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.

Stand Out While Being Professional: Proper Thank You Notes

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The art of the thank you note has lost it’s popularity over the decades. Today, thank you notes are typically reserved for wedding and graduation gifts. Even those have become generic, often missing the personal notes that make them meaningful. If you start writing hand written thank you notes, personally and professionally, you will make a lasting, positive impression!

In the workplace, thank you notes should be given for many reasons: thanks for a great first year, thanks for being a great boss, thanks for going out of your way to help me. A thank you note should always be sent to interviewers. Most people don’t send thank you notes. If they do, they usually send thank you emails. YOU should send a handwritten thank you note, personalized to your experience and the interviewer.  You’ll stand out among the other applicants if you do.

How to Write a Thank You Note

Hallmark provides a great structure for writing thank you notes here. We’ve adapted it for the interview process below.

#1: Greeting - Write the name of the person as they introduced themselves. “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Dear Larry”

#2: Give thanks - Say thank you immediately and clearly. “Thank you for the interview yesterday…”

#3: Specific, personalized details - If you learned something beneficial, are more excited about the position, found a common interest between you and the interview, say so!

#4: Look ahead - State that you are looking forward to hearing from them, seeing them at the second interview, or whatever timeframe was set when you were interviewed.

#5: Say thanks again - Add a little something new so you aren’t repeating what you’ve already said but expressing your gratitude. Something simple such as, “Thanks again for your time. You’ve solidified that XYZ would be a great place to call my work home!”

#6: Regards - “Sincerely” is the most appropriate in most situations, unless you know the interviewer well.

After you’ve written your note, you can put it in the mail or drop it off at the business you interviewed with (leave it with the front desk or secretary, if possible). You’re well on your way to standing out from the other interviewees. Even if you don’t get the job, there is a great chance they will remember you for other opportunities that may arise.

Posted on October 4, 2017 and filed under Interviewing.

How To Be A Life Long Learner: Building Your Skill Set

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One of the most exciting things when you finally have your diploma in hand is that you never have to do homework again! Right? Well, sort of.

Things change over time. Technology, best practices, the market, systems, people, expectations. Even in industries that don’t move as quickly, if you don’t learn anything new, your knowledge will be outdated in a decade.

Be a Life Long Learner

Even if you are fresh out of college, it’s best to have the mindset of a lifelong learner. That means you are continually seeking new knowledge and skills to improve yourself both personally and professionally. Keeping up with current events, self study to learn a new skill, getting a mentor, taking one-off classes, and reading books are all examples of habits of lifelong learners. In fact, highly successful people, like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, read for hours every day according to this Observer article. The type of books matter - reading comic books may be entertaining, but likely won’t affect your skill set. Here’s a great list of books that are recommended for all business-minded professionals.

It might be daunting to think about your to do list as a lifelong learner. But keep in mind that the more you learn, the most successful you will be. Learning new skills can help land that promotion you’ve been wanting, or change careers to something more fulfilling. Bettering yourself will give you confidence in your responsibilities and workplace relationships. Not to mention that being a lifelong learner will keep your brain sharp as you age.

A recent study, published on the Association for Psychological Science website here, says:

“At the end of [the] three months [study], …[it was] found that the adults who were productively engaged in learning new skills showed improvements in memory compared to those who engaged in social activities or non-demanding mental activities at home.”

That alone should be motivation for us to keep challenging ourselves to learn more!

Put together a long term plan for yourself and your learning goals. What qualifications do you need to meet to take the next step in your career? What skills do you want to master?  What would be fun and fulfilling that you have yet to do or try? As you achieve your goals and add more skills, don’t forget to update your resume and LinkedIn!

Posted on September 27, 2017 and filed under Career.

Planning for Emergencies at Work

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It’s been an incredibly tough couple of weeks as Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston, leaving so much destruction in its wake. Everything from homes to businesses to parks and roads have been destroyed or damaged. Some lost everything, others were fortunate to have gotten through with minor roof leaks and a few days without electricity. Holly’s family is among the fortunate - thank you to everyone who sent prayers, positive thoughts and support in various forms. It’s appreciated more than you know!

Emergencies can come in many forms: weather, natural disasters, family situations, health scares, and more. While family and friends’ safety is priority number one during emergencies, some workplaces must remain open. Hospitals, nursing homes, fire stations, police departments, and places of hospitality are a few examples. If you work at one of these establishments - thank you for your hard work in the midst of emergencies! The world would have a much harder time getting through the tough stuff without you to keep us afloat when things are dire.

Whether you work in a place like those mentioned above or somewhere else (corporate or research, for example), working through the emergency may be the best way for you to cope with the situation. For example, if a hurricane hits and you’re in no immediate danger but stuck in the house, working from home can help pass the time and provide a sense of normalcy. Depending on the type of emergency, you may or may not be able to continue work. But if you can, and want, to continue working, there are ways you can be prepared for when and if the time comes.

Here are a few ways you can plan for emergencies at work:

  • Keep all of your workplace website URLs in a handy spot to access away from work. Using a password manager, like Lastpass, is a great way to do this. It’s a cloud based system that securely saves URLs, usernames, and passwords.

  • Ask about the servers at your workplace. Are they compatible to work with hotspots? If so, you can work from your phone’s hotspot while stuck at home without wifi. Check with your phone company beforehand to determine any fees and charges that may apply.

  • Invest in a portable charging station. As long as your device has a cable that connects to a USB, they can charge without needing an outlet. Many charging stations have enough juice to charge multiple devices many times before being drained. These are great for use in hospitals, as many facilities don’t allow you to use their outlets. Of course, if your power is out, an outlet does you no good and these can keep you up and running for at least another day or two.

  • Save important work contacts in your phone. Your direct supervisor, clients, and closest co-workers are the best to be easily accessible. If something comes up and you need help (or they do), it will be easy to contact them.

  • What else is absolutely vital for you to be able to work away from the office? Determine what those items are and come up with a plan to access them when needed.

Of course, it’s always possible that an emergency can happen while you are AT work. Check with your HR department to learn what emergency preparedness plans are in place so you are aware.

No one thinks that an emergency is going to happen to them. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as the old saying goes. Make a plan and hope that you never have to use it.

Have anything else to add to the list above? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below with your additions.

Posted on September 20, 2017 and filed under Career.

Relief without Red Tape Gift Card Drive!

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Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us since Harvey hit Houston. As a quick update, our consultant Adrianne is back in her home, and her home is dry! Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for all of Houston. In fact, there is an entire section of the city known as "West Houston" that's still under water. 

The pictures above are pictures from my neighborhood during and after the flood. This scene, piles of debris, gutted homes and memories on the curb, is what a staggering number of neighborhoods in Houston look like right now. The need for aide and relief throughout the city remains significant. Working professionals and families continue to struggle to meet their basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, gasoline to get to and from work, and the list goes on. Many relief organizations and government assistance options require a lengthy and cumbersome paperwork process to receive aide IF they qualify. While I logically understand the need for process and procedure, I want to provide a faster, less burdensome solution to getting the people of Houston what they need; no questions asked. No red tape! As such, I've come up with two gift card drive options. 

Option 1: Gift Cards to CVS and Walgreens

After speaking with my son's pediatrician, the need to assist families with prescription medications is great. In disaster situations like this, even families who have insurance struggle to come up with the funds for their copay. He does not know of an organization currently meeting this need. The gift cards to CVS and Walgreens will be collected in any amount and distributed to pediatric practices at The Woman's Hospital of Texas - Houston Hospital and Nightlight Pediatric Urgent Care centers. The gift cards will then be distributed by the healthcare staff to families in need, as needed, no questions asked. If you're interested in the ultimate no red tape relief, this is your option! This option is NOT tax deductible. 

Option 2: Gift Cards to Various Retailers Providing Basic Needs

My initial inclination was to collect gift cards to retailers that specialize in or carry clothing to help working professionals rebuild their professional wardrobes. Dress for Success Houston has informed me that the needs of Houston professionals are so great, they are collecting a broad spectrum of gift cards to meet all of their needs. We will be collecting gift cards in any amount to the following stores and businesses, and giving them to Dress for Success Houston to distribute to their community, as needed, no questions asked:

Walmart                                Randalls                          Mobil

Target                                   HEB                                  Chevron

JCPenney                             Kroger                              Phillips 66

Marshalls | T.J. Maxx            Fiesta                               Exxon

For this option, Dress for Success Houston will provide donors with a letter indicating their tax-deductible donation. Please submit your full name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, and sum total amount of the gift card(s) you are donating with your gift card(s) to receive your letter. If you do not want a tax-deductible letter, please specify that.

All gift cards can be mailed to the following address:
Holly Wilbanks, WCG
6300 West Loop South
Suite 360
Bellaire, TX 77401

Want to take your support to another level? 

Spearhead a gift card drive within your company, worship center, networking or professional group, your child's school, etc. Collect gift cards for one of the options listed above, and mail them to us. We'll make sure they get to the right people! If you collect gift cards for Option 2, please e-mail me at Holly@WilbanksConsulting.com for a spreadsheet that will help you track donor information for tax-deduction purposes.

Thank you again for your support of our city and our people. Please continue to keep the people of Houston in your thoughts and prayers. 

Posted on September 19, 2017 and filed under Community.

Harvey: Holly's Houston Update

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For those who aren't aware, The Wilbanks Consulting Group is based in Houston, TX. This week, our great city experienced an unprecedented natural disaster with Tropical Storm Harvey. I am sincerely lucky to report that my family and our home are okay. Many of you have worked with our consultant, Adrianne. Adrianne's family was forced to evacuate their home, and it is unclear when they will be allowed to return to assess any damage. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. All other Houston-based consultants are safe and dry.

We have been inundated with e-mails, texts, social media messages, and calls from clients and colleagues checking on our welfare. We cannot begin to thank you enough for your concern and support. Many of you have asked how you can help our community. THANK YOU. Below is a list of nine local charities in (mostly) alphabetical order that I trust will responsibly use the funds they receive to aide those impacted by Harvey. 

I will eventually do a gift card drive or two in an effort to support local working professionals and families with basic needs. So, consider giving something now, and something later, as needs evolve.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund through the Greater Houston Community Foundation: Mayor Sylvester Turner established this fund to provide tax-deductible flood relief donations for those affected by the historic flooding. https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/ 

BakerRipley (formerly Neighborhood Centers): This local non-profit has been helping low-income Houstonians for 110 years, since its founding in 1907. Baker Ripley is taking donations for long-term disaster relief, and is currently operating the shelter at NRG Park. 
https://www.bakerripley.org/get-involved/donate

Houston Food Bank: America's largest food bank is prepared to mobilize resources across Houston, asking for volunteers, donations, and monetary contributions. Every $1 donated provides 3 meals. http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/get-involved/harvey-disaster-relief/ 

Interfaith Ministries: Working across faith communities, IMGH resettles refugees and provides extensive Meals on Wheels services for homebound seniors and their pets.  https://www.imgh.org/donate-now/  

The JJ Watt Foundation: Possibly the most recognizable individual in Houston, NFL Texans player JJ Watt's foundation typically provides after-school opportunities for middle-school aged children in the community to become involved in athletics, so that they may learn the character traits of accountability, teamwork, leadership, work ethic, and perseverance, while in a safe and supervised environment with their peers. His current fundraising efforts will directly support the victims of Harvey. https://www.youcaring.com/victimsofhurricaneharvey-915053  

LGBTQ Harvey Relief Fund through The Montrose Center: This fund builds on strong community ties "to help homeless youth, seniors, people living with HIV, hate crime survivors, and those devastated by the storm" regardless of sexuality.  https://my.reason2race.com/DNicol/HurricaneHarveyLGBTQDisasterReliefFund2017 

Rescued Pets Movement: This organization provides a second chance for thousands of homeless dogs and cats through rehabilitation and transport to forever homes in communities throughout the country and Canada that have a demand for adoptable pets.  https://www.rescuedpetsmovement.org/ 

Wildlife Center of Texas: Not all animals are pets, and displaced wildlife need help too. Houston-based Wildlife Center of Texas receives no local, state, or federal funding to nurse displaced wildlife hurt or orphaned by the storm.
http://www.wildlifecenteroftexas.org/donate/ 

The YMCA of Greater Houston Harvey Relief Efforts: Your support will help the YMCA provide the families and individuals who come to YMCA with their basic needs in this time of crisis. https://www.ymcahouston.org/blog/support-harvey-relief-efforts 

Thank you again for your support and concern. Please continue to keep the people of Houston in your thoughts and prayers. 

Most Sincerely,
Holly

Special thanks to Morgan Kinney of Houstonia Magazine for some of these organization descriptions. 

Posted on September 1, 2017 .

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

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The end of summer. Last barbeques and pool parties. A long, holiday weekend. Parades, picnics, and fireworks. The last hurrah before everyone is officially in school mode.

Labor conjures these thoughts and memories, but why do we really celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day has been a federal holiday since 1894, originally stemming from the Central Labor Union wanting to provide a special holiday for workers. We work hard all year long and deserve a much needed break, specifically with a focus to reflect on our accomplishments and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Ways to Celebrate The Fruits of Your Labor for Labor Day

What has work been holding you back from this year? Taking a vacation? Being a local tourist? Having a weekend without being glued to your email? Make Labor Day weekend the weekend you actually break free from work and pursue whatever it is you’ve been dreaming about.

But, what do you do if you have to work on Labor Day?

While government offices, banks, and most corporations close their doors for Labor Day, not every workplace does. For example, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores stay open to take advantage of the extra shopping day. Even if you can’t take the whole weekend off, there are things you can do to celebrate the holiday. The list below contains ideas for celebrating throughout the weekend.

  • Make a list of accomplishments that you’re proud of and reflect over it throughout the weekend. Celebrate the hard work that you’ve done with your closest friends and family.

  • Celebrate the accomplishments of your coworkers by recognizing their hard work. A simple but genuine hand written note is a great way to show your appreciation and admiration.

  • Recognize the work accomplishments of your family members. Take the time to find out what they are most proud of and do something special to show them you are proud of them. It doesn’t have to be on Labor Day - you can make them feel special any day!

How will you be celebrating Labor Day? We’d love to hear your creative ideas.

Posted on August 30, 2017 .

Happy Women's Equality Day!

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The thought of a woman being arrested for voting is barbaric in today’s culture, but it wasn’t that long ago that women didn’t have the right to vote in the United States. Less than a hundred years ago, the mindset of the time period set women below men, which produced male dominated politics and workplace leadership. Not to say there were no women leaders, but the few that there were met opposition, challenges, and disrespect that we can only imagine today.

On August 26, 1920, the 19th amendment was added to the constitution allowing women to vote. Now, the date marks a national observance celebrating women’s equality in the United States. You can learn more about the history and significance here. This event has led to a political, economic, and cultural shift for women resulting in many opportunities previously unattainable.

We’ve come a long way since that monumental decision was made by Congress and it is as evident in the workplace than anywhere else. In fact, there are currently 31 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Government-mandated employment policies are in place that strive for women to have the same resources and opportunities as their male counterparts.

That said, the concept of the “glass ceiling” is very real and women still have a difficult road ahead to be truly “equal” in many regards. For example, men still dominate certain workforce industries, like politics, and equal pay for men and women has not been realized. Even among teammates, it’s common for women’s ideas to get shot down before their complete thought has been communicated, while men rarely struggle with the same issue. So what can we do about it?

In celebration of women’s equality day, share the history of Women’s Equality Day with your co-workers. Moderate a group discussion about the significance of the 19th amendment and how it has paved the way for women in the workforce. Brainstorm with your team the areas in which your company promotes women’s equality and things you can do to improve equality and diversity for everyone.

Share your conversation starters, discussions, and brainstorms with us! We’d love to hear from you.

Posted on August 26, 2017 .

Sick Days, Personal Time, Vacation Days Explained

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One of the first things you consider when applying for a job is the benefits package offered, right? If a company is smart, they will offer a competitive benefits package that includes the staples - health insurance, vacation time, 401(k) contributions - but also recent popular additions such as flexible work hours, discounted lunch, reimbursement for childcare, and more. Companies are getting creative because they know benefits are important to job seekers.

Maybe the most important part of a benefits package is vacation days. But lumped in with vacation time is sick days and personal time, which can be confusing. What’s the difference between them and how do you use each?

Vacation Time

Vacation time is just what it sounds like, time off of work to take a vacation! That doesn’t mean you have to actually go on a vacation. You can stay at home and watch TV all day, run errands, or remodel your kitchen. Your company doesn’t care what you do with the time - it’s yours! You’ll likely need to request your days off in advance so that your manager can ensure everyone on your team isn’t taking time off at the same time. Most companies give you a certain number of days or hours as vacation time, and it increases every year that you work. For example, you may start at 10 days per year, and every year you stay with the company, you accrue one additional day. After 5 years, you’ll have 15 vacation days.

Some progressive companies are experimenting with unlimited vacation time, which means you can take off as much as you’d like, as long as you are getting your work done. While this sounds amazing, you do need to be careful with this policy. Some research has shown that people won’t take off as much time if they don’t have a “bank” of days to use up. Make sure you actually take time off, but don’t take advantage and only work 5 days a month. You won’t keep your job long if you do that!

Sick Days

Again, sick days are what the name implies: time off because you are sick so that you can get better quickly and leave the germs at home. It’s common to be given a certain amount of sick days each year. If you have seven sick days and fly through them by June, you’ll likely have to use vacation or personal time for any additional days. You may also be asked to provide a doctor’s note to use sick days (just like in school).

I previously worked at a company where the policy stated, “If you are sick, stay home! Period.” It’s a great policy as you aren’t limited, but when someone was sick a lot at the company, you were contacted by HR for an assessment about what was going on. It’s never a good idea to take advantage of policies like this, but if you are truly sick frequently, then it’s a great workplace perk.

Personal Time

Personal time is the most confusing of the three. Personal time is usually considered to be reserved for time off for work for things other than vacation and sick days. If your company offers it, it’s nice to not have to use vacation time to remodel a kitchen or go to the dentist.

But what happens if you use all of your vacation time and still have personal time? Can you use personal time as vacation time? It’s best to talk to your HR representative for specifics since every company’s policy is different. That said, it’s common for people to lump vacation time and personal time together. After all, “personal” time is all about you, right? A word of caution: if you lump your time together, reserve at least 2-3 days to use in a pinch or at the end of the year. It’s awful when you use all of your time on vacation and then don’t have any days off at the end of the year. You never know what may come up that you need to handle during the workweek.

As you are considering a new position, great questions to ask during an interview are:

  • What does your benefits package include?

  • Do you offer personal time?

  • What is your company’s sick time policy?

  • What are the guidelines for using vacation time, personal time, and sick days?

Posted on August 16, 2017 .

Balancing Back-to-School & Keeping Pace At Work

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It’s almost that time of year...back-to-school time!

Depending on the personality of your children, this season may solicit feelings of joy or dread. The same goes for parents. Some of you may be elated your children will have structured time outside of the home again, or you may be dreading the shopping, to-do lists, and hussle of the fast-paced schedule that comes with one or more children in classes and extracurriculars. All of that on top of a busy work life can make for a stressful balancing act leading to burnout for you. Unfortunately, work doesn’t stop or slow down just because your personal life gets hectic!

If you are anxious about this time of year, take a deep breath, slow down, and do some pre-planning. It will make a world of difference as you approach the inevitable back-to-school rush.

It’s important to have a game plan to keep a healthy balance between work and the back-to-school rush. Below is a step-by-step list that you can use to make that happen. While you can go through these instructions by yourself, including your family in the plan will not only lessen the burden on you, but will promote healthy communication and teamwork in your home.

Step-by-Step Game Plan to Balance Back-To-School & Work

  • Make a list of everything you need to do for your children to get them ready for back-to-school and the first few weeks after school has started.

  • Make a list of everything you will have going on at work during the same time frame. Ask your partner to do the same.

  • Merge the lists together and highlight any schedule conflicts and the items that will be extra stressful.

  • Brainstorm solutions with your partner to resolve the schedule conflicts.

  • Brainstorm ideas with your partner to lessen the stress of the “big deal” items on the list.

  • Decide on a game plan to tackle these issues and the entire back-to-school season.

  • Set expectations before school starts. If you need everyone to be done with back-to-school shopping before your big project is due at work to eliminate stressful last-minute Target runs, then make it clear now. You may also consider limiting the amount of activities each child may sign up for during the school year to keep the schedule manageable. At work, perhaps you may need to leave early a few days. Whatever you decide, communicate it sooner than later.

  • Set roles and responsibilities for each family member so you aren’t stuck doing everything yourself. For example, if you know you need to be at work by 8 am, make sure your kids know they need to pack their own lunches in the mornings - or even better, the night before!

  • Do the same with your teammates at work. If you could use some help with a specific area of a project to minimize your stress level during this time, ask for assistance.

  • Make a family schedule that is accessible to everyone in your home. It will help family expectations and communication to know where everyone is and when and where they need to be. You should also ensure your work calendar is updated appropriately.

Now that you have a clear game plan, communicate it to everyone in the family and at work. Your plan is no good if no one else knows what’s going on.

Do you have any other tips for families to balance work and the back-to-school season? Leave a comment below!

Posted on August 9, 2017 .

Dissolving Mental Health Stigmas In The Workplace

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Mental health is a tough topic when it comes to the workplace. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 43 million adult Americans (about 18% of the total population) suffer from mental health disorders each year. Even though it is extremely common, the stigma associated with mental illness is strong, especially when it comes to employment.

Examples of mental health struggles include, but are not limited to, social phobia, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and depression. Left untreated, these illnesses can cause serious problems in the personal and professional life of an individual. Unfortunately, asking for mental health help or support can come across as weakness for many, which leaves those suffering afraid to seek the assistance they need. And if the workplace environment of those who struggle isn’t one that supports mental health, it can be an incredibly difficult, isolated struggle. As you are conducting a job search or are considering a job change, it’s important to look into mental health policies before you commit.

For example, the ability to take time off, get appropriate health care, and achieve a good work-life balance, are key to promoting mental health. With a great mental health policy in place, the overall work environment of a company will drastically improve and produce happier, healthier, and more productive employees. That is the type of company you want to call home!

This great blog article from the Department of Labor narrates what it’s like to go through mental health issues in the workplace and what is needed to truly promote mental health:

  • Employment itself - giving individuals a chance despite known difficulties
  • The same flexibility to recover from mental health issues as physical health issues
  • Regularly promote mental health support and resources made available to employees

A recent, exciting mental health success story comes from Olark, a web development company. An employee sent a company wide email stating that she needed some time off to care for her mental health. The CEO responded with a ‘thank you’ for being a great example of promoting mental health to the company. What a great workplace environment that must be, where leadership cares for each individual who works there!

If you don’t suffer from a mental illness, chances are you know someone who does, and they may (or will) sit in the cubical, lab, or office next to you. Look for jobs at companies that make this a priority in the workplace culture. If mental health support is a top priority for you, ask questions during your offer negotiation about mental health policies and resources available to employees.

You can also be encouraging, understanding, and flexible when you notice someone dealing with mental health issues. You can make a difference in your workplace by making mental health important for your team and setting an example to dissolve the stigma.


If you are interested in learning more about mental health, MentalHealth.gov and NIHM are great, free resources available to you.

Posted on August 2, 2017 .

How to Plan Your Job Search

It takes the average person 3 months to a year to secure a new job opportunity, so the time to start planning your job search was yesterday. If you are newly unemployed, the thought of being without a job for a year can seem daunting. To help breakdown that time and feel productive, create a schedule and goals. So, what does that look like?

I recently asked one of our unemployed clients how she planned her search when she was laid off. The reality is, she spent the first few days in shock. After the shock wore off, she reviewed her finances, and she calculated that her severance package would last her 2 months. So, did she wait to start her job search? Nope. She started immediately and created a plan for her first month of unemployment. Here’s what she did:

Goals:

  • Set a regular schedule
    • Gym: 6:30 am
    • Job Search/Follow-up: 8:30 am to 10:30 am
    • TBD: 10:30 am to 5:00 pm
    • Dinner with family: 6:00 pm
    • Bedtime: 10:30 pm
  • Plug-in to Networking Groups
  • Workout everyday
  • Take a Lynda.com class
  • Repaint living room
  • Do 3 free things around the city

She started day one of her unemployment by:

  • Updating her resume, LinkedIn profile, and Indeed profile
  • Applying to the most relevant or attractive positions posted
  • Reaching out to her network
  • Creating a list of companies to target
  • Setting up alerts on LinkedIn and Indeed for specific job titles/locations/companies

Day Two through Thirty she continued to follow her regular schedule, but changed what she did from 10:30AM to 5:00PM. For example, one day she went to a free lecture at the local library, the next she started repainting the living room, and then she went to a local networking event she found through her professional association.

At the end of each month, she would reevaluate and set new goals. Because she created a plan, she was able to stay motivated and feel productive.

So, what happens if you are still employed?  While you may not have time to continually update your resume, be sure to keep track of any accomplishments or new skills. Also, regularly benchmark the market. Is there a job that interests you, but you are missing a certification? Is there a new industry standard you do not know? If so, start the process of obtaining those certifications or skills.

Do you need help knowing where to start your job search plan?  Feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

Posted on May 4, 2017 .

I’ve Had an Interview. Now What?

Someone once told me that interviewing is like a first date. You arrive at the interview nervous to meet the company that could be your next employer. If it’s an amazing interview, you wait at home in anticipation that they will call you for a job offer. When they don’t contact you immediately, you start to question if you should make the first move. The answer is absolutely, but with some boundaries.

First, send a thank you note within 24 hours of the interview to thank them for their time. You can send it over e-mail, but a handwritten note is a nice touch. Keep it short and sweet, like this example:

Dear {First Name},

Thank you for your time on {Day}. I really enjoyed learning more about {Position} and your experience at {Company Name}. I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the {Team Name} team, and I feel that my experience in {experience that aligns with opportunity} would make me a great fit.

I look forward to hearing from you once you make your final decisions. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.

Best,
{Name}
{Contact Information}

After you’ve sent your thank you note, refer to the information you discussed with the hiring manager about when they plan to get back to you. If their “deadline” comes and goes, follow up three days after to check in and see if they need any additional information from you.

How do you follow-up after interviews? Comment below or send us an email with your follow-up  tips.

Posted on March 29, 2017 .

Short and Concise are the Ingredients for a Rockstar Cover Letter

Love them or hate them, cover letters are essential to the job search. With so much information on the internet about cover letters, it doesn’t take long before you start to feel overwhelmed. My advice is to keep it short and concise.

I can hear you shout through the screen, “What does short and concise mean?” Think of your cover letter as the appetizer portion of a meal. It should be just enough information to get the reader hungry for more. You should cover the basics: who am I, and why should you hire me?

Another element in today’s job market is making sure your cover letter stands out from the crowd. Forbes has a great article written by someone who has read over 300 cover letters and gave pointers on the good and the bad:

  1. The Basics: Make sure you double-check for typos and that it doesn't read like a find/replace cover letter. Also, skip the over-effusive thanks and connect your qualifications with the job position.

  2. The Opening Sentence: Recruiters have to read hundreds of cover letters, so you want your opening sentence to stand out. Remove the generic “I am writing to apply for the Copywriter position,” and change it to something like, “My passion is to create ad copy that will engage customers.”

  3. The Examples: Similar to your unique opener, you want to stay away from the generic “my skills include X, Y, and Z.” Adding in an appropriate anecdotal story can add personality to your cover letter.

These are great tips to create a rockstar cover letter and help you land an interview. Do you have any tips to writing an amazing cover letter? We would love to hear from you. Comment below or send us an email.

Posted on March 15, 2017 .

You’ve Been Offered a Job! What Do You Do Next?

Congratulations! You’ve been offered a job! Now what? If you’ve been searching for a while, your first instinct is to immediately accept. We can get so caught up in the excitement of a new job that we can forget the essentials. So, take a step back and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have it in writing? Most of the time, HR will call to let you know you have a job offer. Before you accept, make sure you have their offer in writing, so you can review the details.

  2. Do you fully understand what the job entails? If you’re not clear on what your day-to-day will look like, ask follow-up questions. Maybe you need to clarify your job title or who you report to.

  3. Is there any additional information you want to know about the company culture? Forbes has a great list of questions that will help you learn more, like, how do they handle after hours communication?

  4. What do you think about your potential boss? Will you thrive under their management style? Remember, most people don’t leave because of the job; they leave because of their manager.

  5. What do the salary and benefits look like? If you were hoping for a higher salary or more benefits, check out this article on negotiation from The Muse to help you get what you want.

  6. Is this job helping you achieve your career goals? How will you and your career goals benefit from this position?

  7. Are you actually excited about the job or the job offer? If you are only excited about receiving a job offer, really consider if you would be excited to go to work everyday.

After you’ve asked yourself these tough questions, and asked HR clarifying questions, you’re now ready to make your decision. Do you have any additional tips for what to do once you receive a job offer? Comment below or shoot us over an email.

Posted on March 8, 2017 .

Questions You Should Ask in Every Job Interview

What is the first thing we do when we finally land a job interview? We start preparing by learning everything about the company and we plan exactly how we will answer the interviewer’s questions. Sometimes we focus so much on our answers, we forget that we’re also interviewing the company. There’s so much you can learn about job expectations and company culture by asking the interviewer the right questions.

Glassdoor.com created a list of 45 Questions You Should Ask in Every Job Interview. It’s a very extensive list, and I do not recommend asking all 45 in a single job interview. However, you should read through the list and pick several questions that’s important to you in your job search. Maybe you want to know more about management style or you may want to ask the interviewer questions to see if they even enjoy working for the company. Here’s my top picks from the list of questions to ask:

  1. Can you offer specific details about the position’s day-to-day responsibilities?

  2. What do you enjoy most about working here?

  3. What are your views on goals, timelines, and measuring success?

  4. How frequently do employees make themselves available outside of normal working hours?

  5. Why do most employees leave the company?

  6. What’s the next step of this process, and when can I expect to hear from you?

These are all great questions for you to ask an interviewer to find out more information on the company. What questions do you ask in an interview? We would love to hear from you! Just comment on this article or shoot us an email.

Posted on March 3, 2017 .

How to Make your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out From the Crowd

Networking Connected LinkedIn.jpg

Since its launch, employers have become more and more reliant on LinkedIn. It is a great place for companies to see a detailed snapshot of potential hires. Because of this, it’s imperative for job seekers to keep their LinkedIn profile up-to-date.

If you are looking for tips, all you have to do is Google “how to improve my LinkedIn profile.” You’ll find articles like “17 Must-Haves for You LinkedIn Profile,” “5 Things to Change on Your Profile Immediately,” or “14 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile.” It can be really overwhelming trying to decide where to start. Thankfully, Forbes created a list of 7 Easy Ways to Level Up Your LinkedIn Profile…

  1. Stop living under a rock. Many people will connect with someone they have never met on LinkedIn. Instead, try to meet people in real life to build a real connection before you send them a request on LinkedIn. This can be done internally at your organization's social events, or externally at a professional networking event.

  2. Have a professional profile picture. Hire a friend to take a professional photo of you and make sure you wear professional attire.

  3. Add media into the summary section. Think of it as your “digital trophy “ section. This is a great spot for your portfolio of work.

  4. Don’t be shy. Reach out to past colleagues or clients to write a recommendation for your page.

  5. Customize your LinkedIn url. It will look more professional when you add it to your resume or send it to potential employers.

  6. Publish your own content. Establish your professional brand by writing articles that are helpful for others in your industry.

  7. Share relevant content. If you don’t have time to write original content, share other people’s content. The engagement will drive your visibility and personal branding.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth revision of your LinkedIn profile, we are here to help. We have several levels of services we provide to help you optimize your LinkedIn profile and set you up for success. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Posted on February 22, 2017 .

What to Do When You’ve Made a Career Mistake

I recently spoke with someone who just experienced a career mistake. Jenny had been unemployed for three months when she received an offer she felt like she couldn’t refuse. Throughout the interview process, she had this weird feeling that things were not as they seem. The hiring manager even asked her not to look at the Glassdoor.com reviews of the company (btw… it had 2 stars and very colorful reviews of management). However, they offered Jenny significantly more than her salary requirements. Since she didn’t know when the next job offer would come along, she decided to accept the position. Jenny immediately regretted that decision after the first week.

So, what should you do if you ever find yourself in a similar situation? Well, first you should know that you are not alone. Throughout our careers we all will experience different forms of career mistakes. What is important is how you handle yourself...  

Stay positive: I get it… it’s tough to stay positive when things at work are so negative. Remember that this is a just a season in life, and find ways to help you stay positive during the day.

Stay confident: Figure out different ways to remind yourself that you are a rockstar. Jenny mentioned that a previous employer had created a list of all the reasons her coworkers loved working with her. As cheesy as it seemed, on bad days she would read a reason to boost her confidence.

Reconnect with your network: Not only can your network help give you advice, they can also keep their ear out for a new opportunity.

Remember to continue learning: While you hopefully won’t be in a bad career situation for long, take every opportunity to learn as much as you can. It may be learning a new skill or learning what you do/do not like in a career.

Are you finding yourself in a career mistake and need help deciding your next move? Feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

Posted on February 15, 2017 .

Is Volunteering Important for Your Resume?

Volunteers have the ability to impact the wellbeing of their community. Whether it’s planning a fundraiser, mentoring students, or helping build houses, volunteers leave a positive mark. So, should you add volunteering to your resume? The answer is yes, but with a few parameters.

Let’s start with why volunteering improves your resume. In Deloitte’s 2016 study on volunteerism, they found that respondents only saw volunteering on about 30 percent of the resumes they received. However, 82 percent stated they would be more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience. What does that mean? Volunteerism may offer you an advantage over other candidates and show that you are continually developing yourself professionally. Additionally, if you are an entry-level worker, or have a break between career positions, it can highlight skills that you have learned as a volunteer.

Before adding volunteer experience to your resume, determine if it is relevant to the job. If it is, include skills and accomplishments that relate to the position’s qualifications as they relate to your experience. For example, if you are applying for a financial position and your volunteer experience is with your child’s PTA, spell out that you helped with fundraising initiatives or managing budgets.

If it is not directly relevant to the job, include characteristics that show leadership development and commitment. For example, if you are applying for a communications position and your volunteer experience is with a soup kitchen, describe how you mentored new volunteers or took a leadership role.

If you are new to volunteering, there are several websites to help connect with an organization in need.

Do you volunteer? If so, have you added your volunteer experience to your resume?

 

Posted on February 8, 2017 .

How to be Efficient at a Career Fair

Career Fairs are a great place to meet potential employers, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. To help you out, here’s a list of things to do before and during the career fair to help you be more efficient.

Before you arrive at the career fair…

  1. Make sure you register. Not all career fairs require a registration, but double-check and register before you arrive. This can also save you money if there is a fee.

  2. Research. Discover what employers are attending the career fair and the open positions they offer.

  3. Create a list. Career fairs will be less intimidating if you already know the employers you want to visit. On your list, jot down a few notes (i.e. positions available, company goals, etc.). When you arrive at their table, you’ll be prepared to talk with their representative in a way that makes an impact.

  4. Prepare your elevator speech. Add in something unique about yourself and your experience to help the employer remember you after the fair.

  5. Update your resume. Check to make sure your resume lists your most up-to-date contact information and experience.

  6. Most importantly… Print your resume and have multiple copies ready.

Now that you are prepped and ready, it’s time to suit up and head to the career fair. Once you are there…

  1. Pause and assume the power pose. What’s the power pose? Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on the power pose and why body language is so important.

  2. Get your bearings. Figure out where each employer you want to meet is situated, so you’re not spending time wandering around.

  3. Make a plan. Now that you see the layout of the fair, prioritize who you want to meet, and figure out a plan to see each employer.

Career fairs will be less overwhelming if you follow these tips. What would you add to the list? How do you tackle a career fair and make it more efficient?

Posted on January 27, 2017 .