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The Ultimate First Impression Checklist

February 19, 2015


Job interviews are stressful. You should spend most of your time preparing your pitch, practicing interview questions, and researching the company and the position. But there’s also one more thing to consider: first impressions do matter. Here’s an easy-to-use checklist of all those little things that might accidentally slip your mind when you’re stressing before your big day. Run through this list and you’ll step into your interview feeling more confident, calm, and collected.

The Night Before

1. Pick out your outfit and iron it. It’s amazing how much better and more professional you’ll look with crisp and clean clothing.

2. Find a tailored, professional-looking briefcase, laptop bag, or tote. That college backpack isn’t going to cut it.

3. Look up directions so you can perfectly time when you should leave. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of wiggle room just in case.


The Morning Of

1. Skip the perfume or aftershave, as well as that cigarette. Many people are sensitive to smells and you don’t want to give anyone a reason not to like you.

2. Pack a water bottle and some tissues. Now if you get thirsty or you sneeze, you’ll be prepared.

3. Print a few extra copies of your resume just in case. Always better to have them on hand.


Minutes Before

1. Get rid of that gum.

2. Take a quick bathroom trip or a glance in a mirror. Make sure you look presentable and there’s nothing in your teeth. Practice your smile.

3. Turn off your phone. (Don’t be that guy!)


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Why You Need a Work BFF

February 17, 2015


Who is your best friend at work? If you can’t name anyone right now at this moment, there’s a chance that you’re not fully engaged with your job. Perhaps you’re feeling unmotivated, under-appreciated, and are even thinking about leaving the company. But what does having a work best friend have to do with career success? A lot it turns out. Those with best friends at work could be described as happier, more fulfilled, and more productive in their careers. Here’s what a Gallup Business Journal study found about people who said, “Yes, I have a best friend at work.”

  • 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days.
  • 37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development.
  • 35% more likely to report coworker commitment to quality.
  • 28% more likely to report that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress.
  • 27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.
  • 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work.
  • 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.

That’s some pretty serious stuff. And while some people want to separate their work life from their home life and don’t want to get “too involved” with their coworkers, this study shows the importance of friendship in the workplace. Friendly coworkers tend to be more loyal, trustworthy, and productive to one another and to the organization. And here’s the kickers: those with best friends at work even manage stress levels better than those without one. If that’s not motivation to start a work friendship, than I don’t know what is!

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Thinking of Your Career as a Small Business

February 12, 2015


We love sharing inspiring career-focused blog posts when we find them — and this one is right up there with the best of them. It’s called Treating Your Career Like a Small Business. Here’s how it works: “Your career is a business and you are a product.” You need a marketable product and a solid brand. Make sense? If you’re struggling to land a job, keep a job, or excel at your current job, this frame of mind might help you find success. Here’s how to apply this analogy to real life:

If you can’t land an interview…
You simply aren’t packaging your product in the best way.  That means you aren’t presenting your experiences and your skills in the best light. Part of landing a job is being able to sell yourself even if that seems awkward to you. If you can’t be confident in yourself, why should anyone else? Find that confidence!

If you can’t get hired because of a questionable past…
You might have to work on your brand image. That means you might have a bit of polishing up to do both online and in person. You’ll need personal references, online testimonials, and a thoughtful explanation for any gaps in your career. There’s always a way to spin a story — find the one that works for you and your career.

If you haven’t heard from anyone during your job search…
You aren’t marketing yourself to enough of your demographic. That means you need to send out more resumes to many targeted companies! Landing a job is a bit of a numbers game and you need to market yourself to your target demographic — a large segment of your target demographic!

Read more about why you should treat your career like a small business at

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How to Make Small Talk During an Interview

February 10, 2015


If you have an upcoming interview, you’ve probably practiced your pitch and perfected your interview questions, but did you even think of the small talk? It’s an easy thing to overlook. But if you find yourself tongue-tied at the beginning of an interview it can really throw you off your game. Luckily, there’s another option: smooth talk yourself into a casual conversation and start the interview on the right foot. Easier said than done, right? Here are a few conversation starters for those first crucial moments of your next interview.

1. “Thank you so much for meeting with me today!”
You can take this one as far as you’d like. Thank the interviewer for his or her time, and even reference his or her busy schedule like, “I hope I’m not hugely interrupting your busy workday.” Hopefully they’ll give you something back. If there’s an awkward silence, move on to step two.

2. “I’m so excited to be here.” 
This is a sentiment you need to express at the beginning, middle, and end of your interview so you might as well blatantly say it right off the bat. Be sure to have a follow-up sentence here because you might get a sneak attack question like, “What excites you most about this company and this position?” Eek! Better have an answer up your sleeve.

3. “Did you have a nice weekend?” or “Got any exciting weekend plans?” 
People like to talk about themselves. So let them! Be sure you have a response in mind just in case they return the question and ask about your weekend plans. It’s best to edit your weekend plans and shed a positive, interesting light on whatever it was that you did.

4. Reference something timely.
It’s easy to fill in an awkward silences. Be it the freak snowstorm that just hit yesterday or the big loss of your city’s football team or a bit of interesting industry news, say something lighthearted, short, and chuckle-worthy to keep the conversation flowing. Feel free to brainstorm a few scripted conversation starters pre-interview.

How do you fill the awkward silences during an interview? We’d love to hear your best lines! Comment below or Tweet us.

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3 Things to Do Before Your Interview

February 5, 2015


You’ve picked the perfect outfit, mapped the route, and rehearsed the most common interview questions. You’re ready, right? Almost. You could proceed without caution, but we have a secret to success that we’d like to share. There are a few more steps you can take just before the interview starts that can make a big difference in the outcome. Here are our top tips for how to best utilize those precious moments before you shake hands with your potential employer.

1. Talk out loud.
If you have a morning interview, you don’t want your first conversation of the day to be the most important one. Talk to yourself in the mirror or call someone on the way to the interview. Practice your pitch, rehearse a few interview questions, and make sure you know how to pronounce the names of the people who will interview you.

2. Do a little cyberstalking.
If you are lucky enough to find out who will be interviewing you, give them a Google or look them up on LinkedIn. You might find that you have a lot in common. Remember, hiring managers are looking to hire the best fit in more than one way — professionally and personally. Be sure to show a bit of your personality and friendliness.

3. Find your zen.
Whether you meditate, read motivational quotes, do breathing exercises, or watch a funny YouTube video, get into your groove. You want to show up to your interview feeling calm, collected, and ready to rock.

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3 People Who Can Help Make Your Career a Success

February 3, 2015


The Brazen Careerist wrote a great post, The 3 People You Absolutely Need In Your Corner to Succeed in a Career. Who are they? A mentor, a coach, and a sponsor. At first glance, they might sound like the same person. But they each play a different role in the success of your career.

Your mentor focuses on your growth.
Your coach analyzes your performance.
Your sponsor watches your back.

You can read more about who these people are, what they do, and why you need them in your life over at Brazen Careerist. But we’re going to talk about how to find them. If you don’t have any of these people in your life, it’s time to start gathering your crew. A professional athlete doesn’t succeed on his or her own, and your career is no different. Here are a few places you can turn to:

  • a past teacher, professor, or internship boss
  • a past or present coworker or boss
  • a leader at your current company
  • a skilled family member or friend
  • an idol or “career crush” found on LinkedIn

Most people will be flattered if you propose a mentorship/coaching opportunity/sponsorship. Set up a phone chat via email, or a coffee date if you can. Be up front with their time commitment — a coach would require more frequent check-ins than a mentor. You’ll likely have to instigate the first few meetings or set up meetings in advance on a shared calendar. But the effort it takes to get a routine going will help your career immensely in the long run.

Do you have a mentor, coach, or sponsor? Comment below or tweet us!


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10 Business Clichés to Remove From Your Vocabulary in 2015

January 29, 2015


Whether you’re deep in a job search or years into a successful position, there’s one bad habit we’d like you to break in 2015: relying on overused business jargon. Why? Because when a phrase becomes a cliché it loses its meaning.

That means when you speak these phrases, your conversation isn’t as strong as it could be. Maybe people lose interest, or roll their eyes, or your argument loses. Read this Forbes piece on why we’re over business jargon to learn more reasons why it can negatively affect your career.

Let’s make 2015 a year when we “think outside the box” — another overused phrase — and come up with a more thoughtful and creative way to get through the business day.

Here are 10 words and phrases we could live without in 2015:

  • Let’s keep that in the pipeline. 
  • I need you to give 110 percent.
  • We want to be thought leaders.
  • Let’s push the envelope.
  • That’s right in our wheelhouse.
  • I’ll circle back with that information.
  • We can hack that.
  • That’s a no brainer. 
  • We need to wrap our heads around this.
  • Any out-of-context use of the words: startup, hack, or disrupt.
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What Do You Do When Your Coworker Quits?

January 27, 2015


Change is good, but change can be scary — especially when you’re not the one who instigated it. When a coworker decides to quit it can interrupt your team more than you’d like to admit. The Brazen Careerist had a great post recently on How to Cope When You Coworker Leaves the Company.

It made us think about how to best react when someone drops the two-week’s notice bomb. Here is our list of mantras to repeat when you’re going through the transition from empty cubicle next door to new hire neighbor:

  • Remember that everyone will be under added stress. When one member of your team leaves, everyone has to pick up the slack until the replacement steps in. And it’s not just one person’s responsibility
  • Remember that the stress is temporary. It’s no fun to have to take on extra work, but it’s no one’s fault. Be a team player and work through this trying time.
  • Remember to send off your coworker the right way. Be excited for his or her new role and be sure to keep in touch. You never know when your connections will come in handy.
  • Remember to greet the replacement with open arms. Stepping into someone else’s shoes is no fun but we’ve all been there. A new person will be just that — new. It will take them awhile to transition and they’ll bring they’ll own flair. And that might be just what you needed.
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Get Smarter and Work Better with this App

January 22, 2015


elevateApple named Elevate the best app of 2014. It’s addicting. It will make you smarter. It will help you in work and life. So what are you waiting for?

Elevate is one of those “personal brain trainer” apps but there’s something about this one that sticks. You’ll feel like you’re getting smarter and it’s pretty fun to play. You’ll find yourself playing math games and actually enjoying yourself.

Elevate lets you choose specific areas of improvement and they’re all commendable. Choose from articulating your thoughts more clearly, retaining more of what you read and hear, and processing information faster. From there, a quick test evaluates your proficiency in each area. Every day you’ll get a reminder to tackle your training session, which is composted of three challenges in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and math.

Read more of the best apps of the year at TIME.

Image via

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Job Seekers: Forget These 3 Excuses in 2015

January 20, 2015


198900518_fdd4191bbd_zExcuses, excuses, excuses. We’re calling you out. If you’re actively job seeking right now, we’ve got your back — but we’re also going to give you the kick you need. Here are the top excuses you need to stop making for yourself in 2015.

1. “I don’t have enough experience, so I’m not even going to apply.”
You’ve got nothing to lose when it comes to this job application. Leave it to someone else to decide your fate. As Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

2. “I’ve sent a million applications, but I hear nothing.”
It’s great that you’ve sent out so many applications, but how much effort did you put into each one? Not enough. We’ve touted the importance of tailoring each resume and we’ve covered how to tell if your resume sucks. Apply to fewer jobs in a more thoughtful way and you might see your results change.

3. “I’ll apply but I’m never going to get this job.” 
Confidence, people! You need confidence. Your doubt will come through in your application and your interview. No one will take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously.

Image via vandys/Flickr.

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