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5 Reasons Why You Should Toot Your Own Horn at Work

July 26, 2016

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4138212130_5e2d2e626a_zYou’re not a braggart. You’ve never been called “conceited” or “full of yourself.” People enjoy your company and look forward to spending time with you.  Your work speaks for itself… or so you think. Right? Think again. Part of having a successful career…or landing your dream position… is being able to talk about your achievements and not being afraid to know your worth. Here are 5 important reasons why you should make your skills known to your manager.

  1. No one else is going to do it for you. You are responsible for YOU and you shouldn’t rely on your manager to necessarily put 2 and 2 together. If the team is large, the work is intense, and your boss is busy, you may want to help things along rather than assuming you will just get recognized for your good results.
  2. Make things easier for your manager.  Your boss is probably involved in many more areas of the business than you realize. Don’t get caught up in the thought that he/she should just “notice” your good deeds and reward you for them. Be your own megaphone.
  3. You will be known for a specialty. You can find yourself moving into more responsible roles if leaders and managers begin to see you as a mandatory asset to a project or team. Make yourself indispensable by increasing your skills in particular areas and then marketing them to your department or even across departments.
  4. You’ll get more opportunities that you’re looking for. If you are marketing yourself and your skills, you’re more likely to get responsibilities in those areas you are are excelling in. Others will begin to ask to add you to their team. You might get sought out by more than just your boss/manager.
  5. Adding references to your posse. As you do the work and impress your managers, you are inevitably building a following of potential references. Even if you’re not thinking about moving jobs just yet, it’s always helpful to build references. When you do move on, you’ll have those names easily accessible for the interview process.

Image via Andrew Nguyen/Flickr.

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8 Signs the Interview Went Well

July 21, 2016

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380929930_f93e64f751_oYes, it’s important to have patience after your job interview. Yes, it might be best to just put it in the back of your mind and move on. However, there are some signs that an organization is interested in you. If you catch onto them, you may get a confidence boost as you walk out the door and you just might be able to calm your nerves a bit. Here a few tell-tale signs that you’re in the running…

  1. The obvious: they ask you for a second interview!
  2. They request your work references.
  3. You receive an e-mail thanking you for coming in for an interview, and there is no “but”…
  4. They ask you to provide them with some type of sample work from your past experience. At this point they are intrigued enough to want to know what your work looks like, and that’s if they haven’t already done some research on you and seen it.
  5. The topic of salary comes up. Make sure you’ve prepared for this question and have a range in mind.
  6. You’re asked, “How soon could you start?” This is a question that is asked only if they can imagine you in this position. It could be that they see you as a good fit with the company and that you also have all the experience/skills they are searching for. You may get a question about what else you need before you could start. Anything related to transitioning from one position to another is definitely a good sign!
  7. Sales speak. If the recruiter begins to try to sell you on the organization, culture, team, then it’s a good bet they are trying to make you their newest employee.
  8. You’re invited to meet the team, or asked to stay for one more interview with a higher-up employee. This is always a good indicator!

Image via Flickr.com/Ani-Bee.

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The Best Times to Job Search Throughout the Year

July 14, 2016

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5374200948_539b10fb1c_zWe are usually so focused on ourselves and our own job search timeline that we rarely consider the process from the recruiter’s perspective. In the working world, there are most definitely recruitment cycles and each one serves a purpose. Paying attention to these hiring cycles can give you some insight into the best times to job search.

Quarter 1: January – March
This is the New Year and the first batch of hiring you’ll see after the holidays. Some may say it’s not the best time to look for a job, while others would say, “jump on it” and take advantage of that slow time when others are on vacation or hanging out with family. “The big months for hiring are January and February, and late September and October,” says Joe Testa, chief operating officer of Mindbridge Software in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Quarter 2: April – June
This quarter is about ramping up for summer. Industries that require seasonal workers are gearing up during this time. It’s also a time to start hiring for the fall. Most employees will be taking their vacations during the summer months, as will key decision makers in the companies, so organizations are looking to start the hiring process for fall season during the spring months.

Quarter 3: July – August
The summer months are a slowdown for hiring. However, that means you should take advantage of this time to get your name out there and get your foot in the door. Less people are vying for a recruiter’s attention, and the recruiter may have more time to spend on you. Don’t stop hunting in the summer because it’s a slow season. Gear up!

Quarter 4: September – December
This is the most difficult quarter given the start of school, the holidays, and vacations for employees. However, September and October sees a surge in hiring because all employees are getting back to the grind after the summer slowdown. Although December may be slow, it’s definitely a good time to stay engaged and get a jump on the process when others are laying low.

Image via Flickr.com/Dafne Cholet.

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Don’t Deny the Power of the Name

July 12, 2016

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86269180_7d2c3f6d8b_zDo you often say, “I’m just so bad with names!” Well, that’s not going to cut it in an interview setting…or after you’ve landed a new gig. The confidence you exude when using people’s names is more powerful than you know. People really like to hear their own name. It makes them feel heard, special, and validated. Here are some times when you might want to use someone’s name in an interview or at your job.

  1. When you first meet. A firm handshake is a given, but after they introduce themselves, be sure to recite their name in your reply. “Nice to meet you, Sharon!”
  2. Meeting in a conference room. If you’re new to a job, or even just having an interview with multiple people, it’s very powerful and effective to use their names. When answering someone’s question or when you are replying to someone’s comment, use their name in your response. “Jack, I see what you’re saying, but what if we…” This will be especially impressive during a meeting with many people around a conference room table.
  3. When you want the person to take your communication seriously. During the work day, we go in and out of social and business modes. There are times when we are socializing with colleagues and there are times when we are strictly working. When you need to make the switch back to business, a name drop can help.
  4. When you are looking for someone’s buy-in. If you are looking to present an idea and expecting support from certain team members, it’s always good to use their name during this discussion. “I know you are on board with the strategic plan, John, but it would help my case if the  project manager heard this in our next meeting.”
  5. At the close of an interview. To make sure the interviewer feels like you’ve been listening and are impressed with their company, its impactful to use their name when you are getting ready to leave. “John, it’s been a pleasure to learn more about the position opening. I hope I’m able to meet with you and your partner, Tim, in the future.”  It’s even more impressive if you can remember the stakeholder’s names that have been mentioned throughout the interview.

Image via amanda/Flickr.

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What to Consider When You Quit

July 8, 2016

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5121064325_83f5c59bee_zIt’s probably one of the hardest parts of looking for and securing a new job…. leaving your old one. Quitting a job can be a dreadful experience, but it can also be a relief. Here are some ways to see it as an eye-opening next step in your new life:

  1. Remember why you are doing this.
    In our heart of hearts, we want to find the perfect place to work and contribute. However, it’s inevitable that people will move jobs pretty often, even more so than in the past. Think about your future and the reasons you made this decision before you walk into your boss’ office. You might want to wait until the end of the day…or get it over with first thing in the morning if you’re not sure whether you’re guaranteed to chat with your boss later.
  2. Be certain in your presentation.
    This is a time when you may feel a bit vulnerable, and often the boss will realize this once he/she knows why you are asking to speak with them. Be comfortable in your self-assuredness about this decision and let this show in the way you communicate.
  3. Expect to hear something other than, “Oh, that’s great.”
    Depending on your manager’s personality and your history with him/her, they have one last chance to keep you here or they could be ok with watching you go. They might already be concerned with who they will find to replace you so don’t be offended if there’s no time for them to reminisce about how much you’ll be missed. Be ready for a couple different scenarios: 1) a counter offer, 2) a plea for your talents like, “We need your expertise here!” despite the low salary they are offering, or 3) “So, when’s your last day?” The company’s financial situation may play into their response as well.
  4. Explain… only if you want to.
    Don’t feel obligated to explain what your next move is. You can be vague, or specific… this is your move and your life. Just be thankful for the job you had and make that clear.
  5. Keep your contacts for your future.
    This may be the end of your stretch with this employer, but try to remember how small the world really is. You may run into this soon-to-be former boss again and you will want to be able to communicate
  6. Confidence, confidence, confidence.
    There’s a chance you may feel guilty, but try to push this feeling aside. You’ve made the decision, you’re comfortable with it, and telling your boss is the last step. Go into it all with a self-assured confidence that this is the right move for you! And then get excited about your next opportunity!

Image via anand347/Flickr.

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Returning To Work After a Hiatus

July 6, 2016

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22505518317_7213372d62_zYou may have been a stay-at-home Mom or Dad, or maybe you took a sabbatical for any multitude of reasons, but now it’s time to get back to the rat race. It seems like a large hill to climb, but there are a few things to consider in order to make your transition easier.

Talk to your working friends
If you’ve been gone for more than a few years, do a little casual research on what things are like in the working world in 2016. Find out what you’ve missed out on and how things like social media have changed the landscape of businesses these days. Ask friends or coworkers what has been the hardest for them to pick-up and how they’ve learned to adjust.

Take a class…. or two
A local junior college or even an online class can be a good way to get caught up. Certain career paths will require that your technology skills be up-to-date. For many others, it would be helpful to know all the latest programs as well as how social media can help your career and the businesses. As you finish classes or seminars, make sure to update your resume and LinkedIn profiles.

Get involved in social media groups
Find groups to get involved in on either LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn will tell you that you can increase your profile views by joining these groups… and they aren’t kidding! As for Facebook, some of these networking opportunities are set to secret (not searchable or visible to the public) so you may need an insider friend or colleague to invite you. The benefit of these groups is definitely the networking opportunities. Some of the connections you might find can be at a very high level, but  don’t feel like you are moving into territory you can’t handle. If it gets your profile looked at or helps you find a new gig, go for it!

Volunteer
Even though you did the work for free, it can still go on your resume! Find a place that will let you show off your top skills and then add this to your resume. For example, maybe your gym needs freelance PR work and you’re a PR pro. Or perhaps your kids’ daycare needs some accounting help and that’s your line of work. Potential employers will see this as industrious and determined. Think of it as pro-bono consulting work and don’t forget to add these projects to your list of experiences.

Image via Image Catalog/Flickr.

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Who’s Who In the Interview Process

June 28, 2016

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5711331319_1c9a9a75d8_zHow many people can you potentially speak with in the interview process? Could be four…five…six. You might even lose count. Or be completely confused by what purpose each person serves during the interview process. To keep everyone straight, here’s a review of who you could be expected to interview with, what their job is, and what you should be communicating to them.

Recruiter: This person is typically your first contact. He/she is like the matchmaker of the process who will recruit the essence of the job to the candidate as well as communicate the qualifications of the candidate to the hiring managers or human resources department. They can guide you through the interview process and help decipher what may have gone wrong if you don’t get the gig.

Hiring Manager: The hiring manager is who you will report to once you are hired. They’re the ones who requested that this position be filled. This is the person you want to impress the most. During the interview process, they’ll put more of a premium on interpersonal and communication skills than you might realize. Most of all, hiring managers want to find employees who can get along with other people. They will most likely have very poignant behavioral interviewing questions to pose. Be prepared for those by going over your own past scenarios.

Director: If you make it this far into the process, this could be the interview you have that brings them all together. It could also be the most difficult in that the Director may have very different questions for you, or, on the other hand, could have all of the same questions you’ve already responded to. This is the person you must make a good impression on in order for them to to give the go-ahead to the rest of the key players. Make sure to do your homework on the director. There may be information you can use to make a connection with a higher-up like this person!

Co-Workers: They may have a say in who gets hired, or not. If they’re let in on the interview process, your potential co-workers want to know who you are as a person. They can also be a good source of information about the culture of the organization. They are the people you can ask pointed questions about management style, conflict resolution, group dynamics, workload, etc. Be careful not to let your guard so far down with potential co-workers that you forget who they are—the people you could be spending 8+ hours a day with for a very long time.

Image via Sam Mottola/Flickr.

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When Your Career Path Isn’t a Straight Line

June 22, 2016

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17809655062_aa3802ebda_zWe all have a video playing in our head about the job we think we’re supposed to have, the career our parents expected we’d have, or the skill we’re so good at we must make a career of it… But, what if pressing STOP was the answer?

We focused on “being present” in your interview two weeks ago. It seems that being in the moment creates the best situation for an interview, allowing you to be your most authentic self. This theory also seems to hold true for allowing yourself to follow the opportunities that present themselves, even if they aren’t on the path you planned. Dave Stachowiak, founder of Coaching for Leaders says,

“The path ahead of you won’t be straight—and that’s OK. In fact, it’s encouraged. Because each time you venture off the obvious route, you’ll learn invaluable lessons and gain a fresh perspective on how to handle any bumps you may encounter down the road.”

Here are some tips for accepting your path as it develops even when it’s not a straight line:

1) It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, what your title is, or what you tell people! It’s about the value you bring.
Translation: In an interview, make sure your VALUE comes across and that you are clear on the VALUE of the role you’re interviewing for instead of just the title.

2) Know yourself and your skills!
Translation: This will make it easier for you to communicate your worth in an interview and secure a job. If you can’t communicate your strengths, who will?

3) Know when to be stubborn.
Translation: Be open enough in an interview to see the positions and opportunities clearly. Use your discerning abilities to know whether you will be a good fit for this role and if it will be a right fit for your career path. If it’s not right for you, you can always say no to an offer. At the very least, you’ll get good interview practice.

4) Appreciate the need for experience!
Translation: There will be times when it’s merely important to get the experience you need for that next step. A position could be an opportunity to grow, and one that qualifies you for future roles you’re more excited about. Ask yourself, “Is this a role I need for the experience?”

5) Relax into the highs and lows!
Translation: You can navigate and understand your life more easily when you understand the ups and downs of a career that isn’t moving in a straight line.

To hear more of Dave Stachowiak, tune in here.

Image via ChristianeBue/Flickr.

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How to Transition from Part-Time to Full-Time Employee

June 16, 2016

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22484527807_5198b8e070_zAs a part-timer, you know your work ethic and commitment to the company, but you’re wondering if everyone else—the important people that is—are seeing it as well. After all, you’re hoping to land a full-time opportunity with this awesome company… but how?

Here are just a few actions that may help you stand out at your organization:

Bust Your $%%
You may be a part-timer now, but use this time to show that you have no problems putting in the time and effort that a full-timer does. In other words, stay late, work longer, work harder and show some grit! Your hiring manager will see this and hopefully become a great reference for you in your own department or another one.

Be a Problem Solver
Organizations are looking for employees who can pitch in everywhere. They want people who can come up with appropriate and cost-effective solutions to company problems, no matter what department they are in. Show your boss that you have good ideas and are willing to follow through, and he or she will remember you when an opening comes around.

Network Across Departments
Make yourself known in accounting, HR, marketing, legal, etc. Make friends with employees in the other areas you work with and eventually they will know what you do… and you’ll have a better handle on their responsibilities as well. This is a very unique and beneficial position to be in—part-time with the opportunity to learn the organization and place yourself accordingly.

Ask for More Responsibility
If you’re not sure what more you can do or where the department needs your help, ask! Talk with your manager and find out where you can pitch in. Make it known that you have a bit more time to spend at work if needed and you’re willing to pick up a project here and there. Or, explain your favorite project and ask if there are more similar to that one coming up.

Photo via U.S Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

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3 Reasons to Vacation While Job Searching

June 9, 2016

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5315958369_a80a6a9d29_zIt’s summer! Kids are in camps, the weather is great, your friends are planning their festival trips and summer jaunts here and there… but unfortunately you still have that job search thing going on. Your guilt stops you from thinking about the possibility of going on a vacation, but there has to be a reason why you need one. Right? Right?! Yes! Here are a few reasons why it’s ok to take a break from your search.

  1. Rejuvenation
    Searching for a job is just as draining as having a full-time job. Sometimes the ups and downs of interviews, networking, and rejection can make you feel like you’re riding a roller coaster. Even a short summer weekend trip can give you a chance to unplug and regenerate your battery for your next week on the job search.
  2. Perspective
    Going out of town or even just allowing yourself to soak in a new atmosphere can open up your mind to new opportunities. You may see things you haven’t seen before and therefore allow yourself to investigate different paths. On vacation, your brain has a chance to listen and hear more clearly without the incoming clutter of your regular day-to-day routine and drama.
  3. Networking
    A vacation reveals a whole different world of people and opportunities. Bring your business cards and pay attention to who you meet. Often in a vacation setting you’ll feel more relaxed and find that you’re more open to the opportunities and possibilities that new contacts may bring.

Depending on where you are in your job search, and where you are in your life, you can settle on a quick trip completely off the grid or you could choose to go on a longer vacation where you stay connected through your cell phone and computer. The bottom line is this: give yourself a break!

Image via Adam Hirsh/Flickr.

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