Archive | February, 2015

A Million Reasons Why Madison, Wisconsin is Great

February 26, 2015


madison-wisconsinSometimes you have to move to take a new job. It’s a big decision. One that should be weighed very carefully. Uprooting a family is no easy task. At Spectrum Brands, we’re lucky. Our World Headquarters is located in Middleton, Wisconsin right next to Madison. Madison was the place we called home for many years until our recent move to our new “green” building. Either way, both cities have earned titles like “best place to live in the US” multiple times. Sometimes we feel like we’re bragging but if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Besides being an unbelievable college town, we’re located on an isthmus, which means we’re surrounded by two lakes. There’s a fantastic food scene and a great biking scene to burn off all those calories. (Cheese and beer. Lots of cheese and beer.) Madison is also the state capital of Wisconsin — and our capitol building is gorgeous. There’s always something going on at the capital square, our favorite event being one of the nation’s best farmer’s markets. We could go on bragging but we’ll let these recent titles speak for themselves.

This love affair has been a long one. Here are even more reasons why we love Madison.

Image via Flickr/Alan Wolf

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What It Takes to Be a Spectrum Brands Employee

February 24, 2015


What do we look for when we’re interviewing candidates? Well, we created this handy list just for you. It’s not only what we hold prospective employees to but it’s what we expect from our current employees as well. Take these principles and apply them to your cover letter, resume, and reflect on them during your interview. The more you can display these traits during your interview process the better!

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: takes calculated risks with good judgement.
  • Passion for the Business: displays enthusiasm and energy.
  • Assure Project/Service Quality: high standards of accuracy and excellence.
  • Takes Out Costs & Controls Spending: considers cost in everyday work.
  • Highly Responsive to Customers: exceeds expectations of customers.
  • Sense of Urgency & Being Quick to Market: use decisiveness to obtain results.
  • Leadership: energize others toward business goals.
  • Teamwork: collaborate with colleagues.
  • Win with the Spectrum Value Model: align daily actions with our six value principles.

FYI You can read the full in-depth list with detailed descriptions over at our Spectrum Brands Careers site.

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The Ultimate First Impression Checklist

February 19, 2015

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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


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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


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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


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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


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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

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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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