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

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

South Florida Resume Writer: Sun, Fun & Career Success

While this time of year in Miami often conjures up thoughts of crowded beaches, Art Basel, star-studded New Years parties and the Orange Bowl (not to mention this year’s BCS National Championship), ReFresh Your Step is here to keep you focused on your career. Real estate prices are on a positive trend for the first time in awhile, general investment in Miami is up, and South Florida unemployment is down by almost 2% since 2011, all of which make it a great time to re-evaluate your career goals.

While we have worked with clients from California to Canada to Spain, we also focus on assisting our fellow South Florida residents. As a Miami-based company, we are open to scheduling in-person meetings depending on our clients’ needs and preferences (we also speak with clients via phone and Skype).

Did you know that ReFresh Your Step’s founder and lead strategist is one of only a handful of certified resume writers in South Florida, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach? So while tourists and other visitors are enjoying the sand, sun and attractions, we welcome the opportunity to assist you in resume and cover letter rewrites and updates, interview preparation, effective networking techniquesLinkedin and other social media updates as well as any other career development needs.

Contact us today at 305.209.9593 or [email protected] to take advantage of special resident rates and let us help you make 2013 your most productive year yet!

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.