Others may look visually appealing but are an ATS’s worst nightmare. For example, you can open up a new Word document and quickly browse dozens of free resume templates. Some of them look visually appealing with placeholders for your headshot, graphs for your skills, and other creative designs. However, these designs are too challenging for an ATS to process.

You can be the most qualified candidate with a show-stopping resume, but if an ATS cannot analyze it, it will, unfortunately, get filtered out. Even if these templates look fantastic and you think they will help you stand out, you have to keep an ATS in mind at all times. Don’t be one of the 75% of resumes that a human never reads.

Not using an appropriate file type

One of the simplest resume mistakes you must avoid is submitting the document in an unopenable file type. As a staffing firm, we see this every single day. A candidate submits a resume as an unknown file type or even as an image file. Not only are some of these file types challenging to open, they sometimes alter the formatting and clarity of resumes. The best thing you can do is submit your resume as a PDF. PDFs are a universal file type that almost everyone can easily open, regardless of any computer. Plus, they make it more challenging for someone to accidentally change them and are less likely to carry a virus. You are welcome to make your resume on the program of your choosing, but save it as a PDF to ensure the hiring manager can open it.

Do you need more resume advice?

These are four resume formatting mistakes you can easily avoid to improve your chances of making it to the next level of the hiring process. If you are looking for more advice, we have dozens of free resume resources for you! Take a look at some of these best practices and take your job search to the next level.

Internship Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Internship Resume Mistakes to Avoid

If you are applying for an internship, you are probably hard at work tweaking your resume and getting your application materials up to snuff. For many students, this is their first opportunity with a job in their future line of work. As a result, most job seekers in this situation are new to the labor force and are relatively inexperienced with assembling a bulletproof resume. Here are internship resume mistakes to avoid to propel you through the interviewing process.

Not adding course work and certifications

One of the biggest internship resume mistakes is students or recent grads failing to add relevant course work and certifications. As a young professional, you likely do not have a ton of related work experience to add to your resume. However, you can supplement your lack of experience with relevant coursework and certifications. Add a section below your education section labeled “Relevant Course Work” and list a handful of relevant classes. You can also do this with any projects or certifications that demonstrate your expertise in your field and show hiring managers you have pertinent experience.

Not showing details relevant to the position

When you are crafting your resume, you must tailor it to each position. In today’s competitive labor market for new grads, you have to customize your resume to fit the role you are applying for. That means you have to tweak your work experience details to match the job. Sorry, no more cookie-cutter resumes! You must tailor each resume with tasks, skill sets, and achievements relevant to the job. Even if it’s just a summer job, do your best to add and rephrase responsibilities to complement the job description. Doing so will show hiring managers your interest in the position and illustrate that your experiences and transferrable skills will make you a strong candidate for the position.

Not knowing what’s on your resume

If you put something on your resume, you have to be able to discuss it in an interview. Whether it’s a certification, a project you worked on, or a current class you are in, if it’s on your resume, you better be able to back it up. If you receive a job interview and a hiring manager asks you about something on your resume and cannot intelligently discuss it, that is a huge red flag. A certification or skillset may look fantastic on your resume, but if you cannot discuss it during an interview, it’s best to remove it. Review your resume before your interview and prepare yourself to answer any questions about items you included in it.

Show your personality on your internship resume

Last but certainly not least, you need to let your personality shine through on your internship resume! Hiring managers are, of course, looking at your skills, experiences, and other accolades. However, many of these basic skills can be taught on the job. After all, your education can only teach you so much. Companies are looking at your personality and how you fit on a team just as much as your qualifications. To showcase your personality, add relevant hobbies to your resume, a resume objective, and other details to give them a better idea of who you are as a person. You can also add links to your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile to allow employers to see a glimpse of your personality.

Still looking for resume advice?

These are a few internship resume mistakes to avoid as you prepare for this exciting step in your career. If you are looking for more resume advice, we have hundreds of resume resources to help propel your job search. Take a peek at these helpful tips and tricks, and good luck!

What is a Bridge Job? Should You Consider Taking One?

What is a Bridge Job? Should You Consider Taking One?

Waiting for the right job opportunity can take time. Sometimes it’s only a few weeks, other people may have to wait months, and thanks to the pandemic, some have been waiting for over a year to find the next step in their career. Over time, waiting for the perfect opportunity starts to take its toll. Bills are piling up, and you begin to worry about how an employment gap will look on your resume. As a result, many people are taking on a bridge job as they await a new position that better aligns with their careers. But what is a bridge job, and should you consider taking one during these challenging times?

What is a bridge job?

A bridge job is essentially a temporary job to fill an employment gap. For years, workers have been working bridge jobs, but the pandemic has forced thousands of people to take on a temporary role to get by. Bridge jobs are a temporary means to provide financial support and benefits while someone is actively searching for another position that aligns better with their career. In other words, a bridge job is an option for job seekers to get by while they work for their next permanent career move.

Be tactical with your bridge job selection

A bridge job is a temporary gig to get you through an employment gap. However, it’s best to tactically choose a job that somewhat aligns with your career goals. So, unless your financial situation is critical, try to select a job that matches your career. For example, if you are a seasoned sales professional, select a bridge job in customer service or as a sales associate. Picking a temporary job that aligns with the typical position you would have is a great way to earn a paycheck while gaining some new skill sets related to your career. Choosing a bridge job that compliments your career is the best-case scenario, if possible.

Don’t give up on your job search

Going weeks, months, or even longer without much traction in your job search can be discouraging, but you must keep pushing forward. A bridge job alone cannot lead you to your next opportunity. You must leave time open for your job search to help you find the next step in your career. We are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. Many employers are preparing to ramp up their hiring efforts and looking for talented workers to add to their teams.

While you patiently await your next opportunity, sign up for job alerts, continue to network, and don’t stop applying. If you are working a temporary job, you will be busy, so it’s essential to work smarter, not harder. Tailor your resume and other job application materials for each position to help you beat the resume bots and get your resume in front of the hiring manager. Also, if you receive a job rejection, ask for feedback. It’s almost impossible to know what you can improve on if you do not ask for feedback.

Consider utilizing a recruiting firm

If you are struggling to find your next employment opportunity, have you considered working with a recruiting firm? Recruiters can help you match your career aspirations with the position you have been searching for. We have relationships with hiring managers across North America, and we are ready to help you go from a bridge job to your dream job. Reach out to us today, and let’s get started together!