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2020 has been a year of weird ups, and even weirder downs. Businesses have adapted to the roller coaster of economic activity, changing their systems and adjusting their staff, leaving many of us in a weird state of limbo. Furloughs, layoffs, working from home, and home schooling mean we could emerge on the other side of this pandemic with an entirely new set of personal and professional needs.

Without a clear path to success in the future, and without the security to drop a handful of money on professional development, what are we to do?

 
online-learning-coputer-screen
 
Enter: inexpensive/free online learning. You can shape your skills with a flexible schedule while we're living in this time of transition. Use online courses to invigorate your skillset, OR just to incorporate some stability and learning into your everyday chaos. If you're looking for something new at the end of this, dip your toe into a different subject and see if it piques your interest. Or take it more seriously and come out with a certificate. There are a TON of options – we're just here to direct you to the right one.
 

EdX

Legitimate institutions (Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Georgetown, and 140 more) offer almost 3000 courses in a wide range of subjects, with an even wider range of costs. Free courses sit alongside MicroMasters programs (a fraction of the time and cost of a full Masters Program), and full Masters programs.
 
Some of its most popular courses: Intro to Computer Science, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel
 

Codecademy

As you might guess from its name, Codecademy is chock full of courses on.. drumroll please.. coding! Web design, game development, data science – you name it, they have courses on it. A free model or a monthly plan, you'll be able to dabble in different programming languages while
 

Skillshare

The platform for the creative soul, a Skillshare visit gets you access to thousands of free classes, with even more if you decide on an annual membership. Classes from industry professionals run rampant on Skillshare, and students love the ability to work at your own pace while also contributing to class discussions and critique.
 

LinkedIn Learning

Over 16,000 free and paid courses run the gamut from professional development to program-specific. A perk of LinkedIn Learning is that suggestions are tailored for your resume, so if you've listed certain skills in your profile, it will steer you toward courses to develop those in particular, or even other skills common among your coworkers.
 

Google Analytics Academy

While it's specifically geared toward Google Analytics, these classes take you deep into its capabilities. Experience with tracking business performance over time and understanding data collection and analysis is applicable to any job, so it's a worthy investment (of time, no money needed!).
 

Udemy

With courses as low as $9.99, it's easy to find something that works for your needs. You'll see courses on Adobe programs from novice to expert, a large collection of design classes, as well as courses in business areas like marketing and finance/accounting. Downloadable resources and certificates of completion mean you have something to show for it.

 
 
These 6 sites are excellent places to begin expanding and developing your professional skills. Make this transitional time a period of growth with classes and courses that fit into your life and won't cost much. Consider it an opportunity to try something out and see if it might be an area of interest. Or, work on growing your talent in a program or subcategory in which you're already proficient. Your career will benefit greatly!

Posted: 8/21/2020 3:26:50 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


We saw a phrase the other day: “You are not working from home. You are at home during a pandemic, trying to work.”

Our homes became more than just shelter during the pandemic these last few months, with many of us occupying them as parents, teachers, employees, and childcare providers.

a girl plays outside while her parents work from home during the pandemic

Trying to work from home is a feat of its own, but piling on the responsibility of children too? You’re taking on a big challenge.

We pulled together some ideas to make your work day just a little bit easier. Take these tips, see what sticks, and get ready for a productive day!

Alternate with a family member

Having kids at home means constant responsibility. If you’re able to tag team with your partner, an older child (for a short time), or a parent, do it. Come up with a plan or acknowledge a pass-off of child responsibilities throughout the day (hand signal? bat signal?), so you're free and clear of kid-watch when it's not your turn. 

Be the early bird

Set your alarm for earlier than usual and use that time to complete work tasks that require undivided attention. Save checking email for later in the morning - this time is best spent on an actual project. Even a half hour will start your day with progress and put some gas in your productivity tank.

Decide if a schedule will work for you

Not everyone is a planner, but with several schedules to manage, it might lighten the load to set up a few concrete plans each day. Lunch, outside time, and reading time are some To Dos that could happen regularly. Having a schedule might also keep your kid’s antsiness at bay.

Give the kids some attention

As early in the day as you can, give your kids some You Time. They won’t need much, but competing with your workload throughout the day means a little quality time early on can put some fuel in their gas tank. The longer you wait, the needier they’ll be.

Pack lunches

Channel your inner school kid and prepare food ahead of time. Have lunches made (for the kids AND you), and even set up easy snacks, before the workday begins. Preempt the “there’s nothing to eat” argument by creating snack bags, ready to grab and eat.

Phone a friend

Many of us aren’t splitting our childcare with a live-in partner, so all responsibilities fall on our shoulders. It can get exhausting to carry the load without a break, so why not recruit the help of your support network – call up a friend or relative. Have grandma supervise puzzle doing via FaceTime, or ask a friend to play a quiz game with your kids for 20 min while you take a call.

In a global pandemic, we’re all on the same team. Working from home looks a little different for each person, but understanding better ways to manage your time and responsibilities is crucial to getting anything done.

Posted: 7/23/2020 4:15:40 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


In the last few weeks, the coronavirus has a new competitor for Most Alarming Statistic: the unemployment rate. But in spite of the 30 million Americans that have lost their jobs in the past 6 weeks, companies are still hiring. With social distancing measures still in place, your interview process might look a little different than usual. Virtual interviews have replaced in-person meetings, as companies with a hiring need don't have time to waste. Are you someone who benefits from a face-to-face? Don't let this new format scare you – with our suggestions, you'll easily become the top candidate.

man sitting at home ready for a virtual interview

Get dressed.

It should go without saying, but weeks of pajama pants may have infected your brain: wear what you would wear to a real interview. This includes pants. If something were to happen that would cause you to stand up, you don't want to be seen in those saggy house pants.

Check your tech.

Beforehand, give your video chat software a test with someone else. Make sure your microphone is working and the volume is acceptable on your end. While some tech tweaking is expected during a video meeting, being able to continue without it makes the process smoother. Also, triple check that your location will receive a solid wifi signal throughout the call.

Choose your background wisely.

No, we don't mean a virtual background in Zoom. Select a wall with a simple background - some small framed artwork or plants are a decent backdrop. Avoid windows that will add backlighting, and try not to use a lamp as your only light source. Sitting near a window can provide some nice natural lighting and will keep you looking fresh for the call.

Prepare your computer for screensharing.

Clean off your desktop and choose a good background. If you'll be pulling up a browser at any point, make sure you don't have any other tabs open or any bookmark bar items with questionable names. Have your portfolio website or PDF ready to go so you aren't fumbling to find it when the time comes.

Feed your pet and take out your dog.

It's safe to say that most people are very understanding that this is an adjustment period for those of us who weren't frequent virtual meeting attendees, but the last thing you want is a whiny pet at your door. Take care of your pets a little more than usual before heading into the interview (don't forget to block the view of that pesky mailman!) and you won't have to worry about a keyboard-stomping cat or a barking-in-the-background dog.

Keep notes open.

Have some key points you'd like to get across during this interview? Take advantage of the format and have a small cheat sheet of notes you keep on your screen while meeting. Remove whenever you screen share, and maybe keep the window small if you wear glasses and a reflection is visible.

Try to make eye contact.

In person, it's easy to connect with someone you meet by making eye contact, but in a virtual situation, it's not as simple. Try moving the window with your interviewer's image close to your camera – this better mimics real-life eye contact, as you'll be speaking almost directly to the camera.

Don't interrupt.

On some platforms, speaking can mute the other's microphone. Allowing slightly longer pauses so your interviewer can finish speaking will keep the conversation flow natural, even if it feels unnatural. Also, while a normal interview would contain many instances of you affirming their statements with "mm-hmm"s or "yeah"s, doing so in a virtual circumstance can interrupt their sentence by overriding their microphone. Instead, try nodding when you would normally interject with a quick "yes."

Roll with the changes.

If something goes wrong, acknowledge it and move along. Dog barges in? Say "hey buddy," lead him out, and come back in and apologize. Connection poor? Suggest switching to a phone call. People are just human, so mistakes aren't the end of the world. Just be sure to be flexible and laugh them off instead of letting them ruin your mood (and your chances of being hired).

Let these tips guide your virtual interview, and you should make it to the next stage in no time!

Posted: 5/13/2020 1:53:10 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Growing up, you (or your parent) may have reminisced about long snowy walks to school, or how they had to write letters to stay in touch, or flip through encyclopedias to answer life's biggest questions. There's no doubt that the old-fashioned way has its place in nostalgia, but would you ever think to apply to your job search?

old-job-search-becomes-new

Boiled down to its essence, the process of looking for a job is all about connecting. The entire application process, including your interactions in addition to written materials, exists to give a potential hirer answers to their questions. Are you a decent worker? Would you fit in on the team? Do you have adequate experience?

Communicating your aptitude for the job is priority number one, and the traditional system of applying stands strong. Cover letter, resume, interview, references, job offer. It is a system largely unchanged, because it works. There's no need to reinvent the wheel, here. Just polish each of the basic steps, and you're on your way to the next step in your career.

Cover letter

Update your cover letter before applying for a job. Your language should sound appropriate for the company's culture (i.e. friendly wording is acceptable for a ping-pong filled startup, but may be off-putting for an older company), and don't forget to mention specifics about how your skills excellently fit the role.

Resume

Similar to your cover letter, this should be tailored to the employer. Including words that have been listed in the job description can be a great way to skirt digital filtering of applicants. Also, your past experience should seem relevant to the position – try emphasizing certain aspects of past jobs that are of particular importance to this one.

Interview

Reaching the interview stage is a big step, and a great indicator that you're presenting yourself well on paper. Now is the time to impress in person! At the interview, make an effort to avoid interrupting, appear personable, and discuss your work and experience confidently but without arrogance. Also, to appear prepared and interested, come to the interview with question! Even if many of your questions were answered during your conversation, you can inquire about how your interviewer likes working at the company. After the interview, a thank you message still goes a very long way. Snail mail is too slow, but an email will do the trick.

References

Prep your references. Warn them they may receive a call, and suggest some talking points. "As a coworker for four years, you can speak to my passion for collaboration as well as my ability to communicate thoroughly and effectively." References will rarely ruin your standings with a potential employer (assuming you've chosen them well), but they can easily bring confidence to a company's consideration of hiring you.

Job Offer

Don't be afraid to negotiate! It's likely they've built in a monetary cushion, assuming you would negotiate your starting salary. Consider all factors, including time off benefits, work flexibility, and office perks (if that's important to you).

No need for any fancy footwork here – your  job search could benefit from keeping it classic and investing time to perfect each of the traditional job search stages. We promise, it'll get you results.

Posted: 4/1/2020 9:32:35 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Pandemic. Social distancing. Quarantine.

In the last couple weeks, we're finding ourselves in unprecedented territory. New terminology and nationwide directives have steered our everyday lives towards isolation and physical distancing.

investing-in-your-career

These upcoming weeks will bring an excessive amount of time spent at home. Whether working or watching / schooling children from home, the extended period without social interactions can seem daunting. Take advantage of the break in your routine and use the extra free time to get steps ahead in your career. We'll help!

Network, digitally.

Check in with your network - now you have a good excuse to reach out digitally. Ask how their work-from-home experience is going, and see what they've been up to at home. At a time like this, society is craving human interactions. Your contact will likely be well-received.

Were you due to attend any upcoming conferences that were cancelled? Take advantage of any services offered as substitute – many conferences have made their programming available virtually, some even offering virtual "cocktail parties," letting attendees meet each other through video chats.

Work on your portfolio.

Have you wanted to rephotograph or make new mockups of your work? Been meaning to reorganize your website? You've come upon some extra hours every week to do so.

Do something new.

Order yarn and give knitting a shot. Have a go at making bread. Spend 20 minutes everyday doodling. Investing in your creativity might seem like a waste of time, but your brain will benefit from a change in course.

Learn something new.

There are a billion and five documentaries available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, PBS, or online. Expand your interest in a topic or two and spend an afternoon learning something new. Your creative brain is an investment in your career, and providing it with fresh information can generate sparks that lead to innovation.

Rejuvenate your cover letter.

Away from the pressure of time constraints, your likelihood of crafting a killer cover letter improve greatly. New wording or different organization might better your first impression to an employer, so give your cover letter a second look.

Work on your resume with friends.

Start a video chat session, or even just a set time for you and a group of buds to clean up your resume and get feedback from each other. It will fulfill your need for social time while also moving along on personal goals.

Don't skimp on your job search.

Companies haven't slowed down their hiring, they've just gone digital. So, don't be afraid to keep rolling on your search! Mentally prepare for the likelihood of a video interview rather than an in-person.

If none of these sound good to you, you can always clean up your computer! Delete old files, improve file naming systems, or clean out your inbox. There's always something to be done, and your future career moves will thank you.

Posted: 3/24/2020 2:36:04 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments