Archive | February, 2016

A Plug-In that Automatically Removes “Just” and “Sorry”

February 25, 2016


6776802972_2b125c829f_zHow you write says a lot about your beliefs. Are you positive or negative? Do you hold back or say things just as they are? Are you formal or informal with your words? Do you speak with self-confidence or do you hedge your words and opinions?

Most of us have a tendency to fall into a certain style or voice and that voice can change depending to whom we are directing our writing. It’s been found that women’s tendencies are to apologize or attach qualifiers to their sentences reducing the value of their words and ultimately, themselves. In the corporate world this is like committing language suicide. Showing fear or reducing your value is not what business professionals want to hear when reading a cover letter, e-mail, or any other type of communication.

To help combat this style of writing, Tami Reiss, the CEO of Cyrus Innovation, has created a plug-in for Google Chrome. Just Not Sorry gives you an opportunity to catch your “weak” language and change it before you send out any communication. It underlines the words and phrases that weaken your true message and describes why this is the case when you hover over each word. The plug-in can also be customized by adding custom words that you’d like to delete from your writing.

Some of the words and phrases you’ll find that the plug-in likes to remove include…

  • Just
  • Sorry
  • I think
  • I’m no expert, but…
  • Does that make sense?
  • Actually

The words and phrases highlighted by Just Not Sorry were found through conversations and readings with women leaders like Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Tara Sophia Mohr, and Yao Xiao. This year, Cyrus Innovation started an initiative to help get 10,000 women to stop diminishing their voices in their e-mail communications. To become part of this movement and help strengthen your communication, you can sign this pact and get the plug-in for free.

Image via Sebastien Wiertz/Flickr

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6 Ways to Shake Up Your Job Search

February 23, 2016


4722862469_244024488c_bTrying to shake things up with your job search? Need a few more tricks up your sleeve to not only increase your chances of landing an offer, but also reduce the monotony you’re feeling from the continued search? Here are some of last year’s hot topics in the job search category. Pick one, two, or even three, if you’re bold, and give them a try. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You may make more contacts and pull yourself out of a rut!

1. Job Search Club: Take a night off from your book club and join a Job Search Club. This is a more intimate way to make contacts, get feedback, and meet with like-minded individuals in the same boat as you.

2. Get a Mentor: We all can use a little help at times and using mentors to help you in your search is a great way to do it. Mentorship works for both parties, that’s the beauty of it.

3. Increase Productivity with a New App: No doubt, sitting down at the computer to search for jobs just begs procrastination. Why not find the perfect app that will help you focus on finding that perfect job?

4. Network Differently: Switch up your regular networking routine and try some of these strategies. You might find you’ve been missing a big piece of the puzzle!

5. Get Crafty While You Search: Do an experiment of sorts. See if you can apply these crafty principles   while you are searching for your new job. Does it work for you is it possible you can move up the ladder at your current job?

6. Discover Your Strengths: If you’re tired of answering that question, “Tell me about your strengths in the workplace,” one of these tests will give you the confidence to answer it!


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You Got a Job Offer…But Is It the Right One?

February 18, 2016

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14443359250_260e2a880a_zIf you’re in a serious job search, the dream is that you’ll end up with one great offer… or more than one if you’re lucky! Awesome, right? Whether you have one offer and are currently employed or more than offer during a bout of unemployment, you now have everyone’s ideal scenario: choices!

Does this job best fit your life, your current place in the world, and your goals for the future? Ask yourself those questions and proceed carefully. Here are some other things to consider when the confusion begins to set in about a job offer.

  • You have put a lot of work into this job search: resumes, cover letters, portfolios, samples, references, interviews, new clothing, time, money….
  • You do not owe these organizations anything other than your honesty and respect.
  • As much as you need and want a job, the fit must be there.
  • If the company has realized your worth and offered you a job, they know that others are doing the same. The race between two or more companies fighting for a qualified candidate is not uncommon.
  • You owe it to yourself and the company to turn down an offer if you are not a good fit. In the long run, it would cost them more money for you to quit or even get fired after starting.
  • You may be tempted to take a job simply because of a bigger benefits package, but before you do, envision yourself doing that job every day… and, if possible, talk with employees who work there already.
  • Consider the growth potential of the position.

You are one of the lucky ones! Not everyone has this opportunity to have choices. Try not to let it overwhelm you, but instead see it as a challenge and a chance to weigh your options for the future. Definitely lower the boom very gracefully and respectfully with the organization you are saying “No”or “Goodbye” to. If done right, you can keep this organization in your contacts for the future!

Image via Simon Hayhurst/Flickr

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Why the “Pain Letter” is the New Cover Letter

February 16, 2016


stethoscope lying on keyboard of a laptop

If you were a recruiter, would you want to read one more letter that begins like this?

To Whom It May Concern:
I’m writing to learn more about the XYZ position. It’s clear I am a fit for your opening and here’s why.

So here’s an idea! Why send a letter to a company that blends into the pile of all the other letters when you can send one that is actually going to be read instead? Here’s how you do it: with a PAIN LETTER.

A pain letter is a letter you write to a hiring manager that shows them how you can literally solve the pain they are experiencing in their departments. Most hiring managers have some issue they are dealing with and as much as a resume and cover letter are the typical route to getting an interview, a “pain” letter may be the most direct route to getting a hiring manager to pay attention to you.

In a pain letter, you focus on what’s happening in a department and how your expertise can help reduce that pain. A recent Forbes article called How to Write Your First Pain Letter covers how to craft your own version of this letter. There’s a multiple-step process that begins with researching the organization: What’s happening in the organization that you are considering working for? Where do you fit in? Are you feeling like a physician yet? Ironically, this process is very much similar to a doctor’s job. Think of it like this:

1) There’s a pain point somewhere in the organization. In fact, there may be many pains in most organizations.
2) You are trying to diagnose where that pain is. How does it play itself out in the company?
3) What prescription will you treat this pain with? What skill set do you possess that you can use as a treatment?

Don’t start your letter until you’ve done your research and can diagnose this pain. When you do start, begin with a hook, or a statement that will immediately grab the attention of the hiring manager. Read more about how to craft your own pain letter over at Forbes.

Image via jfcherry/Flickr.

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5 Reasons Why an Elevator Pitch Will Help Your Job Search

February 11, 2016


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


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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