Keppie Careers http://www.keppiecareers.com Social media speaker, social media consultant, job search coach Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:30:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Make the most of the cold weather to job hunt http://www.keppiecareers.com/make-the-most-of-the-cold-weather-to-job-hunt/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/make-the-most-of-the-cold-weather-to-job-hunt/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:30:00 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11694 For those of you dealing with cold, or even arctic temperatures, the winter months can be particularly challenging for job search. Just as you winterize your car and experts advise packing an emergency winter weather kit when you travel, you...

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048For those of you dealing with cold, or even arctic temperatures, the winter months can be particularly challenging for job search. Just as you winterize your car and experts advise packing an emergency winter weather kit when you travel, you can also prepare your job search for the next several winter months.
Consider these tips to avoid stalling out on your job search plans.

Bring your networking inside.

Who wants to trek outside to networking events in the dead of winter, when it’s dark before dinner? It’s tough to get motivated to attend glad-handing events when you’re not sure the roads will be passable on your way home. Instead, use the cold winter months to ramp up your social networking, which you can comfortably do from your favorite, cushy chair at home.

Get my free white paper: 5 Mistakes Preventing You From Landing a Job This Week 

Don’t underestimate the value of contacts you make online. All you need to do is impress one person who is inspired to refer you for an opportunity, and you could land a job that was never advertised.

How can you get started using social media to job hunt? Begin by updating your LinkedIn profile. Avoid common LinkedIn mistakes and be sure to fill in everything on your profile. Once you perfect LinkedIn, branch out and create a Twitter profile. Twitter is useful for job seekers because it makes it easy to connect with anyone else who tweets. (Connect with me on Twitter right now!) 

You’ll find companies use Twitter to let people know what they are doing and CEOs often use Twitter to share their thoughts. More importantly, though, regular people just like you turn to Twitter to expand their networks and meet new people. Try it and you may be surprised by how easy it can be to connect with an influential contact.

Get out of the house. 

You need to go to the grocery store, anyway, so think about how you can make it a networking opportunity. Be friendly and talk to people in line, or even the manager of the store. Build relationships with people who recognize you and may be willing to help you with a contact in the future. However, don’t start off the conversation with “Hello, I’m looking for work.” Instead, just be amiable. Ask about the other person – learn something personal that you will remember to ask about later. You’d be surprised by how much more likely someone is to go out of his or her way for you when you are a good listener and follow up on casual conversations.

Consider everywhere you go and anyone to meet an opportunity to network. Especially in the dead of winter, you want to make the most of any time you don your woolly headgear and boots and dig yourself out of your driveway. Make it worth your while.

Set up shop somewhere new. 

A few times a week, take your computer to a coffee shop or the bookstore. Anywhere you can access wifi and have the chance to smile at people will be better than staying in your quiet house all week long. Try not to be the annoying, overly chatty person who talks to people when they are trying to get their work done, but if you do see the same people over and over again, it can’t hurt to strike up a short, informal conversation that could lead to talking about networking contacts in the future.

Work on cold calls.

Hopefully, your social networking has helped warm up some potential cold calls. The dead of winter is a great time to ramp up your cold calls, as people may be more likely to spend more time at their desks. Research and plan ahead so you’ll know what to say when you do get a response to your call.

Use all the resources at your disposal — and make the most of all of them, and winter could just be your lucky season for job search.

This post originally ran on AOLJobs.

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How to Create an Optimized LinkedIn Profile, part I http://www.keppiecareers.com/optimized-linkedin-profile/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/optimized-linkedin-profile/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:20:37 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12293 Can you believe 2014 is almost over? If you planned to land a new job or start a business this year and haven’t gotten around to it, 2015 is right around the corner. Are you waiting for your plans to...

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Knock KnockCan you believe 2014 is almost over? If you planned to land a new job or start a business this year and haven’t gotten around to it, 2015 is right around the corner. Are you waiting for your plans to come knocking on the door?

Something most people forget is that change doesn’t happen until you take the first step. If you want to find a new job, but have been procrastinating about optimizing your LinkedIn profile, updating your resume or looking for job descriptions that interest you, it’s unlikely a job is going to come knocking on the door.

On the other hand, if you HAVE created a keyword focused, optimized LinkedIn profile designed to attract the type of people you hope will hire you, it IS possible a job opportunity may come knocking on the door. Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?

Get my free white paper: 5 Mistakes Preventing You From Landing a Job This Week 

Recently, I suggested a few tips to a friend who was between jobs. A few days later, he sent me an astonished message letting me know his profile had moved from page eight to page one for the keyword he was targeting, AND that he had already heard from several local recruiters! That is a win, and it can happen for you, too. Unlike Google search results, which may take a long time, a financial investment and a lot of effort to influence, you can relatively easily improve your LinkedIn search results if they aren’t already optimized.

I thought it would be helpful to create a series of posts with suggestions to improve your LinkedIn profile. If you want to magnetically attract opportunities, you need to build the magnet first!

Tip #1: Optimize Your Headline

The information that appears directly below your name is termed the “headline” for a reason. It’s one of the most important elements of your profile, because it’s what most people will see when your profile comes up in search. Are you listing your current title? That could be helpful if you are looking for a job doing exactly the same thing, but even then, a job title is not a strong headline.

Instead, include keywords — the words people will use to find someone like you — in your headline. And, offer a pitch. In other words, what is your value proposition? What do you offer an organization? What problem do you solve for them?

For example, instead of: “Business Analyst,” you may want to list: “Business Analyst: Develop and implement systems to bridge gaps between HR and IT organizations.” This updated headline includes keywords AND a pitch, which is exactly what can help inspire people to want to learn more about you if they see your profile in a search.

You have 120 characters to use for your headline; make the most of them.

Keep in mind: I am available to transform your LinkedIn profile. Contact me to learn how I can help you position yourself to land the opportunity of your dreams for 2015!

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You can land a job in December http://www.keppiecareers.com/land-a-job-in-december/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/land-a-job-in-december/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 11:30:51 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11241 You think the holidays are a great time to kick back and take a break from your job search. “No one is hiring now, anyway.” Think again! Year after year, research shows December can be a great month for landing...

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file0001578728805You think the holidays are a great time to kick back and take a break from your job search. “No one is hiring now, anyway.” Think again! Year after year, research shows December can be a great month for landing opportunities, so it is a big mistake to take a break now. Here are six reasons to ramp up your job search at this time of year.
1. Companies sometimes “find” money they need to spend at this time of year.
Wouldn’t it be nice to suddenly discover money you didn’t know you had? That happens more often than you think at large companies. They realize at the 11th hour that they have enough in the budget to fill extra positions, but they need to get the people in seats before the end of the year, or the money will disappear. If you stop looking for a job or get lackadaisical about checking emails, you may lose an opportunity and never even know it.

2. A lot of people think December is a good month to stop searching for jobs.
Not everyone is keeping up with the latest and greatest when it comes to job search like you are! A lot of your peers are taking the easy road and sitting back this month. As a result, the competition is a little less fierce, and it could mean you have an opportunity to jump on a job before your otherwise more qualified colleague stops to check job listings.

Anyone in the careers industry, including resume writers and job search strategists, will tell you that January is typically a very busy time, because that’s when many people try to fulfill their new year’s resolutions that involve getting out of jobs they hate. Don’t sit back and wait to re-enter the pool with everyone else! Get ramped up now to take advantage of possible opportunities.

3. Unexpected openings.
Some companies give big bonuses at this time of year, and employees who were waiting for those big checks to clear before giving notice will begin to announce their intention to leave – or, in some cases, just walk out the door. When you make yourself available, you will give yourself potential opportunities that would otherwise pass you by.

4. Surprise projects during an otherwise slow time may yield temporary gigs.
We all know a lot of people take time off during the holidays. If the organization finds itself in need of extra, warm bodies to get the work done while their typical team is vacationing and decking the halls, it gives you an opportunity to step in as a contract or temporary worker. This gives you the chance to audition for a role in the company, even if you know the regular employee is coming back. If you are impressive enough, the organization may find a place for you.

5. Being available may get you half-way there.
When recruiters are in a hurry or hiring managers have an urgent need, the fact that you get right back to them during a holiday period will make you stand out and give a good impression. There aren’t a lot of other times during the year when just being prompt makes such a difference.

6. Networking opportunities increase.
Networking is the best way to find a job and the holidays are nothing if not a good opportunity to network. While it’s best to touch base with your network throughout the year, now is arguably the time when you can feel comfortable writing a note to someone who hasn’t heard one word from you all year long. Don’t turn all of your holiday notes into pleas for a job, but you can subtly incorporate your future plans into a note wishing your colleagues well. Many people do have a little less work to do at this time of year and may be willing to meet for coffee or lunch. If you can finesse a reason for one of your contacts to meet with you, when opportunities come up early in the year, you will be top-of-mind.

More from Miriam Salpeter
How to handle awkward situations at work with style
Places you never thought to network
How to make yourself essential at work

Originally appeared on AOLJobs.com.

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Thanksgiving Networking Tips http://www.keppiecareers.com/thanksgiving-networking-tips/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/thanksgiving-networking-tips/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:43:34 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12285 Do holiday parties leave you hapless and hopeless? Maybe you’re between jobs and not really feeling the spirit? Don’t despair and let it ruin your Thanksgiving and holiday season. With a little preparation and the right attitude, you can turn...

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GobbleDo holiday parties leave you hapless and hopeless? Maybe you’re between jobs and not really feeling the spirit? Don’t despair and let it ruin your Thanksgiving and holiday season. With a little preparation and the right attitude, you can turn festive occasions into opportunities for you to meet new allies for your job search. Follow these tips to turn your not-working into effective networking at any event. 

You know you’re going to be seeing lots of new and old friends and family members this holiday season, so you may as well make the most of the season to improve your opportunities for jobs or gigs! Make this season your best ever; end this year with some strong holiday networking. Keep these Thanksgiving networking tips in mind.

Self-assess. Know what job you want; be specific and targeted. Identify companies where you’d like to work and be prepared to mention several organizations’ names. Do not plan to be the “I can do anything” job seeker. While you may think it’s a good idea to keep your options open, this approach usually backfires. No one wants to hire or refer someone who seems unfocused or confused about next steps.

Learn how to introduce yourself. We’ve all heard of the “two-minute elevator speech.” Forget everything you know about that and pare your talk down to 30 seconds or less. In less than 100 words (35-50 is better), practice saying what skills you have and mention a key accomplishment. While you won’t launch into this pitch the moment you meet someone, when you’re prepared to discuss your best professional qualities, you’ll be able to make the most of a good contact.

Research the guest list. It’s always best to be prepared, and when you do a little sleuthing, it’s not difficult to find out who plans to be at the event. Many invitations are electronic, and the social profiles of attendees may be prominently displayed on RSVPs. Look up the people who plan to attend. Find their LinkedIn profiles and read their Twitter streams. Identify several interesting contacts and make a point to speak to them.

Keep in mind: you want to identify people who could know someone working at your targeted list of companies. Be aware: these networking contacts may come in surprising packages. For example, the neighborhood busy-body probably has all kinds of great contacts. So does the bartender at your neighborhood pub—or the person tending bar at the party you’re attending. Don’t cross anyone off your list of good people to meet.

Create snazzy business cards. Even if you’re not currently working, you should have professional looking business cards that give the recipient easy access to your social media profiles (for example, your LinkedIn URL). Include your pitch on the card. For example, for an accountant: “Save clients an average of 20% off their tax bill using time tested, effective accounting strategies.”

Dress the part. Even if it’s a casual party, make sure to choose something to wear that looks sharp and in style. If you haven’t bought clothing in years, it’s a good idea to shop the sales and pick out one or two items that really flatter and make you feel confident. Consider wearing a conversational piece to help make yourself memorable. A colorful, in-style scarf or tie can do the trick.

Be a listener. Make sure people don’t sense that you have an agenda when you meet them. Ask questions so you can learn something about the person’s hobbies and interests. Use your research to help you ask quality questions and be a good listener. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so if you’re a good listener, people will remember you.

Ask for a follow-up meeting. Use your in-person networking time to request another meeting in a quieter location. For example, if you’ve had a great talk, and you think there is potential for you to be able to help each other, say, “I’d love to follow up with you and explore how we may be able to be good resources for each other. How about if I send an email tomorrow suggesting some dates to meet for coffee?” You may even want to ask the best way to get in touch—email or phone.

Say thank you—and good bye. Don’t forget your manners. Be sure to thank the party organizer, even if you have to stand around to have an audience. It’s extra nice to send a card or a note after the event. Remember, you want to make a positive impression. When you go the extra mile to say thank you, people will remember that.

Keep in touch. Depending on the nature of your interactions at the party, you have a lot of options for following up. For example, if you know a new contact’s daughter is moving to Chicago soon, you can send a nice note with an article about fun things for newcomers to do in the Chicago area. Always make a point to connect via social media channels—especially LinkedIn. Make sure you follow through with anything you said you’d do during your first conversation and don’t squander potential opportunities by failing to keep in touch. When you do, you’ll have a better chance of adding new allies to your job search efforts.

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How to work your office holiday party http://www.keppiecareers.com/office-holiday-party/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/office-holiday-party/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:30:54 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11086 If you’re gainfully employed, this time of the year likely means you are obligated to attend at least one company holiday party. Now is the time to prepare. Why should you care? Jessica Hagy, author of How to Be Interesting...

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file000668442186If you’re gainfully employed, this time of the year likely means you are obligated to attend at least one company holiday party. Now is the time to prepare. Why should you care? Jessica Hagy, author of How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps), and the blog “Indexed,” notes, “Interesting people build social capital, which is another way of saying that they’re valued by others. Interesting people are befriended, hired and retained far more easily than their boring counterparts.” You don’t want to be considered boring, so prepare to conquer the holiday party.

How can you make the most of the office holiday party – an opportunity many would prefer to avoid – and be sure it helps, instead of hurts, your chances to move ahead with your career goals? Hagy provides these tips to help you navigate the sometimes treacherous holiday party landscape.

1. Be aware of gender bias. According to Hagy, “If you are female, nothing is more socially disastrous as being perceived as haughty and aloof. If you’re male, being thought of as an awkward loner is equally devastating.” Whether or not this is fair, perceptions often follow people and influence their opportunities. If you tend to be on the quiet side, you may want to make an extra effort to step out of your comfort zone and talk to people so you are not unfairly labeled as disinterested or rude.

2. Avoid awkward moments. You don’t need to chat up the CEO, although it can’t hurt to touch base with people in leadership roles if you have something interesting to say to them. Hagy suggests you “Avoid the weeping drunks in the bathroom (unless of course, you’re curious about the truly juicy corporate gossip) who will make you appear irresponsible by association.” Instead, seek out and say hello to people, even if it is a little awkward.

3. Plan conversation starters. Hagy suggests that it’s OK to compliment people on their attire – most people appreciate a kind word about what they’re wearing. However, she notes, it’s not OK to compliment someone on how attractive their spouse or date is. Avoid awkward moments by sticking to the basics. Open-ended questions are best, as you don’t want to get into an exchange of “yes” and “no” answers. For example, “Have you ever been to Maui?” would result in a yes or no, while, “Where’s your favorite place to vacation?” can engage someone in conversation.

4. Research some anecdotes. If you’re not plugged into what’s hot and what people are talking about, it’s time to do a little research. Troll trending topics on social media sites and online news pages. “Try to steer clear of mood-killing topics like the death penalty, cancer, the weather, obvious plastic surgery performed on the VP’s mistress and recent layoffs,” Hagy says.

5. Don’t eat as if you’ve never seen food. “Make a trip to the buffet, but don’t gorge on the bacon-wrapped dates or attempt to eat anything that’s drenched in sauce. Gluttony and messiness are best indulged in more casual settings with people you actually like,” Hagy notes.

6. Don’t overdo it at the open bar. “There’s a line between being relaxed and being a liability,” Hagy says. Make sure you stay on the right side of the line.

7. Don’t run off. Spend some time at the event. You never know – you may meet a great new contact at the holiday party. The difference between meeting a new contact and missing potential opportunities may be that extra 10 minutes you decided to stay. Give yourself and your colleagues a chance; everyone has the capacity to be interesting, given enough gentle prodding and attention. “Listen closely. You just might make a friend or win over a previously antagonistic colleague,” Hagy says.

This post originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report.

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How to get holiday time off http://www.keppiecareers.com/get-holiday-time/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/get-holiday-time/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:30:51 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11234 As the holiday season approaches, many people are starting to think about time off. Planning ahead and being organized is always best, but sometimes, plans go awry or a friend decides to get married at the last minute, and you need to...

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the holiday season approaches, many people are starting to think about time off. Planning ahead and being organized is always best, but sometimes, plans go awry or a friend decides to get married at the last minute, and you need to negotiate with your colleagues for some premium time off. What should you say to secure that all-important flexibility?

Acknowledge You’re Asking for a Favor
If your organization has a “no time off” policy during certain periods or if time needs to be planned months in advance, make it clear that you understand you are asking for something extraordinary and be prepared to explain why this need does not result from your poor planning. In other words, if you decided to book a trip because the price was right, even though you knew you were working and wouldn’t easily be able to secure vacation time, you are probably out of luck and you may be burning your bridges. Depending on how firm the policy at work, if there’s a family situation or event outside of your control and planning, it’s fair to lobby for an exception to the rule in most circumstances. When you ask, explain the extraordinary circumstances and make it clear you would never otherwise ask for an exception to the rule.

Assume Everyone Needs Something
If it’s up to you to find a stand-in so you can be off, keep in mind: the first rule of negotiating anything is that everyone should walk away feeling like a winner. It’s unlikely you’re the only one in the office with an unexpected event or situation. If you need Thanksgiving off and it’s important to you, offer to work New Year’s Eve for the colleague who’s hoping to get engaged that night. If you find another person with an equally pressing need for time off and you can help each other, everyone wins.

Up the Ante
Assuming you cannot find someone to make an even swap for holiday time off, ramp up the stakes. Offer to work someone else’s holiday weekend in the future, or take an extra turn or two doing an unpopular task. For example, you could suggest you take on your colleague’s clean-up duty for the next week, or offer to work that person’s late nights for a certain amount of time. Sweeten the pot as much as necessary to sway your colleagues and you may be able to win your time off.

Plan Ahead for Next Time
If these tactics fail, it’s time to take a serious look at your work relationships. Maybe you’re avaluable employee, but are you the colleague who doesn’t give anyone the time of day until you need something, and then have no compunction about asking for a favor? Make some changes now, so next time, you’ll have a better chance of convincing your colleagues to help you out in the future.

How can you make this change? Be exceptionally considerate at work. If your automatic reply is “no” when someone asks for something that inconveniences you, start to say “yes” instead. Offer to pitch in if co-workers look swamped and you have a little free time. When people ask you to switch shifts with them, do it, even when it’s a little inconvenient for you. If you work remotely, make a point to connect with your colleagues regularly so you’re more than a name on a screen.

Become the teammate everyone knows they can rely on to help out and it will be easier to convince co-workers to step up when you need a hand or a favor down the road.

More from Miriam Salpeter
Best places you aren’t already networking
Make mistakes work for you in the office
What NOT to do to make a good impression at work

Originally published at AOLJobs.com.

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How to tell your career story so people will listen http://www.keppiecareers.com/tell-career-story-people-will-listen/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/tell-career-story-people-will-listen/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:50:17 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12261 Storytelling – does it make you think of sitting on a carpet decorated with pictures depicting the alphabet while trying to stay away from the kid who could never keep his feet to himself? Okay, maybe that was really “story...

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JobActionDay2014LogoStorytelling – does it make you think of sitting on a carpet decorated with pictures depicting the alphabet while trying to stay away from the kid who could never keep his feet to himself? Okay, maybe that was really “story time.”  Telling and hearing stories isn’t something the average adult considers part of his or her professional life.

This post is in honor of Job Action Day 2014, with the theme of “Career Storytelling.” Job Action Day is a day for all job-seekers and workers to take stock of their situations and make plans and/or take action steps to improve their careers. QuintCareers.com spearheads and runs this event every year, and I’m delighted to contribute and to suggest you visit other post about the topic. Follow #JAD14 on Twitter for information.

It may come as a surprise that marketing your skills for a job is all about storytelling. Jobseekers need to be able to tell their stories in varied ways, using a myriad of tools.

Before you bring out your quill pen – or, more likely, your laptop or tablet – to start authoring your story, your first job is to know what it is you want to tell. It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not so obvious in practice for many people. If you don’t have a very clear idea of what you do well – and why people should want to hire you to do it for them – you will be at a big disadvantage. It’s tough to get on the right path until you know your destination.

Before you start trying to integrate your “story” into your job search strategies, first focus on your skills. So many job seekers don’t take the time to really identify what they have to offer in the way of skills.  This is a real problem when it comes to the self-marketing, self-selling and interviewing aspects of the job search.  If you don’t know what you have to offer, who does?

There are many ways to approach figuring out your skills.  There is a basic one that I advise my clients to consider: review job descriptions of positions that interest you. Highlight all of the skills required that you’ve EVER used or could remotely be related to you.  Then, go back and check off the skills that really resonate and feel like “you.”  This is a basic, not time consuming and free way to get you thinking about your skills.

Describe your story as it relates to your skills. When you think about your job search story, hone in on exactly why and how you are a good fit for the opportunity of interest.

Tell the relevant story at every stage of your search:

Networking: Use your LinkedIn profile to showcase your passion for your work and why you’re good at what you do. Consider a less formal approach to help connect with readers; speak in the first person and detail why readers should want to know more about you.

In all social media, keep in mind that you are proving you have the answers to the problems hiring managers are trying to solve. Indicate how you help in your headlines – no matter how short. Even a 160-character Twitter bio can tell a brief story.

At in-person events, be prepared to introduce yourself. Don’t prepare a 2-minute speech – be able to say who you are and what you do in 15 seconds or less. You could use a slightly longer version of your Twitter bio or LinkedIn headline to get to the heart of what you want people to know.

In your resume: This is your opportunity to draw a clear and distinct line between what you offer and what the employer wants in a candidate. Focus extensively on the job description of interest and incorporate keywords that match the employer’s needs when explaining via your headlines and job descriptions why you are a good match.

In the interview: For years, coaches have advised using a “CAR” or “PAR” approach to interview storytelling. (This also works in resumes.) CAR is “challenge, action, results.” PAR is “problem, action results.” The main point is that you need to be able to tell stories explaining challenges or problems you faced and to describe how you handled them. The best part of keeping these acronyms in mind is they help remind you to incorporate the “results” piece in your story.

Once you solidify your story, you’ll be well on your way to job search success!

 

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How to finish the year strong at work http://www.keppiecareers.com/finish-year-strong-work/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/finish-year-strong-work/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 10:30:05 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=11239 As the days get shorter and the calendar moves closer to a new year, many begin to think about their new-year resolutions and plan for how to start things off right in January. Ideally, before you jump ahead to 2015,...

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the days get shorter and the calendar moves closer to a new year, many begin to think about their new-year resolutions and plan for how to start things off right in January. Ideally, before you jump ahead to 2015, it’s a good idea to decide how to make the most of the current year so you’re well positioned to start the new year off right.
What can you do now to plan ahead so you’ll be ready to excel next year? 

1. Improve your habits.

Are you the colleague who annoys everyone because you are constantly late to work and can’t be counted on to get anything done on time? Take a good, close look at your work habits and think about how you could improve them now so you can really start the new year with a fresh approach.

Even if you’re not causing trouble at work, think about what habits you can change. Have you been eating a ton of junk food, even though you promised yourself to adapt a healthy diet? Are you staying up way too late on a regular basis? Think about what habits you have that you can try to change to help yourself feel better and be more productive at work and in the rest of your life.

2. Set goals.

When you saw the calendar change to November, did you get a feeling of dread because you haven’t accomplished most of the goals you set out to achieve in 2013? Or, are you like many in the workforce: did you forget to set any goals at all? As the saying goes, “You’ll never get there if you don’t know where you’re going.” You definitely “can’t get there from here” until you decide where you want to end up, and now is the time to identify some plans so you won’t be in this position next year at this time.

3. Improve productivity.

How can you get your work done faster? If you’re not already asking yourself this question, now is the time to start. If you can accomplish more in less time, you’ll free up hours for projects or interests you don’t think you have time to consider and be able to make a better impression on those you need to impress. Some key time wasters include: excessive email checking, not prioritizing projects and spending a lot of time gossiping around the water cooler or on the Internet. Start tracking your time on these activities and you may be surprised by how many hours you can recover from your day.

4. Learn something new.

Have you thought about how you could use some of your free time to learn something new? In a competitive environment at work, one way to get ahead is to put in extra effort and, in the process, to make yourself more marketable as a valued employee.

5. Identify a mentor.

If you have new goals for 2014, you may decide it’s a good idea to find a mentor or two who may be willing to help support you as you try to accomplish them. The best mentors are willing to invest their time and energy in you, and can expect to learn something in return. Consider actively seeking someone to serve in this role.

6. Extend your relationships.

Is there someone you would love to get to know better, but you’ve never made the effort? Maybe it’s a colleague at work, or a someone in your professional organization. What can you do to get to know the person better? Make a point to invite him or her to join you for coffee or lunch, or attend an industry networking event together. Never forget that your in-person relationships are key to your professional success.

7. Improve your digital footprint. 

There’s no time like the present to ramp up your digital presence. If you’ve been hesitating to get a LinkedIn profile, or you never bothered to take a professional photo to use online, now is the time. Employers are turning to social media to source candidates and to learn more about you. What will they find? It’s up to you to feed content to Google so a search of your name online results in information you want people to know about you.

8. Step up. 

It’s up to you to get things done, and you won’t accomplish anything without making an effort. Look for opportunities to take on interesting projects and make it clear to your supervisor that you are prepared to take on new challenges if you want to advance in your organization.

More advice:
How to get your side business started while working a full-time job
Things HR won’t tell you
How Twitter can help you land your next job

Originally published on AOLJobs.com.

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Job search horror stories: illegal interview questions http://www.keppiecareers.com/illegal-interview-questions/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/illegal-interview-questions/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:15:52 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12276 If you’ve been looking for a job, it’s likely you have some horror stories to share. Have you ever encountered illegal interview questions? Read this story, from Natalie: After waiting for awhile in a brightly orange-painted room, the interviewer calls...

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spookyIf you’ve been looking for a job, it’s likely you have some horror stories to share. Have you ever encountered illegal interview questions? Read this story, from Natalie:

After waiting for awhile in a brightly orange-painted room, the interviewer calls my name and sits me down at a desk.

Normal thus far until he comments on my choice of wardrobe – a green dress. Literally he said “Natalie in the green dress in the orange room!” Then he looks at my resume – “So you’re from Utah, isn’t that where all of those Mormons live? Are you Mormon?”
 
I answer in the affirmative, and a little bell starts ringing – isn’t he not supposed to ask that? He starts asking me the interview questions and randomly pauses to ask me why I switched from crossing my legs to crossing my ankles and asked (maybe leered) – are you comfortable here with me? Got a little nervous that I may have gotten myself into a bad situation at that point.
 
I got the question that every interviewer has asked…”What brought you to San Diego?”
 
“My husband and I just moved here.”
Then he starts asking – “Oh you’re married, how long have you been married?”
After my reply of one month, he literally said, “Well you’re Mormon – you’re going to have children soon.”
Now – I know that’s not right – for an interviewer to ask an interviewee about children and upcoming life events that would affect employment. But we keep going.
 
I have to admit it was a little weird when he asked me if my husband had more than one wife…I tried to politely educate him – but seriously – no SERIOUSLY?! The interview was awkward and concluded. He then walked me outside, saying he wanted to see what car I drove. Okaaaayy…then he asked what was on my ipod.
 
Maybe he didn’t like that I said Fergie mixed with country because he called a few hours later to say I didn’t get the job. Needless to say, despite wanting income, I didn’t want to work with him anyway.
 
Ah…the true horror story, complete with the illegal and generally inappropriate/irrelevant interview questions. Clearly, the main (and key) outcome here is that Natalie would not have wanted to work for this person, regardless. That is important. It’s key for job seekers to maintain control of their own destinies by refusing to work where they know they are likely to experience inappropriate behavior. Don’t ignore interview warning signs.
So, how could Natalie have managed these questions? Did she have to answer? Follow this link for information about how to handle illegal interview questions.
Have you ever been confronted with an illegal or inappropriate interview question? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Another Halloween Job Search Horror Story http://www.keppiecareers.com/another-halloween-job-search-horror-story/ http://www.keppiecareers.com/another-halloween-job-search-horror-story/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:15:43 +0000 http://www.keppiecareers.com/?p=12272 Do you have a job search horror story? Unfortunately, many do. How can we learn from our experiences and wind up with a better ending next time? This is another story that, to me, illustrates how some job seekers create...

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treesDo you have a job search horror story? Unfortunately, many do. How can we learn from our experiences and wind up with a better ending next time?

This is another story that, to me, illustrates how some job seekers create their own results in their search.

Thanks to Laurie S. for sharing this tale:

After finding myself a smart self starting college educated experienced individual laid off and unable to find work for 15 months you can imagine I have a million stories. The following is just one of many from my journal.

The interview lined up for today was for a part-time position. Because there was nothing to chose from in the full time job opportunities. Unless a person is maybe a nurse or a DUI Attorney…it is slim pickings. The interview was with a small insurance company and I had been going round with trying to set up an interview with them.

Finally, I received an email from the company saying they would like to set up an interview and when would be a good time for me. This email hit me as a little odd. It would have made more sense for them to call me to set something up Johnny on the Spot instead of playing email games. I replied to their email because there was not a phone number to call. My reply email was greeted with yet another email letting me know the date and time I selected was not available. The sender of the email sent it out late Friday, which means I did not receive their reply to my reply until Saturday morning. The sender of the email let me know they had 9AM or 11AM on Monday morning available. I let them know I would see them on Monday morning at 9AM. This response would have been a reply to their reply of my reply to their reply are you catching my drift about the insanity with this?

…The office was right in front of me; however, there were no lights on in the office. Actually, there was not a soul in the office.

“Great now what?” I said aloud and with much disappointment.

I was less and less feeling like being involved with an interview at this moment. I was not in the mood to answer the obligatory question, “So, what is your 5-year plan?”

My mood grew from irritated and indignant to a mischievous twinkle in my right eye. I had decided that I was not leaving until I had an interview. If I had to camp out on the bench I was sitting on all day long, somebody from the insurance office was going to sit down and look at my happy little smile. After about 30 minutes, a young woman came through the front doors and headed toward the office space I wanted to call my new home. She opened the front doors, turned the lights and sat down at the front computer. I gave her a few minutes to catch her breath. I made my way into the office space.

I put on my brightest smile. “Hello,” I said warmly.

The young gal looked at me and smiled back.

“I believe I have an interview for 9am this morning.” I continued.

“Okay let me give Jason a call.” She said.

She picked up the phone, “Hey your 9am interview is here. Umm.. I do not know. Uhhh yes…sure okay I will tell her.”

“Okay Jason will be in about 15 minutes. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable.” She said.

“Great thank you.” I replied.

I took a seat and thought about the magazine I had left in the lobby. I should have brought it in because I do not want to sit and stare at the wall. I pulled out my day planner and made it look like I was organizing something in my life.

As luck would have it, my new friend at the front desk was a chatty. I  learned they received over 500 resumes for this part-time position.

“I am sorry I was late today but I had to stop and pick up the mail at our old office.” She said.

“No problem.” I answered.

“Jason should be here soon. He is actually a friend of mine that is how I got this job.” She laughed.

“We all just came back from a weekend trip to Las Vegas.” She smiled

Hmm.. I thought to myself. I am not sure about how I feel about that idea. This gal was about half my age. I was getting the feeling we did not have much in common. I lied and said, “Really that is cool your employer paid for you to have a weekend in Las Vegas.” I said

“So what do you do now?” She asked.

“Well I am one of those casualties of the economy and lost my job. It is tough out there right now so I am bartending at the moment.” I said.

A young guy with curly blonde hair whipped through the front doors.

“Hi, sorry I am running late I will be with you in a moment. Uhh, actually just follow me back.” he said breathlessly.

I followed Jason into a conference room. “Well this is our conference room.” he said. “Have a seat.” He said.

I took out a fresh resume for him. I knew since he had been running around at Mach 2 speed this morning and had forgotten our interview he would need to be refreshed about my qualifications.

After my conversation with Chatty Kathy, I learned the guy sitting in front of me was 27 and it was his Daddy’s company.

He took his time looking at my resume.

“Uh huh, uh huh” she said while nodding his head. When he finished he put his hands on the table  and said,

“Well you are over qualified for this position. Why do you want to work here?” He looked at me.

Now my real answer floating in my head was because I do not have a Daddy to give me a job. However, I smiled my most charming smile I could muster and said,

“Look I would like to work in an industry that I know is going to be around. I have a lot to skills to offer a company. I have friends who work in the insurance industry and it seems to be somewhat stable. Job security is really important to me.” I finished.

“Well where do you see yourself in 5 years?” he asked.

There it was the question I most hated. I wonder if there is some unwritten rule in an interview that this stupid question must be asked by the employer or the 5-year plan association people fine them some exurbanite fee.

I took a breath looked directly into Jason’s eyes and said.

“Everyone has plans and goals but I have personally found life these days is more about figuring out how to maneuver around all of the stuff that life throws at you. I certainly did not plan on my father dying when I was 22. I did not plan on the economy taking the biggest dump in history since The Great Depression. My brother did not plan on his employer laying him off exactly a week after he told him that he and his wife were expecting their first child. It has been in my best interest to figure out how to not let things get in my way and to continue to move forward.” I finished.

I do not think Jason knew what to make of my answer. But it was the truth. It took him a moment to get back on track.

“Well we have more business then we know what to do with and that is why we are needing to add to our staff.” He said.

“You are very blessed and this is a nice thing to hear.” I smiled.

“Would you like a tour of the office?” He asked.

“I would love one,” I answered.

I think a tour of the office is a good sign. If he were not interested in my filling the position, he would not waste his time with a tour. There was not much to see in the office. He showed me to the part of the office that would have my cubicle. It was not much but it was more then I had now. And as he said in the interview, it was a position that could grow into different things.

“Jason, do you know when you would like to have the position filled?” I asked.

“By the end of the week,” He answered.

“If you are still seriously considering this position when you get home if you could shoot me an email,” he requested.

Something about the request felt strange and I could not put my finger on what it was. I mean why I would not want the job?

I held out my hand to shake his and said, “It was a pleasure to meet you.”

Regardless of sending my email to let him know I was interested in the position and several calls to the office I never heard from Jason. Probably a blessing in disguise. 

It seems to me that Laurie sealed her own fate here by answering questions in a bit of a defiant manner. Instead launching into a tirade indicating that she wanted job security, she could have given some plausible, believable reasons that she was applying for the job. She might have expressed a real interest in the organization itself or in the industry.

In describing her future plans, she could have given an answer that did not incorporate her personal story or that of her family. Clearly, she knew she had made the interviewer uncomfortable with her reply. She knew to be prepared for this question, and could have delivered an answer that would have appealed to a prospective employer and given her a chance to land the job and to turn it down.

In my estimation, the tour was just a way to end the interview, not a positive sign of an impending offer.

On the other hand, clearly, Laurie had pretty much made up her mind that this was not the right place for her. They were late for the interview, traveled as a team for fun and it was a family business. None of this added up in Laurie’s mind as a great opportunity. However, as a job seeker, it is important to follow through so that YOU are the one turning down the opportunity that is not right. “Throwing” an interview and not taking things seriously just makes this another in a series of negative job experiences.

How great would it have been for Laurie had she landed this job, and then decided whether or not it was not the right environment for her? She could have declined the job, but boosted her confidence level at the same time.

So – think about it…Are your “horror stories” someone else’s fault? Or, are you contributing to your own downward spiral?

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