How to Present Yourself as a Team Player

Team player

One of the most common interview questions is, “In what ways are you a team player?”

It’s a tough question to answer, especially if this is an area of weakness for you. In every interview, you should expect and prepare for a variation of this question.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

There isn’t a job on the planet that doesn’t include working with other people. Even if you work from home, you still have to check in with someone to receive your instructions, or at the very least, to get paid! If you own your own business, you have clients or customers. If you are an author, you have an editor or publisher. If you work with computers, you have a supervisor. You will always have to work with people!

Hiring managers need to ensure that workplace disputes are minimized by hiring folks that are open to constructive criticism, direct feedback, and can adjust their working style based on the needs of the entire team. Employees that have strong team players are more satisfied in their positions. Happy employees result in higher project success rates and lower turnover. Thus, teamwork is important to companies, because it is all around better for business!

How To Present Yourself As A Team Player

Step 1: Find the truth. The first step to answering this question is to examine yourself in order to answer it truthfully. Take a few minutes to brainstorm how you’ve been a team player in the past, while on the job, at school, or while completing a community project. One variation of the team player question is, “Tell me how you’ve been a team player in the past,” so having this information in your back pocket is helpful.

Step 2: Write out your attributes. Once you’ve brainstormed some past examples, pull out the attributes you exemplified that made you such a great team player in those situations. For example, you might write “strong communication skills” or “ability to implement colleagues’ ideas for a positive solution.” Try to list 3-5 attributes.

Step 3: Prepare an answer using the position as the backdrop. Look at a job posting and envision how you could be a good team player in that specific role. Answer “How are you a team player?” by putting yourself in the role you are interviewing for. This is a great strategy to show you understand the position and its responsibilities, highlighting you as qualified and valuable. Here’s an example of what this might look like:

“I love working with others. In this role as account manager, I would brainstorm with others solutions to the client’s problem at hand, allowing everyone to provide their ideas and work with the entire team to process the best option. Some people are great idea-generators while others are effective “devils advocates.” Using everyone’s skills together will improve the quality of the solutions we propose to our clients.”

Pro tip: You can use this three step method to prepare for any interview question!

Prepare For Your Interview With A Career Coach

Our team of professional career coaches would love to help you prepare for your interview by tackling difficult questions like this one and strengthening your many other interview skills. Contact us to get matched with your career coach today!

 

Posted on February 21, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.

Should you work with your significant other?

Working with your significant other

Some significant others work really well together. Take the powerhouse design couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Not only do they work together, they live out their professional and personal lives on television! From the public’s point of view, they seem to have it all together.

Then there are other couples who separate because of a falling out that started over a workplace conflict. Many celebrities split after working together, but it’s a common occurrence in any industry.  It’s a fine line to balance between work and romance. Regardless of if a romantic relationship works or not, workplace romances can make for tricky situations.

In many corporations, it is against the rules to have a romantic relationship with a coworker. Similarly, many places of employment won’t even consider hiring a candidate if their spouse is already employed. From a human resources perspective, romance makes professional relationships messy, can affect project integrity, and plummet productivity for many reasons.

Even when relationships aren’t against the rules, a romance can make the workplace environment difficult for you. If you are considering applying or accepting a position at your significant other’s place of employment, there are many questions to ask and topics to discuss. You’ll want to be 100% open and honest with your significant other, and likewise allow him or her to be 100% open and honest with you. You’ll also want to be just as transparent with the hiring manager/supervisor. Hidden secrets or ignored areas of tension will only cause problems for everyone in the future.

Here are a list of questions to consider before working with your significant other:

  • What is your motivation for working together?

  • What is the biggest benefit of working together? What is the biggest negative of working together?

  • Will you receive special treatment that is dividing you and your peers unfairly? How can avoid receiving special treatment?

  • Will you have higher (or lower) expectations put on you because of your relationship?

  • Will you be working together directly? How will that affect your work? Your relationship?

  • How will seeing your significant other daily affect your relationship?

  • Will your peers be affected by working with a couple on the team?

  • How will you handle conflict at work? How will handle conflict at home?

  • Will taking time off from work at the same time cause problems with staffing?

Here are more tips and resources for working with a significant other:

The Pros and Cons of Working With Your Spouse from Entrepreneur

The Pros and Cons of Working With Your Spouse from US News

The Pros and Cons of Working With Your Significant Other from Fast Company

Posted on February 14, 2018 and filed under Career.

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

Video Interview

Do you remember the clip that went viral of a professor being interviewed by a BBC news reporter? If you haven’t seen it, watch it here. It’s hilarious! Thankfully, this family has a good sense of humor and were met with mostly understanding supporters after this happened. However, as a job interviewer, you don’t want something like this to happen. If you plan ahead of time, scenes like this are (mostly) preventable.

Why Did You Secure a Video Interview?

You’re likely to secure a video interview if you live out of town from the job to which you are applying. Many companies conduct phone interviewers, but video interviews are becoming more popular since they are free and easily accessible to most. Technology has transformed the hiring process - interviews included!

A video interview provides insight into a candidate that a phone interview cannot: Does the candidate dress professionally? Does the candidate’s body language communicate confidence? How well does the candidate hold eye contact? Stay focused? From your perspective as a candidate, video interviews provide a connection between you and your resume. In other words, it “puts a face to the name,” which will help you stand out in their memory. If you’ve landed a video interview, you have a great opportunity before you!

How to Prepare For A Video Interview

Preparing for a video interview is a bit different than preparing for a traditional interview or a phone interview.

Here are a few tips to put your best foot forward during a video interview:

  • Location, location, location!

    • Choose a quiet location to sit for the interview. You don’t want dogs barking or kids barging into your interview! You also don’t want the loud hum of a coffee shop that will make it hard for you to hear the interviewer. Brainstorm your options and take the needed steps to ensure you won’t be interrupted during your interview.

    • Choose a location with strong internet connection. The best case scenario is for you to hardwire your computer or phone so that you have the best, strongest signal. If that’s not an option, sit as close to the router as possible!

    • Choose a location that has a great background. Make sure your webcam doesn’t face an open closet door, a trash can, or your unmade bed. The best background is a wall (blank or with tasteful artwork), bookcase, or an arrangement of houseplants. You can always choose the best location and then temporarily decorate the background for the interview.

    • Choose a location with the best lighting. You want light that shines on your face, not the back of your head. Trust us, this will make you look your best and most professional! If the room doesn’t have the best light, sit a lamp in front of you, but still out of sight of the webcam.

  • Dress professionally from your head to your toe. While the chances that you need to stand up during an interview are slim, you never know what might happen. Wearing a dress shirt with pajama pants (or no pants) is a very BAD idea!

  • Wear headphones. This will prevent a distracting echo or other audio feedback that might happen during the interview. And while your giant, over the ear headphones might sound better for your music, they are distracting in an interview setting. Grab a pair of small, discreet earbuds instead.

  • Have a cup of water next to you. There is nothing worse than a tickle in your thought or uncontrollable coughing!

  • Test your audio and visual with a friend ahead of time. That will give you plenty of time to troubleshoot any problems on your end before the important interview!

  • Finally, remember to smile! Everyone wants to work with friendly, smiling people. It’s easy to forget to smile when you’re nervous, so practice answering interview questions while looking friendly prior to your call.

If you’re interested in even more great job search tips, contact one of our qualified career coaches for personalized service and successful results.

Posted on February 7, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

5 Tips For Preparing For A Phone Interview

Phone Interview

Many companies conduct phone interviews before bringing in candidates for a face-to-face meeting. These “screen interviews” save time and money from the company's’ perspective, providing an opportunity to weed out candidates who aren’t a good match quickly without much investment.

Practice phone etiquette in every conversation you have so that it comes naturally. How you say hello, how you say goodbye, and your manners throughout the conversation speak volumes about your professionalism. Some questions a phone interviewer will be asking themselves are:

  • Are they courteous and polite or do they come across gruff and cold?

  • Do they talk over me or interrupt frequently?

  • Did they make the effort to make this call a priority by finding a quiet place to talk?

  • Did they miss the initial call? What does their voicemail portray about their professionalism?

To knock your upcoming phone interview out of the park, these five tips will set you up for success:

  1. Treat it just like a face-to-face interview. One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is to think they “just” have a phone interview. Even if the phone interview is an HR screening, the person on the other side of the line has the power to immediately take you out of the running for the position. Take a phone interview just as seriously as you would a face-to-face interview.

  2. Find a quiet space with no distractions. If possible, get out or range of your dog barking, your kids playing, turn off the TV, etc. If you aren’t able to be in a completely quiet space, give a heads up to the interviewer that there may be some background noise. It will be less distracting if they know to expect it.

  3. Make sure phone service is reliable. There are many places in buildings, and maybe even your home, where phone service may cut in and out. Don’t walk around during your interview to avoid static or dropped calls. A good way to test the best place to have the phone interview is to call a friend from the spot before hand and ask them how you sound.

  4. Check your email several times in the minutes leading up to your interview. You never know when something might come up or if someone is running behind. Any last minute updates will be sent to your email, keeping you in the loop.

  5. Be ready to take notes. Being on the phone is a bit more challenging than face-to-face because it’s easier to get distracted. Taking notes will help you to focus on what the interviewer is saying and provides something for you to reference afterwards.

Phone interviews are important and you can secure a face-to-face interview with the proper preparation. If you have specific questions about the interview process, we’d love to help!

Posted on January 31, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.

Avoid Being A Character In An Interview Horror Story

Interview

Congratulations! You applied for a great job and have been called in for an interview. You have stood out among the pile of resumes and have a very good shot of landing the job if you nail the interview. You were up against potentially hundreds of applicants. Now you are up against a much smaller pool of candidates. Three to five candidates is the average for a first round of interviews.

There are many things you should do to prepare:

  • Conduct mock interviews with a trusted peer or career coach to practice.

  • Select a conservative and professional outfit.

  • Get directions well before the meeting time so you know exactly where you are going. Be sure to add 30-45 minutes to your travel time, just in case. It’s always better to arrive early instead of late. You can review your notes in the lobby so you don’t arrive too early.

  • Gather the essential resources you’ll need to bring with you.

It’s not a long list, but these items are really important if you are to make the best possible impression.

There are many horror stories that hiring managers share about the interview process. Many are about what people bring - or do not bring - to the interview. To help you avoid being a character in an interview horror story, here is a simple list to help you pack your briefcase and make a great impression:

What to bring to an interview

  • Updated copies of your resume. We recommend at least five printed on resume quality paper.

    • Horror Story: One candidate was so nervous she couldn’t remember what was written on her resume and was unable to answer basic questions about her experience. Having a copy of your resume for your own reference is just as important as having it for your interviewer.

  • Notepad and pen. You don’t need to take notes on everything that is said, but be prepared to jot down something of importance at any time during the conversation. You won’t want to rely on memory to remember everything, especially if you are nervous. Also be sure to test your pen before the interview to make sure it works!

    • Horror story: A candidate came up with several additional examples of how she would add value to the company, but she didn't have her pen and paper for notes. After the interview, she stressed for hours about what additional information she wanted to provide in the follow up email.

  • Bottle of water. While the interviewer may offer you one, don’t assume it will be provided.

    • Horror story: A candidate had a tickle in her throat mid-interview so severe she couldn’t speak. The interviewer had to walk to the other side of the building to get her water, which interrupted the flow of the conversation and put the focus on the unfortunate event instead of her qualities as a potential candidate.

Do NOT bring to an interview

  • Your mother. While you may be chuckling, people have actually brought their mothers to interviews. If anything shouts unprofessional and immature; it’s bringing your mother!

  • Your pets. This seems like it’s common sense, but again, this has actually happened! Not everyone thinks cats are cute and dogs are fun. Many people are allergic or just don’t like animals. A job interview is not a place for pets.

  • Laptop. Unless the interviewer specifically requests you to bring your laptop, don’t. Using a laptop to take notes puts an obstacle in between you and the interviewer. They also can’t see what you’re actually doing on the screen, which may be distracting.

What is in your briefcase during an interview? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Posted on January 24, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

How Technology Will Help (And Hurt) Your Job Search This Year

Technology

We live in an age where technology touches everything we do. There are smart refrigerators, thermostats, and cars. Medicine, entertainment, and business are touched by technology at every step. Technology makes our lives easier through speed and convenience, and the job search is no exception. Technology has transformed how we look for, apply, interview for, and secure our jobs. Overall, these transformations are positive, but there are a few ways that technology can hurt your chances of securing the perfect job. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of technology and your job search.

How Technology Helps Your Job Search

  • Updating your resume is as simple as a few clicks. Before technology, resumes and cover letters had to be physically printed. They mostly live online now, which means keeping your resume and cover letter up-to-date only takes a few minutes. Even if you aren’t actively looking for a job, it’s a good idea to make time each month to keep them updated. You never know when an opportunity might pop up!

  • Job postings are at your fingertips. We don’t have to physically walk into a business and ask if they are hiring. Online job search engines and company websites allow you to look for and find hundreds of jobs with just a few clicks.

  • Apps make managing the job search easy! Almost every job search platform has an app that allows you to see where your application is in the process. The guessing game has been greatly minimized thanks to mobile technology!

How Technology May Hurt Your Job Search

Your online digital footprint is difficult to erase. Depending on your age, your digital footprint may have started before you were even aware of the internet. Parents post pictures and stories online of their children. Teenagers add videos, photos, and publish content that they may regret as adults. Hiring managers and co-workers can find anything that has been posted, so be cautious of what you put online.

Here’s one great example of how this can hurt your job search: A young woman, we’ll call her Sue, was interviewing for project manager of a family-owned, small business. This position required a large amount of client interaction in which representing the values held by the company were vital. Sue made it to the final interview process and was one of two final candidates. Unfortunately, before her interview an intern Googled her name and uncovered a scandalous work history. News spread among employees quickly and even though this was behind her, Sue was eliminated as a potential candidate. What was searchable online did not represent the company’s values and had undermined her ability to work well with the team, as they distrusted her immediately.  

Too many options can be overwhelming. While we listed “job postings at your fingertips” as a helpful aspect of technology, it can also cause a lot of stress if you don’t have a game plan.

The applicant pool is deep. It’s not uncommon for a position to get as many as 500 applicants. If it’s a desired position or with a sought after company, the number may increase into the thousands. How do you stand out among such odds? It takes work and patience. Our best advice is to hire a career coach who can help you customize your resume, nail the interview, and build a reputable online presence.

All of these potentially negative aspects of looking for a career in a technology-driven world can be addressed with the expert assistance of a career coach. We would love to partner with you to ensure you have success after success. Contact us to learn more!

Posted on January 17, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy.

Leveraging LinkedIn to Secure Your Dream Job

If you’re looking for a new position this year, leveraging LinkedIn is a must! We recently published Getting Your LinkedIn Profile Ready for the New Year which includes tips to create or update your profile to stand out among hundreds of others. While your profile is important, there are a few more steps you can take to achieve the best results when finding and securing your dream job.

Tips For Using LinkedIn To Find Your Dream Job

  • Check your account regularly. It’s important that you respond to messages and other notifications quickly. You may miss an opportunity if you aren’t checking LinkedIn at least once a day.

  • Post industry relevant content on the news feed. Adding useful content to the news feed puts your name in front of your connections on a regular basis. Ensure what you’re posting is professional, relevant, and non-controversial to put your best foot forward.

  • Connect with everyone you know. The more networking you do, the more opportunities will come your way!

  • Update your career interests. This will automatically funnel the right opportunities into your “jobs” section of LinkedIn. It will also clearly show recruiters what you are looking for.

  • Join relevant, professional groups. Groups provide a platform to discuss industry topics while networking with others in your field. Participate in discussions by adding well thought out responses or even adding your own conversation starters!

LinkedIn Premium Services

On top of the steps listed above, LinkedIn also offers four premium services plans: career, business, sales, and hiring. Here’s a bit about the career and hiring plans, taken from the LinkedIn Premium Services website:

Career Plan

  • Get hired 2x faster!

  • Stand out and get in touch with hiring managers

  • See how you compare to other applicants

  • Learn new skills to advance your career

This plan allows you to directly message recruiters, see who has viewed your profile, be a featured applicant when you apply for a position, online video courses, and more.

Premium is available for a fee, but you can get your first month free with a trial. We recommend clients upgrade to premium for the duration of their job search. Once you secure a new position, you can switch back to the free version if you no longer desire the benefits of Premium membership.

Will you use LinkedIn this year to find your dream job? If you’d like expert assistance to increase your success rate, contact one of our career coaches today!

Posted on January 10, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy, Career, Leadership.

Best Career Search Strategies for 2018

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Happy New Year!

If you are going into 2018 with the need to find a job, or to find a new job, don’t let it discourage you from having an amazing year. Start out on the right foot with effective search strategies and you’ll not only have a job soon, you’ll find a position that will make for an amazing 2018!

Best career search strategies for 2018

1. Partner with a Career Coach. Yes, you can peruse job search engines on your own, but your chances of finding your dream job and showcasing your talent in a way that lands you the job increases drastically if you have the assistance of a professional career coach.

Our team of career consultants can help you craft the perfect strategy to achieve career success. We use proven assessments to examine your personality type, interests, and strengths. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for future growth and development through your dream position, which we will help you find and secure. Our career coaching empowers you to flawlessly execute your strategy in any situation. Learn more about our career coach packages and connect with your career coach here.

2. Set goals first. Whether you hire a career coach or not, you shouldn’t start looking for positions until you have establish short and long term career goals. Without them, you’ll be aimlessly looking for positions that won’t be the right fit for you, nor will you be satisfied in your career. Learn how to create and implement short and long term career goals here. You can also create professional New Year’s resolutions that help you get a jump start this year. Learn more here.

3. Perfect your resume and cover letter. You won’t get anywhere with job applications if your resume and cover letter are lackluster. We offer resume and cover letter packages as a part of our career coaching services.

You can also check out these recent blog posts that offer tons of FREE resume and cover letter advice and best practices:

4. Create a standout LinkedIn profile. Right behind resume and cover letter in order of importance is your LinkedIn profile. Not only is it a visual, interactive representation of your professional experience, it’s an effective platform for applying for jobs. There are also thousands of recruiters who use LinkedIn to find the perfect candidates for the job postings they need to fill. Be among the standout candidates that catches their eye. If you need help making your LinkedIn profile amazing, we offer three levels of coaching to choose from!

5. Network, network, network! Your chances of getting a job because of someone you know is much higher than landing a job through a blind application. Why? Because networking puts your face with your name and skyrockets you to the top of the list with the hiring manager. People trust the opinions of those they hold in high esteem. If you are recommended by someone who is trustworthy, you’ve already “proven” yourself to some degree. Learn more about what networking is and best practices in our blog articles Networking Etiquette and 5 Reasons Why Networking Isn’t Just Corporate Jargon.

6. Practice follow-up best practices. Following up is important. It shows you are serious about the position and provides an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism. But don’t be overbearing and pushy. Striking the right balance is a bit of an art, but an art that needs to be mastered to land a great job. Here’s a great guide for job search and interview follow up etiquette.

7. Be mindful of your social media activity. Don’t get caught looking unprofessional online. Even your personal profiles aren’t as private as you may think. Google yourself to see what’s out there and then take steps to clean up your online identity. Here’s a handy guide for Social Media Do’s and Don’ts When On The Job Hunt.

8. Keep a positive perspective. The process of finding a job can be frustrating to say the least.  Staying motivated while looking for your next position and don’t give up! Hard work and persistence will pay off with the perfect position for you.

Setting Professional New Year’s Resolutions

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Losing weight and dieting takes up most of the New Year’s resolutions made every year. Physical health and a positive body image is important of course, but have you ever considered making professional New Year’s resolutions? When your mind is motivated to start making healthy changes in your personal life, it’s a great time to channel that productive energy into your work life too.

Over this past year, we’ve been providing you with free resources and career advice on our blog. That was a goal that our team set to regularly help you in your job search and throughout your career. We’ve compiled some of the best resources below to help build out professional New Year’s resolutions that will make an impact.

Resources to Build Professional New Year’s Resolutions

  • If you aren’t happy in your current job, here are a few tips to rethink and refocus to get into a position better suited for your dreams and career goals.

  • If you enjoy your job, but aren’t happy in your current workplace culture, make a resolution to either come up with solutions to fix the problem or find a place of employment that matches your work culture aims. Learn more about how to determine the best work culture environment for you.

  • One often overlooked professional characteristic that would make a perfect New Year’s resolution is to become a lifelong learner. Building your skillset should be a part of your ongoing routine. Start the habit this year by kicking it off with a New Year’s resolution!

  • Don’t have career goals? Make it a New Year’s resolution to make a career game plan using both short and long term strategies. This guide will help you reflect and brainstorm the perfect goals for your current career aspirations.

Writing and settling on the most effective professional New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be done quickly. Take a few days to brainstorm what you really want, the best steps to take to get you where you want to go, and decide your timeline for achieving your goals.

If you’d like help, we’re here for you. Contact us and we’ll gladly partner with you to build the perfect career path and achieve your goals!

Posted on December 27, 2017 and filed under Search Strategy, Resume, Career.

The Benefit of Truly Unplugging During The Holidays

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Happy holidays! We are in prime-time holiday season with shopping, wrapping, carols, food, classic movies and TV shows, and twinkling lights surrounding us most moments of the day. Even if you love the season, it’s a lot to take in all at one time. And soon your family and friends will be gathering for Christmas, which may also be adding to the mental overload of the holidays.

Whether you get time off this time of the year or not, it can be difficult to truly unplug and relax. Especially if your work connects you with colleagues from around the world who may not observe the same holiday season as in the United States. Emails still come in, phones are still ringing, and projects still need finishing. In today’s world where work email and phone are often connected to your personal cell phone, it’s nearly impossible to separate yourself from your professional life.

If you are on the job hunt, it can be an even more stressful time of year. It’s easy to spend every waking moment searching through the postings and contacting potential employers. While it’s a good endeavor, it’s exhausting. Taking a break for a couple of days won’t result in a missed opportunity. Most employers will be off around this time anyway, so that extra application and follow up email can be put on hold for a few days.

Another big culprit for holiday stress is social media and the news. This constant information dump can take a toll on our energy and our ability relax. When scrolling through our feeds, it’s easy to be stressed, anxious, worried, and discontent.

Even though it’s difficult to unplug, it’s important for our physical and mental health. Why not take a break from all of it for a few days. A detox from technology and work will leave us refreshed and refueled for the New Year.

So here’s your challenge this holiday season - be intentional about unplugging. Even if it’s just for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, take steps to “turn off” your work to relax and enjoy time with family and friends without interruption.

Here are a few easy steps you can take to truly unplug this holiday season:

  • Go to the settings in your mobile phone and turn off your work email. It should be a simple toggle switch that you can flip back on when you’re ready to get back to work.

  • Send out an email to your team and clients stating that you will not be reachable during a specific time period. Also, set the out of office on your work email so those that forget will be reminded!

  • Get all of your work projects wrapped up before the holidays. If that’s not possible, put together a strategic plan for completion that includes at least a couple of days for downtime.

  • If you use your phone as your camera, turn on airplane mode and turn off the wifi. Or better yet, grab an “old fashioned” camera and leave your phone out of sight.

What would you add to the list? Comment below and let us know how you are unplugging this holiday season.

Posted on December 20, 2017 and filed under Community.

Getting your LinkedIn Profile ready for the New Year

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LinkedIn is the top social network for working professionals. In fact, this recent LinkedIn article published the following statistics:

  • There are 467 million users on LinkedIn across the globe

  • There are 3 million active job listings on LinkedIn

Which means...

...If you are looking for a job, it’s essential to have a LinkedIn profile.

...If you are a working professional, it’s smart to have an updated LinkedIn profile.

...If you are looking to switch careers, it’s critical  to have a strategically built LinkedIn profile.

Resume and cover letter still reign supreme in the job search world, but a LinkedIn profile comes in at a very, very close third. The network provides an interactive, more visual way to show your skills and experience while allowing others to weigh in through on-profile reference recommendations and skill endorsement. It also provides amazing networking opportunities that were impossible before its existence.

With the New Year comes a refresh of many projects and budgets, opening doors for many companies to hire and shake things up a bit with lateral moves and promotions. This is the perfect time of year to give your profile a facelift. If you don’t have an account, sign up at www.linkedin.com.

Here are a few basic tips for updating your profile:

  1. Make sure your profile picture is professional and taken with good lighting.

  2. Update your current position description to be accurate. Include any of the new skills and projects you are currently working on!

  3. Eliminate generic descriptor words and instead opt for words that are dynamic and not over used (like motivate, help, work with, etc.)

  4. If you have new references, send a request asking if they can write up a recommendation to include on your profile.

  5. Look at other professionals in your industry to see if they have included something on their profile that you are currently lacking. Determine if adding a similar element to your profile would help your profile stand out.

Want to dig deeper? We are so passionate and about helping our clients build the perfect LinkedIn profile, we offer 3 different service packages, but our most popular service is Level 3:

Level 3 (the most popular LinkedIn service) - all Level 1 & 2 services plus:

  • After the initial consultation, we conduct keyword research for appropriate industry-specific and position-relevant keywords to include for optimal search visibility.

  • Following keyword approval, we complete a full draft of your tailored LinkedIn profile.

  • The same procedure is then followed as with Level 2 service, with emphasis on the industry-specific and position-relevant customization of your profile.

Contact us to build the perfect LinkedIn profile today!

Posted on December 15, 2017 and filed under Search Strategy, Career.

What’s The Difference Between Agency, Corporate, And Contract?

When you first enter the workforce after graduation, it’s difficult to know what type of work environment will best serve your working style and cultivate professional growth towards achieving your career goals. You might not even know what your career goals are, let alone how to pursue them.

Will you thrive in a corporate environment, or are you better suited for agency life?

Or perhaps you’d be better off doing contract work given your entrepreneurial aspirations?

Where do you want to be in 5 years? Management? Own your own business? Leading your own projects?

These self-reflection questions are important to finding a position that you enjoy and will be an intentional step in your career path. But how do you answer these questions if you don’t know where you want your path to lead? The absolute best way to explore different work environments is to intern at a variety of places within your field. To help you get started, here’s a brief overview of the similarities and differences between agency, corporate, and contract work.

Agency

An agency is typically business-to-business (known as B2B) and is not directly customer facing. Agencies are small with anywhere from 25 to a couple hundred employees and are often privately-owned by a family or a small group of investors. Despite their size, they are full service and require a wide variety of positions - human resources, accounting, graphic design, information technology, communications, sales, etc. Agencies often have many different clients and have designated teams that serve each client.

Advertising and marketing agencies are common types of agencies. They don’t serve customers directly, but are hired by other businesses to manage and create their advertising and marketing needs. For example, a large automotive manufacturing company (corporate) will hire an agency to manage all of its advertisements, a different agency to create it’s training for employees, and yet another agency to handle all employee travel.

Corporate

The corporate world is maybe a little more familiar, as it’s often portrayed in movies and TV shows like “The Office.” Ultimately, a corporation is a large group that can legally act as a single entity. They typically have one goal - to sell its good or service. Gas and electric companies, TV broadcasting networks, and regional and national retail stores are just a few examples of corporations. Governments are structured similarly to corporations, although their processes, income stream, and legal rights are much different.

As mentioned in the agency section, corporations hire agencies to conduct work they feel are “experts’ in an area. Let’s use the automotive manufacturer example again. The goal for that company is to sell cars. They will hire a marketing agency to develop their marketing campaigns because the agency is the expert in marketing, not the automotive company. The marketing agency will produce better marketing materials for the corporate team than they could ever do themselves. It’s just not their expertise.

Contract

Contract work can be found in both agency and corporate environments, but also in work-from-home situations. If you are looking to work part-time or in a temporary position while you determine the best place for you, contract work is a great option.

The situation will be different at every company, and there are pros and cons with each arrangement.

The pros: it’s flexible yet steady income as long as you are in contract. It builds your resume and can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Many contract positions are contract-to-hire, which means if they like you and you do great work, they will extend a full-time offer.

The cons: you may not be eligible to draw benefits or have taxes withheld. And once your contract is done, you’ll be on the job hunt again.

Need help determining where you fit best? We would love to partner with you to craft a tailored career plan that maximizes your potential. Contact us today to set up a consultation!

 

Posted on December 6, 2017 and filed under Career.

Do You Need A Sabbatical?

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Have you ever felt you needed a break from your career? Not just a vacation, but a get-away-from-it-all-for-months break?

That is the purpose of a sabbatical.

What is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a paid leave from your career that is usually 6 weeks to one year in duration. Traditionally, a sabbatical has a specific purpose: to take a break from the norm to study a new skill, to travel to conduct field research, to complete a book, etc. More recently, “sabbatical leave” has been added by employers as an employee benefit - an extended period of time away solely for the employee’s benefit.

Usually, the sabbatical is offered on top of normal vacation days, which makes this benefit even more appealing! At many companies, it’s also encouraged (sometimes required) to take the full amount of leave at one time, meaning you can’t take a week here and there throughout the year. The whole point is to take a large, refreshing break to rejuvenate you after years of working hard.

Historically, the word sabbatical comes from a Biblical practice in which every seventh year the land was to be given a rest from being planted and tilled. Debts were also to be forgiven every seven years. The point was to rest, and to start again with a fresh slate.

Who Gets A Sabbatical?

The practice is most common in an academic environment (e.g. professors, researchers), although some agencies and corporations also offer this perk. Industries range from tech to restaurants to retail and the offering for each company is different. Some require a minimum of five years employment before you can take a sabbatical while others require 15 years of service. Some are paid, some are partially paid, others are unpaid.

You can find a well researched list of employers offering sabbaticals on yoursabbatical.com. It’s a site that not only provides comprehensive information on sabbaticals, but also arms employees (like you!) to campaign to get sabbaticals at your company.

Do You Get A Sabbatical?

If you don’t know, ask! And even if this benefit isn’t offered now, you can request that it be considered for the future. And if you’re looking for a job and benefits like a sabbatical are important to you, seek out employers who are competitive in their benefits offering. Not many employers are detailed on their websites about benefit packages. It’s helpful to network with employees within the company to uncover this information. You can also ask benefit questions during an interview.

Curious about how a sabbatical differs from vacation days, sick days, and personal leave? Read more here.

 

Posted on November 29, 2017 and filed under Career.

Being Thankful When Looking for Work

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It’s almost Thanksgiving! Lots of family, friends, good food, and entertainment are in the forecast for many of us. If you’re looking for a job, however, you might have a difficult time shaking the dark cloud that’s casting a shadow on your holiday festivities. It’s hard to be thankful when you don’t have a secure income and job you love.

But there is much to be thankful for, even when you are looking for work!  Here’s a list to help keep things in perspective:

5 Reasons To Be Thankful While Looking For A Job:

  1. Looking for a job can be fun! The sky's the limit with the new opportunities you have to explore. Securing a job is one way to make a positive change in your life by finding a position that will bring fulfillment, satisfaction, and good work/life balance. What better time to be “picky” about what you are looking for and find the perfect fit.

  2. You aren’t alone! Everyone has been in your shoes at one time or another. It’s rare to meet someone who was handed their job without having to search, create a resume, cover letter, apply, and interview for it. Take advantage of the wisdom and insight your friends and family can provide by asking for their thoughts and advice over turkey and pumpkin pie.

  3. There are FREE resources available to you! You can google virtually anything you need help with and someone will have posted about it online. Just make sure you are finding quality, professional resources and advice! This blog is a great, free resource to glean tips and best practices. In fact, here’s a few you might want to bookmark:

  1. You don’t have to pound the pavement like you would have 20 years ago. Before the internet was prevalent, job seekers had to print a copy of their resume and either mail it to an employer, or physically drive to their office and drop it off with a secretary. Now, you can apply for dozens of jobs a day from the comfort of your own home. You also don’t have to scour newspapers and circle job openings with a highlighter. Job search engines make it incredibly easy to find opportunities!

  2. Caring professionals at The Wilbanks Consulting Group want to help you! Our team would love to partner with you to make your job search result in a fun, fulfilling career for you. We offer one-on-one in-person and virtual career coaching and many other job search services. Contact us today and let us help you find your dream job.

Happy Thanksgiving!

How the Holiday Season Affects your Job Search

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Finding a job is tough no matter the time of year. Job applications, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, networking, interviews - there is so much to consider and work on while finding the right fit for your career aspirations. It’s overwhelming!

When the holidays roll around, you can’t put your job search on hold just because you want to enjoy the season. You need a job! To minimize the stress, here are a few things to keep in mind as you press onward towards securing a position:

  • Employer response times will be slow - Many people take time off around the holidays. In fact, some companies close their office for the entire week between Christmas and New Year. Expect to wait two to three weeks to receive a response during this time of year...maybe even longer.

  • Adjust your follow-up strategy - If you find the perfect job opening between Thanksgiving and Christmas, add an extra follow up to your typical routine. While people are away from the office or buried in end-of-year project wrap-ups, your application or follow-ups can get lost in email. Don’t barrage them with daily check ins, but one extra follow up will be a good reminder if you haven’t heard anything.

  • Get creative with networking -  This is a popular time for companies to give back to the community, so do your research and see if you can help! For example, around Thanksgiving many corporate teams will coordinate a work day to volunteer at a local food bank. If you use your networking skills to learn of events like that, you may be able to volunteer with them, or get on the volunteer schedule at the same time. You’ll be able to introduce yourself to people at the company and demonstrate your work ethic on site.

  • Take advantage of temporary openings - Seasonal job openings are in abundance during the holidays, so take advantage of opportunities. While these openings may not be the perfect job you’re looking for, they will provide income for you during your transition and can be good resume fillers for any gap you may have in employment.

Looking for additional resources for finding a job that’s perfect for you? We’d love to help! Our team offers many career coaching and career exploration packages that are customized to your needs and career goals. Contact us to set up a consultation.

Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under Search Strategy.

Why Don’t You Like Your Job?

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It’s not really work if you love what you do.

This phrase is said by the “luckiest” among us, who have a passion for their work and are content and happy in their profession. If this isn’t you...what if you found out that it isn’t luck that makes these people happy at work...it’s strategy.  

Dig Deep To Figure Out What You Love & What You Don’t

Spend time figuring out what it is about your current job that you don’t like. Don’t leave anything out - you are only holding yourself back if you aren’t honest with yourself. You need to also figure out what it is that you love about your job (or would love in a job).

Here are some reflection questions that will give your think-session a jump start:

  • What specific things make me dread going to work every day?

  • What do I do at work that makes me upset or angry?

  • What do I find really boring about my job?

  • Are the things I dislike correlated in some way? Are they are relational issues? Task-oriented? Related to workplace culture?

  • What do I like about my current job?

  • What would I like in a job that I’m currently not doing/receiving?

Put Together A Strategy

Once you have a good idea of the specific likes/dislikes of your job, it’s time to put together a strategy. You CAN find and secure a job that you love with a little motivation and effort.

Here are a few things to consider as you are putting together a strategy to find a great job:

  • Brainstorm a list of jobs with descriptions that leave out as many dislikes and include as many likes that you came up with in the above activity. Google is a good tool here - do some research!

  • Do you have the skills and experience to secure one of these positions? If not, make a plan to gain the requirements. If you are completely switching career fields, you may need more school, training, to learn a new skill, start volunteering, etc. Is the investment worth it to have a job that you love? (We say YES!)

  • Start networking in the industry or with specific people/companies that fit with what you are looking for.

  • Find a mentor that can provide trustworthy tips and advice in the field. There is nothing more valuable than wisdom from those who have gone before you!

Find Your Dream Job

Once you’ve done all of the above, finding your dream job is only a matter of time. You can get your dream job as long as you are willing to put in the work to get it.

If this seems daunting, we’d love to help you sort through it all. We offer career coaching services that will put you on the path to successfully landing your dream job!

Posted on November 8, 2017 and filed under Career, Search Strategy.

Career Planning - Short & Long Term Strategies

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You want your work to have meaning, to give you a purpose, and to continue to challenge you throughout your life. Experiencing growth, satisfaction, and fun while making an income is important. But how do you get all of that? You must have two things:

  1. A short term career planning strategy

  2. A long term career planning strategy

But here is where most people make a big mistake: You can’t make effective short term goals without first setting long term goals. Let’s break down each one.

Long Term Career Planning Strategy

Having a long term strategy to achieve your career aspirations will help you in many ways. You’ll be able to make career decisions more easily. You’ll work with more purpose and fulfillment knowing where you are headed. You also won’t get stuck in a job that isn’t a right fit, because your goals won’t align with what you’ll achieve in a “bad” position.

Sit down and think about big picture questions, such as:

  • Where do I want to be in 10 years?

  • What gives me purpose in my career?

  • What three to five goals would I like to achieve by retirement?

  • What is most important to me at work?

  • Do I want to manage a team or work solo?

Write a letter to yourself, describing exactly who you want to be and what it is you want to achieve in your career. This exercise might be awkward at first, but it will help you visualize your future and think through the direction you’d like to go.

Post this letter in a place where you can see it regularly. Read it every month. Adjust it as things change, which can, and maybe should, happen from time to time. Perhaps you start a family or your priorities change as you get older and it affects your long term goals. It’s good to be flexible. Having a long term strategy should guide you, not rule you.

Short Term Career Planning Strategy

With your long term strategy put in place, a short term strategy will be easier to implement. Do the same exercise for short term planning, but adjust the questions slightly. The questions you ask yourself might look something like these:

  • Where do I want to be this time next year?

  • What three to five goals do I want to achieve this year?

  • What small, attainable steps do I need to take this year to get closer to my long term goals?

Write a letter to yourself and place it where you can review it regularly. Since this is a short term strategy, update it every six months to one year. Hopefully you will achieve everything you wrote down, which will keep the momentum going for your long term strategy. If not, that’s OK! Adjust as needed and keep going. Again, this is meant to be a guide to help you reach your long term goals. It should guide you, not rule you!

Let WCG Partner With You!

We would love to come alongside you and help develop your short and long term career planning strategies. Our team of career consultants can help you craft the perfect strategy to achieve career success. We use proven assessments to examine your personality type, interests, and strengths. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for future growth and development through your current position or a new one. Our career coaching empowers you to flawlessly execute your strategy in any situation! You can learn more about our services and packages available here.

Posted on November 1, 2017 and filed under Career, Leadership.

Finding The Right Fit: Workplace Culture

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Are you the type of person that thrives in open, community workspaces, or do you need your own quiet space to work?

Do you want ping-pong tournaments during lunch and a corporate cafeteria, or do you want to eat out most days?

Is wearing jeans at work important to you, or would you love to wear formal business attire every day?

Do you want a best friend at work, or do you prefer to keep your work and personal life separate?

These questions may seem silly to think about when you are searching for a job, but they are important. You are putting so much time and effort into finding a job, do you really want to leave after 6 months because you can’t stand the culture? It could easily happen if you don’t think through questions like those listed above before taking a job.

Workplace culture is different from company to company. Corporate vs. agency, government vs. private sector, small company vs. Fortune 500, locally owned vs. publicly owned. Each of these workplaces offer very different environments for their employees. There are a lot of options to consider as you search for a job that will be the perfect fit for you. Check out the company’s website and social media accounts to get a glimpse into what life would be like as an employee. If you have connections, ask a few people what they like and dislike about the workplace culture. If you have an interview, chat with the receptionist and other people you meet there.

Here are some great questions to ask if you want to find out more about a company’s culture (courtesy of The Muse’ “The Best Interview Questions to Ask if You Want the Truth About Company Culture

  1. What makes you proud to work at this company?

  2. How does the organization support your professional development and career growth?

  3. Is risk-taking encouraged, and what happens when people fail?

  4. What’s one thing you would change about the company if you could?

  5. What causes conflict, and how is conflict resolved?

  6. How would you describe “organizational politics” at the company?

  7. When and how do people like to give and receive feedback?

  8. What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?

  9. What kind of flexible work arrangements do people have?

  10. Do you have a matching gifts program or sponsor local volunteer events?

What you learn can help you make the decision to accept or refuse a job offer.

EMPLOYERS

If you are an employer, acquiring, integrating, engaging, and retaining the right talent is critical to your future success. Turnover is expensive and wastes a lot of time - so let The Wilbanks Consulting Group help! Contact us today to discuss your strategic talent management, and how we can make your organization the top choice for candidates.

 

Posted on October 25, 2017 and filed under Career.

What, Why & How To Write A Cover Letter

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Resume and cover letter. Resume and cover letter. Resume and cover letter.

You’ve probably heard this short phrase more times that you want to count since searching for a job. It’s because these two things - your resume and cover letter - will ultimately land you the job. Even if you networked well and “know a guy,” someone will look at your resume and cover letter before hiring you. It’s THAT important.

What Is A Cover Letter?

When applying for a job, a cover letter is your opportunity to explain the content of your resume. It is a separate document, written as a letter, addressed to the hiring manager or Human Resources contact for the job for which you are applying.

Why Write A Cover Letter?

Primarily, it allows you to highlight experiences, circumstances, or skills that are not obvious in your resume. For example, employment gaps, school/training status, career changes are all examples of situations that should be addressed in your cover letter.

Many online application systems mark ‘resume’ as required and ‘cover letter’ as optional. Always send a customized cover letter. It shows you want the job enough to put the extra effort into writing a cover letter and provides the opportunity to stand out in a stack of resumes.

How Do I Write A Cover Letter?

Keep your cover letter short, sweet, and to the point. Your cover letter often times decides whether or not the hiring manger ‘turns the page’ to review your resume, so it needs to get their attention quickly.

Below you’ll find a template that you can use to be personalized and customized for the position, and company you are applying for. This template provides a general idea of what you should include. You need to have a customized cover letter for every single position that you apply for - no exceptions. Hiring managers can spot a generic cover letter from a mile away.

Cover Letter Template

Full Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip

E-Mail

 

January 23, 2017

 

Mr. /Mrs.

Person title

Company Name

Address

Houston Texas, 77489

To Whom It May Concern:

I am excited to apply for the position of ______ (#_____) that was listed on the job site ______/your company careers page/your staffing agency website.

This role appeals to me because ____. My background makes me an excellent fit for this role because. (EXPLAIN ANYTHING ELSE THAT ISN’T OBVIOUS FROM YOUR RESUME IN 1-2 SENTENCES, SUCH AS SIGNIFICANT EMPLOYMENT GAP DUE TO CHILD REARING, SCHOOL, CAREER CHANGE, ETC.). I would love the opportunity to leverage my experience working with X.

I have attached my resume for your review. I welcome the opportunity to personally discuss my qualifications with you, and I’m very interested in your thoughts on what roles would allow me to make this transition successfully, as I am flexible in this area. Please contact me at ###-###-#### or email at your convenience.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to review my resume. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Full Name

###-###-####

email

 

Posted on October 19, 2017 and filed under Search Strategy, Resume.

Job Search and Interview Follow up Etiquette

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The waiting game is by far the worst part of looking for a job! You finally find a job posting that looks perfect for you. You spend time tailoring your application and resume. You are excited when you hit the “apply” button and then...nothing. For days and days.

When is it appropriate to follow up? Here are some tips to help you maintain a professional vibe while inquiring after two specific job search situations:

Job Application Status

The best case scenario is that you’ll initially receive an auto response, confirming that your application was received. A lot of companies don’t have this automation, however, so you may not receive a confirmation.

After submission, the ratio for how many jobs you apply for to how many you’ll hear back from is, sadly, low. Many job postings receive hundreds of applications and the HR department or hiring manager is overwhelmed with sorting through the responses. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer: if all 150 applicants followed up with a phone call, it would be quite annoying. Instead, opt for a simple and quick email to the hiring manager. State that you applied for the job, wanted to make sure it was received, and are excited about the opportunity.

If you don’t hear back after this follow up, assume you did not move on to the interview stage. But don’t worry! Keep applying and don’t get frustrated. It’s all a part of the job search process.

Post Interview

If you receive an interview - congratulations! There are a two things you should do to follow up:

  1. Ask at the end of the interview what your expectations should be regarding hearing the outcome of the interview process. Are they hiring within the week? Will you hear one way or another? Is it OK for you to follow up if you don’t hear anything? Asking at the interview is not only appropriate, it ensures you are respecting their process and communicating in a way they prefer.

  2. Send a thank you note! If you need some pointers on how to do so, read Stand Out While Being Professional: Proper Thank You Notes.

We’d love to help you with all of your job search needs. Click here to view our career exploration services.

Posted on October 11, 2017 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.