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Five Tips to Set Yourself Apart During the Job Hunt

Five Tips to Set Yourself Apart During the Job Hunt
By Holly Caplan

Statistics showed that in 2017 34.6% of women graduated with a 4-year degree vs. 33.7% of men. This gap has been narrowing for years, and women finally surpassed men for the first time in 2014.
More women are making their mark and creating their trajectory for their futures. I’m proud of us! What this also means is that there will be more women entering this fresh new phase of their lives called a career. As a graduating female pursuing your career, you will find yourself receiving solicited and unsolicited interview advice from friends and family. Regardless of all of the wonderful advice you will hear about resume content, what to wear, and interview questions, there are other components of interviewing that can set you apart:
Holly Caplan pic1.   Use Your Network: Let's face it - the Internet is our way of life. We rely on it to shop, work, travel, check the weather and yes, find a job. Everyone uses it, especially when looking for a job. Our first instinct is to go the computer and search popular websites like LinkedIn, Monster, and Ladders. I get it. I’ve done it. These websites provide quick access to available jobs, salaries and requirements. Excellent for visibility to what is out there for you.
But, upon attaching your resume and clicking the submit button there is a risk. You risk getting lost in the shuffle of the hundreds or thousands of other candidates or perhaps going into sheer cyberspace. So, instead of going into cyberspace, or not having your resume reviewed at all, get creative and do something different – network. Network with other people, but without the computer. This is not rocket science I know, but people have gotten away from using themselves as their own best resource. The upside is that fundamentally people like to help people, especially when they are young, diligent and excited about pursuing their careers.
Person to person networking will help you gain momentum in your job search in a flash. Sound overwhelming? Keep it simple. Make a list of 10 people you know who have careers you admire and then, wait for it… CALL them. Email is great too, but emails are commonplace and can be easily ignored. So do something different. When you get them on the phone, let them know you are in the market and looking for the first springboard job into your career. Ask if there is someone at their place of work you could speak with or is there someone else they would recommend.  This may feel a little awkward at first, but these chances have to be taken to widen the possibilities of new employment. Even if the person on the other end of the line doesn’t know of an immediate position they may know someone else at another company who does.   
2.   Write a “Thank You” note: The value of a thank you is so overlooked these days. As simple as this seems, people, in general, are so fast-paced now they don’t take an extra moment to thank someone. In your interview process, after meeting with someone, instead of logging onto email to send a thank you message like everyone else, take a moment and hand-write it.  Again, this is an area where email is predictable. Everyone expects an emailed thank you message nowadays, so writing a personal note will differentiate you from the rest.  And, don’t save the thank you notes just for those you have interviewed with, write them to people who have helped you in the process.  Hiring managers and potential colleagues will appreciate that you took the time to think about your interaction with them. They will always remember you as the person that went the extra mile.
3.   Clean up Social Media: Potential employers will look you up on Facebook and Instagram just to see what you are portraying to the rest universe. Previous to graduation, look at all of your social media outlets and clean it up before you begin to interview. Cleaning up means removing any risqué photos, foul language, or anything else that would make a potential employer pause. Even if you have your social media on a private setting, all it takes is someone who is connected with you and a quick screenshot to transmit what you really don’t want others to see.
4.   Make them Remember YOU: In this crazy interview environment of competition, process and stress, give yourself a signature statement that will make you stand out. Wear a bright orange shirt with your interview suit, or wear unique glasses to each interview. Employers will remember you and associate you with the signature item. This is also a chance to show your personality, thoughtfulness and creativity. Regardless of your market, a hiring company will appreciate that you want to leave your mark.

5.  Be Consistent: While making the interviewing rounds you will most likely be seated in front of other employees for additional interviews in the office. The purpose of this is for everyone to get a beat on you to see if you are right for the team. This is completely normal. During these additional meetings, be consistent with your content and character with everyone. I know this may sound elementary, but this is important because these same people will compare notes on you. Simple rules are present, don’t get pulled away by your phone, don’t discuss your personal life. Displaying professional etiquette and respect for those around you will go a long way.
This is your time to shine and show off all of the wonderful reasons an employer should hire you. Be authentic, thoughtful, professional and prepared and you will succeed. And most of all, remember how special you are. After all, you are history makers.
Holly Caplan is a workplace issues expert, award-winning manager and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl's Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World. For more information, please visit, www.hollycaplan.com and connect with her on Twitter, @hollymcaplan.

Tips for Balancing Work and Family

Tips for Balancing Work & Family

tips for balancing work familyThe business moguls of today are often hard working mothers as well (pause for applause!). Women in the workforce are not only tasked with their own success, but ensuring the success of their family. However, it goes without saying that trying to balance work and family can become tricky and overwhelming.

In 2018, with one in three Americans working, maintaining a healthy work-life balance seems nearly impossible. It only becomes more complicated if you’re trying to raise a family alongside your career. However, there are some viable solutions these days that can lead to a more productive, more desirable schedule which will keep your boss, your family, and you happy.

Recipe for Success

Intuit fittingly deems women who embrace both roles of motherhood and entrepreneurship as, “mompreneurs.” The title seems perfectly appropriate considering mothers are often tasked with marrying their responsibilities of work and motherhood together while still trying to keep their sanity. Having an appropriate work-life balance makes this challenge possible and can lead to more overall successes with both work and family.

So what is this secret recipe for success? A good place to start is with organization. Thanks to the digital age we now found ourselves in, staying organized is a lot easier and can lead to better communication between you and your boss. Think: Google Calendar, the Cloud, Quickbooks, and even Excel. Keeping your schedule, work, and important information organized will save you time and future headaches. It’s also crucial to set up boundaries with your spouse, coworkers, boss, and kids.

Making an effort to separate work and family will help you stay focused and present instead of constantly worrying about work while at home, and vice versa. Leaving work at work will give you more freedom to enjoy those moments with your family, and if your boss consistently oversteps your clearly drawn boundaries, it’d be worth sitting down and explaining that, while you value your position at the company, you also value time with your family. It’s also worth mentioning that if you are the boss, it’s just as important to set those work-life boundaries with yourself. Making important memories with your family is irreplaceable, and ultimately work can wait, trust me. 

Finding a Flexible Schedule

Finding a company that will allow you to work remotely can help you better utilize your time and create more opportunities to create a great work-life balance. However, while remote work can be convenient, it requires a lot of self-discipline and time management skills. As the experts at Fiscal Tiger explain, “if you are hired on as a remote worker, it’s a smart idea to refine your tasks within your working hours even further. You won’t have a boss right next to you telling you exactly what to do and when you should do it, and they shouldn’t have to. Set yourself up with a daily schedule and break it down by tasks.”

The distraction of kids, chores, and your partner could be detrimental to your workflow and put you further behind than if you’d gone into the office. Still, seeking remote work opportunities can be ideal for mothers who can’t always commute to work each day. As such it’d be worth, if you’re considering remote work, designating an area in home that is predominantly off limits to members of your family. Setting those boundaries are crucial in office and at home.

Most importantly for all the working mothers, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Despite what you tell yourself, you don’t have to do everything, perfectly, all on your own. Lean on mentors, therapists, and even support groups if you need to, as they can help you maintain the important work-life balance necessary for a happy life. Accepting help is not admitting defeat; rather, it allows your mental and physical health to remain intact while you respectfully hustle through life. Good luck!

Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.

How to Navigate a Move That Benefits Your Career

How to Navigate a Move That Benefits Your Career

Sometimes, we’re able to make choices for our professional lives that pack a punch with relatively little action. Many women have been able to succeed by small thoughtful changes; many successful careers have been built by slowly yet consistently moving up the local career ladder.

But sometimes, it takes more than that; sometimes, it requires moving much further than just into a new office on the same floor. At some point, the professional woman may find herself having to make a decision regarding whether or not to pursue a position in a location that requires a move.

If she is considering a move for her job, there is certainly far more to consider and work through. But it’s likely that if she’s at a point in her career where this is an option, she’s also totally capable of managing the challenges that come with it.

move benefit career

Should You Relocate?

Whatever reason you find yourself drawn to a new city, whether because there is potential for your career brand to change for the better, or because you like the culture/scenery better, etc., there are serious questions to ask before you make any permanent decisions.

Data shows that 67 percent of employees who decline relocation do so because of their close family ties. So even for the woman considering a move because she’s hoping to bolster her career, it’s important to think about the non-career related aspects.

If you’re close to your family, are you comfortable with the change in relationships that is sure to take place if you move? Technology saves us from being completely isolated from friends and family, and yet things certainly won't be the same.

If you’re considering a move to a location that is drastically different in climate, have you considered how you’ll be impacted by the weather? If you’re moving north, do you have the gear necessary to drive and live in cold weather? If not, are you prepared to invest? Conversely, if you have pets that are used to cool weather all-year long, will they be able to handle drastic heat?

If you’re contemplating a move it’s likely because you’ve thought through the reasons it’s favorable, but it’s also important to think about why it will be difficult. Consider the positive aspects of where you are and whether or not you can seriously give them up.

First Questions to Ask About the Job

One of the key ways to ensure that you have a successful job hunting experience is to remain as much in control as possible. The women who don’t miss-out or get short-changed are those who know exactly what their rights are during the hiring process. So, to ensure you do know your rights, make sure you’ve done your homework.

You also want to make sure that you are ready to ask the kinds of questions that will prepare you to make an informed decision before accepting the job. To make a smart choice you need to learn as much as you can about what your life will look like if you were to transition.

So, when it’s your turn to ask questions get your pen and notepad out and ask the following:

  • What will my workday typically look like?
  • What is the time-off request protocol like?
  • What kind of training and/or education can I expect?

And, if you’ve been offered a position you can ask:

  • Can I see a copy of the benefits package?
  • When do you need a decision by?

Making Sure It’ll Be a Good Fit

Presenting and defending your interests well is a crucial step in ensuring that you’re not blindsided by the details of a new position.  It can be tempting to believe that the prospective employer has all of the negotiating power, but see that for the misrepresentation that it is. There are some critical components a woman can focus on to ensure her compensation negotiations are smart and effective.

  • Make sure you pick a strategic time. Wait until after the job offer has been extended. Otherwise, and especially at the first meeting, you may appear as if the only thing you care about is compensation, more so even than your commitment to the job.
  • Assess the compensation package critically. In some cases, the base salary may be lower because of assets within the benefits package. It’s important to make sure you understand the total financial value of the compensation package.
  • Be balanced in your tone and language choice. Amy Gallo, writing in the Harvard Business Review, recommends using language that is positive and solution-focused. The goal is to negotiate for the best possible job situation, long-term, and that can mean a variety of things.
  • Remember it is a negotiation. If you refuse to have a back-and-forth, open-minded conversation with your prospective employer, it won’t be productive. Shoot above what you’re hoping for, be ready for them to suggest below that high point, and remain committed to your minimum bottom line. Also, consider including the details of the benefits package in your negotiation.

Beyond your compensation, consider what the culture of the company is like and how you will be able to fit within it. You have to consider how the department is organized and prioritized. The ways that they structure their leadership and promote change, the way that they facilitate feedback and growth are all crucial things to look at.

Will you be entering a work environment where your experience and credentials matter more than anything else?

If you get this far in the process, you’ve gotten through the hardest part. So think about how you want to proceed, do some simple follow-ups, and then take a breath and relax, because it’s out of your hands now.

Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.


Networking Tips for Business Women

Networking Tips for Business Women

 pexels photo 601170

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

The technological advancements of the past several years have changed the way people connect with each other academically, socially, and professionally. The prevalence of smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices has almost completely transformed how we conduct our business interactions. This means that the digital nature of our world calls for a networking strategy that is mindful of online communications and social media platforms.

However, don’t forget the value of networking face-to-face. Though social media and instant communications have influenced how we make connections, to truly make the most of any networking opportunity, you need to be able to do it on- and offline.

In-Person Tips

Online communication continues to grow in popularity, but in-person networking is far from obsolete. Being able to network offline is still a crucial skill to have in the business world. When you speak with someone face-to-face, it’s easier to build stronger relationships more quickly than on the Internet. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make yourself memorable. When meeting someone in person, use this chance to showcase your best qualities and make a lasting, positive impression. This person isn’t just browsing your LinkedIn profile, so make these meetings count.
  • Among other things, Washington State University advises taking advantage of unexpected networking opportunities. Whether you’re at the gym or picking up takeout for dinner, you never know when the right connection will show up. Don’t be afraid to connect outside of work; do your best to put on your game face and go for it.
  • No matter how old school it feels, use business cards. List your contact information, including your phone number, email address, and relevant social media profiles. They are easy to pass along and provide a professional touch to your interactions. Ask for others’ business cards, but only if you plan to follow-up with them. Take their contact information and connect with them online as you build your relationship.

Online Best Practices

As important as face-to-face networking is, online networking is a relevant and significant aspect of today’s business world. When creating new business relationships, be attentive to both your and their online presence.

  • This is one of several useful tips from Rutgers University: be consistent with your online persona. Remember that what you put on the Internet will stay there. People can easily check any facts you share with them, so make sure you’re honest about your identity and credentials. Keep personal accounts private or consider modifying your name if you don’t want future employers or clients to see what you post. However, people may still find you, so keep that in mind before posting pictures of a debaucherous weekend.
  • Keep your online profiles up-to-date. New, consistent posts are crucial to building a brand online, especially if you plan to use them for networking. Stay relevant by putting fresh content on your blog, recent and professional photos of yourself on your social media accounts, and posting regularly on all your online platforms.
  • Do your homework. If you have a big event or meeting coming up, look at the online profiles of other attendees. Get to know them online first, so when you interact in-person, you’re confident and ready to network.

Remember that networking isn’t just about meeting people; it’s about making meaningful connections. If you want to network successfully, incorporate both in-person and online interactions when cultivating your relationships. Technology has provided us with even more resources to help us form these relationships; use them to your advantage and network like a pro.


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