Category Archives: Career Resources

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.

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

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!

 

Dump the Slump

It has arrived. Your eyes feel sandpapery as you struggle to keep them open. Your whole body feels weighted, but your computer screen continues to glare, reminding you that you’re not quite done yet or even worse you have to attend a meeting.

If you’re tired (ha!) of barely keeping your eyelids at half-mast, here are some ideas to help you out—short of implementing mandatory naptime at your work, of course.

  • Interact

Rather than sending that work-related email, go and talk to the recipient directly. Talking, smiling and laughing with others will go a long way towards helping you conquer the drowsiness and build relationships, which is key to growing your career. More than ever, employers are searching for candidates that can build business and vendor relationships. This one has double benefits, as it helps your body wake up and it also relieves the strain on your eyes.

  • Get Up

The benefits of movement cannot be overstated. Getting up and moving around can be one of the best ways to wake yourself up. Now, this doesn’t allow you to wander the office for the next 2 hours. Taking five minutes to get up, stretch, walk to the water cooler can have great benefits.

If your job involves having to go out of the office during the day, schedule any outings for this time of day. You’ll be up, moving, and active, and you won’t even have to consciously think of this step.

  • Snack

Not all snacks are equally good for you. A candy bar has a quick energy surge, but an even quicker drop. Opt instead for fruit or veggies, nuts or dark chocolate. Bring something that has good nutrition that you can also enjoy.

Don’t forget water either. Most of us don’t drink nearly as much water as we should, but staying properly hydrated can go a long way toward helping you to stay awake and alert throughout the day. Doctors recommend at least 64 oz. a day.

  • Plan Ahead

Lasting throughout the day without hitting a slump starts with getting a good night’s rest the night before. You know your limits, and you know the consequences of pushing those.

Also, consider what you’re eating throughout the day. Experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Find what you like, but also consider the long-lasting health benefits of those foods. Yogurt and whole-grain cereal are just a couple of the many options at your disposal. Same goes for lunch. Protein is a go for lunch, while you may want to cut back a bit on the carbs.

Just getting through the day can be a chore when drowsiness hits you like a truck. Don’t let yourself or your career be beaten by it! Plan ahead, interact, do a few cartwheels (it will certainly help your coworkers wake up:), or just take the stairs whenever you can. There are plenty of options to pull you out of the slump and the added benefit is that it can give your career a real jump.

Social Media Errors that are Affecting Your Job Hunt

What you say online could cost you your next job offer. Contrary to what some people may think, who you are online is not disconnected from who you are in your day-to-day work life. People filter their tweets and posts less and less, while potential employers are checking out social profiles more and more. No matter how sure you are that what you’ve posted, tweeted, or shared is private, it’s not. Here are some things not to include on your social media or any other online accounts.

Inflammatory statements

Especially with your professional accounts, you don’t need to state your political affiliation. As much as you might like to engage in a debate about your favorite or least favorite political candidate, resist the urge. You don’t need your potential employer viewing your professional account and finding long rants or heated conversations with other people. Everyone has opinions and expressing them is good. But there is a time and place for that. Social media, even if it’s your private account, may not be the best place to do so.

Complaints about previous jobs

If you actually say the name of your boss, coworker, or company, you could get passed over for the next promotion or job offer. Venting your frustrations online about your job or co-workers is never appropriate. Choose instead to talk it over with a trusted friend. What you have to say may be true, but it creates a poor impression of you. After all, if you lacked discretion then, your potential employer is probably wondering would you do the same to them.

Playing when you should be working

If you are posting and liking posts or tweets during work hours that may give your employer the impression you are not giving 100% during your work day.

Also, requesting time off work for a “family emergency” and then posting pictures of yourself on a beautiful golf course is not going to end well for you. Lying to your boss is obviously poor judgment and will reflect badly on you.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your personal and professional accounts separate. Don’t let the two mix. Stay professional on your LinkedIn and Twitter professional accounts. On your personal accounts, simply use good judgment.

Fun Pictures from College

Believe it or not, if you have a picture from your college days, maybe as a previous profile pic on Facebook, it could work against you. Especially if said picture is you doing a shot or some other questionable picture. Employers look through your posts and pictures and finding an image, even from way-back-when that is questionable could work against you.

Anything Illegal

Whether it’s a joking reference or not, avoid this at all costs. Online, you can’t decipher tone or context, so no one really knows what you mean by what you said. Any illegal activity on your part could get you in trouble with the law and would reflect poorly on your company. Don’t reference anything illegal and keep your reputation pristine.

Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself

A personal brand is all about what people know you for. Ideally, you want them to associate you with a specific thing, a niche so that when they see or hear your name, they think of success in that area. People need to think of you as a leader or expert in that area. Personal branding is all about finding what you’re good at, prioritizing, putting yourself out there, and sharing what you know with others.

Discover Yourself

So how do you start? Well, it’s not as mystical as it sounds. Very simply, think about what makes you unique. What do you bring to your job, business, the world that is different? What are your strengths? And then combined with that, what do you enjoy doing and are passionate about? You may be good at a certain thing because it was drilled into you, but if it’s not your passion, you won’t stick with it. Make a list of what makes you unique, what your talents are, and then cross-reference that with your passions.

Grow

Now that you’ve figured out what makes you you, grow in that area. Learn about it more, take your strengths to greater heights. Do what you need to become an expert in that area. You need to learn enough, be experienced enough, practice enough to be the go-to person in this area. Your personal brand is no use to you if you can’t do it well or even better than anyone else. This is continuous. You never stop learning, growing, and developing. Doing so is critical to successfully branding yourself.

Prioritize

You know what you’re good at, so don’t let your attention get snagged by other things. Set goals for yourself that are in line with your strengths and uniqueness. Prioritize the growth of your personal brand. Do what it takes to develop it. When other opportunities arise, use your goals as a measure of whether you should pursue them.

Share

Now that you’ve accumulated all this knowledge, it’s time to put it out there. You will never develop your personal brand if you don’t impart your value to others. Find the platform that works best for you, whether it’s social media, a website, or both and start making noise. Don’t be obnoxious, but participate in discussions, write articles, and generally make it known that you have some knowledge in your area. Use your network to spread the word. By helping people there, they’ll tell others, and so on.

Creating a personal brand is a great asset in today’s business world. It does take work and effort, but it’s not impossible or only available for the elite. In fact, it’s all about becoming one of those elite by being an expert in your niche.

Making the Most of Multitasking with Technology

The rapid advancement of technology throughout the last few decades has led to huge leaps forward in our ability to collaborate, produce, and multitask in the workplace.  There is always something vying for your attention, and what begins as an easy way to streamline work and get more done at once can quickly become a confusing mess of tasks and programs to keep track of. By optimizing your technology and making the most of your multitasking capabilities, you can maximize the upside while minimizing the downside of the never-ending workflow.

  1. Consolidate

Most people are guilty of it: you have multiple programs that all essentially do the same thing. Did you share those notes on Slack or Evernote? Did you send that message from your personal or your work email?  It’s easy to see how the relative convenience of these applications can become horribly complex.

To eliminate this problem, you need to consolidate as much as possible. Pick the platform that best fits your needs and stick to it. At most, you should only have separate calendars for work and personal events, but the easiest will be to have everything consolidated into one. This enables you to see your day at a glance, rather than having to check multiple calendars against one another before confirming a meeting. This principle can be applied across all your technologies. Wherever possible, consolidate down to just one email, client, collaboration platform, and storage service.

  1. Integrate

The ability to integrate services, devices, and platforms into one another is incredibly helpful when it comes to getting more done at once, and you should take full advantage of this to optimize your multitasking. Now that you’ve pared down to just one calendar, set it up on both your work computer and mobile devices then integrate it into as many of the services you use as possible, so that you can multitask seamlessly between whatever device or program you happen to be using at the time.  This way, the next time you need to send an email confirming a meeting on your calendar while on a conference call, you can do it all from a single device.

  1. Automate

Automation is where multitasking starts to get really cool.  Services like If This, Then That (IFTTT.com) allow you to consolidate, integrate, and automate the various technologies in your life in a big way. From your car to your weather app, these user-friendly “applettes” allow you to automate your multitasking completely. You can mute your phone upon entering the office, send a text to your spouse when you leave, and have your garage door open when your car is in the driveway without even lifting a finger. Whether you use IFTTT or find other ways to automate your tech to best fit your individual needs, being able to automate your tasks will be the way that you turn the tables from having to multitask yourself to having multiple tasks complete themselves while you focus your attention on the areas that need it the most.

Finally, stop spending mental energy trying to multitask and automate these optimized technologies to do the legwork for you. Multitasking doesn’t have to be a trial-by-fire splitting of your attention. With the capabilities we have today, it can instead mean getting to focus on just one thing at a time, while you’re still simultaneously “doing it all.”