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Don’t Sweat It

When you’re between jobs or looking for your dream job, stress levels can run high. There is plenty that you can stress about in this process, but there are some things that HR and the hiring manager don’t really care about. So, neither should you.

Resume

  • Design

Unless you’re trying to get a job with a design firm, most Hiring Managers don’t care about how fancy the font is or the special design on your resume. It can give the impression that you’re more interested in creating a nice-looking resume than making sure you’re the best fit for their job.

Rather than spend hours on making sure your resume has just the right look, make sure that it clearly conveys your work history including your accomplishments and cost savings to your company (if applicable). You want them to see why you’re the best fit for the job you’re trying to get. Customize your resume to specific job postings. Always be honest. Pay attention to the details that will make your resume stand out because of its clarity and conciseness, not because it’s has a fancy font or intricate design elements.

  • Length

Many articles have been written on how the length of your resume shouldn’t exceed one or two pages, that you’re just shooting yourself in the foot if you dare to venture onto another page. If you’ve had 10 or more years out in the work force, then don’t worry about it. The information on your resume needs to be appropriate, to the point and relevant to the job. If that warrants adding an extra page or so to the document, go for it. You can provide less detail on jobs over 10 years old. Your resume should not exceed 5 pages.

Thank-you’s

There is no debate – send a thank-you note after an interview. And do it within a day or two. However, with how quickly things move these days, hand writing a thank-you and sending it through the postal service is no longer necessary. Many hiring managers agree that, if it’s well-written and not a form thank-you, email works just as well. If you prefer sending it by mail or know that’s the hiring manager’s preference, go for it! Also, if you have multiple interviews, continue sending those thank-you notes!

When you do send that thank-you, by mail or email, make sure that you address why you are a good fit for their job and make sure the spelling and punctuation are correct. All forms of communication continue to be important. The pressure doesn’t leave just because the interview is done.

Cover Letters

Contrary to popular belief, cover letters are not essential as they used to be. Many times, people are applying to recruiters and corporations through web portals. If there is a comment section, use that as an opportunity to let the employer know why you are a good fit for their job. If you are networking and there is not a specific job open, you will want to write an introductory letter to let them know why you are a good fit for their company. Let your personality show, but still be concise.

There are plenty of things you’ll stress about when applying for jobs, going through the interview process and eventually getting a job. These points don’t have to be on your stress-list.

SURPRISING QUALITIES EMPLOYERS VALUE IN CANDIDATES

As the hustle and family time of the holidays moves further behind us and we get back into the normal work routine, do you find yourself thinking it may be time you should explore new career opportunities? Hiring in general and technology hiring for top talent continues to be strong.

Here are some qualities that have nothing to do with technology that IT Hiring Managers also consider when selecting top talent for their team…

Adaptability – Have you been in the same organization and a loyal dedicated employee for 10 – 15 + years?  Although stable employment is very important and people who switch jobs every 6 – 12 months repeatedly may be seen as “job-hoppers”, being in a certain type of organization for many years may put someone at higher risk of not working out when they do accept a new job.  Often, we will see someone who has been with one company for a long time and then their first new job change is short term.  There can be many reasons for this including being a little rusty on deciding the type job that fits them; but, if the organization they left didn’t offer the ability for someone to keep their adaptability skills honed, they may have gotten so good at the way one company works that they have trouble getting acclimated to a new organization.

  • Think about how long you have been with the same company and if it’s been the same environment and they have done things the same way for over 10 years it may be time for a change
  • Consider whether you should change jobs, even if you are doing the same work in a new place, to sharpen your adaptability skills and demonstrate that you can be successful in new and different environments

Communication – Just because you are a people person and can talk with anyone, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to improve on your communication skills.  If you have ever had someone comment on your “chattiness” or looked at their watch when you are talking with them, you should dive deeper into that.  It could be limiting your opportunities for promotion and lowering your scores on job interviews.

Are you “chatty”? There are many reasons and we’re not psychologists, but over the years we’ve seen this being a factor for a candidate being passed over for a job.  We’ve seen this from people across all ranges of skills, backgrounds, years of experience and here is some of why being long-winded is not sought after.

  • It may be an indication of poor communication skills. First and foremost, who has time to spend 45 minutes talking about something that should have been covered in 10 minutes.
  • If you are in IT, that can mean that you aren’t self-confident in your skills or you think you are underqualified for the position. It may be subconscious; but, if you can get the conversation off track and keep talking about anything, you can keep the interviewer from getting all their questions asked. If they run out of time and can’t cover everything they needed to discuss in order to assess your technical skills and fit for the position, you will probably be eliminated anyway so you might as well shorten your answers and let them drive the interview.
  • Another reason may be that you aren’t able to focus your answer on just what the interviewer is asking. This may indicate an inability to prioritize on what’s most important.  Most businesses don’t have the luxury of giving someone the time to do a perfect job, time to address every requirement.  Being able to prioritize what you need to communicate and only share what answers their questions, also demonstrates an ability to prioritize tasks and focus your time on what is your most important business need.
  • Don’t try to take control of the interview by talking on and on. I once had a colleague who asked one question at the beginning of the interview and the candidate could not be gracefully interrupted for the next 45 minutes.  No surprise they didn’t get offered the position.

Interpersonal skills and polish – The lines between technical IT talent and business continue to blur in many organizations.  Just because you spend much of your day with your ear buds in, doesn’t mean that you might not also be expected to interact with business stakeholders, end users, and other non-technical people.  The movement toward agile methods and the manner that different organizations apply agile process could drive increases in the likelihood of direct interaction between the end-user and IT.

  • Your technical peers may have an easier time of trusting your work and technical skills while you are wearing flip flops and shorts; but, that doesn’t mean someone who is not technical and doesn’t always work in your vicinity will be as accepting.
  • It is human nature for people to feel most comfortable around people who are like themselves. Even though diversity is healthy and makes for a more productive environment, you can push the limits of casual by not presenting a polished professional image or being able to fit in with the communication style with the people you are meeting. It’s been pretty acceptable for IT to be casually dressed; but, if you don’t know someone, do you have to take your flip flops off or go barefoot into a work meeting?
  • Polish and interpersonal skills include having the consideration for those around you to make them comfortable and be proud to have you as a coworker.

SUMMARY – Technical people sometimes focus too much on their technical skills.  Be aware that non-technical skills can often be more important than technical expertise.

 

 

 

Use These 5 Words to Revitalize Your Business Writing

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Those words were written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton over one hundred years ago. Just like the art of fencing requires practice, so does the art of using the pen. Choosing to utilize its power can bring great results.

Most business communication, like presentations, various business documents, and emails are just plain boring. Just like you dread reading that text, so does the person on the other end of your email. It’s time to get a little risky. There are words that you can use that will give some life to that otherwise yawn-worthy email. The person on the other end will thank you.

Here are some words to use as a starting point:

This word conveys swift, effective action. In our microwave world where instant gratification is the norm, people are looking for things to happen or be accomplished quickly. Maybe the person receiving the email will receive the benefits of a certain desired action immediately or you’ll immediately see to their request.

No side door or backup plan is allowed with this one, and that’s why it appeals to people. This word provides a risk-free option for the other person because you take on all the responsibility. This word is guaranteed to get your recipient’s attention and ease any concerns they may feel.

Be careful how you throw this one around. People are used to hearing companies talk about their “proven” methods when in reality they’ve never actually proven anything. Accompany this word with a specific example of why your claim is true. This shows them that not only are you confident, you’re also trustworthy.

No one likes getting a generic email that really has nothing to do with them or adds no value to their day or their goals. Likewise, any business writing you may be doing or may have to consume can become pure torture if it has no relevance to you and what you’re trying to accomplish. First, make sure that what you’re trying to communicate is relevant to the person on the other end, whether it’s a coworker, supervisor or customer. Then use this word—sparingly and succinctly—to highlight the value that you’re adding to the other person’s life.

If you’ve refreshed a plan, you’ve given it a new energy, a new vitalization. You took what had worked before, polished it up, and now it’s like new. Use this word to communicate the benefits of your plan and the overall feeling it will result in.

It’s not all semantics. If you can harness the power of the written word in your business writing and emails, you’ll find the responses that you desire. Being able to spur someone to a desired action because of an email or a well-written business article isn’t just going to happen. You’ve got to put in the forethought and effort. These five words are just a springboard, any word can have powerful results if utilized correctly.

Is the Writing on the Wall for Your Job?

Sometimes the writing is on the wall, but you just can’t seem to see it. There are sure signs that, when combined, are strong hints that you should consider switching jobs. You can resolve some issues through work and cooperation. And by all means, pursue that first. But there are some areas that can’t be fixed, which may result in you needing to seriously consider switching jobs. What are those reasons?

Stagnation has become the norm.

Your work isn’t always going to be what you wish it would be. After all, you call it work for a reason. There is a point, though, where it goes beyond that. The excitement you once had at the challenges and opportunities has fizzled out like a sparkler during the Fourth of July. The skills that you brought to the table either aren’t being used or you haven’t experienced any growth. If you have to look for ways to learn new things yourself and your boss has little interest in providing those for you, that’s a problem.

Generally, the American populace works 40 – 45 hours a week. That’s a lot of time to spend on a job that leaves you bored, stagnant and unchallenged. This may be a sign that you need to move on.

You have irreconcilable issues with your boss.

This isn’t an easy “out”; there are many interpersonal issues that can be resolved with a little effort. However, if your boss reacts to your efforts in a hostile way, then you have a major issue. Some relationships are unable to be repaired, whether because of a misunderstanding, a difference in personality, or lack of trust. This is especially true when you are willing to put in the effort, but your boss lacks any interest in meeting you there.

Recent layoffs have resulted in an increased work load with no increase in pay.

There are legitimate reasons for a company having to resort to layoffs. If you’re still at the company, that could be a good thing, but there could still be problems. You may find more work on your desk and more expected of you but without the additional compensation. This is a short road to becoming burned out and very dissatisfied with your job. If the downsizing results in the company doing better, and yet you’re seeing no return on that investment for you, it could very well be time to go.

You dread going to work.

Not only has all pizzazz gone out of your job, you’ve started to dread even going to bed Sunday night because you know Monday morning you’ll be heading back to work. If you’re frequently thinking about how much you don’t want to go to work on your days off, then you have a problem. This could just be a short season, but if it persists, it’s part of a bigger problem. Your job takes up a huge part of your life. Are you willing to let your misery continue?

There’s no chance for promotion.

You want to keep climbing the proverbial ladder, but it has apparently run out of rungs. Are you happy with where you’re at or are you wanting to continue advancing? If the latter is the case, then your only course of action may be switching to a new job. You may run the risk of having to go down a peg or two in the process, but the end result will be worth it as more opportunities for advancement come up.

Only you can know if it’s time to move on from your current job. Chances are, if you’ve read to the end of this article, it may be time for you to make a change

The 5 Questions To Ask In A Job Interview

It has become the custom for job interviews to end with a question directed at the candidate – “Do you have any questions for me?” The question signals the close of the interview. While it’s tempting to snap out the word “no” and escape the hot seat, doing so may result in automatic failure of the interview.

When you ask questions at the close of your job interview you show the interviewer or committee you were listening while they spoke. You convey your interest in the company and showcase what a good fit to the team you would be. Your questions garner insight into how you would fit into a specific role and where you would devote your energy. Questions are critical to the success of your interview.

Here are the top 5 essential questions to ask in an interview – no matter what the job.

  1. What would you expect from me to accomplish in the first 90 days on the job?
    By asking this question it lets them visualize you in the role. You also get a better understanding of their expectations.
  2. May I meet some of the people I would be working with or have a short tour?
    While this question may seem a bit presumptuous, it signals to the interviewer that you are taking the time seriously and have a vested interest in the position. Also, by getting an impromptu tour, you get to see the office firsthand, observe colleague interaction, and take note of workspace details (such as lighting, noise, and cleanliness).
  3. I recently read that…
    This is the time to ask something specific about the company or organization you would be working for if you land the job. As a good rule of thumb, be prepared and read up on the company prior to the interview. The company website is a great place to start your research. By asking something specific about the company based on what you read, you build instant rapport with the committee members and show off your research skills.
  4. How would you define success for the person in this position?
    This question helps you understand what the job will entail and also presents company expectations. You may be able to gain insight into the daily routine, how many hours you are expected to work, and how leadership views success.
  5. Do you see any reason why I might not be a good fit for the job?
    While this question may be difficult to ask, it is a great way to close your questions because it allows for an opportunity to clarify any misconceptions that may have popped up during the interview. This will give you a chance to elaborate on a topic or present your skills in a positive light. You will leave the interviewer with one last tidbit of why you are the right person for the job.

+1 – Bonus Tip:
Always remember to have a list of questions to ask prior to your interview. You don’t want to show up empty-handed or forget to ask a few questions at closing. Don’t grill your interviewing committee with twenty questions, but reserve a handful, like the ones listed above.

 

 

6 Tips to Maximize Your Networking

Whether you’re looking for a new job or not, networking is a vital skill that you should be continually developing. As much as you might wish it to be different, your own skills and expertise at your job aren’t always enough. Often, it’s exactly like that saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Who do you know? And what sort of relationship are you developing with your contacts? Here are 6 tips to maximize your networking efforts.

  1. Forget the speed-dating approach.

Quantity networking could be compared to speed dating. The results are minimal, you don’t really end up knowing the people, and they probably aren’t going to stick their necks out on the line to give you a recommendation. Networking is an investment that takes time, and like a relationship, it requires intentionality.

  1. Think beyond yourself.

No one enjoys being around a selfish person. If your goal is to take from others, that will become apparent to the people you’re trying to network with. Instead, look for areas that they need help in, and then become that source of help. Maybe you’re an expert in that area or you have a contact who could help them out. Whatever it is, make yourself useful to them first. Look to help others out, and not only your own goals.

  1. Get social.

There can be many benefits to using social media. It’s an avenue where you can follow up with connections and even make new ones. However, if your only goal is to promote yourself, people will soon lose interest in you and become annoyed at your self-seeking attitude that’s spamming their social sites.

  1. “What’s your favorite color?”

The answer to that question used to be the most important factor in determining whether you wanted that other kid to be your friend. While favorite colors really don’t matter anymore, having similar interests with someone can be a great way to connect with them. Do you share an interest in the same type of music? Remember that and use it to get to know that person better. Finding something in common creates an instant connection and you’ll be more likely to be remembered by that person, especially if you use that shared interest as a follow-up.

  1. Don’t forget to remember.

While you’re making all these connections, be sure to make mental notes. Connect faces with names, and names with interests and facts. If necessary, you can write down some of this information so that you’re sure not to forget it. Use whatever memory tool you like, just make sure you’re making those mental notes. Actively listen to what they’re saying so that you can have a meaningful follow-up with them later. This implies that you will eventually follow up (which is the whole purpose of first establishing network connections).

  1. Be on the lookout.

Put yourself out there. If you’re more comfortable with the behind-the-screen approach, you’ll need to put some more effort towards this one. You can make network connections at parties, conferences, events, asking others for introductions, classes, social media, etc. If you’re required to go to conferences or take specific classes for your career, take full advantage of the networking opportunities there.

Networking is incredibly vital in this day and age, but so many fail to establish quality contacts because of missing the mark in these areas. Basically, it comes down to treating the people you network with as just that: people. People meeting and getting to know other people. Implement these 6 tips, and watch how your networking quality improves.

Turn it Up! Use Music to Increase Productivity

You may have heard murmurings that music can help in productivity. But is that just an excuse or is it an actual scientific fact?

Studies have been conducted. Research has been gathered. The conclusion is: yes, music does help your productivity. However, not all music is the same, and not all times are right for utilizing music as your productivity tool.

Why is music helpful?

Music helps to focus your mind on the task at hand, depending on the situation. It also helps to put you in a better mood. When you’re engaged in a repetitive task, your favorite tunes can help to lift your mood. Another benefit of listening to music is how it helps you to get in a more creative mindset.

There is some connection between the brain’s function and the playing of music, and when it’s utilized correctly, it works magnificently.

When is music helpful?

Not all situations are ideal for listening to music. When you’re creating or working on something that requires a lot of concentration and creative effort, music can hinder the process because it splits your focus.

On the other end of the spectrum, music is helpful when you’re occupied with repetitive activities. When you have a clear objective and a set plan for accomplishing that, music can increase your productivity and your enjoyment of the activity.

Another situation where music is helpful is when your environment is noisy. Whether you think you’re tuned into it or not, this kind of background noise—people talking, other’s music playing, etc.—can be highly distracting. Your brain tries to analyze all of this new data, which is very difficult and splits your attention. Pop in the headphones and listen to some music, and you’ll find your productivity going up.

What kind of music is helpful?

New music isn’t going to be your best option. With new music, it is easy to get distracted, because you’re hearing it for the first time. Your body releases chemicals related to this, which causes the music to be more appealing to listen to than the task you’re supposed to be doing.

So when you’re working, choose music you’re familiar with. But another parameter would be lyrics. Sometimes, songs with lyrics aren’t the most helpful. When you’re working on those tasks that require more focus, the lyrics can be distracting. Just as if someone were talking to you while you were trying to write an important email. In cases like these, classical music or music with low-tones like jazz, indie, and bluegrass are better options.

Movie or video game scores or soundtracks can also be good options to listen to. They’re generally devoid of lyrics and are meant to amplify the experience and focus the listener on what is happening on the screen, not the music.

The conclusion? Yes, music can be helpful to your productivity. Just be careful in what kind of music you choose and when you listen to it. Oh, and bring your headphones. Nothing is more distracting at the office than hearing someone else’s music playing.

Stop Majoring on the Minors!

Stop Majoring On The Minors!

No matter how positive your outlook on life or how oblivious you may be, you can probably pinpoint some areas at your work that are frustrating. There is a difference, however, between minor frustrations and major, job-switching issues. To err is human, so you’ll never find a workplace free of issues. Instead, you need to be able to see when things really aren’t that big of a deal.

Conflicting Methods

When you come into a business, your boss has been doing things there for probably a good deal of time. Because of this, he or she will more than likely have a certain way of doing things. As a new employee, you bring valuable ideas and insight. When beginning your job, you may notice that there are more efficient ways of doing things. By all means, ask         questions about why they do something a certain way and/ or bring this up to your boss in a respectful way. But if they choose not to take your advice, don’t stew over it. Continue doing your best in an efficient, effective way, but remember: you’re not the boss.

Also, a little tip. If your boss has been in the business for years, they may have even tried out your idea before and it didn’t work. Experience is a great teacher.

Conflicting Work Ethics

You may have been raised with a different work ethic than the person at the next desk. Some, yes, are just plain lazy. If this becomes a problem for you getting your work done there is a way to talk to that individual directly, and if that does not work, bring this to the attention of your supervisor in a considerate way. You can only do the best at your job, and hopefully, your example influences other people.

Conflicting Priorities

Your time can easily get sucked away by seemingly ‘urgent’ requests. These can come in the form of requests from coworkers. Everyone’s issue or request is urgent to them, but you need to be able to determine whether that’s something you should take on for them. Sure, helping a coworker out is nice, but if it makes your own work suffer, then there’s a problem.

Whether it’s a problem with a set system in the company or with a person, some issues aren’t worth your time and energy. Go ahead and address issues when they come about, but if not resolved, don’t worry about it. Some issues just come with the territory and need to be recognized as such. Obviously, some issues mean you need to evaluate your options if you have first tried to rectify them.

 

How to become more efficient at work in 2018

Given the proper amount of effort and forethought, much of your daily work can be accomplished in eight hours a day. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that free time to pursue your life outside of work? Not only is that a possibility, it could become a reality for you.

So how does this work?

Think Ahead

  • Lists

As you are finishing up your workday, take some time to evaluate your tasks for the next day. Make a list of what you should do the next day, so you hit the ground running. A program/app like Wunderlist is a program that you can have available on your phone, tablet, computer so it is available wherever you need it. You can make multiple lists, both business and personal. This list can be private or shared with others.

  • Time Block

Many people find that working in blocks or time or “chunking” their work out during the day in 1 hour to 3 hour increments is the most efficient way to work. For example, I will turn off email notifications during a two hour timeframe and knock out a report or get my code documented.

  • Alarms

Set alarms on your phone to make sure you make all your meetings on time. This will stop you from getting distracted by other notifications when you check your time on your phone. Alarms can also be used for time blocking so you know you need to move on the next task.

Know Yourself

  • Your Space

Do you work better in a clean, orderly environment? Or is a little mess necessary for the genius to work? Whichever you are, be aware and take care of your office accordingly as you’re packing up and leaving. You don’t want to lose time cleaning the next day because you can’t get focused. You also know what your boss expects. If you’re used to dealing with organized chaos, make sure it’s organized enough to suit your boss.

  • Your Routine

What works best for you? Many people find it is best to do the least desirable piece of their work first, so they do not have it hanging over their head and cluttering their brain from being the most productive can be. Sometimes all it takes is one misstep for your concentration and productivity to be thrown off.

Do Work

The thing to remember is that you have a schedule or a to-do list for a reason. I know this seems obvious, but procrastination is a malady that affects everyone in any job, but manage to push past the temptation and find the reward. You must have the discipline to be able to stick to what works and will bring the desired results to get you more time to do whatever non-work-related activities that you enjoy!

 

Spin these 4 Common Job Hunting Weaknesses to Positives

When you’ve been at a job interview, have you ever dreaded the question, “What do you consider your weaknesses?” Yes, sometimes it’s a difficult one to answer. The worse answer you can give is that you cannot think of a weakness. Employers want to know that you are always looking to improve.

Most job seekers dread candidacy weakness questions because they don’t want to attract attention to their negative attributes and spoil the chances for the job. However, a weakness can be seen as an area of untapped potential rather than a personal deficiency. For this reason, several approaches can be taken in answering questions about your weaknesses.

Here are 3 ways you can put a positive spin on job candidacy weaknesses:

  1. Lack of experience
    Lack of experience is a top weakness among job seekers. If you are asked about working with a specific technology and you do not have experience in that technology, you should talk about a similar technology that you have worked with. If you do not have any experience and your education is recent, you can reference the technology you used in your studies. If you have no experience in the area the interviewer is asking about, speak about your skills and attributes that prove that you are a fast learner. If you are willing to put in your own time to learn that skill, let the interviewer know that you will study after hours to pick up that skill.
  2. Job hopping
    It’s undeniable that employers prefer job seekers with a stable work history. Stable no longer means decades of working at the same company. It typically means 2- 5 years with the same company. Changing jobs too quickly can make employers think it just won’t be worth their investment in training you. On the other hand, if you stay too long with your current employer, employers think you have not seen enough variety of how other companies operate. People change jobs for a myriad of reasons, for example a spouse was transferred, your employer was acquired and your position was eliminated, or you relocated to assist your elderly parents. In those instances, you can put your reason for leaving next to the dates on your resume to help you to secure an interview, also be sure and point out those reasons during the interview.
  3. I am assertive
    A number of people view assertive people as arrogant and dominating. Assertive people tend to exude self-assurance and confidence that may be misconstrued as being bossy. You may want to tell your prospective employer that you consider your assertiveness as a desirable communication skill where you are honest and respectfully interact with your co-workers. When you assert your views, you solve problems and take responsibility. There is a fine line between being assertive and aggressive and you need to communicate that you understand the difference. Being assertive is also a healthy alternative to submission.