Friday, May 31, 2013

Effective Phone Interviewing Tips

Phone interviews are typically conducted early in the interview process. Preparing and being mindful of how you communicate can lead to a more effective phone-based job interview. Considering that the first five minutes are crucial to success in a phone interview, don’t leave anything to chance.

Prior to the call, research the company as you would with any other interview and write out potential interview questions and answers. Being able to use notes is an important benefit of phone interviewing; however, you don’t want to sound like you’re reading a script. Practice your responses to potential interview questions in advance.

If at all possible, use a landline for better sound quality and reliability. Find a quiet spot, preferably in an office with the door closed, so you can maintain focus and be fully engaged. Don’t be tempted to text, check emails, or do other work during the call.

It’s important to make a friendly first impression. Although the interviewer won’t see your smile, he or she can sense it over the phone. Initially, thank the interviewer for the opportunity and add a comment or two to project a comfortable mood. Sound interested in the interviewer and the company.

If you are unsure of a question, ask for clarification. If you don’t know an answer, it’s best to simply say so rather than rambling and trying to come up with something. This is a common mistake people make, and it typically ends in disaster.

In the absence of body language or gestures, your tone of voice matters more than ever. Sound upbeat, and let your personality shine through without sounding too casual.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Do Something Every Day

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video writer Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) discusses the importance of developing the discipline to do something every day and shares the following quote: "A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules."

Learn more in the video below:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dealing with Loss and Tragedy

It has been a rough couple of months - both in our nation and for me personally. As our nation reels from storms, terror attacks, and other tragedies I have been experiencing deaths, cancer diagnoses, break-ups, divorces and job losses among family and friends. The bad news has left me looking for ways to help people deal with loss and heartbreak. Since this is a blog dedicated to career services, I will relate it to that type of loss. However, I hope it can be helpful to you whenever you experience grief and loss.

Heartbreak from a job loss is different that the loss of a job, but it is no less painful and stressful. The five stages of grief are often experienced for someone who has lost their job, the same way someone who has lost a loved one. However, the laid off or terminated employee's cycle of dealing with their grief must often be accelerated in order to help them get back into the workforce and earning a living.

Stage 1 - Denial
Often this comes as refusing to accept or acknowledge the loss. We tell ourselves "this can't possibly be happening" in order to let our mind accept the truth. A few years ago my husband called me on my birthday to tell me he had just been laid off. My first words to him were, "You're kidding right?" Of course I knew he would never joke about such a thing - especially on my birthday - but denial is where my brain naturally went first. Our jobs mean quite a lot to us - some more than others - and it is okay to feel loss, grief, and anger, but we must accept the truth in order to move forward.

Stage 2/3 - Anger and Bargaining
Our natural reaction in this stage is to look for someone to blame. In the case of a job loss, it is important to evaluate if you had some part in the process so that you can learn from your mistakes. However, often job loss is outside of our control - the company simply could no longer afford your salary or no longer needed your services. It is important to forgive those involved with the job loss - that includes yourself, your boss, and the company. Holding on to anger during a job loss is not healthy and will hurt you in an interview.

In a job loss, often anger and bargaining can happen interchangeably. We try to talk our way out of being let go, try to beg or plead with them to keep our job, or we waste time wishing things were different.

Stage 4 - Depression
Depression after a job loss can be debilitating. If we are feeling depressed, hopeless, frustrated, or simply feeling sorry for ourselves it can be very difficult to put ourselves out there in the job market where we are open to more possible rejection. It is very important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people and to keep yourself active with hobbies, exercise, and networking activities. Keep in mind, no matter the type of loss you have experienced, there are people out there who have dealt with the same type of pain. In many cases, they are more than willing to help you if you just ask.

Stage 5 - Acceptance
It is hard to move on and regain employment without this stage. Accept that you are a talented person that will find their place in another organization. Try to find the good that can come from your loss. See this as a chance to meet new people, find new opportunities, and gain new skills and experience.

No matter what type of loss you are experiencing, give yourself permission to experience all the different stages. It is a natural progression. However, you must hold yourself accountable to make it through all the stages so that you can finally move on.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ten reflective questions to transform your career

The words "reflection" and "workplace" are two that are not commonly found in the same sentence. In fact, most of our time at work is spent in the busy sphere of "doing" that we do not allow ourselves an opportunity to better understand why we are doing it, how we came about doing it, and what we are learning. 

Reflection is an important way to bridge that gap, to not only improve our on-the-job performance but to powerfully connect with our career. By creating a practice of reflection, you will have a stronger understanding of your contributions (including strengths, experience, and creative solutions) and your industry (its issues, complexities, and impact). 

Leverage these questions to become more reflective in your work:

What do I feel I excel at doing, and how does this compare to what others tell me?

What experiences have propelled me to where I am right now, and where do I want to go in the future?

What qualities of my character are on display in my work, and do they represent who I want to be?

How do I get to be creative in the work that I do, and how has that helped me grow?

Who are the important players and/or organizations my field, and what about their work impacts mine?

What need is my industry serving, and how might that need change in the short and long term?

What issues are important to my industry, and how might those issues shape future policy or practice?

What challenges is my industry facing, and how does what I do impact them?

What would it benefit me to learn so that I could be of more value now and in my future?

What is my industry growing in to, and how does this coincide with my values and beliefs?

Intentionally set aside time to reflect on these questions - even if it is a few of them - and reap the benefits of being a more learned, responsible, and aware professional.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Positive Work Environment, Women and Careers

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • Be the Architect of a Positive Work Environment"Always start from a place of trusting that your colleagues are capable and competent. Have faith that they will support you as much as you support them. In most cases, people will rise to meet your expectations and trust will continue to blossom naturally."
  • 5 Ways Employees Should Prepare for the Workplace of the Future"Make sure that your social media profiles reflect the best professional version of you, and that your social network reflects your real network."                                                        
  • How Women Can Use Friendships to Boost Their Careers"Friends who are in the same field or are members of a professional organization would be ideally suited to make introductions to other members and professionals, like executives."

  • 7 Simple Tips to Grow Your Social Network"[I]t is not enough to simply create a great profile, you have to join the party and interact with people. The best way to do this is to produce regular up-dates (initially maybe once a day or a few times a week)."

  • The Graduation Advice We Wish We'd Been Given"A great way to be more resilient is to stop comparing yourself to other people, and compare yourself to your own past performance — last week, last month, last year. Are you improving? That's the only question that matters.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Networking Tips for Telecommuters

Recently, there has been much talk in the media about the benefits and drawbacks of telecommuting. Despite some high-profile companies scaling back, continued growth in telecommuting is still projected.

Networking is one of the biggest challenges of telecommuting, but it is certainly possible with some extra effort and planning.
  • Mix things up a little by working at a café, coffee shop, or bookstore once a week. You never know who you might meet by simply being out and about, and you’re still being productive.
  • Join a networking group like MeetUp. This worldwide organization, with over 13 million members, brings together those with similar interests, in areas such as photography, music, entrepreneurship, travel, general business networking, and much more.
  • Make a habit of going into the office periodically. Occasional face time is important, and it’s an effective way to build relationships with your co-workers and clients. Additionally, use teleconferencing tools, such as Skype, as another way to stay tied to colleagues.
  • Join LinkedIn, with over 200 million members in 200+ countries. Build a profile and start by connecting with people you know. Then, ask them if they are able to help you connect with contacts who best mesh with your needs and interests.
The thought of networking makes some people cringe; it can all seem so self-serving and phony. If that’s the case for you, try changing your perspective a bit. Try networking at events and online without expecting anything in return, but rather, with the goal of helping others. It can take the pressure off, yet you may still end up meeting valuable contacts and advancing your career.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Definition of Job Search Insanity

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. The same concept applies to the job search process. You must be willing to adapt and modify your job search methods if what you are doing is not working for you.

I was told the story today of a military veteran who is having some difficulty with finding a position now that they have separated. The person who told me the story is a trainer that teaches career development skills. They reviewed the service member's resume and recommended some major changes to the resume so that their search would be more effective.

Unfortunately, the service member refused to make the necessary changes. Their comment was that their resume"is good enough." If your goal is to land a job, then a resume or job search effort that is not leading to job interviews is not "good enough."

As you progress in your job search, you must be willing to continually evaluate your efforts so that you can make changes, modifications, or adaptations to optimize your results. It is always best to take a multi-pronged approach to your job search and use a wide variety of search methods. Looking for a job is like navigating a trip on a road map. There are multiple routes you can use to reach your destination, you just need to find the one that is most efficient and works best for you. Here are some alternatives that you might want to try as you explore the best job search methods for you and your goal.

  • Network with friends, relatives, professors, former co-workers, and former supervisors
  • Job search networking events and Chamber of Commerce mixers
  • Internet job boards
  • Research companies in your industry using online resources
  • State Workforce/Career One Stop Center
  • Job fairs and hiring expos
  • Employment agencies
  • College or University career placement centers
  • Unions or trade organizations
  • Professional organizations in your industry

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: 10 Interview Mistakes

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video Alison McGeorge discusses 10 interview mistakes to avoid, including "failing to show enthusiasm and personality."

Learn more in the video below:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Three Common Resume Lies and How You Will Get Caught

Whether or not you have a job as visible as the head coach of Yale's football team or Yahoo's CEO, an alarming rate of people lie on their resumes. There are websites out there dedicated to the art of falsifying information. The statistics are different, depending on who is conducting the study. However, consistently more than 50% of people have admitted to fabricating information on their resume.

Most often, people lie on resumes to make themselves look good - or at least better than the truth! However, with so much detailed information about our private lives now publicly accessible via the internet, there are too many inexpensive ways a company can find out the truth. Let's look at some of the most common lies and see how an employer might discover the true facts about you.

Dates of Employment
It may just be failure to keep good records that keeps you from using the right dates. However, incorrect dates is one of the most common untruths out there. Many people have been unemployed for extended periods of time and want to cover that gap. Although this is one of the most common lies, it is easily verified with reference checks or even a simple check of your resume dates against your LinkedIn profile.

It is perfectly acceptable to list a degree "in progress" or partially completed. However, what is not acceptable is claiming to have completed your degree, when you are in fact 57 credits from completion. Accu-Screen estimates that 16% of degrees are falsified and that 15% of job seekers will also falsify technical training or education. A very simple, inexpensive background check can reveal the truth.

Criminal Records
Job seekers with a criminal history are concerned that their negative law enforcement history will stop companies from making the hiring decision. This fear is grounded in reality, as this can prevent a company from giving you a shot. However, don't completely ruin your chances at landing a new job by lying on your resume or application about this key factor. Your criminal record does show up with the simplest, and most inexpensive background investigation. Therefore, address any convictions ahead of time and tell your (brief) story of what you have learned and how you have changed since your conviction.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Four questions to make your 20s count

"The 30s are the new 20s." Perhaps this is a statement that you are familiar with...maybe one that you take refuge in. For some reason - possibly in response to a delay in societal milestones or the fact that people are living longer - there is a new tendency to consider the 20s a decade that "doesn't count;" an extension of adolescence.

This, according to Meg Jay's white-hot TED talk, is dangerous. And we are doing 20-somethings a disservice by perpetuating this belief, one that fails to recognize the 20s as a "developmental sweet-spot" with significant consequences in terms of one's personal life and career. 

If you are a 20-something reading this or have one in your life, allow yourself/themselves to spend some time with these questions to open up clarity and purpose in their professional lives:

Who am I becoming as a professional? This question gets to the heart of your choices, actions, and state of being. It forces you to consider how what you are doing now is molding you for the future. When you answer this question, how does the response make you feel? Pay attention to these emotions and feelings; they can guide you to new areas of growth and exploration.

What am I willing/unwilling to change? When I work with clients, there is inevitably a hesitancy on their part to truly stand in the career decisions they make and the professionals that they want to become. This question asks - with openness and authenticity - what you will and will not compromise on, and to own it with genuineness and confidence.

What is the decision I have been avoiding? A great question to hone in on those decisions that you know would be best for you but you struggle following through on. Why are you struggling? What is the cost of avoiding this decision? More strong questions to provide clarity for your career.

What legacy do I want to leave? Our time is impermanent and this question gets at the heart of how we want others to benefit from the work that we put in while we were here.

Your 20s are an incredible time of career growth and intentional life-exploration. Sit with these questions and claim your 20s for the important and substantive time that they are. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • 8 Things Productive People Do During the Workday"It may be hard to swallow, but there’s nothing productive about piling together a slew of tasks in the form of a checklist. Take a less-is-more approach to your to-do list by only focusing on accomplishing things that matter."
  • 6 Tips for Working the Room at a Networking Event"Be attentive. Networking is about active listening to learn about other people. Ask about how they got to where they are today, their accomplishments, current situation, challenges and needs."                                                         
  • Are You Working "In" or "On" Your Career?"[C]areer success also comes from paying attention to the amount of time we spend working "on" and "in" our careers. When we don't find the right balance, we struggle, or even worse, we have professional set-backs."

  • For a Good Job, Learn How to Spell"Your email, cover letter, application and résumé are often the first impression you make. Spelling and grammatical errors suggest you don't care enough about the job to double check your work, or worse, that you lack attention to detail."

  • Is This Bad Habit Draining Your Energy?"Next time you are tempted to show up at your boss’ office with a list of demands, which need to be paid in full before you can do you job, think hard about what you can do to change your own performance – despite the circumstances.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How Technology Is Changing the Job Search

If you haven’t been in the job market for a while, you may be in for a few surprises. Technology has changed many aspects of the job hunt—from how we network and find out about openings, to what employers are doing to make better hiring decisions. The following are just a few examples.

Video interviews
Video interviews are easier to schedule and can cut transportation time and expense for employers. They are used often, especially for first-round interviews. Make sure to send your resume and other materials in advance. Video interviews are typically held in a recruiter’s office or other professional environment, so arrive early to allow time to learn how to use the equipment. Dress professionally, as you would for any other interview, and during the interview, be sure to make eye contact with the camera.

Social media
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are fantastic social media tools for increasing networking opportunities. Social media is also helpful in uncovering possible job opportunities and obtaining important news regarding specific companies. For example, by following a company on LinkedIn, you can find out critical information about that company, like new acquisitions, agency hiring, key employees leaving, etc. Read between the lines, and you may be able to figure out what possible jobs are available and anticipate upcoming hiring needs.

Employer computer systems
In today’s job market, computer systems are often used for screening resumes. This makes it even more crucial that your application or resume target specific jobs and relay key information and terms important to your profession. These will then match to the job requirements when the system scans your application and/or resume.

Four Steps to a Successful Federal Application

One of the biggest misconceptions about obtaining employment with the federal government is that it is the same process you go through in the private sector. Although there are similarities, there are glaring differences in the process of landing a federal job. Let's look at a step-by-step process that you will need to go through in order to land that job with the federal government.

Step 1 - Determine your Target Position
Just like in the private sector, it is best to have a target position in mind when you begin your federal search. Keywords are just as important in a federal resume as in the private sector. The biggest difference is that when you submit a resume in the private sector, it is probably scanned by a computer. However, in the federal government, a person reviews your resume to determine your level of qualification.

Step 2 - Read the Job Posting
The federal job posting can be intimidating and overwhelming. However there are some key areas to look in the job posting to get the most important information. To find key words and the key skills you want to highlight in your resume look in the Duties and Responsibilities section, the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) section, and review the job description. In addition, before you begin to write your resume, click on the link that takes you to the Qualifications Questionnaire. This questionnaire will give you valuable insight about what must be contained on your resume.

Step 3 - Prepare a Federal Resume
This is where the differences between the federal government and the private sector stand out the most. The federal resume is a completely different ball game from the private sector. The federal resume is longer and more information-intensive - it is typically 3 to 5 pages long. You must include details such as employer address, month and year of employment, salary, hours worked per week, and supervisor name and contact info for each job on your federal resume. When listing education, you must include the school name and location, month and year of completion, number of credit hours, and GPA.

Step 4 - Track your Progress
If you have completed your application through, then you can track the status of your application. Be prepared for the process to take a bit longer than standard private sector companies. Remember that making it to the "Cert List" is only one step along the way. Once you are deemed as highly qualified and put on the cert list, the hiring authority has the discretion as to whether or not they will call you for an interview. Keep in mind, no matter how much they want to hire you, if you don't make the cert list (i.e. your resume is not up to federal standards) the hiring authority can not move forward with you as a candidate.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Social Arbitrage

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video Keith Ferrazi discusses "social arbitrage" and the beneficial impact of introducing two of your contacts and facilitating networking.

Learn more in the video below:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How Long Should Your Job Search Take?

I met with a client today who asked me to estimate how long her job search would take. I was quite honest with her. I told her that "experts" estimate that for every $10,000 you command in salary, your job search should take a month. In other words, if you will be making $50,000, your search should take about 5 months. That is nothing more than "guestimation" in my mind.

As unpredictable as a job search may be, there are ways to make that job search as efficient, effective, and  short as possible. Most likely, the amount of success you achieve in your search is comparable to the amount of effort. However, here are some additional strategies for shortening your job search that I shared with my client earlier today.

  • Obviously a big factor in the length of a job search falls down to good, old-fashioned supply and demand. Before you embark on a new job hunt, do your research to ensure that there is in fact a market for your skills in your geographic location. 
  • A multi-pronged approach is always the most effective method for job searching. Many people focus on surfing the internet for job openings. While this should be part of your approach, it should not be the ONLY method you use. Integrate social media, attending networking events, and developing a strong professional referral network to your efforts to increase your chances. 
  • You must have an online presence. Many recruiters are not immediately posting their jobs. They prefer to use networking, referrals, and social media first, before they post a job and have to wade through hundreds of candidates.
  • Dedicate yourself to making job hunting a full-time job. You should be spending 30 to 40 hours per week on the job search. However, this does not mean sit at a computer and surf job boards all day long. Schedule time to get out and network, make phone calls, gather information, and conduct research on target employers.
  • Make the extra effort to target and focus your job search. Before you send a resume and cover letter, take the extra time to research the company's needs and find a way to demonstrate how your skills can solve their problems. Take the extra effort to customize your job search - you will send out fewer resumes, but each one will be more effective.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Three questions to help you lean in to work-life balance

Sheryl Sandberg made a splash near the beginning of the year with the release of her book Lean In, her manifesto for women to redefine their career away from a "having it all" mentality to one of personal responsibility and designing a life that allows for both work and family.

The difficulties that face women have long been studied and reported, and a recent poll indicates that women still feel at a disadvantage professionally despite headway they have made and changes in the workplace. Making intentional decisions about one's career is important for anyone but is especially important for women. The tension between professional and personal-life obligations can create a sense of imbalance and unhappiness. Consider the questions below to put clarity and intention around work-life decisions:

What are you willing to compromise and not compromise for work and family? While there is no such thing as perfect balance in one's life, being able to set boundaries and stick to them - whether it is always being home for dinner or achieving a level of professional success - will give you a value-based foundation on which to make your decisions and "draw your line," increasing your life satisfaction.

Where are you feeling supported and not supported? In both your personal and professional life take some time to think about the level of support you feel. Where would you assess it on a scale of one to ten? If it below an eight, consider why it is that way how much of it is environmental or personal? Put yourself in a place of empowerment and design some actions from there.

What would help you achieve more balance in your professional and personal life? Alongside deciding what to compromise and not compromise, consider what choices you can make to help you achieve the balance that you want to achieve. It could be a decision of asking a partner to be more of a presence with family-related chores or it could be that you delegate more time at the office or even work from home. Put a critical eye on how you do things to see if there is any room for adjustment.

While there is no question that the American workplace needs to do more to accommodate women, use these questions to strengthen areas of your life that are weak and to design a life that leads you to feel accomplished personally and professionally.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transition Roundup: Career Change, Reaching Your Full Potential, and More

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • 9 Steps to Change Careers and Get the Life You Want"People who are called to their work do it not solely for financial gain or career advancement, but for the fulfillment that the work brings. My work feels like a drug now -- I have to have more of it, and I can't wait to jump out of bed in the morning to get to it. I want that for you, too."
  • Are You Only Pretending to Be in the Right Job?"People who think they know everything there is to know about their job are at risk of getting old, jaded and inflexible. The world is constantly changing, and there are always new skills and insights to learn. If you don't feel this way, you're in the wrong job."                                                          
  • 5 Ways to Subversively Stand Out in Your Job Search"You've likely seen statistics or heard people talk about how much more difficult it is to get a job when you don't have a job. It’s ironic, but some employers do prefer to hire people who are not actively looking for work because they are already employed."

  • Why Most People Don't Reach Their Full Potential and How You Can"I think an extraordinary life is for everyone, a famous life isn’t.... I don’t believe the falsely hopeful idea that 'you can be anything you want.' I believe the infinitely better idea that 'you can be the best version of you.'"

  • 4 Simple Career Advancement Strategies"[T]hose best positioned for success will have the social savvy to tailor the content of their message based on the interests, values and knowledge of those receiving that message.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Questions to Ask Before Considering a Major Career Change

Before deciding to make the leap into a new career, it’s important to figure out where you’ve been, what you want, and why. Spend quality time thoughtfully answering some key questions, and do so in writing. Writing your responses will help you organize your thoughts and provide better clarity and focus.

Here is a list of questions to help get you started.
  • What do you want from a career?
  • What does the new career offer that the old one does not?
  • What are the best and worst parts about your current job?
  • How transferable are your skills?
  • Do you know someone already in this career who can provide a big picture perspective as well as behind-the-scenes experiences?
  • Do you have the financial resources to make the transition?
  • Do you anticipate challenges or struggles, and what support is available to tackle those?
  • Does the new career offer long-term opportunities?

Reflect on your answers for a few days. It’s important to make sure you’re moving to a promising new career, not just running away from the old one. Switching careers is risky and holds no guarantees. But if you’ve taken the time to really consider your values, interests, skills, and passion, sometimes pursuing a new career can lead to greener grass on the other side.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Three Ways to Stay Productive when Spring Fever Hits

Most likely, wherever you live, there are signs of spring and the upcoming summer season all around you. Here in Arizona, the days are longer, the sun is shining, our pools and lakes are warm enough to go swimming, and there are beautiful flowers everywhere you look. I don't know about you, but I am having a hard time staying focused on my to-do list.

Unfortunately, my to-do list will not take care of itself, so I have been struggling with finding ways to stay focused. I thought I would share some of these ideas with you this week. So, when you find yourself staring at your list and saying "I don't wanna!" much like I have been doing this week, maybe these strategies will help you focus.

Bring spring into your indoor work life
This is the time of year when it feels like cruel and unusual punishment to have to be indoors all day long. Give yourself a break and boost your energy at the same time by taking some time to enjoy the beautiful weather. 
  • Walk to a nearby lunch spot to enjoy the weather and get some energy from exercise at the same time. Sit on the patio of your favorite lunch restaurant to enjoy the fresh air.
  • Keep fresh spring flowers on your desk.
  • If you don't have a window you can open in your office, try to relocate to a conference room or location with a window at least once during the day.

Refocus your efforts and re-prioritize your to-do list
It is a proven scientific fact that our serotonin levels rise in the spring which can lead to giddiness, enthusiasm, and a boost in energy levels. We become distracted much easier, so it is important that we are as focused as possible.
  • Establish the next day's priorities before you go home each day. Try to realistically clarify how much time each action will take and create a detailed schedule.
  • List your activities in order of importance on your written list. You will feel such a sense of accomplishment and focus when you get to cross each task off the list.
  • Evaluate whether your priorities are actually essential. In other words, give your to-do list and your priorities the "spring cleaning" treatment.

Take a break
When all else fails, seriously consider taking a few days, maybe even just a long weekend, to recharge your batteries. Plan a low-cost short vacation that allows you to be outside, enjoy the weather, and not think about what is on your to-do list Most likely you will come back to work with your batteries charged and be ready to take action! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Twitter and Your Job Search

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video Wall Street Journal Reporter Rachel Silverman discusses how to utilize Twitter in your job search.

Learn more in the video below:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Four Things You Can do at a Career Fair Besides Job Hunt

I love multitasking and I am always looking for ways to optimize my time to ensure I get the most out of every minute. As a job seeker, we have a tendency to become singularly-minded on landing a job. However, I caution you to take a step back and realize that if you focus too much on the end game, and not enough on the process, your job search may just take longer.

A common activity for job seekers is going to a career fair. In the spirit of multitasking and optimizing your time, I wanted to give you some alternative focuses for the next time you attend a career fair. Of course you will go to the career fair to job search. However, once you have walked the career fair and talked to your target companies, I urge you to take advantage of these other activities before you call it a day.

It is always a great idea to network with the company representatives at each booth. Gather business cards and jot brief notes on the back of the cards after you step away from the booth. The key is to personalize your follow-up communication and to do it quickly, while the career fair is still fresh in their mind. However, don't just stop at networking with employers. Do your best to network with fellow job seekers and representatives from educational institutes. Tap into the hidden job market by expanding your network of referral resources.

Build Your LinkedIn Contacts
As you meet people at the career fair - employers, recruiters, career services professionals, and fellow job seekers as them about connecting on LinkedIn. Your sphere of influence and potential for referrals and personal introductions grows each time you add a connection through LinkedIn. Once again, it is very important that you send a personalized message, and not use LinkedIn's template message.

Have Your Resume Reviewed
This can be a tricky one because everyone has a different opinion on what should and should not be done on a resume. When having your resume reviewed, ensure they are a professional that has current and updated information of resume writing. If the reviewer recommends you change something on your resume, always ask them the strategy behind their suggestion. If the answer is "that is the way I prefer it to be done," then you are getting opinion instead of strategy-driven constructive feedback.

Explore Educational Opportunities
Most every career fair has representatives from several educational institutions including trade schools, certification programs, and formal degrees. Talk to the school representatives about your options, not only for improving your marketability through additional education, but also about gaining funding to pay for your education.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Three questions to ask to get your point across

While creativity is a skill CEOs feel is critical to workplace success, the ability to communicate effectively is another. Communication - particularly how you get your message across to another or to others - is an art as well as a skill. Before you share your message, ask yourself these questions to do so appropriately and to maximize others' understanding of it.

What language does my audience use? By this question I don't mean "English," "Spanish," "French," etc. but what are the key terms and concepts that your audience is familiar with that they will respond to. For example, if you are giving a presentation to a non-business audience, using terms like widgets, gross margin, net revenue, etc. will not only lose them, they will feel frustrated at being lost. Another example would be in a job interview: if you use a lot of acronyms from your old position, you are going to confuse and irritate your interviewers. Get into the head of those you will be conveying your message to and be sure that you are using words to which they relate.

What is a metaphor that best conveys my message? I love using metaphors to get my point across, as they can take complex topics or issues and make them more relatable and accessible. While you can risk becoming cliché with your metaphors, a well-placed simile can heighten your audiences' understanding of your subject. One time while working at a university I had to explain the difference between "campus cash" (campus currency that could be used anywhere on campus) and "dining dollars" (campus currency that could only be used in the dining halls). "Picture the university as the United States," I said. "Campus cash is like the U.S. dollar: it can be used anywhere. Now, think of the dining halls as amusement parks. Not only can you use the U.S. dollar at amusement parks, you can also purchase amusement park cash for special deals and bonuses, but it is only usable at the amusement park." A simple metaphor, but it helped my audience left understanding it perfectly.

What is the best medium for my message? This is a question that many of us frequently underestimate. In our digital age a message can be conveyed in many ways: over the phone, face-to-face, via email, and in some instances via social media. The advice I typically give is the more sensitive the message, the greater the need for person-to-person communication. Bad news is best delivered face-to-face, but so can good news when you want to specifically recognize individuals for their achievement. General information and announcements can be made via email and a message that you want to get out to the public can be made via social media. There are endless permutations to this, however, so use your best judgment and consult with a trusted colleague if you are unsure how to proceed.

Your point isn't to merely say what you need to say: it needs to be received, understood, and acknowledged. Ask yourself these questions to ensure that your point comes across.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Success and Leadership

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • The 7 Ways Successful People Approach Their Work"[I]mprove your skills and adopt new ones important in your line of work. Take professional development classes, or have a mentor help you figure out what you’ll need to learn in order to succeed five, ten or 20 years from now."
  • Do All job Seekers Need a Personal Website?"According to a study ... 56 percent of hiring managers are more impressed by a personal website than any other branding tool you could use. And yet, only 7 percent of job seekers have websites."
  • Act Like a Leader Before You Are One"No matter how big your ambitions, don't let them distract you from excelling in your current role. Focus on the present as much as — or more than — the future."

  • 10 Ways to Be Sensationally Successful at Your New Job" Work hard to be known for something specific. Be known for responding more quickly or following up first or always offering to help before you’re asked. Be the leader known for turning around struggling employees or creating the biggest pool of promotable talent or building bridges between different departments."

  • 30 Books to Make You a Better Business Leader"While it may seem hard to believe, the simple act of reading can provide you with an opportunity to expand your leadership and business knowledge. The end result: a positive transform for you and the business you lead.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Too Distracted to Read This? Think Again.

The workplace is full of distractions: phones ringing, constant email and text alerts, and loud and talkative co-workers. Distractions abound and our attention is constantly shifting, making it hard to focus on the work at hand. It’s not always possible to eliminate distractions; however, you can take steps to significantly minimize them. Read on to discover tips that might work for you.

Turn Off Alerts
If you work at your computer or with a smartphone, alerts for email, instant messages, and texts can frequently sidetrack you from work tasks. Consider temporarily turning off alerts, especially when working on a task that requires your full concentration, like problem solving or creative thinking.

Process Messages during Scheduled Times
Schedule blocks of time for reading and responding to work emails or instant messages. If your job involves time-sensitive information, you may need to schedule message reviews several times throughout the day, but the structure will keep you more efficient.

Set Daily Work Goals and Tasks
Plan the goals you need to accomplish each work day and outline the associated tasks. You may not complete all your goals and tasks each day, causing some to shift to the next day, but a plan will help you stay on task and eliminate distraction.

Stay Organized
A cluttered workspace can be distracting and result in disorganization. Keep a tidy workspace, limited primarily to those supplies and tools you need to do your job. Organize your file system, including your electronic files. You’ll notice you can focus more on your work and be more productive along the way.

Speak to Disruptive Coworker(s)
As difficult as it may be to confront a co-worker who is disruptive, it will pay off in the long run. Be professional and respectful in your approach and simply explain what is causing the regular distractions. For example, is the co-worker too loud or does he/she want to chat too often? Chances are they aren’t aware of their actions but would be willing to make an effort to change.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Outrageous Interview Mistakes that Include Lessons for Everyone - Part 2

On Tuesday's blog entry, I started the outrageous interview blunders list. This was inspired by recent news stories about just how little new college graduates know about the interviewing process. However, this is not a new trend, these outrageous stories have gone on - and will continue to go on - for years!

In 2011, did a survey of 2,400 hiring manager about the most damaging and most common mistakes that were made by interviewees. You can find the entire article here, but these are their top issues:

  • Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 71 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately – 69 percent
  • Appearing disinterested – 69 percent
  • Appearing arrogant – 66 percent
  • Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer – 63 percent
  • Chewing gum – 59 percent
  • Not providing specific answers – 35 percent
  • Not asking good questions – 32 percent 

Let's look at a few more situations that I have experienced and see what we can learn from some of these common mistakes.

Mistake: I unwittingly walked into an interview taking place in a remotely located museum. The interviewee was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He was sitting sideways in a chair with armrests and had one leg casually thrown over the arm. He looked as though he did not have a care in the world!

Lesson: It is estimated that up to 40% of your success in an interview is based on packaging - a combination of your appearance and body language. As I mentioned on Tuesday, 93% of how we communicate with the world is non-verbal. In an interview, do a "body language check" every few minutes to make sure you are sending the right message. Posture should be professional; sit up straight, hold your head high, and put your shoulders back to make a good impression.

Mistake: When I asked a candidate why they left their last job, they proceeded to rant for five minutes about how horrible it was to work for their previous company and boss.

Lesson: One of the reasons we ask this question in an interview is because you truly never know what people are going to open up their mouth and tell you. As a hard and fast rule, you should NEVER talk poorly about a former employer. No matter how much you feel you were in the right in the situation, telling a negative story about someone who is not there to defend themselves will always make you look like a "problem child." Instead, simply state that you decided to take your career in a new direction - this answer fits most every situation, from being terminated to a toxic work environment.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Choosing a College Major

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video author Daniel Pink discusses choosing a college major and notes the importance of "curiosity, passion, and persistence."

Learn more in the video below: