Dr. Seuss, Career Advisor?

Not long ago, just before celebrating my daughters’ 2nd birthday, I came across a tattered copy of Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You!, and couldn’t help but smile as I thought back on pivotal moments in my life and career when Dr. Seuss’s wise words resonated. Since adopting this book back into my life for the benefit of my growing child, I have found myself stuck on the most famous line in the book, just as I was thirty-something years ago.

“Today you are you, this is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!”

As a Professional Career Strategist, I pride myself on advising our clients by inspiring them to see the true value within themselves. Now that I am once again immersed back into Dr. Seuss’ work through my child’s eyes,

I couldn’t help but wonder – was Dr. Seuss the world’s best career coach disguised as a children’s book writer?

 

Let’s think about this for a minute. As children, we’re taught to be confident, believe in ourselves, do the right thing, and naturally, we’ll land amongst the stars. Then, reality happens as we grow up: we learn the agony of defeat and the sting of disappointment.  We face the harsh coldness of “Thank you for your application, but…”

Little by little, all of those wise words we clung to and repeated before bedtime while reading some of Seuss’ classics seem as useless as, well, a cold plate of Green Eggs and Ham.

If Dr. Seuss (2.0) stepped into the role of a career coach, here is how we reimagine the applicability of some of his more famous quotes when considering a job search.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

The way we see it, this is Dr. Seuss, Career Advisor, reminding you to simplify your job search. You will not be a great fit for every role out there and not every sector is going to be ideal. Moreover, not all career fairs, networking events, and speed interview sessions will be helpful. Hone-in, for simplicity purposes, on a few sectors and companies you want to learn more about and start going through your connections, both digital and real, to make inroads. The Cat in the Hat would be proud of That!

 

“So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve given this advice before, though perhaps with less of a rhyme scheme going on. Dr. Seuss is correct, though, as he is basically suggesting that you be thoughtful and strategic in your job search. So often, we hear the “quantity over quality” is what lands one a job. Applying to 200 jobs just because they have openings will not turn the odds in your favor for an interview or offer and could very well lead to MORE frustration when you don’t hear back.

Rather, focus on the companies and roles in which you are truly interested, even if that means only applying to 10 roles. From there, reach out to people at each company, follow-up, express interest in the role, and request time to learn more about the opportunity and overall organization. Basically, Dr. Seuss (the Career Advisor) is suggesting you balance out applying for quality roles with making essential connections at each organization, as this will significantly increase the likelihood that you actually land an interview.

 

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”

Your past is your past, and it is exactly what has led you to where you are in your life at this very moment. Most likely, you’ve learned a thing or two from your previous job experiences, good and bad. The purpose here, as Dr. Seuss has indicated, is to take that experience and focus on what your career can become – and lead with this in mind. Recognizing an abundance of responsibilities from your career to date is a decent start – but if you can’t speak to how this will apply to your future success, it’s time to recalibrate. Perhaps Dr. Seuss, Career Advisor, would ask you the following:

One fish, Two fish, At that role, What’d You Accomplish?

Don’t forget to note your achievements and make a plan; you can do all this eating green eggs and ham!

In all seriousness, we often lose sight of what we set out to do in the first place.  Unwanted advice, opinions, and poor career advice can negatively affect the direction in which we were hoping to steer ourselves. Losing trust in ourselves and the value we can bring to the career world would make Dr. Seuss a very unhappy career coach, er, writer.

On the anniversary of Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel’s Birthday, celebrate with an inherent call to the brains in your head, the feet in your shoes, and empower yourself to venture on in any direction you choose.

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

Contributor: Michelle Dempsey, MS, CPRW

 

 

Thankful Thoughts For a Job Search

At ReFresh Your Step, we like to think that embarking on a career search, whether by choice or by circumstance, is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself and your future. You see, we like to focus on the positive, and with Thanksgiving upon us, it’s time to give the good ol’ job search the credit it deserves.

This year, we urge you, job seekers, to be THANKFUL for the search!

That’s right – we strongly feel that people in the search for a new career have it better than ever these days. With countless tools and opportunities to reach out, connect, investigate and research potential job opportunities, we have to be thankful for how much easier the search has become over the last few decades.

Here’s why…

Think back to the first job you ever applied for. You were likely in high school, hoping for that first job opportunity that would help you make a few bucks to start a spring break fund or save for a new car/college.

Well, if you’re part of the ReFresh Your Step team’s generation, you probably crafted a resume on a bulky desktop (or massive laptop), found opportunities via newspaper, word of mouth, or a career center, and did research on companies at the *gulp* library. In-person interview? Of course. Skype interview? This is NOT Back to the Future!

But now?

We’ve been able to gain control of the modern day job search!

You immediately access the web to start your job search. You most likely Google facts on companies, opportunities, job listings that interest you. You come across ReFresh Your Step’s website (or a similar firm) and are immediately turned on to all of our career advisory services. You set up a consultation, arrange for a new resume and cover letter and even meet via Skype to brush up on interview skills (without ever having to leave the comfort of your couch).

Think that’s good? Leave room on your thankful list – there’s more!

Now you’ve narrowed down your job search and made a list of contacts to reach out and connect with. With the click of a button, your documents are sent out into the world like a boomerang waiting to come back in for a landing with opportunity tied to its wings.   You can’t wait to let your future place of possible employment know just how eager and determined you are, so you let social media give you a little push. With your spiffy new LinkedIn profile you are able to confidently connect with the top players in your sector and let your accomplishments do the talking.

And of course, with all of the career advisory services that ReFresh Your Step provides…

We urge you to be thankful for your choice to allow RYS to help you climb to the next rung in your career ladder. In addition to resumes/cover letters, our services range from professional documents to networking techniques, interviewing strategies and strategic career consulting

It’s hard NOT to be thankful for the fact that you have all of the best tools at your disposal as you enter the job market.

Remember, a secret ingredient in the special sauce of career success is “enthusiasm” – not just a dash of it. On this Thanksgiving, maintain an open mind, a thankful spirit, and be grateful that you’ve taken to the opportunity to propel yourself towards success.

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

Happy Thanksgiving and we wish you thankful thoughts and much career success!

 

Success Story Friday–Intro

Here at ReFresh Your Step, we are lucky to have played a role in the success of so many of our clients.  Our mission has always been to not just work for our clients at a basic level, but to collaborate in a way that will showcase the unique background they possess, in order to propel them above and beyond their career goals. We are often asked about some example success stories and decided to showcase a few monthly. As such, welcome to the inaugural Success Story post (#SuccessStory #ReFreshYourStep #CareerSavvy).

All of our ReFresh Your Step Success Stories illustrate the motivation behind our mission and the “method to our madness;” by sharing a weekly example of recent client success, we hope you’ll find yourselves just as motivated – to invest in yourself, to make a change, and to know that you have a support team to partner with you every step of the way.

On Success Story Friday, help us celebrate the kind of success that ReFresh Your Step strives for – the results speak for themselves! Remember: it’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew

To Our Career Growth…and Yours!

One of the most rewarding things about being a top career advisory firm in South Florida (and nationally!) is the opportunity to help our clients rise to the top in their careers. While we see growth in our own company month-after- month, it really all comes back to your growth and the trust you have in us to support you along your journey.

After 10 years in the Career Advisory industry, we are proud to continue fostering  your growth and in order to do so, my team and I set and reach our own milestones.

It was with great excitement and truly a career dream of mine since opening the doors to RYS in 2008 that I officially  became one of the youngest in the world, and only South Florida based resume writer to hold the highest certification degree in the industry AND offer highly tailored, fully-scaled career advisory work! The MRW (Master Resume Writer) is like the PHD of resume writing. Not only am I the one of the only writers to have this certification in South Florida, but there are only 25 other writers in the industry – globally – that hold this level of certification.

In addition to my own personal growth, I have loved expanding the company to include a powerful, amazing team of writers. They have each been integral in the organization’s expansion (thanks, guys!) but also in partnering with countless clients. As I tell each client who works with a team writer, not only do I stay personally involved in each project but you also have the added benefit of working with another highly certified writer and career adviser on your personal career growth. That’s right–all of my writers are certified, hand-picked by me, and serve as an additional resource for each of our clients.

Let’s hear it for our career growth…and yours!

Three Ways Your Job Search is Like Dating

This post was originally published on Scott Singer’s (Recruiter Extraordinaire) fantastic blog, No Charge For These.

I do not normally dole out dating advice, seeing as how I have been out of the dating scene for several years and my work revolves around doling out career advice. That said, I am keenly aware of how similar the two are and often draw comparisons when speaking with clients. Why? Simple: many people have some fear of both but can relate better to dating; in drawing a parallel between the two, I feel that it helps people better understand how to more effectively job hunt (though, if someone is a great job hunter but not so great in the dating department, the advice could go both ways!). Without further ado, here are three ways your job search is like dating.

 

1) Going With the First One that Comes Along Rarely Works Out Long Term: If you are out with friends one evening, how likely a scenario is it that you will meet “the one” within the first five minutes at a bar/club/concert/whatever you single people do these days (I am obviously taking dating into the real world here; I did just have a brilliant idea, though, of creating a Tinder for the job search…).

My Advice: Clearly, playing the field for a bit is in your best interest. Look around, talk to people, do some research to find out where you will find the best fit for your current situation and long-term goals. If a “dream job” comes along and sounds like it is too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, even if you REALLY feel connected to an opportunity one day, take your time to think, learn about it, and speak to others so you can make more of an educated decision (i.e., don’t accept on the first offer. How often does a one-night stand work out!).

 

2) Negotiation is Key for Future Happiness: Although I am off of the job and dating market, I know this for sure: dating and job searching both require a certain amount of negotiation (both up-front and over time). All too often, people fall into the trap of believing that he/she needs to say yes in order to move forward. While that may work initially, it becomes obvious within a few weeks that only taking into account the other side’s needs or requests results in a bad match. At that point, one can cut his/her losses or try to make it work but neither option is really ideal.

My advice: Remember that whether you are courting a job or a person, the process works best as a 2-way street. Yes, your needs are important too! Think now about what you prioritize in a job: a great office culture, the option for occasional tele-commuting, a superior benefits package, free on-site haircuts…Obviously, be realistic in what your needs are, especially for your given level and sector, but have some chosen points in mind and be prepared to discuss them when the time is right. This also might mean passing on opportunities that are not up to your standards but that’s what standards are for: waiting for Ms. or Right (Boss), not Right (Now).

 

3) Your Friends Can Help you Score: I’d like to rephrase the words to a popular song for you. “We all get jobs with a little help from our friends.” Here’s another song rephrase: “Applying online killed the job search.” Both are true and yield important lessons; turn to your friends, your actual (non-virtual) network of connections to help you find the right fit. Think about where people work, who they know, what they do, and if any of this information is relevant for you. The best opportunities are found not via applying online to countless roles but rather through leveraging your network to leverage theirs.

My Advice: Identify your Wingman/Wingwoman for the job search. No, this person is not the one who is most likely to speak to strangers in a bar and ask for a number; rather, it’s the person who knows a lot of people (in real life and has 500+ connections on LinkedIn), is willing to makes introductions for you, and can provide you with the advice you need to make an informed decision about a particular opportunity.

Here’s to much success in your job and love life…and that you find a job you love!

The Top Ten NEW OddBall Interview Questions You Need to Know

In this new age of interviewing, savvy career searchers know to expect a “Huh?” question just as much as the standard “Tell me about yourself” inquiry. Google made its mark on interviewing forever several years ago with such quandaries as, “How many ping-pong balls do you need to fill a Boeing 747 plane?”

I’ll let you ponder that one for a few minutes.

I’ve been telling clients to expect these questions and training them on how to answer such queries. Tip 1: remember that it’s not about a precise number or response so much as talking out loud about how you would go about getting the answer. Tip 2: in addition to thinking out loud, ask questions of your interviewer to better formulate your response as opposed to panicking or appearing flustered by the question. Also, email me if you are interested in answers to this plane/ping-pong ball question.

As a tip of the hat to recently retired David Letterman, we bring to you a Top Ten List of NEW Oddball Interview Questions and are also providing tips on how to approach answering them.

1) Batman Vs Spiderman: Who Would Win? This is a “stop you in your tracks” question that came from Stanford University; how does one even approach answering a query such as this? What if comic book heroes – and their movie franchises – are not topics you even know much about? Here’s my thought, and I believe you can apply the logic to many similar questions.

  • Potential Response 1: If you are familiar with the characters and can reason an answer, go for it (I am quite familiar with both characters and do believe that Spiderman’s capabilities truly outweigh those of Batman and here’s why…).
  • Potential Response 2: If you are not familiar with the characters, answer the question without really doing so at all (Although comic book heroes are not my forté, I believe that both characters are good guys and fight the bad guys. As such, I believe they would not ever find themselves in a fight as they are both on the same side!).

2) In what ways are you lucky? This is an interesting alternative to the “Tell me about yourself” question; Airbnb asks it and given their penchant for upbeat employees, it makes sense. What this question is really asking is, “How do you see yourself?” and is therefore a behavioral interview question. The key here is to be thoughtful without being too revealing (please avoid such responses as, “I’m really lucky to even be here after escaping from prison last week…”). We also suggest keeping your answer somewhat career-focused.

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Job Search Fails

Did you recently embark on a job search? Do you REALLY want a new role? Are you sure? If so, let’s go over some pointers that I like to believe are common sense but, judging by some face-slapping-in-shock experiences with clients (some just recently!), a refresher is needed:

Preface #1: I am not much older than you (let’s just say that we are in the same generation) so this is not coming from the perspective of an antiquated, doesn’t-get-your-generation Baby Boomer (though I believe we have a lot to learn from the older generation too!).

Preface #2: Yes, common sense is a real thing that will get you far. Similar to newspaper use, common sense seems to be on the decline. For the benefit of your career, please don’t fall victim to this sad trend.

Preface #3: These are all real stories; identifying points have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

 

1) Texting During an Interview: Look, I love to text; it’s efficient, on my own time, and easier. I would prefer texting/Facebook Messaging/WhatsApping over an actual phone call any day. That said, please don’t text during an interview. Put. Your phone. Away! Bonus: Don’t just put it on vibrate; use the silencer mode.

2) Texting a Thank You Note: So, your interview is over, you feel great about your responses, and you are back to checking your phone. Text your mom/best friend/significant other about how you nailed the interview and are definitely getting the job. If at any point the following thought pops into your head, drop the phone and run away: “Hey, I am so good at texting and the interviewer loved me; I’ll just text my thank you!” Again, stop. Drop the phone. Run away from said phone until your common sense returns and then draft an email that you will send later that day once you had had a chance to review it. Bonus: An actual hand-written note, in addition to an email, is so rare these days that sending one is actually impressive.

3) Not Sending a Thank You At All: I still get shivers up my spine when I think of this one; a client once claimed he didn’t need to send a thank you because, “They really liked me and will hire me anyway.” Yes, they may have liked you and may still want to hire you regardless of whether or not you send a thank you but why gamble like that when it takes literally five minutes to send an email? Also, that “I’m infallible” perspective will likely end up hurting you more in the long run than you can possibly know.

4) Being Too Informal: If you haven’t picked up on it quite yet, I strongly believe in erring on the side of formality when it comes to one’s career search. Whether it’s your clothes in an interview or how you address an interviewer, your approach can make or break next steps. Please refer to the examples below.

 

  1. a) Dress For Success…Even If You Think You’re a Shoo-in: Earlier in my career, I worked for a prominent Wall Street bank and it was common practice for senior executives to request interviews for their college-aged children, relatives, close friends’ kids, etc. for different summer analyst roles. It was also standard practice to comply with said request (sorry, nepotism is real!). More often than not, the interviewee treated it as a real interview (since it was) and handled it with the utmost professionalism. One such student did not and showed up to a business-formal Wall Street bank dressed like her next stop was Burning Man. Furthermore, she made it  quite obvious during the interview that she believed she would just “get” the internship because her uncle was the Firm’s most senior C-suite execs. Let’s just say she didn’t “get” the role but your truly “got” to deliver the news to her uncle. Luckily, he understood!

 

  1. b) Address For Success (see what I did there?): Quite recently, I was working with a team on hiring an Executive Director role for a religiously affiliated non-profit organization. The candidate pool was narrowed down to three and final-round interviews started. One of the main hiring managers for this role was an ordained clergy member (a Rabbi) and while a fairly laid-back individual overall, she was surprised when a candidate referred to her by her first name during the interview. When it came time to determine who would get the job offer, she mentioned being put-off by the address gaffe and lack of respect for her role and she indicated wanting to go in a different direction. A new commandment: Thou shalt respectfully address your interviewers, especially if formal titles are involved!

 

If you are on this site and reading this post, I assume you truly want a great internship or job and I applaud you for that. A strong resume and LinkedIn profile will help you in that endeavor but so will using that innate common sense. It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew!

 

Could Your Smartphone 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 post up-to-the-minute accounts of your day on Twitter, perhaps there is now a more constructive use of down time with a smartphone – applying for jobs.

iApply on the Fly

A growing number of Fortune 500 companies have application sites customized for a smartphone screen, allowing job applicants to now peruse job openings and apply on the fly. From McDonald’s to Macy’s, an increasing number of companies are utilizing apps that allow professionals to apply for open positions on their iPhones, Droids, or other web-enabled devices. It is worth noting, though, that this movement may make things easier for potential employees, but adds a few extra steps to ensure the resume is noticed (by a system or actual human being).

It’s All About the Formatting, Baby

While most big companies will use apps that are formatted for a smartphone screen, it is still important to make your resume stand out both bigger and smaller displays. This can be easy if you know how to properly format your resume to gain maximum attention from a possible new employer. Pick a strong – but not overpowering – format that allows for “easy scanning” of your information, include a section of keyword or core competencies, and emphasize your accomplishments.

Better Format, Better Resume

Truthfully, a strong format is especially important here so let’s dig a little deeper: use certain key elements in your resume design to 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. 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.

LinkedIn Series – Expert Power

Career advancement is what we all strive for. Using LinkedIn can be a very helpful tool to show how you’re an expert in your field. Staying current is necessary for both currently employed professionals and individuals searching for employment. That brings us to a very important question:  Actually, have you ever even noticed it?

LinkedIn truly is like the professional Facebook (but so help me G-d if they introduce a chat function); there is now a newsfeed-esque component that you see right when you log in to LinkedIn and that is fed by what goes into your Activity feed and those of your Connections. Go to your profile and look at your Activity feed–we’ll wait.

See it? My guess is that the feed is mostly full of, “You are connected to so-and-so” and the occasional, “You are not following xyz company.” Yawn. That filters directly into the Newsfeed of all your connections and they are likely skipping right over it. Why not REALLY utilize this section and indicate your sector knowledge in the process? Post relevant articles!

You might find it a challenge, being that there are already not enough hours in the day, to post a bazillion articles. Good news: it’s quality over quantity. All you need is a minimum of five minutes per WEEK to utilize LinkedIn for posting relevant news articles and trends that are emerging in your sector. Why would you do this? Three letters: SME. To be a Subject Matter Expert, and to communicate that expertise via LinkedIn is a subtle–but strategic–opportunity to broadcast just how knowledgeable you are of your particular industry.

If you are currently employed it’s not a suggestion but a necessity to know current and future trends. It isn’t only important for you–the professional–but also for your company. Your expert power will speak volumes to your commitment with the company/sector and it will more likely than not give you a better understanding of how your sector is evolving.

If you are not employed, LinkedIn serves as a platform allowing you to connect with the professional world without having to step into an office. Right from home, while your search for a job continues, you can boost your LinkedIn presence by posting relevant articles to your LinkedIn profile. Others will be able to view them and get an understanding of your expert power within a given industry.

In doing so, you are still demonstrating your SME-ness via LinkedIn and that can work wonders for your job search. Hiring managers and recruiters will see this about you and that, alone, can increase the likelihood that they will reach out to connect. The main idea is to continue to grow professionally regardless if you’re employed or not.  Every time you post something on LinkedIn, you are upping the ante on just how savvy you are and the powers that be will respond in kind.

Now that you are up-to-speed on how post sector-specific newsworthy info to your LinkedIn profile, let’s move on to why you want Siskel & Ebert to give your profile two thumbs up!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Summary & URL

They say first impressions are everything. What you decide to write about in your LinkedIn Summary is going to be that all-important first impression to a potential employer.  Looking beyond your job title and that spiffy picture you have up, the summary should, in a nutshell, make a complete circle from what you have done so far to your future career path. Don’t feel the need to tell your whole professional life story; rather, let your character shine through. Remember this is a professional social media site, but it is still about you. Let people get to know what you’re about, and what makes you the unique professional that stands out.

Utilize a nice, easy writing style to ensure maximum comprehension by the reader. LinkedIn provides a maximum of 2,000 characters to complete your summary; use them wisely! If you are actively searching for a role don’t be afraid to indicate that. Additionally, you should provide an abbreviated list of your core competencies so people viewing your profile can truly understand what skills you bring to the table. Make your summary a powerful one so that it truly represents who you are, what you have to offer.

Another very important profile component people tend to overlook is having a unique URL. Searches on LinkedIn are done by real names, and because there are many people with the same name, your URL will never automatically be your actual name. Instead, you are assigned a URL that is a combination of your name and a whole series of numbers. Not very professional looking, but that’s okay because you can change that.

If you have a rare(ish) name you might be lucky enough to pick a URL using your name. If someone has taken your preferred URL name, you can try putting in your middle name or initial. Additionally, you can opt for extra branding–add a higher-level degree (MBA, PhD) or even a geographic location (NYC, ATL). The goal is ensure your new URL is more memorable and easier to share. Customizing your URL doesn’t only look better on your profile, but it also demonstrates your technology knowledge. Having a unique URL looks more professional and you can even add it to your business cards. Changing your URL is easy enough; directions for how to do so are below:

  • While logged in to LinkedIn, click on “Profile” and then “Edit Profile”
  • Click “Edit” next to your current URL positioned underneath your profile picture (some people may need to click “Contact Info” and then “Edit” depending on certain LinkedIn settings).
  • On the next screen, scroll down slightly and look on the right-hand side of the page. You will see a box that says “Your public profile URL” box.  Click the “Customize your public profile URL” link.
  • Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box.
  • Click Set Custom URL.

Note: Your custom URL must contain between 5 – 30 letters or numbers (please do not use spaces, symbols, or special characters).

Now that your Summary is complete and you have a unique URL, let’s discuss the power of the SME! Not sure what that even means? Stay tuned!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern