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Remember that year in school you finally figured out how the line spacing and font size can affect the length of a paper? You might think the years of adjusting your margins are long gone, but think about a common resume-building activity: padding.

You think of adverbs, action verbs, and fancy words to make your job sound like every single minute of it was career-building.

resume_fluff

You're not fooling anybody.

There was a time when jargon like "innovative" and "motivated" were knocking the socks off of hiring managers who had been staring at boring, informative resumes for decades. But the era of lingo has passed, and they're seeing right through all of the fluff.

What to focus on?

1) The new (old) action words: "created," "implemented," "developed," etc. These went through a phase of being a bit blah, but after a trendy period of resume buzzwords, these are now back to being considered concrete examples of job responsibilities.

2) Specifics. Resume fluff is called so because it pads resume space without adding much content. What does "motivated" mean? To one person, that could mean keeping up with one's workload, but to the next it might be indicative of their working overtime. Bringing the language back to specific task-based words removes ambiguity across candidates.

3) Quantifiable facts. "Doubled client database in two years." or "Increased social media engagement by 62% over the course of my employment." are two statements hiring managers dream of seeing on resumes. Prove what you've done and how quickly you've done it - no reason to wait until an interview if you can use it to get your foot in the door. You'll go to the top of a resume pile if you communicate how and to what extent you have furthered the success of a previous company.

4)  Showing, not telling. Saying you are "hard working" is not as clear as describing the multiple projects you spearheaded and the initiatives you started while at Company X, Y, and Z. Describing yourself as "innovative" doesn't have the same effect as directing attention to the new project management system you developed. Avoid describing yourself, but be intentional about the examples you provide.

Posted: 2/27/2017 2:38:59 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


You've made the time, you've researched the best job-finding websites, you've taken a look at your resume, ironed your interview outfit and currently spend hours a day searching for an open position – you are ready to find your next job. So why does it feel like you waste a ton of time looking and are coming up fruitless? Going through the motions is only half the battle, and it's time to face the truth: you are in a rut, my friend.

revamp_job_search

Yes, there's a camp of people who say "a rut is also a groove," but in this case, a rut is just keeping you from making your next move. Nobody's going to pull you out of it; you have to climb out, take a new approach, and get moving. Where to start? We've got you covered.

 

1) Go to a conference or event.

Even if you're not the type of person who typically does these things, it's a great way to jump start enthusiasm for your industry and learn a little along the way. Plus, a happy you is a you that could chat up a neighbor and end up with a job. You never know.

2) Revamp your resume.

Resumes are often thought to be pretty straightforward: you make one whenever you look for your first "real" job and then just add jobs as you have them. Right?

Wrong. Resumes should be tailored to the job being applied for. Make sure if you're looking into a leadership role, for example, you provide plenty of indicators that you're an effective manager. And why not reorganize / redesign your layout? A mental fresh start can be a boost (plus, there's a chance resume standards have changed since yours was last updated).

3) Make the job search your second priority.

It's easy to assume that once you're looking, you have to go all out and Job Search Real Hard, but we all know how quickly that leads to burnout. Keep your life well=rounded and make "Me" priority numero uno. Have any friends who finally stopped searching for love and almost immediately found The One? There's a reason this works, and it's because focusing on yourself is a win-win. You spend some time exploring your goals and gain a stronger sense of self, which in turn makes you a more attractive candidate to an outside interest.

4) Celebrate the little wins.

Getting The Job is the end goal, but all the steps to get there are just as important. Grab lunch with a friend to celebrate getting an interview, or treat yourself to some ice cream when you make a great new connection. A job search is not a sprint, it's a marathon, and introducing some festivities will keep the whole process positive.

5) Change up your search terms.

Just because you have had a certain job title doesn't mean your job potential is limited to that position. Not all professions are tied to a specific major in college – many involve skills across a wide range of areas.

Rather than searching for open positions with your job title, try seeing what exists when you just type in some of your skills. Instead of "graphic designer," type in "Adobe InDesign. You might find something with a job title you didn't even know existed. Fact: 95% of jobs have titles people have never heard of*. Considering the fancy lingo companies use for jobs these days, you're better off searching by skills so you don't miss out on being the next big Design Ninja.

*inaccurate, but that's what it feels like sometimes, doesn't it?

6) Consult the masses.

Bring some friends into this and make it a little more enjoyable. Friends usually assume the job search isn't going well (have any of us mentally recovered from the recession yet?), so they might be trying to avoid bringing it up. But go ahead and ask if a buddy wants to join you for an event, or if an old coworker wouldn't mind taking a second look at your resume. Bringing other people into it not only increases your chances of finding a job through a friend-of-a-friend, it also makes the process a little less isolating and frustrating.

Don't be discouraged – take back your job search and get a fresh start!

 
Posted: 2/13/2017 12:28:30 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


One Big Fix That'll Change Your Emails Forever

What we're calling the textual revolution, a great shift from verbal communication to quickly-transmitted written communication, has brought with it a frequency of misinterpretations. No longer can the human brain pick up on the social nuances of a desk-side conversation when 3.2 hours of work time is spent on emails. Cue the email police! How many times have you gotten an email that left you scratching your head because you weren't sure how to interpret it? Think about any text exchanges you've had with your parents, and you'll come up with at least a couple instances where some words were read incorrectly.

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Writing emails is an art form: you have to balance the message you want to convey with the perceived emotion behind it. Does Email You sound like Human You? Are you unknowingly sounding rude? The key to writing polite emails, especially in professional situations, is to avoid using "you" and "me." Yes, there are situations where it seems best to point out the responsibilities of another person, but there is a way to do so with a bit more subtlety.

Take this example of what you want to say:

Hi Jim,

Did you send those CM Access drafts to me? You need to send them today, so I can review them before my presentation on Friday. 

It sounds a little finger-pointy, right? Here's what you should say:

Hi Jim,

Will we be able to review those CM Access drafts today? Tweaking them before the presentation on Friday would be great. 

You'll find this particularly helpful in cases where hierarchy comes into play (i.e. your boss suggests you haven't done something you have, or any email your boss's boss is CCed on), when you can't blame a higher-up without it sounding defensive.

What you want to say (but wouldn't): 

Hi Jim and Kathy,

We're getting behind on the marketing materials as you never returned my email about the drafts. Please review them today so we can stick to the schedule you made.

What you should say:

Hi Jim and Kathy,

We started drafts of those materials, but I don't think we had landed on a final design– if there's a moment to review those drafts this week, that would be great. According to the schedule, these should be submitted for print by Friday.

Some other words that err on the side of sounding flippant or rude are:

Actually
Sorry
Fine

Spend some time looking through your emails, put yourself in the recipient's shoes and decide if your emails could use a little politeness overhaul.

Posted: 2/8/2017 10:27:08 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Who doesn't love a little self-evaluation?

While it's (hopefully) safe to assume you've been sufficiently good at your job, companies have been using performance reviews for years as an annual tool to open discussions with their employees. They go over successes and failures, look at strengths and flaws, and plan goals for the future, all in the spirit of improving company practices and ensuring success in the future. Many workplaces encourage employees to take the time to self-evaluate, some even offering formal questionnaires as guidelines.

woman_snow

It can feel pretty weird to take a look at yourself and your role as an "employee of ______," but we promise it shouldn't be scary. Spending time to prepare for this big meeting puts you in a better place to negotiate salary (if that is on the agenda at your review), feel confident in your work moving forward, and consider your employer an ally in your success down the road.

If your brain is all over the place prior to your review, here are the most important things to work on ahead of time:

1. Prepare your highlights.

Come with a list of three to five instances where you thrived in your role this year. They could be projects you spearheaded, presentations you crushed, or creative strategy meetings you really nailed. Be sure to consider examples where you can point to results, and bring supporting details so your boss can clearly see the full picture.

2. Prepare your not-so-highlights.

Not the most fun part of the prep work, but it has to be done. Your boss may have some thoughts on improvement and you don't want to be caught off-guard. If there were times you know you could or should have done better, or if you've noticed some criticism about a particular project, this is the time to at least prepare yourself to address it. If it's an elephant in the room feel free to bring it up, but as long as you're aware of what needs work, there's no need to steer your boss's nose in that direction. If there are any examples that point to more major flaws in your work ethic, maybe jot those down elsewhere - this is not the time to bring attention to your inabilities as a worker, just to direct yourself toward areas that need improvement.

3. Goals.

What do you want to see happen in the near future at this company? More responsibilities, more projects, different types of projects? This is the time to express your desired path for the next year. Employers want satisfied employees and it's more likely you'll get what you want if you're forthcoming with your goals. Remember: they're on your side.

4. Skill development

Many of us adapt to the roles we take on, and sometimes that leaves gaps in our knowledge and experience. If there is development to be done in an area that will greatly improve your job performance or potential, ask for it. Maybe there's a conference or a class you can take, or maybe even just requesting to devote a small portion of your time to teach yourself a program, it cannot hurt to ask. A good boss will not discourage a motivated employee from self-directed growth. It just means further success for your team and the company as a whole.

If your workplace actually gives performance reviews (a 2015 report called The Global Leadership Resource Survey discovered that only roughly half (52%) of all companies conduct annual performance reviews), take advantage of the meeting and get what you want. Don't be afraid to bring up your strengths and weaknesses – you're both there to better your work situation, so make it count!

 
Posted: 2/2/2017 10:26:12 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments