Brazen Life Personal development meets professional aspiration Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © Brazen Life 2011 (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) 1440 Brazen Life 144 144 Personal development meets professional aspiration. Personal development meets professional aspiration. So there’s this awesome job, the sort of job you’d just die to land (and tell your friends about)! But the awesome job isn’t nearly like the job you have now. So how do you make it from current job to awesome job? In our podcast series, we’re hoping to provide insights and answers to that very question. We talk to young people who have amazing jobs or are doing something really cool and interesting and ask them how they did it. So listen along for good information and some inspiration, too. job, search, jobs, career, advice, job, hunt, networking, Gen, Y, interviews, millennials Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life no no How to Become a Financial Advisor: 6 Tips for Mastering This Career Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Dreaming of a career as a financial planner? Follow these steps for a successful and lucrative future.

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Are you thinking of becoming a financial planner? Do you love helping people reach their financial goals and realize their dreams?

During the next 30 years, over 30 trillion dollars in wealth is expected to transfer from baby boomers to Millennials — and you could be the one helping them manage it. The financial industry is growing and constantly changing. If this is an area you’re passionate about, here are six tips for developing a career as a financial planner or advisor. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Understand What a Career as a financial planner Involves

When deciding whether you want to become a financial advisor, the first step is to understand today’s industry and what being a financial planner entails.

“We aren’t all a bunch of old guys in suits and ties sitting across mahogany tables,” says Alan Moore, founder of XY Planning Network. “While those firms certainly still exist, an entirely new crop of financial planners are emerging that bring a new way of financial planning.”

Nowadays, financial planning isn’t just about selling insurance or cold calling. In fact, Moore says that “many of us are fee-only advisors, which means we only get paid to provide financial planning services — no more commission-based sales. We help our clients live their great life by helping them figure out what they want, and use their finances to support those goals and dreams. In turn, we can live our own great life, because this is an incredibly rewarding and flexible career path.”

Jason Hull of Hull Financial Planning also enjoys the “privilege of helping people alleviate a lot of the anxieties around the financial unknowns of life. If you take that approach to financial planning, rather than the approach that being a wealth manager can make you wealthy, you have the opportunity to be successful and influence a lot of lives.”

2. Get the Right Education Credentials

Starting a financial planning business doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, you can set one up on less than $10,000. But you do need the right education and credentials to back you up.

“I highly recommend getting the CFP certification, since it’s the gold standard in our profession,” says Moore. “You can keep your day job while taking the courses online, or you can start looking for a job in financial planning.”

While working to gain your certifications, Hull also agrees that the CFP title shows you have the baseline of knowledge necessary to competently do the job. He recommends you “get into a large wealth management firm where you can work alongside someone who has the experience, and can validate your experience when you apply to the CFP Board for certification. If you work directly for a CFP, you can choose the two-year apprenticeship option rather than requiring three years of financial planning or equivalent experience.”

3. Network With Other Young Financial Planners

The average age of financial planners is 50 years old and just over 40 percent of all the advisors in the industry are 55 years or older, so finding a cohort of other young planners can be challenging. Moore suggests for younger financial planners to join groups like FPA NexGen (who also offers a helpful job board) and NAPFA Genesis.

Consider getting involved with local events and networks in your city, through (or hosting your own). Also reach out to a mentor, or collaborate on webinars, and attend conferences in your industry.

4. View Yourself, and Your Practice, as a Brand

A few decades ago you had to network the old-fashioned way, through direct mail or in person. But today, aspiring financial planners and advisors can use social media to effectively market themselves in so many different ways.

“If you have an interest in being a financial advisor, you should think of yourself as a brand”, suggests Jeff Rose, of Alliance Wealth Management. “Share relevant articles having to do with investing, financial planning or any topics you feel would be of interest to your community on social media. This will program how potential clients perceive you, especially if you can add your own commentary to any of the sources that you share.”

“Why is someone coming to you for financial planning when they can walk into the door of a well-known wealth management firm?” asks Hull. “If you can’t clearly articulate a convincing value proposition, and make your brand stand out, then you shouldn’t be in the business.”

5. Unconventionally Build Your Client Base

“Every financial planning firm does things differently and it takes time to find one that’s the right fit for you,” explains Sophia Bera, from Gen Y Planning. Her suggestion to start building your client base is to do as many informational interviews as you can, whether they are in the form of podcasts, written interviews or video chats. Then watch as these lead to future mentorships or job opportunities.

Linda P. Jones, America’s Wealth Mentor, encourages young financial advisors to “establish three specific target markets you have connections with, and then ask your clients how they prefer to hear from you.”

Since you’re targeting a younger market, you should not only connect with them on social media, but through your blog, newsletters and online workshops. You want to connect with your ideal client on their level and talk the same language.

In Jones’ experience, the number one reason clients leave their current financial advisor is because they don’t communicate well. “Establish how your client want to be communicated with and then follow through,” she warns.

Jason Hull also suggests to “learn how to be concise and effective in both written and verbal communication. Consider joining a Toastmasters society to practice speaking and to get over your fear of presentations. The better a communicator you are, the more likely your clients are to implement the plans you recommend and the more likely you are to be better at sales.”

6. Aim to Launch Your Own Firm

Your ultimate goal might be to launch your own firm, one you can run virtually from anywhere in the world. In Moore’s experience, few firms will work with clients under 50 (unless they are particularly wealthy). So if you plan to work with younger clients, you’ll likely end up starting your own firm in the future.

Bera also highly recommends launching your own firm as soon as possible, especially if you get to the point where you want to work with your own clients. “My only regret is not launching my own firm sooner,” says Bera.

But don’t expect to get rich or be in it for the money. “My first couple of years of being a financial advisor, my income was something that I could never brag about because I made hardly anything,” explains Rose. “What kept me going was a true desire to help others.”

Before getting started in this industry, it’s important to truly understand it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Financial planning is ever-evolving, and it takes time to stay up-to-speed on new rules and strategies.

Carrie Smith (@carefulcents) is a blogger and editor who recently quit her accounting job to pursue full-time writing and entrepreneurship.

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What Homewreckers Can Teach You About Recruiting Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:00:30 +0000 Recruiters, would you be surprised if we said you could learn something about your job from homewreckers? Read on to see what we mean.

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More than likely you’ve heard one of your single friends lament, “All the best men are taken.” Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself.

But have you ever thought the same might be true for recruiting? As Noah Kagan of AppSumo points out: “All the best employees are already working somewhere.”

Kagan is currently on a mission to hire the best people in the world, because he knows “that the best people output significantly more and can grow a business 100x more than a just-okay person.”

That’s not news to any of you, though; you know you want to hire the best people in the world. The big question is: How are you going to do it?

How to attract the best people in the world

Kagan, who worked at Facebook and Mint before founding AppSumo, has an interesting approach. He compares luring an outstanding employee away from a satisfying job to seducing someone into leaving a committed marriage.

If you want to attract the world’s best people, he says you need to ask: “How do you make yourself sexy enough that the best people are attracted to you? Or in terms of relationships, how would you break up a happy marriage?”

With this in mind, Kagan offers four simple — yet smart — tips you can implement today to find your dream hire:

  1. Look for people you already like: In other words, think about people you’ve enjoyed working with from other companies, and start a relationship with them now. As Kagan advises, “Ultimately the best people are working and aren’t going to quit immediately so you have to plant seeds today.”
  2. Look for people that already like you: Reach out to everyone, including your friends and family, current customers, Twitter followers, and email subscribers. In the full article, he offers tips for figuring out which members of your community would be a good fit.
  3. Ask the best people you know for referrals: Kagan explains this perfectly: “Great people tend to associate with great people. Also, there’s a trusted implication when someone refers someone they’ve worked with already.”
  4. Make a sexy (jobs and about) page: The best people aren’t looking at jobs pages, because as we reviewed earlier, they’re already in jobs they like. So make your jobs and about pages shareable; according to Kagan, the best ones “sell a story” and are “genuinely you.”

And just so you know, no one is endorsing homewrecking here. What we are endorsing? A creative approach to recruiting the best employees for your business.

Which one of these tips is your favorite? Any you haven’t tried?

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

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Fast-Track Your Path to Becoming a CEO in 6 Easy Steps Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Think you could be head honcho one day? Start doing these things now, and you’ll land that corner office in no time.

The post Fast-Track Your Path to Becoming a CEO in 6 Easy Steps appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you’d eventually like to land a C-Level job, you can’t take your gaze off your goal. You’ve got lots of learning to do before you get there. To build up the expertise, insight and finesse that executive-level jobs require, you’ll first need to spend lots of time gaining hands-on experience leading, managing and empowering teams and organizations.

Throughout your professional years, you need to methodically build up an enviable arsenal of both technical and business skills suitable to your ultimate career goal. Without these essential skills and capabilities, you simply won’t be qualified for that ultimate, rewarding and challenging experience of a truly executive role.

If you hope to move into the C-Suite one day, here’s what you need to do now.

1. Network, network, network

Who you know and what you know plays an important role in opening the right doors. Since most senior-level positions are selectively advertised, you need the right contacts in the right places to sniff out opportunities.

Your path to the c-suite not only requires improving your technical and business skills, but also enhancing your networking skills. You never know what a chance meeting at the golf course or a leadership conference can do for you. So be open to getting out there and get used to schmoozing.

2. Learn about everything and anything

C-Level jobs require vision, clarity of mission, interaction with investors and mapping out growth initiatives of the company. Acquiring these skills isn’t easy. You need to consistently work to improve your knowledge and learning. Keep these few things in mind:

  • Developing a deep knowledge of an organization and an industry sector – its various verticals, challenges, competitors and prospects – while enhancing interpersonal skills is the key to advancing into senior leadership and executive leadership roles.
  • As you climb the corporate ladder, research and familiarize yourself with your desired “ultimate” job, learning as much as you can about challenges at hand. Get busy sharpening the tools already in your tool kit while adding brand new ones.
  • As you advance incrementally to the higher echelons of an organization, you’ll notice your hard work paying off; you’ll begin to share just as much in common with your executive peers as you did with those you with in the trenches.

3. Surround yourself with top dogs

Mentors are invaluable. Proximity to well-respected CEOs and working with them will help you pick up valuable lessons and habits.

Startups and entrepreneurial business units also provide stellar growth opportunities to a C-Suite hopeful. When you work with top-notch leaders, you get a ringside view of how things work at that level. That experience will mentally prepare you for the hot seat.

Learn, learn, learn. Being the CEO is not just about bossing people around. Here are just a few skills that great leaders need: own a Profit and Loss Statement, be flexible, communicate clearly and succinctly, lead and motivate others, make smart hiring decisions, meet and exceed deadlines, handle marketing challenges, pitch a product or service’s value proposition, develop client relationships, solve personnel issues, streamline operations, manage finances, handle investors, learn from failure and push through rejection.

An advantage of being associated with big names is that your resume gets a killer punch line. Who wouldn’t hire an ambitious person who honed their skills working with one of the best brains in business?

4. Move internationally

This does not mean you need pack your bags and relocate to an offshore site in some remote part of the globe (though that could help, depending on your industry).

Even if you may already have experience dealing with multi-national businesses, if you’re eyeing a plump posting in the next couple of years, consider going international with vigor. Overseas industry experience should give you plenty to discuss with business leaders during lunch meetings, networking events and interviews.

You build your value proposition and might also have some fun while soaking up the sun in Rio!

5. Take calculated risks

In some instances an uneventful, safe and predictable career path is seen as one where no hard lessons have been learned, risk taking is minimized, no sweat or tears are shed, and confidence lacks in one’s abilities to try something new.

Think about going with the spirit of the times. Start a business of your own or join a startup. If you can bet your dollars on yourself, there is no better PR.

As the gurus say, fail fast and fail early. This’ll help you build up an adrenaline-pumping resume.

6. Develop and maintain your contacts

The world of C-Level hiring is quite small. Make sure you maintain good relations with reputable leaders and recruiters in your sector. Keep your network alive with occasional calls, messages or meetings.

Put in the effort and always keep your relationship with the headhunters warm and friendly. Even when they’re not directly involved in the recruitment process, reputed headhunters will often be able to tell you if a Fortune 500 company is scouting for talent or where a possible vacancy might open in the near future. Being on the top of recruiters’ minds will make it easy for you to get interviews.

Getting to the top of the pile in the best companies in the world is not easy. Nailing the job is even tougher. The C-Suite is selective. Ensure you have everything going for you beforehand as you plan and prepare, so when the time is right, you can finally land the job of your dreams.

Joshua Geary is a writer and experienced blogger and regularly writes for CSI Executive Search LLC. When he’s not writing about HR and hiring process about executives, Joshua enjoys reading, CrossFit and swimming in his leisure time.  

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How Social Media Management Tools Can Boost Your Job Search Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Your resume and cover letter aren’t the only ways to stand out in your job search. Leverage your personal brand and social media to land your dream job.

The post How Social Media Management Tools Can Boost Your Job Search appeared first on Brazen Life.

Distinguishing yourself from other careerists with equally well-presented resumes is no easy feat. In today’s digital world, outlandish marketing tactics such as billboards and t-shirts asking for a job aren’t the only ways to get noticed.

With the majority of recruiters looking at social profiles, creating an online personal brand and optimizing social media could be the way to clinch that dream job you’ve always wanted — and look awesome doing it.

Know your worth

You might know your strengths, but do those strengths come across when employers look at your social media channels? The first step to having a stellar social media brand is to know what you’re really worth.

Klout is a popular way to find out how influential and engaged you are across online social media platforms. The site will give you a “Klout score” — but remember, this can go up and down at any time.

If your Klout score isn’t as high as you’d like, don’t despair. A number of tools are available to help you manage and get the most from your social media profiles.

How to share social media posts like a pro

You can use social media tools to manage your personal brand. Building a personal brand may be straightforward for social media savvy grads, but maintaining it requires time managements skills and an overall strategy.

Posting insightful opinions and sharing valuable content is an essential way to encourage engagement on social media, but it’s time consuming, too.

One great example of social media management software is This tool allows you to manage, organize and increase followers across multiple social media profiles. They’ll also give you advice on the most influential and relevant social media accounts to follow.

How about LikeAlyzer? Enter your Facebook page address and this nifty tool analyzes it and recommends changes you could make to improve your engagement and outreach.

If you’re struggling to find content you want to share, Swayy is an ideal solution. The app connects to Facebook and Twitter, checks out who your audience is and suggests content you could share. It’s as easy as that.

How to make your mark and network

No doubt you’re already networking, connecting with friends of friends and using key hashtags (such as #marketingjobs) to find the most influential people in your field. But there’s another way to enhance your “it’s who you know, not what you know” strategy. is a Twitter directory organized by shared interests. Sign up, plug in your interests and the app helps you discover prominent people in your area of interest.

Take advantage of Twitter chats too. These Q&A sessions hosted by industry brands offer everyone who knows anything about the field a chance to participate and share their knowledge.

Whether you want to discuss healthcare communication and social media (#hscm) or human resources (#hrtrends), you can find a relevant chat.  If you add a comment of real value, you’ll get a retweet, which can boost your exposure. Use Gnosisarts or Tweet Reports to find relevant chats.

If you want to make your mark, create your own Twitter hashtag. Twitter hashtags are ideal if you want to provoke conversation or network with a certain crowd.

But a hashtag like #marketing isn’t going to cut it. You need to be unique, specific and purposeful.

Want to get your dream job?

Be bold and be brazen. Getting your dream job means proving your worth. (Click here to tweet this bit of inspiration.) Once you’ve designed your own personal brand, don’t give up. Focus your energies on upping your Klout score, effectively managing your content sharing and using creative strategies to meet people in high places.

Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, construction and medical sectors. He runs the Jobs4Group and is CEO of Jobs4Medical. Ron is a regular contributor to Brazen Careerist, Talent Culture and Jobs and Careers Magazine.

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5 Secrets for Effective Networking at Your Next Conference Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 How to make the most of an industry conference for your career and your company in five easy steps.

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Your boss just told you she wants you — yes, you — to attend an industry conference to meet with potential partners and source new prospects. You pump your fist as you leave her office. You’re the chosen one!

Seconds later, you suddenly break into a cold sweat. You don’t have a clue what to do next and how you’ll be able to meet your supervisor’s expectations. She’s expecting you to make connections and bring back a stack of promising business cards. But networking terrifies you. Making small talk with strangers is not your idea of a good time. You’re starting to think twice about this conference. Can they just send someone else instead?

Before you get cold feet and give up your conference spot, think about what this opportunity could mean for your career. Then, build your game plan so you can go and crush that conference!

Why you should attend industry conferences

Do you want to develop new connections that can help you land a great new job, a big client or a promising partnership? Do you see value in being the person to present fresh strategic ideas that can boost your company’s bottom line? These are just a few benefits of attending industry conferences: (Click here to tweet this list.)

  • Build key relationships that can help you now in your career… and when you’re looking for that next opportunity or dream job.
  • Develop strategic partnerships or make sales either directly with the people you meet or indirectly through their contacts.
  • Learn valuable info from industry contacts who face similar issues as you or your organization.

While conferences are an opportunity to take your career to the next level, they can intimidating and confusing. What are you supposed to do when you get there? This fear and uncertainty explains why most people fail to maximize their conference time and investment.

Unfortunately, most conferences attendees don’t leverage the massive opportunities in front of them because they don’t know how to act (i.e. that annoying conference person.) They end up leaving the conference feeling like they could have done more.

How you can crush your next conference

But what about those people who make friends effortlessly and walk away from conferences with deals or partnerships in their palm of their hands? How can you be more like them? Here are five strategies that can give you a leg up on your fellow conference attendees. Put these tactics into action before you go so you can stand out and make a great impression.

1. Figure out who’s worth meeting

You paid money for this conference (or your company did). So figure out measurable outcomes and what will define success for you and your company. Set goals for who you’d like to meet. Then create an action plan so you’re prepared for even the most serendipitous of moments. You never know who you might run into while waiting in the bathroom line.

In the first column of a spreadsheet, list of all the people you’d like to meet. Start with the speakers, but don’t stop there. Don’t forget about your fellow attendees. One the conference site, you may be able to find a list of confirmed attendees and where they work. Even if that list is hundreds of people deep, review it and see if anyone might be worth meeting.

The next five columns on your spreadsheet should contain:

  • Why you want to meet them
  • Three bulleted speaking points for each person
  • What value you can deliver to them
  • When they speak (if applicable)
  • Your post-conference follow-up and next steps

Research each person and try to learn more about their passions, charities they’re involved in, industry challenges they may have, and people you have in common (use Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.) This information will be important in your initial conversation.

Share the list with your manager to see if there is anyone he or she wants you to connect with. This way, you’re being a strategist for the company and not just for yourself.

Then, carry this list with you at all times. Keep track of whom you’ve spoken with, and whom you haven’t. After the conference, report back on the true return-on-investment, not only from potential deals, but the new relationships you’ve created that can help your company.

2. Get your colleagues on board

Coordinate with colleagues who are also attending the conference and synchronize your lists. Plan times to walk around together and meet with people or tag team for dinners or lunches. Going off-site for meals can be great because there are fewer distractions and fewer opportunities for someone to potentially hijack the meeting.

3. Schedule meetings in advance

Before you go, contact those target attendees and speakers and try to coordinate meetings. This way you don’t leave anything to chance.

4. Hit up speakers before their presentation

Instead of waiting in the long lines after a speaker’s presentation, try to catch them before they go on stage. You’ll get more time with less effort, and you can wish them good luck. When you see them afterwards, you can compliment them on their presentation and mention one of the points they made to keep the conversation going.

5. Work the conference like a VIP

The best way to get VIP status at the conference? Contact the organizer and offer to help out. Putting together a well-run conference is no small feat. If you volunteer to help keep things running smoothly, you may get free passes to events and invites to VIP receptions. Plus, you immediately stand out as helpful. Remember, your success is proportionate to the value you provide other people. When you help others, you’re helping yourself.  Switch your mindset from “getting” to “giving.”

By following these five tips, you’ll no longer be that person who walks into a conference with just a pocketful of business cards. You’ll be the networking machine with a strategic plan and the right mindset. You now have all the tools you need to leave that conference feeling empowered and successful instead of unsatisfied. Now get out there and start working the conference floor!

Jason is a life mastery coach helping men and women to create the business, relationships, and life they love. His new book, Social Wealth, was a #1 bestseller on Amazon, and you can reach him at

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Want More Job Interviews? Start Thinking Like a Recruiter Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 When you learn to think like a recruiter, you’ll be much closer to landing that interview -- and the job.

The post Want More Job Interviews? Start Thinking Like a Recruiter appeared first on Brazen Life.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could guarantee you’d receive more calls from recruiters after you submit your resume? Well, you can. All you have to do is think like a recruiter.

Most recruiters receive tons of applications for every job opening. They look for any reason to reject an applicant for not being a good fit. Most of the early rounds of elimination have to do with the qualifications of the job. But the further your application gets, the more all applications look alike. Recruiters have to turn down qualified applicants in favor of those who stand out from the rest.

The applications that stand out are the ones that answer these three questions all recruiters ask. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Why do you want this job?

Recruiters want to know what’s in it for you. Why you want a job tells a recruiter about your long-term goals and what you hope to gain with your employment. Are you looking for a job out of desperation? Or do you have a personal interest in this particular position and company?

Recruiters look for candidates who actually want to work for their company. They want to find an employee who will be excited and passionate both about the work and about long-term career opportunities. 

Make sure your cover letter and application give a solid reason for why you want this job. Is it because you have a great personal connection to the business? Maybe you love the company’s reputation. Maybe you know this job would be a great starting point for career development.

No matter what your reason, be genuine and make it clear to the recruiter you’re applying not just to pay the bills, but because you really want this job. You’ll automatically stand out from the others in the pile.

2. What do we gain by hiring you?

Meeting the requirements for a job isn’t enough to get a call back. Recruiters want applicants who provide additional value. In other words, what can you bring to the job that no one else can?

This may be extra certifications, education or work experience in the field. Even unique attributes, such as travel experience, are effective when presented in the right way.

The key is to explain how your experiences fix a problem for the company or relate to the job in unconventional ways. Do that, and your value will skyrocket. 

Identifying the company’s problems may take some research, but it’s worth it. For example, if you learn that the company is expanding to Brazil, your study abroad experience will be a huge benefit. Maybe the company needs to expand its community outreach, and you have connections with local media resources from a communications internship.

Drawing connections between how something unique about you benefits the business can make a huge difference in your application. Just make sure to explicitly connect your experience and the job, since recruiters likely won’t make the connection themselves.

You should also be as specific as possible by including examples, statistics and figures that prove your unique qualities can be an asset to the company. If you do it right, you’ll get bonus points for proving you can think creatively about how to fix the company’s needs.

3. How do I know you’ll be a good fit?

Turnover is a huge concern for human resources. HR teams want happy workplaces, and recruiters know the first step is to hire the people who fit the company culture. The candidates who fit the company’s culture are the ones recruiters want to talk to, so try to demonstrate that your personality is a match.

A simple way to show your personality aligns with the culture is to do your research. Look for hints that offer insight into what it’s like to work at this particular company. For example, if you see words like “team” or “partnership” on their website and corporate communications, stress your ability to collaborate with others. If you see phrases like “high-energy” or “highly motivated,” try to give off a peppy vibe. 

Getting a call back for an interview is as easy as looking at your application through the lens of a hiring manager. Ask yourself the same questions recruiters will ask when they see your application materials. Try it for yourself, and you’ll be surprised by how many positive responses you’ll get — and how quickly you get hired.

Peggy Carouthers is a freelance writer and blogger with previous experience as an HR manager. You can connect with her on Twitter.

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Applying for a New Job? 4 Ways to Prove You Really Want It Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 If you’re looking for a new job, you’ll want to use the application process to stand out from the crowd. Here are four ways to help you gain an edge and land an interview.

The post Applying for a New Job? 4 Ways to Prove You Really Want It appeared first on Brazen Life.

With so many pieces of conflicting pieces of advice coming from blogs, magazines, newspapers and other experts, the job hunt has become a bit of a puzzle these days. But there is one thing everyone agrees on: showing employers you’re truly interested in this job — as opposed to just any job — is the best way to secure an interview.

So how do you demonstrate your interest during the application process?

Tailoring your cover letter to each job and openly stating your interest are good ways to go of course, but according to a new study led by psychological scientist James A. Breaugh from the University of Missouri, the information on your application may be telling employers a lot more than you think.

The researchers compared the job turnover rate of 414 recently hired employees to their job application information and found that four particular pieces of information can tell employers whether you’re genuinely interested in working for their company, and can even predict how likely you are to quit.

“For job applicants, the results of this study show the importance of demonstrating that one is serious about working for the employer,” notes Breaugh. Additionally, he added that “Applying more than one time for a position and doing more than necessary in completing the job application are two ways to show a high level of interest in a position.”

So before you send off your next application, know that employers will likely be paying close attention to these four pieces of information, even if you aren’t. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Reapplications

Employers often try to gauge an applicant’s interest in their specific company by using direct questions like, “Why do you want to work for us?”

But since the answers to such questions aren’t always equally sincere, they also look for other ways to measure a person’s level of interest. Reapplications can speak volumes about whether someone is really as motivated as they claim to be.

In Breaugh’s study, only 19 percent of re-appliers quit after 240 days compared to 51 percent of first-time applicants.

Tip: Even if you don’t get an interview the first time you apply for a job, you should try to get some feedback if you think your qualifications and experience make you a good fit for the position or company. Be sure you understand the requirements, and then reapply.

2. Employee referrals

Applicants referred by current employees are significantly less likely to quit, and Breaugh’s research found that more than 50 percent of non-referrals quit after 240 days compared to only about 30 percent of referred applicants.

Employers know this and are increasingly relying on internal referrals. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview as other applicants.

Tip: Even if you don’t know anyone at the company you want to work for, you may still be able to get an employee referral if you’re prepared to do a bit of extra legwork. Use sites like LinkedIn to find current employees and try to establish a connection, or find out if any of your own connections know people there who could make introductions.

You may also be able to join LinkedIn groups made up of employees, former employees or others who are affiliated with the company you’re interested in working for.

3. Submitting optional information

The amount of time and effort you’re willing to put into an application is another indicator of how much you want the job, which is why many employers give applicants the opportunity to submit optional information.

Taking the time to answer additional questions or submit personal statements signals a higher level of interest, and Breaugh’s research confirms this by showing that applicants who submitted optional information had a 10 percent lower turnover rate.

Tip: As tedious as it may be, you should always take the time to fill out any extra forms, write a few lines about how your previous experience has prepared you for the job, or whatever else you may be asked to do that is considered optional. It’s this extra little step that could put you well ahead of the competition.

4. Employment status

Employers tend to view applicants who have done several short stints with different companies as riskier hires than those who have been with the same company for five or more years.

But since it’s not always possible to gauge person’s motivation based on their work history alone, employers also look at an applicant’s current employment status, as someone who is already employed will be more selective about the jobs they apply to.

Breaugh’s research shows that 66.7 percent of unemployed applicants quit after 240 days, while only 33.3 percent of employed applicants did the same.

Tip: Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about it if you are unemployed when you begin your job hunt, but it does emphasize the importance of not quitting your job prematurely. As much as you may hate your current job, having it will ultimately make it easier for you to find the right one — so if at all possible, try to begin your job search while you’re still employed.

Marianne Stenger is a writer with Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She covers everything from lifehacks and career development to learning tips and the latest research in education. You can connect with her on Google+ and Twitter, or find her latest articles here.

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How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for Your MBA Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Want to get your MBA - but don’t want to pay for it yourself? Here’s how to persuade your boss to pay for it instead.

The post How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for Your MBA appeared first on Brazen Life.

So, you’re ready to get your MBA. You’ve done your research, you’ve found a great program and you’re prepared to commit. Now, the hard part: paying for it.

It’s no secret that the cost of an MBA can run upwards of $100,000, so getting some outside financial help can be both smart and mandatory. One place to look is your current employer. Many fortune 500 companies — along with a few smaller organizations — have tuition reimbursement programs, fellowships, or other programs to help finance your education (here’s a list of 33 examples). But you can’t just walk in and demand the cash. You’ve got to have a strategic plan.

When you make your case, it all comes down to answering one big question: How will your shiny new MBA boost your company’s bottom line? So put your employer’s needs at the root of every argument. This is one of those times that it’s really not about you — it’s about them.

Using this employer-focused mindset as your basic framework, here are eight more tactics to get your employer to fund your MBA aspirations: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Take the Company Temperature

First, find out if your company will even consider paying for your education. Was this ever brought up during hiring? Is this benefit listed in your employee handbook? Do you know of other colleagues who have taken advantage of a program?

Second, figure out if your company can actually afford to fund your MBA. What’s the company climate like right now? Are departments hacking back costs or passing out bonuses? You don’t want to be tone deaf to company situation if the finances are tight.

2. Figure Out You’re Asking For

Once you’ve decided to ask your employer for funds, it’s time to get more specific. Do you want your employer to pay for your entire tuition or just some of it? What about non-tuition fees, like textbooks or technology? Do you want to take time off to go to school full-time or continue working part-time? What specific program are you looking at? Put together a full outline of the specific request you want to make.

3. Take a Big Picture View

Take a step back… do you really need an MBA? As Ask A Manager’s Allison Green writes: “Grad school generally will not make you more marketable unless you’re going into a field that specifically requires a graduate degree. In fact, it can make you less competitive, by keeping you from getting work experience for that much longer and requiring you to find a higher-paying job than you might otherwise need because you need to pay back school loans—and even worse, if you apply for jobs that have nothing to do with your graduate degree, many employers will think you don’t really want the job you’re applying for, since it’s not in ‘your field.’”

If your heart is still set on an MBA after reading that, great! You just need to be able to clearly articulate why you’re committed to the decision to your employer. Confidently assert your goals — nobody’s going to pay for someone who vaguely wants to go to grad school.

4. Research Tax Breaks

The IRS allows employers to deduct tuition reimbursement for up to $5,250 a year for each employee. You can check out the IRS page on Employer-Provided Educational Expenses to find out more.

5. Articulate Your Value

As part of your pitch, you need to make the case that you bring value to the company. Roderick Lewis, author of The Corporate Recruitment Game, suggests focusing on analytics. Evaluate projects you’ve completed and show — using hard data — how your work positively impacted the company, whether by generating revenue or cutting costs.

“Basically, if you can’t prove that you have sales, you can prove that you saved the company money by reducing marketing expenses,” Lewis says. “You need to keep working your argument back to your numbers to get the result you want.”

Next, connect the dots between how getting your MBA will make your impact even bigger. Will you learn skills that you can apply at your job, so work won’t have to be fielded out to an external consultant? Will you be able to better access clients because of the connections you’ll gain? Be as specific as possible.

6. Come up with a (Realistic) Schedule

If you’re hoping to work and pursue an MBA at the same time, a major concern for your employer will be how on earth you’re going to juggle it all.

“You’re probably better about managing your time now than you were the first time you were in school, but recognize that transitions are often stressful,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work. She suggests creating a time budget to concretely show how you plan to achieve a balance between work and school.

Another choice piece of advice? “Plan on not sleeping in for a while.”

7. Show Your Loyalty

Many companies that pay for MBAs require employees to sign loyalty contracts. For example, you might be asked to commit to staying with the company for five years after you complete your degree. This makes sense — your boss doesn’t want to invest in you, if you’re going to immediately join a competitor’s firm. But this type of deal can land you in hot water if you’re not careful.

“Because sponsorship often comes with an obligation to return to the company after you complete your MBA, take a step back and assess whether you’re absolutely confident you want to return,” suggests Stacy Blackman, an MBA admissions consultant. “Breaking such an agreement after your earn the degree can lead to not only strained relationships with former colleagues, but also a mountain of unforeseen debt.”

8. Have a Plan B

If it doesn’t look like your appeal is hitting home — or if your company simply can’t contribute cash toward your education — you can always angel for an alternative. Try to negotiate non-cash benefits like time off, compensation for hours spent in class, or a more flexible schedule.

Annie Rose Favreau is a Seattle-based digital marketer and startup problem solver. You can find her Twittering away at @A_Favreau.

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12 Pro Tips for Building a Successful Career in Journalism Fri, 12 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Considering a career in journalism or media? Check out what these 12 leading pros have to say about how you can be successful in a rapidly changing industry.

The post 12 Pro Tips for Building a Successful Career in Journalism appeared first on Brazen Life.

The journalism industry is evolving rapidly. With more print publications shutting their doors or forced into widespread layoffs, it can be downright daunting for a journalist to stay ahead of the curve.

Here are tips from 12 leading journalism professionals about how to develop the right skill set and experiences to succeed in the coming years.

1. Find a great mentor

The networks you build now will be the ones that sustain you throughout your career. Thanks to my network, I haven’t actually applied for a job since 1992. On top of networking, get yourself some great mentors that can help along your career path. Even at my advanced age, I still have mentors and a network that some would kill for. — Benet Wilson, Co-editor, Airways News

2. Keep learning

Learn. Learn. Learn. Learn as many things as you can, and don’t limit yourself to any one kind of journalism. Be a good writer, editor, social media user, coder, etc. — Scott Kleinberg, Social Media Editor, The Chicago Tribune

3. Learn about business models

Learn about media business models. Try to understand what influences various markets. Think entrepreneurially about your projects. Don’t disdain the other side of the firewalls between you and the business side. Be wary and wise, but figure out how it works. Knowing this will help you navigate your career better. — Tim Akimoff, Digital Director, WBEZ

4. Listen to your audience

Consciously learn to listen to your audiences for clues on how to engage them better with your journalism. In the digital world, they are providing you with cues all the time with their actions and inactions.  — Raju Narisetti, SVP Strategy, NewsCorp.

5. Reach out to more experienced pros for help

Don’t be too afraid or too proud to reach out for help from those with more experience (or accept it when it is offered unsolicited). Ask them a bunch of questions and actually listen to their advice. These are the sort of relationships that can make or break a career. — Mandy Jenkins, Open Newsroom Editor, Storyful

6. Start building your online brand now

Learn reporting techniques and news ethics and classic writing approaches (like inverted pyramid), but don’t ignore social media and digital innovations and tools. The more you bring to the table, the more valuable you will be to news organizations and to the public. And it’s never too early to start building your brand and engaging. — Holly Epstein Ojalvo, Founder, Kicker

7.  Be flexible

Be flexible, be nimble. Our industry is moving so fast, the work you’re doing five years from now might not even exist yet. Go with the flow and enjoy the ride. –Amy Simons, Journalism Professor, University of Missouri

8. Focus on the fundamentals of great journalism

Focus on learning the basics of journalism: ethics, accuracy, good reporting and good storytelling. Those things are all important whether you work in print, broadcast, social media or a medium that doesn’t exist yet. — Angie Case, Senior Web Producer, Fox21 News

9. Concentrate on being right and not just on being first

Being second and right is always better than being first and wrong. — Steve Fox, Multimedia Journalism Lecturer and Coordinator, University of Massachusetts

10. Don’t be afraid to interview a source

Never be afraid to interview people, and never think technology is a substitute for hard work or intelligence. — David Sheets, Correspondent, New York Times

11. Be curious

Follow your curiosity. Be proficient at writing more than 140 characters. Question the status quo. Be open to everything around you, and, most importantly, be kind.  — Yvonne Leow, VP, AAJA

12. Find your passion

Find what you love, whether it’s a topic area or a form of storytelling/design/dataviz/coding/whatever, and be the best at whatever your speciality is. — Burt Herman, Co-Founder, Storify

Jessica Malnik is a community builder, content creator and all-around digital magician. Her work has been featured in a variety of online sites and publications, including Convince and Convert, PR Daily, Spin Sucks, SocialFresh, 12Most and CMXHub.

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Surprising Ways to Make a Good Impression This Holiday Season Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:00:07 +0000 Hoping to impress coworkers and family during this season’s endless holiday parties? Learn these tricks, and you’ll be everyone’s new bff.

The post Surprising Ways to Make a Good Impression This Holiday Season appeared first on Brazen Life.

The holidays are here, which means family, friends, pumpkin pie — and a lot of new faces. Whether you’re meeting your boss’ husband at the office holiday party, or are flying home to meet your boyfriend’s parents for the first time, chances are you want to make a good impression.

You know you’re supposed to smile and give a firm handshake, but after that… it gets a little blurry. What are you supposed to talk about? Is it better to ask lots of questions, or stay quiet? How do you find things in common with someone like your great aunt Maude?

Luckily for you, Eric Barker recently wrote about the science of getting people to like you. For advice, he turned to Robin Dreeke, a former FBI behavior expert and author of “It’s Not All About ‘Me’.”

You like me; you really, really like me!

Here are three of our favorite tips:

  • Practice non-judgmental validation: Dreeke defines this as “seek[ing] someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them” — and he says this is the most important thing you can do. When people feel accepted, they feel free to continue talking about themselves (which is everyone’s favorite subject).
  • Suspend your ego: It’s natural to want to correct someone if they state a wrong fact, or to one-up them with your own story — but this is a bad idea, because “contradicting people doesn’t build relationships.” So Dreeke advises “putting your own needs, wants and opinions aside.”
  • Really listen: And by this, Dreeke doesn’t mean “shutting up” — he means letting go of whatever it is you were going to say. Instead of thinking about your response, he encourages you to ask yourself: “What idea or thought that they mentioned do I find fascinating and want to explore?”

Whether you’ll soon be meeting someone new or not, we’d advise checking out the full post. No matter what your career or personal life entails, getting people to like you is a skill that will serve you — and your new acquaintances — well.

Is there anybody you’re nervous to meet over the holidays?  

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

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4 Simple Ways to Stop Feeling So Stressed At Work Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Stress isn’t the problem -- the way you react to it is. As you transition into a management position, don’t let stress keep you from being a great leader. Try these stress-reducing tips.

The post 4 Simple Ways to Stop Feeling So Stressed At Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

Think back to the last few years of your career. You’ve likely been in a work situation where your emotions got the best of you, or experienced a time when you were so overwhelmed that you felt paralyzed. This feeling is typical for many professionals, especially those transitioning from entry-level to a management position.

Evolution is to blame for this reaction to stress. Our brains developed for survival: people needed to pay attention to threats and avoid them. If a neighboring tribe invaded, our ancient ancestors experienced a surge of negative emotion that prompted them to fight or flee.

The amygdala is that part of our brain that serves as an alarm system — it fires when we feel threatened, releasing adrenaline and other stress hormones into our system. In modern times, threats are more psychological in nature — threats to our sense of control or self-esteem, for example — but our primitive amygdala response still has a strong influence.

Fortunately, our brains have continued to evolve and the logical, rational part of our brains can be trained to exert control over the amygdala during stressful times. Here are tips to enhance an adaptive mindset. These tips are geared towards helping you overcome reactive responses to stress and develop the calm, rational brain required of a great leader: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Practice mindfulness

Our brains are constantly producing negative thoughts about ourselves and others, and we have a habit of reliving the past or ruminating about the future. The network of brain regions that generate this thinking originally developed to help us plan tasks, review the past and improve future behavior.

But as the brain evolved, some of these brain functions could go too far and cause suffering. We seldom live in the present moment, which is why researchers highly suggest practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness is directing our attention to the present moment. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings with acceptance, without judging them as good or bad.

Meditation is one form of mindfulness. People who meditate demonstrate greater connectivity between their prefrontal cortex and their limbic system. The structural connection between these two brain regions allows the “thinking” brain to calm the “feeling” brain.

Meditation has also been shown to reduce stress, generate greater emotional stability and sharpen the mind.

2. Know your emotional hot buttons

To increase your emotional awareness, write down your emotional triggers: what causes you to feel stressed, frustrated or angry. Triggers aren’t always major events, such as arguments with a co-worker; they can also be small disturbances, like unwelcome noise from the hallway outside your office.

A full awareness of your triggers is critical because it’s the first step to understanding your emotions. Once you understand the sources of your difficult emotions, you can take steps to manage your environment, regulate your emotions and tamp down your stress response.

3. Analyze first to avoid over-reacting

Sometimes we misinterpret events or jump to conclusions, which leads to needless fear and worry. You can counteract this tendency by slowing down and mentally reframing your thoughts and beliefs.

Whenever you experience a strong negative emotion, such as anger or anxiety, pause before allowing the emotion to control your behavior. Do a reality check.

By reappraising your thoughts and interpretations of events, you force the logical and reasoning part of the brain to solve a problem. This inhibits the amygdala from releasing adrenaline and other stress hormones that result in strong emotions. It also results in a much more accurate understanding of external events.

4. Challenge your self-talk

Research shows that people speak to themselves endlessly, using hundreds of words every minute. Humans have a bias toward negative thinking rather than positive thinking. If much of what you say to yourself is negative, it’ll affect your outlook.

If you step back and watch these thoughts, evaluate them and correct them so they’re more realistic, this can change how you view yourself and the world, and how you respond to stress.

Stress isn’t the problem; it’s the way you react to it. By following these tips you’ll learn to better control your emotional response during stressful times.

Dr. Natalie Wolfson is an Organizational Research Consultant for The TRACOM Group, a leading workplace performance company best known for development of the world-famous SOCIAL STYLE Model™, a proven model for building interpersonal and leadership skills. For more on resiliency, watch this short video or learn more about stress management through TRACOM’s Adaptive Mindset program.

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These Super-Easy Tricks Will Help You Remember People’s Names Wed, 10 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Do you tend to forget someone’s name just seconds after you meet? Follow these tips and you’ll never forget a name ever again.

The post These Super-Easy Tricks Will Help You Remember People’s Names appeared first on Brazen Life.

No matter where you are in your career, making a strong, positive impression will give you a strategic advantage in building key relationships with colleagues, potential employers, prospects and business partners. One of the best ways to make a great first impression is to remember someone’s name. Seems easy, right?

But how many times have you met someone… and immediately forgotten their name moments later? You rack your brain and can’t remember something you learned 10 seconds before! You’re not alone.

Even though this is a common problem, you could be sabotaging your business success, relationships and future. Forgetting someone’s name signals they weren’t memorable or that meeting them didn’t matter to you.

Why you should try to remember people’s names

Remembering names — and then using them — is a powerful strategy for setting yourself apart from almost everyone else. It will help you build important business relationships that will be a major component of your success.

When you remember someone’s name, they’re flattered and impressed. You make them feel important and special because you took the time to notice them. People may also assume you remembered their name because something about them stood out to you.

Remembering names also shows off your listening skills, builds rapport and trust and helps overcome the natural barriers that separate two strangers.

How to master the art of remembering names

So next time you meet someone new at a networking event, interview or even when you’re out with friends, here’s what you need to do to make sure their name doesn’t evaporate from your memory.

  • Focus on the moment of introduction. Make direct eye contact, smile and extend a firm, friendly handshake. (That means not limp or wimpy, but also not a vice grip.) Holding on for an extra second can help you focus on the critical moment of introduction and what’s about to come next: their name.
  • Listen for what’s next. Don’t think about what you’re going to say. Listen for the name instead. Concentrate your complete attention, don’t look around, be present and listen. If you missed the name, simply say, “I missed your name,” or “I didn’t catch your name.” If their name is unusual or you’re still not sure what they said, psychiatrist and memory expert Dr. Gary Small suggests you ask them to spell it.
  • If you forget, ask again. If you forget the name during the conversation, just ask the person again. Do the same if you see someone you recently met. Follow this advice from Jacqueline Moore, etiquette expert: “If you think you know someone’s name, but are unsure, venture a guess: ‘Bill, right?’ Or you could simply apologize and say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m a little forgetful at the moment. Please remind me of your name.’ Don’t worry, it happens to everyone.”
  • Repeat the name aloud. By repeating a name, you think it, say it and then hear it again. This gives you three more repetitions in addition to hearing the name the first time. Repetition is one of the keys to retention and recall. Using their name also personalizes the conversation as it reinforces your memory and ability to recall it the next time you see them. Ending the conversation with their name leaves a great first impression (since they know you still remember their name).
  • Create a memorable link. Your brain works best when you can link two facts together. Start with something you already know. Think of someone famous or a memorable image. Lock in on the first famous person or image that comes to mind. If you meet a man named George, you could associate that person with George Clooney or Curious George. Or if you learn he is from Alaska, you could think of him making an igloo or throwing snowballs.
  • Visualize their name. Picture the person’s name written across their forehead. This piece of advice is from Keith Ferrazzi, best-selling author and top networking expert: “Think that sounds dumb? It’s not. It was a trick used by Franklin Roosevelt and he amazed his staff with how well he remembered names.”

If you perform these mental operations all the time, your ability to recall people’s names will improve tremendously. (Click here to tweet this article.) Then when you see people you’ve met before and you use their names, they’ll say, “I can’t believe you remembered my name!”

The rapport that comes from remembering someone’s name gives people a reason to instantly like you. As a result, a great conversation will likely evolve, which sure beats small talk about the weather. A kickstart to a great conversation is just the start to endless professional possibilities!

Jason is a life mastery coach helping men and women to create the business, relationships and life they love. His new book, Social Wealth, was a #1 bestseller on Amazon, and you can reach him at

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7 Pro Tips for Getting a Job in Education Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Interested in a career in education, but not sure how to get started? We asked seven teachers for their best advice (and views on the future of the field).

The post 7 Pro Tips for Getting a Job in Education appeared first on Brazen Life.

Do you want a career in education?

It’s an honorable profession — one of the most important there is — and if you’re prepared to dedicate your all and overcome the many challenges, it can be very rewarding.

To help those of you interested in an education career, we talked to professionals from all levels, asking them for their best advice and predictions about how the career will change in the years to come.

Here’s what the interviewees emphasized about the future of teaching: (Click here to tweet this list.)

  • The rise in standardized testing: Though they disagreed about its necessity, most everyone we spoke to believes that standardized testing has put restraints on teachers, forcing them to stifle creativity and focus instead on teaching to the test
  • More technology in the classroom: From learning games to online college courses, technology has become ever-present in the classroom — but the teacher-student relationship remains the core of all education
  • The difficulty of the profession: It’s incredibly emotionally and mentally challenging, and teachers run a real risk of burnout; to avoid this, it’s important to be flexible and practice self-care

If you’d like to know how best to pursue a career in education, read on for advice from teachers of all types.

1. Paraprofessional educator

James White, who works as a paraprofessional at an elementary school in rural Alaska, advises:

“Find an age group, subject matter, culture, location, etc. that you’re truly passionate about. One that will make work a joy — rather than a stress — and everything will fall in place from there. You see far too many educators burn out far too young or far too early in their careers because they let the work stress them out.”

2. Elementary school teacher

Michelle Warner, who teaches second grade at a public school in suburban Virginia, offers advice about work-life balance, which undoubtedly affects the quality of your teaching:

“Make sure you set boundaries for your teaching responsibilities so that you don’t allow your personal life to become neglected. Happy people, who engage in activities for themselves after school and on weekends, make much more interesting and energetic teachers.

Despite the stifling obsession with alignment, objectives, and assessment in our schools, (especially the underperforming ones,) try to find ways to integrate creativity and opportunities for unique self expression into your classroom. It will help you avoid burnout and foster self confidence and joy in your students.”

3. English teacher abroad

Daniel Quick has taught English in South Korea and Ecuador, using his teaching career to live and work abroad. For other aspiring globetrotters, he says:

“To become more marketable in an increasingly competitive field, you should work to gain experience or certifications; TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, and other ESL certificates are valuable training tools and look great on resumes. Without certification or experience, the best thing you can do for your career is to be willing to move anywhere and commit for at least a year.  Even if you have to work in a potentially less-desirable location, this can be a great way to gain valuable experience and practice your craft while looking for the job you want.”

4. College professor

Barry Shain (the author’s father), teaches political science at Colgate University, a liberal arts college in upstate New York. Having taught for 30 years at the college level, he actually advises against getting into the profession now:

“Unless you’re born wealthy, are really extremely good at what you do (i.e among the 10 or so best in any particular year in your field), interested in a field that is not rapidly losing undergraduate majors (as are English and most of the humanities), or more likely all three conditions obtain, in a world in which the employment market is likely to be shrinking, possibly rapidly, over the next 20 or 30 years, you really should think about doing something other than college teaching as your chosen career path.”

5. Private high school teacher

Simon Jarcho teaches high-school math at a private school in Chicago and doesn’t have a teaching certificate — only a four-year college degree. If you want to get into the growing field of alternative education, he offers this advice:

“There are many paths into teaching, and passion for the job can, at least at an independent school, trump credentials. However, this does not mean you can approach this field casually, or without thorough preparation. If you want to stand in front of students and claim to contribute to their future, then you owe it to them to pour every ounce of your energy into every day. That sounds idealistic, but that’s kind of the point.

You should also take every opportunity to grow professionally. This could mean sitting in on other teachers’ classes, going to conferences, or even changing schools after a few years. Like your students, you need to be prepared to learn, grow, and adapt at every opportunity.”

6. Urban high school teacher

Lindsay Pushies has been teaching in inner-city Chicago for the last six years: two at a traditional public high school (through Teach for America) and four at a charter high school. Here’s what she would tell aspiring educators:

“Innovate often and fail well. As a country, we have not figured out how to ensure that all of our children are afforded the same educational opportunities. Teaching has always been and will always be personal, emotional, complex and challenging. The stakes are too high to do anything else.”

7. Teaching association director

When asked for his advice, Gary Beckner, executive director of the American Association of Educators, said:

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ place for educators. Examine what drives you and match your vision for education with a school that fits that model. Public charter schools and online programs are giving teachers flexibility and paths to innovate. Consider all of your options and where students need you most.”

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

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Recruiters: Watch Out for These 5 Red Flags During the Interview Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Avoid making a hire you’ll regret by keeping an eye out for these red flags during the interview.

The post Recruiters: Watch Out for These 5 Red Flags During the Interview appeared first on Brazen Life.

Spotting the perfect candidate whose skills and experience seem like an ideal match to your job spec is only part of the hiring battle. Their personality, attitude and cultural fit are just as crucial. Some would say these requirements are even more important than a skills match.

Of course you’re looking for someone who can do the job. But you’re looking for more. You need someone who’s enthusiastic about the role and wants to grow with your company. How can you tell if a qualified candidate will be a bad fit for the role? Keep an eye out for these red flags. They’ll make you think twice about making a job offer.

1. Tardiness

Yes, there could certainly be an unforeseen reason why someone might be late to an interview. But if they’re serious about the role, they would call your office to explain why they’re running late (and there will be a good reason).

If they don’t acknowledge their tardiness or come up with a poor excuse (like their alarm didn’t go off), you have to wonder how committed they really are.

At my recruiting firm, we were recently let down by a candidate who did not even show up for their interview. When we finally managed to speak to her to find out what happened, she told us she had overslept by three hours! We will never again recommend that candidate forward for another job.

2. Lack of research

Whatever job you’re recruiting for will require at least some degree of preparation. The candidate should be able to demonstrate knowledge about what your company does. If they’re doing a presentation, have they shown they’ve given thought to the topic, content and appearance of their presentation?

Of course it’s worth taking into account the length of time a candidate has had to prepare. Someone who was notified a day before an interview will not have been able to research as much a candidate who has had two weeks’ notice.

When we work with new clients, they often tell us they’re disappointed when their candidates don’t seem to know anything about their company. We tell our candidates to do as much research as possible before going into an interview. If they don’t, they’re drastically reducing their chances of success.

3. Zero questions at the end

As part of their preparation, your candidate should have given some thought about the questions they would like to ask at the end. (Click here to tweet this recruiting advice.) If they have nothing to ask or worse still, only ask about vacation and salary, it’s worth questioning what their motivations really are. Do they want to work for your company or do they just want any job?

One employer we met recently told us one of the reasons he passed on a candidate was because his only question was about the dress code.

4. Sub-par listening skills

Sometimes a candidate can be so focused on what they want to say, they’re not really listening to the questions you’re asking. Appearing not to listen can be a fairly common problem when a candidate is nervous. If you think this is the case with someone you’re interviewing, try and put them at ease and see if their interview technique starts to improve.

But watch out for candidates who interrupt you and give answers that aren’t relevant to the questions. Will these people be able to easily adapt to new environment if they’re not willing to listen even during the interview?

5. Sloppy appearance

You would always expect your candidate to arrive well groomed and dressed appropriately for the role they’re interviewing for. If they show up for an interview for an office job wearing old sneakers, a ratty t-shirt and with greasy hair, they’re clearly not making an effort to impress you.

One client told us about a candidate they did not hire purely because his shoes looked too much like gym shoes. If the candidate is not trying at interview stage, are they likely make the effort to go above and beyond in their work once you employ them?

You may have to pass on a candidate who seems “good enough.” That’s OK. Don’t settle until you find the right candidate. While it may take more time to find the right fit for your business and someone who truly wants to work there, it’s worth the wait. Otherwise you could find yourself recruiting for the same position again in six months.

This is a guest blog post by Rosanna Stimson, Marketing Manager at Ascendant Recruitment, a recruitment agency serving Milton Keynes and Northampton in the UK.

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Job Interview at a Startup? 5 Unusual Questions They’ll Ask Mon, 08 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Interviewing for a startup? Be prepared to be put through the ringer with these potential questions.

The post Job Interview at a Startup? 5 Unusual Questions They’ll Ask appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’ve got great references, common sense, a strong work ethic and intelligence. Think you’re set for your interview with the hottest local startup?

Every company is looking for bright individuals with the skills it takes to make their brand better. Small businesses and startups tend to determine if you’re a fit by looking deeper and adopting an unconventional approach to your interview. (Click here to tweet this quote.) So how do you handle questions thrown your way that you may not be ready for?

1. Your weekend plans

The question: “What did you do on Saturday?”

Why it’s asked: Startups know you’ve got all the right answers memorized. Instead of asking directly if you’re a hard worker, interviews will use seemingly unrelated questions to let your actions speak for themselves. Asking what you did on Saturday will reveal what time you get up, how seriously you take your hobbies, and your general attitude toward a day off.

How to react: This is a question that can be particularly difficult to answer in a way that balances both your professionalism and your personality. Handle it well by making a connection between your spare time and the roles included in the job. If you’re applying to be a software engineer, emphasize that woodworking project you completed or the LAN party you hosted for your buddies.

2. Your response to riddles

The question: “How much money would you spend to complete a $1 million project?”

Why it’s asked: Questions like these are enough to frustrate a lot of interviewees, and they’re increasingly popular with young, tech-related companies. The truth is there’s more purpose behind these questions than trying to sound like Google. Interviewers are trying to gauge how you respond to on-the-spot problems.

How to react: Keep calm and remember that no one expects you to provide the right answer. The interviewers are looking to evaluate your creativity, problem-solving skills, and perhaps even your sense of humor. Try retaliating with something like, “Can I have a pen and paper? Let’s figure this out together,” or “zero — so I can treat the team to the lunch of their lives.”

3. Your ability to take criticism

The question: “You gave us a two-page resume and didn’t clip the pages together. Do you not have a stapler?”

Why it’s asked: Many startup cultures are fast paced and can sometimes leave your feelings a bit bruised in the pursuit of the next big idea. A question like this could disarm a more sensitive interviewee, but it isn’t necessarily meant to do so. Your interviewer wants to understand how you handle relatively harmless quips.

How to react: Startup employees can be pretty blunt at times, and unfortunately an explanation of your mistake could come off as being defensive. Instead, try shrugging it off playfully: “I’m drawn to your culture because you encourage taking risks and making mistakes. It seems like I’ll fit right in!”

4. Your ability to give criticism

The question: “This is the newest product we’re working on. What would you change?”

Why it’s asked: Talk about a curveball! Not only are you being introduced to a foreign product, but now you’re also in the hot seat trying to offer suggestions for its improvement. Questions such as these evaluate your knowledge of your field and your ability to contribute to play an important role in a brainstorming session. They also give a feel for your level of confidence.

How to react: Demonstrate your expertise without being insensitive. If you freeze up and fail to provide some meaningful feedback, all the interviewer sees is that you can’t keep up with the startup culture. Ask one or two questions if it’s helpful and then provide thoughtful reasoning for the criticisms you provide.

5. Your creative process

The question: “Would you rather be responsible for producing an idea and handing it off to someone else or be responsible for executing someone else’s idea?”

Why it’s asked: The motives behind this question are actually quite practical. If the interviewer sees you as a strong candidate for the position, he may take note of your answer to make your job more enjoyable. He may also be weighing your preferences against that of his other employees to determine where you fit.

How to react: This is your chance to impress the interviewer by placing your preferences within the bigger picture. Ask how their team functions when given creative projects and where the needs lie. Better yet, explain what perception you developed while researching the company and detail how your preference fits within that.

The biggest difference between a startup interview and standard corporate interview is you’ll likely be put through the ringer. Remember that startups thrive on creativity, collaboration, and communication. Make yourself the obvious choice by showing off your expertise, establishing rapport in spite of difficult questions, and ultimately leaving an impression that’s hard to ignore.

Amy Daniels is the content writing manager at Red Nova Labs, a web technology startup stationed in Kansas City.

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How To Make Your MBA Application Stand Out With Powerful Storytelling Mon, 08 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Applying for an MBA? Show - don’t tell - why you deserve to be accepted with the power of a good story.

The post How To Make Your MBA Application Stand Out With Powerful Storytelling appeared first on Brazen Life.

Figuring out whether or not you want to apply for an MBA program is hard enough. So when you finally go for it, applying can be big step. You want to make sure you approach it in the most unique and authentic way possible.

The key to your success? Storytelling.

Storytelling, on top of other MBA application best practices, is a secret weapon you can use to set your MBA application apart from the crowd. And if you start practicing now, it’s a skill that can carry you through your MBA application and your MBA interview with flying colors.

Finding a Place for Storytelling

When was the last time you connected with a really good story? You know the one — where you start off vaguely interested and wondering if it will be a long one. But then, without being aware of what is happening, you’re swept along in the detail and the characters and fascinated by what you’re hearing. You are genuinely curious about how the story will end. And when it ends, you feel incredibly satisfied.

Storytelling is the art of building an emotional experience with words. Just imagine the results if you could give that same experience of surprise, interest, and satisfaction to give the person who reads your MBA application.

However, keep in mind that no one starts out the best storyteller in the world. You have to put in effort to build and improve your storytelling skills. Take a class. Learn from the professionals. And when you think you’ve reached your potential? That’s when the magic can come out on your MBA application.

Storytelling Script #1: Focus on the Setting

Do you have a unique story with a rare background? Then use it to your advantage! Don’t skip over the details in an effort to be more formal or “put together.” Use vivid and honest language to get creative when you set the stage for your academic and career experience and your MBA application essay will be immediately more interesting.

Did you graduate high school against the odds in a dangerous neighborhood? Don’t hide your history. Describe it in detail and explain how that experience motivated you to seek out this education.

Did you begin your career in one industry and make a quick switch to another? Set the stage. Weave a story that lets the MBA board feel what it was like to think your life was headed one way only to be surprised by a sudden, passionate switch. As long as you are providing an authentic narrative that emphasizes the passion you feel for your current direction, this back story will only add to your qualifications. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Storytelling Script #2: Build Tension

The MBA process catches you at an awkward point in your personal narrative: you’ve built a bit of a history and gotten some experience, but the rest of your life is yet to be figured out. The tension, the “will he or won’t he” of your story is only now beginning to rise.

Put the pressure on the MBA board by making the MBA the important twist in your story. Communicate to the board that they have the power to help turn your story around in a positive way. Emphasize the role that an MBA will play not just in your life but in the future of your industry. Show how it will help you achieve the results you need to change the world, or develop the skills you know are vitally necessary in a competitive world.

Don’t pencil in a dry outline of “Why you deserve to get your MBA.” It won’t get you noticed, and it won’t be fun to write. Instead, apply basic storytelling skills to weave a narrative that has both you and the MBA application board at the edge of your seats asking “What will happen next?!”

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

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A Comprehensive Guide to Negotiating the Perfect Relocation Package Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Is your job sending you overseas? Here’s what you need to know before you go.

The post A Comprehensive Guide to Negotiating the Perfect Relocation Package appeared first on Brazen Life.

Relocating to a new country can be an exciting, eye opening experience. But when negotiating the terms with your employer, it is crucial to make sure you’re getting duly compensated. All of the logistics should be sorted out before you fly out. You don’t want to wind up in a new country without health insurance for yourself or spouse, or having left behind the prized heirloom that’s been in your family for six generations.

Negotiating relocation terms is like bartering for your new lifestyle. Before you board the plane, you want to know that all of the necessities you have at home will be in place when you arrive, ready to serve your new expat lifestyle.

This includes everything from obvious issues like how much you will be getting paid and where you are going to live, to less apparent items like choosing a shipping company and considering the need for security. Overall, the process should take care of all your needs in the least stressful way possible. (Click here to tweet this guide.)

Work Visas

For those who are relocating to Europe, applying for a work permit or visa is country specific, and your company will need to sponsor your application. It’s a good idea to see if they can secure visas for your family, as well. You can even ask if they can apply on your behalf. This article on Matador Network describes the process in more detail.

For those who are relocating to the Middle East (another in-demand area for professionals), your company should take care of the visa application for you as well, but security and safety could pose a much larger concern.

Security, If Needed

Depending on the country you’re relocating to, safety and security may be legitimate concerns for you and your family. Discuss with your company what options are available. They may be able to provide housing in a gated community, a security system, bodyguards, and drivers.

Housing or Housing Allowance

According to U.S. News, in most relocation negotiations it’s up to the employee to research housing. However, most companies typically offer temporary housing or a housing allowance, especially if you’re moving to an area where residential costs are high. U.S. News suggests being up-front with your employer if you need housing assistance.


Once you have secured your visa, work permit, and your company has set up temporary housing for you and your family, the next step is to figure out how you are going to get around.

Companies know that selling your car and buying a new one in a foreign country is not always a smooth process. It is worth your while to ask them for the use of a company car or to include the cost of a car for you in the overall negotiation package. They may even hook you up with a personal driver. Don’t forget the old platitude: The answer will always be no unless you ask.

Moving Costs

Your company should also include the cost of moving in your package and possibly set it up for you. If they don’t mention this in the beginning, have a discussion about it.

Most companies will pay your moving costs, but they may not budge when you ask them to set it up. In that case, you are going to have to find an all-inclusive service to ship your belongings overseas.

There are certain services available that will take care of everything for you. You choose between air or ocean freight, and the total number of cubic feet or kilograms of your belongings is typically used to calculate the costs of the container shipping.

Transportation costs and vacation time

Don’t worry, you’re almost there. It is now time to negotiate who is paying to fly you and if necessary your family over. It’s also a good time to see if your company will sponsor a short leave of absence to get moved and settled.

According to Expat Arrivals, companies expect to pay for at least one return flight to your home country per year. This includes your family. The employee may pay initially with the company reimbursing the total cost.

Companies may also include extra vacation days for trips home for the holidays and to make up for time spent flying. If none of these are mentioned when first discussing your relocation contract, make sure to throw them onto the negotiation table and provide compelling reasons for why they should be considered. Remember, you’re in the better bargaining position because they need and want you abroad.

Children’s Education

If you’re a parent, this would be one of your first concerns. Do some research and decide whether the surrounding area offers adequate schooling for your children. Note that many foreign countries do not offer free public school, so your employer should cover the cost of private schools.

Another thing to consider is homeschooling; there are a number of excellent, academically acclaimed online learning institutions available now for children of diplomats, expats, and other people who choose to homeschool for one reason or another. Still, these curriculums are not necessarily cheap and you may need to hire a tutor, as well.

It is especially important to include education in the negotiations if your children are entering, or are enrolled in, college. Universities overseas can have waiting lists that make it next to impossible to get accepted once you arrive.

Medical Insurance

Full medical and health insurance should be prerequisites in relocation contracts. If private healthcare is not provided, make sure that you’re being compensated enough to pay for insurance out of your salary.

Healthcare plans and coverage should be specific to the country you are entering.

Final Tip

From Expat Arrivals: “At some point you will want to return home. Negotiate for the costs of this process to be covered and, crucially, lock-down the precise length of your overseas assignment.”

Employers can easily allow the scope of your agreement to creep beyond boundaries if this part of the contract is overlooked. Either set strict guidelines for the length of stay, or implement compensation if the stay goes over the agreed upon period.

Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY International Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.

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The Super Basic Interviewing Technique That Most Recruiters Aren’t Using Thu, 04 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Trying to interview recruits without this simple technique might be setting you up for failure. Read on to find out how to quickly pick out the winners.

The post The Super Basic Interviewing Technique That Most Recruiters Aren’t Using appeared first on Brazen Life.

Recruiters, we’ve got a question for you: Would you ever administer a test without knowing the correct answers?

We bet you’re shaking your head.

Why, then, would you interview someone without knowing which specific competencies you need for the position and how you’ll figure out if the recruit has them?

After all, that’s pretty much the same thing as giving a test without knowing the answers, isn’t it?

That’s why, in a recent article, John Miraglia says it’s essential for recruiters to “objectively [identify] the kinds of answers (aka behavioral indicators) that top candidates tend to give” — before interviewing a candidate.

How to create a metric for recruiting success

If you’re failing to hire winners, or are choosing candidates willy-nilly, it might be time to employ the simple technique he describes. Whether you have few or many qualified candidates, creating a metric will help you rationally determine who will succeed at the particular position you’re hiring for.

That’s because Miraglia’s approach includes figuring out who’s currently performing best (and worst) in the position — and why.

Here are the six steps he suggests: (Click here to tweet this list.)

  1. Identify top and poorer performing incumbents in your target job(s)
  2. Interview representative employees at different performance levels
  3. Develop behavioral indicators
  4. Develop a scoring model
  5. Train interviewers
  6. Implement, measure, and monitor

By following this detailed process and obtaining “valid, defensible, score-able answers to your interview items,” Miraglia promises you “will enhance your ability to more consistently identify potential top performers.”

We think it sounds like a pretty smart idea. Head over to ERE for full details on how to create and implement your own interview metric.

Do you have a metric for interviewing recruits? Does it help you in your hiring process?

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

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10 Warning Signs You Need a Career Change Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Do you love your career… or does it feel like it’s slowly killing you? If these signs apply to you, it might be time to consider a career change.

The post 10 Warning Signs You Need a Career Change appeared first on Brazen Life.

Do you trudge back and forth to your office every day with a dull sense of dread in the pit of your stomach? Or perhaps you daydream about squeezing through the only unbarred window in the building to frolic with the seagulls in the parking lot.

Even if it’s not quite that bad, you may not be aware of the ways your job is preparing you for an early grave. If you associate the following points with your career, it may be time to look into a new direction.

1. Sunday night dismay is a regular occurrence

The speed at which Sunday night rolls around can make you shake your poor wall clock with fervent wrath. If you lose sleep over the thought of going to work in the morning, it may be time to pack up with the little shred of sanity you have left.

2. Your future seems dim and shadowy

When you think about the future of your career, is it full of potential and promise or do you see the shadow of who you used to be gnawing on the edge of your desk?

If you no longer have any excitement about your future with a company or in a certain career path, evaluate the reason behind this and make some changes.

3. Your passion is waning

Do you still believe the work you’re doing serves an important or worthwhile purpose? If your relationship with work has transitioned to a tedious and soul-sucking exchange, you don’t do yourself any favors by agreeing to stay for the sake of the foosball table in the break room.

4. A monkey could do your job

When your talent isn’t valued by your employer, it can be difficult to keep yourself motivated, and any loyalty gets shoved right down the grinding disposal. Never allow your work to be taken for granted, especially if your boss has a tendency to compare your work to a trained chimp’s.

5. You’re trapped in a box

Do you feel as if your professional growth is being stunted? If you’re dissatisfied and unfulfilled with your opportunities for growth, you do yourself a disservice by sticking with your job. The ability to challenge yourself and expand your skills is a necessity if you want to offer value to future employers and advance your career.

6. War is the answer

Employers that aren’t transparent with their employees and deliver false promises can make it difficult to develop a sense of trust in the workplace. A healthy work environment is something that can’t be understated.

If you have to dodge flying plastic bulls and the ignoramus in the sales department on your way to the water fountain, it may be a sign of a corrupted company culture.

7. You suffer from dragging-clock syndrome

Most of us have the occasional day that seems to stretch out in never ending agony, but did you know that constant boredom may be partially to blame for your imminent death? If you find it challenging to motivate yourself to complete your tedious tasks, you may need to accept that you could end up with a shorter, less fulfilling life.

8. You’re working for peanuts

What matters most to you when it comes to your career may not be entirely focused on salary, but you should be sufficiently compensated for your work. Whether this comes in the form of professional development opportunities, bonuses, benefits or promotions, make sure you’re sufficiently rewarded for your contributions.

9. You’re consumed by envy

Do you find yourself smiling like the Cheshire cat to mask your jealousy as your friends or family members tell you about the joys of their work? If you feel this way, it’s a strong indicator you may want to look into changing companies or even your line of work.

10. You’re a stranger in the mirror

If you’re unable to be your authentic self at work, you’re headed down a sinister and disturbing path. Your career shouldn’t be the source of an identity crisis. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

When you can’t act in a genuine way, you’ll be unable to contribute and perform at your peak level. Change can be scary, but without it, you may be facing the ultimate change a lot sooner than you planned.

Linda Hildebrandt is a marketing specialist for She enjoys helping people market themselves to find fulfilling career opportunities.

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The Secret to Getting More Job Interviews? Improve Your Resume Wed, 03 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Forget all those tiny resume revisions and tweaks. They won’t help you get more interviews. This is what you should do instead.

The post The Secret to Getting More Job Interviews? Improve Your Resume appeared first on Brazen Life.

Do you spend hours every week tweaking your resume, hoping that rearranging words or changing the font might be the key to getting consistent interviews?

There’s no shame in doing that; in fact, it shows you care enough about getting a job that you’ll put in extra effort.

The problem is, you’re wasting your time.

No matter which sentence or two you change, your resume will be at least 95 percent the same. Expect to get 95 percent or more of the same results.

(Just to be clear, this doesn’t mean having a great resume doesn’t require effort and isn’t worth it.)

Once you design a solid resume and create a master skill set or experience points you can use as needed, the return on your revision efforts goes down the drain.

How you should spend your time

If you want to improve your resume, spend the time you normally use to fiddle with your resume in one of two ways: overhaul your resume or accomplish more. (Click here to tweet these options.)

Overhauling your resume can result in a resume that’s 50 percent or more different from what you started with, but it isn’t always an option. If you take the time initially to come up with a great template, there’s no point in overhauling your resume. You can’t improve it.

Only create a new resume if you didn’t put the effort in at the start and think you can significantly upgrade your resume.

The second option is what you should get excited about and spend your time and effort on in the long term.

Why? If you’re not getting good results after creating a sleek and well-written resume, you need to improve the value you bring to the table. If you want to stand out against other qualified candidates, it may be time to take your game to the next level.

Add new skills to your resume

You can present your current skills and accomplishments perfectly, but if those skills and accomplishments aren’t that impressive, it’s time to get new ones. Figuring out how to do this in your spare time is easier for some careers than others.

One option is to complete personal projects or do some pro bono work. This is ideal for designers, artists and programmers. You can use these opportunities to showcase an existing skill or to develop a new one.

For example, if you’re a programmer, you can learn a new language to not only improve your versatility, but also open up a whole new segment of the job market to apply to.

The second option is to take a class or seminar. These can often be found at local post-secondary schools. Furthermore, with the explosion of high quality online courses, most of which are free, you don’t have an excuse not to learn useful skills that can be put on a resume.

What skills should you learn?

Think about the typical jobs you apply for from the other side of the table. What valuable skills are required that you don’t have? Make a list and find ways you can develop and apply these skills.

Within just a month or two of learning new skills, you’ll be a more well-rounded candidate who stands out. While that may seem like a significant time investment (it is), the returns from your efforts will be well worth it.

Even when you get a job, never stop learning and advancing your skills. You never know when it might come in handy.

Dale Cudmore is the founder of Raw Resume, an all-in-one stop for resources that will help you create a killer resume to get interviews. Access a special bonus for Brazen Life readers that contains the top free online courses you can start today here.

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Win the Fight for the Job You Want With These Important Email Tips Wed, 03 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Getting hired for a new job can feel like a battle sometimes, and email - your only chance to make a first impression - is also your only weapon. Here’s what you need to know.

The post Win the Fight for the Job You Want With These Important Email Tips appeared first on Brazen Life.

Emails are your weapon in the competitive battlefield known as the job hunt. An email is your first impression with your employer, but it is also the first impression your competition has with your employer too. Learn by the words of the master of war himself, Sun Tzu.

“Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”

—Sun Tzu’s Art of War, ss. 1.26: Laying Plans

Before you send out your first professional email to fight in this war, you must prepare as much as you can. You should learn why your email is ruining your chances at getting hired, how you can fix it, as well as how to put yourself ahead of the pack. Be a master on the job hunt battlefield. (Click here to tweet this bit of inspiration.)

Follow All Directions on the Job Posting

“…the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” - Sun Tzu’s Art of War, ss. 4.2: Tactical Dispositions

Directions given in a job posting are meant to be followed. Use the directions given to you by the company because they are the best way to get hired. The company wants people who are cooperative, attentive, and intelligent. If you don’t follow the company’s instructions on their job post, you will only weed yourself out.

You should be reading all the requirements on the job posting and making sure your email follows every single requirement. Give yourself a fighting chance by using what the company has given you as their requirements. An employer sets out directions to make their job easier to find qualified candidates like you.

Spell Check, Grammar Check, and Double Check Everything You Send

“To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands…” – Sun Tzu’s Art of War, ss. 4.2: Tactical Dispositions

If you want to make sure your email isn’t tossed into the trash, don’t depend on your email platform, browsers, phone, or fancy word processor to catch your mistakes. If autocorrect was always reliable and accurate, would there be a site for autocorrect failures? Ducking autocorrect.

You are the one who is responsible for making sure you take the time to read and re-read what you have written. When a recruiter sees that you have made a glaringly painful and stupid mistake, your recruiter will just discard your email. Don’t seem thoughtless and careless. Double check your emails for spelling, grammar, and content.

Be Clear and Concise in Your Communications

“When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct…” - Sun Tzu’s Art of War, ss. 10.18: Terrain

You, the general, and your words are weak and without authority when your communication is not clear and concise. When sending out an email, make sure what your write in your email is free of industry jargon, slang, text speak, shorthand, emoticons, excessive capitalization, and excessive punctuation. To prevent misunderstandings and increase the ease in which your email can be understood, refrain from using informal, vernacular, or complex language to leave the best possible impression on your future and potential employer. You don’t want to look like any of these people to a future employer.

Maintain a Professional Appearance: Use a Professional Email Address

“If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.” – Sun Tzu’s Art of War, ss. 3.9: Attack by Stratagem

To apply for a professional position to a recruiter with a professional email, you too should become a professional with a professional email. Your email is one of the first impressions you can leave to a potential employer. Be sure that your email comes from a reputable and trusted email provider such as Google, and be sure your email consists of a combination of your first name and last name such as or

By having a professional email address, you stand to be equally matched with your employer. If your email address consists of your first name and last name but comes from a less reputable domain, change it. If your email address has a cool or funny nickname but comes from a trusted domain, change it. Avoid sending an email until you are equally matched with your employer. In order to get hired, don’t appear unprofessional before your prospective employer.

Hone Your Email Writing Etiquette

“The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.” – Sun Tzu’s Art of War, ss. 8.11: Variation in Tactics

There is no magic formula for a writing the perfect email to an employer. Even if you managed to find a template, it does not mean that you can effectively write emails in the future when you are employed by said company. Always work on your writing skills and email etiquette. Learn to use formal and professional writing conventions such as formal salutations and closings. The best offense is a good defense.

Learn what the difference between BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) and CC (Carbon Copy) is, and learn that you should never BCC or CC a set of prospective employers. By learning that you should email each employer separately with a unique email, you have increased your own readiness to send out a professional email and increased your chances of getting a job.

Sun Tzu emphasizes that you should continually improve yourself and always prepare yourself for battle. That means you should always brush up on your email writing etiquette as well as make sure the emails you send out are proofread, double-checked for recipients, and professional.

You should understand that carelessness, ill-preparation, and lack of understanding ruin your chances of getting a job. Since you now understand what is ruining your job chances, you can change your habits and improve yourself.  Learn and understand the principles and ideas behind what makes a professional email and the conventions of a professional email but do not be bound by the rules you have learned.

Taylor Wright is a freelance writer based in Dallas. She covers a variety of topics such as travel, business communications, and technology.

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How Sparking New Conversations Can Ignite Change In Your Career Tue, 02 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Going nowhere in your career? Here’s how to start important conversations to get you moving -- and open doors to new opportunities.

The post How Sparking New Conversations Can Ignite Change In Your Career appeared first on Brazen Life.

Do you feel stuck in your job? Stuck in your career? Most people who are dissatisfied with their work don’t know how, or what, to change. Meanwhile, we’ve all seen the statistics about how a majority of people get their jobs. How? Contacts. Contacts. Contacts.

However, too many of us focus on the non-essentials. We put most of our focus on LinkedIn and job sites in our search for what is next. That’s understandable, as connecting with people can be scary. Sometimes, picking a new font for a CV feels safer than actually reaching out to a person.

If you want to make real change and progress in your career, though, it won’t be on paper – it will be the next important conversation you need to have, yet so few people do it. (Even fewer do it well.) Here are the six practical steps you need to follow if you want to activate real change in your career. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Map The People In Your Life

Get clear about who you know and who is in your life. Take two hours and map out the contacts around you. This should include colleagues, family, friends, neighbors, online friends, old school buddies — even the barista around the corner.

You might want to get a really good system for organizing all your contacts. However, a simple Excel sheet works just as well.

2. Identify Your Game Changers

Highlight the people who stand out. Those you feel could be a positive, contributing part to your change. Avoid the naysayers. Who works at a company you admire? What former school buddy is running an interesting company?

In a second step, expand your search. Identify people you look up to, but that you might not know. Who in your community is doing something important? What friend of a friend is pursuing a cause that gives you goosebumps? Think big, and list these people, no matter how far-fetched it seems.

3. Invite Them

The scariest part may be getting in touch. Ask a friend for an introduction if possible. If not, a quick email is a good start. Be honest about your intentions and let them know that he or she is a person you look up to and you want to buy them lunch, or schedule a quick call, to pick their brain. Most people enjoy a free lunch and meeting people who are inspired by what they do.

4. Prepare a Way To Help

Wonderful things happen when you focus on helping others. Can you introduce them to someone you know? Send an article about something they would enjoy? Check their website and give them some thoughts on how they could improve?

Or you could simply listen; consider asking questions about what inspires them, how they got where they are, or what they struggle with in their business. You will learn a lot and have more information on how to help them later.

Moving into a mindset of service and helping others may take some practice, but it will set you apart.

5. Have Fun

Show up well prepared, but never forget that they are people to. Don’t go into a meeting with a desperate need for a new job, even if this may be your current situation. Focus on being you: We all want to connect with interesting, fun people. Relax and don’t be scared to bring a laugh to the conversation.

6. Follow-Up

You know the feeling when someone never replied to an email you wrote or stopped mid-conversation in a Facebook conversation? Don’t be that person. Be sure to keep in touch. You don’t want to be pushy, but send an email once in a while with a congrats for an award they won, a blog post they should read or just mention a situation where their advice helped you. Few people follow up well. If you do, you will automatically stand out and be top-of-mind.

This roadmap is not a quick fix — it’s a way of approaching your career. But you will realize that once you begin having important, conscious conversations – change becomes inevitable. New insights will come to you, your network will grow and opportunities will arise more abundantly.

So, who are you going to have a conversation with this week?

Cecilia Bratt has a background as a hiring manager in a fast-growing startup. Today, she works as a startup consultant and career coach. She is the founder of Conscious Careerist where she helps people find and build meaningful careers.

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Want to Work for Yourself? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Before you quit your job to work for yourself, make sure you can answer “yes” to the following questions.

The post Want to Work for Yourself? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

You’ve been pouring your heart into your side hustle for the past few months (or even years). Each evening, you leave the office excited to head home and dive into another few hours of creative brainstorming.

But you’re ready to take things to the next level. You’re ready to become your own boss. Even if you feel mentally ready, is your business ready? Before you make the leap, make sure you can answer “yes” to the following questions. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Is your business idea profitable?

Go back to the basics and see if your business idea is profitable. Can this dream of yours make money? (Because we’d hate for you to be living in a box under the bridge.)

Do a little research and see if similar businesses exist. If you can’t find any, that can mean a couple of things.

Perhaps your business idea isn’t actually that fab (meaning, profitable.) That’s bad news. No matter how awesome you think it is, if there isn’t a need or desire for what you’re offering, no one will buy it.

Or, the lack of similar businesses to yours could be an enormous opportunity for you to be successful. You may have discovered a gap in the market and it could be a gold mine. Somebody has to be the first. Maybe it’s you!

2. Do you really have what it takes?

Unfortunately, there’s not a magic formula to find out if you’re meant to quit your J-O-B and become an entrepreneur.

But there are a few key factors that can greatly influence (and predict) your success.

Ask yourself these questions before becoming your own boss.

  • Are you self-disciplined?
  • Can you hold yourself accountable, even if no one else is paying attention?
  • Do you have a burning desire to achieve this?
  • Is there something bigger about this idea that will keep you going, even after the initial sparkle has worn off?
  • Are you flexible?
  • Can you roll with the punches?

One of the most exciting parts about starting a business is that you don’t know exactly where it’s gonna go. You might discover that where you thought your business was headed is totally impractical once you actually put it into action.

If you answered YES, then becoming your own boss might be your next step. You’re about to become completely responsible for your success.

3. Do you have an action plan?

Once you figure out if your idea is profitable and have decided you do actually want to dive into working for yourself full-time, you need to create a plan to make it happen.

Pick a date to quit your job. Put it on the calendar. This simple step will make it real to you and to the Universe. Give your supervisor and HR adequate notice and leave on good terms.

Then it’s time to focus on the important financial details. How much do you need to cover your monthly expenses? What number do you want in your savings account so you can feel comfortable walking away from your steady paycheck? Create a budget to reach this number. And stick to it.

As your excitement grows and you approach your last day, begin wrapping up dangling work projects. You can also use this time to lay the foundation or continue building momentum in your business.

Finally, feel the fear and do it anyway. Walking away from your job to do your own thing will be scary, but you’ve totally got this. You’re smart. You’re talented. The world is waiting for you!

Ashley Wilhite is the founder of Your Super Awesome Life where she coaches up-and-coming entrepreneurs to hone the confidence and action plan they need to do what they love and make their first $10k. Check out her stories, tips, and inspiration on life, business, and living on your own terms at, and grab your copy of her free book, “The 5 Things That Hold You Back.

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7 Simple Ways to Conduct Better Job Interviews Mon, 01 Dec 2014 18:00:00 +0000 Conducting job interviews for your company doesn’t have to induce dread. These tips will help you master the art of interviewing -- and build a superstar team.

The post 7 Simple Ways to Conduct Better Job Interviews appeared first on Brazen Life.

Picture this: A job opens up at your company, and you’re asked to run the interviews. How do you feel?

Do you jump all over it like an excited kid on his new trampoline? Or do you decide that now’s the perfect time to get that root canal you’ve been putting off?

Almost all interviewers dread looking like an idiot. What if you ask dumb questions? What if you get flustered and babble something stupid?

Maybe you’ll end up hiring someone so awful your boss will wonder if you’ve lost your mind. Then fire you.

Here’s how to lose the dread and conduct your interviews like a master. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Adopt a gracious, warm and welcoming attitude

You’d think this is a no-brainer. But most managers are about as genuine as a cardboard cutout when they interview.

Remind yourself that you’re fortunate to have time with a potential superstar. You wouldn’t have chosen them for an interview if they weren’t, right?

2. Be direct and heartfelt

But don’t be a pushover. Ask tough but fair questions.

Listen carefully for opportunities to ask questions that begin with how and what rather than why. Questions beginning with why put people on the defensive faster than an NFL linebacker and make it nearly impossible to assess how fit they are for the job.

Imagine asking someone “How did you decide to take that approach?” Now imagine asking them “Why did you do that?”

Notice the difference?

3. Say “Tell me more” to uncover the details

It’s a simple phrase that’s practically magical in its power to get others to relax and open up.

If you’re in a situation where people give a two-word answer, use this phrase to prompt them for more.

4. Toss the standard HR questions

They’re only useful if you’re interviewing one of the zombies from The Walking Dead.

Instead of asking “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What’s your greatest weakness?” be willing to go off script. Follow up on anything that catches your attention as long as you stay within legal boundaries.

5. Give the person time to relax

Cut job seekers slack for the first 15 to 20 minutes of the interview. Doing so gives them time to settle down, get engaged and move past their nervousness.

You can tell when they settle. Watch for their shoulders to relax, their expression to soften and their speech to slow down and get more deliberate.

6. Don’t interrogate them; engage them

Standard advice to interviewees is to understand and engage the hiring manager.

Take it a step further. Engage them. When you do, you’ll get a more holistic perception of the person sitting across from you. And you’ll provide them an honest glimpse of what working for you would be like.

7. Hire for attitude; train for smarts

Favor people with a positive attitude, inquiring nature and the tenacity of a pit bull, even if they’re less qualified than others with all the right credentials but the enthusiasm of a dead fish.

You’ll save yourself a tremendous amount of time, effort and frustration. Hard skills are easy to teach compared to trying to transplant the right attitude into someone.

When you take these steps, the interview goes from ordinary to outstanding.

How you win by mastering the art of interviewing

Your confidence will soar. Your next job vacancy will be an exciting opportunity instead of something less appealing than dental surgery. And you’ll be far more likely to get the right person for the job.

Over time, you’ll build a stellar reputation for building a kick-butt team. Word will get around. And you might even become known as a leader talented people beg to work for.

So get going!

Your future superstars are waiting for you.

Lynn Hauka teaches busy managers how to reclaim their personal life while still getting excellent business results. Sign up at The Balanced Boss to find out how.

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Switching Careers? Why – and How – You Should Start Budgeting Today Mon, 01 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Leaving your job? Before you take the plunge, balance out a budget now to make sure all your financial bases are covered in the future.

The post Switching Careers? Why – and How – You Should Start Budgeting Today appeared first on Brazen Life.

Switching careers is an exciting thing, and also a totally terrifying thing.

On one hand, you’re eager to push your boundaries and explore new lanes that can bring you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction you’ve never known.

On the other, you’re about to enter uncharted territory (at least for you), and that can be nerve-wracking.

Part of the anxiety of a career change stems from the uncertain financial position it can put you in. From setting yourself up for the switch to navigating a new salary once you’ve transitioned, there’s plenty that could potentially go wrong.

The good news is, with a little forethought and planning, you can hedge your bets and put yourself in the strongest financial position possible, no matter what sort of switch you’re contemplating. So whether you’re starting over in a new field, changing employers or cities or leaving a 9-to-5 to work for yourself, keep these tips in mind to make the transition as financially smooth as possible. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Build a fallback fund

When you change course, you’re likely to hit a few potholes along the way.

You’re not able to negotiate as high a salary at your new job as you originally thought.

Your job search stretches on longer than you anticipated.

A new freelance project falls through and you’re left scrambling to find a replacement.

While you’re still steadily employed in your current gig, start socking away some extra cash to help cushion your transition. Should things not go as expected — and if Murphy’s Law tells us anything, they probably won’t — you won’t be facing the sudden panic of having jumped without any sort of safety net.

A fallback fund also allows you to widen your scope for new career avenues without having to worry too much about the financial part of the equation. You may come across a job that doesn’t pay as much as you’re hoping for but has great potential for advancement, and having some savings built up can help you weather the initial salary loss a little more easily.

Get real about your budget

Aack. The “b” word.

Most people hate the thought of budgeting, because most people see a budget as an overly strict parent who refuses to allow you to have any fun. But, when done right, your budget can be your awesomest sidekick, allowing you to do things you never thought possible by having your back when things get tough.

A budget is nothing more than a set of guidelines by which you spend your money. How you allocate your spending can either help you live the life you desire, or hold you back.

If you’re stuck in a job you hate, could it be because it helps you maintain a lifestyle you don’t really need? Can you nix the regular dinners out and trade in your latest-model car for a used one to give yourself the extra flexibility to pursue a job that may not pay as much, but that you know you’ll love? You may find you don’t even “need” so many luxuries to make you feel better once you’re in a career you enjoy. Career satisfaction can actually be a great budget-saver.

If you want to start over in a new industry but it requires an advanced degree, could you go back to your college days of Ramen noodle dinners for a couple years to help finance it? It may be worth it to live cheaply for a little while in order to set yourself on a career path that will pay you back tenfold.

Whatever your goal, make sure your long-term priorities match up with your short-term spending.

Don’t forget transition costs

Before you actually transition to that next step in your career, you may incur some expenses in order to make that transition possible.

If you’re looking for a job in a new city, this could include job search costs and moving costs. (Many job search costs are tax-deductible, and some companies will help pay your moving costs, but you may still need to pay for these things out-of-pocket upfront.)

If you want to switch fields, you may need to go back to school, get certified or take some additional professional training.

A new wardrobe may be also in order, either to impress potential new bosses or convey your new level of authority once you move up the ladder.

As you’re working on your grand master plan for transitioning, make a note of any items that have a price tag attached to them so you can find a place for them in that lovely new budget you’ve put together.

Understand the hidden costs of your new career

The biggest thing to consider, of course, is your new salary. If you’re starting out from scratch in a different industry, you likely can’t expect to make the same amount you’re making now as a seasoned employee. Check out’s Salary Wizard and PayScale to get an idea of the going rate for someone of your skill level in your new industry.

You’ll also want to factor in any benefits differences, including the loss of any stock options, flexible-spending accounts or retirement contribution matches you enjoy with your current employer. Your health insurance costs could also rise, so take that into account as well.

Finally, you’d be wise to do some research into how long it takes to get a raise or promotion in your new field and/or with your prospective new employer. You might be able to live with a tightened budget for a year or two if you know there’s a pay raise coming at the end of the tunnel, but if advancement opportunities aren’t so clear-cut, will you be OK eating that Ramen indefinitely?

Bottom line: Make sure you know what you’re getting into. You can work out a plan to make all sorts of new circumstance work, but you first need to know what those circumstances will look like.

Keep your spirits up

Chances are your career transition will have some ups and downs — both financially, and emotionally. Remind yourself now that any sacrifices you’re making financially are only temporary, and they’re made with the goal of earning yourself more happiness (and potential money) down the road.

You’re ultimately investing in yourself. And you’re worth it.

Kelly Gurnett runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.

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5 Ways to Ditch The Job You Hate to Find One You’ll Love Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 If you hate your job, but aren’t sure what to do about it, explore these five options.

The post 5 Ways to Ditch The Job You Hate to Find One You’ll Love appeared first on Brazen Life.

You know the feeling. Laying in bed with the sun creeping through the window, awake too soon, dreading the alarm clock’s impending screech. You don’t feel motivated to get up because you don’t love your job. In fact, you can think of about 50 more inspiring things to do than what you’ll be doing from nine to five today.

You’re not alone. Many people are settling for a less-than-ideal job, resulting in a society lacking fulfillment in the work it spends most of its time producing.

It’s true that we need to put food on the table. So sometimes we take a job just to have a job. But when a short-term solution becomes your long-term ball-and-chain, it’s time to reevaluate.

If you find yourself dreading work every day, explore these options so you can finally look forward to going to work every day. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Share your knowledge

If you have an area of expertise that might be helpful for others in the company to learn more about, talk to your boss about hosting a training session. There might even be an opportunity for you to help train new employees. Training others offers a sense of significance in your job and may spark new inspiration.

Keep in mind that teaching benefits more than the students. You’ll also have a chance to develop and refine your skills as you teach what you know to someone else. Sharing your expertise will help you more clearly define your own role, giving you a deeper understanding of your own position. You may even find you feel more fulfilled in what used to seem like mundane work. You just might rediscover what you loved about your job in the first place!

Training also provides the opportunity to build relationships and network with different employees in your organization. Down the line, your trainee might make for an excellent reference or may even become a good friend.

2. Look for an opportunity to switch roles

Maybe you don’t get along with the people in your department or your job tasks don’t suit you. Then it’s time to grab lunch with people from other departments and get to know them better.

Do research within your company to find out other roles that might be a good fit for you. Ask your boss if you can shadow someone from another department for one hour a week. Or ask a coworker if they’d like to go out for coffee sometime. Use these opportunities to ask your questions about the department or position they work in to see if it’s something you’re interested in. Then, talk to your boss about the possibility of cross-training or transferring departments in the future.

Perhaps a role transfer requires a special training or certification. If so, take the necessary steps to pursue it. Even if you don’t get to use your certification right away, you might be able to put it to use in a future career.

3. Quit and find a new job

If your company can’t offer you an opportunity to expand your skills and learns something new, go somewhere else. Research companies online. If one looks promising, set up informational interviews with their employees to see what their experience is like there. Follow the happy people.

4. Change industries

A study found the health IT industry has an 80 percent job satisfaction rate. Other industries like education report high job meaning above 90 percent. Directors of religious activities and clergymen also report assigning extremely high meaning to their jobs. These are just any number of industries your might consider.

Determine what factors of your job are most important — pay, flexibility, benefits or schedule — and choose an industry that provides those. Research and learn the reasons other people love their jobs to find out what you’re missing.

5. Go freelance or work on contract

Freelance and contract work is a growing trend. Recent research by Intuit predicts 60 million Americans will be freelancers, contractors or temp workers by the year 2020.

Sometimes, it’s not what you do, but who you do it for that makes or breaks a job. You might find more fulfillment in working for yourself and have a greater sense of ownership with direct contact with clients. Plus, freelance and contract work typically offers a flexible schedule and more creative freedom than a corporate gig.

Instead of suffering in a role that’s slowly killing your enthusiasm for life, take steps to find something you’re passionate about. Your talents and skills are valuable in this world, and it would be a shame if you didn’t use them because you settled for a job you don’t love.

If you don’t love your job, what’s stopping you from leaving? Share with us in the comments below.

Tim Cannon is the vice president of product management and marketing at, the largest free job search resource connecting busy health IT professionals with relevant opportunities in the health IT field with minimal effort. Connect with Tim and on LinkedIn.

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Switching Careers? Here’s How to Revamp Your Resume Wed, 26 Nov 2014 18:00:00 +0000 When it’s time for something new, you’ll need a new resume that will get you noticed by employers in your target industry.

The post Switching Careers? Here’s How to Revamp Your Resume appeared first on Brazen Life.

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

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

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

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

1. Start with some soul-searching

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

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

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

2. Pinpoint key qualifications of the new position

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

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

3. Highlight your transferable skills

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

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

4. Be selective

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

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

5. Show off your industry smarts

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

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

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

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

The post MBA Application Process: What’s Typically Required and How Much It Costs appeared first on Brazen Life.

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

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

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

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

MBA Background Application

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

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

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

MBA Written Application

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

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

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

MBA Application Interview

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

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

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

MBA Application Post-Interview Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say hello to Remote Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Boost Your Business With a Visual Content Strategy appeared first on Brazen Life.

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

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

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

Video is most engaging

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

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

content strategy

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

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

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

Imagery is the nicest to look at

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

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

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

Infographics are the most informative

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

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

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

infographic for visual strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Film a video to show off your personality

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

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

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

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

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

2. Create a PowerPoint to outline your goals

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

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

3. Design a Prezi of your accomplishments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Deal with your feelings

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

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

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

2. Take responsibility for your future

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

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

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

3. Be grateful for what you have

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

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

4. Know when change is a blessing in disguise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strategy 1. Promote your character

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strategy 2. Try different “career trails”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to conduct your own annual review

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

Here’s how he describes it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Master Microsoft Office

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

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

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

2. Dominate Google Analytics

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

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

3. Get good at grammar

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

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

4. Professionalize your public speaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start with the money you’ve got — or not

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

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

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

Map out a budget

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

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

Give your future a health check

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy being a student while you can

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The early education and exploration years

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

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

2. Continuing education

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

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

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

3. First role

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

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

4. The “on a roll” stage

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

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

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

5. Add ons

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

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

6. Dissatisfied

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

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

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

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

7. Career break

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

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

8. Change companies

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

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

9. Change careers

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

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

10. Winding down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Court and police records

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

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

2. DMV records

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

3. Credit reports

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

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

4. Employment history

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

5. Medical records

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

6. Academic history

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

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

7. Google and social media results

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

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

8. Stay calm and get employed

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

Here’s a template for that awkward moment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Shift your focus

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

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

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

2. Turn your social networking profiles into a virtual portfolio

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

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

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

3. Connect with the right people and organizations

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

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

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

4. Join relevant conversations

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

5. Monitor and control your personal reputation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How managing up will help you succeed at work

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

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

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

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

What managing up is — and what it isn’t

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

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

How to amp up your managing up game

1. Document everything you’re working on

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

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

2. Keep the team constantly informed

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

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

3. Solicit feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What perks can you offer?

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

Here are some of our favorites:

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

See a common thread?

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

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

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

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

The post Why Leaving Your Lunch at Home Could Be the Best Career Move You’ll Ever Make appeared first on Brazen Life.

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

Then the panic sets in.

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

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

Not so fast.

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

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

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

1. Cut your morning (and afternoon) coffee

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

2. Tag along with your homemade lunch

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

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

3. Dine out with your team once per week

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

4. Take money out of your drink budget

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

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

5. Play for the long-run payday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Know thine enemy and familiarize yourself with the threats

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

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

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

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

2. Assess your security situation

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

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

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

3. Change your habits

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

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

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

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

4. Share the knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The important question for managers is:

How will testing culture affect new arrivals to the workplace?

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

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

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

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

It’s time for managers to revise their review practices

Here’s why and how to do it.

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

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

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

GenY has been groomed to value the review process

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

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

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

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

Start with quantitative feedback

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

Appeal to their digital nativeness

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

Mentor them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so fast.

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

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

1. Do the sincerity sniff test

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

Your essay should promptly answer and address these common questions:

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

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

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

2. Bring in a professional

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

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

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

3. Curb your perfection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emily Allen: The role has changed significantly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post 6 Surprising Benefits of Not Getting an Internship You Want appeared first on Brazen Life.

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

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

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

1. You get to practice

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

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

2. You can ask for feedback

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

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

3. You can build a relationship with the recruiter

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. You learn about “fit”

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

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

6. You get creative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The report also goes on to say that

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

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

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

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Look in the right place

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

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

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

2. Find the right fit

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

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

3. Target the best role

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

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

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

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

4. Make yourself indispensable

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

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

5. Learn the concepts

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

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

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

6. Be willing to work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

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

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

How to take back your weekends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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