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Commission-based jobs: What are they and should you pursue one?

Are you about to enter the world of commission-based employment, or are thinking about doing so? If so, then it’s in your best interest to do your homework and learn as much as you can about how it all works before jumping in—because things operate a little differently within this world than within other types of employment.

Commission-Based Jobs 101

At its core, the world of commission-based jobs is structured around a specific compensation model: a portion of your work earnings, which can range from an additional income on top of your full fixed salary to a specific percentage of your earnings (all the way up to 100% in some instances), comes from your ability to reach a pre-determined target goal within a specified timeframe.

Here’s an example:

You’ve just been hired as a salesperson for a company that sells telecommunications services and hardware to businesses in your local area. As part of your compensation package, you are given a modest guaranteed base salary, but also earn 1% commission on all annual sales for the first $100,000 in sales you close, and 5% commission on all annual sales above $100,000 that you make.

Under this structure, it’s easy to see why you’d be eager to sell—and sell hard. Sure, your base salary is guaranteed, but for salespeople, it’s often modest compensation. The real success comes from hard work and not just hitting your target annual sales goal, but absolutely crushing it and sending you commission soaring. (A quick reality check: do keep in mind that commission is still taxed income.) Also, a salesperson who consistently fails to hit their target sales goals might not find themselves employed for very long. This means that commission-based employment can be stressful, as you’re constantly vying to hit your targets.

Would you thrive in this work atmosphere?

If you’re thinking about entering this world and considering whether this type of work is right for you, make sure you’re the sort of worker who thrives under pressure. That said, the good news here is that as a commission-based employee, your earning potential is theoretically limitless (unless there is a pre-determined commission cap, which is not unheard of)—your compensation scales up with your level of determination and success.  

Keep in mind that the example provided is just that—one specific snapshot for one specific position. Commission-based compensation is not just relegated to the sales world; companies across many sectors are embracing this model to help employees strive toward achieving all types of target goals. Also, the deal points in commission-based compensation packages can vary wildly, based on such variables as industry, position, and your individual experience level. That said, there are often certain industry-wide standards that you can refer to in an effort to evaluate a job offer that you’re considering. For example, you can check out Glassdoor and Salary.com (among others) to find out what other folks in your field, position level, and geographical location are earning. (We suggest using these as rough guides, as actual compensation can vary.)

Know the specifics before you dive in

When working on a commission basis, you’re definitely going to want to know when you can expect to receive your commission checks, right? It’s a great question, but like most things in life it doesn’t have a “one size fits all” answer and will vary based on company, with most businesses following either a monthly, quarterly, or yearly payment model. Again, know what structure your prospective employer follows when evaluating a job offer, and make sure that it’s a structure that works for you.

Also keep in mind that a “probation period” is often factored into compensation for new hires, during which you may be primarily focused on learning and training for your new job (in addition to being evaluated by your new employer) and may not be earning a commission. This timeframe can vary and is an accepted facet of commission-based employment. Once again, the key takeaway here is to be fully aware of the many specifics of a job offer when determining if it’s right for you.

So … after learning the ins and outs of commission-based employment, your next step is to determine if it’s the right type of work for you. Are you the type of person who likes to have clearly defined target goals? Do you operate well under pressure? Are you comfortable with the uncertainty and variance in compensation? If so, then you may be well suited to pursue a job that offers a commission-based salary.

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Empowering diversity: how to be an ally at the office

Right now, the nature of diversity in our society is at the forefront of conversation for every business out there. How do we help build companies made up of teams that are truly inclusive? And although “diversity” has been a buzzword for a long time, both organizations and individuals are taking a serious, long-overdue look at what that truly means for them. People of color and people from underrepresented groups have often lead this kind of dialogue in the past, but as we look to boost more voices, it’s more important than ever to be a good ally.

Allies are people who are not necessarily a member of a traditionally underrepresented group, but actively work to support that group. In the workplace, that can feel like an extra uncomfortable conversation, with everyone frequently trying to maintain a professional level of distance from the hard social questions of the day and to avoid awkwardness. Yet collectively, we’ve reached a moment where avoiding the conversation is no longer helpful or possible. If you’re looking for ways to be a better ally in your own workplace, there are several ways to go about it.

Share your platform

When companies try to improve diversity, initially it often takes the form of getting feedback from employees. While all employees have a valuable perspective, one of the primary things you can do as an ally is to ask yourself, “Am I the best person to be speaking to this?” If someone from an underrepresented group would be able to speak more fully to the issue at hand, it’s right to yield the mic to your colleague.

For example, if you’re asked about your perspective on gender issues but you’re part of the majority gender group in the office, pass it off to someone who might have more direct insight. “I do see a lot of inequality here, but I think my colleague T has an interesting perspective on this.” Or if you’re asked to be the lead on something and know that a colleague would be an equal (or better) fit, suggest that person instead. (Of course, don’t blindside your colleagues by putting them on the spot if they’re reluctant. It’s better to discuss it with them beforehand, if possible.)

Be the mediator

We all know that any given workplace is made up of many different personalities—some more verbal and forceful than others. In meetings or other discussions, it’s not uncommon to see some voices dominate, while others are more content to hang back or hesitate. A good ally keeps an eye on all the voices and helps to amplify voices that might not otherwise be heard. Part of that is being a cheerleader: “V made a good point about the sales potential. V, can you expand more on how that would work?”

Being a mediator helps ensure that voices that might otherwise be marginalized are heard and that different perspectives are allowed into the conversation. And if you’re not really a “speak up in the public arena” person yourself, you can still be an ally—invite people to meetings where they can offer insight and gain recognition or give them the chance to speak in other ways (like email) by elevating their voice to people who might not otherwise know them.

Advocate for better representation

“See something, say something.” It’s a cliché, but it’s also a very effective way to be an ally. If you see that someone or a group isn’t being represented in a conversation or decisionmaking process, speak up. The exclusion may not be intentional. It’s possible that the powers that be will say, “Hey, you’re right, we should definitely have X in this conversation.” Or if the exclusion was intentional on some level, this adds public accountability. Those in charge will need to justify their decision to exclude a group from this discussion. Decisions that can affect people of all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, races, ages, religions, and physical abilities should have stakeholders across as many of those groups as possible, providing their perspective.

Being an ally goes beyond a hashtag or an “I’m with you” acknowledgment. It may not even be easy, because it involves taking a potentially uncomfortable look at the privilege and exclusion that exists in a place you go every day—and even within yourself. The more active you are in assessing your own behavior and working hard to boost others, the more you’re helping your workplace to be a better and more diverse place.

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5 reasons you should invest in employee development now

With everything so uncertain right now, it may be hard to see how your organization moves forward and where you should be focusing your resources. Many companies are concerned about the impacts of coronavirus and the economic downturn on their bottom lines, and the idea of focusing precious time and money on employee development may not be top of mind. Still, your organization should consider investing in your employee development right now. Let’s take a closer look at why.

1. It’s building your organization’s future

Honestly, many workers are just happy to have a job right now, and many companies are content to stay afloat while navigating choppy waters. However, things will likely calm down soon, and as the new normal settles in you’ll want to be prepared with the best workforce possible. Focusing on employee retention and development takes advantage of questions you’re likely already asking, such as what kind of leadership is working for your organization, what you need from your employees, and what kind of changes are coming your way.

2. It improves your employer brand

Employee-focused organizations get more positive feedback from current and former employees. In a world where online word of mouth can be everything, this is how you appeal to the best talent. When your team knows that you’re invested in their needs and their development, it builds good word-of-mouth and keeps great employees from seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Employee retention is one of the biggest challenges for any organization. If you’re retaining your best employees and keeping churn low by meeting employee needs and expectations, it enhances your reputation as a great place to work.

3. It gives you more insight into your employees’ potential

Part of any employee development program is assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current employee pool and identifying both areas for improvement and for the potential for promotion. This legwork helps build a pipeline of internal candidates for promotions or for open positions within the company.

Similarly, knowing any weak spots improves your fortunes as well—better to nip any issues in the bud at an early stage, when intervention can help you put the right people in the right places or move people away from areas where they’re not going to perform well.

4. Engaged employees are productive employees

Employee boredom or restlessness is rarely a good thing in any organization. It either hurts productivity as employees start to become emotionally distant from their jobs, or leads to quality employees looking elsewhere for a more satisfying job. The feedback and data you get during an employee development audit and implementation are essential to help you find ways to keep employees engaged and invested in the organization’s success.

Training programs, skill development programs, and asking employees for feedback are all ways to keep your workers from feeling disengaged or stagnant in their daily work.

5. Employee development makes good financial sense

Hiring is typically one of the biggest resource investments for any organization—searching for talent, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding are intricate processes that involve many touchpoints and significant costs. Having in-house talent you can use to fill leadership roles (or lateral roles in the company) helps cut down on the external hiring processes that you would otherwise need to do.

Whether you’re trying to attract new talent to your changed organizational landscape or keep the great employees you already have, a strong employee development program can help you get where you need to be—both in the short term and the long term. The time and attention you focus on growing employee skill sets and supporting their potential are some of the most important strategic tools you have as a hiring professional.

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4 job skills you need to succeed in a post-COVID world

We’re all acutely aware of the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the world—and each of our lives. In fact, it’s hard to envision a facet of daily living that hasn’t been affected by it, including the world of work. Many people have been unable to go into their workplaces to perform their job responsibilities, others are experiencing a rapid shift in how they do their jobs as they move towards remote working, millions have been laid off or furloughed by their employers, and workers and companies across all sectors and industries are facing a challenging and uncertain future.

As we try to make our way through these unprecedented times, all of these forces have led many of us to a powerful inflection point in our professional paths. We’re wondering what work will be like in a post-COVID world and what skills we’ll need to master to succeed on the other side of this pandemic. These are powerful and important considerations, and although it’s difficult to precisely determine how things will change in your specific industry or position, we can discern the types of skills that will likely set you up for successfully navigating the future of work.  Let’s take a closer look!

1. Flexibility

One element that’s certain in the work world moving forward is uncertainty. Companies and employees need to expect the unexpected and have the ability to pivot gracefully in response to unforeseen events and challenges. Whether you own your own business or work for someone else, your approach to work needs to come with a reasonable understanding that things may change at any moment and that everything from your work responsibilities to where and how you perform your job may need to shift accordingly. Flexible and patient employees who are willing to adapt to change will have a much better shot at thriving in the post-COVID work world than those who are more rigid and set in their ways.

2. Innovative thinking

Important lessons are often learned in challenging times, and the pandemic has taught all of us—businesses included—that sometimes creative thinking is required in order to effectively tackle unforeseen issues and survive in the face of uncertainty. In the post-COVID world, it’ll be more important than ever before for employees to be able to think of innovative approaches to work tasks and getting things done. The truth is, you never know when an unexpected curveball will come flying towards a business—in the form of a pandemic, aggressive competition, rapidly shifting industry conditions, or any manner of unanticipated problems. Those who can think of clever and ingenious ways to right the ship and steer through choppy waters will be best positioned to lead the pack, while everyone else will be struggling to keep up.

3. Comfort with technology

To state the obvious, the COVID-19 outbreak was an unprecedented disruption for all businesses. That said, there were clear differences in how companies responded to the situation and how quickly they were able to strategize, get back up to speed, and stay productive during the pandemic—and a key factor was their ability to leverage available technology to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Smart companies across industries will emerge from the pandemic with a renewed appreciation for employees with the requisite tech skills to be able to perform a wide variety of evolving work tasks from anywhere using the latest and greatest technology—and you better believe that this will factor into their hiring strategies moving forward.

4. Professional maturity

In challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic when many of us were charged with working from home, monitoring our own work schedules, managing projects, and maintaining productivity while juggling a wide array of life events, responsibilities, and emotions as life-altering events unfolded all around us wasn’t easy. It often required a high level of personal and professional maturity to stay focused, make the best of the challenging situation, and figure out new ways to stay on task and follow projects through their successful completion. You can count on the fact that employers took notice of the importance of having mature employees on their teams to make it through difficult situations. Looking for and hiring self-motivated people who hold themselves accountable will remain a key job requirement as companies look to hire in the post-COVID work world.

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to rethink how various aspects of society operate—including how we approach work. Although no one can predict the future, it’s highly likely that the post-COVID work world will continue to undergo some dramatic shifts. If you’re eager to set yourself up for success in this new professional era, consider polishing your skills in the areas mentioned here. Good luck!

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How HR can help shape success strategies

With everything up in the air for virtually every kind of organization right now, forcing us all into a “what now?” mode, it can be tempting to hang back and wait until things are clearer. As HR, though, you don’t really have that luxury—so it’s time to embrace a new model of change management and start proactively shaping re-entry strategies for your organization.

Be the messenger

Right now, messaging is everything. People want their employers to cut through the noise and the anxiety and offer a clear path, and as HR you’re in a great position to do just that. People are uncertain about how to come back to work (and even why, in some cases), so effective HR leaders provide a baseline message that carries throughout an organization.

Give members of your organization a vision they can embrace moving forward. It’s likely your organization already has some form of a mission or values statement, but now is the time to revamp that to show where you’re going in the future. No one can see the future, of course, but uncertainty is not the tone you want to strike here. And you don’t want to outline sunshine-y goals that will be difficult, if not impossible.

What you can do is map out a realistic path forward for the next year, two years, and three years. Be realistic. If there’s a vaccine in six months, what does your business look like? If it’s a year or more until there’s a vaccine, how would your company’s main goals change?

Set realistic expectations

No one knows what to expect from the workplace in the near future. Is everyone working remotely? What does an office look like in the era of personal distance and masks? Whatever your plan is for moving forward, make sure you’re being clear with employees what they can expect to see. Maybe that’s only a subset of employees in the office at any given time. Maybe it’s remodeled workspaces to keep everyone distant, with limited contact within the office. Whatever you’re envisioning with your organization’s leadership, be upfront with employees. Regular check-ins and updates can help prepare employees for re-entry.

Focus on the people

A cheesy-but-more-true-than-ever motto throughout this crisis has been, “We’re all in this together.” As things inch back to normal (whatever that may be), don’t let that focus on empathy and collaboration slip away. The strength of a company isn’t always in its balance sheet—you know better than anyone in your organization that its people are the strength.

One way to show your employees that you value them is to give them insight and input into the new world at work. While few organizations are true democracies, people are more likely to engage and accept new protocols if they don’t feel like they’re being lectured from on high. Surveys and opportunities to give feedback can help everyone feel like they’re contributing to the team effort.

Patience will also be key for all organizations. People are facing more challenges at home than ever, and organizations that seem cold and focused on nothing but the business will likely find it difficult to get back up to speed. Communication should focus on well-being and safety, and acknowledge that everyone may be under stress (which rarely brings out the best in any of us). Your messaging should also reinforce the value that team members bring to the whole—no matter what their roles.

For many of us, “success” will include not only resuming (or rebuilding) normal operations, but also finding ways to feel secure and fulfilled in our work again. In HR, you’re the change agents leading everyone back to a work day that has less volatility. If you’re communicating clearly and empathetically and providing a human touchstone for all members of your organization, you’ll be well-equipped to overcome the challenges.

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5 ways your job will change, post-pandemic

No matter what industry you’re in, the work world has changed very dramatically in the past few months. From total shutdowns to the essential workforce, virtually no one is working in the same exact way they were before COVID-19 began to spread. So what does that mean for your own job, even if you’ve been working all through this crisis?

1. Physical distance and masks will become the norm

Retail, food service, healthcare, and other fields where being present is non-negotiable are among the first to undergo the drastic physical changes that many other industries are about to experience. Whenever possible, workers will be kept physically apart. And when that’s not possible, masks, gloves, and new sanitary procedures are going to become the norm.

For many office-based jobs, this presents a challenge—especially in an open office plan. How do you keep everyone healthy and safe when people are only a few feet from each other, breathing and collaborating in the open air? Many companies will need to rethink their office layouts and restrict access to common areas. Many of us may find that our workplaces require the use of masks during the workday. Meetings may look totally different as well, with people calling in from their own desks instead of gathering in closed spaces together.

2. Home is the new office

With many states will under shelter-in-place orders, people who can do their jobs remotely have been working from home. Even after the orders lift this will likely still be the case for many companies. It’s a safer option for companies and employees in the short term, especially for those who rely on public transportation to get to and from work. And moving forward, it may be the more economical option for companies that are struggling with lower revenues and ballooning costs.

Even after we’re back to some version of “normal,” many companies may decide that it’s better for the bottom line to keep employees on a work-from-home model, rather than paying the expensive overhead costs of having everyone present in an office. A recent survey by research firm Gartner found that 74% of organizations plan to shift at least some of their in-person employees to a more permanent WFH model. Some tech companies like Facebook are reportedly considering giving all of their employees the option to work-from-home, forever. Many companies will likely follow suit, to some extent.

3. Coworker relationships and meetings will be different

So many of our coworker bonds are forged by shared events like happy hours, lunches together, or projects where everyone hunkered down and worked in close quarters. If we’re all Zooming instead of meeting, a lot of those friendships and working relationships will look different. All of us will need to work a little harder to communicate with our colleagues.

Meetings will also likely become longer and more frequent, as we’ll be missing those usual small checkpoints (stopping by someone’s desk to ask a question, or having stand-up meetings that are brief). As anyone who’s done a video or audio meeting can attest, it can be much harder to get everyone understood and on the same page when we’re all subject to Wi-Fi issues, distractions, and the challenges of communicating remotely.

4. Business travel may go extinct

During the pandemic, travel (business or otherwise) has dropped to almost nothing as people stay home. Even as the world starts opening up again, travel will likely be one of the last areas to get back to normal. It may be years before conferences are safe again, and in-person meetings are also likely to be replaced by digital meetups. As companies figure out how to connect employees, customers, clients, and stakeholders remotely, many will likely decide that the travel risks and costs just aren’t worth the hassle, when a Zoom meeting or call would do.

5. Medical screenings may become mandatory

With medical privacy laws being what they are, most of us aren’t accustomed to our employers having access to our health data, let alone making active use of it on a daily basis. However, as businesses open back up, many organizations may start requiring temperature checks and virus or antibody tests as a prerequisite for merely showing up for work.  Some of the biggest-name employers in the country, like Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks, have already started implementing temperature checks for their employees.

While the work that needs to be done may not change all that much, the way we do it—and where we do it—is likely to look very different for the foreseeable future. Take the time now at home to familiarize yourself with the new normal so it’s not such a shock when, bit by bit, work life starts to make changes post-Covid.

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How COVID-19 is ushering in the digital new frontier

In the short span of just a few months, most of our lives have changed completely. We still don’t know just yet what will come back, what won’t, and how we’ll deal with what comes next. As a country, we shifted from “things look pretty good” to “worst economy since the Great Depression” with alarming speed. With so much unemployment and uncertainty now dominating our lives, how do you try to prepare for what comes next in your career? As we look to a post-pandemic future and getting back to work, here are some ways your job search will be dominated by the new digital frontier.

Don’t wait for everything to “open up”

Many states are still under official stay-at-home orders. But as much of the country starts to consider phased re-openings, some companies are planning to resume business as well—even in “closed” areas. If you’re newly unemployed (or were searching before life as we knew it derailed), you may already feel discouraged about the opportunities out there, knowing how much is shut down right now. But you might be surprised at the chances to work remotely or to get your foot in the door as companies start to ramp up their staffing plans.

Now is the time to get back into a more normal job search mode, scouring job boards and company websites to see what jobs are starting to open up—even if brick-and-mortar workplaces are still closed.

Use this time to work on your digital brand

Some people are nurturing sourdough starters to bake bread, while others find themselves teaching math to their kids. Whatever your new routines have become during this quarantine time, reviewing and improving your digital brand is a good habit to build into your days. When is the last time you brushed up your LinkedIn profile? Could your old Twitter account be tweaked to show off your professional interests and engagement? What comes up when you Google yourself?

By making sure your online presence looks good, you’ll be an even better candidate for job opportunities when they come up. With a reduced-contact hiring process, companies are likely to do more thorough digital vetting than ever, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re already in good shape. This is also a chance to learn new skills by taking advantage of online courses or tutorials to help you build out your brand.

Expect video interviews to be the new norm

As companies start to reopen and reassess what their staffing needs will be in this rebuilding era, you can expect to see more of the Zoom-ification we’ve been experiencing. Social distancing and travel restrictions will absolutely mean fewer in-person interviews and more phone/video chat/Skype-style interviews.

How you prep for these interviews will change too. You’ll still need classic interview skills like (virtual) eye contact and small talk, but others (like a strong handshake) may be gone for a long time—if not forever. You’ll want to practice not only in the mirror, but also in a FaceTime dry run, to see how you come across onscreen.

Video interviews also mean embracing one of the hardest (and often hilarious) lessons of the Zoom era: making sure you’re not showing anything embarrassing. You don’t want your job interview going viral due to wayward pets, kids, or inappropriate background noises. Make sure you have a calm, quiet space where you can conduct video interviews as necessary. (And always, always wear pants, just to be on the safe side!)

Be prepared to work from home

As we rebuild and reopen, companies will be facing a new reality when it comes to their workforce. While industries like food service and healthcare will always have a significant in-person component, many industries have quickly developed and implemented work-from-home strategies to meet urgent public health needs. This means that some of us may not set foot in a traditional office for a long time, as companies shift to a more digital-centric strategy for their facilities and offices.

This year has presented so many of us with the biggest challenges of our lives—medically, economically, socially. Still, the world is resilient. Although things might look a little different moving forward, it’s vital to be ready to get back to work, no matter what your situation may look like.

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4 reasons why younger mentors can help you succeed

Those of us who’ve been in the work world for a while know how powerful and influential a mentor can be. Simply put, a good mentor is worth their weight in gold, and can help mold, shape, and guide you toward a successful and fulfilling career journey, as well as help you build your skills, develop the right network, and set you on a path to achieving your professional goals. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to connect with a helpful mentor during the formative stages of our professional development can attest to this fact.

Traditionally, mentors are viewed as older individuals, folks who have spent a significant amount of time in their field and have gained the requisite wisdom, experience, and seasoning to effectively “pay it forward” to the next generation of workers. It’s also a well-worn facet of human psychology that we instinctively trust and look toward older people for advice and guidance, so seeking out an older person to guide us tends to fit our prepackaged mental schemas about what a mentor should be.

But does it have to be this way?

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that, regardless of industry, the ways of doing things in the work world are rapidly changing. Everything from a rapid influx of technological innovation and fresh new ways of creative thinking, to a volatile yet increasingly interconnected global economy and shifting social and cultural norms and expectations, are disrupting convention and leading to new ways of operating.

That said, since everything else in the work world is being rethought, and so many traditional standards and practices are being tossed into the dustbin of history to make way for a new modern sensibility, then maybe it’s time for old ideas about mentorship to follow suit. Perhaps it’s time to think about embracing the concept of having a younger mentor to help you succeed? There are some very good reasons for considering a younger mentor to help guide you through today’s complex and rapidly shifting work world. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these.

Age doesn’t always mean more wisdom or more professional drive

First off, age isn’t everything, and when it comes to work it
isn’t an automatic badge of success or wisdom, especially not these days. The
truth is, there are plenty of maverick younger professionals who have gained a
great deal of expertise in their respective fields during their comparatively
short tenures—valuable expertise that you can potentially benefit from.

Furthermore, younger mentors may also come equipped with extra energy and enthusiasm compared to their older counterparts (though this is another well-worn myth that doesn’t always hold true), along with novel ways of thinking and approaching projects and tasks—key variables that might be quite helpful when figuring out how to stay current in a work world that seems to be changing at a breakneck pace.

Tech savvy is necessary to thrive in the work world today

This notion can be especially true when it comes to navigating new technology that may be sweeping through your industry. The truth is, younger people are typically more adept at adopting new tools and can help their older colleagues master them effectively. Staying relevant in today’s work world is an especially important topic for older workers, so for this reason alone a younger mentor is worth considering.

In a time of career transitions, look to company experts

A younger mentor can also be helpful if you’re in the midst of a career change. The reality is, when transitioning to a new career field, which more older workers are apt do today than ever before, you often have to start at the bottom—which means that there are plenty of things you could potentially learn from someone younger who’s possibly only been in the field for a few years.

You can help out while getting help yourself

One more key takeaway involves the very nature of the mentor/mentee connection itself—and that’s the notion that at its core, it should be a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship. Both mentor and mentee can and should benefit from their time spent together, so being older than your mentor may just help you hold up your end of the bargain. While you’re learning some new tricks from a younger mentor, you’ll be in the position to impart some of your wisdom and experience to them, making it a win-win situation from everyone involved.

A mentor is a mentor, no matter what age. If you’re looking for someone to help you find professional footing, consider a person’s experience, temperament, and company or industry knowledge before you even think of writing them off if they’re in their twenties or thirties.

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Interviewing candidates in difficult times

Interviewing is always a challenging affair—both for hiring managers and for candidates—but things get especially tricky when events in the world make it difficult to even meet up. A global pandemic, like that being experienced as the ongoing coronavirus impacts the world, certainly exceeds the criteria for a tough interview situation.

On top of the widespread health and economic impacts the pandemic have had across the planet, creating a tsunami of despair and uncertainty, there has also been a wave of social changes taking place that many of us have never experienced before. The concept of responsible social distancing, which more and more individuals, businesses, towns, cities, states, and even countries are adopting as each day passes, makes holding interviews a real logistical challenge.

Thankfully, we live in the digital age—where once holding interviews in a time of maintaining social distance would have been nearly impossible in bygone eras, today it’s a different story. There are now plenty of options for employers to connect with candidates. However, along with these advances come some potential issues and concerns.

The logistics of setting up an interview remotely aren’t too difficult to work through. Once the primary questions regarding what type of interview you’d like to hold (audio, video, etc.) and the platform you’d like to use (Zoom, Teams, Skype, Webex, and even the telephone, etc.) are answered, all you need to do is schedule a time and make sure everyone involved has the right software.

That said, some of the nuances and benefits of meeting candidates face to face can be lost. Simply put, there’s just something beneficial about being in a room with someone and having the opportunity to gauge synergy and body language in person in order to fully evaluate someone during an interview. After all, you’re looking to hire someone who you and your team will likely be interacting with on a regular basis, so you want to make sure they’re a good fit. So, while moving candidates through the early stages of your company’s HR pipeline and interview process can benefit from existing technology, actually hiring someone based solely on remote interactions can be tricky.

Also, using technology to interview during difficult times brings up some other concerns. Regardless of what side of the “virtual interview desk” you happen to be on, note that even the best computers and software are prone to unforeseen technical glitches. Make sure that your setup is operational and running smoothly prior to the actual interview—things like video freezes, poor audio connections, and disconnects, while understood as things that “just happen” to all of us, certainly won’t help make an interview successful. Make sure that other things like what you’re wearing (a video interview is not an excuse to dress casually) and the backdrop of your video environment (make sure nothing embarrassing is lurking in the background) are appropriate at well.

Doing a run-through beforehand is highly recommended, especially if you’re not used to talking in front of a camera or holding video meetings. It is a different experience from a face-to-face conversation, and like most things in life, practice is always helpful. If you can connect with someone you trust who can offer you an honest and helpful critique of your performance, even better.

What’s the bottom line when it comes to interviewing in difficult times, like during the current coronavirus scare? Everyone is doing the best they can, and interviewees understand that your circumstances are as strange as theirs. The work world should and will push forward, and the need for businesses to interview in an effort to appropriately staff their teams and meet their goals remains essential. Just do your best to remain as welcoming and professional as you would in a face-to-face setting. Although there are events that occur during a global pandemic that may make hiring and interviewing seem less important than before, in light of the seriousness of what’s going on around the world, the reality is that life goes on—even in the most difficult of times.

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3 steps to writing a cover letter that will get you hired

The challenge of getting a new job is greater today than ever before, due to a number of factors—including the recent events disrupting the global economy and impacting businesses across all industries and sectors worldwide, as well as a huge resultant surge in people searching for new employment opportunities.

These are indeed challenging times, which means that it’s absolutely mission-critical for you to be at your unequivocal best if you want to grab and hold the attention of recruiters, hiring managers, and HR personnel to lock down a new job.

Chief among your objectives when ramping up an effective job search is to craft the foundational template for a pitch-perfect cover letter. (Of course, your letters should be personalized for each job you apply for—more on that later.) In fact, the right cover letter may just turn out to be the single most important weapon in your job search arsenal.

Why? Simply put, it’s all about the power of first impressions. For most of us on the job hunt trail, our cover letter is the first opportunity to show who we are to the individuals who stand as the gatekeepers between us and the next position on our career journeys. First impressions can be incredibly potent—they can go a long way toward shaping how people define you and can be quite difficult to overcome and alter once they’re set.

Clearly, it’s in your best interest to take your cover letters seriously. Consider the following strategies for writing letters that will help you grab the attention of hiring personnel and get you noticed—and hopefully hired.

1. Always personalize

Besides having sentences full of misspellings and grammatical errors, there’s nothing worse than pumping out “one size fits all” boilerplate letters that simply swap out the company name and date and leave the main body as a drab, impersonal, and often ineffective effort. Any hiring manager worth their title can spot these letters a mile away, and they’re often red flags when it comes to evaluating candidates—for good reason. If you’re going to show such a lackluster effort when the stakes are this high and fail to make a compelling case why you’re interested in their specific company and why you’d be a good fit for their team, then what would make them think that you’d be a real asset if hired? Smart candidates personalize each and every letter they send out and make it clear that they’ve done their homework and have a genuine interest in the companies they’re applying to.

2. Tell a story

Recruiters and HR personnel who are in the midst of hiring for a position (or many positions) have very limited time and attention to give to each candidate and cover letter—especially after having sifted through a huge stack of them. That said, letters that are simply dull reiterations of a candidate’s qualifications may fail to register or have a meaningful impact on their audience. Conversely, letters that poignantly (and succinctly!) tell the story of who you are, both as a candidate and as a person, can really help you rise above the competition and stand out on hiring radars—a crucial element of the job search formula. Don’t forget, hiring personnel aren’t just hiring a set of qualifications, they’re hiring people. Make sure you represent exactly the kind of person and employee you will be within their organization.

3. Demonstrate value

Sure, you want your eagerness and passion to come across when crafting a cover letter, and you want readers to get the impression that getting the job is important to you. But if your cover letter stops there, then chances are it isn’t going to open many doors for you. The real mission of a truly effective cover letter should be the opposite—to demonstrate what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you. After all, there’s a reason they’re reading your letter in the first place—they have a specific need that they’re looking to take care of in order to benefit their organization. If you can show in your letter how you can not only meet that need but also demonstrate added value to help them achieve new levels of success, then you’ll really be setting yourself up to make a great first impression.

If you’re on the job hunt and eager to find your next great opportunity, use the strategies and advice presented here to help your cover letters make a great first impression and have a lasting positive impact. Good luck!

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