If you’re even mildly involved in a post-pandemic job search, you’ve heard a new buzzword floating around: upskilling. We’re here to tell you a little more about a) what it is, and b) why you’re missing out if you don’t try it.


What exactly is “upskilling”?


Unlike its buzzword cousin, “reskilling,” which means learning new skills to replace existing skills which are no longer relevant, “upskilling” involves something far more exciting: acquiring new skills that complement your current skillset. An expert becoming a course author by expanding their knowledge of e-learning, or a marketer expanding their knowledge of graphic design to improve their data presentation are both examples of upskilling. 


Upskilling can bring exceptional value to your career in many ways. Let’s talk about why and how you need to consider it.



  Why should you give upskilling a try?


To get a raise

Self-initiated skill advancement indicates to management that you are a motivated and action-based team member, interested in growing personally and professionally. In their eyes, you become even more of a valuable asset, someone who fits their current role but also a person who will continue to push themselves and their colleagues to stay current and innovative at the company. 


This builds a foundation upon which to justify additional monetary compensation. A raise is appropriate for someone who is showing initiative and is an engaged and curious employee investing in their own professional development. 


To keep yourself engaged at work.

We all experience a slight decline in interest as time goes on in a position, and things continue to just feel… same old, same old. What better way to reactivate the part of you that once thrived on curiosity, and quench your thirst for knowledge, than by directing your own path to learning more? 


At this point, employers know the impact disengagement can have on their bottom line - a Gallup poll stated that actively disengaged employees cost U.S. companies between $450 – $550 billion in lost productivity per year. They know it’s appealing to current employees to invest in their development - a 2018 LinkedIn Learning survey showed that 94% of employees would remain at their career longer if that was the case. A good company will see the benefit to themselves as well as to you if you propose some professional development.


To prepare for your next job

Don’t wait for the free time unemployment brings to evaluate your next career move - take advantage of a steady paycheck and add some skills to your resume that apply to your current and future role while still employed. Then when it comes time to move on, you’ve already spent plenty of time thinking forward, expanding your skillset and anticipating industry changes. Have a next job in mind? Even better - see if you can fill in some potential gaps in your talent by upskilling now.


How to upskill 


There are two easy ways to work upselling into your current work hours. 1) take on projects that are slightly out of your skill level or give you a reason to learn something new, and 2) take your existing projects and look for ways to step outside of standard expectations. As an example, if you’re any type of experienced creative, can you learn a bit about a new Data Analytics platform while working on an existing project, in order to better understand and present information? It may seem intuitive to slowly add skills like this, but actively making an effort can clarify your goal and speed up the process. Be sure to time your efforts right. Avoid fitting this during a busy period, and if you’re really pressed for time, consider the benefit of upskilling during the occasional lunch break.


To learn more about a specific skill, you don’t need to take an expensive, long-term class. Take advantage of the abundance of free and low-cost courses, lessons, and tutorials available on websites like YouTube, Skillshare, or even Google. Grow with Google is a really approachable option - it provides training and tools for all kinds of professional growth, from free courses on Google tools like Analytics and Ads, to online certificate programs that are self-paced subscription-based.


Making an effort to incorporate upskilling into your work demonstrates initiative and curiosity and is mutually beneficial to your employer. There are plenty of convenient and easy options at your disposal, and the benefits can be rewarding. What are you waiting for?

Posted: 5/22/2024 11:36:19 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

2023 was a roller coaster for many businesses. Inflation, supply chain disruptions, changing customer demands, political tensions, and overall economic uncertainty has left a lingering concern about stability in the future. With this future just around the corner (hello, 2024!), we anticipate slower growth than usual, high interest rates, lower customer spending, and see the likelihood of a possible recession. In short: 2024 may be a challenging year in which to set plans.

It's time to take a deeper look at your goal setting for the year, and implement it in a way that ensures your plan is manageable and effective. We have 4 tips for you, to get started!

Think Smaller

If there were ever a year to be very thorough and intentional about decision-making and planning, that year is 2024. This may not be the year for large, future-thinking goals, but instead a time for focusing on small-scale efforts. Table risks that you may have taken other years, in favor of those that are solidly attainable and don't involve a huge time or effort investment. Simply put: only efforts that you can afford to fail at should make the list this year.

In 2024, success will be encouraged not only by an attitude of acceptance and adaptability but also the ability to consistently evaluate progress and measure results. When setting goals and planning, establish specific performance indicators for yourself alongside each specific step, to provide easy opportunity for a change-up if needed. Document small and specific goals, and manage progress in a way that is validated at each part of the process.

Talk, Talk, Talk
Open lines of communication are critical, especially in a period of slow growth. Without as much opportunity to grow branches, focus on the roots of your organization and maintain consistent, regular meetings and check-ins with your team, using this time to evaluate their progress and schedule check-in points further down the line. To keep the forward momentum going, align employee strengths with their assigned tasks, and leave each meeting with goals set for that person. If possible, we'd suggest more 1-on-1 meetings in 2024. They're an excellent method for establishing trust and discovering what drives your team's performance, as well as good opportunities for open and honest feedback.

Meet Efficiently
Time will be of the utmost importance this year, so conduct your meetings with efficiency in order to value your team's time and keep things running smoothly. Before calling for one, ask yourself if a gathering is really the best format, or if the content is better distributed via email or other format. Nothing can hinder a job performance more than a poorly timed or unnecessary meeting. The easiest step to change it up this year: send an agenda beforehand, providing a clear framework and a subtle suggestion to prepare for the discussion.

Be Nimble 
Don't get comfortable post-planning, feeling like the work has been done. Hit established milestones to measure success throughout projects and if those milestones aren't met, don't expect more time to make much difference. Use these moments to pivot, resetting milestones and readjusting expectations, even delegating differently if necessary. It can feel like a lot to be managing everything during a year that feels uncertain, but don't indulge in the overwhelm. Indecision and ambivalence might be tolerated in another year, but not 2024! 

In a few days, the page flips, and we face a new calendar year full of potential. Remaining agile, effectively communicating, and scaling back on overly ambitious endeavors is the way to go. We hope these tips have helped, and wish you a prosperous New Year!

Posted: 1/7/2024 11:11:11 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

It's no secret: this fall, good help might be hard to find. This fall, applications for jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in 8 months. What does this mean? The pool of people looking for jobs is quite small, so companies face tough competition for top talent, or an investment in keeping their existing workforce intact. Employee retention is the name of the game as we head into Q4, and though it may sound daunting, we've broken it down into some key areas that need attention to ensure your team remains truly happy and healthy as you head into the new year.

Hint: it's not about hosting more golf outings...

5 Employee Retention Strategies that Work

Keep communication lines open.

No, like really open. Set expectations for everything from high-level goals to working hours and availability, and establish quick regular check-in meetings. Keep your employees in the loop when something's going on or there's trouble in the industry. Keep them in the loop when there's good news to share.

Not only should you emphasize your openness to feedback with your direct reports, but try a more consistent and less demanding format like pulse surveys or HR chatbots, which allow for short and casual surveys and are open for employees to report issues in anonymous mode. An additional step in a project timeline could include post-project feedback collection: what could be improved about the process next time around? 

Respect their time.

A broad statement that represents many other tips, boiled down to their core message: respect the time of your employees and they will be more satisfied. What exactly does this entail? Well, lots of things.

The first is to establish working hours and non-working hours. State them, share them, adhere to them. Working outside of these hours? Schedule your email for later. If you have flexible working hours overall, then set core hours people are expected to be available (they could be the middle of the day, like 10am-2pm EST, or could take place in both morning hours and afternoon hours, like 10-12pm and 1-3pm EST). Whatever works for your company – and hey, you can ask your employees – will do, just so long as you are setting boundaries that will allow people to protect their solitary work time and their home life. 

The second is to make sure their "on" hours at work are used as efficiently as possible. Meaning: solid deadlines, no unorganized meetings, and goals broken down into actionable items. Before you call a meeting, be clear on what's to be discussed, and prepare any needed information so minutes aren't wasted searching for documents or data.

Emphasize the importance of wellness. 

Job satisfaction is largely dependent on the vague measurement of "is this working for me?" Does it offer the flexibility I need? Does it offer the benefits that are important to me? Encourage the use of vacation days, offer understanding or time off when an employee is struggling, and learn (and teach others) the signs of burnout. Sticking to the set boundaries for work hours also displays a respect for the mental health and wellbeing of your employees.

Set a great first impression.

The onboarding process is a new hire's first interaction with the inside world of your company – set them on the right track, from the start. Educate them on their responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture, giving them ownership over their role. Put forth your company mission and values, and explain how you and your team achieves and monitors them. 

An interesting idea to try: pair all new employees with a "buddy," someone else who works at the company, at any level or in any department, to meet with them, grab lunch, or check in to see how their time is going. Having an acquaintance from the start is a powerful step towards feeling a part of an open and welcoming environment, and one in which there is already an ally. 

Encourage professional growth.

This can be done through the age-old practice of attending conferences, but also can be as simple as setting aside time for micro-development. An example: every Friday afternoon for one hour, members of your team are encouraged to learn something new related to their job. Some ideas that come to mind are learning a few new functions in Excel, watching an InDesign tutorial, or reading an article about the future of A.I. This freedom, with boundaries, allows for a break from work and an increase in knowledge, something workers today crave.

The simple act of asking your team if there's anything they'd like to learn more about can open floodgates to an invigorating work environment. Have them report back to each other, in order to keep the enthusiasm going.

Keeping a team satisfied is no easy feat, but making the effort is the first, and most important, step in ensuring your professional environment is one that retains employees. Try some of these suggestions, and let us know how it goes! 

Posted: 11/7/2023 11:04:58 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

Although generative AI has been around for years, its prevalence in daily life has increased since the explosive growth of tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney, Dall-E, and others in the last year. If you aren't familiar, generative AI tools have been trained on extensive amounts of data, much collected directly from the internet. Through exploring this data, it is capable of detecting patterns and relationships within the information, and uses that to generate new content, at the request of a user. Everyday people, creative professionals, and small business owners are exploring the potential of this powerful new tool, simultaneously amazed at its capabilities and increasingly wary of its effect on careers, lives, and our global future.

Spend more time doing this and less time updating your resume!

Its impact on humanity-as-we-know-it aside, we do see AI as a valuable tool for making certain tasks a little more effective and efficient. Exhibit A: the resume update.

Nowadays, hiring at 90% of large companies involves an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which processes applications from the hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of people that apply for each open position. Hiring managers and HR departments are using these systems to review stacks of resumes, eliminating "unqualified" candidates who don't meet certain qualifications or use specific keywords they have required. AI tools like chatbots can be useful to ensure your resume includes all relevant keywords and explains your qualifications as effectively as possible.

Cater your resume to a specific job description:

How to do it:

Gather your current resume and the desired job description. 

Ask a chatbot to rewrite your entire resume, with this prompt: 

"Rewrite my resume to tailor it to this job description. Here is my resume [paste your resume text here]. Here is the job description: [paste your job description here]."

After a rewritten resume is generated, you can request follow-up changes, like condensing it to one page, or emphasizing certain skills over other skills.

Write interesting bullet points that sufficiently reflect your work experience:

How to do it:

Paste a bullet point or paragraph from your resume into the chatbot.

Ask it to rewrite the bullet point, but pasting an existing bullet point, and then adding this prompt:

"Rewrite this bullet point [or paragraph] to be less than 20 words, including keywords from the job description, use compelling language, and include details from my resume. Here is my resume: [paste your resume here]. Here is the job description: [paste the job description here]."

After new bullet points are generated, you can request that it creates more than one version of that same bullet point. Pick your favorite, and repeat for other bullet points on your resume. 

Identify important terms to use

Suspicious of AI, or just don't want to turn your entire resume over? Have it dig  a little deeper into the job you're applying for, by asking it to review the job description and isolate key terms for your industry.

Try this prompt: "Review this job description and identify industry specific keywords. Job description: [paste job description here]"

Then, ensure you use those terms in your resume and/or cover letter.

Write a stellar professional summary

Your intro statement / resume headline / objective is your first impression. Have a chatbot review your resume and craft a compelling and creative professional summary.

Try this prompt: "Review my resume and write a professional summary for me. Resume: [paste your resume]"

Some tips for using AI to improve your resume:

  • include metrics on your inputted resume, and request that metrics be a part of the chatbot's output (prompt example: "... and include metric-based achievements")
  • review all results for accuracy - in many cases, if there's a lack of information provided, a chatbot may add in skills and responsibilities that you may not have but are typical in the job you are doing
  • don't be afraid to refine a bit's responses with direct requests (example: please rewrite this paragraph but do not talk about [responsibility that was not yours])
  • consider its responses to be a starting point and not finished work - expand on its framework with your own personality and wording

The best part about chatbots like ChatGPT  is that they are conversational. If you're unsure of what information it may need to assist you, you can just ask, with this prompt: "I'm a [insert your current role] that wants to work in [insert your desired field] in [city]. I want you to rewrite my resume. What information do you need from me to do this?"

AI tools can be an excellent starting point when tweaking your resume for a specific position. Try these ideas out, have some fun with it, and let us know how it goes!

Posted: 8/4/2023 12:56:11 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

When it comes to finding a new job with a prospective employer, you have lots of questions specific to the job itself. What are the responsibilities of the position, what’s the day-to-day workload, what are the skills needed for the job, etc. But, there’s always a bigger looming question that demands answering: what is it really LIKE to work there?

The term "company culture" grew in popularity over the last several decades as the workplace became a second home to many working Americans. What was once an indefinable quality with less importance to a job seeker now bears weight for a potential hire. Are you completely qualified but not a “culture fit”? Does the company offer a work-life balance that works for you? Now more than ever, companies are making efforts to establish what makes them, them. Picturing yourself working somewhere should be easier than ever, but company culture is often the mystery puzzle piece at the end of an application process. How exactly can you determine what the company culture is like?

Understanding what "company culture" really comprises is essential to create a framework for evaluating if it is a good fit. The main components of company culture:

  • Values and mission - what really matters to the company? 
  • Communication / Leadership Style / Team Dynamics - how do employees work together, how does the company communicate with their employees?
  • Work environment - what is the physical workspace like and what workplace actions does it promote?
  • Diversity and Inclusion - is there adequate representation at all levels of the company?
  • Employee Engagement / Development - are employees engaged with their work and encouraged to grow professionally?

For many of you, the typical ways of learning about a company will be perfectly sufficient: look at their website to peek at their workspace, browse their mission and values, and see if their employee page is as diverse as they claim. Check their social media accounts for any indication of employee championing, camaraderie, or recognition. But if you're looking to get even deeper than the words their marketing team has very intentionally prepared, we have a couple places that will suggest even more about what to expect if you joined the team.

Dive into job postings 

Job postings often require a company to sum itself up in a way that’s appealing to a prospective employee. Read about the company in one of their job listings to see what terms and phrases they've chosen to communicate as, potentially, a first impression to a prospective employee. What they decide to prioritize stating in a job posting could be considered at worst an unattainable intention, and at best a direct reflection of the essence of the company.

Much like real estate listings riddled with coded language like "charming" (old) or "cozy" (small), job postings can be excellent indicators of life at a company. Take a look, paying close attention to the words they use in a few different areas. First, what kind of benefits are offered? If they have a more lenient vacation or PTO policy than some, or flexible work hours, or even offer earned sabbaticals, they likely support a healthy work-life balance. Paid parental leave outside of the traditional maternity leave can indicate the same. Next, examine the required skills and qualifications listed. If there are several specific technical skills listed, they may place higher value on expertise and skills. On the contrary, emphasizing soft skills like collaboration, teamwork, or a positive attitude might suggest a supportive, people-oriented workplace. Also consider the tone of the writing - is it formal and traditional, or casual and conversational? In many cases, this is a direct reflection of the workplace. Last, review the level of detail provided about the role. A more elaborate and detailed description of the position may be an indicator that they value transparency and clarity. A much more condensed or succinct description may be your first clue that this is a fast-paced working environment.

Find their employees on LinkedIn

Look for employees on the team you're considering, as well as elsewhere in the company. Is there a diverse range represented? Are they active and engaged on LinkedIn? Do they belong to any professional groups or affinity groups? Do they share company news and events? Looks for signs of enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to both their fellow employees as well as the mission of the company. Sharing company news and projects with their network demonstrates pride and engagement with their work, and being supportive of others is a great quality to have in a work colleague. This is also indicated in the Recommendations section of a profile: have they written any thoughtful recommendations for others or received any from colleagues at their place of employment? A company is nothing if not a collection of individuals, so you might as well dig in and learn more about them. 

Explore the path some of these employees have taken within the company. Have they been promoted or moved around departments? This may indicate that success is tracked and rewarded. If several employees appear to be moving up the ladder, the company may be growing and prioritize promoting from within. Employees' loyalty to the company, rather than jumping ship and working elsewhere, suggests job satisfaction. Overall, joining a team of supportive, collaborative, and passionate people will yield successful results in your career, and looking through LinkedIn profiles can reveal a lot about potential workplaces.

There are many different ways to approach evaluating company culture, and getting an accurate reflection of it can be a real journey. We encourage you to invest time into determining company culture before starting a new position, and don't be afraid to think outside of the box. Investigating job listings and LinkedIn profiles with a mission to reveal the true ethos of a company can be an enjoyable and informative process!

Posted: 6/28/2023 2:53:50 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments