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 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 for the 1%: Yay or Nay?

With the popularity of social media in networking, it’s no surprise that users are increasingly establishing professional connections through sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook. While these sites can be incredibly useful for exploring potential job or partnership opportunities, there are many high-level executives who have a LinkedIn profile typically only updated by their staff – rendering it useless in terms of trying to network with the actual CEOs or CFOs. Now, a new site called Relationship Science is looking to make it easy to connect with the 1%, all for a small fee of $3K .

The upcoming launch of this site, described in this New York Times article, will enable users to enter a CEO’s name and see what kind of primary, secondary, or tertiary connections they already have to said CEO from the users’ own contacts. The search results will show how people are connected (“friend”, “friend of a friend”, etc) and will also judge the strength of the connection, from “strong” to “weak”. Relationship Science won’t post phone numbers or emails of its users, because as RS founder Neal Goldman points out, “This isn’t about spamming people.”

While this may seem like a great service, is it really worth it? Yes and no. For some, Relationship Science can show them connections to bigwigs they never knew existed. These contacts could be the key to being able to get a meeting or interview with the higher-ups, leading to career advancement. Unlike sites like LinkedIn where people need to create their own profile in order to interact on the site, Relationship Science uses the Internet, not the user, to gather information. This means you can still find connections with a company president without he or she having to put their own contacts on the website first.

On the other hand, not everyone needs to engage in this level of networking, and the price tag might not be worth it for most people in the workforce. Another good point is that even though you discover new connections, there’s no guarantee that anyone will respond to you.

What’s the bottom line? While Relationship Science may be worth it for a specific group of people, more often than not, real networking occurs in the real world. Attend networking events, actively update your LinkedIn profile and get to know your colleagues. In short, Always Be Networking! Refresh Your Step’s Networking Skills services can help you maximize opportunities to establish professional connections and career possibilities!

 

– 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

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

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

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

Wall Street, Dust off Those Resumes!

Dear Wall Street-ers,

Wow, I used to BE one of you back when I worked on the PR and recruiting teams at Lehman Brothers. I launched my company as a result of Lehman’s bankruptcy and have worked with many of you across different functions since our inception. I can say without  doubt that you are an interesting brood.

Based on this article, I may be speaking to more of you soon. Are you worried about your job? Have you updated your resume or LinkedIn profile recently? Are you thinking about potential next steps in case you fall victim to the layoff hatchet? How’s that networking going (remember, late nights at the office or sushi place around the corner are opportunities to network; #ABN)?

Despite a slight adjustment, the old adage rings true: all bad things must come to an end:  “‘Most analysts say these cuts won’t go on forever. As soon as lending starts to pick up, banks will increase headcount,’ said Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski.” While that may be the case and you could either land a new job quickly or get your old job back, have you pondered the REAL question: is going back to Wall Street what you really want?

It’s YOUR career–whatever curve ball is thrown your way, refresh, revive, renew!

 

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!