As a lot of us find ourselves being at home full time where we would have previously been commuting or working, we now have a little more time on our hands. Some people choose to use this time to catch up on Netflix series (Tiger King!), some choose to use their time to practise being a little more creative and we have seen others take the time to be more mindful and practise meditation. All of these are great ways to use your time, and in this time of uncertainty it is important that you do what feels best for you.

We have heard of a few people utilising some of their newfound free time to complete some online training so we thought we would give our thoughts on some of the best free online courses out there at the moment:

HubSpot Academy is a great online tool with a huge number of free courses available to everyone.  A lot of their courses focus on Digital Marketing, Lead Generation and Social Media since these are HubSpot’s areas of expertise but there is a huge variety to choose from. All of these courses are free and have a certification exam at the end so you can test your knowledge and add a new certification to your LinkedIn profile.

Google Digital Garage has a massive number of course available on a variety of different subjects like the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course where  you can get certified for free and many others such as Understand the Basics of Code and Understand the Basics of Machine Learning. You can also use Google Digital Garage to find courses offered by other providers such as Coursera and FutureLearn. 

Skillshare offer some brilliant courses in the realms of Animation, Design and Illustration. If you are hoping to develop your creative side in a way that can also benefit you at work this is a great place to look! Skillshare offer a 2-month free trial period, perfect to gain some new knowledge while we are cooped up at home!

If you manage the Social Media accounts for your business these courses may be very beneficial for you to take a look at! You can use the knowledge you gain from these courses to improve your Facebook and Instagram ads and also grow your business on the platforms.

Quantic offers a full online free MBA programme and have been recently certified by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), following a comprehensive review of its quality curricula and operational practices. Since their MBA programme is free, they can be quite selective on who is admitted but if you get in then you have an opportunity to gain an MBA in your free time from anywhere that suits you!

If you are more interested in learning about Irish history and culture, then Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin have some excellent short courses available to everyone.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful, please feel free to get in touch with us on email if you have any questions or suggestions for other sites that could be added to our list!

Contact us today on 061209510 or to discuss your next opportunity in IT!

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

Duplicate Submissions – You might think to yourself “What’s the harm in letting two recruiters submit my profile for a role? Surely that doubles my chances!”

You couldn’t be more wrong!

When discussing an opportunity with a candidate we always let them know the client name, job title and rate before we submit them. We also ask candidates to confirm they have not already applied to that company/role. Unfortunately more and more often now we are submitting a candidates to a role only to get an email back from our client saying they already have their profile!

When we call the candidate to let them know we are getting responses like:
“I applied but I didn’t hear anything back yet so I didn’t think it mattered.”

“I’ve been applying to a lot of roles recently and have lost track so I didn’t know it was the same company”

“Another recruiter called me but I wasn’t sure it was the same company/role”

“I spoke to a recruiter recently but they didn’t say they were submitting me for anything”

Duplicate submissions have a damaging effect on a Recruitment Agency’s reputation but they also have a damaging effect on a candidate’s reputation.

We understand that it can be frustrating if you don’t get feedback from a company for a long time and it is very tempting to apply again to try and kick-start the process but it very rarely ends positively if a company receives duplicate submissions.

If you are very actively looking for your next opportunity and are applying to a lot of roles, maybe try starting up a list of companies and jobs you have applied to. That way when a new opportunity comes up you can quickly check if you have applied before.

We also hear: “Recruiters are sending my profile without my permission!” Here are some tips to avoid just that:

  • If a recruiter calls you with an opportunity make sure they tell you the company, job title and rate. If they can’t tell you that then explicitly tell them you do not want your profile submitted until you have those details.
  • Ask the recruiter to send you an email confirming the details of the role and that they are submitting your profile to a certain company – that way if another recruiter calls you about a similar opportunity you can check your email and compare the details.
  • Partner with a recruiter you trust and only work with them
  • If it turns out that a recruiter has submitted your profile without your knowledge, write a letter/email explaining the situation and confirming that you wish to be represented by the recruiter who discussed the role with you and got your permission to submit your profile. The recruiter can then submit the letter to their client and prove that the original application was not authorised and your representation will change over.

strong team are the foundation of high-performing business and a good team ethic can be held largely accountable for the success and smooth running of the organisation. If employees do not gel and work well together, problems can arise, such as poor organisation, missed deadlines and conflict within the workplace.

So what can teams do to ensure that they are collectively productive and drive the company forward? Here are a few qualities that a successful team possess.

1) They communicate well with each other

They communicate openly with each other, sharing their thoughts, opinions and ideas with members of their team;  as well as taking into consideration what others have to say. Communication is essential for keeping track of progress and working together efficiently on tasks. Poor communication can lead to crossed wires, that can mean work is left incomplete/incorrect or conflicts can arise.

2) They focus on goals and results

They agree on and set team goals based on outcomes and results, rather than just on the amount of work being done. A clear plan can then be set about how they are going to achieve these objectives, as a group, as well as each individuals contribution. This provides them with clear direction and gives them something to aim for collectively.

3) Everyone contributes their fair share

Each member of the team contributes their fair share of the workload and fully understand what their responsibilities are and where they fit in with the running of the business. They feel a sense of belonging to the team, are committed to their work and really care about the success of the company.

4) They offer each other support

Team members are always happy to assist others when they need a helping hand with work. Teams are often more productive when they are also offered support from the organisation and access to the required resources.

5) Team members are diverse

Everyone is unique and will be able to offer their own experiences and knowledge that others may not possess. Diversity is needed so that all of the required skills are covered by somebody in the team and each individual can be assigned a particular role on the basis of their strengths and skills. A variety of personalities, age groups, cultures, etc. can also bring creativity and a broad range of ideas to the table.

6) Good leadership

A strong team usually have a leader that they trust and respect. This individual essentially works as the glue holding the team together and should be responsible for setting the pace, offers encouragement and motivation and keeps all members of the team updated.

7) They’re organised

Organisation is essential for the smooth running of a business. Without it the workplace can become chaotic and goals are unlikely to be achieved. Though each individual should be responsible for organising their own workload, management should ensure that everything is running to plan and each member of the team is getting their work completed efficiently. Holding regular meetings can help to make sure that everyone is on the same page and deadlines are being met.

8) They have fun

It shouldn’t be all work and no play! This can lead to burnout and lack of productivity, so it’s important to inject a bit of enjoyment into working life. Teams who work particularly well together enjoy each others company and get together outside of the office from time to time to socialise and have some fun! Building a positive relationship with your colleagues can make for a much more relaxed environment and reduce conflict.


QPTech were delighted to have been awarded the Business All-Star accreditation last week at an excellent event at the home of GAA All-Stars, Croke Park. This is an excellent achievement for our team and we are elated to share our success with all our clients, candidates and friends.

The process of becoming a Business All-Star accreditation really tests every aspect of the business so to receive this award is a real stamp of approval that is hard won and well deserved by any companies that makes it to the award ceremony in Croke Park. From the very first step of the application the company is reviewed by a member of the adjudication panel and only the companies deemed suitable for the process are invited to the next stage. Our CEO Mike Minihan was then put through his paces during an interview with a member of the adjudication panel, which he passed with ease. The next step of the process involves verification of the application up to that point. The adjudication panel contacted two of our clients and suppliers and also conducted a mystery shopping exercise to confirm that our customer service and performance was everything we claimed it to be. Our clients and suppliers gave us excellent reviews and Emilia represented us expertly during the mystery shopping test. Finally, we had to pass one final panel review before we were informed that we had in fact secured the accreditation of Business All-Stars.

The presentation ceremony last week really was an excellent day out. We got to enjoy and celebrate the success of our fellow Business All-Stars but also thoroughly enjoyed presentations from Dr. Briga Hynes, Brid Gould, CEO of Comfort Keepers and Niamh Sherwin Co-Founder of the Irish Fairy Door Company. Dr. Briga gave some excellent tips for management in an ever changing and ever challenging business environment, Brid highlighted the importance of having the right people on your team and making sure they have the ever important and respectable qualities such as integrity, reliability and loyalty while Niamh gave us an excellent lesson in authenticity and how to share a company story in an original an engaging way on social media. We were delighted to be presented the award by Dr. Briga Hynes and Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin along with all the other Business All-Stars.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients, candidates and friends for your continued support and business, for without it we would most certainly not have been able to secure the Business All-Star accreditation. We are looking forward to continue working with you all in the months and years to come.


We had an amazing company day out last weekend, our consultants were treated to a luxurious night away at Trump International Hotel, Doonbeg along with an amazing 7 course tasting meal at the hotel! Many thanks to QPTech for such an wonderful treat!

Though we may share things in common with other individuals, at the end of the day, everyone is their own person and can bring different things to the table, which is why diversity is so important among a team. By hiring people with different personalities and at varied stages of their career, it can help to foster creativity and offer a range of perspectives and ideas.

Here are a few of the top benefits or diversity in the workplace.

1) Talents, skills and experiences

Individuals from diverse backgrounds can offer a selection of different talents, skills and experiences, that may be of benefit to the organisation and their work performance. Though some crossover of skills can be beneficial when it comes to assisting each other, it’s important to hire people with the appropriate skills to fit each of the roles within the company. A variety of skills and experiences among the team also means that employees can learn from each other

2) It creates innovation

By working alongside people of different backgrounds, experiences and working styles, creative concepts can be born from bouncing ideas off of each other and offering feedback and suggestions. Whereas one person may be great at generating exciting, out of the box ideas, another individual may have the necessary experience to execute it; so it is essential to play on each individual’s strengths and collaborate with others in the team.

3) Language skills can open doors for a business

Language barriers and cultural differences can often act as a bit of an obstacle for a company who want to expand their business over shores; however by hiring employees who speak different languages it can make it possible for a company to work on a global basis and interact with a broader client-base. Representing a number of nationalities within your company can also help to make it more relatable

4) It grows your talent pool

A company who embraces diversity will attract a wider range of candidates to their vacancies, as it will be viewed as more progressive organisation and will appeal to individuals from all walks of life. Naturally, as the number of applicants for each vacancy rises, the chances of finding an exceptional candidate increases too! It can also help with employee retention, as people want to work in an environment who are accepting of all backgrounds and promote equality.

5) Improves employee performance

Employees are more likely to feel comfortable and happy in an environment where inclusivity is a priority. Equality in the workplace is important for encouraging workers from all backgrounds to feel confident in their ability and achieve their best. The higher the team morale, the more productive employees are.



The QPTech team would like to thank you for your continued business and friendship, wishing you a happy and peaceful Easter.

While we usually send Easter themed token gifts to our valued customers at this time of year, this year we have instead decided to make a donation to the Milford Hospice.

The Milford Hospice has been a wonderful support to the Minihan family this past year and we are delighted to support them in the outstanding work they do.

What do you need to succeed in a remote working role?

Here at QPTech Recruitment we have the pleasure of recruiting for a number of remote working opportunities. While these roles are very attractive to many they don’t necessarily suit everyone so we thought we would share what we feel are the personality traits and skills that lend themselves to remote working.

  1. Outstanding Communication Skills

While this may seem obvious as strong communication skills are listed on almost every job spec you see these days, it is especially important to secure a remote working opportunity. Not sharing a working space with your colleagues may mean that you don’t meet some of them face to face for a long time, you will need to be able to build strong working relationships over email and video calls so you can work together, achieve goals and meet deadlines just the same as if you were sitting side by side in an office.

  1. Ability to manage your own work/schedule

Working remotely may mean that you manager doesn’t always know what you are working on. While this may sound like you can kick back and enjoy a lemonade in the garden on a sunny day this may not necessarily be the case, there may be more flexibility than a traditional office role (depending on your employer) but the work will still need to be completed. You will need the self-control and commitment to stick with your work and meet deadlines even if a distraction arises at home.

  1. Some experience working remotely

Before we launch into the “needing experience to gain experience vicious circle” debate, this certainly is not an absolute requirement, but it definitely does help. We are not saying that you need to have previously held a completely remote role but having some experience (maybe one day a week) shows that you can work remotely and the fact that your manager trusted you enough to allow you to work remotely is a definite plus.

  1. Suitable work area

This is another one that isn’t necessarily an absolute must but would definitely help in your transition into a remote working role. We find that employees with a designated “work area” in their home find it easier to get down to business and complete their tasks. This doesn’t have to be a fancy office that cost a fortune to decorate – often a spare bedroom with a desk and a chair with good back support will do the trick.

  1. Some technical capabilities

Not all remote roles are technical roles, but all remote workers do need some technical skills. You will likely rely on a number of tools such as Google Docs, Skype, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, Facebook Workplace and Slack to stay in touch and collaborate with your colleagues. There won’t always be a knight in shining armour type IT colleague there to help you. You will need to be self-reliant and be able to solve some technical problems yourself – you can do it!

If this all sounds like you, great!! We are working on a number of remote working opportunities that may be your cup of tea (or coffee)! Some of them include Haskell Developers, Proof Readers, Technical Support Manager, Scala Developer and IT Operations Manager, check them out here:

If you have any questions please feel free to give our office a call on 061209510, our recruiters would be delighted to hear from you!

There are some lessons you can learn by reading books and some that you can only learn by experiencing. Unfortunately, those are the ones that you learn the hard way. Sure, you can also learn these lessons by listening to old and wise because they have already been where we are but most of the time we ignore them or don’t listen to them carefully and forget their advice. Thus, we learn some of these lessons by living our lives and generally these cost us unpleasant experiences. Below you can find 3 of these lessons.

  • Have a Clear Direction: You can succeed in anything you want but you need to have a clear direction. You need to know where you are headed. In this way, you can use your skills and abilities towards that direction. Also, be %100 committed to your goal. If you want to get what you want, you need to commit all of your time and energy to it. Otherwise, you cannot succeed. For example; if you think that you will try out your new idea for a few months and continue only if it works, then, you cannot be successful because you are not committing all of your mind to it.
  • Don’t Trust Everyone: You may be a kindhearted person and think everybody has a good heart like yours. Unfortunately, this is not true. People will always disappoint you especially the ones that are close to you the most. People are selfish and jealous by nature and therefore, once they find an opportunity to stab you in the back, they will probably do it. Still, you need others throughout your life so you need to learn how to manage your relationships and whom to trust for what.
  • Money cannot be your sole motivation: Money is just an intermediary to help you reach your needs and it cannot be your major motivation. A lot of people want to be successful because they want to be very rich. However, this cannot get you far. You can only be successful if you solve other people’s problems. If you create a value for others, then you get your reward which is earning more money and getting rich. However, you have to focus on helping others first. The most successful organizations in the world are the ones that make a change in other people’s lives. If you can touch others’ lives, then, you can become very successful and get your reward for it.
Lessons You Will Learn the Hard Way Before You Succeed was originally published on Personal Branding Network:

Ceren Cubukcu is a top 5 bestselling author of Make Your American Dream A Reality: How to Find a Job as an International Student in the United States. She recently founded her consulting business to help more international students find jobs in the US in addition to her self-service digital event ticketing platform, Etkinlik Fabrikam (My Event Factory), to offer her webinars. You can follow her via Facebook or contact her via .

So, you just got out of your performance review and it was not good. Whether you were anticipating the bad news or it was a total surprise, it stings. You might currently be feeling some combination of embarrassment, disappointment, shock, fear and anger, or you’re worried that your job may be on shaky ground.

But know that all is not lost! During my career as a corporate psychologist, I’ve witnessed numerous professionals who used their negative reviews as a big-time reality check that spurred them on to greater success. With some focused effort, you too can take on the challenge and turn things around.

Here are seven tips to get you back on track:

1. Allow Yourself To Feel Bummed Out

While you might be tempted to protect your ego by dismissing or rationalizing your boss’ feedback, resist the urge. Research suggests that by giving yourself a chance to experience the negative emotions associated with failure, you’ll be more motivated to do better next time.

Feeling the pain now can act as powerful fuel to prevent yourself from making similar mistakes in the future. So, go ahead and mope (at home, of course).

2. Aim For A Sense Of Perspective

Once you’ve given yourself a chance to feel your feelings, now’s the time to take a step back and focus on doing something about it. No one enjoys getting a negative review (especially if we don’t like how it was delivered). Still, if you can look at the feedback objectively, you’ll be able to benefit from it.

Muse career coach, Loren Margolis, advises in an article on handling bad feedback that if you really have a hard time moving past your negative emotions, give yourself time to process it.

She adds: “While you’re processing it, write down your thoughts and the actual feedback; think through some of the questions you’d like to ask in advance of your next meeting.” Then, ask them when you meet with your boss again.

3. Set Clear Goals

Once you’ve determined the areas that you need to work on, set clear goals. Make them challenging, yet achievable by your next review, and articulate what success for each one might look like. You’ll definitely want to run them past your boss so you can make sure you’re on the right track and incorporating feedback correctly.

4. Create A Development Plan

While goals are great, you’ll be much more likely to accomplish them if you have a strategy. Therefore, for each one, write out a step-by-step plan of action to guide your efforts.

To make this as helpful as possible, consider the resources you’ll need. Are there books you could read? Make a list. Can a colleague or your boss help you? If so, figure out what you need from them and ask. Do you need to take a course or get a coach? Do some research.

Once you’ve compiled this, present it to your boss and ask for their feedback. This will show that you’re taking your review seriously—and they may even have the budget or resources to help you move forward.

Finally, start tracking your accomplishments so you can arrive at your next review with tangible evidence of your improvements using this handy worksheet.

5. Ask For Ongoing Feedback

To gauge how you’re doing over the next several months, check in with your boss and get their input (you’ll likely want to schedule these check-ins into your plan if you don’t meet regularly). Not only will this give you vital information that’ll help you to continue to course-correct, it’ll demonstrate to your manager a genuine desire to improve.

You might also want to ask some trusted co-workers for ongoing feedback. In addition to giving you an additional perspective on how you’re doing, your colleagues can act as accountability partners that’ll help you stay on track.

6. Rebuild Your Other Relationships

Speaking of your colleagues, they can be a huge influence in repairing your reputation in your boss’ mind.

So, you’ll want to be intentional about improving your relationships with everyone you work with. For example, if you were noted in your review as being unreliable, create systems so that you can be more responsive and meet co-workers’ deadlines. If you scored low on “teamwork,” find more ways to work with others on projects.

You might even want to alert the people around you what you’re working on. Being honest about your weaknesses builds trust, and your co-workers will be more likely to notice the changes you’re making (and bring them up to your manager). Plus, it’ll put more “peer” pressure on you to keep it up.

7. Be Consistent

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that when you’re changing a behavior, it can take a while for people to notice.

Due to a phenomenon called confirmatory bias, we’re much more likely to notice things that confirm our beliefs than those we don’t believe in. In other words, if you’re seen as the office hothead, then even if you’ve been keeping your cool all month, people will still notice the one time you lash out in a meeting.


You’re ready to take that next step in your career, although you don’t technically have any management experience—yet. Sure, you know you’d be a great boss, but how can you get someone to give you a shot when don’t have any direct supervisory experience?

While there’s no magic formula for landing a management role, there are a few things you can do to help employers see your potential.

1. Play Up Your Transferable Skills

Being a manager involves much more than just overseeing junior staff–most in this position also have to be comfortable with training and coaching, giving presentations, developing and interpreting policies or processes, recruiting and interviewing, creating schedules or timelines and overseeing projects from start to finish.

Chances are, you’ve probably already had exposure to at least a few of these types of responsibilities throughout your career. Now all you have to do is get comfortable explaining (both in person and on your resume) how your experience translates into a leadership role.

If you’ve assisted with new hire onboarding, presented at a company training, collaborated on a new departmental policy rollout, pitched a new initiative to leadership or planned and executed an event from start to finish, you’ve already got some legitimate management-level experience under your belt.

Highlighting these skills and projects on your cover letter and resume, and being prepared to talk about them in your next interview will help employers see your true potential.

2. Highlight Your Expertise

If you’re feeling ready to take on a manager-level role, you probably already have some serious industry expertise and wisdom about your job, team or department. And that’s really valuable.

Understanding the ins and outs of your current position, the dynamic of your team and the nature of your industry will be super helpful as you navigate your first management role. These also happen to be traits of an exceptional supervisor.

Feature your expertise on your resume and in your LinkedIn profile. You can do this by including a list of your most relevant skills, highlighting the total years of experience you bring to the table, mentioning the industry (or industries) you have expertise in and sharing relevant content on your public social media platforms.

3. Invest In Your Continuing Education

If you’re feeling a little light on transferable experience or want to beef up your leadership skills, consider taking a management class or working toward a certification. Rather than sorting through the entire internet to look for the right one, check out this curated list of 10 great options.

Prospective employers will likely be impressed that you took the initiative to sharpen your skills, and it’s a great way to show your commitment. You can include these trainings on your resume even if you haven’t completed them yet–just be sure to indicate that the coursework is in progress (here’s more on that).

4. Be Ready To Explain Why You’re Ready

You’ll probably get asked why you want to step into a management role a lot throughout your interview process, so you’d better have a great answer ready to go. Are you passionate about employee development, full of great process-improvement ideas or eager to challenge yourself?

Whatever your reasons, be prepared to explain why you’re interested, how you know you’re ready, what transferable experience you’ll bring to the table and why a prospective employer should give you a shot.

As with any application, you’ll want to be realistic about how well your qualifications actually line up with the requirements of a given job posting. For example, if you’ve never led a team before, it’s probably best not to apply for a position where you’d be managing a staff of 20. If you’re not sure if it’s a reach, read this.

Staying within the same industry or targeting opportunities that’ll allow you to manage functions you’re very familiar with will also help to increase your chances of being considered.

But if you feel genuinely ready to take this next step in your career, you should go for it!

“How To Convince A Company You’re Ready For A Manager Role Before You’re A Manager” was originally published on published on The Muse.

Jaclyn Westlake is a resume writer and career advisor

Most people say they hate conflict, yet avoiding it causes more problems. In today’s culturally diverse, multigenerational workforce it’s bound to happen. Conflicts can be frequent, often petty, and very costly between people speaking different languages, from different generations, and having different religious beliefs and cultural norms.  Tempers flare and regrettable things are said.

You don’t have to like conflict but you can learn to manage/harness it and not try to escape from it.

The only place there is no visible conflict is in a dictatorship and that’s not a good alternative.

How to resolve:

1.Understand that big conflicts are made up of little conflicts. Its like a circuit board. Looking at the whole is complicated, but piece by piece it’s easy to connect it all.
2.Then remove emotions from the situation. Emotions are to conflict like air is to a fire — it causes it to grow out of control. Don’t let drama or emotional responses inflame the situation. Instead…
3.Chose to be generous. Whomever or whatever started the conflict, give the benefit of the doubt that best intentions were involved. Instead of judging or blaming, give liberal feedback as to where someone or something could have taken a different course of action.
3.Share context to parties involved. People are more reasonable in their reaction if they are given a more complete picture or fuller context, describing the conditions what led to the situation and why the activity (or lack of activity) caused conflict. For example, your team misses one month of their revenue target, the boss goes crazy about it at a team meeting which cases conflict where people feel compelled to defend their activity. The context might be that every other division missed their revenue target also and now people have to be leg to.  Context is a great leveler, and it always matters
4.Go to the facts; honestly prevails. Own up to mistakes. Sit in graceful silence, don’t express every thought that crosses your mind. calmly talk about the extent of the damage and choose a solutions that matches the severity of the situation.
5.Then be willing to wipe the slate clean (at least once) if the situation is resolved.
Get used to the fact you work in a passionate environment. And be willing to say, “I understand,” which keeps you from saying, “I agree” or “I disagree” before you’re sure where you stand.
Move on.
5 Steps to Manage Conflict Better was originally posted on the Personal Branding blog:

Author: Debra Benton is the co-author along with Kylie Wright-Ford of the new book, “The Leadership Mind Switch” (McGraw-Hill, 2018)

You don’t need to be a computer scientist in order to be tech literate. There are certain skills every employee regardless of their positions should know in order to use technology efficiently. Below you can find four of them. For some, these skills may seem natural but for others if they are lacking these skills or are not good at them, they may lose productivity and as a result, can fall behind their coworkers. Therefore, don’t afraid of technology or computers and do your best to improve yourself.

  • How to Use Search Engines in an Advanced Way: Everyone knows how to use a search engine but here I am not talking about only typing words to Google. What I mean is using search engines in a more advanced way such as adding quotation marks or Boolean operators like AND, OR, NOT. As a result, you can save a lot of time and eliminate the unwanted results from the beginning. Also, while scanning through the returned search results, you need to know how to distinguish a good reliable resource from a bad one.
  • How to Back up Your Data: You never know when your computer will crash or be stolen or any other disastrous event will happen. Therefore, it is always recommended to back up your important files, photos or documents. In this way, you can prevent data loss. It is best to use cloud systems for backing up data such as Dropbox or Box or you can try old fashioned alternatives like using a hard drive. There are also tools available that are built in computers. These are Windows Backup or Apple’s Time Machine. You can set them up in order to back your data up with an external hard drive.
  • How to Set-up an Anti-Virus Software Program: You need to protect your computer from external attacks so you can protect your data. The world is getting more and more digital each day and it is getting harder for us to protect our privacy. For this reason, everybody must install an anti-virus program to their computers for protecting themselves. Especially, when doing online shopping, we should be very careful and definitely check whether the website is trustworthy such as if it has a private SSL connection or a security stamp.
  • Access Your Office Network from Anywhere: This is probably your IT department’s job. Most offices have a virtual network which their employees can connect wherever they are and whenever they want. In this way, you can use your time more effectively and even work from home some days.
Basic Tech Skills Every Employee Should Know was originally published on the Personal Branding Blog: 

Ceren Cubukcu is a top 5 bestselling author of Make Your American Dream A Reality: How to Find a Job as an International Student in the United States. She recently founded her consulting business to help more international students find jobs in the US in addition to her self-service digital event ticketing platform, Etkinlik Fabrikam (My Event Factory), to offer her webinars. You can follow her via Facebook or contact her via .

Figuring out what you are passionate about and what you want to do for the rest of your life as a career can be quite difficult because there are countless options. Did you ever step back from everything for a few minutes and think about where your career is going and what you can do to change it? If not, then give yourself half an hour and answer the below questions honestly, to figure out what your real passion is and doing what makes you happy for the rest of your life.

  • What are you good at doing and why?
  • What do people around you think that you are good at doing?
  • What are your greatest accomplishments so far?
  • What do you like to do and what do you not like to do?
  • What are you curious about and want to learn more?
  • If you had the opportunity to do one of your friend’s job for a day, who would it be and why?
  • If there were no limits, what would you choose to do for the rest of your life? (Assume that you have enough money and time to start over and do anything you want.)
  • What would you do if you knew you would definitely be successful?
  • Is there a moment that you tell to yourself that “I wish I would get paid for doing X for the rest of my life because I don’t feel that it is actually work”?
  • What kind of work would you do for free?
  • Who is your idol in life? Is there anyone that you can point and say “I want to be like him/her”?
  • When you were growing up, what would you want to be and why?
  • If you had the chance to go back to school tomorrow, what would you want to study?
  • If you had a single day in a week in which you can work on anything you want, what would you do?
  • When was the last time you were so excited something about work that you could not even sleep?
  • What do you like about your current job and what do you not like about it?
  • What are your goals about yourself in life?
  • How hard are you willing to work to achieve your goals?
  • What are you willing to give up in order to achieve your goals?
  • What do you want people to tell about you when you retire?

“20 Questions to Help Yourself Figure out Your Passion” was originally published on the Personal Branding blog:

About the author: Ceren Cubukcu is a top 5 bestselling author of Make Your American Dream A Reality: How to Find a Job as an International Student in the United States. She recently founded her consulting business to help more international students find jobs in the US in addition to her self-service digital event ticketing platform, Etkinlik Fabrikam (My Event Factory), to offer her webinars. You can follow her via Facebook or contact her via .

Technology plays an important in role in the workplace, and it doesn’t look like the demand for tech professionals will be reducing any time soon. If you’re looking to land a top tech role, competition can be high, so it pays to have a CV that makes you stand out from the crowd and clearly demonstrates the value you can add to an employer’s business.

In your tech CV, it’s your responsibly not only to display your technical abilities, but to show how you apply them effectively in the workplace, and describe the positive changes you drive.

1. Start with a logical structure

Many tech candidates make the mistake of turning their CV into a list of all the software, tools and programming languages they have ever used – this doesn’t make for easy reading, and doesn’t give readers a clear picture of your impact.

Use a simple clean font, clearly divide the sections of your CV and write in plain English so that all non-technical staff and recruiters can understand your message.

To create a CV that is easy for readers to digest and pick out key information, the following structure will work best:

  • An introductory profile at the top to grab recruiters’ attention and highlight in-demand skills.
  • A bullet-pointed core skills section under the profile to provide a snapshot of technical knowledge and skills.
  • Roles structured with short sharp bullet points to provide a quick and easy reading experience.

2. Sell yourself with an impactful intro

Head your CV up with a short punchy introductory profile that gives a high-level overview of your skills, experience, knowledge, and what they key benefits you deliver to employers are. For example, if you are web designer, you need to outline your design skills and tools that you use, and explain how those skills help your employer to improve their customer experience and generate more sales.

Before writing your CV, you should do some thorough research to identify the most sought-after attributes in your field, and then ensure you reflect them in your profile. This will create the perfect first impression when your CV is opened by recruiters or hiring managers.

3. Keep technologies updated

As a tech professional, it stands to reason that your CV should contain much evidence of your technical know-how. However, you need to regularly review your CV and ensure that you’re including the most up-to-date and popular technologies if you want it to show up in recruiter searches and get past ATS scanning systems.

You should also keep your technical skills relevant, and only include those that are important to the roles you are applying for – extensive lists of your entire technical skill set can dilute your message and force your CV to become too long.

4. Demonstrate your non-IT skills

Being a technical expert is great, but you need a whole host of non-technical skills to contribute to an employer effectively. For example, you may need to secure funding for an essential IT upgrade, or you may need to report on the benefits of a new database implementation. Give plenty of examples of your wider skills such as communication, stakeholder management and leadership in your CV this will prove that you have the ability to make a wider impact outside of the IT department. Understanding how technology impacts business, and being able to drive positive change through IT, is a powerful selling point for your tech CV

5. Include metrics

Many candidates make bold claims of their technical abilities, but very few back them up with proof. Use facts and figures to provide clear-cut evidence of the impact you have made in your previous technology roles. Use metrics throughout your CV, such as the following:

  • Leading a £10m public sector project and a team of 25 staff.
  • Relocating 200 desktops and upgrading 2 internal database systems.
  • Supporting 5,000 users and responding to requests with 1 hour.

Including numbers with widely recognisable scales, such as monetary figures and timescales, gives recruiters an easy way to understand your level of seniority, and benchmark you against other candidates.


“5 Steps to a Winning Tech CV” was originally published on Undercover Recruiter:

About the author: Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter and founder of CV writing service StandOut CV.

You put the time in to update your materials and tell everyone in your network that you were looking for a job. You asked them to keep you in mind and put in a good word—and they did.

And because of all that work, you’ve since been contacted by a hiring manager about interviewing for a job.

But you’re not jumping for joy. In fact, you don’t know whether to accept.

Your dilemma? It’s not what you were going for.

So, should you always take the interview, or are there times when it makes sense to politely decline it?

The truth is that it depends, and it’s only fair to evaluate these decisions on a case-by-case basis, as every opportunity is different. Here are a few reasons why yes or no might be the best answer for you.

1. It’s Good Practice

There’s a reason why coaches suggest you practice your interview answers: Repetition helps you perfect your responses and deliver them more naturally. And, the more times you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel.

So, saying yes serves as a chance for you to see how well you’re able to answer questions and articulate your story. Even if you walk out of there knowing the role’s not a fit, that live experience can help you be better prepared when you go for the one that is.

But, Not If You Don’t Have The Time

As worthwhile as practice is, time can be an ever more valuable asset. Are you applying for roles on top of working full-time? Is it not going to be real run-through anyhow, because you won’t have a moment to prep?

Going in and winging it for a role you hate isn’t going to teach you anything. Not to mention, you can only tell believable excuses to your boss so many times before they get suspicious. Don’t waste them on a role you’d never take in a million years.

2. It Could Surprise You

You know not to, “judge a book by it’s cover,” and the same goes for an interview. While you may not think you’re interested in a role, it’s worthwhile to learn more, because you may be surprised.

It could be that the job description doesn’t emphasize the things you’re most excited about, or that you hadn’t previously been aware of the company, but, actually, it’s a great fit.

The only way to know to make that a possibility is to say yes to the interview!

But, Not If You’ll Just Feel More Confused

Truth talk: Taking an interview is a chance to have more options, and while options are great they can also be overwhelming. The “paradox of choice” is a real thing, and opening up the possibilities could toughen an already challenging search process.

If you’re someone who struggles with indecision—like if you’re already torn between other roles you’ve applied for—turning down the chance to dive deeper into something you aren’t even interested in can simplify things.

3. It Could Open Doors

Recruiters are often hiring for multiple roles. Even if you don’t end up liking the opening, the recruiter might be able to refer you to another posting that is a better fit—if you make a positive impression.

To communicate interest, check the company website for other roles that you’re interested in and communicate that to the recruiter when you’re on the phone. You can also let them know on the call that you while you’re interested in this specific role, you’d be open to other roles that fit your background and skill set.

After the meeting, continue checking the website, and when you see something open up, reach back out to the recruiter you spoke to and ask if they happen to know anything about it and if they might be able to put you in touch with the hiring team.

But Not If You Come Off Like A Time-Waster

Recruiters are busy. So, while they’re on the lookout for good candidates, they’re not going to be impressed by someone who’s clearly wasting their time.

Your enthusiasm is easier to spot than you may think, so if this job isn’t even on your list, most hiring managers will be able to tell. And so, you could burn a bridge by going there and acting like you have somewhere better to be.

An alternate approach is declining the interview, but communicating your interest in the company and other roles that are relevant to your background. Instead of accepting the interview, communicate back to the recruiter that you’re appreciative that they reached out and that while you’re not interested in this role, you’d love to stay in touch in case something else opens up.

If you find another role on the company’s site, reach back out to see if they can put you in touch with the hiring manager or recruiter for the specific position you’re interested in.

You don’t need to say yes to every interview, but it’s important to know your priorities before you decide one way or the other. Then, once you choose, don’t waste time second-guessing yourself. That energy’s better spent preparing for the interview—or looking for an opportunity you feel great about.

When It’s Smart To Interview For A Job You Don’t Actually Want was originally published on published on The Muse.

Al Dea is a Management Consultant, writer and speaker, and regularly contributes to The Muse.

The statement expressed in the title sounds so simple yet for some is difficult to achieve. So let’s together demystify the two steps for getting a job offer.

The Résumé

Because of the enormously large pool of job applicants nowadays, even a very good résumé may not get singled out when compared with the many outstanding résumés. It’s a competition for sure, and only, say, five résumés might be considered for invitations to face-to-face interviews. So, how does one put together an excellent résumé? That depends: if you have good writing skills, you can draft a résumé and then have some people whose proficiency and judgment you trust review and edit it for you until it becomes excellent. Consult career coaches, human resources professionals, or recruiters. Hopefully, you’ve developed good relationships with such people, who will agree to help by expressing their opinions.

If you are not skilled with language, I suggest you seek a professional résumé writer who has performed work for others and brought them success. This is a good investment, since otherwise, you’re merely spreading around a noncompetitive résumé that brings no action–and you will never find out why. Many people fall into that trap, and they therefore lose time and of course the opportunity to make money. So, how does one know whether one’s résumé is excellent? The answer is very simple: Excellent résumés get action. The rest don’t–or do only very rarely.

The Interview

Congratulations! Your résumé was attractive and intriguing enough to persuade a hiring manager to want a conversation with you in order to explore your candidacy for an opening, competitively with a few others. Now the real competition starts. All of those who have been invited to interview stood out too and could potentially take the job, meaning that they have the skills for it. But the hiring manager has another need to satisfy–and that is whether you fit and will be committed to the company. Ascertaining whether you fit is very much psychological on the part of the hiring manager, who is asking himself whether your future peers would accept you, whether you and he are aligned ideologically, whether his own boss would consider you a good hire, and whether you represent a promising investment. And there are other, similar questions, whose answers can be rather subjective.

The hiring manager’s final area of vital interest has to do with whether you seem committed to the job. He wants to ensure (1) that you have potential for growth within the company, (2) that you won’t move to a competitor if the company goes through some difficult times and someone else is offering you a fraction more compensation, and (3) that you deliberately targeted this company as an employer.

If you can convince the hiring manager that you’re the right choice, if you answer questions properly, and if you project positivity and energy, your chances for getting an offer are good. Good luck on your next job. Feel good about yourself. You deserve it.

“What are the Two Steps to a Great Job” was originally posted on the Personal Branding Blog:

About the Author:

I am a Career Coach and my specialty is Interview Preparation. I’m known as “The Landing Expert.” My clients are 90% job seekers in transition and 10% those who contemplate a career change.

As we hit “back to the school” season, many people may start to think whether college education is a must. College education is expensive but certainly important especially in some fields. However, graduating from college is not a guarantee of landing a job immediately. You also need experience in your desired field. So, which one is more important; education or experience? Is having experience enough for you to land your dream job without a bachelor’s degree? Or do you certainly require a bachelor’s degree with good academic grades? Keep reading below and decide yourself.

  • A college with a good reputation can open you many doors: It is obvious that a college with a good reputation can provide you many opportunities. Good colleges have career fairs in which many employers attend. This enables you to find a job easier. Also, most colleges have alumni networks and this network can help you land a job. However, if you attend a college which no one has ever heard of, that won’t help you as much as you hope for because everybody can get four-year degrees nowadays. The important thing is how you stand out among this crowd. Similarly, if you decide not to go to college but instead, work full-time and just go to work from 9am to 5pm every day but don’t grow yourself personally, don’t add any new skills to yourself or don’t take any major responsibilities, then your experience doesn’t matter as much because you are not moving forward.
  • Employers do not just want experience, they want relevant experience: You may not have a college degree but have five-six years of experience. However, is this relevant experience or did you hold different jobs in different fields? It all comes down to how your experience is related to the job you are looking to work for. You can work and study at the same time and this makes your degree and experience even more valuable because it shows that you are a very hard working person and disciplined at the same time because doing both of these at once require dedication and discipline. If you feel working full-time is too much for you while studying, you can try summer internships or co-ops. In this way, you can increase your experience and still get your four-year degree. Also, you can stand out among the crowd because you will have both.

Education vs Experience – Which One is More Important? was originally posted on the Personal Branding Blog-

About the Author:

Ceren Cubukcu is a top 5 bestselling author of Make Your American Dream A Reality: How to Find a Job as an International Student in the United States. She recently founded her consulting business to help more international students find jobs in the US in addition to her self-service digital event ticketing platform, Etkinlik Fabrikam (My Event Factory), to offer her webinars. You can follow her via Facebook or contact her via .

For you, the only thing you want is to get a job. For the hiring manager, making the hire is a priority competing with many others at the same time. So what is going on in the hiring manager’s mind? Most hiring managers take no pleasure in the hiring process. It’s just one more thing they have to take care of, and they often feel insecure in making that final decision, since some of their previous hires proved disappointing.

A hiring manager also knows that making a hiring mistake could potentially ruin his reputation and credibility. While reviewing resumes she is asking herself three questions: Why should she interview you? What can you do for her? And if hired, would you be effective in filling the job duties?

Now, provided that you get invited for an interview, the hiring manager has three more qualifying questions to answer before deciding to hire you: (1) Are you particularly good at what he needs done? He is not hiring just average people. This is your opportunity to recite your accomplishments eloquently and succinctly. Do not repeat what you said in the past. Highlight only your accomplishments and the results. (2) Do you fit into his organization? This is the primary area in which you have to be convincing. You may have all the qualifications, but if the hiring manager cannot see you as part of his organization, then nothing will help you. (3) Are you committed? The hiring manager sees in you an investment—hopefully, a long-term investment. And he wants to make sure it’s a good one. He also wants to make sure you are promotable and have the potential to grow within the organization.

As you can see, the hiring process is complex for both the hiring manager and the candidate. Both sides will share in the potential rewards as well as the associated risks. The question for the candidate remains: how to increase chances of getting hired by outshining the competition? The theoretical answer is to network to the max, because statistics have proved that 60 to 80% of people found their jobs via networking. The practical answer is to mock-practice your interviewing skills. You can do that with friends or your spouse or—best of all—with a qualified career coach. The reason that interviewing skills are vital to acquire is simply that hiring managers make their decisions based on how well you interview and not on your job skills.  So what do you think?  Feel free to comment.  The more people share their knowledge on this topic the more helpful this becomes to readers.

“You Want to be Hired. Here is How.” Was originally posted on the Personal Branding blog:

About the Autor:

I am a Career Coach and my specialty is Interview Preparation. I’m known as “The Landing Expert.” My clients are 90% job seekers in transition and 10% those who contemplate a career change. CLIENTS BENEFIT FROM MY SERVICES AS FOLLOWS: • Most clients land, on average, within 5 months. • In-office clients are videotaped in an interview simulation followed by a lively discussion. • Clients get “straight-talk” coaching. This “tough-love” approach pinpoints their weaknesses quickly and lets them make real-time corrections (improvements) in performance. • Interview preparation techniques are customized for a wide range of professional backgrounds, age groups and learning styles. • Clients are trained to analyze an interviewer’s question then provide a focused response. • Clients are exposed to a variety of interview questions from across many industries. • Audio/Video and screen collaboration sessions can be recorded for future viewing. • Clients have on-demand access to “in-transition” support. SPECIAL ADVANTAGES FOR CLIENTS INCLUDE: • Interview preparation includes both verbal and non-verbal communication (i.e., body language and voice). • Based on 10 years of experience with 600 clients worldwide, new clients are taught how to confront and survive the most challenging interview scenarios. • Clients have immediate access to my network of 25,000+ Level 1 LinkedIn connections. • Clients and non-clients alike may download my free 90-page directory of job search/networking groups throughout NY, NJ, PA, and CT. • To provide the greatest possible reach, I have communication skills in five (5) different languages and offer unlimited e-mail & phone support. Get customized interview preparation and access to my 25,000+ Level 1 LinkedIn connections! Go to then SERVICES and FEES for detailed information. Contact info: or ✆ 609.333.8866 EST

You’ve spent so much energy trying to “find your passion” that you’re exhausted. And while you’ve invested countless hours to discovering your dream career path — doing all the things you’re supposed to do, like setting up informational interviews, and growing your network — you feel like you’ve made little progress.

Is it possible you’re making it more challenging than it needs to be? What if it’s more about looking inward and less about going on one million coffee meetings?

I’ve seen this firsthand in my experience as a career coach. Most people I work with can’t identify their passion, and they stress over it. They devote too much time and energy into the process.

I understand: There are few things as frustrating as not knowing what you’re meant to do want to do or what’ll truly fulfill you. But the answer isn’t going to appear if you overthink it and analyze every little thing that happens in your career. And with that, here’s what I recommend:

1. Hit Pause On Pursuing Your Passion

Yes, you heard that right. Stop pursuing your passion — at least for now. Take that energy and invest it in being amazing in your current field. Here’s why: Cal Newport, computer science professor and author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, argues that to be happy in your career, you should focus more on developing skills rather than on pursuing a passion.

Newport found that the strongest predictor of an employee seeing their work as deeply meaningful and a part of their identity was the number of years spent on the job. In other words, the more experience someone has, the more likely they’ll love their work. So if you haven’t already found your passion, why not focus on becoming exceptional in your current field?

You’re bound to derive enjoyment from your work if you’re excelling. The data show it really is that simple—the better we are at something, the more we’ll love it.

2. Become A Double Or Triple Threat

Tim Ferriss’ recent book Tools of Titans:The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers teaches that you have two paths to become very successful: 1) Become the best at one specific thing. 2) Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things. He argues that the first strategy is incredibly difficult, but the second strategy is relatively easy. We all have a few areas in which we could be in the top 25% with effort.

Ferriss is actually a great example of this. He’s good at writing and entrepreneurship (he’s started or invested in many startups). The combination of the two skills has made him an incredibly successful influencer. Throw in the fact that he’s a very effective interviewer—check out his top-rated podcast—and you have a rare talent. Ferriss is a triple threat.

When I made the unconventional career change from finance to HR, I was concerned that the quantitative skills I had painstakingly honed might be wasted in a field that seemed to reward only soft skills.

But I found the exact opposite to be true. Being good at numbers has helped me bring a data-driven approach to the field, which has made me a more complete HR professional. All those years building financial models paid off, and I now possess a unique combination of skills that sets me apart from my peers.

You don’t need to have a singular passion. Develop multiple areas of strength. All experience matters, and even if you don’t love what you’re doing now, the skills you’re refining today may lead to a unique competitive advantage down the road.

3. Choose Company Over Function

When deciding on a career path, most of us initially focus on job function (for example, should I pursue marketing, accounting, or something entirely different?). But if you’re not sure which route to pursue, take the opposite approach. Focus on the type of company you’d like to work for and not necessarily the kind of work you’ll do.

Like it or not, your career success is tied to your company’s success. As venture capitalist and Stanford professor Andy Rachleff puts it, “you get more credit than you deserve for being part of a successful company, and less credit than you deserve for being part of an unsuccessful company. Everyone wants to recruit or back people from successful companies because they know people carry the lessons of success with them.”

Like it or not, there’s a halo effect that comes from working at a high-performing company. This may not be fair, but I know of several recruiters who reference a candidate’s previous company as one of the reasons they were hired. Choosing company over function may be counterintuitive, but it’s an approach worth considering.

If you’re at a successful company that’s growing but you don’t love what you’re doing, there’s a good chance you can network your way onto a different team. New opportunities will arise, and you can raise your hand when they’re looking for someone, even if you don’t have experience in that area. (And if you end up in that situation, this article explains how to approach your boss about it.)

If you have your passion, great. Go after it. But I’m guessing you’re probably struggling to pinpoint it as much as the next person. You can go on one more informational interview, or you can try something new.

Ignore trying to figure out what you’re meant to do (at least for now) in favor of investing your energy to excelling in your current field. Become a double or triple threat by being excellent in multiple areas. Prioritize the company you’d like to work for over the job function.

Following these three pieces of advice may not lead to an overnight discovery of your passion, but it will put you on the path to a career filled with both meaning and success.

3 Better Things To Do Instead Of Obsessing Over Finding Your Passion was originally published on The Muse.

Nathan Tanner is a career strategy author and HR leader at DoorDash, and regularly contributes to The Muse. 

For some the very idea of asking for help is tantamount to admitting failure.

Hint: It’s NOT!

There is no shame in asking for help.

Whether it’s asking for directions or asking for clarification.

Just Ask!

When you ask for help you will stand out in your career. People will know you take the time to fully understand the situation and what is expected of you. People will begin to trust this as a critical thinking skill and a trait that will likely get you noticed. And, for you … it will speed up your ability to deliver exactly what is being requested. Precisely because you took the time to ask. There will be no second guessing whether you are over- or under-delivering. You’ll KNOW! Because you asked.

When in doubt… Ask!

A few tips to consider when requesting help:

  1. Ask early … If you are unsure of the specific actions or deliverables … Ask Early!
  2. Listen. Really listen.
  3. Thank them for their time, guidance, and assistance.

Bonus: Offer to follow up with how their advice worked out. Some people are just happy to give advice and don’t need to know how it all turned out. Others are more interested in knowing. The way you find out is …  ask.

A few concerns you may have:

Will asking for help make you look weak?

Absolutely not! Only in your mind will you get caught with that kind of logic trap. Most people (when given the chance) are very happy to help.

Caveat: There are some people that revel in your challenges and pain. Whenever possible avoid them. When you find those people in your life make a note of it and in the future don’t ask for their advice.

When asking for help will it make you look bad? It might, if … 

  1. A deadline has passed
  2. A critical milestone has been missed
  3. Someone has already offered you help and you didn’t accept it

The simple way to avoid looking bad in situations like this is to ask for help early. As noted above if you don’t know something or have a concern about what the specific deliverables or actions are… Ask!

Very few people will begrudge you for asking for guidance upfront. This is especially true for managers and clients too. They want you to succeed, because it makes them look good too. In fact, it doesn’t take too much of a leap of faith to understand that is why they hired you either as an employee or as a consultant or as a contractor.

When in doubt… Ask!

A few tips to consider when receiving help:

  1. Be gracious
  2. Pay it Back or Pay it Forward
  3. Thank everyone that helps you. It doesn’t need to be public or large, but a handwritten thank you note goes a long way. Read The Power of the Pen for a few suggesting on more that can be done with words.

Remember. When in doubt… Ask!

Admit it… You NEED Help! was originally published on the Personal Branding Blog –



Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey

With years and years of experience, you’ve stacked up many impressive achievements. You’ve likely held a variety of roles and responsibilities, and solved diverse sets of problems. And that means you can market yourself in lots of different ways.

The flipside of that is the more you can share, the more confusing your message becomes. And the more confusing it becomes, the less effective it is.

After helping more than 15,000 clients at Career Attraction, we’ve noticed that the biggest mistake experienced professionals make is presenting an overstuffed, unfocused brand. Long story short: They squander the opportunity to clearly explain what they’ve done.

As you move up the ladder, qualifications alone are not enough. More people have advanced degrees, as well as experience managing a team and overseeing large budgets. The best way to stand out is to hone your elevator pitch.

Because that is what’s going to help you stand out among all the other experienced job seekers who look similar enough on paper. Here’s how:

Pick The Right Problem

When you’re going after more senior roles, you need to have a deep understanding of the pain points the C-Suite team has at your target company. There are usually one to three problems keeping them up at night—and you must speak to at least one in order to be relevant.

Of course, you won’t be able to find the problems the leadership cares about most in a job description. (No one’s going to want to advertise their biggest challenges to the world.) The best way to understand these problems is through conversations with the market—which means tapping into your network.

Once you have a better idea what the significant issues are, pick one that has these three qualities:

• You’d be excited to solve it.

• You’re confident you would be successful.

• You know it’s a significant issue the company cannot afford to ignore.

Once you’ve done that, develop talking points that are relevant to the decision-makers and share examples that they’d find interesting.

What This Looks Like

You can use a simple framework to describe what you do in a succinct and compelling way called the XYZ framework.

That is, I help X [your target audience] do or understand Y [the problem you solve] so that Z [the outcome they covet most].

Say you have experience in growing revenue at software companies and you learn your target company has a specific need for growing their channel partnerships.

In the above example you would say, “I help software companies who are at 3-5 million in revenue grow to $20 million by attracting more channel partnerships that lead to consistent growth.”

You might also have experience with managing teams and strategic planning—and you’ll get to touch on that later in the process. At this stage jamming everything you know into your pitch is distracting.

The goal of this statement is to make it relevant, concrete, and unique so that you stand out from your competition. This will make it easy for people to carry your message forward and refer you to others who may have the problem you solve and lead to more opportunities.

Then, Get Out Of Your Own Way

Many people resist taking this route. They’re focused on making sure they list every possible skill on their resume, thinking it’s better to have more than less.

Here’s the thing: If your message is focused on hitting every point in a job description, then you’re using the same approach as your competition. And while this strategy may be the way to go when you’re starting out, senior-level candidates need to do more than check the boxes listed.

As Muse Master Coach Jenny Foss explains:

This is no time to get stuck lingering on the duties and responsibilities you hold, or have held in prior positions. (Which, by the way, is the most common error people make in their resumes—showing only duties and responsibilities.) You need to show impact. Where did you help the organization make money, save money, salvage situations, solve problems, capitalize on opportunities, build something entirely new?

For the roles you’re applying to, the hiring manager is more interested in how you’ll add value based on your experience, than that you list off every thing you’ve ever done. (And if you’re sold on the idea but struggling with the execution,  here are three ways  to make your resume tell a story.)

Truth talk: When you refine your message, you’ll rule yourself out for many roles. But, that’s exactly the point.

You want to position yourself as a solution to a specific set of problems! If you do that, you’ll land the right role—one that’ll put you on the path to being successful, happy, and more highly compensated.

And what could be better than that?

One Big Mistake Super-Qualified Job Seekers Make was originally published on The Muse.

Olivia Gamber is the author of  The Career Upgrade Roadmap: 90 Days to a Better Job and a Better Life (You can get a free copy here) and regularly contributes to The Muse.

Being tech-savvy is no longer unique, it’s universal. Some people may be more comfortable around technology than others, and that might depend on your profession. We get that, but every professional nowadays must have a degree of technological sophistication to them.

To some of you reading this, the basic skills I’m about to list might already be second nature to you, and that is what I expected. Remember I put ‘basic’ in the title for a reason.

But if you’re one of those feeling incomplete when it comes to workplace tech, then have a read through this article and you might find a missing skill that changes the way you work for the better.

1. Social media savviness

No matter what role you are in, in today’s climate it is vital to be social media-savvy. The most vital platforms to become familiar with are ones you probably already use socially; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Having the ability to share information, and engage with clients, customers and future prospects are vital for any and every employee. It’s a two-way street that benefits both yourself and your business as a whole.

2. Spreadsheeting

On to the more boring stuff, having the ability to use spreadsheets effectively is a trait that companies look for. Whatever sector you are in, you will need to store vital company information whatever it may be, from contact information to research calculations.

If you can’t navigate yourself through Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, then get to learning! Here are the 7 Excellent Ways to Excel at Excel.

3. Presentation skills

Most employers will assume you know how to create presentations either for clients or internal use. It doesn’t matter if you operate in a B2B or B2C company, the ability to create visually compelling work is integral to the modern workplace.

There is a multiplicity of tech tools available to you either on Google Suite or Microsoft Office that you can utilize.

4. Word processing

This may be the most basic skill. But, learning how to type properly is very important as you’ll find that most work is done digitally now. Make sure you know to utilize basic formatting such as bolditalics,and underlining effectively.

There are plenty of free word processing tutorials online to help you brush up your skills and make your content look more attractive and readable.

5. Touch typing

If you still use three fingers to type then we feel sorry for you. Having the ability to touch type means you don’t waste time looking at your keyboard.

Employers will not appreciate a candidate that isn’t a natural with the keyboard, as computers have become a necessity in the workplace. If need be, use a free online program like Ratatype or Keyhero to improve your touch typing ability.

6. Keyboard shortcuts

Learning all the basic keyboard shortcuts of the system you use, either for Apple or Microsoft PC’s, can save you a lot of time. Shortcuts such as copying, pasting, printing, window switching, bookmarking and more can make you a much productive worker.

To get to know what shortcuts are available, check out these shortcuts listed by Windows and Apple.

7. Emailing

I’ll repeat, the title of this article is about the basics, and email truly has become one of the staples of workplace technology. Knowing how to email professionally is everything. The email is the contact hub for almost all workplaces, and it is the main way for you to contact clients, customers, and co-workers.

We recommend you get to know all the basics of sending out an email, such as how to compose or format an email, or even creating an email signature for yourself. An article we previously wrote called the 12 Professional Email Etiquette Guidelines might help you do just that.

8. Staying with the times

Last but not least, I know this isn’t an actual skill but it is very important you keep an open mind when it comes to technology. Just because you are used to doing something one way, does not mean you can’t do it better another way.

Furthermore, there is no longer an excuse to not being tech-savvy, these tech skills should be second nature to you. Without them, you are limiting yourself as a professional, and limiting the business you work for.

Employers all around the world have a high demand for these basic tech skills. If we’ve missed any basics that you can’t do without, then comment below and let people know!

8 Basic Tech Skills Every Employee Should Have was originally publish on Undercover Recruiter:

About Karim Ansari Account Executive & Content Marketer at Link Humans, an employer branding agency.

CEOs tell me about the importance of managing your good attitude:

“I can easily hire qualified people, but it’s not so easy to find people with a good outlook.”

“I hire attitude. Skills can be learned. I’ll take good attitude any day.”

“I can teach people the technical side of the business a lot easier than I can teach them how to have a good mindset.”

“I no longer hire for technical skills. Instead, I hire mainly on personality and work ethics. Not only does technology change so often that people have to constantly learn new things but also, people who understand technology are not necessarily able to interface with customers, and they can quickly do more damage than good.”

“What catches my eye in an employee? Someone who has a positive attitude about everything, leaves problems at home, is uplifting, and turns crap into gold.”

“If I have a choice of two people who are comparably talented, I will always choose to go with the one who has the can-do, ‘Hey, boss, we can get this done’ attitude. Frankly, it’s too tiring to have to coax and cajole a negative person.”

“I don’t have a lot of patience for a person who always acts like there is a rain cloud parked over his boat.”

“I want people who calm trouble and soothe rough edges, who are even-keeled, who are happy with themselves . . . . They don’t have to be jolly and joking; they just need to be more amiable than most.”

This article was originally published on The Personal Branding blog:

Debra is the co-author of the new book from McGraw-Hill titled, The Leadership Mind Switch (June, 2017)

First of all, you know that salary negotiation is a no-brainer. I can think of very few instances in which you can skip it and not regret it later.

But, knowing you need to negotiate and knowing what you should before you actually put that into practice is another thing. This list will ensure that you don’t miss a thing that could help get you the money you deserve:

1. What’s The Salary Range?

Have you been on PayScale or looked at the salaries on Indeed? You want to look at the average and take things like location and number of years of experience (for a specific title) into consideration. Here are six free calculators you can check out to make an accurate assessment.

2. What Are Your Needs?

It’s fine if you want to make a lot of money. No one’s begrudging you that, but that shouldn’t be your number one motivator in this conversation. Obviously, everyone would like to make more, but that’s not the foot you want to start out on. It might help to think of the amount you need to survive and to pay off student loans and save for retirement — not the money you want to splurge on a summer beach house with your best friends.

Besides cash money, though, you no doubt have non-monetary needs worth considering. More on that in the last point here.

3. What Are You Bringing To The Table?

Do you have special training or hold a certificate in a course that’ll enable you to do more than the average employee at this level? Do you have a graduate degree? Lots of experience and leadership skills? Are you a superstar job candidate? Know what makes you valuable.

4. What Will The Salary Look Like After Direct Deposit?

That’s essentially your target number. Don’t be fooled by the initial compensation offer, which is going to look a lot different once you factor in taxes, health insurance, disability and more, depending on where you live.

5. What Do Friends In Your Industry Make?

Awkward? A little. But, here’s the truth: Knowing what others make is crucial to eliminating the gender pay gap and essential to helping you determine what to ask your prospective employer for.

6. What Else Do You Care About?

Your compensation is far from the only thing on the negotiating table. Take a long, hard look at the other items that would make your job better. From flex time to extra vacation days to money toward a professional development class, this negotiation is your oyster.

Once you have all this information, you should feel sufficiently prepared to have the conversation with your future employer. While you might not utilize all of it, it’s so incredibly valuable to have it at your fingertips.

Of course, once you’ve gathered all these facts, you’re left with the tricky part: starting the conversation. Muse coach Jennifer Fink doesn’t recommend putting your requests in an email, though you can indicate in a short message that you’d like to discuss the offer over the phone or in person.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you’re confident in your approach, as well as thoughtful about how you’re asking and what you’re negotiating, you’ll have a good conversation. Just remember: The more knowledgeable you are, the less daunting this will be.

You’ve got this!

6 Things You Need To Figure Out Before You Negotiate Salary was originally published on The Muse.

Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Writer/Editor at The Muse, and her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner’s World online and The Billfold among other publications.

Interviews can be super intimidating. Not only are you trying to get a feel for your prospective boss, but you’re also doing your best to make an incredible impression, flawlessly answer questions about that time you dealt with a difficult person (but totally won them over) and explain why you’re absolutely perfect for the job. No wonder so many people experience anxiety when they think about it.

On top of all that, the only time you get to exercise your skills is when you’re actually sitting across the table from the hiring manager. How on earth are you supposed to get comfortable with this whole process?

Enter the practice interview. Setting aside time to run through questions with a trusted friend is a great, low-pressure way to strengthen your skills, build confidence and receive valuable feedback.

Here’s how to do it right:

1. Decide What You Want To Work On

Are you feeling iffy about the entire process, or do you get tripped up on a specific type of question? You may totally nail your elevator pitch but draw a blank on behavioral questions, or get super awkward when asked about your reasons for wanting to leave your current job.

Spend some time reflecting on the areas where you’d like to improve so that you can approach this with a clear goal in mind.

2. Make A List Of Practice Questions

Start by making a list of questions or topics that you’ve struggled with in the past, keeping your end goal in mind.

Then, build from there, mixing in questions about your experience, goals, reasons for leaving your past or current job and transferable skills. You’ll probably want to include a few behavioral questions, too.

Not sure which questions you want to practice? This list of 31 commonly asked interview questions is a great place to start.

3. Pick A Partner

It’s important that you be comfortable around whoever you decide to ask for help, as they’re likely going to provide you with some tough feedback at the end of your session.

Focus on choosing a partner who you respect, and who you know has your best interests at heart. This may be a former boss, a close friend, mentor or, heck, even your mom. Bonus points if they have experience interviewing or managing staff.

If the person you ask is also in the market for a new job, offer to return the favor. Otherwise, you can say thank you by picking up the tab the next time you meet for coffee.

4. Set The Scene

Next, decide if you want to practice in person, over the phone or via video conference. Whatever medium you feel least confident about is probably the one you’ll want to focus on, but, when in doubt, meet in person.

These are way more effective if you treat them like the real deal from start to finish. So, from the moment you walk through the door, act like you’re the candidate and the other party is the hiring manager.

This’ll give your interviewer a clearer picture of what you’re like during a real live meeting, and may expose other opportunities for improvement. It’ll also dissuade you from breaking character and shouting, “Wait, let me try that again!”

5. Embrace Feedback

The whole point of this exercise is to get better, so ask for honest, constructive feedback. Then, take it all in. It may help to jot down a few notes as you go, so it’ll be easier remember what all was said. This is also a great opportunity to strategize and talk through alternative answers or different ways of phrasing your responses to tough questions.

If, after your first practice session, you’re feeling like you want to take another crack at it, ask your friend if she’d be willing to meet up again in a week or so for another round or get a fresh perspective by asking someone new the next time around.

Practice interviews are a great, stress-free way to build your confidence and sharpen your skills. As with anything, the more often you spend time running through commonly asked questions, the better you’ll get. Plus, it’s a great excuse to grab coffee with a friend!

How To Do A Practice Interview That’ll Actually Help Youwas originally published on The Muse.

Jaclyn Westlake is a resume writer, career advisor, the founder of The Job Hop and regularly contributes to The Muse.

Not long ago, I had a visceral reaction when I read about how Muse writer Kat Boogaard accepted over 300 random LinkedIn requests. It reinforced my stance that I’d only accept them when they were accompanied by a short note.

No really, including a note as to why we should connect makes it so much easier to say yes. (And if you have no idea what to say in that note, here are a few templates.)

Why else would I turn you down? Here are a few more reasons:

1. You Asked For Way Too Much Right Off The Bat

The fact that I write career advice articles for a living is proof that I really enjoy helping people. Even with two jobs, I get a rush out of giving someone a resume, cover letter or interview tip that might help them land their next job.

However, when people ask me for more in-depth consultations pro-bono, I’m reminded of the time I reached out to a writer I admired and essentially begged him to help me break into the world of sports journalism. At the time, I couldn’t comprehend why he ignored me. But after being on the other side of the fence a handful of times, I understand that as much as people want to help, they have the same number of hours as the rest of us.

So, start small. Ask to connect first. And after that, keep up with that person you admire occasionally by liking statuses and weighing in with comments when it makes sense.

This will make it less surprising when you ask for things like job tips, referrals and introductions to other thought leaders.

2. You Tried To Connect In Too Many Places, Too Fast

There are a lot of stories about people connecting with complete strangers who they admire on LinkedIn. I’m all for this if you can pull it off. And if you do it with a bit of tact, it can be mutually beneficial for you and the person you’re reaching out to. In fact, if you want some tips on how to do it, check out this article.

But I’ve also had a few experiences in which these strangers took things a bit too far. In some cases, I’m talking about people following up with an aggressive email asking why I hadn’t accepted instantly. In others, people have tweeted at me to try and convince me to connect ASAP.

Is perseverance admirable? Sometimes. But in most cases, it’s best to let things breathe before you check in again, especially when you’re dealing with someone who has no idea who you are.

More often than not, a thoughtful message will lead to a connection—even if it takes the person a few days to see it.

3. You Spelled My Name Wrong

Yes, even though my name is literally on my profile, people spell it wrong. And yes, I do expect you to proofread, even if you’re doing this on your phone.

So double (and triple-check) the next time you reach out. Of course, this won’t guarantee that they’ll accept. But it’ll at least keep you from annoying them and never getting accepted.

4. Your Message Was A Little Too Personal

When a request comes with a short, personalized message, I tend to accept—even if I’ve never met the person in real life.

For example, this is usually a hit:

Hi Rich,

I’m a huge fan of [your work/recent project]. You really inspired me to [something that you did because you look up to this person]. I’d love to connect on LinkedIn!



However, in the past, I’ve received super long messages that while flattering, make me a little nervous to leave my apartment (half-kidding!). Sure, maybe you can find a lot of information across various platforms out there. But if you combine everything you can possibly learn from all my social media profiles into one message, it crosses the line, and truthfully makes me a little hesitant to accept.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool that allows you to interact with people you’d otherwise never meet. But if you’re not careful about how you approach them, you could end up costing yourself some valuable relationships. I’m not saying to avoid trying—no really, try! I’m saying that you should just use common sense when you’re doing it.

4 Reasons I Almost Accepted Your LinkedIn Request, But Didn’t was originally published on The Muse.

Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow, and regularly contributes to The Muse.


Did you ever think of what your profile picture tells about you? Especially, your profile picture on LinkedIn or on a job website should be credible and show your true self because if someone doesn’t know you, the first impression s/he makes about you is by looking at your picture. Also, recruiters spend 19% of their time on your online profile by looking at your picture. This means that your picture is as important as your past experiences and skills in getting a recruiter’s attention to call you. Therefore, be careful when choosing your profile picture. Below you can find other important points of choosing the right profile picture.

  • Show That It Is A Real Account: Having a photo in your social media profile especially on LinkedIn tells people that your account is active and it is a real account. Of course, this photo should be your real photo. If you only use an image or some generic photo, people may think that it is a fake account. Make sure to use a recent photo of yourself that looks exactly like you because if you use an older photo or a photoshopped photo, then people can get surprised when they meet you in person.
  • Let Others Recognize You: A face will help people remember you. If they have met you before or follow your other social media accounts, then seeing your photo will help them recognize you and connect your name with your face. Also, they will make sure that they are sending a friend request to the right person and not to someone else.
  • Your Photo is Your Personal Brand: Your photo gives others clues about your personality. Think about what message you want to give to other people and choose your photo accordingly. Do you want to be seen as cheerful and friendly or more authoritative and serious? Think about it before uploading your photo because it is your brand image. Your photo represents your personal brand.
  • Makes the First Impression: If someone doesn’t recognize you, seeing your picture will help them make a first impression about you. If they like your picture and get positive feelings from it, chances are that they will approach you friendly and so having an interaction with them will be much easier. On the other hand, if they get a negative impression from your image or think that you are not a very likeable person, it can be difficult for you to have an interaction with them from the beginning.

The Importance of Your Profile Picture for Your Career was first published on the Personal Branding Blog :

About the Author:

Ceren Cubukcu is a top 5 bestselling author of Make Your American Dream A Reality: How to Find a Job as an International Student in the United States. She recently founded her consulting business to help more international students find jobs in the US in addition to her self-service digital event ticketing platform, Etkinlik Fabrikam (My Event Factory), to offer her webinars. You can follow her via Facebook or contact her via .

Applying for jobs is stressful. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would respond to that fact with, “What do you mean? I think it’s a totally enjoyable process and I can’t wait to do it again soon!”

But as harrowing of an experience as it can be, there are a few surprisingly insignificant factors that you’re agonizing over whenever you read a job listing. And as a result, you’re so caught up on those things that you’re missing important details that potential employers are looking for you to catch.

For example:

1. You’re Overthinking Your Deadline To Submit

It’s really exciting to find an opening that makes you want to apply ASAP. But on the flipside, it’s not hard to figure out that if you’re so pumped about it, there are probably lots of other people who want it, too. So, the obvious conclusion is to submit your materials immediately, right? Well, not quite.

Read the listing again and take note of everything the employer asks for. Then, think about how long all of those materials typically take you to customize. If you’ve found it at the beginning of a day, and think you can dedicate the amount of time required to submit it later that afternoon, give it a shot.

But if you think you’ll need a full 24 to 48 hours to get your act together, that’s perfectly fine. Your application will stand out much more for being tailored for the role than it will be for getting there within minutes of the listing going live.

You’re Not Giving The Application Your Complete Attention

Before I was a full-time writer, I really wanted to be a full-time writer. And every time I applied for a job, I crossed my fingers in hopes that the employer would be the first to give me a shot. But I soon realized I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hear back because I wasn’t following all the instructions.

So, before you rush to apply, read the listing three times and write down exactly what’s required—from a resume (tailored, obviously), to a cover letter (template to make that easy here), to a portfolio, to social media links, to responses to additional questions.

No matter what the case may be, it’s worth double-checking this list before you submit.

2. You’re Overthinking Whether Or Not You Should Apply

How often have you come across an amazing opportunity and thought that you’d like to apply, but then decided you were under-qualified? After all, being told “no thanks” is never fun. But here’s the thing—a “no” is much better than thinking, “Hm, I wonder if I would’ve had a chance at that.”

If you’re not an exact match, take a second look at the key requirements. If you think you meet the core competencies, don’t be afraid to throw your hat in the ring.

You’re Not Thinking Enough About The Required Skills

While you shouldn’t be afraid to apply for positions that might be a bit of a stretch, you also shouldn’t blindly assume that you’re awesome enough to make up for the fact you can’t do the job. (Yes, you might be a fast learner, but sometimes that’s truly not enough—especially in a role that requires you to hit the ground running.)

If you decide you’re more unqualified than under-qualified (this article can help you figure that out) and it’s a job you really want, do some research to figure out how to get those necessary skills. Hint: Do some informational interviews and ask that very question.

3. You’re Overthinking If The Job’s A Perfect Fit

There’s a lot of validity in the idea that you should only apply for a position you really want. But what does that actually look like? Does it mean that you should only apply for roles that check every single box on your list? Probably.

But based on many listings alone, you won’t be able to see if all of those boxes are checked until you interview.

So, how can you figure out if you “really” want the job? Ask yourself a few questions before applying.

• Does the position require anything you find incredibly boring?

• Does the role ask for experience you’re not willing to learn?

• Does everything you know (and can research) about the company make it sound like a good match for you?

• Will this role get you closer to your own career goals?

If you’re satisfied with the answers you come up with, go ahead and take a shot. If you’re not, then don’t.

You’re Not Thinking Enough About If You Actually Want The Job

You’re probably thinking, “Rich, this is the complete opposite of what you just said I’m overthinking!” And it is, but at the same time, it’s easy to send off resume after resume for a handful of roles you know you’d hate.

I get how much you probably want to find a new job—and the sigh of relief you breathe when a new offer comes into your inbox. However, what happens when it comes for a gig that you know you’re probably going to hate? You don’t feel all that great.

Like we just discussed, ask yourself the questions above before you apply and listen to yourself.

Sifting through job boards can be overwhelming. And even though the easy solution would be to simply apply for all of them, there are a few things you should always consider before you invest the time and energy into doing that. Applying for a new position shouldn’t be a quick activity—but you can make things less stressful by giving each one a little more thought before you blindly send your resume and cover letter.

3 Things You’re Overthinking When You Read Job Listings (And 3 Things You’re Not Thinking About Enough) was originally published on The Muse.

Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow, and regularly contributes to The Muse.

Quitting your job isn’t something you just do on a whim. Especially if you don’t have anything else lined up.

That’s why you’ve been waffling back and forth for weeks (if not longer).

And while I can’t tell you exactly what your next step should be, I can help you sort through whether leaving without a backup plan is a reasonable decision.

If you’re asking yourself if this is the right move, keep the following in mind.

Yes If: You’ve Been Building Your Network For A While

Know a dozen people you can reach out to for help finding a new job? That’ll definitely help you find your next position. (P.S. Here’s the networking email to send when you’d like help looking for a job.)

No If: You’re Planning To Start Networking Once You’re Unemployed

You don’t want to make your initial email a cold ask for a job. Instead, start warming up your network in the meantime. For help there, here are three better ways than “remember me” to start your email.

Yes If: You’ve Saved Up

Once you’ve got a few months’ worth of living expenses squirreled away, you can take the time to find a job that’s right for you, and not settle for the first thing that comes along.

No If: You’re Thinking: “I’ll Just Figure It Out”

You don’t want to jump into a job you hate to make ends meet or have to take out a loan. And remember, even if a great offer comes your way, it could be a while before they want you to start—and even longer before you get your first paycheck.

Yes If: You’re On The Verge Of A Breakdown

A job that’s affecting your health—causing serious anxiety, panic attacks, or depression—isn’t worth the paycheck. (It’s also something you should consider discussing with a mental health professional, and this article can help you understand whether a mentor, coach, or therapist is the best person to talk to.)

No If: You’re Simply Ready For A Change

You deserve better. That said, it’s worth staying just a little longer if you’ve been miserable for a while and a few more months won’t drive you to your wit’s end—but will allow you to have a financial cushion. Try to make it through so that when you do give your notice, you have enough saved up to wait for a job you’re excited about.

Yes If: You Can’t Pinpoint An End Goal

If this job has zero bearing on where you want to go and what you want to do, it’s not as big a deal if you burn a bridge.

No If: This Job Is A Stepping Stone On The Way To Something Amazing

Is there some major benefit that comes with staying put, like a transfer to the department of your dreams, a huge raise that’ll let you finally start saving for retirement, or a boss who knows everyone in the industry? Sometimes you have to do something that makes you miserable in order to get to something really great.

Yes If: You’ve Tried To Make It Work

If you’ve done your best to remedy the thing that’s making you unhappy and there’s still no sign of improvement, it’s time to give notice.

No If: There’s More You Could Do

Something—a micromanaging boss, a nosy co-worker, mountains of unnecessary paper work—is making you want to quit, but you haven’t tried to fix it. Try talking to HR, suggesting a new system to cut down on paperwork, or wearing headphones at your desk. You might be able to eliminate the problem without having to find another job.

Truth: Quitting your job without any idea what you’ll do next isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. With that said, it can also set you on the path to do what you’re meant to. So, at its core, this choice is about what’s riskiest—taking a chance or staying still. If you’re not quite sure, think of the questions above, and whether the “yes” or “no” answers resonate most.

The Answer To: “Is It Nuts To Quit My Job Without A Back-up Plan?” was originally published on The Muse.

Nell Wulfhart is a decision coach who helps people quit procrastinating, make important decisions and move on with their lives, and regularly contributes to The Muse.

In every type of job, there is always room for creativity and innovation. It is not only art or technology that needs to be creative and innovative. Even in accounting there are ways to be more creative. For example; you can make more creative presentations. For this reason, if you want your employees to be more creative, try the below recommendations at work.

  • Hire Diverse People: Different people with different backgrounds see things from a different perspective. As a result, when they are trying to solve something, they come up with different solutions. Therefore, if you hire similar people with similar education and similar cultural values, you can miss out on different options. For this reason, try to hire individuals who come from different places and who are at different places in their lives to increase creativity in your company.
  • Get Out of the Office: Especially if the weather is nice, then, take your team outside of the office for a meeting or for brainstorming. You don’t need to take them far away. You can even go to the parking lot and sit on the grass. Having some fresh air clears your mind and helps you think better. Thus, your employees can get more creative and find out new ideas.
  • Seating Plan: Have an open seating plan in the office. Also, try to have a seating plan where different groups will engage with each other. Some workplaces require their employees to sit at different desks everyday so they can meet with new people, learn from them and share their knowledge with them. Hence, collaboration and creativity among employees rise.
  • Try Stand-Up Meetings: When you are standing-up, you are more focused on the topic because you don’t get distracted from computers or phones. When you are more focused, the meeting time becomes shorter allowing you to use that extra time for something else. Also, the energy level of your body when you are standing up is completely different than the one when you are sitting. Standing up makes you more energetic and alert. As a result, your brain thinks faster and your creativity increases.
  • Have an Inspiration Room in the Office: Make an inspiration room different than any other rooms in the office so when your employees want to take a break or need some inspiration, they can go to this room and refresh their minds. Also, make this room social so your employees can gather together and have a lunch or coffee break. It is best to decorate this room in an innovative design to reflect that creative feeling so you may want to work with an interior designer for this.

How to Make Your Employees More Creative at Work was first published on the Personal Branding Blog:


No one wants to make mistakes at work, but it inevitably happens.

If it happens too often, though, that’s when it can cause a problem. And, if you’re a dedicated employee who really wants to be the best at their job, you don’t want things to get to that point. That’s why you have to learn from the mistakes you make to keep them from happening again.

Here are a few ways you can stumble less with work mistakes.

Get Rid of Distractions

While technology can certainly help workplace productivity, it tends to increase the amount of distractions as well. Of the 80% of workers who own smartphones, 70% of them keep them within eyesight when they’re at work. If you’re constantly seeing messages and social media notifications popping up, you’re going to want to check them.

Distractions lead to mistakes. If you aren’t totally focused on the task at hand, you increase the risk of messing it up. Keep your phone in your car, locked in a desk drawer out of sight or in an employee locker if you have one. Mute work emails that are constantly coming in and only check them at certain times.

Technology isn’t the only distraction, though. Tell your friendly coworker that you can’t have 15-minute cubicle chats every time he walks by. Bring headphones to eliminate the noise of loud coworkers. Eliminate everything you can that could keep you from totally focusing on work.

Make Productive Lists

Making a to do list may sound silly, but they come with some serious benefits. Writing things down simply helps you remember them better. Having a list taped to your computer monitor where you’ll see it often will remind you of the things you have to do. If you find you’re missing important steps or tasks, this is a good way to make sure you remember them.

If you do find yourself getting pulled into meetings or getting away from your tasks, a list can help get you back on track and in that mindset. You can write out your process for certain tasks and highlight any problem areas you have. Add in directions that your boss gave you or talk to them about the proper practice so you can make sure you do it correctly each time.

Focus on Accuracy Instead of Speed

Sometimes the pressure of deadlines and wanting to get things done can get the best of us. When we’re too focused on speed, accuracy can slip through the cracks. Errors start happening, and entire parts of the project have to be redone.

It’s much better to put your focus on being accurate. It may take a little longer to get a project done, but it’s better than the whole thing having to be done over because it’s full of mistakes. Speed comes with practice and repetition. You’ll naturally get faster the more you’re doing a task!

Always Double Check Your Work

When you get caught up in a task, it’s easy to overlook little mistakes. When you’re finished with your work, go over it to make sure everything is right. You might see things you missed the first time around.

Another good thing to do is to have a coworker or supervisor look over your work as well. A pair of fresh eyes can do wonders. We’re more likely to see mistakes in others’ work than our own, so they might find things you missed even on your double-checking round. This is one reason why typos are so hard to catch. Our brains become familiar with the work and overlook small things.

Don’t Procrastinate

You may think you work best when things are down to the wire, but putting them off until the last minute means you don’t have time to double-check and correct any mistakes you did make. It also means you’re rushed, so you’re likely to focus on speed instead of accuracy. This heightens the potential for mistakes even more.

Instead of procrastinating, learn to push yourself to be productive every day instead of at the last minute. It’s still good to take breaks — in fact, they’re necessary for productivity — but don’t take ones that are excessive. This is another time where lists can come in handy. They give you tasks to do every day so you keep busy and don’t put things off as much.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Asking your boss or supervisor questions can be daunting. But they would much rather have you asking questions than making mistakes that cost the company time and money. Don’t be afraid to ask them a question if an issue comes up. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Asking questions shows you want to understand things better and you want to learn. Those are always good qualities for employees. It shows you care about the work you do and you want it to be as perfect as possible. You want to make sure things go smoothly. That’s something your higher-ups are going to respect.

Take Responsibility and Learn From Mistakes

Don’t blame mistakes on coworkers or the technology you’re using. Own up to what you did. This can be a lesson for both you and your coworkers. You aren’t going to learn from a mistake if you’re just focused on finding someone else to blame.

Owning up to your mistakes shows you’re honest, and people will respect you for that. A good boss will help explain what you did and how to fix it so you’re aware of it the next time. Take notes if you need to, and do everything you can to make sure this mistake doesn’t happen again.

Mistakes will always happen. It’s how you learn and grow from them that matters. Take time to see what’s causing your mistakes and make changes. Eliminate distractions and things that can drive you to mess up more. You’ll be making mistakes less and less as time goes on!

How to Make Fewer Mistakes at Work was originally published on the Personal Branding Blog:

When looking for a job, career changers have it tougher than most job seekers. In fact, there are three major weaknesses all career changers have to overcome when looking for a new opportunity. But what are they?

1. You don’t know what you already have to offer.

Transferable skills are hard skill sets that transfer to different roles and industries. For example, public speaking, project management, and customer service are all transferable skills.

“So often, career changers haven’t done the homework on themselves,” said career expert J.T. O’Donnell.

So, look at your skills and strengths, and ask yourself how you can provide value to another industry. What do you have to offer?

“You have to connect those dots,” said O’Donnell. “Employers won’t do that for you.”

2. You don’t have a clear idea of where you want to go.

In order to move into a new field or job, you have to have a game plan ready. You need to have a clear strategy of where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you’re going to do it before you make the leap.

3. You don’t have a strong network.

Networking is such an important piece of finding a job – most people don’t realize how effective a strong network can be during a job search. If you’re changing careers, it’s even MORE important.

“Your network is your net worth,” said O’Donnell, “and [its] going to help you make that lane change.”

If you want to make a smooth career change, you need to signal your network so it knows you’re looking for something different. You need to focus on developing relationships and nurturing your current connections. They’re going to be the ones to let you know when an opportunity arises.

So, be aware of these things when looking for a new job, and take steps to overcome them. Otherwise, they will hold you back from finding a job you truly enjoy.

The post 3 Weaknesses ALL Career Changers Must Address When Looking For A New Job appeared first on Work It Daily.

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There’s nothing more challenging than to have a co-worker say something to you that’s rude, makes you doubt yourself, or just hurts your feelings. But how do you deal with a condescending co-worker?

When that happens, the first thing you need to do is understand why that comment bothered you so much. What about what this person said irritated you? You might even consider taking time to write it out.

Try to recall exactly what this person said. You’ll probably find that it was a specific word or tone this person used, or the way it was delivered that set you off. It’s important that you identify this because you need to be able to articulate it when you go talk to the person.

That’s right, the next thing you need to do is confront the person in question. This is not the time to bury it, ignore it, or let it slide. The moment you allow condescending behavior to happen, you are defining how you are to be treated.

People treat us the way that we ALLOW them to treat us. If you don’t want to deal with a condescending co-worker, you have to nip this behavior in the bud.

So, understand exactly what about the comment bothered you. If you need to, talk it out with someone else before you bring it up to your co-worker. Then, confront your co-worker privately so he or she is aware of how you feel.

When you have this conversation, your co-worker might act defensive. However, he or she will likely be more shocked and surprised. He or she might not have intended the comment to come out that way.

If someone is being condescending, whether they realize it or not, it’s important to call them out on it. However, you need to do it in a calm and structured way. Don’t just brush it off!

The post How To Deal With A Condescending Co-Worker appeared first on Work It Daily.

If you’ve applied to a new job recently, you’ve probably noticed the option to input your LinkedIn profile instead of uploading a traditional resume. While this may look like a sign that the hiring world is taking a step away from the traditional resume, you may want to think again before you delete your resume file.

LinkedIn can be a great way to share your expertise, expand your network and improve your career — but that doesn’t mean it’s an adequate resume replacement. There are many things your LinkedIn profile can do that your traditional resume can’t, and vice versa. Instead of looking at LinkedIn as a replacement for your resume, you should look at them as supplemental to one another.

But what is the best way to write your resume and LinkedIn profile so they complement each other? Let’s take a look at some of the major differences and similarities between your LinkedIn profile and your resume.

  1. Including an Image

Some people choose to include a professional image on their resume as a way for hiring managers to put a face to the information on the page. While you don’t need to add your headshot to your resume, you’ll definitely want to have a professional image on your LinkedIn profile.

Because LinkedIn has a specific space for an image, not including one leaves a gray stock image that can look unprofessional. Not only does it make your profile look incomplete and sloppy, it can make it difficult for a hiring manager to really understand the person behind the page. Use a high-quality, professional image on your LinkedIn profile.

  1. Professional Summaries

A professional summary is a small paragraph that explains your career accomplishments and goals. While many people choose to put a professional summary on their resume, others do not. But just like images, your professional summary needs to be featured on your LinkedIn profile.

On your LinkedIn profile, your professional summary does not change depending on who is visiting your profile. This means it needs to be thorough and descriptive, but not so specific that it pushes away certain visitors. If you choose to feature a professional summary on your resume, it should change depending on the job you’re applying for.

  1. Keywords

Keywords are important to both resumes and LinkedIn profiles, but in different ways. On your resume, using the right keywords can help your application get through screening software that may be filtering applicants. On your LinkedIn profile, you want to think about keywords in terms of how you’d expect to be found by a search engine.

When selecting the right keywords for your resume or LinkedIn, you need to consider the situation. With your resume, you should use keywords that are featured throughout the job application. On your LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to do research to see which kinds of keywords recruiters, hiring managers or other connections are looking for.

  1. Content and Tone

While LinkedIn is frequently used as a networking tool, it’s still a social media site. You should certainly be more professional on LinkedIn than you may be on your personal Twitter or Facebook, but view your LinkedIn profile as a networking tool. This means you can be more conversational in your LinkedIn profile than your resume, which is more bullet-driven and serves as an actionable summary of your skills.

You want your resume and LinkedIn profile to feel as they were written by the same person, but these materials have different purposes. The tone of your resume should be formal and action-driven. You’ve submitted your resume for the purpose of receiving employment, so you want to be as professional as possible and summarize your hard/soft skills.

On LinkedIn, you can do the same — but your voice can be more present and personable when describing what you’ve accomplished.

  1. Descriptions and Details

Unless you’re applying to an upper-level or extremely detailed position, your resume should only be one page. This means you need to keep information about your work experience short and to the point. Readers should be able to skim your resume and get a clear idea of what value you can bring to the position.

On the other hand, your LinkedIn profile allows for more room. You don’t need to limit your profile to a few bullet points or short sentences. You’re able to elaborate on the duties of past positions and include more detail about your skills and experience.

  1. References

On LinkedIn, your references can endorse you for specific skills and even write a recommendation about their time working with you. This allows any visitor to your profile — including recruiters and hiring managers — to see these references, which are constant no matter who is visiting your profile. You might be asked for the contact information of these folks so a hiring manager can confirm the reference, but either way, these look nice and give a strong, favorable impression.

References typically aren’t a part of your traditional resume. A hiring manager is likely to ask for them if you get to a certain point in the interview, but they will typically contact the references you provide on their own. Your references might be stellar here too, they’re just not as visible.

Your resume and your LinkedIn profiles shouldn’t compete with one another. Instead, they should work together to provide the strongest professional image of you possible. When you understand the differences and similarities between your LinkedIn and your resume, you can develop stronger versions of each to help you land the job of your dreams.

“How Your Resume and LinkedIn Should Differ” was originally published on


As you prepare for an upcoming interview, your loved ones are wishing you good luck, and at least one says:

Remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you.

You nod and smile, because you’re pretty sure you’re supposed to know what this means—but in reality, you have no idea. After all, you aren’t planning to lead with “Tell me about yourself,” or end by laying out a timeline for next steps.

But this isn’t common advice simply because it sounds good. It’s meant to be helpful, and if you know how to translate it, it truly can be. With that in mind, consider these three potential meanings:

  1. “Look For Red Flags”

Before the interview, the hiring manager reviews your resume. The in-person meeting is a follow-up where they make sure you’re not just perfect on paper, but someone they’d want to work with in real life.

Similarly, you’ll do your research on a company. Think of this as your chance to see if it matches what you’ve learned so far. For example, if you’ve read the culture is people-centered and collaborative, look to see if colleagues appear to be interacting in the hallways or conference rooms, or if everyone’s wearing headphones.

Additionally, just a like a hiring manager would mentally deduct points if you were late (or rude), you’ll do the same. Do they keep moving your interview around? Make you wait an hour in the lobby? Do you just get a gut feeling this isn’t the place for you? These are all red flags.

  1. “Get Your Questions Answered”

Hiring managers use the interview to clarify any lingering questions from your application. For example, you may be asked why you’re qualified even though you don’t possess traditional experience, or exactly what your last management role entailed.

Are you unclear what exactly you’d be doing each day? Or whether they really care about work-life balance? This is the time for you to get answers, too. (Unsure what to ask? Check out these questions.)

Oh, and if the hiring manager gives strange answers, that falls into the red flag category, too.

  1. “Remember That You’re A Catch”

The interviewer knows they have something to offer—that would literally be the job.

But some people get so swept up in the fact that they’re competing with others that they forget just how awesome they are. They prioritize being the hiring manager’s top choice over assessing if this’ll really be the right position for them.

So, you may need a reminder that the company would be lucky to have you! Just like they’d pass over a so-so candidate for a great one, you need to remember that this is not the last interview you’ll ever have in your entire career. Not only will this reminder keep you from ignoring red flags or settling, it’ll also help you avoid acting desperate.

At its core, this phrase means the impression the company makes on during your in-person interview should figure into your decision as much as how you present yourself will sway them. So, don’t wait until you’re extended an offer to think about what it’d really be like to work there. Tune into your feelings on interview day, too.

Here’s What “You’re Interviewing Them As Much As They’re Interviewing You” Actually Means” was originally published on The Muse.

Sara McCord is a Staff Writer/Editor for The Muse.

There are plenty of reasons that it’s time to quit your job. For some of you, it’s because your boss loves sending “urgent” emails that keep you up at all hours of the night. And for others it may be that you’ve realized that you hate your current field and it’s just time for a big change.

Whatever the reason is for you, you probably know that you should go with that urge you have to quit and find a new job. Yet, even knowing that, the thought of leaving still makes you recoil in fear and say, “Eh, maybe next year.”

But as someone who’s stayed in previous jobs for far too long, I’m willing to bet you want me to talk you into the idea of staying put. As comfortable as these thoughts might make you feel in the moment, I’m actually here today to call you out on your excuses.

  1. “I Don’t Have Time To Update My Resume”

As difficult as this was for me to admit a few years ago, I said these exact words to a friend of mine who’d grown tired of listening to me complain about work. And the deeper the conversation got, the more I dug my feet in. “I can’t apply for new jobs without an updated resume, and I can’t update my resume because I have swing dance classes on Thursday nights,” I said with a straight face.

Fortunately, my friend was levelheaded enough to tell me that I was full of it. And that was the wake-up call I needed. That day I started blocking off some time on my personal calendar to update that pesky resume and send out those applications. This will probably require you to find time after work (and say no to a few things that sound way more fun), but seeing an event on your calendar can give you the jolt you need to finally get started.

  1. “Maybe Things Aren’t As Bad As I Think They Are Right Now”

If you’re dragging your feet about quitting your job, chances are that you’re afraid of leaving behind a good salary. Or you’re tentative because you actually like some of the people you work with. Or you’re in the middle of a huge project that’s been months in the making.

Some combination of things that are making your life comfortable are probably the things holding you back from taking the leap. I was there a few years ago. For a while, the ability to go out for happy hour on a whim “makes up” for a lot of the terrible things that you deal with at work.

But in my experience, as time goes on, even those silver linings stop bringing you joy. And it’s up to you to ask yourself some tough questions about how much you’re willing to sacrifice for that one “good” thing that’s keeping you there.

  1. “I’m Probably Going To End Up Accepting A Similarly Bad Job Anyway”

Here’s where your impostor syndrome kicks into full gear. You’re used to having a boss you don’t click with. You’ve acknowledged that your company doesn’t treat you particularly well. And you’ve concluded that it’s because you’re not good enough for anything better than this. So why bother putting yourself out there, right?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, that’s what I told myself a few years ago. Lots of my friends were getting opportunities at great companies, but I figured it was because they were smarter or more talented.

Fortunately for me, those people also continued to encourage me to apply for jobs that seemed out of my reach. And while I got rejected from plenty of them, I ultimately ended up landing gigs that I love—including this one with The Muse. So be bold and be willing to put yourself out there. I know it sounds scary, but trust me: You’re not doomed to jobs you hate forever.

Quitting’s never easy—even if it’s a job you can’t stand. But as difficult as it is, you might be getting in your own way by staying put. If you really want to move into something different, it’s time to stop making excuses and start taking some action. I can’t promise your search will be easy, but I know that if you don’t do anything to change your situation, it can’t improve. So get out there and just see what happens!

It’s Time To Quit Your Soul-Sucking Job: 3 Excuses You Make To Avoid The Inevitable” was originally published on The Muse.

This question’s been haunting job seekers since the dawn of interviewing. The truth about it is that it’s not actually a question — it’s a starting point. A way to put the conversation into perspective, for you to give a brief explanation of the events that have led you to this meeting. Think of it as a way to lay the groundwork for the conversation.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds. The key to not bombing it? Saying just the right amount — not too much, not too little — to paint a broad picture of where you are, where you’re coming from and where you’d like to go with your career (in approximately 90 seconds).

Here’s how to crush it:

  1. Take The Lead

Since you’re bound to be asked about your skills, your employment history and maybe where you see yourself in the years to come, use your response to this open-ended query (it typically comes early in the meeting) to address other key points and to set the tone. Avoid regurgitating the stuff on your resume. And don’t bother trying to lay out your qualifications—the very fact that you’ve been invited in means that the hiring manager thinks you’ve got the cred.

  1. Tell A Story

Instead of describing your top qualities or your greatest professional attributes (“I’m a fast learner. I’m detail-oriented. I always meet deadlines”), tell a story that demonstrates these things. How can you show your passion for problem-solving in this field? What are examples of times you utilized your sharp attention to detail to benefit a project?

  1. Express Interest

While you’ll probably have other opportunities throughout the interview to show you’ve done your research on the company, now’s a good time to discuss why you’re motivated to work there and what you believe you bring to the table. How can you say something meaningful about yourself and establish a connection with the company’s product or mission? By tying in details you’ve gleaned about the organization in this answer, you’re setting yourself up well to further demonstrate your understanding of the company and the valuable role you’d play.

Once you’ve gone over what you want to say and how to articulate it, practice. Again. And then again.

Don’t just read your carefully crafted response to yourself; read it aloud in front of a mirror, or better yet, with a partner. It’s going to feel awkward, but it’s an important step. Interview preparation is a huge part of acing this part of the job search process.

That said, you don’t need to necessarily memorize your answer to this classic question. You don’t want it to come out sounding canned. Practice a few versions of how to respond and remember that the most crucial part of interviewing is to be yourself.

Ask A Career Coach: What’s The Best Way To Answer, “Tell Me About Yourself?” was originally published on The Muse.

Changing tact in your career and convincing others to give you the opportunity is often challenging.

If this is something you want to do, my top tips to ensure things move in the right direction are as follows:

  1. Know where you want to go or what you want to do. Some self analysis is key before you think about the action steps.
  2. Network – use your contacts and network. Speak to anyone you know in the field, industry or role you would like to go into. Look on LinkedIn – use the search bar to find people connected to your network that you can then be introduced to.
  3. Gain experience in any way possible. Work on projects internally, volunteer in or outside of your current company. Are there any projects you could assist with that will build on your relevant experience?
  4. Match your experience as closely as you can to the new role you are aiming towards. Look at job specs, can you highlight the relevant experience that you have on your CV and LinkedIn profile?
  5. Communicate clearly to others what you are now looking for. Once other people are aware and clear they may be able to help you or will think of you when they hear about something.
  6. Do your research on your target. Research trends, the market, groups, look at the profiles of people who have done well, learn all you can about the field.
  7. Talk to people who work in your area of interest. Ask about their experience, which agencies they recommend. The usual career path, for any tips or further information that could be useful. If possible talk to senior decision makers.
  8. Contact key companies of interest and ask HR which agencies they use to recruit and then join them. Build strong relationships with recruiters who can then sell you into a client.
  9. Is there an intermediary step between what you are doing now and where you want to end up? Think about a stepping stone role.
  10. LinkedIn – tailor your profile as close as you can to what you are now looking for. Add and scatter key words. Get recommendations from others on your profile, ideally a minimum of six and start building your profile with relevant experience and information.
  11. Skill up if you need to. If you are rusty in an area that is important consider a refresher course or doing some additional training inside or outside of work. There are lots of alternatives to suit most budgets. Consider teaching yourself from books, ‘on line’ courses or look into council courses if your budget is stretched.
  12. Keep positive – believe in yourself and keep a positive upbeat approach, people will be more likely to want to help you.  Get help if you need it – some coaching or a mentor may also be an idea.
  13. Interview well. Once you have meetings and interviews lined up, make sure you impress them with your knowledge, skills, research and capabilities.
  14. Keep persisting. There will be knock backs along the way. People will prefer you to keep doing what you have always done and are experienced in. Believe it will happen, reach out to others and keep trying eventually a door should open on the correct path towards your ideal destination.


Oh, email. Whether you’re managing a few people, a large team or just yourself, it can both help and hinder your success. Because, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the more people you collaborate with, the more messages build up and the more challenging it is to get through them in the five minutes you have between back-to-back meetings.

While I can’t wave a magic wand and solve this problem for you, I can tell you that I found a system that really works for me as a manager—it all comes down to having a few trusty labels in your inbox. (If you have no idea how to use those, here’s a 101 here for Gmail and for Outlook.)

Unlike the filters I use for permanent filing, these three are temporary and just used to draw my attention to important things. As soon as I address the message, I remove the label and file as I normally would.

So, with no further ado:


Yes, this one is in all caps. I even changed the color in my inbox to make it red. Each morning, I go through my inbox to make sure that I’ve identified critical messages that require my response. (A.k.a.: Without my response, people can’t move forward. At all.) By identifying those specifically, I ensure that I don’t prioritize quick replies over important ones.

At the end of each day, I make sure any remaining emails with this tag are handled first. And barring the rare exception, I don’t sign off for the night until that’s done. Not only does this mean I’m not holding anyone up, but that I can end every day knowing the most urgent issues are taken care of.

  1. “The Name Of Anyone You Meet With Regularly”

I have a one-on-one meeting with each of my direct reports each week, and while we keep a running agenda in a Google doc of things to discuss, I’ve found that sometimes quick questions or FYIs fall through the cracks.

What changed this for me was creating one label for each person with their name, for example, “For Lindsay” and “For Yusuf.” As emails come through my inbox that I think would be relevant for them, or that I want an update on, I add the tag with their name. Then, in my weekly meetings, I can do a quick search to see if I’ve talked to them about everything before we wrap up. Once that mission is accomplished, I remove the tag.

While I use this for my direct reports, you can use it for anyone you meet with regularly, from your own manager to the marketing team to a project manager.


  1. “Quick Reply”

I’ve written about this before, but I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have a list of emails I can reply to in five minutes or less. When I’m waiting in line for coffee, taking the subway a few stops or early for a meeting, I now have my first stop (yes, before Twitter or Instagram) to make sure I handle any requests.

Best part of this label? You get to feel super accomplished, very quickly.

And that’s it, three simple labels that you can set up easily one afternoon. Do you have any other inbox tricks that help you manage?


How To Make Your Inbox Organize Itself (Just The Way You Like It)” was originally published on The Muse.

Alex Cavoulacos is a Founder of The Muse.

Your boss asks if you have any free time this week for a brief meeting. Since you don’t meet regularly, you’re just certain that the request is ominous. She’s obviously going to reprimand you for doing something wrong or failing to do something or pissing off a client. Whatever it is, you’re positive it’s negative.

Receiving criticism about your work is never easy, but it can get easier to swallow and digest if you know how to respond to it—and if you don’t view it as your boss scolding you or doling out verbal punishment.

With review season underway in businesses across the country, there may be no better opportunity for you to educate yourself on the best way to handle the negative feedback that you’re bound to hear at some point during the course of your career.

When I reached out to Muse Career Coach Emily Liou, she recalled a former boss who once told her that if she wasn’t getting any complaints, she wasn’t busy enough. The remark came after a client had issued a complaint about her. It stung, she says because disappointing someone doesn’t feel good. “We are human, after all,” Liou points out with the maturity of someone who’s learned that handling negative feedback is an inevitable part of life.

Liou says that evoking empathy can help in the face of criticism on a piece (or pieces) of your work. She says, “If it was a genuine oversight on your part, it’s important to own up to it. But just apologizing isn’t enough. It’s important to remember an apology is useless unless it’s followed up with a solution.”

So, if your boss remarks that you’ve regularly missed deadlines and have disrupted the workflow of others as a result, that’s something you need to own up to. And you need to make efforts to turn it around. If it’s a matter of having too much work, that’s a whole other conversation, but if it’s simple time mismanagement, take responsibility.

You might say, “Thank you for pointing this out. I’m aware that I’ve been behind schedule turning some things in, and I know it’s something I need to work on. Starting ASAP, I’m going to take a look at my calendar and to-do list and find a way to prioritize needs so that I don’t miss another deadline. And, if for some reason, I find I’m going to be late with something, I’ll communicate that as early as possible.”

Loren Margolis, Muse Coach and award-winning leadership development expert, notes that taking time can also be a helpful way to process unpleasant feedback. Even if you’re expecting it, such as with an annual performance review where you’ll inevitably be told what you can improve on, it can take you off guard. It’s normal, she explains, for the mind to go blank and for it to be difficult to focus on having an effective conversation from that point forward.

If you need to, ask for time to process what you’ve heard. Acknowledge it but request to follow up. And then, Margolis advises, “While you’re processing it, write down your thoughts and the actual feedback; think through some of the questions you’d like to ask in advance of your next meeting.”

Along with those questions, you should be armed with solutions, however, as Liou stresses. While it’s natural to want to go on the defensive, that kind of attitude won’t actually get you anywhere or help your situation. In fact, if you can find it within yourself to be humbled by the hard or harsh words as writer Joseph Grenny learned to do, you might feel a sense of calm.

This relaxed state will open you up to accept the feedback for what it is—not taking it personally or growing hostile toward the person giving it—and to move forward from there. And in the end, you might even gain something positive. As we’re fond of saying here at The Muse, failure is a necessary part of growing and succeeding, and this is closely related to receiving feedback—of both the positive and negative varieties.

This Is How You Handle Negative Feedback, According To Career Experts” was originally published on The Muse.

Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse.

You’re in a groove at work and everything feels about as normal as it could—and then suddenly, you find out that your list of responsibilities is changing dramatically. It’s jarring, I know.

When this happened to me a few years ago, I had no idea how to process it. Because I’m the poster child for impostor syndrome, I took it as a clear indication that I was doing a terrible job at work. But after spending nearly three more years at the company, I realized that I was being ridiculous.

Still, it’s completely understandable to freak out a bit when this happens to you. So before you jump to any conclusions, take these steps.

Step Away From Your Desk And Breathe

I’m not always the best at taking a beat before responding to new information, especially when it comes to my job. But I’ve realized that when I’m intentional about stepping away for a few minutes, even if it’s just to grab a cup of coffee, I’m able to communicate how I’m feeling much more effectively. And I get it—sometimes you just want to jump up from your seat and say, “This is insulting! I demand more information about why my role changed overnight!”

But trust me, there’s a lot of value in giving yourself a breather. When my responsibilities suddenly changed a few years ago, I took a short stroll around the neighborhood to clear my mind. And while it didn’t necessarily solve any of my problems, it kept me from lashing out in a way that wouldn’t have been productive for anyone involved.

After all, it’s only natural to want to flip your desk (oh? Only me?) when you learn your day-to-day is about to change. But instead of panicking, take a quick walk—it’ll make a difference, I swear.

Write Down Your New Responsibilities

How often do you hear something is changing at work and immediately assume that it’s because you’re being demoted? I’m sure there are some of you out there who don’t jump straight to this conclusion, but I’d be lying if I haven’t landed on it more than once over the course of my career. And even though this fear might be based on reality, you won’t know that until you take some time to evaluate what’s changing.

Here’s what I did when that previous job of mine changed over the course of a weekend. I took out a pen and pad and wrote down each one of my new responsibilities. I didn’t try to analyze them too deeply. I just wanted to write them down so I could look at them in an easy-to-read list.

And once I did that, I realized that not much about my life was changing. Sure, I was moving to a different team, but the work I’d be doing lined up with my skills in a more practical way. Of course, depending on your situation, the results of this exercise will vary. However, knowing just how drastically your day-to-day’s changing will give you a better idea of what to expect and whether this can be considered positive growth or a red flag as to your current standing at the company.

Decide If These Changes Still Align With Your Career Goals

At the end of the day, change is hard. On top of that, it’s challenging not to brace yourself for a period in which you’re miserable and can’t see a way out.

While a lot of people in your life will tell you to “Be a trooper” and just roll with the punches, it’s also important for you to evaluate whether or not this still aligns with your career goals. Sure, you might find that even though things changed overnight, your job is still relevant to what you want to be doing for the long-term. But if you realize that your role changed overnight and no longer leads you down the path you want to be on, that’s perfectly OK.

If you’re able to be transparent with your boss, don’t be afraid to discuss how you feel with her. But if you work for someone you know wouldn’t want to hear about it, you’re not breaking any rules by considering new jobs that put you back on the career path you want.

Change at work is never easy for anyone, even if it ends up meaning exciting things for your career. It’s especially difficult for most people when it happens overnight. But before you act on any of your initial feelings, take a second to evaluate the situation. Of course, you might confirm your fears about what’s happening. But you also might discover that it’s a boost to your skill set.

And either way, being patient and thinking through the situation will help you proceed in a much more productive way.

“What To Do When Your Job Changes Overnight” was written by Richard Moy and was originally published on The Muse.

In addition to writing for The Muse, Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow.

You arrive to your interview prepared with a list of questions to ask the hiring manager. But, when he answers them, you only feel more confused.

That’s because common answers could be interpreted different ways. And, depending on what the interviewer really means, this company may—or may not—be the right fit for you.

Employee reviews on Glassdoor or—shameless plug—profiles on The Muse are definitely helpful for learning about company culture. But to make sure you have a clear idea of what it’d be like to work somewhere, don’t be afraid to follow up with a second question.

Of course, you’ll want it to get to the heart of what’s not quite clear.

To do that, pay attention to these five common lines that can stump you—and what to say back to make sure you get the real inside scoop on company culture.


  1. “We Stay Until The Work Is Done”

The Good Spin: “We offer flexible hours—people go home early when they complete their work sooner than expected.”

The Cover-up: “You’re expected to live at the office and stay all hours of the night.”

The first tells you work-life balance is valued. The second says you’re going to be leaving long after dark (a lot).

Use These Follow-Up Questions

“What time does your team typically come in and leave?” or “Is the workload fairly constant, or does it flare up during certain times of the year?”

The answers here will give you a sense of whether working late happens occasionally, at certain times or often.

  1. “We Have Fun Here”

The Good Spin: “We’re a close-knit team, accepting of new people and social outside of work.”

The Cover-up: “You have to want to socialize with your colleagues to fit in,” and even, “You won’t fit in well if you don’t like to socialize over alcohol.”

It’s great to find a culture that cares about teammates genuinely get along—not so great if that’s code for an expectation to spend your social life at the office, too.

Use These Follow-Up Questions

“What kind of fun things does the team do together?” or “How often do these social events take place?”

If your interviewer lists commonly occurring activities, like events and fundraisers, it means the company makes an effort to keep their team connected. But if they only list office happy hours, you know that socializing here will be more about just hanging out, than say, community involvement.

  1. “You Must Be A Team Player”

The Good Spin: “We take only the best: effective workers who pull their weight and work well with others.”

The Cover-up: “All efforts—and all credit—are shared. You won’t be happy here if you like to work independently or thrive on competition.”

You’ll want to determine if they value collaboration, or if you’ll never be allowed to work on a solo project.

Use These Follow-Up Questions

“What’s the split between collaborative and independent projects in this role?”or “How do you measure the success of group projects?”

These answers will give you insight into how much ownership you’ll have over your work and if it’s a “go along to get along” culture.

  1. “You Must Be Able To Take Constructive Criticism”

The Good Spin: “We care about individual and company-wide improvement, so we want someone who’s prepared to give and receive useful, respectful feedback.”

The Cover-up: “You’re gonna need thick skin to work here. Clients, colleagues and management are going to bombard you with criticism. “

You need to know if “constructive” is code for a negative environment or one that truly values their employees’ growth.

Use These Follow-Up Questions

“What’s the process for offering feedback to employees?” or “Do employees receive formal feedback on a regular basis?”

These questions will help you see if you can expect quarterly, semi-annual or annual reviews—or if the kind of place where your boss can offer criticism at the drop of a hat.

  1. “We’re Looking for a Hard Worker”

The Good Spin: “We care about challenging you and making sure you have enough to do.”

The Cover-up: “We’re going to give you a workload better suited for two people.”

It’s smart to find out how hard are they’re going to expect you to work (before you sign on the dotted line).

Use These Follow-Up Questions

“Could you give me an example of a recent accomplishment the person in this role had?” or “Are there any upcoming projects not mentioned in the job description?”

These questions make the interviewer provide an additional example regarding workflow.

Job hunting goes both ways. The interviewer’s sizing you up, but you should be doing the same. Is this an environment you can picture yourself being happy and productive in? If the answer isn’t an easy yes or no, don’t be afraid to ask additional questions.

5 Common Interview Responses That Can Be Interpreted Two Different Ways” was originally published on The Muse.

Scott Huntington is a writer, career expert and frequent contributor to The Muse.


Maybe you got laid off when your company merged with another and you’re struggling to find a new position. Or, let’s say you got fired for a careless mistake that ended up costing the company a lot of money and now it’s been a few months since you’ve been gainfully employed. Or, perhaps you quit a job without having anything lined up and it took you a full year to settle on an industry you like.

Whatever the reason for your lengthy unemployment status, the question remains the same: How do you explain gaps to hiring managers? And how do you actually show them without hurting your chances of getting the job?

Honesty Really Is The Best Policy

Truth: If you try to spin a story, you’re only going to get caught up in a web of lies that you’ll be forced to carry out should you get the job. Trying to remember the tale you told is both annoying and challenging. And attempting to memorize your resume’s modified work history isn’t easy.

Muse writer and career coach, Jenny Foss suggests a career summary for people concerned that their gaps will lead their application straight to the trash pile. She says that this section “affords you an opportunity to construct a statement that quickly and succinctly explains what’s up.”


It looks like this:

Content-marketing professional with more than a decade of in-house experience and a recent year spent researching and identifying top social media trends seeks director position at fast-growing startup.

A Little Glazing’s OK

While you definitely don’t want to pretend that you don’t know the meaning of the word gap, it’s fine to make this period appear less prominent on your resume. Muse writer Aja Frost has tons of tips for getting your application in tip-top shape, and as far as displaying work breaks, she says you can use “years to show dates of employments instead of months and years.”

Remember that a recruiter’s going to spend six seconds looking at your resume before deciding to move forward, so the likelihood that he or she is going to be put off by (or even fully comprehend) one that lists several jobs and skips a few years in between two of them is low. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss any significant period of unemployment in the interview.

But, that said, don’t forget: Your time off wasn’t meaningless. What skills did you build upon or pick up that’ll help you in your next role? Did you do any volunteer work? Take any classes? If you built upon your skill set in any way (even if feels way out of left field), you can include that.

Social Media Volunteer

  • Grew nonprofit’s social media presence by 60% by building a presence on new platforms.
  • Increased charitable donations by 10% via social media campaigns

There’s almost always something, so be careful not to underestimate yourself. You’re feeling far more anxious about being unemployed than the hiring manager.

So the next time that ‘ol imposter syndrome tries to creep in, push it down. Way down. Be prepared to sell yourself rather than apologize for losing your job. If you’re confident and are qualified, the employer you want to work for isn’t going to penalize you for a gap.

A Quick Guide To Explaining Resume Gaps When You’re Unemployed” was originally published on The Muse.

If an employer is going to invest in you as a candidate, they will expect you to make an impact in your role. So, when writing your CV, it’s important to show how your actions have benefited your previous employers.

Rather than simply listing your responsibilities throughout your CV, you should always endeavour to link them to the goals of your employer and highlight the benefits of hiring you. CV writing service StandOut CV have provided this useful infographic explaining 7 effective ways to prove your impact in your CV.

Costs saved

All organisations, whether they are private firms, non-profits or government departments, like to save money in order to help balance the books or increase profits. If you have the ability to cut company spending by smart fund allocation or shrewd supplier negotiation, then you will be instantly attractive to recruiters. If you have contributed to cost saving initiatives in previous roles, then highlight them on your CV and use numbers to quantify your value.

Problems solved

Most businesses exist to solve problems; retail stores provide affordable goods to people, and accountants relieve businesses of their financial administration. So it makes sense that employers like to hire candidates with strong problem solving abilities. No matter what your profession is, you should always be solving problems for clients, colleagues or stakeholders. When writing your CV’s role descriptions, give some examples of the problems you face, how you solve them and back it all up with cold hard facts and figures where possible.

Time saved

Time is our most precious resource and employers like to see it spent wisely in the workplace. If you are able to implement processes that save time for your employer or their customers, you should certainly highlight them in your CV. A candidate who can demonstrate solid examples of time saving initiatives that have resulted in extra resource availability will definitely be deemed as an attractive prospect.

People helped

Organisations rely on people supporting each other to achieve their goals. In any role you will likely be required to support a number of people, whether they be your colleagues or external individuals. Throughout your CV, show exactly where you fit into your employer’s hierarchy and which people are dependent on your work. If you can create the impression that you are heavily relied upon by others, then it will be clear to recruiters that you are a valuable candidate.

Revenue generated

Generating revenue is imperative for most organisations, especially those in the private sector. However it’s not just customer facing staff who are responsible for providing income; all staff can contribute to sales indirectly. For example marketing staff help to attract customers which eventually lead to sales, and business support staff help to alleviate fee earning staff from administration work so that they can focus on income generating tasks. So if you contribute to income generation in any way, work it into your CV and try to include some numbers to back up your points.

Awards and recognition

Awards and other recognition from your industry send strong trust signals to recruiters and hiring managers. Many candidates make bold claims in their CV, but not everyone backs them up with proof such as industry or peer recognition. From qualifications to media mentions, ensure you include any impressive accolades that you’ve accumulated through your career.

Work produced

The type of work you produce will differ greatly depending on your profession; it could be anything from web pages or spreadsheets, to physical products like cars or even houses. The work you produce is the output of your skills and effort and therefore is an excellent method of proving the impact you make in your role. Give indications of the quality of your work and how well it is received by stakeholders or customers to provide a more detailed picture.


If you’ve ever been asked for a favor, you probably know the pointless small talk conversation that leads up to the ask. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s scheduled a coffee meeting for something that could have been just as easily dealt with in three emails. Or wasted hours on back-and-forth emailing when a phone call with an explicit question would’ve been a heck of a lot quicker.

As a designer who regularly takes on side work, it’s hard for me to decipher which projects are worth taking—for a variety of reasons. A potential client might have a cheap price point, a tight deadline or not even know exactly what he’s asking for. And while he negotiates those details aloud, our conversation slows to a crawl.

When it’s obvious someone’s taking his time with his ask, I sometimes wish I could boldly say: “Just tell me what you want!” But let’s be honest: I don’t want to come off as abrupt or cold, so I let the conversation inch its way forward.

But what if there was a way you could get to the good stuff without being so brusque?

As Marc Köhlbrugge points out in this short piece on Medium, “the majority of cases can be handled” with just one question. According to him, you only need these four words to take a conversational shortcut, skip to the good part and get things done:

“How can I help?”This is a clever move for two reasons. One, you’re genuinely offering to help, which allows you to be both polite and forthright. And two, the question forces the person to articulate what exactly he wants—so you can know immediately if you can do the favor for him or not.

And aside from the bonus of skipping all the small talk, trying out this question has also saved me phone calls and in-person meetings—during which I would have reached the same conclusions anyway. This question gets to the meat of the problem, which means someone like me, who needs all the details to do a good job, can rest assured she won’t be cutting any corners or risk leaving important information on the table

Ask This Question When You Want To Skip The Small Talk And Cut To The Chase” was originally published on The Daily Muse.

In addition to writing for The Muse, Caroline Liu is a freelance writer, graphic designer and computer programmer studying at Wesleyan University.

Interview questions that’ll make you stop and think.

By design, the interview process is flawed. Both interviewer and interviewee want to know what the other is really like. But it’s easy to hide your flaws and make sure only the squeaky-clean best stuff shines through.

Though it’s not easy to identify someone’s true character in an interview, you can get pretty close with the right questions. In a recent sponsored post for Quartz, Slack offers a few suggestions. Slack has formulated a list of questions that help their interviewers better get to know their candidates. Their unusual questions also aim to get at the heart of a key personality quality that’s especially difficult to interview for.

Question 1: What’s a personal opinion you’ve had and changed in the last year?

This question reveals how humble someone is. Even the smartest people must sometimes admit they’re wrong. Can they accept that with new information or insight, they were willing to change their stance on something? How an applicant answers this question also reveals if they’re willing to learn from those around them — and ultimately if they might be a good collaborator in a team environment.

Question 2: What’s the best (or worst) piece of advice you’ve gotten?

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a softball question. It’s far too easy to knock that one out of the park. You can say almost anything and come off as brilliant, motivated and accomplished. Because the future hasn’t happened yet!

Instead of asking applicants to make up accomplishments for their ideal future, this question is particularly telling because it asks people to reflect on the past. How someone has adopted, changed and grown over their career can reveal how they might do so in the future.

Question 3: Tell me a story about how luck played a role in your life

The topic of privilege can be a tricky one. Many people have it. Many people feel uncomfortable about it. It can tough to admit that you’ve had advantages that contributed to your success.

But if someone can be honest about the place of privilege they’ve come from, they’re already ions ahead of an applicant who won’t acknowledge it. How someone answers this anecdotal question helps to reveal if they have humility — or if they don’t.

What about you? How would you answer these questions? And if you’re on the other side of the interviewing table, would you consider asking these questions to applicants?

By Betsy Mikel


Thinking about relocating for a job? Read this first…

I have a friend who was out of work for more than a few months. A job offer became available more than a few states away. Needing the job badly, he took it. After the company paid him to fly back and forth for a year (a great perk!), he now finds himself commuting every Monday and Friday – a drive that takes more than five hours. During the week, he stays in budget hotels and is away from his family.

He did not permanently relocate to the new city for a few reasons. First, he had a hard time selling his house, and second, his wife did not want to give up her career or home.

Relocating for a job can be hard, but sometimes it’s the best option. As great as it is to have a job, my friend is sacrificing a lot commuting back and forth each week. So, as a job seeker, there are a few things to think about before accepting that job that is hours away.


Are you sure this is the job for you?

Is the job something that you are willing to sacrifice for? It is worth a move for your family, new school for the kids, or worth having a spouse leave their job? Something to think about.


What is the cost of living where you are going?

Is it better or worse? Are real estate or rental prices better, worse, or comparable? Do the research and know – you want to make sure that where you are going is affordable.


Will the new employer pick up any relocation costs?

If you are lucky, some companies will help with moving expenses and commuting costs (for a certain amount of time). Use this wisely, so when the benefit runs out you will be settled in the new area.


Is this where you want to be?

Sometimes, people pick jobs out of desperation and move to an area away from friends and family. Think hard before you say yes to this job. Check with your family to make sure everyone is on board.


With a little thought and some strategic planning, relocating for a job might be the best thing. Just make sure it is.



Author: Paula Munch


Wherever you see gaps, start by considering transferable skills first. You’ve probably heard this term before, but as a quick refresher, they’re exactly what they sound like: things you learned in one industry that’ll carry over to another.

For example, if you have customer service experience, you know how to make someone who’s unhappy feel heard and turn an angry conversation into a productive one. That’ll help you succeed in any job that requires active listening and problem-solving. Or, maybe you’ve never been part of a formal strategic planning process, but you helped your department develop and execute large goals, so you can draw on that experience.

When it comes to connecting the dots in your application, you’re basically saying: “This role calls for X, and my experience with Y gave me the skills I need to do just that.”

This is a critical step, yet it doesn’t give you the opportunity to share abilities that make you compelling but don’t fit into to the job posting listed. So, while transferable skills are really useful, stopping there is stopping short.

Just like companies list dream qualifications that aren’t essential but would make a candidate extra appealing; odds are you have some talents that aren’t called for, but would increase your ability to do a great job. These are your additive skills. (And I use the word “additive” because the goal is to focus on ones that’ll add to your ability to the do the job.)

Going off of the formula above, these translate to, “I have experience in Y, and even though it’s not called for in the job description, it’s going to help me excel in this role, because…”

To quote myself from a previous article on interviewing for an out-of-reach role, “An additive skill is something unique that you bring to the table—in addition to everything that’s expected. Think about it: If you’re slightly under qualified, there’s a reason why. If you spent the first two years of your career in a different sector, you bring experience from that industry. If you’re younger than everyone else applying for the role, odds are you submitted an extraordinary cover letter or have impressive networking contacts.”

Do you have three years of program management instead of five? That’s because you spent two years as a data scientist—and your analytical abilities will help you streamline your projects. Or maybe you spent a year abroad, and while there’s no requirement for a second language, you know that the fact that you’re fluent will help you reach a new demographic.

How to Use Them to Your Advantage

One of the most important (and most challenging) things to do as a job applicant is be memorable—for the right reasons. And here’s where both your transferable and additive skills give you a leg up. All of those people who have closely matched qualifications will draw a straight line between their experience and the role. But they could blend with other obvious choices.

Your different skills give you an edge because they help you stand out. First, in your cover letter, you can use both transferable and additive skills to tell a two-line story. For example, let’s say you’re a project manager who loves to write, applying for a job as a company recruiter:

Transferable skill: “Part of my current job is encouraging people to meet deadlines, and I’d use what I’ve learned there to get applicants to submit materials in a timely fashion.”

Additive skill: “As someone who creates my own networking newsletter each month, I know that my addiction to finding the right words would strengthen my recruitment efforts via email.”

Then once you land an interview, you can (again) call on these skills to show why you’re a compelling candidate.

For example, if you’re asked to explain how you could tackle the role on day one when you don’t have a recruiting background, you can respond with:

“Along with experience in [something called for in the job posting], I also bring [transferable or additive skill], which’ll help me [do something other candidates might not be able to].”

It sounds like this:

“A big part of writing persuasively is understanding your audience, and I’d call upon those same skills to connect with a top applicant who may be hesitant to apply.”

When you don’t have the exact qualifications, it’s easy to feel nervous or discount the experience you do have. That’s when looking at all your skills—and not just the ones that line up with the job description—can give you that extra boost you need. They’re a good reminder for the hiring manager that while you haven’t developed skills that’d directly correlate to the position, you have gained loads of other valuable experience that make you an awesome choice.


LinkedIn – the world’s biggest professional network – continues to grow, and has truly become a force to be reckoned with. Every day, millions of us login to see how our friends are getting on in their jobs, read status updates and, sometimes, apply for jobs ourselves. Every user who signs up to LinkedIn creates a profile when they join, and there are a number of different tips you need to remember to ensure your profile gets found and read by the right people (whether that be potential clients, or headhunters from the company you really want to work with).

However, there are always tips which are forgotten about – and they really shouldn’t be. Here are 5 golden tips which will make your profile hotter than the sun:

1) Killer headline:

Currently, there are over 467 million users on LinkedIn, and that’s a lot of people, all in one place, trying to do similar things to you. You’re a small fish in a big pond, and you need to find a way to stand out amongst the pack.

The most-viewed element of any LinkedIn profile is the headline – the same line of text under someone’s name. With everything on your profile, you want to capture the attention of the reader as soon as it’s seen, otherwise you risk them losing interest and going elsewhere.

The automatic headline given to you by LinkedIn is your currently job title and company – which is good – but you want something that will show you for who you are. How many years have you been working in that position? What else have you done in the past? List all of these in your headline and make it extremely interesting. For example:

Senior Account Manager with 6 Years’ Experience Working in Social Media and Digital Marketing

That headline could simply say Senior Account Manager at [company], however, you now know exactly which accounts they manage, and what their expertise is. You understand exactly how many years’ experience they have in that position, and you can judge about whether you want to work with (or hire) them.

Finally, don’t make your headline cheesy or non-genuine – you’ll just be ignored

To recap: be creative, outline who you are (more than just your job title), and be genuine. Your LinkedIn profile is your place to showcase the real you.

2) Outline contact details:

If you’re searching someone out on LinkedIn, or if you’re looking for a job, you want the methods of communication to be quick and easy. Sometimes, sending a connection request can take a while (as someone may be busy doing other work), however an email or a phone call is (normally) instant. Unless you are connected to someone, you’re unable to see their contact details, and you have to wait to be connected.

If you are someone who wants to receive opportunities from potential clients, or headhunters, outline your main contact details at the end of your ‘Summary’ section. You can list a phone number, an email address, or both – but make it easy for people to contact you! You can always send them a connection request once you’ve received their email, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time in the long run.

I’ve seen lots of people who forget that LinkedIn is an online networking platform, so end up hiding their contact details – and you can’t easily offer them a prime job or work opportunity!

3) Share interesting content:

Recently, a lot of individuals have explained how they feel that LinkedIn is becoming more and more like Facebook – with a vast majority of non-business related updates, such as selfies, quizzes, inspirational quotes etc. There are now even Twitter accounts dedicated to highlighting awful LinkedIn updates, so steer clear!

Ensure your update isn’t just click-baiting, and it’s genuinely interesting to yourself and your peers. You don’t want to be known as the person who posts content for the sake of it – make it interesting, entertaining or educational, and ensure your connections get something out of it!

4) Make your profile (suitably) public:

As well as being visible on the internet, it’s important that your privacy settings keep your safe. Take 5 minutes out of your day to ensure that your settings are switched to their optimum:


While you’re there, review your public profile, as this setting outlines what will be seen when you are found via Google search. Switch on all the relevant options, and make yourself extremely visible to the outside world!

5) Have some personality:

Finally, don’t be like everyone else. Show that you are unique and different, and share content and have a profile which proves every last aspect of you. Do you like to juggle? Put that on there! Do you like to go canoeing? Same again.

LinkedIn is an extremely powerful tool, if used correctly. Do above and beyond the necessary and make your profile as strong as it can be!


Here are a few tips on where to use your energy and time and how to increase your probability of success.

1. Know what you want

Spend some focused time working out exactly what you want to do. Self-analysis work is key before you put your effort in. Knowing what you want and what you are good at and enjoy will save you time, ensure you come across as focused and self assured and it will also be helpful when asking others as they will then know to think of you when a particular opportunity arises. An easy cost effective way to do this is to complete What to do next? by Charlotte Billington (available on Amazon). A practical exercise book you can complete in your own time.

2. Network

Build your network, reach out to relevant people within your network, learn from your network, seek out others within your networks’ network that you could be introduced to/speak to. Ensure that you contact senior people too, they may be more likely to have hiring power. Once people are aware of your area/needs, doors should open. Speak to people who have done well in your chosen field. Most often, people who have done well in their area and enjoy it are very happy to talk to those who are equally passionate and considering entering their area. Learn from others, speak to them about how they did it or look at their bios. If you are considering a course/some development in your area of interest, get recommendations from people who know.

3. LinkedIn

Use this to its full advantage. Whilst looking for a position, you could consider joining linked in premium facility which is free for the first 30 days or look into their job seeker app. LinkedIn is a hugely powerful tool when it comes to recruiting and job change – spend time on perfecting your profile. Recruiters, headhunters and decision makers are using it to recruit so you are missing a trick if you are not using it to its full.

4. Agencies

Join them. Identify three or four recognized agencies, headhunters or search firms that recruit the types of positions that you are looking for at the correct level of seniority. A tip on finding them…. Ask your network, think of good agencies you have used in the past for recruiting and join them. Call a few of the companies you would like to work for and see if you can find out which agencies they use – then join them. Another key tip is to build a relationship with your key recruiter and their team. If they like you they will fight for you. The relationship with them is key!

5. Build your experience

Once you have identified what you want build your experience in that area. This could be internally within your company, by volunteering outside of work or offering on projects. Also pick out and highlight the relevant experience that you have on your CV or LinkedIn profile.

6. Be visible

Whether this is in person networking or at events and conferences or ‘on line’ joining in on discussions and in groups be visible and get out there!

7. Work on presenting yourself

Interview well, have an elevator pitch, look good in person and on paper. Make sure your online presence, CV and LinkedIn profiles are impressive. Spend time on this.

8. Match

Match your CV and LinkedIn profile as closely as you can to the job specifications that you are looking at. Pull out the key words and relevant experience that you have.

9. Research

Once you have identified a position, research and do more research. Research the company hiring process, the person interviewing you, others who work there, the market, their presence within the market, any articles related to them. Go beyond with the research.

10. Follow up – Ask and re ask if you need to

Reach out and ask others. Can you help them out too in some way? Don’t be afraid to ask and talk to people. Why not approach that person at that company you have always wanted to work for and send your CV. They can always say no but they may say yes!

11. Testimonials and recommendations

Ask people to write these for you on LinkedIn. People generally have to be approached and asked to do this. If you can ask for a testimonials from a 360 perspective – a boss, a colleague, a client, customer etc. Have atleast six.

12. Courses

Are there any courses you could complete whilst you are still working at your current company or relevant ones you could do alongside?

13. Keep up-to-date

Join groups on LinkedIn, sign up to blogs relevant to your field, prescribe for an industry relevant magazine, sign up to newsletters. Go to conferences and any relevant meet ups. Learn, read and absorb any relevant information. Sign up to google alerts. These alerts (based on single words or phrases) will generate news articles that contain them emailed directly to your in box every day and will flag newsworthy content. Perhaps sign up with three or four relevant words. Set up google alerts for the companies you are interested in and interviewing for. All of the above will result in you coming across more knowledgeable and up to date with market changes and they may flag information on openings competitors or help you think about the specific areas you are most interested in. Also keep up with current affairs – buy The Week or other publications that reduce news if you are time poor. Read a daily newspaper to keep you informed and up to date.

14. Keep going and try to keep positive

You will be more attractive as a candidate and others will want to help you. If you feel you need it and require assistance to get from where you are to where you want to be hire a career coach. Similar to asking for personal training if you have fitness goals a career coach could provide the extra support you need.


Pay attention to the preferred and required qualifications

The job qualifications list is one of the most important parts of the job description. This list may include:

  • Education level
  • Work experience
  • Required licenses or certificates
  • Required skills

This list will typically be broken up into preferred and required qualifications. The most important qualifications will often be listed first, so if you meet those qualifications, be sure to emphasize them in your cover letter. If you have a qualification that’s similar to one the employer listed, also try to mention it in your resume or cover letter.

Read through the job duties

Employers will also often include a list of duties required for the job. These duties can vary wildly from job-to-job, even if the job titles are the same. Similar to the qualifications, the job duties are often listed in order from most important to least important. As you read through the job duties, make a list of the one you’ve done in your previous jobs. Then, include some of what you listed in your cover letter.

Check for questions or keywords

Sometimes, employers will ask candidates to answer a question or use a certain keyword in their application to make sure that they thoroughly read through the job description. This question may be something simple, or it might be an important part of the application. Before you move away from the job description and start writing your cover letter, be sure to double check all the requirements in the description.

Use the description in your cover letter

Employers want to know that you carefully read the description and understand what the job entails. One way to show this is to use the description in your cover letter. Put some of the description into your own words, and say how your skills match what’s being described. For example, if one of the job duties is managing meetings, you could discuss a particularly successful meeting you organized at your previous job. Or, if you’re just coming out of college and don’t have professional experience yet, you could discuss club meetings you’ve held, or class discussions you’ve led. When you use the description in your cover letter, you’ll show the company that you spent time thinking about their job listing, and that you understand how your unique skillset will fit into the company.

Know the lingo

When you’re looking at job descriptions, you may notice certain buzz words and phrases popping up again and again, like “must be a self-starter” or “opportunities for growth.” These phrases may seem standard, but they may not mean what you think. To parody what employers actually expect, GetVoIP created this visual on what descriptions actually mean.

When you’re reading through job descriptions, be sure to look out for common phrases, and carefully read through the job qualifications and duties before deciding if you want to apply for the job. Doing this helps ensure that you’re applying for jobs that will be a great fit for you.


The ever-important networking event. Some people love them. Others hate them. No matter how you feel about them, it is hard to ignore their value. Regardless of what line of work someone is in, being able to get out and talk to new people and make connections is valuable. For a lot of people, networking events can generate leads or new business opportunities. Others are able to find new employment or opportunities to collaborate. Most importantly, networking events allow participants to get to know people within a community; whether it be a geographic community (e.g., regional chamber of commerce) or a community of practice (e.g., a meeting of a professional or trade organization).

While different people may have different motivations for attending a networking event, one thing is for sure, everyone wants to make a good impression. It is possible to be memorable for the wrong reasons. Making a good, memorable impression at a networking event can pay dividends in both the short- and long-run.

Be Curious

Oftentimes it is easy to recognize the people at a networking event that are trying to “get something.” Networking is a great opportunity to make connections that can lead to employment, business or sales leads, but no one wants to feel like they’re being sold something. Rather than focusing on what you can get, you can be more memorable by asking questions of others. Be an active listener and try to find out about other people and what they do. Genuine curiosity about others can be rare, so this simple tip can make you stand out from the crowd.

Connect Other People

If you are in the fortunate position to know people at a networking event, seize the opportunity to help connect other people. Make introductions to people that you think may have something in common. Sometimes it is as easy as children going to the same school, they went to the same college or you know they are members at the same gym. People are drawn to commonalities, but they also appreciate someone making it easy to find that common ground to start a conversation. Help other people make connections.

Have an Elevator Pitch/Introduction

In most cases, you are going to be asked something along the lines of “What do you do?” or “Who are you with?” at a networking event. Prepare in advance of the event with an elevator pitch—a summary of who you are and what you do that you can tell people in the time it takes to make a short elevator ride.

For example, if you are in a relatively new environment, something along the lines of “I’m Rob, I recently began working as an accountant at XYZ Corporation, but prior to that I was in corporate finance with ABC Incorporated in Dayton for four years.” In one short introduction, the person already knows a little bit about you, what you do, what you’ve done in the past, where you’ve worked, and so on. While it didn’t take long, all of this information can serve as a good jumping off point for a conversation and follow-up questions.

Remember Names

Any time you meet someone, one of the most impactful things you can do is remember his or her name. It isn’t always easy and some people are better at it than others, but there are ways to improve. One method is to repeat the person’s name after they say it to you. Another is to use their name during the conversation, which helps it stick in your brain. Remembering people’s names sounds simple, but it is an easy way to be memorable to those you have just met.

Follow Up

Sometimes being memorable at a networking event means something you do after the event. If you made a strong connection with someone or they asked you to do something, be sure to follow up by doing what you said you would. It could be anything. If they asked for a copy of your resume or for you to send them some information or a contact they could use, follow up with a short email. Another route is a handwritten note or phone call, even setting an appointment to grab coffee in the next few weeks.

Positive Impression

Last, but certainly not least, is to make a positive impression. It may be as simple as smiling at people and making eye contact when you are talking to them. Beyond that, it is having a positive attitude. People are drawn to positivity. The opposite can make you memorable too, but not for the reasons you want. Bring an optimistic, collaborative attitude to a networking event, and you will walk away having made good, memorable impressions.


Author: Michelle Riklan

His story really got me thinking. His insecurities, while totally understandable, were also largely unnecessary. Let me explain – young job hunters listen in.

If you read a job description and believe you could do what they’re asking for if given the chance to prove yourself, don’t just walk away because you feel you’re inexperienced. Every graduate has to start somewhere – everyone needs to get their foot in the door somehow! Not having the exact mirror-image experience they seem to want is totally okay – there are ways around that. (Employers tend to include ‘nice to haves’ in their ‘must haves’ section anyway- as you move through your career you’ll learn that job descriptions tend to lie about a lot of things!)

If you’re up for the challenge, you’re going to need to transform your CV into a golden ticket to an interview. How will you do that? By selling the skills and experience you do have and showing the selection panel you’re more than capable of being a successful suitor for the role. Think ‘transferable skills’.

Step 1: Don’t work yourself up

Before you start dwelling heavily on the negatives surrounding your lack of nail-on-the-head experience, it’s worth acknowledging that all of the most ambitious candidates will have to overcome a stretch in skills at some point when they apply for a new or higher level position. Employers want to hire people who like to challenge themselves, not people who only make lateral moves that don’t foster personal growth. After all, a CV is basically just a document that says, “hey potential employer, look at all the things I have done to date, I think I could adapt and apply my skills to add value to your business”. That’s the equivalent of transferring skills, no?

Step 2: Print out that job description

Now you know you’re not alone, you need to start working on tailoring your CV. Get it up on your computer screen and print a hard copy of the job description, so you can easily refer to both at once. Read through it with a fine tooth comb and be sure you understand:

  • Who they want to hire
  • What the main responsibilities of the role will be
  • What prior experience they’d like the person to have
  • What abilities / skills the new person needs to be able to showcase
  • What characteristics the successful person will need to demonstrate

Be sure to underline or highlight specific systems or points that stand out as being really important to them.

Step 3: Build a CV that sells you well

If you’re stuck with where to start, try honing in on transferable skills to get you thinking about your experience. Think back through your academic and professional experience (internships / part time jobs) and identify ways and times you’ve practiced the following:

  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Research
  • Data analysis
  • Organisation & time management
  • Team work
  • Leadership
  • Systems & technology

Step 4: Use examples

Now, you cannot simply list a number of transferable skills and personal attributes on the CV in the hopes that the selection panel will take your word for it, join the dots for you and assume you’re capable of tackling what’s been outlined in the job description. You need to describe how your experiences to date have set you up for being successful in picking up the responsibilities of the new role.

For example, if the job description says:

“Experience using System M”

Your CV should include something like:

“Proven ability to quickly learn and master new systems, such as System X, Y and Z”

Forget esoteric jargon that only people who studied your university degree or worked with you in that part time role would understand. Try to contextualise your statements and back them up. If one of the responsibilities of the new role is “analyse data and create reports on X”, clearly identify where you’ve successfully completed a similar task in the past, even if it was on a totally different topic or within a totally different environment.

When you think you’re done, check out this article to make sure your CV is completely up to scratch!

Step 5: Nail your the bio at the top of your CV

Recruiters and / or the selection panel tend not to spend too long on individual applications, due to the sheer volume. Including a bio at the top of your CV is awesome way of selling yourself instantly – think of it like an elevator pitch. It should only be a few lines, but address:

  1. Who you are
  2. What have you been doing / working on / studying recently
  3. What sort of background do you have – previous employment / industries
  4. Your major strengths
  5. What are you looking for and why

Step 6: Write a cover letter & hit APPLY!


So you’ve asked all the right questions, completed the key steps to set up on your own and found your first project; now you’re looking forward to your first day as an IT contractor.

To enjoy a successful experience on your contract, there are a number of things you’ll need to consider – making the right first impression, prioritising visibility, building strong working relationships, documenting your work and managing your admin properly will all be critical.

Here are some tips for making the right impact in your IT contracting opportunity:

  1. Get the first-day basics right

First things first, you must be sure of what day you start, the address of the office and what time you need to be there. Being in the right place at the right time is obviously essential to making the right impression.

You should also have a good understanding of your working environment before you arrive. For example, what is the company’s dress code policy? How does the project and current team work?

To gather this information, it’s important to have a contact person within the client organisation that you’re going to be working for (they can be a different person than the one who interviewed/hired you).

I would always recommend calling your contact for an informal chat the week before you’re due to start, to confirm their expectations and to see if you need to bring anything particular with you on your first day. Do you need to read any documentation in advance? Do you need to bring your own laptop or will this be provided?

  1. Be visible

Even if you are working remotely, you need to work hard to integrate yourself into your new team. You should try to spend your induction week – or weeks – in the office so you can get to know people personally.

After that, you should still make the effort to come in to the office at least once a month to reconnect with people face-to-face. This could make all the difference when the client decides whether to extend your contract or looks to you again for a future project.

  1. Emotional intelligence matters

As well as technical expertise, many organisations are beginning to prioritise emotional intelligence (EQ) in their contractors. Strong EQ or ‘soft skills’ enable professionals to better understand, motivate and direct people and, as a result, their teams are often more focused, productive and happier. Having a reputation for strong EQ will set you apart from other contractors and will be especially useful in challenging projects.

Make sure you listen properly to your client to understand their needs and how you can best meet them. Asking simple questions like ‘Where are you with your project at the moment?’, ‘Where do you need help?’ and ‘What will constitute a successful outcome of my work?’ can be a good way to open the communication channels and help both of you make the most of your time.

This approach also applies when you get into the nitty gritty of the project. In any project, you will find a mix of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ – you might even have been brought in to turn around a failing project – but condemning everything that went before you as trash is not going to win you any friends, even if it might be true.

Taking an approach of: ‘I respect what you did before, but this is how we can improve it in the future’, is likely to be much more fruitful.

  1. Always be documenting

When starting with a new client, you need as much information as possible on processes, templates and databases. This may not be offered up automatically by your client, but you’ll need to have it to do your job properly.

This will also help you to document your work. Every contractor should have proper documentation of what they did and where they are now with their project. This means that, after you have left, your client and new people joining the project will be able to work with what you’ve done.

Even if your client doesn’t mention documentation to you, still do it. You don’t want to be in a situation where, two days before you’re due to finish a contract, the client suddenly remembers to ask you for your documentation. This can, naturally, cause a problem.

Of course, clarifying expectations on documentation with your contact before you start can avoid any issues from the outset.

  1. Keep on top of your timesheet

Who is going to sign my timesheet? How often? What does the timesheet look like? Is it paper or online? These are all questions you should be asking about your timesheet.

You should also find out if and when the person who’ll be signing your timesheet has vacation time and who will fill in for them when they are away. Do not assume your client will already have a contingency plan in place.

Being organised and making sure your client has all the information they need from you will mean that getting paid on time should be a relatively painless process. You don’t want to have a mad scramble at the end of each month so you can pay your bills. This will also help the client to see you as being organised and efficient.

In truth, if a client is on the ball, they should be proactively discussing all the matters above with you in advance of you starting your contract. That being said, you need to make yourself as easy to work with as possible, and anticipating any issues before they arise will certainly win you brownie points and positive recommendations you can use in the future.


Author: Daniel Dubbert


This is it, you tell yourself excitedly as you accept the offer. This is where you’re meant to be. Your boss is going to be amazing, your work is going to be exhilarating, and your future incredible— it’s all up from here. Until it isn’t. You thought everything about this new gig was going to be perfect, but it turns out, you were so very wrong. Again.
Just like your last job (and the one before that)—you thought it was going to be worlds apart from you were just doing, and maybe, for a brief second, it was—until it suddenly became terrible and unendurable, and you must face the fact that you made yet another mistake.
If your track record leaves much to be desired, it might be to time to consider that you may be the problem, or at least part of it. If you’re looking for perfection, your quest will be unending. The perfect boss, job, colleague, work environment just doesn’t exist.
Yes, ideally you will enjoy what you do, have friends at work and mostly feel good about your employer. Just because things don’t go as planned, it doesn’t give you license to start the search all over again with the hopes that you’ll find something better. If you do that every time you disagree with or are disappointed with someone in your workplace, you’ll find yourself in a revolving door of jobs.
Instead, if you want to maintain your sanity and advance your career, you’ve got to figure out how to weather challenges so that you’re making the most of every position, and only moving on when it’s the right move for your career. After all, it’s easy to explain constant resume changes when they’re the result of a new opportunity. It can get really tricky to explain all those moves when the only motivation is your dissatisfaction.
Here are some ideas to help you break out of this cycle:

1. Agree To Disagree
Sometimes your boss will make a decision or request something from you that you dislike. If it isn’t unethical or harmful, then it’s not worth quitting in a huff. Ask yourself how you can get something out of the situation that’ll benefit you. Maybe you’ve been appointed to a committee you’d rather not be part of. Will you meet at least one new person, and can you view that as beneficial? Maybe you got assigned a crap project while your colleagues got the enviable ones. What can you do to make the unappealing assignment better? If nothing else, can you handle it quickly and leave yourself time to focus on something you do like?
If you find yourself in constant disagreement with your manager after a year or so, you might start putting out feelers for a new gig. It’s still not worth doing something rash if things are otherwise fine. Better to buy yourself some time to sort things out and build your reputation.

2. Manage People
Colleagues making you crazy? Instead of running for the exit, set boundaries. This is an incredibly important soft skill to develop for your long-term career. Keep conversations short when you’re busy. Close your door or block out time on your calendar to minimize time with problem colleagues. Politely decline invitations to spend extra time bonding outside of work. Keep your nose to the grindstone, turning out great results. Some of those obnoxious colleagues may find their way to different pastures if you can just wait it out. Why should you be the one to bolt?
Meanwhile, look for new people in the organization you can connect with. You’ve no doubt heard that employees with a work best friend are happier and perform better than those without. So look for someone that you “click” with—someone whose company you enjoy. That friendship may help you both be better and happier employees, in part because you can help one another maintain a sense of perspective with your workplace and save your energy—and resignation letter—for situations that actually warrant it.

3. Build the Right Relationships
Speaking of relationships, it’s important that your relationship with that work BFF is a healthy one. If the only thing that brings you together is your toxic attitude toward everyone else, well, you may not be any better off than if you had no friends at work. Make sure your office buddies are supportive and encouraging and not constant complainers. While they don’t have pretend to love everything about the company, they should have some positive things to say some of the time. Surrounding yourself with optimistic and positive people will help you avoid the work blues.
Bear in mind, too, that the best and most supportive person will grate on your nerves or disappoint you eventually. Instead of washing your hands of him or her and marking one more hash mark in the “I should quit this job” column, try just taking a bit of a break from your friend.
Use a few of the tactics from the previous section to stay busy and unavailable for a couple of days. During that time, remember that you’ve made a few mistakes in life, and your friend may get annoyed with you sometimes, too. Think about the things that make your friendship work. When you’ve calmed down and put things in perspective, then you can reconnect. Just make sure you’re truly ready to move past the issue. Otherwise, your career path is destined to be a lonely one because perfect humans just don’t exist.

4. Be Patient
For at least a minute. If your awesomeness isn’t rewarded with a raise or promotion the minute you think it should be, make sure you understand what’s typical and standard at your place of employment. It’s possible you aren’t eligible for advancement until you’ve reached six months or a year. Also bear in mind that if you’re going to ask for recognition of some type, you’d better go into that meeting with evidence of your effectiveness or you’ll be branded as entitled, presumptuous or just plain obnoxious.
A better approach than worrying about a raise right out of the gate might be to tell yourself you’re going to use your first year on the job to build. Learn everything you can about your role and department as well as the company. Go above and beyond on assignments. Build your relationships across various departments. Document as you go, and you’ll be in a good shape to request a raise after you’ve put in at least a year.
Being miserable all day is no way to work. But it’s crucial to keep some perspective and to recognize when you’re creating or at least contributing to your misery with unrealistic expectations of perfection and glory. Before you pack it in, ask yourself if it’s really the job that’s a problem.
Can you adjust your mind set and your habits to make life better? Sometimes, making a few small adjustments in your own behavior makes the rest of the world look very different. That healthier and more realistic outlook can put you back in the driver’s seat of your career, making changes strategically instead of impulsively. And that one change—strategy versus impassivity—can be the difference in your long-term career trajectory.

“4 Ways To Handle A Job You Can’t Stand That Are Better Than Quitting (Again)” was originally published on The Daily Muse.
Caris Thetford is a counselor who is fanatical about personal growth and development, and regularly contributes to The Muse.

Whether you have finally decided to turn a side project into a full-time career or your soul is withering a little more each day you stay in an unsatisfying job, at some point it may be time to move on.

If you choose to leave surrounded by drama, you risk damaging your personal reputation and putting your integrity into question. Do your future self a favour and maintain the highest standards throughout the process.

Here are 7 things to avoid when it’s time to quit a job.

  1. Never storm out.

Even if there comes a moment when it all gets to be too much, resist the urge to make an abrupt or emotional exit. Take a deep breath. Excuse yourself from the room. Cry in private. But don’t blow out in a huff, calling people names as you go. You jeopardize the rest of your career with a momentarily satisfying “Shove it” scene.

No matter what your industry, word will get around of your behaviour. Unless you are in an extreme and uncommonly bad situation, giving your employer two weeks’ notice (more for some jobs) is standard.

  1. Never let your boss hear about your departure from someone else.

Once you’ve made up your mind to leave, the first person in the office you should tell is your supervisor. The conversation should be done in person; regardless of the circumstances, you will get credit for having the consideration and poise to inform them face-to-face. Avoid dropping the news by text, email, social media or a sticky note.

  1. Never use the exit interview to vent your frustrations.

The company’s HR department may want to visit with you to better understand your reason for leaving. While this may seem like a golden opportunity to tell them what’s really on your mind, it’s not the time to freely share your innermost thoughts about your boss or air a long list of annoyances. Go in ready to offer helpful feedback in a constructive way.

  1. Never take it upon yourself to inform your clients of the news without consulting your boss.

Pretty soon they will no longer be your clients. These relationships belong to the company, so discuss with your manager how he or she would like to handle the transition and offer your assistance. While it’s fair to stay in touch with clients you have built relationships with, if you try poaching them away while on the job, you are putting them on the spot, making yourself look bad and not being fair to your employer.

  1. Never get sloppy after you’ve given notice.

Wrap things up to the best of your ability. Do a good job up until the minute you leave. Spend your remaining time getting ready to hand your duties over to your replacement instead of succumbing to short-timer’s disease and leaving things half-finished.

  1. Never make the mistake of thinking you won’t see them again.

There’s often a false sense of finality about leaving a job. It’s important to remember that you and your co-workers’ fates are somewhat intertwined. You are operating in the same universe, and you never know what the future holds.

There could come a day when your former intern has taken a job as a recruiter for one of your favourite firms. Your boss could move to another company that you would love to have as a client. Someday you may even want to work for the same corporation again. The point is, you never know where your career will lead and whose paths will intersect yours, so it’s in your best interest to strive to maintain good relationships with everyone.

  1. Never make them happy to see you go.

Stay positive and professional until the last day. Your final impression is as important as the first. It’s always better to make them sorry you’re leaving instead of relieved to see you go!




Owner, The Protocol School of Texas@dianegottsman


When it comes to making each day more productive, you’re used to hearing the same tips over and over again. Resist the temptation to continuously check your email. Wake up earlier. Craft a powerful and compelling to-do list.

While those tips can definitely make a difference, they’re now so oft-repeated that they go in one ear and out the other.

And, that’s exactly why Joe Staples, CEO of Workfront, used his experience, research, and the 2016-2017 State of Work Report to identify five strategies to increase your productivity that you haven’t heard a million times before. Give them a try, and watch as that perfectly-crafted to-do list disappears.

  1. Change The Way You Sync Up With Your Team

A reported 59% of Americans say that meetings are the biggest time-sucks of their days. We all spend countless hours circled up around the conference room table, only to walk out without any progress being made.

“There’s been a lot of talk about removing meetings altogether, but that’s not the answer,” explains Staples.

Instead, you need to change the way you approach meetings. First, ensure whether or not a sit-down is really needed — or if the matter could easily be resolved using a less time-consuming method.

If you determine a formal meeting is necessary, maintain focus on results and resolution, rather than simply rehashing tasks and responsibilities. Another effective trick? Cut your normal meeting time in half to keep everybody on track.

  1. Get Real on Your Productivity Successes and Failures

All too often, we scrounge for different hacks and tips we can use to increase our productivity — without ever turning a keen eye on what’s working and what’s failing in our current workflows.

It’s important that you take some time to get real about your productivity successes and failures and determine how much you can feasibly get done during a 40-hour work week.

Are there obvious holes in your processes or too many interruptions? Evaluate your average day-to-day to figure out what changes need to be made. This self-reflection might seem unnecessary, but this awareness can make a huge difference in your daily productivity.

  1. Focus on Your Primary Duties

Are you ready for a rude awakening? In 2016, American office workers are spending only 39% of their time on the primary job duties they were hired for.

Where does the rest of their time go? To assorted tasks and projects that don’t actually fall within the scope of their position. “So, it comes as no surprise that they then face challenges meeting their actual job goals,” Staples says.

Yes, being helpful and adaptable is key in the office. But, if you feel as if your productivity and your professional goals are suffering, it’s time to have an honest conversation with your boss or your team in order to bring the focus back to the central purpose of your role.

Needless to say, clearing those unrelated duties off your plate will free up plenty of time to actually accomplish the important, relevant things you need to get done.

  1. Bring Lunch Hour Back From the Dead

57% of American workers take 30 minutes or less for a lunch break. But — as counterintuitive as it might seem — numerous studies have shown that taking breaks throughout your workday can actually have a positive impact on your productivity.

So, stop subsisting on four cups of coffee and the office candy jar and instead leave yourself some adequate time to fuel up on some healthy foods over the lunch hour.

Yes, it seems odd that stepping away from your desk will result in getting more done. But, give it a try and you’ll likely be surprised.

  1. Don’t Get Tool Happy

There’s always some sort of new tool, app, or platform coming out that promises to skyrocket your productivity. And, some of those really can be helpful in keeping you focused and organized.

However, if you load up on too many — particularly ones that don’t integrate or work together — you’ll only end up slowing yourself down.

Do your best to identify what works best for you and then keep things lean by using only multi-purpose tools that meet your needs.

Everybody wants to be more productive. And, the classic pieces of advice you’ve heard time and time again can undoubtedly be helpful.

But, if you’re looking for some fresh tips, give these five a try and start ticking off that to-do list!


When it comes to resumes and LinkedIn profile reading, nothing screams “achievement” in my experience more than statistics and numerical figure. Why? Numbers let the reader see your bottom-line achievements without the need for fluffy adjectives and descriptive language.

We All Have Numbers

For those in sales who are responsible for meeting quotas on a regular basis, coming up with quantifiable achievements is easier than for most. A quick peek into an online CRM tool or your own sales trackings are likely to reveal stats and rankings against your peers.

For those not in sales, never fear. Numbers exist – albeit a bit hidden as percentages, fractions, and so on.

Digging Up Numbers

Take a step back and think about your goals for the past month, quarter or even year. Here are eight questions to get you thinking. Did you:

  • Save money? By how much?
  • Save time? How long did a task take before or after?
  • Did my company grow? Is it bigger in terms of employees, number of locations or profitability?
  • How is morale? Have I contributed to more people staying versus jumping ship?
  • How many people have I promoted?
  • Interface with more clients or prospective leads than you used to?
  • Did you finish a project more quickly and with less money than projected?
  • Did you negotiate savings with a vendor? How does this benefit your team or organization?

Turn your answers into figures ideally suited for an achievement-driven resume.

Numbers Are Everywhere

Whether you alone can take credit for an achievement or it makes sense to share accolades with your team. If your role contributed in even a small way to a much larger success – by capturing the story using numbers your career history takes on new meaning.

Everything can (and should) be quantified – the results are sure to resonate with readers in a compelling way.

Looking for a new job while you’re still at your current one? Not sure how to do both and afraid of doing the wrong thing and risking your current role? Here are some points to consider to make the process a little bit easier and hopefully much less painful

Honesty Is The Best Policy (Where Hiring Managers And Recruiters Are Concerned)

It is best to be honest about your schedule and your times of availability from the get-go. If it will be impossible to schedule calls or in-person interviews during certain days of the week or particular times of the day, be sure to share this with a prospective hiring manager or a recruiter.

Your honesty and straight forwardness will be respected.

Flex Wherever Possible

If your job does not require a set hourly schedule, experiment with flexing. Try coming in an hour or two earlier and leaving an hour or two earlier, or conversely coming in an hour later and staying later.

Another option is to try and schedule interviews during and around the lunch time hour from 12-1 PM, while remaining open to the notion of leaving at 11 AM or as late as 1 PM for phone screens or in person interviews.

Avoid Excuses

If arranging flex time without raising suspicion is simply not possible, then try a tactic that avoids excuses.

The most direct and professional way, and the one that eliminates the need to come up with an excuse for missing work, is to inquire if an interview may be conducted before or after work hours.

While the answer may be no – at the very least you have showed yourself to be a conscientious employee.

Take Personal Business Time

If your request for a before- or after-hours interview gets denied, consider taking a full or half personal or vacation day. While too many of these may eat into actual future vacation plans, no excuse is needed and your paycheck won’t take a hit.

Just remember more than one day’s notice will be appreciated by those in your current workplace.

Less Is Best

The most nerve-wracking part for most employed job seekers is communicating a workday absence. In these cases, aim for vague – as the fewer details you provide the less cover up required.

If asked, explain that you have an appointment and if your job allows try and work from home. If pressed – only you can decide if it will help or harm to be up front about your job search.

Have A Plan For Wardrobe Transformations

Work in a casual office but need to wear a suit to your interview? Scope out a place to make the wardrobe change that is away from people who work in your company.

Consider also elevating your work wardrobe at the office several weeks in advance. Although people may be suspicious at first, eventually they will accept your new dress choice as the new norm.

Interviewing for a new job when you have a job is challenging, but not insurmountable, with a bit of planning and creativity. Happy job hunting!


So, you’ve decided it’s time for a fresh start and a new challenge. Maybe you’ve been at the same company since you left school and you’re eager to branch out. Perhaps you’ve progressed as far as you can in your current organisation or you think you’d like to pursue a new career altogether.
There are a whole host of different reasons for moving jobs and, in many cases; there is no more motive than simply wanting a change. But, before you freshen up your CV, dust down your interview outfit and embark on the process of looking for that perfect role, it’s crucial to slow down, take stock and think about what it is you really need from your new job.

Below, I’ve listed twenty of the most important questions to ask yourself before beginning your search.

1. Why am I looking to leave my current employer?

Think about this one carefully, because it will likely come up during the interview process, especially if you’ve not been at your current job that long. Why is it you feel you need to move on? Think about how a move would benefit you and your continuing professional development. Maybe your current employer doesn’t offer you any opportunities for promotion or maybe you have skills that are not being utilised. All of these are good reasons for a change in your job.

2. What do I enjoy most about my current role?

Consider the things you love about your job and put these things top of your wish list when looking for a new role. Maybe you’ve formed close working relationships with your colleagues in an open office environment or you relish your company’s international business trips. It goes without saying, then, that a new job without these benefits may well affect how much you enjoy going to work each day.

3. What can I offer? What is my USP?

Rather than just reeling off a list of positive adjectives, such as “hardworking” or “conscientious”, which, quite frankly, anyone can do, think instead of some concrete examples at work where you showed the qualities employers look for. Was there a time when you really added value to your company? How? Have you had a role in an international deal or changed a client’s life for the better? What sets you apart from all the others applying for this job?

4. What do I want from my career?

Do you want promotion, a better work-life balance or more variation in your work? Thinking about this carefully will allow you to pick and choose the most appropriate roles, for which to apply.

5. What skills to you want to develop and what experiences do you want to gain in the next five years?

Focus on the skills you wish to hone and experiences you wish to enjoy. If international travel is right up there for you, for instance, don’t waste time on applying for jobs that will keep you in one place.

6. Are promotional opportunities and progression important to me in a new role?

If they are, ensure you focus your search on organisations and companies that can offer you the best chance to fulfil your potential. If you’re not so bothered about climbing the career ladder, you can afford to be a bit more open to a range of job possibilities.

7. What am I willing to be flexible about?

Consider which elements you think you could be more flexible about in order to get the job you really want and those which you definitely aren’t. Sometimes a step back leads to a step forwards in the long run.

8. How far am I willing to commute?

This is a really important question, as so much of your work-life balance depends on your commute. Don’t underestimate the impact a long, tedious journey every day of the week can have on your emotional wellbeing and home life. If your current journey leaves you feeling frustrated, look for a job nearer home. Consider too the cost of fuel or public transport if you are looking at something further from your current place of work.

9. What benefits are most important to me?

Many companies offer fantastic perks, such as a company car, gym membership, private healthcare or even something as simple as dress-down Friday to make their employees feel valued. Think carefully about how much these benefits mean to you and how you would feel if you lost them.

10. What salary am I aiming at?

Be realistic when thinking about your salary expectations. It may be that you’d be prepared to take a pay cut to secure that dream job, but do make sure you can afford it. Create a spreadsheet of all of your outgoings and ensure you can afford to live comfortably on the salaries of any jobs you are looking at. In the same way, know your worth and don’t be afraid to aim for more highly paid jobs if you have the required skills and experience.

11. Would I be willing to relocate for the right role?

If you’re single and renting, relocating for the right job may be a no-brainer. Where partners and children are concerned, however, it may not be so easy to up sticks.

12. What kind of company culture would suit me best?

Do you enjoy working for a large organisation or do smaller, more dynamic companies suit you better? Would you sink or swim in a high-pressured, high-stress environment? Would you be bored in a gentler-paced job? Do you want to be customer-facing or working on the inside? All of these are important questions to consider.

13. What kind of work environment makes me most productive and fulfilled?

It may be that you thrive in a team, open-office environment and don’t like the idea of spending long days working on your own. You know yourself best, so do take your working style into account when looking at new roles.

14. What size of company do I want to work for? Try making a list of companies you would like to work for.

Working for huge multinational organisations can open the door to fantastic opportunities but then so can working for a small, vibrant local upstart. What are your priorities?

15. Where do I want to be, career-wise, in the next five years? What are the steps I need to make to get there?

Ambitions are important: they give you impetus and momentum in your work life. Think about what you would like to achieve and how your new job could help you do it.

16. How do I want and like to be managed?

Are you happier being trusted to get on with the job or do you prefer a more managed approach? Only apply for the jobs that will allow you to flourish in your preferred working style.

17. Is my CV and LinkedIn profile up to date?

Ensure your details are all up-to-date with your most recent employment and the skills and experience you have gained there. A well-structured LinkedIn page especially is a great way to make contacts and hear about new job vacancies.

18. How do I like to work the most: on my own or as part of a team?

Being comfortable and happy in the way you work is the best way to maximise your output and reach your potential. Work out whether you prefer to work as a team, at home, on your own or a bit of everything and use this information to focus your job search.

19. How am I going to manage the job search process?

Signing up to receive online alerts and using social media are great ways of researching companies and finding out about up-and-coming job vacancies. Follow your ideal companies on Twitter, like their Facebook page and take a look on Glassdoor to read reviews from current employees.

20. Who can help me in my job search?

Lastly, remember that recruitment consultants and agencies have always been a great way of finding the best job to fit your skills and experience. Also, in today’s tech-savvy world, your phone or tablet can also be a great source of information. Work out where your ideal jobs are going to be advertised and get online to get ahead.


Credit: Jenna Alexander, Hays

Researching the company, or doing your homework, is critical before any job interview. Potential employers will want to know what you know about their company.

Good job candidates do the basics by checking out the company website and gathering some basic information, but you can really stand out by going just a little further.

If you uncover as much as you can about the company before the interview, you’ll enjoy all kinds of benefits…you’ll answer interview questions more effectively, you’ll ask better questions, and you’ll demonstrate your intelligence and enthusiasm for the job. You need to do as much research as you can so you can create a 30-60-90 day plan, also.

Where should you go to research the company effectively besides the corporate website?


Do a simple search to see if the company has been in the news or has put out any press releases. Do they have expansion plans? Are they cutting some divisions or areas from their main focus? Have they been mentioned in any blog articles?


Many companies maintain LinkedIn pages that provide different information than you can find on the corporate website.  You may be able to search through your groups to see if the company has been mentioned in any discussions. LinkedIn Pulse is also a place to find articles that may mention the company, industry trends, or upcoming events the company may be a part of. You can also check out the individual profiles of past and present employees looking for where they’ve worked in the past, what educational backgrounds or training they may have in common, and so on.


Some companies also keep a Facebook page that’s more casual and gives you another perspective.


Check out official company Tweets as well as those of employees. You never know what you’ll see.


Do a little research on the company’s primary competitors to see how they contrast or compare to this company.

Ask Your Network

You can sometimes learn insider information by asking people in your network or your recruiter.

When they ask you in the interview, ‘What do you know about us?’ you can give a very impressive answer that includes their products or services, mission, place in the market and competition, and more.

You can say something like, “I know X, Y, and Z, and that’s why I am very excited about working here.  I think I’m an especially good fit for you because of A, B, and C.”  A, B, and C are what you’ve learned from your research. Now you’ve given them another reason to hire you.

You’ll also be able to answer their other interview questions with more effectiveness, too. For instance, if they ask you about your proudest accomplishment, you can choose an example that may fit their vision better than your ‘standard’ answer.

The questions you ask will be stronger questions that tell you much more about the company and your fit for it.

It’s worth it to prepare as thoroughly as you can for every interview.

Credit: Peggy McKee

Job Interviews: How To Respond When They Ask What You Know About The Company


Detoxing is a popular subject. The term is used nowadays to refer to eliminating things that aren’t good for us and affect us negatively. Usually it’s in the context of your physical health.

But perhaps it shouldn’t be limited to that. Have you ever thought about eliminating some of the ‘toxins’ affecting your work life? Are there any aspects of your work environment that could do with some attention? Do you have any particularly toxic behaviors, habits or routines that are holding you back or making you less productive? And if so, what can you do about them?

1. Sort Out Your Filing

Do you regularly have the feeling that you definitely have that important document, email or piece of information somewhere… if you could just lay your hands on it? We’ve all been there. But being unable to find what you need when you need it means you end up feeling stressed and not in control as you waste time tracking it down.

The prospect of spending some time going through your files – whether they’re in folders on your computer, in a filing cabinet or sliding off your in-tray – is not very appealing. But think about the payback. You’ll be more organized, you’ll know where to find information quickly and will be far more productive as a result.

2. Tidy Your Work Space

While we’re on the subject, the same logic applies to your desk or whatever workspace you use. There’s no escaping the fact that clutter equals confusion. Not only will a tidy up make you more productive, it will also help you feel calmer and better able to focus on the task at hand.

3. Open A Window

Once your workplace is tidy make the most of the rest of your working environment. If you can, open a window to reduce carbon dioxide build-up as it can contribute to the ‘afternoon slump.’ Alternatively add plants as they’ll absorb carbon dioxide — and other environmental pollutants — that can trigger fatigue. Studies show they can be good for lifting your mood too.

4. Sort Out Your Monitor

If your eyes are tired, you’ll feel tired as well. Adjust brightness, select a comfortable font size and give the screen a clean as a dirtier screen is harder to focus on.

5. Rethink Your To-Do List

To-do lists are helpful but need to be used carefully. Too many unfinished tasks can make you feel overwhelmed.

Allocate an hour to take a critical look at them and think about why they’re not done. You’ll undoubtedly see some that are important and need to be pushed up the list as priorities. Consider why you haven’t managed to do them. It may be due to lack of time. But are there other reasons why you haven’t addressed them? (Procrastination? Or maybe you are concerned that it won’t work out so you never get around to starting it in the first place? You may find it useful to take a look at these related articles in that case).

There could also be some projects that fit with your longer term goals but now isn’t the right time to address them. That’s fine – and simply acknowledging that will prime your brain to start contemplating the way forward for when the time is right.

But can you see any that are no longer relevant or don’t fit with the goals you now have? Time does move on and something that seemed important when it went on the list may be less so now. In which case, eliminate it.

Focus On The Results

Are you put off the idea of doing some ‘detoxing’ because it sounds like hard work and will take up time? All detoxes do need some effort but focus on what you’ll gain once you’ve done it. You will undoubtedly need to put in some time – but nowhere near as much as you’ll get back as a result.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. 



This past weekend I found myself browsing my favorite boutique only to fall in love with a stunning dress. Of course, I talked myself into trying it on. If you’re anything like me, you get in the dressing room and shimmy into that perfect outfit…just to find that the sleeves are too long or the dress is too tight. And oh yeah—that price tag? It’s way more expensive than you expected.

Finding the right job fit or strategizing your next career move can be eerily similar to a regular shopping experience—it too is all about fit. Here are four strategies and guiding questions you can use to ensure that you’re looking beyond the job description to find something that works for you:



Expanding on this fashion metaphor: any job description is similar to seeing that dress or blazer on a mannequin. Reading through one gets us excited about the type of work we will be doing. We think: I love how this sounds. But we need to know more:

  • What about the job description or organization is speaking to your individual purpose and career path? Will it hinder or optimize it?
  • Think about the simple stuff like location and the job’s ability to fit in your natural flow of the workday. Will your routine suffer?



We all know we need to work. But if you land an interview, think outside your automatic motivation to get the job. Open your senses to cultural cues that will help you gain insight into what your realistic day-to-day experience may look and feel like:

  • Observe the physical space of the location. Are there offices? Open cubes? How happy (or miserable) do the current employees look? How are people dressed? All of these observations will begin to paint a picture of formal and informal policies and values that the organization holds dear.
  • Remember, it’s a two-way street. If you get the opportunity to interview or speak to the manager who will oversee the position you are looking to land, take advantage! People leave managers, not organizations, so use this time to ask about their philosophy around leadership and how best to work with them in this role. If anything comes across as off-putting or insincere, that’s a red flag.
  • Test that “inner voice” when you walk out of the interview. Do you feel accomplished and excited or de-motivated?



It’s second-nature for us to attempt to match our career desires with the job description because we’ve been taught that give us a better chance at landing the job. Although this still rings true, take some time to really think through these common interview questions, so you are matching up assumptions about the job to your own version of career success. Don’t just tell them what you think they want to hear. Try these:

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What about this role/organization interests you?



Would you a buy that dress or blazer if it didn’t fit?  There is no rulebook ever written that says you must take a job if you’re offered it. Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer if it’s not the right fit or doesn’t align with your career journey.



This article was written by Angela R. Howard, one of Career Contessa’s mentors.

During the past few months, I’ve spoken with many college graduates who are just starting their professional adventure. They are looking for a definitive path and the best way to build their careers. I also know of people who have shifted career paths once or twice by following unconventional paths to perceived success. As a young aspiring professional, I probably would have read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” and Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive”, as both books offer an aspirational view of how to be a mindful businesswoman.

However, I think I would have also wanted something more specific to apply to my day-to-day life. In the spirit of sharing more practical advice based on what I’ve learned throughout my career, here is my best advice to my 20-something self:

  1. Always show gratitude.If someone has done you a good turn, take a moment to express genuine gratitude by mail, email, text, or a few words and smile. It’s a gracious way to live. As old-fashioned as it seems, mailing a hand-written card to a potential employer or dinner party host leaves a lasting impression.
  2. Remember this, too, shall pass.Whether you’re riding high on good fortune or you’re wallowing in the dumps of tough times, things move on and so will you. Be grateful when things are good. And be grateful for the things that are good when other things are crumbling around you.
  3. Never expect someone else to advocate for your best interest or to navigate major life decisions.While there are people who will want to help you, you know yourself and what you need best. Take whatever time you need to research, learn and to create your best options. From great options, make good decisions.
  4. Maintain your professional reputation.Avoid burning bridges with those you’ve worked with. If anything, invest a little time to continue cultivating your past relationships with colleagues. You never know when you might cross paths again in business.
  5. Every night, think of three positive things from the day – no matter how minor. This is another way experiencing gratitude, but it’s more introspective. Gratitude has been documented to generate success in individuals.
  6. Exude confidence. You only have one body. So be comfortable in it. Confidence in yourself will spur confidence others will have in you. Don’t have the confidence? “Fake it ‘til you make it,” as they say.
  7. Surround yourself with people who nurture you and encourage you.This is true in both your professional and personal life. Anyone else can be a distraction at best and an energy drain at worst.
  8. Be generous with yourself.I don’t mean that you should go on a buying spree. Be more practical than that. For example, make your bed in the morning as a small comfort for when you’re tired after a long day. You will feel a little more cared for. In addition to investing in as much as you can in your 401(k), set aside savings for the opportunity to advance your education. Even if you don’t end up going back to school (graduate school or otherwise), you will have a safety net if the economy goes south. Spend 150 minutes a week on yourself by incorporating cardiovascular activity. If you don’t have your health, everything else falls away pretty quickly.
  9. Understand that job interviews are a two-way street.View them as career interviews. The company is as much of a candidate for you as you are for them. After all, if you’re going to be spending 40+ hours per week somewhere, it’s important to be fully informed about how much they will enable your career growth. I always ask job candidates if they have any questions for me. What you ask is sometimes as important as what you’re answering.
  10. Mistakes can be gifts.Whether a learning experience, a happy accident, or a humbling experience, mistakes can serve us well. Don’t be afraid to make them. Just try not to make the same one twice.


Credit: Mary Ray,


Mary Ray is the co-founder of MyHealthTeams, which just closed a Series A round.

Most of us work hard at our jobs. We care about it. We want to do our best, advance our careers and continue to support ourselves and our families.

So do you really want to jeopardize all of that by saying something dumb?

Of course not. And yet, people say seemingly innocuous comments all the time that inadvertently impedes their career and hurts the morale of everyone around them.

While there are many examples of this, leadership coach Todd Dewett highlighted five of the most common phrases of this ilk in his class Management Tips. They are:

  1. “That’s not my job.”

When it’s used: Someone asks you for help for a task that is outside of your core job description and you don’t really want to do. Rather than spend some time helping or just saying no, you say this instead.

And immediately regret it.

What people hear when you say it: “I’m out for myself only.”

A better option: If you don’t have time to help someone at that moment, tell them you can’t do it or you can do it later. But don’t say it isn’t your job ­– ultimately, your job is to help your organization win, so helping where you can is part of your job.

  1. “We’ve tried that before.”

When it’s used: Someone – generally, someone who has been with the company for less time than you – suggests an idea. Instead of giving historical context but hearing them out, you shut them down with this phrase.

What people hear when you say it: Either “I don’t want to put the effort in” or “I know everything and you know nothing”, neither one of which is particularly good.

A better option: Hear them out.Maybe what’s being proposed has been tried, but wasn’t done well. So let the past experience inform your next move, but there’s always room for a new approach.

  1. “There’s no budget for that.”

When it’s used: A person has an idea they are really passionate about. Similar to the last example, rather than hear it out and weigh the merit, you shut it down by saying there’s no money.

What people hear when you say it: “Keep your head down and do what’s expected.”

A better option: Great ideas should be funded, or perhaps there is a way to do it with a minimal budget. But killing every new idea with “there’s no budget for it” is a surefire way to minimize your team’s creativity.

  1. “I told you so.”

When it’s used: A colleague has an idea, you say it is a bad idea, and they do it anyway. They fail. As if that isn’t enough, you pile on top of them with this.

What people hear when you say it: “I was actively rooting against you.”

A better option: “I told you so” has never helped anyone, and the person almost assuredly realizes that anyway. A better option here is simple – silence.

  1. “That doesn’t follow procedure.”

When it’s used: Someone has an idea that doesn’t jive with the standard way your company has done things.

What people hear when you say it: “There’s only one way to do things here.”

A better option: Most rules are not absolute and, if a procedure is blocking progress, change it. Blindly adhering to the way things have always been done destroys innovation.

Final thought

Your career’s success depends on how well you interact with other people. Even if you are doing your specific job well, if your attitude is unintentionally poor or you are bringing others down, your career is going to suffer.

Of course, no one does that on purpose, but these five phrases can cause that by accident. Instead, avoid these five phrases, and let your great work be what people remember most about you.

The following article was sourced from Dewett’s course, Management Tips. 


Looking for a job requires a lot of time and effort on your part and it isn’t something you should enter into lightly. Conducting a job search while you’re still employed, according to many experts, is the best approach as candidates currently employed tend to be more attractive to hiring managers. However, balancing your current job, your family and your job search can be exhaustive, and if you’re not careful it could end in disaster.

There are countless reasons to look for a new job. Perhaps you feel like there’s nowhere for you to go in your current role or maybe you just can’t stand someone you work closely with every day. Before you start to send out resumes be sure you have thought things through.

“Talk about what may be frustrating you at work and determine if there are things that can be changed to make your issues better. If you want to move locations, it may be better to talk about that with your boss, as the company may want to discuss remote working options, “says Chad Lilly, director of recruiting at Lextech, a custom mobile apps company. Bottom line, make sure your current role can’t be salvaged. Could you transfer, change departments or work remotely? Is there something you can do to make your work more enjoyable and rewarding?

If the answer is no, then go, says Roy West, CEO of the Roy West Companies and senior scientist at the Gallup Organization. “You should go quietly, gracefully, swiftly and never look back. If you are not currently working for someone who clearly understands that your growth and their growth [boss/organization] is an implied contract and common goal, then you are compelled to find one that does and will,” says West.

So what do you do when you’ve decided it’s time to move on? Most of us have been there at some point in our careers. Do you tell your boss or not? How do you handle interviews and references? To help bring a measure of clarity to your job search, spoke with industry experts to figure out the best way to conduct your new job search without losing your old job.

Who Can You Tell

It’s never a smart move to lie to your boss, but sometimes it may be a necessary evil if you want to hold onto your job. Some companies have a policy of letting people go who are actively searching for a job. So keep your job hunt on a need-to-know basis.

“In general, it is good practice to keep your job search quiet. You really have to trust the relationship you have with your boss to divulge this information,” says Lilly, who has 16 years of experience working in the professional services market recruitment business.

In fact, Lily says, it’s probably not wise to share this with anyone you work with. One misstep from a friendly coworker could mean a pink slip or damage your reputation with the company.

Donald Burns, executive career strategist and coach, agrees: “Absolutely do not tell your boss–doing so will compromise your most valuable asset, namely, your current employment. As soon as the company discovers you’re looking, they will start looking for your replacement. Your job is probably toast. You’ve ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and there’s no going back,” says Burns. Knowing the company culture on this matter will help make a decision on which path to take.

Don’t Conduct Your Search on the Company Dime

Conducting your job search on company hours is never a good idea. When you are at your current job, it should be your primary focus. Underperforming is surely something that will tip off your boss that something is going on with you. It’s unethical and not likely something that will get you a great recommendation from your present boss when the time comes.

Also, if you are trying to keep your job hunt discrete, this is a common way to get caught or at least to get the rumor mill grinding. “If your employer finds out they can start looking for your replacement and fire you before you are ready to go. It also hurts your productivity and the rest of the team. You start holding back on committing to new work because most candidates do not want to leave in the middle of a project,” says Lilly.

Recruiters understand that discretion is often part of the process and are willing to do what they can. “If you are upfront with the recruiter they will do what they can to get you in. We are sympathetic to a point for getting the candidates in to meet. Most recruiters will talk off-hours or at lunch time,” says Lilly. One tip he offers: List specific times to reach you on your resume.

Don’t Use Company Email Addresses or Phone Numbers

Whether you’re talking about social networking site profiles like LinkedIn and BranchOut or your resume, you really want to stick to using your personal email addresses and phone numbers for your accounts. Some experts even say you should restrict your job search to your personal PC. One inopportune email or phone call could alert your supervisor that you’re considering leaving.

Using a work email address for your social media accounts is also a sure way to get yourself locked out of your profiles when you do leave and your old email address gets shut down or redirected. Whomever the email is redirected to will get your notifications and be privy to your updates, messages and who knows what else. You’d likely get control back after submitting a request but avoid the hassle and stick to personal email addresses for primary emails.

What Should You Do If Your Boss Asks You Directly?

If your boss asks you if you are looking, don’t lie. “It may be best to be straightforward with your employer. You are at risk of being let go in this situation, depending on your past performance and standing with the company,” says Lilly.

That said, there are some ways to spin it, according to the experts: “Lots of changes are happening here lately. I don’t want to leave, but I’m a little nervous and just thinking about Plan B,” Burns says, is one way to handle it.

Don’t Be Careless With Your Resume

Be selective about who you give your resume to and explain to those who do get your resume that your job search is confidential. “Spamming your resume is bad business. It does not work and if you are currently employed, you are easily ferreted out when you respond to online inquiries. Even providing your resume to be privately circulated is a risk. There are no secrets,” says West.

Lilly echoes that sentiment and takes it one step further. You also want to keep your resume confidential when posting it on job boards. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated, but be careful when you connect with recruiters. Your network sees that too and may create alerts as you start your search,” says Lilly.

Don’t Say Negative Things About Your Current Employer

Regardless of your situation, bad-mouthing your company or superior isn’t going to get you the job. It’s important in the interview to remain positive and focused on what you bring to the table.

“Tell them the truth,” says Burns, “Something changed at the company, or you’ve reached a point where you’ve gone as far as you can go and can’t spend years waiting for a ‘spot’ to open. Make sure you never even hint at anything negative about your current employer. I’ve met people who understand this rule but let things slip during interviews,” says Burns.

“You should avoid bashing at all costs even if your boss is the reason for your leaving. Interviewees should think of something positive to say or keep it very general and shift the conversation to a positive about your performance,” says Lilly.

How to Handle References

Accidentally using your boss or supervisor as a reference likely won’t sit well with them when they get blind-sided by an employer checking up on your references. References should be given upon request only, according to West, and even then with the caveat that your job search is confidential for the time being.

“You should have three solid references from different employers,” Lily says. “One of them should be a supervisor or past manager. You should only use someone from your current place of employment if you trust them not to leak or they have left recently.”

Selling Your Personal Brand is Easier When Employed

For whatever psychological or analytic reason, employers prefer to hire someone who is currently working. “You are perceived as more desirable by potential employers and you are in a stronger negotiating position. In fact, some employers harbor a ‘secret’ bias against hiring unemployed people,” says Burns.

Lilly agrees, “The advantage is the perception that someone wants them. An unemployed candidate will only have an advantage if the position really needs to be filled immediately and he/she has the right skills.”

Put Yourself in the Best Position

“Even though ‘global job shortfall’ is at epidemic proportions, the most talented will always have options,” says West. If you’re working and thinking about moving on, make sure you’ve done all your homework and put yourself in the best position to get the job you want before leaving.

At the same time, it’s important to stay focused and productive at your current job. The best employees always strive to finish strong and leave on a positive note. Do the job you are being paid to do to the best of your ability. It is only in your best interest and can make finding a job that much easier.


Rich Hein is a senior writer for He covers IT careers. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.

Networking is a strategy to reveal more opportunities and more possibilities. It’s a way of connecting with others: people you know, but don’t really know, and new people you’ve never met before. Networking starts with a mind-set and an intention to discover, explore, and be open to what you may encounter. It’s about helping others and helping yourself.

We are wired both to connect with and help others. So, real networking is about re-invigorating your relationships and engaging new connections and new networks.

You already know how to network

Are you hesitant to network out of fear of being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving? Don’t be. Networking isn’t about using other people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s about building relationships. And while it may sound intimidating, it can be rewarding and fun, even if you’re shy.

Networking is nothing more than getting to know people. Whether you realize it or not, you’re already networking every day and everywhere you go. You’re networking when you strike up a conversation with the person next to you in line, introduce yourself to other parents at your child’s school, meet a friend of a friend, catch up with a former co-worker, or stop to chat with your neighbor. Everyone you meet can help you move your job search forward.

Tapping the hidden job market may take more planning and nerve than searching online, but it’s much more effective. Adopting a networking lifestyle—a lifestyle of connecting and helping others in good times and bad—will help you find the right job, make valuable connections in your chosen field, and stay focused and motivated during your job search.

Networking is one of the best ways to find a job because:

  • People do business primarily with people they know and like. Resumes and cover letters alone are often too impersonal to convince employers to hire you.
  • Job listings tend to draw piles of applicants, which puts you in intense competition with many others. Networking makes you a recommended member of a much smaller pool.
  • The job you want may not be advertised at all. Networking leads to information and job leads, often before a formal job description is created or a job announced.

Job networking tip 1: You know more people than you think

You may think that you don’t know anyone who can help you with your job search. But you know more people than you think, and there’s a very good chance that at least a few of these people know someone who can give you career advice or point you to a job opening. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Make a list of the people in your network

Your network is bigger than you think it is. It includes all of your family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. Start going through your social media accounts and address book and writing down names. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the list grows.

Think about people you know from former jobs, high school and college, church, your child’s school, the gym, social media, or your neighborhood. Also think about people you’ve met through your close connections: your sister’s co-worker; your best friend’s boss; your college roommate’s spouse; friends of your parents; your uncle’s business partner. Don’t forget to include people like your doctor, landlord, accountant, dry cleaner, or yoga instructor.

Yes, you do have a job network, and it’s more powerful than you think:

Job networking tip 2: Reach out to your network

All the connections in the world won’t help you find a job if no one knows about your situation. Once you’ve drawn up your list, start making contact with the people in your network. Let them know that you’re looking for a job. Be specific about what kind of work you’re looking for and ask them if they have any information or know anyone in a relevant field. Don’t assume that certain people won’t be able to help. You may be surprised by who they know.

Figure out what you want before you start networking

Networking is most effective when you have specific employer targets and career goals. It’s hard to get leads with a generic “Let me know if you hear of anything” request. You may think that you’ll have better job luck if you leave yourself open to all the possibilities, but the reality is this “openness” creates a black hole that sucks all of the networking potential out of the connection.

A generic networking request for a job is worse than no request at all, because you can lose that networking contact and opportunity. Asking for specific information, leads, or an interview is much more focused and easier for the networking source. If you’re having trouble focusing your job search, you can turn to close friends and family members for help, but avoid contacting more distant people in your network until you’ve set clear goals.

If you’re nervous about making contact—either because you’re uncomfortable asking for favors or embarrassed about your employment situation—try to keep the following things in mind:

  • It feels good to help others. Most people will gladly assist you if they can.
  • People like to give advice and be recognized for their expertise.
  • Almost everyone knows what it’s like to be out of work or looking for a job. They’ll sympathize with your situation.

Job networking tip 3: Focus on building relationships

Networking is a give-and-take process that involves making connections, sharing information, and asking questions. It’s a way of relating to others, not a technique for getting a job or a favor. You don’t have to hand out your business cards on street corners, cold call everyone on your contact list, or work a room of strangers. All you have to do is reach out.

  • Be authentic. In any job search or networking situation, being you—the real you—should be your goal. Hiding who you are or suppressing your true interests and goals will only hurt you in the long run. Pursuing what you want and not what you think others will like, will always be more fulfilling and ultimately more successful.
  • Be considerate. If you’re reconnecting with an old friend or colleague, take the time to get through the catching-up phase before you blurt out your need. On the other hand, if this person is a busy professional you don’t know well, be respectful of his or her time and come straight out with your request.
  • Ask for advice, not a job. Don’t ask for a job, a request comes with a lot of pressure. You want your contacts to become allies in your job search, not make them feel ambushed, so ask for information or insight instead. If they’re able to hire you or refer you to someone who can, they will. If not, you haven’t put them in the uncomfortable position of turning you down or telling you they can’t help.
  • Be specific in your request. Before you go off and reconnect with everyone you’ve ever known, get your act together and do a little homework. Be prepared to articulate what you’re looking for. Is it a reference? An insider’s take on the industry? A referral? An introduction to someone in the field? Also make sure to provide an update on your qualifications and recent professional experience.

Slow down and enjoy the job networking process

Effective networking is not something that should be rushed. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be efficient and focused, but hurried, emergency networking is not conducive to building relationships for mutual support and benefit. When you network, you should slow down, be present, and try to enjoy the process. This will speed up your chances for success in the job-hunting race. Just because you have an agenda doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy reconnecting.

Don’t be a hit-and-run networker

Don’t be a hit-and-run networker: connecting, getting what you want, and then disappearing, never to be heard from until the next time you need something. Invest in your network by following up and providing feedback to those who were kind of enough to offer their help. Thank them for their referral and assistance. Let them know whether you got the interview or the job. Or use the opportunity to report on the lack of success or the need for additional help.

Job networking tip 4: Take advantage of both “strong” and “weak” ties

Everyone has both “strong” and “weak” ties. Strong ties occupy that inner circle and weak ties are less established. Adding people to networks is time consuming, especially strong ties. It requires an investment of time and energy to have multiple “best friends.” Trying to stay in touch with new acquaintances is just as challenging.

But adding new “weak tie” members gives your network vitality and even more cognitive flexibility—the ability to consider new ideas and options. New relationships invigorate the network by providing a connection to new networks, viewpoints, and opportunities.

Job networking tip 5: Take the time to maintain your network

Maintaining your job network is just as important as building it. Accumulating new contacts can be beneficial, but only if you have the time to nurture the relationships. Avoid the irrational impulse to meet as many new people as possible. The key is quality, rather than quantity. Focus on cultivating and maintaining your existing network. You’re sure to discover an incredible array of information, knowledge, expertise, and opportunities.

Schedule time with your key contacts

List the people who are crucial to your network—people you know who can and have been very important to you. Invariably, there will be some you have lost touch with. Reconnect and then schedule a regular meeting or phone call. You don’t need a reason to get in touch. It will always make you feel good and provide you with an insight or two.

Prioritize the rest of your contacts

Keep a running list of people you need to reconnect with. People whose view of the world you value. People you’d like to get to know better or whose company you enjoy. Prioritize these contacts and then schedule time into your regular routine so you can make your way down the list.

Find ways to reciprocate

Always remember that successful networking is a two-way street. Your ultimate goal is to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships. That means giving as well as receiving. Send a thank-you note, ask them about their family, email an article you think they might be interested in, and check in periodically to see how they’re doing. By nurturing the relationship through your job search and beyond, you’ll establish a strong network of people you can count on for ideas, advice, feedback, and support.

1.  Multiple copies of your CV

Although it’s easy to assume that the interviewer will be in possession of your CV by the time you reach interviewer, you shouldn’t leave it up to them to bring a copy with them. Be pro-active and print of multiple copies just in case their printer has broken or you meet more than one person at the company. This level of preparation will show them that you are professional and you plan for any possible outcome.

2. A smart folder or bag

Turning up to the interview with and producing a crumpled CV from your pocket will not create a great first impression. Invest in a smart folder or bag to ensure that you stay organised and look like a professional candidate. Something that is small enough to carry under your arm, but big enough to carry all of your essentials is perfect.

3. A pen and notepad

It’s likely that a lot of important facts and figures will be discussed during interview stage, so it pays to have a pen and pad handy to note them down. When you need to make follow up emails or decide between competing offers, having the finer details jotted down will be hugely beneficial.

4. Some pre-prepared questions

Most employers will expect you to have some questions about their role and company, so write some down in advance and take them with you. Having them in written format will not only help to jog your memory, but will also show the interviewer that you’ve done some proper preparation.

5.  The job description

To ensure that you’ve fully familiarised yourself with the role, make some notes on the job description and take it with you. On the day of the interview, you can then arrive to the area 30 minutes early and grab a coffee whilst you revise the job details for one last time before heading in, to ensure that it is fresh8 Essential items to take to your next job interview in your mind.

6. The interview details

Too many candidates rely on their mobile to access interview details through their email. However, mobile internet access in not always guaranteed so save the details to your phone or even write them down on paper. Losing the address or name of the interviewer will not set the interview off to a great start.

7.  Relevant certificates

If the role you are applying for requires one or more qualifications, then take those certificates along with you – or at least some good copies if you can’t take the originals. You may not be asked to show them but it’s better to have them with you just in case.

8. Examples of your work

Creative professionals such as designers or artists will have portfolios of work to display some of their achievements – but if you are in a non-creative industry you may have client testimonials or sales figures that you can take with you to give some examples of the impact you’ve made at previous employers.


This is your window of opportunity that you really do not want to miss. Participating in the interview is one factor, but what distinguishes candidates from the others is when they actively participate with the interviewee by asking them questions. Not only does this demonstrate your sincere interest in the position, it also illustrates that you’ve done your homework on the company and the position offered.

Regardless if you are more of an extrovert or introvert, there are a variety of questions you can ask in your next interview. Before jotting all of these down, make sure you are comfortable asking the questions you have chosen otherwise your successful interview could quickly turn to an awkward one. Ending your interview as confident as you were in the beginning is an essential element to a successful interview and they will remember your self-assurance when discussing who they want to hire.

9 questions to ask the interviewer:

  1. How would you describe the general culture of the company and the workplace?
  2. Why did you choose this company?
  3. Will there be any form of training provided?
  4. What are some of the biggest challenges/successes facing the department currently?
  5. What process will be used to evaluate my employee performance?
  6. Who will be my direct supervisor?
  7. Are there many opportunities for professional development within the company?
  8. What is the usual time frame for making the hiring decision?
  9. May I contact you if any further questions arise?

Many candidates take the wrong path and ask inappropriate questions in their first interview. As tempting as benefits and salary information is to know up front, that should only be discussed after you have been offered the position. Plus, you will be in a better position to negotiate anyways. Not jumping ahead is important because you should be focused on having a great and memorable first interview to be called in for a second.

The interview process can be your best introduction to the company and by developing an intrapersonal connection with the interviewee by simply reciprocating in the dialogue; you can stand out among the rest of the candidates. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable they are and will appreciate the gesture in reciprocating the dialogue. Remember, this is your opportunity to obtain further information regarding the position and the company that you could not get while researching online, so take advantage of this opportunity and make sure it is the right position for you.


  • Work on your handshake: Don‘t offer up a flimsy or sweaty hand. Instead, when you meet with prospective employers or interviews, offer a firm handshake, with one or two pumps from the elbow to the hand. It‘s a good way to illustrate your confidence and start the interview off on the right note.
  • Get serious: If you take a casual approach to the initial interview with a company, especially with a screening interviewer from the human resources department, you may be sealing your fate. Job seekers should treat every interview as if it‘s their one and only chance to sell themselves to the recruiter.
  • Get the practice: If you find yourself being offered an interview for a job you are not really interested in, go on the interview anyway; you can make contacts for future job opportunities and get valuable interview practice.
  • Be enthusiastic: Bring a positive attitude to your interview. Most interviewers won‘t even give a second thought to someone who has a negative presence or seems like they almost need to be talked into the job. “You‘re selling yourself, and part of you is the positive approach you‘ll bring to the office every morning,” says Alison Richardson, a recruiter for several New York financial firms. “That smile and friendly demeanor go a long way.”
  • Ask questions: When interviewing for a new position, it‘s essential to have a handful of questions to ask your potential employer. Some questions could include: What do you consider to be the ideal background for the position? What are some of the significant challenges? What‘s the most important thing I can do to help within the first 90 days of my employment? Do you have any concerns that I need to clear up in order to be the top candidate?
  • Tell a story: Your interviewer wants to know about your skills and experiences, but he or she also wants to know about you. Don‘t fire off routine answers to questions. Instead, work your answers into stories or anecdotes about yourself. People remember the people who are interesting. Prove your value by tailoring stories that address the main concern an interviewer may have: What can you do for us?
  • Show restraint: During an interview, what you don‘t say may be as important as what you do say. As a rule, don‘t talk about money or benefits, especially during the first interview. You should already know if you fit the parameters. Don‘t badmouth about any of your past employers. Organizations don‘t hire complainers. Don‘t mention outside career aspirations or part-time jobs. Employers are looking for people who want to be part of their organization for the next decade and beyond.

Whatever you do, don‘t mention the need for an immediate vacation. First of all, you‘re making an assumption that the recruiter wants to hire you. Second, you‘re essentially removing yourself from the list of potential candidates. A job candidate we once interviewed was quick to announce that she needed time off immediately for a two-week honeymoon. We hadn‘t even offered her the job. Needless to say, we didn‘t. Certainly, there are scenarios in which you‘ll need to discuss pending scheduling conflicts, but the interview isn‘t one of them.

  • Be memorable: Considering the number of job seekers interviewing for positions today, it‘s fair to suggest that many HR workers can hardly keep track of the differences. That‘s why it‘s important to do or say something that will allow you to stand out in the mind of your interviewer. It will strike a personal note and also provide a point of reference when it‘s time to recall the top candidates. Sure, the job candidate with “American Idol” experience we mentioned in the introduction had no real usable background for the job we were looking for, but he was memorable.

When 24-year-old Noreen Hennessy was looking for a job in marketing in a tough San Francisco job market, she mentioned to one interviewer that she recently ran in a Tough Mudder competition, a hardcore obstacle course that pushes one‘s physical and mental skills to the limits.

“She had a picture of her and some friends covered in mud on her desk,” Hennessy says. “I casually brought up the Tough Mudder, and she had a million questions. Our interview was pretty much over by then, but our conversation went on for another 10 minutes.”

Hennessy says she didn‘t get that job, but because of her interviewer‘s interest in the event, she put it on her resume as one of her interests and activities. “Every recruiter I spoke with after that would bring it up,” she says. “It became a major talking point and I think it said a lot about my grit and determination.”

Hennessy says she took some time off from the job search to assist a friend in setting up an event-planning business, which she says may or may not turn into a long-term job. “I‘m getting paid, working with people I like, learning a lot,” she says. “There are a million shades, but marketing is marketing. What I practice at the startup level will be something I can bring to the corporate level and it‘s certainly something else I can talk about during interviews.”

  • Ask for the job: “Tell your interviewer you want the job — period,” says Dana Fulbright, an IT recruiter for Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. “So many people leave without ever saying they want to be hired. It sounds so simple, but it‘s true. Let your employer know that you want to work there.”


The last thing you want to do is lie on your resume or cover letter. Hiring managers want to hire you, not a representation of what you think they want. All lies will eventually come out. The cover letter is a chance to explain everything that won’t fit on your resume and present yourself as the perfect candidate. Now that you realize how important it is, here are some tips to boost the quality of your cover letter and get your dream job!

Address your letter to the right person

This may take a little research on your part, but if it’s at all possible, address your cover letter to a specific person. “To Whom It May Concern” is not only overused, but it shows a lack of effort. It’s especially embarrassing if you use this and the name of the manager is in the job ad. It shows you just don’t care. That’s not the impression you want to give.

Call the company and get the name of the person the application is going to. Taking this extra step will not only show that you are sincere about getting the job, but you respect the manager enough to find out his or her name. Doing your research also help avoid embarrassing mistakes such as addressing your letter to a Mr. Chris Smith, when Chris is actually a woman.

Put emphasis on what you can do for them — not what they can do for you

The cover letter is time for you to highlight your skills and what makes you the perfect candidate. The interview will be the time for more of an exchange and to convey your enthusiasm for the job. Right now, you’re trying to convince them of why they should call you in. If they get a feeling that you only want the job for superficial reasons (pay, prestige, etc.), they’ll think that you’re only trying to take. A good employee recognizes that to be successful, you have to give and take.

The hiring manager wants to see what you can bring to the company to help them grow and succeed. It’s fine to show a little enthusiasm in your cover letter, but spin it to how it will benefit the company. Think something like, “I’ve been following your company since it’s start up and I’ve love to bring my skills to the team.” Then give some suggestions on how you can do that.

Don’t just summarize your resume

The hiring manager already has a copy of your resume. Don’t use your cover letter to rewrite your job history in paragraph form. Elaborate on certain jobs and emphasize what skills you used and achievements you made there.

If you’re new to the employment field, use experiences from school. You can talk about how you’re always chosen to be the group leader in class and it gave you ample opportunity to develop management skills needed to bring to your future position. The cover letter is the place for you to talk about experiences that won’t fit on your resume.

Customize your letter for every position you apply for

Hiring managers can smell a stock letter from a mile away. Also, if you’re using the same letter and just changing small details such as the job title or the manager’s name, you’ll eventually slip up and send the wrong letter to a job. There’s no faster way to get your application in the trash.

Every new application should have a new cover letter. It’s work to rewrite your cover letter, but it’ll pay out. It shows the hiring manager that you’ve done your research and you desire the position you’re applying for. Include a specific fact that only pertains to the company you’re applying for such as “I enjoyed the post on your company blog about…It helped me to…”

Call to action

Now that you have some tips, take the time to research your dream job. Visit the company’s website and take some notes. Take key points from your resume and tell a story about them. Discuss your enthusiasm for the job, but put your emphasis on what you can bring to the company. It’s not hard to write a cover letter, just takes a little bit of thought!


“So why do you want this job?” Answering that question should be really easy! Often the answers are:

  • Well, I want a job…
  • I want to work…
  • I want to pay the mortgage/rent….
  • I want a promotion, it’s a bigger job…
  • I hate the job I’m in, I need to do something different…
  • My family are moving so I need to change jobs…
  • I got made redundant…
  • I’m a bit bored…
  • I like the sound of it…

I could go on.

The difficulty with all of those answers is that they may well be true and they may well explain why you have applied for a new job but they do not tell the interviewer any good reason why you should have the job. When you are going for an interview or applying for a job you need to give the interview compelling reasons for giving you the job and that starts with the basic question: Why do you want it?

So how do you give them that compelling reason? By treating this question as an opportunity for your sales pitch. By thinking about what it is that the interviewer wants in a candidate and what it is that they need to hear.

Ever been turned down for a job because you did not sound very enthusiastic? Been told that they were not sure if you really wanted it? It is actually a pathetic bit of feedback to give someone. Surely the correct logic is that they offer and if you don’t want it, you turn it down. If you are the best person for the job they should offer, but, it happens, so you need to make sure that it does not apply to you. This is your chance to sound enthusiastic, if not actually passionate, but how do you do that without sounding gushing and false?

Here are 4 key steps to selling yourself into that job:

When you are asked about why you have applied for this role, why you want it etc… start with:

Step 1:

‘This is a great company /organisation because…….’  Everyone likes to be flattered, so tell them why you think they are a good company, what it is you like about the company….

Step 2:

Describe the challenges of the role, even if it is a job that is pretty routine. What are the issues they face in getting someone to do the role well?

Step 3:

Tell them the things that float your boat, the things you have just been doing, the challenges you really enjoy and give some brief examples.

Step 4:

Think about why they might not want to hire you and refute their logic.

So if I was going for a job in my local Co-op shop I might say:

I think the Co-op is a great organisation, I admire their ethical stance and I was very impressed when they had no issues over horse meat. That’s the sort of company I’d like to be in. I know you need staff who can work shifts, who are good with customers and who will make sure that the shelves are kept stocked and tidy. I really enjoy working with customers, helping them find things, explaining the difference between products and I hate untidy shops. It’s really important to me to be polite and friendly, when I worked in the garage I tried to get every customer to smile before they left!  It has been a while since I have done shop work but I don’t think you lose the passion to please the customer and make sure they always come back – I haven’t.

Remember this is your sales pitch and this is where you can bring together your knowledge of them and your enthusiasm. It is all about why they are great to work for not why you need the job.


Whether you’ve just graduated from college, you’re in the middle of your career, or you’re in your 60s, competition for jobs is fierce. So, how can you stay relevant in today’s job market? Here are some things you should be doing to stay on top of your game.