Don’t Go it Alone! The Case For a Career Strategist

Ready for some cold, hard, truth? You’ve come to the right place

The truth is, embarking on a career search alone can be a tad, what’s the word? … Intimidating.

We’d love to tell you that your job search will be easy. That it’ll make you want to prance through fields of daisies while whistling Dixie and relishing in the joy of completing job applications. That you can go it alone, give it your best effort, and a slew of hiring managers will jump forth and offer you loads of money.

Certainly, you’ve acquired a great education, racked up some commendable experience, and have the utmost confidence in yourself. That helps… a bit.

It is an admirable feat in itself to come to the realization that it’s time for a new job. For whatever your reasons are for gearing up to make a change, we’d like to offer up a piece of free advice – the same advice we’d offer to the world’s most experienced CEO and to the world’s most inexperienced recent college grad:

Don’t go it alone.

Sure, you can attempt to reach the peak of Mt. Everest on your own. But with a Sherpa to guide you, you’ll have key advice on how to navigate the challenging terrain, AND someone to keep you company along the way. My point here? Two is better than one. Sometimes, a support team is better than even two.

The benefits of hiring a professional Career Strategist (or team of them!) during YOUR job search venture far outweigh the idea of taking it upon yourself to navigate the course solo. Among assisting in answering your most bewildering questions regarding your search, (Can you help me figure out what I’m even good at?!), we are here to listen. And in this world where everyone seems to have too much to say, a listening ear can ease even the most nervous of job seekers.

When you connect with a ReFresh Your Step professional, you won’t just be given the opportunity for superb documents to showcase your accomplishments, you’ll be given the ability to have a dedicated support system – a dedicated team player (or multiple ones, depending on your need) who will not only listen, but answer all of your career search needs.

“To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will ear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”

Schedule your free consultation with a ReFresh Your Step professional today to get a glimpse into how the power of a partnership with a professional career strategist will change the way you view your career search – AND it’s outcome. We’re here to discuss your resume/cover letter, LinkedIn, job goals, interviewing, or a litany of related topics. We’re also here to listen, truly listen.

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

Looking to make a move? Partner with a career strategist to ensure a big win!

The Power of Interns Part II

Having an internship is a must, and a very important part of any path you may follow after college. You gain real-world experience in your field of study­–I know I have–and perhaps even a potential job for the future. But you do have to land the internship first. What’s that differentiating factor that sets young professionals apart to get the internship they want? Our suggestion? Distinguish yourself from your competition. AJ Jacobs wrote a great piece on this topic.

Of course, being an intern is most likely not going to be the most glamorous job you’ll ever have. Depending on the field, most likely than not you’ll be doing the bits of work that makes your employer’s life easier. Even though you might not be handling big jobs, you will get exposure to the field of your interest. All of this experience that you’ll gain is perfect for building your resume. Of course, if you prove yourself, perhaps the employer will let you take on bigger–and more interesting–responsibilities.

Being an intern for a career advisor has already opened up my eyes to many things I didn’t expect. There are different fields that even though I might not be familiar with, I am given the opportunity to learn about them. It is a lot different to sit in a classroom reading text book after textbook as supposed to being out there in the workforce. I’m now able to utilize all the material that I’ve learned in the classroom, making that connection, and use it in real life. It is a very exciting time to take action and execute that knowledge in real life. The career-advising field is something that continuously grows with many advances especially through the openings of so many online jobs. Being an intern for a career advisor will open so many doors due to the fact that the experience gained from this kind of internship is welcomed in almost any business environment.

So what is it that one might expect from an internship? This is very personal, and might be different for every individual. The main gain from an internship is definitely experience. Internships will also provide insight of what is happening in the targeted industry. This is very helpful in terms of knowing what your next step might be or what path to follow. Lastly–and one of the most important gains–is expect to make contacts. Nowadays, you cannot go for your dream job without creating contacts and networking with people that will able to help you get it. People in a company are always looking for the right person for the job, which is why it is so important to make as many connections as possible. You never know, you might just be talking to your future employer.

How have internships benefitted you? Email us to let us know and, until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

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.

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

LinkedIn: The Ugly Duckling Gets the Last Quack

While our blog has made LinkedIn a focus on several occasions (most recently, here), a recent Wall Street Journal article provides further evidence of how powerful a tool the site can be when used effectively. Though some of the initial points focused on outperformance of the company’s stock since its IPO relative to some of its social media peers,  perhaps the more relevant information for job seekers is the article’s take on what has driven the company’s market capitalization  to more than quadruple since 2011 compared to decreases of 25%-60% for social media “darlings” Facebook, Groupon and Zynga.

 

This article’s main point is that companies both large (i.e.  PepsiCo and Starbucks) and small are devoting an increasing amount of time and resources to find applicants across a wide variety of industries and experience levels. Why? Because LinkedIn’s “pool of candidates is so  large and resumes tend to be more actively fleshed out and updated versus rival job sites and social networks.” What’s more, the article goes on to say, “LinkedIn also specializes in connecting companies with people who may not be looking for a job,” which can be appealing to a company.

 

What does this mean for those of us that don’t care as much about the company’s stock price? As LinkedIn attracts more users and expands its business lines, your LinkedIn presence is as critical as ever. Think that just means updating your profile with your latest job? Think again. There is much more to it and we can help. Whether in person or online and over the phone, we will ensure that you have the tools to maximize the benefits LinkedIn has to offer.

 

Are You Part of LinkedIn’s 5%?

Were you one of the lucky LinkedIn users who received this email?

While you may have at first been thrilled to receive this email, your excitement may or may not have diminished once you realized 10 million other LinkedIn users also saw the same email in their inbox. After so many users were told they are pretty popular on the leading professional social media site, it left many thinking – was the email just a clever marketing ploy or something to be proud of?

Millions of professionals took to their Facebook or Twitter pages to brag about receiving the LinkedIn email, leading to the email story going viral (and lots of free publicity for LinkedIn!). Although many were quick to let others know how popular they were, many more LinkedIn users were skeptical.

“I was thoroughly irritated by that mail. It felt very spammy, a blatant attempt to appeal to narcissism, and not entirely credible. If I’m one of the top 5% most viewed profiles, and I’ve never generated any work as a result of my presence on LinkedIn, then what does that say about LinkedIn?”

“Maybe I expect a little more out of LinkedIn. But in the last couple of days, I got a congratulatory email telling me that I was “one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!” This I seriously doubt. I’m wondering if this is not some kind of a psychological play on their part. In other words, if you find out you’re good at something that you didn’t know about, then it gives you a little boost to go look at it again. And there’s a click for LinkedIn.”

While there are no statistics on who exactly received the email, no college students I know received the email (neither did I!), but Emily Kapit, Lead Resume Writer and Owner of RYS, did. This fact lends credence to the “top 5%” email because it’s highly unlikely that established professionals would be competing with college students for top-viewed honors. In fact, college students are probably the ones looking at professionals’ LinkedIn pages in hopes of connecting with the right people in an effort to secure a great job.

What’s the bottom line of this story? Although this LinkedIn email may have been a nice ego boost, it’s far from an accomplishment worthy of putting on your resume. That being said, having an up-to-date, professional LinkedIn profile will help attract more views, which can lead to more opportunities in your career. RYS is here to help you with our Social Media services to make your social media presence the best it can be. With the help of RYS, you can challenge Presisdent Barack Obama (with 525K+ views in 2012) for the title of Most Viewed LinkedIn Profile of 2013 and wouldn’t that be quite the resume-worthy feat?

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

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Facebook’s Graph Search & Your Job Search

Facebook JUST announced their Graph Search function and while you could use it to see who among your friends has been to a certain sushi place or likes the latest Oscar-worthy movie, could it be helpful for your job search?

You bet so! Here’s how:

You can search for who among your friends (or “friends”) have worked at or are connected to a certain industry or company? Use the Graph Search! From there, message those with the strongest/most relevant ties, state your case for an introduction and watch the magic happen.

G-d bless Mark Zuckerberg.

 

5 Smart Internet Use Strategies for Continued Career Success

As I take a break from working on the first batch of resumes for 2013 (the world didn’t end…yet), I think about how thankful I am (and you should be) for the internet (and Al Gore or whomever else invented it) and subsequent proliferation of online resources. To celebrate the fifth day of the new year, here are five simple (and perhaps obvious but important nonetheless) ways to use the internet in achieving your career goals.

1. Take Control of Your Social Media: Google yourself and search for yourself on Facebook, (and while you are at it, Friendster, Myspace and Livejournal [for those of you who that know what those are]). As I have mentioned in a previous post and reiterate to my clients all of the time, maintaining a respected social media presence is critical for career development, especially as more and more HR departments incorporate online searches into their recruiting process. Better that you find an unflattering picture of yourself or inappropriate blog post from 5 years ago than someone recruiting you for an opportunity.

2. Research! Use sits such as glassdoor.com to learn more about specific industries that may be of interest to you. Sites like these contain very helpful information including job descriptions and general compensation parameters that you can use prepare for interviews or explore other industries if you are looking to make a switch.

3. Research Some More! While it goes without saying that company websites should be a critical part of any job search or interviewing process, take it a step further and make sure you visit news outlets (WSJ.com, NYTimes and Yahoo Finance among others) to obtain relevant company and industry news and information that may not be on the company’s website. Doing so will not only demonstrate that you have taken a sincere interest in the organization but can also give you the edge to make your cover letter or interview stand out. Bonus tip: remember to review investor reports and filings for publicly traded companies as they can contain useful information about a company’s performance as well as data on new business lines.

4.  LinkedIn, FTW. As I have also recommended in the past, LinkedIn can be an incredibly powerful tool when used correctly. Once you are satisfied with your profile (don’t worry if you aren’t, we can help!), use the site to join industry group and connect with colleagues and friends, which can significantly increase your own network and therefore allow you to facilitate introductions with relevant contacts. Networking with professionals can give you a credible “in” with someone at a company in which you are interested and provide “insider” knowledge that can make you stand out from a pool of other well-qualified applicants.

5.  Alumni Awesomeness. Remember college? Those carefree days of class, parties, and hanging out with friends? Want to relive those days? Buy a time machine. Want to at least use your college connection for the greater (career) good? Connect with your alumni group online and look people up in your area. See someone at a company you are considering? Contact him/her and start a conversation. As per any good networking message, make it less about you looking for  a job and more about your common connection, interest in the organization, etc. Given that you are starting with a “warm” connection, your alma mater may be your link to a great career step!