Saying “no” and other work productivity hacks

In today’s nonstop, hectic work culture, the lines between our professional and personal lives are blurred and intertwined like never before, which often means that we’re always operating at breakneck speeds to complete everything we need to get done in a given day. No one likes to end a day with the sense that they […]

In today’s nonstop, hectic work culture, the lines between our professional and personal lives are blurred and intertwined like never before, which often means that we’re always operating at breakneck speeds to complete everything we need to get done in a given day. No one likes to end a day with the sense that they didn’t add enough checkmarks to their to-do lists. And since no one has figured out a way to add more hours to the day yet, we have to compensate by maximizing our work productivity.

Particularly at work, staying on top of responsibilities is mission-critical for a variety of reasons—not only does failing to handle assigned tasks on schedule reflect poorly on you, but it can also have long-term consequences on your career and future opportunities. Delayed projects can adversely affect the workflow of your colleagues. Plus, the negative impact of falling behind at work can include added stress, anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, and a host of other unwanted mental and physical effects.

There are ways to make what may feel like a maelstrom of daily tasks a little more manageable. Consider utilizing the following foolproof work hacks to help you stay on top of things.

First, get organized

Don’t expect to be able to allocate your time, energy, and resources to tackling your daily to-dos effectively if you don’t have a good handle on them and what you need to get done each day. You’ll have to get organized.

There’s no “one size fits all” approach to organizing—use whatever tools work best for you for keeping track of and staying on top of everything you need to get done. There are a wealth of organization tools available to check out—including apps, software, and good old-fashioned notebooks and paper. Feel free to use the trial and error approach until you devise a system that works for you, but don’t fall prey to thinking that you can juggle it all in your head—that’s a recipe for disaster. Consider the time you spend building a good organization system a real investment in your productivity—one that will surely pay off in the long run.

Take the time to prioritize

Are you the sort of person who looks at a long list of tasks and, overwhelmed by its sheer size, chooses to turn away and put it all off for later instead? Breathe—and consider a better approach.

When faced with an imposing to-do list that threatens to decimate your productivity, fight back by taking a few minutes to prioritize every item. If you’re unsure of what should come first and what can wait, it’s fine to ask your manager—you are taking proactive steps to get your work done in the most helpful way possible. Once you’ve prioritized, you can narrow your focus on the most important tasks first. As your list shrinks, you’ll have the bandwidth to tackle those less critical tasks later, with a renewed sense that everything is going to be okay.

Break down complex tasks

We all know what it’s like to face a complex, multi-faceted task with multiple sub-tasks and interconnected dependencies—it can often seem downright impossible to complete. A simple approach to keep these toughest to-dos from halting your work productivity is to break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Tackle them methodically, one by one. Breaking a big to-do into smaller to-dos has the net effect of chipping away at previously insurmountable projects and keeping your work productivity high.

Use the secret weapons

When it comes to being productive, you have two “secret weapons” at your disposal that are often underused, but can make a big difference—getting help and saying no.

When faced with an enormous task, one where it makes more sense to utilize the capabilities and energy of other folks, don’t hesitate to ask for help. People often view asking for help as a sign of weakness, but in fact, it’s the opposite. Asking a team member for assistance is a strategic use of available resources to maximize work productivity and complete a task. After all, do generals go off into battle alone, or do they develop a plan to use the troops and resources at their disposal?

Another underused strategy for staying productive is to avoid taking on more than you can handle at any given time by simply saying “no.” True, this can be misused and abused in the face of tasks you simply don’t want to do, but when used responsibly and appropriately, saying that you simply don’t have the time to tackle a task at the moment can help keep you focused, on track, and at the peak of your productive potential. Be polite, and make sure you back up your “no” with reasons why focusing on the unwanted task will make you less productive for other things on your list.

If you’re eager to take your work productivity to the next level, then consider using the strategies and advice presented here to help you get moving in the right direction. Good luck!

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Are cover letters a thing of the past?

In the job hunt, some things have quietly started going away, like resumes on expensive paper or a “references available upon request” line. But what about the good old cover letter? Is that still a thing? Yes…but (and there’s always a but) it’s not the important application factor that it used to be. The cover […]

In the job hunt, some things
have quietly started going away, like resumes on expensive paper or a
“references available upon request” line. But what about the good old cover
letter? Is that still a thing?

Yes…but (and there’s always a but) it’s not the important application factor that it used to be. The cover letter used to be the way to introduce yourself to the hiring manager, before diving right into the resume. But since the job application process has automized for most fields, the choice of whether or not to include a cover letter, and what type to include, are often up to you.

If I don’t include a cover letter, will that hurt me?

Most job applications these days are handled online, through an application-processing engine that essentially acts as a robot gatekeeper. And let’s face it, a cover letter is a very human thing. It’s a way to connect to the person reading it and show some personality and context alongside straight-up stats (your resume). So if you’re not connecting with a person and your cover letter is simply going into a database where it may or may not be read, it can feel like a wasted effort. And in fact, many companies don’t even ask for them at all or make them an optional upload when you submit your resume or a set application template.

If you opt out of sending a
cover letter when it’s not required, you probably aren’t doing much damage to
your chances. Your resume will just need to speak for itself. However, before
you decide to skip the step, read carefully to make sure that it truly is optional.

As for the personal angle of
a cover letter, remember that it’s a holdover from a time where hiring managers
needed more context about you to help with hiring decisions. Now, thanks to the
wonders of the internet, that same hiring manager can often find out baseline
information about you from an online search, plus details about your work
experience from your resume.

I do want to write a cover letter. How should I optimize it?

The first part is thinking seriously
about your cover letter as part of your application package. Ideally, you’re
customizing your resume for the job for which you’re applying. That means the
cover letter has to be customized too. There’s little point to writing a cover
letter that boils down to, “I’m applying for this job, here are my contact
details, thx!” Think about who’s going to be reading it. Are you emailing your
resume to someone? Your cover note should reflect that.

Most of your energy should be spent on your resume, but if you’re going to do the cover letter, after all, make sure it’s saying what you want to call out from your resume. The cover letter is still the chance to set your narrative, so include the highlights (your best skills, experience, or qualifications) to frame expectations for the resume. Everything you say in the cover letter should be backed up by cold, hard bullet points in the resume itself.

Don’t forget that applicant tracking systems are not only tracking your resume, they’re also scanning everything you submit. That means taking advantage of the keyword searches in your cover letter as well as your resume. Read the job description carefully. You don’t want to copy and paste it, but do sprinkle keywords and phrases throughout your cover letter (only if they’re relevant to your skills or experience, of course).

Cover letters may seem outdated, but like any other tool at your disposal in the job search, they can be very effective if you put the time and effort into making yours a focused and well-constructed supplement to your resume.

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3 reasons your team would benefit from a 6-hour work day

We all know the old saying about “all work and no play…,” and although it’s a well-worn cliché at this point, it’s hard to deny that there is an important truth contained within. Spending too much time of our time working is rarely a recipe for a happy and well-balanced life. In fact, many experts […]

We all know the old saying about “all work and no play…,” and although it’s a well-worn cliché at this point, it’s hard to deny that there is an important truth contained within. Spending too much time of our time working is rarely a recipe for a happy and well-balanced life.

In fact, many experts and business leaders across industries now believe that there’s a tipping point at which spending too much time working can actually have a negative countereffect on efficiency. Imagine putting in those extra hours every week at your job only to realize that it’s actually hurting your productivity, not to mention the unfortunate effects it’s having on your general health and well-being.

Healthline published an article on common effects of working too much, and it included a bunch of serious potential outcomes that shouldn’t be ignored: added alcohol use to in order to relax post-work; stalled productivity; compromised sleep and daytime fatigue; depression; added stress; increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer; extra back and neck pain; and negative effects on personal relationships.

Clearly, the seriousness of this issue has led businesses to start paying attention—in fact, many are starting to look harder at decreasing the length of workdays in an effort to offset the potential adverse side effects of overworking. Another factor that’s helping to drive the case for shorter workdays is technological innovation—simply put, the tools we now have at our disposal to help us get our jobs done allows us to do more and to be more productive, in less time than ever before.

Currently, there’s no unanimous consensus regarding how long the “perfect sweet spot” is for the modern workday, but there is a growing number of businesses that are experimenting with the 6-hour workday, and the initial results are encouraging. Harvard Business Review recently made a case for the six-hour weekday, which includes a wealth of intriguing ideas about how today’s companies—and employees—can potentially benefit from moving to this workday model. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways your team can benefit from moving to shorter workdays.

Enhanced prioritization

Simply put, when we have fewer hours dedicated to getting things done, we work harder to prioritize tasks and responsibilities. This has a clear net benefit—prioritization empowers us to get organized, recognize and laser focus on the most important and essential tasks, and plan appropriately, all which help projects of all scopes and sizes get started on the right foot and progress effectively. When we move through our workdays scatterbrained and disjointed, we’re more prone to get distracted, disorganized, and derailed. Here’s the bottom line: shorter workdays and improved focus and prioritization are win-win scenarios for employers and employees alike.

Honesty and focus

Who among us isn’t familiar with unrealistic expectations at work? In fact, the mantra of many of today’s companies is “do more with less,” which often translates to fewer overworked employees being saddled with more responsibilities than they can feasibly handle at any given time, with fewer resources at their disposal in order to get things done.

What does this often mean? Many of us expanding our already-long workdays in a futile effort to stay afloat at our jobs and avoid drowning in an unfinished ocean of daily tasks, which often leads to burnout, high rates of job turnover, and unfinished or poorly executed projects. Who does that benefit?

Shorter workdays typically force employers and employees to be more realistic with what they can accomplish and be more mindful about what resources are needed in order to stay on track.

Happier employees

Who knew that happier employees typically mean more productive and reliable workers? Lots of today’s most progressive and innovative companies, actually—including those who are turning to shorter workdays in an effort to empower their workers to have a healthier and happier work-life balance. Companies are increasingly abandoning the outdated and simply ill-conceived notion that they need to wring every last drop of time and energy from their employees, and are learning to accept the idea that less raw hours spent at work doesn’t mean less work getting done. Quite the opposite, it often translates to happier and more energized workers who are eager to roll up their sleeves and be productive. What business doesn’t want that? 

If you’re a business owner or key decision maker at your company and are considering the idea of moving to a shorter workday but are looking for convincing reasons to do so, hopefully, the ideas presented here will get you to embrace the notion that this strategy is a great idea for your team.

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Why having an anti-role model can be a good thing

We’re all aware of the value of having a role model in our lives—someone we can look up to and aspire to be like, a person who embodies the success and happiness, personal characteristics, behaviors, and mannerisms we hope to someday see within ourselves and have others notice within us. Having this sort of idealized […]

We’re all aware of the value of having a role model in our lives—someone we can look up to and aspire to be like, a person who embodies the success and happiness, personal characteristics, behaviors, and mannerisms we hope to someday see within ourselves and have others notice within us. Having this sort of idealized model for us to measure ourselves up against can be beneficial in many ways. They can keep us motivated and on track as we work toward the individual goals we set out for ourselves. They can help us resist negative temptations and influences that could threaten to derail us. They can anchor our ambitions and concretely determine what we need to do in order to achieve the level of success, ambition, and happiness we envision for ourselves.

The benefits of having a positive role model in our lives sounds like a no-brainer—but have you ever thought about the power of having an anti-role model and what it can do for you? It may sound strange or counterintuitive at first, but keep reading—there is a clear case to be made for why having an anti-role model in your life can be a good thing.

What is an anti-role model?

Let’s start off with a quick definition of an anti-role model. They represent the exact opposite of a positive role model—it’s someone who embodies the opposite behaviors, traits, and trajectory that you want to have in yourself and your life. An anti-role model often comprises everything that you want to work against and avoid as you plan your life and make progress toward your personal goals.

Use negativity to motivate you to be your best self

Despite the negative connotations that immediately spring to mind when thinking about anti-role models, the truth is they can be powerful forces for good in our lives. Knowing what we don’t want to be can be just as powerful as watching someone who always does the right thing in any given situation. The eagerness to avoid becoming an unwanted version of ourselves can be a real impetus for positive change, and when forging our life paths it’s just as helpful to know what things we’d like to avoid as it is knowing where we’d like to end up.

Set up your ideal career path early on

For many of us, this process of figuring out who we want to become stems from a series of trial and error events, and often-painful life lessons. However, having an anti-role model early on can go a long way to helping you avoid having to make some pretty big mistakes. An anti-role model can also equip you with a set of ethical and moral guidelines and boundaries to adhere to as you journey through life and try to be your best self.

Knowing who you don’t want to be can help you figure how who you do want to be. The bottom line is this: if you imagine life as a journey along a path that you set for yourself, knowing the direction you don’t want to move in can be just as helpful as being aware of the right direction for you and can keep you from making a wrong move and getting lost.

So, have we convinced you of the
potential benefit of having an anti-role model in your life? If so, and you know
someone who may fit the bill in this capacity, then consider using your
association with them as a positive force for motivation, direction, and change
in your life. Good luck!

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All about intrepreneurs—and why you need to be one

If you think the only path to being successful in today’s lightning-paced, ultra-competitive world of work is to venture out on your own as an entrepreneur, then think again! The truth is, that’s just one of several ways to achieve success along your career journey. Another route that’s gaining traction across industries is becoming what’s […]

If you think the only path to being successful in today’s lightning-paced, ultra-competitive world of work is to venture out on your own as an entrepreneur, then think again! The truth is, that’s just one of several ways to achieve success along your career journey. Another route that’s gaining traction across industries is becoming what’s called an intrapreneur.

At its core, an intrapreneur is someone who embraces the positive aspects of being an entrepreneur—an innovative spirit, a desire to think outside of the box and disrupt the status quo with bold new ideas, and an ability to inspire others to embrace risk and achieve their full potential. But instead of branching out on their own, intrapreneurs use these talents in their current positions within the companies they work for, rather than starting a new enterprise.

Intrapreneurs are coveted by companies because they often bring fresh, creative energy and new methods for improving products, streamlining old processes, enhancing productivity, and solving problems. They tend to motivate their colleagues in incredible ways, which can be a real game-changer for companies who are lucky enough to have them on board. Take a team that’s struggling with apathy and burnout and add a few well-placed intrapreneurs into the mix, and it can really turn things around and get them moving in a positive direction.

At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “If someone has all of these entrepreneurial tools and energy, why don’t they take those positive attributes and start their own business?” The truth is, not everyone wants to deal with the stress, pressure, and effort involved in planning, launching, and sustaining their own business—even if they naturally possess the skills of an entrepreneur.

Also, starting a business in today’s ultra-competitive (and often saturated) landscape is a real risk. According to a recent report by the Small Business Association, less than 80% of small businesses survive their first year, about half are gone at the five-year mark, and fewer than one-third get to celebrate their 10th anniversary. If you’re not up for assuming the challenges of such a major undertaking, then being an entrepreneur just might not be right for you.

Demonstrating a true entrepreneurial spirit in the service of the company you work for is not without its benefits—chances are, if you display the attributes of a successful entrepreneur and yield consistently positive results, your coworkers and employers will notice and reward you accordingly. Workers are increasingly embracing the intrapreneurial spirit notion in an effort to move up their career ladders and achieve professional satisfaction, and employees are recognizing the value of having and retaining solid intrepreneurs on their teams.

The bottom line is that if you’re not up for the potential hassles, hazards, and headaches of starting your own business but are still interested in using your natural entrepreneurial abilities to forge a successful professional path, then becoming an intrapreneur might just be your next smart career move.

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How nurses can find the balance in a hectic career

Being a nurse is not an easy career choice—nurses typically face a host of pressures and challenges throughout their professional lives that the average worker never has to confront. The stresses of a job in which you’re constantly dealing with serious life and death issues, working in hectic and emotionally charged environments, and juggling the […]

Being a nurse is not an easy career choice—nurses typically face a host of pressures and challenges throughout their professional lives that the average worker never has to confront. The stresses of a job in which you’re constantly dealing with serious life and death issues, working in hectic and emotionally charged environments, and juggling the physical and mental demands of grueling work schedules make nursing a job that’s not for the faint of heart.

Nurses report that they consistently grapple with existential career issues like burnout and having non-existent work-life balance. With everything they have to deal with on a regular basis, is it any wonder that nurses sometimes find themselves struggling to maintain a healthy distinction between their time on and off the clock?

If you’re a nurse who sometimes finds that
the intense demands of your job make it difficult to maintain a feasible work-life balance, you’re not alone. According
to the Careers in Nursing website, “Some nurses may struggle with work-life
balance because of the nature of the job, long hours and shift work commitments.
Some say nurses are especially vulnerable because they are socialized into a
caretaker role, and the result is that they may put other’s needs before their
own. Nurses should pay extra attention to managing work-life balance to ensure
they derive maximum satisfaction from their work while maintaining a healthy
lifestyle.”

Imbalance can have a lasting impact on your happiness and well-being—on top of increasing the chances of suffering burnout and job fatigue, it can impact your ability to perform work tasks effectively, negatively affect both personal and professional relationships, and lead to a host of mental and physical issues including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and serious illness.

With all of that said, there are effective strategies for maintaining a healthy balance while working as a nurse. Consider taking advantage of the following tips for keeping your professional and personal lives in order and running smoothly.

Know yourself

Just like workers in other fields, nurses are unique individuals with different likes, dislikes, motivators, passions, and bandwidths for work. There’s no “one size fits all” approach for how much work is too much and how much of your life needs to be reserved for personal time. Some nurses live to work and have few personal demands on their time and focus; other nurses have tons of personal obligations and interests that need to be attended to in order for them to stay happy and healthy.

Be honest with yourself when determining how much time you need for your personal life, and draw a hard line so that your work doesn’t spill over on a consistent basis. (Yes, most of us have to deal with occasional late work nights, but that’s to be expected in today’s hectic work world.) Make sure not to volunteer too much of your time to working overtime and extra shifts—the extra money can be great, but be aware of the “hidden costs” of relinquishing your personal time. Know yourself and your needs, and do your best to respect them.

Have healthy outlets

When you do have some personal time to yourself, how are you spending it? Are you sitting at home thinking about your next shift, replaying stressful work events in your head and dreading having to go back to work? It’s great to have time off work, but if you’re only using it to vent and fret about the job, then it’s wasted time that isn’t helping you maintain a healthy balance.

Instead, consider making healthy and productive use of your time in ways that have nothing to do with nursing. Do things you find enjoyable: spend quality time with friends and family, find a hobby that relaxes you, and challenge yourself in new and unexpected ways. The key is to find something that helps you stay grounded and sane when things at work get tough.

Find support

This bit of advice is valuable in all professions, but it’s particularly important for nurses to find a trusted source of support who they can turn to, especially when things get intense. Nurses shouldn’t discount the value of venting their feelings when they’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed—it can be a great tool for getting a handle on your emotions on particularly stressful days. Someone who can help you do a “reality check” when you’re losing perspective can be an invaluable resource. Your support buddy can be a trusted friend, colleague, or even someone senior to you—as long as it’s someone whose opinion and viewpoint you trust and who is equipped to recognize when your work-life balance is going off-kilter.

Being a nurse can be a stressful and challenging career—but that doesn’t mean it needs to take over your life completely. Use the strategies and advice presented here to help you keep the elements of your life balanced, realistic, and in check.

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5 of the most flexible jobs to get in 2019

The 9-to-5 grind in an office or cubicle just isn’t for everybody. And if you have a number of demands on your plate (like taking care of a family or going to school), that format just may not work for you at all. More and more employers are accommodating their employees who need a different […]

The 9-to-5 grind in an office or cubicle just isn’t for everybody. And if you have a number of demands on your plate (like taking care of a family or going to school), that format just may not work for you at all. More and more employers are accommodating their employees who need a different kind of work-life balance, but still, want and need meaningful jobs. Let’s look at some of the best, most flexible jobs for 2019.

1. Sales Representative

Sales representatives can be found in virtually every industry. These professionals sell an organization’s goods or services to potential customers and clients. If you’re not interested in the 9-to-5 at a desk, a traveling sales position could be the right choice. This is a highly customizable career making it one of the most flexible jobs you could get.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
sales representatives make a median annual salary of $61,660.

What you’ll need: Requirements vary, but most salespeople need at least a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree.

2. Rideshare Driver

If you have a car and a valid driver’s license and want the kind of job where you can make your own hours, driving for ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft can be a great option.

What it pays: On average, full-time rideshare drivers make a
salary of $36,525. This can vary depending on the number of hours driven, the
location, and the number of trips.

What you’ll need: Drivers need to have a valid driver’s license
and a clean driving record, plus a car that can pass inspections. Drivers are
typically required to pass a background check as well.

3. Virtual Assistant

If you like admin work but don’t want to be in a standard office, you might want to consider becoming a virtual assistant. These admins provide support for specific projects or handle administrative tasks remotely (like research, scheduling, writing, or bookkeeping). There are agencies that hire these admins, but you can also work on your own as a freelance contractor.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
administrative assistants make a median annual salary of $38,880. This can vary
depending on whether you work full-time or on a project or part-time basis.

What you’ll need: Assistants typically have a high school
diploma at minimum, with some employers requiring a bachelor’s degree or
specialty education.

4. Dental Hygienist

This may sound like a traditional 9-to-5 kind of job, but in reality, dental hygienists often work flexible schedules, making it an ideal option if you’re interested in healthcare but need flexible hours. Many dental offices are open limited hours for cleanings, x-rays, and other tasks performed by hygienists. Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth, performing basic examinations, assisting dentists, and educating patients on proper dental or follow-up care.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
dental hygienists make a median annual salary of $74,820.

What you’ll need: Dental hygienists typically complete an associate’s degree or an accredited dental hygienist program. All states require that dental hygienists be licensed, so be sure to find out what that means in your state.

5. Graphic Designer

With our increasingly digital, visual society, graphic designers are in high demand. It also has the benefit of being a career where you can pursue a full-time job with a particular company, or start your own business and determine your own hours and projects. Graphic design makes for one of the most flexible jobs and is often one that can be done from anywhere you have your computer and a wifi connection.

Graphic designers create visual concepts for websites, marketing or advertising materials, books, or magazines, usually on a project basis. Basically, if there are words or pictures on something, a graphic designer likely had a hand in the layout and design.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
graphic designers make a median annual salary of $50,370 per year.

What you’ll need: Graphic designers typically have a degree or
background in the field. Creativity and a strong customer service focus (since
designers usually work directly with clients) are strong pluses in this field
as well.

Whatever your background and interests may be, chances are
there’s a flexible career out there that can meet your needs for work-life
balance.

The post 5 of the most flexible jobs to get in 2019 appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

No job after graduation day? Try these 6 tips

As my senior year of college started to wind down, I saw many of my friends scooping up job offers that would match their fancy new engineering and business degrees. Things were a little different for me, as an English major. There were no tech or finance companies out there picking up recent grads who […]

As my senior year of college started to wind down, I saw many of my friends scooping up job offers that would match their fancy new engineering and business degrees. Things were a little different for me, as an English major. There were no tech or finance companies out there picking up recent grads who could parse Shakespeare like nobody’s business. I was still figuring out what my post-college career would look like, and as a result, I found myself with no job after graduation. If you find yourself in a similar boat, don’t despair! These strategies can help you get over that “college is over and I don’t have a job and holy moly what am I doing to do?” panic.

1. Don’t freak out

Seriously. You’re graduating with an education and all sorts of skills. You may not have a job now, but that won’t be a permanent state—I promise you. When you’re cranking out application after application and not getting far, it can make you question everything. No job after graduation doesn’t mean you’re not capable of success. Through the stress, always remember that you have already accomplished a lot.

2. Be realistic about your finances

For many recent grads, factors like housing costs and basic life bills come into play in a way they hadn’t during school. Now is the time to take a cold, hard look at your living expenses, both now and what you expect them to be in the near future. Being responsible may mean moving back in with your parents or other relatives, finding an apartment with six other roommates, or other cost-cutting measures.

If you’re living way above your means while you look for a job (read: putting it all on credit cards), that’s a reality that will come crashing down on you hard at some point when the bills come due, and could potentially set you back financially for years to come. Put yourself on a budget and do everything you can to save money while you look for work.

3. Build your network

Right after college is hands-down one of the best times to start cultivating your network. You’re still in touch with professors and peers from school, and it’s much easier to keep cultivating relationships than to let them lapse and then awkwardly try again later. Plus, just about every school has resources devoted to helping students (or recent grads) find jobs through networking events, job fairs, alumni networks, mentoring programs, etc. Take advantage of whatever your school has to offer because you never know when an opportunity can come in through someone in your network.

4. Broaden your job hunt

If you’re approaching your job search with very narrow parameters (like a handful of companies you’re willing to work for, only one city, or a very specific job title), you’re limiting your opportunities. Think hard about whether your job requirements need to be so strict. You may not be willing to pick up and move across the country, but what if you expand your search into the next county? Or how about searching for skill keywords instead of specific job titles?

One common mistake recent grad job seekers make is bypassing some of the most basic entry level positions because they feel overqualified due to their coursework. In reality, entry-level jobs are growth opportunities and a chance to get your foot in the door. By loosening up your expectations, you might find that you’re finding more potential positions.

5. Build your skills

As a recent grad, your resume might be a little thin. The best way to counteract that is with some skill-building. Do a little research about the kinds of skills, certifications, etc., that can get you to the next level in your chosen career path. The time you have now, while you send out applications and hope for interviews, can be used to take online classes or do extra reading to make your skill base broader and deeper. Learn how to code. Develop your Excel wizardry. Take a public speaking class. It may be more difficult to make time for these kinds of activities later on, so take advantage of the time you have now.

6. Stay busy

Volunteering, temp jobs, working on hobbies, part-time jobs in fields you ordinarily wouldn’t consider as a career…these are all ways to keep busy while you look for your “real deal” job. And in the case of a part-time or temp job, it’s a way to earn money while you look for a more stable, career-path job.

No job after graduation can feel frustrating but look at it as an opportunity to put time and care into every aspect of your life. Once you do get a job, you may find yourself longing a bit for the days when you had time and flexibility on your side. So relax, keep yourself busy, and stay optimistic!

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How to answer the toughest behavioral interview questions

When you’re preparing for an interview, chances are you’ve got the usual stuff down: your resume, talking points, stellar eye contact, and small talk. Those are easy—you can practice them in the mirror or with a trusted interview prep buddy. But what happens when you get a bit of a curveball, like difficult behavioral interview […]

When you’re preparing for an interview, chances are you’ve got the usual stuff down: your resume, talking points, stellar eye contact, and small talk. Those are easy—you can practice them in the mirror or with a trusted interview prep buddy. But what happens when you get a bit of a curveball, like difficult behavioral interview questions that you weren’t expecting?

Behavioral interview questions (“how would you handle…”, “tell me about a time when…”, etc.) are pretty common in interviews these days. Interviewers like them because they can tell you a lot about how a person thinks and reacts on their feet. They’re also more conversational, outside of the rote resume points and talking about the job. But sometimes they can be extra challenging—especially when you’re asked for a personal opinion or way of doing things.

Some examples of extra-challenging behavioral interview questions are things like, “How do you like to be managed?” or “What kind of management style do you respond to?” These aren’t so out of left field, but for most of us, questions like that tend to fall outside of our interview comfort zone of talking about our experience and accomplishments. It’s also tough because this kind of question speaks to interpersonal dynamics—there’s no clear right answer, but you’ll be judged nonetheless. So what’s the best way to tackle them?

Think about past experiences, and gather examples

When you’re asked about your professional preferences, you need to be able to think of examples to back them up—just like any other aspect of an interview. If you’re asked what kind of management style you like best, you can’t just say, “The kind that lets me do my job most efficiently” and be done with it. Take a moment to reflect on some of your best and worst managers, and use real-life examples that show why you feel the way you do.

Always keep the tone positive and professional

Even if you’re asked an opinion question, this is not the time to air grievances. If you want to say something along the lines of, “I can’t stand a micromanager because I don’t work well with someone breathing down my neck like my last boss,” think of ways to spin it positively and productively. For example, you could go with, “My last manager was very hands-on, but I find that I am able to work faster and smarter when I’m given space, with occasional check-ins.”

Do your homework ahead of time

You can’t anticipate exactly what kind of behavioral
interview questions you’ll get, but you can
do some due diligence on the company and its culture ahead of time. Check the
company website for the official line, but also look at sites like Glassdoor to
see what employees say about the culture at the company. Once you have a sense
of the kind of general management style and priorities, you can tailor your
answers to align with that style.

Take a minute to organize what you want to say

This is a good rule of thumb for any interview question. You don’t want there to be an awkwardly long silence, but starting to ramble without planning what you want to say is not helpful either. It’s perfectly okay to say something like, “That’s a great question,” and take a few beats to consider what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Your answer doesn’t need to be overly complicated or detailed. You just need the what (I like a manager who…) + the why (I get better results when I have the confidence and agency to manage projects on my own…). If the interviewer wants more information, he or she will ask follow-up questions. You really don’t need to launch into a detailed soliloquy.

The trick with any behavioral interview question is to take the time to consider the question thoughtfully and organize your thoughts a bit in your head. Because there’s usually no right or wrong answer, the interviewer will be watching to see how you answer. As long as you show confidence and thoughtfulness, that will go a long way.

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The issues that older workers face in the job hunt

With age comes wisdom. That old proverb may very well be true, but with age and wisdom also come challenges during the job hunt process. The further along you get in your career, the more challenging it can be to find and chase the right opportunities. If you find yourself looking for the next step […]

With age comes wisdom. That old proverb may very well be true, but with age and wisdom also come challenges during the job hunt process. The further along you get in your career, the more challenging it can be to find and chase the right opportunities. If you find yourself looking for the next step or a fresh start as an older job seeker, here are some of the challenges you may face.

“You’re overqualified.”

Accumulating a career’s worth of skills and experience is a great thing. However, many companies are trying to save money or resources by hiring more junior employees, with more junior salaries. When you’re looking for a new job, be prepared to make a case for why you think the job is the right opportunity for you, even if it seems like you’re overqualified on paper.

“We need someone tech savvy in this role.”

Fighting the stereotype that older employees are not as tech-savvy as younger ones is tough. Having entered the workforce before everyone had a phone surgically attached to their hands, there may be an assumption that you’re not as tech-friendly as other candidates. But this is a skill set you can absolutely build, and one you should emphasize on your resume and any application materials.

“We’re looking for someone to grow into this role.”

This can be code for “we’re hiring younger because it’s cheaper.” Discriminating a potential employee based on age is illegal. However, there are many ways that age discrimination can still sneak into the process. Dates on a resume can be a giveaway, and in-person interviews can make it very clear that you’re not an intern fresh out of school. It’s ugly, but unfortunately, it will likely continue to be a source of bias (conscious or not).

If it seems to be a case of the company not wanting to support a more experienced employee’s salary, you don’t need to take entry-level dollars to get the job. Rather, show how an investment in you is an investment in the right skills for the job.

“We’re looking for a specialist.”

One of the selling points of your career is that you’ve likely built a number of strong skill sets and a solid base of experience. When pitching yourself for a particular job, make sure you’re specific about the most important skill or quality that makes you perfect for this role. Your resume (and interview) should be targeted for the most important skills, not just the most skills, period. 

“We just don’t have any senior-level openings.”

The further you go, the tougher it will be to find job openings on your experience level. It’s a fact of hiring life that most jobs will likely be for entry-level or junior positions that have a naturally higher turnover. This means you may need to be more proactive in your job search. Traditional job sites may not have a satisfactory number of openings, try other avenues. Build your network, and work it for word-of-mouth opportunities. Whatever edge you can get in an increasingly narrow field will help make your job search less frustrating (and hopefully shorter!).

If you’re a mid- or
later-career job seeker, it can feel like there are many factors working
against you as you look for your new career opportunities. But it’s important
not to feel stuck, and make sure that you’re creating a lean, focused approach
to branding yourself. Being ready for these challenges can help you navigate
them more easily when they come your way.

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