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Ring in the New Year with a New Job

December 31, 2014

Interview-handshake-620x480The new year is an ideal time to breathe new life into your job search, especially with job growth projected to increase going into 2015. Whether you’re currently employed or actively looking for work, make the most of the post-holiday lull by organizing your job search goals with these five tips.

  • Identify Your Career Goals

It’s not always easy to identify your ideal career, but there are tools that exist to help your discover your true passion. One way to move in the right direction is to identify things you like to do, the types of work environments that appeal to you and even the types of people you enjoy working with. Ask your friends and family members what they perceive as your biggest strengths. Try out career assessment tools and personality quizzes that can help you learn more about jobs that may be good matches for your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Get Organized

The job search process involves lots of time, and lots to keep track of. It’s not uncommon for an active job seeker to submit applications for hundreds of positions before landing employment. Virtual organization tools like Huntsy, Evernote or Jibber Jobber help you stay on top of emails, relationships and deadlines. Because properly managing your job search is just as important as identifying job opportunities and submitting your application.

  • Clean House

Tidy up your social media profiles, resume and references. A good rule of thumb is to not post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want your employer (or potential employer) to see. That includes badmouthing current or former bosses or oversharing about last night’s antics. While you’re at it, run a spell check on everything: 66% of hiring managers said on a Jobvite survey they would hold poor spelling and grammar against candidates.

Taking a couple hours to really clean up your resume is worth doing before you start a job search, or even just once a year as a tune-up. Make sure your resume includes important keywords, is free of work history clutter and conveys the specific talents you will bring to the table. If you want additional assistance, stop by one of Goodwill’s job resource centers to receive free help in crafting a standout resume. We have trained professionals on staff who can sift through your life experiences to highlight the skills and qualifications that support your career goals and outsmart HR recruiting software.

  • Be News Savvy

Make sure you’re up-to-speed on trends in your field by reviewing the latest industry news. Search out niche sites that specialize by industry, type of employment and specialized skills. In addition to advertising job postings, good niche job boards also offer relevant news about the industry. Identify influencers in your area and follow them on social media. Then, share what you’re learning with others to brand yourself as an expert in your field.

  • Volunteer

Not only does volunteer work look good on your resume, but it also grows your network. Additionally you gain an in-depth knowledge about a specific cause.  This can be a big plus if you want a paying job relating to that mission. A study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t. If you’re ready to volunteer, here are some tips to help you get started.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about finding a job?

Barriers to Employment: Disability

December 26, 2014

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In 2013, only 17.6 percent of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 64.0 percent. This staggering discrepancy reveals how much work continues to be needed to help thousands of job seekers with disabilities experience the dignity and independence that accompany a paycheck.

As an organization with a longtime commitment to helping people of all backgrounds overcome barriers to employment, Goodwill is honored to help thousands of people earn this self-respect and sense of accomplishment every year. Goodwill provides a variety of programs that assess and identify an individual’s abilities, vocational interests, job readiness skills and training needs. Services are provided by trained vocational coaching specialists who assist workers like Fletcher by providing ongoing support to build success in the workplace.

Despite the fact that the United States passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) more than 20 years ago, Americans with disabilities are no more likely to be employed today than they were before the ADA was enacted. Many of today’s young adults with disabilities have been able to accomplish vital academic and life skills and are ready for work. Additionally, because of breakthroughs, people who are blind or are unable to speak on their own can now use technology to succeed in ways previously only imagined.

A recent study reveals that hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities doesn’t just improve culture—it improves an employer’s bottom line. The study, which was conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, found that more than three-quarters of employers surveyed ranked their employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities as good or very good on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability, and attendance.

How does a proactive employer seek out special needs employees? A great place to begin is simply to contact local organizations that support persons with particular special needs or disabilities.

This month Senator Tom Harkin delivered his farewell address to the U.S. Senate after 40 years of public service. An author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Harkin has a long-standing history of commitment to people with disabilities. He closed his final speech on the floor with a poignant reminder of the importance of workplace inclusion for all Americans:

Let me close with a single word from American sign language that has a powerful message for all of us. Let me teach it to you. (PAUSE to sign “America” in American Sign Language). This is the sign for America. All of us, interconnected, bound together in a single circle of inclusion with no one left out. This is the ideal America toward which we must always aspire.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What does workplace inclusion mean to you?

Easy Bathroom Storage Ideas

December 23, 2014

No matter how big or small your house is, storage is always an issue. It seems we never have enough drawers, closets or cupboards, especially in a bathroom shared by more than one person. You know the old adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place”? Once you’ve determined where everything goes, it’s much easier to find what you need and get your family to put things back.

Baskets are an obvious solution to bathroom storage, but I like to find creative ways to hold towels and toiletries. For example, a wine rack is a great way to show off pretty towels. Assign each member of the family a particular color, so everyone can find their own. This is also a pretty display in a guest bathroom.


If your decorating style leans toward country or vintage, look for an old drawer. This one probably came from an antique sewing cabinet—the kind with a foot-pedal sewing machine. It’s still in great condition and has a decorative panel on the front. Add rolled up or folded towels.


The drawer is also the perfect size for toiletries. Fill it up with every bottle, tube and jar you use daily and sit it next to the sink or on the counter, or put it on a shelf with excess or new products. You’ll always know when you need a refill.


If counter space is at a premium, add a hook to the back of the drawer and hang it on the wall for easy access. Nail polish fits perfectly and you can see each color.


If you don’t have a dedicated linen closet, borrow space for another one. A fabric shoe organizer is only 6″ wide, hangs from the rod and has multiple compartments. You can store a lot of towels and toiletries in a very small space, and they are front and center when you open the door.


Another handy organizer is a cutlery tray; the kind that comes with flatware. Use it on a shelf or in a drawer for your toiletries.


If you want something really unique to hold perfumes and items you use regularly, try a mirror. This little oval gold frame is very feminine and pretty. Instead of a plain old jar, I found a glass and silver toothpick holder for miscellaneous things. Very glam and girlie!


What other items have you creatively repurposed into handy bathroom accessories?

Interior designer Merri Cvetan writes about DIY projects and home décor for the Home Depot, including unique upcycling craft ideas for bathroom storage and accessories. Merri’s interior design career began when she purchased a century-old farm house. Home Depot’s online selection of bath accessories can be found on the company’s website.

Wrap Up 2014 by Giving Others a Brighter Future

December 19, 2014

donateThe time period between December 26 and New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest times at Goodwill as people drop off their donations to get their last tax deduction for the year. Proceeds from the sale of these items help fund job training and employment programs in your community, which are more critical than ever as unemployment continues to hover around 6.5 percent in the Carolinas this holiday season.

Get an early start this year by collecting things you no longer need for Goodwill. Here are five tips from organizing expert Lorie Marrero to help you get a head start on decluttering your home.

  • Use the trusty “One In, One Out Rule” to equalize your storage for the new items you receive for holiday gifts. For every new toy, give one away to Goodwill. For every new sweater or shirt… you get the idea. You’ll usually find the momentum from doing this will result in more donations than you planned.
  • Help your children learn the value of giving by organizing their toys together before the holiday gifts arrive, and donating what they no longer need to Goodwill. Take them with you to the donation center so they can see their stuff go to a new home, and tell them how the sale of the items is used to create jobs for people in your own community.
  • Get all of what’s coming to you. You have until December 31 to get a tax deduction for donating household goods for 2014, and most people grossly underestimate the value of the household goods they are donating. Generally, an item’s value should be based on fair market value – what the item would sell for in a thrift store. Use our handy valuation guide to calculate the value of popular items.
  • Remember to get a receipt from your local Goodwill when you drop off your items. If you need a visual reminder of what you donated, take a photograph of your “donation pile” as another record of the deduction.
  • Do NOT get hung up on finding “the perfect home” for your donated items and running your stuff around to ten different places. The holidays are busy enough! If you are looking for a convenient drop-off location, click here to find the Goodwill store or donation center nearest you. Goodwill helps create jobs, so that is a wonderful thing!

All of us want to give back this holiday season. By taking a quick drive to your local Goodwill donation center and giving before December 31, you can help put friends and neighbors back on the path to employment success, while cleaning out your own closets and getting a fresh start on 2015.

Goodwill holiday hours are December 24 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., December 25 closed, December 31 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and January 1 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What are you donating this holiday season?

Organize Your Bookshelves with Unique DIY Bookends: Part 2

December 5, 2014

Modern Bookend

A More Modern Take

If  you’re a paperback book or graphic novel reader, you might be interested in a modern bookend look. Book-page bookends will look great on contemporary bookshelves.

Book Ends

I often get inspiration for a project just browsing at Goodwill. When I found this wood napkin holder, I knew I could upcycle it into bookends.

Metallic Bookends

This project requires a miter box saw. Lucky for me, my husband has a shed full of power tools! I cut the holder in half (actually, my husband did!), making sure the bottom was flush with the sides. I sanded the cut edges smooth and lightly sanded the shiny finish so new paint would stick. It got two coats of black spray paint and a light blast of silver paint. Solid black just seemed too stark.


Folding Books

I tore the cover off of a paperback book, and then cut it in half. Next, you simply fold each page in half.

Folding books 2


Glue another loose page to the binding side of your folded book with a glue stick. It gives it a neat finish.

Final Folding books

The last step is to glue the folded pages to each half of the L-shaped stand. Once the glue is dry, put them to work. Who knows, your shelves will look so great, you might buy a few more books!

Merri Cvetan writes about her DIY décor projects, including bookend and bookcase ideas, for Home Depot. Merri started her career as an interior designer after she bought an 1890s farmhouse. To view Home Depot’s selection of power saws, including the type of miter saw Merri used, you can visit the company’s website.

Organize Your Bookshelves with Unique DIY Bookends: Part 1 of 2

December 2, 2014

The book debate continues: do you prefer reading on a Nook or Kindle or do you like the “real thing”? Electronic readers are lightweight, portable and you can take hundreds of books wA to Z imageith you wherever you go. On the other hand, who doesn’t like to curl up by the fire with a good novel? There’s just something about turning an actual page to find out what happens next.

I like the Kindle for travel, but l love books and collect old ones, particularly vintage classic novels. As with any collection, keeping your bookshelves organized and neat can be a problem. Don’t pack your books away: display your favorites with unique DIY bookends made from items you find at places like Goodwill.

What could be more appropriate than A to Z bookends? This no-sew set is so easy to do you’ll want to give them as gifts.




Wood Embroidery Hoops


I’m always finding wood embroidery hoops at Goodwill. I guess it’s a lost art. And since bookends need a heavy base, I picked up a pair of small glass candle holders.

A to Z Fonts

Choose a font you like and print ‘A’ and ‘Z’ sized to fit in your hoops. Instead of matching, I decided to use a round and an oval hoop. The asymmetry makes an arrangement much more interesting.


Cut out each letter from felt. Pick a color that goes with your décor. The classic font I choose called for black.

Textured Background

Whether I’m designing a room interior, a craft project or home accessory, I think about texture and contrast. That’s why I used burlap as my base. I love the roughness of raw burlap against the smooth wood hoop and matte felt. The shiny glass candle holder will add another layer.

Depending on the size of your hoop, you’ll only need a very small piece of fabric. Stretch the burlap on the hoop, paying attention to the weave (you’ll want to make sure it’s straight). Glue on the letter with white craft glue.


Trim to Burlap

Trim off the excess burlap. Trace the hoop on another piece of felt and glue to back inside to give it a little more stability.


Up Close AUp Close Z


Attach each hoop to the candleholder with a little more craft glue. Allow to dry. Voila! The perfect set of bookends for a traditional bookcase or library.






Merri Cvetan writes about her DIY décor projects, including bookend and bookcase ideas, for Home Depot. Merri started her career as an interior designer after she bought an 1890s farmhouse and has since done a wide variety of work, including redecorating homes in her area. To view Home Depot’s online selection of bookcases and shelves, click here.

Why It’s Important to Participate in #GivingTuesday

November 21, 2014

Giving TuesdayEach day, thousands of people come to Goodwill® looking for help finding a job. Goodwill’s job training and career services would not be possible without generous donations of used items from donors every day. This holiday season, Goodwill is proud to take part in #GivingTuesday, on December 2nd, and reminds people that giving cash is also a great way to support Goodwill’s mission of helping people build their careers.

#GivingTuesday is a collective effort to transform how people take part in the giving season. Just as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with holiday shopping, the goal of #GivingTuesday is to be a national day of giving. People from all walks of life are encouraged to find simple ways to give back to their communities and be part of a global celebration of generosity.

Goodwill helps people who face multiple barriers to employment such as disabilities, lack of education or work experience and other challenges to finding employment. It is easy to make a tax-deductible financial gift to Goodwill on #GivingTuesday by visiting

Beyond #GivingTuesday there are many opportunities for individuals to spread Goodwill this holiday season. When families donate clothing and other household items they can no longer use to Goodwill, it creates jobs and helps fund Goodwill’s employment programs for people in their community. By donating one bag of gently used clothing and housewares you are providing one hour of resume development for an individual seeking employment. All donations are tax-deductible, please refer to our donation valuation guide to help determine the value of your donation

For more than 110 years (almost 50 within the southern piedmont) Goodwill has been an environmental leader, turning the power of donated goods into job opportunities for people in need of work.

See how your donation helps to provide career opportunities for those in need in our community.



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