Brazen Life Personal development meets professional aspiration Wed, 26 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © Brazen Life 2011 (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) 1440 Brazen Life 144 144 Personal development meets professional aspiration. Personal development meets professional aspiration. So there’s this awesome job, the sort of job you’d just die to land (and tell your friends about)! But the awesome job isn’t nearly like the job you have now. So how do you make it from current job to awesome job? In our podcast series, we’re hoping to provide insights and answers to that very question. We talk to young people who have amazing jobs or are doing something really cool and interesting and ask them how they did it. So listen along for good information and some inspiration, too. job, search, jobs, career, advice, job, hunt, networking, Gen, Y, interviews, millennials Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life no no Switching Careers? Here’s How to Revamp Your Resume Wed, 26 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 When it’s time for something new, you’ll need a new resume that will get you noticed by employers in your target industry.

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You’ve decided to switch gears with your career and transition to a new industry. Congratulations! Making the decision to tackle such a significant shift takes serious courage.

But as exciting as this time is, it also comes with a lot of questions and doubts: Will you be able to compete with industry veterans? Will potential employers discount you because of your lack of relevant experience? How can you position yourself as attractive and impressive to recruiters despite your background?

These are serious considerations. But chances are, you have good reasons for changing your career path. You likely have something to offer potential employers in the new field. You know your past experience ties into new potential jobs — you just have to help recruiters recognize that.

Your resume will be one of your most important tools when transitioning to a new industry. (Click here to tweet this quote.) With careful editing, you can highlight your greatest strengths and accomplishments that will impress potential employers in any field. Here are five tips to get started.

1. Start with some soul-searching

Think long and hard about why you’ve decided to switch careers. Are you drawn to do something more meaningful with your life? Do you feel your skills are being underutilized in your current field? Do you want to make more money? Or maybe you’re just bored?

You probably have a lot of reasons, but there’s just one that’s absolutely essential: You think you’ll be good at the new job. You feel you have something positive to bring to the table. If that factor isn’t coming into play, you’ll have a hard time positioning yourself as an attractive candidate to employers.

If it is, recognizing your strengths is the first step toward selling yourself in a new field.

2. Pinpoint key qualifications of the new position

As with any job you’re applying for, read the job description carefully and recognize the keywords that seem most important. Proficiency with certain software, strong management skills, and an understanding of basic trade knowledge are just a few factors that might be non-negotiable. Do you have them? Great. Now you’ve got to communicate that to recruiters.

Are you lacking in some departments? Better to focus on what you do have and, in the meantime, take the initiative and do what you can to fill in your gaps.

3. Highlight your transferable skills

Maybe you’ve spent years working as a journalist and you feel called to move into PR. Or you want to switch from working in sales to teaching elementary school. What have you learned in your former industry that you can apply to your new one? You may have to stretch to make a connection, but you may also find you can offer some skills or a perspective that industry veterans don’t commonly have.

For instance, a journalist can bring a useful perspective to a PR firm that puts a lot of effort into pitching ideas to the media. Figure out which of your skills will transfer to the new industry, and be sure to highlight them.

4. Be selective

A resume that was highly impressive to hiring managers in your former industry may not even inspire a second glance in a new field. Jobs and qualifications that were once considered swoon-worthy are now completely irrelevant.

Does that mean you should start from scratch? Not at all — but you do need to do some serious trimming and rearranging. If a particular job or detail of that job is irrelevant to the position you’re applying for — meaning you can’t even stretch to find a connection — consider taking it off of your resume. At the very least, downplay it and replace it with something more pertinent.

5. Show off your industry smarts

Even if you’re a newbie to the industry, you can still show you’re in the know. Read trade journals, industry blogs and follow influencers on social media to get a sense of the industry’s vocabulary. Then, make an effort to include key terms and phrases in your resume to show you speak the language.

Switching to a new career can be intimidating, but with a well-written resume in hand, you’ll not only be able to compete with other candidates, you’ll actually stand out from the crowd. Recruiters will recognize and appreciate when you have confidence in your talents, and, if all goes well, you’ll be lining up interviews in no time.

Michelle Kruse has over 10 years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development. At ResumeEdge, Michelle recruits and hires resume writers, provides training and ongoing support, manages strategic partnerships, and serves as a subject matter expert on the job search process.

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MBA Application Process: What’s Typically Required and How Much It Costs Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Just the thought of applying for an MBA can be scary - but is the actual application process too much to handle? Find out if you’re really ready to take the plunge.

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In the world of entrepreneurship and higher education, everyone seems to be a little intimidated by the almighty MBA. So, let’s clarify a few fundamental concepts:

Is an MBA totally worthwhile depending on your career goals? Yes.

Is it also totally intimidating and gross? It is to me, and it may be to you, too.

If you’re not quite sure, here’s a careful look at the MBA Application process with examples taken from the Harvard MBA application website. Pay attention — there may be a red flag along the way that helps you realize that an MBA is not for you. If you feel the opposite way — excited about your prospects — that might be a sign it’s time to move forward.

MBA Background Application

The typical list of MBA background application requirements goes a little something like this:

  • A 4-year undergraduate degree or its equivalent
  • GMAT or GRE test results
  • TOEFL, iBT or IELTS test results if you attended a non-English undergraduate program

And that’s where you need to start asking the big questions: Do you have about 50 hours to prepare for a GMAT or GRE? Do you have $250 to drop on the test (and more if you don’t score well and need to retake it)? If not, then a big “Aw heck no…” should start building up in the back of your throat.

MBA Written Application

When you’re putting together your written application, the next steps start to form a long line on your to-do list app:

  • Transcript(s). Go ahead and call all of your schools and send them money to get these printables. Heaven help you if you forget it’s coming in the mail and accidentally open it!
  • GMAT/GRE Scores. Did you save these in a special place? You better hope so!
  • TOEFL/IELTS/Pearson Test of English. These, too.
  • Essay. While this is important, don’t start writing until you’re ready to be judged for your writing skills.
  • Two Recommendations. A great opportunity to stress out over the perfect combination of seniority and someone who “Knows just enough to be dangerous”…
  • Resume. Complete with tongue-in-cheek “Objectives” section.
  • $250 Fee. For the pleasure of them reading your name…

Do you have $250 and some change to blow on this application? Do you have the time to track down these test scores and put together a presentable packet to mail? And most important of all, are you ready to sum up your hopes, dreams, and ambitions in a 2,000 word essay? Then carry on…

MBA Application Interview

The next step in the interview process is the most painful one: after you submit your written application and the MBA board reviews it, they may or may not invite you to interview.

That’s right, they may or may not invite you to spend $1,000+ on a roundtrip plane ticket, hotel room, and travel for a few days of awkward conversation. (And that’s not included the super-stressful process of presenting your best side to a group of MBA folks and hoping they choose you.)

You’ll need preparation and coaching. You’ll need confidence, energy, and chutzpah. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably need to hyperventilate into a brown paper bag before and after.

MBA Application Post-Interview Reflection

Finally, some MBA institutions aren’t quite sure that’s torture enough, so they ask you to write up another essay to be judged. Except this time, it’s due within 24 hours to make sure you can write when you’re totally jetlagged and your nerves are wrecked. If you’re still intrigued by the process at this point, your masochist self will fit right in with the 2015 premier of 50 Shades of Grey Round 1 admissions for business school.

Are you ready for an MBA? If you don’t know for sure, these practical questions should help. (Click here to tweet this question.) Did these requirements make you break out in hives? Or did each seem like an exciting and intimidating challenge? If the former, we’re in the same club. If the latter, you might want to start saving up for those test fees and travel expenses

Sarah Greesonbach is the magic bean behind Greesonbach Creative, a distinctive copywriting and content studio, and is obsessed with writing about all things career. Her words have partied on AOL Jobs, Business Insider, and Simply Hired, and she documents mistakes in freelance living and eating Paleo on her blog, Life [Comma] Etc.

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Want to Work Remotely While Traveling the World? This Program Can Help Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:00:22 +0000 Do you dream of finding a remote job and traveling the world? A new program called Remote Year might be your golden ticket.

The post Want to Work Remotely While Traveling the World? This Program Can Help appeared first on Brazen Life.

Picture this: You’re sitting in a European cafe, typing away on your laptop and sipping an espresso. Or, you’re lounging on an exotic beach, having a conference call with one of your global clients.

It’s the remote working dream that’s exploded in popularity over the past few years.

However, if you’ve considered pursuing this lifestyle before, you might have been intimidated by the complicated logistics. From booking flights to finding WiFi, the number of variables involved in traveling while working remotely can make anyone’s head swirl.

That’s why an innovative program from a former Groupon employee is creating a lot of buzz.

Say hello to Remote Year

Launching in June 2015, Remote Year promises to give you a hassle-free way to live out your location-independent dreams.

A recent Springwise article says the program “aims to take care of all of the travel logistics and accommodation for 100 participants. Those signing up for Remote Year will get to see 18 world locations over the course of a year and also get to meet and even collaborate with a group of new people.”

So your flights, lodging, activities, and community will be taken care of — but what if you don’t have a remote job?

Remote Year’s thought of that, too; they’ll help match you with participating companies. Though jobs will be offered from different industries, you’ll need a salary of at least $35,000 to pay for the costs of the program and still have a little bit of money left over.

Organizing jobs and travel logistics for 100 people sounds like quite the feat, and we’ll be interested to see if Remote Year can pull it off. No matter how it turns out, we think it’s a good step toward a world of more freedom for workers.

What do you think of this program? Intriguing? Unnecessary? Too expensive?

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.

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Boost Your Business With a Visual Content Strategy Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Use visual content to give your marketing strategy a boost and engage with your audience. Here’s what you need to know about the most popular visual content types.

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Visual content is the next best thing for your marketing strategy: It’s more appealing to view and take in. What would you prefer? Reading a paragraph or two of text or watching an eye-catching animation that explains the information with minimal effort?

The days of the written press release are coming to an end. Consumers are answering more to visual media, and readers are likely to spend more time and interest looking at imagery and videos. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Multimedia material can make a huge difference when engaging with your online audience. The most popular visual techniques are video, images and infographics.

Video is most engaging

The growth in online video production companies over the last few years is phenomenal; with a variety of rates, your company doesn’t have an excuse not to have a corporate video. Having an online video to promote your business provides endless possibilities and advantages, such as the ability to attract and educate new customers.

Google ranks video content 60 percent higher than written text, which generates more traffic to your site. Video is a great tool for showing off a new product or service you offer. Using a video allows you to get straight to the point so you can promote yourself clearly and directly.

content strategy

Recently, more businesses are using video as a marketing tool. With the many social resources and platforms offered, your video will help increase sales or interest.

As far as video marketing is concerned, YouTube is the best invention since sliced bread. Using your own social media accounts, you can spread the word all around the world.

With a bit of luck and determination, your video might go viral — which means an increase in interest to your business, while making yourself or company an authority in your field.

Imagery is the nicest to look at

Even the easiest and simplest visual content will increase interest and make life easier for your reader. Including a photo into an article can increase views by 45 percent.

But image quality matters, especially if you’re promoting an event or product. Images are an important resource because they can be spread through social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Social media is an outstanding asset for businesses, as it’s free and connects people all over the world. There are 1.26 billion Facebook users across the globe — and it costs nothing more than a good idea or well-crafted visual content to reach everyone!

Infographics are the most informative

Infographics can be incorporated into a video or stand on its own. The point of creating infographics for marketing is that they’re useful and easily shared while carrying your branding far across the Internet. It’s probably the biggest newcomer, having a massive increase in popularity throughout 2014.

All infographics designs are different, so don’t worry about competing with other brands to have better ideas. Yes, the more creative your idea the better, but sometimes it might not be necessary. There’s nothing worse than over doing something and making it look out of place, which can lead to people being put off by what they see.

Before you pay top dollar, ask: Is it appropriate and will it do its job?

infographic for visual strategy

Social media is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you’ll become increasingly popular. You have to work for it, join communities and interact with your customers; this is the only way they’ll know who you are and what you do.

Video and other forms of visual content connect and build relationships to foster strong audiences. By creating high quality visual content, you give your customers an easier way to spread the word about your business and give new customers a reason to find out more about you.

This drastically improves the image of your business. Spreading this visual content couldn’t be more simple with the widespread use of social media. Take advantage of it to further increase the image of your startup and generate additional sales.

Sam Richardson is a young creative intern at Phink TV with an interest in visual content marketing as well as writing articles/blogs in and around the creative industry. Outside the office, he enjoys competing in triathlons and socializing with friends. Connect with Phink TV on Facebook or Twitter.

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3 Creative Yet Professional Ways to Get Your Next Job Application Noticed Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 If you want HR to spend more than the average .25 seconds reviewing your application, here’s how to make it stand out from the rest.

The post 3 Creative Yet Professional Ways to Get Your Next Job Application Noticed appeared first on Brazen Life.

Job opening for your dream job sighted! Cover letter written? Check. Resume tailored? Check. Next step: Find a way to approach the HR manager so your email doesn’t get overlooked, or worse, dragged to the trash can.

There must be a professional, yet interesting way to help you stand out in this inevitably giant pool of applicants.

With multimedia at your fingertips, seize opportunities to bring innovation into your job search endeavors. Approach the hiring manager with these innovative ideas:

1. Film a video to show off your personality

A video is the perfect way to make a great first impression. In a video, you can reveal a side of your personality that a sheet of paper can’t. Hiring managers can see how you present yourself and communicate in 3D.

You can highlight some of your proudest accomplishments, your experience and demonstrate why the company should hire you. Essentially, it’s a video summary of your resume.

When creating your video, try to keep the length at about one minute. Research shows people only watch on average 2.7 minutes of an Internet video.

Besides including the standard info about yourself, use your video as an opportunity to show off your graphic design talents, your editing skills and all that quirkiness that makes you unique.

Place this video in the summary section of all your job search profiles. Share it on social media, and don’t forget to include it in your personal email to hiring managers.

2. Create a PowerPoint to outline your goals

Show hiring managers you’re serious about the job by sharing your goals for joining their company. (Click here to tweet this advice.) You could write you “want to add to the success of the company” in your cover letter, but hiring managers hear that vague expression all the time. This will set you apart because applicants rarely state specific, measurable goals to the hiring manager so early in the hiring process.

Instead of adding these goals as more black-and-white text in your cover letter, create a PowerPoint slideshow of these goals. Keep this in your arsenal to present at your interview.

3. Design a Prezi of your accomplishments

What better way for a hiring manager to learn all about you and your experience than through a fun, interactive presentation? Prezi is different from PowerPoint because it offers options for a non-linear storyline. Thanks to the interactivity of Prezi, you can click anywhere to uncover more info in a visually intriguing way.

In your Prezi, you’ll want to show any educational degrees or certificates, but also cite any positions held in organizations or awards you’ve received. Use concrete facts and numbers to express accomplishments at previous positions. Mention sales, percent increases, company ratings, reviews and new product launches.

You can either embed your Prezi into your initial email to HR, or take it with you to an interview or quick meet-and-greet with the manager.

Any of these innovative introduction tools are unique enough to get you noticed when emailed out or embedded in your profile. Plus, you can use them in your interview to captivate everyone at the company. The next time you reach out to a hiring manager, get creative! Use multimedia to your advantage.

What are a few other fun and innovative ways to approach a hiring manager?

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.

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How to Handle Losing Your Job After An Abrupt Company Reorganization Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 When your career “rug” is pulled out from under you, here’s how to keep a level head and avoid an emotional tailspin.

The post How to Handle Losing Your Job After An Abrupt Company Reorganization appeared first on Brazen Life.

One day you’re a tenured, mid-level manager with a good salary, solid benefits and a positive career trajectory. The next day, your company announces their reorganization and your job gets eliminated.

Your options? Accept a non-manager role or take your severance package and hit the bricks. Your head is spinning, meetings with your HR representative feel surreal and your entire professional future is up in the air.

Deciding your next career move is important. But what’s often overlooked is the emotional fallout from having the career “rug” pulled out from under you. How do you keep a level head? How do you keep this from negatively impacting every area of your life? Here are four ways to limit the emotional damage and make sure this experience changes your life for the better. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Deal with your feelings

Put on a brave face at work and be professional for as long as you’re still there, but don’t ignore what’s going on inside. Be open with your spouse, close friends and mentors about what you’re feeling. Acknowledge your emotions rather than repressing them.

Understand that bitterness, jealousy and anger are all normal emotions in this situation and it’s OK to experience them. Write letters you’ll never send to upper management. Let it all out. Read them, then burn them. Do it again and again until the sting is gone.

Keep an eye out for signs of depression or anxiety. If your employer offers counseling to help deal with the transition, take advantage of it.

2. Take responsibility for your future

You were not the cause of the company’s reorganization. You did not have control over the choice to eliminate your job. But if you get stuck playing the blame game or beating yourself up over what you could have done differently, you won’t be able grow from this experience and move on with your career.

Your career is your responsibility. Finger pointing and excuse making serve no purpose other than to keep you from moving your career forward. Get better at what you do, whether that means learning new skills or focusing more on your strengths.

If you’re staying with the company, show up every day ready to make an impact in your new role. When a new management position becomes available, be the odds on choice. Make the hiring manager’s decision a no-brainer.

3. Be grateful for what you have

It’s the last thing you’ll want to do, but it’s absolutely essential to embrace what the future holds. If you accepted a lower level position, be thankful you’re still employed. Be thankful you can still provide for your family.

If you’re on severance, be thankful your employer offered a severance package. Be thankful for your health, the love of your family and friends, and the ability to pursue new opportunities. Compared to those who are out of work with no severance, the homeless and the hungry, you’re doing just fine.

4. Know when change is a blessing in disguise

After the changes are announced, you’ll feel like your identity was stripped away. It’s like the end of relationship when all you want is to do is find a way to go back to how things used to be.

But what if there’s something better out there? Is there a passion you’ve put on the back burner because you weren’t sure how to make a career of out it? A relationship that’s been neglected because you were always working? A faith that’s become lukewarm because you’re so busy all the time?

Can this end be turned into a new beginning? Your severance payout could be an investment in your future. Your new non-management schedule could give you the extra time at home you need. Sit down and write out all the things you haven’t been able to do because of the demands of your career. Now you can invest your time into those things. Your family will thank you for it and, who knows, you may find a new career you hadn’t considered before.

The effects of a corporate reorganization take their toll on everyone, especially those who lose their job or accept a different role. By following these four steps, you can effectively deal with the emotions you’re feeling so you can continue to be a loving spouse, a good parent, a true friend and a valuable employee.

Todd K Marsha writes about learning, growing and living at his self-titled blog. Follow him on Twitter at @toddkmarsha.

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How to Use Frequent Job Changes to Your Advantage Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Don’t let the “job hopper” label -- and its stigma -- stop you from nailing your next job interview. Here’s what you need to do.

The post How to Use Frequent Job Changes to Your Advantage appeared first on Brazen Life.

It used to be that someone who worked at a company for a year or two would have signaled red flags as a risky hire. Today, it’s more common for professionals to change jobs — even careers — more frequently. But this isn’t something new. It’s been heading this direction since the 1940s when a gold watch marked a 30-year employee’s send-off into retirement.

While more people are changing jobs at a faster rate, there’s a lingering stigma tied to those with lengthy resumes that hasn’t caught up with the times. Just ask the Millennials who are told that making frequent job changes signals character flaws.

How do you overcome general presumption and use your moves as an advantage? Think of your skill set in broader terms and promote your professional attributes. (Click here to tweet these strategies.)

Strategy 1. Promote your character

The workforce is at a point where the growing skills gap has resulted in unfilled jobs, which affects the way organizations find talent. Many companies are expanding candidate criteria beyond the traditional job description to those who have strong core attributes; they then work to train them on the job for specific roles.

As a result, personal character and the capacity to learn are becoming hiring attributes.

Forbes contributor Mike Myatt thinks this is a good approach for companies. He writes that a “values-based approach to hiring increases performance, enhances collaboration, reduces turnover, improves morale, and creates a stable culture.” He continues:

…if you can’t trust someone to do the right thing, it doesn’t matter how likable, passionate or talented they are. You can teach many things, but altering the hardwiring of an adult’s character is best left to a therapist or the clergy — not an employer.

There’s no shortage of conversation around leveraging soft skills, but when put into practice, it’s not as common as you think. Think about your skill set — both soft and technical. Instead of sharing your experience of X, Y and Z, tell the interviewer how, by using X, Y and Z, you were able to solve a specific problem.

Then tie that back to the lessons learned and how you’ll apply it to the role you’re interviewing for. The goal for a hiring manager is to sign on a great employee, rather than just a great job applicant on paper.

Strategy 2. Try different “career trails”

In a recent CareerBuilder survey on job-hopping statistics, Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s vice president of HR says: “More workers are pursuing opportunities with various companies to expose themselves to a wider range of experiences, build their skill sets, or take a step up the ladder in pay or title.”

Exposing yourself to a wider range of experiences is a personal selling opportunity — and companies are buying into it. To capitalize on this when searching out a new job, reflect on your work experience to determine other industries where that experience applies.

The trade industries are hiring, and these jobs are sophisticated and specialized. They offer excellent pay, professional growth and job security. And like any company, they have sales, marketing, logistics, finance and other business functions.

If you can’t land a permanent job, think about signing on with a staffing company for contract-to-hire assignments. This sets up “career trails” that’ll help you assess your desired career path while gaining experience and avoiding a resume gap.

Another benefit of working through a staffing company on multiple assignments is the ability to try various jobs and companies without appearing to job hop.

With some companies more willing to hire someone with fewer years of experience under the condition they can illustrate specific qualities, the playing field has been leveled — offering non-industry veterans a chance to compete.

It’s still not ideal to job hop for no reason. But if you can come to the interview prepared to engage in a dialogue about the reasons for the moves and how your experiences have positively influenced your business competencies, it’ll be an asset to your portfolio of work.

Dan Campbell is founder/CEO of Hire Dynamics and 2014 Chairman of the American Staffing Association. Hire Dynamics is an industry leading staffing provider that has been recognized as a “Best Places to Work,” “Best Staffing Firm to Work For,” and on the Inc. Magazine 500|5000 list, among others. @HireDynamics

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Forget New Year’s Resolutions: How To Conduct Your Own Annual Review Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:00:33 +0000 If your New Year’s resolutions haven’t been panning out the way you’d hoped, it might be time to switch gears. This year, why not try conducting your own annual review?

The post Forget New Year’s Resolutions: How To Conduct Your Own Annual Review appeared first on Brazen Life.

It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2014. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Did you accomplish what you’d hoped to this year? Or, a better question: Do you even remember what you’d hoped to accomplish?

If you’re like most of us, probably not. It’s likely you scrawled a few resolutions onto the back of an envelope on January 1st, only to take it — literally and figuratively — out to the recycling a few weeks later.

For those of you who are seeking change and growth in the coming year, you might be thinking: “There’s got to be a better way.”

It’s time to conduct your own annual review

That’s what Chris Guillebeau, the author of “The Happiness of Pursuit,” thought — so each December, he started conducting a personal annual review.

Here’s how he describes it:

“Every year since 2005, I’ve spent the better part of a week in late December planning my life for the next year. Overall, this is probably the best decision I’ve made in terms of working towards multiple goals simultaneously. The idea is to create a road map for the year ahead—not a rigid daily schedule, but an overall outline of what matters to me and what I hope to achieve in the next year.”

Interested? We’ve broken down his process below — so you can decide if it would work for you:

  1. Make a spreadsheet to record everything; he includes a template in the post
  2. Review the past year: what went well, what didn’t go well, and what goals you achieved
  3. Divide your life into categories, then create 3-5 measurable goals for each. Some of Guillebeau’s categories include business, friends & family, travel, health, and financial
  4. Determine the actions needed to achieve each goal. He gives this example: If your goal is to run a marathon, you’ll need to start running three miles, three times a week
  5. Add reminders to your calendar to review your goals each quarter
  6. Lastly, set an overarching theme for the upcoming year

Because a personal annual review encompasses what went wrong, what went right, and what you want to happen in the future, Guillebeau says it can help you feel “excited about future goals and resolved to move on from any failures.”

Face it: Your New Year’s resolutions haven’t been cutting it. (Don’t worry; neither have anybody else’s.) Personal annual reviews sound like a smart alternative — and we’re excited to try them out. Just think of everything you could accomplish in 2015!

Do you create resolutions or goals? Would a personal annual review work for you?

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.

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How to Be More Competitive at Work: Master These 4 Skills Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 What gives you the jitters at work? Tackling those fears might help you get ahead at your job.

The post How to Be More Competitive at Work: Master These 4 Skills appeared first on Brazen Life.

What have you done at work lately to make yourself a little nervous?

How about volunteering to give a presentation even though standing in front of an audience terrifies you? Or offering to analyze data, when crunching numbers takes you on a long trip outside your comfort zone?

Doing things that give flight to those butterflies can sharpen your competitive edge on the job. And trust me: Bosses appreciate a team member who’s willing to try something new or take an assignment no one else wants to touch. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

When we get nervous, our first instinct is to turn and run — as fast and as far as possible. Instead, take a moment to sit with your nerves and see what they’re telling you. It’s probably pretty good advice.

Thankfully, you don’t have to tackle your fears alone. You’ll find plenty of free resources online to help you gain mastery (or at least some proficiency). Talk to your boss to see if you can carve out some time during the workday. Otherwise it’s a wise investment in the evenings and on weekends to set aside a few hours with your own brand of continuing ed.

Here’s a list of four common anxiety producers at work and the tools that can help you triumph over them once and for all.

1. Master Microsoft Office

In its role as benevolent ruler of the document-creation universe, Microsoft offers free courses on Excel, Word, PowerPoint and more.

Too many of us struggle along as neophytes with these workplace tools, especially with the dreaded spreadsheet. Knowing how to use Microsoft Office like a pro can save you time and help shine like the star you are.

What could be more fierce than learning how to create an Excel formula that literally does your work for you? And there’s no better confidence booster when faced with a presentation than knowing how to build a kick-ass PowerPoint.

2. Dominate Google Analytics

If you’re already skilled at content development, then you need to develop the know-how to prove what’s working and what’s not working on your website and social media platforms. That’s where the Google Academy comes in.

Start with the basic course, Digital Analytics Fundamentals, and go from there. Before you know it, you won’t be taking those analytics reports from the web development team at face value anymore.

3. Get good at grammar

For you lucky people who can analyze data in your sleep, it might be time to boost your comfort level with content. Even in this age of texting and emojis, mastering the basics of good grammar is an absolute career essential, whether you’re putting together a detailed report or a short email. And sad but true: Spell check is not always your friend.

I’m fond of Grammar Girl. The tone is light and friendly (no judging here) with lots of timely insights into word choice and punctuation, especially the dastardly apostrophe.

4. Professionalize your public speaking

I recently stumbled across a new (to me) site called Coursera. It’s an education platform that partners with top educational institutions (including world-class universities) to offer classes for free.

So if you want to do a better job with that PowerPoint Presentation, you can sign up for Introduction to Public Speaking with the University of Washington. There are also classes on successful negotiation, marketing, finance and more. Many are on demand; some even give you a pretty certificate to quantify your time.

How have you stretched yourself at work lately? What tools did you rely on to be successful?

Marianne Griebler is a writer, editor and marketing communications strategist in Chicago. You can find her on Twitter at @magriebler.

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Graduating Soon? The Advice You Need to Be Successful in Life Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Think you’re ready for the big, bad world beyond graduation? Not so fast. Make sure you’ve done these things first.

The post Graduating Soon? The Advice You Need to Be Successful in Life appeared first on Brazen Life.

Graduating is an exciting time. You’ve most likely spent the last few years planning, studying, cramming, writing, crying, reporting and cramming some more, and now it’s finished — you’ve got every right to be excited!

You’re moving onto a new, unexplored chapter in your life and you should be raring to go. This is a great attitude to have; it promotes confidence and implies a state of readiness for the big, bad world. But chances are, you’re not as ready as you think.

This isn’t meant in the sense of “You’re not ready and you’re going to fail,” but more in the sense of you may be missing a few things that can help you. By making sure you have everything checked off the list, your transition from college to working life will be easier. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Easier doesn’t mean more interesting, though. Even if the following advice seems tedious, you need it to set yourself up for success and to live your life to the fullest.

Start with the money you’ve got — or not

If you have any immediate debt (not student loans, that’s a whole other barrel of fish) make sure you get the right credit card, or even overdraft protection. This kind of debt is more common for students than you may think. If you don’t get the best credit card, you’ll likely have problems later.

Do your research and find the best possible option — it isn’t necessarily the cheapest. Look further down the line. Hidden costs and rate inflation can cause havoc, so make sure you take the appropriate steps in preventing such disasters.

Use sites like Moneyfacts. They don’t sell any products, but they do give you stripped down, to the point facts. Keep an eye out for lenders with endorsements from those sites; chances are, they’re a viable option.

Map out a budget

After dealing with immediate issues, longer term priorities need to come into play. Make a budget. Know what’s coming in and what’s going out and save accordingly. Saving is important, but often overlooked.

Find a high interest savings account and give in to adulthood and responsibility. These savings should go towards retirement funds — that’s right, saving for retirement starts now! — and establishing an emergency fund. You never know what’s going to happen, and you don’t want to use your credit card or take out a loan if you don’t have to.

Give your future a health check

Advancements in industry and technology, especially the Internet, have opened many doors when it comes to career possibilities. Jobs that didn’t exist a short time ago such as web designers and developers are now highly sought after.

Many careers are available in markets that didn’t even exist 10 years ago, such as social media. A study from The Princeton Review shows that computer and information science majors are now within the top 10 most popular chosen degrees and understandably so.

While the people who have studied and gained the skill set in these particular markets will find themselves with an ocean of possibilities, others may not. Traditional marketers may find that the only jobs available when they graduate are in digital marketing, which sounds the same, but isn’t.

Financiers might find that their degree is now redundant due a new automated statistical algorithmic model designed to approve or reject finance applications.

This is how advancement works; needs are created and someone finds a way of meeting them — you want to be relevant in your career 10 years from now, or at least know how to adapt to the inevitable changes. If you aren’t sure of either, perhaps you should look at a different career path.

Enjoy being a student while you can

A student finishing their last day of college and starting their job the next day is almost unheard of. Do what you can to make the transition an enjoyable one. Here are some ideas.

Celebrate your graduation — throw a party, or go to someone else’s. Not only are these enjoyable (and deserved), they can act as a platform to begin the networking you’ll be doing throughout your career.

You might meet someone who’s going into the same business — swap numbers or add them on Facebook: you never know what they’re going to achieve and how they could help you in the future. They might know something you don’t about a certain industry or position.

Making friends and networking is a big part of becoming successful; it’s best to start early and enjoy yourself in the process.

Student status doesn’t end on the exact date you finish college, so how else can you use this to your advantage? Student discounts. You’re probably not going to have a great deal of money — the majority of it will be in your savings account, right?

Student discounts can be your best friend. You can get discounts on a new suit or formal dress, for example — you need to look your best for upcoming interviews or networking opportunities. Computer software is another example. It costs less to purchase the student version of Microsoft Office than it would be to subscribe to the full (and essentially identical) version.

Use the Internet to find other student discounts and how you can use them to further yourself and save some money too.

This advice isn’t just pertinent now — it’ll also be relevant in the future. Finances are always going to be a priority, your job and status is always going to be a major aspect of your life, but at the same time, enjoying yourself and making sure you’re living life will be equally important.

Have you forgotten to do something from this article? How are you going to change it? Or have you managed to check all the necessary boxes when it comes to graduating?

Chris runs the blog Spend It Like Beckham where you can find all things financial to do with sports, students and your general self. Follow him on Twitter @officialsilb.

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Tracking Your Professional Journey: How to Move Through the 10 Stages of Your Career Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Learn more about the different career stages you’ll experience and how to prepare for which stage might come next.

The post Tracking Your Professional Journey: How to Move Through the 10 Stages of Your Career appeared first on Brazen Life.

Starting any journey with the end in mind makes perfect sense. But when it comes to career kickstarts, changes and progression, it’s important to think about the embarkation point and plan from there.

Think of your career as your course through life. For some it’s a direct path, from point A to point B. For most others, it’s a myriad of avenues and turns, providing a variety of opportunities.

If you’re at a point where you want to make a difference with your work, progress in your career and find happiness along the way, then it’s important to get a grasp of your career superhighway and take stock of where you are now and what’s next (and after that).

Here’s an outline of 10 stages you might experience over the course of your career. (Click here to tweet this list.) You may follow a linear path or jump back and forth through different stages. Remember, any direction you move through them is perfectly fine, as long as you’re moving in a direction that makes sense for you. Always remember your career is yours to drive, and the choices you make are yours alone.

1. The early education and exploration years

The experiences you have when you’re just starting out will shape your future. Over your lifetime you’ll spend on average 100,000 hours at work according to Charles Handy, author of The Age of Unreason. So it’s important to seek out a job and career you enjoy. In this stage, you need to think about what that might look like and how you might get there.

Remember saying “When I grow up I want to be…”? Kids might have no idea what they want to do when they grow up, but they will be very aware of things they enjoy doing; there’s no harm in dreaming. Draw inspiration from that childlike perspective; Think about your passions and how those might apply to your working life one day.

2. Continuing education

Even if you’ve been soul searching for a few years, you may still be wondering, “What’s next?” Start thinking hard about your options and what would make you happy. If you really have no idea, then think about:

  • People you admire
  • What you love spending your time on
  • Experiences you’ve enjoyed

Use your answers as inspiration to brainstorm roles that could be a good fit for you. To move on from this stage, try picking up a part-time job, looking into contract work and attending new networking events to help you decide the right path. It’s also time to work on practical, everyday and essential employability skills such as time management and commerciality, which are key to securing your dream job.

3. First role

You’ve secured your first job! Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. So be prepared to put the work in and learn essential skills and knowledge before you’re ready to move on.

While you dominate your first job, continue to keep an eye on the next move and work towards it. Make sure you have regular one-on-one discussions with your manager and make sure to bring up your career goals. If this isn’t part of your conversations, you run the risk of getting caught up on the day-to-day and losing track of the goals. Keep track of your goals to make sure they’re front of mind. You may even want to keep a career notebook where you jot down aspirations, track progress and make plans. This will help you develop a firm grasp on goal setting and keep you focused on getting there.

4. The “on a roll” stage

You’re learning, progressing, happy, engaged and “on a roll.” You’re making a contribution and working towards future goals. Enjoy this time and make the most of all the opportunities that come your way. But also take time to reflect on what you’re learning and what you’d like to develop while you’re in a good place.

Then use low-cost or no-cost learning tools such as mentoring, online tutorials and videos to boost your knowledge base.

Make time to have big picture conversations with trusted advisors. By doing so, the opportunities to move to the next level in your career will reveal themselves. Your next move may be through a promotion, returning to school to continue your education, a company or career change or even staying here until it’s time to retire.

5. Add ons

When you’re happy and engaged, you should still keep your options open. Start thinking about additional activities you can do to give back. Do you feel you need a new challenge or want to acquire skills that don’t fall within your current duties? How about becoming a mentor? Offering to help with on-boarding new hires? Taking on a work experience student, non-executive directorships, sabbaticals for travel or charity work?

Choose whatever will keep you motivated and excited. Expanding your talents will help you progress.

6. Dissatisfied

Career or job dissatisfaction starts as a mild irritation. Then before you know it, you’re unhappy at work.

If you’re becoming less engaged, think hard about what you can do to reignite your spark. If it has something to do with relationships at work, particularly with your boss, man up and deal with it appropriately and assertively. If you’re unable to remedy the situation, then you’ll have some tough decisions to make.

Being unhappy at work is not good for your health, for the organization or for your colleagues, friends and family. Spend time understanding why you’re feeling like this, then create a list of pros and cons before making your next move.

This is your time to be brave and do what it takes to return to stage 4, even if that means taking the leap and moving on from a stable job.

7. Career break

Taking a career break may or may not be your own choice. Either way, make the most of this time to update your skills, reconsider your options and refocus your efforts. If leaving your job was your choice, be sure to have a few end goals in place to avoid losing momentum.

If you were laid off or let go, you may have lost confidence, need to update your skills or want to reassess your options. Use this time wisely; refocus on your strengths and experience and explore your values to get you back to job-readiness.

8. Change companies

Even if you love your chosen career path, it may be time to consider switching jobs. If you’re feeling stuck in a dead-end job and are unable to resolve the issues you face day-to-day, decide how you can move on.

Start by identifying the type of business you want to work for. Even as you prepare your resume and target your dream companies, remember the “grass is always greener on the other side” cliché. Will you really be better off and happier in the long run if you switch companies?

9. Change careers

Career changes can happen at all stages of the journey – even when you’re happy and enjoy the work you do. If something isn’t sitting right inside, find a trusted advisor to talk through your thinking. It may be worth investing in professional coaching to help you find answers.

If possible, test out your ideas by doing some interim or part-time work, volunteering or job shadowing before you take the plunge into a new field.

10. Winding down

Unless you’re financially blessed, it’s likely this period will occur towards your twilight years. The superhighway doesn’t have to end here though – many jump back into the earlier stages as they reinvent themselves later in life! Enjoy!

Jane Sunley (@JaneSunley) is the CEO of people engagement specialist, Purple Cubed, and author of UK best seller “It’s Never Ok to Kiss the Interviewer: And Other Secrets to Surviving, Thriving and High Fiving at Work.” Visit for access to free career advancing tools and advice.

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Been Arrested? How to Survive Background Checks and Land a Job Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Worried your past arrest might interfere with your job search? Get familiar with what’s on your records -- and how you can stay calm and get employed.

The post Been Arrested? How to Survive Background Checks and Land a Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’re an upstanding citizen now, but you haven’t always been. Everyone has a rebellious phase, and for nearly one-third of Americans, this means being arrested by the age of 23. What are the long-term career consequences of that bender in Mexico with your friends?

Any infraction, even one that’s not a felony, can count against you in your job search. Conducting a background check is a step any employer has to take in the hiring process — even if the hiring manager has a less-than-squeaky-clean past of his own.

Ideally, employers want a clean background, but honesty is the best policy. You still have rights, despite your criminal record, but getting caught in a bold-faced lie isn’t only unbearably awkward — it could cost you the job.

Bottom line: You’re better off having an upfront discussion to establish trust. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

While a criminal record can disqualify you from employment, if you address it proactively, you’ll improve your chances of being hired. The key is being aware of what records are involved in a background check and what your records show. Records can include:

1. Court and police records

You can pay $65 for a copy of your FBI rap sheet in any state. This shows times you interacted with the police in that state (provided you were entered in the system), regardless of whether or not you were convicted. While a rap sheet is worth your investment to check for errors, it’s not what employers look at.

Unless you need a security clearance, potential employers only look at convictions and pending charges. Check your court records against your rap sheet — charge by charge — and attempt to seal any underage or dismissed charges.

2. DMV records

If the position you’re applying for involves driving, your future employer may pull your DMV records. And even if you got the court record of a DUI sealed, for example, your suspended license reveals the truth. Request your DMV report to see what’s on your public record.

3. Credit reports

Although the practice is banned in nine states, 47 percent of companies still check job applicants’ credit reports.

As a consumer, you’re legally entitled to three free credit reports per year from each of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You also have the right to dispute errors or comment on negative hits to explain extenuating circumstances.

4. Employment history

Your employment history is tracked, and discrepancies are common. Many people forget what month and year they began and ended jobs, skip jobs or add extra. It’s an easy way to check an applicant’s honesty and attention to detail. Make your employment history accurate by visiting The Work Number.

5. Medical records

Depending on the job, medical records may be obtained. This is a controversial check, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t practiced. You’re entitled to view your medical records, so contact your healthcare provider to see whether it mentions the times you were admitted under the Baker Act.

6. Academic history

If you got in trouble in school, you may need to contact the academic institutions you list on your application to see what information they release.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 requires your school to let you access your educational records within 45 days of anyone requesting to view them. Ask to amend any inaccuracies.

7. Google and social media results

Sometimes, the most obvious background check is the one we pay the least attention to. Google yourself.

After you go through the trouble to request and correct the above records, it’d be a shame to find your mug shot in Google images. Check your social media privacy settings, and look into any unfavorable web content.

8. Stay calm and get employed

It’s natural to want to hide criminal activity, but you need to get in front of the situation. Bring it up at the start of your interview when employers ask you to talk about yourself or your history. Highlight two positives, then divulge the criminal history.

Here’s a template for that awkward moment:

“I took college courses in ____ and have ___ years of industry experience. I do want to bring to your attention that ___ years ago, I served __ years at a correctional facility. Here’s what I learned from it, how I changed my life, and how I’ll bring value to your company…”

Revealing your criminal history isn’t terribly enjoyable, but by speaking confidently and ending with how you can bring value to employers, you’ll get your message across before they have a chance to wonder about your past. If you do this, yesterday’s mistakes can become today’s strengths.

Catherine Hoke is the founder and CEO of Defy Ventures, a nonprofit that serves people with criminal histories nationally. Defy “transforms street hustle” by providing entrepreneurship training, executive mentoring, startup funding, career development, and job placement. To find out more about how Defy Ventures can help you or someone you love, click here.

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How to Use Social Media to Impress Employers and Land a Job Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Recruiters are looking at your social media profiles to make hiring decisions. Use these tips to get their attention -- in the right way.

The post How to Use Social Media to Impress Employers and Land a Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Social media has become a part of our everyday routine, and our professional lives are no exception. From highlighting your accomplishments to fostering a direct connection with hiring managers, your social profiles may prove to be just the tool you need to excel in today’s highly competitive job market.

But just like any tool, the true benefit of social media depends on how well you use it. To leverage these outlets for the benefit of your career, you need to set them up in a way that best presents your achievements, knowledge, skills and abilities.

Plus, your future employer will likely look at your social media profiles as part of their decision to hire you — or not hire you. A 2014 survey conducted by found that 93 percent of job recruiters look at candidates’ social profiles when making a hiring decision. The same survey states that 42 percent of those recruiters have reconsidered their decision after viewing the content of a candidate’s social media profiles.

Here are a few tips on how to best use social media to portray yourself as the most hireable, qualified candidate for a job.

1. Shift your focus

Use your social media accounts to share more than snippets from your personal life. If you’ve been posting photos of every meal you’ve eaten or have shared every detail of your latest shopping spree, it’s time to stop.

Instead, start posting content that would interest future clients or employers. Examples may include posting photos of your participation in local charity events, tweeting about a project that you’re working on or sharing a few key points from a professional development course you recently took.

Even before you enter the job market, it’s a good idea to start sharing career-focused content. (Click here to tweet this advice.)

2. Turn your social networking profiles into a virtual portfolio

Once you’ve shifted your focus from personal posts to professional sharing, organize your profiles to highlight your best work. Many of the social networks offer great ways to present examples of previous projects.

For example, LinkedIn is perfect for writers who would like to share excerpts with followers and potential employers. This same feature provides a great platform for you to share content that demonstrates your expertise in any given area.

If you work in a creative field such as photography or web design, consider using Pinterest as a way of showcasing snapshots of your prior work.

3. Connect with the right people and organizations

Whether online or in-person, your networking strategy should start with reaching out to the people you already know. Once you’ve connected with all of your existing professional acquaintances through all possible channels, you can then begin to expand your range of influence.

Start following organizations that you’d like to work at. Reach out to key players in the company, and begin building a relationship with them. It’s also a great idea to connect with recruiting firm representatives.

Regardless of who you’re connecting with, always make it personal. Add a nice note to your invitation to connect, and explain why you’re interested in building a relationship with them. A few words can go such a long way, especially where social media is concerned.

4. Join relevant conversations

By joining discussion forums or other virtual gathering places, you give yourself the opportunity to interact with other professionals in your industry. Try participating in LinkedIn groups that are specific to your line of work. When you join one of these forums, become an active contributor. Ask questions, and answer those posted by other group participants. Avoid sharing irrelevant content, and never overdo it.

5. Monitor and control your personal reputation

Negative content on social media can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life, especially in your future career. Avoid associating yourself with users who post potentially offensive content. Absolutely never allow them to share distasteful comments or imagery on your own pages. If any of your friends have posted something about you that may be misinterpreted, politely ask them to remove it.

Take a proactive approach to the control of your personal web presence. While protecting yourself from negative online content, you should also be working towards creating a positive image of yourself.

Ask your classmates or colleagues to share flattering content, such as photos from a recent presentation, study group or class project. Many of the social networks also support reviews and endorsements, so if you know you have a happy client, ask them to share their experience online.

The workforce and modern recruiting practices are changing drastically, and it’s up to job seekers to adapt accordingly. Social media is a major part of that process. Use social media in constructive ways that will contribute to your future career success, rather than creating unnecessary professional obstacles.

Marissa Kasarov studied Marketing and Management at City Colleges of Chicago and Project Management at Northwestern University. She is a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.

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Want to Get Promoted at Work? Learn How to Manage Up Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 No matter where you work and in what industry, learning this skill is a surefire tactic to excelling in any job.

The post Want to Get Promoted at Work? Learn How to Manage Up appeared first on Brazen Life.

Want to blow everyone away at your new job or are you hoping for a promotion at work? While every workplace is different, there are a few basic rules every employee should follow: Show up on time, work hard and use good manners.

But you’ll need take it one step further for real success. Whenever I mentored (aka managed) a new employee, I gave three critical pieces of advice for success at our firm:

  1. Focus on time management
  2. Do quality work
  3. Learn how to manage up

Almost always, the new employee screwed up #1 and #2 within the first few months. But, with help, they mastered #3. Learning how to manage up made their lives a lot easier.

How managing up will help you succeed at work

Here are a few reasons you should learn this important skill:

  • You’ll anticipate problems before they happen
  • Your own stress levels will plumet
  • Both you and your project managers will see positive outcomes

In my experience, I’ve found that young employees who managed up received high marks for collaboration and for working on teams effectively. They were also more likely to receive promotions than others who faltered, stumbled and couldn’t get the hang of managing their superiors.

Effective people management is considered the cornerstone of sound leadership. Yet managing up is just as important as managing down, sideways or any other way. In fact, managing up is THE key to success for all employees in all companies.

What managing up is — and what it isn’t

Managing up means communicating with people, your project managers or other senior people you interact with daily (your “bosses”) in a way that makes their lives easier. That means you should learn to anticipate what people need to know — and provide it — before they ask.

If your boss or project manager constantly emails you asking for status updates, you aren’t managing up. If your boss or project manager reaches out to you to learn how a meeting went, how the project is going at a non-critical juncture or what a client or customer said during a call, you aren’t managing up. If your boss or project manager hears secondhand about a mistake, issue or other hiccup, you aren’t managing up.

How to amp up your managing up game

1. Document everything you’re working on

Keep good notes. At any moment, your boss or project manager may ask you what’s going on – and they’ll want details. You need to be ready with that information.

Clearly document who is doing what, who said what, what still needs to be done and what issues you need help resolving.

2. Keep the team constantly informed

Determine who is involved on each of your projects and who needs to know what’s going on. The goal isn’t to provide information on a “need to know” basis. Assume everyone needs to know – unless told otherwise.

Provide email updates to the team (cc your boss) on Mondays and Fridays. Monday’s emails should explain what items are being addressed, who’s addressing them and what outstanding issues exist. Friday’s email should detail what was accomplished and what’s still left to tackle.

3. Solicit feedback

This one can pose the biggest stumbling block because people inherently fear negative feedback. But by actively soliciting feedback – preferably through face-to-face conversation – you set the tone for constructive feedback, both positive and negative.

You also avoid future issues by providing a forum for voicing concerns AHEAD of time. Who doesn’t want to avoid a major workplace gaffe? Incorporate the feedback into your work processes and project. In your weekly updates, ensure everyone knows what changes are being made. People want to know they’ve been heard – this is critical.

Think of steps 1 through 3 like a continuous cycle. The process never stops. And the more you perform, revise and enhance on this process, the better you will become at managing up.

You should be providing everyone with important info about what happened, what needs to happen and what needs to be resolved without even being asked. Managing up requires understanding what motivates your boss or project managers and using that insight to make their jobs easier.

Most importantly, managing up means making managing down for your bosses a lot easier. (Click here to tweet this quote.) In other words, you make it substantially easier for them to manage YOU.

The benefits of managing up far outweigh the extra investment of time involved. You’ll be perceived as a good communicator who is collaborative, accountable and generally “on top of things.” You’ll be given additional responsibilities because your boss or project manager will know they can rely on you.

And – most importantly – you won’t be micromanaged. You will feel more autonomous, independent and engaged as an employee.

If you want to hop onto that leadership track, managing up is a critical step on the ladder you need to climb. When you make your boss or project look good, you in turn make yourself look good!

Stacey Hawley is the author of Rise to the Top: How Women Leverage Their Professional Persona to Earn More and founder of Credo, a compensation and talent management firm.

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3 Reasons Overqualified Candidates Don’t Get Job Offers Fri, 14 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Just because you’re qualified on paper doesn’t mean you’ll get the job. Prove to a potential employer that you’re more than just a laundry list of skills and qualifications.

The post 3 Reasons Overqualified Candidates Don’t Get Job Offers appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’ve been applying like crazy to jobs you know you’re qualified for. You’d be a perfect fit at each of these companies. You’ve stayed persistent and positive. Someone has to make a job offer soon, right?

But over and over, when you follow up, you hear devastating news: The position was offered to someone else. Or even worse, you don’t hear anything back at all. You’re crushed, confused and lost. You’ve spent hours perfecting your resume and writing cover letters, but nothing seems to give.

Don’t give up hope just yet. Here are a few reasons your application might have gotten overlooked, and what you can do to make sure your next one stands out.

Reason 1: Your snoozy-worthy application got trashed — or overlooked completely

Employers go through stacks and stacks of resumes and cover letters at a time. This isn’t news. Yet you still write a grade-A boring cover letter. You haven’t made your resume bullets crystal clear and nothing about you other than your master’s degree or Ph.D stands out.

Or, you perceive your degree is enough for the job. That perception isn’t in line with reality (a.k.a. the job description and the skills required to complete the job). It’s time to get serious about self-evaluation.

Step it up. If you don’t have a professional portfolio, get one now. If you do have one, maybe it’s your online presence that’s putting them off. What!? They look at that? Uh… yeah! This is the age of the Internet.

Show your creativity, and share your voice. Go that extra mile and send in a pre-interview screening of yourself on video with your cover letter, resume and your online portfolio.

To stand out, show off your personality and always remember your application should be tailored towards the company you’re applying for. A less qualified candidate sometimes beats out an overqualified one because they’re more eager and have taken the time to move beyond the basic requirements in their application.

To learn from your past applications, ask the human resource manager what separated you from the applicant who got the job. You may discover that the guy or gal was less qualified on paper, but still had one up on you. See what they did better, and see how you can do the same in your next job application.

Reason 2: You haven’t told the company what you can do for them

Employers are looking for the next great leader. And you aren’t it — or, you haven’t showed to them that you could be it. You haven’t proven you’re the one with that edge.

Just like individuals, companies have short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. To best understand the long-term goals of any company, start with their mission statement. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you’ll need to do to help them reach these goals.

When you’ve created a solid outline for what you think they’ll need as employers, present yourself as the answer for both the here and now and for the future. Convey your desire to be there long-term and for a specific reason. Address this during your interview. If they don’t bring it up, make sure you do.

It’s much easier to stay confident, be genuine and smile your way through the interview when you’ve gone above and beyond to present yourself as the best long-term asset to the company. (Click here to tweet this advice.) It also sets the tone that you will deliver high quality work when you land the job.

Reason 3: You’re nothing but a list of boring skills

Most employers look for something more besides the baseline skills required to do the job. You may think it’s unfair, but life isn’t fair. And there are no rules in this game other than the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) law.

To help a company succeed at great heights, you’ll need a lot more than just a highly specialized skill.

Check out the results of a recent study by Harris Interactive, which polled 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals from across multiple industries. They were asked if they had two equally qualified candidates, which factors would make them more likely to consider one over the other. This is who they’d be more likely to chose:

  • The candidate with the better sense of humor: 27 percent
  • The candidate who is involved in his or her community: 26 percent
  • The better-dressed candidate: 22 percent
  • The candidate they had more in common with: 21 percent
  • The more physically fit candidate: 13 percent
  • The candidate who is more on top of current affairs and pop culture: 8 percent
  • The candidate who is more active on social media: 7 percent
  • The candidate who is knowledgeable about sports: 4 percent

Even though these factors have nothing to do with the actual job skills, employers care about them. Some more than others, but all of them stand as the variables symbolizing the obstacles standing in your way from professional job searcher to professional [enter your desired job title here].

How you present your application gets you the interview, but how you sell yourself in your interview is what lands you the job. Rounding out your character by mastering these variable elements may make or break your next interview.

Even if you’d made all of the mistakes listed above, the best lessons are learned from your failures. The successful often reach success because they were willing to strive longer and outlast the competition, while improving themselves every step of the way.

Jessica Millis, an aspiring writer and editor, worked at EssayMama writing service as a blog editor.

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Forget Benefits: Employee Perks Are the New Recruiting Tool Thu, 13 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 From scuba lessons to three-month sabbaticals, many companies are stepping up their game when it comes to employee perks. Should you?

The post Forget Benefits: Employee Perks Are the New Recruiting Tool appeared first on Brazen Life.

Free rock climbing lessons. Or acupuncture treatments. Or oil changes.

Could these small perks be the reason why another company is getting all the quality recruits, or retaining the best employees? If you’re struggling with either of these HR tasks, it might be time to think outside-the-box.

And when we say outside-the-box, we mean outside the typical benefits package.

Unique employee perks are growing in popularity because they’re an effective way to show you care about your employees — which translates to easier recruiting and less turnover.

What perks can you offer?

For inspiration, we turned to a recent WiseBread article that listed seven companies with amazing employee perks.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Scuba lessons: These are offered by Chesapeake Energy as part of their “Living Well” program, which “pays up to $1,000 for workers to participate in on-campus fitness and education classes.” Other sweet options include ballet, rock climbing, and aviation lessons.
  • Health & wellness stipend: Eileen Fisher offers pilates classes at their headquarters, in addition to a $1,000 stipend that employees can use to “pursue health and wellness goals outside of work.”
  • Paid or unpaid sabbaticals: Deloitte “offers associates partially paid three- to six-month sabbaticals to pursue personal or professional growth opportunities in career development or volunteerism,” as well as month-long unpaid leaves.

See a common thread?

All these perks contribute positively to your employees’ health and sanity. Paying up front for these types of perks will benefit you two-fold: not only will you have healthier, happier, and therefore, more productive and longer-lasting employees — you’ll also be able to attract higher quality recruits in the first place.

What are the craziest employee perks you’ve ever seen?

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.

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Why Leaving Your Lunch at Home Could Be the Best Career Move You’ll Ever Make Thu, 13 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Bringing your own lunch may be good for your budget, but it can be poison for your career.

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Whether you just entered the workforce or just welcomed a new addition to the family, we all eventually come to the same staggering realization: It costs a jaw-dropping amount of money just to live.

Then the panic sets in.

Next, you start hunting for ways to slash your expenses and find yourself facing a decision. To bring or not to bring your lunch — that is the question.

At first glance, you might think bringing your own lunch is just a small inconvenience to save almost $10 per day. When you think about how quickly the tab adds up, you’d have to be a fool not to consider it. And if you’re feeling ambitious, you might even think bringing your own lunch means you can get a little more work done by eating at your desk.

Not so fast.

By dining solo, you forfeit a daily opportunity to build deeper, more well-rounded relationships with your colleagues and managers. (Click here to tweet this quote.) This should send you into crisis-prevention mode for two reasons. First, take a gander at the people rocketing up the ranks in your company and think about the relationships they have. How can you develop the same if you never poke your head out of your cubicle to see what’s going on in the world?

Second, while I don’t believe in stomping on anyone to get ahead, only so many promotions can be had. And I have news for you — those jobs are won more on relationships than they are on skills.

Instead of isolating yourself from the rest of humanity, try these five tips instead:

1. Cut your morning (and afternoon) coffee

I can only imagine how many of you are “I can’t start my day without my Starbucks” people. I know a few people who go for an afternoon pick-me-up, too. Dial the coffee chugging down a notch and there’s your $10 per day savings. Plus, you haven’t jeopardized your ability to scale the corporate ladder as quickly as possible.

2. Tag along with your homemade lunch

If you work in a company where the team eats together but generally use the company cafeteria, this is a no-brainer. Bring your lunch to the cafeteria and eat it there. It’s a win-win. You’ll feel good about getting away from your desk for a few minutes, and you’ll still save money in the process.

Oh, and your team won’t think of you as a corporate droid programmed to do nothing more than to punch in and punch out at work.

3. Dine out with your team once per week

For those of you working at places where folks typically dine off-site for lunch, taking part in the lunch ritual once every week can help you maintain your social standing. To make sure you keep your cash flow under control, suggest one of your favorite budget-friendly establishments on the days you want to join in on the fun.

4. Take money out of your drink budget

Yes, those drinks. At the very least, consider inviting colleagues out to join you while you throw back a few cold ones to get the most bang for your buck. For many, alcohol represents a substantial chunk of their monthly expenses, and a minor tweak in your social (or solo) drinking habits can pay huge dividends on the career.

And if that’s not enough your liver will thank you, too.

5. Play for the long-run payday

Just ride it out. Give yourself two years of minimal savings and see if you can land that next promotion to take the edge off you needing to stick to a tight budget. Watching your savings account flat-line will never get easy, but if you execute your plan correctly, it’ll quickly become a distant memory.

That being said, if you see your savings account retreating in the wrong direction, you may want to shake things up and give numbers 1 through 4 a shot.

So much for breakfast being the most important meal of the day.

Eric Butts is a Management Consultant, MBA and CPA. By day he solves complex business problems for some of the world’s most well-known brands, and by night he teach others how to carve out successful careers in the business world. Follow him @EButtsCPA.

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Cyber Security at Work: How to Keep Your Sensitive Info Safe Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Don’t be the person responsible for the loss of private or proprietary information. Protect your business info by following these steps.

The post Cyber Security at Work: How to Keep Your Sensitive Info Safe appeared first on Brazen Life.

Having your identity stolen is a common fear in this day and age. Slightly newer is the fear of having personal info (or, ahem, photos) leaked to the public at large. Either of these can cause problems for burgeoning professionals, so we need to be careful how we handle our personal info.

But it isn’t just our personal lives and reputations at stake; the information we safeguard for our employers is just as important to protect. No one wants to be responsible for the loss of private or proprietary information.

In the interest of keeping your and your business’s information safe, here are some suggestions for what to do to make sure your professional life is safe from hackers. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Know thine enemy and familiarize yourself with the threats

It’s impossible to protect against threats you don’t foresee. Being aware of what’s out there is the first step towards securing your business’s information.

Certain kinds of threats are more dangerous to business information security than others. The top threats you’ll likely run into are the old favorites:

  • Malware infections have risen in prevalence, even over the last five years.
  • Phishing attempts are by and large dropping because users are now less trusting of electronic messages. But they’re still very much a threat, especially to less tech-savvy employees.
  • Bots are ever-present and pose a danger because uneducated computer users aren’t always savvy about what they are and what they do. Take a look at the enemy you’re up against and set up security accordingly.

To make sure you’re aware of any emerging threats, stay abreast of recent trends in security breaches. Read the news and blog posts on sites like Krebs on Security, Troy Hunt and Security Bloggers Network. Your up-to-date knowledge will impress your superiors and establish you as proactive. Here’s a great guide on security threats that SMBs face, which could prove useful as evidence to your boss that your concerns are valid.

2. Assess your security situation

Now that you’re aware of what’s lurking in the wild, you can effectively evaluate what info aggressors might want from you and your business.

Depending on what industry you operate in, the info thieves might want to mine from you will vary. By and large, that will consist of personal info used to steal identities. Identifying what you have that thieves think is worth stealing will be half the battle. Obviously, the top contenders are social security numbers, bank and routing numbers and passcodes.

Once you know what people are looking for, take stock of the security that you have in place to keep it from them.

3. Change your habits

Based on your assessment, you can begin to fortify existing stratagems and rectify gaps left in them.

On a personal level, you can protect your professional identity by opting for multiple-step verification on all of your accounts and subscriptions. You should take the same measures at work since there’s a good chance your work email deals with some sensitive information, as well.

There are several ways to add layered security to your business communications and info. This might include adding encryptions to your program logins or simply disabling cloud backups on unsecured networks.

Staying vigilant is the most important part of any security plan. Continuous updates to security systems are essential. Security companies are in the business of tracking threats and will issue updates to software to keep pace with hackers. Therefore, one of the simplest steps you can take is to ensure you’re running the latest edition of your security programs.

4. Share the knowledge

Encourage your company to address its security policies, from password standards and outside device rules and regulations to wifi security rules and web-searching guidelines. Are employees downloading info onto flash drives? Are they giving out their passwords to other people? You can help keep your colleagues safe with simple awareness and minimal effort.

Maximizing the impact of your security-conscious habits and getting your coworkers on board isn’t all that difficult. Suggest a security training course for employees and, if need be, offer to organize it. This will not only help keep your company’s info secure but also establish you as a team player. If it falls to you to take the lead and design a course, make sure you cover what we’ve detailed here so your teammates (and managers) have the tools they need to stay informed and vigilant.

For a more management-level view of business information security, start with this infographic by the University of Alabama at Birmingham‘s Collat School of Business. This top-down view of the issues will help put you in the manager mindset and give you a greater understanding of security concerns on a company-wide scale.

Kirk Kerr is a marketing major from the College of Idaho. He balances working at his day job and his entrepreneurial ambitions. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, he enjoys sports video games, binge watching Netflix, and button mashing on his Xbox One.

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Performance Reviews: How to Give GenY the Feedback They Really Need Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Are you struggling to reach and retain your GenY employees? Here’s the type of feedback they’re looking for -- and why they need it.

The post Performance Reviews: How to Give GenY the Feedback They Really Need appeared first on Brazen Life.

According to a new survey from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Common Core standards and tests are becoming more accepted. More than two-thirds of teachers say that implementation is “going well” and most say that they feel “very” or “somewhat” ready to teach by the Common Core standards.

The important question for managers is:

How will testing culture affect new arrivals to the workplace?

Yes, Common Core is a relatively new concept, but increased testing isn’t. Academic testing has been increasing for decades, ever since George H. W. Bush started pushing for a “new accountability” for U.S. schools.

Since then, programs like PARCC, Race to the Top and the National Assessment of Educational Progress were founded and expanded. No Millennial has been able to escape public school without some form of state-based or federal testing.

We live in what The Washington Post calls a “hyper-testing” culture. GenY doesn’t know a world where their progress isn’t regularly and straightforwardly evaluated and reported.

As they enter the working world, they want to be reviewed differently than previous generations. Appealing to GenY values in the review process is critical if you want your GenY employees to stay.

It’s time for managers to revise their review practices

Here’s why and how to do it.

Young people are often overwhelmed when they enter the workforce. Their entire lives were built around textbooks, pleasing teachers and making the grade. From this structured environment, GenY is suddenly pushed into a world where the adage is, “Try your hardest and you’ll get ahead.”

For those with clear step stones and grades guiding their lives until graduation day, the lack of a clear path in the workplace has left them floundering.

Reviews structure the business world. Boomers might find formal reviews oppressive and corporate. But for GenY, the process is comforting and useful. Performance evaluations confirm that they’re on the right path and whether they can improve.

GenY has been groomed to value the review process

This includes recognition for hard work, recognition for achievement, fairness, transparency and safety. (Click here to tweet this bit of info.) Go to any high school or college graduation ceremony and look at how many kids earn recognition for being in a club or maintaining a “B” average.

Competition to get into the best name schools, internships and jobs are all continued demarcations of success. What do companies like Cvent, Goldman Sachs Group and Bain have in common? They require you to submit your SAT score with your application. For GenY, a job earned is no longer based solely on impressing in an interview — it’s a numbers game.

They’re taught to believe that the clear measures and tasks of tests like the ACT are an objective and reasonable way to evaluate performance. It’s safe and predictable. Growing up with standardized tests taught them to value this fairness, transparency and safety.

This “Show Me the Money” system of grading has led us to a place where students are no longer happy to receive qualitative feedback on their work. A student who receives a paper wet with red ink is likely to immediately demand, “But what was my score?”

Start with quantitative feedback

From fitting in with company culture to sales metrics, almost every part of every job can be quantified. Create a rubric so your employees know exactly what’s expected of them for each measured piece of the review. Sound like college? This is how GenY has been trained to achieve.

Appeal to their digital nativeness

They like when performance appraisal software is a part of the review process because, like standardized tests, everyone is subjected to the same criteria for success. Unlike many Boomers, GenY is comfortable with software. They don’t find it intrusive or sterile — they find the results fair and objective.

Mentor them

But quantitative measures aren’t all GenY wants in their reviews. Plenty has been written on how they value mentorship. This stretches back to their education as well. They had an unprecedented relationship with their teachers — particularly their professors.

Many grew comfortable with knocking on their teachers’ door not just for educational advice, but also for personal advice. GenY craves a relationship with their bosses.

The review should be a conversation — not just a formal summary of how the employee performed. The reviewer should use constructive criticism and also celebrate their achievements.

Positive feedback should be at the crux of any review, even if the review doesn’t go well. Work with your GenY employees to figure out what works — and what doesn’t.

Many Boomers and Generation Xers may find this formal review process to be frustrating. GenY needs a lot of hand holding. But remember: This is the environment that they were raised in — it’s the result of education policies that Boomers and Xers enacted themselves.

It’s time for companies to adapt to GenY needs in the workforce, and perhaps for Boomers and Xers to reconsider the effects of modern education on the younger generation.

Rachel Burger is a content marketing analyst at Capterra, where she specializes in writing on Millennials, performance appraisal and project management. She has been published in Forbes, Town Hall and The Christian Post, and featured on the BBC.

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The Secret to Writing an Amazing MBA Application Essay Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Writing your personal statement is only half the battle. Editing, revising and tweaking your essay will make your essay truly shine.

The post The Secret to Writing an Amazing MBA Application Essay appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’re just one essay away from polishing off your MBA application. If accepted into this business school, your career will change forever. You sit down and bang out the best essay you’ve written since that A+ 5-paragraph essay from freshmen year English. Now you quickly run spell check, and you’re go to go!

Not so fast.

Writing the essay is only part of the battle. To deliver a stand-out application, complete with an irresistible essay that gets you noticed and lands you a coveted spot in your top MBA program, you must also master the art of editing.

Once you get your thoughts on paper and have a draft ready, follow these three tips to fine-tune your writing. Follow this advice, and that acceptance letter should be in the mail in no time.

1. Do the sincerity sniff test

Essay writing can often be so tricky because you can get carried away in trying too hard to meet the expectations of the admissions office. You want to be as relevant as possible to ensure they move your application to the “yes” pile.

Your essay should promptly answer and address these common questions:

  • What have you achieved so far?
  • What do you hope to achieve in the future?
  • What specifically would you do with an MBA?

At the same time, your essay should be personal. It’s important to keep your statement from becoming stiff and lifeless.

“Your No. 1 priority is to communicate just how much your entrance into this business school means to you, and what you bring to the table,” said Francesca Di Meglio in an article for Business Week titled How to Write an MBA Admissions Essay. Di Meglio also suggests you ask a friend read the essay and try to guess the initial prompt to make sure you’ve stayed on topic.

2. Bring in a professional

When you’ve reached the final stages of editing and tweaking your essay, you may feel tempted to rush the process. You’re so close to completing a strenuous application process. With the bulk of the essay written, it’s easy to gloss over the process of identifying and addressing any weaknesses.

Friends and family can be hesitant to critique at this stage, especially if they’ve read earlier drafts and are too familiar with the material.

This is a great stage to bring in a professional, objective set of eyes. Instead of agonizing over putting together a clear and concise final essay, seek out the help of an editor who specializes in coaching MBA applicants. Some programs, for example, help MBA hopefuls polish their essays during any stage of the application process.

3. Curb your perfection

No one is perfect. But the truth is, you may perceive your essay as a reason to puff yourself up and prove to the admissions department you’re better than everyone else. That’s not necessarily the right tactic.

“Revealing your humanity — in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws — can often help the admissions committee to like you,” says Stacy Blackman in The Economist in Ten Tips for Perfectly Pitched Essays.

This is often easier to do during the editing process. A common weakness you might observe after a first draft or two is that your writing may be too positive. While you want to get your successes and positive qualities across, you have your resume and transcripts to do that for you. If your essay as it stands now seems too stiff — or even reads as a narrative version of a resume — edit with an eye toward revealing some quirks or your minor imperfections.

By paying attention to these tips, you may find you’re more effective at spotting the weaknesses in your essay — and that will make you a strong writer.

In conclusion, before you send off your application, spend quality time looking for opportunities to bring out your own sincerity and humanity in your personal statement. If you’re still struggling to nail your final draft, call in the help of a professional editor.

While it’s always tempting to hurry through the editing process, taking the time to revise and fine-tune your essay will pay off in the long run. Investing time to edit your writing just might be the ticket to the MBA program of your dreams.

Patti Conner is a freelance writer and business entrepreneur. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband Hank and their two children. When she’s not working or spending time with her family you can find her whipping up a new recipe in the kitchen or kayaking in the Puget Sound.

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Executive Assistant Jobs: How This Career Will Change in 2015 and Beyond Mon, 10 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Executive Assistants don’t sit behind a desk with a stapler anymore. Here’s what this career looks like in the new digital world.

The post Executive Assistant Jobs: How This Career Will Change in 2015 and Beyond appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you think of executive assistants, what comes to mind? Someone like Joan Holloway from Mad Men? A secretary behind a desk with a stapler?

The truth is that executive assistants have long expanded beyond administrative roles. Today’s executive assistants take on project management, are involved in strategic planning, and often work directly alongside the executives they support.

I should know—I worked as an executive assistant for four years, assisting first the vice president and then the president of a non-profit organization. During that time, I also took on the roles of project manager, event planner, photo editor, wiki editor, document drafter, and countless other jobs far above and beyond answering phones and making photocopies.

Today’s executive assistants work hard, take on complex tasks, and are well compensated. U.S. News and World Report lists executive assistants as one of their “best business jobs,” and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average salary at $51,870. Here’s a sample job listing for an Executive Assistant for Treehouse, an educational technology company.

How will the executive assistant role continue to change in the future?

I talked to Emily Allen, Director of Programs and Services at the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), to learn more.

Brazen: How has the executive assistant role changed in the past 20 years, especially pre-Internet and post-Internet?

Emily Allen: The role has changed significantly.

First, candidates for these positions receive more education. Many executive assistants now have either two-year degrees or four-year degrees.

Second, the role itself has expanded from what it was 20 years ago—and even from what it was 10 years ago.

The executive assistant role used to be pretty singular. It was a support role, and the EA’s primary job was following orders. Now, the executive assistant is being brought in on decision-making processes. Executive assistants are being put in charge of whole projects.

Because of this, today’s executive assistants need overall project management skills and critical thinking skills.

As the job has changed, the perception of the EA role has shifted. People are seeing the necessity of having executive assistants because of the variety of their skills.

How do you see the executive assistant role changing in the future?

To answer this question, let’s go back to the 2008 recession, when we started to see a shift in positions. Middle managers were being laid off, and executive assistants were handed the extra workload. They weren’t managers, but they had projects to lead and watch over.

I’m not clairvoyant, but I do see that trend continuing. Managers and executives will continue to realize that they can hand over their projects to their assistants.

You’re not going to see executive assistants doing overall strategizing, but they’ll be in the room where people are strategizing and they’ll help carry the strategies out.

What skills should today’s college grads build if they want to become executive assistants?

First, they need to understand Microsoft Office. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Sharepoint, along with basic office skills.

To set themselves apart, they can get certifications. The Microsoft Office certification is good, and we also offer an IAAP certification. Getting certifications tells an employer that you’re taking this career seriously.

So the first way people can set themselves apart is by having the certifications that show that they’re serious about the business. Another way to stand out is by having a clear understanding of project management and how project management fits into the role of an executive assistant.

Critical thinking is essential. Don’t wait for your boss to give you instructions. Have an ear to the ground and come to your boss with ideas.

Don’t be a follower; be a leader, even though you’re in a support role. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Demonstrate to your employer that you’re actively seeking continuing education. Like my mother told me: “We teach people how to treat us.” So prove to people that you’re serious about your work. Let them know that this isn’t a career that you’re marking time in.

Have you ever considered a career as an executive assistant? If you work as an EA, what advice can you offer to other Brazen Life readers?

Nicole Dieker is a freelance copywriter and essayist. She writes regularly for The Billfold on the intersection of freelance writing and personal finance, and her work has also appeared in The Toast, Yearbook Office, and Boing Boing.

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6 Surprising Benefits of Not Getting an Internship You Want Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 It may suck when you don’t get the internship, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it may put you one step closer to landing a future full-time position. Here’s how.

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Nothing’s fun about researching, looking for and applying for an internship. With the pressure to gain experience and build an impressive resume in time for senior year, it’s a grueling process that’s only gotten more competitive.

You’ve put a lot of effort into attending career fairs, networking with recruiters and submitting your applications on time. You really, really want something besides “Babysitter” or “Hostess” on your resume.

Now imagine how much it sucks to go through all that work only to be turned down for an internship. Alas, there are benefits to applying for an internship (and not getting it).

1. You get to practice

Don’t underestimate how valuable practice time is. Any professional will tell you that no matter how much experience you have and how many jobs you’ve landed, interviewing never becomes easy or fun.

Uncertainty and nerves will still take a toll on your confidence. Applying for internships gives you real world experience of job seeking and interviewing — a skill that’ll never go out of date.

2. You can ask for feedback

Please ask for feedback. Recruiters will rarely, if ever, provide constructive criticism if you don’t ask for it. Some recruiters may be wary, even when asked, of providing feedback to full-time applicants.

But as a college student on the internship hunt, employers may be more willing to offer insight into what you can do to improve. Whether it’s an interview skill or course you should take, this feedback is invaluable. And you won’t get it if you don’t ask.

3. You can build a relationship with the recruiter

Just because you didn’t get the internship doesn’t mean that connection is off the table. (Click here to tweet this bit of hope.) In fact, you may be able to build a relationship as strong as the one with the interns they did hire.

Stay in touch with your recruiter during the summer; tell her about what you’re up to, what courses you plan to take and remind her of your continued interest (despite being turned down before). This shows real perseverance and humility on your part, and the recruiter keep you in the front of her mind.

4. Your name and resume stands out to recruiters when they screen resumes for full-time positions

While you may not have gotten the internship, the recruiter will remember your name and the conversation you had. They know you’re interested in the company and already have a good baseline knowledge of the requirements from going through the interview process.

If the reason you didn’t get the internship was lack of experience, the recruiter realizes you might have gotten experience since then and may be more willing to take a chance on you than a stranger she’s never talked with before.

If you asked for feedback on your interview, she knows you’ve taken the advice to heart and improved where you could. Either way, she’ll remember something was special about you and may re-engage for a full-time position.

5. You learn about “fit”

As you learn what it feels like to be rejected from internships and jobs you really wanted, you become more attuned to what’s called “fit.” When you watch desired opportunities pass you by, you realize it’s less important you weren’t a right fit for them and more important that they weren’t the right fit for you.

You want to do work you enjoy, with people you like, in an office culture you can embrace, right? Sometimes, not getting that internship can be a blessing in disguise. The hiring managers may have decided you wouldn’t fit into their team and culture… which could save you weeks of struggle and depression.

6. You get creative

If you get the point where nothing works in your favor, it forces you to become resourceful and creative. Have you explored opportunities outside your comfort zone? A marketing major could consider a sales internship. An engineering major could try his hand at finance.

Or maybe you try something completely new and work with a startup, do volunteer work or take summer continuing education courses to learn a new skill. These experiences will make you more well-rounded and demonstrate your ability to adapt to new tasks.

You may not be part of a formal internship program, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gather new experiences, work in a team or take ownership over an project.

Rejection is never anyone’s goal when looking for an internship, but follow these tips to turn it into a positive and constructive experience for yourself.

Amber Hanson-Rumbaugh (@AJeanHanson) is a Corporate Recruiter at RKG, a Merkle Company, a leading digital marketing and search agency in Charlottesville, VA. She’s responsible for sourcing, interviewing and hiring candidates and manages employment branding via social media, on-campus events and internship development. (View expressed are author’s and don’t reflect the views of RKG, a Merkle Company.)

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How to Land a Job in the Tech Industry Without a Tech Degree Fri, 07 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Want to break into the tech industry, but don’t have a tech degree? It may not be the roadblock you think it is.

The post How to Land a Job in the Tech Industry Without a Tech Degree appeared first on Brazen Life.

The biggest secret of the tech world is that a huge percentage of people who work in the tech industry started out knowing nothing. They didn’t go to MIT, they didn’t get a degree in computer science and they still don’t know how to code.

That’s because the high tech industry needs people to help their business run, not just create their product or service offering.

Even New York State Comptroller, Thomas D. Napoli, stated this in his April report on New York City’s growing high tech industry:

Like other industries, the high-tech industry employs work in a wide range of job titles, including non-tech-related positions such as accountants, administrative assistants, managers and sales representatives. The growth of the high-tech industry offers employment opportunities to works with a broad range of skills, not just those with technical backgrounds.

The report also goes on to say that

“The average annual salary for workers in the high-tech industry was $118,600 in 2012, compared to an average of $79,500 for all other jobs in New York City ($65,400 excluding the securities industry).”

And you know that number has only gone up in the past two years.

If you have a liberal arts degree in history or art or political science or sociology or English, don’t pass that hot sounding tech company by. Having a degree in tech isn’t necessary to land a job in the tech sector. They need you!

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Look in the right place

While many may push you towards established firms because they seem less risky, startups are a great place. Not only will you be part of a team where you can add value right away, but you’ll also be exposed to different areas of the business on a daily basis.

Established firms often have compartmentalized their business units and departments, so once you’re on a track, that’s where you’ll likely stay. Working for a startup, on the other hand, means you’re going to wear many hats — which means more exposure to new experiences more quickly.

That said, you don’t have to go for the fledgling startups. Look for ones that already have venture capital funding or have demonstrated success for a few years. Five to 10 years old can still mean startup mentality, but may also have a more robust infrastructure for you to rely on, like better benefits and workspace.

2. Find the right fit

If you want startup culture, look for startups in areas you’re interested in. Like fashion? Find a fashion startup like ManRepeller or NastyGal. Interested in healthcare issues? Healthcare startups are doing everything from making apps that help doctors with billing to building machines that allow doctors to do virtual surgery to tech that helps kids keep tabs on their aging parents.

Politics major? Look for startups invested in political change. The startup world is huge. And while much of it revolves around tech, that tech needs to do something useful to be a worthwhile business. Figure out what you’re interested in and find a company based on their mission.

3. Target the best role

Once you’ve figured out the area of tech you’re interested in and passionate about (tip: startups love passion) find their site, look for their opportunities page and see what they’re hiring for.

Skip over the overtly tech roles like programmer, developer or architect and go for the positions that make the business run: sales, accounts, business development, marketing, HR, recruiting, payroll, operations.

Or if you’re interested in learning a little more about the tech concepts themselves, try a hybrid role (known in the tech field as “techno-functional” and usually in high demand): project manager, business analyst, consultant.

When looking at these roles, think about what you bring to the table — are you a people person who’s super competitive? Sales might be right for you. Are you OCD when it comes to details? Project manager could be a good fit.

4. Make yourself indispensable

This may be a little more difficult at established business or if this is your first job out of college, but figuring out your strengths and pitching them to a startup is how many people today get hired. (Click here to tweet this advice.) Depending on the size of the startup, they may not even know what they need yet.

If you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and pitch in, you’re bound to be scooped up quick. Even better, figure out what they’re having problems with and pitch a solution. Make yourself necessary. Solve a problem to create a need for your specific skills.

5. Learn the concepts

Many people who work in tech don’t know how to code. They’re the big thinkers and the strategists; they’re the people who make the everyday operations of a business run. You don’t need to be a developer to work in tech, but it’s a big leg up if you understand the concepts behind what a business is doing.

If you want to work in the marketing department, dive into PPC, SEO and UX. If you want to work in sales, figure out what their product is and learn the concepts behind it. If they’re an e-commerce site, understanding what business intelligence and big data are will be useful and help you stand out.

If the company builds applications, learn how they’re built. By understanding the difference between the user interface and user experience, you’ll be light years ahead of the competition.

6. Be willing to work

Say “yes” a lot. Employers have a negative stereotype about GenY: They think you’re lazy. Show them you’re not. Put all the activities you were involved in during college on your resume — President of the sky diving club? Put it in! Active in student government? Put it in! Sang in an acappella group…yep.

Anything and everything you had a serious commitment to will help prove your commitment to work. Plus, it has the added benefit of being a great conversation starter. Odds are that at least one person who interviews you will have something in common with your extra-curriculars.

Want to work in tech but don’t have any background? Don’t sweat it! Go for it.

Jessie Pressman is the CEO & Founder of Bite Size Learning, which produces five minute e-learning videos that teach tech concepts and sales acumen. Prior to her entrepreneurial endeavor, she was a record breaking sales rep, manager and executive in the Tech Staffing space, where she also created and ran both sales mentoring and tech training for their nationwide team.

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How You Can Hack Your Weekends to Finally Find Work-Life Balance Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Are you struggling with work-life balance? Read one woman’s story of how she hacked her weekends to find balance -- and happiness.

The post How You Can Hack Your Weekends to Finally Find Work-Life Balance appeared first on Brazen Life.

It’s Friday at 3 pm. You’re counting down the minutes until 5, looking forward to the freedom of the weekend.

Then, before you know it, it’s Monday morning and you’re back at your desk — feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, rather than rested and energized. You’re left wondering: “Where did my weekend go?”, “What did I accomplish?”, and most importantly, “Did I even enjoy myself?”

If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

Stephanie Taylor Christensen felt just like you: unsure where the weekends went and exhausted by her lack of work-life balance. So, she began a mission to hack her weekends, which she describes in an article for Levo League.

After asking a few productivity experts for advice, she soon realized: “The key to making the most of your Saturdays and Sundays is as simple as changing your perspective on planning. Many people think that ‘free time’ automatically implies a lack of structure — or the freedom to forgo plans altogether — but that’s where they’re wrong.”

How to take back your weekends

If your weekends aren’t as enjoyable or relaxing as they could be, it’s time to make a change. (Click here to tweet this quote.) From the article, we’ve collected several hacks you can implement right away:

  • Before you leave work on Fridays, write out a to-do list for Monday morning — so it’s not on your mind all weekend
  • Keep a running list of the activities you want to do on the weekends: everything from adventures you want to go on to restaurants you want to try (don’t get bogged down by “shoulds”!)
  • On Friday evenings, schedule out your weekend; make it fun by planning over happy hour or talking as a family over pizza
  • If ideas don’t come easily, turn to your running list of activities and pick one
  • If you do have to work over the weekend, schedule a specific block of time to do so; this will keep you efficient

For Christensen, this technique was a smashing success. She says: “Daunting as the prospect of planning my free time sounded at first, following through has been incredibly rewarding. I now get the most out of my 36 weekend hours by treating them with the same amount of strategy — and respect — as those precious Monday through Friday hours.”

Do you think this technique would help you enjoy your weekends more? Or are you doing just fine without it?

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.

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5 Delicious Superfoods To Increase Your Productivity at the Office Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Feeling tired at work? Bounce back with more energy with superfoods that can help increase your productivity - and actually taste good, too.

The post 5 Delicious Superfoods To Increase Your Productivity at the Office appeared first on Brazen Life.

Why does eating right feel so exhausting? Most of us would love to eat healthier, but with busy schedules who has the time to buy and prepare fancy salads and entrees?  You have to eat around your work schedule — not the other way around.

The problem is the food you may be cramming down your throat while rushing to work might actually be hurting your productivity at work. We have all felt that midday crawl, where time seems suspended. All you want to do is close your eyes and drift away into a slumber, but this is not very productive. However there are are actually healthy and easy-to-prepare snacks that can also boost your productivity. Here are some problems you may be having at work and the superfoods that can cure them. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Problem #1- Memory Lapses

Superfood Solution: Blueberries

Did I say blueberries? I meant brainberries! That’s right; blueberries can boost a wide range of your cognitive abilities. Blueberries have been found to help improve memory. A recent study shows that the high flavonoid content in blueberries helps to enhance memory and could even protect you against Alzheimer’s. As an added bonus, eating blueberries can also help you lose weight. The catechins in blueberries have been found to increase weight loss in the abdomen by over 70%.  If this hasn’t sold you on adding blueberries to your diet, then nothing will.

How to Prepare:

Blueberries are extremely easy to prepare. For breakfast, just add some washed blueberries into a bowl of plain yogurt — perhaps even go a little crazy and add some crushed granola. In less than a minute you will have a healthy breakfast that will help keep you productive throughout the day. Another delicious way to get your blueberry snack on is to make a smoothie. Add some fresh blueberries, milk, and a little ice into a blender. In a few seconds you will have a fantastic drink that you can take on the go. While recipes with blueberries may be fun, let’s be honest — they are great on their own too, as they are bursting with juicy greatness. If you are really stressed for time, just fill a Ziploc bag and snack on them throughout the workday.

Problem #2- Energy is Running on Empty

Superfood Solution: Popcorn

This one may come as a surprise, but popcorn can actually put a little pep in your step. Popcorn is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which are great for sustaining energy. Complex carbs are good for you because they break down slowly and release sugar steadily into the bloodstream, thus helping to sustain energy for a longer period of time.  As long as you don’t douse your popcorn in butter, then it is also a great low fat and low calorie snack. The National Cancer Institute, the American Dental Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics all suggest adding popcorn to your diet.

How to Prepare:

When deciding which brand to buy, keep an eye out for those that are whole grain and organic. Try to stay away from the microwaveable kind as those are often loaded with unhealthy additives. Cooking popcorn on the stove is a healthy alternative to using the microwave and only takes about 3-4 minutes. To jazz up the flavor you can experiment with adding things like shredded parmesan, curry powder, sun dried tomato, or Worchester sauce. Bringing in your popcorn to work will not only make you productive, but will make you popular with your coworkers as well.

Problem #3- Lack of Focus

Superfood Solution: Dark Chocolate

How can dark chocolate increase your productivity at work? Dark chocolate’s high-flavanol cocoa helps to increase blood flow to the brain, helping to stimulate cognitive functions. Like blueberries, dark chocolate is also high in antioxidants. The caffeine in chocolate also helps to stimulate you and keep you alert.

How to Prepare:

Now before you run to the supermarket to buy up all the Snickers and Milky Ways, it’s important to note that the benefits can only be reaped from chocolate with a high cocoa content. Much of the chocolate on the market is filled with sugar, chemicals, and other additives that have negative effects on your body. So the rule is: the darker the better. Dark chocolate often contains over 70% cocoa and is low in sugar. When shopping for chocolate make sure to check the label for cocoa content at least over 70% and that it hasn’t been processed with alkali as it can reduce the content of flavonoids. If eating chocolate is too boring for you, then try making your own trail mix. Mix some dark chocolate, raisins, some various nuts and you will have healthy snack to help keep you focused throughout the day.

Problem #4- Bad Mood

Superfood Solution: Almonds

Going to work upset and in a bad mood distracts you from your work and reduces your productivity. If you need a pick-me-up, almonds may be the superfood for you. Almonds contain a high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that people with low blood levels of omega-3 have symptoms of depression such as a negative outlook and impulsiveness. Omega-3 is not produced by the body so it’s important to include it in your diet. To sum it up, the cell membranes in your brain are made up of fatty acids like omega-3. Research suggests that a healthy intake of omega-3 keeps these membranes more elastic allowing a better flow of electrical impulses to pass to your neurons. 

How to Prepare:

Like blueberries and dark chocolate, almonds would go great with yogurt or trail mix. If you want to try something different, then try candied almonds. All you need are some almonds, water, and a little cinnamon and sugar. In 15 minutes you will have a sweet snack to take with you to work.

Problem #5- Having a Hard Time Learning New Concepts?

Superfood Solution: Spinach

It looks like Popeye was on to something as spinach is a great brain power food. At work we sometimes are forced to learn new concepts or how to use a new application. Spinach is great for keeping your mind sharp. Spinach contains the B-vitamin, folate, which increases circulation of the brain and helps reduce plaque. Your body also uses folate to build neurotransmitters in your brain that are essential to thinking and learning.

How to Prepare:

Most people don’t give spinach a chance because they have a negative impression of it. However, it is quite easy to prepare and very delicious. With a bit of olive oil, salt, and parmesan cheese you can sauté your spinach and take it with you to lunch.  Looking for something a little more colorful and fun? Then try a strawberry spinach salad. Mix some spinach, strawberries, cucumber, and almonds (see above) in a bowl. Add a little vinaigrette and you have an easy salad that will keep your mind fresh.

During the workday it is essential to refresh your mind and stay focused. Try these suggestions above to stay productive throughout the day. If you have some of your own easy recipes using these superfoods then share them with us below.

Erik Episcopo is a career and resume expert at Resume Genius, the web’s #1 resource for resume writers, job seekers and the unemployed.

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Why Working Abroad Makes You a Better Job Candidate at Home Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 If you need experience that will help you in your future career, spending time abroad may be the ticket. Here’s what you need to know.

The post Why Working Abroad Makes You a Better Job Candidate at Home appeared first on Brazen Life.

How will you gain the most valuable experience for your future career? It’s a difficult decision to make. Everyone throws out advice about which university has the best credentials or what your perfect first job is, but what if you want a different kind of challenge?

Today, instead of “graduate high school, go to college, go directly into a career,” many students’ and young professionals’ paths look more like “high school, year abroad, college, work” or “high school, college, year abroad, work.”

Some might want to get the wanderlust out of their system before settling down, but others go abroad to gain work experience immersed in another culture, honing their foreign language skills. For others, the global financial crisis made finding work at home difficult, so they set their sights overseas.

No matter where you are on your professional journey, living or working abroad can help jump-start your career in a number of ways:

Gain international experience

Many employers nowadays want to hire people with international experience to give them an edge in the global marketplace. Dan Black, director of recruiting at Ernst & Young, says the company favors applicants who have international experience on their resume.

Make connections overseas

When you live abroad for an extended period of time, you quickly develop a network of connections through work, travel, and chance encounters. Social media makes it easy to keep track of your new circle of friends, and a quick post can help you find accommodations, a ride to the airport or other opportunities the next time you travel.

Live the dream

A lot of people go abroad on a temporary work visa so they can get a taste of their dream destination if permanent relocation isn’t an option. But after working there for a while, you may find your employer is willing to sponsor a long-term visa, which paves the way for full residency.

An extended trip abroad can give you a number of advantages that’ll help you be successful when (and if) you return home:

  • Maturity. Living abroad and having to fend for yourself in a country of strangers forces you to mature quickly, which is something employers value in young professionals.
  • Language proficiency. Living abroad is a great chance to become fluent in a language you’ve already studied — or even pick up a new one. Being bilingual or trilingual automatically makes you more attractive to employers.
  • Independence. Living abroad teaches you self-reliance. You don’t have family or your usual group of friends to lean on, so you learn to solve problems on your own.

What to consider when planning your working holiday

When planning your extended trip abroad, you’ll need to keep a few logistics in mind:

  • Visas. Find out what you need to do to get a work visa. Some countries are fairly flexible, while others are extremely strict. Australia, for instance, only permits six months per employer on its working holiday visa program.
  • Funds. A lot of people think all they need is a one-way ticket for their trip abroad. In reality, many visa programs require return fare, travel insurance and minimum savings for approval. You’re also going to need money to live on while you secure a job or wait for your first paycheck.
  • Cost of living vs. actual wages. Wages don’t always match the cost of living abroad. London, for example, has relatively low wages, but an extremely high cost of living. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the city you move to will be the same as where you are now.
  • Working-holiday firms. Consider using a working-holiday or gap-year company to help you address your needs and options. These organizations can help with the visa application and setup, and they can sometimes provide job opportunities before or when you arrive.

If you’re looking to jump-start your career, don’t think you’re limited to finding a cozy cubicle somewhere with your name on it. Consider taking an extended trip overseas to differentiate yourself from other professionals and gain new skills. (Click here to tweet this advice.)

Even if you don’t come back as The Most Interesting Person in the World, you can still meet new people and have the adventure of a lifetime.

Jürgen Himmelmann is the director and co-founder of The Global Work & Travel Co., a one-stop shop for travelers seeking fulfilling and meaningful long-term experiences abroad. The Global Work & Travel Co. is one of the world’s fastest-growing youth travel brands and has offices in Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia, Vancouver, and London. The company sells to Australian, New Zealand, European, Canadian, and U.S. markets and employs more than 80 people globally.

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5 Things Your Boss Wishes You Knew About Their Job Wed, 05 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Think you could do your boss’s job better? Believe it or not, his job is actually more difficult than you might think.

The post 5 Things Your Boss Wishes You Knew About Their Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Is your boss a sociopath? You know, the type of person who constantly lies, cheats and thinks only of himself? If he’s really a sociopath, then get out! You’re wasting your time and energy!

But even though he doesn’t always treat you as fairly as you’d like and seems to make senseless decisions, he’s probably not one of the four percent of people who are true sociopaths. In fact, it’s likely he falls right in that 96 percent category just like the rest of us.

Yes that’s right. Your boss is just as “normal” as you are! Even though your boss can’t share most details with you about what happens behind the scenes, he probably wishes sometimes he could. Here are five things your boss wishes you understood about his job. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Being a manager is not the same as being an employee

A manager’s job is to make sure you do your work efficiently. A manager is not supposed to do the work himself.

Being a manager involves looking at the work, the team and the company from a different perspective. He has different tasks to accomplish than you do. He has different interests to take into account.

So even if your boss fully understands what you do, he simply can’t always make decisions in your best interest.

2. Your boss’s boss is worse than he is

The higher up the corporate ladder you go, the trickier the business game becomes. Your boss might have a much more difficult time dealing with his boss than you have dealing with yours!

Most of his work entails making sure you have as many resources and as little hassle as possible to do your job. Sometimes that means he has to go head to head with his boss to defend you. He may even take the blame for mistakes you or your colleagues have made! But you’d never know, because his boss isn’t your boss.

3. You’re not the only one who’s figuring it out

No one is simply born a good manager. Management skills take time — and trial and error — to learn. Just as you’ve had to learn to do your job, so does your manager. Just like you, they make mistakes and gain experience in that process.

The only problem for the manager is that their mistakes are often much more public than yours. Plus, those mistakes can affect you or other parts of the business.

Being a manager is much riskier than being an employee. You have to give him credit for taking on the challenge, even when he’s not perfect.

4. Delivering bad news sucks

Part of the managers’ job description is to deliver bad news to people when the situation calls for it. This could be telling an employee he’s underperforming or even that he’s fired. In the worst case scenario, a manager is asked to head up a reorganization and must lay off his colleagues.

And that’s the thing. The people who get that bad news are not just your colleagues; they’re his as well!

He’s been sitting next to them for years too, had lunch with them, shared the same inside jokes around the office. And having to be the one to tell them they’ve got to go (or even having to decide who stays and who goes) is hard for anyone. Yes, your boss is a manager, but he’s also a human.

5. Being the boss can get lonely

While it may be difficult to believe that your boss is truly human, he is! And like any human, he doesn’t like being the topic of office gossip. Just like other humans, he also wants to be included in social goings-on around the workplace.

But since managers have the weird responsibility of telling other people what to do — and people often don’t like being told what to do — bosses are often shut out from what’s going on. They don’t call it “lonely at the top” for nothing.

So yes, your boss can give you a hard time sometimes. And yes, you’re not always appreciated or acknowledged as much as you deserve to. But you know what? It’s a tough job. And it’s likely you would do a lot of the same if you were in his shoes.

So give your boss a break and let him do his job as well as you can do yours.

Linda Coussement helps entrepreneurs grow and improve their remarkable businesses. Download her 10 page interactive Vision Guide and get a flying start to the growth and improvement of YOUR business (or career). Connect with Linda on Twitter.

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How to Quickly Hire New Employees While Staying on Top of Your Job Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 When you’re so maxed out at work, it’s hard to find time to recruit the employee whose help you so desperately need. Here’s how to get it done fast.

The post How to Quickly Hire New Employees While Staying on Top of Your Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

The good news: Your boss says you can finally hire the person you’ve desperately needed for a year. The bad news: Your days are jam-packed. You already have trouble keeping yourself afloat. When will you find time to recruit, interview and hire someone?

No matter how you approach the process, bringing on a new employee takes time. You’ve got a job description to write, paperwork to fill out for HR, resumes to sort through, interviews to conduct… And the longer the process takes, the longer you’ll struggle to get your real job done.

Is there an easy answer? Well, no. To hire the right person, you’ll have to invest time into the effort.

Still, you can make the process less painful by taking some simple steps.

1. Get organized

Hiring someone is a project. It involves a lot of steps, from posting the job, to sorting through the pile of resumes, to conducting interviews on the phone and in-person.

Then there’s all the coordination involved with other people: HR, your manager and the members of your team who’ll help interview candidates. If you don’t get organized at the beginning, the recruiting process will quickly become much more difficult than it needs to be.

Treat your recruitment drive as you would any of your other projects at work. Create a timeline, a work plan, a checklist — whatever tools you usually use to keep yourself on track. Work with HR to establish benchmarks for securing job requisition approvals, posting the ad and receiving the first batch of resumes for your review. Then put all of those dates into your calendar.

Obviously, there’s a lot about the process you can’t control. For instance, you may not like any candidates in the first set of resumes. But by having built your own structure around the process, you’ll more easily fit it into your overall workflow. Which leads us to…

2. Make time each day

You’ve got meetings, phone calls, documents to write… none of your other work is going away. To make sure your recruiting efforts don’t lag, schedule the time you need to get them done. (Click here to tweet this advice.)

At first, you won’t need much time each day. It won’t take long to touch base with HR about, say, when the job posting’s going live or what kind of response it’s generating. But as things progress, you’ll need to block out time to review resumes and work samples, conduct interviews and meet with colleagues you’ve involved in the process.

So once you’ve created your benchmarks, don’t just set alerts on your calendar. Reserve the time you need to make sure each item gets done by its deadline. Don’t let anyone book you into meetings or other work during those times. Because you need to…

3. Stick to the deadlines

This one may seem obvious, but recruiting is one of those tasks people often treat as an “extra.” In other words, they let other deadlines take precedence, agree to hop into that meeting, or allow any number of distractions win out while the resume stack grows. That’s one reason so many recruitment efforts drag out.

Letting deadlines slip has a cascading effect. First the job rec doesn’t get done, so the job doesn’t get advertised. Then the resumes are ignored, so HR can’t conduct initial phone screens. By the time they do, you’re in the home stretch of a project release, so it’s weeks before you sit down to read their notes.

Don’t let this happen to you. Keep reminding yourself: The sooner you make the hire, the sooner life will get better on a whole lot of levels.

4. Make friends with HR

HR often gets a bad rap. Some say they’re bureaucrats who won’t post your job until you’ve filled out all the right forms and gotten all the right approvals. Don’t fall into this trap. HR can be your best friend.

First of all, good HR people know what the job market looks like from the candidate’s side, so they can help you fashion effective ads and attractive offers.

They’re also the ones who know the internal process best. They’ll know to warn you that the CFO tends to sit on job requisitions in the hope they’ll go away, so you can ask your boss for help when it’s needed.

That aside, there’s simply no way you’ll bring someone on board without HR’s cooperation. So when you deal with them, be more than just professional — be nice.

A lot of the hiring process is outside your control. After all, you can’t dictate how long management approvals will take or predict how many qualified resumes you’ll receive. But by organizing yourself and proactively managing the process, you can make sure your efforts get the attention they deserve throughout your company and keep all of your other work on track, too.

Do you have any other tips for streamlining the recruitment of a new employee?

Mark Feffer has written, edited and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology. His work has appeared on, as well as on other top sites. He is currently writing for, the top local resource for job seekers, employers and recruiters in New Hampshire.

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12 Networking Events in Denver That Will Get You Excited About Your Career Mon, 03 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 No matter what your interests or professional goals, you’ll find a Denver networking event to match.

The post 12 Networking Events in Denver That Will Get You Excited About Your Career appeared first on Brazen Life.

Colorado’s thriving economy — which has outpaced all 2014 economic expectations so far — makes for a great place to work and live. Last year in Denver, the city saw records in employment growth, housing, commercial real estate and the stock market. Economists predict 2014 will prove to be as strong or stronger.

Yet with nearly 100 networking groups listed on the, it can be difficult to know which are worth your time and fit your interests. To help narrow the pool we’ve researched the most active and relevant networking groups in Denver.

Check them out, find your tribe and take advantage of Denver’s positive growth to help your career.

1. Creative Mornings Denver: For the creative professional

Creative Mornings is a global community of creatives. In different cities across the world, groups meet for a monthly breakfast lecture concentrated on the same theme. Previous themes include failure, freedom and bravery.

Each month, the event is held at a different event space that provides breakfast and coffee. But more importantly, the room is filled with other creatives pursuing their dreams. After the lecture, stick around and learn what your fellow Denver creatives are up to.

2. The Alternative Business Networking Group: For the lunchtime networker

This group advises, “If you are only looking for an opportunity to push your business on others, this is not the group for you.”

This upfront declaration has kept this group going strong since 2010 with bi-monthly lunch meetings on Tuesdays. The meetups are free to attend, with only the cost of your lunch and the promise to give as much as you want to receive.

3. CETRUS Professional Network: For the networking pro

Another active group with at least ten events per month, the CETRUS network is serious about networking. Ten team members run the organization like a well-oiled machine. Members get in free, with annual memberships ranging from $350-997.

Non-members pay a per-event fee, typically between $12-18 dollars for daytime events and $15-20 for evening events. Discounted tickets are available online before to each event.

4. Denver Network After Work: For the happy hour networker

Denver After Work is part of a 500,000-member strong national network that meets at the hottest nightlife spots in cities across the country.

In Denver, that means meeting up at Fado Irish Pub, Epernay Lounge and The Tavern. The events are casual and draw a mix of professionals from various industries and levels. Typically 100+ Denver locals attend, so pre-sale tickets can sell out depending on how much space the venue has.

5. Denver Single Professionals: For the single networker

This group seeks young professionals who want to mix and mingle with other singles and vow to never pitch other members at the events. Meetups include wine tastings, ski trips and other social outings.

6. Rainmaker’s Elite Networking Group: For the fun-loving networker

Rainmaker works to create events that are high-energy by featuring local celebrities, entertainment and charities. All gatherings are during happy hour at popular bars and restaurants.

7. Denver Philanthropy Without Borders: For the altruistic networker

This group just re-launched in July 2014 with a renewed commitment to fulfilling their mission “to be the catalyst that helps create action towards the greater global good.”

They host monthly meetups and in the past have partnered with Regis University and Denver Business Journal to provide educational events with their mission in mind.

Denver networking events for entrepreneurs

Denverites have several choices for networking groups especially geared towards entrepreneurs. Try them all to see which best fit for your business and goals.

8. Denver Founders Network

For the networker who wants to learn from the successes of others, these monthly gathering happens on the last Wednesday of each month. Each event features a Q&A with a successful founder, plus plenty of time for open interacting.

9. Experience Pros Network

This group, co-hosted by radio hosts and authors Angel Tuccy and Eric Reamer, is all about increasing your brand’s visibility and sharing best marketing practices. This is an active group, with 24 events in one month alone and at least 10 even during “slow” months.

10. The Networking Jumpstart

This group is ideal for pitch-perfect business owners who want to practice their elevator pitch in a speed networking format. Each gathering is limited to 10 businesses, and one owner gets to share their business with the other nine entrepreneurs in a one-on-one setting.

It’s also one of the newest networking groups in Denver, recently launching in July 2014.

11. Denver Connectors: For those seeking guidance about business best practices

Sponsored by Take the Lead, this group focuses on helping members build their local network through referrals.

Events aim to help members learn, with recent topics including “Creative Confidence: Steps for Success,” “Are You Chasing Customers Away, and You Don’t Even Know It?” and “What You Do Not Know About Your Taxes That Can Improve or Destroy Your Business.”

12. Built in Colorado: For the startup networker

Built in Colorado is more than networking; it’s the hub of startup activity in Colorado. If you want to tap into the local startup scene, learn about startup events and find out about open startup jobs, this is the group for you.

With an active Facebook page and blog, Built in Colorado will help any startup no matter where they are in their journey.

Shawndra Russell is a writer and social media educator for businesses, professionals and college students with the intent of stopping outdated me! me! me! marketing. Her latest works are 51 Ways to Help Your Social Media Manager Crush It! and How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days. Read about her services and projects at and connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

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How to Start a Successful Freelance Career by Using Your Networks Mon, 03 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 If you’re ready to skip gleefully out the office door and into your new freelancing career, be sure to read this post first.

The post How to Start a Successful Freelance Career by Using Your Networks appeared first on Brazen Life.

Working as a freelancer is about who you know. To launch your career, let everyone you know know what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself. As a freelancer, you’re your company’s salesperson, project manager, head of marketing and CEO — in addition to doing what you gave up your full time job to do: your passion.

You can’t hide behind your laptop and hope the work comes to you. It won’t. Reach out to friends and colleagues old and new, be it a former employer looking for a graphic designer, an old university lecturer looking for an editor, or that friend of your parents’ who desperately needs a website.

Finding work when you freelance, particularly at the beginning, is defined by these people. (Click here to tweet this bit of advice.) Small jobs and word-of-mouth recommendations will keep you afloat until you’ve established a name for yourself as a big player in your field.

Until that happens, value experience and a good reference above all other things. Your career rests on that recommendation so always, always do a good job.

You are who Google says you are

Using social and professional online networks, you can allow clients to see you how you want to be seen. Make it good. Make it professional. Make it detailed, comprehensive, friendly. Your online personal brand will be the equivalent of an offline recommendation.

And the wonderful thing is, you get to write that recommendation yourself. Make it glowing. Here’s a breakdown of the value to you as a freelancer of the three major social networks:


It’s easy to underestimate the importance of LinkedIn. The site doesn’t have the “cool” factor of other social networks, but it’s gold for your freelance career.

With over 225 million professionals, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network — getting your resume on there means mixing with the best in your industry and being contactable. Remember: LinkedIn isn’t the place to post your vacation photos, however unbelievable that sunset was.


Unlike LinkedIn, which is targeted at professionals, Facebook is open to interpretation. It’s easy to get carried away posting pictures of cartoon dogs without thinking about possible client browsing your page.

When you promote your skills in a professional capacity, you’ve got to decide who your audience is and what perception of yourself you want to present.


Believe it or not, Twitter isn’t just a great way to tell people about that amazing ice cream place you found. Twitter’s a tool to leverage your personal brand, and it puts you directly in front of potential clients.

It’s a straightforward way of reaching a wide audience quickly and showing a keen interest in your field by retweeting relevant individuals, supporting related causes and showing enthusiasm for advancements in your areas of interest.

How to make the most of your network

When you’re starting out as a freelancer, what can you do to grow your network and get to know some influential people who will define your career?

Don’t burn any bridges

Although it’s tempting to skip gleefully out of the office on your last day telling everybody how great your new freelancing life is going to be without them, don’t. You never know when you might need these contacts again or references from your employer.

Some freelancers even continue to work on an ad-hoc basis for their previous employer, as this can be a great way to get experience and build a reputation as a freelancer.

Even if you don’t continue to work for your old boss, the world is a small place, so it’s better to play it safe and do a good job right up until your last day, get your reference and leave with dignity.

Doing a brilliant hand-over for your replacement will also confirm what a fantastic employee you were, and you may even get a recommendation out of it.

Get known locally

Work on small projects for friends or small businesses when you’re starting off. By taking these projects, you’ll build a reputation as an expert in your field and help yourself become known as the local go-to person.

Charities, schools and local businesses are good places to approach because they’re likely to have smaller budgets and are willing to take a chance on a newbie. Also, as foundations of the community, if you do a good job, they’re likely to speak favorably of you to other local businesses.

Meet your competitors for coffee

We all know the expression “keep you friends close, keep your enemies closer.” This is even more true when you’re a freelancer. Become friends with your competitors and they could become key to your next job.

When they’re suddenly overwhelmed with too much work, they can call you to help. Do a good job and they might ask you again. They could even hand that client over to you completely.

Aside from work, you’ll be able to glean tips and advice on how they got to be where they are. At the very least, you’ll have someone to meet for lunch who can boost your morale when you’re having a quiet week. No one understands the frustrations of being a freelancer as well as other freelancers.

Find a mentor

Is there anyone in your field you particularly respect or admire? Individuals who have achieved a level of success you would love to emulate? Reach out to them, start a conversation, ask for advice.

But whatever you do, never ask them the question “Will you be my mentor?” Like asking someone to be your friend, this reeks of desperation and makes it sound like a much more demanding role than it would be, which would put a lot of people off.  

Build a relationship first, ask questions, be proactive. Most importantly, listen carefully and sincerely to what the person has to say. Remember, they have a lot more experience than you. Try not to be defensive.

Once you’ve built up a relationship with a more experienced professional who you admire, offer something back — help or advice in an area they might be less experienced in. Show your gratitude and always say thank you.

What has been your experience of going freelance? Do you prefer giving out business cards or sending out emails? How do you make the most of your network? Let us know in the comments below.

Rosie Allabarton is a writer who lives in Berlin. Her journalism specializes in education, technology, employment and women in technology. She works as in-house writer and content manager for CareerFoundry, an online educational platform that provides training in web development and UX design, providing career changers with the skills they need to launch themselves onto the tech scene.

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If You Want to Land a Career You’ll Love, Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you’re struggling to figure out where to take your career, here’s how to avoid choosing the wrong path.

The post If You Want to Land a Career You’ll Love, Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’ve sought advice at one time or the other. Maybe it was about your career or just something that was bothering you.

The advice giver, perhaps more dazed and confused than yourself, or probably trying to sound helpful in his bout of confusion, mutters: “Just follow your heart.”

That’s all.

You start wondering: “If my heart had answers, why am I here with you?”

Either way, you start searching your heart frantically for answers. When you don’t find answers, you might decide to go the safe route and quickly pick a career instead. Wrong move. Here is why the career you pick if you decide to settle might be the wrong choice.

1. You might be peer pressured into a career you hate

Remember when everyone in school wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or firefighter? Fewer kids wanted to be a writer or an artist. And nobody mentioned being a marketer.

The tendency to want to do what everyone else is doing is very strong. That’s natural. That’s why our hearts can easily mislead us into thinking we love a career because everybody else is doing it.

Did you feel driven towards a career path to improve your social status? Or did you feel like this career would earn you admiration or respect of your peers? Just because other people think a particular career is a good move doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

Learn the facts about your career of choice before you finalize your decision. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Explore your options and do your research. You may fall in love with a profession you never thought you could — or perhaps even discover a profession you’ve never even heard of before! In fact, you may find that you love multiple professions once you know specifics about them.

2. You may choose a career because it’s easy

Human nature comes into play here once again. We love when things are easy — who doesn’t? But keep in mind that you can become addicted to comfort.

Sure, it’s easier to work a 9-to-5 job than it is to start your own company. It’s easier to read about successful people and fantasize about their lifestyle than to get your butt off the couch to find your dream job.

Most times, our hearts would rather have it that way. But do not choose a career only because it’s the easy thing to do.

Keep this quote in mind from Theodore Roosevelt: “There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.”

3. You could chose a career out of desperation

Sometimes you get to a point in your life where you pick a job simply because you need a job. You’re broke, seemingly helpless and you’ve got hungry stomachs waiting to be fed. Plus you’ve got rent to pay and you have to eat, too.

After getting the job, what happens? If you come to love the job, great! But don’t settle if you don’t love it. You shouldn’t stay at the job longer than necessary. This should only be a stepping stone to your finding and doing work you love.

Don’t let any of the above reasons be a sole basis for your choice of a career. Even if you don’t know what you want just yet, you’ll get there. Don’t take the easy route and pick a career because it’s easy or expected. Go your own way to find a career you’ll love.

Iniobong Eyo is an adept writer, and freelance blogger for hire who specializes in creating content on personal development and careers among other things. Learn more about his content writing services at

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The Brutal Truth About Why You’re Not Getting What You Want Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 There are lots of things you say you want -- but are you truly going after them? This article may be just the wake-up call you need.

The post The Brutal Truth About Why You’re Not Getting What You Want appeared first on Brazen Life.

We have an important question for you: What is it that you truly want?

A raise? A vacation? More time with your family?

Whatever it is, are you doing everything you can to get it?

In a thought-provoking post, Therese Schwenkler of The Unlost says no; we’re not really going after what we say we want.

Because, according to her, “Getting what you want takes viewing every. Single. Decision in your life through the filter of what you want most.”

Be honest… are you making it happen?

So think about it. Are you really pushing yourself every day towards what you want most?

In the post, Schwenkler gives several examples of not fully committing yourself — some of which might hit home:

“You say you don’t have the time, but you have time to pick apart your Facebook feed… to keep up with the Kardashians… to read this article right now. (Just sayin’.)…

You say you want a promotion, a raise, more freedom, more recognition, but you watch the clock as the hours count down, doing just what you need to do to get by…

You say you want these things, but it’s obvious there’s something else you want more.”

Does that sound familiar? Can you find any disconnects between what you say you want and how you spend your time?

Even if the struggles mentioned above are foreign to you, it doesn’t matter: everyone has something they want. Schwenkler says your priority “doesn’t need to sound ‘impressive’” or “involve ‘chasing your dreams’ or giving everything up… It’s ok if you’d rather have a safe, secure income than risk it all on a dream.”

What matters is that you pursue it with everything you have.

Going back to our initial question, what is the one thing you truly want?

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.

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Networking in Portland: 7 Events to Expand Your Professional Circle Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 In Portland, Ore. and looking to network with other young professionals? Here are seven events you’ll want to add to your calendar.

The post Networking in Portland: 7 Events to Expand Your Professional Circle appeared first on Brazen Life.

Don’t tell anyone, but Portland, Ore. is a fantastic place to live, with all of its natural beauty, good food and nice people. You only have a couple of problems (other than the rain) to deal with upon arrival or graduation.

The first problem is finding an apartment. The second? Getting a job that pays the rent. Especially in a smallish city, it pays to know some key people in your desired job sector. Even if you’re not a schmoozer at heart, here are some events on the Portland networking calendar that won’t make you squirm. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Creative Mornings

Here’s an opportunity for you graphic designing, Web developing, photographic arty types. Each month features a speaker on a topic of interest to creatives. Grab a name tag, get coffee and a doughnut, and chat up your fellow attendees before the program starts. Learn something new, and meet creative people like yourself.

Tickets are free, but they go fast, so join the mailing list for monthly reminders. Consider pre-caffeinating to make the most of small talk before 9 a.m.

2. Young Non-Profit Professionals Network

If the idea of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network’s (YNPN) speed networking event makes you itch, sign up for a volunteer project instead. The task at hand will give you an easy topic to start a conversation, and you can easily segue into your career goals. Just wash your hands before handing over your business card.

3. Emerging Professionals of Portland: Last Tuesday

No cost, no required registration, no stress. The Portland Business Alliance (PBA) puts on monthly Last Tuesday events for the young (and youngish) business-minded people of Portland.

The PBA usually has “ambassadors” available for people new to their events. These ambassadors will answer any questions you might have, and if you’re nice, they might even initiate an introduction or two.

4. Partners in Diversity: Say Hey

Are you a person of color who’s new in town? Make yourself known! Get introduced as an honoree at one of the quarterly meetings of Say Hey if you’ve moved to the area within the last eighteen months. If you’re not new in town, mingle over hors d’oeuvres with this diverse group of professionals. All are welcome.

5. Portland Network After Work

There’s plenty of flesh to press at this monthly event, which advertises 100 to 1,000 people at each meeting. Come from work in your business casual and bring lots of business cards to introduce yourself to people from all walks of life and work.

The $12 entry fee (if you RSVP and pay ahead of time) will get you your first cocktail and some appetizers in addition to schmooze time.

6. pdxMindShare

pdxMindShare wants to meld minds with you. Well, not really, but they’re all about sharing and networking, and have the events to show it. Every month, they offer a career-focused workshop presented by a local business or organization at 4:30 p.m.

Check online ahead of time to see who’s doing the workshop that month, or just go for the networking hour at 5:30 p.m. It’s all free, though it’s held at Trader Vic’s if you’d like to treat yourself to an umbrella drink.

7. Portland Women Founder’s Forum

Get after it, ladies. Join the private LinkedIn group to learn about upcoming events. Whether you have a business or you’re an “aspiring entrepreneur,” these meetings offer opportunities to learn (recent topics have included visual storytelling and the importance of relationships in business) and get to know other local female founders.

Kelley Gardiner is the author of Roller Derby for Beginners. She writes and occasionally networks in Portland, Ore.

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How to Manage Productive and Happy Interns — and Make the Most of Them Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 A happy and productive intern will make your job easier. Here’s how to ensure both parties get the most out of an internship.

The post How to Manage Productive and Happy Interns — and Make the Most of Them appeared first on Brazen Life.

Today’s college students and recent graduates know the road to landing an entry-level job is paved with internships. As they prepare to enter the professional world, they seek internships to gain practical work experience, interpersonal skills and networking opportunities.

Internships are a two-way street; they benefit employers as well. An intern can help you complete projects you may not have been able to do alone. With an extra set of hands, you can focus on the bigger picture and be more successful at work.

With over a third of college students taking on internships at some point during their undergraduate years, you have no shortage of candidates. But if your intern has a bad experience, you can bet everyone in their program will hear about it. This could keep you from attracting the best candidates down the line.

There’s no magic formula for developing a successful internship. Every intern is different, and so are your needs at the time you employ them. You may have a better rapport with certain interns than others. Regardless of who your intern is at the time, you should treat every single of one of them with professionalism and respect — not like lackeys. They can be a huge asset to your team if you give them the chance.

To help your interns be both productive and successful with your team, you’ll need to dedicate focus to these four areas of their internship.

1. Their work environment

Whether you work in a highly-structured corporate culture in or a laid-back startup, make sure your intern feels included. Introduce them around the office and let them know who pulls the strings for office supplies, IT help, etc.

You can also help them feel included by inviting them to meetings. Even if they’re just a fly on the wall, meetings will give your intern a deeper insight into the projects they’re working on and what your job is like. Since they’re probably looking into jobs similar to yours, these meetings can help them get a better sense of what to expect in their future.

2. Their day-to-day tasks and work

Interns expect to do the grunt work. They come in knowing much of what you need them to do will be tedious low-level work.

Nonetheless, you should balance out the tedious with the exciting. If you give them a lot of data entry, you should then give them the opportunity to do some hands-on work, too. Be sure to communicate the importance of they work they do so they don’t feel like they’ve spent thirty hours creating an Excel template that will never serve useful.

Don’t assume your interns have certain knowledge. Different programs teach different skills. Your intern may not have the same set of skills as your previous intern. Give them training on what you want them to do so they understand the project and exactly what you want. This will save you both time in the long run.

3. Their team

Once your intern meets everyone on the team, make sure they understand everyone’s roles. Make it clear to them and your colleagues who they report to. Otherwise, you risk your coworkers dumping work onto the intern and overwhelming or confusing them.

You should always know what project your intern is working on so you can help them prioritize tasks. Make it clear early on that they should let you know if they start to feel overloaded or are struggling to meet deadlines.

4. Their rewards

If you can afford to pay your interns, you should. (Click here to tweet this piece of advice.) Even if it’s a stipend at the end of their internship, payment can go a long way.

Showing your intern you value their work is a huge boost to their self-esteem and will make them want to work harder. If you can’t afford to pay them, offer non-monetary rewards. Whether it’s taking your intern out to lunch once a week or simply creating fun projects for them to work on, show them they’re valued. It’s not just the right thing to do; you’ll also contribute to their success and job satisfaction.

When you hire your next intern, remember some of these suggestions to help boost their productivity and to keep your program’s good reputation so you can hire quality candidates for years to come.

By creating the proper environment and assigning relevant projects, you can help your intern do their best work. By giving them a proper understanding of your team and rewarding them appropriately, you can ensure a smooth and fulfilling internship for both parties.

What are some ways you guarantee successful internship programs?

Katherine is a Public Relations major at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with hopes to move to Austin, TX to work at a public relations agency upon her graduation in December. To see more of Katherine, visit her blog, follow her @kattals and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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4 Smart Tricks to Writing an MBA Application Essay About Failure Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If your MBA essay prompt asks you to write about a mistake or failure from your past, don’t tiptoe around the issue. Tackle it head on and show admissions you’re resilient.

The post 4 Smart Tricks to Writing an MBA Application Essay About Failure appeared first on Brazen Life.

Do you believe everything in an MBA application should present you in a positive light? It makes sense if you’re trying to get into highly selective business programs; you want admissions committees to know how smart, accomplished, hard-working, team-focused and passionate you are.

But you may find yourself stumped when you come across an essay prompt that asks them to share and reflect on an obstacle, mistake or failure from your past. This type of question abounds on MBA applications and includes specific instances such as:

  • Describe a time in the last three years when you overcame a failure. What specific insight from this experience has shaped your development? (Haas 2014)
  • What’s the greatest obstacle you’ve overcome (personally or professionally)? How has overcoming this obstacle prepared you to achieve success now and in the future? (Kellogg 2014)
  • Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (Ross 2014)

The often overwhelming urge to look good can make you answer with scenarios that weren’t really negative. General examples include, “I work too hard” or “I am too detail-oriented.”

That isn’t appropriate for essays of this type, nor is focusing on superficial troubles that serve only as an opportunity for you to sneakily share successes. (e.g. “I once had to pull two consecutive all-nighters to finish a project on time, but it earned me a huge promotion.”)

When you come across an essay prompt about failure, it’s important to be honest and focus on something that was actually a hard time in your life. Sharing an experience that doesn’t reflect well on you can strengthen your candidacy and give the reader valuable insights regarding your skills, personality and resilience. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Here are four suggestions to help you write a great MBA essay about something less-than-flattering from your past.

1. Allow yourself to fall short

Just as your parents told you countless times since you were old enough to understand, failure is part of life. Even the world’s top business people, from Warren Buffett to Marissa Mayer, have experienced disappointing detours on their roads to wealth and power. If becoming a successful businessperson were easy, it wouldn’t be so lucrative. And if that were the case, MBA programs wouldn’t exist at all.

The first thing you need to do when writing about roadblocks on your own path is simple: accept that you’ve messed up, probably too many times to count, and know that doesn’t make you less deserving of admission. If you can come to grips with that, you’ll find this whole process much easier and more constructive.

2. Give an honest assessment

The best way to get off to a great start in an essay discussing a mistake or failure is to immediately strike the right tone: frank honesty. There’s no need to try and make the situation seem better than it was or minimize your shortcomings. Doing so will make you seem defensive.

Instead, be confident in explaining exactly what happened, where the situation went wrong, and how you were responsible.

3. Tell a story

Hindsight is 20/20. A great essay about a hard time will not only explain the event in honest terms, but also demonstrate that you learned from it. In fact, many MBA application essay prompts (including all three presented earlier) include two separate parts. The first asks you to describe the event, the second asks you to talk about what you took from it.

Pay close attention to what your particular prompt wants you to focus on in that latter respect. Sometimes the question focuses on how the experience impacted your development. In others, you might be asked what you would do differently or how you would recommend someone else face a similar situation. Whatever’s asked, tailor your response to that particular query.

4. Share your personal growth

Why do MBA programs ask you to discuss unflattering experiences from your past at all? Simple. No matter how intelligent, experienced, hardworking and lucky (yes, lucky) you are, you’re going to struggle and mess up — probably a lot — both in business school and your subsequent employment.

If you can’t roll with those punches, occasionally accept defeat and use those experiences to become a better student and professional, you’re not going to get far.

MBA applications are designed so admissions officers and committees can get to know you as a person, beyond what quantitative elements like grades and test scores tell them. Essays are especially helpful in that regard, and essays that force you to discuss something you may not naturally be eager to share can be particularly revealing.

When you tackle an essay prompt asking about a misstep or crash-and-burn experience, tackle it head on. Provide an honest assessment of what went wrong and show how that event ultimately strengthened you in the long run.

Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson’s and EssayEdge, and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

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5 Reasons You Should Work for Free Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Before you decide to work for free, make sure you do it for the right reasons. Here are a few -- plus the one reason why you shouldn’t.

The post 5 Reasons You Should Work for Free appeared first on Brazen Life.

Have you ever outworked a colleague and wondered why their compensation was higher than yours? I’ve been there and it’s not a great feeling. True, statistics show that women still make 77 cents for every male dollar and studies increasingly show that women work harder for their pay, but pay disparity can happen to men, too.

Why do some employees accept unequal pay for unequal work? According to a recent survey on new year’s resolutions by Red Bull with Harris Interactive, men are motivated by money, whereas women are more likely to be motivated by the pure satisfaction of accomplishing their goals.

How we approach our resolutions says a lot about how we approach our work, since both are deeply rooted in goal setting and accomplishment. But even in the male-dominated environment of financial services, men are every bit as likely to suffer from pay disparity as women.

As a gender stereotype, we might be able to predict trends in motivations, but as human beings, it becomes more difficult. Many men made the same mistake I did, which was to believe I shouldn’t be compensated for the work responsibilities that most excited me because I was being presented with an opportunity to do something new.

When should you consider working for free? There are a few times, when taken advantage of sparsely, when we can benefit from working for free. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. It’s a networking opportunity

If the gig can open up new doors or get you in front of industry thought leaders you want to meet, it can be worth taking on a free project, as long as you don’t make a habit of it.

Early on in my career, I volunteered to run the biweekly orientation day for new financial advisor because I knew that on each of those days, I’d get the opportunity to speak with the regional vice president of my company. This translated into being tapped for more managerial responsibilities and entry into an exclusive pilot program.

2. It’ll enhance your career skills

A new project can help you gain new expertise or visibility in an area where you haven’t yet shone. Just be careful the project scope doesn’t creep past your learning curve or PR opportunity.

The exclusive pilot program I entered was to help advisors become better at word-of-mouth marketing, and it advanced my skills faster because I learned from the best. The drawback was I had to complete it in addition to my normal work responsibilities. But the benefits far exceeded the extra time commitment.

3. It’s a future business or advancement opportunity

A new undertaking can sometimes highlight an already existing skill you can leverage for future business opportunities. If so, the time put in may be worth an eventual pay off.

Many of the new advisors I helped came to me for advice, so I ended up mentoring a small group of new employees for free. When it came time for my company to add on more managers, I was a natural choice.

4. It boosts your pay scale or rate

If the project will contribute to an increase your future pay rate, the time spent may be an investment. In financial services, you’re expected to acquire advanced certifications — on your own time. But each advancement qualifies you for more pay, so it’s a no-brainer to maintain a schedule of continuing education and certification.

5. It’s a passion

Pet projects happen because people are emotionally moved to take a certain course of action. If the job aligns with your life purpose and you need to be involved, go for it. But go in understanding that your time has value and worth, even if you’re not being compensated for it.

When I was with my last company, we piloted a personal finance program for high school teenagers and showed them what the financial planning process looked like. It was a lot of fun and extremely rewarding, but did absolutely nothing for my career or bottom line. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

When you should never work for free

Don’t accept free work if you think there’s a chance you can be paid for it. (Unless you’re intentionally gifting your time and expertise.) You can avoid hassles by asking one simple question up front: “What is the compensation for this responsibility?”

Often, you’ll find yourself being paid for something you would have done for free, anyway. If not, you can decide if the soft benefits are worth the time you’ll put in. Sometimes they are. Often they’re not.

Mindy Crary helps you with not just your money, but the whackjob behind it. Visit Creative Money to sign up for tips on personal finance and earning your worth (yes, they are connected).

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Recent Grad? How to Start Your Career Even If You’re Unemployed Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 How have you been keeping busy since graduation? If you haven’t landed a job yet, here’s what you should be doing to appear more attractive to employers.

The post Recent Grad? How to Start Your Career Even If You’re Unemployed appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you have a May 2014 graduation date atop your resume, you may still be on the job hunt. When you first graduated, this was a proud accomplishment of four years of hard work. Just a few months later, the sheen has worn off and there’s no time for congratulatory salutations. Now the dreaded question is, “What have you been doing since you graduated?”

This is something that must — and can! — be turned around quickly. The longer you’re unemployed, the harder it will be to explain to employers why you’ve been jobless for so long.

Don’t despair if you haven’t landed a job just yet. You have plenty of options to kickstart your career while you’re searching for a job. In fact, this period is a once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity to prove yourself as a hard working go-getter who’d be a catch for any employer.

So how do you make this happen? Here are three ways the May 2014 graduate can prove their worth despite their current lack of experience.

Keep learning

A productive and meaningful way to pass the time is to take continuing education courses. MOOCs and local community colleges are great places to turn to for this type of learning.

Maybe you didn’t have the time to take a class you wanted to in college. Why not do it now? Or, maybe you’re just now discovering you lack a certain skill that would be helpful for your career. Udacity and Lynda are great resources to learn technical skills like coding. Toastmasters clubs are a great place to learn public speaking skills.

How about becoming Microsoft Office, Adobe or Google certified? Finishing college doesn’t mean it’s time to stop learning. Employers will definitely recognize your thirst for knowledge and commitment to personal and professional improvement.

Work more than 1 job

If you show up to your job on time and don’t leave until your work is done, that could be classified as “hard working.” But shouldn’t you be doing those things anyway?

If you want to demonstrate how hardworking you are, work more than one job. I’m not suggesting you work 80 hours each week. But you could probably put in more than 40.

Working more than one job shows employers you’re truly hardworking. This also shows your ability to manage a busy schedule and adapt to different working environments as well as demonstrates an I-can-handle-anything attitude for new projects.

Demonstrate an “achiever pattern”

Every recruiter has their eyes out for candidates who have a strong achiever pattern. (Click here to tweet this thought.) They try to uncover this trait in interviews by asking about your academic, professional and personal endeavors. An achiever pattern is marked by your motivation to take on extra responsibilities, create opportunity where there originally was none and add value to a business or person.

Does your family business need help with social media marketing? Could your local summer camp benefit from some new programming? Could the non-profit where you volunteer use an extra hand in event and fundraising planning? Initiating and leading projects like these show your desire to bring improvements to organizations and drive results.

Even if you haven’t landed a job just yet, this interim period is the perfect time to create opportunities for yourself to show to potential employers that you’re a catch. Challenge yourself and prove to everyone — including yourself — what you have to offer.

And lastly, congratulations unemployed May 2014 graduate! Several doors are open in front of you, and it’s up to you to walk through them and towards your career.

Amber Hanson-Rumbaugh is a Corporate Recruiter at RKG, a Merkle Company, a leading digital marketing and search agency headquartered in Charlottesville, VA. In this role she is responsible for sourcing, interviewing and hiring candidates and also manages employment branding via social media, on-campus events and internship development. Connect with Amber on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. (View expressed are mine and do not reflect the views of RKG, a Merkle Company.)

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5 Bold Ways to Stand Out and Land Your Dream Job Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 You’ve polished your resume and done your homework. But to get your foot in the door at your dream company, it’s time to step it up. Here’s how.

The post 5 Bold Ways to Stand Out and Land Your Dream Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

You may dream of blazing a trail into a new career, but getting your foot firmly wedged in the door is the hardest part. You’ve researched everything there is to know about your dream company, you’ve trawled its website and emailed several times to no avail.

Doing your homework is one thing, but an excellent resume doesn’t cut it in a crowd of equally strong resumes. Instead, get thinking, planning and creating. As long as you’re prepared for a bit of hard work, you can find ways to stand out from the crowd.

1. Create an online mind map of ideas for the company

Impress employers by showing you’re passionate about their company, that you have awesome new ideas and you’re not afraid to show them. Jot down your best ideas and strategies for the company you want to work for.

Rather than just handing over the list or typing up a word processing document, show you can communicate effectively by compiling it into an online flow chart, mind map or infographic.

For flow charts and mind maps, try out Popplet or Coggle. These online apps let you create text boxes, change colors and insert images and videos. Break down your ideas into categories and map them out creatively.

If you want to create an infographic of your thoughts, Piktochart and Easel are great places to start. Remember to keep text in small chunks to ensure it’s not overwhelming and use relevant images to engage the reader.

2. Have a strong online presence

Everyone knows engaging on social media and making a dazzling LinkedIn profile are essential to creating a strong online presence, but they’re not the only ways to do it.

Starting your own blog or website can be an incredibly effective way to market yourself and help people get to know you. Don’t force an employer to take a gamble on you; a website can showcase your skills needed for the job.

A blog isn’t a diary for yourself; it’s a way to engage with the community and create a portfolio of your work. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Whether you want to write about working in dentistry, share tips for new teachers or show off your photography, your own blog can provide the perfect platform.

Add links to previous work you’ve done online, or write about activities and programs you’ve been involved in. If you’re not confident about running your own blog, why not contribute to another blog? Guest posting for blogs and websites who are authorities in their field shares your expertise and gets your name out there.

3. Showcase your skills on an animated video

For years applicants have been writing their resumes on plain paper and Word documents, but times are changing, and resumes should change with them. Plenty of young graduates create videos of themselves to accompany their resumes, but to avoid coming across awkwardly on camera, as many do, animate your resume instead.

Online software like Moovly, PowToon and GoAnimate allow you develop your own short video. Not only is animated video engaging, but it’s also an opportunity to show off your skills in a fun way. If you need inspiration, check out Riikka Uhmavaara’s and Alyssa Berkovitz’s animated resumes.

4. Be bold and think outside the box

There’s a right way and a wrong way to get noticed by doing something unconventional. Being out of the box can be a great way to prove you’re creative, innovative and worthy of a job, but if it’s not done right, it can make you look crazy instead.

Ask yourself whether your out-of-the-box stunt is going to prove you can use your skills and experience to excel in the job role you’re after. If the answer is yes, do it.

Remember Adam Pacitti, the unemployed media production graduate who spent his last £500 advertising himself on a billboard? Showing off his viral advertising skills secured him a viral production job with Seachange. If your idea is more along the lines of sending a plastic foot to the director of the company, go back to the drawing board.

5. Do the job before you even get an offer

If you’re not as bold as Adam, another way to get your foot in the door is to start doing the job that you want to do, in whatever way you can. Want to work in film production? Make your own short films and upload them to YouTube.

Want to secure a job as a web designer? Find a friend with an independent business and create or revamp their webpage, but be sure to include a link to your contact details so people who like your work know how to find you.

Think that project management is right for you? Start your own small scale project and put together a small team to get it running.

Don’t wait until you get a job offer to do the work you want to be doing; take steps to improve your skill set and show potential employers that their job would be second nature to you. Post updates on your website and social media so you and others can keep track of your progress.

Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, Construction and Medical sectors. He is currently running the Jobs4Group, and is CEO of Jobs4Medical.

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5 Types of People You Don’t Want to Become at the Office Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Ever had trouble getting along with your coworkers at the office? Before you point fingers at someone else, take a look at this list to see if the problem is really your personality.

The post 5 Types of People You Don’t Want to Become at the Office appeared first on Brazen Life.

Every workplace has its share of difficult people, and they come in many different shapes and sizes.

Maybe these employees have big egos, or think they’re better than their coworkers. Maybe they slack off on tasks, but still take all the credit. Whatever they do, they’re full of negative energy. They drag down morale, create obstacles to growth, and challenge forward progress. And they’re not very much fun to work with, either.

You want to avoid being the person that no one wants to work with. (Click here to tweet.) Everyone has a bad day now and then. But there are certain behaviors that, when turned into habits, can be detrimental — both to your coworkers and to your own career. Become a better teammate by avoiding these 5 personality traits.

The Good-Old-Days Guy

Do you work with someone who only talks about how things were done in the “good old days”? It’s usually someone who has been an employee for a long time – and who thinks things should never change. He may frequently wax nostalgic about the way things used to be, and he likely struggles when confronted with change. He may be great at his job, but he also tends to hold projects back.

Ask Yourself: Do you resist change in your work environment? Try to become more flexible and improve your ability to adjust to change quickly. Ask questions to gain understanding. When you can identify the benefits of a new process, it will be easier for you to adapt to the change.

The Critic

Criticism is a good thing – when it’s done kindly and constructively. No one likes a critic who’s mean, judgmental or overly negative. The critic might think her comments are constructive, but they often feel more like a jab than helpful advice. She may inadvertently (or intentionally) hurt people’s feelings, making her difficult to work with. A teammate who always finds fault is often avoided.

Ask Yourself: If you’re about to criticize someone at work, pause for a moment and check your motives. Will your comments be helpful? To create a better interaction, turn your criticism into actionable advice.

The Tattletale

The tattletale is the guy who says he’ll cover for you, only to turn around and tell your boss that you slacked off on the project. He may keep tabs on when you get to the office and when you leave, or make snide comments about your work ethic. He’s likely not shy about taking credit for other’s work, and he makes sure the manager knows about every mistake his coworkers make. “Team spirit” isn’t even in his vocabulary.

Ask Yourself: Have you ever emphasized a coworker’s failure to your manager, or taken credit that should have been shared with your team? You might have a mild case of tattletale. To make sure you’re not discrediting your peers, apply the golden rule: treat them the way you want to be treated.

The Chatterbox

Do you know a coworker who always has an opinion to express? She talks, asks questions, demands explanations and shares way too much information. She chats in the hallway, at her desk, or at the coffeemaker, and she can’t walk to the bathroom without having a 10-minute conversation with someone. In fact, she talks so much that it interferes with productivity — for both herself and others.

Ask Yourself: It’s good to express yourself. But if you talk more than you listen, you may be talking too much. Limit the chatter, and focus on tuning into your teammates’ ideas.

The Hyper-Competitor

The most important thing to the competitor?  Winning. He wants to be the best person on his team, and he wants his team to be better than every other team. The competitor will (no surprise) often turn a team effort into a competition. He finishes his work faster or does more than others, and then gloats over slower teammates. And a healthy dose of competition can be a great motivator. But too much can turn teammates against each other.

Ask Yourself: Do you always want to win? A little competition can be good, but don’t let your competitive spirit become too extreme in a team environment. A team succeeds together – after all, there’s no “I” in team.

If you’re wondering about your workplace persona, take a minute to reflect on your behavior. Do you recognize any of these traits in yourself? If so, it might be time for you to make some changes in the way you interact at work. The path to self-improvement may also be the path to greater responsibility, better promotions and more recognition at work.

Have you ever worked with any of these employees? How did you deal with them?

Liz Seasholtz is the community manager at Talent Tribune, a blog dedicated to all things HR.

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How Hard Rock Cafe Hired 120 People in 30 Days Using Facebook Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 If you’re trying to find the next big thing in recruiting, stop; the solution is right at your fingertips. Need proof? It’s how Hard Rock was able to hire 120 people in 30 days.

The post How Hard Rock Cafe Hired 120 People in 30 Days Using Facebook appeared first on Brazen Life.

We often hear about the growing social side of recruiting — but what we don’t hear about is the numbers.

Does using social media for recruitment actually work?

That’s why a story on caught our attention; it detailed Hard Rock Cafe’s massive success with recruiting employees on Facebook. The company wanted to hire 120 people to open a new restaurant in Florence, Italy — in just 30 days.

Facebook: a recruiting powerhouse?

For help, Hard Rock turned to Work4, a “social media based hiring system.” Here’s how they found candidates through Facebook:

  1. Added a special careers section to their Facebook page, on which they listed all of their open jobs
  2. Ran an ad campaign that targeted fans of rock & roll who lived in the area

Did it work? In a big way.

According to the article, “They got 4000 applications in 4 weeks, interviewed 1000 people, and ended up hiring the entire staff of 120 people through Facebook.”

And the techniques used by Hard Rock aren’t the only ones available; for established companies, Work4 also recommends using existing friendships.

As founder Stéphane Le Viet explains:

“Referrals [on Facebook] should be extremely easy. Your friends are already there. If there are jobs at your company that fit your friends profile, we’ll let an employee know. You’ll receive an email saying ‘your friend John fits this job profile. If you’d like to share with him, click here.’”

So the next time you’re starting a recruitment wave, it might be time to look where everyone’s already hanging out: Facebook.

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.

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Smart Networking for MBA Students: How to Schmooze Your Way to Success Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Making the most of business school is about meeting the right people. Learn how to strategically build your network as an MBA student.

The post Smart Networking for MBA Students: How to Schmooze Your Way to Success appeared first on Brazen Life.

We all know networking is important in any profession. But when it comes to business school, one cannot exist without the other.

Business is networking. Business is about relationships between people. Learning to make the most of the networking opportunities and building relationships with the right people in business school will pay off down the line.

So if you want to get your MBA or are enrolled in business school, networking should be a top priority. Read on to learn how you can network your way right to your biggest successes.

1. Start building your network early

Many people wait until school starts to begin building their contacts. Don’t be like most people. Start long before your first day of class.

Join Facebook groups for your class and get to know your classmates. Find ways to interact with people — whether it’s because you have the same last name, attended the same undergrad program or even share the same obsession with poodles.

Many people think networking means only talking business or only studying together. But keep in mind that networking is about people. The more you enjoy talking to people in your network and begin to build real, lasting relationships, the more networking will begin to feel easy and natural.

You should also make new contacts throughout your time in business school. Many new students establish their group of friends early on, then stick with those people throughout school. Sure, it can be hard to make new friends or (gasp) meet people in person instead of on social media.

But part of your business school education is learning how to make in-person connections. In fact, some business schools actually teach classes in networking since many students lack the ability to make face-to-face introductions.

2. Think outside the MBA networking box

Your network should be extensive. Don’t limit your network to people who have the same professional interests or went to top undergraduate schools.

Aim to build a network that includes a variety of classmates, professors and even secretaries or other university employees. Don’t forget that being kind to an office admin could get you an appointment with that professor who seems to be never around. University employees are also among the first to hear about internships, jobs and volunteer opportunities. Be kind to every single person you come across because you never know where the relationship will lead.

An important resource for any MBA student can also be your alumni network. Make it a point to meet alumni every chance you can get — especially ones who work in your field of choice.

3. Hone in on the right networking events

Avoid attending every single networking event you come across. Meeting as many people as possible can actually be a mistake. Instead, be strategic and use your time wisely.

Don’t stretch yourself too thin. It’s better to pour your time and resources into developing a few key relationships than 50 that are less meaningful or shallow.

4. Build genuine relationships

The simple answer to developing genuine networking relationships is just that – be genuine. Don’t make friends with a classmate because they have wealthy parents or past business success. You never know who will be successful in the future. Some of the worst students make genius business owners. (Click here to tweet this idea.)

Focus on people you actually enjoy spending time with. Down the line, they’ll make for the best partners and confidants.

Remember to also be generous, present yourself well, stay active on social media and LinkedIn, and most importantly – have fun! Being a student is about growth and learning whether you become the president of a particular club or are the social organizer for all fun outings.

5. Leverage contacts for your future business success

The people in your network may one day be your colleagues. But they can be so much more. It’s extremely important to remember they can be your future customers, too!

When you’re ready to launch a product, source marketing ideas or get feedback on a new service, you can tap your network for direction. Are you unsure if one particular product will sit well with your target audience? Try asking your network. As your future customers, they can help you decide whether to pursue that idea.

It’s also important to extend your network to people who represent a variety of business skills. If you only spend time getting to know those in the finance niche, you’ll miss out on finding marketing talent or ideas when you really need them.

Ultimately, business school is so much more than attending classes and learning crucial finance skills. The people you meet in business school are just as crucial for your future success.

Catherine Alford is a full-time blogger, personal finance freelance writer and mom of infant twins. She writes about how to balance life and a budget all across the web including her own site, Budget Blonde.

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9 Networking Events in Austin You Won’t Want to Miss Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Live in Austin, Texas? Expand your professional and social circles with these networking opportunities. Who knows, you might find your next boss - or maybe just a new best friend!

The post 9 Networking Events in Austin You Won’t Want to Miss appeared first on Brazen Life.

There’s more to be found in Austin than live music and BBQ. It’s a top-notch city for networking, and the easiest place to start a business given the low tax structure, business-friendly climate, and overall collaborative environment.

Consistently ranked as one of the top places to live and work in the country, Austin holds favorable opportunities for those in the tech, engineering, and information technology fields, among others. If you’re looking for networking opportunities in Austin, you’re in the right place, as the city is in constant celebration of the collaborative, hard-working, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Below are 9 networking events in Austin that recur either monthly or yearly. Find the one that works for your schedule, and open the door to your next potential gig or business opportunity.

1. Young Men’s Business League

The Young Men’s Business League (YMBL) is a service organization in Austin that holds a variety of recurring events for young men looking to form business or personal relationships, and make a difference in the community. They hold monthly lunches, workshops, spring and fall flings, and 5k/10k runs, but their biggest project is Sunshine Camp, where members of YMBL assist as camp counselors and encourage children to live positive and meaningful lives.

2. Freelancers Union After Hours

Freelancers Union is an organization built on supporting independent freelancers across the country. In their first ever nationwide after work event, they now hold monthly ‘After Hours’ networking events specifically for freelancers on the first Wednesday of every month at 6pm local time in cities such as Austin, Los Angeles, and Portland. Feel free to get chummy with a local Austin freelancer at this event and discuss gigs, creativity, and resources.

3. National Association of Professional Women Monthly Meetings (Austin Chapter)

The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) is a fast-growing women’s networking group with 300 local chapters across the nation, and a whopping 600,000 members. Their mission is to provide women a forum to connect, create, and exchange powerful stories on business and career development. Their Austin chapter holds meetings once monthly at various locations, usually featuring a guest speaker, snacks, and powerful mentorship opportunities.

4. Austin Young Chamber of Commerce Speaker Series

Focusing on creating networking relationships for young professionals, the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce (AYC) holds a speaker series once a month, allowing young professionals from all over Austin to join, listen, and collaborate with professionals in a wide range of industries from entrepreneurship, technology, and the department of transportation.

“The goal is to help engage our members in the community and increase access to community leaders,” says Matt Glazer, executive director of the AYC.

The speaker series is one of many events aimed at helping young professionals become leaders in the business community.

5. Austin Tech Happy Hour

Everyone loves a casual happy hour. If you live in Austin and specialize in the technology industry, this networking event is for you. Every other month or so, people from the Austin community gather to mix and mingle about all things tech. There aren’t any speakers or agendas, but everyone gets two drink tickets and the opportunity to catch up with the latest in technology, and form new relationships.

6. South By Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW)

The infamous South by Southwest festival has brought some of the most talented people in music, film, and technology together in Austin for 21 years now. The interactive portion of the festival is a breeding ground for innovation and ideas, and entrepreneurs looking to spread them. Network with people who are ‘creating the technology of today’, attend special events, and hobnob with a few of your peers at the Interactive awards.

7. Local Austin Linkedin Networking

What started out as a professional networking group on Linkedin quickly became a monthly networking event on the last Tuesday of every month for Austin professionals. For the last 4 years, the people of the Local Austin Linkedin Networking group have been meeting up once a month to connect more than just digitally. The event is free and open to the public, and a Linkedin account is not necessary to join in on the fun.

8. Campfire Team Building

If you’re not into the whole ‘bar-networking’ vibe, Tech Ranch Austin provides what they call Campfire Team Building, a more immersive form of networking that is more than just an exchange of business cards. Targeted towards startups in the Austin community, Campfire goes one step further than networking in that it brings people together for various team-building initiatives. They divide attendees up in groups to discuss ways of advancing ideas and knowledge, building social capital, and creating value for one another.

9. Austin Startup Week

Austin Startup Week is fun for everyone, regardless of where you’re at in your career. Each year they hold around 40 events spanning five days, showcasing Austin’s thriving startup community. One of their most popular events is the ‘startup crawl’, where you can ‘crawl’ 70 or so startups lined up on various building floors, grabbing drinks with founders and co-founders, and taking tours. The best part is, most of the events are free!

Now that you’ve got a handful of networking events to attend, go out there and show them what you’re worth! Do bring the business cards, and don’t forget to smile.

Monique Muro blogs at A Novel Quest and tweets at @moniquemuro. Her goal is to generate awesome for the world through websites, mobile apps, and one day, very thick books.

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Why Learning Languages Makes You a More Appealing Job Candidate Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Can you speak more than one language? Here’s why multilingualism is a coveted skill -- and why it could be key to landing your next job.

The post Why Learning Languages Makes You a More Appealing Job Candidate appeared first on Brazen Life.

In this ever-changing world, more employers are seeking the best people for their workforce. Graduating with honors and partaking in extra-curricular activities alone aren’t enough to be considered in the company anymore.

Nowadays, employers and headhunters are looking for more skills — like being multilingual. Here’s why multilingualism is important in the workplace.

1. Better communication fuels more sales

If you’re into sales, a lot of talking and persuasion is required to close a sale. Practicing a sales pitch and being confident when meeting clients are steps to get you there. But acquiring the native language of your customer will help you further seal the deal.

This makes people feel more comfortable and at ease when talking with you. Earning their trust will also be easier. This is why recruiters hire people who are bilingual or even multilingual speakers. Aside from sales, you’ll have plenty of career opportunities waiting if you have the language ability they’re looking for.

2. Cognitive advantages make you smarter

Science Magazine states that knowing how to speak in multiple languages makes people become smarter. Having to comprehend words in other languages improves your cognitive skills. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

The New York Times, in their article “The Benefits of Bilingualism” published in March 2012, also agreed that being bilingual makes you more powerful. The brain is exercised and forced to process multiple languages at once. This hones your ability to solve problems.

3. Globalization

With globalization, employers are in the search for people who are good at communicating in multiple languages, as they’re seen as better at cooperating, negotiating and compromising. Multilingual individuals also have intercultural sensitivity and they can think more efficiently.

Language teachers, interpreters, translators, customer service assistants and representatives, and tour guides are positions most likely to demand experts at speaking in multiple languages.

But this doesn’t discount that as businesses’ supply chains and customers become increasingly global, professionals who know how to speak another language become more prominent.

For instance, if you’re an IT executive, it would be great to enroll in higher studies like an information technology course in the Philippines, learning a new language at the same time. This will improve your IT skills and take advantage of your language capabilities to meet the business’s goals.

Learning a foreign language isn’t easy. But being multilingual gives you an edge wherever you go, so be eager to learn and take the time and effort to improve your speaking ability.

Other perks of being multilingual include more travel opportunities and increased salaries as you’re recognized as an asset of the company. By improving your foreign language skills, you can more easily transform into a stellar performer who helps drive the business through its next phase of evolution.

Mishka Tolentino is a business student at University of Westminster, a freelance writer, and web enthusiast. Follow her on twitter @mishkatolentino.

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5 Ways Millennials Can Nail Their Next Job Interview Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 An employee whose company has a selective interview process shares his best tips for hopeful job applicants.

The post 5 Ways Millennials Can Nail Their Next Job Interview appeared first on Brazen Life.

It’s harder to get a job at my company than it is to get into Stanford. I was one of the first three employees at We’ve since received over 500 applications and interviewed about 150 total candidates. We ultimately hired five of them.

Our team takes hiring seriously. We interview frequently and hire rarely. Our acceptance rate for new hires is 1%. That’s lower than the acceptance rate of Stanford (5.7%), Harvard (5.8%) or Columbia (6.9%). Our benchmark is not intentional — we just insist on hiring awesome people, and it can take several rounds of interviews to find the right fit.

After well over a hundred interviews with people of all ages, I’ve realized a few things Millennials in particular can do to stand out interviews. Since I’ve spent so much time speaking with prospective employees, I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to stand out in the interview process.

Here are my top five tips for Millennial job seekers during interviews.

1. If it doesn’t make you look awesome, don’t include it

Only include resources that actually enhance your qualifications for a position. The kitchen sink approach will get your resume trashed — not get you hired.

When trying to land that first job, you may be inclined to read every article in existence about what you should include in your application. Don’t try to squeeze all those things in, then send me an application that actually would be stronger without most of it.

For example, imagine how it looks if you include a link to your personal blog with one measly post from a few years ago or a GitHub with a two-day streak and no contributions from the last eight months. I’m left unimpressed. Attaching those resources won’t enhance your likelihood of an interview with anyone.

If you have an awesome GitHub, a killer website highlighting cool projects you’ve done, or a robust LinkedIn profile with updated experience, testimonials and lots of helpful info, by all means include it. Those all will help the recruiter learn more about you.

At my company, we spend much more time exploring a candidate’s website, GitHub or LinkedIn than we do their resume. This can work for candidates — or against them depending on the quality of their site or profile.

If you don’t have a blog, GitHub or LinkedIn, don’t sweat it. We’re happy to look at the rest of your application and make a decision on whether or not to move forward from there. Better to play it safe and only include what you know makes you look good.

2. Research stands out

Research EVERYTHING: The founders, the company, the person or people interviewing you and the industry.

I’ve had a number of people come in with thoughtful questions for me about our founders, my background and our industry. They showed me they’d done their research.

Those people impressed me.

Do enough research to stump me and I’ll like you. Come in confident enough to challenge me and I’ll love you.

To figure out if you want to work for these people, you’ve got to interview them, too! If you know your stuff, it’s not creepy. It’s impressive, and it’s as simple as a Google search.

3. Cover letters are worth the effort

Take the time to write a great cover letter.’s CEO Douglas Hanna says the thing he notices first in a good application is a good cover letter.

Before your resume or any of your other application materials, this is the first thing many employers look at. If you’ve researched the company and know exactly why you’re a good fit, you’ll stick out to your prospective employer as you go through the interview process.

If you’ve done your research, it should be easy to write a great cover letter. Avoid the templates, which will make your cover letter feel manufactured. Someone who clearly puts thought and originality into their cover letter will jump off the page. I can instantly spot someone who has thought out a few compelling reasons for applying and can speak to how their unique skillset will mesh with our project.

4. A “don’t mess up” mindset can get you in trouble

Millennials often come into interviews seeming nervous and tightly wound. Don’t try to give me the “right” answer. It’s no fun. Also I don’t believe generic, mostly insincere answers and can spot them a mile away.

Have some fun. We liked you enough to bring you in. That’s a good sign. There’s a pretty large space between unprofessional and robotic, and we want candidates to be in a place where we can still get a sense of your personality and who you are. (Click here to tweet this recruiter’s quote.)

Once a candidate told me I was wrong. I loved it! Someone willing to go head-to-head with me in an interview? That’s what I want. The deer-in-headlights stare doesn’t look good on anyone.

Ask questions. Think about your answers. Don’t come in with the mindset “don’t mess up,” because that ensures you’ll bore me. Take a risk, have an opinion and make it so that I remember your thoughtful answers at the end instead of how scared you looked.

5. Applying to two great jobs is better than applying to 20 random jobs

Job searching is hard, and it’s so rare to find a perfect job. Sometimes it seems better to take a shotgun approach to job applications to maximize the likelihood of “something” working out.

As someone who spends a lot of time interviewing, I can tell you that success by volume is a myth. It’s far better to put ten hours of work into one or two phenomenal applications than to blast out twenty identical applications to jobs you’re not actually interested in.

Invest in your happiness. Know what you really want in your career so you can find a job that excites you. Then, pour everything into that application. The people reading the application and interviewing you will be able to tell you went all out. When you interview with genuine enthusiasm, you’ll set yourself apart.

Be patient. Job hopping is no fun. Be confident in yourself and find a job or two that you love, then blow those applications out of the water. It will benefit you in the long term.

Enough preaching. Act on these tips and go show everyone how awesome you are!

Are you a millennial with a tip about interviewing for jobs? Tell us about it!

Graham Moreno works in Business Operations and runs the blog at, a software company where they are rethinking customer service. You can read his other work at

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4 Things You Need to Do to Land Your Dream Job Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 With your dream job on the horizon, you need to take these steps to seal the deal.

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Have you reached that point in your career where you feel stagnant? Are you ready to make a change and go after your dream job? Well, good for you! It’s big step in your career and life to be mentally prepared to make this leap.

But you must first address a couple key questions before making a big career change (especially one with such high expectations.) First, what is your dream job? And second, but equally as important, is that job truly right for you?

Being able to reconcile the job you want with the one that’s the right fit is typically a difficult moment for job seekers. You need to do your research and see what opportunities you’re genuinely passionate about, then make sure those positions support the ultimate goals of your career trajectory.

Once you’re sure of your convictions and know you have a goal in mind that’s right for you, then it’s time to follow the path that will set you up to land the opportunity you’ve been dreaming of. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Follow this strategy to secure your dream job.

Put job descriptions and company reviews to work

Most job seekers know they have millions of job postings at their fingertips. Look at these as valuable resources to help you conduct research in the field you’re hoping to break into.

When reviewing job descriptions, look for recurring skills or competencies. Determine which ones you possess and which you need to build upon to be qualified for your dream job.

Company reviews are also a great resource. Similar to Yelp reviews for restaurants, company reviews provide a platform through which former employees can rate where they have worked. You can use tools such as Indeed Employee Reviews to see what other employees think about the culture, work-life balance, mobility within the organization and more.

Remember, it’s just as important to find the right position for you as it is to find the right organization. Your dream job must also fit your work style and provide an environment you can succeed in.

Get smart about networking

You already know the right relationships with key individuals in the industry you want to work can be crucial in landing your dream job. But you may struggle to figure out how to engage those individuals.

First, think about the networks you already belong to. Can these you expand your networking within those organizations? Have you tried to align with alumni groups from your university? There may be individuals who fulfill a similar role to the job you’re looking for.

Another networking tactic can be to find people who already have the job you want. Find out what organizations they’re involved in — and join them. Meetups or industry events that nurture these types of networking interactions are other places to find the right people to build connections with.

Scale up your competition

To land your dream job (or any job, for that matter), you have to prove you’re a better fit for a particular position than other candidates. When building your resume, think about how you can set yourself apart from the competition for this specific job.

Try out online tools like Indeed Resume, where you can view the resumes of other job seekers to compare and contrast resume format, skill set and other unique qualifiers.

Set yourself up for success

A dream job needs to be the right fit both both sides. By the right using tools to help identify that perfect match, you’re already setting yourself up for success in your job search.

If you do your research and work hard to present yourself in a way that makes sense for the organization, you’ll shine in the interview process — and will be well on your way to making your dream job a reality.

Mike Steinerd is’s Director of Recruiting, and handles everything from hiring and managing the sales recruitment team to establishing critical market intelligence for the company. Previously, Mike has worked for two Fortune 50 organizations, owned and successfully operated a small business, and has been involved in the Recruitment Industry for over 14 years.

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How to Create an Online Business That Allows You to Work From Anywhere Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 What you can start doing today to build a global online business and work from anywhere.

The post How to Create an Online Business That Allows You to Work From Anywhere appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you like to have your cake and eat it too, splitting your time between two countries probably sounds right up your alley! The good news? It’s not a crazy pipe dream.

How I made it happen

It wasn’t always my plan to one day call both the United States and Brazil home. In fact, I didn’t have a plan at all. Even as I kept earning more degrees (hello student loans!), I never felt “right” about where my life was headed.

One day, a friend of a friend asked if I would edit his dissertation. While I was always the go-to editor and writer for friends and family, it never occurred to me people would pay me for this skill. I had no idea what rate to charge, so I nervously said $20 an hour. He agreed, and became my first editing client!

Around the same time, I was eager to travel. Although my Brazilian boyfriend (now husband) and I had talked about spending time in his home country so I could learn Portuguese and get to know his family, we were not proactively making it happen.

But my gut was telling me my ho-hum feeling job wouldn’t get me the life I wanted: A life of travel, culture and control over my time.

One day, after a particularly stressful day at work, I decided I would move to Brazil with or without my boyfriend. (Yes, I’m a bit impulsive!) He decided to join me. Within six months, we sold almost everything we owned. With five overstuffed suitcases and our cat Rupert, we boarded a flight to Brazil!

Our plan was to stay for six months. If we didn’t like it, we’d move back and continue on with our “normal” lives. If we loved it, we would complete the necessary paperwork to stay in Brazil legally.

Turns out Brazil is pretty awesome!

In between trips to the beach, I took courses in Portuguese and continued editing for my first client and others. While I wasn’t making a ton of money, I was able to pay my student loans. My husband was working too, which helped keep us afloat financially.

While we loved living in Brazil, we started missing our U.S. life. So what did we do? We decided to have our cake and eat it too! We’re back in the states now, and I officially launched my full-time writing and editing business less than a year ago!

We plan to buy a condo in the U.S. within the next six months so we won’t have to sell everything every time we move. Then, we plan to spend three to five months each year in Brazil.

We don’t have all the answers. But we know anything is possible when we do the work and remain dedicated to our core values and goals.

How YOU can make it happen too

If you want to travel extensively or split your time between two countries, it is possible! (Click here to tweet this bit of inspiration.) Here are my best tips to make it happen:

  • Start building an online business: This is the most important part of living wherever you want. While figuring this out can be hard and overwhelming, trial and error is your best friend here. Take action, get up your website and start offering your services.
  • Always remember your why: Working for yourself can get tough. In those moments, you must come back to your values and goals. For me, this is having control over my schedule and my lifestyle, being a global citizen and giving my future children the opportunity to grow up in both of their cultural backgrounds.
  • Know yourself: To be successful and not go insane, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses and use them in your business. For example, while most of my work is based from my home office, I make it a priority to work with one or two in-person clients wherever we’re living. This ensures I get out of the house regularly and see people face-to-face. Plus, getting dressed up is nice, too.
  • Know (and follow) visa regulations and laws: Get used to government paperwork being part of your life! Don’t overstay your visas or violate conditions of your stay. These mistakes could not only affect your legal status abroad, but also be costly to correct.
  • Have fun! At the end of the day, we all just want to be happy and enjoy life. Find out what that exactly means for you, and make it happen!

Where would you love to split your time each year? What’s one step you can take today to make it happen? Share in the comments.

Shannon Trindade is a writer, editor, and communication pro who helps businesses and individuals connect with their unique audiences. She loves being around internationally minded thinkers, splits her time between the U.S. and Brazil, and firmly believes we are all connected and must learn to cherish and appreciate our differences.

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Considering a Career in Public Relations? Set Yourself Up for Success With These 5 Tips Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Still contemplating what your future career might be? If you’re considering public relations, here’s what you need to know.

The post Considering a Career in Public Relations? Set Yourself Up for Success With These 5 Tips appeared first on Brazen Life.

School is back in session and many of you may be thinking about what your career will be. For freshmen, you may feel like it’s too early to consider the future. It’s not.

The earlier you can get yourself on a career path, the better off you’ll be. (Click here to tweet this quote.) While I didn’t start off in public relations, I’m glad I made the switch. A career in public relations is rewarding and filled with tons of hard work. I’ve never felt more fulfilled in life and career than I have while in public relations.

Are you now considering a career in PR? Good! Here’s what you should know.

1. Be smart

Do your research on the proper courses to take. Pretty much every college and university has a course catalogue online. Review it, then ask questions of an advisor or trusted professor.

Don’t have one of those? Reach out and ask to talk to a student majoring in PR and/or marketing. They’ll give you honest insight into the coursework. Talking to students in your (potential) major is a huge plus. They aren’t going to sugar coat anything. And that’s good.

It’s also not a bad idea to hop onto social media to research what other students and pros are doing. Follow PRSSA National, your school’s PRSSA chapter (if there is one) and professionals like Deirdre Breakenridge and Kirk Hazlett That leads us to…

2. Create, or improve on, a social media account

Social media is huge part of what PR pros use in today’s world. Using these networks properly is absolutely integral to future and current success. According to PR Newser, 93 percent of marketers and PR professionals use social media for business.

News flash: That’s a ton of pros. Here’s a tip: Before diving into social media (if you haven’t already), take a few minutes to understand what these networks can do for you.

A few years back, the advice was to just dive in. That’s changed. Now, more than ever, employers, educators and fellow professionals look at your social accounts closely. They want to know who you are, what you post and whether you’re worth a follow. Don’t give anyone a reason to question you… ever.

3. Find a mentor

Plenty of PR pros are willing to help you. They can sometimes be the best sounding board. While you shouldn’t just tweet at a pro and say, “Can you mentor me?” you can start a conversation by introducing yourself.

This can be done during a chat like #PRStudChat or by using the #PRSSA hashtag. Many students follow these and are more than willing to say hi and see how they can help.

Since #PRStudChat is a student/professional collaborative chat, you’ll get a great introduction to pros more than happy to offer advice. As trust develops, you can ask about what you should expect from internships, the job market and whether agency life is the way to go. You can also expect us to offer honest opinions, which you should listen carefully to.

4. Join PRSSA

This is the organization to join if you want to take your PR career to the next level. Most colleges and universities have a PRSSA chapter on campus. You would do yourself a huge favor by taking in a meeting and joining.

Having experience with many PRSSA chapters around the country, I can tell you the knowledge they share is invaluable. Being a part of a campus chapter also gives you the chance to have shared experiences with your fellow students.

Another bonus is the opportunity to attend PRSSA’s annual national conference. This is where students can learn from other chapters around the country, as well as professionals. I’ve had the opportunity to present and I can tell you that it’s educational for pros as much as it is for students.

5. Don’t doubt yourself

This sounds easy, but it isn’t always the case. You’re the one who knows your skills best; believe in yourself and know that even though you may not know it all, you can still be a success.

You can’t and won’t be an overnight success in PR. It takes years of experience, hard work and dedication. You’re going to stumble at times, but understand that with these “hiccups” comes a better understanding of the field.

There isn’t a pro today who hasn’t made a mistake. But they believed in their skills and work ethic and became successful. You will too.

Jason Mollica is the president of JRM Comm and a frequent speaker at conferences and at colleges and universities around the country. He blogs at One Guy’s Journey and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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Struggling to Explain Your Unconventional Career Path? Do This Instead Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 If you’ve had several different jobs throughout your career -- and aren’t sure how to make sense of them all -- it’s time to figure out your “through-line.”

The post Struggling to Explain Your Unconventional Career Path? Do This Instead appeared first on Brazen Life.

Gone are the days of working in one company for 40 years, moving up through the ranks until you retire. Today’s workers are more mobile, often switching companies — and even industries — several times throughout their careers.

For some career changers, this can be confusing or stress-inducing. When you’ve worked in several different jobs, how do you design a story explaining your career path to potential employers, your family and friends — and most importantly, yourself?

Time to discover your through-line

In a post on her blog Create As Folk, career coach Laura Simms offers a solution: Find your “through-line.”

She defines a through-line as: “The uniting theme(s) that connect the multiple careers throughout a career arc,” and she says that finding it “will help you feel as though there is some continuity between the seemingly disparate careers you’ve had (because there is).”

Simms, who’s worked as an actor, coach, and teacher describes her through-lines as: “collaboration, community, inciting change, and being part of creating marvelous things.”

By thinking of your past jobs this way, Simms says it will be easier to describe your path to others, as well as help you make future career decisions.

Smart, right? If you need help figuring out your own career through-line, you can download a free worksheet from Simms’ blog.

Have you ever thought about your past jobs like this? How would you describe your through-line?

Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.

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How To Build a Strong Network By Connecting With Total Strangers Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Stop making rookie networking mistakes and get smarter about growing your network. Learn how to reach out to people you don’t even know and convince them to help you.

The post How To Build a Strong Network By Connecting With Total Strangers appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you’re like most people, you make at least one of the following mistakes in your networking efforts:

  • You have no strategy or goal underlying your networking efforts
  • You’re unfocused in who you network with and just end up talking to random people
  • You come off as needy or inauthentic
  • You value quantity of connections over quality
  • You meet a lot of good contacts, but then fail to maintain the relationship

Instead, follow this system to build a strong network of people who want you to succeed. Read on for a winning strategy to find the right contacts, then successfully bring them into your network so they will help you.

Define your networking mission statement

Start with a plan. First off, get clear on why you want to network and who should you network with.

If you want a job, narrow your focus even more. What job title do you want, and what kind of company do you want to work for? If you want clients, get specific. Who’s your market and who would know them?

Once you’ve honed in on what you want to get out of building your network, it’s time to get to work.

Tap into your alumni network

Skip the networking events unless they’re industry-specific. Instead, use LinkedIn to find alumni from your school who are also in the specific group you’ve decided to network with.

Look for 30-50 contacts initially, expecting 20-40 percent to actually meet with you. For practice and to get your pitch down, start with the people you’re least interested in. Send each person a short message complimenting them on their career success. Ask if you can grab coffee with them and pick their brain for 20 minutes.

If they suggest a phone meeting instead, that’s fine — agree and follow the rest of steps below. Also, dress up for the phone call.

Conduct an informational interview

Research the person and their company extensively beforehand. When you meet them for coffee (which you will pay for, obviously), warmly introduce yourself, then ask a question or two. Just let them talk.

Aside from the introduction and the last few minutes, the other person should be doing most of the talking. You should be listening. Learn as much as you can about the other person while showing genuine interest. Get one or two pieces of actionable advice from them.

At most, you should interject a couple of times to show you’re actively listening and have done your research. Towards the end of the interview, you can talk about yourself  for a few minutes just to show how you can be valuable to them.

That’s it. Don’t ask anything more of them yet. At the end of the meeting, thank them and say goodbye.

Follow up the next day

The next day, shoot the person a quick email thanking them for their time. Mention a couple of high points in the conversation you found especially interesting.

Finally, mention the advice they gave you and declare your intent to actually follow that advice. Most people don’t do this, so you’ll immediately set yourself apart.

Give value 1-2 weeks later

A week or two after meeting your new contact, send them another quick email. But this time, instead of asking them for something or thanking them, offer them something.

Your offer can be a variety of tangible or intangible things: Access to something that isn’t open to the public, an intro to someone you think they might want to meet, or even just a link to an article they might find helpful.

Show that you’re a person who follows up — and that you’re also someone who gives (and doesn’t just take.)

Close the loop 2-4 weeks after your initial meeting

Meanwhile, you should be following whatever advice your contact gave you, whether it’s to talk to a certain person, take a specific business action or educate yourself on a particular subject.

A couple weeks after that discussion, you should have followed through and gotten some kind of result. Send your new friend a note letting them know you followed their advice and share with them what you got out of it. Once again, thank them for their help.

Why is this step so important? Nobody does this, and your action sets you miles above other people your in your contact’s network.

Keep in touch by periodically giving value

If you’ve followed all the right steps, your contact is now willing to help you if you need an introduction or recommendation. You’ve built trust with them, and they’ll likely hear you out if you have a business idea to pitch.

Continue to stay in touch by giving value, inviting them out, or just sending a short personal note to stay on their radar every month or two.

John Fawkes is a career coach, blogger, and veteran marketing and business development professional. He helps his students find their dream jobs, and blogs about job hunting, productivity, and building joyful careers at

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Networking in Chicago: 7 Must-Attend Events for Creative Entrepreneurs Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Tap into Chicago’s entrepreneurial scene and meet other go-getters and creatives at these Windy City events and spaces.

The post Networking in Chicago: 7 Must-Attend Events for Creative Entrepreneurs appeared first on Brazen Life.

How many times have you met someone new and exchanged creative productivity tips over a cold craft brew this week? If your answer is none, it’s possible you’re missing out on some of the best networking events for creative entrepreneurs in Chicago.

Chicago’s creative community is particularly adept at bringing people together around creative talks, presentations and workshops designed to spark industry dialogue and encourage professional growth.

Look to the following organizations for events where you can immerse yourself in the community, make meaningful connections and come away with fresh creative fuel for your work.

1. Chicago Food + Tech Meetup

Food meets tech at this monthly meetup focused on generating discussion around the challenges, solutions and opportunities for food technology in Chicago. Anyone is welcome to attend the BYOB events.

Show up and throw around ideas at these casual talks, sometimes featuring local entrepreneurs as guest speakers. Come for the friendly group atmosphere and make new connections by chatting about a niche topic.

2. Creative Mornings Chicago

This popular breakfast lecture series features leaders of the Chicago creative community. Each month, a different Chicago advertising agency, coworking space or creative workspace hosts the event, so this is also a great opportunity to peek inside some of the city’s coolest places to work.

Follow Creative Mornings Chicago on Twitter for updates on ticket releases. The free tickets “sell out” in minutes, so be on top of your game to nab one.

3. Design Cloud Chicago’s Second Thursdays

This coworking space is also a hub for the local art and design community. Design Cloud hosts talks, workshops and skillshares every month.

You can also take advantage of free desk space for a day every second Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spend a day working in their coworking space and make a new contact or two while you’re there for one super productive day.

4. Ignite Chicago

This event gives 12 or more people the stage for five minutes each to present on any topic they’re passionate about. Attendees should come curious and ready to mingle; there’s casual networking over pizza and beer before the presentations begin. $10 tickets are available online before every event.

5. Ms. Tech Events

Ms. Tech is an organization dedicated to providing female entrepreneurs with resources to start and scale their businesses. They host a lunch series every Wednesday at coworking space Grind, as well as panel discussions, social events and workshops every month. Ticket prices range from $20 to $50.

6. Next Door

Next Door Cafe is a cafe and event space run by State Farm. But instead of selling insurance, the coffee shop aims to be a community hub for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Next Door’s event schedule offers a little bit of everything: Financial coaching sessions, branding and typography lectures from local agency Bright Bright Great and even yoga classes. The events are free, but you’ll have to buy your own coffee and snacks.

The space is designed to accommodate everyone from solo laptop workers to one-on-one meetings to small group brainstorm sessions (you can reserve meeting rooms.) This is a great place to grab coffee and hang out with other creative entrepreneurs.

7. Polymathic’s The Living Room

As a consulting company for product developers, Polymathic is a kind of home for creative and technical entrepreneurs. Their office space, dubbed The Living Room for its cozy functionality, is the site of launch parties, dinners and “Founder Therapy” sessions for entrepreneurs who just want to talk it out. Events are free, often with a suggested donation of cash or a six pack.

What other Chicago networking events for creative entrepreneurs belong on this list?

Kara Andersen is a freelance blogger, copywriter and proofreader based in Chicago. She is the writer behind Writer Babe, the blog about “brazen business and sophisticated style.” Follow her on Twitter @writer_babe and Instagram.

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