Accelerate the Hiring Process

Accelerate the Hiring Process

The job hunting process can sometimes go on and on and on, but there are some things you can do to put some gas in that engine.


Remember one size does not fit all

If you’ve been on the job hunt for a while you might be tempted to just send out the same cover letter to every position that seems like a possible opportunity. Creating different cover letters doesn’t mean just changing the name of the company. It means researching the company you’re applying to and including specific information about them, and you and them in the cover letter. It means highlighting specific experiences you bring to THIS position. One size actually fits no one well!


The same thing goes for your resume. Tailor your experiences to what best match the job you are after. You might want to change the order of your information to best grab the attention of the hiring manager for each job you are applying for.


Don’t just throw everything against the wall and see what sticks

Speaking of applying to everything that could possibly be an opportunity – don’t. If you are not suited to the job it’s a waste of your time and the interviewer’s for you to put in an application. Do your homework find jobs that suit your skills, experiences and aspirations and focus your precious energies on those.


Don’t forget your keys

As you know, there’s a lot of competition for jobs. Hiring managers read all kinds of resumes for every posting they put out there. By using key words you’ll ensure your resume and cover letter get more than a passing glance. To do this, look at what they wrote in the job description, then reflect their phrasing and words right back at them.


Look beyond your resume

Of course, you are going to update your resume with all your current experiences and qualifications. But that’s not the beginning and end of what a potential employer might see. They might check out what you’ve got on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. If you have a website, they will likely look at what you’ve got posted there. Make sure your online presence is as up to date as your resume!


Good News You Have A Job Interview Coming Up! Bad News You Were Fired From Your Last Job

Good News You Have A Job Interview Coming Up! Bad News You Were Fired From Your Last Job

The bad

You went through a rough patch last year. Your dad was sick and you ended up missing a lot of work because you had to help take care of him. You were worried and distracted. Things fell through the cracks at work. You made mistakes you would never make under normal circumstances. Rather than being understanding or sympathetic your boss was impatient and annoyed. Eventually you got the sack.


The good

All of that is in the past now. You took an online time management course. You won’t go off track again in the future. Your dad is better and you are mentally and physically recharged and ready to get your career back on track.


The great and the not so great

You’ve lined up a job interview at a place you where you’d be super excited to work. Your experience lines up perfectly with the job description and the company culture is exactly what you’re looking for. If you were never fired you’d be a shoe in. As it is, you’re not exactly sure how it will pan out. You know the question about previous employment is going to come up. What do you say?


Be clear and honest

Explain exactly what happened, quickly and succinctly. Don’t go into long explanations or create excuses or start blaming anyone. My dad was sick last year. I lost my focus and I was let go. Take ownership of what you did or didn’t do then move on to what you learned from it and the steps you’ve taken to ensure nothing like that will happen again.


Be confident and positive. Wow them with your all the things you bring to the table and exactly why having you as part of their team is going to strengthen the team in so many ways.


Our past does not define us. We are defined by what we do afterwards and going forward. There are actually a few upsides to being fired. Being fired helps put things into perspective. It makes you reassess what you’re doing and your motivation for doing it.


It brings hard questions you didn’t want to face to the forefront. Was that the right job for you? Do you need an attitude adjustment? What exactly do you want from life?


Answering those questions can put you on a whole new path. Often a much better one. And that’s the perspective/attitude you bring with you into the next interview!

Stay Mindful To Keep Things In Perspective

Stay Mindful To Keep Things In Perspective

Some days are smooth and easy. Your ride to work is uneventful. You manage to get what you want done. The evening is pleasant time with friends or loved ones.


Other days it’s like someone packed in so many annoyances you feel like you can’t help but come apart at the seams. You might want to rail loud and angry against the jerk that cut you off on the highway. Scream your head off about the co-worker who got credit for your work. Tear down the receptionist who changed your doctor’s appointment without telling you. No matter what situation has gotten under your skin it’s better to deal with it from a place of calm.


Regular meditation is the great equalizer in life. If you are a regular meditator (good for you) you are already ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with daily stresses. Even if you don’t manage to meditate on a regular basis there are still things you can do in the moment to quickly drag yourself back from the edge.


Create a focal point

The hardest part about meditation for most people is the inability to settle the mind. Our thoughts are like Mexican jumping beans bouncing around all over the place against the express demands of our brains. When you need to settle your thoughts find something in your sight line to focus your attention on. Breathe deeply and just keep focusing on that one thing. Use it as an anchor to hold you in place until you can find a place of calm again.


Find compassion for yourself

Self-compassion means remembering you are a worthy, significant person, deserving of the good things this world has to offer. Flying off the handle in the moment often feels good in the moment, but it’s usually followed by self-recrimination. Along with thoughts like I wish I’d handled that differently or I should never had said that.


By beating yourself to the punch with a little self-compassion you can give your better self the chance to take over from your thoughtless self.


When you feel like lashing out stop and do a quick self-check. Notice your breathing. Take note of your heart rate. Recognize the fight emotion surging in the fight or flight reaction  – and breathe it out. Remind yourself of better ways you’ve dealt with similar situations in the past. Center yourself, find the person who handles things well hidden behind the angry one and bring them to the forefront.

Remind yourself of the long view

The moment we are currently inhabiting always seems huge because it’s the one we’re in. But every moment is tamed down to size with time. If you find yourself in a moment of fury or hurt or fear, take the time to put it into perspective. How much will this moment matter in a day? How about a week? Or a year? Is it worth losing your cool over something you won’t even remember next week? If not then remember you’re going to calm down anyway so you might as well start now!

Don’t Wait To Start Taking Advantage of Your 401k

Don't Wait To Start Taking Advantage of Your 401k

You finish school and look ahead to grand future you’re planning for yourself. You get your first real job out of school! Then one of the first things you hear is, Time to start planning for your retirement!  Whether you are about to receive your first paycheck or you’ve been in the working world for more years than you care to count, contributing to your 401k automatically helps you save for your retirement with barely any planning on your part.


A retirement account is essentially an investment account that you don’t withdraw from (ideally) until you retire. There are two main types of retirement accounts IRA Individual Retirement Accounts – which is what people who don’t have access to a 401k use, or the retirement creating wonder, 401k.

Money you don’t see in the first place turns into head turning money in the second place

About half of Americans have access to a 401K at work. Essentially what happens is, your employer deducts a percentage of your pay and puts it in an investment account for you. That investment grows over time with compound interest and by the time you’re ready to take it out and live off it, it’s become a whale compared to the small fries you started with.


The great things about it is, the money is deducted before you ever see it. Because you don’t have to physically withdraw anything the transaction is essentially invisible. You don’t miss money you never see.  Here’s the even better part. Most companies will match your contribution. Typically if you contribute 6% they will match that with 3%. (most employers offer a 50% match) That’s FREE money going directly into your retirement fund, building toward whale sized savings. Who doesn’t want free money? Apparently quite a lot of people.


According to the article Does the Average American Have a 401 (k) from the Motley Fool, “Of those 79% of Americans who get the choice to fund a 401 (k), only 41% opt to participate. As such, just 32% of the total workforce is saving in a 401 (k).”


Obviously if you have outstanding debt that must be attended to, that is your first priority, but once you’re beyond living paycheck to paycheck, contributing to your 401k should really be a no brainer.


Work your way to maximum contributions

How much you contribute to your 401k is up to you. Essentially you want to try and put in as much as you can afford while still maintaining the ability to pay your bills and meet the rest of your regular financial obligations.


If you are currently only contributing 2% because that’s all you can afford right now, and your employer is only matching that with 1% your goal is to work your way up to 4% with a 2% match. Then finally 6% to get that maximum 3% match from your employer.


If you are 30 years old with an annual salary of 40,000 and you contribute 6%, which is matched by 3% from your employer, your total contributions of $42,000 over 35 years will have ballooned into $527,000 by the time you’re ready to retire. Use this 401k calculator to figure out how much you can save for your retirement if you start contributing today.


Planning for your retirement can be as simple as saying yes to a plan already in place to help you!

Make The Most Of Your Tax Refund

Make The Most Of Your Tax Refund

New to full time employment your first tax return might seem like a huge windfall so you may be inclined to treat it like found money and blow the whole thing on a vacation or a no-holds barred shopping spree. The average tax refund in America is $3,000 – a lot to play with. But  you need to remember, this isn’t found money or won money. This is money you earned through the year finally arrived in your account. You worked hard for it, now it’s time to make it work hard for you.


Pay down high interest debt

Do you still have student loans outstanding? Here’s a great way to make a significant dent there. What about credit cards with high interest rates? Instead of making small payments and continuing to carry a high interest rate month like 15%, 18% or 22% after month, vanquish the beast or at least cut it down to size in one fell swoop.


The money you save not paying that interest month after month is money you can put towards other things.


Prepare for emergencies

The other smart thing you can do with that money is either start an emergency fund or add to it. Ideally you want to have about three months worth of living expenses socked away to carry you through unexpected situations. Having an emergency fund will help save you from incurring that credit card debt or line of credit to deal with emergencies in the first place. It also preserves your retirements savings – for your retirement.


Invest in your future

Speaking of retirement, according Dave Ramesy’s 40 With No Savings? “The employee Benefits Research Institute reports that 37% of all employees age 35 – 44 and 34% of employees age 45 – 54 have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.”


The earlier you start, the more the money you invest today will be worth down the road. No matter how far away the future might seem, all of us will get there much sooner than expected. The more you can put away before you arrive, the rosier it will be when you get there.


Aside from adding to (or starting your investment income) other ways of investing in your future include investing in yourself. Are there any courses you want to take to prepare for a business venture you want to start? Are there materials you need to buy to get you started with that new Etsy business you’ve been thinking about? Think of your return as seed money to grow tomorrow’s projects.


Do something for yourself

If you are not in debt and you’re comfortable with where you are financially, then absolutely give yourself a treat! Even if you need to use the money for debt or investment you could still take a portion of the return to treat yourself. 10% maybe.


Or, instead of treating yourself maybe you’d like to use that money to donate to a cause or organization that means something to you. You help others and as a side benefit you come away feeling great about yourself. The ability to help others is one of the wonderful things money can buy. If you’re not exactly sure where to donate check out to ensure your money is going somewhere you can believe in.

Stepping Out of the World of Academics into The Job Market

Stepping Out of the World of Academics into The Job Market

You work hard, you’re ambitious, you’ve always done well at everything you set your mind to. You got into the school of your choice and you excelled. Of course, you had summer jobs and a part time job while you were going to school but all that is behind you now. It’s time to step into your first real job!


Excelling in a professional environment is different from excelling in an academic one. Here are some tips to help smooth the transition.


Turn on a cooperative mindset

It takes a lot of self-discipline and organization to do well at school.  You are probably used to setting your own course and deciding for yourself what needs to be done and when. To be successful you had to turn yourself into an independent thinker and achiever.


When your supervisor or the person who’s only been at the job a little longer than you tells you how to do things it might be a little off putting. Especially if you don’t see the point, or if you believe there’s a better way of doing things. There is a time and place for offering suggestions, but it’s not at the beginning of a new job. At the beginning your job is to learn the processes. To excel at the tasks you are given.


People like to work with people they like

You might think the most important thing about your job is doing a good job. And yes of course you need to do a good job. The best you can. But what you may not realize is, how important the relationships you build at work are. People like working with people they like. People will want you on their team if they like you. They will go out of their way to teach you and offer you advice. If you make mistakes at work they are more easily forgiven if people like you.


Let your true self shine

As you go along doing your best work and being a likeable human being, you might be accidentally slip into a corporate self that is kind of a neighbor or cousin to your real self. In order to be happy in life it’s important to not lose track of the special characteristics that make you, you. If you’re a natural joke teller then tell jokes. If you are a Lord of the Rings expert, share your knowledge, if your wardrobe has a certain flair – then flair. Bring your unique perspectives and attitudes to the things you do. You will find your people, and who knows what you will accomplish together.

The Ins and Outs of Thank You Notes

The Ins and Outs of Thank You Notes

Everyone knows the job interview isn’t over until the thank you letter is written and sent. But sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what to say. Then there’s the sending. Email or mail mail? Hand written or typed? This is your last impression. You want to make sure it’s a memorable one!


Essentially the thank you letter is like a feel good, post interview highlight reel. You get to quickly reiterate the skills/experiences you discussed during the interview. Bring up an interesting point of discussion you shared and say one more time just what a good fit you are for the job.


When to send it

Since you’ll be talking about things that happened during the interview you’ll want to ensure you send the letter within 24 hours so you are still fresh in the interviewer’s mind. The best way to ensure it arrives in good time is to send it via email. A way to make sure you stand out even more is to also follow up with a written thank you note. If you go that route make sure you touch on different points in the second note.


Notes on the note

A thank you note shouldn’t be long. Your first priority is thanking them for their time. After that find something of interest from the interview to highlight. An interesting point of discussion you had or something about your skills/experience that stands out for this particular job. Try to mention something that will help them remember your interview in particular. Reiterate how excited you are about the job and say again how much you would like the position. Ensure your contact information is part of the note.


Note: Even if you think the interview went badly it’s important to still send a note. It’s good practice for you and it will leave a professional impression with the interviewer.


If after the interview you decide this job really isn’t for you, send a note anyway. Tell the interviewer how much you enjoyed meeting them and hearing about the opportunity, but let them know it’s not for you.


Who to send the note to

Obviously you’re sending the thank you note to the person who interviewed you, but what if you were interviewed by numerous people? If it was a group interview, you can go ahead and send a thank you to the team. If you were individually interviewed by more than one person then each of them gets a separate note. Ensure you are collecting business cards as you go so you have the correct spellings and titles of each person!