Brazen Life Personal development meets professional aspiration Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:00:02 +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 5 Networking Tips That Will Make You Exponentially More Connected Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:00:02 +0000 You know you need to network. You’ve put yourself in a good situation to make connections. Now what? Here’s what.

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These tips may not get you a job, but following these tips will get what you need to help land a job — connections!

A huge amount of recruitment comes from referrals. So it makes perfect sense to focus your efforts on building business connections, and what better way to build business connections? You guessed it, networking!

1. Do not expect anything

Do not attend a networking event under the impression you will meet people who will immediately be able to help you, i.e. if your intention is to find a new job, do not expect someone to just give you one! The idea behind networking is to make relevant connections and if something comes from it — great!

It’s all about having good, honest business conversations with people in your industry — you never know, you may stumble across a great opportunity. (Click here to tweet this thought.) This brings us nicely to our next point. …

2. Don’t get to know the most people, get to know the right people

Define a successful networking event. Go on… what do you consider to be a successful networking event? Pockets full of business cards? Hundreds of new contacts?

Remember that networking isn’t about how many people you speak to; it’s about who you speak to. You should leave the event knowing that you have made a lasting impression on a handful of people; similarly a handful of people should have made a lasting impression on you.

Circling the crowd is a great idea, however, you need to remember that you have only a limited amount of time to get your message across (and listen to the messages of others).

You cannot network successfully without giving something back. In order for people to help you, you’re probably going to need to help them.

Think of networking as a two-way street — you need to form mutual relationships with the people you meet. In this case, you may want to focus on how your skills, qualifications, expertise, glowing personality, wit and charm can help a business grow.

But remember not to make it all about you, you, you. People love to talk about themselves, so give them the opportunity. Be sure to ask questions about them, their careers, their business, and to engage fully in conversation.

3. Have a business card to share

Attending a networking event without a handful of business cards is by far one of the biggest mistakes you can make. If you network successfully, people will want to contact you.

I think it is a great idea to include the URL to your LinkedIn profile on your business card. It gives people the opportunity to check you out online. Not only this, you will be able to see that someone has viewed your profile, one of the many perks of LinkedIn, and you can then connect with them.

If you have a conversation with someone you feel could be beneficial to you, be sure to not only hand them your business card, but to request one of theirs.

4. Do not regard anyone as irrelevant

At a networking event you never know who knows who, so only a fool would regard others as irrelevant or of no use. Not only is it rude not to make the effort, word will likely get out that you’re a bit foolish.

In some cases, the most unlikely of people are the ones who can help the most. Be friendly, real and pleasant to everyone.

5. Do not get drunk!

Honestly, I would strongly recommend that you do not drink — not even a drop! Although it may help calm your nerves (especially if it’s your first event), drinking can be perceived as unprofessional.

Once you have plucked up the courage to speak to one person and the conversation starts to flow, your nerves will calm themselves.

Some of these tips may appear a little obvious, but you would be surprised how many people make simple mistakes that prevent them from networking effectively. Use these tips and focus on building good, honest business connections. If you can do this successfully at your next event, a job could be on the horizon.

Jessica O’Donnell is a well-known blogger of all things career and recruitment related. Currently working at Frazer John Recruitment, Jess contributes to their blog on a regular basis offering great career tips and advice for all those looking to move forward in their careers.

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Nonprofit Jobs: How New Grads Can Get Hired in This Fast-Growing Industry Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Want a fulfilling, stable job you’re passionate about? Then stop looking for corporate jobs, and look at this industry instead.

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This is it, Class of 2014. You’ve earned your diploma and walked away from college with your head held high, entertaining thoughts of moving to a big city and finding your dream job. But as the reality of the post-graduate job market sets in, you might find yourself becoming impatient and discouraged, especially after two months of diligently searching for a position that puts your degree to use and coming up empty.

The post-graduate job market can be frustrating, leading to one dead end after another. It’s unsettling that unemployment affects 8.5 percent of college graduates between ages 21 and 25, which is much higher than the national average. It’s even more unsettling that 44 percent of your peers are employed in a position that does not require a degree. (Click here to tweet this statistic.) What was the point of getting one if it’s not going to be of any use?

Are you looking for jobs in the wrong places?

Enough with the doom and gloom, because there is hope – in a place you may not have even considered. Graduates often overlook this sector, even though it’s a viable source for fulfilling, stable careers.

The nonprofit sector is the third largest and fastest growing sector in the country and has experienced three consecutive years of growth during the recession. In Nonprofit HR’s 2014 survey on nonprofit employment practices, 45 percent of respondents across the entire sector indicated intent to hire new staff next year. Positions are as diverse as international affairs and arts and culture. Nonprofits offer something for everyone.

This sector also aligns with the evolving career needs of your generation. According to a 2012 Pricewaterhouse Cooper study, 65 percent of graduates said that making a positive impact was more important to them than making money. If you value promoting social good and want to make a career out of your passion, a nonprofit could be the right fit for you.

How to jumpstart your nonprofit career search

If you’re ready to seek employment in the nonprofit sector, you can jumpstart your career search in several ways. Begin by looking into local nonprofits to determine which organizations near you pique your interest.

Next, take advantage of networking opportunities. Most nonprofit professionals are happy to conduct informational interviews for those curious about the industry. Don’t be shy! These interviews are an excellent way to make industry contacts and learn about open positions in a low-pressure setting.

Volunteering with your favorite nonprofit can also help you figure out if a certain organization is a good fit for you. Through volunteer work, you’ll gain a better sense of how the organization functions and where their resources come from. They’ll also get to know you and your work ethic. Serving on a volunteer organization’s board is another route to gaining experience in the nonprofit sector. While you may take on more responsibility in this position, board service allows you to get acquainted with the business of running a nonprofit, all while making high-level networking connections.

If you’re curious about other opportunities, there are plenty of online resources to help pinpoint your ideal job. Websites like IdealistCommon Good Careers and Nonprofit Opportunities are all good places to watch for job postings. After finding an open position you’re interested in, convey why you’re passionate about that organization in your cover letter.  Nonprofits look for candidates who are well-informed and truly believe in their cause.

So don’t move back to mom and dad’s basement just yet, recent grads. With a little creativity and the willingness to look beyond the private sector, finding meaningful work that also pay the bills is easily within reach.

Lisa Brown Morton is the President and CEO of Nonprofit HR, the only human resources firm in the country focused exclusively on nonprofit organizations. Lisa has worked with some of the most prominent nonprofits in the country, from Amnesty International to the Aspen Institute, and is a vocal advocate for the advancement of the nonprofit sector.

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Startup Advice: 3 Financial Tips for Long-Term Success Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Running a successful startup isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t excel. Here are three financial tips to startup success.

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You’ve decided to turn your great startup idea into a reality, congratulations! As you prepare to give yourself over to the life of an entrepreneur, some of the biggest challenges you’ll need to prepare for are the financial ones. And not just how to get your great idea up and running — how to transform it into a successful company.

Between crowdfunding sites, startup accelerators, investor meetings and good old fashioned bootstrapping, you have a number of ways to successfully launch your product or services to the public.

But what about ensuring you can launch a company with the ability to survive long-term? The truth is, many great ideas fizzle out because funds are lacking, and lesser ideas succeed because the people behind them demonstrated the right know-how when it came to navigating the financial realities of entrepreneurial life.

Consider the next three tips as you prepare to seek investments and secure the funds needed to compete in the competitive startup landscape. Do so and you’ll give yourself the best chance at long-term success.

1. Don’t overestimate the value of your startup

Enough startups make million, even billion dollar headlines that it’s tempting for first-time entrepreneurs to seek more money than the company is actually worth. If a simple messaging app like Yo can raise a cool 1.5 million in a short few months with an estimated valuation somewhere between $6-10 million, it’s understandable to think your venture could too.

But while Yo might have been the sleeper hit of the summer, it’s now challenged to prove it’s worth that much, and if its founders don’t wisely distribute that investment, it has as much of a chance at failure as any other startup.

Seek what you need, use it wisely, continue demonstrating your worth and you’ll be able to secure the money you need to become profitable. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

2. Let investors in on your financial plans

Many entrepreneurs seek out investors to kick start their companies. The most important thing to an investor is understanding how they’ll see a return on their investment. In these meetings it’s critical to share your financial predictions and strategies so they have a clear understanding of how you plan to enter and grow in your desired market.

You can use a number of online tools to assist with estimating the worth of your company and how much funding is needed for its ongoing success. Remember, investors hear pitches like yours for a living, and financial savvy is a big indicator you and your team are prepared to overcome typical startup hurdles. If you can do that, they’ll be more likely to open their wallets.

3. Learn from other successful companies

Fortunately, for beginning entrepreneurs, other companies have done what they’re setting out to do and have done it successfully. If you look closely at the origins of companies like Facebook or AirBnB, you’ll see they started out modestly and smartly when it came to finances.

Facebook began with half a million dollars in angel investment and went on to IPO with a valuation of $104 billion. AirBnB used its $20K from startup accelerator Y Combinator to turn itself into a company now valued at around $2.5 billion.

With a little research, it’s easy to follow the trajectories of these companies and see how finances played into their ability to allocate funds to embed themselves into the marketplace. There’s much to be learned from the history of the companies able to make their great ideas into reality.

Many factors can affect the overall success of a startup, but financials are the most critical. Even the best ideas can’t be sustained without the financial savvy to know where to seek funds, how to allocate them and make accurate predictions that’ll guide your company to long-term success.

Paul Jackson is the founder of Worthworm.

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How Your Password Can Radically Change Your Life Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Repeating a phrase can be a powerful way to change your life. But could changing your password so it reflects that same phrase be just as effective at improving your life?

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Don’t tell Oprah, but we’re onto an awesome new way to take control of your life. And it’s as easy as taking advantage of something you do every day.

recent post on TODAY Health has been making the Internet rounds and caught our attention as a great way to keep yourself on track with your big goals and dreams. In it, the author discusses how he used his company’s mandatory monthly password changes to do some serious self-motivation.

It’s incredibly easy and has the power to transform your daily habits, all with a few simple keystrokes.

How it works

The post’s author, Mauricio Estrella, worked for a company where the Microsoft Exchange server prompted employees to change their passwords every 30 days. You probably know the drill when it comes to the guidelines — passwords had to contain “at least one lowercase alphabetic character, at least one symbol and at least one number,” etc. We’ve all had to do it, and we’ve all found it highly annoying. What’s more is that he had to enter this new password throughout the day — whenever his screen saver came up, he’d have to re-enter his password to unlock his computer.

But rather than fume over the inconvenience of having to go through this every month, Estrella decided to seize the opportunity to “regain control of his life.”

At the time, he was dealing with a tough divorce, feeling depressed and resentful. So he chose to create a password that would act as a positive mantra, reminding him he was in control of his life and had the power to make things better. His new password? “Forgive@h3r” — a password designed to remind himself to let go of hard feelings towards his ex-wife. Every time he typed this into his computer, he reports, “the healing effect of it came back almost immediately.”

After that, he chose a new password every 30 days that corresponded with his goals at that time: “Quit@smoking4ever,” “Save4trip@thailand,” “Sleep@before 12,” etc. The results have been life-changing. Since starting his password experiment two years ago, Estrella has quit smoking, improved his health habits and has even fallen in love again.

What have your passwords done for you lately?

How to make it work for you

Can this digital version of a Post-It note on your monitor help you make some big life changes? Estrella thinks so, and here are some tips he offers to make it effective:

Turn it into a mantra. Don’t let yourself fall into the habit of mindlessly typing in your password; really pause to consider it each time. Every time Estrella typed in “Forgive@h3r,” he repeated the mantra “forgive her” in his head to drive the meaning home.

Change that mantra as needed. When “forgive her” started to lose its impact, Estrella changed the mantra to “I forgive her.” This kept things fresh over the course of the 30 days he had the password.

Be safe. Don’t forget to keep online security in mind; this may be a life hack, but it’s still a password. Even if your password requirements don’t specifically say so, try to scramble your password with things like symbols and numbers to make it secure.

What password mantra would you choose for yourself?

Kelly Gurnett runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits and is the Editor-in-Chief of All Things Career. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.

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Get Noticed at a New Job: How to Ditch the Guppies and Swim with the Sharks Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Jumpstart your journey from dark entry-level cubicle to sunny corner office starting on day one at your new job.

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You managed to land a coveted entry-level job at a Fortune 100 company. Congratulations! You’re now just another guppy floundering in an ocean teeming with sharks.

It’s the first day on the job and you’re full of excitement in anticipation of the wondrous future that awaits you. As you make your way to the battleship grey cubicle that will soon become your second home, you pass at least a hundred other associates. Suddenly feeling insignificant you worry, “With this much competition, it will take years to reach manager level and start making some decent money.”

Ah young Jedi, you must learn patience and allow those that came before you to shine first.

No, no. That is absolutely not true!

Use some (or for faster results… ALL) of the following suggestions and you can make manager, or at least first-level supervisor, in a year! Two at most.

1. Look for inefficiencies

Develop roving eyes. Not for the office hottie. Look for odd tasks (in addition to your job description duties) others are doing. Figure out how to do it better. Then ask to take over and introduce your own efficiencies.

I once saw a guy spend three hours a day, every day, at the copier. He was making copies of credit card transactions, one slip at a time. I asked why he didn’t copy a few dozen at once to save paper, toner and time. He basically said, “I dunno.” Anybody else would have walked away thinking, “Whatever.” But I saw an opportunity and pounced.

Without sounding accusatory, I mentioned to the supervisor that we could save a good two and half hours a day (and a few trees) doing it differently. I offered to take over. Boom! Just like that, I made it known I could discover areas for improvement and introduce money-saving efficiencies. It was a simple, but noticeable change.

2. Push and shove

Not literally of course. You don’t want to be known as the office bully.

Learn to be assertive without being aggressive as you advance to the front of the pack. Listen and watch for opportunities to volunteer your services and talents. Supervisors are often given projects they in turn pawn off — I mean delegate — to their underlings (newbies like you.)

This is when you want to raise your hand high and yell, “Ooh, ooh I’ll do it!” Yes, you will look like a butt kisser, but it works.

3. Over-deliver

As you work on the project you so eagerly volunteered for, don’t just turn in the minimum required amount of work. (Click here to tweet these words of wisdom.) Give the report or activity extra effort. Go above and beyond.

As an example, when I was working at a mega telecommunications company, one of my supervisors volunteered to chair the annual Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony. Knowing this would be a company-wide celebration and a perfect opportunity to get noticed, I offered my services.

While the other helpers were working on decorations and food (snooze), I tracked down several employees to interview during a stage presentation. They gave their personal experiences and memories of the day Dr. King was assassinated. It was a moving and memorable gathering.

That project single handedly propelled me to the top of the heap of rookies. The President and Vice Presidents of the company were in attendance. Not only did my department supervisors, managers and Executive Director learn my name, but all the top dogs suddenly knew me.

About a month or two after that shining moment, an opportunity opened up for advancement working directly under a prominent VP. The VP remembered my name from the MLK presentation and asked to interview me himself!

I got the job, plus a rare three-grade level advancement with a whopping pay increase!

4. Aim high

Don’t be afraid to shoot for the moon. It’s unlikely huge promotions will land in your lap without some major effort. While others shy away from extra duties or run for hills when they see a complicated sounding job posting, you strike with high hopes and confidence leaving the guppies in your wake.

No Einstein moves needed

Don’t feel you need to come up with earth shattering, genius moves to catapult yourself to the top. Simple, but noticeable actions will take you from floating with the guppies to swimming with the sharks.

Sylvia Talo, aka Business Plan Mentor, is a freelance business writing specialist who uses her years in the corporate world and experience as a business owner to help aspiring careerists and business owners succeed.

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Take Your Networking Skills from “Meh” to Pro With This Killer Strategy Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 What’s your networking strategy? Wait, you don’t don’t have one? That might explain why your network sucks.

The post Take Your Networking Skills from “Meh” to Pro With This Killer Strategy appeared first on Brazen Life.

Networking as a job search strategy creates a great deal of angst. For many, it’s just plain uncomfortable to introduce yourself to strangers and strike up conversations in the hopes of uncovering job leads.

But that’s putting the horse before the cart. The first hurdle is simply finding new people to add to your network, according to job seekers who participated in a Lee Hecht Harrison online poll. Thirty-one percent of survey respondents said identifying networking partners was their greatest challenge.

The “why” behind networking

Finding the right networking partners is critical. Most job openings are never advertised or posted, which means tapping your network is an essential strategy to uncover hidden opportunities.

Hiring managers and recruiters prefer to work with people who have been referred by someone they trust. Your network is key to getting you introductions and referrals that will separate you from the “unknown” candidates.

Members of your personal and professional networks — including business associates, colleagues, former coworkers, vendors, managers, friends and close acquaintances — make up a community where you’re known. (Click here to tweet this thought.) These people may already be advocates of your work. You may share interests. This can easily be expanded to conversations about careers and business needs.

Your network connections are often willing to introduce you to people in their own networks, thereby providing an opportunity to broaden your reach and build a bigger community. As your network expands, more opportunities present themselves to initiate new contacts with a referral. A larger network increases the likelihood of gaining a meeting and eliminates the need to rely on less productive cold calls.

The “how” is just as important as the “who”

While finding networking partners was the number one obstacle, job seekers struggle in other areas that are crucial to their networking success. The LHH poll also found that 25 percent of job seekers don’t have a clear networking strategy. Going into any networking meeting without a plan and defined goals usually won’t secure any job leads.

Networking is not a one-way street. Remember that networking is about establishing new relationships, strengthening existing relationships and sharing information. It’s two-way communication that’s mutually enlightening and beneficial to both parties.

Prepare for your next networking meeting or event. Conduct online research on attendees to help uncover common interests. Know what questions you want to ask and practice answering the question, “What do you do?”

A few tips to take your networking to the next level

With a little coaching and guidance, any reluctant networker can be turned into a pro.

  • Be proactive. Don’t wait until you’re looking for a job to connect with your network. It should be part of a proactive career management strategy. Devote time to nurturing a strong career network of contacts. Be ready to offer assistance, share articles and professional insights, participate in groups and attend professional meetings.
  • Engage in discovery. Seek out new networking contacts. LinkedIn can be incredibly helpful in finding new connections. But don’t rely solely on social networks. Be active in professional associations and/or industry groups. People hire people they know, so it’s important to make potential networking contacts in person at live events.
  • Have a plan. Identify targeted companies and the competencies and experience you want to promote. This will help you focus on the right networking activities and conversations.
  • Connect. Use your referral’s name up front: “Richard Smith thought you’d be a great resource for me as I explore career opportunities in the financial services industry.” Ask if you could discuss your targeted companies, probing for others that should be included and for names of possible contacts.
  • Build your networking confidence. Practice networking at a variety of events. Arrive early — it’s easier to initiate one-on-one conversations during the first 10 minutes when the group is still small. Prepare open-ended questions to keep conversations going. Confidence is developed by becoming skilled; becoming skilled requires practice.

The key to networking success is found in making the time and always adding value to the conversation. This strategy is guaranteed to deliver job leads. Remember to start with a strategy, attend the right events and talk to the right people and keep practicing.

Greg Simpson is Senior Vice President, Career Transition Practice Leader for Lee Hecht Harrison. Greg is responsible for developing, disseminating and managing the direction of career transition services for LHH, the world’s largest outplacement firm.

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Is Your Dream Job in Faraway City? Here’s How to Relocate on a Budget Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When taking the next step in your career means moving to a faraway city, don’t let the cost hold you back. Follow these tips to relocate affordably.

The post Is Your Dream Job in Faraway City? Here’s How to Relocate on a Budget appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’ve just received an offer for what could be the job of a lifetime — but it’s in another city, far from everything you know. Or you’ve finally decided it’s time to make the next move in your career, but the bigger, better opportunities undeniably lie elsewhere.

So then comes the big question: Can you afford to move? Check out a few tips to bring your moving costs down — and bring yourself closer to taking that big step.

Plan ruthlessly

You’d be surprised to learn how many people pull up their roots and move to a new place without a serious plan. Moving can be a difficult enterprise with hidden costs, and it pays to not only have savings in the bank, but also a ruthless plan for where you’re going and how you’ll get there.

This applies not only to the basic moving logistics (transferring utilities, phone service, medical records and so on) but also to figuring out where you’ll move and when. Simply pulling up stakes and hoping for the best might be good enough when you’re fresh out of college, but if you’re a mid-level professional with more obligations, a solid plan will literally pay off in the long run.

Of course, this doesn’t just mean making a checklist of everything your move will require and drafting a budget (although you should still do that). It also helps to know what life will be like once you get where you’re going.

Planning ahead will be one of your most powerful tools to save money on your move.

Prioritize and compromise

Now is the time for the tough compromises. Cost of living includes more than rent and utilities; you’ll also need to consider taxes, transportation, schools and overall quality of life. Also, realize all cities are not created equal — either financially or in what they have to offer.

If the weather is significantly different than what you’re used to, are you equipped to handle it? Do you want to live in the center of a major urban area or in the suburbs? Will that new job cover all your new costs? What do the crime rates look like?

Even a rough estimate of what your new life might cost can help you save a bundle because it will inform the choices you make later on.

Study up

Before you pack your possessions and sell all your furniture, research your destination. Find the affordable neighborhoods in the area. If you’re moving to an expensive city, check out outlying neighborhoods or even neighboring towns you could live in, provided the commute won’t prove too painful.

Go beyond what you find online. If possible, talk to people who already live in area you’re thinking of relocating to and ask for their insight and advice. Fold these results into your research and look at the hard numbers. This raw data will help you take an objective look at whether you can afford to relocate.

Reduce your costs — and possessions

Now that your planning is done, it’s time to pull off flawless execution.

  • If you’re moving for business reasons, your move may be tax-deductible. Talk to your accountant or consult a professional, and keep your receipts!
  • If you’re a homeowner, find out if your homeowner’s insurance policy covers moving insurance. If not, work that into your budget.
  • Move at off-peak times, both in terms of the season (June, July and August are the most expensive months to move) and the day (weekends are more expensive than moving during the week.)
  • Pack yourself instead of paying movers to do it for you. Use luggage, towels and clothing where possible instead of purchasing or renting expensive packing materials. Forage for cardboard boxes instead of buying shipping containers.
  • Sell or give away everything that isn’t absolutely essential. Put the proceeds from those sales back into your moving fund. Be unforgiving. Anything without tangible utility or special sentimental value simply has to go.
  • Use up or consume all your perishable and frozen food or other consumables before your move. Who wants to lug boxes of canned goods around?

Relocation can be scary, work-intensive and most of all, costly. But passing up on a great opportunity because you couldn’t afford to move is a path to regret. Run the numbers. Be bold. Stick to the plan. You’ve got this. (Click here to tweet this bit of inspiration.)

Jon Russo is the CEO of Areavibes, a website focused on helping people find the best places to live. AreaVibes is able to provide useful information for people who are relocating or looking to conduct a quality assessment on their own area.

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5 Barriers to Starting Your Own Business — and How to Overcome Them Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Want to have your own business? You might think these barriers stand in your way, but here’s how to get around them.

The post 5 Barriers to Starting Your Own Business — and How to Overcome Them appeared first on Brazen Life.

Have you ever dragged yourself through a meeting at work, listened to your coworkers ramble about meaningless ideas and thought to yourself, “I’m done! I can’t wait to leave this place and start my own business!” Well, it’s likely you have according to a recent study by the University of Phoenix School of Business.

The study shows that nearly half of workers in their 20s and 30s want to own their own business someday. But a few common reasons keep people from taking the leap.

Whether it’s lack of knowledge or lack of funding, these barriers can prevent you from reaching your full potential as an entrepreneur. Here are some of the most common ones and how to push past them to get the career of your dreams.

You lack adequate finances

Maybe you have that one big idea. You know the one — it’s what you can’t stop thinking about every morning as you go about your hour-long commute. Maybe your idea is so big it needs investors to come to fruition or maybe it just needs the right developer, scientist or designer whose services are a bit over your budget.

Once you define your big idea, it’s time to discover where the money is and figure out how you can get your hands on it.

Shannon McLay, Founder & President of NextGen Financial says,

One of the best ways to finance your new business venture, especially if you are having difficulty obtaining bank or SBA loans, is through angel investors like friends and family. If you truly believe in your venture, then they should as well. If you don’t want to mix your personal and your business relationships, then there are a number of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter that you can access for funds.

You need more education or training to run a business

You’d be surprised how many people became accidental entrepreneurs. I’m one myself. Although there’s a lot of value in obtaining your MBA, mostly in terms of connections and networking, it’s definitely not a requirement for owning a business.

John Schmoll, who owns two businesses, Ink Harmony and Frugal Rules, explains:

If you’re waiting until you know everything about running a business, you’ll never do anything. You don’t need a business degree to run your own business. You do need to spend some time thinking through what skill, service or product you can sell or offer.

Plus, when you’re trying to gather funding or bootstrap your way to success, pricey degrees may not be the answer. As John further explained,

There’s an abundance of free information online about how to create a business plan and develop a marketing strategy. You can start there and answer basic, big picture questions like who your audience is, how you will reach them and why they need your product/service/skill.

Also, don’t forget that failure can be a great teacher. We don’t like to think about failure, but some of the most successful people on Earth used early failures to their advantage.

Jon Oringer, who is one of the youngest billionaires in the world, recently gave a speech where he described several business failures before hitting it big with Shutterstock. Don’t be afraid to fail. Know it’s a possibility and try to avoid it, but don’t be scared if it happens because you never know where it will lead.

You don’t have the time

It’s amazing how much time we’re capable of wasting every day. From getting lost on social media to lounging in front of the TV, we could all think of a handful of times in the last week where we could have been more productive. Despite this, 22 percent of people who want to own a business say a lack of time is stopping them.

Whether family commitments or exhaustion from full-time work is weighing on you, there are many ways to find those rare moments to work on your business idea.

Grayson Bell, a successful entrepreneur and owner of iMark Interactive explains:

Owning a business is not about “finding” time to make it successful. It is about managing the time you already have to be the most efficient.  While we may feel there isn’t enough time in the day, if you prioritize your tasks based on importance, then you can learn how to manage the time you have available.

You haven’t found the right idea or concept

Maybe you’ve always wanted to start a business, but you can’t come up with an idea for one. (Or annoyingly, some guy in the next state over had the same one!) Conversely, maybe you have too many ideas and don’t know which one to pursue.

If you’re having trouble creating ideas, try a new field, work on something that “bugs you,” talk to consumers to discover what they need or reinvent the wheel by making an existing product cheaper or more streamlined. (Click here to tweet this idea.)

If you have too many ideas, choose the one that gets you so excited you can’t sleep at night. Many people make the mistake of picking the idea that seems the most lucrative, but when it’s late at night and you’ve already put in 100 hours for the week, it’ll be easier to keep going if you’re working on something you’re truly passionate about.

You need to develop leadership skills

Leadership skills are acquired through experience, and Joe Saul-Sehy, co-host of the popular Stacking Benjamins podcast and former financial planner, echoed this sentiment when he told me,

I don’t believe that leadership skills are innate. Anyone can learn to be a good leader. How? First, create a vision that’s big enough for employees to share in the “win” and continuously show them the route to your combined success.

Even if you’re an experienced leader who wants to start a new venture but lacks the confidence, Joe suggests:

Sharpen your “leadership saw” by learning from the best of all time… such as Walt Disney, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Sam Walton and Warren Buffett. You have to carve out time to consistently practice. That’s how you’ll see your leadership skills develop.

Ultimately, the most significant barrier to starting your own business could be you. Remember, believe in yourself first and have an unending passion for your venture, and the support and funding will follow.

Carve out the necessary time to focus on your business ideas. Be kind and compassionate to others, continuously seek out new (and affordable) education and resources, and you’ll be surprised at how far you can go as an entrepreneur.

Have you ever wanted to start a business, but were met with one of the barriers listed above? What did you do to break through it?

Catherine Alford is a full time blogger, personal finance freelance writer, and mom of newborn 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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Startup Jobs: 8 Tips for Getting Hired by Your Dream Company Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Are you interested in working for a startup? Good news: here are some tips on how you can go about landing your dream startup job.

The post Startup Jobs: 8 Tips for Getting Hired by Your Dream Company appeared first on Brazen Life.

“Startup jobs” has 9,900 monthly searches, low competition, but it’s not easy to work it into a title.

Want a job at a startup? You’re a brave soul.

Think about it. Established companies have momentum: a well-known brand, existing customers, third- or fourth-generation products and resources. All of those benefit you. Applying for a job at an established company is like asking for a bag of cookies. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

You may need to prove you’re worth the bag of cookies, but you can be reasonably certain that if you do, you’ll at least get it.

Not so with startups. Nothing is certain. Momentum is rarer. Benefits and compensation are usually leaner. And chances are, future employers will look at your resume, point to the startup where you spent years toiling and scratch their heads.

Still interested? Good on you. With that in mind, here are some tips for getting a job at startups:

1.  Find your passion

If it’s something like “revolutionize the way people share memories,” then, as arrogant as that might seem, you’re on to something (arrogance being an occupational hazard at startups). You can’t cheat on this exercise, though, because startups are full of passionate people who can smell non-passionate ones blocks away.

Look for what you do with your free time, when nobody’s looking, and find a startup that’s congruent with that. If nothing comes to mind, a startup might not be your best call.  It’s just too bumpy a ride for anything other than the deeply committed.

2.  Find a startup that isn’t already hot

A startup being plastered all over the media is, you can bet, besieged by job seekers. But if you find a startup that isn’t hot yet, you have a chance of being the only person that week, or month, who asks for a job. And so out of the gate, you’ve communicated to the harried founder reading your email that you’re a trailblazer. That’s a fine start.

3. Look in the right place

Instead of using the press to find companies, look in places where companies aggregate before they’re written about. Online, a great place is on Angel List. Another is simply to look in the portfolio sections of the websites of venture capital firms. Even companies that have gotten Series A rounds — usually a sign that a company is getting somewhere — may still not be that well-known.

Remember, if this were easy, there would already be a line out the door.

4. Find the decision maker socially

It’s always best to wangle a look-see from somebody at the company because they’re doing a favor for a friend who knows you. Use LinkedIn, of course, but keep in mind that most LinkedIn connections are weak.

It’s more powerful to email all your friends with a list of companies you need to reach and see where they can get you. If that doesn’t work, drop an email to the company’s general email box. In the early days, that inbox gets read — a lot.

5. Get in touch

Once you’ve found the company and maybe the decision-maker, write a brief email. To a founder reading your email, nothing marks you as a clueless wretch more than a long-winded introductory email in the kind of language you can lift from a book. Shoot for three impactful, sincere sentences instead.

6. Lead with your most compelling information

Nothing that’s critical should be only in an attachment. As a tough trade-off with number five, don’t hide your light under the eighth bullet point of a pdf resume.  It’s nobody’s job at a startup to read resumes, so make sure the critical stuff is up front and obvious, and doesn’t require an extra click to read.

7. Check your work-life balance at the door

Startups aren’t about balance; they’re about somewhat crazy people doing something the world already considers somewhat crazy. For more sanity, look for a startup where the founders have kids, are somewhat older or where the company has been through a few rounds of funding. But it’s no guarantee.

8. Follow up

Founders are distracted. If you want to stand out, persevere — but gently. Instead of nagging, use follow-up emails to flesh out other aspects of your candidacy.

Good luck! There’s nothing like a startup job that fits.

Wade Lagrone is CEO & Co-Founder of RABBL, the world’s first social booking platform, and has worked at Yahoo!, E*TRADE, and startups ScanCafe, Zopa and

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Last Year of College? Forget the Job Hunt and Start Freelancing Instead Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Want to bring in cash during your job hunt and build up your resume? Then it’s time to launch your freelance hustle before you graduate.

The post Last Year of College? Forget the Job Hunt and Start Freelancing Instead appeared first on Brazen Life.

You have many good reasons to start your freelance career as soon as (or even before) you graduate college. Even if you’d prefer to work an office job or want to explore another type of traditional employment setting, think of how “running your own business” will look on your resume.

Plus, as you trudge through the tedious process of sending out applications and racking up interviews during your job hunt, a freelance hustle can help bring in cash. You may even discover you like the freelance life so much that you decide to stay there permanently! You’ll be in good company; as Business Insider reported last year, studies predict over 40 percent of the American workforce will be freelancing by 2020.

Of course, you don’t want to wait until 2020. You want your freelance career ready to go by graduation day! If your graduation date is in sight, take these seven steps to get your freelance career rolling before you walk the stage.

1. Hone in on your specialty

This might be the hardest step of starting your freelance career. You need to decide exactly what you want to specialize in.

Some of us were born to be freelance writers or photographers. For others — especially those who want to freelance to make a extra cash while looking for that dream job — it might be harder to decide which freelance route to pursue.

Think about your wide range of interests and talents. You could work online as a freelance writer, graphic designer or web developer. Or you might explore offline jobs like dog sitting or home organization. You could even become a dating coach!

You could work with high school seniors on their college applications. You could provide branding advice to classmates launching startups. Plenty of freelance opportunities are out there, so pick one that interests you and get started.

2. Create your website and online portfolio

Your website and portfolio help you stand out from the crowd. Don’t settle for the same WordPress template everyone else uses. Make your website look good, and make your portfolio look great.

To launch your freelance career, particularly in a creative field such as writing or design, avoid drawing too much attention to your college work. Potential clients might be interested in your senior year capstone project, but an entire portfolio made up of college assignments is a turn-off.

Snap a few candid and memorable photos at a wedding, submit a few articles to sites like XOJane (or check out the Brazen Careerist contributor guidelines) or design a logo for your friend — anything to get work in your portfolio that you didn’t generate in a classroom.

3. Professionalize your online image

Your social media channels are now part of your freelance brand. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Whatever brand you want to reflect, make sure it’s present on your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.

This means fewer Facebook posts about “Awwww, classes are so hard” and more posts like “Tonight I made ten logo mockups for a new project.”

4. Seek out freelance assignments

The sooner you take your first freelance job, the sooner you start building your freelance career.

Where do you find these jobs? Job boards, online freelancer sites or networking with friends, family and classmates. Avoid freelance scams and look for good work that pays fairly.

5. Build your freelance reputation

When you’re a freelancer, you get your first few gigs based on your talent. You build your career based on your reputation. Start working now to make sure that reputation grows to be a good one.

How do you build a good freelance reputation? Never miss a deadline. Always be respectful, gracious and professional with your clients. If you’re working with a difficult editor, a not-so-communicative lead designer, or even one of the infamous Clients From Hell, learn from the experience and choose your clients more wisely next time.

Be pleasant to work with, and more people will want to work with you.

6. Learn about freelancer taxes

The two reasons to launch your freelance career during your senior year of college are:

  1. To build experience that will impress future employers and open doors
  2. To get paid

Don’t screw up the “getting paid” part by forgetting about your freelance tax responsibilities. One of the biggest new freelancer mistakes is spending your entire freelance paycheck now and scrambling to pay your taxes later.

Freelancers pay quarterly estimated taxes. When you work for a traditional employer, that employer takes taxes out of your paycheck every time you get paid. When you’re a freelancer, you take out your own taxes and send tax payments to the government four times a year.

Your tax burden will be different depending on your individual circumstances. Talk to a CPA about your tax responsibilities, and be prepared to put aside 25 to 30 percent of every freelance paycheck for taxes. Then don’t forget to pay your quarterly estimated taxes on time: January 15, April 15, June 15 and September 15.

(Oh, and while you’re at it — check both your city and state laws to see if you need any licenses or permits to work as a freelancer.)

7. Become an expert at the freelance hustle

As a college student, you’re already an expert at managing your classes alongside extracurricular activities, sports, maybe a part-time job or volunteer gig, and of course friends, family, parties and relationships.

That means you already have the skills to manage the freelance hustle.

As a freelancer, you’re rarely working on just one project for just one client. You’re balancing multiple projects, with multiple due dates, for multiple clients. Just like taking a full course load, right?

The one piece that differentiates the freelance hustle from, say, a five-course semester is the part where you have to look for new freelance gigs while you’re still working for your current clients. So make sure you work at least a little bit of freelance gig-hunting into your weekly routine.

If you follow these seven steps, you’ll be ready to take on the freelance life even before you graduate from college. No matter what type of job you get after graduation, you have the skills to earn money and gain experience as a freelancer while you work towards achieving your dreams.

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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Submitting an Online Job Application? How to Help the Bots Read Your Resume Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 When you submit your resume online, it gets “read” by the company’s applicant tracking system. Follow these tips to make sure yours gets filtered to the top.

The post Submitting an Online Job Application? How to Help the Bots Read Your Resume appeared first on Brazen Life.

It can be frustrating to send out multiple resumes every day and hear nothing back. Yet recruiters find it overwhelming to sift through the approximately 1,000 applications that come in for a single job post.

To help manage this large flow of resumes, recruiters use something called an applicant tracking system (ATS). These systems help recruiters do their job more efficiently by electronically filing all the resumes received.

If you’re applying to jobs, it’s likely your resume is sitting in multiple tracking systems. To beat these systems and make sure your resume gets noticed, follow these tips: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Tailor your resume to each job posting

Spend extra time to ensure every resume you send is catered to each position you apply to. This extra work will pay off.

To stand out in the ATS, match keywords in your resume to keywords in the job posting. You should also make sure to emphasize any experience you have that matches specific job requirements referenced in the posting.

2. Spell check, then check again… and again

While people may be able to decipher what you were trying to say, machines have absolutely no idea and might immediately trash your resume. Check for errors multiple times, then play it safe and have someone else take a look. Just one bitty spelling error could cost you the job.

3. Follow the right order

Ensure these systems can read your resume correctly. Applicant tracking systems first look for company names, so never list dates first. Start with your employer’s name first, followed by your title, then the dates you were in that position. End with all of your tangible achievements in the position.

4. Give recruiters multiple ways to find out more about you

If you’ve navigated the ATS filter right, your resume will get filtered to the top and recruiters will take a closer look at you. Once they do, you need to make sure they have all the info they could possibly want.

So make sure you include all social media channels where you’re active, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook — and make sure to remove any inappropriate images or posts.

5. Use ATS-friendly formatting

These systems read plain text, so avoid using images, too many symbols or “filler words.” Ultimately, get to the point so that your resume is packed with relevant keywords and free of fluff.

6. Include the expected sections

To compare applicants, these systems generally locate sections, including Contact Information, Summary, Work Experience and Education. Although you can include other sections like Certifications and Professional Memberships, try to include the most important elements in the aforementioned sections to ensure the ATS recognizes your resume.

7. List every job separately

Even if you’ve had multiple promotions within the same company, list each out as a different job. This not only gives you opportunities to use additional keywords, but also helps the ATS recognize your career progression.

Although keywords are important in getting your application to surface on these systems, don’t forget your resume will eventually be in the hands of a person who will look at it objectively. While you focus on keyword matches to tailor your resume, ensure it makes sense to the human who will ultimately read it as well.

In your job search, be mindful of these tips and tricks to use the ATS to your advantage. You can stand out among the hundreds or thousands of other applicants applying to the same job and get your credentials in front of the right people. Then you’ll be well on your way to scoring your dream job.

Michael Dennis is the CEO and founder of FindHire, an innovative job search community and hiring network. Connect with Michael and the FindHire team on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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2 Million People Apply to Work at Google Each Year. Here’s Why Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:00:27 +0000 It’s harder to get a job at Google than it is to get into Harvard. In this post, we reveal what makes it so attractive -- and how you can apply the recruiting strategies to your own company.

The post 2 Million People Apply to Work at Google Each Year. Here’s Why appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you’re a recruiter, you may think Google has it easy.

After all, a recent Forbes article revealed that two million people apply each year — making getting a job there more competitive than getting into Harvard.

But WHY do so many people apply to Google each year?

The Forbes piece lists 15 reasons, making it clear it’s not just because it’s famous, or because it offers good pay. It’s because Google has created a community where people enjoy working.

So, how can you make more company more like Google? From the list, we’ve selected five Google strategies you can start applying in your company today.

5 ways to Google-ify your workplace

1. Caring: Google prides itself on its “welcoming work environment.” How can you show your employees you care about them? Something as simple as a handwritten thank you card on their work anniversary is a great start.

2. A Voice: Do you allow your employees to have a say? Google has the Google-O-Meter which “gives all employees a voice on employee suggestions and potential cultural changes,” but you don’t have to get that fancy. An anonymous suggestion box might do the trick.

3. Training & Development: Once you hire someone, are you continuing to develop their skills? Recruits want to know their education and growth won’t stop just because they’ve accepted the position. Google does this through a one-on-one mentorship program between executives and employees. Could you start something similar?

4. Food & Beverage: You may not be able to offer a Google-style cafeteria, but offering food is a great way to keep your employees happy, healthy, and productive. Start with catering lunch once a week, which is also a great way to bring everyone together.

5. Openness and Transparency: Every Friday, any Googler is free to ask one of the founders any company-related question. If you want to make your workplace more transparent, maybe you and some other managers could offer office hours once a week.

Can you implement any of these strategies in your workplace? Which one works best?

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

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Why You Should Think Like a Boss, No Matter What Your Job Title Thu, 11 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Stop thinking like an employee, even if you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Think like a boss, and success will follow.

The post Why You Should Think Like a Boss, No Matter What Your Job Title appeared first on Brazen Life.

Don’t let Lonely Island mislead you; there’s more to acting like a boss than rolling high and taking liberties with your subordinates’ desks. It encompasses everything from refilling the coffee pot like a boss to going after that big-name client like a boss. No task is too big or too small to tackle with the “boss” mentality — and approaching everything this way can lead you to some pretty awesome places.

In fact, whether you’re a 9-to-5 employee or an entrepreneur, getting in a “boss” frame of mind can radically transform the trajectory of your career. Here’s why — and how — you can get in on the action.

The dangers of the employee mindset

When you think like an employee — whether you’re entry level, middle management or a freelancer — you limit your own potential. You box yourself to an “I’m only a fill-in-the-blank” attitude that keeps you from making the big moves and big changes that lead to success.

Employees exist to fill a pre-defined role. They wait for instructions (and permission, and affirmation) from on high. They do what they’re told. They leave the innovation to the other guys, because they’re only here to punch a clock and collect a paycheck. When you’re stuck in an employee mindset, you don’t feel in charge of your own work; you feel like a means to someone else’s end. And it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be doing what you’re told or fulfilling the role you’ve been given — that’s Job Performance 101. But you should be doing so much more. If you want to excel in your career, you need to look for opportunities to elevate things to the next level. And for that, you need a boss mentality.

Here are five key ways to start thinking like a boss:

1. Take ownership

When you’re the boss, your company’s success and failure rests on your shoulders. People’s paychecks depend on you. Because of this, you feel the weight of your work and take care to do it well.

You know if you slack off, everyone down the line will suffer. But when you’re the guy who collates the copies for the quarterly report meeting, it can be hard to see how your work really matters — or why it’s worth caring about.

Sure, in the grand scheme of things, any schmoe off the street could collate the copies. But if you see yourself as replaceable, you will be treated as replaceable. (Click here to tweet this quote.) You’ll only make it to bigger things if you make people realize you deserve them.

So find ways to take ownership of your work, no matter how unimportant each task may seem. Exceed expectations. Be the best damn fill-in-the-blank you can be.

Collate those copies two days ahead of schedule. Deliver them directly to each board member while asking how their family/hobby/recent college reunion went. Flag a section in the quarterly report that got you thinking, then ask your supervisor if you can have a few minutes next week to learn more about what the numbers mean so you can help brainstorm ways to boost them. Demonstrate that you take your work seriously, and others will take you seriously.

2. Take responsibility

When you’re the boss, the buck stops with you. Tim in accounting may have been the one who screwed up, but you were the one managing him, and you should have caught it.

Similarly, even if you’re the lowest possible rung on the ladder, hold yourself accountable for everything that falls within your domain — even if that domain is ordering supplies for the office. Develop a new system to make supply ordering more efficient and make sure no one runs out of anything. Anticipate the need for extra paper since there’s a big project coming up. Don’t just do your job; think of ways to do your job better.

If you’re an entrepreneur, stop wondering why your marketing is falling flat or your sales pages aren’t converting and teach yourself how to make them better (or hire someone who can).

Take responsibility, both for the work you do and for your own success going forward. Step up when something needs to be done, make things right if you’ve messed up, and realize that you’re the only one who can take yourself to the next level.

3. Take pride

Whatever your job is, do it with all you’ve got in you. Allow yourself to feel good about that, even if it isn’t particularly glamorous.

If you’re a freelance writer just starting out and you’re stuck writing website copy for the local bait and tackle shop because that’s the only thing paying the bills right now, pour your heart into that copy. When your dream client comes along down the line and checks out your portfolio, they’ll think, “Wow. If she can write that well about fishing, imagine how she’ll bring my site to life!”

If you’ve been stuck with the most difficult client at your firm, go the extra mile to make his experience as pleasant as possible. When your performance review rolls around, you’ll stand out for a promotion for making the most of a bad situation.

The grunt work you’re doing today is a stepping stone on the way to something bigger. Put as much care and pride into the journey as you will into the end result.

4. Value your time

When you’re the boss, you know that time is money. You don’t waste other people’s time, and you don’t allow other people to waste yours. But you don’t have to make six figures to take control of your hours and make sure you’re spending them in the ways that have the highest ROI.

Learn to identify the work that makes the most difference for you or your company. Do you really need to attend that meeting on TPS reports (where Cheryl will read the same PowerPoint verbatim that she did six months ago)? Or could you be working on your new idea for a system that will boost workflow? Will spending the afternoon tweaking the layout of your site really do much for you, or would you be better off developing a plan to actually monetize that site?

Identify the 20 percent of your daily tasks that create 80 percent of your results, and focus on that 20 percent with the same intensity as a CEO who closes his office door and tells his assistant to hold his calls — all of his calls — unless something or someone is on fire.

5. Surround yourself with a strong team

A smart boss knows they’re only as good as their team. Whether or not you’re managing others, you need to surround yourself with people who will lift you up, encourage you and support your efforts — not people who will detract or derail you.

Get yourself a mentor who can guide you and challenge you to reach higher. Join an accountability group or mastermind where you can connect with others at the same level you’re at and help each other get better. Keep away from office drama and naysayers. Learn to ask for help when you don’t know something.

Bosses don’t know everything. They just always know who to turn to when they don’t know something.

How can you start thinking more like a boss?

Kelly Gurnett runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits and is the Editor-in-Chief of All Things Career. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.

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Own Your Job Interview: 11 Tips for Landing That Dream Job Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Nervous about your upcoming job interview? Tame your anxiety with these solid interview tips -- and land the job.

The post Own Your Job Interview: 11 Tips for Landing That Dream Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Few aspects of adult life are more distressing than the job interview. Something about having to offer up your entire life experience to a stranger for validation makes us feel uneasy. Luckily, you can take certain steps to ensure you present your best self, no matter what position you’re applying for. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Here are 11 tips on how you can ace your interview.

1. Do your homework

The more you understand about the business — from overall culture, goals and market strategy to specifics regarding recent successes and changes, and everything in between — the more “ready” you’ll appear. Become an expert on the company you want to join, and be able to discuss the business on the interviewer’s level.

2. Ask around

Use social networking sites (such as LinkedIn) to get in touch with former employees who can provide honest and unbiased observations about what the company values and expects from its employees. Any details you can acquire makes you more prepared for the interview itself.

3. Act it out

Role-playing the interview with a friend or associate beforehand will help you anticipate potential problems. By practicing the interaction and getting honest feedback from the person playing the interviewer, you’ll feel more confident when it’s time for the actual interview.

Work on being able to demonstrate relaxed and confident body language — it’s not always what you say; sometimes it’s how you say it.

4. Memorize your resume

Make sure you’ve memorized the pertinent facts and dates of your qualifications. If it’s important enough to include in your resume, it’s important enough to commit to memory.

5. Be prepared

Take a few hours and brainstorm everything that could potentially go wrong in your interview and take whatever steps you need to ensure that if the worst should happen, you’ll still be able to present yourself as calm and confident.

6. Get plenty of sleep beforehand

Caffeine might seem like a good way to keep from yawning during an interview, but there isn’t a substitute for a healthy night’s rest. This might mean going to bed earlier than you’re used to, so plan accordingly.

7. Be on time

Arrive at the interview 10 to 15 minutes early (unless they’ve asked you to arrive early to complete paperwork, in which case you should arrive at least 20 minutes early). If your travel time is less than anticipated, use the extra minutes to review your resume or give your personal appearance one last check.

8. Gather contact information

Politely ask each key player you meet for a business card. This will help you remember their names and make it easier to send personalized thank-you cards after the interviews. If someone doesn’t have a business card handy, ask for their information and write it down in a notebook.

9. Elaborate

Nervous individuals tend to offer short, uninvolved answers to questions, forcing the other person to do all the work. While being interviewed, provide more information than requested. Be willing to share personal experiences and ask questions of your own.

10. Be ready for the difficult questions

Perhaps the most dreaded interview question is “What is your greatest weakness?” Be ready for this question (and any others) by considering it beforehand. Don’t try to disguise a strength as a weakness (“I’m a perfectionist”) or claim you don’t have any weaknesses (“I can’t think of anything”).

Instead, select a real weakness, but one that won’t be an automatic red flag for your interviewer. Once you’ve decided on something plausible and not too detrimental, follow up with how you’re working on overcoming the weakness.

11. Follow up

Once you’ve finished the interview, you’re not quite done. Send out thank-you notes (on actual stationary, rather than emails) to everyone involved in the process. Don’t be afraid to call the employer — after a reasonable amount of time has passed — and ask if they’ve filled the position.

In sales, 35 percent of new business goes to the vendor who contacts a client first; the same can be said for following up about a job. Showing you’re committed by reaching out to them will, if done right, increase your chances.

If they have hired someone else, thank them for their time and ask for their honest tips on how you could improve for possible future interviews. After all, understanding the interview process is about understanding how to market yourself, and if you’re not selling yourself, you might be selling yourself short.

Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in social media marketing, CRM and sales. He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and business consultant.

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5 Ways MBA Programs are Adapting to the Ever-Changing Business World Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:00:20 +0000 The business world may be changing rapidly, but that doesn’t mean getting your MBA is irrelevant. Here’s how programs are adapting to stay current.

The post 5 Ways MBA Programs are Adapting to the Ever-Changing Business World appeared first on Brazen Life.

B-schools that want to stay relevant need to adapt to a quickly evolving field. If they don’t stay on top of those changes, they’ll leave alumni with outdated toolkits, huge debts and little to show for their time and tuition dollars.

What does this mean for you, the prospective student? It matters because you’ll want to make sure the B-school you choose to attend is up-to-date and innovative — adapting for the new economy — so you’re as equipped for your future in business as possible. And knowing what some schools are doing to keep up will help you make an informed choice about which university is best for you.

Here are five ways b-schools are staying relevant in a quickly-evolving corporate landscape. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Taking advantage of alumni

When officials at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business in Oxford, Ohio, engage corporate leaders, recruiters and other experts, they often find many are Farmer School alumni, says Matthew Myers, dean of the school and Mitchell P. Rales chair in business leadership.

And those alumni, who work in the field, have their fingers on the pulse of what employers and recruiters seek and where opportunities loom for recent graduates.

“[We] ensure we’re hearing directly from the marketplace about what kind of workforce they’re looking for,” Myers says.

2. Making “experiential learning” a hallmark

At Miami’s Farmer School, the administration and faculty also help keep their programs current through what the dean calls “experiential learning.” Several classes devoted to that approach pair students with companies, who hire them to address real-world problems.

The school’s Highwire Brand Studio, for example, gathers teams of students from a variety of majors — e.g., marketing and design — for a disciplinary-diverse challenge. Teams try to develop “the best overall recommendation for the client’s branding challenge and our Wall Street Week program, which reveals the inner workings of New York City’s financial district to our students,” Myers says.

3. Embracing technology

Some 300 miles southwest of the Farmer School, at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management in Nashville, faculty and staff focus on the ways technology “is quickly becoming more of an enhancement than a replacement for the traditional classroom,” says Tami Fassinger, the school’s chief recruiting officer.

“When lectures can be delivered online in a flipped classroom, faculty and students have more time for healthy debate and transformational learning to take place,” she says. (Like Myers, Fassinger cites “experiential learning courses.”)

4. Designing curricula from the ground up

When Fassinger discusses how Owen School faculty consulted with practitioners in the field to help clarify the learning outcomes of its programs, she points to the school’s master of accountancy programs (in the traditional audit, as well as the “growing new field of valuation”), its healthcare MBA and its master’s of management in healthcare.

“These efforts have also led to high satisfaction among students and their eventual employers,” she says.

5. Studying through a crystal ball

At California College of the Arts, home to a two-year MBA in Design Strategy, students can study in an MBA program — also two years — in Strategic Foresight.

That may sound like meteorology or astrology for executives-in-training, but the school, with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, insists, “The world is changing faster than ever, making the art of looking ahead essential for leaders. … [The program] challenges assumptions about alternative futures and enables students to adapt in practical, yet idealistic ways.”

Menachem Wecker is co-author of the recent book, “Consider No Evil: Two Faith Traditions and the Problem of Academic Freedom in Religious Higher Education.”

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Stuck in a Dead-End Job? Instead of Quitting, Do This Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When quitting your dead-end job might not be in the cards, it’s on you to find opportunities to make it work.

The post Stuck in a Dead-End Job? Instead of Quitting, Do This appeared first on Brazen Life.

Your job is an endless repetition of nothingness.

The days could not go slower while your life just seems to pass you by.

It’s messing with your energy levels and your sense of joy. You know this can’t go on for much longer.

You’re stuck in a dead-end job, and it sucks. Big time!

Most articles and books tell you to quit your job, start your own business, overcome hurdles and live entrepreneurially ever after. And you know what? They’re right! Being an entrepreneur is awesome, liberating, educational and more.

But perhaps this is just not for you. Or you’re just not ready yet. Or perhaps circumstances out of your control limit your options for now. No judgment, just the fact that something needs to change. And you can do so without leaving the job you’re in.

Ready to turn your dead-end job around? Here we go:

1. Find someone to kick your butt

Sometimes all we need to make change happen is an old-fashioned kick in the butt. (Click here to tweet this bit of wisdom.) We get too stuck in our own self pity and assumed misery to notice we’re bringing it upon ourselves.

Find yourself a life coach, a good friend or parent who’s not afraid to tell you exactly how it is. Keep your ears and mind open to anything they have to say. You’ll be surprised how this will help you spice up your job satisfaction (and life) immediately.

2. Step outside your social comfort zone

Do you talk to the same circle of coworkers every day? That’s definitely not enough to turn things around!

Be curious, talk to people and learn what their jobs are about and what they’re working on. This will not only make your days more interesting. You’ll also learn new skills and get to know more about the inner workings of your organization.

3. Embrace whatever annoys you

Though it’s impossible to change your boss or coworker, you can definitely change processes to make everyone’s job easier. If a form or computer system is not working optimally, take initiative to find a better solution propose it to someone in charge. If you can show your superiors how you can save them time and money, you’ll probably get the green light to make it happen.

You’ll show initiative, make your regular job easier and prove you’re ready to take on more challenging projects down the line that can potentially liven up your days.

4. Never stop learning

Even if you hate your job, that’s no reason sit around and do nothing. You should be learning new skills that you can apply in your current (and future) job.

Learning is essential. If your employer doesn’t provide you with learning opportunities (or not enough), then take matters in your own hands. Apply what you learn immediately for more challenge, more recognition and the ever-so-important experience.

Check out Skillshare, Coursera and the Code Academy to get high value for low prices.

5. Start your passion project NOW

Remember that idea you’ve had in the back of your head for years? The one you’ve always shoved aside because you were too busy, had too little experience or were simply too lazy to pursue? Dust it off and start doing it.

Replace the hours a week you spend on Pinterest or binge watching The Office (because it’s just oh so relatable) with your own passion project.

Set up a blog, learn how to code or find a community of likeminded people. Whatever it is, follow your passion outside of your work and it will translate to positive energy you can use inside your work. And who knows what your side hustle might grow into!

YOU will need to get yourself out of this Groundhog Day. Remember the movie? You might remember how nothing changed until the fantastical Bill Murray started to take responsibility for himself and invested everything he had in being the best person he could possibly be.

Sitting around expecting your boss will promote you and make your job more exciting is simply not something to count on. Take responsibility and create the best job you can with the circumstances you’re in.

This will take an investment on your part; it might mean working longer hours and it will definitely cost you time you’d rather spend lazing around.

But consider the alternative. How much longer do you want to live your life grumpy every Sunday night because Monday is just around the corner?

You can’t wait for an awesome job to find you — you’ll need to make it happen. When your happiness is counting on you, what do you have to lose?

Linda Coussement runs the blog Inspired Process and is on a mission to (r)evolutionise the way we do business by inspiring and activating entrepreneurs worldwide. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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How to Quit Your Job and Make the Beach Your Office Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Live your dream life as a location-independent writer, designer, affiliate marketer or accountant and work from almost anywhere with an internet connection.

The post How to Quit Your Job and Make the Beach Your Office appeared first on Brazen Life.

You feel cooped up in your cubicle. You no longer want to work for someone else’s bottom line. Every morning you wake up and think, “How long do I have to stay sober to not feel guilty?” Does this sound familiar?

You’re not the only one. This feeling of job malaise is something more and more professionals experience as they dream about a job that provides more freedom.

You don’t need a crazy self-help guru to guide you in the right direction, and you certainly don’t need a life-changing moment to come to the realization that you can have the life you want. It takes work, planning and a little luck, but you too can quit your job, live abroad and work from the beach. (Click here to tweet this piece of inspiration.)

How do I know this? It’s what I did, and what I’m still doing.

Make the first move to a more mobile life

Your first step to free yourself from your corporate job is to start building skills and experience that drive jobs you can do from anywhere. Try part-time work to obtain accreditation in the following professions:

  • Accounting
  • Web writing
  • Graphic design
  • Travel writing
  • Editing
  • Affiliate marketing

You will not find this step easy, especially if you don’t already have skills in any of these areas. It took me months of 60-hour workweeks to establish rapport, build contacts and develop the right skills.

Don’t take the first remote job that comes along and immediately quit your steady job; that’s a sure way to wind up with no job at all. Be patient. Sudden moves in a positive direction can just as quickly lead to sudden moves in a negative direction.

Take the leap from the corporate world to the beach

You can find plenty of places with a good view of whatever you want to look at. I chose Cape Town, South Africa. Once you’ve planned properly, you can go almost anywhere your passport allows. A part of that plan must be to build savings for emergencies. Because inevitably, something will not go according to plan. You need to be ready.

After living in Cape Town for three months, my employer decided to hire cheaper workers. Though I was on the other side of the planet with no work, I had planned for this. I had a few months of living expenses saved. When you lose a big client, the smartest thing while you look for work is to upgrade your skills.

Build new skills through an online program or a course at a local university. Then you can build a more diverse client base. When you have a diverse range of clients, losing one client isn’t the end of the world. You have backups.

Use tools to stay sane and get paid

When you leave the corporate office behind to live abroad, be sure to take advantage of these resources:

Skype: Use this free necessity to call family back home and to help maintain your sanity. It’s also a great tool for letting clients talk your ear off. Be sure to set boundaries on clients. If they’re contacting you 24/7, you’re not free — you’ve made a prison of your life. Good clients will know this. If clients pester you, you should move on.

Online staffing platforms: Investigate a number of online staffing platforms to not only find new clients, but to lock in payment. Platforms such as Elance, oDesk and Guru can help you with protection against fraud.

VPN service providers: A VPN provider keeps you safe by encrypting all of your web activity. A VPN service also unlocks geo-blocked content, like Netflix and some YouTube channels, by giving you an IP address in America. If the United States aren’t your home base, you can still find a VPN that will help you unlock content from nearly any country you call home.

Time tracking apps: If you thought you didn’t have to worry about clocking your time anymore, think again. This is one of the most important tasks in your business; You need to track your time to invoice clients and get paid. This process also helps you get a handle on how you’re spending your time to see how productive you are. A number of time tracking apps include Harvest, Hours Keeper and Qlockwork.

As you plan for your dream life working from the beach, keep these three points in mind to develop your mobile career:

  1. Build skills in mobile-friendly jobs
  2. Establish connections with clients you trust before putting in your notice
  3. Use apps and platforms that protect you, keep you connected and track your time investment

Take a look at the picture in this photo again — that’s my office on nice days! This could just as easily be your office if you take the right steps.

Matthew Yeoman is a freelance web writer and social media analyst on the Social Media Blog. You can find him there chatting about Google, YouTube, Pinterest, SoundCloud and Twitter News every Friday.

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Work (or Want to Work) in Marketing and Communications? Join Us for This Free Networking Event Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:00:06 +0000 No time for face-to-face networking? This online lunch-hour event makes it easy to meet ambitious young professionals!

The post Work (or Want to Work) in Marketing and Communications? Join Us for This Free Networking Event appeared first on Brazen Life.

Want to meet some of your fellow Brazenites? Eager to network with your peers, but have trouble fitting face time into your schedule?

We’ve got an event for you!

On Thursday, September 18th, at noon EST, we’re hosting a FREE networking event for the Brazen community, with a focus on professionals who work in MARKETING and COMMUNICATIONS.

That means if you work in marketing and communications — or you want to work in marketing and communications — you should join us!

Click here to register.

Our community is full of ambitious young professionals — hustlers, creatives and entrepreneurs who understand the importance of having a job you love. We want to help you meet one another, so you can rely on the support of your peers as you navigate your own career. We’ve organized this networking event online and during your lunch hour, so you can attend whether you work for an employer or have your own business.

Most importantly, this will be FUN! Remember, Brazen Careerist originated as a social network, and we still believe relationships are the foundation of a successful career. As an added bonus, this is an opportunity to try out Brazen’s software, the same awesome platform we use for recruiting events.

How It Works

It couldn’t be easier to join this event. Register now, and we’ll send you a link to join us on Thursday, September 18th.

During the event, you’ll be paired with multiple participants from around the region, country and world for several rounds of seven-minute, text-based chats. We’ll even save those conversations for you so you can revisit them later. After the event, we encourage you to connect with any interesting people on your favorite social networks; that will help you turn your chat into a mutually-beneficial relationship.

It’s like online speed dating, minus the awkwardness.

Hope you’ll join us!

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Changing Careers? How to Successfully Market Your New Self Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Need to start your career over and reinvent yourself? Don’t fret. Here’s how you can repackage your career to land the job you want.

The post Changing Careers? How to Successfully Market Your New Self appeared first on Brazen Life.

You graduated college, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. You envisioned the position you were going to pursue. You began working in an entry-level position and were promoted a few times — either earning that desired position or feeling as though you were on track for it.

Five years deep into a career you thought you were meant for, you realize your professional development was aimed in a direction you no longer wish to pursue. Now you have to start over… or more effectively, repackage yourself. To do that, you’ll have to relate your current professional marketing pieces to your future role.

This may seem daunting, but focus on the process that helped you land your first position. The key here is relatable reflection.

To connect the pieces of your past, present and future, evaluate yourself

Effectively redirecting yourself takes a bit of soul searching to discover the areas you want to improve. Think about what you want to learn to do, what kind of lifestyle you want to lead and the past experiences you’ve excelled in.

In five years, what will you have gained? Which of your talents and/or skills do you want to further develop? Once you’ve identified the direction you want to move, you can include the reasons for repackaging yourself within your story. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

With your cover letter, resume, interview and personal brand, you have the opportunity to look back at what you’ve accomplished and how those accomplishments can benefit the new position (or industry) you’re interested in. Examining these pieces will help you identify duties and positions you enjoyed — or those you’ll likely never try again.

Use your cover letter to your advantage

As a piece that describes why you’re interested in the company and what you can do for them, your cover letter is a chance to emphasize your abilities and how your background can positively affect the company.

As you begin your letter, always refer to the recipient by formal name. Going the length of addressing the individual shows you’ve done the work of finding out who your position affects, unlike reverting to the generic “To Whom it May Concern:” or “Dear Sir or Madam.”

If you’re moving into a position completely different from your previous work, use the cover letter to let your potential employer know what you’re doing to prepare for the new position and what you aim to continuously improve upon moving forward.

Ensure the employer you’re focused on the desired position by being specific about responsibilities and roles you’re interested in carrying out. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing assistant position, note that you understand and accept the responsibility of carrying out successful social media campaigns.

Highlight transferable skills on your resume

Your resume usually includes the positions you’ve held in the past, but since you’re focusing on a new direction, you’ll want to highlight your transferable skills. Soft skills are great to display on your resume — such as your demeanor, manners, organizational skills, management skills and work ethic.

While you don’t want your resume to only consist of soft skills, think about the role you’ll be moving into. What skills have you acquired through past experiences and how do those skills, and the nature of them, benefit your new position?

For instance, if your past position was in human resources and you’re entering the marketing world, explain how you posted and advertised for open positions at your previous company and how you built relationships with employees of the company.

Businesses and organizations use mission statements or values statements to describe the reasons for doing what they do. Your version of a mission statement is your objective, which traditionally is placed at the top of your resume — so make sure it accurately and emphatically describes your core values, abilities and aspirations.

These should be genuinely similar to those of your potential future employer. Your listed references should be considered with this transition as well. Offer the contact information of past managers, supervisors and coworkers who will be able to speak about the skills you’ve used that’ll benefit your new direction.

Revitalize your personal brand

Your personal brand is how you package and represent yourself. Your aesthetic, values and skills tell your future employer who you are, your level of expertise, what defines your motives and what makes you memorable.

You can make yourself visually memorable by incorporating a logo to your resume and business card that’s simple, yet gives clues to what you’re all about. You also want to update profile pictures to accommodate your new potential position.

Use your analytical skills to highlight your areas of expertise in relation to your future position. Determine what will work in your favor and be beneficial for your new career. If you’re not sure which skills to highlight, search online with the job description of the new position and scout forums with conversations from people within the profession to see what kinds of situations they’re in.

Think back to times when you carried out similar tasks or handled situations. Which of your abilities did you use to solve problems? Don’t be afraid to face your weaknesses. Understanding and speaking about your weaknesses shows you’re self-aware, authentic and relatable.

It also tells the potential employer you’ve honed in on your areas of improvement in your new career. We’re all works in progress, so be able to clearly state what you’re doing to improve areas not your strong suits.

Repackaging yourself, or updating your resume, cover letter and professional narrative will build the bridge between your current position and your future path. Once you’ve established the new presentation of you, it’s time to put yourself out there with confidence. Best of luck to you in your new career.

Ashley Swinehart is a graduate from Youngstown State University with five years of recruitment experience. She works in conjunction with Corporate Ladder Search Partners, Inc. based out of Uniontown, Ohio.

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Want to Find Your Perfect Hire? This New Recruiting App is Like Tinder for Jobs Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Hey recruiters, it’s time to take a cue from online dating. This new app will help you swipe your way to the perfect hire.

The post Want to Find Your Perfect Hire? This New Recruiting App is Like Tinder for Jobs appeared first on Brazen Life.

In many ways, recruiting is a lot like dating. So in the arduous process of finding the perfect match, what works for one might work for the other, right?

That’s what Jobr thinks: This new job search app is taking its cue directly from the online dating world.

Matching employees and jobs

On the surface, Jobr looks a lot like the popular dating app Tinder. An image appears, and you swipe right if you’re interested, left if you’re not.

The difference is Jobr isn’t showing photos of potential dates — it’s showing descriptions of potential jobs.

Just like Tinder does with dating, Jobr makes the hiring process a two-way street. Both the recruiter and the applicant have to swipe right (demonstrate interest) to create a match.

And the more people who use it, the better it gets.

TechCrunch explains:

“There are more than 1,000 recruiters on the app already and users have made more than 3 million swipes since launch. That increase in data also means that the app can be smarter about which jobs applicants see and which applicants are shown to which recruiters.”

Do you think the Tinder model will work for recruiting? Will you give Jobr a try?

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

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Working the Night Shift? 6 Tips for Surviving Thu, 04 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Working night shifts can be disorienting and upsetting, especially at the beginning. These tips can help with the adjustment process.

The post Working the Night Shift? 6 Tips for Surviving appeared first on Brazen Life.

You don’t need a science degree to figure out that people need sleep. But countless research points to the same conclusion: insufficient sleep can cause a wide range of physical and mental health problems, from poor judgment to depression to heart disease. And ideally, humans should get the sleep they need at night and stay active during the day.

But what if your job won’t allow a natural sleep cycle? Healthcare personnel and shift workers often find themselves coming home when everyone else is climbing out of bed, and while this can be uncomfortable and disorienting, few institutional resources are available to help newer workers deal with the effects.

When struggling employees ask their supervisors for guidance, they’re often dismissed with instructions to “Just make the best of it,” or “Try yoga.” If you work the night shift and you’re having a hard time adjusting, keep these tips in mind. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Develop a long-term timeline

You can maintain this lifestyle — for now. Powering through may be your best and only option. But if you know you can’t live this way forever, pick a point in the future when you’re sure the lifestyle will stop.

Let your boss know that you’ll need to switch to day shifts within six months or one year, and if this doesn’t happen, have a plan in mind to look for work elsewhere. (By the time you reach this deadline, you may have adjusted.)

2. Try yoga

The suggestion may seem dismissive, but attending a yoga class even once a week may have noticeable benefits. While you’re doing this, make a deliberate effort to eat healthier foods (including leafy green veggies and whole grains) and exercise at least 10 minutes every day.

3. Find someone to talk to

You may not need a licensed therapist, but find someone in your circle of family and friends who knows what it’s like to work at night. Lean on this person when you need to share what you’re going through. The experience can be surreal and isolating, and your coworkers may be reluctant to talk about it, since (like you, probably) they don’t want to advertise their struggles.

4. Respect your daytime sleep and insist that others respect it too

If your children, spouse or roommates can’t leave you in peace during the day, talk with them seriously about what you’re going through and be clear about what you need from them (e.g., a quieter space, less light, a room on the non-street side of the house, fewer interruptions).

5. Develop rituals that mark the distinction between “night” and “day”

When you wake up, follow a set of behaviors that train your brain to accept this hour as “morning.” Brewing coffee and making a daily ritual of breakfast can help. A few morning exercises can also help. Keep the pattern similar each day.

6. Recognize what’s happening to you

Mental and physiological changes often have more damaging effects when they’re not expected or understood. A sudden burst of tears, unexplained anger or clumsiness may not feel directly connected to your sleep habits, and you may not technically feel tired when you experience them. But recognize these as the signs and symptoms of disrupted sleep, and know that when your body adjusts to its new schedule, these will probably subside.

Jenny Treanor is a career advisor and job search expert who provides consultation for staffing firms, hiring managers and job seekers across every industry. Her blogs and articles appear regularly on LiveCareer, home of America’s #1 Resume Builder.

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Smart Networking: Why You Should Get to Know This Person at the Office Wed, 03 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Being friends with the right people at work can open doors. So who’s the one person at work you should go out of your way to meet?

The post Smart Networking: Why You Should Get to Know This Person at the Office appeared first on Brazen Life.

High-performing professionals know their careers will be defined by the relationships they build.

You go to lunches, have a drink at happy hour and meet for coffee. Maybe you’ve even tried an online networking event. These are all great ways to build your professional network. But you may be overlooking one important and powerful person.

It’s surprising that even savvy networkers know so many networking tips, but seem to ignore one of the most valuable relationships in your office.

By focusing all of your time and energy networking with your peers and close superiors, you definitely set yourself up for success. But everyone knows this already. It doesn’t give you an advantage over Jane in the next cubicle.

If you want an advantage in your career, you need to start building relationships with amazing people others have overlooked. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Here’s how to do it.

Find out who really runs your office

Imagine a person who knew everyone in the office inside and out. They work directly with the CEO, and all her top management. This person knows high-level info about the personal lives and professional goals of all the company’s top executives. They know all the moving pieces of the organization.

And every time you get stuck on a big project, they can introduce you to someone who can help. Guess what. This person actually exists in nearly every office across the United States.

You’d be crazy not to start building a relationship with them!

These employees used to be called secretaries. Now their roles have expanded and they usually have the title of Executive Assistant or Administrative Assistant.

As a junior analyst, I never realized the best executive assistants in my office probably made double my salary or more. That’s how much their bosses (and the company) value their contributions and skills.

Looking back, I’m amazed by how many people throughout my career have written off these important individuals as “just admin staff” without getting to know them or their contributions to the organization.

Still not convinced? Admins in your office can be a wealth of information when it comes to office gossip, layoffs or employee changes. They work with top management, so they have a direct line to everyone’s superiors. And they understand the business’s inner workings thanks to the countless number of people they speak with all day long.

They can share this info with you and help you out when you need answers to a question or a solution to a problem. But only if you’ve taken the time to build a mutually beneficial relationship with them first.

Build relationships with your office gatekeepers

Executive assistants often feel underappreciated because people think of them as “just an admin.” As if that gives someone a right to ignore them until they need a coffee.

Take a page out of Ben Franklin’s playbook, and ask for small favors from your office admin. Franklin is famous for turning an enemy into a lifelong friend by simply asking to borrow a book.

He understood people like people for whom they have done favors. We all rationalize that we must actually like someone, otherwise we wouldn’t have been nice to them. Franklin used this technique to build lifelong relationships. And you can, too.

Here are just a few small favors you can ask to break the ice so you can start building relationships with your office gatekeepers:

  • Get a tip on where to take the team for lunch
  • Ask who to contact in HR about your new benefit plan
  • Say your printer is broken and ask if they wouldn’t mind printing your file

It doesn’t matter what you ask. Just keep it simple, remember to stay polite and express your gratitude after they help you.

Of course there is always a danger in painting a large group of people with the same broad brush. Within every group, you’ll find just as many great people as people who are more difficult to work with. I encourage you to seek out great admins in your workplace or give another chance to someone you’ve already written off.

After all, your career is defined by the relationships you build.

Get more Career & Job Search Advice from Bob Berchtold at his blog, Cubicle Sherpa. And don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Job Seekers, @CubicleSherpa, and LinkedIn.

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Think Small: How Working for a Startup Can Pay Huge Career Dividends Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Global banks and gargantuan consulting firms are no longer the ticket to career success. Consider starting your career at a startup or a smaller company instead.

The post Think Small: How Working for a Startup Can Pay Huge Career Dividends appeared first on Brazen Life.

Many graduates dream of landing a great entry-level job with a big company. A large company can often offers new grads the opportunity to handle multiple roles and get a headstart for developing a well-rounded career. For a time, global banks and big consulting firms were the most sought-after employers.

But with the recession, small businesses and startups are quickly becoming more lucrative career launch pads. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Read on for a few solid reasons why you should start your career at a small business to jumpstart your long-term career success.

1. Make big things happen

Although small businesses may not be able to match the big ones in terms of the pay, perks and benefits, these factors become less of a concern as their business grows. Many small businesses can offer their employees something many big companies can’t: flexibility.

Large corporations are set in their complex processes and patterns and do not offer scope for employees to get involved in the whole business. Small organizations can offer a more nimble work environment.

If you’re a self-motivated individual who thinks independently, proactively and creatively, then you can look forward to a plethora of opportunities to make something big happen and prove your mettle.

2. Expand your range of responsibilities

Small businesses employ fewer people, but these employees are hand-picked. Because the team is small, there’s a chance you were hired because you possess a skillset that no one else in the company does. You may have been recruited thanks to your distinctive thinking or your impressive problem-solving skills.

In keeping with your capabilities, your range of responsibilities may widen soon after you start performing well. From the get-go, you’ll be challenged to become more versatile, responsible, reliable and productive. With greater responsibilities, you’re bound to feel empowered.

3. Try your hand at different projects

In big organizations with a hierarchy and structure, often one person is assigned for every task. If you opt for a large corporation, you may be assigned one profile that you will have to stick to day after day. It’s easy to feel stuck in a rut when doing such jobs, with almost no scope for branching out.

When working with a small firm, you get to try your hand at various tasks — even those you never thought you could do. This exposes you to the various facets of the business, thereby giving you the opportunity to expand your skillset and add new talents to your repertoire.

4. Earn quick recognition

Because the processes and procedures in small companies tend to be less structured than those in their bigger counterparts, they tend to be shorter and transparent. This allows you to see the fruits of your labor more quickly.

We all have one friend who works for a large organization and often complains about how his hard work goes unnoticed and someone else getting the applause. In a small firm, it is almost impossible for a well-executed job to get overlooked or for the credit not to go where it is due.

5. Learn from those who made it happen

Working in small companies opens up avenues for you to interact with the business owners (instead of just the managers) on a one-on-one basis. Such a thing is nearly impossible in large multinational companies. It’s always great to be around people who think and work innovatively to create something from scratch.

Enterprising individuals who possess the gumption, intelligence and acumen to start their own venture have a very different mental and professional temperament than others. They are innovators (and mentors), and working with them gives you opportunities to learn several tricks of the trade.

The ongoing economic downturn is forcing many graduates (and even experienced executives) to consider employment with small firms. Some of your peers might not take these opportunities seriously. But getting your start at a small firm can help create a solid base for your career. Small businesses have come of age and have a lot to offer in terms of technology, resources and opportunities to ambitious individuals.

Andrew Cravenho is the CEO of CBAC Funding, an innovative invoice finance company. As a serial entrepreneur, Andrew focuses on helping both small and medium-sized businesses take control of their cash flow. Find CBAC Funding on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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How to Give Quality Feedback When You’re a New Manager Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 As a new manager, you might want to avoid giving constructive feedback right away. But that’s not the right approach. Here’s what you should do instead.

The post How to Give Quality Feedback When You’re a New Manager appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you’ve been promoted recently, you’re probably determined to do things differently than other managers. You want to remember your roots as a worker bee forced to please the boss. You don’t want to micromanage or discourage people. So you may avoid giving constructive feedback until you have a few months under your belt as a manager.

Wrong approach.

Here’s what you need to do instead:

1. Assure people you’ll be giving frequent feedback

People want more feedback than they’re getting. Everyone, especially young and hard-to-retain superstars, constantly say in employee engagement surveys such as Gallup that they’re discouraged because they’re not getting enough feedback.

And it’s not just that they aren’t getting enough positive pats on the back. Sixty percent say they don’t get enough critical feedback that can help them improve. (Click here to tweet this stat.) Tell them you’ll be giving feedback weekly (or more often) and deliver on that promise.

2. Invite their feedback to you in every feedback conversation

The feedback culture you want to create is an exchange. You coach them and they make suggestions about what you can do to help them reach their goals faster.

3. Envision success for everyone to focus your feedback

Spend a few hours imagining the team as wildly successful. Record on paper your images of what each individual and the group as a whole will be doing and saying in the future — six to nine months ahead on your calendar.

Imagine recognition by customers and celebration by company leaders. What capabilities will each person need to develop to achieve the vision? Use these notes when picking out the most important and doable feedback topics for each person.

4. Invest plenty of time to clarify and re-clarify goals

You’ll increase their buy-in for feedback if you’re all on the same page about expected outcomes. And you’ll decrease the chances they’ll be confused or discouraged later. The bosses people hate are the ones who can’t explain what they want, but are quick to criticize. You’re a boss who explains what you want — not what you don’t.

5. Give lots of positive feedback, but make sure it’s specific and accurate

You want to encourage people, but you don’t want to come across as a parent figure who praises everything. It won’t be good for either you or them if they become dependent on you for their self-worth fixes.

On the other hand, positive feedback that resonates with what they know to be a strength or a hard-earned accomplishment builds credibility with your employees. If they feel that you “get them,” they’re more likely to believe you when you point out improvement needs.

6. Make feedback so helpful and frequent that it becomes a no-big-deal experience

Although your first feedback discussions with people may need to be scheduled half-hour meetings, they’ll get used to unthreatening hallway chats where you suggest a new approach they can use with a customer, how to expedite a meeting or fast ways they can acquire technical knowledge.

They will start to trust you. The trust gets big when they know they can count on you to bring up problems and never surprise them later with feedback you’ve withheld.

7. Act on the feedback they give you

As you ask each team member how you can better help them achieve their goals, how you can support them and how you can help make it a better workplace, acknowledge the value of their suggestions. And act on all feedback that makes sense as quickly as possible to demonstrate you believe in the power of feedback.

In giving more, rather than less, honest, timely feedback, you and the whole team will discover that feedback is a big plus and you as a leader will enjoy huge success.

Anna Carroll, MSSW, through, specializes in workplace trends and training. In her recent book, The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success, she helps leaders at all levels overcome their obstacles to giving feedback.

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Networking in San Diego: 8 Groups for Broadening Your Professional Network Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 In San Diego? Check out these groups for awesome networking events near you.

The post Networking in San Diego: 8 Groups for Broadening Your Professional Network appeared first on Brazen Life.

With over three million people living in San Diego County, it can be all too easy to feel lost in the urban hustle and bustle. One tried and true method to meet interesting people inside and outside of your professional niche — and give you a leg up in the job market — is networking.

Regular networking events are offered by groups all over San Diego. Check out this list to see which one is right for you. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. 6 Degrees

6 Degrees has something for everyone. If you consider yourself a social butterfly, their monthly happy hours (and bimonthly mixers, if you live in North County) provide the opportunity to meet and mingle.

They also offer Breakfast Speaker Panels every month, which has “become [their] most popular and highly attended events.” The topic of this series changes every time; for instance, experts spoke about sports and active lifestyle in July.

Finally, if you’re a higher-level executive or CEO looking to meet like-minded individuals, 6 Degrees offers exclusive Cigar and Scotch mixers every other month.

2. SCORE: San Diego

SCORE is an organization run by volunteers under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is a perfect fit for entrepreneurs. As with 6 Degrees, you can choose from numerous networking events. If you’re a woman who owns your own business (or aspires to), you’d probably enjoy the Women’s Networking Breakfast, put on every other month with a new speaker every time.

They also offer 40 workshops a year, almost all of which are either free or only cost a nominal fee.  Not only do these forums allow you to network with other entrepreneurs, but they also provide lots of useful information, from how to establish a marketing plan to understanding intellectual property laws.

3. San Diego Young Entrepreneur Network

This is a group on founded by Will Caldwell, a young entrepreneur himself. Caldwell holds events about once a month, hosting speakers who give talks on startup-related content. More than 150 young entrepreneurs belong to the group.

As one review reads, “ Pretty awesome. It’s nice to meet other self-driven people. It’s a good motivation booster, looking forward to other events. ” From the mouth of a “young trep” — look no further for a push in the right (entrepreneurial) direction.

4. LeTip of Greater San Diego

LeTip is unique in that it’s not a place to network with people in your own field — instead, they have spots for one person for each profession. One member explains, “The great thing about this group is that there can’t be a conflict of interest between two members. For instance, there can’t be two chiropractors or two divorce attorneys.”

This gives members the opportunity to network outside of their chosen professions, and it allows for an exchange of tips, which are “referrals from people who may benefit from a member’s services.” LeTip meets every Wednesday at 7 a.m. for breakfast.

5. Mission Bay Networking Group

This group is similar to LeTip in that one person from each profession is allowed. Members range from a chiropractor to a lawyer to a seamstress and a travel agent. Ultimately, as their website reads, “The primary goal of Mission Bay Networking Group is to develop strong referral partnerships.” If you’re interested in open positions, they meet every Friday morning and once a month for happy hour.

6. San Diego Pros

One great thing about San Diego Pros is that you can attend several meetings to test the waters and see if it’s a good fit for you. They invite you to one of their weekly Thursday morning meetings, you attend for several weeks in a row, and then you’ll be extended an invitation to officially join.

They distinguish themselves from other similar groups on their website, explaining, “B2B (business to business) networking groups tend to be expensive and demanding of referrals to members’ businesses. The San Diego Pros believe that by investing in the relationships within the group, the exchange of business happens as a natural byproduct.”

7. Network After Work: San Diego

If you’ve ever Googled “Networking Events,” you’ve probably heard of Network After Work. They’ve established a presence in 19 cities and counting. There are over 1,700 members in the San Diego group alone, and each event “ranges in size from 150-600 professionals, and take place [monthly] in each city’s top nightlife destinations.”

This event is for you if you want to mingle (with cocktail in hand) with other young professionals at San Diego’s hottest spots — spots that include Fluxx nightclub, Vin de Syrah Wine Parlor and The W Hotel Rooftop.

8. Women’s Wisdom

As the name suggests, this is a females-only group. Women’s Wisdom hosts monthly luncheons that include “speakers, networking, table displays, vendors, business introductions, shout outs, door prize drawings and lots of gifts!”

The goal of this group is clear from the website byline: “Women Empowering Women In Friendship and Business.” Young women looking for support, encouragement, business advice and friendship, look no further.

Are you planning on attending any of these events? Share your experiences and tips below!

Betty Vine is a freelance writer based in San Diego, California. She currently writes for Brain World Magazine and is interested in psychology, politics and all things GenY.

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How to Talk Up Your Travel Experience in Your Next Job Interview Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Your globetrotting experience could set you apart in an interview as long as you know exactly which travel lessons and skills to talk up.

The post How to Talk Up Your Travel Experience in Your Next Job Interview appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’ve just returned from a big trip abroad. Maybe it was the post-graduation backpacking trip you always dreamed of, or maybe it was the career break you desperately needed.

But now you’re back in the real world. And you need a job. You’ve lined up some interviews, but are terrified of the moment when they ask about this “gap in your resume.”

Have no fear. Your travel experiences can certainly help your career — you just need to know how to spin them.

There’s a big difference between saying, “Yeah, I had a great time partying my way through Europe,” and “I learned to navigate foreign countries on my own, developing valuable communications and time-management skills that will serve me in this position.”

To nail your interview, don’t just talk about your experiences. You should outline what you learned and how that new knowledge will help you on the job.

To get you started, these are five smart travel skills you can highlight in your interview.

1. Your communications skills

From buying train tickets to ordering food at a restaurant, travel involves endless communicating. Now that you’ve managed to do it in an unfamiliar language and culture, communicating at your workplace will be a piece of cake.

Meeting so many people made you into an excellent conversationalist, and bartering in the markets turned you into a master negotiator. Difficult clients or picky vendors? Send ‘em your way!

2. Your willingness to think outside the box

Traveling can be exhausting because you constantly need to alter your plans and find new ways of doing things: Like how to get from point A to point B when the roads are flooded or how to do laundry when there’s no plug for the drain.

Think of a story where things didn’t go as planned, then use to it to demonstrate your ability to adapt quickly and find creative solutions — skills you’d be happy to implement in your work life. (Click here to tweet this idea.)

3. Your cross-cultural sensitivity and understanding

On your travels, you’ve interacted with people of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures. You know what it means to be the odd man out, and it’s given you a greater sensitivity to diversity.

Whether it’s working with an international client or a coworker from a completely different neighborhood, you won’t have any problems. You’ll be able to find common ground with anyone, and you’ll appreciate how their differences make your team stronger.

4. Your time-management and money-management skills

While traveling, you managed to schedule out several weeks or months in advance, taking into account must-see destinations and unreliable bus schedules. You created a budget to last you for a certain time, then readjusted when it dwindled more quickly than you thought it would.

With these skills, figuring out which projects to prioritize at your new job should be a breeze, and managing corporate budgets won’t be an issue. Not to mention that your mental math skills are so sharp from all those currency conversions!

5. Your ability to take initiative and work independently

Last but certainly not least, it took a lot of hard work (and gumption!) to plan and save for your big trip. No one was there to supervise or help you, which proves you’ll be just fine taking on projects solo.

You knew what you wanted, and you went after it. You took initiative to make your dreams come true. If hired, you’d do the same thing to achieve success for your company.

Though the examples above apply to most international travels, take a moment to reflect on what you learned in particular. Did you learn a new language? Write a blog? Manage a classroom? Edit photographs or video? Jot down examples before your interview so they’ll be fresh in your mind.

You’ve completed your dream trip — now use these tips to land your dream job.

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

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Your Emails Suck. These 3 Rules Will Make Them Exponentially Better Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Not a fan of schmoozing at networking events? Learn how to write targeted emails to the right people, and you’ll grow your network exponentially.

The post Your Emails Suck. These 3 Rules Will Make Them Exponentially Better appeared first on Brazen Life.

We write a novel’s length of emails in a year, according to copywriting pro Alexandra Franzen. Now, that’s pretty subjective — like the difference between The Babysitters Club and Atlas Shrugged — but, you get the idea. You’re more likely to maintain a relationship by typing up an email and hitting send than by picking up the phone and flexing those vocal chords.

And in most cases, that’s A-OK. But in the madness of non-stop emailing, have you lost your sense of value for the tool? Let’s bring it back, because every single email you send is a chance to improve your network.

Effective email networking

Email can be a valuable tool to build your network both in-person and online. It’s crucial to following up from in-person meetings or interviews, expanding conversations that started on social media or pitching your favorite blog’s editor. And even in your daily back-and-forth with colleagues, each email presents an opportunity to earn their respect, trust and admiration.

But to make your emails work harder for you (and the person you’re corresponding with), follow these few rules to nail each email from the get-go.

Rule #1: Be brief

Brevity, just like in the boardroom, is clutch in emails. Most people are easily overwhelmed by the enormity of their inbox for two reasons:

  • They have far too many emails coming in
  • The emails they receive might as well be books (As in, print out the PDF and take it along on your next bathroom break)

Don’t let your emails follow this trend. In fact, a brief email, no matter who’s reading it, can pack 10x more punch if it’s three lines or less.

Here’s the key: Get right to the point. Don’t scurry or beat around the bush. Open the email with exactly why you’re emailing.

Hi John. I was so pleased to meet you at the convention last week, and I’d love to get together to continue the conversation we started on social media marketing.

Bam. He knows exactly what you want.

Rule #2: Be helpful

Open-ended questions leave a lot of room for indecision. If it’s within your ability, propose a solution to your question.

How does coffee next Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at the Starbucks on Smith Street sound?

If the time frame or location doesn’t work, they’ll let you know. But you’ve just eliminated at least one wishy washy and unhelpful message asking what they had in mind. Give concrete options that can help the person make a decision more quickly.

Rule #3: Be conversational

Don’t forget to be yourself. It’s entirely possible to be personable and professional at the same time. Use a conversational tone, and close the email by referring to something you both have in common, a conversation you had or something you know they care about.

By the way — how about those Red Sox? Can you believe they came back last night?

Adding a personal element shows you’ve paid attention to the details. It can be a link to a video, a fun resource you think they might appreciate or a caring inquiry as to how their latest trip went. Take the time to do your research and infuse it with your personality — it will resonate. Tools like Rapportive make this even easier by giving you a glimpse of your correspondent right within Gmail.

Put it all together, and here’s what it looks like:

Hi, John -

I was so pleased to meet you at the convention last week, and I’d love to get together to continue the conversation we started on social media marketing.

How does coffee next Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at the Starbucks on Smith Street sound?

By the way — how about those Red Sox? Can you believe that come back last night?

Take care!


There you have it. In three lines, you’ve respectfully caught the attention of your potential connection, set up a coffee date and made it easy for them to give you a “Sure, see you there!” or respond with an alternative.

Rekindling the love of email

Once you learn to leverage email as a relationship building tool, you’ll no longer feel bitter every time an email notification pops up. In fact, you’ll see it as an opportunity.

Building your network with email communication is effective and simple if you use it respectfully. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

And if you can’t abide by brevity and tact, I’ll make a simple suggestion: Take a sip of water, clear your throat and pick up the phone, friend.

Sara Frandina is a New York-based copywriter + editor with a relentless love of words and an insatiable appetite for books, travel and popcorn. She spends her days happily creating copy + crafting content for her clients at

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Email Tips: If You Want a Response, Never Start a Message Like This Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:00:06 +0000 According to Business Insider, this is the worst way to start an email -- and we agree! Read on to make sure you’re not committing this email faux-pas.

The post Email Tips: If You Want a Response, Never Start a Message Like This appeared first on Brazen Life.

The beginning of your email is a make-it or break-it moment. Make it, and you might get the recipient to continue reading — break it, and they’ll be clicking the delete button faster than you can say “sayonara” to your chance of connecting with them.

And what’s the very first thing your recipient will read? Your greeting. There are a lot of less-than ideal ones out there, but a recent Business Insider article declared one the worst:

“To whom it may concern.”

Business Insider warns:

“Though the greeting may seem innocuous, it comes off as impersonal and old fashioned — and reeks of a mass-produced spam letter.”

We completely agree, and we’ve even got two more to add to the list:

  • Dear Sir or Madam
  • Dear Webmaster

A better way to start an email

The common thread through these greetings? They’re impersonal. As the article suggests, you should take time to figure out who you’re writing to — and then use their name. This small act of personalization will give your email a much better chance of being read, and being taken seriously.

To find the appropriate person’s name, comb through the company’s website, look it up on LinkedIn, or even call the company to ask directly.

Brazen editor Alexis Grant also recommends the email tool Rapportive, saying: “Sometimes I even use [it] as a research tool, typing an email into Gmail’s “to” field without any intention of writing to that person just to see what information Rapportive pulls up.”

However you do it, just make sure you never use “To whom it may concern” ever again.

Which one of the introductions above is your least favorite? Do you have any others to add?

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

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3 Tips for Writing a Stellar MBA Application Essay Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Your MBA application shows the admission committee who you are. Want to let the real you shine through? Use these tips.

The post 3 Tips for Writing a Stellar MBA Application Essay appeared first on Brazen Life.

Ah yes, it’s MBA application season. Can you smell it in the air? It’s an aroma of nervous stress, double shots of espresso and late night burritos. Breathe it in.

MBA application essays give you an opportunity to speak. The admissions committee already has your numbers, your resume, your recommendations — so they’ve got an idea of who you are, but it’s just a skeleton.

The essays give your application meat. This is your only chance to show the admissions committees (adcom) what you’re all about — usually in 500 words or less. It’s a tall order, but you’ll be off to a good start with these three tips. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Get specific with your goals

With every MBA application essay you write, you have to talk about your long-term and short-term goals. It’s a tough task that may bring up repressed memories of tense dinner convos with your parents talking about “the future,” but you’re an adult now. You’ve got this.

To impress a top-ranked university, your goals need clarity and precision. Have a game plan. If you don’t have one, do some research. Be confident; don’t just tell the school what you intend to do. Show what you’ll do, how you’ll do it and why. The adcom needs to know your plan is solid and you’re going to be a huge success with or without them.

Before: “I will strive to become a sharp director of marketing, approving multimedia advertising campaigns through up-to-date techniques and in well collaborative procedures.”

This seems impressive, but it’s a total non-starter. What does he mean by “sharp”? What kind of techniques and procedures is he talking about? It’s obvious this guy doesn’t know what he wants to do and he’s trying to cover it up with some fancy language.

After: “I will transform our company’s marketing by targeting clients not only through up-to-date research algorithms, but also through collaboration and proper judgment. In an era where so much advertising bombards clients with spam, I strongly believe marketing can be both profitable and ethical, helping, rather than hindering, the user experience online.”

Much better, this answers all our questions (what, how and why), and it shows a level of expertise in his field.

2. Quantify your success

You know you’re smart, hard working, successful and a hot prospect. But to make your application stand out, you’ll have to prove it. Your achievements have to be quantifiable — stuff you can prove. Numbers are your friend. Whatever your achievement, use numbers and statistics to back it up.

Before: “I was employee of the month, which earned me a promotion.”

Meh. Moving on.

After: “As employee of the month, I increased sales 300 percent leading to the best quarterly earnings in five years, earning a promotion and becoming the youngest sales manager in company history.”

Now that’s a quantifiable achievement.

3. Stand out with your personal qualities

This should be the heart of every great application. What makes you a unique and interesting person? What will you bring to this school? What separates you from the pack? Or as Rafiki once asked, “The question is, who… are you?”

This is actually much harder than it sounds. This isn’t about listing hobbies and making generalizations about your personality. Think of something only you enjoy, even though your friends think it’s weird or uncool — that’s what makes you unique. Then make sure and connect it to the rest of your essay.

Before: “I like to knit because I can spend hours focusing on a single task.”

OK, great. But again, who are you? We haven’t learned anything that differentiates you from the crowd.

After: “Knitting has taught me patience and discipline. It can take over a year to finish a blanket, so those long nights going over the Greenberg account at Capital Banking was a piece of cake in comparison.”

This girl’s super focused, can handle a huge account at a major bank, and she can knit a cozy blanket? I’m in.

Look, we know torytelling and essay writing isn’t everyone’s jam, but to get into b-school, you gotta be the Smuckers of MBA essay writing. (And also probably not use terrible analogies like that one.)

Jon Frank got his MBA at Harvard Business School and is now the CEO of Admissionado,  a consulting and mentoring company, specializing in MBA admissions. Founded in 2007, Admissionado has become a global leader in application consulting, with offices in the US and China.

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Up Your Job Search Game: 6 Things You Must Do to Get Hired Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 With fierce competition for jobs, you’ve got to stand out. Try one -- or all -- of these ways to come out on top.

The post Up Your Job Search Game: 6 Things You Must Do to Get Hired appeared first on Brazen Life.

You can’t take the same approach to finding employment you would’ve before the economy hit tough times. Several years ago, firms hired more, the job market wasn’t saturated with the unemployed, and prospects looked great for everyone.

Things have certainly changed. The amount of competition means finding a way to stand out from the masses of applicants. Here’s how to do that. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Hit the pavement

Show up at offices and inquire about open positions. Even if you don’t meet face-to-face with a hiring manager, you get yourself in front of someone, and that’s likely to make an impression.

If no HR personnel are available, chat up the administrative assistants, letting them know you’re excited about possibly landing a position. Of course, this is an aggressive and time-consuming strategy that should be reserved for the jobs you’re truly excited about.

2. Take your hunt online

Post a video on YouTube called “Why I Want To Work For [Company X]” and send the link to the company’s hiring manager. To get more creative, post an auction-style listing on eBay where you list yourself as the product for sale. Use the description area to highlight your skills and qualifications.

Typical job search websites like CareerBuilder or Monster may work for you, but you’ve got to up your game if you want to rise above the competition.

3. Do your homework

Research the employer’s website and look for information to introduce throughout your interview. These could include recent company achievements, expansion plans, positions that need to be filled, staffing shakeups and new location openings.

Take notes and commit as much to memory as you can before the job interview. This displays your passion to the interviewer, and if you’re able to identify a company need that matches up with your skill set, it might get you across the finish line.

4. Target your resume

Many HR personnel can easily spot cookie-cutter resumes, and if they’re looking at hundreds per day, yours might end up in the circular file. Consider a targeted resume instead.

Be sure your resume includes relevant keywords mentioned in the job description. Adjust your career objectives to include the industry you’re applying in. You may have to tweak your skills and qualifications for each job opening. Don’t forget to target your cover letter in a similar fashion.

5. Follow up creatively

Following up your interview with a phone call is certainly OK, but you won’t stand out by doing that alone. Before you get creative, though, inquire with the hiring manager as to how, or if, you should best follow up. If you’re told not to, hold off.

If following-up is recommended, put your creative chops to use. Send a thank-you note and include a highly sharpened pencil in the envelope. Write “I can be the sharpest pencil in the box.” Or include a small straw and write that you could be the “Straw that stirs the drink,” for the department you’ve applied to.

Moves like these may be risky, but they stand out. Limit your follow-up to two or three phone calls, email messages or notes. If you don’t hear anything back, cross that company off the list and move on. Effectively handling rejection is part of the job search process.

6. Google yourself

Type your first and last name into Google and see what comes up. If it’s all positive information, you’re good to go. For anything less than complimentary, get to work on pushing those results off the first page.

Open up a LinkedIn account and post high-quality articles. Consider starting your own blog or website. You can’t get negative information off the Internet, but you can drown it out with positive notes. If you’re struggling with ways to push certain items off page one on Google, check out the website for assistance.

Hiring companies are likely to see your resume before they see you, so make it count. Unless you’re 100 percent sure you can craft a perfect resume, get it done professionally. Save money by using a freelancer instead of a professional service — just be sure to ask for samples and check references.

Even with the above tactics in your arsenal, if your resume isn’t top-notch, you’re going to have a hard time getting your foot in the door.

What ways can you think of to make yourself stand out from the competition?

John Mosier writes about tips for finding the right job, interviewing, and advancing in your career.

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What the Heck Is an Accounting Ninja? How to Decode Deceptive Job Titles Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When scouring job boards, learn how to read between the lines to figure out exactly what employers want -- and how to better position yourself as their ideal candidate.

The post What the Heck Is an Accounting Ninja? How to Decode Deceptive Job Titles appeared first on Brazen Life.

Accounting ninja. Conversation architect. Social media unicorn.

What in the world are employers thinking with these job titles?

The reality is that employers are getting more creative with their hiring processes. Whether it’s asking job seekers to jump through hoops during the application process or simply listing an opening with an outrageous title, understanding what employers want can be challenging.

During your job search, you’ll probably find it difficult to uncover the different meanings behind inconsistent job titles. When you’re comparing similar job descriptions, job titles can be misleading because companies use completely different language to describe similar functions.

As you look for jobs, follow these tips to help decipher job titles and find more opportunities in your field. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Research your industry for trending job titles

A great way to learn about evolving job opportunities in your field is to do a little research. Scour job boards to find out what positions employers are hiring for and the qualifications they desire for those positions.

You can also read about the trends in your industry and what types of jobs are available. Depending on your field, rapid advancements in technology or communication may be influencing an evolution in job titles. By learning these industry trends, you’ll be able to read between the lines in job ads and better understand what employers want.

Take advantage of LinkedIn to research trending job titles. This is a great tactic to find out how a wide range of companies are recruiting employees. Plus, you’ll discover the most up-to-date job titles and determine whether or not you’re a good match for the organization.

2. Network with professionals who have the jobs you want

Search Twitter and LinkedIn for professionals who have the job titles you’ve encountered during your search. You can also find professionals with interesting job titles by reading company “about” pages and professional blogs. These resources will connect you with names of professionals who have experience working in your field.

After you have a list of names, begin reaching out to these people on social media and via email. Don’t hesitate to ask these professionals questions or even set up informational interviews. Connecting with these people will give you more insight about their profession and teach you more about unique job titles.

3. Determine which job titles suit your skills and experience

Once you’ve compiled a list of jobs and employers, conduct a skills comparison to see where you fall within different job postings. Hopefully, you’ll discover you’re a good fit for most of the positions regardless of how crazy or unique the job title. This comparison will give you a better idea of how to apply for jobs and market yourself for these positions.

Finally, when it comes time to apply for a job, use the right keywords in your application. Your resume and cover letter should reflect keywords that align your skills with the job description.

Deciphering job titles can be frustrating, but once you know what you’re looking for, your job search will become much easier. Whether you’re looking for a completely different job or something similar to your current one, understanding the meaning behind different job titles will give you more power during your job search.

What crazy job titles have you encountered in your job search? Do you have any tips for deconstructing job titles?

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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Smart Hiring for Your Small Business: 7 Ways to Find the Right People Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Hiring someone new for your small business? Use these strategies to find -- and hire -- the best person for the position.

The post Smart Hiring for Your Small Business: 7 Ways to Find the Right People appeared first on Brazen Life.

Finding and hiring the right people is easier said than done, but it’s an important part of owning a small business. Training and processing new employees is expensive, so managing turnover and improving employee retention is an excellent way to keep tabs on your bottom line.

Here are seven strategies you can employ to make better hiring decisions. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Perform background checks

If you’re not already conducting background checks, it’s time to start. They’re not that expensive — you can have a basic check performed for about $25, and they provide a quick glimpse of a candidate’s acceptability.

You need trustworthy employees, and background checks can weed out candidates with a shady past.

2. Look for flexible applicants

Hiring at a small business is different from adding team members in a corporate environment. If you have a handful of employees, you need flexible folks who possess entrepreneurial spirit. Your IT guy may need to help out with marketing, or your writers may need to edit too.

The candidates you consider should be able to think on their feet and willing to pitch in when their help is needed.

3. Ask for employee referrals

If you already have a few high performers on staff, they might have friends or acquaintances who would be a good fit for your company. Try instituting an employee referral program to encourage referrals of quality candidates — even a $250 payout is easily recouped if the new hire ends up being a good, long-term fit for your organization.

4. Write better job descriptions

Weed out undesirables by writing thorough job descriptions. Descriptions should be succinct, spelling out organizational culture, job responsibilities and all other expectations. Be clear about what you need, especially if you need employees with specific skills, certifications or backgrounds.

5. Offer excellent compensation packages

If you have the ability to offer new hires more pay, do so when warranted. The phrase “You get what you pay for” applies when it comes to employees. If you can’t offer a substantial salary, look for ways to sweeten the pot without affecting your bottom line. Telecommuting and unlimited vacation time are options, as long as your new hire is mature enough to handle it.

6. Go with your intuition

Even if you have a candidate with a stellar resume, glowing references and a perfect skill set, if something feels off about them, don’t ignore it. Your gut feeling might be spot on. There are so many facets to hiring the right person you might not always be aware of the information and subtle cues you receive about them.

Always make your personal feelings part of the final decision-making process.

7. Get input from your team

How your team will interact with a new hire may be vital to how well that person will work out. You could ask existing staff for their opinions based on a look at their resume or walk around the office, for example. Or you could involve existing staff in interviews.

Another possibility is to incorporate a Day in the Life program into your interview process. This is where potential candidates come in and spend a few hours working side by side with your staff. This may not be appropriate for all business types, but it can be a good trial run before committing to hire.

After landing stellar employees, learn how to retain them. Formalize your performance review system and communicate with your team often through praise and counsel. Finally, look for ways you can become a better leader. Hiring the right people is important, but so is making sure they stay committed to your company.

How have you landed your best employees?

Joe Howard is a small business owner who is always looking for new ways to optimize process and increase productivity.  He writes about finance, entrepreneurship and career development.

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4 Insanely Flexible Jobs That Will Help You Escape Corporate America Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 If you’re looking for a way out of your corporate job -- but still want to make decent money -- check out these jobs you can do from almost anywhere.

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You‘ve probably heard plenty about lifestyle businesses lately. It’s the new world of entrepreneurship: Sitting on a beach somewhere taking client calls from all over the world. As much as you would love to find yourself in that position, you may still be hesitant to dive headfirst into entrepreneurship. After all, there is still a lot of self-directed business going on in this scenario.

Perhaps you’re not interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but still want a more flexible lifestyle than a 9-to-5 gig permits. For the Millennial generation, in which entrepreneurship is increasingly becoming the norm, it’s almost taboo to admit that you have no interest in running your own business.

So where can these workers stuck in the no-man’s-land between traditional work lives and lifestyle businesses find career solace?

Lifestyle careers.

A lifestyle career combines the stability that comes from working for someone else with the freedom that comes from being able to travel or set your own schedule.

These options are ideal for corporate workers looking to transition into a more flexible work schedule while still providing for themselves financially. You may enjoy the taste of freedom so much that you transition into a full lifestyle business!

1. Tutor

Parents worldwide look for an excellent education for their children. Tutoring can be done in an entrepreneurial fashion by placing advertisements around the neighborhood, reaching out to parents individually or posting in forums online.

If you’re looking for more direction (and an escape from handling all marketing and client acquisition yourself), there are plenty of brick-and-mortar and onlinetutoringservices eagerly looking for new tutors. Some companies begin as low as $10/hour, while more senior tutors may make over $100/hour! Generally, these companies allow you to set your own working hours and holidays, allowing you to work around your own schedule — not theirs.

Depending on your education, expertise, location and availability, you can command a non-trivial annual salary from tutoring online or face-to-face.

2. Nanny or Au Pair

Do you like kids, teaching and traveling the world?

Au pairs are foreigners brought to another country to take care of children and introduce them to another culture (and maybe language) in the process. Generally, host families provide their au pair with living quarters within their homes and provide a stipend.

To ensure your safety, as well as that of the family, turn to an established service that connects qualified caretakers with suitable families.

If international travel isn’t your bag, there are still plenty of companies who match nannies with families within the same country. Some families even provide housing for their live-in nannies.

3. Pet sitting and dog walking

Are you an animal lover? Do you enjoy being outside?

Most cities have more pets than sitters, allowing you to charge a premium for a 30-minute walk in the park — literally. Much like tutoring, you can find your own clients in your neighborhood or work with a company that will handle marketing and potentially even insurance.

Many pet parents will hire someone who will actually spend the night when they are on vacation, essentially paying you to sleep! If you’re willing to work over holidays, you can also command a higher sitting fee.

4. Teach English abroad

If you’re a native English speaker, you probably qualify to teach English overseas. Many foreign countries hire foreigners to teach children English. Generally, you do not need to speak the language of the company you are going to (although it could only help.)

While at first glance the pay may seem lackluster compared to the other jobs on this list, you can find a teaching job in a country with a low cost of living. This often overlooked fact will allow you to put more money into savings and potentially enjoy luxuries you would not normally be able to afford in your home country.

All these jobs allow you the flexibility that comes with a lifestyle business without as much of the marketing, bookkeeping and other entrepreneurial tasks that consume business owners’ day-to-day work. If you’re looking for an out from the corporate world and are not totally convinced that entrepreneurship is the right path for you, one of these jobs may be a great fit.

What other jobs make for great lifestyle careers?

Mallie Rydzik is a lifestyle and career design coach for Millennials. She created The Off-Road Millennial blog and podcast to inspire others to chart their own career paths. Follow her on Twitter at @MetNightOwl.

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A Risk-Free Way to Start a Side Hustle (While Still at Your Full-Time Job) Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you want to start your own business, but aren’t ready to jump in feet first, that’s OK. You don’t need to when you start a side hustle with this tactic.

The post A Risk-Free Way to Start a Side Hustle (While Still at Your Full-Time Job) appeared first on Brazen Life.

Some dream of becoming self-employed. Some are brave enough to jump in feet first. But others need to wade into the deep end one step at a time.

For those who want to try running a business without substantial risk, use free or cheap resources to design a micro business that’s both profitable and professional. Then slowly grow your business into the real deal.

Create a digital product

Side hustles need a great product or service. It’s the most essential aspect of your part-time business. But it has to be something people want or need.

You can create an e-book, PDF, app, game or video. Don’t skimp on the quality. And you don’t have to invest a lot of money to make a high quality product. Use the following resources for help:

Set up shop

Having a website to sell your products is essential, but you don’t need to spend a large amount of time or money to have your own site.

With a little technical knowledge you can use WordPress. Or you could use one of the drag and drop website builders like Wix. You’ll need the e-commerce plan at $19.90 plus the PayPal transaction costs to sell your work.

Alternatively, you can use an e-commerce solution like Selz. It’s free to set up, and you only pay a small fee per sale. It’s designed for non-technical entrepreneurs. Selz is easy to use, has a great streamline checkout, and can be used to sell securely from almost any website.

Build an email list

An email list a great way to stay connected to your new customers. You can send them a monthly newsletter, upcoming sales or announce a new product.

Mailchimp has a free option that lets you build an email list up to 2,000 subscribers. It has great tutorials, and templates to help you get started. Plus, if you choose Selz for your e-commerce platform, you can integrate your Mailchimp account into your Selz store.

Focus on guerrilla marketing strategies

Guerrilla marketing uses low-cost and sometimes unconventional means to market your product. Marketing can be expensive and the outcome is always uncertain. Try a few different methods and tactics before you make a substantial investment in marketing your digital product.

Create a strategy with these resources:

Keep the risk low, but not your expectations

You don’t need to risk your life savings to start a profitable side hustle. (Click here to tweet this quote.) It’ll take a lot of work, sure. But running a business is challenging, regardless of its size.

If you start small, you can test your digital product to see if it’s a winner. You can get input from your customers and make adjustments if needed. You can get all the kinks out without taking a huge risk.

If you’ve got a great idea for a side hustle, you don’t need to wait for the perfect moment. If you’re willing to invest your time, you don’t need to invest a lot of money.

Liesha Petrovich is the creator of Micro Business Essentials, a unique business blog exclusively for micro business owners.  If you’re looking for fast, affordable, and effective tips to help your business grow, click here to grab a copy of Micro Business Essentials Toolkit: Free and Low Cost Resources.

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Care About Company Culture? Work for One of These 25 Employers Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:00:58 +0000 Is company culture one of your top priorities? Glassdoor has a list of employers you might want to consider.

The post Care About Company Culture? Work for One of These 25 Employers appeared first on Brazen Life.

So you’re looking for a job, right? But you don’t just want any old job. Your dream job needs to pay well, have great perks, and embrace a company culture you can identify with. Essentially, you’d like to be happy in your job and you don’t think that’s too much to ask.

According to a newly released Glassdoor report detailing the top 25 companies for culture and values in the U.S., the majority of those looking for work feel the same way. It turns out that company culture is the second most important factor to job seekers — aside from salary, which is secure at number one — when researching employers.

Also among the other top five factors soon-to-be employees deem important are a company’s values, career opportunities within the company and location. “When we look at the reviews of these companies […], we see a few themes come through,” notes Will Staney, head talent warrior at Glassdoor. “Company culture is often described as supportive, motivational, team-oriented and fun. Another theme is that culture is the result of great values. We see reviews indicating these companies follow a set of values or mission statement and generally do the right thing.”

Top-ranking companies for culture and values

So which companies ranked the highest for their company culture and values?

The top five include Twitter, Edelman, Google, Riverbed Technology and Facebook. Not surprisingly, 11 of the 25 companies on the list hail from the tech industry, which is known for paying close attention to company culture and placing value in retaining talented employees.

“At tech companies, employers foster company culture by offering company-sponsored events or team bonding experiences, allowing for different physical accommodations to get work done and by promoting a relaxed environment,” says Staney. “Beyond culture, many tech employees feel they’re contributing to a greater good by working on products that impact millions of people around the world. This industry started the culture trend and now we’re seeing it spread to other industries.”

The report looked at companies through the eyes of employees and much of the qualitative feedback centers around how being a part of the company makes them feel. According to one Twitter account executive, there is an “open dialogue and [the company] cares about employees, which speaks to following through on their internal values.” At PR giant Edelman, a senior vice president notes, “Through the actions of middle to senior management, you are truly made to feel valued and appreciated. Opportunities are everywhere and the culture is laid back and fun.”

How to find an employer with awesome culture

If you’re in the midst of a job hunt, you might be wondering how to best get a handle on a company’s culture and values during the discovery and interview process. According to Staney, your best bet is to start with good old-fashioned research. “Read company reviews and ratings to find out what others think of the culture and values,” Staney explains. “Beyond this, don’t be afraid to ask the question during your interview. Companies are looking to find candidates that fit within their culture and values, and as a candidate, you’re likely looking for the same […]. Questions show you’re looking for a company that fits you well, that you plan to stay at for a while.”

Here’s the full list of companies that ranked in the report:

Top-ranked companies for culture, from Glassdoor

Is company culture important to you? How do you work to improve the company culture at your company?

Jennifer E. Snyder is a freelance writer, editor and podcast host based in Northern California. She shares stories of creative entrepreneurship, wellness, life’s adventures and everything in between. When she’s not working, she can be found giving in to her insatiable urge to travel and explore the world as much as possible.

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How One Company is Using Its Employee Handbook as a Recruiting Tool Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 This company’s employee handbook is so good that it’s even been touted as a recruiting tool. Read on to see what sets it apart.

The post How One Company is Using Its Employee Handbook as a Recruiting Tool appeared first on Brazen Life.

Most employee handbooks are boring. They either end up as door-stops or get tossed into a filing cabinet, never to be seen or thought of again.

But for investment firm The Motley Fool, the employee handbook is something entirely different. And because they’ve made it public, some are even calling it a recruiting tool — after all, recruiting is much simpler when everyone already wants to work at your company!

So what makes it special?

Aptly named The Fool Rules, this handbook is a manifestation of a supercharged company culture. After reading it, you won’t be surprised to find out that The Motley Fool has won many “best place to work” awards, including a #1 ranking from

What you can learn from the Fool

Even if your company’s policy or culture isn’t as unique, you can still take lessons from how the handbook is written. First off, it’s an interactive online guide full of videos and photos. (No more boring manuals!) It’s also written in a conversational tone that is easy to digest and understand. Finally, it includes important information about what an employee can expect from the company.

Here are three key components every good handbook should include, with examples from The Motley Fool handbook :

Your company identity

What is special about your company? What traits represent you?

The Fool “take[s] special pride in calling ourselves ‘Foolish’ – with a capital F. Harkening back to Shakespeare, it is our calling card to be irreverent, to instruct and amuse, and to speak the truth. So our Core Values can be summarized simply as ‘Be Foolish.’”

Your company values

What kind of employees are you looking for? How will you treat them?

From The Fool Rules: “We want and expect Fools to think for themselves, so we’re not big on micromanaging. We hope to provide you lots of leadership and very little management… You are an amazing adult and we trust you to carve your own path, set your own priorities, and ask for help when you need it.”

Your unique perks and bonuses

Job-seekers today are looking for those extras that set a company apart. What can you offer your employees?

Like this: “The Fool’s vacation policy is pretty straightforward: Take what you need.” In addition, The Motley Fool boasts on-site speakers, meditation classes, an April Fool’s Day celebration, an annual Foolapalooza (company retreat), Fool’s Gold points that can be redeemed for prizes, and presents on your annual Fooliversary (day you started working there).

Not only does The Motley Fool offer a positive work environment and quirky company culture — they’ve illustrated it in an innovative handbook for the whole world to see. Now that is a smart recruiting move. And one your company can also adopt!

What do you think about this handbook? Would you ever consider creating something like it for your company?

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

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Quitting Your Job? 5 Ways to Make Your Boss Beg You to Stay Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 After quitting your job, you still might want to come back if the grass doesn’t turn out to be greener on the other side.

The post Quitting Your Job? 5 Ways to Make Your Boss Beg You to Stay appeared first on Brazen Life.

You finally decided to take the plunge and interview elsewhere. You got the offer and you kind of want to try out the new gig, but you’re not sure you want to commit. The grass might be greener… but then again it might not.

You feel like it’s time to move on, but at the same time you wonder what you’ll do if it doesn’t work out. So what can you do to put a safety net in place for when you move on?

Follow these five tips when you quit to find yourself on the business end of an open invitation to come back to your old job: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Jump into a pool with your coworkers

The more quality personal relationships you have with your colleagues, the more receptive your employer will be to inviting you back if things don’t work out with your new job.

Not sure how to get “in” with your coworkers without awkwardly inviting yourself to eat lunch with them? Try gambling. Fantasy football and NCAA squares pools for March Madness work best, but you can make bets on anything. The key is to run a pool where you send out weekly updates.

More contact yields stronger relationships that can help keep the “come back home” option open.

2. Give more notice than necessary

Warning: if you haven’t bonded with some of your coworkers, you may want to tread softly on this one. The rule of thumb is to give two weeks notice when you’re ready to move on, but in the two jobs I’ve left, I’ve given more than four weeks notice in each case.

Why? Because I didn’t want to screw over people I had personal relationships with. That sense of loyalty — the pull of wanting to change jobs but not leave the people behind — only exists when personal relationships are in place.

3. Bust your hump until the last day

Do whatever you need to do to resist coasting once you give notice. In fact, you should work harder after you give notice than you have any other time up to that point. Your legacy will only be as good as your last impression.

If the last thing people remember seeing you do is kicking your feet up while spilling crumbs from your farewell cake down the front of your shirt, the door for you to come back will close faster than you can get to the curb.

4. Leave for something your company can’t offer

At least that’s what you should tell them. If your company can’t match what you’re leaving for, it makes the breakup much more bearable for your employer.

Your boss can’t argue with a hefty pay bump, a huge increase in responsibilities or an opportunity to move to a new city. You defuse the chance of your boss viewing you as a turncoat and maintain a clear path for your return if you need it. The strategy of pursuing a new job that offers something your employer can’t provide applies to ALL careers — even when you’re an NBA superstar like Lebron James.

5. Stay in touch after you leave

Of course you’ll do all the usual stuff like sending your personal email and connecting on LinkedIn. But you need to raise the bar to stay connected with people once you leave.

Remember the morale-boosting gambling pools I talked about? You can still stay on the team after you leave your company. Staying involved and trash-talking from afar provides an opportunity to be on top of mind for everyone involved.

You’ll also want to send holiday cards to stay in touch with people. Just as some people swear by handwritten thank you notes, a handwritten card shows you value your relationship enough to put your former colleagues on your short list (even if the list isn’t that short.) They’ll feel special that they are one of the few people you go out of your way to write a note to every year. If you receive holiday cards in return, you’ve played your hand well.

If you can successfully execute all five of these strategies, you should have no problem hearing those magical words “give me a call if it doesn’t work out.” How’s that for job security?

Eric Butts is a Management Consultant 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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How Hustling Like Beyoncé Can Make You a Better Entrepreneur Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Beyoncé didn’t rise to the top overnight. Just like any entrepreneur, she had to work for it. You can learn from her journey, no matter what your business.

The post How Hustling Like Beyoncé Can Make You a Better Entrepreneur appeared first on Brazen Life.

You may not immediately think of the queen “B” when you’re seeking a business role model, but maybe you should.

We’ve watched this global icon rise from a girl band to become her own established brand. Through relationship networking, co-sponsorships, powerful storytelling and audience reach, Bey has positioned herself to be an enterprise to follow.

Here are few things you could learn about entrepreneurship, straight from Beyoncé’s playbook. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. She believes she will succeed

According to Entrepreneur, there are seven key traits to successful entrepreneurism. Tenacity tops the list.

Though she’s become an iconic part of the music industry, Beyoncé’s journey to the top was not without its demands on her or her family, who are famously involved in her career. In a 2011 interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, she shared how her upbringing has helped keep her eye on the proverbial prize: “I grew up with a family that was successful, but not born successful. I believe with hard work and with a goal and love and positivity, then eventually we’re going to be fine.”

2. She faked it until she made it

One study on personality profiles of entrepreneurs revealed the presence of extroversion is the true indicator of a business owner’s desire “to engage in a range of entrepreneurial activities.” Those entrepreneurial activities include starting a new businesses and being innovative about bringing new ways of doing things into the world.

Like Beyoncé, who has admitted to being introverted outside of the media spotlight, you can embrace the aspects of your personality that suit entrepreneurism — while faking the rest until you feel more comfortable in your entrepreneurial skin.

Knowing she had to continue to present the ladylike image that was a key aspect of her early marketability, according to the Washington Post, Beyoncé channeled her alter ego “Sasha Fierce” to experiment with the more sexually charged music and ideas fans did not yet know her for. Once she knew she no longer needed to play that role and could instead embrace both parts of her personality in front of fans, she reportedly put the alter ego to rest.

3. She has a brand vision

Whether you want to call it a mission statement or elevator pitch, every entrepreneur needs a guiding purpose behind his or her endeavor that is so clear, it can be summed up in just a few words.

Regardless of whether she’s Beyoncé the mom, Beyoncé the collaborator, Beyoncé the wife or Beyoncé the entertainer, she knows her message. “I definitely feel that it is my job to empower women,” Knowles told Morgan in the CNN interview.

4. She takes time to appreciate her success

Soon before she announced that she was pregnant, Knowles made a conscious decision to slow down for the basic pleasures of life, like picking her nephew up from school. “I learned the importance of taking time for myself; I was moving around so much that I had no idea that I really have 16 Grammys. I got up and accepted my awards, but I didn’t realize what an amazing accomplishment that was,” said Knowles in the Morgan interview.

5. She controls her public image

She may be married to hip hop mogul Jay-Z, but little is known about Beyoncé’s personal life beyond what the power pair chooses to divulge.  Similarly, every interaction, decision and communication associated with your brand should positively reflect on who you are as a businessperson.

“Jay and I have kind of made a decision that we want to be known for our music and not our relationships or scandals,” Knowles told Morgan.

6. She takes risks

Beyoncé entered the spotlight as the lead singer of the pop group Destiny’s Child, but by taking risks like playing the role of the iconic songstress and heroin addict Etta James in the movie “Cadillac Records,” Knowles learned she had passions beyond music that were worth exploring.

“It made me a lot braver, and to have the freedom to kind of let go of all ego and not care about what I look like or fitting into a pop star box. It was really liberating to me,” said Knowles in the Morgan interview.

Though being an entrepreneur can feel like a solo endeavor, emulating the “best practices” of other like-minded business owners — even those in industries far removed from your own — can help you navigate the uncertainty with more confidence.

By taking a cue from Beyoncé, an entrepreneur who has become a household name despite being in the mainstream spotlight for less than two decades, you may learn some new ways to be a better business owner.

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a leading payment gateway provider for small businesses. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.

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Under-Qualified for Your Dream Job? Here’s How to Get Hired Anyway Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Someone who is more qualified than you will always be out there. When you’re applying to jobs, try these tactics to stand out no matter how inexperienced you are.

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“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” — Abraham Lincoln

If all you did was submit your cover letter and resume, you’re screwed.

Why? Because someone out there speaks one more language, has a one point higher GPA or has one more year of experience. I don’t care how qualified you are. This is the wrong game to play. Let’s be honest: There are a lot of qualified people out there.

Of course, credentials can sometimes be necessary. If you want to be a doctor, you’ll need to go to medical school first. But as a rule of thumb, you should never lead with your experience.

This is especially true if you’re a young professional. For millennials new to the workforce, credentials take time. Fortunately, fit is often much more important than experience. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

If you want to stand out from all the noise, take these three steps:

1. Give up on submitting applications cold

Job listings are red herrings. Most large companies use computer algorithms to do keyword searches on your resume. This means you’re just about as likely to get a job from applying online as you are to win the lottery.

Instead, go to LinkedIn to figure out how you’re connected to the type of companies you want to work for. Then, form a relationship with an actual person who works there (ideally in person or over the phone).

You’re more likely to get a job if you know someone at the company, especially if they submit your resume and recommend you to the hiring manager.

Besides, most jobs never get listed. They are here one day and gone the next. Networking can help you get wind of of these opportunities before they are filled.

2. Dig up some dirt

Sure, you can browse the company’s website. But don’t stop there. Everyone else already does that. Instead, dive deeper to figure out what that company’s biggest frustrations or opportunities are right now.

Reach out to your company contact or anyone else in the same industry and find out what they’re obsessing about on a daily basis. Use what you find to customize your resume. The key here is to figure out what this company would write a blank check for.

And it’s not just about your ability to solve business problems. Cultural fit is important, too. Learn what types of people this company wants around.

If you don’t care about the answer enough to ask this question, it probably isn’t the right job for you. Don’t even bother interviewing.

Of course, the best way to learn about a place is to work there first. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Act as though you’re already hired

The final step is to position yourself as the best possible solution to their problems. Remember, this isn’t about you. Don’t spend the whole interview talking about what makes you great.

Most career counselors will tell you to talk about yourself first and ask questions at the end. This is a stupid strategy. The person who gets the job isn’t always the best option on paper; it’s the person who feels right.

If the interviewer asks you a direct question, set yourself apart in your response. Then ask a question. Ask first, and talk about yourself later.

In your thank you email, try sending the person a few links related to their challenges and include a summary of each. Or put them in touch with someone you know who might be able to help. If they need a new logo designed for one of their projects, literally draft a new logo for them — or put them in touch with someone who can.

The idea is to start working for them now so you can keep your foot in the door. Don’t start negotiating until you’ve demonstrated your value. Once they want you badly enough, it will be much easier to craft the specifics of your offer (e.g. salary, flexibility, benefits.)

Reframe your job hunt

If you keep doing what everyone else is doing, you’ll get the same results. So be different. Make connections, figure out what the company actually needs and start providing value right away.

As a millennial, you know there is more opportunity — and more competition — than ever. The world is open to you, but only if you hustle. It’s time to start taking smart, consistent action.

What will you do to stand out?

Greg Faxon is a personal coach who helps people live deliberately so that they can get more out of life and business. Grab his free True North Toolkit and start walking a path that matters today.

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5 Awesome Smartphone Apps Every Young Professional Should Use Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Tend to use your smartphone for Words With Friends and Facebook messages? Here’s how you can use it to strengthen your career

The post 5 Awesome Smartphone Apps Every Young Professional Should Use appeared first on Brazen Life.

Glued to your smartphone? Whether you’re walking down the street, on the train or sitting in the carpool on the way home, you (and everyone around you) are probably heads down, checking the latest activity on your social networks, catching up on news or texting loved ones.

The average American has approximately 32 apps on their smartphone. While the last thing you may want to do is download another app, consider just a few more to boost your productivity, stay organized, and reduce stress — so you can focus on that game of Words With Friends without worrying about what you need to do tomorrow at the office. (Click here to tweet this list.)


Tired of taking disorganized notes via the default note taking app on your smartphone? Evernote has emerged as one of the most popular programs for entrepreneurs and entry-level admins alike to organize their thoughts. The app, which is available for desktop and mobile devices, allow you to create notebooks in which to organize notes, which can be manually entered text, clipped data from elsewhere, pictures, and more.

You can even tag each note in Evernote to cross-reference notes across notebooks, so if you wanted, for example, to reference certain people, you could find all the notes about your boss — which may be scattered across different notebooks or projects — with just a few clicks. The cross-device syncing makes finding and adding notes a breeze, especially when you need to switch devices on the fly.

Everyone has their own method of managing daily tasks, whether through a multitude of Post-It notes next to your computer or an ever-growingGoogle doc. Some companies work with group-based task managers such as Basecamp and Asana, but if you’re looking for an easy to manage your daily tasks, look no further than the free This app, which also syncs between desktop and mobile devices, is clean and simple, and it allows you to easily add and complete tasks with reminders based on location, time of day and urgency.

If you use Chrome, you can also add an extension to manage your tasks right within your browser — a great feature for those who live and breathe within the scope of the Internet during the day.


Speaking of using the internet, it can be easy to get lost and lose track of all productivity when someone messages you on Facebook. If you just don’t know where the time goes, consider using RescueTime, which is available for desktops and Android smartphones, to track what exactly you do all day.

You may be surprised just how much time you spend on Facebook or trapped in email. Recognizing these bad habits is the first step to changing them, thereby helping to increase your productivity, get more done, and hopefully land that promotion you deserve.


We’ve all heard about LinkedIn, but you may not know just how powerful it can be on your phone. With the LinkedIn app, which just received a huge makeover to improve the user experience , your can easily find information about people you’re about to meet or Skype in just a quick minute.

With the LinkedIn app on your smartphone, you’ll have smarter meetings, as you’ll be able to access background information without spending several minutes on Google. For those looking for a job, the LinkedIn app can be crucial to establishing a personal connection with those who are interviewing you — something that could make or break a potential opportunity.


Finally, if you are, in fact, looking for a job, you’ll want to be sure you have Jobr installed on your smartphone. Billed as the “Tinder for job seekers,” this app syncs with your LinkedIn profile and curates from job boards. Jobr creates a profile based on your LinkedIn profile, and from there, you can swipe right or left on jobs the apps thinks you might be interested in. If you swipe right, your profile will be sent to a recruiter representing that job. It’s an easy way to quickly scan through open positions.

Though it functions similarly as Tinder, job seekers should not take it as lightly; looking for a job is a serious process, and you should be cautious about what info you put into your profile,  as well as what messages you send via this app. However, it does break down the often complicated process of applying for a job and could be an easy way to connect with companies you’re interested in working for.

What other smartphone apps would you list as must-haves for young professionals?

Kelly Clay is a freelance writer based in Seattle. She can be found on Twitter at @kellyhclay, on her personal blog at, and usually with a cup of coffee in hand.

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Networking Events in Boston: 8 Fun Ways to Widen Your Professional Circle Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Boston’s a new hip hub for tech, but offers networking opportunities for a variety of professions and interests.

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Boston’s gaining a reputation for being the “new” Silicon Valley, and with 60 colleges and universities within a stone’s throw of Copley Square, the city is ripe for networking with smart professionals.

Whether you’re into tech, social justice, or helping a favorite cause in your free time, there’s a networking option for you. Get your business cards ready for events with these eight groups. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Boston Networking Club

Polish your power suit and your elevator pitch before heading to one of Boston Networking Club’s monthly soirees. Events are hosted in upscale venues packed with up to 300 20-to-40-somethings, but members also get the chance to connect through a dedicated LinkedIn group.

2. Boston New Technology

This nonprofit hosts monthly product showcases where attendees can get up-close and personal with a selection of local startups. But it’s not just for investors — tech enthusiasts and wannabe developers are welcome as much as entrepreneurs. Be sure to come hungry. Not only are these monthly events free, but dinner’s on the house, too!

3. Wonder Women of Boston

The Wonder Women do it all: bi-annual networking events, guest speakers on art and culture, and monthly coffee shop meetups. Those monthly meetups, called Sip+Shares, have a rotating host, varying locations, and are limited to just eight women — a real chance to get to know your neighbor. A sliding-scale membership ($20-$60 for individuals) offers early access to event registration, and students are welcome.

4. Boston Volunteers

Trade in your tie for a tool belt, or your briefcase for a textbook. Boston Volunteers offers a variety of opportunities like serving at a soup kitchen, helping at nonprofit events, or tutoring at-risk students. There’s no commitment; just pick an activity listed and lend a helping hand alongside fellow of local professionals. You’ll come away with a smile on your face — and maybe a few business cards in your pocket.

5. Boston Girl Geeks

“Drinking, cat eye glasses and throwing around css terms are not required, but are appreciated” in this group of tech- and science-savvy women. Monthly dinners feature guest speakers, interactive discussion, and plenty of cheer. You’ll leave with new contacts and a new confidence in letting your geek flag fly.

6. Socializing for Justice (SoJust)

This group puts the “social” back in “social justice.” Alongside professional development events, online forums, and job listings, the group also hosts family friendly social events. You never know what connections a day at the beach might reveal. Event registration costs less than $20, and some social gatherings will just cost you $2.

7. Young Women in Digital

From HR to PR to B2B marketing professionals, this group meetsbi-monthlyfor a mix of speed networking, professional development, and creative collaboration. Side hustlers are not only accepted, but also encouraged. With tickets under $20, you can take a break from burning the midnight oil to meet a few fabulous women.

8. Effortless Networking for Job Seekers

Looking for a job, or thinking about your next career move? This group will help you brush up on your networking and job search skills as you make connections with fellow motivated locals. Monthly events are designed to help you fine-tune your networking techniques by trying them out on a welcoming crowd.

Lisa Rowan is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C. A frequent visitor to Boston, her favorite way to network is over cannolis in the North End.

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Why You Should Stop Emailing – and Write a Letter Instead Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When most people are typing emails or sending evites, pick up a pen and paper to write something people will actually remember.

The post Why You Should Stop Emailing – and Write a Letter Instead appeared first on Brazen Life.

Effective communication is essential. Period. Whether it’s talking with coworkers in the break room, calling an out-of-state relative or even receiving a touching email from a forgotten friend, the need to convey emotion and information is fundamental to the way we interact. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Yet in our ever-connected world, brusque emails, limited tweets and terse phone calls have become the highways we use to communicate with others. One of the most important and meaningful means of correspondence, however, has taken a lowly priority: the handwritten letter.

A handwritten letter sets you apart from everyone else

Taking the time to send a handwritten letter after an interview or to a CEO you admire might be a more effective tool for landing a job than scouring LinkedIn or a college job board. Why? The art of the letter is a fading practice and it will help you stand out from the crowd – immediately.

The next wave of job-hunters who just graduated from college has probably seen more evites than Hallmark cards. And that’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for harnessing the power of technology. But think of the impact a letter could have in a world where the youngest generation in the workforce has had little to no experience writing them.

Think about the letters you’ve received in the past. Remember those that affected you so profoundly you still keep them today?

Have the same kind of profound impact on someone else — pen a letter

Despite knowing the impact these letters have on people, we don’t send them nearly as much as we should. Laziness, lack of time and bad handwriting are all reasons we don’t. But in reality, we don’t send as many letters because we’ve forgotten about the power of the handwritten word.

Our society’s instant communication has transformed the way we interact and lessened the impact of the messages we want to convey. Here are a few reasons why we need to unplug and start writing – on a real piece of paper:

It’s a novelty

If you type up a note and email it to a CEO, chances are it’s going to find its way into his inbox alongside the hundreds of other emails he gets every day. If the subject line doesn’t grab him, your note will most likely move down the list into digital oblivion.

When looking for a job, letters and email can work hand-in-hand. The speed of sending email lends itself to a quick “thank you” immediately after an interview. A handwritten letter, which will take some time to get there, is a thoughtful follow-up that’ll keep you fresh on someone’s mind.

It’s tangible

You can hold a postcard in your hand. You can pin it to your wall and reflect on it. It’s more permanent than a phone call and more personal than clicking a Like button or thumb-typing a text message. Postcards, journals and letters are reminders of places we’ve been, memories we’ve made and relationships we’ve built.

Ever gone through old boxes and found birthday cards from years ago or letters you wrote your parents from summer camp in grade school? Those are possessions that can’t be taken away if your computer crashes.

To a potential employer or mentor, a letter is a physical reminder of your interest in them or their company. To you, a letter can be a reminder of where you’ve been in your career and where you want to go.

It forces you to consider and reconsider what you want to say

There’s no cut-and-paste or spellcheck. Writing by hand forces you to be precise – and personal – as you balance what you want to say with how much physical space you have to say it.

In some industries, being able to craft a well-written thank you note is a prerequisite to landing a job. Some employers won’t hire candidates who don’t follow up with a handwritten note — others require their employees to make photocopies of the thank you notes they send to prospective clients to emphasize how important it is to conducting good business.

It takes time; instant communication has robbed us of our patience

A letter or postcard takes more time to write, more time to reach its destination and more time to hear back from the recipient. Writing a letter is a good way to stay on someone’s mind over a long period of time.

Having time to unplug and reflect on your experiences by writing about them not only conveys a high level of interest to the person receiving the letter, but it also carves out time for you to think thoughtfully about the next phase of your life and career.

In an age where handwritten letters are almost obsolete, your colleagues, friends, family and business connections will relish the feeling of receiving a personalized letter. Nothing says care, concern, congratulations or contentedness like a letter, and that is something you can write home about.

Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and serves as the entrepreneur organization’s global membership director. Visit his blog at for more business and leadership insight.

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Work-Life Balance is a Myth — Here’s What You Need Instead Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you struggle to find balance between work and life, stop. You don’t need it. Here’s what you should do instead.

The post Work-Life Balance is a Myth — Here’s What You Need Instead appeared first on Brazen Life.

Everyone talks about the importance of work-life balance, but balance is precarious. Picture a see-saw. You spend 50 percent of your time on work and 50 percent enjoying your life. Lean back or lean in on the see-saw of work and life, and you’ll tip — there goes your perfectly balanced life.

Instead of trying to separate, then balance, your personal and professional lives, try a different approach. Toss out the idea of a black-and-white existence and blend the two.

Our work is an extension of who we are — more so than it’s been in the past. To be fulfilled in your career, look at your job and life, and figure out how the two can intersect. (Click here to tweet this idea.) Identify what makes you happy, what motivates you, what excites you. What gives you an extra bounce in your step?

When you find out what those are and a way to interject them into your professional life, you’ll find fulfillment to a higher degree. Your life will make sense for your work, and your work will make sense for your life.

Work becomes playful and you’ll find meaning when you play. Your friends become your colleagues and your colleagues your friends.

If you’re stumped about how to take action, here are a few things you can do to get you on your way to living in the grey:

1. Create opportunity

Think of two people in your life — from your personal or professional network — who should meet. Look for people with common interests or similar goals. Shoot a quick note to each explaining why they should meet. Introduce them and see what happens.

When you add value to the lives of people in your world, it comes back around.

2. Share your aspirations

Tell one of your friends or family members about a business article you’ve read or why you love a certain brand. Seek out their insight on the topic and engage them in conversation you might not have otherwise had. This is a great way to nurture your (healthy) obsessions. Name your aspirations and share them with the ones you love.

3. Make your colleagues your friends

Make a lunch date with the coworkers, freelancers, contractors, peers and mentors who help you build your business. Celebrate your collaborations by getting to know each other in a non-work way. Talk about hobbies, travel or pets. Anything that’ll help everyone get to know each other on a deeper level.

Just make sure there’s no work-talk.

Let us know what happens as you try these things. Share your results with us in the comments below.

Nidhi Thapar is the Editor + Community Manager for Live in the Grey. Join the Live in the Grey 10-day Risk Makes Life Remarkable challenge, get out of your comfort zone and be brazen!

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Could Doodling Make You More Productive? Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:00:46 +0000 Do all of your napkins and notebooks have doodles on them? If so, be proud: new research shows that doodling might actually help you focus.

The post Could Doodling Make You More Productive? appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you’re in meetings, do you ever receive dirty looks for doodling all over your notes? If so, it might be time to send out an office-wide memo.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reveals doodling may actually be good for you and your career. Citing sources in neuroscience, psychology and design, the article calls doodling a “thinking tool,” saying recent research has shown it can help you focus and grasp new ideas.

The benefits of doodling

If you’re a doodler yourself, your first-hand experience probably backs up the research.

The doodlers quoted in the article ranged from a teacher to a med student to a philosophy professor. They all said doodling during meetings and lectures helped them pay attention and unify their ideas.

And not only does doodling help you organize your thoughts, it might even help you remember them.

The WSJ reports:

“People who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people’s names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later, according to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology.”

Carrie Smith, the artistic entrepreneur behind Careful Cents, agrees:

“Since picking up my sketching and doodling again I notice that my productivity has greatly increased — I can actually recall stuff easier, too. I find myself doing it most when I’m on calls with clients and while taking notes of webinars, classes and etc. It helps me focus because I can make references to what I’m learning in a much more fun way versus just writing letters. I also find more creative ways to handle problems that arise because I’m thinking more outside the box.”

So the next time you find yourself doodling at the office, don’t feel bad — be confident about your unique way of processing information.

Do you doodle? Does it help you focus?

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

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Why Declining a Job Offer Could Be the Best Decision You Ever Make Thu, 14 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When you’re desperate to switch jobs, you might be ready to jump at any offer. Here’s why you should hold out for something better.

The post Why Declining a Job Offer Could Be the Best Decision You Ever Make appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you’ve been job hunting for ages, you may be tempted to accept the first offer you get — even if you sense it’s probably a bad fit. In a tough economy, you may feel lucky to have even been offered a position. But sometimes, it’s better to just say no.

Granted, if you’ve been living off your credit cards for awhile and you’re about to be evicted, you can’t be picky about where your next paycheck comes from.

But if you want to make the next big step in your career, you can stand to be a bit more selective. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Go into each interview with an evaluative eye, and value yourself enough to turn down the wrong job.

Look out for these eight warning signs. If you notice several of these red flags throughout the interview process, think twice about accepting that job offer.

1. The hiring manager doesn’t respect your time

You arrived early, dressed the part and delivered smart, well thought-out answers to every question. But did your interviewer fare so well? Did they leave you waiting for 30 minutes? Did they constantly check their phone throughout the interview? Did they act as if they’d never seen your resume before?

It’s not a good sign when someone comes unprepared to an interview and fails to show you basic courtesy. If the hiring manager is late, unprepared and distracted, imagine what it’d be like to work with this person every day.

2. Everyone seems miserable

We all have our bad days, but a general feeling of misery hanging over the office should give you pause.

It’s OK to ask the interviewer what they like about working there; if they struggle to come up with a reason, it could mean that none exist. Encountering employees who seem unhappy, angry or bored is a red flag.

3. You’d be stepping backwards, not forwards

If you’re changing careers, you may have to accept a pay cut as you build new experience and skills. But be careful about how big of a step back you’re willing to take.

For example, if you’ve worked as a managing editor for the last few years, you probably shouldn’t accept an editorial assistant position just because you’re desperate for a change of scenery. Unless it’s guaranteed you’ll move up the ranks quickly (and get that in writing), the step in the wrong direction will raise a red flag on your resume.

4. The company seems unstable

Do your due diligence to research the company, both online and by asking your network. You want to know if this organization recently laid off a big portion of their staff or is struggling financially.

Find out if this is a job you’re still likely to have six months down the road. And don’t be afraid to address these concerns in the interview.

5. The company has a bad reputation

Whether because of a scandal or poor business practices, if the company isn’t well-respected in your industry, you don’t want that scarlet letter on your resume. Could working here could hurt your career advancement down the road?

Again, milking your network for information and online research (Glassdoor is a great resource) can usually tell you a lot about how the company operates and perceptions past and present employees have.

6. The company’s morals don’t match your own

Respect your beliefs enough to turn down a job that goes against your morals. If you’re a staunch anti-smoking advocate, don’t take a job at an advertising agency whose main clients are cigarette companies. If you’re a Democrat, don’t take a job on a Republican’s campaign.

Working for a company that goes against your values will make every single work day difficult. You’ll also send mixed signals when you’re job searching down the road.

7. The recruiter seems dishonest

Maybe you discover that the job advertised is actually significantly different than the one you end up interviewing for. Or you’re offered a certain salary and benefits, then they change their mind at the last minute.

If the company seems like they’re trying to pull one over on you, do you really want to put your career in their hands?

8. The pay is simply too low

You should be willing to be flexible for a job you really want, but don’t undersell yourself or allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Know your worth — but be realistic about your prospects.

Get details about the full compensation and benefits package before accepting any job offer.

If you encounter any of these eight red flags as you’re interviewing for a job, think twice about the job offer on the table. Remember that you want your next job to be the right move for you professionally — not just another dead-end job you’ll want to leave in a few months. If a job isn’t the right fit for you, hold out and keep searching for something long-lasting.

Have you made the decision to turn down a job? What were the red flags for you?

Michelle Kruse is the Recruitment Editor and Content Manager for, a resume writing and editing service, where she manages a team of over 40 professional resume writers. Her prior experience includes 10+ years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development.

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MPA vs. MBA: How to Choose the Right Master’s Degree Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Can’t decide whether you should get an MPA or MBA? Before you make your final decision — and drop the cash — consider these factors first.

The post MPA vs. MBA: How to Choose the Right Master’s Degree appeared first on Brazen Life.

Stuck deciding between a Master in Public Administration (MPA) and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) is a hard place to be. Although it depends on what you want out of the degree, here are some factors that could help you make the choice to invest upwards of $120K and two years of your life in the hopes of a career-catapulting move. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Research the true return on your investment

It takes anywhere from three to six months to explore your options, take the GRE and finish applications. You pay to up your pedigree, and make no mistake: a university name is something you brand yourself with. It isn’t like the purchase of a car that may last 10 years. The college you choose will be your alma mater for life.

strong alumni network should be taken into consideration and can be an added value. Universities are seen as their own tribes — in becoming part of one, you’re instantly part of a network of thousands with similar goals, aspirations and outlooks on the world.

The first steps to deciding on an MPA or MBA

  • Check into colleges that specialize in your interests and desired networks.
  • Attend university info sessions and don’t limit yourself to area colleges. Many great programs are 100 percent online, and that may even — ideally — allow you to work full time while going to school to lessen your debt load.
  • Look for grants and scholarships. These are rarer for professional degrees, but if you can find a college that’ll pay your way, go with that.
  • Keep your eye on the bottom line. The ROI, whether it be salary or your empowerment to save the world. You don’t need a degree for either of those, but a master’s degree may increase your chances, especially with a career change.

Decide whether you’re mission driven, profit driven or both

Let’s simplify the process with some definitions and uses of these two professional degrees.

Investopedia defines an MPA as a professional “degree in public affairs that prepares recipients of the degree to serve in executive positions in municipal, state, federal levels of government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)” and an MBA as a “graduate degree [...] that provides theoretical and practical training to help graduates gain a better understanding of general business management functions.”

Both degrees focus in the management of organizations. But each has pros and cons that could influence your choice.

With MBAs, you’ll pay a prettier penny than an MPA. If you’re more motivated by profit and growth, and if you’re fascinated by the inner workings of economies, finance, operations and customer development of corporations, an MBA may be more in line with what you want.

If you want to step out into the world of entrepreneurship, but would like the formal business background, an MBA may be your best bet to becoming your own boss and creating your own company while minimizing risks. You even have options to customize your program with concentrations in the emerging social enterprise sector and entrepreneurship.

An MPA can be easily described as an MBA for nonprofit and government work. The curriculum tends to cover similar ground, but with a focus in the way these methods apply to the public service sector. This could pigeonhole you if you’d like to go corporate again, but the degrees offer so many of the same courses you can move between the two.

Your MPA may even be preferred in companies with big government contracts.  Folks who veer towards MPAs tend to have a stronger interest in politics and public policy — both in creating and executing it.

If you’re mission motivated and want to learn about the way local, state and the federal-level work and use that knowledge to contribute to making government work better, an MPA could be your ticket.

The emerging new economy

It’s important to highlight the emergence of the fourth sector when considering an MPA or an MBA. The new economy predicts that the nonprofit, government and business sectors will collaborate to tackle economic and social problems.

Either an MPA or an MBA can open your mind to these emerging models in the new economy and the doors will follow. You can even do a double masters and get the best of both worlds.

Jillian Jordan is a content developer and brand manager in higher education with a bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s in public administration. She’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, has completed a solo trip around the world, wants to crowdfund climate change — and doesn’t find that a lofty goal at all. Find her on Twitter: @Jillisin or @hubandspokecc

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5 Underestimated Mistakes That Will Seriously Hold You Back at Work Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Afraid to brush up on the basics? That could be the one thing setting you up for failure on the job.

The post 5 Underestimated Mistakes That Will Seriously Hold You Back at Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

You can be bad at something because you make errors, because you aren’t cut out for the task the way your employer needs you to be. Or maybe you’re simply not as good as your co-workers, who can also turn into your competition.

In short, if you’re slipping at work, there could be a few reasons: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Fear and failure to begin with the basics

Think you know it all? Don’t be too sure. We all are often guilty of assuming that we are already aware of the basics in our field, which then leads us to skip reading the instructions and reviewing the fundamentals.

Deep down we fear that revisiting the basics may reveal our weaknesses to the world. This marks the onset of problems. Publicly we remain deluded and misjudge our capabilities but then our work begins to suffer because of our lack of knowledge and escapism.

Start by focusing on the details and taking small steps, as this will increase your awareness, strengthen your foundation and improve your performance on the job. Knowing the basics also improves your chances of professional growth.

2. Rushing through the work without giving too much thought

What do you do when you are assigned a new task? Many professionals jump at it so that they can quickly get over with it. This may be one of the reasons why you are underperforming as you may not be taking enough time to understand what is required of you.

Don’t rush through just to get the work done — you’ll end up making the same mistakes and will eventually spend more time rectifying the errors.

Time management is obviously important for professionals but the key is to slow down and try not to finish everything in one day. You will then see an improvement in how you manage the tasks and get better results.

3. Lacking concentration and getting distracted

Studies show that there are several hours in a day that are whiled away because professionals are sidetracked. You too may be wasting precious time because you are not focused enough and also need to spend extra hours correcting the mistakes that you made due to your lack of concentration.

To boost your performance, focus clearly and practice what you are doing. Even top professionals in their respective fields don’t shy away from practice to achieve perfection.

4. Allowing frustrations to get the better of us

Frustration is likely to mess up your day in the office. Whatever work you try to do, your frustration will interfere with it because the anger will continue to build and the adrenaline will flow. Then work will further irritate you and every task will get the better of you.

Instead, you should seek new ways to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed and frustrated. Accept that things don’t always go as planned. It may not be a smooth day at work but when you learn to control your emotions and master your mood it leads to things becoming easier and more workable.

5. Doing something we have no real interest in

If you don’t put your heart and soul into what you do, you may lose interest in the work and your performance is likely to deteriorate.

Doing a job that you find boring or laborious will most certainly lead you to being bad at it as you are not motivated enough and don’t have that drive to give your 100 percent. You will only aim at completing the work, without caring much about the standard of quality.

By doing something you are passionate about or at least are interested in, you tend to execute better as there is a willingness to learn new things and improve. Climbing the professional ladder becomes difficult when you have no desire to exhibit your capabilities. To progress in any field, you must have a desire to continue working and an objective in sight.

Devika Arora is a professional writer who has been writing articles and blogs with a special focus on career development and job search. She is currently working with a popular job search portal addressing the employment needs of young professionals.

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7 Innovative Ways Recruiters are Attracting Top Talent Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Gone are the days of stiff cover letters and awkward interviews. If you want to be at the top of your recruiting game, try these seven new techniques.

The post 7 Innovative Ways Recruiters are Attracting Top Talent appeared first on Brazen Life.

Recruiting isn’t what it used to be. And for most recruiters, that’s a good thing. These days, there’s less reading through stacks of formal resumes and cover letters, and more interacting with candidates on a casual — and often digital — basis.

Here are seven modern methods recruiters are using to bring in new talent:

1. Open-ended job postings

You may have heard that Zappos did away with job titles — but did you know that digital media company Upworthy recently listed an “Open-Ended Job” with no title or specifications?

Whether this will become a trend remains to be seen, but it does remind recruiters of an important lesson: hire people, not skills. Whether a candidate is passionate about your company and mission is often more important than whether they can type a certain speed or have experience in a specific field. Skills can be taught; attitude can’t. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

2. Video interviews

Gone are the days of flying a bunch of candidates to your office for final interviews. With today’s video technology, that’s an unnecessary waste of time and money.

Savvy recruiters are interviewing their shortlist on Skype, Google Hangouts, or recruitment-specific video software. With these video interviews, you’ll probably find a candidate or two who’s clearly not a good fit. Once you weed them out, you can then invite the top few to an in-person interview with the whole team.

3. Online networking events

Though attending career fairs and networking events in person can be a valuable experience, let’s be honest: they also cost a lot of time and money.

That’s why many recruiters are now turning to online networking events. Humble brag: This is our speciality! It gives you access to a wide range of candidates, without spending precious hours traveling or talking to people who aren’t a good fit. And we’re not just saying that because we offer an online-event platform; here at Brazen, we use online events to make hires, too.

Want a free demo of our online-event platform? Request one here.

4. Social media

Social media and recruiting seem to be a match made in heaven. Networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to find potential employees, share job postings, and develop relationships with recruits. You can also encourage your employees to recruit people from their own networks.

Even more importantly, studies show people recruited via social media are more likely to be hired, and stay on longer than candidates found via other methods. This is one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways to update your recruitment practices.

5. Big data

Though it may sound like something out a sci-fi movie, big data is a real tool that’s making recruiters’ jobs easier.

Instead of searching through the filing cabinet to find potential candidates, hiring managers are using specialized computer programs to analyze thousands of applications and resumes, filtering them by skills and qualifications — after which it’s your job to pick the winners. This means better candidates and a more enjoyable job for you!

6. Other effective digital tools

In addition to specialized recruiting software, plenty of other digital tools are now helping recruiters do their job better.

Some popular tools include SurveyMonkey (for assessing candidates on specific subjects), writing tests (to make sure the candidates really want the job), and Google Hangouts (to highlight job openings and engage with potential candidates).

7. Unique company-specific policies

Some companies are really going out on a limb, forging entirely new recruitment paths. They’re experimenting to see what works for them, and in the process, crafting their own unique hiring practices.

For example, online retail giant Zappos (which we mentioned doesn’t use job titles), no longer posts job openings. Instead, they encourage wannabe employees to network with recruiters on their own private social network. Tech company Automattic requires all potential hires to audition with the company, during which they do actual work and are paid $25/hour. Around 40% of applicants make the final cut.

Over the past decade, technology has transformed the world of recruiting, and it shows no signs of stopping. Through it all, however, the special skill possessed by all great recruiters remains: the ability to see through all the tweets, jargon and interview questions to find someone who’s truly a great fit for the company.

Have you tried any of these innovative recruitment techniques at your company?

Ryan Healy is COO and Co-Founder of Brazen Careerist. Follow Ryan on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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This One Change Will Make You Far More Productive at Work Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Does the workday pass by in a blur of distraction and lack of productivity? Try practicing mindfulness. Here’s how to start.

The post This One Change Will Make You Far More Productive at Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

Ever had a work day like this?

You go to work, throw yourself into whatever project you’re working on, and don’t notice what’s going on around you. You forget you have coworkers and get distracted by emails and the latest celebrity gossip.

By the time you realize it’s the end of the day, you’ve avoided what you’re supposed to be doing and haven’t accomplished what you need to. You go home feeling disconnected, frustrated, tense, stressed, annoyed or any other combination of negative emotions.

You can get out of this awful cycle by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness means you experience life in the present rather than reliving the past or worrying about what might happen in the future. It allows you to focus more on work, so you get more done at the office — which means leaving work at your job instead of bringing it home.

Here are three ways you can practice mindfulness at work:

1. Create a ritual to start your work day

It’s great to have a ritual to start your day so you don’t just sit down at your desk, dive into work and lose awareness of what’s going on around you. When you get to work, take a minute to look around your work environment. Is it organized? Is it comfortable?

It’s easier to get lost in your work and avoid your surroundings if they’re disorganized and uncomfortable. Straighten up so your workspace is somewhere that you want to be. Make yourself a cup of tea or get your bottle of water out so you don’t dehydrate. Breathe deep and get comfortable.

2.  Take regular breaks

A break can last a few minutes, but make sure to turn off your “work brain” when you’re taking it. (Click here to tweet this thought.) This will prevent you from going through your work day on autopilot and forgetting to look away from your computer for a bit.

You can use your break to connect with your coworkers by focusing on them, rather than drifting off into thoughts of what you “should be” doing. Take some time to enjoy lunch away from your computer and phone to avoid reading email. Or stay at your desk and enjoy a few short minutes of meditation or deep breathing. You’ll find you’re more focused after these breaks.

3.  Check in with your body

Pay attention to the sensations of your body — is your back tensing up? Are your hands cramping? Do you feel pressure in your chest? All of these physical signs let you know what’s going on. They signal that it’s time to slow down and eat lunch or drink some water.

Maybe you’ve been sitting too long and need to stand up and stretch. Or you need to look away from the computer screen for a few minutes to give your eyes a break and avoid a headache. Or if you’re continually feeling tense and have a hard time relaxing, it may be time to use that vacation time you’ve been saving up.

Which one of these mindfulness practices will you try out first?

Nicole Liloia, LCSW is a stress+less coach and therapist who helps smart-yet-stressed women center themselves and develop self-care plans that stick so that they can stop feeling overwhelmed and start enjoying their lives. Find her strategies to stress less and live more at

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How to Set Smarter, More Meaningful Goals for Your Career Mon, 11 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Working hard, but still feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Your goal setting is to blame. Here’s how to create better goals — and be happy.

The post How to Set Smarter, More Meaningful Goals for Your Career appeared first on Brazen Life.

We all know that person.

“What are you going to school for?” I asked the student organizer at a university event I spoke at.

“Oh, finance,” she answered.

“So working with numbers really lights you up, then?” I said.

“What do you mean?” she replied.

“I mean, are you stoked about finance? Do you love that world?”

Blank expression. “Oh, God no. I pretty much hate it. But being an accountant is good money. And my dad wants me to do this. And he’s paying my tuition.” And she just shrugged, as if it all made perfect sense. I saw two things in her future: A Mercedes. And Prozac.

Cut to your own aspirations. You’re hoping, plotting, reaching. You make a plan to get it, a bucket list, the degree, the job, the big goal.

Except you’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re chasing a feeling

We have the procedures of achievement upside-down and inside-out. We go after the stuff we want to have and accomplish, and what we want to experience. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Then we hope and yearn we’ll be fulfilled when we get there.

But it’s backwards, and it’s burning us out. What if first, we got clear on how we wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day or your year, your career, your holidays, your life?

You know what’ll happen when you have that kind of inner clarity attached to outer action? You’ll feel the way you want to feel more often. Decisions will be easier to make. You’ll know what to say “No” to and what to say “Heck yes” to.

Getting truthful

We can deceive ourselves into thinking that certain things will bring us happiness. Self-deception is part of self-discovery. Inevitably, we’ll do things for the wrong reasons.

Learning to stay close to our soul is an organic process, full of missteps along the way.

Let’s go back to the university student, who, despite loathing accounting, was going to become an accountant to please her father. She could arguably say that pleasing her dad made her “happy.” And she “feels good” about that.

But that’s not whole happiness. In truth, her pursuit is driven by fear. Perhaps fear of independence, fear of disapproval or fear of hardship.

Her focus isn’t on being happy. Her focus is on not being unhappy. There’s a vast and absolute difference.

We can always find ways to justify our behaviors to meet soulless goals. It was the right thing to do. It’s the bottom line. I had obligations. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. There was a lot of money on the line. I was too far in. It’s the way it’s always been done.

I’ve worked hard to hit targets and launch stuff that made me feel flat and less than proud. I’ve joylessly pursued goals I didn’t fully believe in, because I wanted to be successful. That’s twisted.

And it never paid off, no matter how good I looked while I did it, no matter how together everyone else thought I was. It cost me — big time. My definition of success needed a major overhaul.

And that’s what’s required when we decide the journey matters as much as the result and that we want to have a good time: we radically alter our personal definition of success.

How do you create meaningful goals?

You desire map. Here’s a crash course in desire mapping:

  1. Get clear on how you most want to feel – your core desired feelings.
  2. Create goals that’ll make you feel that way. Do you want to feel courageous, bold, connected, creative, empowered…? Awesome! Clarity rocks.
  3. What do you need to do, have and experience to create those feelings? Break it down and those become your goals for the year and your plans for this weekend — and your future.

Danielle LaPorte is the creator of The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul (Sounds True bestseller of 2014), author of the bestseller, The Fire Starter Sessions (with Random House/Crown), and co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan.

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