The Power of Interns Part I

When ReFresh Your Step quietly launched an intern program last spring, our goal was simple: provide college students with a chance to get some real world marketing, business development, and project management experience (and, of course, a professionally written resume á la one of our writers). We specifically wanted college students in majors that would coincide with our needs, as that would benefit all involved; additionally, we traditionally look for students who are truly interested in working independently but are aggressive, creative, and productive.

It also occurred to us that applying to work at a career advisory firm (with minimal experience in the sector) could be, shall we say, daunting?

So, they write resumes…and know exactly what to look for…could I hire them to write my resume and then apply for the role?

Um, how do you interview with a professional interview advisor?

Is being on LinkedIn a requirement? What if they are on Facebook and can see my pictures? What if they JUDGE me by my pictures? Where are those security settings?

To answer those questions in order:

1) We are absolutely extra-critical of applicants’ resumes but are aware that college students are not the MOST up-to-date of today’s resumes standards (and investing in a new resume with us before applying for the position is actually pretty brilliant).

2) Just practice; I may know how to interview really well but don’t (often) bite; and

3) LinkedIn is not a requirement ahead of time but is by the time you’re done with the role. Also, I’ve been on Facebook a lot longer than you have, my friends post worse things than you do, and I was in college too (for the record, Mark Zuckerberg and I are contemporaries. We also both like to wear hoodie sweatshirts to work). I do advise putting your security settings on high anyway; ask me how to do that if you need to help.

Of course, if you happened to mention that you are a big fan of AJ Jacobs’ work, I’d probably just hand you the job, as this would indicate you appreciate excellent writing, humor, and the occasional bit of crazy. We’ll get along just fine.

I am a huge fan of AJ’s work and am thrilled he has started writing columns for LinkedIn; recently, he wrote about how he hires interns and it just made me think about our own process. This internship is not about getting me coffee or walking my dog; rather, as career advisors, we are KEENLY aware of how incredibly important it is to provide not just resume-building opportunities but to actually educate and groom our interns on gearing up for a job search as well as how to best prepare for the real world.

Our last intern did amazing work in terms of advancing key projects, writing excellent blog posts, and helping with major marketing initiatives. This semester, our intern is already churning out some excellent blog posts (9 Steps to a Successful Career Launch Part I and Part II, as well as her own perspective on AJ’s article); additionally, she will be essential to our business development maintenance and long-term growth, especially as I transition into a new role shortly (more on that later).

We look to our interns for real-world work and are happy to provide them transferable, high-level opportunities. We also like to give them an insider’s education on how this whole “job search” thing works; our hope is that this role with a career advising firm can truly pave the way for a fulfilling career.

If you are interested in a future internship position, please email Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW to see the job description. Until then, it’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

9 Steps to Your New Career Launch Part II

How’s your list coming? Let’s get back to work on the next steps for launching a successful career, post-college (again, to be fair, these steps can be easily tweaked for multiple points in one’s life).

6. Brainstorm careers
Now it is time to mind map all of the information that you have gathered so far to see what it is that you want to do. In this step, it is time to ask some hard-hitting questions. For example, what do you want to get out of a job? Do you even want to work for someone, or is it clear that you have more of an entrepreneur and perhaps start something for yourself? What type of work feel do you enjoy best (e.g., flexible hours, set hours, relaxed environment, working under pressure)? What do you want to get out of you dream job (e.g., financial security, more free time, status, helping others)? If you do want to work in a set company, what kind of corporate culture do you prefer (for more info on this, please email Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW).

7. Connect with the right people 
This step is key when it comes to getting your foot in the door and getting to know the culture of the industry. In today’s professional world you need to be able to connect well with people, both on-line and in-person. You need to do your research about the company and the people that work there. Once you do that you can connect with those people, and really get a good perspective on the job that they do. One great question to ask is “If you could do it all over again, would you take the same path?” Once you have made your connections, you have just started your network. You can ask those connections to help you to make more connections so you can keep expending your network. LinkedIn is an ESSENTIAL tool these days so don’t forget to set up a powerful, compelling profile before you start utilizing the platform for connection purposes. Don’t forget to connect with Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW!

8. Test the waters
This is one of the most important steps of all. You must always first get experience in the field that you are interested in. Many times people have this idea of how a certain job or sector might REALLY be, and they may even romanticize the idea. This is why it is important to go and find out the truth behind your dream job. Once you get your feet wet and really get a sense of what it would be  like to work in the role/industry, you can truly evaluate if this is really what you’re looking for without wasting any time or money. Look for an upcoming post  about how to successfully “shadow” someone in a chosen field!

9. Launch Your Career!
Now you are ready to make your move.  Changes in life might not always be the easy to deal with, but I promise you, the feeling of regret that you might have missed your opportunity to do what you love is way worse. The biggest point I can make here is knowing that planning for the change, being strategic in how you approach this, and feeling confident in implementing the plan are all essential for career success.

The next four steps are absolutely integral to launching a successful career path so check back early next week to view them. Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

Article Source: 9 Step to Launch Your New Career

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

9 Steps to Your New Career Launch Part I

Fresh out of college, ready to take on the world, but where do I start? This is a question that many recent graduates ask themselves, not to mention, countless 25-60 year-olds. The thought of stepping into this ocean of careers options, and a world filled with opportunities, might be overwhelming. The key to a successful career launch is to find a job that best fits your life goals and makes you happy. In order to find that job, there are a few key steps you can follow. This 9-step process will shine a light on what your goals really are, and how to utilize them to find the right career path; we’re posting the first several steps today and the remaining ones next week so check back!

1. Recognize the change 
Many graduates struggle with the transition from being in school to finding a job. Some might take some time off while others want to go straight into the workforce. Either way, you need to recognize that there is a change to be made in order to get to the next step. Going through this change might seem scary but it’s an important step that requires time and dedication. When you’re ready to make that change, you know you’re ready to lay out all the steps necessary to start your journey successfully.

2. Create a plan 
Creating your plan is a necessity, and a very helpful tool. Create your plan by asking yourself specific questions. For example, if you want to be a lawyer. What does that involve? What are the educational requirements? Are there any costs attached to that? An important part of your plan is that even though you are planning for your future, your current situation is also very important. Make sure you’re financially secure while planning, and don’t rush in or out of things. Finding and securing your dream job takes time. Always review your plan, discuss with family, especially if they are helping out financially, and make updates along the way.

3. Focus on meaning, not money
It is important to really think about your personal opinion on meaning vs. money. Having a meaningful job might not always pay out the big bucks, but the fulfillment you get makes the financial gain less important. If money weren’t a factor, what would your job be? It is also important to keep in mind that money tends to follow you in a career; if you find something you love but the money is not there initially, consider sticking with it for a few years as you will likely reach the dream: a thriving career and good income.

4. Determine your signature strength

As a truly unique individual, you have something special to offer. It is very important to know what you’re good at in order to link it to the right job for you. Knowing your strengths is also very empowering in the sense that you know what sets you aside from the next person. If you’re having a hard time recognizing your strengths you can take the VIA (Values in Action) Signature Strength questionnaire; this free tool assists in determining your strengths and helping you to plan for future career steps. Our Head Career Strategist, Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW, also recommends taking assessments from eCareerFit.com; they are more in-depth and absolutely helpful! Using your strengths will give you a better understanding on who you are and what makes you so unique.

5. Create “The List” 
Now it is time to revisit your plan, combine that with your strengths, and take things to the next level. You need to create “The List.” On this list you need to write down all the things that you loved to do when you were younger; the things in which you’ve always excelled and, really, can see yourself doing. You can also add the powerful qualities that you discovered while you were in college that adds value. This one-of-a-kind list is very personal but do ask friends and loved ones for their perspective as well. Once you review the list, you’ll see points that have consistently made you feel fulfilled and happy thus far. This list can help you discover your niche for an optimal career fit.

The next four steps are absolutely integral to launching a successful career path so check back early next week to view them. Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

Credit Score and Jobs

Ever thought about the role a credit score plays in your job search? 750? 800? These aren’t just GMAT or LSAT scores. According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, an increasingly large number of companies are going beyond resumes and interviews by looking at job applicants’ credit history to get a more complete picture of an candidate’s background.While a well-written resume and online profile is a given, make sure you spend some time reviewing a recent credit report prior to interviewing for any career opportunities so that you can be prepared to proactively and strategically address any concerns instead of potentially being caught off guard later on.

We suggest spending at least one part of a quiet summer day not just reviewing your career goals but your credit profile as well.

With offices and affiliated writers in South Florida, Atlanta and New York, and a diverse clientele that includes professionals located in over 40 states as well as the Caribbean, Canada, and Europe, Refresh Your Step can help you with all of your career advisory needs including resume writing and updates, social media presence, interviewing preparation and career coaching.

It’s Your Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew. 

Credit Score and Jobs

10 Resume Don’ts (6-10)

It may not have been another 3-day weekend but hopefully it was pool-and-BBQ-weather where you live! Welcome back to our Ten Resume Don’ts, Part II. If you need a ReFresher on points 1-5, click here.

6. DUA – Don’t use abbreviations if you aren’t absolutely positive that the reader understand them.  A lot of people like to include very technical content in their resumes which is fine, especially if their field or background requires it. Far too often though, candidates include abbreviations and acronyms that may not be understood by a general recruiter or even an industry professional who may not be as involved in a particular subject matter, skillset, process or program. Make sure you either fully define any abbreviations or are very confident that anyone reading the resume will understand your references.  Ask us if you need advice!

7. Don’t rely on general statements regarding your achievements. In other words, be specific. For example, instead of mentioning how you increased sales during a given time period, make the point more powerful by saying how you increased sales of whatever product or service by (X%) over the last (Y) amount of months or years. Quantifiable objectives are easier to read and understand for most people. We have methods of helping you grab that info too!

8. Don’t forget to present your contact information clearly and concisely. Like many of these tips, this may seem obvious but it is definitely overlooked. Without a cover letter, this may be the only information a hiring manager or industry contact has about you so make sure it is clearly and accurately (typos in the email address or phone number are embarrassing and can result in you missing out on a potential opportunity to be contacted )represented on your resume.  And while you were at it, make sure you have a company or professional email address listed ([email protected] may be cute but you should probably create a more professional Gmail or Yahoo-based address for professional correspondence). Live email addresses and LinkeddIn profiles are a must as well!

9. Don’t make excessive use of different font types, SIZES and colors. Generally speaking, RYS is a big proponent of using bold, underline, italics, and other tools to make a resume stand out in a positive way; however, too much use of these can take away from the content and turn off the person reviewing the resume. If the reader can’t understand the content, it won’t matter how the resume looks.

10. Don’t SOLELY base your resume’s contact and format on what you think someone ELSE wants to see. All of the other tips included in this post notwithstanding, your resume needs to convey who you are and what makes you special. So while there are plenty of guidelines to follow to make sure your resume is accurate, informative, and engaging (all of which are very important), it also needs to tell your story and highlight your specific qualities so that the reader gets an understanding of who you are and ultimately wants to meet or speak to learn more about you.

We know that writing a resume can seem daunting and are always here for whatever level of involvement you ask of us and are happy to be a resource. Remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew. And enjoy your summer!

10 Resume Don’ts (1-5)

Memorial Day weekend–the unofficial start of summer–has now come and gone. As many people use the hot summer months to step away and think about their next career move, we have put together a list of resume don’ts to complement some of our other resume advice. So as you approach the next few months, don’t forget to put on sunscreen and use the tips below to make sure you–and your resume–are protected:

1. Don’t assume your resume has to be one page. While for some younger or less experienced professionals, a one-page resume may make sense, it’s okay to have a 1 1/2 or 2-page document if that document captures the relevant highlights and proficiencies you want a hiring manager to see as a first impression.

2. Don’t then assume that your resume needs to be 5 pages either. Yes, you may be important and experienced and have a lot to share. Some of that can be saved for a subsequent meeting or interview. The resume still needs to be succinct so that someone can quickly look through it to get a sense of your background and accomplishments without feeling like they are reading a book. Some of our Advanced Professionals/C-Level clients had far stronger documents once we stripped them down to a more manageable 2-3 pages.

3. Don’t lie. Ever. Think this doesn’t apply to you? Think again. A good resume reflects the best of a person without crossing the line. Every detail of your resume should be presented with the assumption it will be fact-checked by someone during the hiring process. It is absolutely okay to build yourself up and make yourself as attractive a candidate as possible (it’s our job to know how and what the limits are!). But don’t…

4. Don’t submit a resume without running a spell check. And then check the proper nouns and other words (i.e company and town names) that aren’t in the dictionary. No matter how great your resume is, you will likely lose credibility if you spell the name of a state incorrectly (for those of you laughing, this happens a lot more than you think). We’ve also received resumes with obvious date mistakes (like the client whose resume indicated a job start in 1876). YIKES.

5. Don’t assume that content is the most important component of a resume. Of course, it is very important and as mentioned above, it needs to be accurate. But perhaps as important  as the content, is the format and style. Your resume needs to stand out to engage someone. If it is just a list of bullets, it may not get the attention it deserves, especially if it is being reviewed by a hiring manager, who has 100 others to skim through to decide the few candidates to recommend for the next round. Remember to check out some of our Case Studies and ask if you want to see more examples!

Check back early next week for tips 6-10! Until then, it’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

How Your Smartphone Could Get You a Job

Today’s technology has enabled smartphone users to stay connected with social media, the latest news, and newest apps almost anywhere. While it’s easy to check your friends’ status updates on Facebook and Twitter, this WSJ article highlights another use for down time with a smartphone – applying for jobs. 33% of Fortune 500 companies have application sites customized for a smartphone screen, and the trend keeps growing. From McDonald’s to Macy’s, more and more companies are utilizing apps that allow professionals to apply for open positions on their smartphones. This movement may make things easier for potential employees, but it also means that applicants will need to think about how their resume looks on a small screen.

When applying for a job using your phone, it makes sense to think that hiring managers may be looking at your application on their phones. While most companies will use apps that are formatted for a smartphone screen, it is still important to make your resume stand out on an even smaller display. This can be easy if you know how to properly format your resume to gain maximum attention from a possible new employer.

Using certain key elements in your resume design will make your document engaging, but not “busy” or too overwhelming for a hiring manager. Our brains are always looking to break down information into smaller pieces that are easier to process – and technology is available to help do just that. Techniques like shading and bolding will help your resume seem easy to read while bringing out important pieces of information that will catch an employer’s eye.

Implementing these formatting techniques is something a good resume writer will know how to do and can utilize an individual’s experience to create an effective and attractive document. A customized resume will help draw an employer’s attention and help emphasize an employee’s best assets. ReFresh Your Step’s Resumes & Cover Letter services can do just that – check out our Before & After results to see what we can do for your resume. After all, even on a small screen, a great resume could be the key to getting the job!

It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Yahoo!’s Big Gamble: The Workplace Flexibility Conundrum

With more and more companies offering workplace flexibility, it came as a shock that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a memo late last month explaining that the company would require all of its employees to come into the office instead of working from home. This decision has received plenty of heat, with some calling the policy change “short-sighted”, “going backwards” and an “epic fail”. After all, 24% of Americans reported working from home at least a few hours per week and 63% of employers reported they allowed employees to work remotely.

Even though allowing workers to telecommute may save the company money in a sluggish economy, some firms are noticing definite drawbacks to having an emptier office. Studies have indicated that employees who work from home are more productive but less innovative – apparently, employees interacting with one another can lead to more new ideas and faster decision making. For a struggling company like Yahoo, having employees in the same place could mean the difference between growth and stagnation.

Job applicants shouldn’t always assume their future workplace will embrace workplace flexibility. It may be an attractive option to work from your couch all day, but it may not be the best decision for your career. Often, employees who primarily work from home miss out on crucial decisions and also may be passed over for promotions or special opportunities partly because they are much less visible in the office environment.

Recent college graduates and young professionals may be searching for jobs with greater opportunities to work from home, but Mayer may have started a trend with more companies focusing on keeping people in the workplace. Workplace flexibility must be kept in balance with other job aspects – how important is it to you to work at home compared to the possibility of job security or career growth? Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important, but no job will be perfect and in this economy, sacrificing working from home just might be necessary.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Proven App: Can You Trust It?

It seems like there’s an app for everything recently – with the help of your smart phone or tablet, you can order Chipotle, check the weekly coupons for Publix and find the nearest ATM. Now you can even find a job on the go with the new Proven application.

Users can browse Craigslist job postings, upload their resume and cover letter and apply right from their computer or iPhone. So far, Proven has received great reviews from users for being easy to use and the numbers speak for themselves – 18K users downloaded Proven in January. Proven received 5 out of 5 stars from users on the iTunes store and the updated version allows users to sync accounts on their phone and computer.

While using the Proven app may seem like the new frontier in finding a job, it also has its limitations. Although the app makes it easy to send resumes and cover letters to potential employers, it also is restricted to positions posted on Craigslist. Not all job postings on the site are exactly what they seem and there is often a larger concentration in service industry job postings. This may require more in-depth searches to find a legitimate posting that is well-suited for an employee. Jobs on Craigslist also represent only a fraction of available jobs, so Proven is not a one-stop-shop in finding your next job.

With other job search apps like JobMo, Job Aware and Ultimate Job Search gaining in popularity, it seems like thousands of people are taking advantage of the convenience of applying for jobs on the go. As so many aspects of our lives are virtual nowadays, it makes sense that we would use technology to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that your online presence should also be kept up to date to best utilize the Internet in your job search. With RYS’ Social Media services, we can help you put your best foot forward in your online job search.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern