3 job search hacks that will get you hired

In today’s winner-take-all, ultra-competitive job market, smart candidates take full advantage of every opportunity to get ahead of the competition in order to get noticed and be taken seriously by today’s savvy hiring managers. Simply put, if you’re not approaching your job search with this level of all-or-nothing seriousness, then you’re putting yourself at a […]

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In today’s winner-take-all, ultra-competitive job market, smart candidates take full advantage of every opportunity to get ahead of the competition in order to get noticed and be taken seriously by today’s savvy hiring managers. Simply put, if you’re not approaching your job search with this level of all-or-nothing seriousness, then you’re putting yourself at a tremendous disadvantage—and are making it easier for more engaged candidates to succeed.

So, unless you just like the process of hunting for jobs with no end in sight, then it’s time to start taking your job search game to the next level. Regardless of your industry, age, background, skill set, or experience level, there are tried and tested hacks that you can take advantage of to help you cut through the competition, get off the job search treadmill, and lock down your next great job opportunity.

Maintain authenticity

These days, it’s harder than ever before to connect meaningfully with an HR manager or hiring personnel. They’re usually swamped with resumes and cover letters from highly polished candidates with similar backgrounds who overpromise and work tirelessly to come off as improbably flawless—so much so that it can be hard to tell one from another. If you aim to be the “perfect candidate,” not only will you get lost in the crowd, but you also will seem too good to be true to folks who have been in the recruiting world for a while and have incredibly sharp lie detection skills. Trying to put one past them can be a real risk.

Make the choice to be authentic at every stage of the job search process—avoid over-embellishing, exaggerating, and making outright lies. When telling the story of who you are on your documents and in interviews, be honest, forthright, and humble. Not only will it free you from the stress and anxiety of possibly getting tripped up by a lie, but you’ll come off as more relaxed, confident, and personable along the way—all wins for you.

Demonstrate value

Don’t be the candidate who expects the skies to open and the curtains to part for them when they’re on the job hunt trail. Remember, the purpose here is not for companies to show you how they can meet your needs and convince you that they’re worth devoting your time and effort—it’s the reverse. Your primary mission when hunting for a job is to demonstrate your value and show companies how you would be a real asset to their teams, not vice versa. Focus on explaining that you can recognize and anticipate their needs (and capably meet them), and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition—and several steps ahead of those entitled candidates who make all the wrong moves.

Do your homework

An unprepared candidate rarely finds success on the job hunt. Make sure that you’re fully prepared for every interaction you have, whether over email, during a phone conversation, or on an interview. Be well versed in the latest news, trends, and tools in your industry and learn what you can about each target company you meet with, including ideas for helping them relieve their pain points and ways that you can help them reach their target goals.

Don’t just keep this valuable info holstered in case it comes up—be proactive and showcase what you know when appropriate. The stakes are simply too high to leave things to chance, and you’ll put yourself one step ahead of candidates who spent more time picking out an interview outfit than preparing effectively.

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How to stand out in a group interview

If you’ve been in the work world for a while or are searching for your first big break, you’re undoubtedly aware that there are few things as stressful as being on the hunt for a new job. On top of the fact that it’s a high-stakes, winner-take-all experience and the competition today is fiercer than […]

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If you’ve been in the work world for a while or are searching for your first big break, you’re undoubtedly aware that there are few things as stressful as being on the hunt for a new job. On top of the fact that it’s a high-stakes, winner-take-all experience and the competition today is fiercer than ever before, you typically have to go through the entire process many times before finding success—and every step of the way can be an anxiety-filled event.

Perhaps no step during the job search process fills candidates with more dread and worry than the interview, and for good reason—it’s the moment that allows no do-overs or second chances, where the impression you make and your ability to thrive under pressure and sell yourself is fully put to the test. It’s the time when top-tier candidates rise above the competition and move into the realm of serious consideration, while everyone else is left behind. Who wouldn’t feel the pressure when an interview is on the horizon?

And on top of all that, some employers decide to turn up the heat on candidates even more and subject them to the often-dreaded group interview. Although this type of interview can take on many forms, the gist is simple: candidates are placed in a group discussion with other candidates and are left to either distinguish themselves and make a positive impression or get left behind. Thriving in an interview environment amidst a group of similarly eager applicants can be tricky for even the savviest and most skilled interviewee.

Luckily, you’re not alone here—a little advanced prep can make a world of difference. The following tips can help you make the most of your next group interview.

Arrive early

We’re not saying show up hours early here, but arriving about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview can make a big difference. Not only will it demonstrate that you’re a punctual individual who’s taking the interview seriously, but it may also give you a chance to get some valuable face time and make a good first impression with interviewers before the other candidates arrive.

Volunteer to go first

It’s been said that fortune favors the bold, and this holds true on group interviews. If an opportunity arises to respond first to a question, then seize it—it will give you the chance to showcase your confidence and will also help you avoid having your answer seem boring or repetitive if it’s similar to someone else’s who speaks before you.

Don’t hide

Part of what’s being assessed in a group interview is your ability to stand out from others and make your voice heard. So, don’t take a “hide in the back of the room and only speak when spoken to” approach here—it will only make you a forgettable face in the crowd. Taking every opportunity to speak and have your thoughts heard during a group interview is the best way to make sure hiring personnel remember you when the interview is over.

Compliment your competition

This often-overlooked strategy is a great way to appear gracious, well-mannered, and poised during a group interview. Sure, everyone in the room knows it’s a competition, but throwing eye daggers or verbal barbs won’t help you make a positive impression. Instead, compliment a particularly on-point comment made by another candidate —it can really give off the impression that you’re a thoughtful person and someone enjoyable to have as a colleague. (But please don’t overdo it—everyone can tell when someone is being super-fake.)

Leave a lasting impression

When the interview is over, don’t just quietly slither out of the room. Instead, take the opportunity to personally thank your interviewer(s) and consider making one last comment or compliment to help you leave a lasting impression. Again, it’s all about standing out, and those who chose to do so before leaving are going to help make the case that they’re a candidate worth serious consideration.

If you have a group interview coming up, or just want to be prepared for one in case it ever does come up along the job hunt trail, then consider using the strategies presented here to help you stand out from the crowd. Good luck!

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The dos and don’ts of an exit interview

It’s been said that every journey has a beginning and an end, and our career journeys are no different. Most of us start our trek through the work world with lofty goals, some semblance of a plan, and a desire to succeed. Hopefully, with a little luck and a lot of effort, we get to […]

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It’s been said that every journey has a beginning and an end, and our career journeys are no different. Most of us start our trek through the work world with lofty goals, some semblance of a plan, and a desire to succeed. Hopefully, with a little luck and a lot of effort, we get to realize some or all of these goals, but those of us who’ve been in the work world for a while quickly come to realize that things rarely go precisely according to plan. Some jobs turn out to be life-changing opportunities, while others may fail to live up to expectations or not last as long as we’d hoped—and like all things good and bad, they inevitably come to an end.

Leaving a job is an almost unavoidable aspect of our career journeys—these days, very few of us stay in one job for our entire work lives. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average worker will hold over a dozen jobs across their lifetime. Simply put, leaving a job (hopefully for greener pastures) is a facet of professional life that we all need to get used to.

When some jobs end, there’s an exit interview component to the process. Exit interviews serve a dual purpose. They allow employers to gather valuable feedback from those who know the company best, leading them to learn, make necessary adjustments and helpful improvements, and evolve. It also allows soon-to-be-former employees to express their feelings about a variety of company-related issues, which can be a helpful and cathartic process while coping with the loss of a job.

That said—an exit interview should not be approached as a reckless free-for-all or an opportunity to unload and rant at will about everything you’ve ever disliked about the company during your tenure. Remember, it never helps you to burn a potential bridge as you travel through your career path—especially if you ever need to provide a reference when you’re back on the job search trail.

If you’re about to enter an exit interview, consider the following dos and don’ts to ensure that it’s a helpful and productive experience.

Do be constructive

Above all else, your exit interview will be your final opportunity to provide the company with helpful ideas to make improvements and ensure that current and future employees have a positive environment to work in. So, if your company uses exit interviews as part of its HR process for outgoing employees, why not take the opportunity to make it a productive experience? Do your best to answer each question thoughtfully and provide constructive feedback where possible. Wouldn’t you want your colleagues to do the same if they were leaving before you?

Don’t brush off the experience

Some people choose not to take exit interviews seriously. Instead, they simply shut down, watch the clock, barely speak, contribute nothing meaningful, and just wait for the opportunity to bolt out of the room. Bad move. Don’t approach the interview as a throwaway moment or something to quickly get through. Instead, invest some time to think carefully and critically about your tenure so you’ll be able to provide valuable feedback during the experience—it’ll likely be your last chance to do so, so make it count.

Do be honest

It’s often been said that honesty is the best policy, and this holds true for exit interviews. When fielding questions during the process, make sure you answer with care. Avoiding or obfuscating the truth, or simply flat-out lying will only ensure that the feedback you provide will not help the company improve and will not lead to a better work environment for others—a real lose-lose result.

Don’t be angry

Yes, sometimes leaving a job can be an emotionally volatile time, especially if it wasn’t your choice and you’re anxious or stressed out about what will happen next. But that doesn’t mean that you should approach an exit interview as your chance to unload all of your angry or charged feelings onto the unfortunate individual conducting the experience. It will not only make you seem unprofessional and immature, but it will also leave a bad (and potentially lasting) final impression, and likely lead to any feedback you do have not to be taken seriously. Instead, rise above and do your best to handle the exit interview in a professional and mature manner.

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The 5 people you should have as a reference

Handing over a list of references to a potential new employer can feel like tricky business. If you don’t have a job offer in hand, you might be worried about your job search getting back to your current employer. If you’re just starting out, you may worry that you don’t yet have a good go-to […]

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Handing over a list of references to a potential new employer can feel like tricky business. If you don’t have a job offer in hand, you might be worried about your job search getting back to your current employer. If you’re just starting out, you may worry that you don’t yet have a good go-to list of professional references.

No matter what stage you’re in, these 5 types of people make great references for any job search.

1. Past bosses

This is one of the many reasons you shouldn’t burn bridges when you leave a job: one day, your previous boss could be a great asset to a job search. Most of the time, people are doing a job search on the DL and don’t want to broadcast that fact to their current boss. So how do you find a person who knows you, your work style, and your achievements, but also won’t be offended by your current job hunt? Look to your past! Recent bosses are best because they know you (more or less) now, but any previous boss can testify to your skills and general personality.

2. Past supervisors

This may seem similar to a previous boss, but it’s not always. A supervisor may have been someone who managed you on a project or a limited basis, even if you technically reported to someone else. Don’t forget them when you’re thinking of people who might be familiar with your working style and history.

3. Colleagues

Colleagues can be great references because they see your on-the-ground work in ways that a boss or supervisor might not. You’ll want to pick someone who’s familiar with your work and your achievements—not necessarily your happy hour buddy or the colleague with whom you casually discuss sports or TV.

One caveat: colleagues from a past job are safest, but if you think that a trusted current colleague can be discreet it’s fine to ask them to be a reference too. Just know that if you choose a current colleague, there’s a possibility that news of your job search could reach others in your company.

4. Professional friends from your network

A friend or mentor within your industry or a mentor can be a great reference, even if they haven’t worked with you directly, because they can speak to your professional skills and goals. A professional friend shouldn’t replace a boss or colleague on your reference list, but they can certainly help round out the list and praise you and your career path.

Before you use someone from your network as a reference, make sure you’re currently in touch with them and let them know what you’re applying for, what skills or accomplishments you’d like to focus on, and where you see your career going within this new company.

5. Professors or academic contacts

If you’re just starting out of school, even if you don’t have a lot of job experience (or professional colleagues) to mine for your reference list, you might have worked with professors in areas related to the job you’re seeking. A professor who knows you fairly well can testify to your skills, your strengths, and your work ethic.

If you’re going to use a professor, make sure it’s one that you worked with closely. Picking someone who might not be able to pick you out of a lineup of 40 other students won’t make for a good reference experience.

With any reference you provide, make sure you give the person a heads-up that they may be contacted by X company to talk about hiring you for Y position. If the person is blindsided, they might not be able to give a thoughtful, detailed reference on your behalf. Most people are happy to give good references if they have a heads-up and know your current professional situation.

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6 questions recruiters always ask—and how to answer them

While you can’t anticipate which exact questions you’re going to be asked in a job interview situation, recruiters can actually be pretty predictable and consistent when it comes to their interview content. Recruiters are trying to suss out whether you’ll be a good fit for their openings, so the baseline questions are often very similar. […]

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While you can’t anticipate which exact questions you’re going to be asked in a job interview situation, recruiters can actually be pretty predictable and consistent when it comes to their interview content. Recruiters are trying to suss out whether you’ll be a good fit for their openings, so the baseline questions are often very similar. With a little prep, you can be ready for the universe of most common questions.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is a common icebreaker in just about any “getting to know” you setting, not just interviews. It’s always smart to have your elevator pitch ready to go. Don’t worry about providing a comprehensive autobiography for this question…that is definitely not what the recruiter is after. The question is meant to assess how you present yourself, not necessarily the information you present (though that’s certainly important too).

The best way to approach this one is to have a two-minute or so spiel that summarizes your professional career so far, your biggest accomplishments, and your goals. Be brief; your resume will speak for itself, and you’ll be getting other questions as well. Think of it as your opening statement.

2. Tell me about your current (or most recent) job.

Again, this is ground that will be covered in your resume, so you don’t need to go into every daily detail of your current work life. It’s best to give a quick overview of what you’re doing now—your main areas of responsibility, your biggest accomplishments or achievements in your current role, and even what you like and dislike about the job itself. This isn’t a sounding board for your gripes about your current employer, but you can talk about what works for you overall—and what doesn’t.

3. What’s your biggest achievement?

This is an opening for you to humblebrag about what you do well and what you’ve accomplished. But it also tells the recruiter something about your professional values and how you present yourself. Before you interview, come up with three or four specific accomplishments that you can point to as examples. Before your meeting with the recruiter, review the job description (if one is available) to decide which of your accomplishments can be tailored to that specific company.

4. What’s your biggest weakness?

One of the recruiter’s challenges is finding people who will fit in well with job openings they’re working to fill, or for potential future openings. They’re sensitive to company cultures and values, and when they talk to you they want to know that you’re able to present well. So when you’re asked about weaknesses or failures in your past, it’s not about getting you to admit to something. It’s about seeing how you’ve tackled challenges in your career, how you’ve gotten past them, and what you’ve learned. Recruiters also have very strong BS detectors, so if you answer “what’s your biggest weakness?” with “I work too hard” or “I love my job too much,” you’re likely to get an eye roll (even if they don’t let you see it).

The key here is to identify what you’re continuing to work
on in your career. We all have those spots where there’s room for improvement.
So this could be something like, “I tend to take on too much by myself, so I’m
continually looking for ways to help create space for my team members to work
together on projects.” The important thing is focusing on what you know is an
ongoing challenge for you, and what you’re doing to work on it.

5. What is your next step?

This is a question that isn’t necessarily about specific opportunities or job openings, but rather to find out what you might be looking for. It’s a chance to let the recruiter know your immediate (and future) career goals so that they can help you find a good fit, wherever that may be.

6. Are you working with other recruiters?

This is a question of self-interest for any recruiter, but it also tells them a lot about what kind of job searcher you are. If you are actively working with any other recruiters, you don’t have to hide that fact. But if you’re working with a lot of recruiters and have been for a long time, it tells the recruiter that you might be a constant candidate, which can be problematic. It’s better to be honest here, but before you even get to that point consider working with fewer recruiters of better quality.

The key to answering any question from a recruiter is preparing. Always have specific points about yourself and your career, and don’t forget to rehearse them! The recruiter interview is all about how you present yourself, so you want to make sure it’s as smooth and knowledgeable as possible.

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3 steps to finding success at your new job

When you’re starting a new job, there’s a lot to be excited about. You’re at the beginning of a significant new chapter in your professional life that could be filled with amazing new opportunities. You’re about to be exposed to different people and ideas, and chances to challenge yourself with new projects, build new skills, […]

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When you’re starting a new job, there’s a lot to be excited about. You’re at the beginning of a significant new chapter in your professional life that could be filled with amazing new opportunities. You’re about to be exposed to different people and ideas, and chances to challenge yourself with new projects, build new skills, and reinforce or strengthen existing abilities. Who knows—it might even completely change the outlook and direction of your career journey!

Amidst all these new changes and exciting possibilities, there’s likely one overriding thought going through your mind as you prepare yourself for the first day at your new job: What will I need to do to be successful? After all, you’ve likely gone through an arduous hiring process and worked hard to convince your new employer that you’ll be a valuable addition to their team—and now you want to deliver on that promise. You don’t only want to fit in well, you also want to stand out and shine.

In fact, you may be so eager to start your new job off on the right foot that you’re having some small-scale (or not so small-scale) anxiety over just how to make this happen. If so, then fear not—although jobs are like snowflakes and no two are identical, there are some proven strategies that you can follow to help tip the odds in your favor that your new job will be a success.

1. Make a stellar first impression

We’re all aware of the lasting power of first impressions, and the notion holds true for all aspects of life—especially when starting a new job. The first few days of a new job will likely entail an intense array of making first impressions as you meet and get to know your new colleagues. This is an incredibly important time in this step of your professional journey for many reasons, but chief among them is that you’re forming the foundation of new professional relationships that will likely persist throughout your tenure at this new job.

Conversely, lackluster or downright poor first impressions can be difficult to overcome and could close doors to new collaborations, projects, and opportunities.  So … take your first meetings seriously! Making an extra effort to forge great first impressions with absolutely everyone you come across in the first few days at your new job—from subordinates to higher ups, and even those folks with whom you’ll have little or no contact with on a regular basis—is a fantastic investment in your future success and will help boost your overall satisfaction and happiness.

2. Go the extra mile

Sure, when starting off a new job you want to “check off all the boxes” of your specific job roles and responsibilities. But why not take things a few steps further in an effort to kick things off well? Be on the lookout for opportunities to go the extra mile and help your coworkers in any way possible. Yes, you’re likely going to be in a hyper-focused “learning mode” when just starting a new job and learning the ins and outs of the company and your place in the structure, but if you can demonstrate to your new colleagues that you’re the sort of person that they can really count on for support, including everything from small gestures to time- and labor-intensive assistance, it can go a long way to helping you create positive working relationships and new allies amongst your colleagues—which are key factors in workplace success.

3. Stay humble, no matter what

Humility is an often overlooked and under-appreciated notion, but who among us doesn’t have experience with a new colleague who starts off a new job pretending that they know everything and need to learn nothing, and proceeds to make mistake after mistake while hiding in their defensive shell and blaming everyone and everything for their initial failures? Things typically don’t work out very well for these folks, do they?

A much better approach is to start off a new job being humble, open to learning and constructive feedback, and willing to consider new ideas and ways of doing things—even if they’re completely different from what you’ve known up until this point. After all, no one is going to expect you to know absolutely everything when just starting out at a new job, and relying on your coworkers for guidance can help you build solid relationships. Furthermore, regardless of your industry or position, those of us who remain humble and open to change are best positioned to adapt, grow, and find success in today’s rapidly evolving work world.

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3 signs you should be working in HR

Are you searching for a career path that’s right for you? Depending on your background, interests, and skillset, you may want to take a closer look at the HR field and what it might have to offer. Although HR is a broad term that spans a wide spectrum of employment options, there are a few […]

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Are you searching for a career path that’s right for you? Depending on your background, interests, and skillset, you may want to take a closer look at the HR field and what it might have to offer. Although HR is a broad term that spans a wide spectrum of employment options, there are a few things that they all typically share: opportunities to source and attract key talent to staff an organization’s teams, directly help employees onboard effectively and achieve their professional goals, and support companies and develop and uphold their missions, cultures, and values.

HR professionals hold key roles in most organizations and contribute significantly to their short- and long-term viability and success. In today’s people-centric work culture, the role of HR professionals in helping companies promote progressive and positive work environments and project engaging and meaningful corporate brands has never been more important. For many individuals, their first interaction with a potential employer occurs through its HR personnel, so they’re often the face of the company and are charged with helping to craft strong first impressions in the minds of candidates—which is no small task in today’s ultra-competitive job market.

Does this all sound intriguing to you? If so, then a smart next step is to determine if you’re a good potential fit for the field. If the following signs seem to describe you perfectly, then it may be a good indication that you should be working in HR.

1. You like working with people

Have you always considered yourself a natural people person? Do you enjoy interacting with all sorts of individuals in all types of capacities? HR professionals typically love being at the front lines of the organizations they work for. It’s their job to deal directly with both current and prospective employees to help them achieve their professional goals, find fulfillment, and become valuable assets to their employers, by guiding them through the recruitment and onboarding processes throughout their tenures and even during the exit procedures and beyond. Does the notion of helping people in support of the company you work for sound appealing to you? If so, then the HR field may just be a good field for you to pursue.

2. You appreciate a challenge

HR pros are no stranger to challenges. The truth is, all sorts of issues can arise—and often do—in organizations during the normal course of business that fall upon HR departments to address. If you’re thinking about working in the HR field, you should expect to encounter issues ranging from talent recruitment and onboarding challenges, to staff development, to ensuring company compliance and dispute resolution, to handling sensitive and problematic employee concerns, to ensuring a positive and inclusive work environment, and much more. It can be said that there’s rarely a dull moment in the world of an HR professional, so if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t shy away from taking on new challenges every day, then maybe you should be working in the field.

3. You’re calm in a crisis

Are you known as a steady rudder in turbulent waters? When the heat is on and tensions are high, are you a calming element who’s good at diffusing difficult situations? When people in your life are dealing with tough issues, are you often the one they turn to for guidance? If you decide to pursue a career in human resources, you can count on having these skills called upon in a variety of situations. An effective HR professional is adept at calmly handling all manner of tricky, sensitive, and downright difficult situations, including everything from personal one-on-one employee issues to company-wide crises. If this seems like the sort of work you’re capable of handling, then perhaps this is the right path for you.

If you’re considering a career in HR, then it’s in your best interest to do your homework, research the field carefully, and try to determine if you’re a good potential fit. It’s certainly a good sign that you may be making a wise choice if the traits mentioned here apply to you. Good luck with your career exploration!

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Are you ready to become a board member?

There are few sentences that carry as much “I’ve moved up in the world” cache as, “I’m on the board.” In the corporate world, having a seat on the board—the core group of advisors and decision-makers in an organization—is a major symbol of leadership. And as many organizations look to expand and diversify their boards […]

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There are few sentences that carry as much “I’ve moved up in the world” cache as, “I’m on the board.” In the corporate world, having a seat on the board—the core group of advisors and decision-makers in an organization—is a major symbol of leadership. And as many organizations look to expand and diversify their boards in order to bring in more and different perspectives to support their business, some of us who may not have been eligible before may be under consideration for such a seat.

Are you ready? Let’s look at some of the qualities (and steps you can take) that move you closer to that biggest step.

What kind of intelligence do you need?

In order to be a board member, a job title is often an entry point. But unless you’re a specific kind of VP (for example), it may be more about the qualities and experience you bring to the table. Part of this skill set is a mental transition as much as a seniority one.

Financial intelligence: One of the most effective ways to assert leadership is to accept responsibility for your group’s P&L or to learn how your group’s costs and revenue relate to the rest of the organization’s. It’s also important to understand the market in general outside your organization, and where your organization fits in.

Cultural intelligence: Work culture is more important than ever to the overall health of an organization. That means no group should be a silo. Make sure that you’re participating in initiatives across your company, or even your industry, to stay looped in on current trends.

Social intelligence: In short, talk to people! Talk to people throughout your organization, but especially those who already serve in board or leadership roles. It’s not necessarily about ingratiating yourself to score a board nomination (though let’s be honest, social capital can often help things along), but rather primarily about learning from others who have experience and understanding how the groups within your organization work together.

What kind of board member do you want to be?

Another major factor to consider is what kind of role on the board you anticipate filling. This goes back to your own personality, goals, and skill set. Are you the kind of person who sits back, listening to what everyone else has to say before making a decision? Are you the one leading the discussion? The whole point of a board is to have different voices weighing in, so you don’t need to worry about having a particular perspective or adhering to a specific philosophy. What you should do, however, is think about what kind of board member you would be. There are a few different archetypes of board member styles. Where do you fit in?

The Enforcer: Someone has to be the stickler for the rules, to make sure the organization is complying with rules and regulations while trying to build strategy and increase revenue.

The Data Wrangler: There’s usually at least one numbers wonk in any given corporate conference room, and in today’s data-driven workplace, this person fulfills an essential role. Focusing on metrics, performance, and predictive analytics can help guide organizational strategy.

The Legacy Builder: This board member focuses on how organizational decisions and strategy lay the groundwork for the company’s future, beyond current concerns. This requires balancing immediate operational and market needs with investing in the future.

The Big Picture Person: This is the person who sees what information, data, and feedback are coming in from different parts of the organization, and then looks at it holistically to see how the company is doing in the grander scheme of things.

The Diplomat: This is the person who tries to balance the voices and needs of all the different groups, making sure that each team or representative gets heard.

Again, there’s no “right” type board member, but understanding the dynamics of your own organization’s board can help you figure out where you would fit in (with your experience and style) and what value you could provide in the seat.

Whether you actually get invited to (or seated on) a board is a complex process and may depend on factors outside of your control. However, by stepping up your leadership skills and demonstrating your many accomplishments, you can help ensure that your name is in the conversation when the time comes.

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4 cover letter styles for every type of jobseeker in 2020

In 2020, the cover letter may seem like a quaint concept. After all, more often than not you’re submitting your resume electronically and putting it into an automated system that churns out keywords and data. Why bother with a specially written letter that’s intended to be seen by human eyes? But it’s that human touch […]

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In 2020, the cover letter may seem like a quaint concept. After all, more often than not you’re submitting your resume electronically and putting it into an automated system that churns out keywords and data. Why bother with a specially written letter that’s intended to be seen by human eyes? But it’s that human touch that helps cover letters survive in today’s digital world. A cover letter is an opportunity to differentiate yourself, frame your qualifications, and yes—even fit in some more of those keywords.

Cover letters may not be required for every job application if you’re not using traditional mail, but they’re usually an option to submit, even to an automated engine. In a job search you should be grabbing every opportunity that comes along, so having cover letters ready to go can only help you.

Let’s look at the best kinds of cover letters for different types of job seekers.

The Classic Cover Letter

Every cover letter should have three main parts: an attention-grabbing opening line, a clear pitch, and a strong closing. The cover letter is a way to help build the narrative that your resume will support. So your opening should be punchy and stand out from the crowd. That means ditching “I am applying for a position at your company” in favor of an anecdote or a personal connection you have to the job or company. And when you’re opening your letter, always make sure it’s addressed to a person. Nothing will cause the reader to glaze over faster than, “To whom it may concern” or “Dear sir or madam.”

The second part of the cover letter is where you flesh out your pitch—why you’re a good fit for this job. It shouldn’t be a laundry list of everything you’ve ever done (after all, your resume follows the letter), but rather your elevator pitch for what qualifies you for this job in particular.

When you close out a cover letter, it’s important to show
next steps (like “I look forward to hearing from you”) or a statement of how
you feel you can contribute to this organization or role. It’s also crucial to
thank the person reading it. Cover letters are a step beyond for busy hiring
managers, so showing a little graciousness and politeness here is a great way
to finish the letter.

Here’s an example classic cover letter:

Dear Ms. Brooks,

When I was a child, I would run to the mailbox to get my issues of American Kid magazine that came in the mail. It was the highlight of my week! When I saw that American Kid is seeking a senior graphic designer, I was so excited that I essentially dropped everything to run to the mailbox again, so to speak.

I have more than 15
years’ experience as a graphic designer, leading teams and coordinating complex
projects on incredibly demanding deadlines. Working on prominent newsweeklies
and industry-specific publications has given me the ability to produce results
fast and on-point.

I would love to hear more about this opportunity with your organization and would like to schedule a call to discuss at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Terry Bowers

By taking that basic template and making a few tweaks to the
main body, you can tailor your cover letter to meet several different job
search needs.

The Employment Gap Cover Letter

One of the biggest assets of a cover letter is that it gives
you a chance to explain gaps or other issues in your resume. That way, rather
than a reader noticing a gap and raising an eyebrow, you’re getting in front of
it by explaining the issue.

For example:

After spending a year caring for a family member, I’m ready to jump back into the full-time graphic design world. In the time since my last position as a designer, I’ve stayed active as a freelancer and continually built my skills to keep up with the ever-evolving trends in the field.

You don’t have to go into too much detail, but it’s an
opportunity to frame your work history and current situation on your own terms.

The Results-Oriented Cover Letter

In many fields, like finance or sales, you have to be able
to show that you’re results-driven and successful. That means being very
specific about what you’ve achieved. Your resume will ideally have numbers as
well, but the cover letter lets you create kind of a highlight reel of your
best stats.

For example:

In the past three
years, I’ve demolished every sales target I had. In 2017, I increased sales
revenue by 7%%. In 2018, it was 9%, and in 2019 it was 11%. My team led our
region in sales for more than five years.

Cover letter readers have limited time, and numbers and
statistics are a great way to pull the eye toward the most important
information.

The Career Change Cover Letter

When you’re changing careers your resume is in a tough spot: you have experience, but it’s not necessarily the experience in your new chosen field. The cover letter lets you show how your existing experience and skills would apply to this new job.

For example:

In my long experience as a retail manager, I gained valuable insight into what it takes to motivate a team and accomplish group goals in a demanding, fast-paced environment. Although I’ve left the retail world behind for the greener pastures of accounting, the project, and people management skills I built throughout my career fit well with my new path.

As with an employment gap, this frames you and your experience for the reader, instead of leaving them to make their own assumptions or connections based on your resume alone.

Even if a cover letter isn’t required for a particular job
application, you should still continue writing one anyway. In a competitive job
search, the care and information you put into your cover letter can be what
makes all the difference between getting an interview and staying in the
“maybe” pile.

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Is it ever too early to start a job search?

Timing can really make or break your job search. If you stay too long in a bad job, you may miss windows and opportunities for a new one. If you start blatantly interviewing while at your current job, you run the risk of burning your relationship with your employer. What’s the earliest you can start […]

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Timing can really make or break your job search. If you stay too long in a bad job, you may miss windows and opportunities for a new one. If you start blatantly interviewing while at your current job, you run the risk of burning your relationship with your employer. What’s the earliest you can start looking for a job without jeopardizing the one you already have?

Know how long it can take to get a new job

When you’re thinking seriously about how to time your job hunt, do some legwork on how long it will likely take you to get a new job offer. It’s unlikely to be instantaneous once you decide to put yourself out there. The average job search takes about 6 weeks, but that can vary pretty widely by industry and organization.

Before you start thinking about a resignation letter or dusting off your interview suit, research what the hiring process is like for your target field. For example, healthcare tends to higher faster than average (43 days as opposed to the 6 weeks), so you would need to be prepared to move quickly if the right opportunity came along.

Take time to build your skills

If you’re looking to move up, this may involve you having to get specific training or skills for the job you want. If that’s the case, this extra time (for taking classes, doing online research, etc.) should absolutely be built into your mental job search calendar. You would want to start as early as possible amassing skills, certifications, or other data points on your resume that would put you in a better position to get the job you want.

Maintain your network

Before you start putting out feelers for a new job, one of the best bits of pre-job hunt work you can do is to build up your network. Renew acquaintances with people in your field or at the company you want to work for. Start adding people in your industry and follow them on social media to stay current on trends. Request informational interviews to make connections. Even if you’re not quite ready to start sending out resumes, doing this work on your network now will help improve the opportunities that come your way later. Word of mouth and referrals are one of the most effective ways to find new openings and get to a job offer faster.

Give yourself time to organize

If you’re applying to jobs as they come up, without a realistic plan, you may run into some frustrating dead ends in your job search. The best way to approach it is to have a rough plan of what you want to happen, what you’ll need to make it happen, and how long you’d like it to take. Realistically, you can start this piece anytime—no commitment needed. This will also help you stay on top of your job hunt in case you hit a hot streak of interviews and job openings. And on the flip side, it can help you manage discouraging points: even if you don’t get the job you had your heart set on, you’ll have a plan to fall back on.

So in short, the answer is no—it’s never too early to start a job search. By taking low-key steps early on, you can start building your job search without actually committing to it. Then, when you’re ready to make it official, you’ll already have done so much beneficial pre-planning.

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