LinkedIn Series – Resource For Success

If there is a heaven on earth for HR managers and recruiters, it is definitely LinkedIn. Over the last several years LinkedIn has quietly moprhed into a vibrant resource for job-seeking and networking professionals.

Why is LinkedIn such a powerful tool in today’s job world? For almost every professional at any level and within (arguably) most every sector, LinkedIn is largely considered the best online professional networking tool out there. It allows you to create a powerful profile in which, if filled out correctly, will display your strengths and experiences as well as best position you for your target audience. Additionally, the platform allows for extensive research into sectors, companies, and people on top of its key messaging system, job board options, and additional perks just for being a member of the site (and a non-paying one at that).

The question remains, though: are you maximizing LinkedIn for your professional development purposes? Moreover, is your profile truly effective? Have you learned effective messaging techniques to utilize in connecting with people? Do you even know what those Skills/Expertise Endorsements are used for and how important they are to recruiters? LinkedIn is more than just a profile platform and it is in your best interest to know how to best utilize it for your future needs.

Stayed tuned and check back to our LinkedIn Series for some key tips essential for your success story using LinkedIn. We will be discussing a range of related topics that will be vital to your ongoing career success; some of our topics will include how to strategically improve your profile, understanding the logic behind your Skills/Expertise (and the endorsements that come with those), the most effective techniques out there for connecting with people, and so much more!

Of course, don’t forget to connect with us on, what else, LinkedIn! Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

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

How Not to be an Office Technology Dinosaur

A recent article from Wall Street Journal, “How Not to Be the Office Tech Dinosaur” addresses a concern facing many older professionals – will their experience and years in the workforce be enough to keep their job in an increasingly tech-savvy world? Advances in technology occur almost every day; at times, it seems impossible to keep up with the newest social media craze. With younger professionals naturally more in tune with technology trends and using Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Instagram, it can sometimes seem like they have an unfair advantage, especially are more companies place a greater emphasis on reaching out to consumers via social media.

However, this technology divide doesn’t mean that younger employees are better suited for work in a professional setting. Older employees who have longer careers have generally gained more practical knowledge – they know how to meet a deadline, deal with a difficult coworker, and efficiently delegate tasks to others. These kind of skills are learned from real world experience – not from knowing how to use hashtags.

In today’s job environment, there is an opportunity for employees of a multi-generational workplace to learn from each other. Mentoring can go in both directions – younger employees can help educate older ones on why social media is important and how to use it. Older employees, on the other hand, can mentor younger employees in the arts of being a successful member in a professional workplace, from how to dress appropriately to how to run a successful meeting. The flow of information sharing can – and should – go both ways because, in the end, being able to learn from other employees will only make a workplace stronger.

While it may seem intimidating to keep up with the changes in social media and how to use it professionally, ReFresh Your Step’s Social Media Services can help you master Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and every other social networking site. No company can afford to underestimate the value of a viable online presence, and knowing how to effectively use social media can make an employee even more valuable to their company. With employees working to teach one another useful skills (relating to both social media and professional behavior), workplaces can be even more productive and successful.

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

 

– 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

Interviews: Prep It Now, Nail It Later (A Lesson From Yo-Yo Ma)

Many of life’s stressful moments require days, weeks or even months of practice. Whether you’re a professional athlete, a world-class musician or applying for a job, preparation is often the key to success. Although many think the final moments leading up to the big interview or football game require squeezing in the last few minutes of intense practice, this article from The Talent Code site offers a new way of thinking about the big moment.

The author uses cellist Yo-Yo Ma and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana to illustrate the benefits of relaxing before a big concert or game. Yo-Yo Ma uses the time before his performances to mellow out, while Montana was once so relaxed during a Super Bowl that he noticed John Candy in the stands – even though the 49ers were down by three points with three minutes left!

The point of practicing for big events in life is to concentrate, make mistakes, and fix those mistakes. Then you practice over and over again until you get it right. Practice pays off in the performance, and by being as relaxed as possible, you’ll be able to stay calm and let all of that preparation shine through. As the acting coach Constantin Stanislavakin said, “The rehearsals are the work, the performance is the relaxation.”

While this approach may seem counterintuitive in today’s society, it makes sense. By relaxing before high-pressure situations, we can get in the right mindset to do our best. This of course applies to interviews and stressful hiring processes for jobs as well as concerts or sporting events. Being an excellent interviewee is a skill, and just like Montana couldn’t have been a star QB without spending hours honing his abilities, being a proficient interviewee doesn’t happen overnight.

The best way to prepare for a job opportunity is practice, practice, practice – and what better way to get ready than by using ReFresh Your Steps’ Interviewing Skills services? With our help, you’ll be prepared to shine in an interview without the panicked moments beforehand.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

What Can a Professional Resume Writer Do for You?

In today’s competitive job market, there are a seemingly endless number of factors that can affect whether an applicant is hired or not. Not wearing the right outfit to the interview? Your application goes in the “No” pile. Accidentally submit a cover letter you used while applying for another position? Most companies won’t even give you a second look, no matter how qualified you are. This economy calls for great attention to detail – so while creating your resume may seem fairly easy, perfecting your resume means you’ll need a professional.

A professional, you say? Professional…resume writer? That exists? While such a writer technically falls under the “Ghost Writer” category (as you would not advertise having used our services on the resume), there has long been a job sector solely devoted to ensuring you get into – or move up in – your targeted job sector.

Remember: resume writers are not created equal; the top resume writers earn certifications in their craft while carefully honing their skills to include the most complex of cases. The main certifications are CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer, given through the Professional Association of Resume Writers), ACRW (Academy Certified Resume Writer, given through The Resume Writing Academy), and NCRW (National Certified Resume Writer, given through the National Resume Writers Association). Often the CPRW is thought of as the “undergrad” of resume writing certifications and the ACRW and NCRW are the more advanced or “graduate” certifications. Using a resume writer with these credentials means you will be working with a professional who knows their field and can help you succeed.

Now, going through a professional resume writing service may not be cheap – having an expert revise your resume will cost you hundreds of dollars. So why would you even bother? Think of your resume as a first impression – this is most likely what the company will see before you land any kind of interview. A professional will know what language businesses are looking for and how to ensure that all of your skills and experience are effectively communicated to employers. Additionally, writers whose services extend beyond resumes can collaborate with you on how to utilize the document in job searches, help you perfect your social media profile, as well as prep you for interviews. Often times, these particularly “well-rounded” writers can be a one-stop-shop to assist you in landing the job.

Just like you wouldn’t try to rewire your house without the aid of an electrician, hiring a professional resume writer means having someone who is a highly skilled writer helping you create your best resume. Luckily, ReFresh Your Step’s own Emily Kapit is a CPRW and finalizing her ACRW certification, making her a leading expert on resume rewrites and updates  as well as other career services. With the Resume and Cover Letter services and a pro lead resume writer, ReFresh Your Step will help you find the perfect job for you! Check out our Results and Services pages to see just what RYS can do for you and your career.

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Are Stressful Jobs Really Worth It?

No career is without its stressful moments, but a study from careercast.com –and covered by CNN–has announced the 10 Most and Least Stressful jobs of 2013, with enlisted military personnel earning the most stressful spot and university professors claiming the least stressful. This CNN article points out that even though some jobs may be higher in stress levels, they are often more rewarding. While firefighters (#3 on the list) have to deal with long hours and very dangerous situations, they are also keeping their community safe and aiding people daily. Often, people who are in high stress careers do so because they receive something more than just a paycheck.

As a college senior looking to enter the work force in the next few months, I have to start considering what kind of work I would like to do and how that affects my lifestyle. High-pressure jobs may mean long hours, busy days, and multiple Starbucks runs, but they can also pay off in ways I might not expect.

Public relations executives (#5) or newspaper reporters (#8) may face tighter deadlines and tougher decisions than a medical records technician (#3 on the least stressful list), but the more stressed out employees can have quite meaningful reasons for their profession selection. Apart from a high level of personal fulfillment, a stressful job can also mean that boredom at work is rare, activity is high, and daily responsibilities are never the same. People who enjoy a challenge and shirk monotonous duties may seek out a more stressful career because of the less obvious benefits they receive.

Jobs are rarely completely stress free (and life isn’t either), but those moments of stress can be worth it for a career you love. It’s important for students to remember that when it’s the right fit, even a high pressure job can mean be much more rewarding than a relaxed one. With that in mind, find the career path that seems right for you – and find activities outside of work that can help you unwind!

–Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

10 Job Questions You’d Better Ask Your Boss – Or Interviewer!

­­­In today’s stressful job market, many key components of hiring’s former life have fallen to the wayside. Being able to pick and choose among job offers is a thing of the past for most people, so it’s not surprising that the main focus of a job search is what’s available and not which job is the best fit. This Forbes article discusses some questions you could rework into a job interview to help determine if a position is right for you.

Although it seems strange for the interviewee to become the interviewer, never forget that you also deserve to get the information you need to determine whether this job is a good fit – because the interviewer is doing the same thing! While the questions in the article are written in the context of a boss-employee relationship, it’s easy to change some of the questions to fit into an interview situation.

Some possible job questions that can be used in an interview are, “How long have you been with Company XYZ?”  This can alert the interviewee to clues about how the company makes hiring decisions – are outside hires often selected to fill positions or is there a larger emphasis on promoting from within?

Another question that can reveal a good amount of information about a position is “What are your thoughts about professional development courses?” The answer to this will A) alert an interviewee as to whether the company is open to helping employees further their careers and B) let the interviewee see if the interviewer has similar views on the subject. If not, maybe it’s not the best fit.

Also consider asking about the interviewer’s career to date: “How did you select this particular field and what has been your career path thus far?” A response to this question can honestly reveal a great deal about the hiring manager–including whether or not he/she is truly passionate about the field and what type of manager he/she would be if you were to join the team. It can also open up the conversation to different topics that are more memorable than standard interview fare. For example, if in the response, the hiring manager reveals a more personal detail and you can in some way identify with that point, run with it! You will have formed an important bond with the interviewer and few people will be able to accomplish the same feat.

When considering any career move, it’s important to think about how a job will fit in with your personal and professional goals. If you need a refresher on your interview skills or want to learn how to get more out of meeting with a potential employer, ReFresh Your Step is here to help! With our Interviewing Strategies and Strategic Career Consulting services, you’ll be able to walk into any interview with confidence.

–Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Beware Phantom Job Postings

No matter if you are a college student entering the job market for the first time or a 30-year veteran of the working world, making a career change or seeking a promotion is something that may never be far from your mind. Unfortunately, as this Wall Street Journal article points out, you may have to face plenty of challenges while staying on the job search.

Even if you are actively applying for a new position or just looking to see what may be available in your field, many job postings may just be formalities – many positions are already filled by current employees or specially selected outside hires. While this may seem discouraging, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure the door to career advancement is always open.

First, never fall behind on networking. This ensures you stay on the radar of prospective employers while also forging new connections in your field. Networking can happen anytime and anywhere, online or offline, and it does not have to feel like work! Check out our blog post on networking to help get you started with this crucial aspect of professional life.

LinkedIn is a vital tool in keeping up with the opportunities available to you. Use the website and other social media to your advantage – connect with the people most relevant to your field, decide what you’re going to do with those connections, and decide on your final goal. Keeping those things in mind will make you an effective virtual networker. Check out our previous blog on using the Internet for continued career success for some quick tips.

While networking is a smart move in today’s connection-focused career world, you also need to strategically choose what jobs you apply to. As the article mentions, even if the NFL posts a job opening for a head coach, chances are you don’t qualify (no matter how well do in your Fantasy Football league). Look at exactly what the job is asking for and be realistic when deciding if it’s a position for which for you would be well-suited. As much as I would like to be a Cirque du Soleil performer, I don’t think my years of trapeze experience (which are non-existent) would get me hired.

Luckily, you’re not alone in this process. Our Strategic Career ConsultingNetworking Techniques and Social Media Presence services can help ensure you’re putting the best foot forward while in your current job or during a job search. With the right mix of smart socializing, a strong social media presence, and choosing potential jobs carefully, an amazing career opportunity is just around the corner.

Remember–it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

–Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern