Archive | February, 2013

How to Market Yourself

February 28, 2013


Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 3.04.12 PMFinding a new job means one thing: marketing yourself and your unique skills, personality, and experiences. In today’s digital world this is easier than ever. There are more than a few ways to paint a perfect picture of yourself online. Here’s where you can get started:

Hands down, it’s the first place to turn when looking for a job. Beef up your title and bio with key words. Get a professional profile picture taken. Post occasional updates, which will make your profile appear in your network’s news feed. You can even follow interesting companies and their job listings (find us here!). LinkedIn Groups are also a great way to network and stay connected to your industry. Join a few and respond to a discussion or start your own.

Who knew that 140 characters could be so life-changing? Twitter is a great place to find and follow leaders in your industry and stay up to date on industry news. Get an insider view into the companies you hope to work for by following CEOs and employees. Send tweets to potential mentors or hiring managers. The entire universe is at your fingertips — what are you waiting for?
This easy-to-use site is essentially a digital business card — with a little bit of personality. The short and sweet profile is easily linked to your email signature. Within the profile, add icons for your social media presences and use the bio area to describe what kind of position you’re searching for and your career goals.

Image via LinkedIn

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3 Small Career Investments With Big Payoffs

February 26, 2013


3 small career investments you must makeAn education is the ultimate investment in your career, but there are a few cheap and easy tricks that can help your professional future more than you think. Get a lot of bang from your buck when you take advantage of these small ideas:

1. Business Cards
Never be caught without one. Your LinkedIn profile is a modern version of the business card, but when you’re in a face-to-face setting, you need to pass along something tangible. Make a personal business card on a site like and include the URLs to your LinkedIn and Twitter presences as well as your personal email address.

2. An Iron and an Ironing Board
If your shirt is only “kinda” wrinkly, don’t think you can get away with it at an interview. Best dressed means best pressed. Make sure your suit, pants or skirt, and shirts are perfectly crisp before headed to a networking event or interview. To prevent instant wrinkles, let the items cool for 15 minutes before getting dressed. Or iron the night before.

3. A Good Tailor
Find someone who can affordably hem all of your work pants, jacket sleeves, and whatever else needs a bit of pinning or tucking. A good tailor can make a cheap suit look like a million bucks just by fitting it to your body perfectly. When buying interview attire, budget in a little wiggle room for a tailor. If that means buying a cheaper suit, so be it.

What else would you add?

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5 Bad Interview Habits You Need to Break Now

February 22, 2013


5 Bad Interview Habits You Need to Break Now

We all have bad habits. Unfortunately, you probably don’t even know what those habits are. The best way to find out? Ask a friend to practice interview questions with you and take notes on any of your nervous ticks.

1. Tapping Your Foot
Spinning a pen between your fingers. Uncomfortable wriggling in your seat. Ticks like these make everyone in the room tense up. Show that you’re confident by sitting with good posture and hands folded softly in your lap.

2. Avoiding Eye Contact
This is one habit that needs to be broken — fast. Shifting your eyes from left to right can make you seem untrustworthy. “Elevator eyes” – shifting your eyes up and down – is often seen as downright inappropriate. Keep your eyes locked with your interviewer. If you need a break, take a sip of water or look down while scooting your chair in closer.

3. Giggling
Filling awkward silences in with giggles or ending every sentence with an uncomfortable laugh only hurts your chances of getting hired. End a sentence with confidence – not with a giggle — and learn to power through silence. It’s not as awkward as you think.

4. Touching Your Hair
Or your suit, or your nose, or… well, anything on your body. Keep those hands firmly in your lap so they don’t fall prey to your nervous habits. Be confident in how you look before you step into the room. Wear a comfortable suit and hairstyle that will stay put during your interview.

5. Saying “Umm…”
Everything should be said with a purpose. Instead of filling a pause with an “umm…” just keep your mouth closed. If needed, say, “Let me gather my thoughts for a moment.” You’ll sound much more intelligent when you speak clearly, concisely, and with confidence.

Image by Tom Robinson.

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Never Get Caught Tongue-Tied Again!

February 20, 2013

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tongue tiedIf you want to can the nerves and exude confidence, you gotta practice. Having a go-to script will get you through stressful situations where you might find yourself otherwise speechless. Use these guidelines for networking situations, interviews, and day-to-day interactions with your new coworkers.

When meeting someone new…

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, [Insert Name Here]. What do you do for [Insert Company Name Here]? I’d love to hear more about it.”

Repeating someone’s name immediately after meeting them will not only solidify the name in your memory, but will also display your friendliness. If introduced to each other through a third party — in which you’ve already been told what someone does — ask how long he or she has been with the company.

When stalling during an interview question…

“That’s a great question. Let me take a minute here to gather my thoughts and form the best response.”

There’s nothing worse than being completely stumped. If nothing comes to mind after a one-minute pause, ask if you can come back to that question later in the interview. But if you know that you won’t be able to answer this question, try your best to spin the question slightly and answer it to the best of your abilities.

When saying goodbye to a potential new connection…

“It was really great to meet you and I’d love to stay in touch. Do you mind swapping contact information with me?”

Don’t let someone great walk away. If they work at your dream company or have ties to your dream job, get their email or phone number. Then tell them you’ll shoot them an email tomorrow – and be sure to live up to your promise. You’ll still be fresh in their mind and they’ll be more likely to follow through.

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How to Stand Out From the Crowd Part 2

February 14, 2013


How to Stand out from the Crowd Part 2Whenever you meet a potential employer –  at a job fair, at an interview, or at a networking event — you need to be ready. Ready to impress. Ready to charm. And ready to land a job. Here are three more tips that will help you stay top of mind even in a sea of competition.

Be Human
While it’s important to be professional, search for a common interest between you and your contact. Is it a sports team? A hobby? A hometown? You’ll be much more memorable if your conversation includes more than just business talk. Potential new hires are also potential new friends. Coworkers spend a lot of time together so make a good impression professionally and personally.

Have a Question
One good question shows that you’ve researched the company, that you understand the business, and that you’re seriously interested in this company or this position. It keeps the conversation balanced and might even spark a few other talking points for both of you.

Express Interest
No one will know how interested you are unless you say it. If you would love to land an interview, say it. If you’d love to learn more about future opportunities, tell them. Once you’ve introduced yourself, sold yourself, and impressed them with your confidence and knowledge, it’s time to seal the deal and tell them you want to be a part of their team. Don’t leave any potential career situation without a business card and a firm handshake.

Image by Pickersgill Reef

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How to Stand Out From the Crowd Part 1

February 12, 2013

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Standing out from the crowd

Whenever you meet a potential employer —  at a job fair, at an interview, or at a networking event — you need to be ready. Ready to impress. Ready to charm. And ready to land a job. These tips will help you stay top of mind even in a sea of competition.

Know What You Want
Having goals and aspirations is great, but you also need to know how verbalize those thoughts in a professional and concise way. If you’ve nailed your “So tell me about yourself” speech, you’ll be much more likely to stay in someone’s mind. Just like a resume should be tailored to each position, so should your interview answers. How does this company and this position fit in with your goals and how can your experiences help this company be even better?

Know the Company
Even if you don’t get asked, “So what do you know about our company?” your extensive research will impress any interviewer. Drop pieces of this research into your responses when it’s appropriate. If you can, be sure to speak to a current employee beforehand by setting up an informational interview. A company will take bigger notice of someone who’s networked their way through the door as opposed to someone who blindly applied online.

Stay Calm and Collected
If you’re nervous, you’ll make everyone around you uncomfortable. Talk slowly and take your time to gather your thoughts. Be friendly. Smile. Avoid nervous habits like tapping your foot, giggling, avoiding eye contact, touching your hair, or saying “umm.” Every word that comes out of your mouth should be deliberate and confident. Practice by talking in front of a mirror.

Image by Jarod Carruthers

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Resume Tips for Recent Grads

February 7, 2013


Recent Grad ResumesSpring semesters are in full swing and commencement is getting closer by the day for seniors. By the time college students graduate, they should have a couple internships under their belts. But if they weren’t lucky enough to nab an awesome internship at Spectrum Brands then their resumes may be looking a little bare. The good news is that recent grads still have experiences that can beef up their resumes. What are they? Take notes, seniors:

Personal Projects
If you’re interested in, let’s say, graphic design, you don’t need to have an official internship to gain experience. Take on clients of your own — think friends or family members — and start working on projects for them that will look great on your resume. Maybe your aunt owns a flower shop and you want to redesign her logo. Even if she doesn’t use the logo, you could still include it in your portfolio. Your portfolio can be made up of just-for-fun, unpaid, and unsolicited projects.

Relevant Classes
This is especially important if your degree is general or different than the position in which you’re applying for. List any tutelage you received — even if it was just a hobby class you took on the weekends — if it will help justify your cause and display your expertise.

Letters of Recommendation
If you bonded with a particular professor, instructor, or internship boss, ask them to write you a glowing review on LinkedIn. Or request a lengthier review that you can attach to your cover letter. Be sure to get the recommendation signed and dated. While great experience is the gold standard for a resume, a recommendation won’t hurt.

Soft Skills
We’ve touted the benefits of soft skills before (read Soft Skills Rock! What Employers Really Want), and it’s no different here. Great communicators, team players, problem solvers, and decision makers are in need at every company in every position. Include any club or sport you were involved in that demonstrates these characteristics.

How did you make your recent grad resume shine? Comment below!

Image by Bill S via Flickr.

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4 Reasons Why You Didn’t Get Hired

February 5, 2013


4 Reasons Why You Didn't Get HiredYou’re getting a few interviews — or maybe you’re not. Either way, you’re not getting the most important thing: a job offer. Here are a few potentials reasons why you haven’t closed the deal just yet.

1. Your resume isn’t tailored to the job.
I know it takes time! It also takes time to apply for a job, so you want to make sure you’re doing it right. Haste makes waste! Read our tips on how to improve your resume and accept the fact that your resume is always a work in progress. You should constantly be trying to make it better.

2. You don’t have a good enough story.
When the employer says, “So tell me about yourself,” you have to do just that — but sell yourself at the same time! If you don’t have a scripted elevator pitch that defines you who are and why you’re the best person for this position at this company, then you’re shooting yourself in your own foot. Start preparing.

3. Your online presence is distracting.
Not every employer will Google you, but you best be prepared for the ones that do. Especially if you’re reaching out to potential employers via social networking. Follow social media etiquette for job seekers, but beyond that, clean up your profiles! Your images and conversations better be something you wouldn’t be afraid to share with grandma.

4. You’re not trying hard enough.
Job searches are exhausting. And it’s to fall into this trap: apply online to as many jobs as fast as you can. But quality is more important than quantity. Spend time networking and building connections. Get off the computer and out the door. Apply to jobs that you’re actually passionate about. It will pay off.

Image by Tom Magliery via Flickr

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Six Steps to a Perfect Meeting

February 1, 2013

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6 Steps to Perfect Meetings

Ask anyone about meetings and they’ll have plenty to say — there’s too many, there’s not enough, there was too many people, there wasn’t enough people, they’re not productive, they’re too productive, etc. It’s a touchy subject. But if you want to succeed in your career, you’re going to have to get “good” at meetings. The six steps in our meetings manifesto will make you a meeting rockstar:

1. Don’t Be Late.
There’s nothing more rude than making a room full of people wait for YOU. Especially if you organized the meeting. If you can, consider “travel time” when booking and accepting meetings. We don’t know how to teleport — yet — so give yourself at least 15 minutes breathing room to refresh, prepare, and arrive on time.

2. Do Your Homework.
Who are you meeting with and what are you talking about? Seems pretty basic. But you’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to do this important prep work. The meeting will run much more smoothly if you’re fully prepared walking in.

3. Create an Agenda and Set a Goal.
If you’re setting up a meeting, be clear about why you’re meeting and what needs to be accomplished. Everyone will be much more willing to dedicate their time to a well thought out meeting where each member serves a purpose. Don’t just blindly invite anyone. Be respectful of people’s schedules.

4. Be Realistic.
Speaking of being respectful — don’t schedule a meeting at 8 AM on Monday. It’s just not going to happen. People will be late, and won’t be prepared. Also, don’t expect the world’s problems to get solved in one 30 minute session. Book a whole afternoon if it needs to be done. Just be realistic.

5. Wrap it Up and Discuss Next Steps.
When the end of the meeting is nearing, create a few action points. Maybe you can’t move forward on this project but Person A needs to talk to Person B about Problem X and Solution Y by Friday at noon. If you don’t define the next steps, don’t expect everyone to know what they are.

6. Follow Up.
At the end of the meeting, send out an e-mail recapping the major talking points and next steps. That means you should have been taking notes during the meeting.

What else would you add? Comment below!

Image by Luke Jones via Flickr.

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