Blog

5.02.16
Making a Major Career Change: What I Wish I Knew Before
An office worker who became a baker. A sales executive who became a National Park ranger. An Army veteran who became a music agent. They all had different routes to success, but there are a few pieces of hard-earned wisdom they all offer to anyone thinking about switching to a radically different career.   1. Have a money cushion. Figure out how much savings you'll need, whether to start your own business, acquire necessary education or be unemployed while hunting for a position in your new field. And don't forget to allow for unexpected setbacks.   2. Make over your financial lifestyle. When people feel trapped in their current job, it's often because they need every penny of their income to support their debt and make-it-spend-it lifestyle. They just can't afford to take the lower pay that will come with starting over in a new career. Don't let this be you.   3. Do tons of research. A career may seem fun and glamorous from the outside, but what is it really like...
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4.25.16
The Most Important Part of Recruiting Is...
  ...what happens afterward. Because if your employee retention rate is low, your acquisition costs are going to be unacceptably high.   Turnover costs include not just recruiting and hiring, but also training and management time, reduced productivity and increased errors while the employee learns the ropes. Have you ever sat down and figured in cold, hard dollars and cents what those costs are for your business? Here's a handy calculating guide from the Center for American Progress to get you started:   Entry-level employees: 16 percent of annual salary Mid-level employees: 20 percent of annual salary High-level or highly specialized employees: 213 percent of annual salary   As you can see, if your new hires tend to leave within a year or two, you won't even break even, much less get a return on your investment in them. Then there are the factors that are more intangible, but no less costly, such as loss of motivation among the employees who stay.   So how can...
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4.18.16
5 Reasons to Get a Side Gig (that Aren't About the Money)
    Being a moonlighter, or even an unpaid volunteer, can bring you more rewards than you may realize. Here are some reasons to expand your employment horizons.   1. It looks great on your resume. A side job allows you to acquire experience that your main job doesn't. And if it's with a charitable or community organization, it shows that you are a well-rounded and caring individual — the kind that any hiring executives in your future will love.   2. It lets you test the waters. If you're thinking about a complete change of career direction, a side gig can give you a taste of what the field is like before you take the plunge.   3. It makes you more efficient. Having a second job forces you to manage your time better; there's just no other way to get everything done by the end of the day. This is a skill that will benefit your life both on and off the job.   4. It makes new connections. For building a successful career — or social life — you can never have...
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4.11.16
10 New Ways to Intro Your Email
  Dear Fill-in-the-Name,  This is to inform you that the above is the commonest email (and letter) opening in history. It's the safe choice ... but don't expect your reader to stay awake.    If it's just a courtesy note, you don't need it to instigate immediate attention or action. But in a business setting, you quite often do. Try one of these 10 options for making a more memorable connection:    1. Hi, Fill-in-the-Name  Creates an informal conversation with people you know well.    2. Good morning/afternoon  Somewhat more formal. Also a good dodge if you don't know the name or gender of the person you're emailing.    3. Just got your email  Tells the recipient that you are making him/her your top priority.    4. Here's the info you requested  Gets high readership because it's something the recipient wants to know about.    5. I have an update/news for you  Communicates that the email contains must-see information.    6. Checking in  For...
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4.04.16
How to Make the Most Out of a Boring Job
Even the most exciting jobs in the world have their boring aspects. (Athletes have to run drills. Brain surgeons have to do paperwork. Etc.) But what if your job is totally boring every minute of every day?    The easy answer would be to quit and look for a more interesting job. But if that's not an option right now, here are some things you can do to make that job at least somewhat more bearable.    1. Imagine how this job will look on your resume.  At some point you will add this position to your resume. What skills or experience will you highlight that could help you take the next step toward your career goal? Whatever they are, whether it's customer service, productivity rate or team support, find ways to achieve recognition in those areas from your current employer.     Why does it work? Keeping your eye on the prize and setting goals for those resume-oriented achievements gives your workday a new interest and purpose. (And it never hurts to keep your resume up to...
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3.28.16
3 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Interview
You thought you were well prepared. But once you got in there, you (and the interviewer too, no doubt) realized that some of your comments — or silences — showed a few bases you failed to cover.   1. I wish I knew more about the company. These days, you're expected to do some research on what the business does, who its customers and competitors are, and what sort of economic climate it's operating in at the moment. This will enable you to answer questions like, "How do you see yourself contributing to our company's success?" in a more relatable, solutions-oriented way. For example, you might highlight your experience with a technology you know the company has just implemented.   2. I wish I knew it was OK to ask questions. Don't just prepare answers. The interview is a two-way street and you need to learn whether you want to work there as much as they need to learn whether they want you. You both will be better assured of a good fit if you get a realistic picture of...
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3.21.16
Is Your Job Candidate Bluffing? 3 Ways to Find Out
Some people will fill their resumes and interview responses with whatever they think you want to hear, regardless of whether it's 100% true. They think you won't know the difference, but here's how to prove them wrong.   1. Background checks. We don't just mean criminal records. Also verify educational credentials and employment history; these are the two most common areas for "exaggerating," and even some of the nation's top executives have been guilty of it.   You can hire a service to do the checking for you. You can also do a little investigating on your own. See if a candidate's social media pages contain discrepancies: different schools, degrees or employment dates on different sites. Contact previous supervisors, not just the employer's HR department, for more honest reports of the individual's capabilities.   2. Real-world skills tests. It's easy for candidates to tick boxes on a list of job requirements. It's not so easy to demonstrate that they can actually...
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3.14.16
There Is an Easier Way to Get to Know Your Co-workers
Hanging out with them at the nearest bar after work is one way. But it's hardly the most professional. Here are 3 things you can do to build relationships with colleagues that will maintain your on-the-job image and promote your career growth.   1. Offer your help. Working together on a project will offer numerous opportunities to learn about each other's personality and work style. This understanding will naturally lead to a higher functioning team.   2. Strike up a conversation in the break room. People who dislike casual chat while they're working will be more receptive when they're off the clock. Just don't share too much: details about your love life, religious views, etc., are not appropriate for work relationships.   3. Invite them to an extracurricular activity. Again, take your corporate culture into consideration: in some workplaces, outside socializing is the norm but in others it's not. And make sure the occasion is "safe for work": a birthday lunch for a...
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3.07.16
Finally, a Few Great Questions to Ask Your Future Employer in Your Next Interview
You've already heard the most common recommendations: questions that are really designed to show the hiring manager what a great candidate you are. And you should definitely include them. But there's another great way to build rapport with your interviewer: change the focus from your skills and goals to the company's needs and wants.   These 4 questions not only open up discussions of how hiring you can help solve the employer's problems, they also give you a much clearer picture of what it's really like to work there.   1. What are the company's biggest worries for the present and future? You have (ideally) already researched their industry, competitors, etc. Now ask for their view from the inside, something you can never get from Google. You'll also learn what your prospects are for career growth.   2. What is the most challenging aspect of working here? If you're lucky, you might get an honest opinion about budget constraints, management weaknesses or customer...
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2.29.16
If It's Too Good to Be True, Your Job Offer Is a Scam!
The growth of the online job market has made it easier than ever to find your dream job. Unfortunately, it has also made it easier for scammers to find you. Here are 3 red flags that what sounds like a great buy-in is really a big rip-off.   1. You need to pay money for something. The "employers" might say they need an advance for work permits, travel expenses or training. Even sneakier, they might send you a cashier's check for a huge amount, tell you to deduct the expenses and send back the rest. Trouble is, the check is forged and when it bounces your bank will take that money out of YOUR account. A cashier's check is no guarantee of safety. And run from anyone who wants you to deal in untraceable moneygrams.   Real employers will never ask for money up front, or try to obtain your confidential financial or personal information.   2. The compensation is unrealistically high. $500 to work one hour as a secret shopper? Yeah, right. Scammers will try to lure you by...
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