Posts filed under Career

End of Year Planning

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The final month of 2018 marks an opportune time to plan your end-of-year career push. Often during the year, we’re consumed with working toward our current goals and forget to reflect on how 2018 went and what we want to achieve the upcoming year.

Here are the very best 2019 career planning tips from our professional career coaches.

Take Inventory of Your Previous Goals

Grab your 2018 goals and take a brief inventory.

Which ones did you accomplish and where did you fall short? Be honest and realistic with yourself. Career planning is more than fixing what went wrong, it’s identifying what went right and repeating those actions.

For the goals you accomplished, recognize what went well. For goals you didn’t reach, determine the blocker. Did you need a new skill? Prioritization? Once you determine WHY you didn’t achieve it, you can work toward HOW you’ll fix it in the future.

Forecast Your New Goals

Picture yourself a year from now. What do you want to be doing? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to explore different career opportunities? Do you want to explore different career paths completely? Visualizing this will help plan your 2019 goals.

As you plan for the year ahead, consider learning advancements. Is there a course you could take to boost your knowledge? Develop your long-term goals for the year and break down each one into actionable short-term goals.

Use this month to boost your career, not drag it along. The winter can be a great time to gain clarity on your past accomplishments and and professional goals.

Quick Wins To Plan For 2019

  1. Refresh Your Linkedin - Linkedin continues to rise in popularity as a professional social networking site. If you don’t update your profile regularly, pencil in a time to give it an refresh.

  2. Schedule a Performance Review - Many companies hold annual performance reviews at the end of the year. If your company doesn’t, ask your manager. This type of reflective meeting pulls insights that help you become a better employee and progress in your career.

  3. Ask for a Raise - Use the performance review to understand where you stand. Depending on your performance and other factors, it could be time to ask for a raise. If you’re unsure of how to ask for a raise, consider our Offer Negotiation service.   

We wish you the best of luck in the new year! If you’d like assistance with your 2019 career planning, our team of career consultants use proven assessments to examine your personality type, interests, and strengths. Then, we align the results with your goals to create a strategy for future growth and development through your current position or a new one. Get in touch with us today!

Posted on December 4, 2018 and filed under Career.

Professional Gratitude

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Unfortunately, there are workplaces out there with cut-throat, climb-the-corporate ladder no-matter-the-cost environments. Hopefully you aren’t a part of a toxic workplace. But even “normal” workplace environments are not often seen as a place to show gratitude. After all, most people expect others to do their best since they’re earning a paycheck. However, this “thankless” mentality can do more harm than good – it can hurt company morale, breed resentment, and encourage employees to only do the bare minimum. On the other hand, by incorporating gratitude into your daily work life, you can foster a more positive environment and help boost productivity and overall employee happiness.

Showing Gratitude to Higher-Ups

Those in management roles are responsible for the success of their entire team(s). If one player underperforms, it’s their responsibility to redirect the employee. Since your higher-ups are in a position of power, it can be tough to show your appreciation without coming across as disingenuous.

We find the best way to show your gratitude toward your higher-ups is to deliver great work and be a “step ahead” of them. This can be the best symbol of gratitude. You can also verbally give them positive feedback for a job well done and to show appreciation for their leadership.

Showing Gratitude to Colleagues

Show gratitude toward your colleagues by befriending them and taking an interest in getting to know a bit about them personally. Establishing a camaraderie will help improve teamwork and create a better work environment.

Did a colleague lend a helping hand when you needed it? Show your gratitude by thanking them and giving them praise in front of your manager. Better yet, provide the praise via email so that it can be used as part of a performance review.

Showing Gratitude to Direct Reports

Did someone go the extra mile on a project? Was there someone who picked up slack while another team member was PTO? Don’t let these go unnoticed. Thank these team members and let them know how much you appreciate them.

The key to showing appreciation to your direct reports is to praise them in a group setting and provide constructive feedback in a one-on-one setting. Praising in a group setting can boost the team member’s confidence and motivate other team members to match their job well done. Be genuine with your communication and be specific with praise. Also take the extra step to provide the gratitude in writing, which can be used later as part of a holistic performance review.

Showing Gratitude to Clients

While you can call your clients and thank them any time of the year, the holidays mark a great time to get creative with showing appreciation. Send them gifts like chocolates, a bundt cake, or a bottle of wine. If you don't want to send food, consider sending a stationery set, tumbler, a nice card or anything that matches their personality or business. Above all else, a hand-written thank you note will go a long way.


Be sure to check out this guide for writing proper thank you notes!

Posted on November 20, 2018 and filed under Community, Career.

Bullet Journaling for Peak Productivity

A paper planner can be a powerful tool in the digital age. The market for planners certainly offers a wide varieties to meet your individual needs. What works for me has been the infinitely flexible Bullet Journal. The system, created by Ryder Carroll, has transformed the lives of creatives, professionals, and overwhelmed multitaskers.

Why would I go back to paper when so much of my life is managed using my phone? For one thing, the act of writing helps me remember what I wrote. Research suggests that writing by hand engages the brain’s motor pathways, expanding the connections between what you intend to do and your working memory. Have you ever written a grocery list and then left the list at home, but you remembered what was on it? Writing it out helped you.

Bullet journal


Another reason I love planning on paper has to do with the picture superiority effect, which means that our memories have better recall with pictures than words. I don’t get too fancy with my layouts (check out Instagram and Pinterest for some super creative inspiration), but I do mix up my utilitarian style by changing colors schemes each week. The colors transform the week’s information into a mental picture, making it easier for me to remember the notes I’ve taken in my notebook.

So with science backing up the power of paper planning in recall and working memory, what is the Bullet Journal exactly? First, I recommend going directly to Ryder Carroll’s tutorial to see his process for “rapid journaling” to basically dump all of the thoughts from your brain onto the page, and then later track what’s been done. He has also just released a book on using his system that you can check out if so inclined.

The main features of the Bullet Journal system that attracted me:

  • A dot grid journal with numbered pages

  • Blank pages - no pre-printed pages that I won’t use taking up space

  • Index for tracking what goes where in the journal

The major reason my Bullet Journal works for me is that I keep everything together in one place: my to do lists, my meeting schedule, plus notes for personal and professional happenings. The pages are numbered and I keep track of what’s where by filling in the index as I go through the year. Because the pages aren’t pre-filled out, my meeting notes are adjacent to the current weekly planning layout.

Pro Tip: I have categories for my index, such as my list of months, meeting notes for the Wilbanks Consulting Group, meeting notes for another organization, and my personal-related notes. Keeping these together in my index makes it so much easier to find what I need!

With some experimentation, I’ve figured out that I am most productive when I use a Gantt-style task list that faces my weekly schedule on the next page:

Bullet Journal

Guess what I never use? The monthly calendar page. Since I don’t use this type of page, I don’t include it in my journal. The great thing about the blank dot grid pages is that whatever you need a page to be, it can serve that purpose.

In today’s world, I’ll never operate without my electronic devices. But the truth is that I’m so much more productive when I pair my digital life with the power of paper planning.

Posted on November 13, 2018 and filed under Career.

Email Etiquette For Career Success

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Email is a big part of business and career success. It’s also a very common communication medium that’s used for business opportunities, friends, and family. However, in the business world, it’s best to keep it professional.

There are simple guidelines to follow professional email etiquette. Do you break any of these rules?

Have a Clear Subject Line

Always include a subject line and make it identifiable at a glance. In a world of overflowing inboxes, it helps to have a clear, yet a professional subject line.

Here are some examples:

  • For Review: 2019 Planning Calendar

  • RSVP Required: Friday’s Lunch & Learn

  • Ideas for Next Month’s Project

Warm Up & Introduction

Your professional emails should address the person you’re emailing, include an introduction and a wrap up.

Start your emails with, “Hello [name],” or “Dear [name],”

Also, consider including an introduction to soften the tone of the email and keep things professionally cordial.

“Happy [day of the week],” or “Hope you had a great weekend,” are two great examples.

It’s a professional and friendly way to start the email conversation.

Get to the Point

Long emails are not necessary. Get straight to the point using concise language, and break up your thoughts with white space and bullets. You can also bold action item language to call attention to it.

The recipient should not need to sift through paragraphs of text to find the main points. State them up front with 1-2 sentences to explain.

Wrap Up

At the end of your email, include a brief summary of deliverables needed or restate next steps.

For example, “See you at the meeting on Thursday.” Or, “Please let me know if you need assistance with [xyz deliverable].”

Similarly, be sure to sign off appropriately using, “Thanks,” “ Best Regards,” or “Sincerely.”

Proofread

Grammar and spelling are important in presenting yourself in a professional way. It’s especially important when it’s the primary communication method you have with a prospective employer or business opportunity. Proofread your emails and pay special attention to spelling and grammar.

Help catch typos as you type with the Google Chrome extension, Grammarly. You don’t want the hiring manager to be distracted by the wrong use of “their” instead of focusing on the value you would bring the company.

Add the Email Address Last

As a precaution, add the email address in the “to” field of your email program after writing the email. This helps avoid sending an unfinished email to the recipient.

Need more professional presence tips? Our team of career coaches can help prime your online communication to put your best foot forward in the workforce. Learn more about our services and how we can help you gain the competitive edge.

Posted on October 30, 2018 and filed under Career.

How To Juggle More Than One Job

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In today’s evolving workforce, it’s common to have a more than one job. Maybe a full-time job and a “side hustle,” or perhaps a full-time schedule that is made up of several side jobs. Does this describe your work life?

This multi-job work situation is especially common when changing career paths. Experience gained from a side job can help you transition to a different career path. But you have to be able to balance the extra work and sometimes conflicting schedule for it to really be worth it.

If you’re juggling more than one job or thinking about it, here are some tips to stay on track.

1. Be Organized

This is the single most important aspect when juggling more than one job. Staying organized with different projects and various due dates is crucial to delivering great work and maintaining peace of mind. Find an organization method that works best for you – whether that be a spreadsheet, calendar reminders, or writing things down. Keep your work and deadlines in one place that you can see and reference every day. That way, deadlines won’t creep up on you!

2. Master Your Schedule

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when juggling different deliverables and timelines. By setting and mastering your schedule, you can block off time dedicated for certain projects. Another aspect of mastering your schedule is planning your schedule ahead of time. Take time to write down major task due dates and then make sub-tasks and mini due dates to hit the big ones. This will help to prioritize your schedule and give you pockets of free time where you can relax or consider taking on more work.

3. Know Your Limits

Make sure you don’t commit to more than you can deliver. Know your time limitations and be upfront about this to yourself and your employer. You don’t want your jobs to be so time-consuming that you don’t give yourself time to breathe. Establish the time commitment you can take on and stick to it. Once you master your schedule and find extra pockets of time, then you can take on more, if you choose.

4. Give Yourself Time To Rest

Resting and recharging is vital to success. Juggling different jobs isn’t easy. You need to give yourself time away from the desk to mentally and physically rest and recharge. Try to give yourself a day off each week. If your workload is too heavy, make the most of your free hours. Bake cookies, take a yoga class, or walk around the block, whatever de-stresses you. By giving yourself these outlets away from work, you’ll be able to return to your responsibilities fresh and motivated.

Are you interested in exploring different career paths? We can help you create an action plan for the career of your dreams.


Posted on October 23, 2018 and filed under Career.

Making College Count Toward A Successful Career

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When starting college, you’re likely thinking more about how you’ll manage your class schedule and meet friends rather than your career post-grad. After all, college is a great time for exploring different interests. However, the sooner you map out your interests, the closer you will be toward a successful career. Our team of career coaches composed a list of top tips to make the most of your college education and help you land the job you want.

Create a Linkedin Account

You likely already have a collection of social media accounts. As you grow professionally, it’s important to develop a more professional presence on social media. Create a Linkedin account and—as you go— add your education, extracurriculars, relevant work experience, and even coursework as it pertains to your major. As your professional experience expands, you can remove early work experience and education extracurriculars. Don’t forget to use the network to connect with your classmates and professors.

Utilize Office Hours

Have a question about an upcoming exam? Need clarification on a key point your professor made during class? Did your professor make a point that resonated with you and you want to “pick their brain” a bit more? These are all great reasons to visit your professor during their office hours*. If you ask recent college grads what they wish they did more of in college, a top answer is, “go to office hours”. It not only helps clarify questions you have on the course material, but you’re also building rapport with your professor. This can be invaluable when applying for jobs. Professors make excellent references!

Bonus tip: Don’t forget to read the syllabus! Impress your professor by coming prepared for office hours.

Get Tangible Experience

The classroom can only teach you so much. In order to truly immerse yourself in a potential career path, you must gain experience. Check with your career services center for internship opportunities. You can also find opportunities on job listing sites.

When exploring internships, try to avoid companies that offer interns busy work. Do your due diligence and research companies beforehand on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor to see if they offer hands-on experience and opportunities to grow within the company.

Consider Your Personality & Strengths

You may go into college knowing you want to be a doctor but when you finish your first year of courses, you realize you enjoy marketing more than science. Don’t worry! It was worth the time to explore the pre-med path prior to committing many more years of schooling and resources. As you explore different paths, consider your personality type and current strengths. Because let’s face it, not all college students know exactly what they want to do. By being aware of your personality type, you can narrow down career paths that build off your strengths.

If you want to learn more about career exploration and setting yourself up for a successful career, post-college, contact our team. We would love to discuss options and create a personalized action plan to help you achieve your goals.


5 Ways To Lead by Serving

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Traditionally in the workplace, teams are structured for the employees to serve their leaders. With servant leadership, this structure is flipped so the leader is serving the employees. The idea behind servant leadership is that if leaders serve their employees, their employees will feel empowered to do great work and achieve career satisfaction. Industry leaders are increasingly recognizing the power of servant leadership to increase performance and engagement.

Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy’s leadership style demonstrates how to lead others by serving them. Despite a childhood of poverty during the Great Depression, Cathy prevailed with good work habits and attitude. Here are a few of his most well-known leadership decisions:

  • Cathy mandated that all Chick-fil-A stores close on Sundays to give his employees a day with their families.

  • He also launched a college scholarship program where he awards young employees financial support during college.

  • Cathy intentionally didn’t take the company public to ensure decisions remain aligned with his values rather than changing at the whim of investors.

Cathy's servant leadership decisions not only made him extremely well-liked and respected by customers and employees, but Chick-fil-A’s success highlights the benefits of the leadership style.

Would you like to see how servant leadership can boost team morale and performance? Let’s review 5 ways you can lead your team by serving them.

5 Ways To Lead By Serving

1. Demonstrate Through Words and Actions

When practicing servant leadership, show consistency in your actions and morality. It’s important for your team to observe actions that backup your words. This builds credibility and respect between leaders and employees.

2. Trust and Respect Employees

Show your employees that you care and respect them! Being knowledgeable alone does not make you a great leader. Being trusting, caring, and respectful makes you a great leader. Depending on the type of team you’re leading, you can demonstrate trust and respect through active listening, relationship building and acknowledging their ideas and opinions.

3. Active Listening

“A true natural servant automatically responds to any problem by listening first," states Robert Greenleaf, founder of the modern servant leadership movement in 1971. We are built to react. However, when it comes to servant leadership, it’s crucial to put reactions aside and focus on actively listening to your employees and reflecting on their responses. Listening brings insight. Once we focus on listening, we can begin to understand what motivates our employees and how to serve them to excel.

4. Empower your Team

If you expect your team to achieve more, they will. On the other hand, if you expect your team will fail in certain aspects, they likely will. Focus on inspiring and empowering your team. The more you do, the greater impact it will have on their job performance and, ultimately, you as their leader.

5. Practice Humility

Let’s face it, we all make mistakes. But it’s how we handle the aftermath of our mistakes that set the stage for growth. As you lead by serving, practice humility when you make mistakes and when you achieve your goals. Don’t let your ego get in the way of building credibility and respect with your team.

We shared 5 ways to lead by serving, and plenty more tactics can be applied! Do you have other ways to demonstrate servant leadership?

Posted on August 22, 2018 and filed under Career.

Why You Should Create A Personal Brand

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“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

When you hear the phrase “personal brand”, celebrities or social media influencers probably first come to mind. But in today’s always “on” world, people have a personal brand online, whether they know it or not.

A personal brand is simply the image you project to the public that differentiates you from others. And personal branding is becoming increasingly important during the hiring process. When recruiters and hiring managers vet top candidates, they often search your name on Google and popular social media sites to see if you’d be a good fit for the role and company. Having a strong personal brand will help you favorably stand out to future employers.

It takes dedication and consistency to produce a personal brand that yields influence and attracts employers. You can – and should – do certain things to maximize your personal brand and establish it as a true reflection of yourself and your professional aptitude.

4 Reasons Why You Should Create A Personal Brand

1. Personal Branding is Content You Can Control

While you can’t necessarily control what others say about you, you can control the content you post. Best-selling author, Krista Neher states, “start by knowing what you want and who you are, build credibility around it and deliver it online in a compelling way.”

Employers want to know what makes you different than other job candidates. What skills and qualities can you bring to the role and the company? Incorporate your unique qualities into your personal brand.

2. Audience Equals Influence

When you have a strong personal brand, you have an audience of people who look forward to what you’re going to say next. It’s human nature to want other’s attention and this is exactly what a strong personal brand does: it grabs attention. This attention gives you influence within your niche.

As a professional, having an audience can help propel your personal brand to the next level. For example, if you publish an article on Linkedin that resonates with your audience, your audience is likely to share and engage with it. The engagement will trigger the algorithm to surface the article into more people’s newsfeeds. Perhaps it’s surfaced on your dream employer’s newsfeed, they read it, and contact you for a job opening.

3. Networking Becomes Simpler

Whether you’re job searching or changing career paths, networking is a big part of elevating your career. And by putting yourself out there with a carefully curated personal brand, people will take note of the content you produce and your areas of expertise. This can help expand your network and open opportunities for networking events.

4. Opportunities Arise

Presenting your thoughts, beliefs, and personality online in a unique and compelling way opens up opportunities to become a thought leader in your niche. With hard work, consistency, and an audience, this gives you leverage when you’re looking to find your dream job or ascend higher in your career. An effective personal brand opens opportunities with influential people who can help you achieve the next step in your career

Branding is an art that takes time, consistency, and dedication. Success won’t happen overnight. Clean up your profiles and update your information regularly. Clearly define what “your brand” brings to the table and focus on the platforms that best showcase it best.

What are you currently doing to establish your personal brand?

Posted on August 14, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy, Career.

Choosing the Right Mentor

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Choosing the right mentor is one of the most important career decisions. The right mentor can expand your professional network, open doors to new opportunities, and provide strategic guidance. Because of its importance,  choosing the right mentor shouldn’t be taken lightly. This person will likely introduce you to people who will help you grow your career – however, if you’re introduced to people who don’t align with your career path, it likely won’t be a fruitful working relationship. Finding the right mentor will take time, patience, self-reflection, and a bit of creativity. Let’s go over a few tactics to help you choose the right mentor.

4 Tips For Choosing The Right Mentor

1. Define What You’re Looking For

What is your skillset now and what skills do you need in order to reach your goals? Your mentor should help bridge the gap between where you are currently in your career versus where you want to be. Before vetting mentors, define exactly what you need from the relationship.

2. Look at Professional Experience

Professional experience is arguably the most critical component of the right mentor. You want to make sure they walk the walk, not just talk the talk. For example, if you work in finance and want to develop the skills and expertise to progress to a CFO role, you shouldn’t choose someone in technology or marketing as your mentor. While they may provide valuable information, they may not be able to give you guidance on the career moves needed to reach your goals.

3. Make Sure Your Business Styles Compliment

Do you both have a similar outlook on life and business? Do you value similar things? While you don’t have to be exactly the same, you should have complimentary styles and values. This will help you understand each other better. You may know an incredibly intelligent person but if your values and outlook don’t align, the person may not be suitable as a partner. We recommend getting to know a potential mentor well enough to answer these questions before you invite them to enter a mentoring relationship with you.

4. Don’t Overlook Virtual Mentors

Today we have access to more information than ever before. Technology is breaking down boundaries for finding valuable mentors. This allows you to be strategic when choosing your mentor. Make finding the best fit the priority, regardless of location. If you’ve exhausted your local network, consider virtual mentors.

Still Need To Find A Mentor? We Can Help.

The Wilbanks Consulting Group can help you craft the perfect strategy to achieve career success. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for future growth and development through your current position or toward a new one. If you’re interested in propelling your career to the next level, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Posted on August 7, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy, Career.

4 Tips For Accepting Professional Feedback With Grace

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A client once told me that her journalism professor graded their articles in green, because green connects with growth. That green pen removed the dread of receiving feedback on her work, and she was instead able to view feedback as a way to grow personally and professionally.

Depending on where you work, the type of feedback you receive may take different forms. Some companies do 360 degree reviews, where the opportunity is given to employees to evaluate their bosses and vice versa. Other companies do a simple written evaluation once a year with little input from the receiving party. The most distinguishing factor between feedback experiences depends on who is giving it. Using MBTI®, we see that each personality style has a different way of giving and receiving feedback. Some people will be direct and to the point, others will try to soften the feedback, while others may try to beat around the bush in an effort to avoid hurt feelings. It’s a great idea to learn where you fall on the MBTI® scale to improve your communication with others.

The purpose of feedback is to thoughtfully help you grow personally and professionally by providing good elements of your performance you can strengthen, identifying areas that need extra attention, and outlining a plan to improve moving forward. But, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to hear.

4 Tips For Accepting Professional Feedback With Grace

When receiving feedback...

1. Pause, don’t react, and breathe

Our natural response to any criticism is to immediately become defensive (especially when it’s about a project you worked hard on). This gut reaction will not be productive for you or the project. Instead, pause, don’t react, and take a deep breath. Then move on to...

2. Listen and ask questions

Active listening and asking clarifying questions shows that you are engaged in the conversation. It’s possible to misunderstand what’s being said, and asking questions allows you time to process the information without reacting negatively.

3. Summarize and reflect

After your meeting, handle your emotions away from the office. Ask a coworker you trust to go out to lunch and debrief with them. Be open to hear their take on the feedback and be open to what they have to say, whether they agree with the feedback you received or not.

4. Set-up an appointment to follow-up

Once you’ve had time to process the feedback, ask for a follow-up appointment. Go over items you are trying to improve and ask for support with goal-setting and resources you may need.

MBTI® Training

If you’d like to take the MBTI® assessment and learn how to apply the results to your interactions with other regarding feedback (or other interactions), the Wilbanks Consulting Group provides tailored workshops to groups and career coaching to individuals, allowing teams and individuals to move forward quickly with the clarity and agility required to excel. The MBTI® is cost effective and simple to apply. It benefits organizations at the individual, team, and institutional levels. Our team of Certified MBTI® Practitioners is available to assist with individual and team assessments and coaching. Both onsite and virtual options are available in Houston and worldwide.

Posted on July 18, 2018 and filed under Career.

Why You Should Celebrate Independence Day (Instead of Working)

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Happy Independence Day! On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. We celebrate the Fourth because it is the official birth of the United States of America. Since 1776, we have been celebrating our freedom and all the reasons that makes our country so great.

Throughout the years, our celebration has evolved into spending time with family and friends. We spend our day at the pool, grilling hot dogs, and watching fireworks. It’s also important that we remember how privileged we are to be able to have choices, personally and professionally, that others do not.

This year's holiday lands mid-week, which is... frustrating. But, it is so important to take time off to celebrate with family. Even if it’s just one day away from the office, time spent with your family and friends helps you gain perspective, prevents burnout, and increases your happiness. You’ll head back to work for the remaining short work week feeling rejuvenated. Who knows, time away from your desk may help you solve a problem at work you’ve been thinking about and you can tackle with fresh eyes!

At The Wilbanks Consulting Group, we’re celebrating today because we have the ability to help others achieve their “American Dream.” We feel so honored that our clients have chosen us to be part of their career journey.

How are you celebrating July 4th?

Posted on July 4, 2018 and filed under Community, Career.

Practical Tips To Improve Your Focus At Work

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Any given time of year has distractions, but the summer months make it especially difficult to keep your mind from straying to blue sky, green grass, and poolside lounging. Warmer weather is inviting us away from our work, and if we aren’t careful, a lack of focus can greatly hinder our work/life balance.

Keep work at work. One of the greatest bits of advice is to discipline yourself to keep work at work. If you let work bleed into your time at home, you’re more likely to never be fully focused at either place. While at work, don’t book your vacation travel and don’t browse photos of your friend’s recent trip to the beach. Aim for maximum productivity so that when you are at home, you can leave it all behind and enjoy doing whatever it is that helps you relax.

Practical Focus Techniques You Can Implement Today

Saying it is one thing, doing it is another. Here is a summary of practical focus techniques from LifeHacker:

  • Find fun in what you are doing at work.

  • Choose a great desk/chair combo. Be comfortable!

  • Organize your workspace. Cluttered desk = cluttered mind.

  • Make your computer distraction free. Only have your current projects on your desktop. And don’t have shortcuts to social media sites!

  • Have water and food nearby so you don’t have to get up frequently.

  • Make a to-do list and stick to it.

  • Prioritize your tasks and complete them accordingly.

  • Set up a personal work structure/flow and let others know about it.

  • Put in headphones (if you’re allowed).

  • Set your messaging systems to “away, busy, or invisible” for chunks of productive time. Mute your email notifications during these times also.

  • Stay away from social media during work hours!

  • Organize your emails.

  • Redesign your phone use. Every call or text doesn’t have to be answered immediately.

  • Choose suitable music. Instrumental is great!

Once you’ve mastered the art of truly focusing, you’ll be efficient, productive at work, leaving plenty of time to take that vacation you’re dreaming about!

Would you add anything to the list of practical ways to improve focus at work? Let us know by commenting below!

Posted on June 26, 2018 and filed under Career.

How To Recognize The Best Career Search Advice

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Everyone has advice to give. When it comes to your career, it’s incredibly important that you seek out and listen to the right people. The “right” people will be successful professionals who have learned from their experiences, both wins and failures. They might be people you know, but can also be those who have risen in leadership nationally or globally. The “right” people will also be those who genuinely want to see you succeed. And they will support you in making the right decision for you, even if they suggest something a little different. You are the planner of your career path. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for you!

Below you’ll find our favorite quotes from some highly influential people in the world. As you read, decide what you love and run with it!

Excellent Advice For The Powerful Leaders

My paternal grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson, gave me advice that I have used for 65 years. She said, ‘If the world puts you on a road you do not like, if you look ahead and do not want that destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to you place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a new path.’
— Maya Angelou (As recorded in The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric)
I don’t think we talk about failure enough. It would’ve really helped to have someone who had had a measure of success come say to me, ‘You will fail. That’s inevitable. It’s what you do with it.’
— J.K. Rowling to Matt Lauer on NBC's Today.
Yeah, we’re always talking about following your passion, but we’re all part of the flow of history … you’ve got to put something back into the flow of history that’s going to help your community, help other people … so that 20, 30, 40 years from now … people will say, this person didn’t just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.
— Steve Jobs, as told by biographer Walter Isaacson
I encourage taking risks. What is the worst thing that can happen? You can go back and do what you were doing before.
— Cynthia Tidwell in an interview with Business Insider

Let Us Help You Maximize Your Career Search Strategy
Our team of experts can help you understand what YOU need for college and career success. We use proven assessments to examine your unique personality type, interests, and strengths. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for your future growth and development through your college experience and career outlook. Our coaching empowers you to make decisions about which college institution, major, minor, courses, internships, work study opportunities, career industries, jobs, and more will give you the greatest enjoyment, while preparing you for your career.
 

Posted on June 19, 2018 and filed under Career.

Decorating Your Office Space Professionally

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About 8 hours of your day is spent in your office space. Whether you have your own office, share an office, work in a cubicle, or work in an open-concept office, adding personal touches gives you a feeling of ownership and a chance to share your personal style with your colleagues. A work space that reflects your personality can positively affect your mood because it brings what you love to your desk.

So, what are some easy ways to customize your work space? Start by writing down things that you really love. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you love traveling: Bring in photos from your favorite trips or bring a souvenir from your adventures.

  • If you love spending time with your family: Bring in a drawing from a child,  mementos from a recent family event, or pictures of your family.

  • If you love a specific color: Choose office supplies like a stapler, tape dispenser, or trash can to match your favorite color.

Whatever you bring in, make sure that it adds a sense of joy to your workspace. Adding joy where you work does wonders for morale.

The trick to successfully decorating your office space is to not make your co-workers cringe. How can you ensure your office decor is professional and respectful? Start by evaluating your work space with the following questions...

  • Are you in your own office, cubicle, or shared space?

  • Do you host clients in your space?

  • Do you frequently have team meetings in your office?

If you share a space with someone that cringes at the color orange, then painting an entire wall orange is probably a no-go. If you host clients or have meetings in your space, don’t decorate with a cool modern chair that looks great but is uncomfortable to sit in. And while you may love scented candles or your essential oil diffuser, those should be left at home. Some people are allergic or may be repelled by a strong scent.

Ultimately, decorating your office space professionally comes down to expressing your personal style within the boundaries of respecting the other people who will be using your space.

Have you decorated your office space? If so, how would you describe your style?

Posted on June 12, 2018 and filed under Career.

Searching For The Perfect Job With Long-Term Goals In Mind

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You need job search goals to succeed. A lot of times we focus on the short-term goals and forget about the important long-term goals. If you are ready to find the perfect job, it’s time to step back, look at the bigger picture, and create long-term goals.

First, start by figuring out exactly what you love and hate about your current job. What makes you excited about going to work and what makes you dread going into work? Be completely honest with yourself. Write down both lists on one peice of paper so that you can see them side-by-side.

Once you have your list together, create a strategy for landing your perfect job. Start looking for job descriptions that match the “love” side of your list. As you read through job descriptions, keep an eye out for areas where you need to improve your skill set. Do you need a specific certification? Do you need additional experience in order to meet the minimum requirements requested of the job? Write the list of skills or experience you’ll need. Are you willing to pursue these experiences in order to land your dream job? If you are, you’ve got a great start to setting goals for your career search!

Depending on how involved the skills and experience you need to acquire are, these may or may not be long term goals. And that’s OK! Set those goals and then go back to the job descriptions. What advancement opportunities are available to you in the job you’re seeking? How would you like your position to evolve over the next three years? Five years? Set your sights and then write the goals needed to get you there.

Do you need help setting your career search goals? Let our team of experienced career coaches partner with you!

Our team of career consultants can help you craft the perfect strategy to achieve career success. We use proven assessments to examine your personality type, interests, and strengths. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for future growth and development through your current position or a new one. Our tactical job search services prepare you to tackle your search with an arsenal of materials that communicate your value. Our career coaching empowers you to flawlessly execute your strategy in any situation. Contact us today.

Posted on June 5, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy, Career.

How To Spend Your First Summer After Graduation

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Summer is here at last! Congratulations on making it through sleepless nights, endless cold brews and hours of cramming for finals. Here are a few ways to make your summer as a graduate productive and enjoyable.

1. Take a trip! If you have just graduated, you have been through a very exciting yet stressful period of your life. From finals, graduation parties, and your actual commencement ceremony…odds are you are also exhausted! There is no better way to reward yourself for this huge accomplishment then to give yourself a break and take a vacation. Not only can traveling help you unwind from a hectic semester, it can also give you a global perspective which is essential in today’s highly connected world. Employers want seasoned candidates that have ventured out into new markets and cultures. Taking a trip abroad can help you jump into the workforce with a clear head and a fresh mindset.

2. Get an internship. If you’re not ready to jump in the workforce just yet, getting an internship can be a smart career move. Internships are a great way to build your network and gain experience without the long-term commitment. Internships can be paid or unpaid. Look for the paid internships, as this is a great way to gain entry level experience while earning extra cash this summer. Who knows… what may start off as an internship can turn into a full-time position.

3. Attend conferences and workshops. Summer is a perfect time to enhance your skill set by attending a local conference or workshop. Attending workshops and conferences can help you in more ways than one. Along with increasing your knowledge in a specific subject area, conferences and workshops simultaneously provide you with a space to network and meet like-minded individuals. If that is not reason enough, conferences/workshops can also help restore motivation and confidence while helping you build personal development skills.

While it is important to take a break to rejuvenate this summer, remember that your first summer as a graduate is the start of your career!

Posted on May 16, 2018 and filed under Career.

Career Tips for Graduates

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Attention all graduates! As we move towards summer we are also moving towards graduation. Have you begun planning the start of your career yet? There are many things you can do to give your career a kick start. Here are a few tips that will put you at the top of employer’s candidate list:

Tip 1: Polish up your resume and cover letter.

What have you accomplished in 2018? This is the perfect time to reflect on your achievements and projects. It’s also a great idea to get it reviewed and edited for typos and grammatical errors. Getting a fresh set of eyes on your resume will help you find areas of weakness you may have overlooked. If you need help, we offer resume and cover letter packages as a part of our career coaching services!

Tip 2: Start applying now!

It also takes time and research to find the perfect position, so expect this process to take a few months. Once you land an interview, the process at most companies is a long one, with multiple rounds of interviews. The sooner you start applying the closer you are to landing a position.

Tip 3: When sending in applications, expect a phone interview AND an in-person interview.

Many companies and recruiters will conduct a phone interview before asking you to come for an in-person interview. Make sure to research the company beforehand and be prepared to answer questions such as, “Why are you interested in joining the company?” and “What are your career goals?” Don’t forget to prepare your own questions to ask the interviewer - this is your chance to interview them too!

Tip 4: Polish up your social media profiles!

Social media plays a huge role in the search for a great candidate, so make sure you are abiding by social media best practices while on the job hunt. Do your social media profiles communicate who you are as a professional? If it does not, clean up any questionable content and redesign your profile to reflect your best self.

Tip 5: Know your worth!

Do you know how much you’re worth? If you don’t, websites like salary.com can help you determine what your fair market value is. Your fair market value is how much you are worth based on job description, location, education, industry and company size. It could also be beneficial to ask peers who are applying to positions in the same industry what they are expecting to earn. This can help you gain a better overall perspective and answer the question “What is your desired salary?” when it comes up.

Graduation is right around the corner so it’s essential to present yourself in the best light possible. Here are some additional tips on presenting yourself as a valuable asset to the team.

Posted on May 9, 2018 and filed under Career.

Why You Need To Take A Vacation This Year

Vacation

When was the last time you went on a real vacation that didn’t involve home improvement projects, checking email from a hotel room, or meeting up with clients or colleagues?

Dreaming of sand between your toes, the view from a ski lodge, or the hustle and bustle of your favorite city aren’t enough to refresh and rejuvenate your mind.

If you are thinking of skipping your vacation this year, consider this list from LifeHack.org:  7 Reasons Why Everyone Should Take Vacations Even If You're Busy

Here’s the summary:

  1. Reduce Stress. Stress eventually leads to burnout and your work will suffer as a result. If you want to work at full capacity - take a vacation!

  2. It’s good for your health. Stress leads to physical and mental fatigue. Taking a vacation rejuvenates your body and mind back to optimal performance.

  3. Improve productivity. When there is an end in sight, you’ll be more productive. Allowing yourself to see a stopping point to refuel will improve your productivity dramatically.

  4. Boost creativity. Seeing and experiencing new things gives your mind a boost of creative juices to work with. If you are hitting a wall at work and just don’t know how to move forward, a vacation might be just the thing you need to conquer the issue.

  5. Increase your happiness. I think we can all agree that taking a vacation and doing the things we love most make us happy. For you, maybe it’s sleeping in. For others, maybe it’s waking up early to see the sunrise over the horizon. Whatever it is, do what makes you happy!

  6. Open your mind to new perspective. Vacations will always provide our minds will new perspectives. We meet new people, experience new things, learn new skills. When back at work, you could change how you view a difficult problem or project and illuminate the best way to move forward. A vacation provides a fresh set of eyes to see the problem at hand anew.

  7. You need time for your family and yourself. Last but not least, family-time and/or me-time is unmatched in both mental and physical health. You should be working to live, not living to work.

Take advantage of all of the vacation time your company allows by taking full weeks off at a time. Piecing together long weekends throughout the year is OK, but giving yourself a break for 5 workdays, plus 4 weekend days, equals nine full days of rest and relaxation. At the end of the year, you won’t regret taking the time off!

So where will you be going on vacation this year?

Posted on April 18, 2018 and filed under Career.

Spring Cleaning Your Career Assets

Spring Cleaning Career Assets

We’re a few weeks into Spring - have you tackled your Spring Cleaning yet? Washing windows, cleaning under the couch, scrubbing behind the toilet...these aren’t the most fun tasks in the world. Understandably, most people procrastinate to the point where they might as well just leave the tasks for the following Spring.

While it’s OK to put off your household Spring Cleaning chores, don’t delay Spring Cleaning your career assets, including your:

Why Your Career Assets Need Spring Cleaning

If you are planning to look for a new job in the near future, it’s imperative that your information and resources are up-to-date. But even if you aren’t actively looking for a job, it’s important to regularly update your career assets. In our digital world, you never know who is looking at your online presence!

If you manage a website for your work, ensure that the most recent projects and new skills are added. If you don’t have your own website, check to see if the company you work for has an online bio or other digital resources where your name and information is listed to ensure it’s up-to-date. No matter who is reviewing your information, you want to put your best foot forward.

Networking should happen even when you aren’t looking for a new position. When looking for connections, whether it’s for project collaboration, mentorship, or just professional friendship, having all of your most current information and skills available to share is key to strengthening those relationships. Almost everyone looks up connections on LinkedIn after they first meet, so keeping your profile strong and up-to-date is important.

Your resume and CV will be much easier to update when you need it if you are keeping it current. Instead of scrambling to pull together an amazing resume in a pinch, you’ll only need a few minutes to look it over and make slight adjustments.

Finally, how is your skill set these days? Now is the time to update your list of skills on your resume/CV, LinkedIn profile, etc. But it may also be time to learn more new skills or update certification on those you already have. Time moves quickly and many skills become out of date even after only a year. Keeping up with industry trends and the skills needed to keep pace with your colleagues are critical for career success.

Set a recurring reminder in your calendar to Spring Clean your career assets every year. The time it takes to keep these resources current are well worth the investment for a successful long-term career strategy.

Posted on April 11, 2018 and filed under Career.

What Is Your Body Language Saying During An Interview?

Body Language

Imagine you are at an interview and are sitting in a very comfortable office chair across from your interviewer.

You are probably imagining what the interviewer and the room look like. Forget about them. Imagine what YOU are doing in this scenario.

Are you shifting your weight in your chair? How is your posture? What are your hands doing? Where are your eyes looking?

Your body is always communicating to others. At home, at work, at the grocery store. The way you stand, your posture, your facial expressions, eye contact (or lack thereof), and personal “quirks” are all speaking something to those around you. Not with verbal words, but with body language.

If you’ve never thought about these things as they pertain to the job search, now is a great time to start. Your body language says just as much, if not more about yourself and your interest in a position than your words.

Posture

How you sit speaks loudly about your current mood and thoughts. Look down and observe how you are sitting right now. Are you laying on the couch with your laptop (casual)? Are you reading this on your phone while you pace the floor at the doctor’s office(impatient)? Are you sitting at your desk with your feet flat on the floor and back straight (productive)? Are you slouching (discouraged)?

Several years ago, I was interviewing a young woman who was sitting with one arm draped over the chair beside her and her legs spread widely - like a baseball player sitting on the bench. She was also chewing gum. I remember this particular interview well because her body language suggested she was not taking the interview very seriously and didn’t care one iota about what I thought of her.

Another interviewee’s brow was furrowed and his arms were crossed across his chest the entire duration of our time together. He didn’t seem happy to be at the interview, and exuded an arrogant demeanor by his stance.

Over the next several days, notice what your body is saying in different circumstances, personally and professionally. Ask the person you are with about what your body language is suggesting your mood or thoughts are. You might be surprised at how clearly your body language speaks!

Eye Contact

You should always look your interviewer directly in the eyes. It can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to doing it. Practice looking directly at your own eyes in a mirror to adjust to the new habit. Try to match a pleasant facial expression with your eye contact. Once you feel you are ready, try practicing with others. When you are checking out at the grocery store, look the clerk in the eyes as you interact. You can practice this skill every time you speak with someone, making it a quick habit to strengthen.

During yet another interview I was conducting, one particular woman checked her watch every five minutes and kept looking behind me at the door. I cut the interview short as it was crystal clear that she was anxious to be done with our time together.

Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes, by thinking of a real-world example. Have you ever been talking with a colleague or friend and he or she never looks at your eyes, but instead looks at their computer or phone? In that moment, their eyes told you that whatever was on that screen was more important to them than you and what you had to say. Eye contact reveals distraction and priority, and that’s especially true in an interview setting.

You can see how body language and eye contact are important. Don’t dismiss the powerful language your body and eyes speak. Pay attention in every aspect of your life and you might be surprised to find you are often sending messages that you thought you were keeping internally.

Posted on March 13, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Career.