Archive | September, 2014

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

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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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How to Apply for a Job Within Your Company

September 18, 2014


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Applying for a job within your current company — now maybe that’s something you didn’t think of! But your own company offers plenty of opportunities right in your own backyard whether you’d like to simply get a promotion or whether you’d like to completely change departments. As an employee of the company, you’ll have a leg up on the competition — right? It’s true. You have an insider perspective on the business and access to a lot of information that others don’t have.

Forbes wrote a great piece called 7 Tips for Applying for a Job Within Your Company, and they made a good point: just because you work for a company doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to land the job. You still have to prepare — perhaps even more so — for the interview. You can’t count on your familiar face being the only key to landing this position. You still have to prove your worth, your qualifications, and your desire.

Here are two tips that are especially important and can give you a leg-up on the competition. Firstly, talk to your current boss. If you can get your boss to endorse you for this position, that’s a recommendation that will be taken very seriously by the hiring manager. Secondly, set up meetings with individuals who currently hold the position. Ask them what makes them successful, what is most challenging, and any advice they have. Those are two steps you can take that outside candidates can’t necessarily take. Beyond that, you’ll have to prepare for the interview as if it was any other interview.

Read the whole piece at Forbes.

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‘More Hours’ Doesn’t Always Mean ‘More Productive’

September 16, 2014


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The typical work week is 40 hours per week. Now imagine if you were given 20 of those hours completely uninterrupted — no meetings, no emails, no phone calls, no Facebook surfing, no pesky coworkers gossiping at your desk. It seems almost unimaginable right? Unfortunately, that says something about how much actual ‘work’ we do in any given day. If we’re truly working less than part-time hours in a full-time job, what are we doing wrong?

The truth is we have to be more productive with the time we’re given. Instead of coming in early and staying late, is there a way to double-down extra hard in the few hours we have to get work done each day? After all, sometimes we confuse being ‘busy’ with being ‘productive.’ Here are a few strategies that cut out the busy work and allow you to be more productive in the little time you have:

  • Don’t accept a meeting unless you absolutely know you have to be there.
  • Block off an hour or two of your schedule to get work done each day — no exceptions.
  • Don’t draft up a long email when a quick phone call can get the task accomplished more efficiently.
  • Don’t touch anything twice — deal with the little things immediately instead of adding them to your growing to-do list.
  • At the end of the day, think about which three things you must accomplish tomorrow.
  • Don’t feel like you have to respond to email immediately. Disable the notifications that interrupt your workday.
  • Let the phone go to voicemail if you have to.
  • Ask for help and delegate as much work as possible.
  • Take occasional five-minute breaks and a short lunch break away from your desk to re-energize yourself.
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How Twitter Can Help Your Career

September 12, 2014


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Some may say social media is a waste of time. Others say they don’t get it. Still more say it’s a fad. But when it comes to Twitter, there is actually a reason to understand this fad and waste time on it: your career. Not only can Twitter help you find a job, but it can also help you build a long-lasting career. Think we’re crazy? Read on then tweet this article if you agree!

Twitter can make you smart.
We’re all busy. But reading quick 140 character bites about our industry is doable. Follow the right publications and people, and you’ll be learning new things and keeping up to date with only a few spare minutes each day. Learn your industry hashtags and search them on Twitter to see what people are talking about right now in your field. Twitter instantly connects you to the information you need.

Twitter can help you network.
Only on Twitter are you actually encouraged to follow and interact with people you don’t know! Beyond the celebrities and comedians you’ll find thought leaders in your industry both local and worldwide. Read their stuff. Respond to it. Start a conversation. Build a friendship. You’ll meet new people digitally that can eventually transfer into a real world relationship. Whether it results in a friendship, a mentorship, or a job opportunity, it’s all good.

Twitter can help your cause.
Whether that cause is establishing yourself as an expert in your field or networking your way into a new position, Twitter can help you do it. The tweets you send out can help define your online image and present yourself in the best light possible. Tweet a mix of industry articles, personal tidbits, and conversations with others. Twitter is a two-way conversation with you and the world — what is it that you want to say?


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How to Hack Your Resume

September 9, 2014


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How can a one-page report be so challenging? Creating a resume and selling your story is no easy task, especially if you already have a few obstacles to overcome. Here are a few hacks that will help you jump over those hurdles and put you on a straight path to a new position. (Just remember to be truthful along the way — these are hacks, not tall tales!)

Problem: You’re unemployed.
Solution: Start a business.
That’s right — you’re the president of You, Inc. Actually, don’t say you’re the president. Give yourself a dream title that encapsulates your skills and the position you hope to land in the future. Whether you’re doing freelance, consulting, or pro bono or volunteer work, list all of the projects here. Just because you’re not getting paid for it doesn’t mean you can’t take credit for it.

Problem: Something weird comes up when you Google your name.
Solution: Use your initials to your advantage.
If you happen to share a name with a criminal, a similar candidate, or a random person who’s already taken all of the “Google juice” for your name, try going by your initials. Instead of Katie Smith try K.L. Smith or Katherine L. Smith. Be consistent across your resume and LinkedIn profile. Hopefully your newly chosen professional title will generate some good Google mojo.

Problem: Your accomplishments don’t sound that great.
Solution: Show off some statistics that will help sell your skills.
Let’s say you’re consulting in the short term while you look for a new job. Set a small income goal or client goal for yourself — and then beat it. Now you can share an impressive percentage increase surrounding your financial goals or client goals. See how that works? There are many ways to put this in action. Just make sure you can explain your claims and back them up.


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The 3 Mantras of Quitting

September 4, 2014


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Quitting can be scary and exciting and great and terrible all at the same time. It’s an awkward time for a job seeker because landing a new position (yay!) means severing ties from the old one (boo!). Transitioning from one job to the next is not always fun but there are ways to ease into this change. Here are our top tips:

Don’t tell anyone you’re searching for a new position.
Even if you tell only one person that you’re thinking of leaving your job, the word will get around. At the very least, that person may think differently of you and may reconsider your help on a project now that they have knowledge you may leave soon. But what if it takes you six months before you find a new position? And what if your boss finds out you’re searching? That’s a conversation you don’t want to have. It’s better to keep your lips zipped.

Find a position that offers something your company can’t offer.
Don’t settle for a new position just because it’s different. Make sure the new company is willing to either pay you more or give you further responsibilities that were never available to you in your current job. This may take some soul searching on your part. What exactly are you looking for in a new position? What’s missing at your current company? Where do you want to take your career? Answer those questions first.

Work hard until the very end.
You may feel like “checking out” once you begin a new job search, but burning bridges will do you no good whether you decide to stay in your current job or leave it. Not only can job searches take longer than you think, you never know when you might need your old employer to help you out. And you definitely want to be able to use your boss and coworkers to recommend you in the future. That means you must leave on a high note. Even after you’ve put in that two week notice, work hard and be helpful so you can go out with a bang.

For more advice on what you should do when it’s time to say goodbye, read our post about the right way to leave your job.

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Best Cities for Quality of Life? #1: Madison, Wisconsin.

September 2, 2014


5906144215_be327f738a_zOur new headquarters may be located in Middleton, but Madison, Wisconsin is our closest neighbor — and our former home. So when it scored the top spot on Nerd Wallet’s Best Cities for Quality of Life list, we were thrilled. The ranking was based on income, affordability, and health benefits as well as the local economy and work-life balance. Here’s what they had to say about Madison:


“If you’re looking to improve your quality of life, consider moving to Madison. The city offers a great work-life balance, high affordability and health insurance coverage rates, and a low unemployment rate. At the center of the city lies the largest public university in the state, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which focuses on “improving the quality of life for all” in its mission statement.” – 

We might be biased, but we have to agree. Weekends are spent at one of the country’s best farmer’s markets, cheering on the Badgers at Camp Randall, or taking advantage of our multiple lakes and well-known bike paths. You can find us shopping on the bustling State Street, catching a show at the world-class Overture Center, or eating a local meal on the Capitol Square. Local events like the World’s Largest Brat Fest, the IronMan, and the Great Taste of the Midwest draw thousands of visitors to our city.

Just a few minutes away in Middleton, we love walking around our picturesque downtown, enjoying a craft beer at Capitol Brewery, or enjoying the day along a lakeside park. Middleton has won its own set of awards too. In 2007, the Madison suburb was named the Best Place to Live in the United States by CNN Money. Two years later, CNN Money ranked Middleton the fourth best place to live in the country (up from the seventh spot in 2005).

See the full list of best cities for quality of life at

Image via gbozik photography



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