Brazen Life http://blog.brazencareerist.com Personal development meets professional aspiration Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Copyright © Brazen Life 2011 alexis@brazencareerist.com (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) alexis@brazencareerist.com (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) 1440 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Brazen-Podcast-Art-144x144.jpg Brazen Life http://blog.brazencareerist.com 144 144 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/feed/podcast/ 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 alexis@brazencareerist.com no no If You Want to Land a Career You’ll Love, Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/31/want-land-career-youll-love-dont-make-3-mistakes/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/31/want-land-career-youll-love-dont-make-3-mistakes/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17637 If you’re struggling to figure out where to take your career, here’s how to avoid choosing the wrong path.

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

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

That’s all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. You could chose a career out of desperation

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

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

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

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

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The Brutal Truth About Why You’re Not Getting What You Want http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/30/brutal-truth-youre-getting-want/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/30/brutal-truth-youre-getting-want/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17604 There are lots of things you say you want -- but are you truly going after them? This article may be just the wake-up call you need.

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

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

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

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

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

Be honest… are you making it happen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Networking in Portland: 7 Events to Expand Your Professional Circle http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/30/networking-portland-7-events-expand-professional-circle/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/30/networking-portland-7-events-expand-professional-circle/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17607 In Portland, Ore. and looking to network with other young professionals? Here are seven events you’ll want to add to your calendar.

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

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

1. Creative Mornings

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

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

2. Young Non-Profit Professionals Network

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

3. Emerging Professionals of Portland: Last Tuesday

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

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

4. Partners in Diversity: Say Hey

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

5. Portland Network After Work

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

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

6. pdxMindShare

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

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

7. Portland Women Founder’s Forum

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

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

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How to Manage Productive and Happy Interns — and Make the Most of Them http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/29/manage-productive-happy-interns-make/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/29/manage-productive-happy-interns-make/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17623 A happy and productive intern will make your job easier. Here’s how to ensure both parties get the most out of an internship.

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

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

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

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

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

1. Their work environment

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

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

2. Their day-to-day tasks and work

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

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

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

3. Their team

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

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

4. Their rewards

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

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

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

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

What are some ways you guarantee successful internship programs?

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

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4 Smart Tricks to Writing an MBA Application Essay About Failure http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/29/4-smart-tricks-writing-mba-application-essay-failure/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/29/4-smart-tricks-writing-mba-application-essay-failure/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17618 If your MBA essay prompt asks you to write about a mistake or failure from your past, don’t tiptoe around the issue. Tackle it head on and show admissions you’re resilient.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Allow yourself to fall short

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

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

2. Give an honest assessment

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

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

3. Tell a story

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

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

4. Share your personal growth

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Reasons You Should Work for Free http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/28/5-reasons-work-free/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/28/5-reasons-work-free/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17627 Before you decide to work for free, make sure you do it for the right reasons. Here are a few -- plus the one reason why you shouldn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

1. It’s a networking opportunity

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

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

2. It’ll enhance your career skills

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

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

3. It’s a future business or advancement opportunity

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

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

4. It boosts your pay scale or rate

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

5. It’s a passion

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

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

When you should never work for free

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

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

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

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Recent Grad? How to Start Your Career Even If You’re Unemployed http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/27/recent-grad-start-career-even-youre-unemployed/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/27/recent-grad-start-career-even-youre-unemployed/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17632 How have you been keeping busy since graduation? If you haven’t landed a job yet, here’s what you should be doing to appear more attractive to employers.

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

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

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

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

Keep learning

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

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

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

Work more than 1 job

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

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

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

Demonstrate an “achiever pattern”

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Bold Ways to Stand Out and Land Your Dream Job http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/27/5-bold-ways-stand-land-dream-job/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/27/5-bold-ways-stand-land-dream-job/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17613 You’ve polished your resume and done your homework. But to get your foot in the door at your dream company, it’s time to step it up. Here’s how.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Have a strong online presence

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

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

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

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

3. Showcase your skills on an animated video

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

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

4. Be bold and think outside the box

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

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

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

5. Do the job before you even get an offer

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Types of People You Don’t Want to Become at the Office http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/24/5-types-people-dont-want-become-office/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/24/5-types-people-dont-want-become-office/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17566 Ever had trouble getting along with your coworkers at the office? Before you point fingers at someone else, take a look at this list to see if the problem is really your personality.

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

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

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

The Good-Old-Days Guy

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

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

The Critic

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

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

The Tattletale

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

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

The Chatterbox

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

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

The Hyper-Competitor

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

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

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

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

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

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How Hard Rock Cafe Hired 120 People in 30 Days Using Facebook http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/23/hard-rock-cafe-hired-120-people-30-days-using-facebook/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/23/hard-rock-cafe-hired-120-people-30-days-using-facebook/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17558 If you’re trying to find the next big thing in recruiting, stop; the solution is right at your fingertips. Need proof? It’s how Hard Rock was able to hire 120 people in 30 days.

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

Does using social media for recruitment actually work?

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

Facebook: a recruiting powerhouse?

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

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

Did it work? In a big way.

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

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

As founder Stéphane Le Viet explains:

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

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

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

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Smart Networking for MBA Students: How to Schmooze Your Way to Success http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/23/smart-networking-mba-students-schmooze-way-success/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/23/smart-networking-mba-students-schmooze-way-success/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17562 Making the most of business school is about meeting the right people. Learn how to strategically build your network as an MBA student.

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We all know networking is important in any profession. But when it comes to business school, one cannot exist without the other.

Business is networking. Business is about relationships between people. Learning to make the most of the networking opportunities and building relationships with the right people in business school will pay off down the line.

So if you want to get your MBA or are enrolled in business school, networking should be a top priority. Read on to learn how you can network your way right to your biggest successes.

1. Start building your network early

Many people wait until school starts to begin building their contacts. Don’t be like most people. Start long before your first day of class.

Join Facebook groups for your class and get to know your classmates. Find ways to interact with people — whether it’s because you have the same last name, attended the same undergrad program or even share the same obsession with poodles.

Many people think networking means only talking business or only studying together. But keep in mind that networking is about people. The more you enjoy talking to people in your network and begin to build real, lasting relationships, the more networking will begin to feel easy and natural.

You should also make new contacts throughout your time in business school. Many new students establish their group of friends early on, then stick with those people throughout school. Sure, it can be hard to make new friends or (gasp) meet people in person instead of on social media.

But part of your business school education is learning how to make in-person connections. In fact, some business schools actually teach classes in networking since many students lack the ability to make face-to-face introductions.

2. Think outside the MBA networking box

Your network should be extensive. Don’t limit your network to people who have the same professional interests or went to top undergraduate schools.

Aim to build a network that includes a variety of classmates, professors and even secretaries or other university employees. Don’t forget that being kind to an office admin could get you an appointment with that professor who seems to be never around. University employees are also among the first to hear about internships, jobs and volunteer opportunities. Be kind to every single person you come across because you never know where the relationship will lead.

An important resource for any MBA student can also be your alumni network. Make it a point to meet alumni every chance you can get — especially ones who work in your field of choice.

3. Hone in on the right networking events

Avoid attending every single networking event you come across. Meeting as many people as possible can actually be a mistake. Instead, be strategic and use your time wisely.

Don’t stretch yourself too thin. It’s better to pour your time and resources into developing a few key relationships than 50 that are less meaningful or shallow.

4. Build genuine relationships

The simple answer to developing genuine networking relationships is just that – be genuine. Don’t make friends with a classmate because they have wealthy parents or past business success. You never know who will be successful in the future. Some of the worst students make genius business owners. (Click here to tweet this idea.)

Focus on people you actually enjoy spending time with. Down the line, they’ll make for the best partners and confidants.

Remember to also be generous, present yourself well, stay active on social media and LinkedIn, and most importantly – have fun! Being a student is about growth and learning whether you become the president of a particular club or are the social organizer for all fun outings.

5. Leverage contacts for your future business success

The people in your network may one day be your colleagues. But they can be so much more. It’s extremely important to remember they can be your future customers, too!

When you’re ready to launch a product, source marketing ideas or get feedback on a new service, you can tap your network for direction. Are you unsure if one particular product will sit well with your target audience? Try asking your network. As your future customers, they can help you decide whether to pursue that idea.

It’s also important to extend your network to people who represent a variety of business skills. If you only spend time getting to know those in the finance niche, you’ll miss out on finding marketing talent or ideas when you really need them.

Ultimately, business school is so much more than attending classes and learning crucial finance skills. The people you meet in business school are just as crucial for your future success.

Catherine Alford is a full-time blogger, personal finance freelance writer and mom of infant twins. She writes about how to balance life and a budget all across the web including her own site, Budget Blonde.

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9 Networking Events in Austin You Won’t Want to Miss http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/22/9-networking-events-austin-wont-want-miss/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/22/9-networking-events-austin-wont-want-miss/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17591 Live in Austin, Texas? Expand your professional and social circles with these networking opportunities. Who knows, you might find your next boss - or maybe just a new best friend!

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There’s more to be found in Austin than live music and BBQ. It’s a top-notch city for networking, and the easiest place to start a business given the low tax structure, business-friendly climate, and overall collaborative environment.

Consistently ranked as one of the top places to live and work in the country, Austin holds favorable opportunities for those in the tech, engineering, and information technology fields, among others. If you’re looking for networking opportunities in Austin, you’re in the right place, as the city is in constant celebration of the collaborative, hard-working, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Below are 9 networking events in Austin that recur either monthly or yearly. Find the one that works for your schedule, and open the door to your next potential gig or business opportunity.

1. Young Men’s Business League

The Young Men’s Business League (YMBL) is a service organization in Austin that holds a variety of recurring events for young men looking to form business or personal relationships, and make a difference in the community. They hold monthly lunches, workshops, spring and fall flings, and 5k/10k runs, but their biggest project is Sunshine Camp, where members of YMBL assist as camp counselors and encourage children to live positive and meaningful lives.

2. Freelancers Union After Hours

Freelancers Union is an organization built on supporting independent freelancers across the country. In their first ever nationwide after work event, they now hold monthly ‘After Hours’ networking events specifically for freelancers on the first Wednesday of every month at 6pm local time in cities such as Austin, Los Angeles, and Portland. Feel free to get chummy with a local Austin freelancer at this event and discuss gigs, creativity, and resources.

3. National Association of Professional Women Monthly Meetings (Austin Chapter)

The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) is a fast-growing women’s networking group with 300 local chapters across the nation, and a whopping 600,000 members. Their mission is to provide women a forum to connect, create, and exchange powerful stories on business and career development. Their Austin chapter holds meetings once monthly at various locations, usually featuring a guest speaker, snacks, and powerful mentorship opportunities.

4. Austin Young Chamber of Commerce Speaker Series

Focusing on creating networking relationships for young professionals, the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce (AYC) holds a speaker series once a month, allowing young professionals from all over Austin to join, listen, and collaborate with professionals in a wide range of industries from entrepreneurship, technology, and the department of transportation.

“The goal is to help engage our members in the community and increase access to community leaders,” says Matt Glazer, executive director of the AYC.

The speaker series is one of many events aimed at helping young professionals become leaders in the business community.

5. Austin Tech Happy Hour

Everyone loves a casual happy hour. If you live in Austin and specialize in the technology industry, this networking event is for you. Every other month or so, people from the Austin community gather to mix and mingle about all things tech. There aren’t any speakers or agendas, but everyone gets two drink tickets and the opportunity to catch up with the latest in technology, and form new relationships.

6. South By Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW)

The infamous South by Southwest festival has brought some of the most talented people in music, film, and technology together in Austin for 21 years now. The interactive portion of the festival is a breeding ground for innovation and ideas, and entrepreneurs looking to spread them. Network with people who are ‘creating the technology of today’, attend special events, and hobnob with a few of your peers at the Interactive awards.

7. Local Austin Linkedin Networking

What started out as a professional networking group on Linkedin quickly became a monthly networking event on the last Tuesday of every month for Austin professionals. For the last 4 years, the people of the Local Austin Linkedin Networking group have been meeting up once a month to connect more than just digitally. The event is free and open to the public, and a Linkedin account is not necessary to join in on the fun.

8. Campfire Team Building

If you’re not into the whole ‘bar-networking’ vibe, Tech Ranch Austin provides what they call Campfire Team Building, a more immersive form of networking that is more than just an exchange of business cards. Targeted towards startups in the Austin community, Campfire goes one step further than networking in that it brings people together for various team-building initiatives. They divide attendees up in groups to discuss ways of advancing ideas and knowledge, building social capital, and creating value for one another.

9. Austin Startup Week

Austin Startup Week is fun for everyone, regardless of where you’re at in your career. Each year they hold around 40 events spanning five days, showcasing Austin’s thriving startup community. One of their most popular events is the ‘startup crawl’, where you can ‘crawl’ 70 or so startups lined up on various building floors, grabbing drinks with founders and co-founders, and taking tours. The best part is, most of the events are free!

Now that you’ve got a handful of networking events to attend, go out there and show them what you’re worth! Do bring the business cards, and don’t forget to smile.

Monique Muro blogs at A Novel Quest and tweets at @moniquemuro. Her goal is to generate awesome for the world through websites, mobile apps, and one day, very thick books.

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Why Learning Languages Makes You a More Appealing Job Candidate http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/22/learning-languages-makes-appealing-job-candidate/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/22/learning-languages-makes-appealing-job-candidate/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17577 Can you speak more than one language? Here’s why multilingualism is a coveted skill -- and why it could be key to landing your next job.

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In this ever-changing world, more employers are seeking the best people for their workforce. Graduating with honors and partaking in extra-curricular activities alone aren’t enough to be considered in the company anymore.

Nowadays, employers and headhunters are looking for more skills — like being multilingual. Here’s why multilingualism is important in the workplace.

1. Better communication fuels more sales

If you’re into sales, a lot of talking and persuasion is required to close a sale. Practicing a sales pitch and being confident when meeting clients are steps to get you there. But acquiring the native language of your customer will help you further seal the deal.

This makes people feel more comfortable and at ease when talking with you. Earning their trust will also be easier. This is why recruiters hire people who are bilingual or even multilingual speakers. Aside from sales, you’ll have plenty of career opportunities waiting if you have the language ability they’re looking for.

2. Cognitive advantages make you smarter

Science Magazine states that knowing how to speak in multiple languages makes people become smarter. Having to comprehend words in other languages improves your cognitive skills. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

The New York Times, in their article “The Benefits of Bilingualism” published in March 2012, also agreed that being bilingual makes you more powerful. The brain is exercised and forced to process multiple languages at once. This hones your ability to solve problems.

3. Globalization

With globalization, employers are in the search for people who are good at communicating in multiple languages, as they’re seen as better at cooperating, negotiating and compromising. Multilingual individuals also have intercultural sensitivity and they can think more efficiently.

Language teachers, interpreters, translators, customer service assistants and representatives, and tour guides are positions most likely to demand experts at speaking in multiple languages.

But this doesn’t discount that as businesses’ supply chains and customers become increasingly global, professionals who know how to speak another language become more prominent.

For instance, if you’re an IT executive, it would be great to enroll in higher studies like an information technology course in the Philippines, learning a new language at the same time. This will improve your IT skills and take advantage of your language capabilities to meet the business’s goals.

Learning a foreign language isn’t easy. But being multilingual gives you an edge wherever you go, so be eager to learn and take the time and effort to improve your speaking ability.

Other perks of being multilingual include more travel opportunities and increased salaries as you’re recognized as an asset of the company. By improving your foreign language skills, you can more easily transform into a stellar performer who helps drive the business through its next phase of evolution.

Mishka Tolentino is a business student at University of Westminster, a freelance writer, and web enthusiast. Follow her on twitter @mishkatolentino.

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5 Ways Millennials Can Nail Their Next Job Interview http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/21/5-ways-millennials-can-nail-next-job-interview/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/21/5-ways-millennials-can-nail-next-job-interview/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17586 An employee whose company has a selective interview process shares his best tips for hopeful job applicants.

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It’s harder to get a job at my company than it is to get into Stanford. I was one of the first three employees at Help.com. We’ve since received over 500 applications and interviewed about 150 total candidates. We ultimately hired five of them.

Our team takes hiring seriously. We interview frequently and hire rarely. Our acceptance rate for new hires is 1%. That’s lower than the acceptance rate of Stanford (5.7%), Harvard (5.8%) or Columbia (6.9%). Our benchmark is not intentional — we just insist on hiring awesome people, and it can take several rounds of interviews to find the right fit.

After well over a hundred interviews with people of all ages, I’ve realized a few things Millennials in particular can do to stand out interviews. Since I’ve spent so much time speaking with prospective employees, I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to stand out in the interview process.

Here are my top five tips for Millennial job seekers during interviews.

1. If it doesn’t make you look awesome, don’t include it

Only include resources that actually enhance your qualifications for a position. The kitchen sink approach will get your resume trashed — not get you hired.

When trying to land that first job, you may be inclined to read every article in existence about what you should include in your application. Don’t try to squeeze all those things in, then send me an application that actually would be stronger without most of it.

For example, imagine how it looks if you include a link to your personal blog with one measly post from a few years ago or a GitHub with a two-day streak and no contributions from the last eight months. I’m left unimpressed. Attaching those resources won’t enhance your likelihood of an interview with anyone.

If you have an awesome GitHub, a killer website highlighting cool projects you’ve done, or a robust LinkedIn profile with updated experience, testimonials and lots of helpful info, by all means include it. Those all will help the recruiter learn more about you.

At my company, we spend much more time exploring a candidate’s website, GitHub or LinkedIn than we do their resume. This can work for candidates — or against them depending on the quality of their site or profile.

If you don’t have a blog, GitHub or LinkedIn, don’t sweat it. We’re happy to look at the rest of your application and make a decision on whether or not to move forward from there. Better to play it safe and only include what you know makes you look good.

2. Research stands out

Research EVERYTHING: The founders, the company, the person or people interviewing you and the industry.

I’ve had a number of people come in with thoughtful questions for me about our founders, my background and our industry. They showed me they’d done their research.

Those people impressed me.

Do enough research to stump me and I’ll like you. Come in confident enough to challenge me and I’ll love you.

To figure out if you want to work for these people, you’ve got to interview them, too! If you know your stuff, it’s not creepy. It’s impressive, and it’s as simple as a Google search.

3. Cover letters are worth the effort

Take the time to write a great cover letter.

Help.com’s CEO Douglas Hanna says the thing he notices first in a good application is a good cover letter.

Before your resume or any of your other application materials, this is the first thing many employers look at. If you’ve researched the company and know exactly why you’re a good fit, you’ll stick out to your prospective employer as you go through the interview process.

If you’ve done your research, it should be easy to write a great cover letter. Avoid the templates, which will make your cover letter feel manufactured. Someone who clearly puts thought and originality into their cover letter will jump off the page. I can instantly spot someone who has thought out a few compelling reasons for applying and can speak to how their unique skillset will mesh with our project.

4. A “don’t mess up” mindset can get you in trouble

Millennials often come into interviews seeming nervous and tightly wound. Don’t try to give me the “right” answer. It’s no fun. Also I don’t believe generic, mostly insincere answers and can spot them a mile away.

Have some fun. We liked you enough to bring you in. That’s a good sign. There’s a pretty large space between unprofessional and robotic, and we want candidates to be in a place where we can still get a sense of your personality and who you are. (Click here to tweet this recruiter’s quote.)

Once a candidate told me I was wrong. I loved it! Someone willing to go head-to-head with me in an interview? That’s what I want. The deer-in-headlights stare doesn’t look good on anyone.

Ask questions. Think about your answers. Don’t come in with the mindset “don’t mess up,” because that ensures you’ll bore me. Take a risk, have an opinion and make it so that I remember your thoughtful answers at the end instead of how scared you looked.

5. Applying to two great jobs is better than applying to 20 random jobs

Job searching is hard, and it’s so rare to find a perfect job. Sometimes it seems better to take a shotgun approach to job applications to maximize the likelihood of “something” working out.

As someone who spends a lot of time interviewing, I can tell you that success by volume is a myth. It’s far better to put ten hours of work into one or two phenomenal applications than to blast out twenty identical applications to jobs you’re not actually interested in.

Invest in your happiness. Know what you really want in your career so you can find a job that excites you. Then, pour everything into that application. The people reading the application and interviewing you will be able to tell you went all out. When you interview with genuine enthusiasm, you’ll set yourself apart.

Be patient. Job hopping is no fun. Be confident in yourself and find a job or two that you love, then blow those applications out of the water. It will benefit you in the long term.

Enough preaching. Act on these tips and go show everyone how awesome you are!

Are you a millennial with a tip about interviewing for jobs? Tell us about it!

Graham Moreno works in Business Operations and runs the blog at help.com, a software company where they are rethinking customer service. You can read his other work at blog.help.com.

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4 Things You Need to Do to Land Your Dream Job http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/20/4-things-need-land-dream-job/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/20/4-things-need-land-dream-job/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17572 With your dream job on the horizon, you need to take these steps to seal the deal.

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Have you reached that point in your career where you feel stagnant? Are you ready to make a change and go after your dream job? Well, good for you! It’s big step in your career and life to be mentally prepared to make this leap.

But you must first address a couple key questions before making a big career change (especially one with such high expectations.) First, what is your dream job? And second, but equally as important, is that job truly right for you?

Being able to reconcile the job you want with the one that’s the right fit is typically a difficult moment for job seekers. You need to do your research and see what opportunities you’re genuinely passionate about, then make sure those positions support the ultimate goals of your career trajectory.

Once you’re sure of your convictions and know you have a goal in mind that’s right for you, then it’s time to follow the path that will set you up to land the opportunity you’ve been dreaming of. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Follow this strategy to secure your dream job.

Put job descriptions and company reviews to work

Most job seekers know they have millions of job postings at their fingertips. Look at these as valuable resources to help you conduct research in the field you’re hoping to break into.

When reviewing job descriptions, look for recurring skills or competencies. Determine which ones you possess and which you need to build upon to be qualified for your dream job.

Company reviews are also a great resource. Similar to Yelp reviews for restaurants, company reviews provide a platform through which former employees can rate where they have worked. You can use tools such as Indeed Employee Reviews to see what other employees think about the culture, work-life balance, mobility within the organization and more.

Remember, it’s just as important to find the right position for you as it is to find the right organization. Your dream job must also fit your work style and provide an environment you can succeed in.

Get smart about networking

You already know the right relationships with key individuals in the industry you want to work can be crucial in landing your dream job. But you may struggle to figure out how to engage those individuals.

First, think about the networks you already belong to. Can these you expand your networking within those organizations? Have you tried to align with alumni groups from your university? There may be individuals who fulfill a similar role to the job you’re looking for.

Another networking tactic can be to find people who already have the job you want. Find out what organizations they’re involved in — and join them. Meetups or industry events that nurture these types of networking interactions are other places to find the right people to build connections with.

Scale up your competition

To land your dream job (or any job, for that matter), you have to prove you’re a better fit for a particular position than other candidates. When building your resume, think about how you can set yourself apart from the competition for this specific job.

Try out online tools like Indeed Resume, where you can view the resumes of other job seekers to compare and contrast resume format, skill set and other unique qualifiers.

Set yourself up for success

A dream job needs to be the right fit both both sides. By the right using tools to help identify that perfect match, you’re already setting yourself up for success in your job search.

If you do your research and work hard to present yourself in a way that makes sense for the organization, you’ll shine in the interview process — and will be well on your way to making your dream job a reality.

Mike Steinerd is Indeed.com’s Director of Recruiting, and handles everything from hiring and managing the sales recruitment team to establishing critical market intelligence for the company. Previously, Mike has worked for two Fortune 50 organizations, owned and successfully operated a small business, and has been involved in the Recruitment Industry for over 14 years.

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How to Create an Online Business That Allows You to Work From Anywhere http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/20/create-online-business-allows-work-anywhere/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/20/create-online-business-allows-work-anywhere/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17581 What you can start doing today to build a global online business and work from anywhere.

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If you like to have your cake and eat it too, splitting your time between two countries probably sounds right up your alley! The good news? It’s not a crazy pipe dream.

How I made it happen

It wasn’t always my plan to one day call both the United States and Brazil home. In fact, I didn’t have a plan at all. Even as I kept earning more degrees (hello student loans!), I never felt “right” about where my life was headed.

One day, a friend of a friend asked if I would edit his dissertation. While I was always the go-to editor and writer for friends and family, it never occurred to me people would pay me for this skill. I had no idea what rate to charge, so I nervously said $20 an hour. He agreed, and became my first editing client!

Around the same time, I was eager to travel. Although my Brazilian boyfriend (now husband) and I had talked about spending time in his home country so I could learn Portuguese and get to know his family, we were not proactively making it happen.

But my gut was telling me my ho-hum feeling job wouldn’t get me the life I wanted: A life of travel, culture and control over my time.

One day, after a particularly stressful day at work, I decided I would move to Brazil with or without my boyfriend. (Yes, I’m a bit impulsive!) He decided to join me. Within six months, we sold almost everything we owned. With five overstuffed suitcases and our cat Rupert, we boarded a flight to Brazil!

Our plan was to stay for six months. If we didn’t like it, we’d move back and continue on with our “normal” lives. If we loved it, we would complete the necessary paperwork to stay in Brazil legally.

Turns out Brazil is pretty awesome!

In between trips to the beach, I took courses in Portuguese and continued editing for my first client and others. While I wasn’t making a ton of money, I was able to pay my student loans. My husband was working too, which helped keep us afloat financially.

While we loved living in Brazil, we started missing our U.S. life. So what did we do? We decided to have our cake and eat it too! We’re back in the states now, and I officially launched my full-time writing and editing business less than a year ago!

We plan to buy a condo in the U.S. within the next six months so we won’t have to sell everything every time we move. Then, we plan to spend three to five months each year in Brazil.

We don’t have all the answers. But we know anything is possible when we do the work and remain dedicated to our core values and goals.

How YOU can make it happen too

If you want to travel extensively or split your time between two countries, it is possible! (Click here to tweet this bit of inspiration.) Here are my best tips to make it happen:

  • Start building an online business: This is the most important part of living wherever you want. While figuring this out can be hard and overwhelming, trial and error is your best friend here. Take action, get up your website and start offering your services.
  • Always remember your why: Working for yourself can get tough. In those moments, you must come back to your values and goals. For me, this is having control over my schedule and my lifestyle, being a global citizen and giving my future children the opportunity to grow up in both of their cultural backgrounds.
  • Know yourself: To be successful and not go insane, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses and use them in your business. For example, while most of my work is based from my home office, I make it a priority to work with one or two in-person clients wherever we’re living. This ensures I get out of the house regularly and see people face-to-face. Plus, getting dressed up is nice, too.
  • Know (and follow) visa regulations and laws: Get used to government paperwork being part of your life! Don’t overstay your visas or violate conditions of your stay. These mistakes could not only affect your legal status abroad, but also be costly to correct.
  • Have fun! At the end of the day, we all just want to be happy and enjoy life. Find out what that exactly means for you, and make it happen!

Where would you love to split your time each year? What’s one step you can take today to make it happen? Share in the comments.

Shannon Trindade is a writer, editor, and communication pro who helps businesses and individuals connect with their unique audiences. She loves being around internationally minded thinkers, splits her time between the U.S. and Brazil, and firmly believes we are all connected and must learn to cherish and appreciate our differences. WritetoConnect.org

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Considering a Career in Public Relations? Set Yourself Up for Success With These 5 Tips http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/17/considering-career-public-relations-set-success-5-tips/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/17/considering-career-public-relations-set-success-5-tips/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17538 Still contemplating what your future career might be? If you’re considering public relations, here’s what you need to know.

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School is back in session and many of you may be thinking about what your career will be. For freshmen, you may feel like it’s too early to consider the future. It’s not.

The earlier you can get yourself on a career path, the better off you’ll be. (Click here to tweet this quote.) While I didn’t start off in public relations, I’m glad I made the switch. A career in public relations is rewarding and filled with tons of hard work. I’ve never felt more fulfilled in life and career than I have while in public relations.

Are you now considering a career in PR? Good! Here’s what you should know.

1. Be smart

Do your research on the proper courses to take. Pretty much every college and university has a course catalogue online. Review it, then ask questions of an advisor or trusted professor.

Don’t have one of those? Reach out and ask to talk to a student majoring in PR and/or marketing. They’ll give you honest insight into the coursework. Talking to students in your (potential) major is a huge plus. They aren’t going to sugar coat anything. And that’s good.

It’s also not a bad idea to hop onto social media to research what other students and pros are doing. Follow PRSSA National, your school’s PRSSA chapter (if there is one) and professionals like Deirdre Breakenridge and Kirk Hazlett That leads us to…

2. Create, or improve on, a social media account

Social media is huge part of what PR pros use in today’s world. Using these networks properly is absolutely integral to future and current success. According to PR Newser, 93 percent of marketers and PR professionals use social media for business.

News flash: That’s a ton of pros. Here’s a tip: Before diving into social media (if you haven’t already), take a few minutes to understand what these networks can do for you.

A few years back, the advice was to just dive in. That’s changed. Now, more than ever, employers, educators and fellow professionals look at your social accounts closely. They want to know who you are, what you post and whether you’re worth a follow. Don’t give anyone a reason to question you… ever.

3. Find a mentor

Plenty of PR pros are willing to help you. They can sometimes be the best sounding board. While you shouldn’t just tweet at a pro and say, “Can you mentor me?” you can start a conversation by introducing yourself.

This can be done during a chat like #PRStudChat or by using the #PRSSA hashtag. Many students follow these and are more than willing to say hi and see how they can help.

Since #PRStudChat is a student/professional collaborative chat, you’ll get a great introduction to pros more than happy to offer advice. As trust develops, you can ask about what you should expect from internships, the job market and whether agency life is the way to go. You can also expect us to offer honest opinions, which you should listen carefully to.

4. Join PRSSA

This is the organization to join if you want to take your PR career to the next level. Most colleges and universities have a PRSSA chapter on campus. You would do yourself a huge favor by taking in a meeting and joining.

Having experience with many PRSSA chapters around the country, I can tell you the knowledge they share is invaluable. Being a part of a campus chapter also gives you the chance to have shared experiences with your fellow students.

Another bonus is the opportunity to attend PRSSA’s annual national conference. This is where students can learn from other chapters around the country, as well as professionals. I’ve had the opportunity to present and I can tell you that it’s educational for pros as much as it is for students.

5. Don’t doubt yourself

This sounds easy, but it isn’t always the case. You’re the one who knows your skills best; believe in yourself and know that even though you may not know it all, you can still be a success.

You can’t and won’t be an overnight success in PR. It takes years of experience, hard work and dedication. You’re going to stumble at times, but understand that with these “hiccups” comes a better understanding of the field.

There isn’t a pro today who hasn’t made a mistake. But they believed in their skills and work ethic and became successful. You will too.

Jason Mollica is the president of JRM Comm and a frequent speaker at conferences and at colleges and universities around the country. He blogs at One Guy’s Journey and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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Struggling to Explain Your Unconventional Career Path? Do This Instead http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/16/struggling-explain-unconventional-career-path-instead/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/16/struggling-explain-unconventional-career-path-instead/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17527 If you’ve had several different jobs throughout your career -- and aren’t sure how to make sense of them all -- it’s time to figure out your “through-line.”

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Gone are the days of working in one company for 40 years, moving up through the ranks until you retire. Today’s workers are more mobile, often switching companies — and even industries — several times throughout their careers.

For some career changers, this can be confusing or stress-inducing. When you’ve worked in several different jobs, how do you design a story explaining your career path to potential employers, your family and friends — and most importantly, yourself?

Time to discover your through-line

In a post on her blog Create As Folk, career coach Laura Simms offers a solution: Find your “through-line.”

She defines a through-line as: “The uniting theme(s) that connect the multiple careers throughout a career arc,” and she says that finding it “will help you feel as though there is some continuity between the seemingly disparate careers you’ve had (because there is).”

Simms, who’s worked as an actor, coach, and teacher describes her through-lines as: “collaboration, community, inciting change, and being part of creating marvelous things.”

By thinking of your past jobs this way, Simms says it will be easier to describe your path to others, as well as help you make future career decisions.

Smart, right? If you need help figuring out your own career through-line, you can download a free worksheet from Simms’ blog.

Have you ever thought about your past jobs like this? How would you describe your through-line?

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

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How To Build a Strong Network By Connecting With Total Strangers http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/16/build-strong-network-connecting-total-strangers/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/16/build-strong-network-connecting-total-strangers/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17543 Stop making rookie networking mistakes and get smarter about growing your network. Learn how to reach out to people you don’t even know and convince them to help you.

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If you’re like most people, you make at least one of the following mistakes in your networking efforts:

  • You have no strategy or goal underlying your networking efforts
  • You’re unfocused in who you network with and just end up talking to random people
  • You come off as needy or inauthentic
  • You value quantity of connections over quality
  • You meet a lot of good contacts, but then fail to maintain the relationship

Instead, follow this system to build a strong network of people who want you to succeed. Read on for a winning strategy to find the right contacts, then successfully bring them into your network so they will help you.

Define your networking mission statement

Start with a plan. First off, get clear on why you want to network and who should you network with.

If you want a job, narrow your focus even more. What job title do you want, and what kind of company do you want to work for? If you want clients, get specific. Who’s your market and who would know them?

Once you’ve honed in on what you want to get out of building your network, it’s time to get to work.

Tap into your alumni network

Skip the networking events unless they’re industry-specific. Instead, use LinkedIn to find alumni from your school who are also in the specific group you’ve decided to network with.

Look for 30-50 contacts initially, expecting 20-40 percent to actually meet with you. For practice and to get your pitch down, start with the people you’re least interested in. Send each person a short message complimenting them on their career success. Ask if you can grab coffee with them and pick their brain for 20 minutes.

If they suggest a phone meeting instead, that’s fine — agree and follow the rest of steps below. Also, dress up for the phone call.

Conduct an informational interview

Research the person and their company extensively beforehand. When you meet them for coffee (which you will pay for, obviously), warmly introduce yourself, then ask a question or two. Just let them talk.

Aside from the introduction and the last few minutes, the other person should be doing most of the talking. You should be listening. Learn as much as you can about the other person while showing genuine interest. Get one or two pieces of actionable advice from them.

At most, you should interject a couple of times to show you’re actively listening and have done your research. Towards the end of the interview, you can talk about yourself  for a few minutes just to show how you can be valuable to them.

That’s it. Don’t ask anything more of them yet. At the end of the meeting, thank them and say goodbye.

Follow up the next day

The next day, shoot the person a quick email thanking them for their time. Mention a couple of high points in the conversation you found especially interesting.

Finally, mention the advice they gave you and declare your intent to actually follow that advice. Most people don’t do this, so you’ll immediately set yourself apart.

Give value 1-2 weeks later

A week or two after meeting your new contact, send them another quick email. But this time, instead of asking them for something or thanking them, offer them something.

Your offer can be a variety of tangible or intangible things: Access to something that isn’t open to the public, an intro to someone you think they might want to meet, or even just a link to an article they might find helpful.

Show that you’re a person who follows up — and that you’re also someone who gives (and doesn’t just take.)

Close the loop 2-4 weeks after your initial meeting

Meanwhile, you should be following whatever advice your contact gave you, whether it’s to talk to a certain person, take a specific business action or educate yourself on a particular subject.

A couple weeks after that discussion, you should have followed through and gotten some kind of result. Send your new friend a note letting them know you followed their advice and share with them what you got out of it. Once again, thank them for their help.

Why is this step so important? Nobody does this, and your action sets you miles above other people your in your contact’s network.

Keep in touch by periodically giving value

If you’ve followed all the right steps, your contact is now willing to help you if you need an introduction or recommendation. You’ve built trust with them, and they’ll likely hear you out if you have a business idea to pitch.

Continue to stay in touch by giving value, inviting them out, or just sending a short personal note to stay on their radar every month or two.

John Fawkes is a career coach, blogger, and veteran marketing and business development professional. He helps his students find their dream jobs, and blogs about job hunting, productivity, and building joyful careers at johnfawkes.com.

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Networking in Chicago: 7 Must-Attend Events for Creative Entrepreneurs http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/15/networking-chicago-7-must-attend-events-creative-entrepreneurs/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/15/networking-chicago-7-must-attend-events-creative-entrepreneurs/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17548 Tap into Chicago’s entrepreneurial scene and meet other go-getters and creatives at these Windy City events and spaces.

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How many times have you met someone new and exchanged creative productivity tips over a cold craft brew this week? If your answer is none, it’s possible you’re missing out on some of the best networking events for creative entrepreneurs in Chicago.

Chicago’s creative community is particularly adept at bringing people together around creative talks, presentations and workshops designed to spark industry dialogue and encourage professional growth.

Look to the following organizations for events where you can immerse yourself in the community, make meaningful connections and come away with fresh creative fuel for your work.

1. Chicago Food + Tech Meetup

Food meets tech at this monthly meetup focused on generating discussion around the challenges, solutions and opportunities for food technology in Chicago. Anyone is welcome to attend the BYOB events.

Show up and throw around ideas at these casual talks, sometimes featuring local entrepreneurs as guest speakers. Come for the friendly group atmosphere and make new connections by chatting about a niche topic.

2. Creative Mornings Chicago

This popular breakfast lecture series features leaders of the Chicago creative community. Each month, a different Chicago advertising agency, coworking space or creative workspace hosts the event, so this is also a great opportunity to peek inside some of the city’s coolest places to work.

Follow Creative Mornings Chicago on Twitter for updates on ticket releases. The free tickets “sell out” in minutes, so be on top of your game to nab one.

3. Design Cloud Chicago’s Second Thursdays

This coworking space is also a hub for the local art and design community. Design Cloud hosts talks, workshops and skillshares every month.

You can also take advantage of free desk space for a day every second Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spend a day working in their coworking space and make a new contact or two while you’re there for one super productive day.

4. Ignite Chicago

This event gives 12 or more people the stage for five minutes each to present on any topic they’re passionate about. Attendees should come curious and ready to mingle; there’s casual networking over pizza and beer before the presentations begin. $10 tickets are available online before every event.

5. Ms. Tech Events

Ms. Tech is an organization dedicated to providing female entrepreneurs with resources to start and scale their businesses. They host a lunch series every Wednesday at coworking space Grind, as well as panel discussions, social events and workshops every month. Ticket prices range from $20 to $50.

6. Next Door

Next Door Cafe is a cafe and event space run by State Farm. But instead of selling insurance, the coffee shop aims to be a community hub for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Next Door’s event schedule offers a little bit of everything: Financial coaching sessions, branding and typography lectures from local agency Bright Bright Great and even yoga classes. The events are free, but you’ll have to buy your own coffee and snacks.

The space is designed to accommodate everyone from solo laptop workers to one-on-one meetings to small group brainstorm sessions (you can reserve meeting rooms.) This is a great place to grab coffee and hang out with other creative entrepreneurs.

7. Polymathic’s The Living Room

As a consulting company for product developers, Polymathic is a kind of home for creative and technical entrepreneurs. Their office space, dubbed The Living Room for its cozy functionality, is the site of launch parties, dinners and “Founder Therapy” sessions for entrepreneurs who just want to talk it out. Events are free, often with a suggested donation of cash or a six pack.

What other Chicago networking events for creative entrepreneurs belong on this list?

Kara Andersen is a freelance blogger, copywriter and proofreader based in Chicago. She is the writer behind Writer Babe, the blog about “brazen business and sophisticated style.” Follow her on Twitter @writer_babe and Instagram.

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Looking for a New Job? Don’t Make These 4 Mistakes http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/15/looking-new-job-dont-make-4-mistakes/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/15/looking-new-job-dont-make-4-mistakes/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17520 You might be sabotaging your job search without even realizing it. Are you doing these things? If you are, heads up -- it’s time to change.

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You spend all your time on job boards. You email everyone you know to tell them you’re looking for a job. You sent your cover letter and resume to approximately 12,000 employers in one day. Yet, the only response you get are rejection emails.

You can blame the economy. You can blame the educational system. You can even blame your parents. But should you be blaming yourself?

Job seekers make some pretty silly mistakes that sabotage their job search. It doesn’t always matter how many applications you send out. What matters is whether you submit a well-written, targeted cover letter and resume to an employer that showcases why you’re the perfect fit for the position.

Hiring managers are flooded with applications for each open position. To narrow down the list of applicants, the easiest way for them is to delete the emails from people who make glaring mistakes. Here are four actions you can take if you want your application deleted before the hiring manager bothers to look at your qualifications: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Fail to tailor your cover letter

Employers have their choice of applicants. If you dash off a cover letter that doesn’t highlight your skills as they apply to the position, you have little chance of getting an interview.

Your cover letter should contain information that the employer requests, including a description of your relevant background and skills. It’s your chance to tell an employer why you’re the perfect candidate for the position.

Does the job description state the applicant must have experience managing others? Write about the office manager position you held and your supervisory role. Does the job prefer someone fluent in Spanish? Mention your translation experience and the year you lived in Spain.

Highlight items from your resume and tell the employer how your experiences have prepared you to take on the responsibilities of the position.

Take the time to explore the company website. What is their mission statement? Read the bio of the hiring manager. What’s their background? Don’t be creepy and mention that you Googled them and saw an award that they received in Boy Scouts 20 years ago, but know your audience.

Make your cover letter stand out by mentioning a recent initiative the company has undertaken and discussing how your skills would benefit the employer.

Hint: You shouldn’t send the same cover letter to every employer. Take the extra time to read the job description carefully and address how your experience meets the employer’s needs.

2. Don’t proofread

Hiring managers may take it personally when you spell their names or the name of the company incorrectly. Same goes if you address someone as “Mr. So-and-So” when that person is female.

If you’re unsure whether the contact person is male or female, take a minute or two to find their bio online. If you can’t find one, address the hiring manager as “Dear First Name Last Name.”

Other mistakes also make it easy for a hiring manager to put your application in the rejection pile. Did you use spellcheck? Don’t stop there. Spellcheck won’t tell you if you used “too” instead of “to” or if you missed a word.

If you use an old cover letter as a template, be sure to change the name of the company, not only in the address block, but also in the body of your cover letter. For example, if you write, “I am interested in the XYZ position with ABC Company,” make sure you change it to fit the current company.

A hiring manager is unlikely to invest time in interviewing a candidate who sends along a cover letter with obvious errors. If you make sloppy mistakes as an applicant, chances are you’ll make sloppy mistakes as an employee.

Hint: Your cover letter is your first impression. Take the time to proofread it. Can you blame a hiring manager for not wanting to hire someone who can’t spell the company name correctly?

3. Don’t send the requested information

If a job description asks for a resume and cover letter, don’t send only a resume. If the job posting requests you indicate in your cover letter where you saw the job posting, don’t forget to do so. If the company asks for the information, chances are they need it or they’re weeding out applicants who can’t follow instructions.

Hiring managers who receive a large number of applications sometimes test how well applicants pay attention to detail by making certain requests such as instructing applicants to use a specific subject line in their emails. If you don’t follow the instructions, your application may be rejected outright.

Same goes for document type. Some companies will only accept PDFs. Others want Word documents. Some prefer that you copy everything into the body of the email because they’re afraid of viruses in attachments.

If you send your documents in the wrong format, chances are the hiring manager will delete your application instead of spending the time to email you and ask you to follow instructions. And please, make sure you attach what you say you’re attaching. Nothing says sloppy like forgetting the attachments.

Hint: Look at the job description and instructions one last time before you hit send. Ensure you’ve included all requested information, that your documents are in the requested format, and that your subject line clearly states why you’re writing to the hiring manager.

4. Wear a tanktop in your Linkedin profile

Hiring managers do check Linkedin to verify the information in your resume. Make sure you’ve filled out your profile completely and accurately and that you have a professional photo. Having no photo makes your profile incomplete.

What’s worse than no photo? Having one that looks unprofessional. If you don’t want to find gainful employment, by all means, have a Linkedin profile picture like these:

  • a photo of you on the beach
  • a photo of you with alcohol
  • a photo so small and pixelated you can’t discern if it’s a human face or abstract art
  • a cropped photo that gives you the appearance of a third arm
  • a photo of you wearing a tank top, workout clothing, pajamas or anything other than professional clothing

Hint: Your Linkedin profile picture should be a clear headshot. You don’t have to spend the money on a professional photographer. Enlist a friend to take a photo of you dressed appropriately with a neutral background and upload that picture to your profile.

Avoid the above mistakes if you want to increase your chances of getting past the initial review of job applications. It may take a little longer to proofread, tailor your cover letter and build a professional online profile, but it’ll pay off with more interview opportunities. It’ll be time well spent when it eventually lands you a job.

Kristin Gallagher is a writer and attorney who lives in New York City.

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Want to Make More Money? 4 Reasons to Lie About Your Salary History http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/14/want-make-money-4-reasons-lie-salary-history/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/14/want-make-money-4-reasons-lie-salary-history/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17532 No matter what anyone tells you, this is the most effective tactic to negotiate the salary you deserve.

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If you want tips on negotiating a job offer or asking for a raise, you’ll find plenty of advice on how to talk your way into a better compensation package. Yet you’ll rarely receive this crucial piece of advice that could almost double your paycheck: It pays to lie about how much money you already make.

The thought of lying during a salary negotiation may make you uneasy at first. But the sooner you come to grips with the concept, the closer you’ll be to landing the salary offer you deserve.

Below are four reasons you shouldn’t lose sleep at night about lying through your teeth about your salary history.

1. Companies lie during salary negotiations

Have recruiters told you they have a set salary range for a particular job? Well here’s something they don’t want you to know: They’ll always find ways to work around the company’s policies if they want to hire you badly enough. If they can lie to box you into a range, it’s only fair you do the same so you can get the best deal possible. (Click here to tweet this bit of advice.)

Oh, and if you apply for a job and the recruiters tell you “we don’t promote up?” Lie. That’s also more of a guideline than the hard and fast rule they’d like you to believe.

2. Cash is king

In your research on salary negotiations, you’ve likely read you should try to negotiate other benefits like extra vacation days or a flexible work schedule. While these perks and benefits are great, they won’t reduce your cost of living. Will your rent or mortgage get cheaper if you work less? Do you plan to use all of your extra free time to sit around your house while not spending any money?

Didn’t think so.

The number of people living paycheck to paycheck is staggering. If you’re one of those people — and the numbers indicate you most likely are — then you need to focus on maximizing your salary. The most effective way to line your pockets with more cash in your next job is to lie about how much money you make now.

3. Telling the truth makes you look greedy

As crazy as it sounds, the only difference between you getting paid what you’re really worth and you receiving a pathetically small pay bump from your last job will be how you answer the following question: “What’s your current salary?”

If you come off as greedy before you even start negotiations for a job offer, your future employer might see you as entitled. No one wants to hire an entitled employee; they might even withdraw from the negotiation. The negotiation process will go more smoothly if your new employer thinks you’re getting only a 15 percent bump on your fictitious current salary.

4. You won’t get more unless you ask for it

One of the most basic concepts in sales is asking for the sale. It’s amazing what you can get people to do if you just ask. If you don’t think of your job interview and negotiation as a sales opportunity, you’ve already put yourself at a disadvantage.

Practice saying the numbers out loud until you can say them without hesitation. When your employer asks about your past salary history and requirements, you’ll be ready to answer with conviction so you can make the sale.

One last tip: Timing during salary negotiations is everything

A skilled negotiator not only has the nerve to ask, but also understands how much a reasonable person would ask for. Before you start pulling numbers out of thin air in job interviews, understand the timing of communicating these numbers to a recruiter is crucial.

Share your salary history too early, and you could talk yourself out of an interview.  Don’t share it soon enough, and you’ve wasted your time on a position that never had a shot of meeting your salary requirements in the first place.

In a perfect world, you’d be confident the company can meet your needs (read: demands) without having a conversation on salary until you’re certain they’re ready to hire you. This creates a situation in which you have all the negotiation leverage.

Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t get paid what they’re worth. We don’t live in a perfect world. But if you take advantage of this negotiation secret, at least you can live in a financially comfortable one.

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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5 Ways to Convince Your Boss to Allow You to Work from Home http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/13/5-ways-convince-boss-allow-work-home/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/13/5-ways-convince-boss-allow-work-home/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17515 How to convince your boss that working from home increases productivity, lowers costs and is good for the company.

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Too many cars moving much too slowly compounded with that constant worry you’ll be late to work again; morning rush hour is never a great way to kick off your work day.

And yet, you endure the pointless traffic daily. You know that telecommuting could be a great option — for people who are not you. While more employees than ever now work remotely, many managers and business owners are still skeptical.

Unfortunately you don’t get to decide the work-from-home policy. Someone else does, either your boss, your boss’s boss or the CEO. Even if the decision maker is several rungs above you, you can still influence their opinion.

You’ll probably have an easy enough time seeing how telecommuting can benefit you. But to sway the decision makers, you need to present strong arguments for why it’s good for businesses. (Click here to tweet this quote.) If you’re out to convince a skeptical manager to try something new, here are a few talking points to help you shape your pitch.

1. Remote work can actually increase productivity

No argument you make will be as strong as providing evidence that telecommuting has worked for other companies in your industry. Prepare a few examples of success stories from similar companies that have instituted the practice.

The most high-profile study of telecommuting was performed at a Chinese travel company called Ctrip. They allowed half their call center employees work from home for nine months. The other half stayed in the office as a control group. Much to the researchers’ surprise, the group that worked from home was more productive. They were also happier and were less likely to quit.

That’s just one study though. You can find many other articles and case studies about businesses that have given it a try and been happy with the results. Find one from a business in your industry to make your case stronger.

2. Employees will be just as reachable

Even when employees work onsite, many communicate more frequently via email or instant message than they do face-to-face. With a high number of free tech tools that make it easy to stay in touch from anywhere, anybody working from home can be just as reachable as someone in the office.

Make it clear you’re willing to commit to regular availability and quick responses by email, phone, chat or your boss’s favorite means of communication. You can even still participate in meetings thanks to free meeting software like Google Hangouts and join.me.

3. It’ll save the business tons of money

What business doesn’t want to cut costs? Allowing employees to work from home is good for the bottom line for a number of reasons. We’ve already mentioned increased productivity, but your company can also save on office expenses and the costs that come with high employee turnover.

People who work from home tend to work more, call in sick less and have fewer interruptions while working. That all adds up to more profit for the company. The productivity brings in the biggest savings, but the other reduced costs add up, too. Less office space and fewer office supplies are needed.

Saving money is a real, tangible benefit any manager can appreciate.

4. Top talent for hard-to-fill positions will suddenly be within reach

You’ve already been hired, so this argument won’t apply directly to your personal case for telecommuting. It’s still worth mentioning though, as once a company opens up to a culture of remote work, this becomes one of the big benefits.

Good talent isn’t easy to find. It’s even harder if you limit your search to a small geographic area. The person who is the best possible match for a job might be half a world away. If the business allows telecommuting, that’s no problem. Along the same lines, if a fantastic employee has to relocate to a different state, the company will no longer have to treat it as a loss.

Employees are one of the most important and expensive resources any business has. Telecommuting makes it easier for a business to make sure they’re bringing on the best — and keeping them around.

5. Your company can try before they buy (in)

If you think saying “yes” once means you’re stuck with a decision forever, you’ll naturally be more hesitant. A “try it first” proposal always makes it easier to agree to a new change or policy.

Suggest your boss consider a trial period. If you can work from home for three months without negative side effects and can still do your job (and perhaps even do it better), you’ll have made your case. You can also propose working from home just one day a week so you still get face-time with your boss and colleagues in the office.

If at any point the company is unhappy with your work or the situation, they can always call you back in. If all works well though, both you and the company can enjoy the benefits of telecommuting.

If you’re sick of your daily commute and confident you can productively do your job from home, there is hope. Try reframing your argument to consider the business needs first, and you’ll be well on your way to ditching the morning traffic and working from the comfort of your couch.

Kristen Hicks is a freelance copywriter from Austin, TX who‘s been working from home for years with no problem. She specializes in blogging and content marketing and you can follow her @ATXCopywriter.

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How to Fire an Employee You Like (And Not Feel Terrible Afterward) http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/13/fire-employee-like-feel-terrible-afterward/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/13/fire-employee-like-feel-terrible-afterward/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17479 Firing someone can be hard, and it’s even more difficult when that someone is your friend. Get the job done easier with a little preparation and a lot of honesty.

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Unless you catch an employee spreading trade secrets like small-town gossip over a three-hour lunch break, you most likely won’t take any pleasure in firing them. Firing someone is hard, even if you feel neutral toward the employee as a person. However, it’s especially difficult when it happens to be someone you respect and like.

Maybe the reason is absenteeism. Maybe the employee was hired in a time crunch for a job they weren’t qualified to do. Perhaps the employee has been around a long time, and the job responsibilities have grown, but they haven’t.

No matter the case, telling someone that their career at your company is ending is a conversation you will most likely lose sleep over.

But it doesn’t have to make you cringe with guilt for months to come. If you have given warnings, offered to guide the individual in professional shortcomings, and given them chances to improve behavior or performance, you are making the right decision.

You can fire your employee the right way: by sticking to your guns while still expressing respect. Here are three ways to make it easier to fire someone you like.

Prepare for the meeting

Don’t come in frazzled from a busy work day and make the employee feel you’re not giving the meeting due consideration. Even if you stayed up all night phrasing everything just right, take a few moments before the meeting to gather your thoughts again. To simplify the process, speak to HR to get all the legal information both you and the employee will need. Also, choose a comfortable, private place and the best time possible.

Many people advise firing on a Friday as this allows the employee the weekend to recover before launching back into the job search. That also may be more convenient for the company as far as payroll goes. However, the employee’s business contacts will most likely be unavailable over the weekend, which could cause discouragement before the job hunt even begins. Consider firing mid-week when a few days remain to pursue leads.

Be empathetic, but firm

If you like the employee, then this person obviously has several good qualities and doesn’t deserve a cold dismissal. They also don’t deserve to undergo the emotional torment of thinking there’s room for you to change your decision if there’s simply not. Stick to your planned dialogue and acknowledge the employee’s virtues — perhaps they are helpful and hard-working — but don’t minimize the problems that led you this point.

This is not an easy conversation to have, and you might feel tempted to withhold details regarding why you are firing this person. But “it’s simply not working out” doesn’t help the employee know what to do next. It’s ultimately more constructive to be honest about why you are firing them. The employee will feel more respected if you do so and they won’t have to wonder what went wrong. They will be more able to pursue a position that matches their qualifications, or one that has flexibility regarding the responsibilities and priorities of their personal life.

Once you have presented solid reasons for your decision, your employee will have the opportunity to share thoughts and show emotion. You will be tempted to defend your decision, but there’s no point in giving details that could only hurt feelings. Respond to sadness and anger with compassion, and move on to the topic of how you will make their transition easier. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Be clear about what’s next

Be sure to explain to your employee what kind of reference you will give to prospective employers. Also, encourage them to pursue a job that makes use of the strong skills you’ve noticed. It’s important to act as a positive reference and help them succeed in another setting.

Additionally, let the employee know the date and method of receiving a final paycheck, what will happen to vacation days and how long their benefits will continue. While it may feel harsh to do so, follow the necessary legal procedures, such as retrieving company property and making sure the employee leaves the premises. Finally, provide contact information for yourself or another person in the company in case the employee has questions.

It may be difficult, but end on a positive note. It will benefit both you and the employee’s reputation to maintain a strong professional relationship down the road — even if this situation didn’t quite work out.

Katherine Halek is a Marketing Associate at Signazon.com, a leader in online printing. Signazon works with hundreds of small businesses owners each year to promote their businesses with custom signs, flyers, and more. Connect with her on Google+.

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How to See the World While Working: 6 Sweet Jobs That Let You Travel http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/10/see-world-working-6-sweet-jobs-let-travel/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/10/see-world-working-6-sweet-jobs-let-travel/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17494 Don’t throw away your extensive travel plans because you need to work. These jobs will let you work from anywhere.

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Traveling isn’t just a way to see the world; it broadens your mind to other options and ways of life. While most people feel stuck, you have options that can allow you to work during your travels. After all, traveling is an opportunity everyone should experience.

For some, being a nomad is a way of life. They have the freedom to move from one location to another. For others, it’s an opportunity to see what the world has to offer. Some opt to travel to enlighten those incapable of venturing into the unknown. No matter the reason you choose, if extensive traveling is in your future, you can find careers suited to the lifestyle.

1. Freelance Writer

Freelance writing can be done anywhere with Internet. As long as you have a good understanding of the English language, writing jobs are readily available.

A search online can uncover some sources, or you can partner with a marketing company to provide content for their clients. Best of all, you don’t need a college degree to start.

2. Graphic Designer

Graphic designers can work at home or on the go, particularly if they’re self-employed. Many designers are college educated, but with a little hard work, the skills can be self-taught.

Graphic design work can be taken on in a freelance basis, or designers can work for a design or marketing agency. This career also requires an Internet connection. The job often entails creating website layouts, logos and other graphics.

3. Massage Therapist

While it may take a while to earn a degree in massage therapy, it’s certainly worth it. Most degree programs require schooling followed by approximately 500 training hours. Some people opt to work at a salon or doctor’s office, but you can travel, too. Many sports programs offer positions for massage therapists to travel with the team.

You can also work for yourself and have complete freedom. You can purchase portable tables and supplies from online vendors. MassageTableOutlet.com offers both stationary and portable massage tables, as well as massage chairs, so you can offer your clients variety. Working for yourself also offers scheduling flexibility.

4. Flight Attendant

If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, being a flight attendant is a great option. Staffing requirements vary by airline, but most don’t require a degree. Flight attendants should be friendly and able to handle stress. Some airlines are strictly domestic flights, so if you’re looking for international travel, consider that when looking for an employer.

5. Travel Tour Guide

Being a travel tour guide allows you to share sites with others. Some job opportunities are for a specific location and involve taking different groups to various areas. Other opportunities allow you to travel with people and explore new sites along the way. But you have the option to move to the next spot the wind takes you.

6. Archaeologist

Archaeology is the study of the human past, often in remote places. If you’re a fan of digging up ancient relics and artifacts, this may be the job for you. Brace yourself though, because a bachelor’s degree is the minimal educational requirement, with a graduate degree preferred. On the plus side, the job market is expected to increase, so you should start now.

What path you chose is up to you, but you should never let work options get in the way of following your dream. Career options are available for all levels of education and experience as long as you’re willing to put forth the effort.

Michele Wright is a San Diego based freelance copywriter and brand representative. She’s been freelance writing for three years and has contributed to articles on a variety of business, marketing and finance topics.

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Why You Don’t Need Silicon Valley to Become a Successful Entrepreneur http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/09/dont-need-silicon-valley-become-successful-entrepreneur/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/09/dont-need-silicon-valley-become-successful-entrepreneur/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17489 Think you need to live in Silicon Valley or NYC with an MBA to be a successful entrepreneur? As it turns out, simply finding a place to call home, along with a smart strategy, is often all it takes.

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Students aren’t the only ones learning lessons from summer road trips — one professor just finished an enlightening journey of his own.

As Fast Company reports, Mike Glauser, executive Director of the Clark Center for Entrepreneurship at Utah State University, recently completed a cross-country bike ride to learn more about the realities of entrepreneurship in America. With funds raised on Kickstarter, he and a team cycled from Florence, OR to Yorktown, VA and interviewed 100 entrepreneurs in business-friendly smaller cities like Sister, OR and Chester, IL.

What he found revealed some interesting things about those on the forefront of the shift to entrepreneurship. Here are some of the big lessons you can take away from his findings (Click here to tweet this list.):

1. You need a mission

Money is great, and of course entrepreneurs want to make as much of it as they can, but the most successful (and happiest) aren’t motivated by money alone; they add a sense of mission to their business plan.

Your takeaway: Identify the big “why” behind your business. Who are you trying to help? What difference do you want to make in the world? Getting clear on that will not only improve your ROI; it’ll improve your overall sense of satisfaction.

2. Location matters

While Silicon Valley or NYC may seem the “place to be” for entrepreneurs, the people Glauser interviewed made a conscious choice to escape the rat-race feel of big cities and move to a place they’d enjoy calling home.

For some, that meant being close to the mountains. For others, it meant going somewhere they could enjoy an active lifestyle or be a part of a close-knit community. Being able to feel a part of their surroundings and to give back was important to nearly every entrepreneur Glauser interviewed.

Your takeaway: Don’t forget the “life” side of the work-life balance equation. Make sure you’re creating a life in a location that makes you feel personally fulfilled, both as a person and as a business owner.

3. You don’t need a ton of money (or a great economy)

The entrepreneurs Glauser spoke with didn’t necessarily have a ton of startup money or a flush economy on their side, but they leveraged their creativity and the advice of smart advisors and mentors to bootstrap their way to success.

Your takeaway: Don’t see dollar signs as an obstacle to your entrepreneurial goals. You may need a little more than a “dollar and a dream,” but you can do a lot with a little if you’re smart about it.

4. You don’t need to be an MBA

“Only a handful” of the 100 entrepreneurs Glauser interviewed had any formal business background or training. They simply figured things out as they went along and applied the brains and experience they already had.

Your takeaway: Glauser’s advice, as a professor who teaches entrepreneurship? “The model is to create a prototype fast, scale up fast, grow, and create an exit strategy.”

To learn more about Glauser’s trip, including the entrepreneurs he interviewed and his plans for a book based on his findings, click here.

What other advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs?

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

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8 Fun Networking Events in Sacramento You Should Attend http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/09/8-fun-networking-events-sacramento-attend/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/09/8-fun-networking-events-sacramento-attend/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17446 Live in Northern California? Expand your professional and social circles with networking events that will help connect you with new friends - and maybe even new colleagues.

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Over time, Sacramento, California has become known as a great place for young professionals to find work and engage in the community. California’s capital city has not only been deemed America’s most diverse city in recent years, but the regional job market has also begun to grow, offering a multitude opportunities in fields often associated with the state’s larger cities.

Whether you’re into politics, the farm-to-fork movement, technology, marketing, health care, creative entrepreneurship or anything in between, there are plenty of networking events to help you widen your professional circles.

1. SacTweetUp

If you’re into social media (Twitter, in particular) and you’re looking to connect with others who love to interact both online and offline, this is the event for you. Held monthly, the SacTweetUp events are a wonderful way to meet people from various professional fields in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

2. Sacramento’s Creative Class

Based on the premise that it takes an active community to build a great city, Sacramento’s Creative Class meet-up group offers a whole host of events including weekly bull sessions, workshops, mixers and more. At the events, you’ll meet talented individuals from all backgrounds and professional fields. Be ready to share what you know and learn from others.

3. Sacramento After Work

These monthly events are full of professionals from every background and professional field you can imagine. Not only that, you’ll be able to meet others at various levels in their careers. The events also meet at a new location each month, which means you’ll be able to check out a new Sacramento hot spot during each event.

4. HackerLab

Developers, programmers and coders unite at Sacramento’s HackerLab. If you’re interested in networking, sharing and learning with others as you work to build great web products, this is the best place to start. The lab hosts a full calendar of events that cover specific topics and it’s a great place to meet others in similar fields.

5. American Marketing Association Sacramento Valley

If marketing is at the core of your business or professional position, the events organized by the American Marketing Association Sacramento Valley (AMASV) are for you. Each event is developed under a specific theme and offered as both a learning and networking experience. Be sure to bring your business cards, active listening skills and your preferred method for note taking.

6. Sacramento Metro EDGE

As a branch of Sacramento’s Metro Chamber, Metro EDGE was developed to engage young leaders—under 40, to be precise—in the region. With everything from mixers and workshops to golf tournaments and community events, Metro EDGE is perfect for any young professional looking to participate in their larger community.

7. Connectionopolis

Produced by the Sacramento Business Journal, Connectionopolis offers professionals an opportunity to both network and learn from experts in various fields. The event is hosted monthly at various locations throughout the region. The event is a great way to both learn more about your industry and explore industries outside of a particular niche.

8. Sacramento Social Media Club

While the focus of the Sacramento Social Media Club is, of course, social and online media, the events cover a wide range of topics that can be applied to almost any field. If you’re looking to grow an online community or simple want to participate in the social media conversation, this is a great place to start.

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

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Learning From LeBron: What the NBA Star Can Teach You About Becoming an MVP At Work http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/08/learning-lebron-nba-star-can-teach-becoming-mvp-work/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/08/learning-lebron-nba-star-can-teach-becoming-mvp-work/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17504 What the NBA’s top star can teach you about becoming an MVP at work.

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Basketball superstar LeBron James has dominated the game ever since he joined the NBA in his late teens.

Early in his career, they started calling him “The King.” In the eyes of many sports fans, he’s lived up to the billing.

He’s a perennial all-star, a three-time NBA Most Valuable Player and on a career trajectory that few NBA players have ever matched.

But what, exactly, makes LeBron so good? What makes him so valuable?

You may be tempted to quickly point to James’ headline-grabbing numbers: his points scored, assists and rebounds, among other stats.

But James himself begs to differ. Asked what’s differentiated his performance over the years, King James is clear:

“Efficiency. I’m just a more efficient player. I take no shots for granted…As I’ve grown, I’ve made more of a conscious effort to become a more efficient player and I think it’s helped my team’s success over the years.”

And, according to statisticians, he’s absolutely right.

In the mid-1990s ESPN writer and statistician John Hollinger developed a statistical model to calculate a player’s total contribution to team performance – what he called the Player Efficiency Rating or “PER.”

This metric, as Hollinger describes it, “sums up all a player’s positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player’s performance.”

PER ratings start at 0 and peak around 35, a number that Hollinger describes as a “Year for the Ages.” Players who have a score of 30+, writes Hollinger, are “Runaway MVP candidates.”

In his 2012-13 MVP seasons LeBron had a PER of 31.87 – nearly 3 points higher than the next closest player, Kevin Durant (the current MVP who led all players in efficiency this year, with a PER of 29.90.) All-time, LeBron’s PER is 27.79, second only to Michael Jordan’s 27.91.

LeBron was right. He has become more efficient – and seems to be getting better every year. But you don’t need to be a basketball player to learn from LeBron’s success. Read on to learn how you can channel your inner LeBron to rise to the top of your game at work and become a true Workforce MVP. (Click here to tweet this list.)

What workforce MVPs and LeBron have in common

Like LeBron, Workforce MVPs prioritize efficiency above all else.

Like LeBron, Workforce MVPs not only do their individual job exceedingly well, but also help others perform at their highest levels, too.

Like LeBron, Workforce MVPs don’t rest on their accomplishments. They invest heavily and consistently in building or enhancing skills they need to remain both competitive and highly effective.

Last but not least, like LeBron, Workforce MVPs are valued highly by the organizations and teams with which they work. They typically get more of the financial remuneration, praise and freedom than others.

If the idea of being a Workforce MVP appeals to you, consider this your training camp. These are four things to start doing today, and every day, as you build the skills and experience necessary to lead your team to victory.

1. Put first things first

We all struggle with sometimes feeling like we have so much to do, and not enough time to do it. Employees who can align their personal to-do list with the most important objectives of their organization quickly differentiate themselves. Managers and colleagues alike notice this skill.

“We have extraordinary numbers of challenges and opportunities to address going forward,” the Head of Talent at a global manufacturing company shared with me recently. “We win only if we are able to put first things first.”

In basketball, the objective is crystal clear: Win. And the strategy for doing so is straightforward: Score more points than the other team. Unfortunately, in many highly-matrixed, global companies, prioritization can be far more complicated.

If you’re not sure how your to-do list aligns with the greater needs of the organization, ask. Engage your manager on the subject. If he or she doesn’t know, then keep asking until you can find someone who can.

One of my favorite questions to help guide this conversation comes from strategic coach, Dan Sullivan:

If we were meeting six months from today, what has to happen during that period for you to feel great about our progress?

2. Help others win

More than just a team player, a Workforce MVP seeks to understand what members of their team want to accomplish (the incentives, the metrics, the accountabilities) and helps them achieve those goals.

Examples include:

  • Pro-actively sharing essential information
  • Facilitating critical connections
  • Eliminating non-essential work as much as possible

We all want to win as an organization. But if you make a point of helping others achieve individual wins, you create not only a better performing team, but also a more loyal colleague and teammate.

3. Build organizational awareness

As the CEO of a large automobile joint venture once shared with me, “every organization suffers from it own beautiful dysfunction.”

I suspect you know what he’s talking about. You know, the funny, odd, seemingly illogical, way certain things get done in your company.

While Workforce MVPs always seek to drive process improvement – and ultimately performance – they also learn to effectively operate in the system, despite its flaws.

More importantly, they make it a point to teach those newer to the organization the ins and outs of the organizational and decision-making hierarchy. They expedite the learning curve for new hires, making tenure less of a correlating factor of performance.

As soon as James decided to re-join his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers — a team and city he knew very well — he got on the phone to share what he knew with Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, a player rumored to be interested in joining LeBron in Cleveland. According to Love, James shared what he knew about new and existing talent on the roster, the management team and the city of Cleveland.

“That [call] had a lot to do with my decision…” said Love after deciding to join LeBron and the Cavaliers.

Every organization has its unique way of doing business. Workforce MVPs work to ensure everyone on their team understands how things get done and ensure their teammates have the right info and resources to be successful in their role.

4. Focus on getting better, not getting ahead

Workforce MVPs can come from any part of an organization. Yet despite the differences in their roles and responsibilities, they all share a mindset of continuous improvement.

Again, LeBron James is a useful role model here. In 2011, after losing the NBA Finals as a member of the Miami Heat, James decided to re-invest in his professional development. He recruited NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon – arguably the best forward ever – to train him. James flew to Olajuwon’s home in Texas and trained with the master for a week.

“I wanted to get better,” said James. “I wanted to improve and I sought out someone who I thought was one of the greatest low-post players to ever play this game.”

Hard to imagine that a guy like James – already one of the best in the league – would need to get better. But that’s what MVPs do: Constantly seek improvement.

This focus on getting better may come easy earlier in your career when there’s so much to learn. But the continued focus on skill building is what differentiates true MVPs from their peers.

What part of your game needs the most work today? Who is your Hakeem? Who is the person you aspire to emulate and can learn from?

LeBron James is a once-in-a-generation talent, no question about it. But his impact and value, maps back to more than just natural athleticism.

While we may never be able to shoot, pass and jump like LeBron, we can still become MVPs in our careers by modeling the efficiency of his game.

Ben Sands writes at Regret Free Life where he helps the smart men and women make great decisions about their careers, money and relationships. For more useful ideas join his free newsletter.

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Getting a Job After Your MBA: 5 Skills That Make You More Hireable http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/08/getting-job-mba-6-skills-make-hireable/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/08/getting-job-mba-6-skills-make-hireable/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17498 When you’re fresh out of business school, show off these skills to prove you’re management-level material.

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For some graduates, a Master’s is no longer enough to secure meaningful employment. While business school teaches the theory behind running your own business, employers look for a special set of skills in new MBA grads.

Employers don’t want to hire business school graduates who are simply destined for middle management. (Click here to tweet this quote.) They want talented hires who are already taking their first steps toward C-level executive status. If you have the soft skills required to lead a team, you’ll be more competitive amongst your peers and other recent MBA graduates.

Here are five skills that employers look for in business school hires.

1. You can lead, even when your job title doesn’t require it

Employers look for candidates they can promote to leadership and executive roles down the line. While you might start at the bottom, the cream always rises to the crop. Your employer will see (or hear) about the difference you can make.

The ability to motivate others and get the best out of your team (even in a non-leadership position) will help you advance within the corporate hierarchy.

Many businesses hire corporate coaches to train their executive leaders. If you already have the skills employers often pay thousands of dollars to help their managers develop, you’re already far ahead of the crowd.

Knowing they can count on you to one day take over a high-level management or C-level executive job allows employers to rest easy in their decision to hire (and promote) you.

2. You can think on your feet

While being able to react to problems is great, the best of the new crop of business school hires can also predict problems before they even happen.

Take the approach of problem solver. Instead of bringing in potential problems to those in supervisory roles, bring them the solutions. You must be able to adapt to a fast-changing business world to have success in corporate America.

3. You bring fresh ideas to the table

Yes men are yesterday’s news. Employers don’t look for agreeable types who will back up every word their boss says. Instead, they look for people who can empower them to lead smarter and present new ideas they might not have previously considered.

When you’re fresh out of school, your curious and inquisitive perspective is especially valuable. That said, don’t be the guy who forces his ideas on people or interrupts rudely. Timing is everything.

4. You fit with the company culture

No office or corporate workforce wants to have to shift the dynamic to suit each new hire. Culture fit is important.

Instead, employers look for someone who fits seamlessly with the team they already have with minimal overall disruption to the working dynamic.

To make yourself more employable, you need to be able to adapt and play nice with others to ensure a peaceful and highly efficient workplace.

5. You’re self-motivated and don’t need supervision

The worst employees have to be watched. Whether it’s distractions like their cell phone or too much office chit chat, or constant web browsing or Facebook checking, these employees never seem to get anything done without direct supervision.

Don’t be one of them.

Prove to your new boss and your entire team that your work is at the forefront of your mind, so you don’t need to be supervised to make valued contributions. If you have to hide something when someone says “The boss is coming,” you’re doing something wrong.

The corporate world is competitive. With a high percentage of graduates reporting they have no meaningful job prospects right out of college, or even months (or sometimes years) later, it’s time to make sure you do everything in your power to ensure you’re not one of them.

Michele Wright is a San Diego-based freelance copywriter and brand representative who works with multiple clients and marketing companies. She been freelance writing for three years and has contributed to articles on a variety of topics varying from video gaming and technology to business and finance.

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How to Use Gamification to Grow Your Business and Engage Your Employees http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/07/use-gamification-grow-business-engage-employees/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/07/use-gamification-grow-business-engage-employees/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17509 Want to increase your customers’ loyalty and your employees’ engagement? Try gamification. Here’s how you can implement it now.

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Nowadays, the gamification trend is spreading to businesses, affecting marketing strategies and employee management. It’s a powerful tool for marketers to showcase their brands and for companies to increase employees’ performance and engagement.

Let’s define gamification first. It refers to applying gaming techniques to non-gaming processes for many reasons: to add fun and interest, to engage, to allow people to experience adrenaline and a sense of competition, and to gain victory.

Including gaming elements to the companies’ strategies results in a mix of fun and business, which makes routine activities more attractive and has significant impact on the company’s marketing and employee performance. According to Gartner, by 2015, almost a half of global organizations will use gamification in their business operations.

But as any new trend, poor implementation puts gamification at risk of falling short of expectations and failing its business goals. Gamification isn’t just about badges, points and leaderboards.

To carry out a successful gamification strategy for stimulating employee engagement, pay attention to the following ideas. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Integrate gamification with personal development

When you put gaming elements like scores and points into practice, make them meaningful and valuable to employees’ ambitions and careers. People like self-development, and that’s why gamification must go along with employees’ real achievements, to become a way to encourage and motivate.

Don’t forget to provide people with the ability to share their progress with others.

2. Include rewards and recognition

Employees who achieve good working results through gaming activities need a word of encouragement and recognition to stay motivated. Design your gamification strategy so workers have bonuses and rewards, such as earning “badges,” that visibly recognize their contribution to the business. It’ll positively affect company performance and motivate other employees.

3. Socialize gaming results

Use social network platforms to display completions and leaderboards. This is a way for employees to get to know each other, see others’ achievements and “Like” them while showing their own progress.

4. Combine teamwork and competition consciously

Although these two components of work are equally essential and engaging, they tend to have disastrous effects when taken to extremes. The best way is to balance them so the competitive spirit doesn’t become a race to the top, but rather, serves as motivation for effective teamwork as a platform for realizing personal potential.

Gamification isn’t just a good way to increase employee engagement within the company: it’s an effective way to attract customers to your brand too. Including gaming elements in your marketing strategy will spark customers’ interest.

With the rise of mobile devices, this trend has become extremely popular. By bringing some fun and entertainment to your brand’s interface, you give people a pleasant experience while interacting with your brand, and this experience will enhance their loyalty.

The main goal of creating gaming applications to promote your brand isn’t only entertainment — it’s to lead them to your business offers and motivate them to buy your product. Here are the essential components of a marketing gamification strategy.

5. Use gaming to interact

Games provide interaction and entertainment. Common ways of promotion in traditional media don’t require the customer’s participation, while playing games does.

6. Share socially

Most game developers today include social elements as social media becomes an integral part of our lives. Your gamification campaign should be designed to encourage consumers to share their achievements. Installing and playing your app alone won’t be as effective. Social sharing also extends your audience.

7. Encourage the competitive spirit

Competition raises engagement, so integrate contests into your games.

8. Give rewards and prizes

The results your customers achieve through competition should be supported by awards. Usually they have a digital form like unlocking badges, points and trophies for participation, learning about the brand and reaching certain results. Such digital bonuses may correspond to real bonuses like discounts, privileges and gifts.

9. Provide a unique experience

Any reward or bonus will be useless if the game is boring. Make the user experience enjoyable and friendly, and don’t forget to add some fun. You need to have something special about your game to catch your customers’ attention — and represent your company’s idea.

10. Target audience orientation

Because the goal is to use gamification as a marketing technique, your priority is to define the demographics and psychographics of your target audience and plan the relevant scenario and design.

Gamifying employee management and customer interfaces should both be based on similar principles: learning, exploring, socializing, achieving, obtaining rewards and, of course, having fun.

Andrew Smith is a social media marketer, a web developer in the past, a writer working in QArea, which specializes in providing web, mobile, desktop app development and testing services. Andrew enjoys writing about social media, business and IT technologies.

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5 Easy Networking Tips for Making Connections in a New City http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/06/5-easy-networking-tips-making-connections-new-city/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/06/5-easy-networking-tips-making-connections-new-city/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17483 Moved to a new city recently? Making new connections -- and friends -- can be difficult. These tips will make it easier.

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Moving to a new city feels like starting over completely. You’ve left everything — including your network — behind, and it’s overwhelming to think that you need to begin again.

But meeting new contacts doesn’t have to be a painful process. Use the following tips and you’ll be on your way to a making your new city feel like home.

Represent your alma mater

People tend to be nostalgic about their college years, and meeting alumni from your school is a great starting point. Wear your college colors and gear at networking events or work. Fellow alums will notice. This gives you an instant connection with someone and easy way to break the ice.

People are interested in meeting people who have a shared experience. (Click here to share this week.) You don’t have to be decked out, but try throwing on a baseball cap or piece of jewelry. Keep in mind this is a great way to make friends too.

Brainstorm better questions

Before you attempt to network, think of questions for contacts that aren’t typical or run-of-the-mill. Think about what you want to know. It’s OK to ask questions like “Where did you grow up?” or “How long have you lived here?” but they’re boring and don’t reveal much.

Instead, ask questions that’ll reveal something new and interesting. For example, instead of “What do you do?” ask, “What do you like about what you do?” Not only is this more involved, but it’ll also allow the person to talk about their favorite aspect of work rather than listing off responsibilities.

Learn how to catch a softball

If the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and talking to people makes you nervous, try an activity like intramural sports. Most cities offer leagues at varying skill levels, and these leagues provide a booming social scene. You can sign up as an individual and be matched to a team.

Look for a sport that seems like a good fit for you. Joining will provide an instant way to spark conversation. Not only will you meet a new group of people, but you’ll also make a different sort of connection than if you just meet someone once. You can also take advantage of post-game celebrations to get to know your teammates better.

Knock on your neighbors’ doors

You may think of your neighbors as the people you have to visit when they’re being too loud on a Tuesday night, but they’re actually a valuable part of your network. You never know who could be living next door. Taking time to form a community bond within your building or neighborhood is worth the effort.

Introduce yourself to your neighbors and let them know you’ve moved in. You’ll meet a few people who can give you some insight about your new city. After you get to know your neighbors better, they may have an established network they can introduce you to.

This is an easy step a lot people struggle with. Cities, even ones known for a sense of community like Seattle, have struggled with neighbors forming a bond. One quick knock can make all the difference.

Discover and read neighborhood blogs

Chances are your new city has a lot of cultural and community events going on you don’t even know about. Community events can be a great way to integrate into a new city and give you a feel for different areas and groups.

The best way to find out about these events is to check community blogs — like Popville, a neighborhood blog for Washington, D.C. Blogs can offer more information and tips about what to do than a calendar on the city website.

Spend some time looking around for the best options in your city. You may have to go through some trial and error, but you’ll eventually find a blog that fits your style. You can also ask your new neighbors about their favorite ways to find out what’s going on in the city or about their favorite festivals.

No matter how you choose to do it, the key is to meet as many different people as possible. Whether they’re alumni or the people down the street, the more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet someone you click with or who could be a good connection down the road.

Be open to all the possibilities and your new city will feel like home in no time.

Adam Levenson is the community manager for MPA@UNC, the online MPA program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To learn more about Adam’s unique interests, visit the MPA@UNC blog or follow him on Twitter.

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Work (or Want to Work) in Higher Education? Join Us for This Free Networking Event http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/06/work-want-work-higher-education-join-us-free-networking-event-2/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/06/work-want-work-higher-education-join-us-free-networking-event-2/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 10:00:04 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17524 No time for face-to-face networking? This online lunch-hour event makes it easy to meet ambitious professionals!

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

We’ve got an event for you!

On Thursday, October 16th, at noon EDT, we’re hosting a FREE networking event for the Brazen community, with a focus on HIGHER EDUCATION.

That means if you work in higher education or you want to work in higher education, you should join us!

Click here to register.

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

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

How It Works

It couldn’t be easier to join this event. Register now, and we’ll send you a link to join us on Thursday, October 16.

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

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

Hope you’ll join us!

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How a 4-Hour Workweek Can Help You Achieve Your Career Dreams http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/03/4-hour-workweek-can-help-achieve-career-dreams/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/03/4-hour-workweek-can-help-achieve-career-dreams/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17451 We’re all busy these days, balancing full-time jobs along with family and friends. But can you create your own four-hour work week to create the career of your dreams?

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Most of us won’t be Tim Ferriss.

That’s not to say we can’t be — far be it from me to tell anyone the limits of their own awesome potential. But in reality, most of us (even in our dreamiest of dream careers) won’t be able to achieve the idealized four-hour workweek Ferriss touts in his famous book. We will, more realistically, spend at least five hours a week bringing home the bacon, probably more.

Which is perfectly fine. It is possible to enjoy your career — and your life — without working next to zero hours. The key is in creating a career you’ll actually enjoy spending some time on.

To that end, I’d like to propose a four-hour workweek of a different kind. One that anyone can aspire to, and achieve, that can be just as life-changing as the one Mr. Ferriss enjoys. This four-hour workweek focuses not on spending the least amount of time possible working, but on making the most of the time you do have to invest in creating the career of your dreams.

Making the time for your career goals

One of the biggest deterrents to chasing our dreams — whether those dreams are to start a side hustle, find a new job or become location independent — is the notion that we “just don’t have enough time.” We have day jobs to hold down. We have bills to pay. We have social lives we can’t completely neglect. Who has time for anything else?

But, if we’re being totally honest with ourselves, very few of us have all 24 hours of every day totally, irrevocably spoken for. Even deducting 7-8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for the standard workday and a couple hours for the non-negotiables such as eating, commuting and occasionally saying hello to our friends and family, most of us can find some time somewhere to eke out a little space for our dreams — if we make them a priority. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Therein lies the rub. We technically “have” time for all sorts of discretionary activities. Unless you’re a total Spartan who exists solely to eat, work, sleep and die, there are plenty of things you do throughout the day that aren’t really compulsory. If you ever check Facebook, play Candy Crush, read a book or watch TV, you’re choosing to make time for those things. You’re electing to do them at the cost of other things you could be doing with that time.

You can do the same thing with your career. You just need to learn to invest a little more time in you. That’s where the alternative “four-hour workweek” comes in.

Putting yourself on the schedule

I’m willing to wager most of you reading can find the time to set aside four little hours each week to prioritize your own career goals. Divided over seven days, that comes down a mere half-hour (and some odd minutes) a day. Deduct one episode of The Big Bang or wake up half an hour early, and you’ve got the time.

Four hours a week is totally doable for most of us, and may not even seem like all that much, but the point is that you’re making a decided effort to create room in your schedule to work on your stuff. Not your boss’s, not your client’s, not your colleagues’ — yours.

This time is not to be spent getting in a little extra work time; yes, an extra half-hour on the Peterman project might “advance your career” in that it will make your boss happy, but we’re thinking bigger-picture here. We’re looking at where you ultimately want to go in your career, and what steps you can take, right now, to get you a little bit closer to that goal.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer…

If you’re a side hustler (or wannabe side hustler)…

If you’re a 9-to-5 corporate ladder-climber…

See where this is going (and how easy it is)? All of these things can easily be done in a half-hour a day. They may not seem like much in and of themselves, but the cumulative effect can equal awesome progress for your career advancement goals.

So what do you say? Are you ready to embark on your own four-hour workweek?

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

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What the iPhone 6 Can Teach You About Standing Out at Work http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/02/iphone-6-can-teach-standing-work/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/02/iphone-6-can-teach-standing-work/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17474 Love Apple and the iPhone? It’s more than an awesome smartphone -- it can teach you how to stand out in your career, too.

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If you haven’t been on the Internet — or in contact with other human beings — over the past few days, you should know that Apple recently released its plans for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

As could be expected, the civilized world let out a collective “squee!”

Why are we reporting on this? Because you can learn a few things from the storm Apple products garner. Say what you will of the brand and its products, but Apple knows how to create and sell things people can’t wait to get their hands on. And you can follow their example to make your best product — yourself — an equally hot commodity. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Let’s take a look at what Apple keeps doing right, and what you can learn from it.

It’s all about the experience

From the feel of using their product to the way people are greeted at the Apple Store, the company takes great pains to ensure the experience of being an Apple customer is unique and enjoyable. As Carmine Gallo, author of The Apple Experience, has said, “Apple employees are not in the business of selling computers; they are in the business of enriching lives.”

How do you replicate this for your career? Make sure the experience of working with you is one people won’t soon forget. Whether you’re helping out a colleague, spearheading that new project or interviewing for a job, focus on being the sort of person other people clamor to work with.

Be helpful, be compassionate, be humorous, be reliable. Make people enjoy working with you, and you’ll quickly become their go-to guy (or gal).

Never stop improving

Does anyone really care if the new iPhone is a bit thinner, has more rounded edges and features a somewhat larger screen? Yes, yes they do. Because people are always looking for “better,” and Apple knows that.

Each new iteration of the iPhone creates a buzz because Apple constantly finds new ways to tweak and improve what they offer. The iPhone 6 is faster, sleeker and even easier to use, and customers will pay a premium to know they’ve got the “latest and greatest.”

When it comes to your career, this focus on continual improvement is your key to advancing. Your education doesn’t stop when you graduate college or master your current position; keep looking for ways to hone your skills and learn new ones and you’ll remain in-demand.

Know (and delight) your audience

Apple knows what its customers want. From easier navigation to their “Bust Selfies” feature that lets you take a rapid series of camera shots, they listen to (and anticipate) their customers’ needs and wants and use this knowledge to make products that get people excited. (Have you heard about the Apple Watch?)

Stay one step ahead of your audience by identifying their needs and finding ways to position yourself as the solution. Solve the problems your boss needs solving. Volunteer for extra responsibilities. Position yourself as the best investment your potential employer will ever make. Know your strengths and play to your audiences’ pain points, and they’ll be climbing over each other to get you in their corner.

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

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Does Praise Make You Squirm? Follow These Tips for Saying “Thank You” at Work http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/02/praise-make-squirm-follow-tips-saying-thank-work/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/02/praise-make-squirm-follow-tips-saying-thank-work/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17413 If accepting a compliment at work makes you uncomfortable, try simply saying “thank you.” Brushing off praise could make your hard work seem as if it wasn’t actually important.

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You may want your boss to like what you do, but does it make you squirm when she says “thank you” or gives you a compliment?

It’s common for many confident and accomplished professionals to feel uncomfortable when someone applauds their work. Even when an employee knows they did a great job, they may hear themselves responding to a compliment with, “No big deal.”

Forget what your mother taught you about humility. Modesty is the wrong response when your boss says you did well. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

When you try to sound humble, your boss may take you at your word and conclude that your effort wasn’t actually significant. More importantly, when you deflect a compliment you drain the juice from what should be a positive moment.

Think about how the “thank you” exchange should go. When your boss offers kind words, she wants you to feel good. If you answer gracefully, she starts to feel good, too. But if you reject her praise or thanks, she may feel a little awkward or rebuffed.

Don’t lose the benefits that praise and gratitude can bring. When you respond to accolades from your boss, you have two goals. You want to reinforce her appreciative evaluation of your work, and you want her to feel good about her moment with you.

Use these six strategies to get the most from praise:

1.  Say “thank you”

This is important. Begin your response by thanking the speaker — and sound like you mean it. Even if a little voice in your head says, “I don’t deserve it,” ignore your doubt and show appreciation. When you express sincere gratitude, you and your boss will both feel better.

2.   Pause and enjoy

To your brain, hearing positive words feels like a reward — and research suggests you perform even better after receiving a reward. So after hearing thanks or compliments, pause for an instant. Get the full value of the moment and you’ll have new energy for more good work.

3.  Allow yourself to be pleased

It’s not arrogant to acknowledge satisfaction when you’ve been successful. After saying “thanks,” it’s OK to add a phrase like, “It was a wonderful opportunity.”

4.  Share the credit

Although you don’t want to deny your contribution, you don’t want to hog the limelight, either. If it truly was a team effort, spread the kudos around. Add a simple comment like, “It was great to work with Joe on this.”

5.  Return the compliment

You can prolong the enjoyable moment by offering a commendation in return. You might say something like, “Your support made such a difference.” But this only works if you’re honest as flattery or fake expressions of gratitude are seldom convincing — and they can be just another way of declining a compliment.

6.  Be brief

When the exchange of polite words goes on too long it can become painful. If the flow of praise feels unending, it’s OK to turn it off with a light comment like, “Aw shucks. That’s enough now. You’re making me blush.”

While you practice the strategies, think about why the praise process feels difficult. A surprising number of high achievers find it difficult to accept compliments because at some level they believe they don’t really deserve them. Social psychologists call this the “imposter phenomenon.” If you feel like an imposter, ignore your discomfort and go ahead and accept positive comments with a “thank you.”

To explore further, ask yourself whether your lack of ease stems from their glowing words or from the way you talk to yourself about those words. If your habitual response to praise is to say to yourself, “you should have done even better,” it’s no wonder you don’t enjoy it.

Maybe it’s time to practice a new thought pattern when you hear positive feedback. Next time, try saying to yourself, “it feels wonderful to be recognized.”

Beverly Jones is an executive coach in Washington, D.C. with clients including government agencies, congressional offices, trade associations, businesses, universities, lawyers and journalists. See more at www.clearwaysconsulting.com.

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Hate Your Job? Here are 4 Ways to Love It a Little More http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/01/hate-job-4-ways-love-little/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/01/hate-job-4-ways-love-little/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17436 Why do you hate your job? Be honest about your problems at the office and stop complaining and you may actually love it a little more.

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You hate your job.

Sometimes you’ll tell anyone with ears how much you despise your job. Other times you prefer  to suffer in silence.

But make no mistake about it. You’re miserable.

And you’d rather not be.

So whether you’re a burned out lawyer, an overworked analyst or a cubicle warrior, here are some strategies to help you hate your job a little less.

1.  Quit Your Bitching

You’ve gotta stop the ritualistic bitch sessions about work. It’s for your own sanity.

Although there’s research that shows gossiping can be beneficial and even innately unavoidable, work gossip is a scenario in which there may be too much of a good thing.

Not only do you risk developing a reputation as a notorious gossip-hound, but you also jeopardize your own happiness.

Yup.

By constantly engaging in negative activities like bitching and gossiping, you become a whirling twister of toxicity.

Before you know it, you’ll be unable to come up with anything positive to say about your job, and this delightful personality trait will eventually seep into your personal life.

Now, sometimes that happens because your job really is the worst thing since pickled beets. And it’s important to recognize that.

But what if the crappiness of your job is a byproduct of your incessant nitpicking?

It may seem like a chicken-or-the-egg situation, but scaling back your gripe sessions could reveal the root of your problem.

2.  Be Brutally Honest

With yourself, that is.

You owe it to yourself and everyone around you to figure out why you hate your job.

Is it the people you work with? The excruciating commute? The gouge-your-eyes-out boredom?

Or are you the problem?

Hold up. This isn’t where you start shame spiraling into a vortex of Real Housewives of Self-Centered County, sweatpants and Cool Ranch Doritos. (Not that there’s anything wrong with said vortex, per se.)

We all have issues — family, money, mountains of old laundry — that can bring us down from time to time. And it’s easier to blame anything other than ourselves when shit hits the fan.

But if you’re the reason why you hate your job, changing up your work situation won’t solve anything.

Sure, it might seem better at first. But once the novelty wears off, you’ll be right back to where you are now — in Miseryville.

On the flipside, discovering you’re the cause of your unhappiness actually makes the whole job-hating scenario more manageable.

Why? Because your behavior is within your control.

So get your poop in a group first: see a therapist, hire a financial planner or splurge on a laundry service. Then see if you still hate your job.

3. Cut People Some Slack

We humans love to make sense of our world. And while this can be helpful in some areas of life, it can also lead us to be extremely close-minded. (Think religion and politics).

This means that your first reaction is likely dubbing your boss a self-righteous b-hole when he dumps a ton of urgent work on you… on a Friday afternoon.

Could your boss be, in fact, a complete tyrant? In which case, sorry ‘bout that.

But could he be dealing with a messy divorce? Coping with a death in the family? Or experiencing severe sleep deprivation due to a sleep-hating infant at home?

It’s much easier to label others as incompetent, rude or selfish when you’re not privy to their problems. So try keeping the following phrase in mind:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

It’s like when you bring a bad attitude to the office, only you’re not a bad person, but you’re not bringing your A-game due to your excess baggage.

Don’t get me wrong. Even if your boss does have a bunch of personal problems and isn’t really a horrible person, you’re not required to stick around to take the brunt of his unprofessionalism.

So try cutting people some slack. You might be surprised.

But consider cutting yourself loose if someone’s personal issues are giving you a set of your own.

4.  Take Control

Once you’ve narrowed down the source(s) of your discontent, it’s time to make a plan.

Actively working toward a meaningful goal will increase your happiness. Plus, creating a plan will give you a sense of control you otherwise lack in your career.

Whatever your goal — a promotion, different job, new career, resolution of personal issues — get serious about it. (Click here to tweet this bit of motivation.)

Set deadlines for yourself. Lean on your support system. Find a coach to keep you motivated and accountable. Get a psychologist to help you sort through your personal stuff.

Above all else, TAKE ACTION.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll uncover a hidden love for your workplace.

Maybe not.

But you will discover what you’re missing. And you owe it to yourself to go find it.

Annie Little is a trained life coach, former attorney and the founder of JD Nation where she helps lawyers who want to regain control of their careers, beat burnout and start enjoying their lives again. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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How to Leverage Your Alumni Network in Your Job Search http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/01/leverage-alumni-network-job-search/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/10/01/leverage-alumni-network-job-search/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17441 If you’re on the hunt for a new job, there’s one resource you’re probably overlooking: alumni. Here’s how you can leverage your network.

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Networking. It’s the key to getting your foot in the door or scoring that initial interview during your job search. But it’s challenging if you don’t know where to start. And it can be  intimidating to meet professionals you don’t know.

But that’s why tapping into your school’s alumni network is an excellent option. Not only does it give you an automatic connection, but most people also want to help other graduates from their alma mater. (Click here to tweet this advice.) Leveraging this network proves to be a useful job search strategy.

Explore your alumni association

If you’re not sure where to meet fellow alumni, check out your school’s alumni association. Generally, these large organizations are broken down into smaller groups. Search for an alumni group in your specific industry, and keep an eye out for alumni social or networking events.

Network online, too

In addition to meeting up with groups of alumni (call it bulk networking), network online. This means following the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts of alumni groups and your school.

Eventually you’ll be able to connect with specific people. You’ll learn about upcoming events and know what’s going on at the school, which can be great small talk at an event and a good way to break the ice.

Saying something like, “Did you hear about the new dorm they’re building?” will spark a better conversation than “This weather is terrible.” You can also sign up for email alerts or browse the school website periodically.

LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with alumni via the “Find Alumni” feature. This allows you to search LinkedIn based on location, company, the years they attended the school and industry.

Let your university connect you to alumni

It may seem like you’re already using your university, but most of the time, college career centers have lists of alumni they can reach out to. They can put you in touch with alumni in your particular industry or area of interest. A career adviser might be able to connect you with people who frequently help alumni and give you advice on the best way to get in touch.

Most universities now have an online directory of current alumni, what they do for a living and their contact information. The best thing about reaching out to alumni via a database is they’ve most likely volunteered their information, so they’ve already essentially said they’re willing to help.

You can also reach out to your former professors (or the dean of your school) and see if they have former students they’re still in touch with who might be willing to answer an email or meet up for coffee. Talk to anyone who might have access to a wide network of alumni.

Be professional

Though there are a variety of ways to meet alumni, the rules of communication are the same no matter what the medium is. Remember that connecting with alumni doesn’t mean you’re reaching out to them for a job. You want to build a relationship so you can learn about the industry, their company, job-hunting or anything else that might be of value.

Ask about their job and what they do on a day-to-day basis. Think about the person’s job and what questions you can ask. Maybe entry-level alumni will be able to offer more details on how to break into a particular field, while a senior level employee might be able to offer more information about the state of the industry.

Tailor your questions (whether they’re about responsibilities, interviewing tips or company questions) to the person. You can also find out information such as which industry groups will be useful to you or which publications you should be reading.

Only after you’ve established a personal relationship should you broach the idea of a potential job opening. Tell alumni exactly what you’re looking for and see if they know anyone who might be able to help.

The key to success, no matter what stage of the relationship you’re at, is to be respectful of the person’s time. Take your cues from the people in your network, and treat them as people you’d like to get to know — not just as an avenue to a job.

Carly Dell is the community manager for the innovative online RN to BSN program offered through Simmons College. In her free time, Carly enjoys traveling, binge-watching HGTV and trying new restaurants. Follow her on Twitter @carlydell2 and Google+.

 

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Hiring Millennials: 6 Tips for Recruiting the Best Young Talent http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/30/hiring-millennials-6-tips-recruiting-best-young-talent/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/30/hiring-millennials-6-tips-recruiting-best-young-talent/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17462 If you want to diversify your team by hiring more millennials, here’s how to find the best candidates.

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How do recruiters find top-notch Millennial job candidates? Are there special tools you should be using or new techniques to try?

Here’s what two experts have to say about making your recruitment efforts a success.

1. Extend your search beyond “elite” schools

Steven Rothberg, president and founder of College Recruiter, says one of the most important tactics recruiters can use to find the best young talent is to think outside the “elite” box.

As Rothberg notes: “It’s first helpful to define what a top candidate is. Many employers think that a top candidate is an elite student at an elite school. That’s true for a very small number of employers.”

The majority of employers can find great job candidates from nearly any degree program. By looking where everyone else isn’t looking, you’ll find talented students and recent graduates other recruiters and employers might completely miss.

Taking the time to work with students and recent graduates from a variety of schools can often yield a wealth of top-notch job candidates.

2. Look for candidates who aren’t afraid of long-term commitment

The best candidate for the job isn’t necessarily the one with the most impressive resume. There are other factors you should consider as well — like their commitment to your company.

As Rothberg notes, the true top candidate is the one who wants to put his or her best work into the job: “Best to focus on candidates who will do great work for you, want to work for you and will stay with you.”

The idea of looking for job candidates who are ready to stay with employers for the long-term will help you make those all-important job matches. Even though many employers expect Millennials to job-hop, recruiters often find the best candidates by looking for people who won’t be retention risks.

3. Understand that Millennials value mentorship and social responsibility

Lisa Orrell, a Generations Relations & Leadership Expert at The Orrell Group, says recruiters or hiring managers should be aware of what Millennials value. Many Millennials look for companies that offer two things: Mentorship opportunities and a sense of corporate social responsibility.

Lastly, Orrell notes that many Millennials want to work for companies with an entrepreneurial culture: “Does the company (if it’s large) have a culture as a whole, and within each department, that fosters and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit?”

If you want to attract stand-out Millennials, you need to show them your company shares their same values.

4. Embrace new tools to recruit smarter

Rothberg notes that today’s recruiters have a large number of new tools to help them attract great job candidates.

“We’ve been using a lot of targeted mobile banner advertising to reach a highly targeted group students on a variety of sites,” he says. “We can target by school, year of graduation, major, diversity and more. Getting those ads onto non-career sites means we’re able to reach students who aren’t as actively engaged in the recruiting process and therefore unlikely to be using their career service offices.”

5. Never lose sight of tried-and-true recruiting principles

“The newest thing is rarely the best thing,” says Rothberg. “Video interviewing and virtual career fairs are great ways to meet face-to-face with candidates who attend schools you can’t visit, but they’re not replacements for in-person meetings.”

Rothberg suggests that recruiters put aside part of their budget and resources to test out new tools, but that they should never lose sight of the tried-and-true recruiting techniques: “Stick with what has worked well and allocate a small percentage of your money and time resources to experimenting.” (Click here to tweet this suggestion.)

6. Make the match

  • Focus on students from a variety of degree programs
  • Look for candidates who are ready to stay with an employer
  • Make sure you can offer Millennials what they value
  • Try new techniques such as targeted advertising
  • Don’t ignore the power of tried-and-true recruiting techniques, and don’t let virtual recruiting take the place of face-to-face work

Now go out there and find those great Millennial job candidates!

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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5 Ways to Find Out If You’re Making Enough Money http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/29/5-ways-find-youre-making-enough-money/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/29/5-ways-find-youre-making-enough-money/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17457 Are you making what you’re worth? Before you accept that raise or job offer, make sure you receive the salary you deserve. Here’s how.

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Whether you’re up for a raise or considering a job offer, you may be wondering what you’re really worth. Are you making enough money for your age and experience level? Are you getting paid what you deserve?

It’s completely natural — and in fact advisable — to regularly reassess your worth to ensure your career is moving in the right direction. While salary is often considered a hush-hush topic, you you can still determine how much you should be making — and whether or not you should accept the offered salary.

1. Do your homework

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to get a general idea of what people in your position make. Granted, salaries vary greatly based on location and experience level, but sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com and Salary.com give you a good starting point.

It’s more powerful to have specific numbers ready during salary negotiations as opposed to saying you deserve a raise without backing it up.

2. Know what normal growth in a company is

If it’s a raise you’re hoping for, it helps to know what’s normal in terms of growth. According to a survey by Towers Watson Data Services, the average pay raise in 2014 was expected to be just below three percent. If you’re looking for significant growth in your salary, you may need to look for another job instead. (Click here to tweet this hard pill to swallow.)

3. Ask around

Talking about salaries within a company is often frowned upon and may even be prohibited by your employer. But there’s a growing movement toward salary transparency, which can ultimately benefit employees. If you don’t feel comfortable asking your coworkers what they’re making, talk to contacts in your industry to find out what’s typical in your field.

4. Take your company’s financial standing into account

You may know your company is going through a dry spell financially, or perhaps it’s going on its third year of record sales. Your salary will probably be affected by your company’s finances.

If business is slow, you may not get a raise for a few years, and you have to decide if you value the job enough to stick it out. If business is going well, but you’re still not getting a raise or you’re not being paid what you feel you deserve, it may be time to demand more — or move on.

5. Realistically calculate your fair-market value

Averages aside, what you’re worth is a personal thing. Employers take into account your educational background, your past experiences, your accomplishments (awards and recognitions) and additional training you’ve received.

Your salary will be commensurate with your skills and accomplishments, so be realistic about what those are. Someone in your position may be making $5,000 more, but the truth is, they may deserve more.

What to do when you deserve more

After doing your background research, you may have determined you’re not getting paid (or offered) as much as you deserve. Luckily, with the knowledge you’ve acquired during your research, you should be equipped to discuss salary negotiations with your current or potential employer. Here’s what to keep in mind when asking for more money:

  • Know exactly what you want
  • Ask politely — don’t make angry demands
  • Back your request up with facts and statistics
  • Prove that you deserve it through the quality of your work

Have you used any of these tactics during salary negotiations, or do you have additional ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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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4 Things Recruiters Will Never Tell You (That Dramatically Affect Your Job Search) http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/29/4-things-recruiters-will-never-tell-dramatically-affect-job-search/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/29/4-things-recruiters-will-never-tell-dramatically-affect-job-search/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17431 A recruiter can be an ally in your job search, but only if you know how they work. And what they don’t say is more important than what they do.

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You may believe job recruiters are your ally, there to help you land the career of your dreams. While recruiters do come with many positives, it’s important to understand their motives — namely, how their end goal differs from yours.

The recruiter is beholden to the client; their most important task is helping clients find the best talent. (Click here to tweet this thought.) If you don’t play your cards right and tailor your relationship to this need, you may miss out on a great opportunity.

If you find yourself in the position of working with a recruiter during your job search, be aware of the gray areas, understand how they work and know what you can do to optimize the relationship. Understanding these basic elements of their job can help you to land a job of your own.

Here are a few things recruiters probably won’t tell you:

1. “I care more about my client than your job search”

Recruiters have a job to do. Like you, they have to work for their bosses. To understand recruiters better, know the difference between contingency recruiters and retained recruiters.

Contingency is a service performed by a recruitment company for free until the day a candidate represented by them takes a position with their client. Recruiters working on this basis may have to compete with the client’s internal HR department, direct applicants and other recruitment companies.

Retained recruiters operate on an exclusive basis — the job will only be filled through this recruitment company. These recruiters work closely with their client, take their time and use an agreed upon system to find the best person for the job. The process is usually rigorous, with a number of names being presented to a client before the interview.

Tip: Approach recruiters according to how they work, not how you work. Contingency recruiters will throw your resume against any position to see where it sticks. Retainer recruiters will only introduce you if you’re a perfect fit.

2. “I’m not going to do all the work for you”

A recruiter doesn’t want to sit down with anyone unless they’re appropriate for a job. They want to help you, but they may not be able to help every job seeker. While this may come across as a lack of transparency or honesty, their lack of follow through is often because they’re busy.

Tip: Manage your expectations. While recruiters can counsel you on some areas of the job search, you have to do most of the hustling.

Follow the recruiter’s lead in terms of timing, materials they need and appropriate times to follow up. In the end, it’s up to you to be proactive and cast a wide net. You can also help recruiters by referring good people. This can go a long way: They may be more likely to keep you in mind for an opportunity down the road if you help them with valuable referrals.

3. “I’m not your career counselor”

Recruiters can offer you advice, but they have an obligation to work on behalf of their paying client. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek some guidance. On the contrary, you should talk to recruiters since they can offer perspective on the job search.

Just don’t expect them to sit down with you every night to tailor your resume, work on your interviewing skills or show you how to dress for a meeting.

Tip: Talking to a recruiter can be as valuable as talking to a business contact, college peer or HR representative. For example, if you come to your meeting with two or three specific questions, you’ll be able to gain some valuable advice, which can positively contribute to your candidacy.

4. “I’m looking for a needle in a haystack”

Recruiters are looking for a needle in the haystack. When it comes down to it, they can “look” at someone and tell if they’ll be a strong fit by looking through traits such as personality, interests and values.

For example, if the client has a lot employees with an interest in sports, and someone with zero athletic appreciation shows up, they’re not likely to be a cultural fit. The recruiter’s client may be looking for something specific, and it’s their job to find that key employee.

Tip: Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and what you can do to fix them. It’s OK to ask the recruiter if you come across as nervous, unprepared or knowledgeable. They’ll be more honest if you’re aware of what you lack and bluntly ask about certain elements. Be honest with yourself about what element of the hiring process you might have fumbled, so you can drill down your problem areas.

Recruiters have a job to do, plain and simple. You should never take anything they do personally. Instead, work with them to optimize your candidacy while creating the best outcome for everyone.

Have you worked with a recruiter before? What tips would you add?

Skiddy von Stade is the founder and CEO of OneWire, the premier destination for employers to connect with high quality finance talent. Connect with Skiddy and OneWire on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Accepted into Top MBA Programs http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/26/increase-chances-getting-accepted-top-mba-programs/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/26/increase-chances-getting-accepted-top-mba-programs/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17469 Should you head straight to an MBA program after you graduate or should you try to get a few years of work experience first?

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Ah, the call of the MBA. In today’s work world, even new professionals who are still huffing and puffing up the proverbial ladder have their sights set on business school. After all, earning an MBA degree is a surefire way to increase your salary, boost your credibility and prove your commitment to your career. Oh and let’s not forget about that whole job security thing — did you know 95 percent of Class of 2013 MBA grads were employed by September 2013?

But before you run out to drop several thousands of dollars on your MBA degree, answer this question: What does your employment history look like?

Like it or not, you’ve gotta work to work it! And by that we mean you generally need solid work experience (anywhere from two to seven years) to be a considered a good candidate for admission to a top-notch program.

Here’s why you should consider working for a few years after college before you apply to business school.

You look better on paper to the admissions department

While having work experience isn’t 100 percent necessary, most experts we talked to stressed it’s definitely beneficial. If you head straight to an MBA program directly after undergrad, you might not get as much out of it — or have as much to bring to the table, either. (Click here to tweet this hard love.)

“Demonstrating personal maturity, business knowledge, management perspective and bottom-line impact distinguishes an MBA candidate beyond his or her academic credentials and standardized test scores,” says Dan Bauer, a graduate of the Harvard MBA program and CEO and the founder of The MBA Exchange.

Got that? It’s not just about your slick academic stats. Your real-world experience also determines whether or not you’re ready for MBA-level coursework.

It’s also helpful for schools to learn about you through the lens of the working world, rather than the classroom. “Recommendations from work supervisors who describe convincing examples of your tangible results and professionalism on the job are more relevant and convincing than feedback from a college professor who lacks business credentials,” Bauer says.

You’ll have better context for your coursework

Getting a few years of work experience under your belt will do more than impress the admissions reps. Understanding the ins and outs of the professional world can also be a huge benefit in interacting with your classmates and completing coursework.

“A student who worked as an analyst in an investment bank and a student who worked as a teacher or social worker have a variety of thoughts, perspectives, experiences and lessons that enrich each other,” says Stephanie Klein Wassink of AdmissionsCheckup.com. Learning from your classmates — and teaching them — is an integral part of earning that sought-after MBA.

Having spent some time on the job can actually help you in your classes. “Work experience makes everything you learn in class much more practical and useful because you can filter it through your own experiences,” says Miro Kazakoff, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “There’s no way to fully understand the impact of what you are studying in class without having spent some time in a workplace.”

How to sell yourself if you’re light on work experience

So what should you do if you’re a little inexperienced, but you still think you’re MBA material? Luckily, all hope is not lost for you — or your application.

“Students who do not have work experience must make the case that they have a lot of information to impart,” says Stephanie Klein Wassink. “The student must explicitly lay out the case for the need to get the degree before they have work experience. It must be believable and in sync with the rest of the student’s application and experiences.”

So whether you have a resume a mile long or are still a starry-eyed undergraduate dreaming of board rooms and conference calls, you always have options for your path to an MBA. Just make sure those options include realistic expectations for how your work history might ultimately affect your admissions chances.

Carrie Murphy is a freelance writer living in New Mexico.

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What You Need to Know About Social Media Privacy at Work http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/25/need-know-social-media-privacy-work/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/25/need-know-social-media-privacy-work/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17409 Do you use Facebook or Twitter? Even if you don’t tweet or update your status from the office, some employers are legally allowed to fire you for what you post -- anywhere.

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The good news: Lawmakers are setting boundaries when it comes to how far employers can pry into their workers’ social (media) lives.

The bad news: We still have a long way to go in the privacy wars — and there are plenty of minefields you can fall into if you’re not careful with your online presence.

As TLNT.com reports, Rhode Island recently passed laws prohibiting employers from asking employees for certain personal social media information. This includes disclosing passwords, changing their privacy settings and divulging content they’ve shared. The laws also prevent employers from taking action against employees who refuse to do these things.

This may seem like common sense legislation to you — what employees do under the privacy of their own social media settings should be none of employers’ business, right? As long as your Facebook feed is set to “friends only” and your bosses don’t know your Twitter handle, you should be covered… right?

Maybe, but Rhode Island is only the fifth state to enact such laws. Other states have proposals in the works, but they’re still under review. Which means if you work in the other 45 states, your personal online conduct may fall into a gray area that could be cause for your dismissal (or cause an employer not to hire you to begin with).

Even the states that do have legislation governing how much employers can snoop make certain exceptions “that allow employers to protect their legitimate business interests.” What exactly does this mean? That’s up for debate — and broad interpretation:

Almost all states’ social media password laws allow the employer access to an employee’s social media account as part of an investigation. There are few, if any, limits on what the investigation is about…

…Note the information does not actually have to be related to the investigation; the employer just has to “reasonably believe” it is. Courts would apply an objective “reasonable employer” standard, as opposed to a manager who just wants to stalk people. But as a practical matter, courts usually give employers wide discretion to investigate employee misconduct, and to define what constitutes misconduct.

– HR Examiner, How Employers Can Still See Employee Social Media Accounts

As Aliah Wright, author of  A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites told American Express Open Forum, “employees can be held responsible for the things they publish online — even if they are at home on their own time and they think only their closest friends will see what they’ve published.”

So, in a world where the line between personal and professional identity online is already blurry, what can you do to protect yourself (and your career) from potential fallout?

Know your rights

If an employer (or potential employer) is asking you for personal online information you don’t feel comfortable providing, it’s within your rights to check your state laws. Some states prohibit employers for asking for especially sensitive information like your passwords or specific content, while others take a broader approach and also prohibit requests for your social media usernames

For information on your rights, check out this guide to current legislation by state to see which bills have been passed and which are under consideration.

Know your company’s policy

Some companies have specific social media policies that outline what’s considered appropriate and inappropriate social media behavior. Read up on what your company expects; if they see you as a brand ambassador even when you’re using a personal handle, you’ll need to take that into account.

In addition, if your company has a policy against using social media (or the Internet in general) for personal reasons during working hours, anything you do or say on company time and on company equipment may be liable to a search, so your best bet is playing it safe and holding off on the status updates until you get home.

Be smart about it

Avoid disparaging remarks about your company, boss or colleagues on social media. Double-check your privacy settings. Stop and think before you post that potentially compromising party pic.

Regardless of whether your employer can see what you’re doing online, everyone else can, and you owe it to yourself to present a personal brand that’s got it together.

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

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Networking in Dallas: 7 Events for Creating Meaningful Professional Relationships http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/25/networking-dallas-7-events-creating-meaningful-professional-relationships/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/25/networking-dallas-7-events-creating-meaningful-professional-relationships/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17404 Check out our round-up of networking events in Dallas that can help you meet other local young professionals, entrepreneurs and go-getters.

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Advancing your career as a new grad, startup founder or mid-level professional means you have to put yourself out there and start connecting with the right people. But how exactly?

Dallas, Texas, has a large population. But because the city is spread out, it can be hard to go outside your circle of connections to find your footing professionally. Read on for some of the best local networking events to get your career headed in the right direction.

1. The Dallas Entrepreneur Center

Founded in 2013, the DEC is focused on supporting local startup founders, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Their collaborative community of experts, investment groups and thought leaders will help you make the right connections to get your business dreams off the ground.

2. Dallas Business Journal Events

With everything from a Writing Workshop to a Women in Business Luncheon to an Entrepreneurs Connect Conference, the Dallas Business Journal offers a wide variety of networking events for any professional.

No matter what your budget or career field, there’s bound to be an event perfect for your interests.

3. Network After Work

Ready to ditch the cubicle to enjoy some fun and food with other professionals? Network After Work is a national social and business networking event with over 500,000 members.

Each month the group hosts a session at various cafes and restaurants where you can show off your name and brand.

4. Career Networking Groups DFW

The goal of CareerDFW is to provide access to a large number of job, networking and professional opportunities, specifically for those who are unemployed or underemployed. Check out their calendar for a complete list of weekly and monthly events to help further your career.

5. Social Media Club Dallas

The SMC is one of this area’s leaders in digital marketing. Each month they host an event focused on social media, marketing and current events.

If you’re in this field, or hope to be, joining this club will introduce you to a large number of opportunities. And I can personally say their team is welcoming and nice to interact with.

6. NetParty – Young Professionals Network

Known for their unique mix of business and social networking, NetParty caters to younger professionals looking for hip events and opportunities to connect with influential brands.

Get updates on future meetups or follow them on Twitter at @NetPartyDallas for the latest info.

7. CareerConnection

Whether you’re looking for job leads or support during your job search process, CareerConnection members and faculty can help. Every Tuesday, they offer General Session Workshops where they reveal jobs that aren’t yet publicly available, while enabling you to make valuable connections that lead to new job opportunities.

Bonus: DFW Bars for Professionals

Those of us who live in Dallas know the city likes to work hard and play hard. So why not mix the two a bit? CBS DFW offers a fun list of the best bars that also cater to networking, so you can relax and have fun while interacting with some of area’s best professionals.

Carrie Smith, a Texas native, is a financial writer who recently quit her accounting job to pursue full-time entrepreneurship. She believes there’s nothing more powerful than a real-life connection.

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How to Use Buffer to Automate Your Job Search http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/24/use-buffer-automate-job-search/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/24/use-buffer-automate-job-search/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17394 Buffer isn’t just a tool for managing your social networks -- it can help you find a job, too. Here’s how to automate your job search.

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You know Buffer helps you manage social networks by providing a way to schedule posts to Twitter and Facebook. It allows you to be more productive, spend less time on social media and get improved results and engagement.

But what about using it for your job search? Looking for a new job can be time-consuming, but using Buffer to automate part of your job search can be powerful, allowing you to increase your chances of landing a job while decreasing time spent searching.

Here are five steps to using Buffer to automate your job search.

1. Use Buffer to automatically connect a potential customer with your target employer

Use Twitter’s search functions to locate potential customers for your target employer. For example, let’s say you wanted to work for Crocs. You could enter the terms “shoe recommendation” or “*can someone* crocs.”

That search is a good baseline of potential customers. Craft a tweet in Buffer. An example would be “@potentialcustomer You should check out @Crocs Yukon Flips. I have a pair and they’re amazing.”

Crocs will surely notice you’re already helping them sell and you’re not on the payroll. You show you can sell socially. Plus, you can leverage this action into further scaling your pursuit to work for them.

2.Use Buffer to introduce valuable potential partners to your target employer

Those introductions add value. Spend some time coming up with potential people in your network you could introduce to each other. Of course, you’d want to get permission from both sides through email. Twitter is more informal, and an introduction on the platform between parties is a widely accepted practice.

An example could be this: Your target employer is Storefront. You have some ideas on how they can work with Etsy or Shopify to make more money. Use Buffer to schedule this tweet, “@storefront You guys are awesome! You should connect with @marketingguy for @Etsy. I can see amazing things from this.”

Boom. A connection is made. Most likely these people or companies will thank you and interact with each other. There may be gold for those companies based on your introduction.

They’ll remember you for that. That gives you value because it’s a sign that if you worked for one of those companies, you have the savviness for business development and can help grow their business through ideas and partnerships. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

3. Use Buffer to share blog posts with analysis about specific aspect of your target employer’s business

Let’s say that your target employer was a company such as Breather (on demand relaxation spaces). Go through some pain spotting and write your ideas on your blog. You could write a blog post titled “3 Challenges that Breather May Have & How I Would Tackle Them.”

Start the blog post on a positive note and iterate everything the company is doing well and the reasons why you’re so bullish on their business. Then get into your pain spotting and talk about the challenges they may have and your solutions and ideas for them.

Use Buffer to schedule a tweet that looks something like this: “Will @Breather take over the world? My crazy analysis and ideas for them. (link here)”

Breather will most likely read your blog post and others in your network will share it. You can springboard this into further talks with them. Of course, this can be done for virtually any aspect of a business from sales or marketing to technical parts (like programming) of their operation.

4. Use Buffer to post a link about pain spotting on your target employer from Quora

This can be accomplished by either answering existing questions about a target employer on Quora or creating smart questions specific to a company. For example, you could ask, “What are three tactics that Otterbox should use to grow sales in North America?”

From this question, you can use that answer to give you further insight into a company. Oftentimes, you can get company employees or others in the industry to provide answers. You can use this as intelligence for future correspondence. Finally, you provide answers to the question you asked and use Buffer to schedule those on Twitter.

5. Use Buffer to schedule tweets that help people in your network

If one of your friends or Twitter connections is an amazing graphic designer, you can introduce him/her to someone who needs his/her services. Use Buffer to schedule these tweets to save time. Each day look for three people in your network who you may be able to help.

Over time, those people will begin retweeting your posts and introduce you to others in your network. These recommendations can get you hired or give you new freelance opportunities you may not have received previously.

By implementing these steps, you can take an advanced approach to your job search through automation and creativity. This saves time, makes you more productive and illustrates impressive skills to potential employers.

Scott Balster is founder of EmployTown and specializes in helping job seekers connect creatively with awesome employers.

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This Skill is Often Overlooked — And It Can Make or Break Your Career http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/24/skill-often-overlooked-can-make-break-career/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/24/skill-often-overlooked-can-make-break-career/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17422 You can build up your resume, but without good listening skills it’s all wasted. Here’s how to rise above modern distractions to focus on what you hear — and make sure it sticks.

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Here’s a typical scene every time I go through a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through:

Me: One medium hot latte with skim milk

Crew: OK, would you like it hot or cold?

Me: Hot

Crew: Whole or skim milk?

Me: Skim milk

Every. Single. Time. And that’s just a single item order.

What happened to not fiddling with your phone while serving customers?

Are they even taking their summer job seriously? Yes, I know internships and summer jobs pay barely minimum wage but it’s not just about the money. Sadly, this realization is lost on so many employees.

Summer jobs and internships build up your “soft” skills, particularly listening and customer service — without which it would be very difficult for you to get a good job. It’s not just a concern for fresh graduates. Even tenured professionals will find it hard to advance their career if they’re bad listeners.

Why are so many employees poor listeners?

The art of listening and communicating effectively — sans the “indispensable” smartphone — is almost impossible for many people. It’s common for many to “multi-listen,” which means listening to someone talk while doing something else.

Sometimes, they’re listening to you talk while listening to music. Other times the conversation is interrupted by checking a notification or message from their phone.

The popularity of instant messaging apps and social networking sites doesn’t help either — there’s no need to pay attention to a speaker when there’s no real face-to-face conversation. Preoccupation and too much stimulation from games and the Internet is also a contributing factor.

I really hope everyone — from fresh graduates to tenured professional — will pay attention because listening is much more critical. The work history and accomplishments listed on their resume will be wasted if they don’t care enough to listen.

Here’s how to improve communication — especially listening — skills.

Choose someone you admire and really pay attention

Commit yourself to listening to someone you admire for the whole day. Don’t just hear; use all five senses to listen. Observe the speaker’s diction, body language and tone of voice. Pay attention to what this person says as well as what’s not said.

At the end of the day, try to recall as much as possible of what the person said, including non-verbal cues. The more you recall, the better your listening has improved. This listening and focus exercise will change bad habits like multi-listening and spacing out in the midst of a conversation.

Love TV? Good, use it to listen well

Select a news or informative program you love. Listen closely for 10 to 15 minutes then turn it off. Can you recall what you heard? This isn’t as easy as the first exercise because there could be multiple speakers in the program.

Turn it on again and repeat the whole exercise, this time make eye contact with one of the speakers on the show. This is a safer way to practice your listening and eye contact skills without giving people the creeps.

Don’t be prejudiced — meditate instead

Your brain stops paying attention to the talker once you start judging his appearance, mannerisms or statements. (Click here to tweet this fact.) Never dismiss someone as nagging, shallow, ill-informed, wrong or whatever label you please without hearing the end of their story.

If you really can’t resist giving in to your bias, do it after the talker finishes what he has to say.

Easier said than done, right? You can avoid this through meditating.

When people first try meditation, distracting and uninvited thoughts often pop-up in their head, while they’re desperately trying to keep it “still.” But it’s really impossible for novices to stop this barrage of thoughts, so just let the thoughts come and go, while continuing to focus on their breathing. Eventually the disturbing thoughts fade away, as the brain becomes attuned to stillness.

That’s similar to what you will do. But instead of focusing on your breathing, you’re going to focus on the talker.

So next time your brain clouds your judgment with snarky remarks, let those unwelcome thoughts drift away and continue listening to the talker. Do that repeatedly and eventually you’ll get used to listening to the whole story without butting in.

Listening is an underrated skill for people because they’re too focused on industry-related skills, not knowing that core skills like listening trump almost every skill there is. If nothing else, listening will make it easier for you to keep your job.

Commit to improve your listening skills now. Remember, getting fired because of poor listening makes for a bad reference.

Michelle Riklan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Employment Interview Consultant (CEIC). She has written hundreds of resume and coached clients through all phases of the job search.

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How to Make Yourself an Irresistible Job Candidate for Your Dream Company http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/23/make-irresistible-job-candidate-dream-company/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/23/make-irresistible-job-candidate-dream-company/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17377 You’d give anything to land a job at your dream company, right? This is the strategy you need to make it happen without coming across as desperate.

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If you’re ambitious and passionate about your career, chances are you probably have a dream company you’d do anything to be a part of. Whether you’re on the job hunt, working in sales or a startup founder, you probably have one or two companies in mind you’re dying to talk to.

The following steps are some of the methods I’ve used to successfully develop relationships with companies in each of those roles.

1. Practice intentional networking

This is perhaps the most “obvious” way to get your foot in the door, but it’s still worth mentioning. Do you know anyone who works at your dream company or who used to work there? If you don’t, tackle this like a research project. LinkedIn is a great place to start.

Invite people to coffee. Buy them lunch. Get to know them. Tell them you’d love to learn more about their company. Show interest in their specific role in the company. And stay in touch!

A word to the wise: Remember networking should never be rushed. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Let people truly get to know you before you ask them to vouch for you. Trust me. The better they know you, the harder they’ll fight for you!

Above all, don’t look at people as a tool for your own devices and don’t view any specific meeting as a do-or-die conversation. Think of each person you meet as a long-term companion on the journey called your career.

2. Take advantage of every situation

If you work in business, you probably meet new people all the time. No matter the context or purpose of these meetings, always keep your dream company at the top of your mind. When people in your network ask if there’s anything they can do to help you, see if they have any connections to your dream company.

Make it your number one (and potentially only) thing you ask for. Chances are eventually someone will be able to give you an “in.”

3. Learn the inside workings of the company

Do everything you can to learn how your dream company operates. Talk to people who work there. Set up a Google alert so you’re notified every time the company is in the news. Read the company blog and follow them on social media.

Figure out their hiring process. Do they tend to hire friends of current employees? Sounds like it’s time to make some internal friends. Do they use an external hiring agency to screen candidates? Find out the name of the agency and introduce yourself.

If you’re approaching the company from a sales or entrepreneurial perspective, figure out who the decision makers are within the company. Those are the people you really need to meet.

4. Make yourself hard to resist

Chances are your dream company is a great place to work, which means that job openings might be few and far between. Just because they haven’t recently posted job openings on their site doesn’t mean they don’t need extra help — especially if the company is a startup or an early-stage company.

It sounds non-traditional, but in these cases you should consider volunteering for the company. Do some free writing. Show them how they can cut down their spending. Talk them up on social media. Offer them discounts, free trials or free work on your end. Figure out their needs and find a way to add value.

Give, give, give. Be open about the fact that you’d love to work there one day. When a job does open, companies are likely to hire someone whose work they already know and love.

5. Study how other people got there

How did other people get into the company? Are they hired out of a particular Masters program? Consider going back to school for a year or two to better position yourself.

Do they tend to recruit employees from one of their competitors? You should consider working for that competitor.

Does your dream company tend to hire employees based on years of experience and rigid requirements? Or are they more concerned about the quality of accomplishments and personality of candidates? Figure out who and how current employees were hired, then find a way to put yourself in the most “hirable” position.

Above all, when you’re trying to get your foot in the door of any company, remember that good things take time. Landing your dream job can take months or even years. Get to know people within the company. Build your reputation by being a star employee in your current job. And above all, develop an expertise and skill set that will make you a valuable asset to any company. I guarantee your dream company is looking an especially valuable employee — You.

Jody Porowski is the founder and CEO of Avelist, an online platform where you can find advice from friends and experts. Follow her on Twitter @jodyporowski and read more about her entrepreneurial journey at jodyporowski.com.

 

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5 Networking Tips That Will Make You Exponentially More Connected http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/22/5-networking-tips-will-make-exponentially-connected/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/22/5-networking-tips-will-make-exponentially-connected/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:00:02 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17417 You know you need to network. You’ve put yourself in a good situation to make connections. Now what? Here’s what.

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These tips will get what you need to help land a job — connections!

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

1. Do not expect anything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Have a business card to share

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

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

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

4. Do not regard anyone as irrelevant

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

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

5. Do not get drunk!

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

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

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

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

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Nonprofit Jobs: How New Grads Can Get Hired in This Fast-Growing Industry http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/22/nonprofit-jobs-new-grads-can-get-hired-fast-growing-industry/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/22/nonprofit-jobs-new-grads-can-get-hired-fast-growing-industry/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17365 Want a fulfilling, stable job you’re passionate about? Then stop looking for corporate jobs, and look at this industry instead.

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

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

Are you looking for jobs in the wrong places?

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

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

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

How to jumpstart your nonprofit career search

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Startup Advice: 3 Financial Tips for Long-Term Success http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/19/startup-advice-3-financial-tips-long-term-success/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/19/startup-advice-3-financial-tips-long-term-success/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17389 Running a successful startup isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t excel. Here are three financial tips to startup success.

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

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

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

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

1. Don’t overestimate the value of your startup

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

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

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

2. Let investors in on your financial plans

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

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

3. Learn from other successful companies

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

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

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

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

Paul Jackson is the founder of Worthworm.

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How Your Password Can Radically Change Your Life http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/18/password-can-radically-change-life/ http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2014/09/18/password-can-radically-change-life/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://blog.brazencareerist.com/?p=17383 Repeating a phrase can be a powerful way to change your life. But could changing your password so it reflects that same phrase be just as effective at improving your life?

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

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

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

How it works

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

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

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

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

What have your passwords done for you lately?

How to make it work for you

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

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

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

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

What password mantra would you choose for yourself?

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

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