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5 Reasons Why an Elevator Pitch Will Help Your Job Search

February 11, 2016

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26472155_8cc5066b66_zAlthough it sounds short and sweet, don’t be fooled! An elevator pitch is a 30-90 second description of what you are looking for in a job and why you’d be a great fit. It requires concise and casual language, but at the same time it needs to be impactful and stimulate something in the audience. A delicate balance is required. If crafted well, your elevator pitch should entice your audience to want to learn more about you. Leave them hanging just a bit, and you’ll have something to share in a future meeting.

Preparing your elevator pitch can be tricky. Especially if you’re someone who likes to talk and overshare alllllllll the details. BEWARE! Save the details for later and look at the elevator pitch as a tool to get the next meeting/interview/sit-down. Then you can get more into the nitty-gritty. Although it may take time to craft the perfect pitch, it’s worth the effort. Here’s why:

Benefits of an Elevator Pitch

  1. During a job interview, an elevator pitch requires that you research the job you want, therefore learning even more about the organization you are targeting for employment.
  2. An elevator pitch can helps you network with all types of people throughout your job search.
  3. While researching and writing your elevator pitch, you’ll become more comfortable with the language of the industry and how to translate it into layman’s terms.
  4. An elevator pitch gives you the confidence you need during a job search. When you have a solid feel for what you want, then you can discuss the topic self-assuredly.
  5. You’ll be forced to research each person and/or organization you talk to in order to customize your pitch accordingly. It’s like a teaser to a prime time TV show, and you need to think about your audience.

Image via Gideon Tsang/Flickr.

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7 Questions That Will Help You Write An Elevator Pitch

February 9, 2016

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You’ve done everything there is to do to get that job. Your resume and LinkedIn profile are perfect–who wouldn’t want you? All these things are great and should help you clinch the job, but if you can’t verbalize what you’re looking for to your network, or even your best friend, you may never find it. This is where the elevator pitch comes into play. It’s not just for sales people, it’s for anyone looking to get from point A to point B. That’s you!

The elevator pitch, at its core, is pretty simple. It’s 30-90 seconds about who you are and what you’re looking for. As long as you can answer some basic questions, you can write a solid elevator pitch. Here are some steps for getting that pitch going. Watch out world, here you come!

1. What are you looking for?
If you’re searching for a job, there’s a chance you are looking for something a little different than what you are already doing. Take inventory of what you’ve enjoyed about your career and what you’ve been good at. Make a column for those experiences you didn’t like as well. It’s just as important to be able to identify what you don’t want to do.

2. What are the 3 most important things you want to express about yourself?
It’s okay to write down more than three ideas, but you’ll eventually have to boil it down to your favorites. Not everything about you is relevant, depending on the job. Only put in those things that relate to the job you are trying to secure.

3. What is unique about you and your skill set/history?
Your audience wants to know what makes you special. This is where you can capitalize on the conversation. Tell them just enough information so that they’ll have to ask you a question because they’ll be dying to know more. Make it a chance for them to inquire about you. Tease them a bit!

4. How can you help the organization you’re interested in?
Your pitch will be slightly modified for each position you apply for. There is some version of “pain” involved in any organization or department. Make your audience see that you are interested in solving problems and making the work smoother, more efficient, or less dramatic (whatever adjective works for the job you are looking for).

5. What information is unnecessary?
Edit, edit, edit, cut, cut, cut! Remember: you have only 30-90 seconds. Every written piece deserves an editor! If you can, show your pitch to others and have them give you feedback. You can learn a lot from a fresh set of eyes.

6. How much have you practiced?
Practice makes better! No matter how much you’ve worked on it and believe it’s perfect, nothing takes the place of practicing–and it doesn’t have to be in front of another person. Try the mirror!

7. What worked and what didn’t work?
You’ll have to practice with a live audience before you can ask yourself these questions. Schedule a networking event or meeting to work on your elevator pitch. Set your expectations: this is a practice run. Pay attention to what did and didn’t work, and alter it as you go.

Image via Rennett Stone/Flickr.

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7 Steps to Leaving Your Job on a Positive Note

February 5, 2016

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3799375512_4878094ffd_zJobs don’t last forever. That’s both good and bad. Wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to search for another job? But on the other hand, can you imagine holding the same position, with the same people, and the same responsibilities for the rest of your life?

There comes a time when it becomes clear that an exit strategy is necessary. But, oftentimes, once we think about leaving a job certain things occur in our head that keep us from making good choices and making that graceful exit. Here are some thoughts you’ll want to keep top-of-mind while you are at one job, searching for another, and planning to fly the coop:

  1. Treat your colleagues with respect and as potential contacts for your future. You never know who you’ll run into later in your life. The world is a much smaller place than most people realize. Don’t come to that realization once it’s too late.
  2. Imagine yourself in your boss’ shoes and how it would affect you if one of your staff quit. Your boss will have to re-hire your position, which is stressful and time consuming.
  3. The less drama the better.  You want to be remembered for your work, not any confrontation that may have been created when you left.
  4. Give the appropriate amount of time. In general, two weeks is the standard minimum for a notice. Offer to do as much as you can to help transition someone else into your position. This makes for a comfortable exit that keeps you in the good graces of your team and your boss.
  5. Remember where you work! It’s easy to reduce your loyalty when you are on your way out. Don’t let one potential job creep in to your current one. Keep the job search and your current work separate.
  6. Write a letter to your boss in addition to giving your two weeks notice. You want to keep that connection in your back pocket. Your future could very well find him/her as a new client or as a contractor in your new organization.
  7. Thank the colleagues that have helped you along the way. Any co-workers or freelancers that you’ve learned from and worked with along the way deserve a visit or a special thank you. You may need their expertise someday and they may need yours!

Image via Chris Griffith/Flickr.

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How to Make Friends at Work

February 3, 2016

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9718507502_b4bd6b93b3_zHaving a great group of friends at work seems like it would be every employee’s optimum scenario. Who wouldn’t want a tight knit group to rely on, have lunch with, and vent to at work? Having a posse at your work can provide you with a couple important things:

  1. Support: It’s human nature to want someone to back you in your ideas, proposals, and work. It’s also beneficial to have constructive feedback from people you trust and respect.
  2. Increased productivity: If you are a person who enjoys people and gets your energy from them, you could see an increase in your productivity and ability to focus. Having a friend group at work may fulfill a social need for you that allows you to focus more when it’s time to get down to business.

On the other hand, here are a few things that make it difficult to make friends at your workplace:

  1. Pre-formed cliques: Try not to let a clique affect your mood or squash your efforts. Small groups can be difficult to penetrate at first if you don’t take your time and move cautiously. Don’t open up as quickly as you might want to. Give it a little time and let people learn about you.
  2. Your expectations: If you’re too eager and expect friendships to develop immediately, you may do the opposite: scare everyone away.
  3. Conflict between colleagues: If you inherit a team that is in the middle of any conflicts, it can be hard to truly learn about them. You may just be seeing the extremes and reactions to work or culture issues and be forced to choose sides on an issue you know nothing about.

When we look at the big picture, relationships are what make the world go around and since we spend the majority of our time at work, it only makes sense to be friendly with our fellow employees. If you have just started a new job or joined a new team at your work, don’t fret, it may take some time. Here are some tips for getting used to the team and helping them get used to you:

  1. Take it slow: Share information about yourself in bits and pieces. Too much at one time can turn people off. Also, you want to gauge this person as well. Trust happens slowly, not immediately.
  2. Reach out to them: People are very flattered when someone wants to know about them. Listen!
  3. Lunch/Coffee: Invite someone or a group out somewhere other than work. Putting things on neutral ground often changes people’s vibe and allows them to open up more easily.
  4. Treat everyone equally: Be careful not to befriend only one person at your work. This can put others on the defensive and make them wary of what looks like a clique or alliance.

Image via Salford University/Flickr

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Why You Should Constantly Update Your Online Career Profile

January 28, 2016

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6290003115_7788c41563_zResumes only need to be updated during the job search process, but your online profile is a bit different. It’s always out there in cyberspace for anyone to view whenever they decide. That’s scary! But it’s kind of amazing too. Online career profiles can work for you, even when you’re not in the depths of a job hunt. Your online profile is like a billboard on the busiest highway in your area. You wouldn’t want a billboard of your information to be incorrect.

Passersby, in this case potential employers, networkers, and recruiters, should have a good sense of your recent accomplishments and current endeavors. After all, it would be great if you could get those passersby to pull over and stay a while. And whether you realize it or not, your career is constantly changing. You should be constantly adding skills and updates to your bio as you and your career morph.

Every time you make a change to your profile, you’ll keep recruiters and employers updated on your status. Don’t worry; your current employer will not immediately assume you’re searching for a job if you update yourprofile. Keeping an updated online profile is your right and it’s the smart thing for any career-minded person to do. Here are some ideas on when to update your online career profile.

  • When you finish any type of education from traditional schooling to continuing education classes to certifications.
  • Immediately after you’ve been promoted or your title has been changed.
  • After you’ve changed jobs. Wait until you’ve settled in and update it 2 to 3 months later.
  • When you’ve acquired a new skill. Ask for coworker to endorse your skills on LinkedIn.
  • If you’ve authored any materials, publications, or articles; these make great status updates too!
  • If you’ve moved from one town to another.
  • When you have a new and improved photo of yourself.
  • After you’ve had a great experience with someone and want to recommend their work. Ask for one in return!
  • When you find an interesting career article, update your status so all your connections can see that you’re involved in the industry.
  • If your contact information changes: email, phone, blog, Twitter, website, etc.

Image via Flickr/Shelia Scarborough

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The 3 Times Phone Etiquette Matters Most

January 26, 2016

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17470913285_01d630162b_zYou’re in the interview, the one that is going to put you back on track for your career. It’s going to give you the freedom you’ve hoped for, the money you deserve, and the opportunity to work in the field you’ve dreamed of. Then, your phone rings. *&%^&! You dig through your bag to silence it as quickly as possible, but in your head you know you’ve just killed the interview.

The cellphone, or basically mini-computer, has become like another limb for most people. Yet it can destroy the things that it helped to bring about just as quickly as they came. We store our networking contacts on our phones, we use our phone to check our LinkedIn and Twitter, we use the map on our phone to help us get to our scheduled job interviews. This list could go on and on…

It’s clear this tool is imperative for a job search, but it also requires some specific etiquette. And these tips could actually make you become a more productive and proficient employee.

Phone Etiquette at a Networking Event
Bring your phone, of course, but don’t have it out at all times. As little as possible would be best. A networking event is your one chance for face-to-face communication. You are there to meet people, learn about them, and hopefully contact them again in relation to your search. Tweeting during an event might be tempting, but that face-to-face time is priceless—and not worth passing up for one tweet. And remember: don’t use your phone as a crutch if you’re having a hard time mixing with a group.

Phone Etiquette in an Interview
Sure, you need your phone to get to the interview and to double check your schedule and the names of the people you are talking to. However, once you’ve walked in that door and are waiting to go into the interview, tuck that phone in your bag with the ringer and vibration OFF. Put it on airplane mode or shut if off completely. Here’s a tip that will help you keep your phone out of sight: wear a watch!

Phone Etiquette at Work
This is a tricky one because some workplaces require phones for more immediate communication. However, this is when you really have to exercise your restraint and caution. Decide to check it only before or after meetings—not during. That’s rude! Be present in the moment and direct your full attention to those who formally requested it. Employers that don’t require cellphones will have a very low tolerance for those who while away time on a personal device. Share the phone number of your place of work with loved ones so they can reach you in case of an emergency. You can check your phone during breaks.

Image via Flickr and http://www.japanexperterna.se/ 

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The Résumé: What’s Changed and What’s Stayed the Same

January 22, 2016

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13903383190_5920c870e1_zApplying for a job is a multimedia experience these days: LinkedIn messages, emails, online questionnaires, video interviews, phone calls, in-person meetings, etc. It’s exhausting! But one thing remains the same—the résumé is still front and center when looking for a new job.

Given the evolution of career searches, the résumé, while still here, has slightly changed. Recruiters and hiring managers often have to quickly scan your application due to the influx of online applications. Just like it’s important to tailor your resume for the job you are searching for, it’s just as important to adjust your résumé style to the current times—just like you would your wardrobe!

Here are a few things that have changed and a few things that haven’t when it comes to résumés…as well as something that’s still up for debate:

What Has Stayed the Same?

  • The dates you’ve worked at a job should remain specific. Always use the months in addition to the years.
  • Include quantifiable numbers wherever you can. Numerical data is always great.
  • Prioritize your accomplishments under each position.
  • Incorporate softs skills where possible.
  • Stick to the truth! If you feel like you need to explain something further, save it for the cover letter or interview. Don’t put anything misleading on your résumé.

What Has Changed? 

  • Consider including any life or volunteer experiences that have taught you skills which apply to the job. It may very likely show your determination, perseverance, or resilience.
  • Forget the long-winded and complicated descriptions of your daily job responsibilities.
  • You don’t have to hide your education at the bottom of the résumé, especially if it relates to the job. The format isn’t quite as rigid as it once was.
  • Don’t include a hobbies section. Limit this section to applicable accomplishments.
  • Don’t bury important information and make the recruiters search for it. Keep your format and copy simple and obvious.
  • Any potentially controversial topics (religion, politics, sexuality) should be left off your résumé.
  • Try to stick to one page, unless you have decades of experience.

What’s Still Up for Debate?

  • Summary paragraphs. Some say it’s a good thing, while others believe it just takes up room and is unnecessary.

Image via www.flazingo.com

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What You Can Do to Encourage That Raise

January 20, 2016

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giphy (1)You like your job, you work hard, and you’ve been with the organization for a significant amount of time. It’s hard not to let your mind wander to that place in your head where you ask yourself, “When will I get a raise?” But then again, it could be the right time for you to start thinking this way. How do you know?

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you meander further down that path:

Do you regularly do more than is required of you? 

Do you volunteer for various tasks/jobs when people are needed?

Are you a respected leader in your work group?

Do you take the blame when you need to?

Do you mentor and support your team?

Do you regularly get asked to take on projects?

Do you give credit to your colleagues as it’s due?

Does your manager call on you when he/she is in a pinch at the office?

You don’t need to be able to answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions in order to move forward with a raise request. However, think about your worth and consider also making a list of positive attributes you contribute to your organization. Would you be easily replaced? Is what you do a specialized skill?

There’s also the consideration that you should be able to handle the answer when you do finally ask for the raise. Are you ready to hear that the company can’t dole out raises based on this year’s numbers? Or, it’s possible that they have policies on raises that you’re not aware of.

If you’re ready to respond to and handle the answers to those first two questions, also consider this one: the possibility that you are showing initiative and sharing your worth with your hiring manager when you sit down to this important conversation. The worst case scenario—and this is a good one—is that you are speaking up about your worth to this organization and your team. This could give your manager the “kick in the pants” he/she needs to remember what an asset you are to the group

 

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How to Find R-E-S-P-E-C-T at Work

January 13, 2016

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10563493286_6aa1ce18aa_zAretha Franklin knew what she was talking about when she sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T. In the work world, this is a word that carries a lot of weight. If you are a respected employee you will likely get a lot further in your career than if you are not.

Remember what it was like in high school—while some teachers were “cooler” than others, you always respected the teacher who was fair. You respected the teacher who knew how to keep the class in line. You respected the teacher who said hello and acknowledged you in the hallways. You respected the teacher who offered assistance when you needed it. It was those teachers who set an example of what makes a proper authority figure, and you saw first hand that being liked was different than being respected.

It’s similar in the work world. Everyone wants to be liked, just as they did in high school, and that has merit, but earning respect is what’s going to keep you moving up in your career. When you realize this is when you’re able to begin to create the boundaries necessary to move your career to the next level.

If you are eventually looking for a raise, a promotion, or even just a more positive review from your boss, you have to start by changing your behavior to elicit respect. Here’s what this involves:

  • knowing when to talk with colleagues and when to get down to business
  • steering clear of office gossip
  • mentoring your colleagues when they need it
  • displaying leadership qualities like problem solving under pressure with grace
  • illustrating that you can follow through and you can lead a team to completion
  • choosing the appropriate communication for the situation (e-mail, phone calls, texts, in person)
  • volunteering to step into a leadership role or take on larger projects
  • showing you’re confident during all of your tasks

Your colleagues may not understand why you’ve made such a choice. They may feel snubbed when they notice you are no longer socializing with them as you once did or participating in office gossip. But, drawing that line and creating the boundaries between respect and like could give you a boost in a pool of employees that are just going through the motions.

If you can regularly remind yourself why you are there, why you have this job, and what your goals are, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping the parameters set and being respected by your co-workers and managers.

Image via Patrick Marioné/Flickr

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4 Things You Can Learn From “The Intern”

January 7, 2016

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Once in a while a movie comes along that not only entertains, but educates. The Intern, starring Robert DeNiro, is one of these movies. DeNiro plays a 70-something gentleman who becomes an intern for a hip, startup company. He does not dress like the others and generally doesn’t act like them either. Instead of a messenger bag, headphones, and an iPhone, his character Ben carries a hard-sided briefcase, a flip phone and a paper planner. As you may have guessed, Ben doesn’t wear a hoodie—he dons a three-piece suit with a matching pocket square and wing-tipped business shoes.

Despite the fact that Ben’s old-school ways do not seem to fit in with his colleagues, he teaches them all a few things throughout the movie. Here are some takeaways from The Intern that you can put into action in your everyday work or search for a job or internship.

  1. Listening and patience. Ben pays very close attention to the actions of his boss. He does not leave his desk at the end of the day until she does, and as a result, learns so much more about her. His patience comes into play here: he waits for her to notice him, talk to him, and finally ask for his opinion on a few work-related things. His quiet, but strong character, continuously creates opportunities where he can showcase his talents. Listen, process, and wait. 
  2. Pride. Ben takes pride in everything he does from the way he dresses to his work ethic. (He’s in before the boss and leaves only after she does.) He’s also proud to be a mentor to all the young millennials he works with. He shares lesson after lesson with his younger colleagues to give them an edge in their careers. Pride in the way you do your job will get you noticed! 
  3. Attire. Ben dresses completely different than his coworkers. (A three-piece suit and fancy shoes!) Although more appropriate for work culture 20+ years ago, Ben finds a way to impress and influence his younger counterparts with his clothing. His respectful and chivalrous attitude is the perfect accessory, and by the end of the movie one of his colleagues is rocking the three-piece suit as well! If you aren’t certain about your clothing in the work world, it’s always better to take it up a notch rather than down. First impressions matter and the powers that be will notice your dedication in this area. 
  4. Communication. Working with colleagues who aren’t your age or even in your generation can seem tough. However, it provides the opportunity for ideas from both generations to bubble up to the top.  The young interns and employees in the film learn how to communicate with Ben just as he does with them—he helps them learn how to win over and influence clients while they help him learn how millennials succeed in today’s technological world. Mentorship can work both ways! 
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