Bored During the Blizzard? We’re Here to Help

With a blizzard about to hit the Northeast, there will be thousands of employees unable to commute to work. While some may be able to work from home, there will be others who are planning on filling their snow days with drinking hot chocolate and catching up on the last season of “Mad Men”. While you should certainly schedule time to relax on the upcoming snowy days, you should also think about using part of your time off to further your career. By just taking out a little bit of your day, you can still be productive in between snowball fights. Here are a few ideas:

  • Update your LinkedIn profile – make sure your photo is appropriate, your skills are up to date and you haven’t missed any connections.   As long as you are thinking about your social media presence, ensure that your Facebook profile settings are maxed out and don’t forget to Google yourself.
  • Check for any advancements in your field – are there any new companies, professional development opportunities or possible changes (mergers, big industry news, etc)? Just being more informed can help you stay ahead in your career; not to mention, you will look extra-informed to the powers-that-be if you show how you go that extra mile to keep up with the company and sector’s current events.
  • Take a few moments to organize and make sure you’re prepared for the week ahead. Are there any projects that need finishing? Any meetings you need to prepare for? By using just a little of your snow day to get ahead, you’ll be ready to go when the roads clear.

Of course, make sure that you use your snow days to relax – read that book that’s been on your shelf for months, reconnect with your family and friends or just watch the snow come down. Making time for your career–especially when you are not under real pressure to do so–can help you go back to work refreshed and prepared. Or, said another way, refreshed, revived, and renewed!

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Seinfeld, Sushi & Career Success–Does it Get Any Better Than This?

I just stumbled across what might be the single most personally engaging article ever–it involves one of my most beloved comedians, a favorite food genre, and a unique perspective on career passion. What’s not to love for a career advisor with a taste for raw fish atop rice and dry/perceptive sense of humor?

“‘For Seinfeld, whose worth Forbes estimated in 2010 to be $800 million, his touring regimen is a function not of financial necessity but rather of borderline monomania — a creative itch he can’t scratch. “I like money,” he says, “but it’s never been about the money.’”

Seinfeld’s passion for his work, his unquenchable thirst for perfection, and yearn to simply do what he enjoys most–regardless of the money–is inspiring. Intellectually, I understand that he does not have to work (a net worth of $800M? Do you KNOW how many resumes that is?) but the fact that he just keeps going because he simply wants to? I can get on board with that idea and want that for my clients.

If money were no issue, what would you do? Why? What is stopping you from pursuing that work now–at least in some capacity? Email us anytime at [email protected]

 

 

Tip #9–Reframing the “I don’t WANNA Work on the Holidays” Idea / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #9: Working on the Holidays is a Blessing if you Use it To Your Advantage

We know what you’re thinking: “Working on the holidays could NEVER be to my advantage and anyone who thinks that deserves a lump of coal/burnt latke as gifts.” Please, though, hear us out!

First of all, let’s distinguish between doing work that:

A) You know your boss/team members need done, versus

B) Will help you finish up tbs year and get prepare for next year, versus

c) Will Greatly enhance your chances of getting out of a career rut and onto the optimal path.

Let’s dissect:

The Situation: Your boss and/or team members need you to work on said projects/initiatives/budgets/etc. during the holidays.

Reframed Situation: While this may be the most difficult to reframe (so let’s hope it does not apply to you), at least you will know that your work is valued and that should not change into the new year. Additionally, you can bring that point up in your next review to show your commitment to your team (and use it as a starting point for the “Promotion” or “More Money” conversation.

 

The Situation: Working now means tying up all loose ends for the year; then again, that’s still work.

Reframed Situation: If we see one more person posting on Facebook or Twitter about how there is no one in the office now and he/she is getting SO much done, we may demand office space there for the day. In all seriousness, though, working is a PLEASURE right now. Not only can you actually work for thirty seconds straight without a new email/phone call/person stopping by, etc. but you can possibly continue for an hour (or more!) on any given task. Remember what it’s like to see an empty inbox? Get ready to find out! (Added bonus: you may be able to don casual attire and who doesn’t love that?)

 

The Situation: Working now means refocusing on *gasp* your next career steps; but, again, this means working. Or does it?

Reframed Situation: We know there are people already falling into this “reframed” category judging by the recent flood of requests from new clients; let’s try to look at this through their eyes: “This is a quiet time of year; I can finally take a step back and reflect on where I’ve been, career-wise, over the last few years and where I want to go. Am I progressing the way I would like? Is this the absolute best field for me? If I were to make a change, what would that look like?” From there, you can go in several different directions with future plans but at least you would have gotten the ball rolling during the holiday season!
We are VERY excited for 2013 and look forward to collaborating with clients on their continued–and future–success! Happy New Year!

 

Tip #8–Gifting Smart as Leader of the Pack / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #8: Gift Smart if You are the Boss–Your Team Will Remember

Our Head Career Strategist & Lead Resume Writer, Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, still recalls the worst gift she ever received from a manager at Lehman Brothers (clearly, this was more than a few years ago). “Everyone on the team bought gifts for everyone else and you could tell we each put thought into the various options–until it came time for our manager to give us ours. To be honest, she was actually late to the team lunch as she was apparently at the corner bodega…buying lottery tickets. For each of us. Besides the lack of care over what she purchased (and the fact that we each spent a lot more on her than she did on us), she handed each of us our ticket and said that she claimed half of our winnings. She wasn’t kidding.”

I am pretty sure we do not have to tell you that if you are in a managerial role, avoid repeating that particular Bossypants Gaffe. It was disrespectful, rude, and altogether grinchy in its delivery. But there are Dos and Dont’s for the Employer/Employee Gift-Giving Scenario and we cover a few below (all from the boss’s perspective):

Do…

1) Gift One and All (you can’t give a gift to one team member and not the rest)

2) Spent Some Time Thinking about It (we’re not saying you need to scour the interwebs for days to find a perfect gift but do make it somewhat appropriate)

3) Keep in Mind the Basic Gift-Giving Principles (if your assistant is pregnant, avoid alcohol; if your analyst is gluten-free, think of something other than fruit cake, etc.)

 

Don’t…

1) Spent a Ton of Money (your subordinates make less than you but try to avoid making that totally obvious)

2) Expect Something in Return (your employees will likely get you something but it’s in poor taste to downright expect a gift)

3) Give a Lottery Ticket…or a Jam of the Month (You will look cheap and Chevy Chase might bother you to no end about it)

 

Gift-giving is not rocket science, honestly; the basic rule of thumb is, “Is this appropriate and if I were in his/her/their shoes, would I want this?” Happy gifting!

Hint for tomorrow: I don’t WANNA work on the holiday!  

Tip #7–Career Envy: Using it to Your Advantage / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #7: All I Want for Chrismakanukahwanza Is HIS Job. 

It happens to all of us–you are making it through the holiday season just fine when something trips you up: a totally misdirected comment or back-handled complement, a received gift for which you didn’t plan and now need to find something ASAP…and the conversation that leaves you wondering where you went wrong in your life.  Perhaps your brother’s decision to stay in the family business really was smarter than yours to strike out on your own in hopes of being the Next Big Thing in Silicon Valley; or, seeing an old college classmate’s success in marketing makes you re-think changing your major to political science and then going to law school.

Whatever sets off the chain reaction, you are stuck with, “Where did I go wrong in my career and how do I re-steer my career ship?” Quite honestly, this line of thinking (and whatever precipitates it) can happen at any point in the year but with so many holiday parties and family get-togethers–not to mention bonuses and promotions–you may find yourself falling into this one-sided mental conversation more often around the holidays. What’s a hard-working soul to do?

1) Remember that All that Glitters is not Gold: What looks like a bright and shiny career path on the outside may be nothing more than a carefully crafted one-man PR campaign. Here’s an example:

What you hear/see: “Yes, I am now the Director of Technology Maintenance–it’s a great gig!” vs the truth: “I am one-man show dealing website/IT needs and never leave my cubicle. Ever. I actually have to leave this party and go back to work before they realize I’m gone.”

2) Your Career Path is a Journey, not a Destination: So Cousin Brenda is an Executive Vice President at some Fortune 500 company–and three years younger than you. The challenge is not confusing her success now with what yours WILL be down the road. No two job evolutions are the same and even ones within similar sectors are fully comparable; talk to your carer advisor (and manager) about how YOU are progressing and make plans for immediate, medium-term and long-term success. You’ll get there…and perhaps Cousin Brenda will be left in the dust for long.

3) Rejiggering is always Possible. So is ReFreshing, Reviving, and RenewingHere at ReFresh Your Step, we don’t care if you are just out of college, considering retirement in the next five years or somewhere in-between: in some form or fashion, the chance to make a change in your career is always an option. The challenge is identifying where you are in your current career, figuring out what you may want to do in the future, and determining how best to get there. We can help.

Hint for tomorrow: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch… 

Tip #6–A Connectivus Festivus for the Rest of Us / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #6: Reconnecting with old friends, flames & colleagues!.

As we’ve pointed out in earlier posts (both within this series and prior), connecting with others is an essential part of a successful career search and we believe the phrase “Always Be Networking” (ABN) is even more valid this time of year. But how to make networking work for you?

Simply stated, work the holiday (not to be confused with “work on the holiday,” as we do not support that notion at all!); rather, use this holiday season as an excuse to reach back out to people and wish them a happy holiday season.Target the ones you really want to connect with/feel would be advantageous for you in the long-run, keep the message brief, and ask a question to increases your odds of getting a response–and keeping the dialogue going (any question can work but the more specific/professional, the better). We are including an example below:

“Dear Jim

Happy holidays! Are you staying around town this year or heading out on vacation? We are planning to hang out in South Florida with family and are looking forward to the warm weather.

Once the new year rolls around, I’ll be gearing back up for a targeted job search and have identified your company as a potential good fit. I’d love to her more about your experience there; perhaps we can speak in early January? How does January 4th at 2pm work for you?

Enjoy the holiday season and here’s to a great 2013!”

That’s it! The note is simple, targeted, and engaging from both a “I want to hear about you” and “let’s schedule something so respond now” perspective. The likelihood of Jim responding is stronger, given the precise request for a conversation; either it will or won’t work but he is more likely to let the sender now (and potentially suggest another time that does work).

This tactic works across email, LinkedIn, as well as Facebook (if done via Private Messages and done especially tastefully). As always, we are here to review any messages you would like to send out and make constructive suggestions.

Happy Connectivus Festivus!

Hint for tomorrow: Green with (Career) Envy… 

Tip #5–Holiday Hibernation…or Constructive Career Search Time? / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #5: Use your Time Wisely!  

In days of yore, this time of year meant lounging around and resting up after some hectic days in the office (or job searching, which is its very own job when done correctly). While snoozing in a Snuggie with your family may sound like the best way to spend the holiday season, is there more constructive work to be done? Yes (those gifts don’t buy and wrap themselves!), but would that same notion apply to your job search? Of course!

While the job posts and email responses to contacts may really slow down from Christmas through New Year’s Day, that’s no reason to slouch on the job search; rather, it’s every reason to turn the focus back to you. Take some time to reflect on what kinds of job you are looking for, in what sectors/geographic regions, and why. How has the search been going? Do you have all the tools necessary for an effective job search (how’s that resume looking?)? Have you really honed in on your sweet spot of “this is what I want and where” or is your search still too broad? Alternatively, have you focused too much on one or two companies and are not getting anywhere? Perhaps it’s time for a tweak.

Some other points to consider include:

1) Who else is in my network and how can I reestablish connection with them in 2013? (New Year’s Resolution: ABN!)

2) Do I need to update my skills at all to make myself more marketable (yes, you can always do this!)

3) Have I googled myself recently?

4) What is my game plan for 2013, once it starts, three months in, six months in and by December 31, 2013?

As always, we are here to answer any questions and be a resource–contact us any time!

 

Hint for tomorrow: Networking with elves & Hanukkah Harry…or at least your former colleagues.  

Tip #4–Home is where the Heart, er, Unsolicited Career Advice, Is / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #4: Family Funday (from Hell)…or Not?  

You are totally dreading the holidays, aren’t you? Maybe not the holidays, per se, but the overload of family time: Kids running around, way too much food you actually don’t like and, *gasp* a constant barrage of questions regarding your personal and professional life. We can’t do much about the kids, food or personal stuff but do have suggestions on how to handle the career inquiries.

Evasion may be the obvious answer, as is drinking yourself to oblivion, but if you are stuck in a house and the liquor has run dry (it happens), here’s what we suggest:

1) Know the Players: If you know who will be home for the holidays, anticipate the likely Walter-Cronkite-turned-interview-hawk of the group. Crazy Aunt Mildred? Your Snooty Brother Bob? Or Your Dreaded Father-in-Law with an Agenda? Regardless, think in advance about who is coming to dinner and plan out your responses accordingly.

2) Strategy is Key: Building off of the previous point, BE STRATEGIC, If you are spending time thinking in advance of who will be joining you for the holidays, also prepare your responses.

If you are currently unemployed and looking for a job, craft a short and polite answer now (example: “Thank you for asking, Aunt Mildred; the job search is going very well and I look forward to sharing updates with the family soon”).

If, on the other hand, you are still working, miserable, and that fact has made its way around the family tree, aim for a different response (example: “Thanks, Joe. I have realized I don’t particularly like working as ___________; the good news is that identifying what I do like is half the battle and I’m preparing for next steps. How’s your job going?”). For each situation, there are likely questions and ways to answer said questions quickly and effectively.

3) Look to the Children: Trust us, whether it’s your kids or your siblings’ kids, those little cherubs are built-in escape routes. Play with them, bond with them, and know that (unless coached by a parent), they are not going to ask you about your job search. Any amount of macaroni-pasting-to-paper is worth not having to deal with the above questions.

4) Exit Stage Left: At any point in time, there is always an opportunity to depart. Want to at least be constructive in leaving for a bit? Offer to head to the grocery store or mall for last-minute needs or even suggest taking the kids to the park/movies/anywhere but home (see point 3). You’ll look like a savior and get a break from the (unwanted) interview all at the same time.

The holidays really are a time for a family but we know family can also drive you nuts. Keep our four points in mind and head home with a plan!

Hint for tomorrow: How to Use The Holiday Downtime Constructively.  

Tip #3–Eat, Drink, Be Merry, & NETWORK! / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #3: I Saw Mommy Networking with Santa Claus 

We are officially one week away from Christmas so if you have not yet attended a holiday party (of the office, ugly sweater or latke variety), my guess is you will soon. This time of year is chock full of social gatherings; while some may be more “professional” in nature, all holiday soirees are ripe with networking opportunities (for a great read on how to effectively navigate your office Christmas party, check out this post from Melissa Anzman over at Loosen Your White Collar).

Obviously, Always Be Networking rules still apply (we can’t stress that enough!) but my gift to you today are some tips on how to tweak your networking prowess for the holidays.

1) Whether the party is for work, school, friends, or other, you always have an opportunity to network. A great ice-breaker? “Happy holidays! How’s your holiday season going so far?” This easy line is inclusive and can work on literally almost anyone.

2) Watch your alcohol intake–even though it may be tempting to let loose, even if you are at a friend’s house, you just never know who might be there and how he/she/they can help you with career objectives. Your trusty career advisors here at ReFresh Your Step like to have fun too but let’s keep it in moderation. If your red is as nose as Rudolph’s from drinking, you may want to cut yourself off for the night.

3) Carry cards with you–again, even if you are at a non-office party, make sure you have cards in your pocket/purse/wallet so you can hand them out as needed.

4) Watch the pictures–you just never know who is taking pictures of what and putting them up on social media sites (remember to consistently Google yourself, just to know what’s lurking about out there!). It’s fine to review pictures on someone’s camera or phone before that shot hits the interwebs!

5) Have a plan–we’re not saying you need a unique networking plan for each party you attend but you may want to think in advance of your general goals. Career-wise, what are you thinking about? Is there someone at your office party you specifically want to connect with and need a way in? Do you know you want to connect with people at a different company in your sector and/or different sector altogether? Having an idea of what your networking objective might be, regardless of where you are celebrating the holiday season, can make it vastly easier to make connections with people. Go in with at least a semi-agenda!

6) Our biggest piece of advice? Have fun! The holidays are a great time of year to decompress, spend time with friends, co-workers, and family, as well as engage others in your future career objectives. Don’t stress too much about the last part–if you follow our others tips and generally just enjoy yourself, everything else will come into place!

Hint for tomorrow: Family? Really? Do I HAVE to see them this holiday season? 

Tip #2–Holiday Hiring Tip #2–Holiday Hiring / 9 Days of Holiday (Career) Cheer

Tip #2: Stop! …in the Name of Hiring (or has it?) 

Hiring has slowed down but not necessarily stopped–keep your eyes open! If one old saying is, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” (a timely one during the holidays), another–more relevant one–is that hiring stops around the holidays. But is it still true? Yes…and no.

Between budget talks, year-end wrap-ups, and holiday parties, there really is less hiring occurring throughout the late December period (extending as far back as Thanksgiving); that said, the holidays do not equal a hiring standstill. There are still open positions to be filled and while interviewing during the holidays can be tricky given the number of people out on vacation, the good news is that the holiday distractions usually mean there are often less people applying for said positions.

What’s a crafty job searcher like yourself to do? Research who is hiring for what positions and apply, apply, apply–though ReFresh Your Step’s standard rules for Always Be Networking are still relevant (i.e., please reach out directly to people at the company  instead of/in addition to applying online). Happy Holidays!

Hint for tomorrow: Networking you say? How can I best “present” myself during the holidays?