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The Referral Economy and Your Career

October 23, 2014


We’ve all heard of the sharing economy — you’ve likely participated in it. It started innocently. Perhaps you bought concert tickets from a stranger on Craigslist. Then you moved on to hiring a stranger to drive you around the city thanks to the Lyft app. Finally, you let a stranger rent your apartment for a week through Airbnb.

What it all comes down to is this: we’re starting to trust strangers again. The sharing economy is becoming the trusting economy. And this is only good for our careers. How? Because as the sharing economy becomes the trusting economy, the trusting economy has become the referral economy. Think of the growing importance of reviews on sites like Yelp and Amazon — and don’t forget LinkedIn.

If there was ever a reason to start growing your network and gain allies, now is the time. A beefed up LinkedIn profile includes personal reviews from at least one boss or coworker at each company you’ve worked for as well as plenty of endorsements for each of your major skills. And a well-connected network includes people from inside and outside your company, your state, and your industry. You never know where your next job opportunity could pop up.

Read about what networking really means as well as why networking is good for your mental health.



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5 Things That Will Help You Critique Not Criticize at Work

October 21, 2014


There’s a difference between attacking a problem and attacking a person. While honesty is crucial in the workplace, it must be delivered in a delicate fashion with tact and professionalism. The Next Web wrote a fantastic piece on Critique vs Criticize: The Lost Art of Candor in the Workplace. Here are a few key mantras to remember the next time you need to approach a coworker with some negative feedback:

1. Candy-coated information won’t help anyone.
If there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed. Avoiding the issue likely means avoiding a solution. Candor is important in discovering the best solution to a difficult problem. So if you’re feeling queasy before raising a sensitive subject, remember — it’s in everyone’s best interest to talk this out.

2. Everyone communicates — and takes criticism — differently.
Different personalities communicate differently, work differently, and give and take feedback differently. Keep this in mind when delivering and receiving feedback. Think of the source of the feedback or the recipient of the feedback and adjust your response accordingly.

3. People dwell on the negative even if it’s delivered in the best way possible.
According to The Next Web, it can take five positive events to outweigh one negative event. Although truthful feedback is absolutely necessary for success in the workplace, remember that it may sour the air temporarily and may not be welcomed with a smile.

4. Be up front about what’s about to happen.
Your team may want to dedicate a “safe space” like a private conference room for honest talks like these or even begin utilizing a phrase that indicates some serious talk is about to go down. Either way, give the recipient a heads up that you are about to deliver some negative news.

5. Be brief and move on to the solution.
Think about how you can deliver the news in the most terse fashion possible. Then refocus the conversation to the solution — what can we do moving forward? As mentioned above, people will dwell on the negativity but make a concerted effort to move the conversation to a more positive place.

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Not Your Average Resume

October 16, 2014


Sumry Image

Thanks to LinkedIn, the resume seems to be going the way of the iPod Classic. Extinct. Yet employers still demand the one-page document for each position you apply for. What’s a tech-savvy job seeker to do? Sumry hopes to be a happy medium that both employers and future employees can get behind.

Sumry turns your resume into an interactive timeline that shares your story both online and in print. Build your profile, then email it to recruiters directly from the site. Your cover letter becomes the body of the email and includes links to your Sumry profile or a PDF version of your profile. Here’s the best part — you get notified when the recruiter clicks those links. That means you known when a recruiter read your resume. You can even do a “test run” and see which cover letters get the highest response rates. And you can keep track of who’s radar you’re on.

The cool features don’t come free. You can set up a profile at no cost, but to publish it you’ll need to pay $3 a month. To see who’s opened your resume, you’ll need to pay $7 per month. If you’re deep in the throes of job searching, $7 is money well spent.

Image via Sumry.

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3 Can’t-Miss Questions to Ask in Your Next Interview

October 14, 2014


You’re not the only one who should be asking questions during your next interview. Remember this: you should be interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. Don’t you want to be happy in this new job? Then ask away! After all, you don’t have to accept your next job offer. You can wait until the right one comes along. Be sure to dive deep into the position and the company by asking intelligent questions. Here are some few inquiries to keep in mind during your next interview:

1. Who will I be working with?
Learn how big the team is, what their roles are, and who they are. Ask how you will fit into this arrangement. Who will you be working with most closely? Who will support you? Who will you support? These are the kinds of questions that will help reveal the true nature of your potential position.

2. What unique skills do I need to succeed in this position?
You know the minimum requirements of this position as stated in the job description, but there’s always more to the day-to-day responsibilities. For example, will there be a lot of meetings? Perhaps public speaking skills will be of help. Will there be a lot of deadlines to juggle? Perhaps extreme organizational skills and a level head will put you a step ahead of the rest.

3. How can I make your job easier?
If you’re interviewing with your boss, learn how your role complements theirs. Maybe simply meeting your deadlines is all that’s asked of you. But perhaps there’s room to grow like a project left untouched or a meeting that always gets overlooked. At the very least, showing interesting in how you can make your potential new boss’s life easier will score you major brownie points — and hopefully a job offer.


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How to Stop Your Gossip Habbit at Work

October 9, 2014


Water cooler chatter is often clouded with something a bit juicier — gossip. As humans, it’s hard not to talk about others. But remember this bit of wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” When it comes to the workplace, this quote couldn’t hold more true. There’s just not a time or place for gossip. Here are three tips to break your bad habit:

Focus on the work.
Time spent gossiping is time spent away from what you need to do — your work. Before you open your mouth to blab about something inappropriate and unrelated, move the conversation —  or your own thoughts — back to the project at hand. You’ll feel better about yourself and your productivity.

Keep your thoughts to yourself — at first.
You may not believe that a coworker is going to meet that upcoming deadline because of their skill set or their work habits, but that’s not up to you to decide. If you were partnered with them for a project or they were given an assignment over you, let it play out. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Approach coworkers directly — and privately — if something is bothering you.
If someone isn’t delivering on their end, don’t feel like you have to cover yourself by gossiping your suspicions to everyone around you. Approach that person directly and privately first. If the problem doesn’t fix itself post conversation, take the issue to your boss and feel free to discuss the missed deadline or incomplete assignment openly.


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How to Rock an Interview: Put Yourself in the Interviewer’s Shoes

October 7, 2014


In order to hit it out of the ballpark at your next interview, you have to understand the psychology behind it. And by that we mean: put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. If you were the person hiring for this job, what would you be looking for? What kind of person would you want to hire? Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos tells his hiring managers to ask themselves these three questions during an interview:

1. Will you admire this person?

2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?

3. Along what dimensions might this person be a superstar?

Those are some high expectations. And that’s just three examples of questions that are likely running through any hiring managers mind during any given interview. As the potential employee, you have to prove that you are not just a likable person, but a person who is worth looking up to. You need to illustrate that you’ll not only transition seamlessly into the team but that you will raise the bar. Lastly, you must show off an exceptional skill that will uniquely benefit the team and the company.

Quite the challenge, huh? Don’t beat yourself up too much. But putting yourself in the mind of the interviewer should help you up the ante in your next interview. Be that person who your interviewer is searching for. You have it in you — just be sure to show it.

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Why You Should Take a One-Minute Meditation Break

October 2, 2014


Whether you’re stressed out at work or stressed out about a job search, there’s one thing we can all agree on: sometimes we have to step away from the screen. Unfortunately for many of us that means we simply open a new browser and scroll through Facebook or Twitter. While these mindless acts are a welcoming break, they’re also not a productive or refreshing way to spend our break time. But what is?

If taking a 15-minute walk isn’t in the cards because of weather or time constraints, there might be something else you can turn to: a one-minute mediation break. Before you stop reading and decide that meditation isn’t for you, give it a shot. Right now. Really. Set a timer on your phone for one minute. Sit down. Close your eyes. Rest your hands in your lap. Focus on breathing. Ready? Go.

Is your one minute up? How do you feel? Recharged? Relaxed? Ready to tackle life again? At the very least, you’ll likely feel better than you did after a Facebook power session or a depressing news break. Your mind should feel cleared. If it’s not, you may want to up the mediation session to three minutes — or five. If you work in a loud office, try playing calming music through your headphones, heading to an empty meeting room, or even stepping outside briefly.

Read more about one-minute meditation over at Factor This!

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4 Steps to Cleaning Up Your Act Online

September 30, 2014

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Social media can help you stand out online, but you want to make sure it’s for a good reason — not a bad one. With all the privacy concerns these days, you’re probably familiar with the basic rule: don’t post any update unless you’d be comfortable with the whole world reading it, including your grandma. That includes both texts and photos.

While networks like Facebook have tried to make privacy settings easier and easier to understand, there might be years and years of posts and pics hiding within your online profiles. If you’re hoping to land a job anytime soon, you must do a “deep clean” of your social networks. There’s no guarantee that a potential employer is going to Google you, but there’s also no guarantee that they won’t. Follow these steps before you send out your resume and you’ll feel a lot better about your online image.

1. Google yourself.
What do you find first? Make note of which links rise to the top, especially social networks. Un-google-able? Search your name within each of the major social networks — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube — and see if your profile is easy to find.

2. Read through your feeds.
Go back. Way back. Read all of your tweets from the past year. Scroll through your Facebook news feed as far back as you can make it. Delete anything that could be perceived as controversial. Don’t let an update cost you an interview.

3. Audit your photos.
Find an embarrassing photo as you’re browsing through your feeds? Get rid of it stat. Here’s an infographic detailing how to remove embarrassing photos from any social network including the ones you didn’t even post yourself.

4. Lock up your wall.
While you’re job searching, it might be best to prevent any Facebook friends from posting on your wall and disabling friends from the ability to tag you in any photo or update. This puts the control in your hands and will let you sleep easier at night. Here’s a link that can help you answer any Facebook privacy questions you may have.

Interested in reading more? Don’t miss our checklist of what employers do and don’t want to see online.

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The Key to Career Success Is… [Insert Anything Here]

September 25, 2014


We write a lot about how to be successful in an interview, in your job, and in your career from how to be more productive during the workday to how to land a job within your own company to three career mistakes we hope you’re not making. But when it comes to your overall success, we know there’s not just one secret — it’s a complicated formula that’s different for every person, every company, and every industry. Don’t believe us? See for yourself. Here are the single keys to success we dug up with just a quick Google search…

So which is it: enthusiasm, persistence, communication, math (what?), or confidence? We’ll never know. Only you will. Each career path is a unique one and there’s a certain path you can follow for success — you just have to figure out your personal story. Hopefully articles like these still inspire you to reach higher and better yourself throughout your journey.

But the key takeaway is this: nobody knows the answer. So don’t get down on yourself because you’re missing the one true key to career success — it doesn’t exist.

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It’s Not What You Do, It’s Who You Are

September 23, 2014


When it comes to a job application, your mind is on one thing: your experiences. How many relevant titles can I list on my resume? What can I say during the interview to prove that I’m capable? What examples can I include in my portfolio to show off what I’ve done? It’s true that talent and experience are important. But you’d be surprised how important one other thing is — who you are.

People often introduce themselves by what they do. “Hi, I’m Nick and I’m in marketing,” or “Hi, I’m Sally and I’m a salesperson.” But what if you introduced yourself in a new way — a way that really described what you can bring to the table? First, think of the unique qualities that make you successful: are you creative? Easy to talk to? Passionate? Trustworthy? Do you exceed expectations? Take on the role of a leader?

Now translate those thoughts into an elevator pitch. Yes, you’re a marketer. But you’re also a passionate idea-guy who hasn’t met a problem he couldn’t solve. Yes, you’re a salesperson. But you’re also a like-able wordsmith who can convince anyone to look at something in a new way — and it often leads to a sale. See the difference? You summarize yourself and your talents in a more descriptive way that makes you more desirable in the long run.


Read this piece on BusinessInsider for more information. It’s called Selling Who You Are — Now What You Do — Is the Fastest Route to Career Success.

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