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 .

It’s Peak Hiring Season...Are You Ready?

It’s a new year, a new you, and a new job may be on your horizon. Since January to April is the peak hiring season for most industries, now is the time to apply for a new job or make a career change.

Besides updating your resume and LinkedIn account, Forbes has a useful list of 10 unconventional (but effective) tips for job seekers:

  1. Be vulnerable. Ask for advice before applying for any job, especially if you have a connection with someone inside the company.

  2. Don’t always follow your passion. Passion can develop overtime, and pursuing a career based on your passion can be a rewarding experience. If you’re not confident in your passions, check out the free quiz offered by Clarity on Fire. Still not ready to drop everything and pursue your passion? Look for positions that align with your innate strengths.

  3. Create your position. Study the industry you want to get into, and a company or two. Start tackling solutions to problems they face and make yourself known, with no expectation in return. You’ll impress them and get noticed!

  4. Learn how to listen. Listen carefully, closely, and don’t interrupt. You’ll learn a lot!

  5. Start at the top and move down. HR can be a road block because they aren’t typically the employees making the hiring decision. Network and get your resume to the right person - the decision maker.

  6. Build a relationship with the administrative assistant. They usually hold the respect of the managers and “higher ups.” Be respectful, professional and courteous!

  7. Don’t apply for a job as soon as you find it. Take a day or two to research the company and make connections with its employees first (think LinkedIn). Then apply.

  8. Focus on body language. This is incredibly important. Be confident and professional in your body language. You can also learn how the interview is going by paying attention to the interviewer’s body language.

  9. Don’t focus on finding a job you love now. The “get-your-foot-in-the-door” job may not be glamorous, so you may have to settle for a different job than what you want. Then, you can apply for the other job later.

  10. Become their greatest fan. Becoming a loyal follower and supporter of their brand may lead to you becoming their next employee!

These are all great tips to boost your chances of landing that new job. What tips do you have to help job seekers? We would love to hear from you! Just comment on this article or shoot us an email.

 

Posted on January 11, 2017 .

Starting the Year Off Right with Professional Development Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for fitness - although that is extremely important! You can make professional development goals this year, specifically for keeping your career on track...or maybe getting it back on track. It’s important to set realistic and measurable goals for yourself, or you run the risk of being like most people who make new year’s resolutions who don’t keep them. According to Forbes, here are the most popular career goals set around new year’s resolutions:

  1. Get a raise or promotion.

  2. Reduce stress.

  3. Be more organized.

  4. Quit your job or get a new job.

  5. Improve your work/life balance.

  6. Network more effectively.

  7. Improve your relationship with your boss and/or co-workers.

  8. Enhance your communication skills.

  9. Get a degree.

  10. Be better with email and voicemail.

These goals are all great focal points depending on where you are in your current career situation. Feel free to use this list to start your own, modifying it to meet your needs. To make each goal realistic and measurable, focus on 2-3 resolutions, include a time frame for each, and create sub-bullets that address ways to actually achieve the goal. Here is how one of your career new year’s resolutions might look:

  1. Get a raise or promotion by June of this year.

    1. In January, discuss with my superiors what it will take for me to obtain a raise/promotion (this might be to meet a quota, develop certain skill, secure a new account, etc.);

    2. Check in every 2 months with my superiors to see if I am on track to reach my goal. Request feedback and additional direction.

You’ll have other new year’s resolutions to focus on, but if you make category buckets for your goals, that will help you stay organized and on-track. It’s best to keep 3-4 category buckets (such as health/fitness, career development and academic) with 2-3 goals in each bucket. Once you’ve made your list, share it with someone close to you who can hold you accountable. Offer to be his or her accountability partner as well.

When you decide on your career development goals, we’d love to hear them! Share them with us by commenting on this article or shooting us an email. Good luck!

Posted on January 4, 2017 .

Is Career Coaching Right For You?

There are lots of ways people save money with do-it-yourself projects and by declining services that seem like an unnecessary luxury. It seems everyone is on a tight budget these days, from large companies to mom-and-pop shops to individuals just shopping for groceries. I’m certainly included in this budget-minded group and my guess is that you are too.

So, how do you determine what’s worth paying for and what isn’t? What resources and services have value that can’t be found by doing it yourself? Sometimes it’s really hard to tell. I found out the hard way that buying natural peanut butter is worth the cost instead of making it myself. In the long run, it ended up being more expensive, took a ton of time and left my kitchen looking like a (very dirty) peanut factory. The same can be said for career coaching services. It may seem like you can save money by planning, preparing, and refining your career strategy by yourself, but the long term result will likely not be as you desire. You’ll spend time, energy and money that exceed the cost of a few career coaching sessions without actually achieving your goals. In other words, you’ll be left exhausted with a dirty kitchen and no peanut butter.

It’s a funny analogy, but it works! There are some things we should just leave to the experts. Jif makes peanut butter better than I ever will. Career coaches will have higher success rates at achieving career goals than someone trying to find solid footing in the workplace.  

Career coaches know what they are doing. They’ve likely consulted dozens, if not hundreds, of clients and will be efficient in getting you up and running with what you need to achieve your career goals. The experience you will benefit from by consulting a career coach is invaluable. They know both sides of the story - employers and job seekers - and how you fit in.

We offer face-to-face and virtual career coaching that have proven results from clients across the country. Learn more about our variety of packages available and contact us to realize your career goals today!

Posted on December 28, 2016 .

New Year, New Career - Getting out of your career rut

Have you reflected on your career this past year and decided that you aren’t where you want to be? There is no better time than the New Year to make changes in your professional life. Lots of people have new year resolutions, so grab an accountability partner and decide what you need to do to get out of your career rut. Then do it!

 

The key to getting out of a career rut is to determine what needs to be done to move forward and how you can realistically make it happen. Here’s a great goal setting method for getting started.

  1. Make a list of five things that you want to change or improve. This could be finding a new job, adding a new skill, or getting that promotion you’ve been wanting.

  2. Decide if each item is within your power to influence. If you want a new boss, for example, you likely don’t have the the power to replace him or her but if you’d like to improve your team’s morale, that’s doable.

  3. If you can influence an item, add one or two realistic steps you can take to change it and make it as measurable as possible. If an item isn’t within your control to change, add an idea for how you can change your attitude, perspective, or other ways to improve your outlook.

  4. Prioritize your list. The most important items go at the top and will be tackled first.

  5. Put a realistic deadline on each item.

  6. Share your list with someone you trust and ask for input. Maybe something that seems realistic to you needs a more manageable timeframe for implementation, for example.

One of your goals might look something like this:

“Priority #1: In the next 6 months, I want to be promoted to manager. I will take 2 leadership courses and learn the company’s management software program in order to be qualified. Then, I’ll apply!”

To be clear, your career rut might be because of a toxic work environment, bad boss or less than encouraging team. Unfortunately, these scenarios are faced by most of us at one point or another during our professional careers. You have to decide what is best for you, both short and long term. Do you stick it out knowing/hoping it’s only for a season or do you take more drastic measures to eliminate yourself from the situation? Before you make your decision, list your options, contemplate the pros and cons of each and consult wise counsel. Making rash decisions may harm your career, so be as thoughtful and contemplative as possible throughout this process.

Posted on December 21, 2016 .

End of Year Career Reflections - Are you where you want to be in your career?

Are you happy with the present?

Are you excited about your future?

What is your strategy to maximize your career objectives?

If you’ve never asked yourself these questions, now is a great time to do so. The end of the year is a great time to reflect on your current situation and to determine what you want your future to look like. It’s a little cliche, but New Year’s resolutions are a great way to improve the things in your life that are lackluster and your career is no exception. Don’t wait until January 1 to start thinking about what changes you’d like to make. Make a plan now so that when the year refreshes itself on New Year’s Day, you can hit the ground running with your resolutions, feel great about yourself and be fueled by your momentum.

So, the big question is, what do you do with the answers to these three questions?

If your answers are ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘[insert your plan here]’ - you are on a great career track and should keep up the great work!

Most answers are not so self assured or positive, however. If your answers are along the lines of ‘no’, ‘the future scares me’ and ‘what strategy?’ you aren’t alone. 70% of American workers are unhappy in their current careers according to one Gallup Report. It’s a sad truth, especially considering that a goal-achieving career strategy isn’t as difficult to implement as many think.

The hardest part is finding a place to start, and that’s where career coaching can help. Strategic career planning, search strategy and execution, networking, interview preparation and practice, resume and CV refinement are all areas that need addressed when thinking critically about career and possible changes. A career coach can come alongside you and ensure you are hitting the success factors for each of these areas to achieve your goals. It will take some work, and maybe even some difficult decisions on your behalf - but the long term, end result will be way better than your current situation. It could even lead to your dream job!

If this has hit a chord with you, we’d love to serve as your career coach and help you realize your career dreams. Learn more about our offerings, pricing and contact us here.

Posted on December 14, 2016 .

Balancing Work Around the Holidays

Holiday festivals! Gift giving! Cookies, pies, cakes! Christmas feasts! Decorations! Christmas trees!

Do these words inspire holiday cheer or Ebenezer’s ‘bah humbug’? As festive and cheery as the holidays are, the most wonderful time of the year is not so wonderful for many people. Work stress can pile on top of family obligations, financial strains and time constraints that may have been mounting for months. If you’re dreading the holidays, take an hour in your day - right now - to make a plan for the rest of this year. The goal is to balance your work responsibilities and holiday happenings so that you don’t usher in the new year frazzled and exhausted. Here are some tips and ideas to think through as you make your plan:

  • Decide what your best case scenario work schedule is around the holidays and brainstorm ways to make it possible. That may be leaving the office at 4:30pm every day instead of working late. Or, maybe you are OK with putting in extra hours each day if that means you can take off a few extra days after Christmas. Whatever it is, jot down a plan, discuss it with your team and communicate it to those that would be affected.

  • Is travel an absolute necessity, either professionally or personally? Are there alternatives to travel that would make your life less stressful right now? For example, if you have family out to town but know your have deadlines at work, maybe it makes more sense to travel early in the new year to visit instead. Or perhaps a work trip can be eliminated with some virtual meetings and creative team collaboration. Limiting the amount travel during this time of year is sure to lessen the stress level (and will save you or your company money).

  • Use the word “NO.” Can you take on that extra project? ‘Not this time.’ Can you add that extra holiday party to your calendar? ‘No, I already have a full schedule.’ Can you organize this year’s office Christmas party? ‘Not this year.’ Soften your ‘no’ to be polite and gracious for the opportunities, but understand that you aren’t a bad guy for turning them down. Less “stuff” on the calendar and on your list means more time to relax and enjoy the season.

  • Assign priorities to your responsibilities and stick with them. Tackle the big things and let the smaller things go if you can. Some things may be able to wait until after the holidays if you are honest with yourself.

  • Don’t sacrifice fitness, healthy eating or sleep in order to be a superhero. Yes, you can eliminate or reduce these things to make room for your to do list, but it won’t make you happy. It will make you feel sluggish, tired, and both physically and emotionally drained. Take care of yourself!

What would you add to the list for balancing work around the holidays? We’d love to hear from you! Comment on the blog or shoot us an email at info@WilbanksConsulting.com. 

Posted on December 12, 2016 .

New Year, New Wardrobe? Not So Fast.

I recently worked with Houston-based stylist Emily Elliott to spruce up my work wardrobe in time for the new year. Emily is the picture of fashion at it’s best whether it’s professional, casual, or special events. Her Facebook page exudes confidence, radiance, and of course, style. She works with some seriously cool people in Houston, and I was about to let her see the (wo)man behind the curtain. To say that this experience would be intimidating is an understatement. My challenge for her was to work with what I had, not shop for a new wardrobe. While I thought this might be challenging, Emily is clearly a pro. In less than 2 hours, I felt like I had a whole new work wardrobe, and a new appreciation for the future of my personal fashion.

Disclaimers:

I did not purchase anything new for this experience. I am also not a model. Fair warning. 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Ask for a free consultation. Stylists specialize in various areas of wardrobe and fashion. Make sure they can work with your gender, goals, budget, and timing before investing.

  2. A good stylist will not push you to buy his/her idea of fashion. They will work with your style. I shop at a lot of national retailers that carry petites, as I’m small, and I’m too impatient for tailoring. She said I could continue to shop at those stores, and didn’t make me feel like I needed to hop on the next flight to New York to get with it.

  3. You don’t need to buy an entire new wardrobe to work with a stylist. She worked with what I have to create new outfits that work for my professional settings. She did give me a list of 5 staples to purchase that I’m missing: a solid black top; black flats; 2 belts; and black pants. I can handle that.

  4. Make sure all of your clothes are available. I made two mistakes: 1. I had an entire winter wardrobe in another closet that I forgot to show her. We’re headed into what Houston considers “winter”, which is another way of saying “not summer.” I should have incorporated those clothes. 2. I also had a nice batch of favorites at the dry cleaners. SMH.

  5. Be open to new ideas. I would have never put together some of the combos Emily created for me, yet they were perfect. I also learned a thing or two about my rigid view of fashion, and the way it looks on my body. Fashion is actually more flexible and forgiving than regular folk like me might imagine.

Here are some select looks from our experience.

My mother-in-law bought me this blouse, and I didn’t like the way the way the sleeves hit my shoulders. Emily made me see this fear was all in my head. Here, she appealed to my desire to cover them up, and paired it with slacks and a jacket.

My mother-in-law bought me this blouse, and I didn’t like the way the way the sleeves hit my shoulders. Emily made me see this fear was all in my head. Here, she appealed to my desire to cover them up, and paired it with slacks and a jacket.

Same blouse, over my fear! Also, never would have put it with this skirt and belt. Point for Emily.

Same blouse, over my fear! Also, never would have put it with this skirt and belt. Point for Emily.

This suit is OLD... I believe I bought it right before I moved to London, circa 2007. Emily's response? Don't get rid of it. Tailor the skirt to mimic the contemporary pencil skirts in fashion now. Also pair this crazy blouse with it. I never would have put a blouse with such bright colors with this neutral skirt, and I LOVE it.

This suit is OLD... I believe I bought it right before I moved to London, circa 2007. Emily's response? Don't get rid of it. Tailor the skirt to mimic the contemporary pencil skirts in fashion now. Also pair this crazy blouse with it. I never would have put a blouse with such bright colors with this neutral skirt, and I LOVE it.

Polka dots with polka dots? Mind blown. Another combo I would not have put together, Also, cardigans are cute and professional; why am I not wearing them?!

Polka dots with polka dots? Mind blown. Another combo I would not have put together, Also, cardigans are cute and professional; why am I not wearing them?!

Polka dots with pinstripes? Now we're really getting crazy! I was not pairing this blouse with skirts; only pants. Another win for Emily.

Polka dots with pinstripes? Now we're really getting crazy! I was not pairing this blouse with skirts; only pants. Another win for Emily.

Same top, with pants, tucked in. I never tuck in shirts with pants. Clearly a mistake, as it doesn't look bad the way it did in my head.

Same top, with pants, tucked in. I never tuck in shirts with pants. Clearly a mistake, as it doesn't look bad the way it did in my head.

My next step is to hire Emily to go shopping with me. I’d love to know how I’m limiting myself in the decision making process at the store, before I’m stuck with it forever. In general, my wardrobe probably needs a stylist every couple of years, unless I experience major changes like weight gain/loss, move to a different climate, etc.

How do you makeover your look? Let us know! We’d love to hear your suggestions.

Posted on December 5, 2016 .

When Career Stress Hits Around the Holidays

Family, hosting, traveling, cooking, shopping, routine shifting - the holidays can leave you with a lot of stress. While everyone wants to enjoy the holidays, the stress of the season can be made even worse when everything is not going well for you at work or if you’re on the job hunt. Handling the stress is important for many reasons - you want to be pleasant to be around for the sake of your friends and family, you want to enjoy the holidays, you don’t want anything on your list to fall through the cracks, and most importantly you want your health!

Here are some tips to help manage the stress through the end of the year craziness:

  • Manage expectations at work and at home. Don’t commit to projects that will put your already overflowing to do list over the edge. Make sure your family and friends are clear on when, how, and for how long you’ll be participating in the holidays. If you make your plan clear, there won’t be surprises for anyone.

  • Set realistic goals. You might want to do it all and impress the socks off of, well, everyone, but that’s not healthy or effective when stress is mounting. Plan as much as you can around the holidays and make sure your goals are achievable.

  • Get help. Too much on your plate? Ask a colleague for assistance or to take on a task from your list. Ask your family to allow you to skip cooking this year so you can focus on your resume or job search. Explain your situation and they’ll likely be happy to help.

  • Try time management techniques. These can help you break down your tasks into smaller chunks which makes them more manageable. The can also make you feel a little more at ease knowing that you have allocated time for everything on your list! The Pomodoro technique is a great one to try.

  • Balance work and play. Don’t procrastinate and leave everything on your to do list until the last minute. That is NEVER a good idea. On the other hand, you don’t need to skip all of the fun stuff because of your massive list. Figure out what needs done now, and leave the other stuff for later. It will still be waiting for you after you’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with family.What are the best ways you’ve found to deal with stress around the holidays? We’d love to hear from you - leave a comment below!

 

Posted on December 1, 2016 .

7 ways to make quick cash when unemployed

Let’s face it - when you are unemployed, money can get tight quickly. You should have an emergency fund set up that contains enough to cover your expenses for 4-6 months. The reality is that most Americans (63%) don't have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency, forget unemployment. Even if you have a good savings, having a small amount of supplemental income coming in is useful and provides peace of mind. Here are some ideas to make quick cash in between jobs:

  • Freelance from home. Working from home is not for everyone, but there are many websites that make the process of finding freelancing job easier in between jobs such as Freelancer, Upwork, and People Per Hour. You can set your desired rate, but make sure to be competitive so you don’t price yourself out of obtaining work!

  • Craigslist can be a bit scary, but if you are smart about how and where you look (don’t give out your personal info and set up meetings in public spaces, for example) you can find some decent part-time jobs listed in your community. Here is a good read by Big Interview on determining if Craigslist postings are legit and ways to be safe while applying.

  • Consider becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft. Lots of unemployed people are joining their ranks due to the flexibility and income potential. It allows you to meet new people, network, and, who knows, you might just find your next job while on the open road!

  • Depending on which state you live in and their teaching requirements, substitute teaching may be a great option for you in between jobs. You can work as much or as little as you want, there is little to no prep work involved, it can be added to your resume as credible experience and will likely result in some additional references and networking.

  • Tutoring for K-12 and/or college students is an excellent way to build your resume while unemployed and can also bring in some extra income. You can tutor on your own or for a specific program as a tutor. Here is a great example of a tutoring program in Austin, Texas.

  • Deliver groceries! If you live in a rural area this may not be a needed service, but in most of the country, grocery delivery has become a very popular service for families. Instacart and Amazon are two examples of businesses looking for deliverers!

  • Ask friends and family about any temporary opportunities available. They may know of someone who needs a house sitter or dog walker that may be the perfect fit for a month or two. 

What would you add to the list? We’d love to hear your ideas - comment below!

Posted on November 9, 2016 .

Networking Etiquette

Networking is extremely important. Unfortunately, many people can come across too strong, too eager, and/or overbearing when professionally connecting with others.  Without following some basic networking etiquette guidelines, you can be left with weak connections and a small pool of people for references and professional development support. Many of the following tips might seem like common sense but they are broken often enough that it warrants putting into writing.

  • Don’t talk about yourself constantly. Promoting yourself may be your goal, but people love to talk about themselves. Ask lots of questions and let the other person talk - you’ll make a better impression and won’t seem self-centered.

  • Be a real person, not a robot. Talking to every person at an entire event may seem like the best plan for networking, but quickly “selling” yourself and the moving on to the next poor soul isn’t going to strengthen your network. You need to be genuine and build relationships. It takes time but it’s worth it.

  • Your business card isn’t necessarily required. Don’t thrust your card at every person you meet within the first 60 seconds of being introduced. It’s tacky and is a really obvious sign that you want something from them. If the conversation goes well and you feel like both of you are interested in following up at another time, ask permission to provide your new friend with your card.

  • Balance your requests with your offerings. The great thing about networking is that you have connections in positions that can help you, but you need to make sure you help as well. Don’t be that person that is always asking for help but never offering. You’ll find your network reach shrinking pretty quickly.

  • Be professional. Be professional. Did I say that twice? Foul language, dirty jokes, and casual-to-the-point-it’s-almost-rude manners should be left in your personal circles. You never know how you might offend someone and take a hit to your reputation. Word can travel fast!

If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, here are a few helpful articles to get you started:

Proper Networking Etiquette from Modern Manners Guy

12 Rules of Highly Effective Networkers from Inc.

10 Signs You Are Doing Networking All Wrong from Goins, Writer


What would you add to the list? We’d love to hear from you.

Posted on November 2, 2016 .

Staying Motivated While Looking For Your Next Position

At some point in your professional career, you may get into a rut at work that leaves you feeling like you want more from your position. You may be in a bad professional situation that forces you to look elsewhere for employment. You may be let go and need another position quickly. You may have personal situations that affect your work life and require that you change your profession for more flexibility, pay, or location.

All of these situations can leave a person in a wide range of negative emotions - sad, angry, distraught, desperate, unmotivated  - and they are all understandable! The most important thing is to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally so you have your best chance of moving forward. Staying motivated can be daunting with so many pressures and uncertainties. In these situations, having a professional development coach can be invaluable, but here are a few things you can do to stay motivated on your own:

  • Keep your routine. Continue waking up at the same time everyday, go the gym, see your friends and family, spend time on your favorite hobby. Don’t change your routine, especially if you no longer have employment. It’s a rabbit hole that can quickly turn you into a moping, self-pity party, also known as a very unattractive candidate for your next position.

  • Stay healthy. Stress and insecurity can send even the most health conscious among us to the dessert aisle for 3 pints of double chocolate fudge ice cream and extra whip cream. It’s ok in moderation, but don’t let yourself fall into the trap letting a bad day ruin your health.

  • Be diligent. Easier said than done when our in the trenches of any of the situations described above, but this is among the most important thing you can do. Don’t let weeks go by before updating your resume and certainly don’t use that as an excuse to not look for open positions. Work hard and pursue your next opportunity with vigor so you won’t be in this situation for long!

  • Find accountability. Approach someone you trust and ask them to follow up with your well being and your job search progress every few days or once a week. You won’t want to have to tell them you’ve done nothing (and ate an entire gallon of ice cream with extra hot fudge) in the last 3 days - it really does work to keep yourself moving.

If you need more tips, career coaching can help get your momentum going in the right direction. Find out more about how we can help here.

 

Posted on October 26, 2016 .

What skills are most important to highlight while searching for a job?

Remember when your grandmother told you as a child that you are as unique as a snowflake? Or maybe it was your aunt, mother, father, best friend - or maybe you read it in a book. I think everyone has been told this at some point in their lives. And guess what? It’s just as true in  professional settings as it was in your childhood. You are unique, and you can use that to your advantage when trying to land your next job!

Every recruiter or Human Resources manager will want to know why you are a better option than your competitor. How do you answer this when you most likely have no idea who the other candidate is? Forget about “the other guy;” tell them what’s unique about you, and why that will be of great benefit to them. These are called your “Unique Selling Points.” Here’s a brief overview of how you can do so:

  • Analyze yourself. Figure out what you are good at and what makes you unique among the average industry professional.

  • Choose 3-5 unique selling points to focus on.

  • Define why your unique selling points bring value.

  • Perfect your pitch and sell yourself!

The most important thing after completing the above steps is to exude confidence. No one will believe you are the real deal  if you are being too humble and meek about your skills. It can be a fine line between humility and arrogance but it’s an important one to balance in the professional world.

Learn more about your unique selling points and how you can highlight your value during an interview in our WCG Online Academy course “Interview Illustrations: Highlight Your Value” The course includes initial interview preparation tips, support in determining your unique selling points, how to illustrate your points professionally and how to practice your pitch.

Posted on October 19, 2016 .